September 26, 1988

NDP

Margaret Anne Mitchell

New Democratic Party

Ms. Mitchell:

I would like to comment on a couple of points made by the Hon. Member. First, he does not seem to realize that the report that he held up, which is commonly called the Katie Cooke report, is not a report of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. It is a very comprehensive research document commissioned by the former Liberal Government. It recommended comprehensive child care. It is interesting that the Liberal Party has also not picked up on the recommendations contained in that report. That report recommended a comprehensive system of child care across the country that would be available to all children where there was a need and would be developed systematically over a period of time. I wish to correct the Hon. Member on that point.

I was on the special committee on child care established by the Government, and in my view the main purpose was not to deal with the Katie Cooke recommendations. In fact, we repeated a tour across Canada. Many people felt that was an unnecessary expense. We learned that most of the witnesses who spoke to us recommended the same things as Katie Cooke, and the same things as those recommended by the witnesses who appeared before the legislative committee. We must have a national program of comprehensive, quality, affordable, accessible child care. Of course, that is what this Bill is not doing. It is a capped funding. It finishes after seven years. It does not even give adjusted funding for the poorer provinces after seven years.

It is really a very restrictive program, even worse than the Canada Assistance Plan.

The Hon. Member referred to one issue with passion and I know he feels strongly about it. That is the issue of handicapped and disabled children, or special needs children as they are sometimes called. It is very costly to provide child care for that group of children. In any good quality child care program we cannot have a token federal initiative which may or may not provide a program here or a program there for a few disabled kids. Some groups who are specialists in this field said disabled children have the same right as other children to be in regular child care centres, just the same as they have the right

September 26, 1988

to be in school. We must start in the pre-school years to open up spaces for them. That means we have to have extra capital funding and extra staff. That costs more. This program does not do that. We felt that there should be at least a $2 per space per day top-up for those kinds of spaces, and the Elon. Member thinks an initiative fund, which will be gone in probably a year, is the way to deal with disabled children.

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

Howard Edward Crosby

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Crosby:

Mr. Speaker, I do not know how long that speech was but it certainly went beyond the bounds of a question. I cannot even begin to take the time of the Elouse to answer it but I will try and do it this way.

I listened carefully to the Elon. Member and sometimes I think her and her colleagues in the NDP, not only in this House but right across Canada, do not want to solve these problems. They want misery. They live on it. That is how they get elected. If you eliminated poverty in Canada they would be gone. They would be dead. They would have nothing to talk about. They do not want to solve the problems of day care. If you cannot get everyone in there who wants a space, then close the day care centre. Leave them out on the street. If they are out there they are on television and the NDP have a problem to present to the House.

If that is your attitude, oppose the Bill because it does not spell things out the way you want. If you want to keep people out of day care centres, if you want to keep children from having improved benefits, stop the Bill. Criticize it. Complain about it. Worry about whether the cover on the report is yellow or orange. Point these things out. Carp and crab and stand in the way of progress if that is what you want to do, but you are going to have to stand up and be counted. In Nova Scotia people found out what you were doing and they are going to find out nationally.

You thrive on poverty. You are going to nationalize poverty to eliminate it, but you cannot do it that way. You have to go out and fight it in the streets. You have to fight it in the institutions. You have to build the system, not denigrate it, not carp about resolutions or solutions. We are trying to resolve the problem. You are trying to stop the resolution.

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

Andrée Champagne (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Champagne):

The period for questions and comments is now over. The Hon. Member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy) now has the floor.

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

Michael Morris Cassidy

New Democratic Party

Mr. Mike Cassidy (Ottawa Centre):

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the Hon. Member for entertaining the House with his comments and suggest that when he leaves this House, as he may well do after the election, he apply for a job at Skit Row row on Elgin Street in my constituency.

I would like to remind you that the history of this country over the last 50 years is that the New Democratic Party and the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation were the Parties consistently at the cutting edge in the fight for social reforms. Whether adequate pensions, medicare, or hospital insurance, it

Canada Child Care Act

was the CCF that carried the fight. It was an NDP Government in Saskatchewan that brought in hospital insurance and medicare. The Conservative Party, backed by its allies and friends in the business sector, has consistently been on the opposite side, carping, complaining, bitching, and trying to find every way possible to oppose these social progress measures. I could go back to the 19th century-

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

Howard Edward Crosby

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Crosby:

That is where you are.

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

Michael Morris Cassidy

New Democratic Party

Mr. Cassidy:

-when people like the Hon. Member were saying we could not have laws to prevent child labour. They were saying Great Britain could not afford that and making similar arguments here. I think it is about time we had a Government that responded to the needs of average Canadians and their families. The legislation before us, Bill C-144, fails to do that. Nothing could indicate that more clearly than the fact that every one of the some 40 groups who appeared before the legislative committee on this Bill opposed it. They told the committee in very explicit terms how inadequate and flawed this legislation was.

