House of Commons Hansard #111 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was young.

Topics

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Beauséjour
New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, my request will not come as a surprise. I ask that all notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from May 31 consideration of the motion, and of the motion that this question be now put.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, discussions have taken place between all parties with respect to the recorded divisions that are scheduled for later this day and I believe you would find consent for the following:

That the previous question motion moved by the member for Kitchener Centre affecting the motion by the member for Nunavut concerning the third report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development be deemed carried on division.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. chief government whip have the unanimous consent of the House that the motion on the previous question be carried on division?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed from June 6 consideration of the motion that Bill C-22, an act to establish the Department of Social Development and to amend and repeal certain related Acts, be read the third time and passed.

Department of Social Development Act
Government Orders

June 8th, 2005 / 3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to have the opportunity to address members of the House in regard to this important legislation. By virtue of the legislation the department will have subscribed to its legal status. The bill exemplifies the ways in which the government is working to strengthen Canada's social foundations and in so doing ensure that the best possible level of service is provided to all Canadians.

I support the bill because it means Canadians will benefit from a stronger social foundation. By introducing the bill in the House of Commons, it will demonstrate its commitment to serving Canadians in a fair, inclusive and efficient manner.

I am proud to stand here in support of Bill C-22 and I encourage all members of the House to join me in supporting the bill which represents so much for Canadians.

For seniors, the bill clearly states the Government of Canada's commitment to the provision of necessary support for seniors. this will help to ensure that they live with dignity. Budget 2005 provides $13 million over five years to establish a national seniors secretariat. The secretariat would work with several federal departments that have seniors' related policies and programs as well as other levels of government and key partners to address the challenges of an aging population.

The federal government must prepare for a growing and diverse seniors population while continuing to address the issues facing current seniors in Canada. At present, several departments are involved in seniors' issues. As the lead department for seniors, Social Development Canada will be home to the secretariat and will coordinate efforts in partnership with provincial and territorial governments as well as other stakeholders. They will develop approaches to respond to the needs of seniors.

Fundamentally, the department will enhance the knowledge of seniors' needs and issues and it will establish partnerships with governments, academics, seniors' organizations and individuals. This will ensure that there are future initiatives to address the challenges and needs of all ages for current and future seniors.

Voting in favour of Bill C-22 is a vote in favour of our nation's children. Investing in children and families is one of the best ways we can enhance the social and economic fabric of the country, now and into the future. To this end, the Government of Canada has put in place a comprehensive set of initiatives that reflect and support the range of families, choices and circumstances, from tax measures to joint initiatives with the provinces and territories to improve programs and support services.

While these initiatives have been put forward, more work needs to be done. The majority of the families do not have access to the kind of quality early learning and child care programs that can help set their young children on the path of success. Indeed, even children who are cared for primarily by parents at home can benefit from taking part in nursery school program for a few hours each week.

With the introduction of Bill C-22, the Government of Canada believes that the time has come to develop early learning and child care in Canada. In the 2005 federal budget the government announced $5 billion over five years to fund an early learning and child care initiative in collaboration with the provinces and territories. These initiatives will be guided by what is known as the quad principles: quality, universal inclusiveness, accessibility and development.

This new initiative builds on the success of the 2003 multilateral framework of early learning and child care and the 2000 early childhood agreement. Recently the government has been working with each province and territory to develop and announce bilateral agreements in principle. In the past few weeks the Government of Canada has signed agreements in principle with the governments of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia that will support the development of quality early learning child care in these provinces.

The agreements in principle are based on a national vision which would build in the best practice and ensure reports on progress to Canadians. Canadians will be kept informed of the differences these new investments are making in the lives of children and families.

This will not be a one size fits all approach. We recognize that early learning and child care within each province and territory is at different stages of development and that the needs and circumstances vary. This is why provincial and territorial governments will have the flexibility to enhance early learning and child care support in the way that best meets the needs of their communities.

The mandate of Social Development Canada is straightforward. Its objective is to strengthen Canada's social foundation by supporting the well-being of individuals, families and communities through citizen focused policies, programs and services. Social Development Canada is the point of convergence for social policies and programs for children, families and caregivers, persons with disabilities and seniors. This department will also play a leading role in driving the social economy through programs such as voluntary sector initiative.

Essentially, Social Development Canada represents $53 billion at work for Canadians. Most of the money represents income support for Canadians themselves, especially seniors and people with disabilities as well as children.

The new department is working in a number of ways to ensure key social goals are met. Some of these goals are set up to ensure that an effective income security system is in place for seniors, that we help people with disabilities to participate fully in Canadian society, that we focus on the needs and interests of families and children in a cohesive way and that the role and activities of the non-profit and community-based sector in our society are identified, recognized and supported.

Ultimately, by bringing together these social programs for seniors, families and children and persons with disabilities under one roof, the department is providing a focal point for social policy at the federal level. This is our commitment to delivering the programs and services that Canadians have come to expect from the Government of Canada. It is what they need and it is what they deserve. I encourage all members to support the bill.

