Mr. Speaker, the first point of divergence we have with this legislation the government is putting forward is that there should be offsetting tax reductions to avoid $11 billion being literally sucked out of our economy for the purpose of sustaining this fund, when in fact there should be a reduction in payroll taxes to allow jobs to be created.
Let me add a very important element which we need to keep in mind in regard to these payroll taxes. These are the most damaging taxes with regard to employment, in particular for the most vulnerable in our society: women, lower-income Canadians and young Canadians. They are the ones who are the most affected when we increase payroll taxes in our economy, whether it is through CPP or whether it is through EI.
Another change that we would like to see happening, that we propose, is the change in the yearly basic exemption. The government is freezing that exemption at $3,500 and again by doing that is targeting the most vulnerable people in our society. Who are the people that this freeze affects the most? Part-time workers, students, women, low-income earners. These are the people who will be the most affected by this freeze.
We wanted to be constructive in committee. The member for Markham tried and we certainly felt as a political party, contrary to others, that we should propose some amendments, make some suggestions.
In that respect we proposed a revision of this exemption 10 years after the legislation would have been enacted. Did the government listen to this suggestion? The answer is “no”. There is a very constructive change that could have allowed low-income Canadians a break rather than being left out in the cold by this government.
The other change I mentioned was with regard to payroll taxes. I want to speak specifically to the suggestion that we made through an amendment. We suggested to the government that it could offset in the next three years the increase in CPP premiums with reductions in EI premiums. It could have included that in the legislation to guarantee Canadians that they would not be hurt by these changes.
The member for Markham, our critic, made that suggestion. He did it in good faith. Yet, the government turned it down. At the same time, what do we learn from the chief actuary of the employment insurance fund of Canada? The fund could very well sustain itself with a premium level of $2 instead of $2.70. The government is actually using the employment insurance fund again to reduce its deficit, to try to balance its books. On whose backs is it doing it? On the backs of the unemployed at a time when we have unemployment above 9%. Again, this was rejected.
We presented another amendment that would have forced the government to return to Parliament, to the House of Commons, if premiums went to 10.25%. They are now scheduled to go to 9.9%. Did it listen to that? Is debate something that it wants? No. The answer again was “no”.
Another change that our party proposed to try to add to this legislation was to get rid of the foreign investment rule. Canada in the global equity market represents about 3% of that market. Yet, the Government of Canada, the Liberal government still thinks it knows best and it imposes a foreign investment rule of 20%. More money keeps pouring into the equity markets. Whose money is this, by the way? It is the Canadian taxpayers' money. They should be allowed to get the best benefit from that investment. They should be allowed to have access to the best investors so that this money can grow so that their retirement money can actually benefit them.
To tell you how embarrassed the government is, I even see Liberal members on the other side nodding. They want to nod. They are embarrassed by this, and they should be.