The Hon. Member who just spoke on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party, and I am not sure why they call themselves Progressive Conservatives, said: "Yes, it is a bad piece of legislation. It really does not do the job very well. However, do not criticize it. Accept it, try it out, and let us see what happens. In five or ten years we can turn around and maybe do something better".

There has been time enough and advice enough that we can do better now. That is why the NDP opposes this legislation. That is why we have been so unhappy and angry with the way the Government has pursued this legislation.

The Government has been in power for four years now. It was elected with a huge majority on September 4, 1984 and it has had a lot of time to implement a plan to finance and expand the child care system in Canada. Since 1976, Madam Speaker, the proportion of mothers in the labour force with children under three has increased from 30 to 60 per cent. Madam Speaker, if one includes all mothers in the labour force who have children that do not attend school full-time, the figure is now 75 per cent. So there is a great need for child care services, which is not at all being met by the inadequate measures proposed by the Conservative Government.

Personally, Madam Speaker, I am disappointed by the way the Government presented this Bill. Since its election four years ago, instead of bringing in a social reform package to implement a national child care system, the Government has chosen to use delaying tactics and schemes. It set up a special committee on child care, which admittedly heard a great deal of testimony and traveled across the country, but the recommendations made by families and Canadian men and women were ignored to such an extent that when Bill C-144 was presented in August 1988, this Bill was already challenged by

September 26, 1988

Canada Child Care Act

the 40 groups that had an opportunity to testify before the Committee in the mere two days reserved for hearings.

Madam Speaker, I wonder how a Government that prided itself on fiscal responsibility and on planning could wait until August, that is, until the 47th month of its term, to bring in a Bill to expand child care services in Canada. Madam Speaker, what did the Government do in those 47 months? The answer is that it found all sorts of ways to delay its decision.

Finally, what did it do? At last, it presented a Bill! Parliament again sat during the summer, because the Conservatives no longer know how to manage Parliament's business so that it sits 10 and not 12 months of the year.

The Elouse met, we had maybe three days of debate at the second reading stage of the Child Care Bill, and after that, a legislative committee was formed. Did the Committee give the right to travel? Did the Committee give the right to hear all representations from groups interested in this Bill? No, it did not. Madam Speaker, the schedule set by the Tory majority for this Committee provided only two days for hearing witnesses, during which we heard about forty groups. There were no groups from Newfoundland, from Nova Scotia, from New Brunswick or from Prince Edward Island to make representations on the Child Care Bill. So there was no testimony on the impact of this Bill on the four poorest provinces in Confederation. Madam Speaker, the fact that the provinces are supposed to drop their support for day-care under the Canada Assistance Plan in order to receive the assistance proposed in this Bill is certainly significant to many groups in the Maritimes, since in many parts of the Maritime provinces, financial resources are such that they cannot even pay half the cost of commercial day-care, for instance, which will be subsidized under the system proposed by the federal Government under this Bill. However, we had no testimony from these provinces.

What will happen in Quebec? Only two out of forty groups that testified came from Quebec. I think it was the FTQ and the Coalition pour les garderies de la province de Quebec. Only two groups were able to testify within the limited timeframe allowed the legislative committee by the Tory majority. Subsequently, amendments were examined in Parliament, at the report stage. This took about three or four days. After that, we got to third reading. At the third reading stage, the Government imposed closure to limit the debate to one day, which is today, which leaves us only a day or a day and a half to listen to the debate on third reading.

Madam Speaker, if the Government was truly proud of drafting legislation that had the support of Canadian families and Canadian women, would the Government have imposed closure? No. The Government would have been so sure of the Bill that it would have put the Opposition in a position where it had to support the Bill proposed by the Government. Madam Speaker, the reason we are opposed to this Bill is that we know we can defend our position before the electorate in a general election that will be called very shortly.

As you know, Madam Speaker, we will be criticized. True blue Tory Canadians will say, as did the Hon. Member for Halifax, that if the New Democrats are opposed to this Bill, they are opposed to supporting day-care. That is not the case. Canadians know our Party favoured a bill that would increase day-care services at a faster pace, by providing more spaces in less time and at a lesser cost then the Tory Government's proposal. We are proud of what was said by my hon. friend, our day-care spokesperson, the Hon. Member for Vancouver East (Ms. Mitchell) and by my Leader, the Hon. Member for Oshawa (Mr. Broadbent), on the New Democratic Party side.

