Supporting New Parents Act

An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (parenting tax credit)

Sponsor

Andrew Scheer  Conservative

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

Status

Defeated, as of June 6, 2018

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-394.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Income Tax Act to establish a tax credit with respect to maternal and parental benefits.

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.

Votes

June 6, 2018 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-394, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (parenting tax credit)

Supporting New Parents ActPrivate Members' Business

June 5th, 2018 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise again today to discuss Bill C-394, the Supporting New Parents Act, brought forward by our leader. I do know one thing to be true. I mentioned this before and it bears repeating, as I continue my final seven minutes to discuss this piece of legislation. As I mentioned, I am a mother myself. I am very proud to be a mother. When we were discussing this piece of legislation before, one theme was just how incredibly expensive it is to welcome a child into the world.

It is a wonderful thing being a mother. It is the most marvellous thing, and among the most, if not the most satisfying thing I have ever experienced. However, there is certainly a cost to becoming a new parent, without question.

I think all of the speakers previously agreed that welcoming a child into the world is very much an expensive proposition. However, I will say this: Babies are expensive but the government is more expensive. That is why we need to consider the different costs associated with babies to start. When people have a child, they prepare, and purchase the things that are necessary. There is an endless list, such a stroller, the car seat, the crib, and the high chair. I recall my colleague previously doing a calculation for things like diapers and formula. Really, the costs are absolutely astounding.

Of course, as a responsible Conservative, I also considered the other financial implications. I know that my husband and I considered additional life insurance for my family. We took the time to have a will made, because it was something very important to us now that we had a future stake in the world. As well, we were very fortunate to begin an RESP contribution for our son.

Despite the the costs, it is a great joy for new parents to spend time with their child. I am sure that many, if not all, parents would say that it is probably the greatest joy of all. I was very fortunate when I had my son. I was, at that time, the deputy consul general in Dallas, Texas. Therefore, just like many Canadian women, I had a good job and a solid career. I had my child and was able to re-enter the workforce somewhat quickly. This has been done before. It will be done again in the future. It is something that mothers do all the time.

However, I was especially fortunate because my husband at the time was able to take two years from his career to care for our son. In fact, he credits this experience with the position he has today, in that his skills as a parent were recognized by his present employer. Therefore, this bill allows parents to spend more time with their children, which is something very important.

In addition, I mentioned before that we were able to have not only a happy child, but a healthy child. This is, indeed, not something that every family has the blessing of. I mentioned someone who is very close to me who had a child with hemolytic uremic syndrome, which resulted in many hours in the hospital. This experience with this child of theirs, this sick child, was certainly a testament to their strength and their will, and something that I cannot possibly imagine. However, the point is that this bill would, in fact, ease the burden of a family from a tragedy or something like that. It would allow them to be a greater ease in regard to their finances as they deal with their sick child.

In addition to the goodwill that is required to take care of a child, I just want to take a minute to discuss how the government talks about supporting and sticking up for the middle class. Supporting this bill was actually mentioned at the status of women committee, the very committee on which I sit, yet a recommendation in support of this bill was not included in a recent study of theirs. That is shameful. To me, it just shows spite on the government's part, that it is not willing to even consider a piece of legislation, even if it would be helpful to parents and to all Canadians.

Let us take a look at what has been destroyed by the government since it took office in regard to children.

First is the universal child care benefit. Every Canadian parent benefited from this and looked forward to receiving it every month. I know that $160 a month for my son certainly made a difference in my family budget.

Second is the children's fitness tax credit. My little guy plays hockey and that is not an inexpensive undertaking. All Canadian parents can certainly benefit from such a tax credit. It is a shame the Liberal government disposed of it.

As I said, babies are expensive, but the Liberal government is more expensive.

My son would never think about being the owner of a $4.5 billion pipeline, something I did not account for when I created my will. I am not sure if my son has any expectation of is ahead for him with respect to the carbon tax and its cost for my family as well as for future generations.

Babies are expensive, but the Liberal government is more expensive.

What concerns me the most for my son is the generational debt. This is the reason we should support the bill. It is about easing the financial burden on families. There is a deficit this year of $18 billion, a total debt of $669 billion. I daresay my son will be 32 years old when this debt is scheduled to be paid off.

Babies are expensive; the Liberal government is more expensive.

Supporting New Parents ActPrivate Members' Business

June 5th, 2018 / 5:35 p.m.
See context

Louis-Hébert Québec

Liberal

Joël Lightbound LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Madam Speaker, the member said that her son played hockey, which is not inexpensive, and that she benefited from the tax credit. As a kid, I did not play hockey because it was too expensive and my mother's revenue did not qualify for a non-refundable tax credit.

That is the difference in approach between the previous government and our government. The Conservative government focused on boutique tax credits that would help some but not all and often not those who needed it the most, like my mother when she was raising me. That is the starting point where there is a difference in approach between the Conservatives and our party and our government.

It is with pleasure that I rise in this debate to speak to Bill C-394, which will amend the Income Tax Act by providing a non-refundable tax credit of 15% on income earned from the employment insurance maternity and parental benefits program. The proposed amendments would also make it possible to carry forward the credit or any unused part of the credit for a period of one year, and to claim it in the following taxation year.

We understand the good intentions behind this bill and share most if its values. However, Canadians must be able to count on a government that will help create good, well-paid jobs that support a strong economy and that offer families opportunities to prosper. It is important to note that Bill C-394 misses the mark in that regard.

The proposed tax credit is not an effective means of achieving the objective set out in the bill, which is to offer help to all parents who take leave to care for a newborn or adopted child. That is one of my many concerns regarding this proposal.

We believe in supporting parents who need help with the high cost of raising kids, and helping kids have the best start in life. The member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, through his PMB, wants to continue the Harper practice of boutique tax credits that benefit some but not all, while we are helping everyone by providing more to the middle class and to those who need it most. In fact, under Bill C-394, the following groups would not even qualify for the non-refundable tax credit: almost all of those who are self-employed; those who do not pay federal personal income tax; those who do not qualify for EI maternity or parental benefits. Our approach, however, puts more money every month directly into the pockets of nine out of 10 Canadian families, helping lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty.

Even the Parliamentary Budget Officer has voiced some reservations, mentioning that given the tax credit is non-refundable, not all families would have sufficient income to claim their total eligible amount in 2018-19. The PBO also estimates that this tax credit would result in forgone revenues of $607 million in 2018-19 and a future fiscal liability of $261 million that could be claimed in future years.

