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Conservative MP for Flamborough—Glanbrook (Ontario)
Won his last election, in 2015, with 44% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Canada Pension Plan November 30th, 2016
Madam Speaker, the biggest reality check is going to be when seniors begin to pay these big sums off of their paycheques and realize it going to be 40 years before any substantive benefits. The seniors of today are not going to be receiving this. Therefore, there will be a lot paid in before anything ever comes back. That is going to be a big wake-up call for today's seniors.
Canada Pension Plan November 30th, 2016
Madam Speaker, it is actually the member opposite who is really out of touch. He is obviously not listening to small business operators. He is not listening to Canadians who want choice. He is certainly not listening to the partner of his own finance minister who said that whatever the reasons might be to expand the CPP, it was not to eliminate poverty. The poverty rate among seniors is now as close to zero as we can get.
Yes, a little over 5% of seniors today still have incomes below the poverty line, but CPP is not the mechanism in order to do that. Taxing everybody across the country is not the mechanism to do that. There are other tools we can use that are not as punitive, that do not punish small business, and actually are more effective. Some of those we used in the last Parliament were expanding the age exemption, the personal exemption, increasing the GIS, allowing some seniors who could work to go to work without it being clawed back. There are all kinds of options that the Liberals do not want to consider. They want a payroll tax instead.
Canada Pension Plan November 30th, 2016
Madam Speaker, my colleague missed the point. The CPP is one of the tools in the toolbox to help individual Canadians retire. Forcing people to invest more in it, limits their capability of choice of other tools. It also puts a huge burden on small business at a time when small businesses do not need it, at a time when the Liberal government actually reneged on its promise and did not reduce taxes to small business.
Let me share a quote:
Overall, Canada's retirement income system is performing well. Canadian retirees achieve relatively high levels of income in retirement, and compare well to retirees in other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. With support from all three pillars of the retirement income system, the median Canadian senior earns about 91 per cent as much as the median Canadian – well above the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development average of 84 per cent.
Who said that? Finance Canada.
Canada Pension Plan November 30th, 2016
Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in this House to represent my constituents in Flamborough—Glanbrook, all Canadians, and all taxpayers in this country, particularly on this bill.
Today, we begin and end a third reading debate on Bill C-26, an act to amend the Canada pension plan, legislation that I must oppose most vigorously for a number of reasons.
I must express that it is truly unfortunate the government has chosen to shut down debate to less than 90 minutes through its use of closure. This heavy-handed draconian approach is wrong-headed, which are pretty much direct quotes from my Liberals colleagues from the past Parliament, as members on this side of the House have a wide range of legitimate concerns that have gone unaddressed through the committee stage. These concerns should not be just read into the record but should actually provide pause to the government.
Unfortunately, the government is determined to ram this legislation through this chamber without any consideration for the consequences to so many responsible Canadians and small business owners. Bill C-26 expands the Canadian pension plan over the next 40 years in an effort to alleviate the financial burden of retired seniors, particularly those facing poverty.
I believe working toward the improvement of the lives of seniors is always a worthy endeavour. After all, they are the ones who built this country and made it great. However, where we profoundly differ from the members opposite is in how this is to be accomplished. In my view, these changes should have been more sufficiently studied and debated so that we do not trade one problem for another.
The bill mandates an increase in CPP premiums, a cost shared between employers and employees, to the tune of up to $2,200 per year. For families who already have to stretch their dollars in order to balance their household budget, these proposed measures will limit their ability to put money aside to save for their child's education, to purchase a new minivan, or to plan a much-needed vacation.
As an aside, neither the Minister of Finance nor the Prime Minister, both sons of millionaires, which in and of itself is not an issue, have had to make sacrifices to balance their household budgets, yet these are the masterminds behind Bill C-26, which will quite literally take money from the paycheque of every hard-working Canadians.
What is also very concerning is that the introduction of this bill, and its corresponding tax increase, comes at the same time that the government is imposing a carbon tax, which will drive up the price of everything. Under the carbon pricing scheme, residents in my constituency of Flamborough—Glanbrook will face higher fuel prices to make their morning commutes to work, and at the same time the price of everything from local produce to the costs of flights out of the Hamilton airport will go up. Perhaps most concerning is that the carbon tax will also increase the price of home heating. For my constituents, that is hard to fathom. Families young and old in my community are already tapped out. They can ill-afford the increased costs that are coming under the Prime Minister's carbon tax.
