In Debate: on the Throne Speech part 2; seniors, tax cuts, and KAIROS

The Deputy Speaker:
We need to move on to questions and comments as the time has expired for the member's speech.

I will go first to the member for Mississauga South.

Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for dealing with the social deficit in Canada rather than being preoccupied, as the government is, on fiscal deficits, particularly with regard to seniors' pensions.

As the member knows, on January 1, 2011, the first budget year, the government will be imposing a 31.5% tax on income trust, which was used by seniors to provide for an emulated pension.

The member will also remember that when the government introduced income splitting for seniors' pensions, what it did not explain to people was that only 25% of seniors had eligible pensions that qualified and if we included people who did not have a partner to split it with or were already at the lowest marginal rate, it turns out that only 14.2% of the highest income-earning seniors actually qualified for any benefit under that plan. The government has not been straight with Canadians.

I thank the member for raising that issue, as well as the maternal child health. There is no question that Canada can play a role. I want to give her an opportunity to comment further on the social deficit issues that we should also address.

Ms. Irene Mathyssen:

Mr. Speaker, I will try to address all of my colleague's points.

His point about income splitting is very significant. The Standing Committee on the Status of Women investigated this and found that single, unattached women were left out, as were single, unattached men in terms of pension splitting. This measure was only helping a very small group. Those at the top of the income group were benefiting while those who were living below the poverty line received absolutely nothing from this program.

In terms of income trusts, we would much rather see decent pensions for all Canadians. That can be achieved by the measures proposed by the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, with support from the Canadian Labour Congress. We believe the GIS should be increased by 15% and that there should be a doubling of CPP benefits.

I would point out that the tax cut introduced in January was $1.2 billion. This is for the most profitable corporations. Half of that would have lifted all seniors in Canada out of poverty.

Mr. Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for pointing out the choices the government has made, choices it does not like to talk about. The fact that even a portion of the tax cuts going to some of these companies were choices that the government is now preventing itself from making in terms of helping Canadians and lifting those out of poverty who most need it.

While she was speaking, I received an email from a fellow in Terrace, British Columbia named Rob Hart, who works with the United Church as a volunteer. He has for many years followed the work of the group KAIROS in its efforts to help people around the world.

I wonder if my colleague can explain the logic that is being promoted by the government in cutting all the funding to this international church-based aid group that was helping in some of the most difficult and desperate situations around the world. The government sought to eliminate all of its funding with no substantive argument at all. This fellow in Terrace is pleading with the government to offer some rationale or reason why the funding was cut to this group that is doing so much good internationally for women, children and those in the most desperate situations around this planet.

I wonder if my colleague could offer any insight into the government's hypocritical stance when it says that it is for women and children and alleviating the poverty that it has helped exacerbate by its funding cuts.

Ms. Irene Mathyssen:
Mr. Speaker, of course KAIROS did help in terms of maternal health. It helped children and families in Gaza, Palestine and around the world.

I can only assume that the reason its funding was cut had to do with the fact that it had the audacity to criticize the government about its deplorable response to the environmental crisis we are facing with climate change. KAIROS criticized and pled for the government to address the issues that are endangering our planet and its funding was cut. Anyone who criticizes the government is levelled, and that is quite despicable.