An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (child adoption expenses)

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.

Sponsor

Jay Hill  Canadian Alliance

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Not active, as of Feb. 19, 2001
(This bill did not become law.)

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

May 2nd, 2001 / 6:30 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, it is a privilege and an honour to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-272, an act to amend the Income Tax Act, which deals with child adoption expenses.

Every once in a while a bill comes up in the House that grabs someone's attention. Bill C-272 provides fairness and equity in circumstances where there is perhaps great need. I applaud the hon. member in the Alliance for bringing forward this private member's bill.

The purpose of the enactment of the bill is to allow taxpayers a deduction that does not exceed $7,000 for expenses related to the adoption of a child. The bill says that a limit of $7,000 can be used as a deduction when they compute their income tax returns for the tax year.

We have already heard this afternoon that a great number of the adoptions taking place in Canada at this time cost far in excess of $7,000. The cost of adoptions from overseas, adoptions from Haiti, adoptions from China and adoptions from Vietnam can exceed $20,000. The bill says that a cap of $7,000 could be used as a deduction, not all the expenses but a certain percentage of them, so that young people in some instances could afford to have a family.

Expenses must have been incurred in the taxation year or in the previous two years. A great deal of the expenses incurred in adoption are over many years. Young couples sometimes wait seven, eight, nine or ten years to adopt.

Adoption expenses mean any expense incurred on account of adopting a child. Many individuals who go overseas have a huge output of dollars so that they can stay in a country for a set period of time. Another part of the bill says that it applies to both children adopted within this country and those from without.

I want to relate to the House the emotional turmoil, the feelings of young people when they realize that perhaps they will be unable to raise a family. It puts a huge emotional burden on them. It is an emotional roller coaster in locating a baby for adoption. In many situations finally approved for adoption, the birth mother changes her mind. Then again the couple is thrown into a turbulent, emotional scene. All this emotional stress is compounded by the financial burden, particularly for those in lower income brackets.

I should like to explain a bit about the situation my wife and I found ourselves in. In 1986 we were married. We decided before we got married that we would like to have four children. After three or four years of trying to have a baby and going through all the tests to check out medical reasons why we could not, we applied for adoption when it was obvious we would be unable to conceive.

We were told at that time that it would be a seven year wait. We left that province and moved back to Alberta and applied for the adoption process there. We went through the open adoption route and within a year or two our names had been chosen as prospective adoptive parents.

I remember with great clarity the thrill we had when all of a sudden the phone call came that told us a birth mother had chosen us to raise the child she was still carrying. The birth mother showed a great deal of love in saying she realized that her child needed to be put into a home with parents who could look after her.

The cost was close to $7,000. We were young. We were both right out of school. I had been working for some time and we were able to come up with the $7,000. When I came into the network of the adoption agency I met all those other young people who were waiting. I met young people who were 21 or 22 years old who had been slaving away. When they were hit with the fact that it would be $7,000, they realized they had very little chance of ever having a family. I saw young people break down when they were told that the costs could be $5,000, $6,000, $7,000 or $10,000. I saw wives weep in realization that they would never be able to raise a family.

I have friends who have stood beside us and said how they rejoice in the fact that we were able to adopt not just one but two children, because financially they would never be able to afford it.

The tax deduction will not perhaps change all of that, but it does give a little more hope to those wanting to raise a family. I applaud again the hon. member for bringing the bill forward.

On our first adoption we adopted a beautiful little girl straight from the hospital, Kristen Nicole. She is now eight, going on nine years old. On our second adoption it was a very similar situation. The list was long. The list was huge. The people who were applying for adoptions were begging for children. Many were being turned away because of the financial restraints. Many people were hurting.

I think back to the time of the adoptions and I remember being with my wife when one of our friends made the announcement that they were pregnant. I remember the evenings where my wife would literally cry on the pillow all night, and I would feel like it as well, because we did not think we would ever be able to have a family.

