This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #104 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was children.

Topics

SupplyGovernment Orders

November 21st, 1996 / 3 p.m.

Liberal

Susan Whelan Liberal Essex—Windsor, ON

Mr. Speaker, the third party in this House has taken a curious perspective on how best to address the needs of children in Canada today and it is one that surprises me. That party normally has a pretty clear position on the role of the federal government on social policy issues. Write cheques and pop them in the mail to provincial capitals sums it up.

It is also a party that prides itself on its commitment to pare government spending to the bone and probably well beyond.

And here we are today with a motion before us that runs totally contrary to the broad political policies of the Reform Party. It talks about a greater role for government and increased government expenditures.

I do not intend to use the time allotted me today to repeat arguments already made by my hon. colleagues on the child care deduction. Rather, I would like to talk to you about certain initiatives our government has taken to respond to the real priorities of Canadian children.

This is excellent day to do this, for while the Reform Party sits and talks, our government gets up and works. We are working with our partners, the provincial governments, to tackle the real children's issue in Canada, child poverty.

A federal-provincial meeting is taking place in Toronto. Our government is sitting down with the provinces to discuss how we can build a national child benefit and how we can build it together. We are talking about how to align our programs and services so that we can do the most to help children living in poverty.

The idea for this initiative has been around for a long time. It was discussed during the federal social security reform. More recently, the issue of a national integrated child benefit was raised in the ministerial council report last March.

Our government responded favourably. It became a shared commitment of both levels of government at the first ministers meeting in June. Alberta is the co-chair on behalf of the provinces while the Minister of Human Resources Development is co-chairing on behalf of the federal government.

This is an example of the federal government's renewing federalism and renewing our social union by working with the provinces. It offers so much more than hollow calls for unilateral tax policy changes that would only stand to benefit those families that already have a measure of security, middle to upper class income families.

The government, on the other hand, is concerned with the plight of low income families, in particular their children. At a time of limited finances, this is the direction Canadians are telling us we should go. Nine out of every ten Canadians say that the level of child poverty in this country is a problem. They also tell us they do not want to return to programs that treat rich and poor families alike. If public money is going to be spent, they want it to go where it will meet the real needs. That will be the point of a national child benefit.

A national child benefit is something for the future. But what of the present? How is this government addressing the needs of parents and children?

In our opinion, the best way to fight child poverty is to help the parents find work. I would point out simply that nearly 500,000 people have found work since our government's election.

In fact, between 1993 and 1995, Canada created more jobs than Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Spain combined. This is a pretty impressive result, and it benefits our children.

We recognize that many Canadians work at jobs that offer relatively low pay. These are people who benefit from the child tax benefit and the working income supplement. I remind members that our government doubled the maximum level of working income supplement in the last budget. Over the next two years it will go up from $500 to $1,000. That means more financial help for low income parents to address the extra costs of working.

Helping Canadians get back to work is also the goal of the new employment insurance system. Despite the criticisms of the third party in this place we succeeded in passing legislation a few months ago to build a new system. The key is a set of active employment measures to help people get the skills they need to find new jobs.

Another element of employment insurance that benefits the family and children is the new family income supplement, which comes into effect in January. It will be available to families eligible for the child tax benefit and the earned income supplement.

These families will receive an average of $800 a year, and the children will be the first to benefit.

More than that, EI claimants who get the family income supplement will be exempt from the new intensity rule that would reduce the benefit levels of repeat claims. This is yet another step that reflects the interests of children in lower income families.

Active measures under EI part II will also help Canadians develop the skills they need to build stronger careers. Other measures include grants and loans to students. Here again we have targeted our assistance.

We recognize that parents can find it very difficult to pursue full time studies. Last year we introduced a system of grants for part time students with high financial needs, many of whom are single parents. In the 1995-96 year we started a process that offers as many as 10,000 of these students each year up to $1,200 for every academic year of enrolment. This support will help them get the education that will enable them and their families to prosper.

I will address the issue of child care. A year ago the federal government presented a proposal to provinces to expand child care as was outlined in the red book. Although provinces recognize the importance of child care to working parents, there was no consensus on the need to significantly expand child care. The federal government remains committed to further discussions on child care if provinces and territories can reach a consensus on an approach. However, that has not stopped us from taking action where we can.

For example, our government launched the First Nations/Inuit child care initiative last December. The goal is to bring the quality and quantity of child care services in aboriginal communities in line with those of the general population. The result will be some 4,300 new child care spaces and the improvement of 1,700 existing spaces for a total of 6,000 quality child care spaces. This involves an investment of $72 million over the first three years of the program.

