The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act, be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Ron Liepert (Calgary Signal Hill, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to this particular bill one more time as this session of Parliament winds down.
Certainly we have had extensive debate on this particular bill. We have had committee of the whole, and we even had a session the other night with one of our colleagues presenting what I thought was one of the better speeches of this particular session, on If I Had a Million Dollars.
I will be a long way from being as entertaining as my colleague from Red Deer—Lacombe, but it is probably helpful to put on the record a number of things this budget would do, and more importantly, what this budget would not do.
First, we have to go back to the election of October 2015. Leading up to that election, our current Prime Minister, who was the Liberal leader at that time, was promising Canadians that we were going to go into debt just a bit, by about $10 billion, to pay for infrastructure, which Canada needs. If this budget had in any way reflected that we were going to go into deficit to spend on infrastructure significantly, I believe that there would have been wider acceptance of this budget. However, to date, what we have seen in infrastructure spending is only about $1 million on the office of the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.
If what we are going to do with this budget is continue to spend money, and when we create jobs they will be public-sector jobs, that is hardly going to be a budget that will encourage growth in our economy.
As a member of Parliament from a province that has seen incredible growth, growth that is significantly reduced today, I can say that it is not government that makes things happen, and it is not government that creates jobs. It is the private sector. It is unfortunate that in this budget, the current government has taken it upon itself to feel as though it can take Canadians into debt for the next four years, at least, to the tune of about $150 billion, to try to create jobs.
Clearly, it would be my view, and I believe that of most of my colleagues in my caucus, that if we were to work this hard creating a tax structure that created jobs, rather than the government trying to create those jobs, we would be far better off at the end of the four-year mandate. However, it is the current government that will have to answer for that at the end of four years.
Quite honestly, while I do not support this budget in any manner, I believe that it is this kind of budgeting that will ensure that after the next election, we will be rid of the current government and we will have a Conservative government back that will allow the private sector to create jobs.
I want to take a few minutes to look at what this budget would and would not do. As I said, it is a budget that we were promised was going to rebuild Canada. As I say, besides the office of the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, we have not seen an awful lot of rebuilding in Canada yet.
Again, we have some promises out there. We have heard a lot of good talk. However, there are a lot of needs. When it comes to infrastructure and infrastructure spending, one of the things I am disappointed in is that the current government seems to be again shifting away from the P3 model. In fact, it is probably not using it at all. It is having public servants in Ottawa and elsewhere across the country deciding how best to spend these infrastructure dollars.
Let us be very clear that while this particular budget would take Canadians $30 billion into deficit in this year alone, only $10 billion would be spent on infrastructure over the next two years.
This budget has significantly increased public spending on programs. We have seen it in a number of areas. I am not even going to start to list them, because there are so many. It will create jobs, more public sector jobs, more people who will be working for government. That is not going to create economic growth.
I also want to talk a little about the so-called tax cut the Liberals have in this particular budget. We have heard the parliamentary secretary stand in his place in this Parliament on at least three or four dozen occasions to talk about this middle-income tax cut that is so significant to Canadians. This is how significant it is. It is $1 a day for working Canadians.
I guess the member for Winnipeg North and the parliamentary secretary, because they fall into that middle-income category, feel as though the members of this Parliament should have a tax cut while low-income earners should not get anything, and high-income earners should pay that $1 a day so that the member for Winnipeg North and the parliamentary secretary can have their coffee paid for every morning by the taxpayers of this country.
That tax cut was supposed to be revenue neutral. It took about 24 hours to change that. When the government finally introduced that objective in a motion in this House in December, we found out that the middle-income tax cut that was going to give Canadians $1 a day was going to cost all Canadian taxpayers $1 billion a year. That is hardly revenue neutral.
If we are going to start having tax cuts, they have to be meaningful tax cuts. This so-called middle-income tax cut is hardly meaningful.
At the same time, the government also took away from middle-income Canadians the ability to save in a significantly enhanced tax-free savings account. This is typical of the Liberals' policies: take on one hand, give back with the other, and then turn around and take what they gave back. The net difference is that taxpayers have less in their pockets than they would have had under a Conservative government.
I want to talk a little about retirement and about future plans the government has. Tax-free savings accounts are a way Canadians can save for retirement. What we have now is a Liberal government that has taken away that ability to save via tax-free savings accounts. We also have a Liberal government that is going to be meeting with the provinces on Monday. Let me make this very clear. It is meeting with a whole bunch of Liberal and socialist finance ministers.