I notice that in the polls, the Conservatives do not enjoy the same support among women as they do among men in Canada, and one wonders why. Could it be partly because the Tories continue to ignore the needs of Canadian families and that, although equality is now a fact, young children continue to be more the woman's than the man's responsibility, more the wife's than the husband's?

Such conditions still prevail, although we are trying to change the situation.

Canadian women know that the Conservatives' child care policy will not meet the needs of ordinary Canadian families.

Madam Speaker, what are the weaknesses of this Bill? It fails to set national objectives, and everybody came here to tell us that under the Meech Lake Accord we have the right. . . The national Government of Canada, the federal Government of Canada has the right to define in the legislation the national objectives which the provinces must fulfil if they are to benefit from the assistance proposed in a Bill on cost sharing programs.

Second, there is a lack of vision in terms of available child care options. In ever more families people seeking good jobs have or will have to choose between working the 8-to-5 shift or perhaps from midnight to 8 a.m.

Madam Speaker, what can we say to waitresses and women who work as hostesses, good work in a restaurant but more often than not they have to work evenings. Wages and tips are better in upper class restaurants, but invariably this is evening work. Are child care facilities open at night? Of course not. In addition, Madam Speaker, the jobs that are open require people to work outside normal hours.

Madam Speaker, if we want to tell women that they have just as much right as men to hold well paid jobs in nontraditional trades, if we want women to apply for work as electricians, plumbers, long distance truck drivers and similar employment, child care services will also have to be available during non-traditional hours because this kind of work is not necessarily done between 7.30 a.m. and 5 p.m. This issue has hardly been mentioned and there is no way the federal Government can force the provinces to set up child care facilities during such odd hours.

Madam Speaker, we could not help notice that child care Bill C-144 gives no special consideration to a number of groups

September 26, 1988

such as the Inuit and native people. Just one more problem ignored by the legislation! There is no guarantee that the necessary services will be offered by the governments or by child care centres.

Madam Speaker, the Government has promised the creation of 200,000 new spaces over a seven-year period, but we in the New Democratic Party believe this objective can be achieved within four years. The Government's premise is that the development of child care facilities in this country will slow down over the next seven years, and then nothing will happen after that. The funds made available for child care capital costs under this Bill will be expended at the end of seven years. After that, nothing at all!

Funds will be paid to child care agencies without any assurance that in certain cases existing child care agencies would be subsidized, something which would create new spaces under the measure proposed by the Government.

Madam Speaker, perhaps I might quote .. .

I would just like to mention as well that in deciding to give as much assistance to commercial day care centres as it is the Government is making a serious mistake. Among other things I fear that the Government may be opening the door-and the free trade deal will add to that-to for profit American day care chains establishing themselves here in Canada and to Canadians being unable to limit them-

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

Margaret Anne Mitchell

New Democratic Party

Ms. Mitchell:

The Liberals agree with that.

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

Michael Morris Cassidy

New Democratic Party

Mr. Cassidy:

Apparently the Liberals agree with that-and by using the clauses respecting services in the trade deal to restrain them from any limitations by a federal Government or by the provinces. I know of some commercial services which are provided by small operators, let us say, a husband and wife who provide day care. There is a hands on delivery of service. Those kinds of services can, in certain cases, work well. However, some of those services, even where there is a hands on delivery and they are commercial, can work extremely badly.

I have been quite close to the case of a day care facility in the City of Nepean in the Ottawa area where members of the staff were paid from $9,000 to $12,000 per annum, but they were forced in certain cases to work longer hours than were being recorded on their pay sheets. In other words, their wages were being driven down by tricks like that. The operator used to come in and scream at her staff, and there was no qualified director despite provincial regulations that that be the case. The turnover was enormous. Often the requirements in terms of the minimum number of staff required to meet minimum ratios were not being met because workers were walking out in anger. People were not being paid. The workers finally got so

Canada Child Care Act

angry that they chose to have a union but then the operator refused to bargain in good faith in order to establish a contract.

I could go on with this particular case. This is one of the problems which will emerge with the Government's unregulated proposals that do not set out national objectives, do not ensure quality day care, and will effectively leave things in the hands of provinces without really knowing exactly what is going to come out of it. In his own speech-

Madam Speaker, in his speech on the subject, the Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney) stated that the Government wanted to introduce a child-care system that would be available, affordable, high quality and accessible. Unfortunately, the four objectives stated by the Prime Minister have not been met by Bill C-144.

As far as affordability is concerned, Madam Speaker, the Government will reduce instead of increase the growth of daycare spaces in Canada over the next seven years.