Another example is our child care visions program. This is a research and development fund. It supports studies to help us learn more about the adequacy, outcomes and cost effectiveness of different child care practices. In a world where many parents have no realistic choice but to work, despite nostalgic notions promoted by the Reform Party, this program helps us learn what kinds of child care will be best for our little ones.

Then there are the other joint projects that our government has funded under the strategic initiatives program. For example, thousands of families with young children are benefiting under an improved access to child care project in British Columbia. In Manitoba about 400 lone parents on social assistance are getting help to put them into the workplace. Federal support for Quebec's APPORT program is supporting 27,000 low income wage earners and social assistance recipients.

In all these cases, the children benefit when their parents have better job opportunities and extra help for quality child care services. In all these cases, however, the benefit flows from co-operation between the federal government and the provinces.

Yesterday on national child day we paid special attention to the needs of children. What better way to help children in need than by continuing the commitment to co-operation and action that our government is showing?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Reform Swift Current—Maple Creek—Assiniboia, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member, since she has raised again for the umpteenth time today the

chestnut that our tax proposals would benefit the well to do rather than the poor, how she would equate that with the numbers which we have run past independent analysts who say that 737,000 Canadians who should not be paying taxes now would disappear completely from the tax rolls if our proposals were adopted.

The analysts state that a working parent in a single parent environment earning $30,000 would see his or her taxes reduced by 89 per cent. I wonder if she has actually taken the time to sit down and read our proposals and, more to the point, if she has read any of the independent analyses of them.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Susan Whelan Liberal Essex—Windsor, ON

Mr. Speaker, the motion under debate proposes that the government should 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 removing the tax bias against parents caring for their own children.

At first blush it might appear it is a good idea but after all, Canada's children are our future and one of our most important resources. Who can honestly say they would oppose-not me of all-that we need to come up with something for children?

However, let us take a look and really examine the Reform Party's motion, which I have done. If we think about this motion we will note the proposal could mean two radically different things. First, if the Reform Party plans to convert the existing child care credit deduction into its equivalent value in tax credits it will provide about $850 for every child under seven years of age and $150 for every child between seven and twelve years of age. If this is what the Reform Party is proposing, it is far from clear that is what it means, given the clever wording used in the motion. This motion would hardly provide sufficient incentive or compensation to allow one parent to remain home and care for their children. As well, it would not provide much assistance to any families, especially low income families.

On the other hand, if the Reform Party plan is to give $5,000 tax credit for every child under seven and a $3,000 tax credit for every child between seven and twelve years of age, then this program would provide substantial assistance. Unfortunately it would also break the bank.

In Canada today there are 2,402,027 children age seven to twelve. At a cost of $3,000 per child the proposal would cost $7.2 billion. As well, there are 2,789,995 children under the age of seven. At a cost of $5,000 per child the proposal would cost another $14 billion. In total this proposal if implemented would cost $21.2 billion.

The existing child care tax credit cost $305 million in 1989. This means the proposal would cost $20.9 billion more than the present child care tax deduction. I would like to know where this $20.9 billion will come from.

I suppose the Reform Party could double the GST in theory. That would raise another $18 billion. It could cut off federal transfers for health care. That would raise close to the $20 billion, although the money would of course go straight to medical services.

Reform of course projects a cost that is much lower than this. The total package of tax breaks in its fresh start document is to cost only $12 billion. However, as we can see, the numbers do not add up. One might legitimately ask what the Reform Party is really proposing.

In their speeches members of the Reform Party talked about a $3,000 to $5,000 benefit per child, but if we look at its budget plan the figure is much lower. What is the Reform Party proposing the House of Commons do? By passing this motion are we committing the government to giving every child under seven years of age $850 or does it mean we are going to give these children $5,000?

The motion is fuzzy and cannot be supported for that very reason.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Larry McCormick Liberal Hastings—Frontenac—Lennox And Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to congratulate my seat mate, the hon. member for Essex-Windsor, on her excellent speech. It certainly had a lot of information about our government's doing many concrete things to help Canadian families, the rich, the poor and the working people of this country.

I also note that the hon. member made an excellent speech in both official languages, which I believe is the first time I have shared with that, if I may say that.

I appreciate hearing about employment insurance. There is a lot of misinformation about the benefits for all Canadians. Today anyone can fall between the cracks and find themselves in dire circumstances. There is an allowance there for anyone with an attachment to the workforce in the last three years who could be eligible for these benefits, for training and any of the other attachments.

