August 11, 1988

LIB

Jean-Robert Gauthier (Chief Opposition Whip; Whip of the Liberal Party)

Liberal

Mr. Gauthier:

It was a program basically directed to those of low income and those who were in need. What we are talking about here is a two earner family which is in need of child care. In my speech I made it clear that, in my riding, I was talking about those people who, because of a changing society, have to cope with a two-earner family but with children who are in need of child care. That is indeed a problem we will have to answer. I did not say that CAP was the solution and the end-all to all of the problems. I know it was a solution at the time, but now we have to go beyond the CAP program. As a general response at that time I think that it was a good response.

As far as the other question is concerned as to where I stand, the Hon. Member can read my speech tomorrow. I am sure that she will have in there all the answers to her questions.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA CHILD CARE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
PC

Steve Eugene Paproski (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

Questions and comments are now terminated. On debate the Hon. Parliamentary Secretary for Consumer and Corporate Affairs (Mrs. Bourgault).

[ Translation]

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA CHILD CARE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
PC

Lise Bourgault (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs)

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Lise Bourgault (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs):

Mr. Speaker, 1 also am pleased to take part in this debate this evening and to speak on child care on behalf of my constituents of Argen-teuil-Papineau. I would like to remind certain Hon. Members that the national child care strategy must meet the needs both of urban and rural families, and of course native ones. As far as I am concerned, Mr. Speaker, I represent a constituency that meets those three criteria because, as you know, my constituency includes the municipality of Oka, Kenesatake. There is a crying child care problem in Kenesatake.

Mr. Speaker, when I listen to the New Democratic Party and certain Liberals, including their critics, I am inclined to wonder if they understand the nature of rural Canada? I wonder, because if we were to rely on what we heard since the legislation was tabled, the need would be almost exclusively in urban centres. Do not worry about public, non-profit child care centres 100 per cent funded by the state, governments, without any financial accountability towards parents or users because the Government has money, we will pay for everything!

Mr. Speaker, in Argenteuil-Papineau this evening, I am sure that when we tell them: We will inject $6,4 billion, I am

certain that to people in Argenteuil-Papineau this is a substantial, an exceptional amount. People in a rural constituency do not refer every day to billions of dollars. This is not a frequent occurance.

But on the other hand, Mr. Speaker, I hear some dreamers opposite speak of nationalizing child care services. Not to worry about money, Canadians have a lot of it, even if we are only a small number to pay for that-not to worry. We will find the money somewhere, and anyway we will get more taxes from Canadians. I wonder where they would get that money, but at any rate they are referring to nationalizing child care just as they are referring to nationalizing health care. As if those two were comparable!

I will speak in practical terms about what happened in Argenteuil-Papineau since we referred to the national strategy, since my citizens feel that from now on they will get increased help, of course with a contribution from Quebec. One example: There is a citizen in Morin Heights, Mrs. Berverley Mehlamed, an extraordinary woman who created a private child care service in an area that is not exactly a fringe area because it is near Saint-Sauveur, in our beautiful Laurentians, but anyway she developed an exceptional child care centre that draws on the parents as well as brothers and sisters of the children who finish school at 4 p.m., as mentioned earlier by the Hon. Member for Outremont (Mrs. Pepin). This woman wishes to expand. She has already told me of a very remarkable project, and we were eagerly awaiting the introduction of this Bill as well as the accord signed with Quebec to see how she would be able to get the financial aid she needs to double the spaces in her day care centre. So, you see, in my riding, we already have projects in place.

Let me tell you about another project dear to me. Since we, the Conservative Government, have been in office, it is a well-known fact, recognized by all, that the economy is doing so well that the population of the Saint-Janvier area in Mirabel, a municipality known for its dramatic development, has become aware of the serious problem of day care. So, nowadays, Mr. Speaker, companies such as, to name a few, Bell Helicoptere, Nationair, Transat, Canpak, the Mirabel town council, and so on, have been meeting with concerned citizens and day care directors to discuss the issue of day care centres in the workplace, an issue which concerns companies, parents, and governments alike, and not exclusively governments.

From now on, private firms will have to get involved financially in the creation of day care centres.

