moved that Bill C-397, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (support payments), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be allowed to speak to this bill. I want to take a few moments to thank my colleague from Sherbrooke who agreed to support this bill.
Unfortunately, it is with a lot of bitterness that I rise to speak to Bill C-397, an act to amend the Income Tax Act. In fact, my bill is aimed at amending only one section, section 118 of the Income Tax Act dealing with child deductions.
I am disappointed because I believe that this bill should have been votable. I believe so, since the required tests for making a bill votable are, first, that the bill be written clearly and effectively. My bill and I am convinced that you have read it entirely, is very clear and effective.
The second test is that the bill must be under federal jurisdiction. This is just common sense. If it were not under federal jurisdiction, I would not be here today discussing it.
The third test is that the bill should deal with a matter that is clearly in the public interest. That will be my main point in my remarks and, naturally I will emphasize the merits of my bill.
There should be a clear interest. In this case, it is more than clear because, after I introduced my bill, the justice minister sent to all members and senators a summary of the report of the federal, provincial, territorial family law committee. This report mentioned child custody, access and support for Canadian children. I will refer to this report several times in my remarks.
I am sorry that this bill is not votable. I have hundreds of cases of Canadian and Quebec citizens, mothers and fathers, who asked me to correct certain injustices in the present legislation. I am all the more sorry because my bill, as I indicated, does exactly what is being requested in the report: parents who share parental responsibility—we no longer say shared custody—should have a tax deduction that is proportional to the number of days they have custody of the child.
For a parent to be considered to have parental responsibility, he or she must have custody during at least 100 days in a year before he or she can claim a certain percentage of child care expenses for the days he or she has custody, and benefit from tax deductions in his or her income tax return.
Let us take, for example, my own situation. I have joint custody of my children during weekends. On the basis of 52 weekends, I have custody of my children during 104 days. Therefore, I could deduct 104/365ths of the costs incurred for the custody of my children.
Unfortunately, divorce and separation occur much too frequently these days. We are living in the year 2001. It is a fact that divorce and separation are commonplace occurrences. Frequently when parents divorce or separate they try to avoid litigation, to not traumatize their children and make them suffer.
Unfortunately, money matters are always the most contentious issues between parents and are often the cause of disputes. This is why I think the Income Tax Act as it now stands is unfair. Why could we not allow a parent who has joint custody of a child or who shares parental responsibility to deduct a portion of the costs incurred for the custody of the children?
Unfortunately, since this bill has not been declared votable, my remarks are only idle chatter. I most sincerely hope that the finance minister, and I intend to pressure him on this, will in the name of equity and parental responsibility take my bill under his wing and amend section 118 of the present legislation.
I will stop here. I know that my 15 minute period is not over, but I nevertheless will stop here because I am very disappointed, of course, that this bill has not been declared votable. Most of all, I am very sad for all the parents who thought that I could succeed in pushing forward this issue and convince the government to forward to the present as in the year 2001 unfortunately divorce and separation occur too frequently.
I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for having listened so carefully to my speech. I want to take this opportunity to wish you and your family as well as the people of my riding a happy holiday season, much happiness and, most of all, peace.