House of Commons Hansard #116 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cpp.


4:40 p.m.


Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Mr. Speaker, let me suggest that the hon. member has some dated information, because the Fraser Institute did a study, and like I said, for people my age, people born in the 1970s and later, this has been an awful rate of return.

I understand that some people prefer the security of a system where everything is more clearly laid out for them. However, different people have different views, and that is why we should give them the choice and not continually force everyone to put the entirety of their savings into the Canada pension plan. There are other things out there, like RRSPs and TFSAs.

The goal from the government's perspective is to keep people out of poverty, not to provide a middle-class income with pensions, and allow people to decide how they want to do their savings. Do they want to spend their money now or do they want their money later for retirement? This is why we give people the freedom, because everyone's situation is different.

4:40 p.m.


Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have to chuckle at the Liberals. Any time we question their plans to undertake major expansion of government programs, it must be because we are against the program entirely. Whatever happened to striking the right balance between a public pension program and also preserving space for private savings?

We have a government that is cutting back on tax-free savings accounts. We have a government that does not support those more effective changes that encourage private savings. It is not undertaking measures for current seniors, but is instead talking about future seniors by taking more money out of the economy at the present time.

Could my friend talk more about the cost that this will have on small business? We have heard from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and others about the significant negative impact that this will have on the economy, on the ability to create wealth that benefits seniors and all Canadians.

4:40 p.m.


Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Mr. Speaker, labour and capital are some of the basic inputs into business. The way CPP is structured, it has the effect of a payroll tax, which is a tax directly on labour. This means it is a tax on productivity. As we tax productivity, it makes productivity naturally less productive, because the tax is slowing it. Therefore, it is making it more difficult for businesses to hire, it drives up the unemployment rate, and lowers businesses' profits. It makes a business more difficult to succeed, and therefore makes people less likely to take risks.

This is bad for the economy. Taxing productivity is the worst thing we can do if we want to grow the economy. We should target consumption, but instead the Liberals here are targeting productivity, and we are all losers for it.

4:40 p.m.


Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, before I get started with my remarks, specifically I would like to reference the previous speaker. At one point during answering questions he talked about the CPP and not using it as an opportunity to provide middle-income opportunities, yet earlier on his speech he talked about how it was the gold standard that his grandfather came to admire so much. We are left wondering whether or not the member thinks we need to move away from what CPP used to be as opposed to just arguing against what might happen or what he perceives to be happening.

When we talk about this issue, the first thing we need to identify is the fact that there are changes in the workforce. The workforce today is not what it used to be decades ago. In fact, there are far fewer people who are receiving employment pensions or pensions that are being paid for by their employers. The fact of the matter is that in the fifties and sixties, there used to be robust pensions that were set up by employers to pay into these pension plans so that people could have that security when it came time to retire. Many people did enjoy that benefit and take advantage of that.

However, even within those pensions it is changing. Those pensions that used to be so reliable are not as reliable as they used to be, as we see companies and employers starting to do things for various different reasons that affect those pensions.

Not that long ago in my office in Kingston and the Islands, I had a couple of former executives from manufacturing plants that used to operate in Kingston but unfortunately do not any more, to talk to me about what companies were doing to avert, whether directly or indirectly, paying those pensions out. That just creates less stability and less reliability of the employees to make sure they have that security when they retire, eventually.

It is not just about the changes in the workplace, it is also about young people and what they are coming to expect. Years ago young people could conceivably leave with a high school education, get a good paying job, whether in manufacturing or another sector, that provided them with a pension, that provided them with security during their employment, and then afterwards, provided them with a pension. They could live a comfortable life off that, but things are much different for younger people now.

We have pages who come to this House to help out. Sometimes I look at them and think, is it not much different for them. They are expected to get a university degree or a college degree at a minimum. The vast majority of graduates then go on to post-graduate work, and the debt they incur as a result of that is something they have to carry for many years into the future. They have to start planning to pay that back.

Couple that with the fact that more and more young people now see it more unreasonable that they will actually own a house. There are more people now than ever before who actually come to terms with the fact that they might be renting forever and not actually owning.

As a government it is our responsibility, as this legislative body it is our responsibility to make sure that our society has those reliable and predictable means of knowing that they will be taken care of in the future.

There is also another change in the demographics of then versus now, and that is with respect to the haves and the have-nots. Quite frankly, there are more people who have and many more people who have not, and the middle, in between, is shrinking dramatically. It is changing the way Canadians view that security and stability for the future.