If the timing of two taxes is not bad enough, I must remind the House that Bill C-26 also comes at a time of massive deficit spending. As members know, deficits are simply the taxes of tomorrow. The government is borrowing billions of dollars and has not articulated a plan that would see the budget return to balance. This reality creates further uncertainty and concern for Canadians, because they know that in order to bring the budget into balance the government will either have to slash programs, raise taxes, or both. All of these initiatives come at a time when in my home province of Ontario energy prices are going through the roof. The experience of living under the Ontario Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne has taught my constituents to be skeptical of flashy new proposals that would see the long arm of government reach further into their pocket and take even more of their hard-earned money.
However, the concerns about Bill C-26, this CPP tax hike, go further than just bad timing. There is also significant concern that the bill effectively hinders the choice of Canadians as to how they save for their retirement. As a result, Canadians who are proactively saving for their future will be forced to invest more into CPP and less into the savings vehicle of their choice. Thanks to our previous Conservative government, Canadians now have an unprecedented number of savings options. Let us take, for example, the tax-free savings account that was implemented and then expanded. These accounts allow Canadians to save for large expenditures or for retirement with no strings attached. The money is available when it is needed, and the interest is accumulated tax-free. I would point out that, by far and away, it is middle-income Canadians who are making the greatest use of TFSAs. Plus, there are other ways to build up a nest egg. Some folks invest in the housing market, others store money away in RRSPs, while others contribute to a workplace pension plan or a pooled registered pension plan, which is yet another savings vehicle brought in by the previous Conservative government.
There is a wide spectrum of savings options available to Canadians who wish to supplement their retirement income and yet the CPP tax hike found in Bill C-26would limit the ability of Canadians who take the initiative to save on their own.
Take for example a single-income family with a couple of kids. One of the parents goes to work to bring home the proverbial bacon while the other parent stays at home to tend to the needs of the children. They pay to put a roof over their heads, food on the table, and clothes on their backs. They put gas in the tank, heat their home, put their kids into sports, and give to charity. If the money is there, they may splurge on a date night and enjoy a nice meal in a restaurant. And of course they pay their taxes. Once all the bills are paid the bit that is left over could be put into a savings vehicle, but under Bill C-26 that bit left over does not make it into a TFSA but rather is taken off their paycheque and is forced to be invested into the CPP. Rather than having that money available to them for their car or for the car repairs, the family will have to take on more debt, making it even tougher to cover their cost of living by the time the next month's bills arrive. At the very least, Bill C-26 limits choice. At the worst, it may contribute to a cycle of debt by skimming too much off the top.
Bill C-26 would not just impact modest-income families. It would also take the choice away from Canadians who save for their retirement and wish to leave their accumulated wealth behind for loved ones after they pass away.
I have served in this place for more than a decade now and over the course of my tenure as a member of Parliament many seniors have discussed their priorities with me. I have heard many seniors say two things as they plan for the end of their life: first, they hope not to be a financial burden to their family and second, if possible they would like to leave some of their savings behind for their loved ones. In Canada we have a retirement system that allows them to accomplish these goals.
Our retirement system is the envy of the world. Retired seniors have access to old age security, the CPP, and a raft of savings options that I mentioned earlier. After those sources of income, if seniors are still facing financial difficulty, the guaranteed income supplement is there to top up their income. Thanks to the Conservative government in the last session of Parliament, they could even make a good sum of money without it being clawed back.
Further, those who want to look at the data or parse the numbers should consider the following. Eighty-three per cent of households are on track to maintain their current living standards in retirement, according to a study done by McKinsey & Company. Statistics Canada shows us that the share of Canadian seniors living on low income has dropped from 29% in 1970 to 3.7% today. These facts demonstrate that the vast majority of Canada's seniors are able to save enough to have a dignified retirement and cover their end-of-life costs and are able to meet their goal of passing on some of their earnings when their time comes.
One of my core critiques of the CPP is that the money invested by an individual contributor cannot be accessed by a surviving family member. By forcing Canadians to increase their contributions to the CPP, they will have less money to put into savings vehicles that give them the choice to will their savings to their loved ones. It is no surprise then that fewer than 20% of Canadians surveyed by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said that they would opt to put more of their savings into the CPP.
Back in the 1960s when the Liberal government of the day introduced CPP, minister Judy LaMarsh, who was responsible for establishing the program, had this to say about the intent of CPP, that it “is not intended to provide all the retirement income which many Canadians wish to have. This is a matter of individual choice and, in the government’s view, should properly be left to personal savings and private pension plans.”
Canadians who work hard for their money should be able to save in the way they choose and should be trusted to plan for their futures. Not only is Bill C-26 ill-timed and strips responsible Canadians of choice of their savings, it also negatively impacts small business.
As a former small business owner I have first-hand knowledge and experience of what it takes to battle the red tape and the cost of living to make sure that costs stay low in business. For small businesses it is going to be a choice of whether they continue to hire or invest in their business, having to deal with this expanded CPP tax. Two-thirds of all small firms say they will have to freeze or cut salaries and over one-third say they will have to reduce hours or jobs in their business in response to the CPP hike.