On this side of the House, we have taken action to strengthen the EI system to better support new parents. Mothers can now access maternity benefits up to 12 weeks prior to their expected due date. In addition, parents can now choose to receive parental benefits over a longer period at a lower benefit rate.

In budget 2018, we have also announced a new employment insurance parental sharing benefit that would give greater flexibility to parents by providing an additional five weeks of EI parental benefits when both parents agree to share parental leave. Taken together with our government's investments in early learning and child care, we have a plan that is working for Canadian families.

Here is another concern I would like to highlight.

It is best to amend the Income Tax Act as part of the budget process. Doing so enables the government to consider all the options, to balance priorities, and to make new fiscal commitments, but only if they are affordable. This means we can continue to offer the programs and services Canadians need while keeping taxes low for middle-class families.

That goal is especially relevant in the case of Bill C-394, which could be a $1-billion line item according to the Department of Finance. That cost will probably go up, plus the tax credit is for just one aspect of the employment insurance benefit system.

Bill C-394 has many more shortcomings that could result in much more paperwork and compliance issues. For example, unless the provinces choose to bring in parallel measures, all income earned in a given province will still be taxed on those amounts.

Once again, we see a major flaw in this bill. Although it aims to help parents who receive EI parental or maternity benefits, it offers nothing to parents who do not receive such benefits when they take leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child. Self-employed workers, people with no insurable earnings and people whose income is too low to be taxable would receive no tax relief under the proposed credit.

The government does not believe that Canadian families would be well-served by a wide range of highly targeted tax credits that benefit certain people, but that do nothing for those who may be most in need. That is why, over the last few years, we have eliminated poorly targeted and ineffective tax expenditures. The proposed parental tax credit falls squarely into that category.

The government wants to ensure that the federal tax system and the benefits that are part of it are fair and effective, and that the system works for all Canadians, but that is not the case with the proposal before us.

The government has implemented a plan that helps the most people through, among other things, the Canada child benefit and the strengthening of the EI system to better support new parents.

Since 2016, Canadian families have received additional support through the Canada child benefit. Not only has that benefited Canadian families, but it has also lifted hundreds of thousands of Canadian children out of poverty by giving more money each month to low- or moderate-income parents to help them cover the high costs of educating children.

As well, the Canada child benefit is entirely tax-free, unlike the former child benefit system. The Canada child benefit is also simpler, more generous, better targeted and gives more help to the people who need it the most.

Approximately 3.3 million families with children receive more than $23 billion per year under the Canada child benefit. Approximately 54% of families who receive the maximum benefit amount are single-parent families and, in 90% of cases, are single mothers.

For example, a single mom of two children aged five and eight with a net income of $35,000 in 2016 will have received $11,125 in tax-free Canada child benefit payments in the 2017-18 benefit year. That is $3,500 more than she would have received under the previous child benefit system. That is important to mention. That amount makes a big difference in the lives of many families, single-parent and others, across the country, which the measure proposed today does not do.

Under the bill accompanying budget 2018, our government is strengthening the Canada child benefit by indexing the benefits each year to follow the increase in the cost of living, as of July 2018, two years earlier than planned.

The Canada child benefit helps families invest in the things that give kids a good start in life, like a safe living environment, healthy food, music lessons or sports camps. As well, to support greater gender equality at home and in the workplace, budget 2018 proposes to create a new employment insurance parental sharing benefit. Such a measure has been in place for years in Quebec and has had very conclusive results: 83% of fathers take parental leave. That benefit will result in additional take-it-or-leave-it weeks of EI parental benefits when both parents agree to share parental leave. This measure should be in place by June 2019.

At a time when Canada has a strong and growing economy, the government is making smart and necessary investments to ensure that the middle class, including all parents, continues to benefit from that growth. We want growth and prosperity to be inclusive.

The Canadian economy has been booming for two years. Canada has the strongest growth in the G7, 600,000 jobs have been created and the unemployment rate is at its lowest in 40 years. It is important for that prosperity and that growth to benefit the most people and for the social elevator to work in Canada.

Supporting New Parents ActPrivate Members' Business

June 5th, 2018 / 5:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Madame Speaker, we are dealing with a very important issue raised by the leader of the official opposition in his bill, the issue of parental benefits. However, the tool that he proposes is not at all adequate.

The main problem is not the refund of costs through a tax credit, but the issue of access to those benefits. This issue not only affects Canada, but also other countries.

Parental leave is the result of a long fight that began in the early 20th century. One of the first protections voted by the International Labour Organization in 1919 was the Maternity Protection Convention.

That standard was revised in 1952, providing for a minimum of 12 weeks, while recommending that the length be extended to 14 weeks. In 1998, 120 countries granted maternity leave. In under 20 years, such leave has been extended to fathers and same-sex partners. If we look south of the border, the United States does not offer parental leave, which forces many young families to make enormous sacrifices. They choose to return to work just a few days after the birth or adoption of their child because they do not have the means to pay for leave. That is a model that we should stay as far away from as possible. I am proud to be in a country, or in a province, actually, that offers parental leave.

If, in the United States, only rich families can afford to have one parent stay at home to take care of their baby, in Canada we also have a corresponding problem: accessibility. The main problem with parental leave benefits is that they are difficult to access. The priority if we want to fix the parental leave system should be to improve accessibility by lowering the minimum number of hours parents need to work to qualify for benefits.

This becomes clear when we compare the ratio of people in Quebec and in Canada who have access to parental leave benefits. In Quebec, 84% of new mothers benefit from parental leave. In Canada, that number is only 64%. One-third of Canadian women cannot access parental leave. That is why making the system more inclusive should be a priority.

In every province and territory, including Quebec until 2006, parents must accumulate 600 hours of paid work, regardless of what their salary is, to qualify for paid leave to take care of their child. These benefits are paid monthly and cover 55% of the salary.

Think of how that compares with Quebec, where any parent who earns $2,000 or more qualifies for paid leave. If a man or woman earns minimum wage, he or she is eligible for parental leave after 178 hours of work. In other words, Quebec requires less than one-third of the hours required in the rest of Canada. In Quebec, parental benefits make the lives of parents a little bit easier financially speaking, since they can count on monthly payments of between 55% and 75% of their income, depending on the number of weeks requested, with the maximum insurable earnings being $74,000.

As my colleagues have already said, unfortunately, this bill will help the members of our society who need it least. The tax credit will help those in the upper tax brackets and high-income earners, while low-income parents who have difficulty making ends meet will not stand to benefit hardly at all.

The provincial law helps less fortunate families and the effect is noticeable, since there is a considerable gap between Quebec and the other provinces when it comes to the use of parental leave.

