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

This bill was last introduced in the 38th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in November 2005.

This bill was previously introduced in the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session and the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session.

Sponsor

Jay Hill  Conservative

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

Status

Not active, as of Oct. 20, 2004
(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.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

March 8th, 2005 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Paul Forseth Conservative New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time.

I oppose this budget because it is far less than what the country deserves and needs. The priorities are largely misplaced and I will outline just a few of the reasons why. Nevertheless, we will not defeat the government on it because the larger issue beyond this pathetic budget is that the country does not want an election at this time.

My constituents will, I am sure, give me a clear signal when the time is due, when an election is being asked for. I am sure there will be a clear mood soon that they have had enough of these Liberals, but such is not the case right now. They do not like what they are getting from the government, but they like the prospects of an election even less.

I will outline some positive Conservative budget alternatives while letting this budget pass in order to avoid an election for the time being. The Liberals plan to spend $196.4 billion on programs in 2005-06, not counting statutory spending like pensions. That is $6,130 for every person in Canada, the biggest spending plan in history. That is incredible.

The national debt is still at about $500 billion and the service charges for it will be $35.1 billion. The spending rate is up 11% from 2003-04. The Liberals tax more than needed. They spend too much which results in government waste while we still owe too much.

While the government says that the budget is about delivering on commitments, we are seeing nothing but dithering. Most changes are supposed to happen long after the Prime Minister and finance minister are gone. By making plans long after many other budgets will come forward, all the way up to 2009, by definition, the substance of this budget plan will likely never happen.

Most of the money for child care, the gas tax transfer for cities, and climate change, is delayed until the end of the decade with no plan in place of how to spend it. Nevertheless, in this budget there are hints of what a positive world it could be with Conservatives at the helm.

The government is following the Conservative Party's lead on areas that are important to Canadians. Some examples of Conservative initiatives adopted in the budget are: tax relief for low and middle income Canadians; a reduction of corporate taxes to help stimulate the economy, create jobs and raise government revenue; funding for national defence; an increase in RRSP limits; an enhancement of capital cost allowance rates; a non-refundable tax credit adoption expense, our private member's Bill C-246; eventual elimination of the excise tax on jewellery, our private member's Bill C-259; a caregiver tax credit, which was the Conservative election platform; measures for agricultural cooperatives; and the removal of the CAIS program cash deposit requirement, which was a Conservative supply day motion.

Although these topics are at least mentioned, many of the positive steps in the budget do not go far enough or occur fast enough to have any substantial impact on the well-being of Canadians. The tax break provided in this budget amounts to about $16 for this year. The inadequate productivity enhancing measures in the budget illustrate that the government is not heeding warning signs that Canada's high priority programs could be put in jeopardy if comprehensive steps are not taken to grow the economy before the demographic crunch sets in.

The Conservatives devised a standard of living strategy in a prebudget submission published elsewhere that if implemented would ensure that high priority social programs are available to Canadians when they require them.

The key components of the Conservative Party's standard of living strategy are: the encouragement of investment in Canada's productive capacity; the reduction of corporate and capital payroll taxes; a streamlined regulatory environment; a more rapid reduction in the national debt; a reduction of federal spending to sustainable levels; the encouragement of education and training; and the promotion and stimulation of affordable housing development.

The reason for these is clear. A more vibrant economy would ensure that we could actually pay for the social programs we need. Sadly, the budget gives short shrift to individuals. Special interest groups get billions while the rest of us are thrown pocket change.

One of the byproducts of a culture of dependency fostered by the continued extension of the welfare state is that it guarantees a decreasing degree of dissension. It is a simple rule. The more people on the gravy train, the fewer people available to offer objective, critical analysis.

What the consensus analysis of the federal budget makes clear is that the individual is now left out of the equation. In spite of massive surpluses and record revenues, individuals themselves were tossed pocket change in terms of tax cuts while special interest groups were thrown billions of tax dollars.

Besides Conservatives, who else was going to be up in arms because the government promised in last year's budget to uphold the principles of financial responsibility and integrity, and then promptly turn around and proceed to overspend by $10 billion? Would it be the CBC, which once again saw its funding rise and owes its existence to government money?

What about business groups? I think we can safely forget about anyone in the aerospace industry, the auto industry and high-tech going after government, given that billions of dollars are flowing their way. No critiques coming from the film industry or the banking industry, which want favourable government rulings.

It is a little unrealistic to expect business groups like the Canadian Council for Chief Executives to take the government to task when its membership includes such regular recipients of government largesse like Bombardier, Ballard Power Systems, General Motors and SNC-Lavalin.

While the budget outlined billions more in new spending for well-connected groups, we can console ourselves with a $16 tax saving for the individual.

Government subsidies hurt the economy. How much are we willing to pay to secure one job in the auto manufacturing sector? Specifically, how many tax dollars are we willing to divert from other areas, including our own pocket, to help the shareholders and highly paid workers of big American auto companies?

About $435 million, or $870,000 per job. That is about right. That is the amount the federal and Ontario governments have decided to fork over to American mega-corporation General Motors in order to create 500 new jobs in three Ontario communities: Ingersoll, Oshawa and St. Catharines.

How many jobs are we willing to kill in order to create these 500 jobs? Unfortunately, when government spends $435 million on a business subsidy, it takes the money from somewhere. It can tax individuals, businesses or borrow it, but in each case, there are consequences.