I would submit that it is time that we take a serious look at how we can implement policy to make a change and create a greater security among Canadians. That is about planning for the future, and ultimately it is about what I like to think of as preventive maintenance.

We hear these arguments from the other side of the aisle about spending so much money, forcing small businesses to spend money, and I will get to that point in a second. The one thing we do not talk about is what happens if we do not do this. What if we do not make sure that we are setting up the security now for later? We will pay for it one way or the other.

If we do not pay for it now by making sure the proper measures are in place for CPP, or whatever other measures might come forward, later on we are going to be taking care of those people, and we are going to be paying for it then.

When I was mayor of Kingston and I was on the health board, I remember the frustration of the health unit that the government was always so unwilling to put money into preventive health care. It was always about reactive measures.

My submission is that this government is doing the exact opposite of that. This government is looking at setting up preventive measures so that generations from now, young workers are properly taken care of and have those measures. By no means is this setting up a middle-class lifestyle. This is providing the bare minimum. This is providing a small portion of what people will actually need to retire.

I also want to address another topic that has come up on the other side of the House today, and no doubt I will be asked a question about it, so maybe I will pre-empt that by talking about it now. It is with respect to small businesses. I am a small business owner. At any given time, I have four or five employees who work for our small business in Kingston. I have no problem with this small increase. We pay source deductions just like every other business does. We pay EI, CPP, and WSIB, and these are necessary to make sure that society is being taken care of. We respect that as a business.

With regard to the small increments over the six-year period between 2019-25, the question is how small businesses will deal with this. We have heard that asked in the House today. The reality is that small businesses have to look at ways they can make this work. They have to find alternatives where necessary. They have to look for opportunities where they might not currently exist. The reality is that in any business, any added cost, whether it is a cost for a product or for a service to add to the business, adds to the bottom line and ultimately adds to an increase in whatever goods or services the individual is selling.

On the point that businesses will have to close their doors, although we would hate to see that and would hope it does not happen, I would suggest that it is a very unlikely scenario.

This is something the Liberal Party ran on and talked about in the election. This should come as no surprise to anyone that we are taking serious action when it comes to CPP and that we are taking the time to make sure that future generations are taken care of. It is about providing dignity with respect to income security for future generations.

Quite frankly, this is the right thing to do. I am extremely supportive of this piece of legislation, and I know that future generations will look back on this and regard this as a pivotal shift in CPP in the direction of helping plan for people's futures.

4:50 p.m.


Bev Shipley Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, in terms of costing, my colleague touched on health care. I have to remind him that in terms of preventive health care, all of us will agree that this is a cost that comes from businesses and individuals to the provincial government. The Conservatives gave the provinces a 6% increase per year. The Province of Ontario used to brag about cutting health costs to 3%. I am wondering what the member's comments would be on the Liberal health minister in Ontario who did not use the money we gave him to supply health care and preventive medicine.

4:50 p.m.


Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is very loose connection. I spoke to my time on the health board and a particular issue we had.

In any event, if the member is looking for me to say that at some point or another I have, can be, or was critical of the provincial government, yes, as the mayor of a municipality in Ontario, we obviously took positions that were sometimes critical.

I cannot recall this exact reference the member is bringing up other than to say that, yes, there are always times when municipalities have to show the provincial government if they are not happy with them. I would encourage any municipality to do that.

4:50 p.m.


David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, during the speech by the member for Kingston and the Islands, I saw the member for Calgary Nose Hill come in, under the camera over there, and use her cellphone, appearing to take a picture in this general direction. Could the Speaker address that?

4:50 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I thank the member for Laurentides—Labelle for his intervention. I did not see anything in particular. We will have a look to see and will check. Members will know, of course, that the use of smart phones for recording video, audio, or photographs in the chamber is not allowed. I thank the hon. member for bringing it to our attention. I am not able to respond to it at this particular moment. I did not see anything that was against the rules of the House. We will take it up and see if there is anything we can do.

I was going to say, just before the hon. member for Laurentides—Labelle made his point of order, that for the benefit of all hon. members, some members may have seen the last question and comment as not particularly relevant to the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands's speech, and that may be true in the form of it. However, hon. members should know that when they raise a matter in the course of a speech that may not be exactly on topic with respect to the question before the House, it is absolutely relevant if another member wishes to pose a question on it. Members would probably recognize that.

By the way, I am not taking the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands' time. Questions and comments.

