June 9, 1992

PC

Barbara Jane (Bobbie) Sparrow (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Barbara Sparrow (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Health and Welfare):

Mr. Speaker, I will just conclude my speech with regard to Bill C-80 and the new child benefit package which puts $2.1 billion into the benefit package for families right across the country.

Not only is it going to be fair and more efficient, it is going to target funding at those who really need it. We will merge the family allowance program, the refundable child tax credit and the non-refundable dependent child tax credit into this new package.

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I certainly look forward to the debate for the rest of the day. This is a move forward to streamline the government package and indeed put the moneys where they are most needed.

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LIB

Mac Harb

Liberal

Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre):

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the hon. member a question. The new bill deals with some sort of increase when it comes to the working poor as well as when it comes to middle income families. Elowever, there are certain aspects of the bill when it comes to families on welfare.

According to a study which was done by Ken Battle, president of Caledon Institute of Social Policy, it was indicated that the current legislation in terms of indexation would cost welfare families up to about 17 per cent of their-

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PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBlois):

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but it is just a point of clarification. Are you in the period for questions and comments?

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LIB

Mac Harb

Liberal

Mr. Harb:

Mr. Speaker, it is a question I would like to pose to the hon. member.

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PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBlois):

You have the floor.

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LIB

Mac Harb

Liberal

Mr. Harb:

Could we get some answers to the statement made by Mr. Ken Battle when he referred to the fact that the new legislation would kick in when it came to increases in allowances only if the inflation rate was over 3 per cent a year? In other words, families on welfare would not receive an increase at all unless the inflation rate was over 3 per cent.

If that were the case and if the inflation rate were below 3 per cent we would see a decrease in benefits when it came to welfare families rather than an increase.

I would like to hear the hon. member's comments on this particular statement. In fact it is a valid analysis.

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PC

Barbara Jane (Bobbie) Sparrow (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Sparrow:

Mr. Speaker, there were a couple of good points that my colleague from Ottawa Centre put forward.

One thing I want to make perfectly clear with regard to families on welfare is that they will not have any of their benefits cut under this new program in Bill C-80.

As I mentioned in my closing remarks, it will be $2.1 billion of new funding that will go into this particular program. Actually, there will be 2.4 million families that are going to have their annual child benefits increased.

With regard to Mr. Ron Bell, I do believe he did come out initially with some negative comments, but it will be noticed that there has not been anything later with regard to comments. Once he has reviewed the program and taken a specific look at those families on welfare, he will be assured that there will be no cutback.

On CPI, the indexation for most government grants, contributions and the benefit packages are over the 3 per cent. This is not knew. Even the family allowance was cut back on the indexation back in the years of, I believe, 1974 to 1976. That is not to say that the government is not aware of the escalation of inflation, if there is one. It would be taking a yearly look at the benefits going to all Canadian families, not just specifically those on welfare.

In conclusion, I have to say that over the last couple of years, fighting inflation and getting it down to the lowest rate that it has been in 20 years-I believe last month it was 1.7 percent-is something that all people should be working toward. It means that a dollar today is worth a dollar tomorrow.

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?

John (Jack) Henry Horner

Mr. Garth Hirner (Halton-Peel):

Mr. Speaker, in many of the town hall meetings and other public meetings I have had in my riding my constituents consistently over the last couple of years have been asking me: "Can the government please take an initial step to end universality of social programs?" People have said that it makes little sense to them that the government provides social programs or provides cheques to families only to turn around and tax it back.

It seems in a common sense mode for a lot of people in my riding that the government should change this. Yet the Government of Canada has been on record as saying that social programs or universality has been a sacred trust.

I am wondering if the member can address that. Does she see this move in this new program to a more common sense attitude toward social programs, in other words a targeting of precious government resources to those who need them and perhaps an end to this concept that we must be all things to all people?

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PC

Barbara Jane (Bobbie) Sparrow (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Sparrow:

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for actually putting a very straightforward question: Can the government be all things to all people.