The second adoption was another gift of God and one that we are very thankful for. I am particularly concerned, as I have already mentioned, for those who cannot have children and who realize that they will never be able to afford adoption.

Adoption, as we have already spoken about, is under provincial jurisdiction. There are a number of other things that perhaps the federal government could do. I should research it a little more, but at the time that we adopted the adoptive mother was not allowed as much maternity leave.

We were all of a sudden going to have a baby. If we would have conceived the child ourselves she would have been able to have three months longer of maternity leave than what an adoptive mother was allowed. That amount of time is another area the federal government could look at because that extra time is needed to bond.

This is a good bill. I wish the Liberal government would have made it votable. It could have shown that it has a commitment to families and a commitment to doing what is right.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

May 2nd, 2001 / 6:25 p.m.
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Bloc

Gilles-A. Perron Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity tonight to speak to Bill C-272, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (child adoption expenses).

The purpose of this bill is to allow a taxpayer a deduction for expenses of up to $7,000 related to the adoption of a child when computing his or her income for a taxation year.

I remind the House that my colleague from the Bloc, the member for Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans, introduced a bill almost identical to this one in 1998.

Another bill, Bill C-289, was introduced in September 2000 by the same Alliance member, but it died on the order paper when the election was called.

It is therefore a bill my party the Bloc Quebecois and I support.

As we know, adoption is a provincial responsibility. However, the lack of participation on the part of the federal government creates a grey area for adoptive parents.

Indeed, why would the federal government, which has no qualms about interfering in many areas under provincial jurisdiction, not intervene efficiently in the area of adoption?

A federal tax deduction would not only be a welcome incentive for adoptive parents, but would also make the tax system fairer.

Biological parents are covered under the health insurance plan for prenatal and postnatal care whereas adoptive parents must pay out of their own pocket the full cost of an adoption.

It is odd that the costs of in vitro fertilization are deductible when the costs of adopting a child are not. This is neither fair nor wise on the part of the federal government.

The Quebec government estimates that an international adoption costs the adoptive parents an average of $20,000. Children of the World, one of the largest Canadian adoption agencies, estimates the cost of adopting a child in China at $17,000 per couple. These figures include expenses in Quebec and in China.

The bill should allow taxpayers to deduct from their income the child adoption expenses, not by an amount not exceeding $7,000, but by double that amount.

The federal government should recognize, as Quebec does, the important social contribution of adoptive parents to our society. It has been observed that half of Canadian adoptions are to Quebec families. This is in part due to the fact that Quebec's family policy is far more progressive than that of the federal government.

Adoptive parents face special expenses, particularly in the case of private and international adoptions. I know whereof I speak. Thirty-two years ago, my wife and I adopted a child.

Many couples who want to adopt a child think about it twice because of all the expenses it entails, which is where this bill comes in.

For almost nine years now, Quebec has undergone a change quite unique in the western world. Every year, between 700 and 800 children from all over the world finally find in Quebec a family to adopt them. It obviously would have made adoption easier if the adoptive parents had been able to deduct from their income, at the federal level, the child adoption expenses.

We cannot talk about adoption without talking about family. In Quebec, we are proud to have an integrated and comprehensive family policy. This policy includes among other things a tax credit for adoption expenses, family allowance benefits and the development of educational services and day care for young children, what is commonly known as the $5 a day day care. Quebec is also developing a parental insurance program based on the needs of families in Quebec.

In short, it is obvious that the federal government is 20 years behind in this area. By quickly passing this bill, it would at least be taking a step in the right direction.

In closing, I deplore the fact that this bill is not votable.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

May 2nd, 2001 / 6:20 p.m.
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Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Progressive Conservative Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Speaker, it is with pleasure today that I rise to speak on Bill C-272, a private member's bill from my colleague from Prince George—Peace River.