Then there is the problem of regional disparity. The west coast port capacity is a national asset for the whole economy, yet Fraser Port, the number two port in Canada, is unreasonably burdened with the cost of dredging the river and federal dumping fees for sand. It is a special case. Forget the subsidies. Just do not tax away its future in the first place and let business get on with business.

Money taxed away from individuals results in less consumption or investment, which hurts business growth in other areas. Money taxed away from businesses robs them of the opportunity to expand their own operations, such as Fraser Port. Government debt charges eat up future revenues and expenditures.

There is a tremendous amount of research available that estimates that the so-called deadweight cost to the overall economy of government subsidies. The estimates vary but the majority put the cost to the economy of every dollar the government spends on subsidies at between $1.30 and $1.50.

Interestingly, the discussion surrounding health care is dominated by those who place far more value on saluting ideology of public health care as opposed to the delivery of timely quality care and the measurement of patient outcomes. That is the underlying reason why record amounts of money are spent on health care with few positive results. For the majority of the population, no specifics are needed as long as more money is spent within the public system.

The delusion of describing ourselves as a nation of peacekeepers becomes more laughable by the month as recent reports make it clear we cannot even equip our small band of front line personnel with standard-issue military boots.

The recent federal budget is another wonderful example of our love affair with talk. Virtually every media report heralded the major commitment to military spending, when nearly 80% of the promised spending does not even kick in until 2009 when this Prime Minister is long gone. According to the National Post's Chris Wattie, more than one-third of this year's new defence spending is offset by other cuts to the military budget.

Just like our firm commitment to Kyoto, phrases like “universal health care” and “a nation of peacekeepers” sound so good, but they are really hollow in practice. Today one does not have to be innovative, courageous, ethical or hard working to lead this country, one just has to care more than the average Canadian.

However, without meaningful action, we are mired in a fantasy world that, among other things, dooms thousands of natives to live in abject poverty, forces patients to wait months for life-altering surgery, makes Canada a bit player on the world stage, and has a comedian as the centrepiece of a non-existent Kyoto plan. We can only hope for the sake of this country that next year's budget will be a Conservative budget.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

March 7th, 2005 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, at the outset I would like to compliment my colleague from Durham for her comments and note that the way she handled the question on agriculture certainly shows the depth of not only her knowledge on this issue but the depth of her concern for the producers in her riding and others all across the nation.

I could not agree more with the thrust of what she was saying. I expressed my frustration in a member's statement this afternoon prior to question period. What I heard in her remarks was her frustration and the frustration we in the Conservative Party of Canada have because of the government's inability or inattention to the critical issues of agriculture in our country.

In the limited time that I have to respond to the Liberal budget this afternoon, I want to touch on several issues. I would first like to state that it is somewhat gratifying to say that we in the Conservative Party of Canada were right when we told Canadians during the June 2004 election that they were being misled by the federal Liberal government about the state of our country's finances. We knew the Liberals were awash in tax dollars skimmed from Canadian workers and yet during the election the Liberal government cried poor. It said that there was no money to spend on the Canadian Forces, on health care and on our crumbling infrastructure. It said that there was certainly no money to offer Canadians tax relief.

However, as we have known now for some months and as was confirmed in the budget, there is a massive surplus. I cannot say this enough. What Liberals call a surplus, Conservatives consider overtaxation. However this budget has ensured the continued overtaxation of Canadians. Much of the substantive investment needed to provide for the future security and prosperity of our country will not happen until some time in the future.

Our military, for example, as my colleagues have remarked, will continue to wait as it has for the past 11 and a half years that the Liberals have been in power. This is more a budget for the year 2008 than it is for 2005.

Unfortunately, the money taps are set to flow for the Liberal non-plan for the environment, to which my colleague from Red Deer just finished speaking at length, and its grand scheme for institutionalized state run child care. With scant detail or any sort of plan for these grandiose programs, the stage is being set for more government boondoggles and spending scandals.

I have a great deal more to discuss in terms of this budget's deficiencies but I would like to take a moment or two to address the adoption tax credit which was included in budget 2005.

It is no secret that I believe recognition for adoption and adoptive parents under Canadian tax laws is long overdue. I fought the government over the past four years to achieve this recognition through my private member's bill, which was most recently designated Bill C-246. Just last April, the same finance minister who has now included this tax provision for adoptive parents in his budget, sent his parliamentary secretary to the chamber to refuse government support for my proposal to offer tax relief to adoptive parents.

The Liberals changed their minds and I can tell the House that I am very happy for the Canadians who are currently set to undergo the emotionally and financially rigorous adoptive process, but the credit should not and does not go to the government. The credit goes to the hard work and dedication of the people in this country's adoptive community. They refused to give up. They wrote, e-mailed, faxed and called Liberal backbench MPs and cabinet ministers. They refused to go away. I am proud of their efforts and their success.

Ironically, it is those very same parents who are now being shut out by the government. My private member's bill would have offered tax relief retroactive to two years. The budgetary measure just announced is not retroactive. It applies to adoptions finalized in the 2005 taxation year and beyond.

What would two years retroactively have cost the government, the same government that is awash in our tax dollars? It would have cost $10 million maximum. My excitement over this achievement for adoptive families has been greatly dampened.

I am also disappointed that the tax relief will amount to a maximum of $1,600 per family. That is not much when one considers that domestic adoptions can cost more than $15,000 and international adoptions can total $30,000 or more. We are still hopeful that there may be further relief offered through provincial personal tax credits. We have no way of knowing that at the moment. Adoptive parents have been able to obtain so few details on this adoption tax credit beyond what is in the budget documents.