With regard to the precious revenues that we do have, there is only one taxpayer in Canada. Whether he or she is paying the municipal tax, the provincial tax or the federal tax, that taxpayer is the one who appears to get nailed.

What we are doing in this particular child benefit package is combining many family benefits into one monthly cheque that is non-taxable. It will be based solely on last year's tax return.

The hon. member is quite right that those in need, those who do need assistance from the government will receive it. It is actually over $76,000 a year on total income that it will be completely phased out. Those under $50,000 will lose nothing. Those over $50,000 will be slowly phased out, directly proportional to the income for that year.

I want to thank the hon. member for his assistance in working with the family caucus and the finance committee to see how we can become more streamlined in making sure that the funds we have go where they are needed.

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LIB

Dennis Joseph Mills

Liberal

Mr. Dennis Mills (Broadview-Greenwood):

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the member about this $500 added credit that a single parent would receive.

The purpose of this particular $500 credit described in the bill is to encourage mothers to move off welfare and back into the work force. They have actually been given another $500 credit. Is this what the legislation reads?

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PC

Barbara Jane (Bobbie) Sparrow (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Sparrow:

Yes.

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LIB

Dennis Joseph Mills

Liberal

Mr. Mills:

Yes. Do you really think $500 is a sufficient enough incentive to encourage people to stay in the work force, especially those at the lower income end of the spectrum, when they receive all of those medical ex-

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penses and all other expenses are basically covered while on welfare?

In other words, I am hearing from many single mothers in my community who would like to get back into the work force that it does not pay them to go back to work and that $500 over a year works out to less than $10 a week. That is hardly enough incentive to really put them back into the work force.

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PC

Barbara Jane (Bobbie) Sparrow (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Sparrow:

Mr. Speaker, if I can interpret the question put forward, my colleague for Broadview- Greenwood feels the incentive should be larger.

There is no doubt about it that what we are trying to do here is to assist those people who are in the work force. Indeed, people on welfare are very needy people. Of course they will lose nothing under the child benefit package. Those people who have jobs will receive a tax incentive.

This should be combined with the program the Minister of Employment and Immigration put forward a few weeks ago. It is a pilot program dealing with single mothers in New Brunswick and British Columbia to top up their salaries. That is, for single parents on welfare who go out and find a job, we will top up their salaries so they can come closer to living within the community and be able to sustain not only their home and children, but also lift themselves out of the welfare system.

With these two programs in place, we will see a far greater incentive to get people off welfare. Obviously, it is a step in the right direction.

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LIB

Mac Harb

Liberal

Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre):

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak on Bill C-80 and to start, I would like to make a simple comment.

When it comes to the impact of Bill C-80 on the poorest family, there would be no increase. A family on welfare under the old system used to receive approximately $120 per month per child. Under the new benefit program, that family will receive the same thing.

When we are talking about those who are hit the hardest, there will be no extra money coming in from the proposed government bill. When we talk about those poor families, for example, when we look at single mothers on social assistance, they also will receive absolutely no additional funds as a result of the proposed legislation.

June 9, 1992

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I had the pleasure of attending an annual meeting in the Ottawa area of the Our Kids organization. This organization has a mandate to build a better future for the children of the Ottawa-Carleton region.

It has a few purposes. One is to raise the priority for children in the eyes of the community. Another is to fund projects which meet children's basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, and education. As well, it encourages like-minded groups to work together on behalf of the children of the Ottawa-Carleton region.

I would like to commend this organization. It is two years old. It just elected a new board of directors. For the record, I would like to commend Janis Machin, who was elected as the president, Denise Mattok who was elected as the vice president, Diane Blenkiron as the secretary, Uttra Bhargava who was a member of the board and decided not to run again this year, Louise Allard, Stephan Klovan and Bernard Muzeen.

Last year these very capable people in consultation with the corporation and about 35 national and regional children's organizations managed to raise the profile of children in the Ottawa-Carleton region. Over 20,000 people visited the displays and facilities in an effort to create awareness in the community.