4:55 p.m.


Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, thanks for that clarification. I can assure you that I am not recording. I do not think I am capable.

I want to share a letter written to me by a constituent, completely unsolicited. I want to share in the House what she said:

Now with this exclusion of the child-rearing dropout provision in the proposed expansion of CPP, I'm even more concerned that those making the decisions are either inadvertently or intentionally excluding this work from the social policy conversation. If it's an error, then there is a dire need for more diverse voices and experiences to be involved with policy development, and I want to know how this gap is going to be redressed.

She has written to the Government of Canada to answer that question. I wonder if the hon. member could respond to that.

4:55 p.m.


Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am not the Government of Canada, so I cannot answer that question, which was sent to the Government of Canada, other than to say that, as the parliamentary secretary pointed out, the Minister of Finance had indicated that there is always room for improvement and room to look at ways to do things better. He had committed to going back and having further discussions with the provinces.

4:55 p.m.


Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am curious about how the drop-out provisions got taken out to begin with.

If the government was at the table with provincial and territorial leaders, someone had to raise it. Did the government raise it? Did the minister raise it? Did his officials raise it? How did it come to be that it is actually not part of this important bill?

4:55 p.m.


Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to repeat what I just said, because I think I covered it.

The important thing is to look at what this bill actually is doing. This bill will change the lives of future generations. This bill will contribute to the security of young people today as they move toward retirement. More importantly, it will contribute to their faith in a system that will have security for them later on.

4:55 p.m.


Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise today in the House of Commons from my new perch here in the back row. It is my first speech, since taking this spot, to engage with more Canadians. As I said when I was first elected and sat in the corner over there, any seat in this chamber is a true honour to occupy, and I think all members on all sides would agree with that.

I am glad to be speaking again about CPP reform and specifically about Bill C-26, because this, yet again, is an example of a government absolutely disconnected from the reality of the economy.

We have a jobs crisis in Canada right now, and this legislation would lead to fewer jobs. The finance department has confirmed that.

It is a jobs crisis of epic proportions, and the Prime Minister and the finance minister have done nothing. In fact, they have made it more difficult for employers to hire people, and I will spend a few moments talking about that.

Where is the crisis most acute? It is in Alberta, where 200,000 Canadians, families, are without the certainty and the confidence a job provides. If that alone is not a crisis, I do not know what is. I am very proud of my colleagues from Alberta who have been raising this in the House daily for the last year. We have yet to see a plan of any sort from the Liberal government.

The epicentre of our jobs crisis in Canada is in the west, which we have to remember kept Canada moving forward through the great recession of 2008-09, when Canada led the G-7 in economic growth and job creation after the worse recession since the thirties. We relied on family members in Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and Manitoba, and now the government is turning a blind eye to that crisis.

In Calgary, the unemployment rate is 9%. People were coming from around the world to work there because of the opportunities in the last generation. The government has no plan. The unemployment rate in Edmonton is roughly 8%, and there is not even an acknowledgement, in a serious way, of that prolonged state of affairs.

Let us look at whether this is just a global commodity cycle, which I have heard members of this government sometimes suggest, instead of their inaction. Let us look at the parliamentary budget officer's recent report on the labour market. Let us look at what the PBO found on job creation in Canada. I will quote from page 1, which really summarizes the PBO's report,

The Canadian economy created 96,000 (net) jobs from Q3 2015 to Q3 2016, which is half the average annual gain of 192,000 over the previous five years.

That is when our party was in charge of the economy, so the Liberals are not even batting half our average. I will continue.

Job gains from Q3 2015 to Q3 2016 were entirely part-time and mostly in the private sector. Full-time and public sector employment contracted.

Does that not underscore the crisis we are experiencing? Is that not a call to action for the Liberal government? When is the government going to come to grips with the economy?

The $30 billion the Prime Minister has spent to put us in deficit has created zero full-time jobs. We will hear the Minister of Innovation and the ACOA minister, who is in Mississauga, I might add, speak about jobs, but they are part-time jobs.

We remember the election, when the Prime Minister, the third-party leader at the time, said that Canada was in a recession. That was false then, and it was proven false afterward. He said he would spend no more than a $10-billion modest deficit. That was another false claim. He spent $30 billion. Why did he say he was going to go into deficit? It was to stimulate job creation. That is false. He has created zero full-time jobs, according to the PBO. This is the job crisis we are in, yet the Prime Minister is going around the world, spending our money elsewhere, and has no plan for job creation at home.

