Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak to the Reform Party's motion today. It is so very rare that one has the opportunity in the House to address a motion which has substance, makes sense and has some possible benefits down the road.
I would like to begin by making a brief comment on the comments of the hon. member for Essex-Windsor. Her reply to my question made it very clear that she has indeed not read the Reform Party's fresh start program, nor has she read any of the professional critiques of it. She is bemused by whatever they are telling these people in the inner circles of the Liberal Party. She has joined other members opposite in their unanimous contention that a tax break for families is unaffordable. Coming as that does from her, from a charter member of the very far left side of the Liberal Party, which historically has believed that there are no limits to what we can spend on anything, it is rather astonishing.
They keep asking where the money will come from. I will not go through a long list of cuts on which our fresh start proposal is based, but I can give a couple of examples. I can do that without mentioning such obvious and immediate candidates for cutting as the $87 million to top up the treasury of a Liberal friendly and profitable corporation or the millions of dollars which have been spent to give away free flags. Let us talk about the heavy duty stuff.
Part of the source of the numbers in our fresh start program was the privatization of the CBC, for an annual saving of about $1 billion. Which is more important, Yorkville-centric culture or giving a break to children?
I am the Reform critic for international institutions. I along with our researches identified $800 million which could be cut without taking one penny away from Canadian overseas humanitarian aid. There would be major slashing in contract work for friends of the Liberal Party and there would be a turning away from bilateral aid, with all of its attendant corruption, to providing matching funds for NGOs who historically have shown they know what they are doing. If there are any hon. members who would like to go into the point by point details of the other $13 billion, they should talk to their friendly Reform Party critics.
Let us bury once and for all the slander that we would cut federal funding to medicare. Those who were around for the 1993 election campaign know very well that one of our platforms was to stop the cuts, which were initiated by the Tories and ruthlessly continued by this government, to the federal contributions to medicare. The contributions are now down to about 23 per cent of total medicare costs. So who in the name of heaven are the bad guys, the Liberals who are doing it or Reformers who the Liberals claim would do it? It is a false claim.
The Liberals say they have not made specific increases in income tax rates. Fair enough and whoopee. But they always fail to mention, very conveniently, that they have increased other taxes, directly and indirectly, 31 times. Count them, 31. Among others, they have increased gasoline taxes, park fees and the taxable portion of income through deindexing, which is a rather sneaky way of increasing income tax, deindexing the basic deduction. The
government has changed the RRSP rules and it has subjected maritimers to increased sales taxes through their rather convoluted changes to the GST rules.
The bottom line is that federal tax revenues have increased by twenty four and a half per cent since this government took office, and now this government is crying poor. It does not have the money to give tax relief to ordinary Canadians.
I will speak more directly to the motion before us that, in the opinion of this House, the government provide tax fairness for all Canadian families by extending the child care tax deduction to all families of all income levels and converting it to a credit, thereby offering Canadians freedom of choice in caring for their children.
This motion addresses a specific proposal and targets a specific problem. What is the problem, some might ask. In a survey of healthy women in Toronto conducted this year by researchers at a Toronto hospital it was found that the most common health worry of women was not heart problems, not breast cancer, but fatigue.
When the researchers broke down the reasons why women were tired they identified these factors: financial worries, lack of exercise, marital relationship problems, poor sleep, lack of personal time, care of an ill family member. But the number one reason why women feel tired today is the combination of home and outside work which is forced on them in many cases by the inability to make family ends meet because they are paying so much money in taxes.
It is not just federal taxes but provincial taxes, municipal taxes. Forty-six per cent of the average family income is being sucked away by government. The average family can no longer make it without two incomes. It is a big treadmill.
In an international Gallup survey which was conducted this year in Canada as well as in 22 other countries, more than half of Canadian women believe the country would be better off if one spouse were able, the key word, to stay home and take care of the children. But the Liberals through their voracious appetite for taxes-31 tax increases in the last three and a half years-are making it impossible for families to have that choice.
Families have to work hard. Right now two out three two-parent families have two or more jobs. Moonlighting families have increased by 50 per cent over the last 10 years. Sixty per cent of families now have to have two incomes to make ends meet.
The tax system discriminates against one income families. Two income families pay $7,000 less in income taxes per year than one income families, if the net family income is $60,000. The average family income in real terms has dropped more than $3,000 since 1993. This year the average Canadian family will have to pay $27,000 in taxes alone.
It is not the desire of the Reform Party and it is certainly not my desire to force choices on families. What we have now are choices being forced upon families by the present government. It is the Liberal government that forces both parents to work to survive. It is the desire of Reform to increase choices for the family so that families can care for their children in any way they wish.
One of the Liberals' broken promises, one which was fortunately broken I would suggest, was the creation of a host of new day care spaces so that they could further raise taxes and further reduce the choices of Canadian women. What does subsidized day care mean to you? I will tell you what it means to me as a country boy. It means that a professional couple in Toronto can load their child into a BMW and take it to the Silver Spoon Happy Centre For Lucky Tots while a Saskatchewan farm woman who lives 50 miles from the nearest urban centre has to strap her toddlers into the truck seat beside her while she helps with the harvest because she and her overtaxed spouse cannot afford to hire extra help.
The Reform Party would reduce spending by $15 billion. We would balance the federal budget by March 31, 1999. We would provide smaller less intrusive government because that is what Canadians want. After the deficit is erased, Reform would increase spending on health and education by $4 billion a year. I say it is not a bad suggestion.
A smaller government would enable us to provide tax relief to everyone. We would increase the spousal amount of the income tax deduction from $5,380 to $7,900. We would change the $3,000 to $5,000 child care deduction to a $3,000 to $5,000 credit available to all parents including those who look after their kids at home.
This would have an enormous effect on a family earning $30,000 which would have its taxes cut by 89 per cent. A dual income family of four with earnings of $60,000 per year would save 31.7 per cent in their taxes. Altogether 727,000 low and middle income taxpayers would come off the tax rolls. That would be a real hit against child poverty in Canada.
Giles Gherson, a columnist for the Ottawa Citizen who is certainly no friend of the Reform Party, calls the Reform platform a war on poverty. I quote: ``Simply raising the income tax personal and spousal exemptions-will remove an estimated one million low income families from the tax rolls, people who never should have been paying taxes in the first place-the Liberals admit they are not planning anything nearly so generous-.On the menu at next year's election: a real and surprising choice in Canada's stalled war on poverty''.
With policies like the Liberal government's policies, is it any wonder why the family is in trouble in Canada? It would be so much more efficient, so much better for the family to lower taxes and enable parents to do what they want to do with their own money and to have a better quality of home life. Reform is all about child care choice and tax relief for families.
I will end on a rather personal note. Unlike some of the fat cat ivory tower theorists opposite, I have walked the road of single parenthood and I never even considered the option of day care. My family helped me out during vacations. I was able to employ an elderly live-in housekeeper at much less than the cost of day care for school days. It was not easy. We did not maintain the style of living as a single parent household that we had as a two parent household, but we made out. We did not whine to the government. And I am proud to say that I raised two very well adjusted and very successful young people.
In case anybody over there is going to be tempted again to throw the slur across that what we are trying to do is to help out the well off and damn the middle class and damn the poor, I would like to put it on the record that this is not the case. Most of us in this caucus have actually been there, whereas I think it would be a rather small minority among the Liberal government caucus.