Affordability-if only it were affordable! Madam Speaker, in Sweden, under a Social Democratic government which has been in power for fifty years, a family with an income of about $25,000 earned by the head of the family and perhaps a joint income of $40,000 or $45,000 in Canadian dollars, pays about $200 a month for day-care services for each child. This is affordable, and this is a national service that exists across the country. People accept that. The situation is the same in France and in many other industrialized countries in Europe.

From time to time, people in Canada say we must compete with the Europeans. I agree. But I wonder why, in European countries, day-care is available for everyone, at a limited and affordable cost, while here many parents have to pay for informal services. They either have no access at all to day-care or they have to pay $800 a month, I believe, the service.

They used to say in England that if you were a member of the upper classes, as soon as your child was conceived, you had to enrol it in one of the famous public schools such as Eton or Harrow, to be sure the child would be able to go to that school once he was seven years old.

Madam Speaker, it seems we now have the same situation for day-care. When a child is conceived or even if you are only considering the possibility, if you want day-care for an infant under the age of two in Ottawa, you should consider registering it with a day-care centre because there is such a shortage of spaces.

We on this side of the House, Madam Speaker, believe that the Governement has proposed a poor way of spending taxpayers'money on children. Some people I meet on my door-to-door campaign have told me: I can't afford day-care! My answer was: You know that a lot of what the Government is saying is aimed at giving people in the middle or upper-middle class a minor tax reduction because instead of ensuring a good

September 26, 1988

Canada Child Care Act

supply of day-care services, in terms of spaces, the Government is wasting a large proportion of this money just to ensure that seven years from now, only 25 per cent of the spaces required for children whose parents work outside the home will be available.

Madam Speaker, I conclude by pointing out that nearly a million children in Canada live in poverty. We have a problem of poverty in Canada. This problem is in no way solved by Bill C-144 on child care. All who are closely interested in our children's needs, in our families' needs, oppose this Bill from the Conservative Government. So I say to the Conservative Government: Withdraw your Bill. You presented it too late for it to pass before the elections. Propose something really worthwhile for all Canadian families.

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

Mary Collins

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Collins:

Madam Speaker, despite all the rhetoric at the end of the Member's speech, I think he is talking to a different group of Canadian parents than the parents I have spoken to in the last few months. These are parents who are very happy and supportive of the initiative this Government has taken for the first time to make some very significant advances in the provision of child care services and to allow parents choices. Both the profit and non-profit sectors will be involved in the provision of child care.

I would really like to comment on the fact that both this Member today and his colleague, the Elon. Member for Kamloops-Shuswap (Mr. Riis), spoke last week about the fact that representatives who appeared before the legislative committee oppose this Bill. To set the record straight, in the goodness of the hearts of government Members on that committee, they proposed that the witness who appeared before the committee would be chosen by the Opposition. We gave up our spots and enabled the opposition Parties to choose the witnesses. Naturally they chose witnesses who opposed the Bill.

There were 44 groups that appeared. They represented a cross-section. There were witnesses from British Columbia, from Alberta, from Ontario, and from Quebec, and they were groups which had an interest. Most of them would like to have universally available and financed child care, a goal which is just not realistic in terms of the cost to the country at this time. I was not surprised when I heard that those groups were not particularly supportive, but I do not believe they represent the broad interests of Canadian parents, Canadian parents who support this Bill and support this initiative.

I do not find it very surprising that the Hon. Member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy), the Hon. Member for Kamloops-Shuswap, and other members of the New Democratic Party are asking the Government to scrap the Bill and are critical of it because they had a relatively small handful of groups and organizations from central Canada which were opposed to the initiative appear before the committee. I remind the New Democratic Party that the early committee, chaired by the now Minister of State for Transport (Mrs. Martin)

went across the country-and many of my colleagues served on that committee-and heard from hundreds of organizations. They were presented with a wide variety of viewpoints and had a lot of support for the kinds of initiatives we have now brought forward.

This legislation is a major step forward and does indeed have the support of the majority of Canadian parents who will benefit.

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

Michael Morris Cassidy

New Democratic Party

Mr. Cassidy:

Madam Speaker, I want to comment on the intervention of the Hon. Member for Capilano (Mrs. Collins) who represents one of the wealthiest ridings in the country. Perhaps tax breaks assist her constituents, but I would like to point out to her that if there were groups involved with the problems of families, of women and of kids across the country that supported the day care legislation, they have had six weeks or seven weeks to speak out. If the Conservatives agreed that those groups would not appear before the committee, why have those groups not spoken out in other ways? Why have we not been reading about their interventions in The Globe and Mail or The Vancouver Sun? Why have I not had correspondence from them urging me and members of my Party to support Bill C-144? The groups that have come forward carry a great deal of weight. I notice that the Canadian Day Care Advocacy Association was opposed to Bill C-144, as were the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women and the National Action Committee on the Status of Women.