Were the provinces consulted before the federal government announced this measure? Will the tax credit apply to each adopted child or each adoption order which can include more than one child?

It now appears obvious that this was a very last minute decision by the government and Canadians have been asked to be patient. The information on this tax credit should be readily available now since information on other tax measures introduced in the budget can already be accessed. The government says that there is no rush because tax returns will not be filed for this taxation year until next spring but prospective adoptive parents are making decisions today about their lives and their families.

Before I move on to other matters in the budget, I would like to commend the people in this strong and vibrant adoptive community and thank them for demonstrating to this seasoned politician that people can make a real difference.

Speaking of real differences, I wish there were more of them in this budget.

I would like to draw attention to seniors. This is one group we have heard from in our ridings over the years, and certainly Prince George--Peace River is no exception. I have heard from seniors on fixed incomes who are struggling to make ends meet. The price of their home heating fuel, for example, keeps going up as do the costs of other things. They cannot meet those increasing costs because they do not have the corresponding increase in revenue that perhaps other Canadians might enjoy.

When I look at page 90 of the budget plan 2005, I find that it proposes to increase the maximum monthly GIS for seniors, which is the guaranteed income supplement, by $36 for a single senior. Half of this increase would only take effect on January 1, 2006, which is almost a year away. The remaining installment would take effect on January 1, 2007. What are we talking about here? Despite billions of dollars in overtaxation, when it comes to the most needy, our poor seniors, we are talking about $18 a month, and even that does not kick in until 2006. There is nothing for this year.

Let us move on to page 148, the tax relief that the government brags about. What we find is that it will raise the personal tax exemption, something which our party has talked about doing for years. We must applaud the government for this tiny step it is taking but then the devil is in the details, as always. When we read the details, what do we find? On page 149 of the budget plan it states that the basic personal amount will be increased over a five year period, as follows: $100 in 2006; an additional $100 in 2007; then it jumps to $400 in 2008; and $600 in 2009. As we have seen with almost everything to do with this budget, it is back-end loaded. It is some time in the future. People would have to wait again.

What else should we look at? On page 258 we see the federal tax revenues. Let us have a look at how much the government will realize. It is absolutely frightening what we see here. The table on page 258 of the budget plan shows that budgetary revenues would grow from the current year of roughly $196 billion to $237.8 billion by 2009-10.

Where will most of that money come from? That is a good question. I can tell members that despite the claims to the contrary, when we look at page 261 and the chart there, it will come from personal income tax. The revenue flowing to the government in the 2004-05 fiscal year, according to the numbers here, will be almost $90 billion and it will grow to $120 billion. That is the money that the government will suck out of Canadians' pockets in the way of personal income tax. The money will just flow into the coffers to be spent on the government's grand plans, rather than returned to Canadians in the form of tax relief.

What we have found is there is almost no reference to the agricultural crisis, as has been indicated. There is no reference to the softwood lumber crisis. There is no reference to the mountain pine beetle epidemic which is ravaging the forests of British Columbia.

In summary, this is a typical Liberal budget which tries to have a little for everyone but continues to overspend and overtax. However, as our leader has already made clear, we have chosen to act responsibly. Even though we cannot support the budget, we will ensure the survival of Parliament because we also believe that it is in the best interests of Canadians to ensure that this Parliament continues. They are not prepared to spend another $300 million on another election at this point in time. However, the government should not necessarily breathe easy. What we have seen in the budget plan is a pretty failed attempt to redress so many of the wrongs that it has perpetrated on Canadian people in the past.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

December 8th, 2004 / 3:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from Weyburn, Regina, and Moose Jaw citizens in Saskatchewan.

The petitioners wish to draw to the attention of the House that adoptive parents make a significant social contribution to our society and that those parents often face significant adoption related costs, but out of pocket expenses are not tax deductible.

Therefore, they call upon Parliament to pass legislation to provide an income tax deduction for expenses related to the adoption of a child, similar to that contained in my private member's Bill C-246.

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

October 20th, 2004 / 3:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-246, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (child adoption expenses).

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise today to reintroduce my private member's bill to allow parents a one-time income tax deduction of up to $10,000 for the expenses related to the adoption of a child.

This legislation received tremendous support from both sides of the House during the last Parliament. Thousands of parents, social workers and children's advocates across Canada eagerly await its reintroduction today.

In this Parliament, however, I have increased the maximum expense deduction to $10,000 to better reflect the true costs of adoption, which can spiral to $30,000 or more. I am optimistic about the passage of the bill which would modernize the federal Income Tax Act to recognize that adoptive parents make a significant contribution to all of society.

I am also seeking the unanimous consent of the House that the bill be numbered C-246 as it was known in the last Parliament.

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

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 11th, 2004 / 10:05 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure for me to rise this morning to present to the House a petition signed by individuals from Braeside, Arnprior, Renfrew and Perth in Ontario, and from Lampman, Weyburn, Tribune, St. Walburg and Carnduff in Saskatchewan. The petitioners draw the attention of the House to the fact that adoptive parents make a significant social contribution to our society and often face significant adoption related costs, but out of pocket adoption expenses are not tax deductible.

Therefore, they are calling upon Parliament to pass legislation to provide an income tax deduction for expenses related to the adoption of a child, as contained in the private member's bill, Bill C-246.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 7th, 2004 / 12:15 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is mainly from residents of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, but also from other communities in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

The petitioners note that adoptive parents make a significant social contribution to our society and that these parents often face significant adoption related costs, but out-of-pocket adoption expenses are not tax deductible.

