House of Commons Hansard #105 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was care.

Topics

Income Tax Act
Adjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am concerned because I did not hear a commitment to not for profit. As I know and as anybody who has looked at this file knows, if we do not commit to not for profit we are inviting big box corporate child care to come into Canada and take over. I know that the minister himself is concerned and I know that there are provincial ministers who are concerned.

As a matter of fact, in the first two agreements with Manitoba and Saskatchewan they insisted that there be a very definite commitment in writing to the not for profit, because they know, as do many others, particularly the communities that have been waiting for this national child care program for so long, that if we open it up to the for profit sector, we invariably will get the big box corporate interests coming into Canada and scooping up the public money that is now being flowed to actually put in place much needed child care spaces across this country.

What is the minister going to do to satisfy us or to give us comfort that if the government continues down this road of allowing the for profit model to play a role we will not in fact end up with big box child care--

Income Tax Act
Adjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Income Tax Act
Adjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think I mentioned in my remarks that a lot of it is under provincial jurisdiction. I think I was clear in my remarks, and I would like to reassure the member, as I want to reassure the members in this House.

We have to ensure that families across the country have access to high quality early childhood learning and child care programs that can help them put their children on the path to success later at school and in life.

That is why quality and development are two of the leading principles of the initiative.

We are working together with our provincial and territorial colleagues. The government is very confident that it can ensure its investments support high quality early learning and child care programs, that these services meet the needs of the children and their families and that there is a partnership between our provincial and territorial colleagues and the federal government.

Income Tax Act
Adjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Pursuant to Standing Order 81(4), the motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been withdrawn. The House will now resolve itself into committee of the whole to study all votes under human resources development, social development, in the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2006. I do now leave the chair for the House to resolve itself into committee of the whole.

[Continuation of proceedings from Part A]

(House in committee of the whole for consideration of all votes under Human Resources Development (Social Development) in the Main Estimates, Mr. Strahl in the chair.)

Business of Supply
Government Orders

May 31st, 2005 / 6:35 p.m.

The Chair

I would like to open this committee of the whole session by making a short statement on this evening's proceedings.

Tonight's debate is the second being held under Standing Order 81(4)(a) which provides for each of two sets of estimates selected by the Leader of the Opposition to be considered in committee of the whole for up to four hours.

The debate is also held under the motions adopted by unanimous consent yesterday and earlier today.

Tonight's debate is a general one on all of the votes under Human Resources Development (Social Development). Each member will be allocated 15 minutes. The first round will begin with the official opposition, followed by the government, the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party.

After that we will follow the usual proportional rotation.

As provided in the motion adopted earlier today, parties may use each 15 minute slot for speeches or for questions and answers by one or more of their members.

In the case of speeches, members of the party to which the period is allotted may speak one after the other. The Chair would appreciate it if the first member speaking in each slot would indicate how the time will be used, particularly if it is to be shared.

When time is to be used for questions and answers, the Chair will expect that the minister's response will reflect approximately the time taken by the question since this time will be counted in the time originally allotted to the party.

Though members may speak more than once, the Chair will generally try to ensure that all members wishing to speak are heard before inviting members to speak again, while respecting the proportional party rotations for speakers.

Members need not be in their own seats to be recognized.

I would remind hon. members that, according to yesterday's motion, during this evening's debate, no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent shall be entertained.

As your Chair, I will be guided by the rules of the committee of the whole and by the motions adopted yesterday and earlier today. However, in the interest of a full exchange I am prepared to exercise discretion and flexibility in the application of these rules.

It is very important that the traditions of this House in relation to decorum be respected and that members make their remarks and pose their questions in a judicious fashion. The Chair will expect all hon. members to focus on the subject matter of the debate: the main estimates of the Department of Human Resources Development, social development.

I would also I also wish to indicate that, in committee of the whole, ministers and members should be referred to by their title or riding name and of course all remarks should be addressed through the Chair. I ask for everyone's cooperation in upholding all established standards of decorum, parliamentary language and behaviour.

At the conclusion of tonight's debate, the committee will rise, the estimates under Human Resources Development (Social Development) will be deemed reported and the House will adjourn immediately until tomorrow.

We may now begin tonight's session. The House in committee of the whole, pursuant to Standing Order 81(4)(a), the second appointed day, consideration in committee of the whole of all votes under human resources development, social development, in the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2006.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

Carol Skelton Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Chair, I would like to thank the minister and the deputy ministers for being here this evening.

I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague from Simcoe--Grey in this first round.

