Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent. This is actually the first chance I have had to share my time with him.
The latest election returned a lot of new members from the Quebec City region. We are very proud to have them here in the House of Commons to participate in this important work. I am particularly proud to have my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent here with us. He is a passionate and talented MP whom the esteemed journalist, Jacques Samson, even compared to Peter Stastny.
We like having high scorers on our team. These days, we really need good net minders because the Liberal government seems keen on racking up deficits like hat tricks. Unfortunately, taxpayers end up paying the price, particularly those who need help the most.
That is why I am rising in the House today. I want to make it clear that, on behalf of the people of Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, I will oppose this bill. In theory, the Liberals seem to want to help the middle class, but the fact is that they will do exactly the opposite, as I am about to show.
Through the tax measures they have proposed, the Liberals seem to want to drive those most in need of help into poverty and debt. These measures will prevent the public, which does not always have access to tax shelters, from saving and setting money aside tax-free.
According to the Institut de la statistique du Québec, the median employment income of workers in Bellechasse between the ages of 25 and 64 is $38,289. The median income for workers in Lévis in the same age bracket is $46,384. Those data are from 2013, so they are quite recent.
The measure we are talking about today does very little, since it is really a tax cut only for those who earn an annual salary of $45,282 or more. Anyone who earns less than $45,282 gets nothing.
What is more, this bill is not revenue neutral. In other words, in order to pay for a tax cut for those who earn more than $45,000, those who earn less will be forced into debt and therefore into poverty. That is the reality with regard to the bill currently before us. The Liberals are saying that they have something else, but today we are talking about Bill C-2.
People who earn less than $45,000 will see the government debt, our collective debt, increase so that those who earn over $45,282 can pay 1.5% less in taxes. That also applies to those who earn $150,000, $200,000 or $300,000 a year. Everyone with an income in the $45,282 to $90,563 tax bracket, the so-called middle class, will be eligible for these savings.
However, 70% of the population earns less than $35,000, so one can only imagine how many people have incomes less than $45,000. All of these people will get poorer because the measure is not revenue neutral. Tax savings come at a cost. According to Statistics Canada, the nearly 18 million people who earn less than $35,000 a year will go into debt and become poorer because of this measure.
Speaking of the middle class, it is really a Liberal myth. Who is part of the middle class? It is difficult to determine and could be defined in a number of ways. Some say that the middle class is the portion of the population that is neither rich nor poor. However, what is the middle class? I would like to share what renowned Quebec economist Pierre Fortin has to say on the matter.
He considers the middle class to include families with incomes between $44,660 and $95,700 per year. A typical family has two incomes. Once again, families that fit the definition of middle class do not earn enough to benefit from the Liberals' tax cut. That is the reality.
However, people who earn $150,000, $200,000, $300,000 or $500,000 a year will pass go and collect their savings of 1.5% on the portion of their income that falls within that tax bracket. That speaks volumes. I gave the average income of people in Bellechasse. I gave the average income of people in Les Etchemins. We are talking about $38,000 a year. The measure that the Liberals are proposing kicks in at a minimum of $45,000 per year and therefore does not apply. It is not good for Lévis, it is not good for Bellechasse, and it is not good for nearly 70% of the Canadian population.
What we know is that this will create a deficit. The parliamentary budget officer said so. He said that this measure would lead to a deficit. Obviously it is the taxpayers who will have to pay. That is the main reason I am against the measure before us today. It is in stark contrast to the tax measures and policies that our government put in place over the past 10 years.
Yesterday, I was reading Le Soleil, and Romain Gagné, from Quebec City, said:
From the...2008-09 recession through all the subsequent years until 2014, Canada had the strongest economic growth of the G7 countries, with 15.6% [growth, surpassing the Americans]. The debt burden was the lowest of the G7 countries at 15.6% versus 13.5% for the United States, and the middle class was the wealthiest of the G20 countries, according to a study cited by the New York Times.
Indeed, we have sound fiscal management, but we also put in place effective measures, not like the ones in Bill C-2, which do nothing for the workers in Bellechasse and Les Etchemins who do not earn $45,000 a year, who earn less. Our measures helped those who needed it most. That is what our government did. That is how we ended up in The New York Times with the wealthiest middle class in the G20.
It was because we brought in income splitting for seniors. More than a million senior couples were able to benefit from it. Hon. members will recall that in 2011, we increased the guaranteed income supplement to help the most vulnerable. We also implemented a number of tax measures, including more than 100 tax cuts, ensuring that the average family would benefit from a tax cut of more than $5,000.
We can be very proud of the fact that the tax-free savings account helps 2.7 million seniors. That is another thing that this bill attacks. The Liberals want to restrict this safe and flexible savings option. They want to prevent Canadians from having tax-sheltered savings. They want to push us into debt and give the rich a break, at the expense of those who earn less. In short, that is the rather obvious reason why I oppose this measure.
I would like to remind members that over the past 10 years, under a Conservative government, almost 400,000 seniors were taken off the tax rolls. We did not go looking for money in the tax brackets for those earning a lot of money, but we did, in a way, erode the tax base so that those who earn less no longer pay taxes. Those are the responsible and progressive tax measures that the Conservative Party introduced. That is not at all what we have in Bill C-2.
In closing, it seems that when the Liberals moved from the opposition to the government benches, they forgot what they had said. I would like to quote the member from Papineau, who, on May 13, 2015, said:
Mr. Speaker, if the Prime Minister thinks that wealthy families like his and mine should be getting new benefits, then I look forward to the debates.
That is what we are talking about today. Society's highest-earning members are giving themselves a tax cut. Those who earn the least, such as the people of Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, are being taken for a ride because they will have to foot the bill for the deficit and pick up the pieces. We are talking about $8.9 billion over the next six years.
We will stand up for taxpayers and families, for the people who most need help, and we will vote against the Liberal government's bill, which will make the neediest even poorer.