They call upon Parliament to pass legislation to provide an income tax deduction for expenses related to the adoption of a child, as contained in private member's Bill C-246.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

April 20th, 2004 / 3:15 p.m.
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The Speaker

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-246 under private members' business.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

April 20th, 2004 / 10:10 a.m.
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Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger LiberalDeputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, discussions have taken place between all the parties and I believe that if you were to seek it you would find consent for the following motion:

That the recorded divisions scheduled today at 3:00 p.m. be taken in the following order: first, referral to committee before second reading of Bill C-25; second, the amendment to second reading of Bill C-30, and third, second reading of Bill C-246.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

April 2nd, 2004 / 1 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin my five minute wrap-up by thanking my hon. colleagues who rose today and those who rose on February 19 during the first hour of debate on Bill C-246.

I would particularly like to express my appreciation and the appreciation of adoptive parents from across Canada to my Conservative colleagues and the members of the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Québécois. Their support for this legislation indicates that they recognize the contribution that adoptive parents make to society as a whole, as well as the financial obstacles they face in building their families.

Many of the members who rose today did an admirable job of presenting some of the same arguments in support of a federal tax deduction for expenses relating to the adoption of a child that I myself have argued for many times in the past. It is unfortunate that the government appears poised to continue to deny this recognition and fairness to adoptive parents.

During the first hour of debate on Bill C-246 last month, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance stated that his government could not support this legislation because “the Government of Canada should not be in the business of making distinctions among families and the choices that they make”. He also stated that taxpayers should not be subsidizing what at times could be “discretionary expenses”.

I would like to point out that it is the government itself that has already established different classes of families. Bill C-246 would correct the inequity that sees adoptive parents face significant financial obstacles in starting and building their families.

The parliamentary secretary said it himself, “A child is a child is a child”. Because the federal government does not do anything to mitigate the financial burden of adoptive parents or anything to encourage adoption, it has established a separate costly class of adoptive families. It is as though the Liberal government is simply telling Canadians to accept that an adoptive child is an expensive child.

As I have said many times before, most adoptive parents willingly accept the financial implications of adopting a child. They believe the love and emotional rewards they receive in return cannot be given a price tag.

There was a very timely article, as was referred to earlier, on the front page of today's Ottawa Citizen , which detailed how the Ontario government is endeavouring to find ways to encourage more adoption. There are about 8,900 children who are wards of the crown and are awaiting adoption in Ontario alone. If the federal government were to provide a tax deduction for the thousands of dollars required to adopt a child, I believe many more Canadian parents would consider adoption.

I would like to express my frustration that this legislation has come this far, its second hour of debate, only to face almost certain death. Even if sufficient Liberal MPs rightfully ignore their government's ridiculous argument against this legislation and vote to allow it to proceed to committee for review, it is likely that an expected election call will kill Bill C-246 in its tracks. That is very frustrating for me and it is very frustrating for adoptive parents all across this country.

However, I will close by stating that I intend to win my seat once again in the upcoming election and I intend to reintroduce this bill in the next Parliament. This legislation to enact a tax deduction for adoption expenses will not go away no matter how much the Liberals would like it to.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

April 2nd, 2004 / 12:45 p.m.
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NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak in favour of Bill C-246. I think a previous representative of the NDP, the member for Windsor—St. Clair, also expressed his support. He is a lawyer who practised family law for a great number of years and added some interesting insights to the bill. He certainly raised it with our caucus which agreed that this type of gesture or tax relief, to acknowledge the costs that adoptive parents face, should be recognized in our tax system.

For one simple reason, it is an equality issue in a sense because those parents who have children biologically, obviously many of their costs are picked up and subsidized by Canadian taxpayers through our medical system and through the social services that we provide for parents through hospitals. The many substantial costs incurred by parents who are adopting are not recognized in the same way. We want to treat adoptive parents with the same recognition and appreciation as we support parents who have their children biologically.

It is only common sense that we should also recognize that many of those who do adopt, and who want children, have already spent a great deal of money in attempts to have children biologically through medical interventions et cetera. It can add up to a great cost.

By the time adoptive parents actually do take the final step and adopt, in all likelihood it has been a great cash outlay even by the time they reach that point.

It is worth noting that this tax relief would not only be for parents who were adopting babies, it would also extend to families who were adopting family members, for example, nieces, nephews or children of friends who may have died in a tragedy and who need a family unit to attach to.

There was a recent case of an earthquake in Egypt where constituents of my colleague from Windsor—St. Clair became involved. The earthquake in Egypt killed both parents leaving three children in the family who were in their mid-teens, in late adolescence. The Canadian relatives took measures to provide a home for the orphaned older children.

One can imagine the costs associated with all of that. The financial burden for this Canadian family of goodwill, to open their home to these orphaned children as a result of that tragic event in another country, is clearly something that most Canadians would be willing to recognize and accommodate by providing some tax relief. As these families reach out in often traumatic situations, this is something that society should recognize and applaud.

Adoption is expensive. I will not draw this out by repeating the member who just spoke. It is expensive enough to adopt a child domestically within Canada but there is also overseas adoption. All of us as members of Parliament have probably tried to intervene on behalf of parents who were seeking to adopt children overseas. China is a common source. There are horrendous costs. We are talking sometimes $30,000 and $40,000 by the time the child is brought to Canada and becomes a member of the family. If we assist families with those horrendous costs, I think it is incumbent upon us to do so.