Department of Social Development Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to raise a question or two for the member on the government side.

To put my question in context, I am more than a bit interested that we are dealing with a bill that creates the Department of Social Development. My first job after I graduated from social work was to work for the department of social development provincially in the province of Nova Scotia.

The member who has expressed an interest in having a focal point for social policy in the federal government will know that again today in question period I raised a question, probably for the 25th time in my almost decade here in the House, about the complete failure of the government to deliver on the 1989 unanimous motion approved in Parliament to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000.

The member represents a riding in Toronto. I am sure the member is aware that in numerical terms there are probably more poor children in downtown Toronto than any other city in Canada. There are appalling concentrations of poor children in many other communities, particularly first nations communities, in outlying regions and in the north of the country as well.

He talked about a new focus. Would it be his view that a number one priority to be tackled by the government should be the unmet commitment to move on the elimination of child poverty? Instead of having eliminated child poverty by the year 2000, under the government's watch and under the policies of the former finance minister now the Prime Minister, child poverty in numerical terms has increased to over one million children in that period since the 1989 parliamentary consensus that this should be the number one priority.

Department of Social Development Act
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Madam Speaker, this is an issue with which I am familiar. I have been involved for a number of years with it. I served on the board of the Canadian Feed the Children for 10 years and we dealt with poverty issues, both locally and internationally.

Eliminating child poverty has to be a goal. Whether it will ever be attainable is a difficult question. However, to see children suffering and living in poverty is appalling to all of us.

The issue of poverty varies from province to province. In some provinces such as Ontario the rate of poverty is lower than the national average. This is also the case when compared to other countries in Europe. It is an issue that needs focus and attention. We have introduced a series of measures, including the national tax credit benefit. We have put in place moneys in our budget for parental leave.

My colleagues and the parliamentary secretary responsible for this portfolio have been putting forward the notion about the importance of a social economy and the building blocks of that. The measures that we have taken as government, both through the budget and through this initiative to set up this department, have put the building blocks in place so we can do our best to reduce poverty in our country.

I state once again that poverty is appalling, specifically child poverty. We must do everything possible to address this issue. I believe that the government has taken some serious measures to address it.

Department of Social Development Act
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, I am somewhat worried by the answer of the member for Davenport. He said that while eliminating child poverty is a goal, and I do not know that he used the word laudable goal but I think that was the intent in what he said, it was questionable whether it could be attained.

This is exactly the mentality that has created the failure of the government to make progress in the elimination of poverty domestically. It continues to be the appalling position of the government with respect to its failure to commit to making poverty history, globally.

The reality is, in the absence of having serious targets and timetables and serious strategies to eliminate poverty, we will not do it. Post-1989 the government committed to the eradication of child poverty. At that time, and I hope I am correct, child poverty was at 16%. What happened under the watch of the finance minister, it went to 18% by the year 2000, the year it was supposed to be eliminated.

During the exact same time period, the government of Sweden, among others, set a serious goal of eliminating child poverty and put in place targets, timetables and a specific plan for implementing it. It reduced a child poverty level roughly equivalent to Canada's, maybe a little less, down to 2%.

Would the member not agree that in addition to the kind of building block approach that he talks about, we cannot be taken seriously and we will not make serious progress in eliminating child poverty unless we set clear targets and adopt a comprehensive, multi-faceted strategy for eradicating child poverty?

Department of Social Development Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Madam Speaker, I have looked at the analysis of what some of the European countries have proposed and put forward in their efforts to eradicate poverty and child poverty. It is always comparing apples to oranges. We cannot always say that it is the same situation in every country. There is a unique situation in Canada where we also have to deal with provinces. A lot of European countries do not have provincial legislation to deal with it.

Also it is a vast country where poverty measures differ in different situations. Where the poverty is very high, particularly child poverty, is in areas in our country where there are seasonal workers. Those are the issues that also need to be addressed. In areas where there is very high unemployment, there will be high rates of child poverty. In areas of the country where there is very low unemployment, there is a low rate of child poverty.

It is not comparing apples to apples. It is really apples to orange when we talk about what is going on in different countries throughout the world. However, I know the government has dealt with this issue quite effectively and has put in these measures. The poverty rates are lower in provinces such as Ontario, which is run by a Liberal government, than in the province of Manitoba, which is run by the NDP.

Department of Social Development Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member a question regarding gender-based analysis.

The parliamentary committee on the status of women heard from various departments when we were considering the impact of many policies and legislation on women. We found that often when policy and legislation is implemented there are unintended consequences for women and children as a result.

Is the member aware of any plans to integrate gender-based analysis within this new department in a fashion that would be meaningful and result in perhaps some report to Parliament just like the immigration department has done?

Department of Social Development Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Madam Speaker, this issue is certainly very important to our caucus. I have attended many meetings of the women's caucus and they have spoken quite strongly in support of this. There is an all-party group as well that is dealing with the issue. We are working to ensure that it is in fact the goal.