Does the Hon. Member for Capilano suggest that those groups have no credibility on this particular issue at all? Does she think that on day care we should be listening only to the Business Council on National Issues, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, or the Citizens' Coalition in London with its right wing views? Is this whom we should be listening to, or should we in fact be listening to women?

The Labour Congress, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the National Federation of Nurses' Unions, the Canadian Association of Social Workers, the Ottawa-Carleton Day Care Association, the teachers, and many other groups oppose this legislation.

The Hon. Member for Capilano speaks of the initiatives taken by her Government and suggests that those have aided families. Does she mean the deindexing of the family allowance, the deindexing of the child tax credit, the increase in taxes on average families of more than $1,000 since 1984 while taxes on rich people were reduced to aid people in her constituency? Does she mean the deindexing of the child tax credit? Are these the measures of which she is so proud? Let her defend those during the election campaign.

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

Herbert Eser (Herb) Gray (Official Opposition House Leader; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Gray (Windsor West):

Mr. Speaker, I was listening to the exchange about the committee. I wonder if we could have an explanation of why, if the Conservatives wanted to bring people forward to the committee, to support their Bill, they limited the committee hearings to only two and a half days.

September 26, 1988

Surely if the Conservatives were worried that only one side of the argument was being presented they must share the blame for forcing the committee to restrict its hearings to only a few days.

Furthermore, I am given to understand that the opposition Members on the committee did not refuse to allow people who supported the Bill to come forward. If the Conservatives had people who wanted to come forward to support the Bill, they certainly could have had them on the witness list. I am sure Members will agree that the record speaks for itself. If no one came before the committee to support the Bill, that means that there was not a good word to be said about it by those who know the most about the child care field.

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

Michael Morris Cassidy

New Democratic Party

Mr. Cassidy:

Madam Speaker, the Hon. Member's comments are well taken. I am puzzled. As I said earlier in my speech, if the Government wanted to ensure that there was adequate time to consider this matter, of course it could have brought its legislative project forward six months or a year ago. Instead, it was so tied up with the trade deal that it did not do so. Therefore it has boxed itself in. I suspect that this initiative will not be put into law and proclaimed because the House is likely to be prorogued for the election by the end of this week. If that is the case, the blame and responsibility are solely on the Government.

I appreciate what the Hon. Member says. I do want to say though, perhaps more in sorrow than in anger, that I noted with some concern that the official Liberal policy, although not mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Turner) today, is that the Liberal Party stands for expanding day care as the deficit is reduced. That suggests that its commitment to child care is a little less strong than he perhaps tried to suggest in the speech today.

The Liberals have supported funding for commercial child care, and I heard the Leader of the Opposition say today that there would be a child care foundation set up which would mean, effectively, that the ability of the Government of Canada to determine national objectives for child care would to some extent be either delegated or mitigated, or perhaps weakened, by such a foundation.

I believe that in the forthcoming election we will be talking about the record, not only of the Conservatives on major issues like day care but also about the record of the Liberals. Many people whom I meet on the doorstep these days are telling me that they do not like what the Conservatives are doing but that they still cannot forget what the Liberals failed to do when they were in office.

Bear in mind, Madam Speaker, that while child care funding did come out through the Canada Assistance Program, as the number of working women increased and the number of families in which day care was a necessity increased because there was only one income earner, one parent, in the family, there was no initiative to meet that from the Liberals. There was no national child care strategy proposed. In fact, if

Canada Child Care Act

anything, the Liberals were trying to cut back in a number of these areas through such means as the Established Programs Financing Act, which of course took away funding from the Canada Assistance Plan at the provincial level.

I remark on that because, while the Hon. Member's comments on what the Tories did were well taken, I would not want people to fail totally to remember some of the problems in this area which existed under the previous Liberal Government.

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

Rob Nicholson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Rob Nicholson (Niagara Falls):

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to make a few comments on this debate. I would suggest that there is probably no Bill, certainly that I have heard of or witnessed, that has come before this Parliament on which there is so much misunderstanding and misinformation. It is clear, and the point should be made, that Bill C-144 will result in improved access to quality licensed child care in Canada. If the opponents were completely frank and open, they would acknowledge that.

I think that members of the Opposition know that by delaying it until after an election they will be breaking faith with the provincial Governments which are, at the present time, expanding their child care systems in the expectation that 75 per cent of their capital expenditures, and in the case of have-not provinces more than 50 per cent of their operating expenditures, will be reduced by the federal Government. If they do not allow this Bill to go through, they will have to answer to the provincial Governments which will not be able to get the funding upon which they are basing their present plans. As well, they will be breaking faith with the parents and children who will benefit now from an expanded child care service program.