The last time I rose in the House to speak on this very subject, 2,000 jobs at Bombardier were lost, so this is not just a job crisis in western Canada; it is a Liberal job crisis.

What is worse, the unemployment rate for young people has remained fixed at 13%, which is unreasonably high. What was the response of the finance minister? It was that our young Canadians should get accustomed to job churn. That is shameful absence of leadership. In fact, I think it is the modern equivalent of “Let them eat cake”, a comment that is disconnected from the reality our young people are facing. Rather than saying “We're working on innovation jobs, working on clusters, and making sure there are more people going into the STEM fields and coding”, he said, “You'd better get used to unpaid internships and being underemployed”. That is a failure of leadership.

Why are we in this crisis? Taxes are going up on job creators and entrepreneurs, who are highly mobile. Taxes are going up on small and medium-sized businesses that have had their previous tax reduction decreased. We have a carbon tax, which on the weekend the environment minister said would make our economy more competitive, showing the height of her disconnect from reality. Today, we are discussing a payroll tax. In one year, the run up in the deficit and the taxation of people, businesses, and consumption is unparalleled in Canadian history. In fact, it would take multiple Liberal governments of the past to introduce so many different types of tax increases all in one year.

Getting back to Bill C-26, what did Finance Canada's own report say about the CPP reforms? It said that 10,000-plus job losses would result from these reforms in the bill in the coming years. We are in a job crisis. We are creating a carbon tax that would raise the import costs of manufacturers in Ontario, and the costs of farmers in the west and across the country, and of people who are hauling lobster and trying to get it sent over to Europe to be sold, and of the lumber industry. Higher costs on all those people translates into higher costs for families and seniors. Now we are doing a payroll tax that the minister's own department has said will lead to 10,500 job losses in the coming years. His own department has said so. It is staggering.

What have the leading groups that work with employers said? The Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business have both implored the government not to bring in a payroll tax at a time when we are trying to get corporations, small and large, to use some retained earnings to hire one or two more people. We are putting a payroll tax on them and stopping them from hiring more people, whether by a 1% increase in premiums today or a 4% increase in coming years.

As I have said many times in the House, there is no crisis in retirement savings. In fact, who claimed the media was “fear-mongering” with regard to a retirement crisis? It was the finance minister in his book with his actuary at Morneau Shepell, Fred Vettese, in a book called The Real Retirement. They said it was fear-mongering. Well, the finance minister is now relying on that fear-mongering to bring this bill forward.

Who will it help? Ipsos Reid showed that 70% of Canadians do not realize that retirees and people near retirement will not benefit. In fact, Fred Vettese, the chief actuary at Morneau Shepell, has said it will only help 8.7% of middle-income Canadians boost their retirement income. It will not help people on the low end, those we were trying to help when we were in government, with GST reductions and other things, and not people at the high end. It will only help 8.7% of people in the middle. That translates into 5% of Canadians who in the future might have some modest increase in retirement income, if they do not use RRSPs, if they do not get the value from their home, and if they do not use the TFSA that minister Flaherty brought in. Therefore, potentially 5% would benefit while 95% of Canadians would pay, and employers, whom we are imploring to hire more people, are forced to pay premiums for every new person they hire.

It is shameful, in the midst of a jobs crisis, the government is introducing yet another tax that would lead to more Canadians being unemployed.

We must stop it here. We have to focus on job creation for the future.

November 28th, 2016 / 5:05 p.m.


Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, we have heard one Conservative after another get up to talk about it being a payroll tax and the difficulties of enhancing the Canada pension plan.

Does my hon. colleague agree that the Canada pension plan does good for Canadian society—indeed, Canadians overwhelmingly support it—and why is it a good thing for this country?

5:05 p.m.


Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to speaking at the annual dinner in the riding of my friend, the member for West Nova, in a week and a half. I look forward to being back there.

The CPP is a good thing. None of us is saying it is not. However, if he noticed, in the last minute of my speech I spent time dissecting the crisis in retirement. There is no crisis. Who said there is no crisis? The finance minister said so in his book he was selling to Canadians. Now he is selling them something else entirely. I tried to focus my remarks on that, using Finance Canada's own statistics.

We have a government that loved to get elected in saying, “We're all about evidence-based decision-making”.