We have a finance minister in Alberta who, frankly, is taking our province into much higher debt than the Liberals. It is hard to imagine that there could actually be a government that would go deeper into debt than the Liberals, but come to Alberta, and we will show people one.
Here we have the Minister of Finance meeting with his provincial counterparts on Monday to take more money out of the pockets of taxpayers and more money from small business taxpayers by way of increasing our Canada pension plan contributions.
I happen to sit on the finance committee. I see that my colleague from Gatineau is here today, and he also sits on the finance committee. He has heard the same evidence we have had presented at the finance committee that the number of low-income seniors is down to single digit percentage points.
The government is saying that we need to take more taxes from Canadians, and let us be clear: increased Canada pension plan contributions are a tax on small business and on working Canadians. This Minister of Finance is going to go to Vancouver on Monday and negotiate a deal with his provincial counterparts, almost all of whom are Liberals and socialists, to take more money away from taxpayers and small businesses to solve a problem that, frankly, does not exist.
If the Liberal government had kept the tax policies that were in place under the previous government, if it had left the TFSA alone, that would have allowed Canadians to save money on their own and not have a bigger bureaucracy take money allegedly to have more benefits for Canadians down the road.
In addition, we had an absolutely unthought-out position. Like so many promises that were made by the Liberals during the campaign, we had a Liberal leader running around the country, making a promise at every stop. There was one particular visit where he was not quite sure what to promise, so he said that the Liberals would drop the eligible age for benefits from 67 to 65. I do not think they really thought they would form government, but when they did, they had to try to keep all those promises. This was one promise they should have broken.
Of the litany of promises the government broke, it should have added that to the list of promises broken. There is no way we should be lowering the age from 67 to 65, some 10 years into the future, because that will cost Canadian taxpayers an extra $11 billion a year. Let us just put that into perspective. That is 30% of the equivalent deficit that the government is putting us into right now. There is a campaign promise that should have been broken.
I would like to spend a few more minutes talking about some of the things the government could do, which could be important for my province of Alberta, for the neighbouring provinces of Saskatchewan and British Columbia, and clearly for Newfoundland and Labrador. I would also venture to say that it is important for other Atlantic provinces. I know we have at least a couple of members in the House today from Atlantic Canada. I hope they will take up the challenge of putting pressure on the government to speed up the process and at least give an indication that it will take seriously the hearings that started yesterday on the energy east pipeline. We know that in 2019, if the government decides not to approve that energy east pipeline, members like the member for Saint John will not sitting in the House because they will be thrown out of office.
Liberals members from British Columbia are also going to have a very difficult time because the Kinder Morgan pipeline to the west coast is absolutely essential for our country.
If the government listens to that socialist mayor of Vancouver and does not listen to Liberal members from British Columbia, who should be advocating on behalf of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, a whole bunch more of them will not be back here in 2019.
I believe the government will make some bad decisions over the next couple of years. It has exhibited that in the first six months of being in office. If it continues to make those bad decision, I will look forward to 2019 when the government can be a Conservative government again, allowing the private sector to create jobs, not driving us into deficit, and not taking money out of the pockets of taxpayers and small businesses.
Let us also put on record that the government broke a promise to small business in Canada. It promised, like all parties in this Parliament did, to reduce the small business tax. It broke that promise. The finance minister came before the finance committee and clearly stated that this promise would not even be considered in the government's mandate.
I could go on for quite some time, but I will allow my friend, the member for Gatineau to ask me a question.
Mr. Chris Warkentin (Grande Prairie—Mackenzie, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the member for Carleton, so I ask that members stick around, because I am going to give a speech, but he is going to give an excellent speech.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to speak to Bill C-2, to talk about the government's financial record and the challenges I see presented with its financial vision.
I come from Alberta. I am a proud Albertan, and I am proud to defend the people I represent. I am also proud of the people who have built our local economies within the communities I represent. They are the bedrock of the communities across the province of Alberta, across western Canada, and contribute so much to the economy of our nation from coast to coast.
One of the things I have noticed with the Liberal economic plan is that there seems to be no long-term perspective as to how it is going to create jobs and drive the economy. The Liberals talk a lot about things like creating jobs and providing opportunity for people to move from lower income to middle income. Of course, they do use the terms of class, which as my colleague from Calgary referenced, is probably offensive to a lot of people who are workers in our country. The concern I have is the Liberals keep talking a good game, but they have not demonstrated a plan that is coherent in any way. As a matter of fact, the bill we are debating today probably establishes for all of us that that is the case.
