-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