Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise in the House and discuss measures we are introducing through Bill C-74. The bill proposes important measures related to our budget 2018. With our latest budget, we are putting people first and ensuring equality and fairness for all Canadians.
We are doing this in a number of ways. These include initiatives that allow for more equal share of parental leave, an initiative to support the participation of women in the workforce, and the introduction of proactive pay equity legislation in federally regulated sectors.
We are also working hard to support Canada's most vulnerable segments of society, including seniors. The measures introduced in Bill C-74 help to do just that. It is no secret that Canada's population is aging, and Canadians are living longer and more healthy lives. This increasing longevity is good news and should be celebrated, because it brings with it more wisdom, expertise, and experience in society. However, this demographic shift also means that we need to adjust our policies and programs to ensure they remain relevant.
We have a growing seniors population, with over six million people who are 65 years of age or older. In the next 25 years, that number is estimated to almost double, to 11 million people, representing one-quarter of Canada's population. There is no doubt that private and public institutions alike must adapt, as the significant demographic shift creates new opportunities as well as challenges.
Our government places enormous value on the contribution that seniors have made and will continue to make in our communities, workplaces, families, and our country. It goes without saying that they should have access to income security that will allow them to live a safe, secure, and dignified retirement.
We have already taken concrete steps to ensure that seniors will have that dignified retirement. In the area of income security, it is well known that we have restored the eligibility age for old age security and guaranteed income supplement from age 67 back to 65, and for allowance benefits from age 62 back to 60. This is putting thousands of dollars into the pockets of Canadian seniors and keeping approximately 100,000 future seniors from falling into poverty. Since 2016, we have also increased the top-up of the guaranteed income supplement payment by $947 per year for single recipients. This has improved the financial security of close to 900,000 vulnerable seniors and is lifting approximately 13,000 seniors out of poverty. Seventy per cent of those seniors happen to be women. We are also ensuring that senior couples who receive GIS and allowance benefits and live apart for reasons beyond their control, for example, because of long-term care requirements, can receive higher benefits based on their individual incomes.
The Canada pension plan is one of the most important parts of our social support system. It is with great pride that I remind the House that in March 2017, our government enacted legislative changes to enhance the Canada pension plan to ensure greater financial security for future seniors by increasing CPP retirement benefits, and providing larger benefits for disabled contributors, widows, and widowers. The amount that Canadians pay into the plan before retirement will gradually rise over a seven-year period, starting in 2019. Increased benefits will build up gradually with each year of contributions to the CPP enhancement. When workers who participated in the enhancement for their entire careers collect retirement pensions, the CPP enhancement will increase the maximum CPP retirement pension by approximately 50%. These CPP enhancements mean more money for Canadians when they retire, so they can worry less about their savings and focus more on enjoying time with their families.
With the action taken by Quebec to enhance the Quebec pension plan in a similar fashion, all Canadians can now look forward to a safer and more secure retirement.
Building on that success, as part of the 2016-18 triennial review, federal and provincial ministers of finance agreed to more changes that will improve the CPP without increasing legislated contribution rates. These changes will provide further support from CPP enhancements for parents and people with disabilities. In our latest budget, we have confirmed that the government would move forward with these changes in 2019, in addition to those established through the CPP enhancements. With Bill C-74 we would put our promise to Canadians in action to create a better CPP for seniors today and into the future. This is why we are asking for the House's full support of Bill C-74.
The changes we are proposing in this bill include features that would protect the value of retirement benefits under the CPP enhancement for parents who take time off work to care for young children and for persons with disabilities. They also include a raise in the survivor's pension for individuals who become widowed under age 45 as well as a top-up benefit for disabled retirement pension recipients under the age of 65. We would increase the death benefit to its maximum value of $2,500 for all eligible contributors.
It is important to note that Bill C-74 would also make the required amendments to maintain portability between the CPP and the enhanced Quebec pension plan when those enhancements come into effect.
As I have stated, with budget 2018, we have committed to putting people first and ensuring quality and fairness for all Canadians. Part of that commitment means taking informed steps forward in our efforts to advance equality, especially for women, because we believe that equality between Canadian women and men will lead to greater prosperity. We are applying this lens to everything we do, and the changes we are proposing in Bill C-74 are no exception.
The changes we are making to the Canada pension plan are going to go a long way in supporting all future retirees, including, in particular, women. We know that women are more likely than men to take time away from work to raise their children, and let us not forget that women are also more likely to outlive their partners. We are making these changes because it is the right thing to do and is the smart thing to do to help seniors and advance equality for women to the benefit of all Canadians.
We know that Canadians work hard every day to support themselves and their families and to keep our economy growing. When it comes time to retire, Canadians deserve to do so with support from the very society they helped build and maintain. It goes without saying that Canadians should have access to income security that will allow them to live a safe, secure, and dignified retirement.
I am proud to say that through Bill C-74, we would continue to make that goal a reality. I encourage my colleagues in this House to support this bill and help create a better retirement for those who work so hard, for this generation and for generations to come. We owe it to all Canadians to pass this bill.