Let us look at the case of mothers with a total household income of less than $30,000. A lot more of them take paid leave in Quebec than in the other provinces and territories.

Based on the 2013 data, researchers Sophie Mathieu, Lindsey McKay, and Andrea Doucet found that 85% of low-income women in Quebec had access to paid maternity leave compared to 44% of women in the rest of Canada.

The riding of Salaberry—Suroît, which I proudly represent, is poorer than the Canadian average. The average household employment income in my riding is $35,000 compared to the Canadian average of $46,000. If we look at women's income alone, 57% of women live on less than $30,000 a year. I do not think that my riding is unique in this regard. What good is a tax credit when you earn less than $30,000?

Many of these women, whether they live in Beauharnois or the Prairies, do not earn enough money to benefit from the Conservatives' proposed tax credit.

I will wrap up this point by sharing another quote from those researchers in Le Devoir, to show, once again, that the Conservatives should have used the Quebec method as a model.

The QPIP is fairer, since there is just a 10-percentage-point difference in the use of maternity leave among women whose family income is below $30,000 [which corresponds to 85%] and those whose income is higher than $60,000...This gap is more than 30 percentage points in the nine other Canadian provinces (44% of low-income Canadian mothers had access to maternity leave...).

This is why the NDP is proposing that we increase the benefits from 55% to 60%, which would help more Canadian families.

Another point we should look at is the federal system, which goes up to 61 weeks at 33% of the person's pay. The number of weeks is very generous. Would there be a potential for a gradual return to work, during which wages would be topped up and we could ensure a smooth transition to day care for our little babies?

Generally speaking, under the federal system, if an individual works while receiving EI parental benefits, he or she could earn the greater of up to $50 a week or 25% of their weekly benefits. After that, any amount earned is deducted in full from the amount of benefits. It is impossible to live on 33% of one's salary if the claimant has an average income. Furthermore, if the income allowed is 25% of benefits, which represents 33% of earnings, this really hinders a gradual return to work.

In closing, this tax credit will be very costly and will not help the families who really need it the most. A conservative estimate of the cost is $850 million, or about 20% of the cost of buying a pipeline to British Columbia. Why spend so much money on a tax credit that completely misses the mark? If the government wants to improve the parental leave plan, the allocation of resources should address income inequality and improve access to benefits for those who need them most.

In conclusion, the NDP has presented historic measures that would help parents much more than a tax credit for EI benefits. A better way to help new parents on parental leave would be, for example, to increase the income replacement rate.

The NDP is proposing to raise the rate from 55% to 60%. This measure would benefit all parents on leave, not just those who earn enough to pay taxes. This would be a much easier way to fix the situation described by the Conservatives, the solution being to increase the available income of new parents on leave.

Parents returning to work desperately need affordable child care. If we want to allocate substantial public resources to new parents, it is imperative that child care be part of the conversation. Affordable child care is an extremely important issue to Canadian families, so making a tax credit the priority makes no sense.

By lowering the threshold for eligibility for parental leave, we would also be helping more young parents, people in precarious jobs, and part-time workers to qualify for parental leave. The current threshold of 600 hours makes it very hard to qualify. Lowering the threshold would allow more parents to access the system.

If we consider that it is in children's best interest to spend quality time with their parents, especially in the early years, if we call children the apple of our eye, if we say we want to give our children every chance of receiving love and attention and of developing strong bonds with their parents, then I think we need to make it easier for new parents to take parental leave, instead of giving additional resources to people who do not need them. We must not be unfair to people of more modest means who are struggling to make ends meet. In closing, I hope the Conservatives will change their mind and offer solutions that are a little fairer for all Canadians.

Supporting New Parents ActPrivate Members' Business

June 5th, 2018 / 5:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Rosemarie Falk Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Madam Speaker, the member for Louis-Hébert stated that Bill C-394 would not help mothers or fathers who had a small business. I assume he believes this because they may not pay into EI. However, to clarify, while the government is extending parental leave, those same parents who may own small businesses will not have the opportunity to use that benefit because they do not pay into EI.

I am happy to support Bill C-394, the supporting new parents act. I am always proud to stand and support families. They are the cornerstone of our society. When that foundation is strong, it is to everybody's benefit. Unfortunately, under the Liberal government, times right now are really tough for families.

It has been reported that on average middle-class Canadian families are paying more than $800 in additional taxes due to the Liberal government's policies. These are the very people the government claims it is still helping. For my constituents in Saskatchewan, there is a reality that the carbon tax will add significantly to the tax bill, which will be on top of the $800 more they are already paying under the Liberal government.

The Liberals are imposing a carbon tax on the provinces, and it will come at a significant cost to each and every person. In fact, Finance Canada has stated that the Liberals' carbon tax will cost an extra 11¢ per litre just in gasoline alone. When people live in rural Saskatchewan, they have long distances to drive to get just about anywhere, such as the grocery store, the midnight run to Walmart to get diapers, formula, or whatever the case may be. This carbon tax will add up very quickly.

While the government is raising the cost of living for Canadians, it is encouraging to consider the proposed legislation before us, legislation that would actually help new parents keep more of their hard-earned money. The supporting new parents act would deliver real support to families at a time when they need it the most.

The arrival of a child is a happy and exciting occasion for new parents. As a mother, I know this first-hand. My children are my greatest joys. I also know that this milestone comes with many additional costs. New parents will need everything from diapers to wipes to bottles to car seats to strollers to cribs, and that is just the beginning of the list. There is so much more. I have only named a few of the basics. A full list would almost be endless.

By removing the federal income tax from EI maternity and EI parental programs, the supporting new parents act would help alleviate the financial pressures of these additional costs. Certainly, the proposed legislation would be a welcomed relief. When parents can keep more of their take-home benefit, it gives them more choice in deciding whether to stay home with their baby.

Currently, EI maternity benefits are available to a birth mother for up to 15 weeks. Parental benefits are available for up to an additional 35 weeks. Now the parental benefits can be extended up to 61 weeks at a reduced wage replacement.

The opportunity to bond and care for a child in its infancy is so very valuable to mother, baby, and father. I cherished the time I had with both of my children. The existence of the El maternity and El parental programs makes that a possibility for so many Canadians.

When we consider this legislation and the price tag that comes with becoming a new parent, it is important for us all to remember that El benefits are not equal to a person's regular pay. The basic benefit rate is 55% of his or her average weekly pay. That is only a little more than half of a person's regular pay. For parents who choose to extend their parental benefits to the maximum of 61 weeks under the new regulations, their benefit rate is reduced to 33% from 55%.