Does the hon. member have any other ideas and points that she wants to share with us at this opportunity? I think it is very important that we hear the correct information on this.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Susan Whelan Liberal Essex—Windsor, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his question. There are many points that we could share today on what we need to do for children in benefits. I would like to restate that EI claimants who get the family income supplement will be exempt from the new intensity rule that will reduce benefit levels

of repeat claims. That is very important for all Canadians to know. People need to know this step reflects the interests of children in low income families.

I also think people should know that part II will allow them to develop the skills they need to build stronger careers. Again, in part II we have targeted our assistance. We also recognize that parents find it very difficult to pursue full time studies.

It is important to make another point about the child tax benefit. The child tax benefit right now recognizes the contributions of all families by providing a basic credit of $1,020 per child per year, plus an additional $75 for the third child and subsequent children. It recognizes the cost of young children by providing a supplement of $213 for each child under the age of seven. It targets the greatest benefits to families in need by reducing the total benefit by 5 per cent on family income over $25,921. I believe the current child tax benefit recognizes the contribution of all parents and at the same time directs more resources to those most in need. That is good family policy.

The Liberal government is working with the provinces to improve this by developing, as I said before, an integrated child benefit. I believe this would be a better use of scarce and limited public resources than the Reform proposal. It would provide greater public benefit to the entire community, while Reform's proposal would channel more resources to one type of family regardless of financial need.

Families do want choices, but they want real choices. Reform talks about choices, but the impact of its policies would only provide real choices for the group of families who can afford to have one parent stay at home, and most families do not have that choice.

Reform based this motion on its proposals in its fresh start program on the notion that a one income earner family of $60,000 is the same as a two earner family with an income of $30,000 each. That is not reality. It is not the case.

If a parent earning $30,000 in the Reform plan decides to stay home, the family might get a tax credit of somewhere between $2,000 and $4,000, depending on the age of the children. That would give the household a family income of $32,000 or $34,000. The family, obviously, would not have the same choices as a household earning $60,000.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Reform Swift Current—Maple Creek—Assiniboia, SK

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.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Susan Whelan Liberal Essex—Windsor, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member asked a question of me earlier and I feel I have to respond. I forgot to mention the part of the Reform Party plan in the motion they are making today about the child care credit. I am wondering if it is going to be refundable.

The statement that it goes to all families implies that it would be refundable. At the same time the statement that it is a tax benefit could limit the credit to tax paying families which would leave the poorest families, unemployed families on social assistance without any benefit at all. Which is it? Nowhere in the motion does the Reform Party say that the credit would be refundable. This leaves me to suspect that it may be planning to exclude the most needy families who do not pay taxes.

As well, I think there is a mixed conception here. We are talking about child care options. I do not hear that from the Reform Party when they talk about day care or taking care of children. We are talking about options available for families so that if one spouse wants to stay home, those options are there.

There are no options in the Reform Party platform. There is no choice either. Reformers do not support any of the measures that would allow women to combine work and family life, which is what a lot of women would like to do. The Reform Party does not support the inclusion of parental leave policies in employment insurance. It did not support and does not support employment insurance for part time workers.

In fact the Reform Party would eliminate the CPP provisions which cover a parent's contributions for any years away from the

workplace. I do not believe and I do not see how that assists children.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Reform Swift Current—Maple Creek—Assiniboia, SK

I thank the hon. member for her comments. I am afraid she misses the point. What we are saying with respect to tax relief is that if money is left in the hands of individual Canadians or Canadian families, they will then be able to provide their own choices.

The hon. member seems to think that day care has to be a big government heavily subsidized entity. That is not true. If the hon. member shakes her head and says that is not what she had in mind, then I retract that statement. The point is that when families do not have money, families do not have choices. When families are taxed until they squeak, they do not have money. It is a simple corollary. That is why we say that the taxes must be lowered in order to give people the chance to make their own choices.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Julian Reed Liberal Halton—Peel, ON

Mr. Speaker, I must say that the hon. member for Essex-Windsor has given a detailed response to the motion to which I attach myself very proudly. Her knowledge of this subject is obvious. She has done a tremendous amount of homework studying it.

The Reform motion, on the face of it, is quite compelling. The motion calls for the extension of the child care tax deduction to all families of all income levels and so on. I will forgive the technical glitch. It speaks of a child care tax deduction, but it should speak of something else.

When we examine the motion, the problem is that we begin to ask questions about what the motion really means. If it means, as my hon. friend from Swift Current-Maple Creek-Assiniboia has said, transferring the $5,000 to a tax credit, then it begins to raise even more questions.

