August 17, 1988

LIB

Lloyd Axworthy

Liberal

Mr. Axworthy:

There is a relationship. For anyone to argue that, argues against the history of the last 60 years. This is the first major social program we have talked about where the federal Government is abdicating its responsibility to ensure that there are national equitable standards for all children regardless of where they live. Flexible experimentation I believe were the words used by the Hon. Member for Calgary South. Does the Hon. Member know what that translates into?

It translates into hodge-podge, substandard care and inequality. Those are the real words that should be used. I bring that back to the living reality of the parents I see every day when I take my own child to day care, or the people in my own riding who I talked to when I visited every single day care centre. It is a very important concern because it relates to the next one. The next concern is that so many parents in Canada today are accepting that substandard care because there is no other alternative. They do not know who is looking after their child because they have to go into the private market-place to find care.

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

Blaine Allen Thacker (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Thacker:

Why is a rich man like you being subsidized?

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

Lloyd Axworthy

Liberal

Mr. Axworthy:

I am not being subsidized. We pay our full share. What a silly, stupid, reactionary attitude from the Member for Lethbridge-Foothills (Mr. Thacker). The fact of the matter is that he is talking about 60 or 70 per cent of the parents in this country. The Tories do not recognize because of their tax policies in other areas that one has to be part of a two-income family to survive in this country today.

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

Blaine Allen Thacker (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Thacker:

It was your policy which did that. There was 22 per cent interest while you were the Government.

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

Lloyd Axworthy

Liberal

Mr. Axworthy:

If decent and proper care is not provided for children, the economy will fall to the bottom. This is a bad program. It is not designed for the care and concern of our children. It may be designed to fit the mythology and the ideology of the Member for Calgary East. However, it has nothing to do with what is required and what people want. I will give you an example, Mr. Speaker.

In 1985, I sat down with the churches and social service groups in my constituency, and organized what I think is probably the most extensive family study ever undertaken in Canada. We contacted every single household in my riding to ask about family related issues. We had close to 10,000 responses in a riding where there are 45,000 households. Close to 10,000 responses. I suggest that that is probably the most singular largest study of family concerns ever undertaken in Canada at a local community level.

What did we find? In my constituency, which goes from a downtown area where there is a high predominance of singleparent families to suburban areas with middle, upper middle-class families, upwards of anywhere from 58 per cent to 75 per cent of those in the area said that the number one concern was proper, decent child care. It had nothing to do with just those on the lowest income. This kind of Florence Nightingale, noblesse oblige kind of attitude that we hear that somehow we are going to help those only in need flies in the face of the fact that there is 60 or 70 per cent. I will give an example. In the Fort Richmond, Waverley Heights, South Fort Garry part of my riding, an area of middle, lower-middle-class, working class families, some upper-class families, 71 per cent of the parents say that additional child care programs are needed.

August 17, 1988

That compares to the fact that in that same area at the present time there is a grand total of 166 spaces for children, an area which includes close to 5,000 households. A hundred and sixty-six.

Do you know what the additional increment of the new Tory program will bring about in that area if you add it up? It is about six new spaces over that time.

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

Don Boudria

Liberal

Mr. Boudria:

Great stuff.

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

Lloyd Axworthy

Liberal

Mr. Axworthy:

I have to tell you that the people of South Richmond, South Fort Garry, Waverley Heights are not going to be dancing in the streets because they are going to get six additional spaces because of this new program.

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

Don Boudria

Liberal

Mr. Boudria:

Such largess.

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

Lloyd Axworthy

Liberal

Mr. Axworthy:

If anything points to the dramatic disparity between the rhetoric and the reality, it is that figure.

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

Nelson Andrew Riis (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Riis:

Are you sure about that figure?

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

Lloyd Axworthy

Liberal

Mr. Axworthy:

I am positive about that figure. There are 166. If you add up the increment, they are going to get maybe an additional six spaces.

How can anyone stand up in this House and say that we have now met the problem? For those families, you have not begun to meet the problem. You have not begun to scratch the surface of the problem. You have not even got close to the problem.