They talk about it being a tax cut for people who need it most. Of course, what we do note is that those who need it in our country most are actually not able to benefit from the provisions in the bill. Lower-income Canadians are not included. As a matter of fact, there is nothing in the bill that provides any assistance to lower-income Canadians.
There is also a major hit against senior citizens. Just this last week, we heard it said that the Liberals are looking at a plan to increase CPP contributions. As my colleague just referenced, this in fact would be a payroll tax. Not only does it establish a problem for those income earners who would have an additional amount of money taken off their paycheque, it would also mean that small business owners would have to pay additional taxes to help support a CPP increase.
Let us just think about this a little. A CPP increase today would not benefit seniors today. It would not benefit those people who are in their later years and who most desperately need support today. The hope is that if money is put aside today, seniors in decades to come would benefit from those increased contributions. That is a debate to be had, but let us be clear, this would benefit no senior who is a senior today. It also would not help those people who will become seniors and start drawing pensions in the next number of years. We are talking about a Liberal plan to start taxing small businesses, workers, and families today in the hopes that some day there may be a benefit to people down the road. It is not about seniors who are struggling today.
One provision that we as a government instituted was the tax-free savings account. Having looked at the evidence, what we note is the people who were most likely to use the full allocation of the tax-free savings accounts were low-income senior citizens, those people who were having to withdraw money from RIFs or different types of savings plans. The tax-free savings account was a vehicle that created all kinds of opportunities for senior citizens to manage their retirement money. It allowed senior citizens to put money in and withdraw money without any tax implications. They could manage it, and withdraw money as they needed, to address their needs. They could withdraw it if they had a medical emergency and all of a sudden needed to pull out some money for travel, or if they wanted to go on a vacation they were able to withdraw that money without having to take any kind of a penalty.
The Liberals have gone after senior citizens by cutting down the tax-free savings account at the same time that they are telling Canadians they are concerned about seniors, but they have no plan that would benefit seniors today or people who will become seniors in the next number of years.
I am also concerned about the Liberals' plan for families. I did reference the fact that I come from Alberta and I represent people who are in the resource sector, those who work hard every day, play by the rules, pay their taxes, and contribute to our communities. They have had some of the worst years of their lives over the last couple of years.
Obviously, all governments and all parties recognize that we in Parliament do not control the price of energy in the world. Regardless who is in power, there are going to be some troubles with regard to small and larger businesses and to those who are employed in the resource sector.
We know that the Liberal government can make it better or worse for those people who work in the energy sector. Let us be honest, Liberals have made it significantly worse, creating uncertainty in the marketplace, such that companies refuse to invest in Canada because they are uncertain about things like carbon taxes. They are uncertain whether they are going to be able to get products to market.
When the Liberals continue to place hurdles in the way of the development of the energy east pipeline and the TransCanada pipeline, when they continue to play politics with some of the most important nation building infrastructure, which will cost the taxpayer zero dollars as this is private sector investment, when the Liberals continue to create hurdles to see that infrastructure built, my constituents are hurt.
The reason they are hurt is because many of them are employed in the energy sector or have businesses that are secondary industries within the resource sector, that are looking toward the future. The companies are saying they are not going to invest in a place where there is so much uncertainty. The Liberals' announcements that they are going to create difficulty for pipelines to be built and their commitment to continue a job-killing carbon tax hurt.
There is a document that came out this morning from the Alberta government that is an assessment simply on the provincial portion of the carbon tax, not of the federal government's carbon tax that it promised, which will be in addition to any provincial carbon tax. The government's analysis itself says that it will cause 15,000 job losses, it will take $4 billion out of the household income of Albertans, so not only is the government taxing them more, it is also going to reduce their income. If there is going to be $4 billion taken out of the household income of Albertans with a provincial carbon tax, one can only imagine how much additional money will come out of household incomes of Albertans when the Liberals get their hands on a cash grab from the province of Alberta as well.
The Liberals' plan has been completely incoherent. We have established that. They have said they are going to support seniors, yet they are taking vehicles away for seniors to actually save. They have said they are going to help people move from lower income to higher income, yet they are taxing those families at every turn, creating disincentive for investment in provinces like Alberta and other provinces that depend on the energy sector. They are continuing to increase payroll taxes on those same small business owners, creating disincentive to create more jobs. The incoherence of the Liberal economic plan is not only challenging, it is actually creating such difficulty for people who live in communities like mine.
