Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to debate Bill C-2, which was introduced in December and is now being debated in the House.
Middle-class families are losing ground even though they are working harder than ever. What these families need is a government that is concerned about their situation and will fight against growing inequality. Unfortunately, we see that this government is doing the opposite. Liberals have repeated for months and months that they have a plan for the middle class. They promised quick, urgent and positive change. However, we see today that we know very little about how these major changes will happen and even less about when they will happen.
Bill C-2 was a golden opportunity to make good on these promises and to put words into action. Unfortunately, the Liberals' plan is quite disappointing.
The Liberals' proposed tax plan does nothing for 60% of Canadians, six out of 10 Canadians. Once again, the wealthy are the ones who will benefit. The NDP put forward solutions that would benefit a large number of Canadians and would allow a fairer distribution of tax cuts: boosting the national child benefit supplement, increasing the guaranteed income supplement, creating a $15-a-day national child care program for all Canadian families, and restoring the tax credit for labour-sponsored funds. These realistic, progressive measures would provide real help for the middle class.
The Liberals campaigned on a platform focused on the middle class. As my colleague from Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques mentioned in his speech in the House, we want to know how the Liberal Party defines the middle class. This is a legitimate and important question. This government keeps promising tax cuts for the middle class. However, as the parliamentary budget officer explained very clearly in his report, the real middle class will not benefit from this government's promised tax cut. A tax cut for the middle class should benefit the middle class.
When we really look at the Liberal plan, it is quite clear that unfortunately, it does not make sense. The median income in Canada is about $31,000 a year. Obviously, this means that half of Canadians earn less than $31,000 a year and the other half earns more than $31,000 a year.
If we imagine a pizzeria worker in my riding who earns $20,000 a year, will he benefit from this tax cut? Unfortunately, no. Will a social worker who earns $43,000 a year benefit from this tax cut? The answer is still no. The reality is that someone who works hard and earns $50,000 a year will probably receive only $20 or $30. Is that real change?
One has to wonder who is really going to benefit from this change. Who is really going to benefit from these cuts? Who could benefit? When we look closely at the figures, we see that this will benefit people who earn more than $90,000 a year. What is more, someone who earns $200,000 a year will get the most out of this tax cut. Saying that this will benefit the middle class is not entirely true.
I hope I did not lose too many of my colleagues with all those figures, but they are important in understanding just how much hard-working families, our seniors who often live in poverty, and the real middle class will unfortunately not benefit from these measures.
If we take the median income, people will receive nothing. If we take the income that everyone associates with the middle class, in other words, $45,000, people will receive nothing. Those who will receive the biggest slice of the tax-cut pie are the top 20% income earners. That is not the middle class. The Liberals' proposed tax cuts will help the rich, not students or young families.
When I talk to groups in my riding and my constituents about this, they are disappointed. Like me, and like most Canadians, they expected the tax cuts to help those who need it most and to benefit the real middle class.
During the election campaign, people who believed they were part of the middle class were told over and over again, for nearly 80 days, that they would finally have room to breathe and that they would be given tax breaks. Today, they are realizing that that is not the case.
Unfortunately, the middle class will not benefit from these measures; only the richest 20% will. That is what the figures say. When middle-class Canadians file their income tax returns, they will be surprised, and not in a good way.
In fact, most Canadians will see that they cannot benefit from the tax cuts that this government promised them. Only 20% of the population will be eligible for the tax cuts, even though they were supposed to give the middle class some breathing room.
The fact that the tax breaks will benefit those who earn $200,00 a year and not those who earn $39,000 shows just how inequitable the proposed tax breaks make the tax system. That is really unfortunate.
After the bill to amend the Income Tax Act was introduced, I read with interest what Luc Godbout, an eminent tax expert in Quebec, had to say about it. When looking at how this would affect couples, he determined that, if a couple had a combined income of $250,000 a year, they could receive a tax break of up to $1,120. However, a hardworking couple in my riding with a combined income of $75,000 a year, who sometimes has trouble making ends meet, would receive an average of zero to four dollars. That is really disappointing.
The NDP developed a plan to fix the Liberals' tax plan, to ensure that the government's measures truly reflect its campaign promises. Our plan would reduce the tax burden on middle-class and lower-class workers. We urge the Liberals to take our suggestions so that we can help those who truly need it.
Our plan is simple. The NDP calls on the government to lower the tax rate for Canadians in the first tax bracket from 15% to 14%, instead of lowering the tax rate for Canadians in the second tax bracket. This way, eight out of ten taxpayers would see a change in the amount of tax they pay. This solution would benefit many more taxpayers. Under our proposal, people earning the median income could see a reduction of up to $250 a year, but these people get nothing under the existing plan.
Our concrete proposal could really help the middle class. That is what the people of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot and the 337 other ridings want.