For the time being, we are waiting for the result of an application we have made to the Department of National Health and Welfare concerning a new Project Assistance Fund which is part of the national day care strategy to create in Saint-Janvier a unique day care centre in a working area which, I hope, will become a reality, in view of the interest shown so far by my constituents and the women working in these plans.

August 11, 1988

Mr. Speaker, I dare say that this is the result of the national day care strategy because we are aware again of the fact that the federal Government is determined to get involved in it.

Like a great many of my colleagues both on the Government and the Opposition sides, Mr. Speaker, 1 have met many mothers in my riding and most of them are definitely in favour of family type day care centres.

It is quite a chore for the mother of one, two or several children to dress them in the morning and take them to one of the public day care centres which have set such strict conditions as to the time of arrival, time of departure, etc. I can tell you that people in increasing number prefer family type day care centres because families are smaller.

Mr. Speaker, the Government has met the needs of these parents who wanted to choose their own type of care through the national strategy, and it has done so within the framework of the tax reform.

Let me remind you for instance that the maximum day care deduction for children six years of age or under will double from $2,000 to $4,000. Parents with children six years of age or under who have no child care receipts-and Heaven knows that there are many in our ridings who don't-will be entitled to a refundable child tax credit supplement of $100 for 1988 and $200 for every year there-after. That is a need we have met, Mr. Speaker!

When we hear NPD Members, Mr. Speaker, we get the impression that we are in Russia or some other socialist dictatorship, because they want to nationalize child care services.

Opposition critics say that the federal Government has to make sure that the provinces will indeed use the money we will give them under the national strategy.

Mr. Speaker, I suggest it is an expression of lack of confidence in the legitimately elected provincial governments. I am convinced that, with respect to the Government of Quebec and the governments of the other provinces, day care centres are a basic need and I fail to see how a provincial administration would dare expend these funds for purposes other than those specified in the legislation.

As well, Mr. Speaker, it seems unrealistic to me to claim that the federal Government ought to know what Nova Scotia, the Northwest Territories-the reserves, for instance-require in terms of day care centres.

I think that the social services of the provinces are much better suited and much better structured to define just what kind of day care services each province needs. It seems to me that the federal Government is showing leadership today. It has been said on many occasions but still not often enough, Mr. Speaker, if anyone is showing leadership when it comes to day care it has to be our Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney). There is a reason why we are here today, August 11, when we

Canada Child Care Act

should be on holidays: the Prime Minister has been insisting that day care legislation being so important it must be passed before we can go! It goes to show that we have a Prime Minister who knows where he is going, Mr. Speaker.

Let us be realistic about day care. 1 read the report of the committee so ably chaired by our colleague from Lincoln (Mr. Martin) and during the proceedings I saw for myself to what extent opinions differed in the positions expressed by women from rural or urban environment and by the various groups which appeared before the committee. I suggest that the committee was realistic in its approach when it tabled its report, an approach which should represent a consensus concerning day care services.

Mr. Speaker, it was very difficult for me to hear all day long, both in my office and here in the House, the comments of my opposition colleagues. I suggest that to oppose for the sake of it is wrong. Come on. Although the Government is spending $6.4 billion on this program, they are against it because they feel it is regressive and do not meet the needs of Canadians. Mr. Speaker, 1 suggest it would be commendable on the part of the opposition to recognize for once that the Government has made a great step in the right direction and to work with us and the provinces in the future to improve this program.

We should emphasize the fact that the purpose of Bill C-144 is to improve the quantity, quality and accessibility of day care services as well as to make them more affordable.

I understood the Hon. Member for Outremont (Mrs. Pepin), as official critic of the opposition, when she mentioned all these children who do not know where to go when they leave school with keys around their necks. I want to tell her this: In several areas of my Argenteuil-Papineau riding, parent committees in various school addressed this problem and, with the national strategy and the Novative Project Assistant Fund, it is possible to get money which was not available before to help schools set up day care centres to meet the needs of young teenagers after school. We are very fortunate indeed in our ridings to have block parent committees to look after these children. It is our responsibility and also the responsibility of the provinces to look into it.

