Hon. Wayne Easter
Maybe the member heckling over there would like to pick up the tax code and check the facts instead of listening to the rhetoric that comes out of the research department over there. All the Conservatives know how to do is not talk about facts but attack and misrepresent.
In addition, this government introduced the Canada child benefit, which will help nine in 10 families. Better yet, we made it tax free. Those two measures will mean a typical middle-class family is now $2,000 better off per year than they were under the Harper Conservatives.
In fact, for the member for Carleton's riding, the Minister of Finance told him in question period today that 30,000 people in his riding of Carleton had lower taxes and 16,000 children in that riding benefited as a result of this government's measures with respect to the Canada child benefit.
The bottom line is that a majority of Canadians are paying a lower effective tax rate under this government as a result of the actions we have taken since 2015. Regardless of how the official opposition tries to confuse and fudge the numbers, those are the facts. Lower taxes for the middle class and better opportunities as a result for families moving forward are the facts.
On his third point, the member for Carleton talked about the government's higher Canada pension plan premiums and used an exaggerated number out decades from now. Do the Conservative members not meet with seniors in their ridings? Do they not understand the facts on the ground, that people without pensions can hardly afford to put food on the table? The Canada pension plan changes are all about that. It is not a tax, but an investment in the future of seniors so future generations of MPs in our positions do not have to see the agony of people coming through the doors when they do not have the money in their pensions to meet the necessary essentials of life.
The Canada pension plan is an important vehicle for retirement. Private pensions are disappearing across the country and around the western world. Pensions are a fundamentally important mechanism to ensure Canadians have security in retirement.
Again, pensions are not taxes but investments in the security of seniors in the future. Members who are worth their salt have seen those seniors come into their office without the money to meet their needs.
In their motion, the Conservatives came up with a number on cancelling the family tax credit. Again, they misrepresent the facts. We instituted, as I said earlier, the Canada child benefit, which has seen more money going to more families than before, stopped giving money to the highest-income families and has indexed that benefit to inflation. It is a more efficient model than the previous model, because it more effectively targets families and parents who need financial assistance.
As stated earlier, in the riding of the member for Carleton, 16,000 children will benefit from the Canada child benefit. Is the member and the leader of his party telling families in his riding that they want to do away with that and go back to the old system where their benefits were taxed? Is that what the member is saying? There are consequences to some of these points that members opposite make.
Conservatives talked about the cancelling of a couple of tax credits. Members on the opposite side maybe do not understand what a tax credit really is. Tax credits are only available to those who have the means to get them. In other words, they have to have a substantial income in order to benefit from them. That means that those who do not have that kind of income do not get the tax credits, and they are the ones who really need the chance to enter sports and other areas.
Tax credits like the ones mentioned are marginal at best, because tax credits are only helpful to people who can afford the goods and services in the first place. If people want to sign their children up for summer soccer, send their children to university and claim eligible books or any other eligible deductions, they have to have already had the money to acquire those things in the first place. Tax credits do not assist individuals who are the most financially vulnerable. There are people who live paycheque to paycheque. They do not get the benefit from those tax credits, because they cannot afford to send their kids to soccer in the first place. That is not effective tax policy. We need effective tax policy, and we need to ensure there is fairness in the tax system. That is why the tax credits were done away with and we moved to the Canada child benefit and other means.
The member's motion states that the government's higher employment insurance premiums lead to higher costs per worker. Do the members opposite believe they are telling the truth when they make that statement? Let me turn to insurance premiums in the documents from EI. In 2013 through 2016, the rate was $1.88. Today it is $1.62. Can members opposite not add and subtract? That is a lower rate: $1.88 down to $1.62. It means that the maximum annual employer premium has gone down from $1,337.06 to $1,204.31. That is not increasing premiums. Come on, folks. Let us at least lay out the truth in this place.
As a final note, we in this government invest in Canadians and the things that matter most to them. We are keeping a close eye on our fiscal track, carefully managing deficits and protecting Canada's long-term fiscal sustainability, with a steady declining debt-to-GDP ratio. Canada has, by far, the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio among the G7 countries.
Across Canada, more Canadians are working, and middle-class Canadians have more money to save, invest and grow the economy. We will continue to stand up for the middle class, while the only plan of the Conservatives is austerity and cuts. As we have seen in this motion, we cannot believe what they claim to be facts, because they are, quite honestly, not truthful.
Topic: Government Orders
Subtopic: Business of Supply