This is not the only thing that has taken place in my community. There is also St. Andrew's Church which in consultation with other community groups, business organizations, and church groups has embarked on an excellent partnership against poverty. As well, they are working collectively in order to promote awareness and do what they can as members of the community to deal with the subject of poverty in our society.

Recently, Our Kids sent a letter to the Prime Minister inviting him to attend one of its events some time in October 1992. In its letter it asked that Canada, or this House, designate a special day for children in Canada. We have Father's Day; we have Mother's Day; we have Canada Day. We have all sorts of days designated for special purposes. I want to echo those sentiments and add my voice to this organization in calling for the establishment of a national day to acknowledge our children, a child's day in Canada.

It would be appropriate to have that day on the anniversary of the meeting of the international community in New York on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

I would like to congratulate Our Kids and all the different organizations in my community that are working tirelessly in order to do what they can to help solve the question of poverty.

We hear a lot in the media about the city of Ottawa being a fat city. In fact, that is absolutely untrue. Simply put, just a few blocks away, child poverty is no different from any other part of Canada.

In fact, in excess of 24 per cent of the children living in this city are poor. In excess of 55 per cent of all families under the age of 25 with children are poor. One out of every three single mothers in this community is considered to be poor. In excess of 78 per cent of all poor in this region have children.

It will be seen that while many people call our city a fat city, there is another side which is the poor side.

Why do we talk about child poverty? Why are we interested in child poverty? It is part and parcel of a bigger problem and that is the health of the nation as a whole.

When a child is poor, more than likely the health of that child is affected. In fact the impact of poverty on child health is that there is two times the normal risk of dying before the age of 20. Simply put, based on mortality, a poor child has twice the normal infant mortality rate. These deaths are from injury, fires, drowning, pedestrian traffic accidents and so on, as well as an increased rate of chronic illness, particularly between the ages of four and 16 years.

There are other problems associated with child poverty, such as increased psychiatric disorders and physical and mental disabilities. These are all problems associated with and resulting from child poverty.

While we are dealing with poverty, the health of those children is also affected. Children have poor health simply because they have a poor start in life. For instance, women in low income groups have twice the risk of having a baby bom too soon or underweight. Therefore, the baby is doomed even before he or she is bom.

June 9, 1992

The cause of this is maternal stress, substance abuse, poor nutrition, and lack of social support. The result is children with physical and learning disabilities, as well as developmental delay.

As well, the child's housing situation may not be adequate or safe. Child care arrangements may not be as appropriate as they should be. In our national capital region there is approximately a two-year waiting list for subsidized day care. In Toronto, there are in excess of 7,500 people on the waiting list for child care. Obviously that is part and parcel of the over-all problem that must be addressed.

When discussing child poverty and what the government is trying to do to deal with it the first thing to do is take the legislation to those who are experts, those who deal with child poverty, to get their reaction to the government's proposal. The child benefit program proposed by the government has not been given much encouragement by the different groups involved with child poverty.

For example, Sue Wolstenholme of the Canadian Day Care Advocacy Association said: "This and other examples from the budget indicate once again that either the federal government still does not grasp the problem of child poverty and child care which Canadian families face or they really do believe they can trick the public with yet another illusionary tactic".

Mr. Gerard Kennedy from the Canadian Association of Food Banks had this to say about the bill: "It is the most deceptive and cruel thing coming from government that we have seen in a long time, and a tremendous blow to the hope of low-income people".

Patrick Johnston from the Canadian Council on Social Development had this to say on the bill:

There's no question that the potential benefits will be completely

offset by the lack of indexation. And it's done invisibly-that's the

worst part of it.

Ms. Lise Corbeil from the National Anti-Poverty Organization criticized the proposed child benefit because it is inadequate as an anti-poverty measure and it favours the working poor at the expense of the nonworking poor. She called the proposal a discriminatory package.