I met recently my Quebec counterpart, Mr. Claude Ryan, a man whom I hold in high estime and who is well known to the House; as Minister of Education, he is quite willing to work with his colleague, Mrs. Lavoie-Roux, the Quebec Minister Responsible for Women's Issues, to find within the framework of the national strategy which will be signed-I do not know if it has been signed already... He will do everything in his power to keep schools open after hours to offer these children shelter between the time classes ends and the time their parents get home.

August 11, 1988

Canada Child Care Act

What a great day it will be, Mr. Speaker, when every school in Canada will be able to help children and their parents who face these special problems.

As well, our Government recognizes that child care is the key to women's economic equality and represents a need and an essential welfare program. Nevertheless, we are once again committing substantial amounts in order to offer and contribute to the creation of new and good quality spaces. I am convinced, Mr. Speaker, that a unique child care centre will soon be opened in Saint-Janvier de Mirabel, since a few businesses have already confirmed their readiness to make the move and partly fund it for the enjoyment of their employees. I met the previous Bell Helicopter human ressources manager who told me a number of times about this serious problem. As you know, more and more businesses have these work shifts where men unfortunately come to realize that their fellow women workers have to leave work at a quarter to five because they must pick up their children at the day care centre before it closes at six o'clock.

There is thus a growing need to establish child care services at the workplace and I think that it is towards that objective that we should direct our initiatives and energies.

Mr. Speaker, day care services are no longer the exclusive concern of women. More and more men are responsible for looking after their children and since they have this added responsibility it seems that all of a sudden the issue has become more urgent. For years now women have been asking for better day care services but now the issue seems to have a higher priority, and I am very pleased to acknowledge this new development.

Of course I am glad for women and I think that in the future, when families take part in the collective effort concerning the equality of women, why would the father not drive his two children to the day care centre and take them out to lunch and promote better family understanding, better family unity! I think day care services at work are the answer to the problem.

Mr. Speaker, need I remind you that over the last 20 years the Canadian traditional family-the wage-earning father, the mother at home with one or more children-has become the exception rather than the rule. It has become obvious. Nowadays 54 per cent of all Canadian women are on the labour market, and the figure is higher still in the case of women in the 24-to-64 age bracket. Sixty-five per cent of them work outside the home. Sixty-two per cent of Canadian mothers with children under 16 belong to the labour force.

Mr. Speaker, speaking personally as Member for Argen-teuil-Papineau, I think there is another measure which the Government is interested in looking into, and I am referring the need to extend maternity leave in a significant manner. Women want to keep their children longer, Mr. Speaker, and I really think that three months is not enough for a very young baby.

Again I suggest that if we want to promote the family status and urge families and women to have more children, one way to achieve this is to give them more assistance and extend maternity leave.

Also, Mr. Speaker, we must say there is an increasing number of Canadian mothers who are raising their children alone. At the present time, 83 per cent of single-parent families are headed by women. In the riding of Argenteuil- Papineau, that is mostly rural, I can tell you that has become a problem. First, there is the distance from urban centres. Transportation services are almost non-existent. Those women at the poverty level who are bringing up their children alone need to go out from time to time, even only for shopping, they need some leisure time, to belong to some social organization, except they have a problem. In remote rural communities no day care services are available to them and, of course, we have to face facts. It would be financially impossible to open day care centres everywhere, for instance, in all 53 municipalities in my riding.

Here again, I think we must reflect on that particular problem of women, of families, I should say, who live in remote rural communities, to be able to give them the more satisfactory day care service to which they are entitled as first-class citizens and which we have an obligation to make available to them.

Mr. Speaker, we have often talked about the famous problem of women who hire babysitters but do not get receipts for income tax purposes. Listen, we must see things as they are. Some have no other income but welfare. Those women help each other out. You know, there is no better social network than that of women. They help each other. They take turns staying with one another's children in the evening. But they sometimes need sitters who unfortunately are below the poverty line and cannot afford to report the money they earn this way. It is almost that ridiculous. Do you think that a woman ... It seems as if the income tax services are preying on those poor women who make a little extra money every week by baby-sitting a few hours at one or several neighbours' houses, and I think we should stop harassing those people.

With the increased tax deduction and the possibility for families taking their children to child care services to deduct day care costs without necessarily having official receipts, this will still be a measure that will be of assistance to these women.