Jewish Refugees November 30th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, each year in Israel, November 30 is set aside to commemorate the plight of the more than one million Jews who were driven from their homes across the Middle East as a result of religious persecution between the 1940s and 1970s.
Following the establishment of the state of Israel, anti-Jewish sentiment and systemic violence dramatically increased, forcing far too many families to flee their homes.
I am proud to share with the House that B'nai Brith Canada, along with several community partners, has launched a week-long campaign to remind us of the suffering of these Jewish refugees, and is looking to mark November 30 in Canada officially to honour them.
Today is November 30. With the stories and memories of Jewish refugees in our thoughts, I can assure the Jewish community of this: I, and my colleagues, will not tolerate, in fact, we will fight against, anti-Semitism in all of its forms, here in Canada and abroad.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship November 25th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I am always honoured to be an elected member of this chamber, and at times I am particularly proud of it. This surely was the case when we unanimously agreed that the ongoing situation facing the Yazidi people is in fact genocide.
Although the government has not come clean on the nature of the mission, I am grateful to our military for what it will do to defeat ISIS and for the aid commitments the government has made. Yet following testimony at the Subcommittee on International Human Rights, I am troubled to hear that due to corruption, precious aid is being skimmed off and that too little of it gets to those who need it the most.
We can help get aid to minorities in Iraq without it being skimmed. What is more, we can locate and rescue the over 3,000 Yazidi orphans and, surely, we can settle more than just 50 Yazidi sex slave survivors in Canada.
This is just a matter of political will. Right now, the Liberal government has an opportunity to demonstrate kindness and generosity to the Yazidi people in their hour of need. It's the Canadian thing to do. Indeed, it is the right thing to do.
Questions on the Order Paper November 14th, 2016
With regard to the announcement made by the Minister of National Defence on August 26, 2016, that committed Canada to $450 000 000 and 600 troops for peacekeeping missions: (a) what evidence was used to determine (i) the total financial commitment to these missions, (ii) the total number of troops for deployment in these missions; (b) what ongoing missions were considered for possible deployment of Canadian troops; (c) during the consultation process, which individuals were consulted, broken down by (i) Canadian Armed Forces personnel, (ii) representatives of foreign governments, (iii) representatives of international organizations; (d) how were the individuals and organizations identified in (c) consulted; (e) what criteria has been established to determine which peacekeeping missions the Canadian Armed Forces will provide resources to; (f) what safety requirements for troops have been established to determine whether or not the Canadian Armed Forces will participate in a peacekeeping mission; (g) what are the terms of engagement that Canadian Armed Forces will be under if they are threatened or attacked by hostile forces; (h) has Burundi been considered as a potential location for a Canadian peace keeping mission; (i) what are the details of the chain of command that will determine the mission or missions that will be supported by Canadian troops; and (j) what are the details of any estimated costs that could be incurred by the Department of National Defence to support the training and implementation of peacekeeping missions?
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns November 4th, 2016
With regard to the Office of Human Rights, Freedoms, and Inclusion: (a) of the $15 000 000 budgeted for the office, how much is earmarked for the three divisions of the office including (i) human rights and indigenous affairs, (ii) inclusion and religious freedoms, (iii) democracy; (b) what projects approved by the previous Office of Religious Freedom continue to receive funding; (c) what projects supported by the previous Office of Religious Freedom have ceased to receive funding under the new office and for what reason; (d) what projects have been approved since the creation of the Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion to specifically promote religious freedom; (e) as of September 16, 2016, what projects receive funding through the Office, broken down by (i) organization, (ii) city and country where the project is located, (ii) intended beneficiary, (iii) intended outcomes; (f) what criteria does the office use to determine which projects receive funding; (g) what evaluations have been completed on the effectiveness of the previous Office of Religious Freedom and what were the findings of any such review; (h) what evaluations have been completed on the effectiveness of the new Office of Human Rights, Freedom and Inclusion and what were the findings any such review; and (i) when will the Office of Human Rights, Freedom and Inclusion be subject to a thorough review and what outcomes will be used to determine the effectiveness of the Office?
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns November 4th, 2016
With regard to the decision by the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to stop all discretionary compliance measures related to the First Nations Financial Transparency Act: (a) what evidence was used to determine that the Act should not be enforced; (b) what efforts have been taken to encourage First Nations governments to voluntarily report their expenses; and (c) what percentage of the First Nations reported their expenses in compliance with the Act (i) prior to September 1, 2015, (ii) prior to September 1, 2016?