This means that while new parents are incurring new and additional costs, they are taking home less pay. Then, of the benefits that they do receive, they do not get to keep all of it. As it stands, every Canadian who collects benefits through these programs pays federal taxes on them. Their take-home benefit is being taxed. Some parents are also slapped with a tax bill when they file their taxes.

The parental EI program has some new flexibility, in that parents can choose to extend the length of their parental leave. For many parents this is positive, and the option to stay at home with their child in these early years is preferred. However, this new flexibility has not provided more income to parents. Extended leave means that parents have even less income over an extended period of time. It is great that there is a desire to make these programs more flexible. What we cannot forget is that there are expenses at home regardless. For many parents, this choice may be unaffordable. If that is the case, then it really is not a choice that is available to them.

Rather than just making the parental leave longer, let us also remove the federal tax from these benefits. Let us take a real step to put more money back into the pockets of hard-working Canadians. Let us help offset the cost of a parent who decides to take leave from work to be with their infant. Let us not tax the dollars of taxpayers twice. That is not fair.

With the support of this House, this legislation could deliver significant support to Canadian parents of a newborn or an adopted child. To give an example of the support this legislation would deliver, a Canadian parent with an annual salary of $50,000 would be eligible for a tax credit of $4,000, and $4,000 can go a long way. Depending on where they shop, a box of 128 diapers will cost them, give or take, over $35. With $4,000 more in their pocket, they can buy a lot of diapers.

What this legislation is really offering Canadians is the ability to better meet their family's needs. It takes off some of the financial pressures of becoming a new parent and allows for more flexibility to spend precious bonding time with their children.

I am happy to stand up and support of this legislation. Conservatives are committed to delivering meaningful support to Canadian families. On this side of the House, we understand that the cost of raising a family can really add up and that for many Canadians it is not easy to make ends meet. We know that is particularly true for new parents who are facing new experiences and new expenses with less income.

The legislation we are considering today is an opportunity to support these new parents. It is a chance to strengthen families by giving them financial support when they need it most. When we put more of their hard-earned money back into their pockets, it means they have more money to spend on their priorities. They do not need the government to spend it on their behalf.

We have seen the Liberal government's reckless spending. It only ends up costing Canadian taxpayers more and more. This money is better in the pockets of Canadians. Moms and dads work hard to make ends meet, and they know what their family's needs are. They deserve to keep more of their hard-earned money.

The supporting new parents bill would help a lot of Canadian families. I hope that it will find support on all sides of the House.

Supporting New Parents ActPrivate Members' Business

June 5th, 2018 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Wayne Long Liberal Saint John—Rothesay, NB

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House to speak tonight on behalf of my wonderful riding of Saint John—Rothesay.

The riding is a wonderful riding, but is a story of two situations. It is a story of tremendous business wealth and success, and there is a lot of entrepreneurship. It is also a riding that unfortunately leads the country in child poverty and has a very high poverty rate, way above the national average.

In the past election in 2015, I wanted to be a champion, a voice, an advocate for those who needed help but did not have a loud voice, especially here in Ottawa. When I started going door to door in 2015, people told me that the Conservative Party had boutique tax credits, credits that were targeted to a very select segment of the population. The boutique tax credits were there to help someone take ballet lessons or help a family send their kids to piano lessons or play hockey.

The reality is that Bill C-394 is another feeble attempt at a Harper-era tax credit. The credit does not target working families. The credit is not skewed toward reality, and it leaves hundreds of thousands of our children in poverty. The party opposite, with its boutique tax credits, likes to talk about being there for families and being there to give back. For some reason, the party is not there to represent the working-class families that are living in poverty.

The universal child care benefit was for everyone. Whether people made $200,000 or $15,000, they received the same amount. How was that fair? To add to that, it was taxed. Conservatives were taking money back from families that needed it the most; we want to bring children and families out of poverty.

When I went door to door, people were amazed at the audacity of the universal child care benefit. It did not help families that needed it the most. It was a boutique tax credit. We remember during the election the member for Carleton going around in his Conservative golf shirt to communities to hand out tax credits. It was called “Christmas in July”. That did not resonate with Canadians. It did not resonate with people in my riding of Saint John—Rothesay.

The first week that I started campaigning for the honour of being a member of Parliament, I went door to door in our priority neighbourhoods, such as Crescent Valley, family by family. People talked about not being able to afford to live. They could not afford to heat their houses or buy groceries. They could not afford books for their children to go to school. It is great to have a boutique tax credit to take kids to ballet or to piano lessons, but people across this country were forgotten by the party opposite for 10 years. People were trying to survive week in and week out with the necessities of life.

Yes, I am a proud Liberal. Yes, I believe that the Liberal Party and federal governments have a duty, an obligation, to provide good national transitional programs, especially for those in need. The Canada child benefit is that program. It is changing lives. It is lifting hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty from coast to coast to coast. When I go door to door now, people are so appreciative that our government came forth with a program that is actually having an impact on their lives. With the Canada child benefit, nine out of 10 families have the extra help they need, month in and month out, to pay for things like healthy food, summer camps, back-to-school clothes, and the necessities of life. That is one of the biggest differences between our party and the party opposite. We believe that we can do good things for Canadians.

I know the members of the party opposite like to wrap themselves up in “We are there for everybody—we are there for the middle class and we are there for people who live in poverty”, but let us talk about the tax-free savings account as an example.

The tax-free savings account was a program that was maxed out by 3% of Canadians, yet the party opposite wanted to double that tax-free savings account for Canadians, for the masses. However, it was not for the masses; it was for a select few. If we have hear it once, we hear 10 times a week that this party is mortgaging the future. Even before I ran in politics, I remember listening to Power and Politics one night when the finance minister of the party opposite was interviewed. He was asked how the Conservatives were going to pay for doubling the tax-free savings account. He replied, “Don't worry about it. It's okay. The Prime Minister's grandchildren or great-grandchildren can pay for that. We'll pass that down the road.”

I remember sitting there in amazement that a finance minister of the party opposite could actually say that he was mortgaging our children's and our children's children's future to double the tax-free savings account, which targeted a very narrow scope of Canadians.

Bill C-394 does the very same thing. It targets a very narrow sector of Canadians. That is why, as a government, we believe in national programs like a national poverty reduction strategy, historic investments in affordable housing, historic investments in child care and early learning, and especially the Canada child benefit.

As I alluded to earlier, my riding leads the country in child poverty. I take great pride in knowing that in my riding, that needle is starting to move to the left because of wonderful programs like the Canada child benefit.