Mr. Speaker, 200,000 new subsidized spaces in child care services may not ne enough, there might still be other things to be done, but between 200,000 new spaces and nothing, I think a major progress has been made. Why always criticize? Women have always shown moderation, they told me several times they were aware of the fact that the Government had nevertheless limited resources, but they generally welcome this effort, they have hope, and in the future they will see to it that

August 11, 1988

this program be improved. In the years to come, Mr. Speaker,

I think we will be able to build on this basis and increase once again the number of day care spaces available.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA CHILD CARE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
LIB

Lucie Pépin

Liberal

Mrs. Pepin:

I would like to ask the following question to the Hon. Member for Argenteuil-Papineau (Mrs. Bourgault). She mentionned earlier the problem relating to the latch-key kid. Being a Member from Quebec, she said that Quebec Education Minister, Mr. Ryan has indicated his willingness to do everything in his power to solve this problem. Consequently,

I only want to remind my colleague that schools in her province now have 30,000 spaces, which is unique to Quebec. I also want to draw to her attention the fact that the present Bill, introduced by the Government, contains a clause where it is said that none of this money will in fact go to education ... funds will not be cut? So, I want to know how she will be able, with her Government and this Bill, to help, or let us say bypass ... I don't know if we would have to amend the Bill, to continue to offer help to those children. We heard the Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney) tell us how important it is to fight the drug problem. But we know too well that the teenagers mainly facing this problem are the same children who are alone at home after school, and actually, one of the problems with this Bill is that it does not do anything for the latch-key kid. Secondly, it says in the Bill that the funds allocated for education will be cut. I do not see then how the Hon. Member will be able to solve this problem.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA CHILD CARE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
PC

Lise Bourgault (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs)

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Bourgault:

Mr. Speaker, that is quite obvious. The provinces will first establish their standards with respect to this program. When I referred to Mr. Ryan a while ago, I was saying that there are 30 000 day care spaces, but that that is not enough in the schools. And we must not forget that parent and community groups are involved in this. There is a lot of volunteer work in this field. But I think that the Member from Outremont is stuck with her party's decision. She cannot state she agrees with the bill. But I understand her very well. If I were in her place . . .

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA CHILD CARE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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?

An Hon. Member:

In her heart, she is.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA CHILD CARE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

Lise Bourgault (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs)

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Bourgault:

In her heart, she must be and I thank my colleague for informing me of that. But I am sure that, being an Opposition Member, her job is to oppose. However, she has participated in the committee's work and she has heard the testimony of families, parents and day care workers. She is, I think, satisfied with the effort the Government is making in the field of day care. Once again, I thank her for her support.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA CHILD CARE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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NDP

Cyril Keeper

New Democratic Party

Mr. Keeper:

I would like my colleague to tell me if she is aware that the existing program, the Canada Assistance Program, does not put a limit on day care expenses. And because of that, the rate of increase was 15 per cent this year. The amounts spent on day care have increased by 15 per cent a year under the Canada Assistance Program. But, with her government's new program, the rate of increase will be brought down to 10 per cent a year. Why has this government decided to postpone the day where we will have an adequate

Canada Child Care Act

day care program for the children of this country? Has it put a limit on day care expenses because it also wants to spend 8 billion dollars on submarines? Is that the reason why the government has come up with a program which limits day care expenses?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA CHILD CARE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

Lise Bourgault (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs)

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Bourgault:

Mr. Speaker, once again, the New Democratic Member is obviously mixing apples and oranges. He talked about the Canada Assistance Plan. I just want to point out to him that, under the basic calculation, the federal Government will pay to the provinces 50 per cent of operating costs of commercial or not-for-profit child care agencies as well as 75 per cent of their capital costs during the seven-year period ending on March 31, 1995.