There is an urgency for the Liberals to change course. We would ask the Liberals to look at the facts and the evidence and start to respond to the needs of Albertans and all Canadians to ensure that we can build an economy that will prosper for generations to come.
Hon. Pierre Poilievre (Carleton, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, our friends in the Liberal Party have been trumpeting the middle class in their rhetoric a lot lately. In fact, they included a fancy chart in their recent budget to talk about the incomes of middle-class people. In it they claim that for the last 40 years, the middle class has not had a real after-inflation raise.
I was surprised to hear that, because Conservatives had produced a lot of data to show that in the last decade alone, middle-class incomes had skyrocketed. How could both of these claims be true?
I looked at the underlying data that Finance Canada used to produce this chart in the Liberal budget. I found that when Liberals say that Canadians have had almost no middle-class income increase over the last four decades, they are telling the truth. When the Conservatives say that there has been a very large increase in middle-class incomes in the last 10 years, we are also telling the truth. How do we reconcile both of those things?
We can look at the chart. We can go back to 1976, the beginning point of this chart that the Liberals put in their recent budget. It demonstrates that, at that time, in inflation-adjusted dollars, Canadians were earning just over $46,000 on average, and then suddenly, over the following six years, incomes plummeted by 6% after inflation.
That drop was the biggest of the last half-century, and it was presided over by Pierre Elliott Trudeau, whose policies of high taxes, spiralling debt, and taxpayer give-aways to large corporations sent our economy reeling. It caused a massive national recession and enormous job loss, particularly in western Canada, but caused a job-loss contagion that spread right across the country and led us to the biggest pay cut for the middle class in a half-century. It then took 30 years for incomes to recover to the level they had been back in 1976. It just so happens that recovery occurred under the previous Conservative prime minister.
What happened in the last 10 years then?
According to data right out of page 11 of the Liberal budget, incomes for middle-class Canadians rose by a staggering 11% after inflation, from $44,700 to $49,602, which is a $5,000 after-inflation increase in median incomes. In fact, the pay increase that occurred under our most recent Conservative prime minister was larger than income growth under Prime Ministers Trudeau, Clark, Turner, Mulroney, Campbell, Chrétien, and Martin combined, again, according to data right out of the Liberal budget.
Let us break it down further. The government has said that it is a big champion of women in the workforce. In fact, the Prime Minister likes to brag that he is a “feminist”. I would like to look at the data that his budget presents about incomes for women.
Anybody who does look at that data, which again is found on page 11 of the recent Liberal budget, will find that women enjoyed a $5,234 pay increase after inflation during the most recent Conservative government. This is an increase of 14%. In other words, female incomes grew even faster than the average income during the last 10 years.
It is also worth noting that the annual rate of income increase for women during the most recent Conservative government was five times the rate it was during the first Trudeau government, and five times as fast as during the Chrétien and Martin governments.
In other words, women, middle-class women, had their biggest pay increase in a half-century under the most recent Conservative government, according to the Liberal budget.
Where do we go from here? Ironically, this budget, which contains this valuable information, seeks to repeat the exact same mistakes that caused Pierre Elliott Trudeau to tank the middle class four decades ago. It is unfortunate, but history does seem to repeat itself. This Prime Minister is enacting the same high-tax, big-debt, costly government strategy that his father did to destroy the middle class when he was in office not so long ago. We would think that the Liberals would learn. We would think that they would understand that trickle-down government harms the middle class even though it is particularly good for the wealthy and well connected.
We talk today about a budget that would make changes to the income tax system. Far from helping the middle class, if people earn $150,000 as Liberal MPs, they would save almost $700 in income tax as a result of changes in the bill before the House right now. If people earn $45,000 a year, they would get absolutely nothing. The question of social justice can always be answered with the following two-part question: From whom, to whom?
The costs of the bill would be borne by people who earn $45,000 a year and the maximum benefits would go to those earning $150,000 a year. That is not social justice. That is not a defence of the middle class. That is a wealth transfer from the working poor to the wealthy and the well connected.
So it is so often the case when government gets big and expensive. Those who can afford the lobbyists to pressure government and the accountants and lawyers to gain the rules of government always do so much better when there is more government. That is what we are seeing today, a government that is on the side of the very rich, that is increasing the cost and the burden on the shoulders of the working poor, and that is reversing the very impressive middle-class gains that our country enjoyed over the last decade.