Members of the party opposite have said that they are listening to Canadians and Quebeckers. I know the Leader of the Opposition has a website called “Listening to Quebecers” and that they are in favour of Quebec jurisdictional rights. Well, we are here to listen to Canadians. We believe our programs are the right programs. We will stand behind our programs and do that day in and day out for the betterment of all Canadians.

Supporting New Parents ActPrivate Members' Business

June 5th, 2018 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, QC

Madam Speaker, I am proud to support the bill to help new parents introduced by my colleague, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, who is also the leader of our party and, hopefully, the next Prime Minister of Canada.

Our leaders' proposal is very appealing because it is a reflection of the reality we are faced with. In their last budget, the Liberals boasted that they lowered taxes for Canadian families. It is even written in a document put out by the Government of Canada. Well, that is not true, and I am not the only one saying so. The people watching sometimes wonder who is telling the truth. I would refer them to the Fraser Institute, an independent Canadian organization that assesses economic policies.

With the Liberals in power, Canadian families are paying $840 more in taxes because the government eliminated income splitting and tax credits for sports, educational activities, and public transit. The Liberals are also introducing a carbon tax, but they cannot tell us to what extent this will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We had a useful tool to reward people who take the bus, but that tax credit was eliminated by the Liberals.

The Liberals also got rid of tax credits for textbooks and education. That really stings. My mother is a teacher, and I am sure she is disappointed in the Liberals for cutting measures that encouraged parents to buy educational materials for their kids. That is the truth of it.

This government goes on and on about giving more to families and cutting taxes, but that is not actually true. No wonder then that it is opposed to a bill that would give more money back to families. It is their own money, after all, not money that grew on trees, not money they borrowed. We know how much the Liberals love borrowing money. They have hit $17 billion and they are not stopping. They promised modest deficits, but that is now out the window. They got us into such a fix that Canada will not likely see a balanced budget again for decades. That is regrettable because we are a wealthy, resource-rich nation.

As we saw again this week, the Liberals cannot seem to attract private investment. They scare off anyone wanting to invest in our energy resources sector. The only way they could think of to develop the energy sector was to borrow money to buy a company and send all that money to Texas with nary a foot of pipeline built. I am talking about the infamous Trans Mountain project. That is where we stand today.

Our leader is proposing concrete measures. Getting families to stop paying tax on tax is what is at the heart of this private member's bill. I am sure that my colleagues will agree on this. The government is not only taxing families, but it is also taxing the benefits it is giving those families. Our leader says that it is time to fix this situation and give families a break. That is exactly what this private member's bill before us seeks to do. It addresses a very special time in many peoples' lives, including my own, when they become parents. It represents a new life and a child, but also a great deal of responsibility.

Madam Speaker, I imagine that you experienced this and you know that everything happens all at once. You have to buy a stroller, paint the bedroom, and buy furniture and a high chair. My children are all grown up now and I am closer in age to being a grandfather than a new parent.

It is a wonderful time, but it is often young people who are just entering the workforce, who are struggling to make ends meet, and who are sleep deprived. It is a critical time in peoples' lives and we want parents to be able to devote their time to taking care of their children and taking care of themselves during these precious moments.

They need a break. They do not need to be squeezed by the government for even more money.

At the federal level, maternity and parental benefits are provided through employment insurance, but in Quebec, they are provided by the Quebec parental insurance plan. The bill proposes that, in both cases, the government not tax the benefits parents receive while they take care of their families.

It is very simple. I am surprised that my colleagues are opposing this measure. We want to leave money in parents' pockets. They earned it and were already taxed, so why tax the benefit income they receive?

The Conservatives believe that people should come before government. This is how we managed to lower taxes on families before the current government came in. We also managed to do so while balancing the budget and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. That is what you call sustainable development.

The measure our leader is proposing would help parents keep their money and avoid being taxed a second time when they want to spend time with their families. This bill was introduced on February 1 and would represent a tax break for young families.

As members know, we currently have a labour shortage in Canada. My colleague from the Thetford Mines region surely has an experience similar to mine. In Chaudière-Appalaches, there is full employment. Everyone is hiring. We want to attract immigrants, people from all over, and young families who will be able to meet these challenges. This is a good time to have children, because there are some great job opportunities in our country. There will be a deficit, but with the help of Canadians, we will be able to eliminate it, since our leader does not want the government to become insolvent.

Let us go back to the bill that is before us. Its goal is to support new parents and prevent double taxation. It will give a break to families who are on parental leave by giving them a tax break on all income earned under federal EI maternity and parental benefits or under the Quebec parental insurance plan.

Simply put, we want to leave more money in young parents' pockets when they need it the most, that is, when they start a family.

The sums of money are actually quite substantial. For example, for a family income of $50,000, which is not a lot, the potential tax break amounts to $4,000. This significant measure will help families in Quebec and everywhere else.

Basically, we have two opposing views. On one side, the government thinks that budgets balance themselves or that money grows on trees, and throws money around willy-nilly without thinking of the future. On the other side, we are saying that we need to find ways for parents to keep more of their hard-earned money when they need it the most so that they can devote it to their families.

I therefore have no problem supporting the bill sponsored by our leader, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle. I hope the Liberals will experience a surge of good will towards young families and see that this makes sense. It is true that they did not think of it themselves, but perhaps they could support the bill instead of taking money away from these young families and sending it to Texas to buy a pipeline.

In closing, I want to point out that this pipeline was worth $550 million dollars in 2007 and was worth $2.5 billion at the time of purchase, according to the company's books, and yet the government has announced that it is going to pay $4.5 billion for it. That is a lot of money to be tossing out the window that could have been used to buy strollers and decorate nurseries. I deplore this Liberal incompetence.

I support this bill, which will put more money in the pockets of Canadian families.

Supporting New Parents ActPrivate Members' Business

June 5th, 2018 / 6:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Pat Kelly Conservative Calgary Rocky Ridge, AB

Madam Speaker, I had prepared a number of remarks on this bill. I believe very strongly in the bill and think it is excellent. It should be supported by the House.

Family is dear to the heart of the leader of the opposition, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle. From his own experience, he knows the challenges of raising a young family. It was really disappointing to hear the debate on this bill, and hear what sounded more like excuses than reasons not to support the bill. We heard the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Finance talk about all kinds of things that had nothing to do with the substance of the bill, and that is disappointing.

This bill is a private member's bill, and it is subject to the limitations of private members' business. It is not able to address every challenge of raising a family. This bill seeks to reduce the tax burden on people who are working and who have to make a decision about how best to spend time with their baby. It enables the parents of newborns to at least reduce their tax burden by eliminating the income tax from their maternity or paternity benefit. What is wrong with that?