I, too, compliment the member from Prince George for a very worthy piece of legislation and for doing something that would be of benefit to the constituents who I represent, and to all Canadians. It is a fitting way to end the week on such a positive note. My compliments to the member and he has the enthusiastic support of the members of our caucus.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

April 2nd, 2004 / 12:45 p.m.
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Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am certainly pleased to participate in the debate today.

I am surprised at how much response I have had in my own riding in support of Bill C-246. Twenty-three constituents have contacted me directly in the last few weeks. It is obviously a very worthy bill and I will be supporting it. I compliment the member for Prince George—Peace River for bringing the bill forward.

In my discussions with the people who have called me, I have been amazed to learn how much it costs to go through the adoption process, the difficulties one encounters and the endurance one needs to complete the adoption process. An adoption within the country could cost between $10,000 and $15,000. Internationally it could cost $20,000 to $30,000 or more.

It is not only the legal fees, the psychological studies and the travel that is involved, but it is the work that people have to go through. There is also the dedication and the time away from work. As one person said to me, it was a true test of endurance to go through the process. Certainly the parents are well rewarded.

It is an entirely legitimate request to have this deduction allowed. I will certainly be supporting the bill. I hope my party and all members will support Bill C-246.

This morning I called the parents of an adopted child before making these remarks. I talked with Roy Berliner from Truro. He and his wife Cathy have adopted two Chinese babies, Jasmine and Sascha. He described the problems and the challenges they went through in the adoption process. It was incredible. It cost an incredible amount of money. It is an incredible sacrifice of time and effort. However, they are so gratified with the outcome of having these two wonderful little girls with them now that it has made it all worthwhile. Still the tax deduction could help.

Mr. Berliner was wondering if the deduction could be retroactive. Hopefully we will get it through for the future, but it would be difficult to make it retroactive.

Mr. and Mrs. Berliner adopted Jasmine and Sascha, one in 2000 and one in 2003. The process is that people first apply, then go through a home study to be certified as qualified parents. Then they have to obtain an order for permission from the province of Nova Scotia. They had to contact a facilitator in China and travel back and forth. There is documentation, translation, filing fees at the China desk and in Canada. Finally, after all this process, there is a proposal that comes forth and then they actually start the application to bring the babies back to Canada.

The process is extremely expensive. It is extremely time consuming. The process requires a great deal of dedication on behalf of the prospective parents.

I understand there are 400 children in Nova Scotia from China. That number surprised me, but that is the number that I understand are currently residing in Nova Scotia.

On behalf of the Berliners and all of my constituents who have gone through the adoption process and all of the future parents that will go through the adoption process, I encourage all members to vote for the bill. Let us bring this very reasonable tax deduction into force.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

April 2nd, 2004 / 12:35 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Canadian Alliance Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is good to be able to speak to Bill C-246 today. This could be the last hour of sitting of the House in this Parliament if some of the rumours we have heard are true, and I think this legislation is a pretty good way to finish it off, because the member for Prince George--Peace River has brought forward a critical issue that I think should be addressed.

Hopefully this issue will get to the point where it can have a real public hearing and eventually get support from the government and from all members of the House.

As members of Parliament we sometimes get involved with people who are going through adoption issues, particularly people who are trying to bring in children from other countries. A recent case in my riding involved a family that was ready to bring over a young child from Haiti. When all the trouble happened in Haiti, all of the plans went sideways. The family members were absolutely devastated to think that all their plans might go astray. We worked with them to try to solve the problem.

I know of other situations, one in my own family. My wife is adopted. She was adopted by a wonderful, loving family and it is still that way. For a baby to have the opportunity of being taken into a loving family is a great thing and I think it would be wise for any government to facilitate that process as much as it can.

If it is an issue of expense that is stopping families from seeking out the adoption route to find a child to bring into their home to raise as their own, then that issue should be addressed. That is what the member is trying to do with his bill. He wants to make sure that this problem, this one issue, is dealt with.

I know of other young people who for years have been applying to adopt. It is not the financial aspect that has stopped them, and it is heartbreaking. They are willing, they are looking for a child in their lives, and they have the ability, the means, and the love to raise a child in their home, but either they cannot get the process started or they cannot get through it. I know that for some it takes many years. It truly is a blessing when it does finally happen.

The issue here is that here are at least 20,000 young children in Canada who are under the care of the government. That says something in itself. I would bet there are that many families in this country that would willingly adopt those young people, take them into their homes and give them a good start in life.

Two thousand adoptions take place in Canada annually, yet there are 20,000 children under the care of the government. When we see those kinds of numbers we have to realize that we should be moving toward bringing in legislation or regulations that would allow for the smooth transition of those children into these families.

The issue of expense is another matter. The expenses involved to deal with adoption are about $9,000 or $10,000, which is a substantial amount of money. For many families that would be prohibitive and would stop them from moving forward. However, if there were a section in the tax laws of this country that would allow a tax rebate or a tax deduction for that expense, it would help, just to add to the mix of things we need to do to make adoption happen on a more regular basis. Certainly we have to be very careful that the families chosen for young people to go into are the types of families that will raise them in the proper manner. In the vast majority, that is the case.

Even here in Canada, in the Province of Quebec, there is a law like the one the member is proposing. People are allowed to deduct a maximum of $6,000. In the United States, the deduction is $10,000. So we have right here in Canada one province that recognizes the need and the value of this type of situation. Our neighbours to the south have also taken that step. They will help facilitate families coming together. They will facilitate families having the option of choosing a child they want to bring into their families and make it as easy as possible.

