Mr. Speaker, this is a topic I have spoken about many times in the House, but it is an important one. The major Canadian banks are raking in huge profits, particularly as a result of an increase in bank fees.
There are more and more new bank fees, and taxpayers are becoming overburdened. In 2013 alone, Canada's six major banks collected more than $30 billion total in net profit.
While Canadian banks are raking in record profits every year, Canadians are racking up more and more debt. Debt has reached record highs: approximately 60% of Canadians are forced to live paycheque to paycheque, and there is no improvement in sight. Fewer Canadians are able to save money. That is worrisome.
In 1980, the ratio of household debt to personal disposable income was 66%, and now it is 164%. That is an incredible and very worrisome increase. The Governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz, has stated that household debt in this country is a major risk factor for the Canadian economy. How can we keep the economy going when households are so far in debt?
Credit card interest rates can be as high as 18.9% for cards issued by financial institutions and 24% to 28.8% for cards issued by department stores and gas companies. That is huge.
The NDP is proposing that consumers be given reasonable access to credit cards with an interest rate that does not exceed prime plus 5%. That is reasonable. Only the NDP is proposing such measures. The Conservatives and the Liberals have never made any such proposals.
What is more, no one should have to pay $2, $3, $4 or even up to $6 to withdraw their own money from an ATM. That is another issue the NDP is tackling. Every year, Canadians pay $420 million in ATM fees. That is completely unacceptable.
When I asked the Minister of Finance about this, he said that he had no intention of cutting into the banks' completely unacceptable profit margins. It is a bloated amount that produces profits for those on one side and debt for those on the other.
We want to cap ATM fees at 50 cents per transaction. That is still nearly double what that type of transaction costs the banks, so it is significant. Once again, this is a reasonable proposal, and we hope that the government will listen to reason. However, unfortunately, we have not seen any such measures, and that is a real shame.
Addressing the issue of bank fees would have a real impact on people's day-to-day lives and their weekly and monthly bills. If we want to help Canadians make ends meet, the first thing we need to do is cap ATM transaction fees at no more than 50 cents per transaction, as per the NDP proposal, and limit credit card interest rates to prime plus 5%, which is reasonable.
I would like to hear what the Conservatives have to say about these simple and obvious measures.