Madam Speaker, I am rising once again to speak to Bill C-26, an act to amend the Canada Pension Plan, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act and the Income Tax Act, at third reading. I feel strongly that this will be one of the largest tax increases in Canada's history and it will disproportionately impact middle-class Canadians.
During the second reading debate, I was asked a question by the member for Avalon concerning my comments made at that time, that this CPP increase was a tax hike given that if contributors to the program died before they were eligible to claim CPP benefits, the entirety of these accrued benefits would not flow to their partners or their dependents.
The member for Avalon pointed out that because he, a sitting member of parliament, was receiving CPP survivor benefits, this major CPP contribution rate hike was not a tax.
I would like to make a couple of observations regarding the member's assertion.
Only persons who are not collecting CPP pensions are eligible for the survivor benefit. These individuals can qualify for up to 60% of the contributor's retirement pension if the surviving spouse or common-law partner is not receiving other CPP benefits.
Even under the most generous of circumstances, the spouse or common-law partner of someone who had paid into the CPP his or her entire working life would only be able to collect a maximum of 60% of his or her pension, and this would not be done as a lump sum payment but rather in installments.
If a family experienced a tragedy where both the contributor and his or her spouse or common-law partner were unable to collect CPP benefits, these full benefits would not be passed on to the children or grandchildren.
On the other hand, if that same person had consistently contributed to a registered retirement savings plan, the entire value of those contributions would be passed on to his or her next of kin, regardless of whether that person had his or her own CPP pension.
As the member knows, RRSPs invest in securities that hold similar risk profiles to investments made by the CPP Investment Board, so the risk of losses are comparable to the CPP.
I would assert, once more, that this is a tax hike. There is really no way way around that.
For greater clarity, let us look at the dictionary definition of the word “tax”, which is “A compulsory contribution to state revenue, levied by the government on workers' income and business profits”.
The CPP contributions are compulsory. They are being levied by the government on income, and they are going to be used by the federal government to provide for pensions. Therefore, it is a tax.
Also, the Liberals are not being forthcoming with the actual size of the increase in CPP premiums they would be imposing on contributors. The Liberals should call a spade a spade and admit that it is a tax hike and tell folks making more than $54,000 just how much more they will have to pay out of each paycheque.
Today, Canadians are contributing 10% of their income between the basic exemption, which is $3,500, and the maximum pensionable earnings amount, which is $54,900, into the CPP. When the bill is fully implemented, contributions on income between the minimum threshold and $54,000 will increase from 10% to 12%. CPP contributions on income between $54,000 and $82,000 will increase from zero to 12%. CPP contributions on incomes of $82,000 and above would increase from zero to 8%. That is hardly a gentle push to save more.
This would one of the largest single-year increases in taxes for middle-class Canadians in Canada's history, and it would be middle-class Canadians who would be bearing the largest increase in premiums relative to their income.
Every Canadian making more than $54,000 would see the percentage of each paycheque that would go to the CPP increase by significantly more than 2%.
Many will see their contribution rates rise by up to eight percentage points. That is 8% more of each paycheque they will not take home. Anybody who claims that increasing CPP contributions by eight percentage points will not have an impact on a family's bottom line is just wrong.
In a country like Canada where credit is fairly easily available, people can replace the income they will lose from the increase in mandatory contributions through greater borrowing. There are a number of Canadians who will not be able to reduce their overall household expenditures by 8% to maintain a balanced budget and may be put in the position where they have to borrow in order to continue to afford their mortgage or car payments, for example. While it is unwise to borrow money to offset any decrease in income by an increase in CPP premiums, it probably will happen.
For folks making above $54,000 per year looking to pay off their mortgage as quickly as possible, or individuals who may be looking to pay off their student loans earlier, the reduction in take-home pay will have a real impact on how quickly they can pay off their debt. Are people really better off if they are putting aside more money for retirement instead of paying off their mortgage or their debts more quickly?
This legislation would not increase take-home pay. It would not create new money. Therefore, an increase in payments in one area of household expenditures necessitates a decrease in another. Unfortunately, with the recklessness that the Liberals are entering Canada into long-term structural deficits, they do not seem to realize that families have to stick to a budget and make ends meet. The buck stops there.
Folks in my riding have also pointed out that higher payroll taxes negatively impact the competitiveness of businesses. One area it will really hurt is self-employed individuals who will have to pay both the employer and employee portion of the CPP. Therefore, they will have less capital to put back into their businesses.
A financial planner from Martensville made the following point to me, which I hope the finance minister will take seriously. He said that he encouraged those young people who came to him for financial advice to start saving even just a small amount for their retirement while they were young. However, he said now these same young people would be forced to divert that small amount to the CPP rather than their own savings and retirement plans.
With this CPP tax hike, the Liberal government is actually discouraging young people from saving by taking the small amount that they might have been able to put into a TFSA or an RRSP and taxing it away. If we want Canadians to save for their future, why would we take away their choice on how to do just that?
I am hopeful that all those new nominally independent senators will undertake due diligence and not simply rubber stamp what is clearly ruinous legislation to middle-class Canadians. The CPP is a contribution program. An increase in benefits is only made possible by a corresponding increase in contributions. Depending on their circumstances, Canadians may or may not get back what they put into the program, as I mentioned earlier in my comments. Every household will have to adjust to the reality that the government does not trust it enough to save for its retirement and can only begin to worry about what the Liberals plan to do next to make Canadians, who knows, eat more vegetables, exercise more regularly, and the list goes on and on.