I think this is timely. Hopefully the bill can go forward at some time. I know that the member for Prince George--Peace River has been working on this for an extremely long time. When I looked back at one of his private member's bills that he brought forward on another issue, I noted that it did very well once it got to the House and proceeded through the system.

Many times we feel that the hard work we put into these bills it is not worth it, but it is, not only because it could effect change in the end but also because it brings an issue to the floor of the House. Canadians can sit in on the debate and hear the different sides of the debate in the House. I am not sure that we are going to get it today; I think the debate is all going to come from one side of the House, but that is fine. The government will have to respond at some point. Members will have to vote on whether they think this is a good idea or not.

As we look at the whole issue of adoption, there is another statistic. There are 2,000 children adopted from outside the country and brought into Canada. We see some of the horrific pictures of what is going on in different parts of the world and the children always seem to be the ones who are hurt. There are orphans all around the world who need help.

Anything that would allow families to work faster to bring some of these children to Canada and raise them as their own and give them the opportunities, privileges and responsibilities that we as Canadians have is an avenue that we should explore at all costs.

I am completely in favour of the member's initiative. I know from experience about some of the emotion and stress that go along with seeking to adopt, with being accepted in a tentative manner, with families, husbands and wives who visit children and then are rejected for some reason. It is an absolutely heart-wrenching emotional experience. It tears at people when they so badly want a child, cannot have one of their own for whatever reason, and are stopped for various reasons or various blocks get in their way.

I fully support what the member is doing. I know that it perhaps does not fit tight with our party's tax plan, because our party still firmly believes in broad based relief for all families, which would give them options for many things in their lives, for how to spend their money and how to raise their children, but I think this initiative is worthy of our consideration. It is certainly worthy of the support of the government. From what I understood in debate earlier, it does not look like that going to happen and I hope Canadians are watching.

For Canadians who have been involved in adoption issues and have not been able to fulfill their dreams of adopting a child, and if for any reason finances were the problem, they should phone their member of Parliament and phone the government to let them know that they support this initiative and they want members to vote for it.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

February 19th, 2004 / 6 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Charlie Penson Canadian Alliance Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to rise on Bill C-246, proposed by my colleague from my part of the world, the hon. member for Prince George--Peace River.

I certainly share his sentiment. He wants a tax policy that would help Canadian families adopt children and which would recognize some of the big expenses incurred.

I come from a family of 12 children. We get together quite often. Every five years we have a huge reunion of several hundred people. It is a great time. My wife and I have four children and nine grandchildren. We have family events which we enjoy. In fact we were skiing last weekend at our little cabin. Something like 30 people were there and it was wonderful.

Some people cannot have a family because they have difficulty conceiving. The extra expenses involved in adopting children should be recognized. We want people to share the same joy in having a family that the rest of us do.

Many people adopt children even if they have their own. People do it for all kinds of reasons, for example, to help a child from a third world country who would not have the opportunity that the child would have here in Canada. I know couples who have gone to Russia and Kazakhstan to do exactly that and have incurred significant expenses.

We have to recognize that we want to share the joy of families with other members of society who are unable to have children. Because of the huge expenses involved in adoption, the bill put forward by my colleague today is an excellent piece of legislation. It recognizes that the family is the cornerstone of society, whether the children have come into the family through adoption or real birth. We need to encourage people to have children and to adopt them if necessary.

Canada's demographics are changing, which is something that no one has talked about yet. With our aging population, 20 years from now there will be a huge problem. There will not be very many people to pay the bills. A lot of people will be retired. People are living longer and the birth rate is continuing to decline. The replacement for a couple right now is 1.2.

If it were not for immigration right now, Canada would be sliding backward. Unfortunately it will only get worse according to the projections for the next 20 years. Immigration will play a bigger part, which we welcome, but we will be competing for immigration. In western Europe the birth rate is even lower than it is in Canada. Countries there will be competing as well.

Why would we want restrictive policies that would discourage people from adopting, especially adopting outside the country where the expenses are the highest? I simply do not see it.

The parliamentary secretary said that we should not discriminate but in fact we discriminate already. The government's policies on taxation for families does exactly that. Single income families have an advantage over dual income families. In many cases one parent would like to stay at home and raise the children but the family may not have that option because both parents need to work. However, if two people are working in the family, they pay higher taxes than a single income earner. That should be corrected. It is a serious error which discourages families.

I am very much in support of my hon. friend's bill. He is suggesting that we recognize this important principle in law and give fair tax treatment to what people can write off for these adoption costs.

I know of one family where the parents have one child of their own and they recently adopted a child in Ukraine. They had to make a couple of trips to Ukraine. They had to stay there for quite a while as things do not work quite the same way that they do in Canada where procedures can be followed very carefully. When they went to Ukraine, they found that a lot of what they thought was in place in terms of rules and regulations were off the rails, so they had to start all over again. They had to incur extra expenses. The expenses can easily be in the $40,000 to $50,000 range. It finally resulted in their getting clearance to bring their daughter home.

Their daughter is a wonderful little child. She has been given an opportunity that she certainly would not have had otherwise. Some of the orphanages in the eastern bloc countries are in a deplorable condition. It has taken this poor little girl quite a while to adjust. I can just imagine what she went through in her life until she was two years old. Whether it will be a proven impact or not, I do not know, but I do know that she has loving parents who want her. They are giving her an opportunity that she probably would not have had otherwise.