The bill addresses a very important issue and a very personal issue, that of adoption, and the inordinately high costs associated with it for Canadian families and parents who choose to adopt children. A tax deduction of up to $7,000 for expenses would go a long way in helping Canadians to deal with costs that can run as high as or even greater than $20,000 per child in the adoption process.

Clearly in an egalitarian society and a society where we speak of the importance of equality of opportunity, the choice for families to adopt children should not be available only to the rich. Effectively under the current system the only people who can make this decision are higher income individuals or those Canadians who can make the tremendous financial sacrifice to make this important choice.

It is not just a choice on behalf of their own families, on behalf of these couples. There is a societal benefit to augmenting the ability of Canadian families and parents to adopt children. Society benefits by children living in supportive environments, whether they be their biological families or adoptive families. It should not make a difference.

The comments of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, which obviously represent the views of the government, clearly miss the point being made in this bill by the hon. member for Prince George—Peace River. The fact is that all society would benefit if we were to somehow ease the lives of families that choose to adopt children, in this case through financial means through the tax system.

Ironically the Liberals have no difficulty in using the tax system for all kinds of Pavlovian policies to encourage one sort of behaviour and to discourage another kind of behaviour.

Typically I am opposed to measures that complicate the tax code further in order to encourage one type of behaviour or discourage another. However, I believe that in this case the fundamental benefit to society outweighs the negative of complicating the tax code a little bit to implement this measure.

We in our party are supportive of this measure. It is terribly unfortunate that this has not been deemed votable. If Liberal members opposite had the opportunity to vote individually on this measure, I think we would find that there would be a strong level of support among private members opposite for this forward thinking and important piece of legislation.

It is unfortunate, as the hon. member for Prince George—Peace River said earlier, that this piece of legislation was not deemed votable. In fact the process by which private member's legislation in the House becomes votable or non-votable is Byzantine and circuitous and certainly not constructive or encouraging to private members who are trying to make a difference.

We should be encouraging private members' business as a legitimate vehicle through which members of the House can express not only the views of their constituents but also the types of forward thinking public policy measures that can change the lives of Canadians.

It is unfortunate that the government has not been more open to the rights of private members in this regard. As parliamentary reform gains some steam we are still optimistic we will see some significant changes in the future. One of those very important changes is to make mechanisms available to private members to present legislation and have it deemed votable without having to jump through the hoops and go through the current discouraging process in that it does not provide private members with the ability to have their legislation deemed votable.

I think the hon. member for Prince George—Peace River mentioned that this was his second piece of legislation recently that was not deemed votable. That is discouraging for private members who are trying to advance important issues and policies.

In closing, we are supportive of the legislation. We wish we could express our support quantitatively through a vote. However we have once again been denied that opportunity through the government's closed door process. It is not an open door process.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

May 2nd, 2001 / 5:55 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

moved that Bill C-272, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (child adoption expenses), be read the second time and referred to committee.

Madam Speaker, as I understand the process, it being deemed a non-votable bill I have 15 minutes at the outset of the debate tonight and then a 5 minute wrap-up at the end.

I will start by thanking my hon. colleague from Calgary Southwest for seconding my bill tonight. I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to Bill C-272, an act to amend the Income Tax Act with respect to child adoption expenses.

Unfortunately one of the sad realities of the Income Tax Act, aside from the fact that it has become a tool of oppression in the country and should be reformed, is the fact that the act in its present form does not contain any provisions relating to child adoption expenses.

I have presented the bill in an attempt to correct this injustice and with the hope of making the Income Tax Act more equitable to all parents, in this case to those who have adopted a child.

Adoptive parents have unique challenges when they adopt children, all of which are not experienced by families that are fortunate enough to conceive their own children. These challenges and the expenses associated with them arise from the arduous steeplechase that has become the adoption process in our country.

Those who are involved in the administration of the adoption process would likely argue that the process exists for the protection of the children and is necessary to ensure that children are placed in the best possible homes. I cannot disagree. I concur with that wholeheartedly.

