Madam Speaker, before I get into the substance of the debate, I would like to draw the members' attention to the fact that I am wearing the prostate cancer tie. As members are aware, November is also known as “Movember”, a month dedicated to raising awareness about prostate cancer.
Quebec has had a wonderful initiative in place since 2010 to support the Fondation du CHU de Québec, which works on prostate cancer research and prevention. Since 2010, a tie has been available for purchase for men to wear to show their support, which is what I am doing today.
This tie is a Surmesur boutique signature design, and this initiative is supported by Pierre Jobin, TVA's new anchor. I applaud him for his involvement, and I want to thank everyone in Quebec for wearing the tie for prostate cancer.
We are here today to talk about Bill C-26, and you tabled all the amendments that we Conservatives proposed, with the support of my colleague, the member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola.
I want to pay my respects to you, Madam Speaker, because I have never heard my name so many times in such a short time. I am quite sure that my parents are very proud of that.
We are talking today about the Canada pension plan. It is crystal clear, because there is a huge difference between the vision of the government and our vision. The vision of the government is to pick up more money from the pockets of the people, to pick up more money from the pockets of business owners and essentially those who create wealth and create jobs, whereas our view is to give more tools to people to make their own choices on what they believe is important and to give them the tools to put money aside for retirement.
That is why we object so strongly to Bill C-26. Our parties have two opposing views. At least that much is clear. In politics, sometimes we find some good points in things that we must nevertheless oppose, and vice versa. Sometimes we find that kind of balance in politics.
In this instance, the matter is crystal clear. On the one hand, there is the Liberal vision, which involves taking more money out of Canadians' pockets. On the other hand, there is our vision, which, in contrast, involves giving people tools that enable them to make their own choices regarding saving for retirement based on their own priorities, their income, and their way of life.
Bill C-26 essentially seeks to increase the contributions that workers currently make to CPP. We are currently being taxed roughly 9.9% and the bill would increase that rate to 11.9%.
In other words, this means that the average worker will pay up to $1,000 more a year. For business owners, this means an extra $1,000 per employee. That is why we believe this is not the right thing to do. The government picking taxpayers' pockets and charging business owners more money is bad for the economy. We will have the opportunity to come back to this with some serious statistics to show the consequences.
For seniors, this bill does not change anything. They will not get a penny more and that is a fact. The other thing is that we will have to wait not two, five, 10, or 20 years, but 40 years before this measure takes effect. At the risk of being ageist, I have to say that many of my colleagues will no longer be here in 40 years. I am 52 now, which means I will be 92. I have good genes. My parents are 92 and 93 and in good health. I might be lucky, but one never knows.
People will have to wait 40 years, or two generations, before there is a direct, tangible, and real impact. That is a long time. While they wait, workers and business people will pay even more, which is not a good thing.
We recognize that there are still some seniors living on low incomes today; however, the situation has greatly improved. In 1970, about one in three retirees were living on a low income, compared to 3% today. That is quite the improvement and it is due to the personal savings measures that we established.
The amount saved by Canadians is an important factor. The best way to improve our situation is to save, and Canadians have saved more over the years. In 1990, people saved 7.7% of their income, whereas today they save about twice as much, or 14.1%.
There have been two improvements over the years: the improvement in the situation of seniors and the increase in Canadians' savings. That is why we, the Conservatives, want to move in that direction. We want to provide Canadians with stronger, more responsive, more pertinent, and more effective tools that enable individuals to make their own decisions, according to their conscience, and based on their priorities, income, and choices that suit them. The government must provide savings tools rather than taking more money out of people's pockets.
This bill will be detrimental to the economy. We, the Conservatives, are not the ones saying so. I am pointing this out today, but I am basing what I say on the conclusions of the Department of Finance, which found in a study that this would negatively impact all vectors of the economy. It forecasts reductions in employment, GDP, private investment, disposable income, and personal savings. Those would be the results of Bill C-26.
Baseball players get three strikes and then they are out. This bill has five strikes against Canadians and the country's economy. Not only does this bill take $1,000 out of people's pockets and charge business owners $1,000 more per employee, it also affects the five key drivers of job creation, savings, and wealth.
We find that unacceptable. That is why we strongly oppose Bill C-26 and why we introduced 69 amendments to eliminate 69 clauses. It makes sense. The amendments that were read earlier show our fierce opposition to every hyphen, semicolon, and letter that do not belong in this bill.
Now let us talk about some things that are quite interesting and important about the future, which is the retirement age.
As members know, people's health has improved. When Canada decided to implement the Canada pension plan a few decades ago in the 1960s, the reality was not the same as today. In the 1960s, the life expectancy of men was 68, but today it is 79. It is 11 years more than when the Canada pension plan was tabled. It is along the same track for women, whose life expectancy in the 1960s was 74 and today is 83. Therefore, the health of people is better and people live longer.
However, the government decided a month ago to cancel the previous government's decision to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67 and return it to 65. This was one of the worst economic decisions made by the current government. There are so many bad decisions, but one of the worst for its long-term effects is its change to the retirement age.
In 2012, when the previous Conservative government addressed this issue, for sure it was very courageous in addressing what was a very difficult issue, and for sure realistic and responsible, because it was the right thing to do and we did it with pride. Unfortunately, the current government has failed to recognize the reality of that. This is why today it will cost Canada billions of dollars more. The current government has failed to recognize the reality of the fact that people live longer, and with that, we can achieve so much more.
Given the current circumstances, lowering the age of retirement from 67 to 65 is one of the worst decisions this government has made.
In 2012, the Conservative government made a courageous decision that was not easy to explain to Canadians. However, we made it with honour and dignity because it was realistic and extremely important for Canada's economic future. Unfortunately, this government decided to reverse that decision and change the age of retirement from 67 back to 65.
That does not make any sense, particularly when we take into account the fact that there is a longer life expectancy. When the Canada pension plan was designed in the 1960s, life expectancy was 68 years for men and 74 years for women. Today, the life expectancy of men is 79, while women can expect to live to 83.
Since Canadians have a longer life expectancy and are in better health, they can continue to work longer. However, this government decided to bring the age of retirement back to 65.
The sad part is that this was not an easy thing for the Conservatives to do. We recognize that. It was a politically difficult decision to make. However, that was what had to be done, and the measure was implemented. It became a fait accompli, and the public accepted that decision.
However, now, the government is reversing that decision, which is sad because it will have a major impact on the rest of the economy.