What does the evidence say? Finance Canada says ten thousands jobs will be lost as a direct result of this bill in the midst of a jobs crisis already gripping this country, for a perceived retirement shortfall of a small group of middle-income Canadians who could be helped through TFSA enhancements, through home sales, through RRSPs, through the economy doing better and wages rising.

This bill would likely lead to a wage freeze and fewer jobs.

5:10 p.m.


Bev Shipley Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, what a great speech. It is actually one of the ones that makes a lot of sense.

My understanding is that this is a cost, not only to the employer but also to the employee, costing them somewhere up around $1,100, or maybe $800, each. Could he help us understand? For most people who are paying into it, particularly those who are just getting out of university, starting their family, buying a home, how long would it be before they actually get any benefit from it?

5:10 p.m.


Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the most alarming absences of leadership on the government's side has been in response to my friend's questions about the closure of an old processing facility in his riding that has employed people for two centuries. Yet, because the minister will not grant an exemption to that heritage property, it will be another example of a dozen or so jobs lost.

We are in a jobs crisis. We bring that to the floor of the House every day, my colleagues from Alberta, my colleagues from Ontario, on both a small and a large level, and the government is disconnected with how that affects families.

My friend is right. The premiums paid are both by people and by businesses. The major business groups have told us that in this slow economy right now, businesses will not hire people, or will freeze wages, as a result of this premium, and younger people will not see a benefit for decades.

Fred Vettese, the chief actuary of a firm called Morneau Shepell—I can say that name in the House; I cannot say the name of his co-author, the finance minister—has said there is no retirement crisis and that even this perceived CPP enhancement would help fewer than 5% of Canadians, because only 8% or so of the middle class need an enhancement. There is no retirement crisis.

If they are trying to do something for a very small subset of Canadians that would result in the unemployment of tens of thousands, that is the wrong decision and we have time to stop it.

5:10 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is great to see my colleague, and I wish him well in his leadership bid.

When I listen to the Conservatives' arguments for why they are voting against the CPP enhancement, I realize that one could use those same arguments against having the CPP today. Could the member tell us what his thoughts are on the current CPP? If he says the current system is okay, is there a situation when he would see CPP payments being enhanced? Would there be a time or scenario where they could be enhanced?

5:10 p.m.


Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Winnipeg North for wishing me well.

I was in the member's city a week or so ago with my friends from Interlake and Brandon at the Free Press News Cafe. People were quite open with their concerns about the carbon tax, and the farmers in the Interlake know they will be paying thousands more just for diesel. In fact, small and medium-sized businesses have little margin and the current government is going after their margins. It does not want them to take anything home and put it in their jeans at the end of the day. This is what I heard loud and clear in friendly Manitoba, and I trust he is hearing the same.

What I would remind the member of, and no one reminds the House of good Liberal virtues more than that member does, because he is up quite regularly, is the incessant call for evidence-based decision-making. When the member goes into his caucus this Wednesday, I ask him to stand up to the Prime Minister and say, “Prime Minister, Morneau Shepell's chief actuary has told us that this bill will lead to job losses while only targeting a small percentage of people, fewer than 5% of middle class Canadians decades from now.”

If that is what we are trying to do, at the risk of potentially losing 10,000-plus jobs, why would we be doing this in the middle of a jobs crisis? It is time for the member to stand up in caucus and ask the Prime Minister to stop waging a war on job creation.

5:15 p.m.


Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, at a time when so many people have lost their jobs or are at risk of losing their jobs in the near future, the government is about to implement a new payroll tax and take more money off the paycheques of my constituents.

For those who are listening, who may not realize what is about to happen, the Liberal government is about to increase the amount of money taken off an individual's paycheque that goes to the Canada pension plan. Also, the amount of money that their employer pays into this plan will also increase.

For many Canadians, this amount of money coming off their paycheques will make it harder to pay their monthly bills. For employers, especially small businesses, this increase to their operating costs will force many to make choices on whether to hire more people or simply to let people go.

Today I want to do two things in debate. First, I want to refute the government's primary argument for doing this, and, second, I will refute the government's assertion that this is the best policy to help Canadians save for retirement. I will point out how many of its policies are actually detrimental to them doing so.

On the first point, this is a payroll tax increase. The Liberals believe that my constituents cannot be trusted to make the right decisions to save for their retirement. They want my constituents to believe that the lowly taxpayers do not have the capacity to plan for their own savings and manage their retirement. They want them to believe that dependence on their government in their old age is the path to their security. They want them to believe that the government's seizure and control of their funds is in their best interest.