I would argue that we have a duty to ensure that all children are placed with responsible and caring adults who will raise them in a loving family environment. While I agree that we need to conduct evaluations and studies to ensure that the adoptive parents are suitable, I do not agree with placing the financial burden for this process solely on the backs of the adoptive parents.

With the addition of each new adoption requirement or assessment, we increase the overall cost of the adoption and, as a consequence, decrease the number of families who can seriously consider adoption. These requirements have compounded in recent years to the point where, in the case of a private or international adoption, couples may face costs in the thousands of dollars for legal fees, travel expenses, home studies and a number of other assessments.

Some of the letters I have received in recent months say that these expenses can exceed $20,000. The magnitude of such upfront costs often results in discouraging couples from even thinking of adoption.

As a government and as a society we should be searching for ways to reward those couples who make the courageous decision to adopt a child. That is the inspiration behind Bill C-272.

The bill would amend the Income Tax Act to allow adoptive parents to deduct expenses arising from the adoption of a child, subject to a maximum of $7,000. The deduction is on a per child basis and the expenses must have been incurred in that taxation year or in the previous two years.

The introduction of the bill follows consultation with a number of adoption agencies as well as individuals who have personally adopted children. Statistics Canada's national longitudinal survey of children and youth has clearly shown us, in empirical terms, that an environment where there is a mother and a father is an environment in which children thrive.

In essence the bill is very straightforward but we all know from experience that nothing relating to the Income Tax Act is ever straightforward, especially if any Canadian might actually derive some benefit from it. For the amendment to have any success it must therefore follow the format of all other approved deductions and clearly set out who may benefit and to what extent. The bill was drafted to do exactly that.

For the benefit of those who are following the broadcast of the debate tonight, I would like to take a moment to highlight the exact provisions of the bill. First, the bill would apply to Canadian and international adoption expenses. Second, the maximum deductions, as I have already said, per eligible child shall not exceed $7,000. Third, it defines a child as any person under the age of 17.

As with all income tax deductions, the claim for the deduction must be substantiated by filing the following with the minister: receipts issued by the payee and containing the appropriate reference information and, second, a Canadian adoption order or a recognition order with respect to a foreign adoption.

Acceptable adoption expenses under the legislation would include: legal fees; home study or psychological study expenses; expenses related to the child's immigration to Canada; travel expenses related to the adoption of the child; and agency fees. Expenses that would not be eligible are any expenses incurred during the adoption in contravention of any law and any expenses incurred in carrying out any surrogate parenting arrangement.

When one considers how well structured the bill is, one can appreciate how I felt so confident when I submitted the bill to the private members committee for consideration. The bill met all of the criteria to make the bill votable. In addition, since its introduction I have been receiving letters of support, which continue today, from all across the country. The letters of support were from parents who have adopted, from couples who are wading through the adoption process and from the adoption agencies themselves.

I would like to read to the hon. members present each of these letters so that they could appreciate the impact the legislation would have on future Canadian families, but in the interests of time, I have selected but a few of the responses received which I feel reflect the sentiments of all of those I received.

The first letter states:

I am writing in support of the adoption tax credit. My husband and myself are in the process of an adoption from Vietnam. The fees are over $21,000. Both of us work in social services and needless to say, do not have a sufficient collective income to support such a process. We are doing our best to provide a home for an orphaned child and would greatly appreciate the support of a tax credit to increase the feasibility of this endeavour.

The second letter states:

My husband and I recently adopted from Russia a 9 month old little girl and the overall costs were $40,000 so any amount of a deduction would certainly go a long way to encourage others to adopt since there are so many children that need homes and we are trying to increase immigration and what better way than this. Thank you for introducing this bill.