There are at least another seven or eight different organizations that deal with child poverty and every one

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of them has opposed the proposal and said it is inadequate in dealing with child poverty.

The media has also not reacted very favourably to the government proposals. A report in The Globe and Mail on March 10, 1992 said: "Report blasts child benefits. Says new system lowers incomes". It goes on to say:

Single parents and other low income families will eventually lose

as much as 27 per cent of their income as a result of the new

program, the analysis shows.

The key element, which referred to the fact that there will be a loss in revenues, was indicated in the question that I proposed to the hon. member. Mr. Battle, who analyzed the proposals, indicated that if the inflation rate is at 3 per cent, for instance, there will be no revenues coming to welfare recipients and poor families.

In fact they will see a decline in their revenues. He indicated that if the inflation rate is 5 per cent the child benefit would only increase by 2 per cent. By the year 2000 many of the families who are now right at the poverty line will fall way below the poverty line.

Mr. Pierre Fortier, who is a senior official in National Health and Welfare, acknowledged that there will be slippage in the value of the child benefit. He said: "There is a loss in each year where the inflation rate is greater than zero. I do not dispute that".

I could not understand why the assistant to the minister would refute these comments in stating that the working poor in this country would see a decrease in their benefits from this bill rather than an increase. There is a correlation here. I am trying to build a case to demonstrate that we must do more if we are to deal with the poverty of our children.

This is true particularly in one area, which is education. Simply put, if we examine parents and their children who live in poverty it is more likely that the parents will not have a high educational level and that the children will have difficulty with school teachers and those who are assisting them in the community.

Let us examine the Ottawa-Carleton region and its people who are under the poverty line or may not be in a position to help themselves. Based on the 1986 census 25 per cent of poor families with children had less than grade 9 education.

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That means that one out of every four people who are poor are poor because they have a lower level of education. Twenty-two percent of poor finished between grade nine to 13, 11 per cent have a diploma or certificate, and 9 per cent have a trade certificate or diploma.

Approximately 67 per cent of the people who live on or under the poverty line do not have a high school diploma or degree. There is a direct correlation between the level of poverty and the level of education.

These figures are for the national capital region and are no different from the statistics provided to us by metro Toronto, for instance. In metro Toronto 75 per cent of those who are going to food banks do not have a high school diploma.

The problem clearly is quite alarming. In order to deal with child poverty we have to attack it on not one but a number of fronts. I would like to move on to make some of the recommendations that my party has been putting forward.

First, we must deal with the heart of the problem. In many of our inner cities in Canada children are going to school hungry. Those children are not in a position to learn. Empty stomachs have no ears.

Therefore, our party has recommended that the federal government immediately participate with provincial and territorial governments, through their boards of education, in conjunction with community volunteers, in the provision of nutritionally balanced breakfast, lunch and snack programs in schools throughout Canada. That must become part and parcel of our educational system and it must take the form of a partnership with the community, both the business and the voluntary sectors.

We have also made a proposal that the federal government re-design the tax system to make it more equitable to help families cope with the added expense of raising children, and that it simplify the federal child benefit system as soon as possible. We are obviously not talking about the kind of simplification or complication that the government has done in Bill C-80.

We have called on the government to immediately announce its intention to create an accelerated job

creation program for students and youth so that it can be put in place for those who finish their school term and are looking for some sort of job for the summer period.

We have also called on the federal government to increase the federal minimum wage from $5 to $6 an hour by January 1, 1993.

These are some of the many recommendations that my caucus has put forward. I want to echo those sentiments in saying that we cannot really afford to ignore this problem because children are our future. Only through a proper strategy to deal with the educational system, to deal with a proper child care program, that goes right to the heart of the problem and that is a system of taxation, that addresses the question of housing for many families in inner cities across Canada and in some cases in rural Canada, can we say that we are dealing with the problem and that we are finding solutions to it.