When I hear, "Well, it is a beginning", it is a beginning and it is also the end. Once you entrench this program and turn it into one in which the provinces have complete control with no requirement for standard, you will never retrieve it again in order to establish a national program with national standards. You will never be able to undo the bad work that is being done. You will never be able to correct the major flaw that is being built into that program.

I can testify from my experience in my own community. That question of standards is absolutely essential. I have had parents come into my office and I have talked to them on the streets and in the day care centres. They have described to me the experiences of what it is like, the panic of when you have two parents working because they have to keep up mortgage payments or whatever it may be, trying to live in this high-cost economy, and all of a sudden they realize that there is no place for their child. They put an advertisement in the newspaper. Someone walks the street and says: "I may or may not be qualified", and they find out two or three weeks later that the baby-sitter, that private entrepreneur, is spending all afternoon with the TV set on, or is in some way ignoring the kid. We are dealing with that indifference, or even worse.

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

Marion Dewar

New Democratic Party

Ms. Dewar:

With no background in child care.

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

Lloyd Axworthy

Liberal

Mr. Axworthy:

With no background in child care training for families. I agree that there are some good private facilities.

Canada Child Care Act

I have no argument about that. In fact, my mother was responsible for a day care centre for 15 years. She provided good treatment. They recognize that there had to be the essential question of standards there, because there are so many bad operators. There are so many corporate operators who simply see child care as a way of making a buck.

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

Nelson Andrew Riis (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Riis:

Shame.

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

Lloyd Axworthy

Liberal

Mr. Axworthy:

There are too many chains being established across Canada with the idea of making a profit on children by providing the service; not providing the best service-

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

Marion Dewar

New Democratic Party

Ms. Dewar:

With day care workers.

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

Lloyd Axworthy

Liberal

Mr. Axworthy:

-to make sure that the day care workers get the minimum payment. How about the question of after school? Is there anything in this Bill that will provide for afterschool care for the children? There is not one thing. I can tell you from a discussion that I had last weekend with some coparents at the day care centre whose kids are about to graduate, recognizing that there is no provision for after-school programs, that they are now trying to rearrange their schedules and so on. We are not talking about people with big incomes. We are talking about secretaries working on this Hill who are making SI4,000 a year, faced with the enormous question of "What do I do when my child has to go to kindergarten and is only there for three hours a day? Do I leave work?" All of a sudden the standard of living of the members of the family collapses.

That is the reality that we are talking about, not some document drafted by some bureaucrat in the Department of National Health and Welfare that is being read out by Members opposite. I am talking about something that is real, something you touch every day, something you understand by dealing with the people who are deeply involved in the issue.

I do not buy the argument that this is just the beginning and that all along the way we will tinker here or there. If you are going to do it, do it right. Get it right the first time. Do not put into place the kind of expectations that are out there in the public. They talk about $6 billion or $7 billion when in fact it is $2.3 billion, as we well know, for the actual additions of new spaces and for the support of families who need it going into child care services. How do you get that back? To go back in time and to rework it in a major way will occupy the next Government's time and energy.

I say to myself, when you have the Katie Cooke study and the House of Commons meeting for two years, how did you get it so bad, how did you get it so wrong? Why did you put together a Rube Goldberg machine? It is unquestionably the number one concern of the majority of families in Canada, and this Government missed the target by a mile.

I have heard the Member for Calgary South say: "Well, after a lot of pressure we have now increased the child tax credit". It is now $759 for those in the lowest income level. Do you know what the average cost is of a day care space, even

August 17, 1988

Canada Child Care Act

those that are subsidized? It ranges from $450 to $900 a month. It may get your child one month's care. You have to compare that against the provision of the service and the space itself, geared to income. That is the real question. EIow much are you misallocating the resources by doing it that way as opposed to making sure that the space is there? It is not a 4 per cent increment a year. It is also to ensure that it is geared to income so that it can be properly monitored and managed. That is what the families are asking for, those with the lowest income; the single-parent families in my riding. That is what they want.

The middle class families also need the space. If there is a proper day care system with proper standards, set by a program that recognizes the importance of teaching and quality facilities, they are prepared to pay what it costs for their children if they can find the space. Yet, both those criteria have been missed in this program. They are not there.

No one here is arguing against the objective of a new child care program. The problem is that this is not the right program. It does not come in any way, shape or form close to meeting the real issue that is out there, street by street.