While there is a role for government in many situations, the fundamental belief in the freedom of Canadians is what sets Liberals apart from common-sense people. Liberals believe that it is only through government control that Canadians can prosper; whereas common-sense Canadians understand that the government should exist to enable our freedom, not to diminish it.

When I listen to the rhetoric around this particular bill and this particular financial instrument, I hear the government saying that Canadians are not saving enough and the government will come in and save them. I hear nothing about how the government will enable their freedom and enable their choice to be economically prosperous.

There is a huge fallacy in trying to convince the Canadian population that the best way for them to plan for their old age, for their retirement security, is to depend upon a large bloated Liberal government. I cannot believe that the government would actually put out that duplicitous comment and not believe that there would be some sort of push-back from the Canadian population.

This is why it is not the correct policy at this point in time. First, the government is creating a crisis where there is none. Certainly we need to ensure that Canadian seniors are well taken care of, that they are well looked after and honoured in their retirement. This measure will not impact Canadian seniors who are already into their retirement. In fact, it will do absolutely nothing for them. This will not increase their pension or help their prospects. Moreover, this will certainly not help their children, which many retirees are concerned about. In fact, this will disable them and disadvantage them.

I think the Liberals have been trying to sell this plan as some form of curative for pensioners who are already in retirement, and we know that is not the case. The fact that there is duplicity in the communications is so dishonest.

Let us talk about people who are planning for their retirement right now. First, there has been no formal consultation to date, absolutely none. The government has not talked to anyone. The Liberals announced this with great fanfare, hoping the Canadian public would turn a blind eye to this absolutely abysmal piece of legislation, which is based on zero financial credibility, and, frankly, zero actuarial credibility. However, I digress.

Beyond the lack of consultation, I would like to see the government commit to creating jobs for Canadians and creating the economic conditions in which people can increase their opportunity for economic growth and prosperity.

In terms of looking at policy instruments which would enable the prosperity of Canadians and my constituents, the government has absolutely failed. The bill will not do this. All this does is take away Canadians' freedom and require more dependence on the government. That is shameful.

Let us talk about these things. First, aside from the great arrogance of the government assuming that Canadians cannot save for themselves and must rely on the great saviourship of the Prime Minister and all of his wonderful gazes into the cameras, Liberals want to put in place a national tax on everything. There is the carbon tax, which will actually not reduce greenhouse gas emissions but only function as a GST, because, number one, they have not done any proper modelling in terms of price elasticity around the demand for carbon. It would only increase the price of everything for people who are struggling to make ends meet.

Liberals want to increase EI premiums, which would put a further chill on small businesses and job creation. They have put in place regulatory uncertainty for major resource projects. Anyone who is looking to invest in Canada right now is going to decide not to because of the political uncertainty, which also puts a chill on job creation. They are not doing anything to retain labour in my province of Alberta. They are allowing the best and brightest in Canada to bleed into the wind.

Liberals talk about increasing humanitarian levels of immigration without looking at the economic implications of that. They are running up a huge debt. I looked at some of the numbers that came out of the parliamentary budget office this year, and, in a non-recessionary period, the government is spending at unprecedented levels. If we are talking about the future of people's retirement, the level of debt that the Liberal government is going into is shameful. I cannot even think about this most of the time. Spending for spending's sake, rather than with any sort of outcome or goal, is not going to help Canadians with their retirement.

Moreover, the thing I find so fundamentally arrogant, in saying that only the government can help them save for their retirement with a program that might not be solvent at some future point, is the fact that the government eliminated the tax-free savings account increase that the Conservative government put in place. They said average Canadians cannot deal with that, average Canadians cannot be trusted with putting their own money into it. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, it is the people in my riding, who are now out of work in the energy sector because of the Liberal government's ideological opposition to that sector, who used the TFSA the most.

Rather than giving Canadians a vehicle in which to save their money, the government is saying it is not going to do that. It is going to take it away. Canadians are going to depend on the government and the Prime Minister and his sunny ways, because he is going to see everyone through with all of his financial acumen, his economic expertise, all of his great connections and understanding how to scrimp and save given his trust fund background. It is saying that everyone should trust in him, and he will show everyone and their children the way. Canadians do not believe that. That is hogwash.