It is really a shame that we live in one of the richest countries in the world and yet we still have child poverty at the rate that we are seeing. There is no reason that this government, along with provincial governments and municipal governments, cannot put together some sort of national conference at which all the different partners could sit together and try to set up a strategy to eradicate child poverty by the year 2000. After all, it was a decision of this House to eradicate child poverty by the year 2000.

On a final note, Mr. Speaker, despite the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which was ratified by this government, we have yet to see tangible proposals and strategies to attack child poverty right at its roots.

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PC

Donald Alex Blenkarn

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Don Blenkarn (Mississauga South):

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Ottawa Centre madle a great point about expecting people to absorb the first 3 per cent of indexation, as set out in the Income Tkx Act.

I want to put on the record of the House, before I ask him a question, the information that when this government took over, the child tax credit was $384 a year. In 1985-86 it was increased to $454 a year, to $489 a year in 1987, to $524 a year in 1988, to $559 a year in 1989, and it is presently $601 a year. The turning point, or the point, when the threshold would change, was changed back in 1985.

June 9, 1992

What has happened is that notwithstanding the provisions of the act, the government has successively changed the child tax credit proposals by changing the amount of benefit to more than compensate for inflation.

So much for all of the criticism this government has received from the hon. Ken Battle.

If he would pay attention to what has happened since 1985, he would find that the government has always honoured the requirement to look after children.

What has he got against an increase of $500 over the $1,020 presently available to those earning over $10,000 a year? Has he got something that he finds distasteful that a monthly payment should be made to parents? Does he think that is wrong or does he think that parents ought to get the benefit to support their children out of filing income tax deductions so that they will have to discount those tax deductions to a tax discounter? Does he think a tax discounter is the way people ought to get their money or does he think that a cheque coming monthly is more appropriate than the present system of redistribution?

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LIB

Mac Harb

Liberal

Mr. Harb:

Mr. Speaker, for the record, if you look at the family income since this government took office in 1984 up until now, and if you draw a curve, you will see how simple it is to realize that the incomes of both middle-income as well as lower-income families have dropped substantially.

While the Minister of Finance has claimed that the new system will increase the total federal child benefit by $400 million per year, a Senate committee report has indicated that since this government has taken office, there has been in excess of $3.5 billion taken out of the child benefit system between 1986 and 1991.

If the hon. member is telling me that with Bill C-80 a mother who is on welfare is getting more than she was getting before Bill C-80 was introduced, I think he is mistaken. Simply put, she is not receiving any extra benefits. A mother on welfare still receives the same type of benefits.

When we talk about the other increases of $500 or so for those who meet a certain threshold or are below a certain threshold, that is something different. That is when you divide it by the number of months or by the

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number of days. I can assure hon. members there is nothing one can say. It is enough to solve the ongoing problem. What needs to be done is that the over-all system of taxation has to be reformed in order to help both those who do not have enough and those who do not have at all.

If the hon. member is telling me what is the best way of doing this, I would say that we have to go right to the heart of the problem, and that is our system of taxation.

Just recently, it was clearly indicated that in this country, the middle-income and the lower-income earners are perhaps paying more taxes than in any other industrialized country anywhere in the world. If we are to deal with the heart of the problem, that is an area that we can tackle.

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PC

Barbara Greene

Progressive Conservative

Ms. Barbara Greene (Don Valley North):

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-80 will implement the new child benefit announced by the government in the throne speech. It is part of a program of improved benefits for children and one of the results of a considerable amount of work by the Senate, the House of Commons subcommittee on poverty which I chair, our caucus committee on family issues, the Department of National Health and Welfare and the Department of Finance.

It is not a new idea to roll all child benefits into one benefit in order to rationalize and simplify child benefits. But the method by which this one has been accomplished is quite creative and will make the system more fair, particularly in the long run.

The subcommittee on poverty recommended the rollup of child benefits with the transfer from other personal tax credits. The subcommittee also recommended a guaranteed earned income supplement which would ensure that income received from employment would be greater than that received by social assistance recipients.