My colleague also talked about foster parents and the fact that there are a lot of children that do not get the opportunity to be adopted even here in Canada. I think he talked about 20,000 people or so that go through the foster parent system. I have a serious problem with that in that if there are people who would like to adopt those children but feel that they cannot because of the economics of it, the deduction would really help. Again it would provide a badly needed opportunity to children in the foster care system.

In many cases the children that go through foster parent homes end up in institutions like our jails. It is really sad. They feel unwanted and that becomes part of the reason that they rebel. I suggest there are a lot higher costs involved with that result than there would be with the $7,000 deduction my friend is talking about in order to write off adoption expenses.

Let us adopt a family friendly policy. After all, the family is the cornerstone of our society.

My sister and her husband adopted a child many years ago and that child now has children of his own. They celebrate together. They are all one family. I know the rewards that they have reaped. My sister and her husband had three children afterward, but I have seen the rewards that they have reaped from having adopted their child.

The children are all the same. In fact, my children went to the same high school as my sister's and her husband's children, but they had not gone to the same school before that. We were in a parent-teacher interview one day when our oldest child was in high school and one of the teachers said, “Can I ever see that your daughter is Stephen's cousin. They are exactly the same”. This was the adopted son of my sister.

Maybe it does work out that we become what our families are in mannerisms and many other ways, but that is the kind of fit we see in families with adopted children. In many cases they fit in perfectly and are wanted. This makes perfect sense.

The government and the parliamentary secretary talk about the need to make sure that we do not discriminate. We could start, as my colleague from Prince George—Peace River said, with this family friendly policy and see where it leads from there. I suggest that it also needs to pertain to the dual income family versus the single income family. That would be a big help as well. There are policies that are needed. Let us start with this one and see where it goes.

I am in full support of Bill C-246 and I hope it comes to fruition.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

February 19th, 2004 / 5:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-246. It takes me back to my earlier period as a lawyer when I practised family law almost exclusively and handled a fair number of private adoptions during that period of time.

The NDP supports the bill that has been put forward. It is a further attempt by this legislature to acknowledge the role that adoption plays in Canada.

Adoption is a relatively new phenomena in the last 40 to 50 years. It is interesting to note when we look at the opinion polls that adoption has become highly accepted and has moved up toward the 80 percentile. We would not have found that 50 years ago. Adoption has become an accepted form of developing families in Canadian society.

Bill C-246 attempts to treat, in a tax advantage aspect, biological parents and adoptive parents in an equal fashion. It would recognize that there are different expenses and that society should subsidize those expenses, depending on how a child is brought into the family, whether biologically or by adoption. We provide medical benefits for mothers who are pregnant and we do not expect them to pay for those medicare services. Society subsidizes that family. Bill C-246 would do the same thing for adoptive parents.

I heard the comment from one of our Liberal colleagues about the number of adoptive parents who are adopting babies as opposed to adopting older children. They cannot have children biologically, but may have gone through great expense in their attempts to have biological children. They have already incurred a substantial amount of expense. The bill would assist them to start a family by providing them with some tax relief.

It is worth nothing that this tax relief is not only for those parents who are adopting babies. It would also extend to parents who are adopting family members such as nephews and nieces or maybe children of close friends who have died in some tragedy.

I am thinking of a case that came through my office recently involving friends of mine. There was an earthquake in Egypt and both parents were killed. There were three children in the family who were in their mid and late adolescence. The children happened to be visiting their grandmother in Egypt that day. Both parents were in the house when it collapsed. The grandmother was not capable of taking care of the children. The remaining family members living in Canada who were Canadian citizens were kind enough and responsible enough to take on that responsibility. However, this was a financial burden for them. They had three children of their own and instantly doubled their family in a very traumatic.

The type of tax relief provided in Bill C-246 would have certainly helped this family. It would not have resolved all of their financial difficulties, but it would have helped. I can repeat these kinds of stories.

These families reached out, oftentimes in a traumatic situation, and took on additional responsibility. That is something society should applaud. We should see what we can do to help them. This bill would go some distance to accomplishing that assistance.

I want to make another point. Speaking from my own experience, I can attest to how expensive adoption is, whether it is done inside Canada or outside Canada. I know how much the legal fees are; I know how much the legal process costs. I know what the home studies cost. Psychologists or social workers are brought in to assess the family in a home situation to determine whether it would be appropriate for the family to adopt a child. All of that costs money.

In addition, if the child is being adopted from outside the country, the adoptive parents will have expenses in the other country. Oftentimes they have very substantial travel and accommodation expenses when they move into the other country to pick up the child and bring the child back to Canada.

The $7,000 deduction proposed under Bill C-246 is a very modest amount compared to what it costs most families, particularly for adoptions that take place outside Canada, especially overseas. The $7,000 is a very small proportion, and is probably in the range of 25% to 35% of what it would actually cost a family to adopt a child.

I congratulate the member from the Conservative Party who has brought the bill forward at this time. It has been brought forward on other occasions and the legislature has not seen fit to adopt it into law. We hope we will see a different pattern as a result of his ongoing encouragement to the legislature to pass it into law.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

February 19th, 2004 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Scarborough East Ontario

Liberal

John McKay LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the hon. member for his efforts in presenting Bill C-246. It puts us all in a bit of a conflict as a result of a natural response to this deduction. What the bill actually asks for is $7,000 for child adoption expenses.