If some of the simple facts were ever to get through to the Canadian people the opposition Members would be justly condemned as obstructionists by the parents, children, and provinces in Canada which have so much to gain by the passage of Bill C-144.

Instead of allowing this debate to go forward they want to distract the people of Canada. They put out misinformation which I think they know is incorrect in an effort to obscure the purpose of this debate. We should make very clear that this debate is about helping children in this country and that help will be delayed if the NDP and Liberals get their way in this debate.

It would be an endless task for me and every government Member to try to refute all the misinformation that has been placed before this Parliament, particularly by members of the NDP. However, I would like to touch on a couple of the different areas that I have heard discussed in this debate over the last couple of days.

We will remember some of the comments that were made by the Hon. Member for Kamloops-Shuswap (Mr. Riis). Some of those comments were picked up by the Right Hon. Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Turner) a little over an hour ago. I

September 26, 1988

Canada Child Care Act

would like to comment on some of those arguments and point out to this House why it is misinformation.

First, there is the red herring that while there were approximately 240,000 licensed day care spaces in Canada in 1987, there were two million Canadian children who needed licensed day care and that, therefore, this Bill's goal of adding 200,000 licensed subsidized spaces over the next seven years is totally inadequate to meet the needs.

I know that you have heard that argument, Madam Speaker, on many occasions throughout this debate. That figure of two million children represents every child in Canada under the age of 14, both of whose parents or whose single parent is working for pay or is a full-time student for at least 20 hours a week. Of these children about 850,000 are under the age of six while the rest are between the ages of six and fourteen. Can one jump to the conclusion that all these children, or even the ones under the age of six, required licensed day care?

Clearly the answer is no. That is not what Canadians told a special committee on child care.

The fact that children aged 6 and over are in school is a point that seems to be lost in this debate. They are in school for more than 20 hours a week and many under the age of six are in nursery school, pre-kindergarden or forms of nonparental care that are not counted in the total of licensed day care spaces. Many others are being cared for by a neighbour or relative in their home or in the parental home.

Also, many parents are able to arrange their work schedules so that one of them is at home with children while the other is earning. These facts have been completely ignored. I have not heard them mentioned at all in this debate by members of the Opposition.

We are told by opponents to the Bill that these so-called informal arrangements are forced on the parents by the absence and lack of licensed day care spaces. That is nonsense. In February, 1981, Statistics Canada surveyed Canadian families on their child care arrangements. At that time there were 1.13 million children under the age of six receiving some form of non-parental care. Of these, just 127,000, or 11.2 per cent, were cared for in licensed day care centres.

Parents were also asked to give up to three reasons for their current child care arrangements. The parents of only 89,000 children gave as one of their reasons that it was the only arrangement available or that they were not aware of alternatives.

Parents were then asked if they wanted to change their child care arrangements. The parents of only 165,000 pre-school children answered yes. When asked to give up to three ways they would want to change their arrangements, the parents of only 48,000 children gave as one of their desired changes an arrangement in a day care centre.

I am not saying that we only require 48,000 new child care spaces in Canada. The survey to which I referred was done seven years ago. While tens of thousands of licensed day care spaces have been put in place since then, I believe that the need has increased. But the survey demonstrates that the vast majority of parents then using informal child care arrangements were satisfied with those arrangements and did not want to change to have their child cared for in a licensed day care centre.

I would like to have seen a follow-up from that 1981 study, but I do not believe that the situation has changed to justify the argument that licensed day care spaces are required for every child of earning parents.

Those listening to this debate may not have guessed that this is an area within provincial jurisdiction. Our Government, under the leadership of the Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney), is attempting to stimulate the provinces to add at least 200,000 new licensed subsidized spaces over the next seven years. What is the response to that? I have already mentioned the House Leader of the New Democratic Party. He said: "If the Government had done nothing at all, if it had not even introduced legislation, we would actually have more child care spaces than we have under this initiative". That is ridiculous.

Unfortunately, this comment was picked up by the Right Hon. Leader of the Opposition. No economist or person has studied what has actually happened in the day care field who would honestly and fairly make that kind of statement.

The NDP House Leader says as well that at the moment there are 240,000 child care spaces in Canada, and the Conservatives have said that over the next seven years they would like to add another 200,000 spaces. He said: "Over that length of time on an annual basis, that is an increase of about 10 per cent a year. We have seen a growth of about 15 per cent under the status quo".

