Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak today about the dynamic, entrepreneurial culture we enjoy here in Canada. Small business is the real economic driver in our country. More than three-quarters of all new jobs across this land are created by small business. In fact, more than one-third of the GDP in our country comes from small business. One would think that with that kind of economic impact on our country, the government would listen to small business.
Small business owners have been asking the government to reduce and regulate credit card merchant fees. Why? It is because credit card merchant fees in Canada are among the highest in the world. Only the United States pays more. Other countries, such as Australia and the U.K., have regulated credit card merchant fees because they recognize that small business needs government support.
In 2013 the Competition Tribunal of Canada ruled that the fees charged by credit card companies were excessive, and the tribunal called on the government to regulate the industry. What is the government doing? The Liberal member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles introduced a private member's bill that would empower the Minister of Finance to limit credit card merchant fees, but the government keeps delaying debate on the bill. In fact, it is now eight times that debate on Bill C-236 has moved.
When I raised this issue in question period, the Minister of Finance said: “The previous government put in place an agreement with the credit card companies that we have reviewed. It appears to be working.” It is clear from his response that the minister and his Liberal government have no intention of bringing fairness and transparency to the payments industry in Canada.
Each month, small business owners review their credit card statements from the bank to see how much money they paid the bank for credit card transactions. Meanwhile, banks are enjoying record profits. This March the Bank of Montreal said it had made about $1.5 billion in the first quarter. Royal Bank profit is up 24%, at $3 billion, and CIBC profits were up 13%. Banks also compound the impact of merchant fees by relentlessly pushing consumers to use credit cards for their everyday purchases, enticing consumers with offers of double and triple reward points. Perhaps the Minister of Finance was referring to the banks when he said credit card merchant fees are working.
These merchant fees raise the price of goods for consumers and prevent small businesses from growing and creating jobs. Instead of paying these exorbitant fees, small business owners could and would use that money to pay higher wages and invest in innovation and recapitalization. The evidence is clear: credit card merchant fees are too high in Canada.
I urge the government to immediately move to cap credit card merchant fees to a reasonable rate. We must protect our small retailers. I will continue to press the government to live up to that responsibility.