Mr. Speaker, this is an interesting time, when we talk about Bill C-2. I come from a very strong rural riding, but it is also a riding that is one of the few in Canada that has two auto plants not related to each other. Therefore, I have a broad cross-section of Canadians. When people ask what is middle income, nobody seems to know, but one consensus is that it is always somebody who makes $10,000 more than I do. The difficulty, when we start to talk about what we are doing for middle-income people, is that there is no real definition of it.
We talk about what the Conservative Party did, and I think you, Mr. Speaker, might have been here when we reduced the HST from 7% to 6% to 5%. I think members would agree that everybody benefited from that.
This change being brought forward was be revenue neutral. Revenue neutral would mean that they would take from Peter and give to Paul, but it would not cost Mary anything in the middle. As it turns out, the Liberals abandoned the promise and according to the PBO, Bill C-2's changes would cost Canadians $8.9 billion over the next six years.
I think members recognize that when governments accumulate debt, and when we are in a position that we are in now when the economy is not that bad—it is fragile but it is still growing—it does not mean we will pay it. It is not like a mortgage when we buy a house and intend to pay it off in a certain length of time. Government debt always ends up being paid by the next generation or generations. When I look at it, I recognize that we are putting this debt not only on my grandchildren but on their heirs. The debts that we build up in our time here are very important.
By taking the debt and doing what they would do for a small benefit to some people, and it would be so small that they would not be able to retain it, the Liberals have not shown us what the real advantage would be to the economy, other than we know we would add $8.9 billion to debt. This does not make sense.
Those good people in Oxford who are the farm people, the people who work in the auto assembly plants, the firemen, the policemen and the teachers, are they the middle-class people? I do not know, but they are concerned that these debts will be added on to their children and grandchildren. We need some transparency that goes along with this.
When we said that we would reduce the HST from 7% to 6% to 5%, everybody knew what that meant. It meant that everybody was going to save on their tax dollars. We recognized that tax dollars were not for the government; they were for the people. It is not for the government to decide that the tax money should be taken from pockets of people' and to spend it willy-nilly. It is to do things for the government.
Unfortunately, in this case, we are past that point. We are looking at adding billions of dollars, and I am not sure whether anybody has calculated exactly what that will be. Some economists have said it will be $150 billion over the Liberals' term in office. That is a lot of money.
We just went through the worst downturn in the Canadian economy since the Great Depression, and we know that cost money. The deficit went up and the debt went up. However, we handed over a surplus. We should be looking at starting to pay it down, as we did in our first three years in government. Canadians are starting to see the sunny ways turn into dark cloudy days, and we are handing that big debt to our children to pay.
The tax-free savings account is one area that has been focused on a great deal. I know, when I talk to people in my riding about the tax-free savings account, they see no benefit in reducing the contribution limit. We have not heard why it is so important to reduce the contribution limit, other than if the Conservatives did it, it must be bad so we will go back to where it was. I hear from young people who say that they want to save that money to buy a house. There is a difference between RRSPs and tax-free savings accounts. When people want to buy a home out of an RRSP, it just means they have another debt. They can take their money out, but it has to be paid back or they have to pay the tax on it.
These young people, who are smart enough, and there are many of them, recognize that they can put the money into a tax-free savings account. It will not grow by leaps and bounds, but it will grow. They can take the money out to purchase a home. They do not have to put the money back in, but they do have an opportunity to put that same amount back into the tax-free savings account. It is a totally different scenario, so many are looking at that.
Many middle-aged people are looking at the TFSA as an opportunity to build for their retirement. They are not anxious to take part in the new scheme in Ontario, for instance. The Ontario government wants to have its own pension plan, something like the CPP, but we do not know exactly what it is. These middle-aged people are not interested in that. They want to save for themselves, to put that money away for when they retire.
To think that it would make sense to cut back the TFSA is illogical. It does not cost anything. The government's losses in revenues from that would be minimal. It is just a slap in the face of those people who felt the need to put the money away.
As we know, the vast majority of people who put their money in a tax-free savings account would perhaps be deemed to be in the lower half of the income brackets. They are not high-income people. This is a penalty on people who can least afford it, people who would like to save for their future, who do not want to be part of a nanny state. They want their own money they have saved for their retirement. In many cases, it also includes young people who want to save for their education or to go back to school. They may want to buy a house or a car. They may want to start a business.
Therefore, when we look at it, we wonder why the government would want to cut this back. What is the harm in leaving it where it is? It is a big harm to the people who wish to save, but no harm to the coffers of the federal government.
To turn around and have the tax break we are talking about today, which we know will be minimal—I heard a number today of $1 a day—what is the benefit in that? One cannot even buy a coffee with that, although there is one chain that is giving away free coffee now, but it is rather difficult to see how that $1 or $2 a day would make a great deal of difference to the average Canadian. It is different from when the HST was reduced. We knew what it would do for the auto industry, the recreational industry, and the equipment industry, all of those.
We have not heard what this is going to do. No one can say “We'll see an increase in productivity”, or “We'll see an increase in opportunities for manufacturers.” It just is not there.
However, what we do know from the PBO, and I am sure everyone on that side agrees with the PBO now, is that it will cost $8.9 billion over the next six years. That is just a number that gets added to the growing deficit that we hear about.
We heard during the election campaign that we would have a $10 billion deficit. That $10 billion deficit was one of the 300 promises made. Now that $10 billion deficit seems to have grown to $30 billion. When we put $30 billion here and there, I know it is just a number and that budgets will balance themselves eventually, but somehow they get balanced by our young people, our families, our grandchildren. It is just not fair that we push this on to them. We have been doing it for far too long as a nation and a province.
I am from the province of Ontario, so when we put our debt here, along with the Province of Ontario's debt, we can just imagine the kind of money that our young people will have fished out of their pockets to pay for what we have not paid for. It just does not make sense in the big picture of society.
I am really puzzled as to why we would want to support taking away just one little thing, the tax-free savings account. It just does not make any sense.
I can see, Mr. Speaker, that you are getting anxious to stand up, so I do not want to take away your time when you stand up and tell us we are finished.
I know that on this side, we do not understand why the government would deny people the opportunity to save their own money. That is really what it is: they are saving their own money.