Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleagues who support the bill and who have spoken so well to the merits of it.
This legislation would help all seniors today by removing a punishing withdrawal structure that would harm the retirement savings of Canadians. Before I reiterate the specific benefits of the bill, I want to thank the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, who spoke in favour of the bill during the first hour of debate. He said that he strongly encouraged support of the bill at second reading so we could at least bring it to committee, further study it, and hear from expert witnesses.
I also want to address comments made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, who both spoke in opposition to the bill in the first hour. Neither of them pointed out specific potential harms of this bill, but rather launched into lengthy platitudes about how great the government was for forcing the CPP expansion. Their argument is meaningless because supporting Bill C-26 and supporting Bill C-301 are not not mutually exclusive. The government members can support both bills without one impacting the other. I look at the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford for this example. He doing both, and he has not exactly burst into flames because of it.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance elaborated on the benefits of the previous Conservative government's sensible lowering of the RRIF withdrawal rates in 2015. I congratulate him on this non-partisan behaviour and encourage him to continue to do this by supporting Bill C-301, which is the logical extension of the 2015 reduction.
In supporting the 2015 reduction, the member acknowledges that RRIF rates are out of touch with the changing realities of life expectancy and savings investments. Because government will never react enough to minimize the harms to seniors caught in the middle, the logical next step is to eliminate these rules entirely and stop punishing seniors for daring to have savings. I hope the member realizes his inconsistent logic in supporting the 2015 reduction but opposing this extension, and reconsiders his position.
He next made misleading arguments on tax deferral by implying that this legislation would allow Canadians to avoid taxes entirely. This is false and he is wrong. The government would get what it is owed. The only difference is that with Bill C-301, seniors would decide when it was best to withdraw their savings and be taxed. Government is not going anywhere and neither, by extension, is the tax man. Government can wait, especially if it means our seniors are better off.
The member then doubled down on his flawed tax-exemption argument, but it was also an irrelevant point. He said that the bill could motivate seniors to press for tax exemptions, which would be contrary to the basic principles of our fiscal policy. I am not certain what the member was trying to get at. I wonder if he is seriously basing his opposition around the idea that just maybe in the future some people might push for better tax treatment. I wonder what is next? Maybe the government needs to take money from seniors because some might spend it on beer and popcorn.
His last argument is just as nonsensical. He said that this bill would create major intergenerational disparity, and we heard that earlier today as well, because older seniors had been forced to withdraw their savings already. I am very much unclear on what the member is thinking. I think he may misunderstand the parliamentary system entirely. I just want to clarify for him that every law that we change affects Canadians unevenly.
The Liberals' own prized CPP tax hike would not benefit anyone for about 40 years, yet would raise taxes on several generations that would see zero benefit. Adding over $100 billion in debt for later generations to pay would do the same. His government is going to create the largest intergenerational disparity in Canadian history, but the Liberals argue against Bill C-301. I wish I could peek into the member's mind for a brief moment so I could witness the logic backflips he does to reconcile the support for the CPP tax hike and off-loading debt for future generations, but then opposes this sensible legislation because of intergenerational concerns.
Last, the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader said that he could not recall anyone from his constituency contacting him regarding RRIF withdrawals, that it was not a substantive point. It is probably because the member never asked. However, I asked, and CARP asked. We heard overwhelmingly that the bill was needed and wanted.
The bill would address real harms. Canadians are living longer, their investments are earning less, and the RRIF withdrawal structure is depleting the savings of our seniors at an unsustainable rate. These forced withdrawals negatively affect seniors in many ways, and disproportionately hurt low-income seniors. Forced withdrawals count as income, which needlessly triggers clawbacks of OAS, GIS, and needed provincial benefits. This matters for low-income seniors who rely on OAS and GIS for their daily expenses, but need to continue saving their RRIF for expected later-in-life expenses such as long-term care or care for their disabled children.
This bill is broadly supported. The Canadian Association of Retired Persons supports the bill because it would return financial control over savings back to seniors. It would not cost taxpayers a dime. According to the C.D. Howe Institute, it would probably benefit the treasury, not cost the half a billion dollars as made up by the other side.
This bill is badly needed. There is only one solution, and that is to eliminate the mandatory withdrawal and stop punishing seniors for saving. Let us allow Canadians to manage their retirement as they see fit. Enact this broadly supported and sound legislation. Let us send it to committee so Canadians can have their say.