Libby Speaks out on the Economic Crisis

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, GM has just announced hundreds more layoffs, adding to the already volatile situation facing Canadians. Seniors are seeing their hard-earned pensions evaporate as the TSX falls day after day. Mutual funds take a hit with every point lost on the markets, yet the government has done nothing to protect the savings of Canadians.

Will the government protect pensions before there is nothing left to protect?

Mr. Mike Lake (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, regarding the auto industry, the minister has said that we need to see a plan from automakers and unions for the industry’s long-term success. No one wants to be back where we are at a year from now.

Legislators in the U.S. said the same thing yesterday. They sent automakers back and told them to come back on December 2.

We need to see a solid, accountable business plan from automakers and their stakeholders.

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, to add insult to injury, soon if people fall behind in a couple of payments, they will face a punishing 5% increase in credit card rates. The finance minister’s response was another ineffective letter. The minister has failed to protect consumers on ATM fees, on outrageous text messaging fees and now on credit card interest rates.

Why is the government not standing up for Canadians? Why is it letting profitable banks exploit the pain of average people?

Mr. Ted Menzies (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, CPC):

In fact, Mr. Speaker, we are very proactive on this file. We have raised the issue with the banks, although the banks are their own governors. They decide how credit card fees are set.

We can encourage that. The finance minister was very successful in his interventions with the banking sector, but we do not regulate fees charged by financial sectors, nor should we.

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, it is not being proactive if the government is leaving generations of Canadians behind, with no action on protecting seniors’ pensions and no action on credit card hikes. Today Campaign 2000 is again forced to demand urgent action to combat poverty. Over 760,000 children, nearly 12% of all Canadian kids, live in poverty.

Where is the government’s national poverty reduction strategy? Why is there no action for the poorest of Canadians, yet there are huge tax cuts for the richest of Canada’s CEOs?

Hon. Diane Finley (Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, our government has been very clear that we want to work with our colleagues in the House to eliminate poverty.

That is why we have taken the many steps we have to ensure families, and especially children and seniors, are in a much better financial position. That is why we introduced the universal child care benefit. That is why we have lowered the GST, which, by the way, helps the lower income people the most. Certainly people who are not paying taxes would not benefit from tax cuts in the way the GST cuts help them.

We are doing this because we want to eliminate poverty.