The department has been able to introduce a benefit which establishes structure which will achieve this objective for some families now, but also sets a framework to achieve this objective for more families in the future.

The majority of our subcommittee agreed that it was important to have a social assistance framework that helps people to work. That is the best way to escape poverty and that is the way most social assistance recipients also think. I think it is fundamental, and I am certain most Canadians agree to that.

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I once participated in a survey of social assistance recipients with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and found that almost 100 per cent of social assistance recipients have the same values that all Canadians have. They too want to work and really appreciate help in achieving that objective.

I am very disappointed that there is not some more money in this program for welfare recipients who are unable to work. However, there are benefits for welfare recipients. They will receive their benefit monthly and will not be resorting to tax discounters.

It should also be noted that the child benefit is discretionary income and should not be used as a substitute for an adequate social assistance income.

Our committee also recommended that there be standards for basic social assistance and supplementary benefits that would ensure that the basic needs of children and adults are met. Only Ontario and Prince Edward Island currently have systems that provide such standards. However, under the current structure of social assistance in Canada, this is provincially initiated.

I understand that the minister is having discussions with his provincial counterparts. It seems to me that issue has to be pursued. I think that if in fact we cannot get provincial agreement that we should seriously look at some kind of guaranteed annual income across the country similar to the system in place for senior citizens that would ensure that there is a national standard for social assistance. I think it is a shame to this country that in fact we do not have that now and that in some provinces the gap between basic needs level assistance and what they are getting is enormous. It is quite unacceptable.

This particular benefit should cover discretionary needs. The earned income supplement should recognize the additional costs of working and compensate for the fact that earned income does not consider the number of children in the family, unlike welfare income. There needs to be that kind of support in order to, at least in the long term, ensure that the people are better off financially working.

I am, therefore, pleased to support this bill as major progress on two of the recommendations of the subcommittee on poverty. I have already mentioned the social

assistance standards. I think that is the key in order that children in Canada have an adequate opportunity to develop and participate in the many benefits of this society. Improved minimum wages, education, retraining programs, job opportunities and programs specifically targeted at high-risk children as well as more subsidized day care are other things that must be pursued in order to improve the situation of poorer children.

The opposition has raised a number of arguments against this particular benefit, some of which other members have already answered. I would just like to make a comment on the arguments about universality. I would rather have universal opportunity for children in Canada. My riding, which is a fairly high income one and will have a substantial number of families that will lose benefits, I believe supports this benefit. I have circulated a lot of information on it. We have had a lot inquiries and I have only had positive response.

I think the vast majority of Canadians who are well off want to see a dramatic improvement in the lot of the poorest children.

In addition, the opposition has slammed many of the recommendations of the subcommittee on poverty. I noticed the NDP opposition critic on television Sunday night after Venture again slamming us on these particular issues. I find that rather extraordinary because the response to the subcommittee's report from the social community, the social issues community, the many agencies that have appeared, has been overwhelmingly positive. I have had letters from various agencies that appeared before the committee. They support the recommendations.

I often think surely if these agencies supported these recommendations, and if in fact the opposition really cared about children, they could have been far more supportive on that particular report. What in fact has the opposition offered? First of all, it wants all transfer payments to the provinces restored as if it were feasible to continue on the spiralling expenditure increases that have been occurring, principally in Ontario. That is nonsense. We have to live within our budget and spend our money better on those who need our help and in such a way that we do not encourage long-term dependency.

June 9, 1992

Recommendations of the opposition include a national school lunch program in schools throughout Canada, a huge expensive program that gives to everyone whether they need it or not. I will tell you in my community we do not want it. It has been discussed thoroughly at metro council and so on. Local communities do have programs and I think that is fine. I think where the community wants to put in a program in a particular school, that is great, but a massive nationally run program I do not agree with at all.