I have talked about the South Winnipeg family study, and the close to 10,000 people who responded to it. It was not just a statistical study. It was done house by house, with household interviews, being with groups in neighbourhoods. We had close to 300 or 400 volunteers, working over a year, giving up their time to undertake this kind of a program. I had the opportunity to join them in many of the discussions, to meet with the parents and with the organizations being called.

I only wish that Members of the House had gone through a similar kind of experience to realize that it is not an abstraction, it is not something that is for partisan dispute. It is something that is close to the real, basic concern. There can be nothing deeper and sweeter than the feeling of a parent for their child, and the yearning, the demand, the appetite for some support out there to meet that need.

SO)

The disappointment that comes with this program, Mr. Speaker, is crushing. It goes beyond just the sheer provision of child care. I suppose if I had my way-I am not the critic for my Party-I would revamp our entire family program structure. As you go through the other studies, you find that there is a desperate need for support for the latchkey kids and the roofless teenagers.

In my riding, the South Winnipeg Family Services said there were 1,200 teenage kids who are what they call foot loose kids who for all kinds of reasons have left home at 14 or 15 years of age and are living with friends or kicking around the streets. We have close to 800 or 900 homeless children in downtown Winnipeg. I do not want to be dramatic, Mr. Speaker, but there is a crisis out there when it comes to these family concerns, whether in housing, proper support, or counselling. The third highest priority is psychological and

mental counselling. Many families want someone to talk to in order to deal with problems with their children or aging parents. People go through a terrific emotional upheaval trying to cope with these sorts of things. There have been breakdowns in church support. I regret that, but it has happened. In modern urban and rural society that support is no longer there.

We find the kind of family support which governments provide is sometimes wrongly targeted. I spoke to a family in my riding a couple of weeks back who had found that one of their children had a learning disability. This was an average family, but no place was prepared to help them deal with this child's learning disability. The parents will have to wait until the child gets to the public school system where there might be some help, but it could be too late. They told me the family allowance was not enough to cope with it, and they were unable to go on social welfare. There was no one to help them deal with their child who every day they could see was falling backward. The family will sacrifice, maybe sell the family car or even the family home to get that kid into a proper rehabilitation program. It seems to me we should have a better concept of the family and reorganize the way in which we deliver our income programs so that families as they meet crises can apply resources where they are most needed at the appropriate time. We have to get rid of the rigidities in the system.

The problem with this program before us is it will compound the problem. It will not help. It adds one more series of tortuous networks to go through rather than providing a greater facility and ability for families to meet their needs. I am not saying the state is the sole responsibility. Of course it is not. In our child care policy we said that it has to be a partnership between the parents, primarily supported by their governments, and the private sector. That is the basis of our policy, that sharing partnership principle, whereby we can employ the full resources.

People took leadership here several years ago to put a day care centre on the Hill, not just for Members of Parliament but for secretaries' and clerks' families and for the 5,000 people who work on the Hill. Those things should be done in work places around the country.

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

Marion Dewar

New Democratic Party

Ms. Dewar;

There is a two-year waiting list.

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

Lloyd Axworthy

Liberal

Mr. Axworthy:

Yes, there is a two-year waiting list. My wife and I got down on our knees and lit a candle when we got Stevie into that day care program because we were really up against it and we did not know what we were going to do.

From a personal point of view, I think I can say something in the House. I do not like to argue from a singular experience because as Members of Parliament we are supposed to represent the broad view. I think I can represent that because I have this study, but from the point of view of someone who is living the problem and able to share it with some other parents, I can tell Tory Members that they have this wrong. This program is not a good one. It will not work the way they

August 17, 1988

want it to. They will waste a lot of resources, raise a lot of expectations and they will not get the kinds of answers they need. I suppose it will be up to another Government to go back to the drawing board.

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

Barbara Jane (Bobbie) Sparrow

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Sparrow:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I may have misled the House when I spoke about 20 minutes ago. I want to clarify what I said about the child tax credit.

The top-up for the child tax credit which is $100 in 1988 and another $100 in 1989 is for children six years and under. I mention that so as not to mislead the House.

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

August 17, 1988