This is private members' business; it is unable to solve every problem. We heard excuses about people who do not pay income tax or people who are self-employed. Indeed, these other people have enormous challenges. We cannot fix everyone's issue and we cannot solve everything through a single private member's bill. It is disappointing to hear the excuses that came up in the debate on this bill and the unwillingness to support it.

This bill help reduce taxes on young families, who are confronted with a multitude of costs and expenses at a vulnerable time of life. We are talking about a number of young people who are, in many cases, at the beginning of their careers, young people who have an enormous amount of expenses related to everything from diapers to high chairs to car seats. Those are along with all of the other things that make life expensive, like the cost of housing.

Of course, the most expensive part about life for many Canadians is taxes. This reduces taxes to help young parents be with their children after a baby is born.

Supporting New Parents ActPrivate Members' Business

April 24th, 2018 / 5:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Andrew Scheer Conservative Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

moved that Bill C-394, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (parenting tax credit), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to begin debate on my private member's bill, the supporting new parents act.

The arrival of a new child, whether the first, second, or fifth, is one of the biggest milestones in life. As a father of five, I can say it is also one of the greatest joys a couple can experience. With every new child, the experience does not get any less joyful and exciting but it is also a great responsibility.

All parents know just how tough those first few years can be. The financial pressures can seem overwhelming. The ever-increasing cost of raising a child can be very high.

It is not cheap to raise a child in Canada. New parents have to make sacrifices to afford the basic necessities for the new baby. It is often surprising how quickly the costs can add up. With diapers, toys, bottles, new clothes every three months, it is not easy.

That is especially true for families where one parent has to take time off to care for the new baby. While Canadian families were hoping for lower taxes and higher benefits in 2015, the fact is that many families are struggling under this government. This government's tax hikes are leaving less money in Canadians' pockets. The Liberals are breaking their promises.

The average family in Canada is already paying over $800 more in taxes every year under the Liberal government, and the costs are going up. Life gets evermore expensive. Groceries, hydro, or power as we call it in Saskatchewan, gas, and with kids in the house, all the extra trips parents are making to care for a newborn, families do not see the costs of these necessities going down anytime soon. Canada's Conservatives understand the importance of supporting young families with children during those important early years.

We also think the best way to support Canadian families is to keep taxes low, foster a positive environment for job creation, and make sure parents are free make their own decisions for their families.

That is my motivation for introducing the supporting new parents act.

The supporting new parents act would create a federal non-refundable income tax credit for any federal income tax paid under EI parental leave programs.

Quebec residents receiving benefits under the provincial parental insurance plan will be eligible for a tax credit for an equivalent amount. I would like to explain to hon. members how that will work.

We are fortunate in Canada to have EI maternity benefits and EI parental programs that benefit so many Canadians. However, every Canadian who receives these benefits has to deal with certain costs associated with them.

When someone goes on maternity or paternity leave, they take a pay cut. Benefits cover only 55% of their salary, but on top of everything, they also have to pay income tax on the benefits they receive.

When parents go on EI parental or maternity leave, they sacrifice up to 45% of their salary. After making that sacrifice, they have to pay tax on the benefits they receive. With tax being withheld from every cheque, it means that families with a parent on leave see their take-home benefits cut down, and many get hit with an extra tax bill afterwards when they file their income taxes.

My proposed bill offers a major tax relief to young families. It will give Canadians on parental leave a break by offering a tax credit for any income earned under the EI maternity and EI parental programs. We want to leave new parents with more money in their pockets. We know the parents know what is best for their child.

The only way the government in Ottawa can help parents of newborns is to leave more money in their pockets and let them spend it as they see fit. Once passed, my bill will tangibly benefit thousands of young Canadian families. For example, a Canadian mom who was earning $50,000 a year before going on benefits would be eligible for a tax credit of about $4,000.

My hope is that once this bill is passed, CRA will support Canadian parents by applying the credit automatically so Service Canada no longer needs to withhold taxes on parental and maternity benefits. This is a limitation I have as a private member's bill, but when we are government, we can ensure the Canada Revenue Agency automatically applies the credit.

At the very least, new parents would not be hit with a surprise tax bill when they file their taxes. I think we can all agree that is not right. At a time in their lives when they need every penny to raise their newborn, parents still get squeezed by the tax collector.

I have already spoken with families across Canada about the supporting new parents act. We want them to know what this bill is about. They tell me they want the supporting new parents act to become law. They can see how they are going to benefit. The new law would put money in the pockets of hard-working families.

I want to share one story with my hon. colleagues.

I spoke with one mom in Ontario who told me that Service Canada withheld 10% of her maternity and parental benefits, and she still got hit with an $1,800 tax bill when she filed. She had to pay on top of all the money that was being withheld. That is a lot of money after a stressful year, with a lot of new costs, to have to write a cheque to the Government of Canada for benefits she received after taking a pay cut of up to 45%.

What else could she have spent this money on? It could have gone toward buying a car seat or a new pair of boots for the baby. One never knows what types of extra costs add up. However, instead, the government handed out these benefits with one hand and then took a cut of it with the other.

Supporting New Parents ActPrivate Members' Business

April 24th, 2018 / 6 p.m.
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Conservative

Andrew Scheer Conservative Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

That is what the Liberals do.

That is unfair to her and to millions of Canadian families that are having trouble making ends meet. The Conservatives of Canada think that the government should put the interests of Canadians above its own interests. People should come before the government. I think that is what Canadians have always expected of us.

We also think that the government should not tax Canadians' money twice and that it should certainly not tax the time they spend taking care of a new baby.

For any young family, this important tax relief could make a huge difference in the cost of raising a newborn.

When we think about what important tax cuts and benefits have been cancelled by the Liberal government, we can come up with a pretty big list very quickly. The family tax cut is gone, credits for kids' sports and arts programs were taken away, the tax free savings account was been cut back, a carbon tax coming, and higher EI and CPP premiums have cut more and more out of families' weekly paycheques.

All of these measures are harmful to the well-being and financial security of Canadian families. Why did the government do away with the tax break for families? That was a bad decision since this small but very important tax break for parents put up to $2,000 back in the pockets of over 1.5 million families across Canada.

By giving Canadian parents an incentive to sign up their kids for arts classes and sports programs, we make sure that our children grow up healthy and engaged. Engaging in those extracurricular activities helps our children meet new peers, make friends, and learn about the importance of team play. Instead, the current government decided to cancel this benefit for purely political and partisan reasons. Playing politics with Canadian families should never be a motivation for a government policy.