The third letter states:

My husband and I adopted a little boy from Russia 1.5 years ago and have recently noticed in our local paper an article on the needs in a Russian Orphanage and how we here in Canada can be more aware of the needs to adopt. I think more people would help these children who are in desperate need if the government would be more encouraging to those who wish to adopt. Thank you for introducing this bill. The need is definitely there.

The fourth letter states:

My husband and I after 7 years of trying to have our own family are embarking on international adoption. This will take an additional 2 or 3 years because of the substantial cost involved. A tax deduction would shave a year off the start of our family.

The fifth letter states:

Adoption, for some people, is the only way that they can achieve their dream of creating a family. Adoption, however, is also a very costly way. The passage of a bill, such as the one you are proposing, would assist couples like ourselves in making our dream come true. We wish you much success in establishing this bill as law.

The sixth letter states:

My wife and I are presently adopting a child in Ontario and we are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with the seemingly endless expenses. We know that other families who adopt privately must be facing considerably larger costs than us, so we wish to offer you our support for this excellent piece of legislation that you are presenting.

The seventh letter states:

Many Canadians would like to be able to adopt from overseas, but due to the prohibitive cost (up to $20,000 to $30,000), many are unable to consider this option. Child poverty is a huge problem of immense proportions around the world. Adoption is one way Canadians can make a direct personal contribution by giving a child from a poorer country a head start within a Canadian home, while enriching their own lives with the blessing of a child. Canadians have a reputation for being humanitarians...your bill is one very practical, inexpensive way the Canadian Government can make this a possibility for more Canadian families.

The eighth letter states:

As a parent who had adopted a child in 1999 I understand the financial burden that is endured by the expense of the adoption process. Our son's adoption was a very simple and straightforward adoption; local, Canadian, birth parents (and their families) in agreement and supportive, and no legal, medical or procedural problems, but still the final cost of the adoption was $9,400 by the time the adoption was finalized by a judge. In B.C. the fee schedule for adoption has risen since we adopted our son. It has now gone up by approximately $3,000, therefore I am expecting that the adoption of a second child will cost approximately $13,000 in adoption agency fees, legal fees, court costs, medical exams, background checks and government form processing. I cannot speak for all adopting parents, but I know that we will have to borrow the money to finance the adoption of a second child. I have talked to a couple through our adoption experience that could not afford the expense of adoption and therefore will not have a family.

I could go on indefinitely but I think I have made the point. Better yet, in writing to me the people themselves have made the point.

This was a soundly drafted bill aimed at benefiting children and adoptive parents and it had national support. Who would not have felt confident? I certainly did and perhaps that was my mistake. Members can imagine my disappointment when I learned that the private members; busines subcommittee did not share my confidence in the bill and it was not deemed votable.

For the benefit of those watching the broadcast tonight, they should understand how the process works for all private members of all five parties on both sides of the House. First there has to be an idea. In this case it was tax deductions for adoption expenses. Members get help from legal counsel at the House of Commons to draft the bill. It is then introduced in the House. After that the member has to be lucky enough to have his or her name drawn in a lottery. There are 300 members and 15 bills are drawn so the odds are not that great. When it is drawn the member has to go before an all party subcommittee and try to persuade the members to make the item votable. Up to 5 of the 15 can be made votable.

There are a lot of hurdles, no matter well intentioned the bill, no matter how great the cause. Unfortunately this bill did not make that hurdle to become votable so that all members could vote on it. Hopefully it would have gone to the finance committee to at some time in the future become law.

We are only a few months into this session and this is the second time that I have tried to bring forward legislation to benefit families in this country. This is the second time the private members committee has voted not to make my bill votable.

There is a growing concern, on the part of all members. I am appreciative of the fact that the government House leader struck a committee to look at changes that might include making votable all private members' bills fortunate enough to be drawn. I certainly support that and I hope we go on with it.

I would also like to say tonight, not just in regard to the two bills of mine that we have debated, that I speak for myself and other members who have had their bills drawn but not made votable. If we do make a change in this parliament, I hope we will make it soon and make it retroactive so that every bill that was drawn in this parliament would go to a vote, including this legislation.