Canadians need economic opportunity and a commitment to freedom, a commitment to understanding that it is Canadian families and workers who first and foremost understand how best to use their money. It is Canadian families who best understand what they need to do to make their families prosperous and give their children opportunities. Increasing CPP premiums, for many small business employers, boils down to a choice between one employee or two. This is at a time when the government has sent a chill through investments and is sending that sort of message. Then it is deciding to put a further chill on investment right now. It is irresponsible and garbage.

I do not even understand how Canadians cannot be infuriated with the arrogance that the government is putting forward in this bill, in saying that Canadians do not know how to spend their own money or how to save for retirement. From the bottom of my soul and with every fibre of my being, I oppose this bill. Because of the arrogance of the leftist, socialist school of thought, that the government first and foremost knows best how people should spend their money and save for their futures, I oppose this bill, and I know many of my constituents do as well.

Instead of putting this absolute pile of garbage forward, I wish the government would commit to creating economic conditions in which investment could occur in Canada and small businesses could thrive. I wish the government would push back against harmful economic practices in fragile economies like Alberta, like a price floor on labour or a carbon tax. This is the sort of economic policy that bankrupts and fails countries. I hope that my colleagues will take that into account.

5:25 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, the member is definitely passionate; I will give her that much. However, we will have to agree to passionately disagree in terms of her approach. She emulates what many of her Conservative colleagues have been talking about. There does seem to be a distaste coming from the Conservative Party toward the Canada pension plan.

My question is not that difficult. It is one that I started with the member's colleague who spoke prior to her. It is in regard to CPP in general. Can the member give the House any circumstance whatsoever where she could envision CPP being enhanced? If not today, is there another situation where the member would support it, or is she just outright against any enhancement? Is the Conservative Party outright against any enhancement ever of the CPP?

5:25 p.m.


Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Madam Speaker, in order to enhance my constituents' retirement prospects, I am not looking just to the CPP. I want them to make more money. I want them to have more job opportunities. I want them to pay less tax. I want them to have more efficiency in government. I do not want them to have to see large debt loads for no reason, brought up just for vanity projects. I do not want my constituents to have to pay more in taxes because I have an environment minister who wants to rub shoulders with elites in Davos. I do not want my constituents to have to pay more in a payroll tax for something that is never going to benefit them in the future.

This is the great Liberal fallacy, that somehow government can produce more freedom for economic opportunity for Canadians. It is this fallacy that the government is putting forward that will end in its electoral defeat.

5:25 p.m.


Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Madam Speaker, there was talk about how can we make this better. A lot of the member's business owners are saying they do not want it. However, when we were at the committee stage, we had a lot of organizations, such as the labour groups and the Canadian National Association of Federal Retirees, saying that because big corporations are not getting into the defined benefits plans or they want to get away from them, the only solution at this time in the three pillars is to expand the CPP. It would not fix all, but it was one of the ways to help our children in the future.

I am wondering, is the member saying that these organizations are wrong, or we have to look at other ways? What I heard is that the TFSAs are not working and the defined contributions are not working.

5:25 p.m.


Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Madam Speaker, any time the government members tell us there is only one way to solve a problem, and it is the government's, we should be wary.

Some of the feedback that has been brought forward in terms of the efficacy of this particular policy instrument has included that the full new benefits will not be available until at least 39 years after 2025, when the initial implementation of the CPP expansion has been completed. There are questions about the accrual of $1 trillion in assets. Where can one invest $1 trillion today in a prudent fashion that will still earn adequate returns?

Will participants understand that his new tier does not bring guaranteed benefits? What will happen when they have to freeze or even reduce benefits and contributions? Is this politically feasible?

How will small plans respond? Will they respond just by closing? Many of these plans are well administered, and we should not create incentives for them to terminate.

What about a new working income tax benefit? Is that fair? Have we targeted the correct audience for this reform?

The bottom line is that there are many different ways that we can look at the question on how to incent Canadians to best save for their retirement. Certainly one of the best ways we can do that is by providing them with employment opportunities and a prospect of a government without severe debt, none of which the current government has any intention of doing.

5:30 p.m.


Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, for many years now, the NDP has been fighting tirelessly for improvements to the Canada pension plan, so I can only be happy that it is finally happening. I would like to say that I will be supporting the main motion at report stage. However, I have to oppose the Conservative motions seeking to remove practically every clause in the bill.

Retirement insecurity is reaching crisis proportions in Canada, since many Canadians have been unable and are still unable to save enough throughout their lives to maintain the same standard of living once they retire. At the end of the day, over 6% of seniors are living in poverty. We in the NDP believe that this increase is crucial in order to ensure that our seniors can retire with dignity.