Now we hear speculation that the current government may give one billion middle-class tax dollars to Bombardier, a company of billionaire owners and millionaire executives. This is a company, in fact, that just paid $8 million to one executive alone, while it was simultaneously asking middle-class taxpayers in Quebec and Canada to bail it out. This again would be a massive wealth transfer from the working poor and the middle class to the wealthy and well-connected, which is so common under left-of-centre governments like the current one. This is the insider economy or crony socialism at its very worst.
By contrast, our official opposition will continue to fight for working people who get up every day and put in a hard day's work in order to earn their incomes. We will continue to fight for those who want to save a bit more through their tax-free savings accounts, keep a bit more from their income tax bills, and hire a bit more through their small businesses. In so doing, we will champion the underdogs in Canada and fight for the people who are the backbone of this country.
Mr. John Barlow (Foothills, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak on Bill C-2, an act to amend the Income Tax Act.
We have talked a lot today already about some of the changes that are going to be coming forward with this. However, I would like to tell a personal story about why I feel that this is important to speak about today.
I remember vividly, in 2006, my wife and I were in a small southern Alberta town. I would say that we were a low to middle-income family. We had three children: one in hockey, one in volleyball, and one in dance. I remember when the children's fitness tax credit was first introduced by the Conservative government, and what a godsend that was to me and my family to be able to cover a substantial part of the costs for my children's activities.
Then, last year, when we put forward a plan to double the children's fitness tax credit from $500 to $1,000, I went to as many doors as possible in my riding to talk about this program with my constituents. It was incredible how many families, especially young parents, spoke to us about how important this program was to ensure they were able to keep their children healthy, active, and enjoying some of the activities.
There is a reason that programs such as KidSport, the United Way, and Boys and Girls Clubs are so popular. It is a reality that lower-income families have a difficult time being able to afford the costs of some programs.
The children's fitness tax credit was a program that impacted just about every single Canadian family with children. It was extremely disappointing to see that the Liberal government has eliminated that program. I have had profound feedback from residents in my Foothills riding who are extremely upset with that change.
We will hear from the members opposite that the reason they got rid of programs, like the children's fitness tax credit and the post-secondary school book tax credit, was that they were going to be more generous on the side of other programs and the middle-class tax cut. It was going to be revolutionary for Canadian families. This was going to be something that was a life-altering change for Canadian families.
However, let us put it in perspective. According to Finance Canada, the average impact to Canadian families with the middle-class tax cut is $6.34 a week. That is less than $1 a day. That is what the impact on the average Canadian family is going to be. The government is eliminating the children's fitness tax credit, the universal child care benefit, and those types of programs.I find it interesting that the Liberals find $1 a day to be revolutionary. I am pretty positive that I can say for my family that $1 a day is anything but revolutionary.
We were kind of joking a little in question period, but I found it interesting that the Minister of International Development was laughing at the fact that we were asking about $17 for a glass a juice. We, on this side of the House, are here to protect the Canadian taxpayer. Every single dollar has an impact on their lives, their jobs, and their families. Paying $17 for a glass of juice, or $5,000 on tips and gratuities for two days, is certainly worth asking about. For Liberals to say that $6.34 a week, less than $1 day, is somehow revolutionary and is going to lift up 9 million families out of poverty, or 9,000 children out of poverty, or whatever the number, is pretty coy.
The money will either have to be drawn from or reduced from the public services and the tax base. I would say that the spending plans of the Liberal government are risky at best. We have seen no concrete proof that these tax cuts, which the Liberals initially said during the election were going to be revenue neutral, are that in fact.
The tax breaks they introduced were going to be revenue neutral and revolutionary, but in fact are going to cost Canadians more than $8 billion over the next six years. It is not really a tax cut at all, because they are going into very severe deficits to do these things. The amount of $9 billion dollars over the next six years is not a tax cut in my estimation.
Again, as part of that election platform, the deficit was going to be around a $10 billion mark. Now we are beyond that, three times beyond that. The four-year plan that the Liberals tabled as part of the budget in 2016 has absolutely no plan to get out of that massive deficit spin. It is a downward spiral. It is a massive deficit with absolutely no plan to get us out of it.
To have $30 billion deficits year after year, and then laugh about overspending on trips to Washington, shows the arrogance of the Liberal government.
Hon. Peter Van Loan: New York.
Mr. John Barlow: New York, I am sorry. Thanks for that correction.