It is well past time that instead of making adoption a very difficult alternative we provide encouragement to families who have the desire to adopt children.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

April 4th, 2001 / 6:25 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise this early evening to address Bill C-209, which seeks to amend the Income Tax Act and allow individuals to deduct certain public transportation costs from the exorbitant amount of income tax the government opposite extracts from them each year.

I would like to commend the hon. member for Jonquière for bringing forward an insightful and innovative amendment to the Income Tax Act. The merits of the bill are numerous, not just for individuals but for society as a whole, and I am delighted to bring some of them to the attention of the House this afternoon.

Perhaps before I do, I will just digress for a moment from my speech to say that I was very disappointed in the remarks made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance. It is quite obvious from his remarks that the government has decided yet again that it will be advocating that all the Liberal members vote against this particular legislation, and that should come as no surprise. The government is increasingly reluctant to offer Canadians any form of tax relief and of course that is what the bill sets out to do.

I seem to have struck a nerve over there because I hear them heckling even though hardly any of them are in the House.

The reality is that the remarks made by the parliamentary secretary dealt almost entirely with how the Liberals can shovel money out the door in all their grandiose programs and plans of how to spend tax dollars rather than offer Canadians tax relief. That is indicative of the way the government has operated and continues to operate.

As to the bill itself, the first benefit is the most obvious, that is, this amendment to the Income Tax Act would reduce the tax burden on Canadians, something the government opposite is reluctant to do and something our party has been advocating for years.

The bill will not go so far as to reduce taxes to the levels we have been promising Canadians, but it will nevertheless provide relief to some Canadians who so desperately need it. I am referring to the thousands of students, seniors and low income Canadians who rely on public transit as their sole source of transportation. For these people, driving their car to work or school is not an option since they usually do not have that luxury.

I need look no further than my eldest daughter, who lives with me in Ottawa and does not have the luxury of even owning a car. She is a struggling student, as so many are in our country, a fourth year student at Carleton, and she travels for about an hour and a half every day to get to university and then to get home in the afternoon or evening. She spends about three hours every day on public transit.

That is not unique to my daughter. Many students and many working Canadians in our country have to face similar long hauls on public transit. Without the public transit system, many of these people would be forced to quit their jobs or drop out of school. Without public transit, seniors would be unable to access essential services such as health care. Providing these people with a deduction for the expense of public transportation will not give them a windfall by any means. However, as anyone who has experienced the struggle of living paycheque to paycheque knows, every dollar does count.

There are also benefits to society beyond the immediate benefit to the individuals who use public transit. The implementation of this amendment would provide an incentive for commuters to leave their cars at home and begin or go back to using public transit. Often the cost of driving is only marginally higher than the cost of public transit. Most people usually elect to drive for no other reason than the sheer convenience of it.

The statistics on public transit highlight this trend. Only 19% of Canadians are frequent transit users and 11% of them are semi-frequent users while 22% are occasional users. An astonishing 48% of Canadians do not use transit at all.

This amendment will widen the gap between the cost of driving and the cost of public transit, giving public transit greater appeal and reducing the number of cars on the road. This single action is where the benefits to society begin.

One of the immediate benefits would be to the environment and consequently to the air we all breathe. For every bus we are able to fill, we are able to take up to 50 cars off the road. This is a critical number when we consider that six of seven major air pollutants come from cars and light trucks, which emit four tonnes of pollutants every year on average.

In 1997 Canada made an international commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below 1990 emission levels by 2008-12. Despite the fact that Canada has yet to ratify the agreement, there is no reason for us not to at least attempt to meet our commitments.

We could simply follow the precedent established by our neighbours to the south and renege on our international commitment because of the downturn in the economy. However, this is not an option for Canada since we are consistently reminded by the Minister of Finance that Canada is immune to a recession.