On December 10 in this House the minister said:

Mr. Speaker, the way in which Canadians look at important programs like education, health care and child care is that those are things that should be available to all Canadians...That is why we are going ahead the way we are going ahead.

It is clear that we are getting two tier day care here. The Liberal program will not be available to all Canadians. The Liberal program will have winners and losers. Why can parents not have a fair financial choice when it comes to choosing how to raise their children?

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:40 p.m.

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Ken Dryden Minister of Social Development

Mr. Chair, what I said in December had to do with the goal of a national early learning and child care system to be something that is as available and as ambitious as the other systems we have created in this country in terms of health care and education.

In terms of two tier, I do not understand that comment at all. This is a program that is there and available for everyone who wants to choose it. As I will say later in my remarks, it is also a program that is not all or nothing. Parents can choose to use it not necessarily eight hours a day, five days a week, but for mornings or afternoons or a lesser period of time as well.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

Carol Skelton Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Chair, parents want choice in how they care for their children. Unfortunately, parents in rural areas have less choice than those in urban areas. When I say two tier, I mean that there are parents who are not going to be able to access the program the way the minister is talking about. Therefore, the minister is favouring urban families, because many rural communities cannot sustain formal child care centres. In many cases it is flexible, seasonal child care that rural families require, not regular nine to five workday care.

Why will the minister not allow the creation of a truly national program that treats children everywhere equally within a framework based on flexible parental choice and family needs?

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Dryden York Centre, ON

Mr. Chair, first of all the delivery of this system is through the provinces and through the territories. It is up to them to try to find the answers in terms of delivery everywhere. The purpose is that the delivery is everywhere.

One of the great flexibilities of early learning and child care is the fact that the scale is small. The scale can be two, four, five, or eight places. It does not require a massive infrastructure or a massive number of kids in order for it to happen. It would be very much like rural education would have started in the country. One finds the space where something can be created in the space.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Carol Skelton Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Chair, the Conservative Party of Canada at its recent policy convention in Montreal passed a resolution calling for the creation of a national disabilities act similar to those in other developed countries.

When I asked the minister in committee if the Liberal Party shared our priority and concern for Canada's disabled, he was noncommittal. Now that he has had time to consider the benefits of such an act, would he be willing to work with the Conservative Party to bring forward such a piece of legislation?

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Dryden York Centre, ON

Mr. Chair, as I said in the committee, and I was not noncommittal, I said that an act has been enacted in the United States and that it was something I was very interested in finding out more about. In fact I asked the committee specifically if the committee itself would be interested in investigating more fully a potential national disabilities act.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Helena Guergis Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Chair, my questions have to do with our proposed day care program. Why does the minister have no confidence in Canadian parents to raise their own children and to make responsible child care choices that suit the needs of their particular circumstances? Why does the minister support a one size fits all child care regime that takes away a parent's right to choose?

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Dryden York Centre, ON

Mr. Chair, on the contrary, I know, hon. members know and the public knows that the central developmental relationship of children is with their parents. Early learning and child care is another tool the parents have to assist them in raising their children, to use or to not use, to use as much or as little as they wish. It is not a one size fits all at all. That is what we were talking about earlier. There are different circumstances, different sizes of places and different needs, but the same ambitions and goals because there are kids that have the same possibilities.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Helena Guergis Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Chair, Laurie from my riding e-mailed me to say that she was very confused. Prior to announcing the budget, it was her understanding and many of her friends' understanding that the majority of families were asking for the tax system to be made more fair so that families and parents who want to stay at home to raise their kids can do so rather than putting their tax dollars into institutions.

She personally had made some changes over five years ago to move into my riding of Simcoe—Grey but because taxes, utilities and the cost of living were so high, she was not able to continue to stay at home and is now back working again.

Mr. Chair, I want to ask the minister why he is so insensitive and unresponsive to the needs of Canada's young families. There are many Canadian families who would choose to have a parent remain in the home and care for their children. However, the government is completely oblivious to their needs and is setting up a program which these parents must fund through their tax dollars but can never take advantage of. Can the minister please explain why his program discriminates against so many hard-working Canadian families such as Laurie's in my riding of Simcoe—Grey?

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:50 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Dryden York Centre, ON

Mr. Chair, the early learning and child care system that we are looking to encourage and help create is something that is available to anyone, as an education system would be and as a health care system would be. One could decide to use it more or less as in health and education.

As the hon. member knows, the great majority of young families in this country, like Laurie's, both parents are in the workplace. That is a fact. That is the reality. It is almost assuredly going to be tomorrow's reality. The other reality is the challenge of children growing up with the best possible opportunities at learning and development.