The Liberal government has said that it wants to cut the tax-free savings account, so again we are going to be talking today about the impact and what it truly means for Canadians. The tax-free savings account, I know from speaking to residents in Foothills in southern Alberta, was something many of them embraced. They felt that it was an outstanding opportunity for them to save. In fact, 11 million Canadians accessed the tax-free savings account.
Instead, the Liberal government has taken away another voluntary option for Canadians to save for whatever they feel is most important to them. It could be a house, children's education, or, yes, retirement. Instead, after reducing the tax-free savings account limit from $10,000 down to its original $5,500, the government would like to replace that with a mandatory CPP tax, which would be a tax of more than $4,000 for the average Canadian worker, as well as an additional tax on small business owners. When Liberals say Canadians will have these benefits, if they do not have jobs, they will not pay any taxes. They will be more of a burden on the social system.
Liberals also want a job-killing carbon tax. We have talked about that several times this week. In Alberta, in the month of May alone, another 24,000 jobs were lost. There are 24,000 more Albertans out of work. The unemployment rate in Alberta is now 7.9%, the highest it has been since the national energy program was brought forward by the Liberals in the 1980s, with no relief in sight.
In question period today, I talked about Ritchie Bros., one of the largest auction operations in Alberta, last month having what was supposed to be a two-day auction sale. It ended up being five days, and it sold more than $240 million in industrial commercial equipment that went south to the United States. With the equipment that goes south to the United States, so do the jobs that go with that equipment, or they disappeared in Canada entirely.
Over the past year, half a billion dollars in oil sands equipment has been sold, and the vast majority of it has gone south of the border. On top of that, $50 billion in investment has left Alberta. That shows the impact that Albertans are feeling right now. We expect the unemployment rate to exceed 8% over the next year. I do not think this is the time to be joking about that $1-a-day middle-class tax cut, which actually only benefits those making over $100,000, many who have now lost their jobs entirely, or to be joking about introducing a carbon tax, which would increase the cost of literally everything that an average Canadian is trying to pay.
The government wants to bring in a mandatory CPP tax, while taking away an option that Canadians have to make the choices that they feel are best for them, which is the tax-free savings account. I appreciate that it is still going to exist, but it is not going to have the limit that Conservatives had offered before.
Let us put that in perspective. Over the last six months, the Liberal government has talked about a middle-class tax cut, which is not really a tax cut at all because it is not revenue neutral. It is going to cost close to $9 billion over the next six years. It wants to establish a mandatory CPP tax, which will impact Canadians and small business owners, our job creators, and now it is talking about a carbon tax. That is really a tax on top of a tax, because 80% of Canadian jurisdictions already have a carbon tax at the provincial level. Therefore, why would we add yet another tax on Canadians?
Putting it into perspective, over the Conservatives' 10 years in government, we reduced taxes more than 150 times. Canadians had the lowest tax burden they have had in 50 years. The average Canadian family was saving more than $7,000 a year on their taxes. Those tax advantages will be gone almost entirely with a CPP tax, which would cost more than $4,000 for the average Canadian.
I am sure we will hear the argument today from my colleagues on the other side that the tax-free savings account was simply just a tax haven for the wealthy. We also heard from my esteemed colleague from Carleton that is simply not the case.
People earning $80,000 a year or less accounted for 80% of those who had a tax-free savings account, and of 60% of the individuals who contributed the maximum of $5,500, the vast majority of them had annual earnings of less than $60,000.
As a Canadian, I do not feel that $60,000 a year is wealthy or anything close to wealth. That is just the average hard-working Canadian who is making certainly difficult decisions for whatever they feel is best for them and their families, whether it is a down payment on a house, saving for their children's education, or saving for their retirement.
I believe that reducing the tax-free savings account is a step backwards. I do not think it is something that will benefit Canadians. This was a savings mechanism that was extremely flexible and allowed Canadians to make the choices they felt were best for them and their families.
I want to jump ahead a bit and talk again about what our Prime Minister said during the election. During the election, he said repeatedly that the $3 billion tax cut for middle-class earners was for a $3 billion increase on high-income earners. We said before that this simply is not the case. This will actually cost Canadians close to $9 billion a year. That just shows that in six months, there has been broken promise after broken promise by the Liberal government . The Liberals are simply trying to regress some of the tax advantages and things we were able to change.
In conclusion, I would encourage all members of the House to vote against Bill C-2, because it reverses some of the great tax advantages that we were able to offer Canadians over the last few years, including the lowest tax burden on Canadians in 50 years.