I must confess to a personal conflict here. I am the father of five children. My oldest child is adopted. I have two stepchildren and two children by other means shall we say. I am kind of the quintessential Canadian family of hers, mine and ours. This goes in part to my argument here. I am not sure how I would preference one child over the other.

Clearly, the day that my wife and I adopted our oldest son, who is now 23, when he was three or four days old, was easily one of the high days of my life. I am extraordinarily proud of him. In fact, he was here with me on break week. He is a student at the University of Toronto and this is study week. I cannot imagine loving him more. I am extraordinarily proud of my adopted son.

However I do have some difficulties with the bill. I want to share those difficulties with members and open up the debate a little bit more.

I want to commend adoptive parents generally for their willingness to take children in and raise them as their own. It is truly an extraordinary experience. I would heartily recommend it to people who are thinking along those lines. However I also know there is travail and there are expenses associated with adoption.

I am absolutely convinced of the hon. member's best intentions in bringing the bill forward but I think I have the unhappy task of raising some of the concerns that would normally arise when we are considering a proposal such as this, which is $7,000 for expenses specifically related to adoption.

I know members will recall the happy day on which the House passed the Canada child tax benefit, which was a landmark bill for Canadian families. It was one of the first post-deficit initiatives of the government and one that has almost taken on a life of its own. At this point, 3.2 million families benefit from the program, representing something in the order of about 5.7 million children, which, by anyone's standards, is a significant number of people affected by the initiative of the House and the government.

Initially it started out as a $9 billion program and then, with the enhancements in the last budget of about $150 per child starting in July 2003 and further increases in July 2005 and 2006, the government will have enriched the program to the tune of almost an additional billion dollars by 2007.

Members will also recall that these changes, along with the five year tax reduction plan, effectively mean that there will be an annual benefit for the first child in July 2004 of $2,719, and is projected to reach $3,243 by 2007. Again, that is a substantial benefit to Canadian families. I would emphasize the point that it is all Canadian families, whether their children arrive by means of adoption, by birth or simply arrive in the home by other means.

To be sure, total support for families will have more than doubled between 1996 and 2007. As I said earlier, this program is projected to reach $10 billion.

I know hon. members will appreciate that educating children is extraordinarily expensive these days. I have one child at the University of Toronto studying philosophy and physics and I have another child at the University of Windsor studying arts. I am anticipating another child will be going to a private school. I have more than a personal experience with trying to find post-tax dollars for the expenses that are involved in raising children.

I take advantage of the registered education savings plan, and I encourage others to do so. I suggest to those who are listening to look that up on the website. It is a pretty significant initiative on the part of the government.

I will now turn to Bill C-246. The problem with C-246 is that it kind of runs into a public policy wall of the government trying to not make preferences among classes of families.

As I indicated, I appreciate that there are various personal expenses incurred when one adopts. I have incurred those expenses myself. There are fees for agencies, sometimes for lawyers, travel expenses, home visits, et cetera. All of those are significant expenses. Equally though, a family that births a child has a unique set of expenses as well, not necessarily shared by an adoptive family. Again, I have been on that side of the equation.

It would not be fair to ask taxpayers at large to pay for the tax relief for a specific set of personal expenses of others. The Government of Canada should not be in the business of making distinctions among families and the choices that they make. A child is a child is a child.

At issue here is that some adoption expenses are in fact discretionary expenses, just as other child expenses are discretionary. If the bill were to go through, an adoptive parent would have possible discretionary expenses that would not necessarily be available to parents who acquire their children by means other than adoption.

It is true that adoptive parents do sometimes incur significant costs. I have heard the stories, much like the hon. member opposite, of trips to China and various other places, which are particularly expensive, but so also do other parents incur significant costs. The example of in vitro fertilization was raised and we do recognize a particular medical expense for that procedure. There are other examples of expenses in reproductive technologies that, frankly, are not recognized. Again, how does the Government of Canada preference one family over another?

Quite simply, some adoptions are quite expensive while others are not. Similarly, some family pregnancies are quite expensive while others are not. The Government of Canada, again, should not be in the business of giving preference to one family over another.

Indeed, other children arrive in families by various means, whether they are adopted or they are birthed, and they become children in the family, yet their expenses are not necessarily recognized. It follows then that we should not expect or ask Canadians to finance these types of personal and discretionary expenses through their tax dollars.

It is virtually impossible to separate discretionary and non-discretionary elements of the costs associated with raising children. There is also considerable variation in the amount that different families devote to their children, even at similar income levels.

In consideration of these variations and the amounts devoted to children, support for children is generally provided as a pre-determined benefit. In other words, the way the Government of Canada approaches children, generally, is that a child is a child is a child, a family is a family is a family, and the Canadian child tax benefit is available to all. Therefore, whether it is at the $2,000 level or the $3,000 level, it is available to all, but we do not, as a matter of policy, make distinctions whether a child is adopted or whether a child is acquired by other means.

The government recognizes that parents should receive financial assistance to help ensure that their needs are met. I believe and I hope I have at least demonstrated that the government places a high priority on investing in children. However it would not be appropriate to ask taxpayers at large to subsidize adoption expenses through the tax system in preference to others.

Regrettably, I must urge hon. members not to support this initiative. Nevertheless, I want to commend the hon. member for bringing forward this bill because it does face us squarely with some difficulties that are in the system.

However, as I said, a child is a child is a child. From the government's standpoint, we must treat all families equally.