I know for example in the schools in North York we have a great number of people from different ethnic communities who do not eat the same and do not want their children to be provided with food at the school. However, we strongly encourage things like nutrition programs where the children learn about proper nutrition. That is basically what the poverty report encouraged.

I think helping people who need help rather than helping everyone is the much more effective and much more sensible way to proceed, rather than creating dependency.

On the issue of the food banks, if you speak privately to some of the NDP members of the provincial government in Ontario, they are not too crazy about food banks at all. They create further dependency and that does not help people in the long run. The whole prospect of people lining up for food is in fact something that is very shameful in our society. Eliminating food banks is the way to proceed.

Winter works programs, public sector youth employment programs, universal broadly targeted programs that dramatically increase taxes result in little improvement for the neediest members of our society. Having been in municipal politics previously, I am very much aware of these winter works programs and who goes out to get those particular jobs. They tend to be men. If we look at poverty, it is predominantly women who are affected. They are also short-term jobs. They tend to increase municipal costs because of the supervision and they are

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not long term. They stop people from working because in fact they are not available to go out and get real jobs.

Then there are the pie in the sky policies, like the critic for the NDP who spouts his full employment policy and who cannot tell us how he would accomplish this. Every government has a full employment policy. Unfortunately, the NDP one in Ontario is not working any better than ours at the moment.

One thing is for certain, our government will not follow the model of the Liberal Party, which in 1981 to 1982 tried to spend us out of a recession, which resulted in the enormous deficit and debt treadmill that we are currently battling with some success. There are no magic answers and very few people are fooled by such propaganda.

Long-term, sensible economic policies, controlling debt, spending within our means and targeting our social spending to really help those in need is the way to proceed.

This child benefit and the child development initiative which will allow many of the community-based prevention programs targeted at high-risk children between the ages of zero and seven will make major progress on this most important issue of child poverty.

As a member of Parliament, I will continue to pursue other measures such as improved access to day care, particularly for high-risk children, standards for social assistance, improvements in the minimum wage and indeed, improvements in this program over the long run. We have to recognize there are no magic solutions to these problems. There is a need for hard work to endeavour to try and solve, to work at some of these areas, to make progress.

I have been associated with these issues in Toronto since 1972. I do see a lot of progress in Toronto and I hope to see a lot more progress at the national level.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
LIB

Dennis Joseph Mills

Liberal

Mr. Dennis Mills (Broadview-Greenwood):

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member for Don Valley North. I agreed with a lot of what she said in her speech and I support the attempt to try and simplify the system.

I am having great difficulty with this $500 a year added credit for those people who are in the work force. I will tell the member for Mississauga South why I am having this difficulty.

June 9, 1992

Government Orders

I have in my riding 25 per cent who are single parents and most of those people are women. A lot of them are working and a lot of them are not. Last week I had a number of them say to me that $500 or $10 a week is not really that great an incentive to move them off the welfare rolls and into the work force.

The problem is there is no incentive to stay in the work force because $10 a week does not really cover their drug problem if they have a child or two. In other words, when you are on welfare all of those costs are covered.

My question to the member is whether she really believes that $500 is a sufficient enough credit. Does she not think maybe we should do something that is a little bit more dramatic in terms of providing incentive to move people from the welfare rolls into the work force where they can not only regain their dignity and become retrained? Under the current system they are almost entrapped in poverty and I am not sure this is enough.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
PC

Barbara Greene

Progressive Conservative

Ms. Greene:

Mr. Speaker, first of all this is not a panacea. This is a start. It is $500 worth of help for the working poor. It is not intended to cancel out any of the existing programs, such as the Step program in Ontario that does provide supplementary benefits until the income of the family is above a certain level associated with the poverty line. Those programs will still be in place but this provides additional help. The combination of this program plus the Step program is very positive. We have improved things a bit.

In the long run I would like to see a more careful analysis of this because I think it will lower the number of people in poverty. If you look at the statistics, they are income related and it will take a few more people off the poverty rolls who are working.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
LIB

June 9, 1992