Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for Flamborough—Glanbrook for the opportunity to share his time today. allowing me to make some remarks on Bill C-26.
I rise today to add my voice to the many others who have grave concerns about Bill C-26, and the Liberal plan to further erode the disposable income of hard-working Canadians and its negative impact on job creators.
Every member of Parliament in the House cares about the well-being of seniors. I believe each and every one of us wants to implement policies that will improve the quality of life of Canadians, while also balancing out the costs associated with those changes.
Over the past 50 years, there have been numerous policies introduced with the aim of assisting Canadians in preparing for retirement, changes such as the introduction of the Canada pension plan, old age security, the guarantee income supplement, registered retirement savings plans, and our previous Conservative government's landmark decision to implement tax-free savings accounts.
Through various governments of different political stripes, great improvements have been made, and the poverty level of seniors has dropped dramatically. According to Statistics Canada, the share of Canadian seniors living on low incomes has dropped from 29% in 1970 to 3.7% today, which is among the lowest in the world.
I believe it is vitally important we recognize that the CPP was originally introduced in 1965. When it was introduced, it was a much different world than we live in now. Many families had to get by with only one source of income, and gender inequalities were far too common. Millions of seniors lived in poverty, and many communities did not have affordable housing options for those who struggled to get by. Probably one of the most significant differences was the lack of financial literacy and the available savings vehicles that are now offered by the private sector.
In 2016, millions of Canadians have opened their own tax-free savings account, or have invested in mutual funds or the stock market through online trading brokerages. I am pleased that Canada's saving rate has climbed from 7.7% in 1990 to 14.1% today. This is a testament of how investing money and saving for retirement is at the top of people's priorities.
According to the Fraser Institute, the vast majority of Canadians are putting enough aside for retirement. In a document published by the institute, Canadians now hold $9.5 trillion in assets above and beyond CPP.
While the Liberals think they have the best of intentions, their policies to date have not grown the economy. They have put jobs at risk, and Canadians are worse off today than before the Liberals took office. Canadians cannot trust the government with their pensions. The Liberals have not been able to keep promises they made a year ago, let alone ones they are making for decades down the road.
What the legislation before us signifies is that the Liberal government does not trust Canadians with their own money. It is awfully rich to force Canadians to control their spending when the Liberals have moved past their own deficit projections to the tune of billions of dollars. I can assure the Liberal government that millions upon millions of Canadians are being responsible with their own money and do not need to take lessons from my hon. colleagues across the aisle.
A study by McKinsey & Company has found that 83% of Canadian households are on track to maintain their current living standards in retirement. Now 83% is not 100%, but it does not justify the punitive measures being proposed in Bill C-26.
Before the government moves any further with Bill C-26, it should stop assuming that Canadians are as spend happy as its own Liberal finance minister. Perhaps it is time for legislation to force the Liberal government to stop putting Canada's future generations at risk. That is legislation I could support.
I believe it is wrong to force Canadians to put more of their hard-earned dollars into a government-controlled pension plan rather than allowing them the flexibility to make their own investment decisions. We have a good balance in place, and it should be upheld until such time that evidence suggests otherwise.
If the legalisation before us passes as written, it will literally take money out of the wallets and purses of hard-working Canadians and their employers. In fact, it is very possible that some households will be paying up to $2,200 more per year when the changes are fully implemented.
While the Liberals pontificate about their middle-class tax cut, most of the savings will be eaten up through this CPP tax hike alone. This does not include the carbon tax, which will be unilaterally imposed on provinces and taxpayers in the years to come.
It baffles my mind that Liberals want to force Canadians to put more money into CPP, while at the same time eroding people's investing power into investments of their own choosing. It seems like an oxymoron to me.
I can assure the government that any reputable financial adviser would be able to provide a far more significant return than the government-run pension plan. It is projected that any Canadian who was born after 1972 can expect a real rate of return from the CPP of only 2.1%. Regardless of how well the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board does, the next generation of Canadians had better not be planning on a CPP bonanza due to its rate of returns.
Moreover, Bill C-26 is just another attack on Canadians who do their own financial investments. It is an attack on those who want nothing to do with putting more money into their CPP, as they like the current system. They resent the fact that their government thinks it can do better in saving money than themselves. As we all remember, it was just last year the Liberals clawed back people's tax-free savings accounts and limited the amount of money that could be invested without paying capital gains taxes.
While it is true that some Canadians are not financially prepared for retirement, we on this side of the House do not think that a payroll tax hike is the best or sustainable approach to assist those most in need. The reason why many Canadians are not financially prepared for retirement has nothing to do with the CPP itself, but is due to the fact that they do not have employment or are underemployed. The best way for the government to help Canadians prepare for retirement is to create the right economic environment for the creation of new high-paying jobs.
One of the loudest and most vocal critics of this payroll tax hike has been the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. It has repeatedly asked for the government to apply the brakes, as 70% of small business owners disagree with the notion that this CPP increase is modest as the government suggests it is.
For many small and medium-sized businesses, this legislation would cost them thousands of dollars each and every year. It has the potential to further slow our economic growth, while doing nothing to help those most in need. As I stated, a CPP increase will not help Canadians without a job.
An analysis by the C.D. Howe Institute shows that the Liberals' CPP plan would not benefit low-income workers. While their CPP payments would go up, it would be offset by clawbacks in their GIS benefits.
This is the classic Liberal two-step: give one dollar in the left pocket and take one out from the right. This is why I am very skeptical, as are many Canadians, that the Liberal carbon tax will be revenue neutral. Looking at new innovative ways to assist Canadians to save, such as the tax-free savings account and improving financial literacy, are tangible benefits that are proven to yield results.
Far too often, the government brings out a stick when a carrot would suffice. Levelling a job-killing payroll tax hike, which would reduce employment and Canada's GDP, is quite frankly asinine in today's economic turbulence. Payroll taxes, carbon taxes, small business taxes, and burdensome red tape are hindrances to job creation, to name only a few of the Liberals' regressive acts.
It is abundantly clear the government has no plan for the economy. It is even more worrisome to see it plunge Canada back into deficit, while at the same time its deficit spending has failed to spur our economy. There is little justification that would result in such a heavy-handed approach.
There are alternative ways to assist those who need it the most, and the Liberals showed that when they copied our Conservative move and increased guaranteed income supplements. I should note also that the Liberals ran on a pledge to review the consumer price index, which is used to calculate inflation. There are many other ways to help Canadians save for retirement than forcing through a one-size-fits-all approach.
I will never vote for legislation that financially hurts Canadians. No matter the size of the bow wrapped around this change in policy, it still remains a tax hike. Bill C-26 would not help our most vulnerable seniors in need. It would not create new jobs or grow the economy. It is the wrong approach to take. I call upon my Liberal colleagues to stand up for what is right and oppose the legislation before its impact financially hurts their constituents.
The reason so many of my Conservative colleagues have spoken to this bill, and more would do so if closure had not been moved, is that it is necessary to try, as responsible opposition, to influence the importance of cancelling the bill to the Liberal members for the reasons I have just articulated.