Fortunately for the environment, this means that the Canadian government could withstand the minor tax exemption such as the one being proposed today.

Also of benefit to Canadians, which may not be as apparent as the immediate benefits to the environment, are the numerous benefits that accompany a reduction in the congestion on our roadways. Congestion is very costly to Canadians in terms of its impacts on the economy and road infrastructure.

Recent studies in Canada, the U.S. and Australia have estimated that congestion costs in urban areas are in the order of $1,000 annually per household. It therefore stands to reason that if businesses are able to move their goods to market more efficiently the cost of goods will go down. This is yet another example of how the bill would improve the lives of all Canadians.

The toll that congestion takes on our roads is self-evident. We have all experienced first hand the deplorable state of our national highways, the gridlock occurring in our major cities and the inability of growing towns to expand their existing road systems to accommodate population growth.

The government has made it very clear that it does not intend to spend any more than the current 4.1% of the $5 billion it collects in fuel taxes on improving our roadways. If we intend to retain the antiques we have, without further deterioration, we have to reduce the number of people using them.

The bill would hopefully provide the incentive for the people of Canada to take action where the government refuses.

I could continue with my praise of the bill, but I would like to take a few minutes to make a few comments on the whole issue of private members' bills and their place within the House. Each year the members elected to the House bring forward their ideas for improving the lives of all Canadians. More often than not, these ideas are allowed to fall off the order paper without having been given, in my opinion, due consideration.

I have been extremely fortunate that in the past two months my name has been drawn consecutively in the two private members' draws. This was an unprecedented opportunity for me to select and to present two of my six private members' bills.

The first, Bill C-237, was a bill that would have amended the Divorce Act to ensure that divorcing parents begin custody discussions on an equal footing. They would start out with joint custody and work from there. The bill was intended to remove children from the often bitter battles that accompanied marital breakdown to ensure that they could not be used as pawns during settlement negotiations. Put simply, the bill would have put the children's interests ahead of the divorcing parents.

However, the bill was not considered important enough to vote on by the private members' committee so it fell off the order paper after one hour of debate.

My second bill, Bill C-272, has not yet been debated but regrettably has been handed the same sentence: a one hour debate before it too drops from the order paper. The bill would have allowed adoptive parents a one time income tax exemption for expenses incurred during the adoption of a child. Unfortunately, the bill has also succumb to the same fate as my previous bill despite the apparent benefits to Canadian families and children.

While I appreciate the limited time the House has to consider legislation each year, I believe that as elected members we could be doing a better job of how we select and debate private members' legislation. An opportune time for us to examine these procedures is during the all party discussions on parliamentary reform.

As elected members, we owe it to our constituents to find a more effective means of bringing bills with merit into law. I am pleased that the process worked in favour of this particular private member's bill, Bill C-209, and I am pleased to express my support for the bill.

I will sum up by saying that I really hope the bill passes. I hope that it does not succumb to the same unfortunate treatment as my previous bill in the last parliament. That particular bill, after a lot of work and with the support of the majority government, the Liberals, was passed on to the justice committee. However, in the end, the Prime Minister called a premature election and the bill died at the committee stage.

The bill today, should it pass, would go to the finance committee where hopefully it will not suffer the same fate as my last bill. I urge all members to do support the bill and to vote for it.

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

February 19th, 2001 / 3:15 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-272, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (child adoption expenses).

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Athabasca for so willingly seconding my private member's bill.

I rise today to introduce a bill to amend the Income Tax Act. Although I would like to repeal it altogether, I am instead proposing the bill to make the act more equitable to parents, and in this case those who have adopted a child. The bill, if passed, would allow adoptive parents to deduct the expenses related to the adoption of a child up to a maximum of $7,000 in one year.

Many families adopt Canadian children. Many others choose to rescue orphan children from foreign countries. The process is expensive and I believe a portion of the expenses incurred should be tax deductible.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)