Mr. Speaker, I know why the New Democratic Party is against this initiative. It's because it wants to nationalize child care services like we did for medical care. But you cannot compare the two. Come on!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA CHILD CARE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
LIB

Sheila Maureen Copps

Liberal

Ms. Copps:

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Member for Argenteuil-Papineau (Mrs. Bourgault) if she thinks it fair that, under the Conservative policy, the Government offers less tax rebates to low- and middle-income families. Why has the Government not introduced a system giving tax credits instead of deductions to help, for example, a woman working as a baby sitter in her constituency and earning the minimum wage who will get a lot less in terms of income deductions than a female Member of Parliament?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA CHILD CARE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
PC

Lise Bourgault (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs)

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Bourgault:

Mr. Speaker, here is a question I am tremendously pleased to answer. In the first place, I suggest Liberals have become masters at distorting figures. This is quite clear. It must be remembered, Mr. Speaker, that Paris was not built in one day. What we were left with was a financial mess. And when a country finds itself in such a financial mess as the one we inherited from the Liberals, we cannot remedy overnight all the calamities left by the Liberals. For that reason I feel that our record over those four years is still exceptional, and I for one will quite confidently defend that performance before my constituents, with the conviction that the next four years of Conservative Government will build on the first four ones. And then Canadian men and women will realize the Conservative Party is the Party that should be governing the country, for the benefit of everyone.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA CHILD CARE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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NDP

Ian Gardiner Waddell

New Democratic Party

Mr. Ian Waddell (Vancouver-Kingsway):

Mr. Speaker-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA CHILD CARE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
?

Some Hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA CHILD CARE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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NDP

Ian Gardiner Waddell

New Democratic Party

Mr. Waddell:

I thank my colleagues very much for that round of applause. As a matter of fact, I just heard them telling the story of one of their distinguished colleagues-no doubt not from our Party-who spoke on the abortion debate and said that he was not intending to speak on the abortion debate but he had missed his bus so he thought he would take the opportunity to speak.

August 11, 1988

Canada Child Care Act

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA CHILD CARE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
LIB

Sheila Maureen Copps

Liberal

Ms. Copps:

That is one of your colleagues there, he's sitting right beside you.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA CHILD CARE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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NDP

Ian Gardiner Waddell

New Democratic Party

Mr. Waddell:

I find that extraordinary. I am rising tonight because I really want to speak in this debate. It is a real privilege to speak in this debate. I did not miss my plane to British Columbia nor did I miss the boat or the bus.

I will have the privilege, I hope, after the next election, of representing a new riding-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA CHILD CARE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
?

Some Hon. Members:

Which riding?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA CHILD CARE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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NDP

Ian Gardiner Waddell

New Democratic Party

Mr. Waddell:

A few people have asked which riding it is. It is the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA CHILD CARE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
?

Some Hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA CHILD CARE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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NDP

Ian Gardiner Waddell

New Democratic Party

Mr. Waddell:

Just in case anyone missed it, that was Port Moody-Coquitlam. In that riding, if I might be somewhat more serious for the moment, the constituents are vitally interested in the issue of child care. The reason is that Port Moody-Coquitlam is like many new and growing areas in Canada, a suburban area with young families. Indeed, I think only 8 per cent of the people are senior citizens, a very low figure. A large percentage of the population is made up of young families with children and they have been hit hard by the Conservative Government. For example, they are paying high interest rates on their mortgages for the new houses they have bought. That is partly a result of government policy which is trying to squeeze down the boom in the Toronto area by keeping interest rates high.

These people are also paying higher taxes than they did in 1984, about $1,000 more per family. They are also being hit in other ways. For example, they drive from the city to the suburbs and they get hit at the pump by higher gasoline prices, again enacted by the Government. As a result, this group of people really want the Government to deliver something good for a change. They have looked at child care as one thing they really need.

There is another reason I am vitally interested in child care and that has to do with equality. I fervently believe, as do my colleagues in the NDP, in the principle of equality. I think full equality of women hinges to a large extent on meeting day care needs. In our society it is still the woman who is left for the most part to look after the children. At the same time, as many Members on all sides have pointed out, women are continually moving into the work force. They have, as I see it, a double job. They are part of the work force, and then in the morning before going to work or in the evening when they come home from work they have to provide the best care they can for their children. During the day they often have inadequate child care and they worry about their children, or they cannot afford to be sick and they have to go to work sick, or they have problems when they are at work and their child is at home sick.

We do not have adequate child care in this country and I think all Parties agree with that.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA CHILD CARE ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink

August 11, 1988