According to a recent Fraser Institute report, Canadian families, as I mentioned, are paying over $800 more in taxes today compared to previous years. This is a big burden for any Canadian family, but especially for families with newborns. By 2022, 90% of Canadian families will be paying higher taxes.

When Canadian families decide to have a baby, they want assurances that their government will support them and that they will have enough money to raise their children. We know that the government should work for young parents and not the other way around.

I am pleased that in the short time since I introduced this bill I have already received the support of hundreds of families all across the country. What I am offering today in this bill is a very simple yet extremely effective way of showing our solidarity and making the lives of Canadian families a bit easier. Young families should not be punished financially for their decision to have children. They should have our help instead.

Conservatives understand that Canadians work hard for their money. That is why, instead of making families pay more taxes, the government should focus on giving more money back to those hard-working families.

We believe in the tax break because we truly believe that Canadians know how to spend their money better than the government. We think that when free people are able to make free decisions about what to buy or where to invest, for example, it creates a better quality of life than when the government takes that money and spends it for them.

There are some fundamental things the government must do, like invest in critical infrastructure, keep our borders safe, and make sure that our armed forces have the tools they need to protect Canada in times of crisis. Beyond that, the government needs to have a very good reason to forcibly take money out of Canadians' pockets and then spend it on their behalf. Our Conservative position is always to start off with the default of leaving money in the pockets of hard-working Canadians in the first place. We are always fighting for lower taxes, not just because it is good for individuals but because it is good for society as a whole.

Now is the time for this House to take action and show our support for hard-working Canadian families. There is no good reason not to prioritize Canadian families and put their interests first. The current government has a choice: to say no to Canadian families for partisan reasons or to support my initiative and say yes to helping young Canadian families.

I hope that all members will unite to support this important bill.

Supporting New Parents ActPrivate Members' Business

April 24th, 2018 / 6:10 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the official opposition has a proposition that I am sure Stephen Harper himself would be happy to vote in favour of. There is no doubt about that. It demonstrates once again that the Conservatives are not open to recognizing what Canadians really and truly want. Let me give an example of that and pose it in the form of a question. We have seen the Conservatives now vote not once, not twice, but on several occasions against the Canada child benefit and the increase. Will he now say, unqualified, that he supports what this government is doing for the very type of individuals he referred to with the Canada child benefit program?

Supporting New Parents ActPrivate Members' Business

April 24th, 2018 / 6:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Andrew Scheer Conservative Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am very confident that many, many Canadians will like this bill I am proposing. There is probably one person I know who will not like a solution that actually helps Canadian families, which is Kathleen Wynne, in Ontario, who hurts Ontario families every time she tables a new budget.

I just want to congratulate the member across the way. He asked me a very specific question about the method by which we support Canadian parents. I remember being in this House and arguing with Liberals for years and years, because they wanted to give support to bureaucrats and build big babysitting bureaucracies. It took the hard work of the Conservative Party to convince the Liberals that the best way to support parents was by providing support directly to them. I am not sure they actually believe it. I think it was a tactical decision they made in the election campaign, but let me be absolutely clear: Canadians know that when it comes to trusting a party to deliver support directly to parents, it has always been the Conservative Party that has fought for that, and it will always be the Conservative Party that fights for that.

Supporting New Parents ActPrivate Members' Business

April 24th, 2018 / 6:10 p.m.
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NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, MB

Mr. Speaker, while we applaud the interest of the Leader of the Opposition in standing up for Canadian families, one wonders why his government did not do more for Canadian families when it was in power for 10 years.

While the spirit of this bill may be an honourable one, the priorities are misplaced, and I will speak to that later. My question to the leader is why they did not talk about increasing the income replacement rate so that more parents can get more of their income when they go on parental leave. Why are we not looking at making more parents eligible for EI and the fact that 64% of Canadian mothers are able to access parental leave only? Finally, why do the Leader of the Opposition and his party not stand with us in support of a basic need that so many Canadians have, which is affordable child care? These are critical points. When we talk about standing up for Canadian families, we in the NDP will do that. Will the Conservative Party do that as well?

Supporting New Parents ActPrivate Members' Business

April 24th, 2018 / 6:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Andrew Scheer Conservative Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the hon. member on the additions to her family. I know it is a challenging time to have a new child as a parliamentarian and to balance both things, so I want to congratulate her on doing that.

I will point out that I have always found it curious in the House of Commons, when it comes to debating private members' business, when the sponsor of the bill is asked all the questions about why there are not other things in it.

This principle addresses a very real gap for thousands of Canadian families, and that is that after sacrificing 45% of their income, they are then hit with a tax bill on the benefits they receive. That is the problem I am trying to address.

Other things the member mentioned worthy of examination often require a royal recommendation and require government action to do. When she talks about the Conservatives' history, though, I have to say that she must not have been watching the same budgets I watched tabled year after year. There was the support for families and parents, the tax cuts for kids, the expansion of EI benefits for self-employed Canadians, and the direct universal child care benefit that went to every family and benefited every child. Those were the steps our government constantly took.

The difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives is that Conservatives wake up every morning looking for taxes to cut, and the Liberals wake up every morning looking for taxes to raise.

Supporting New Parents ActPrivate Members' Business

April 24th, 2018 / 6:15 p.m.
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Spadina—Fort York Ontario

Liberal

Adam Vaughan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, this is my first opportunity to speak in the House since yesterday's tragic event in Toronto. It has touched all of our families and all of our communities in different ways. I want to assure the people of the city I represent and have the privilege to speak on behalf of in this House that all of Parliament and all of the government is here to help with support. We will make sure that the beauty of Toronto, its diversity and its capacity to help its citizens, is not surrendered to this horrible act we witnessed on its city streets just yesterday. My love and heart go out to those families that have been impacted.

I am pleased to rise in this chamber to speak to Bill C-394. While anytime we talk about the plight of this country's children and families is a good day in the House, I also think it is very important to talk about why costly tax changes really should be implemented as part of a comprehensive budget process and not as a gimmick, stunt, or slogan, as we have just seen presented in this House.

The tax proposal being presented here would not do half of what it promises it would do. It certainly would have very little impact on the most vulnerable families in this country, and it would not provide a firm or comprehensive tradeoff that would allow our government to support it.

Doing a full budget allows the government to consider all the tradeoffs and balance all the priorities and undertake new fiscal commitments in a responsible manner that helps those who have the greatest needs with the most amount of support. It does not, as this proposal would do, target support to people who are doing slightly better than others. I will get into how that works in my comments.

