Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Motion No. 101.
The motion presented by my Reform colleague from Yorkton-Melville has three main points to which I will speak today. First, the government will not provide any more public money on non-parental day care initiatives. Second, existing expenditures should go to the needs, not the method of care. Third, the subsidy should be to the parents and children, not to institutions and professionals.
The Reform policy is described in the blue book, which my colleague from Yorkton-Melville has explained. There is so much I could say on this issue but I will not repeat much of what he has said.
However, this week is most appropriate to address matters relating to the family as this is national family week. Families do not exist separately from government policy. The government attitude to the importance of family is reflected in its attention to or its neglect of families in its policies.
I will look briefly at the Liberal government's record and its shabby treatment of families in its public policy. This government, that spends tens of millions of dollars every year on gender issues, billions of dollars on children's issues, seems to have a very myopic, shortsighted vision of a stronger country through stronger families.
The legacy of this myopia is seen in the record of the last quarter century, which has been controlled by the old vision of old governments, the legacy of the failure of the Liberal vision, of more taxes, more government in the lives of Canadians and quite frankly, the wrong priorities in public policy.
The first statement in this motion is that government should not spend any more public money on non-parental day care initiatives. The plain truth, which I can say quite briefly, is that the government is now bankrupt both of ideas and of money. The government has been forced lately, with the help of the Reform Party, to start to put its House in order. However, we still need a clear statement of deficit elimination because sadly we are still digging that debt hole.
The legacy of the government's spending will add within its mandate $100 billion to the national debt. The interest alone on that increased debt will be paid every year even when the budget is balanced. If we stop to think for a moment, the interest only on that increased debt courtesy of the present Liberal government would be enough to pay 100,000 families in excess of $70,000 every year from now until forever. Let us decide right now that we do not need increased government spending.
The second point in my colleague's motion is that existing expenditures should go to need, not to the government's prescribed method. When families are looking for solutions to their problems, do they need to go first to government, particularly the federal government? Would I want a federal bureaucrat coming to my kitchen table and saying to me: "I am here from Ottawa, I came to help?" Hardly. Le probléme c'est Ottawa.
Where has this brought us, this feeling that Ottawa can solve the problems of this country? Child poverty in the last 20 years has not been brought under control by government policy. In fact it is more of a problem now than it used to be. Youth and child crime are epidemic. Teen suicides have grown in epidemic proportions. Our families are disintegrating around us. Just last week we heard that teen pregnancies, the greatest precursor of poverty in our society, will be more of a dilemma for the next generation than it has been for this one. They have gone up 20 per cent since 1987.
The history of the involvement of government in people's lives has been costly, has been through misdirected social policies and in fact, as we have already heard, it parallels the growth of duel income families.
Do families today have the choice? Hardly. As my colleague stated, 70 per cent of women with preschool children told an Angus Reid poll recently that they would remain home if they felt they could afford to do so. However, the government has removed that choice from them. In other words, misdirected government spending eventually translates into greater demand for the programs set up by the government to deal with those problems. How convenient for a Liberal minded government that simply wants an excuse to justify programs and to continue its existence in the future.
The history of government in the involvement of private affairs of law-abiding families is a history of greater and greater intrusion, a vicious circle which can only be alleviated when the government withdraws its meddling hands from the lives of Canadian families and when it allows them to keep more of their hard earned income rather than taking half of it.
This is the product of the old vision for a Canadian society which still grips the hearts and the minds of those who are determining government policy on that side of the House. Government programs must be directed to need. Government programs must not create greater dependency and thus create a greater problem for society.
There is not a need for dependence in our society but a need for empowerment through a recognition of wise choices, not government choices, and of faith in Canadians and a faith in Canadian families.
The third point in my colleague's motion bill is that the government's interest should be in a subsidy to parents and children and not institutions and professionals. I often hear the mantra from the Liberals concerning the best interests of the child.
They would translate that into a saying that the best interests of a child are more government programs, more government spending.
I question their child care expense deduction. In fact the Liberal member mentioned that. Right now that program is only of benefit to those who can present receipts. How in the world can a parent at home present receipts to a government and yet that care is valid. In fact that care is preferred by the majority of Canadians.
We talk about the best interests of the child, Liberal style. In fact, it is the worst interest of the future of our country. As I have said on the expensive programs, those very children as adults will be passed the bill for the very programs that supposedly were for their good. That debt is passed on with interest over the years and it is the children who will be paying that. Their jobs and their security will be at risk because of it.
As my colleague mentioned, studies such as the 40-year study compendium put forward by Dr. Genius of the National Foundation for Family Research and Education said non-parental day care of more than 20 hours a week in early childhood posed a significant risk factor in developing insecure bonding with parents. Once established, that insecure bonding is a central factor in social and behavioural development.
That has been ignored by the other parties as they have talked to this bill. In 1993 there were 2,232,250 children in licensed day care in Canada. That is not the choice of parents but courtesy of misdirected government policy. There are other problems as well. I speak today of the spread of disease and the long term complications both to individuals and society because of that, the long term risk of overuse or early use of antibiotics and that overuse to public health.
Today I have brought a few clippings from June 9, 1996. The number of recurrent ear infections, the bane of preschool children and their parents, rose 44 per cent in the 1980s. This increase was blamed largely on the earlier entry to child day care and exposure to germs. Also I have an article by Dr. Harrison Spencer, chief of parasitic diseases at the Centres for Disease Control in Minnesota. I quote: "Day care children are at risk anywhere from 2 to 18 times as much as non-day care kids for certain infectious diseases that run the gambit from diarrheal diseases to respiratory and flu like illnesses".
As well, Winnipeg disease expert, Dr. Ron Gold says: "The 200,000 plus Canadian children in day care are twice as likely to get sick as those cared for at home. There is a horrible litany of day care related diseases, as they are called. Over 70 per cent of clinical cases of hepatitis A can be traced to a day care setting", and on it goes.
The Liberal response to these problems presented by day care are that they would choose their well-funded feminist agenda that state funding of day care is a priority and that women must be in the workplace.
I recently received a letter from a constituent which reflects the priorities of the government and refers to parental care and its priorities in the taxation system. The letter actually states that the government rejects a certain method of taxation because it can involve work disincentives for the second spouse to enter the workforce, that is, the government has said that it rejects a certain taxation system because it might stop the second spouse from working. Does this not reflect a bias toward having both parents in the workforce? This is full in the face of evidence which says that children need their parents at home and many parents would prefer to stay at home.
The government's social engineering policies have been tremendously effective. In the 15 years from 1977 to 1992 the number of mothers with children under the age of six who were in the workforce grew from 38 per cent to a full 63 per cent. But this choice, as I said before, was not made freely.
There is a new vision required for children in Canada, a vision that requires aid to those who are truly in need, a vision that empowers people instead of fuelling institutions-