I will quickly thank the three ministers and their teams for their preparation and today's presentations.
Mr. Duclos, last time you appeared before this committee, we talked about the importance of defining poverty before we begin to address it. Since then, I have participated in a number of debates in the House. I think that we will also need a definition of the middle class because it is interpreted in many ways. The middle class has a very elastic definition.
Our committee travelled across Canada for its study on poverty. Nearly all representatives of organizations and municipalities we met with said that it was important for the various levels of government to work together. I believe that this leadership can come only from the federal government. We were told that it was not only a matter of investment, but that we also had to know how to achieve the goal.
You were right to highlight the impact of the Canada child benefit. You said that child poverty has decreased by 40%. Having worked with troubled youth, I can tell you that, when I hear “poor children”, I understand it as “poor parents”. Those two things go hand in hand. We should also look into that issue.
Since I am the critic for this particular issue, my colleagues tell me about many situations where the Canada child benefit is taken away from families when their child, for example, goes into foster care for a week. It takes them three months to recover those benefits. Another example is a family missing a document for one child and losing the benefits for all of its five children. Other families may have to provide evidence that their children exist. I hear about many similar situations at my office.
I have one last comment to make before I ask a question. You talked about the guaranteed income supplement. I hope you still plan to ensure that the supplement will one day be automatically provided to those who need it. That is necessary.
You also talked about investing in the infrastructure of our communities. I represent a riding whose largest community has 56,000 constituents. Are you considering allocating funding to the smaller communities because they have fewer resources than the larger cities? When a program is established, there are often only two people who work in those small communities, and they are not aware of community grants. By the time they start filling out documents, big cities have long ago submitted their projects.