Let me indicate what is wrong with that argument. First, the goal set by this Bill is one of adding at least 200,000 licensed subsidized spaces, not licensed spaces. Second, there are not

240,000 licensed subsidized spaces now, as suggested by the NDP House Leader. There are in fact 160,000. Our Government is proposing to increase that to at least 360,000 over the next seven years. That is the appropriate comparison and the one that should be made in the House in this debate. Of the 15 per cent annual growth in licensed spaces between 1982 and 1987 which the NDP House Leader refers to, just under 40 per cent was in commercial day care spaces. That is a form of child care which his Party would like to abolish. Obviously he did not take the time to reconcile his quotation of the facts with this fact.

Third, I believe that it is a rather elementary principle of arithmetic that growth rates tend to decline as the bases from which they are calculated increase. For instance, if one begins with 20,000 day care spaces in Canada and adds 20,000 each year, the growth rate in the first year is 100 per cent, then 50 per cent and 33 per cent the year thereafter. In short, the

September 26, 1988

growth rate falls despite the fact that we are maintaining the same level of increase. That is what is happening to the growth of licensed day care spaces in Canada. We are encountering the law of diminishing returns.

The provinces have told us that growth rates and absolute levels of growth in licensed spaces, much less in subsidized licensed spaces, would not be as sustained unless more generous cost-sharing arrangements than the Canada Assistance Plan provisions now available are provided.

Continuous growth in the number of day care spaces cannot be assumed. Between 1976 and 1978, the number of licensed care spaces available in Canada actually dropped by a total of 1,241. This occurred at a time when the female participation rate in the paid labour force increased from 56.8 per cent to 59 per cent, well above the average for the past 15 years.

Of those 160,000 licensed spaces which are subsidized either from direct operating grants or through parental subsidies, many are subsidized at very low levels, such as 38 cents a day or 50 cents a day. That is the present situation under the Canada Assistance Plan.

Under the legislation now before the Elouse, we will not count any new subsidized space toward our goal of 200,000 unless it is subsidized by the province by at least $2 a day. We will not count the spaces that are subsidized at 38 cents and 50 cents. In other words, even saying that there will be an increase from 160,000 licensed subsidized spaces to 360,000 understates the extent of the improvement because many of those 160,000 spaces are subsidized at less than the level that would be brought about under this Bill. Only members of the New Democratic Party can describe that improvement as bringing the growth rate down.

In describing the recent 15 per cent annual growth rate in licensed spaces as inadequate, the NDP Elouse Leader overlooks the fact that that is all his own Leader is proposing. He recently said that he would increase the number of licensed spaces over the next four years by 200,000. It is the same annual, inadequate growth rate of 15 per cent quoted by the NDP. The New Democratic Party states out of one side of its mouth that a 15 per cent annual rate is inadequate; then out of the other side of its mouth it trumpets its commitment to increase the number of spaces over the next four years by 15 per cent.

Finally, let us look at the growth rate record in licensed day care spaces in Manitoba from 1982 to 1987. When I was on the child care committee I could not wait to get to Manitoba. Manitoba alone would have the perfect system in Canada from all I heard about the NDP commitment. I was waiting with bated breath to find out what would happen in Manitoba.

I can tell Hon. Members, and the statistics will bear me out on this, that it is a pretty disappointing story here. I know that members of the NDP will agree with me when I say that. If

Canada Child Care Act

there were a perfect system of day care, surely it would have been created in Manitoba with all those years of socialist government.

Unfortunately, the facts are these. The annual growth rate in licensed, non-profit spaces in Manitoba between 1982 and 1987 was not, as a matter of fact, among the highest in Canada. It was not even close. In fact, the growth rate was 8 per cent per year-barely half the national average for that period of time, putting socialist Manitoba number eight in growth rate in this country behind three of the four Atlantic provinces and behind the other two prairie provinces. While members of the NDP rant about increasing the growth rate, I wish they could have said something like that to the members of their own Party and done something about it when they had the opportunity.

Getting back to the speech read by the member of the New Democratic Party from Kamloops-Shuswap, he referred to the $3.94 billion in federal money committed in this Bill over the next years. He said: "What is worse is the Government is putting a cap on it. It is saying that this is it, that it will inadequately fund child care only for the next seven years".

There are two points that should be made in response to that comment. First, while there is an over-all cap and an annual cap on federal spending over the first seven years, that cap is set at such a level that it will permit a much larger financial commitment from the federal Government than would have been spent under the Canada Assistance Plan. Members of the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party know that that is the case.

As well, I would like to make this analogy before I leave this cap of the federal Government. We have heard it a number of times. I will put it in terms I think Members opposite can understand. Let us consider a union which had been negotiating 5 per cent increases each year under a collective agreement and the employers came to members of the union and said this: "Instead of that 5 per cent agreement that you have been getting and negotiating each year we will give you 10 per cent and guarantee it every year". Would any union turn that down? Would the NDP turn that down? No. That is why the provinces will be co-operating with us in the implementation of Bill C-144.