Bill C-26 proposes adding a separate new tier to the current CPP. This new CPP tier would be implemented gradually over the next nine years, until 2025, and basically does the following two things: first of all, it raises the income replacement rate from 25% under the current CPP to 33%; second, it raises the earnings ceiling from where it is today at $54,900 to $82,700.

Once the transition period is complete in 2025, it will still be 40 years before people receive the full enhanced benefit. The first workers who will receive the full benefit are now 16 years old. Someone who is 59 in 2019 and who makes higher contributions for six years before retiring in 2025 at the age of 65 will receive no additional benefit.

It will take time for the changes to come into effect. The NDP believes that certain measures should be taken immediately to help seniors and Canadians on the verge of retiring who will not benefit from these changes.

The government needs to leverage the energy generated by this agreement and do what it takes to improve long-term retirement security for today's workers. It must respond to Quebec's concerns about the impact of this enhancement on low-income workers.

The NDP will keep fighting for other increases to the guaranteed income supplement and old age security as well as the national pharmacare program and the program to improve home care and palliative care.

As is often the case with the Liberals, when we take a closer look at their proposals, we quickly realize that everything is not always perfect. In fact, we need only look at some of the details of this bill to realize that some things are not as we would like them to be. One of them is the child rearing drop-out provision. That is a failure. As the NDP critic for families, children, and social development, I am having a great deal of difficulty understanding and accepting that the Liberals have not kept this child rearing drop-out provision, which is currently in the CPP. This measure ensures that women are not penalized for having left the labour market for a period of time in order to raise children. The Liberal bill also eliminates a similar clause for people who have received disability benefits under the CPP.

It is all very well to increase CPP benefits, but that is not all that should be done. The NDP worked very hard for the CPP to become a reality, and we are going to work very hard to ensure that this bill is not inequitable.

Do members know why I am talking about inequality? It is because women are penalized for having children. Only 4.5% of women receive the maximum amount of benefits. I was really shocked to learn that because we have a Prime Minister who brags at every opportunity that his government supports women and that he is working hard to improve gender parity.

The Prime Minister is squandering an opportunity. I think it is safe to say that he has missed the mark. On the contrary, his government's bill is creating more inequality. It is not right. The fact that the Liberals do not even see the problem makes even less sense.

What we need to keep in mind is that 63% of low-income seniors living alone are women. Does the House understand how high that number is? We in the NDP think that this is unacceptable.

I see this reality in my riding. I see many seniors struggling to make ends meet at the end of the month, and they only make it thanks to the incredible commitment of community organizations back home such as St-Hyacinthe volunteer centre or the Acton Vale volunteer centre. They help our less fortunate seniors every day. Through their engagement and drive, these volunteers make seniors feel less isolated, get them to socialize, and help them continue making an invaluable contribution to the community, which in turn helps improve their quality of life and that of all our fellow citizens. Through their work, they constantly reflect the values of our wonderful community: independence, sharing, caring, loyalty, respect, dignity, and solidarity.

These two volunteer centres have been working with all of the other organizations in the Saint-Hyacinthe region for many years in order to promote volunteer work and help overcome the many challenges associated with meeting the community's growing needs. It is their desire to always want to do more for others that makes such a big difference.

It is time that the Liberal government followed suit. As the Prime Minister has said, in 2016, we cannot allow women to receive fewer benefits because they had to leave the labour market for a time to go on maternity leave. Allowing this to happen basically amounts to gender discrimination. It is unthinkable to give senior women 30% lower benefits than men.

Enhancing the CPP is one step, but more must be done to correct its flaws and injustices. The NDP wants to do more for people. That is why we believe in developing a holistic vision and improving Canada's socioeconomic safety net. That is what we are trying to do with my Bill C-245, which would create a national poverty reduction strategy to make things better for our seniors throughout their lives, not just in retirement.

That is the kind of holistic vision we need to develop to achieve a more inclusive and just society that leaves nobody behind. Doug MacPherson, national coordinator for the Steelworkers Organization, agrees. He welcomes the proposed CPP changes, but says they are an inadequate response to the critical situation facing many working Canadians when they reach retirement. He added that the government, which prides itself on passing evidence-based legislation, obviously failed to see the situation clearly this time around. Mr. MacPherson also said that it should be clear the current system has some serious flaws that the proposed Canada pension plan changes will not fix.

Let us work together to help all seniors, but above all, our senior women.