It is critical to understand that as the government works to propose and deliver real change for Canadians, it does so in a way that reflects and respects their real needs. The government does not believe that Canadian families are well served by a maze of boutique tax credits, such as the proposed tax credit we are debating today, which would benefit some while doing nothing for those who need it most.

Let us consider who would actually be helped by what the hon. member is proposing. Under his proposed scheme, the tax credit would only be available to individuals who are receiving maternity or parental leave benefits from an employment insurance program. All the other parents—

Supporting New Parents ActPrivate Members' Business

April 24th, 2018 / 6:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Mr. Speaker, under this proposed scheme, the tax credit would be available only to individuals who are receiving maternity or parental leave benefits from an employment insurance program. All other parents, such as same sex partners or parents who are adopting a child, would not benefit with 1¢ of tax relief under the proposed bill that is in front of us.

However, these are not the only people who would be left out as a result of this kind of Tory conjuring. Under the hon. member's proposal, we would also be denying benefits to almost all self-employed people, those who do not pay any federal personal income tax because their income is too low, and those who do not qualify for EI parental benefits because of the hours they work, perhaps in seasonal employment. They would not qualify for the non-refundable tax credit. In short, the proposed tax credit would do very little for those families who need it most, and in particular for the poorest children in this country. It would also not help families who are already working hard to make ends meet.

Let us contrast that with our approach, which is the Canada child benefit. Compared to the old system of child benefits, the CCB now gives low- and middle-income parents more money each month. It is also tax-free. We just heard the Leader of the Opposition say that the government should not give money and then take it back, yet that is exactly what that proposal will seek to do. Our approach would provide more money each month, tax-free, to help with the high costs of raising kids. The CCB is simpler, more generous, and better targeted to give more help to people who need it most.

About 3.3 million families with children are now receiving $23 billion in annual CCB payments. About 65% of the families receiving the maximum CCB amounts are single parents, and about 90% of those are single mothers. A single mom with two children aged five and eight, and a net income of $35,000 in 2016, will have received $11,125 in tax-free Canada child benefits in the 2017-18 benefit year. This amounts to $3,535 more than she would have received under the old system.

This talk about an $800 tax that floats around does not take into consideration one very important thing, which is that the most important benefit a family receives for having children is not part of the Fraser Institute report. The Fraser Institute report likes to do math; it just does not like to do the complete equation, which is a problem.

Therefore, we end up with a situation where low-income families that want to get their kids into sports get the money up front to invest into their kids' opportunities, as opposed to having all the taxes come off it, as it was under the previous regime. Only if the parents had enough money after all of that could they participate, and only after all of that would they get their tax return with the benefit coming back to them, and only if they were in a particular income class would they qualify to put their kids into sports. It was sports for the rich, and nothing for the poor. That is not progressive taxation policy, and it is not good athletic policy. It is Tory policy.

Through budget 2018, we have done even more to help people with the CCB by increasing the benefits each year to keep pace with the rising cost of living. This starts in July, two years earlier than scheduled, because the economy is doing so well. The books are good, and we are moving forward with the growth agenda. The CCB was one of the big contributors to the economic growth and the vitality of the economy last year, which shows that good, strong social investments that help people move forward help the economy move forward simultaneously. That is why our approach is the better approach. It would also continue to ensure that hard-working moms and dads have more money each month to buy the things their families need, with the most help going to those families who need it the most.

Our government is taking action to help ensure that everyone who qualifies for support receives it. To close this gap, the government will expand outreach efforts, in particular to on-reserve, remote, and northern indigenous communities, many of which do not pay income tax and are therefore left out of the scheme proposed by the party opposite. We will also be piloting outreach projects for urban indigenous communities so that indigenous people are better able to access not just this program but the full suite of services offered, including the CCB.

There is also the EI parental sharing benefit. In budget 2017, we gave families greater choice and flexibility, allowing parents to receive up to 61 weeks of El parental benefits over an extended period of 18 months instead of the usual 12 months, which is critical. As families try to fit together the different choices they have to make in their life, we have created more flexibility. Making El parental benefits more flexible helps working parents navigate the challenges that come with a growing family. It gives them the option of staying at home with their baby longer, if that is the right choice for their family.

In budget 2018, we went a step further, introducing the El parental sharing benefit. This benefit would provide additional weeks of a “use it or lose it” El parental benefits program when both parents agree to share parental leave. With this new benefit, parents in two-parent families who agree to share parental leave could receive an additional five weeks of leave, or an additional eight weeks for parents who choose the extended program. Providing these additional weeks of benefits under the new EI parental sharing benefit would encourage both parents in two-parent families to share equally in the work of raising their children.

It will also provide greater flexibility, particularly for mothers to return to work sooner if they so choose, knowing their family has the support to do just this.

In addition, the government proposes to amend the Canada Labour Code to ensure that workers in federally regulated industries have the job protection they need while receiving federal EI benefits.

Our government is also committed to doing more for Canadian families when it comes to early learning and child care. We listen to the Leader of the Opposition talk about regulated child care as some sort of bureaucratic monster that needs to be slain at every opportunity when we have heard from constituent after constituent about the need for highly regulated, proper day care and having a system that is funded nationally. To have that party say they will walk away from regulated child care is just appalling.

If that is their approach to supporting women in the workforce, supporting families with new kids, and supporting child care needs and early learning opportunities for children in this country, I can only say they should get out more and talk to people who do not vote Conservative, because the rest of the country is demanding action on this file.

This government has taken action on this file with its $7.5-billion investment. The member referenced Kathleen Wynne. Her investment coupled with our investments provided 100,000 new regulated day care spaces in Ontario alone. Half of these are in the GTA, in the riding I represent and close to the riding I represent. That is real help for real people, and it is being delivered not with boutique tax cuts that only help wealthy families, but with good, strong investments that help all families. That is one of the most critical things we are doing to support families, children, and social development in this country.

The other component to our support for families, and in particular families with children, is about to be launched within the year, as the provincial governments have now signed a multilateral agreement. That is the Canada housing benefit. It is yet another investment to support families who have vulnerabilities largely driven through economic circumstance, many of whom are single mother-led families with children in housing that is not affordable.

We are providing these services and rebuilding the social safety net that was not only neglected but in fact cut over the previous 10 years. We are investing in making sure those with the greatest needs get the greatest help, instead of targeting our tax cuts at a voting bloc that is affluent and that we think we can hold onto and win in the next election. We are doing good social work and making good investments in social progress. We are making good investments in day care, housing, and child benefit. We are reforming the EI program and rebuilding the social safety net. As we do all this, we are starting to look at our reforms as a trampoline, something that will not hold people when they fall but bounce them back up and get them—