Second, since the purpose of this Bill is to improve the availability and affordability of quality licensed child care in Canada, it proposes a seven-year boost period in which the number of licensed spaces will more than double. After that, our Government, again under the leadership of the Prime Minister, will see to it that we continue with our commitment. We will all be here to do that. Members of the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party will not be. They will have an even narrower corridor in this House. But I know the Prime Minister will continue beyond that to assess the situation and take care of the needs of all Canadian children.

I see that my time is just about up. I am very pleased to have been able to make some comments. This is a great step

September 26, 1988

forward. This is an historic document for Canada's children, and one that if the NDP and the Liberals or their friends down the hall block is one with respect to which they will have to pay the price and answer some tough questions from Canadians in the next general election.

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

Andrée Champagne (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Champagne):

Are there questions or comments? The Eton. Member for Vancouver East.

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

Margaret Anne Mitchell

New Democratic Party

Ms. Mitchell:

Madam Speaker, I certainly listened with interest to my friend's remarks. It is a good thing that the Hon. Member for Kamloops-Shuswap (Mr. Riis) made a speech, otherwise I do not think that the Hon. Member would have had anything to say today. He certainly used that speech as his background.

Since the Hon. Member was on the Special Committee on Child Care and also on the legislative committee and must have been very involved in the government planning for child care, why did the Government decide to put a seven-year limit on this program? Why are capital funds only going to be available for seven years? Why are they grandfathered at that point?

There is a great need for child care across Canada. Every indication is that that need will increase and not decrease, particularly if employment remains up-and members of the Government have been bragging about employment which means many more jobs for women. It goes without saying that the need and demand for child care will increase. I want to ask the Hon. Member this question. Why has the Government limited the amount of money that it will provide to only

200,000 spaces over seven years? That really is not very much. Why did the Government just pluck an arbitrary figure out of the sky?

If members of the Government were to look at the information from the Day Care Information Centre, which is a branch of Government, they would see that the figures that were provided show that this would not even meet 25 per cent of the need for child care in Canada. Children are not going to go away. We are going to have more and more children of working mothers, fathers, and single parents who will need child care.

When there is such a need and when that need is going to increase, I am wondering why the Government has put these two limits on-the seven-year limit and the 200,000 spaces. There is another limit in the Bill which is very subtle. The poorer provinces, the Atlantic region in particular, had no representation at committee to speak about this matter, nor did the two territories. Yet we know that they are very undeveloped as far as child care services are concerned. There are many caring people in those communities, but there exists mainly an informal type of baby-sitting arrangements. The people we heard from when we toured those areas indicated they wanted to have training programs. Some provinces do not even have a basic training program for child care workers. They certainly need to get decent wages and need to get

licensed centres and licensed family day care homes so that they will be able to have good quality, affordable care and pay decent wages.

Why also is the Government at the end of this seven-year program saying that it will reduce the top-up in the variable cost sharing for the poorer provinces and territories? Again, that seems quite unrealistic. Many of them will just get organized about half-way through this period and will not be able to have reached anywhere near meeting their needs by the end of seven years.

The questions are three. Why just seven years? Why is there this arbitrary figure of just 200,000 spaces? Why is there a reduction in cost sharing for poorer provinces at the end of seven years?

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

Rob Nicholson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nicholson (Niagara Falls):

There is a lot there, Madam Speaker, and I see I do not have much time.

Let me pick up on one of the points I would like to clarify for the House. I refer to the the Hon. Member's comments which would leave the impression that somehow people from all areas of the country were not heard on this particular subject. That is nonsense. As a member of the Special Committee on Child Care, of which she was a member, I think that committee heard more witnesses, had more briefs, and we did more research on this-

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

Margaret Anne Mitchell

New Democratic Party

Ms. Mitchell:

I rise on a point of order, Madam Speaker. I think the Hon. Member should be factual. This was a legislative committee with experts who were here on this Bill. This Bill was not before us when we had the Special Committee on Child Care. There were no Members from the Atlantic regions or the North, and only one from most of the other provinces.

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

Andrée Champagne (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Champagne):

I realize the Hon. Member for Niagara Falls may want to continue to respond to the comments made by the Hon. Member for Vancouver East, which could be done after Question Period. There are five minutes left in the period for questions and comments.

It being 1 p.m., I do now leave the chair until 2 p.m.

At 1 p.m. the House took recess.

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

AFTER RECESS The House resumed at 2 p.m.


STATEMENTS PURSUANT TO S. O. 21

September 26, 1988