My hon. friend from Essex-Windsor asked the question: What would happen if the Reform Party's second chance program were to come into play and more people were taken off the tax rolls? That $5,000 tax credit would be available to people who would not be paying any taxes. What would happen to those people with low incomes?

One could go on to ask a number of questions like that to get into the detail of this motion. While the spirit of the motion may be quite commendable, it is not workable. It is not doable. If the Reform Party were the government of the day-perish the thought-it would be introducing something which would have rather horrendous implications.

My friend from Swift Current-Maple Creek-Assiniboia spoke of certain loans that our government has made recently to various companies. He has attempted to discredit them in the face of the need for adequate financing for children. He referred to the war on poverty. Let me make it very clear that the most effective war on

poverty is employment. When people are working and putting bread on the table, that is the most effective war on poverty.

I would like to respond to the charges about the $87 million which was lent to Bombardier. It is a repayable loan. It was not given to the company. It is a loan which is repayable in royalties when the next new generation of Bombardier aircraft are out on the line, built and flying.

Actually the aerospace industry, as my hon. friend will acknowledge, is one of the greatest exports Canada has at the present time. To bring us into a position where Canada will become the fourth largest manufacturer of aerospace equipment, aircraft particularly, it seems to me that research and development partnerships with industry are a very suitable way to go, especially in they are in the form of repayable loans.

Recently some money was loaned for the further development of the tar sands. It was done on a similar basis. Thirty million dollars was given to a company in Vancouver that is a specialist in fuel cell production. It represents the vanguard of some of the new energy utilization we will have in this country.

The Liberal government has always believed in these kinds of partnerships. This is not done as a handout to industry. It is done in the spirit of investment because this kind of investment pays huge dividends.

The hon. member speaks of income declines in recent years. I wonder if he would pay the same attention to interest rate declines. If someone has a young family at the present time, it is pretty common to have a mortgage on a home. If you go to the bank today to renew your mortgage after five years, you will walk out of there with $3,000 to $4,000 more in your pockets than you had previously. The financial policies of the government have been instrumental in the resulting decline in interest rates-

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Reform Swift Current—Maple Creek—Assiniboia, SK

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Is there a question in there somewhere or is the hon. member making a speech on my time?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member is in fact making a speech but it is my understanding that it is on his time. There were questions and comments with you and he now has the floor on debate.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Julian Reed Liberal Halton—Peel, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry the hon. member did not realize that you had called for debate. I am in a very forgiving mood this afternoon so I will acknowledge that the hon. member just did not hear it.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Reform Swift Current—Maple Creek—Assiniboia, SK

Mr. Speaker, with respect, I do not think debate was called.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Actually I should have done it if I did not because he is now debating and he has the floor.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Julian Reed Liberal Halton—Peel, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is probably because I am closer to the Speaker that I heard the word "debate".

There is no question that the financial policies of the government as they relate to economic recovery and renewal are probably one of the strongest things that can be done for the family. As a result of policies which have strengthened the dollar, lowered interest rates and raised export levels to record highs, the country is in a position where 700,000 new jobs have been created. The country is now in a position to move on and be one of the strongest, if not the strongest, economy in the G-7. It seems to me that has a direct impact on the family.

In spite of the fact that Canadians have come through a serious period of constraint in the last few years and has partnered with the Canadian people to asked them to bear with it in its attempt to fix the economy, the government has continued to provide substantial assistance to low income families and those who need it most.

I give the example of the child tax benefit. It was recognized that as the economy strengthens that the effort must be increased, especially the war on child poverty, and to strengthen the institution of the family as much as possible. We are headed that way, but perhaps in a little different way than my hon. friend suggests.

If this country was to adopt the policies put forward by the Reform Party Canadians would be in a horrific financial situation because the arithmetic does not add up. Money cannot be given out here and there on the never, never without some revenue to compensate for it. That is the direction we are heading under Reform.

I am very comfortable in declining to support the motion. I have great sympathy for its intent, and I hope it is not just a populist ploy but a sincere attempt by the Reform Party. However, in all conscience I cannot support the motion. I am sure that if the Reform Party were to introduce something more detailed and a little more correct in the future, I might consider it at that time.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Reform

Mike Scott Reform Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, I could not help but reply to the member's statement.

He compared the money that is being put into the tar sands in Alberta with the $87 million no interest loan to Bombardier. He said, basically: "Can you not see that we are doing as much for Alberta and as much for western Canada as we are for central Canada?" That is a slap in the face to people who live in Alberta and British Columbia and who suffered through the $80 billion rip-off by the government through the national energy program. It took the money that belonged to those provinces and walked away

with it for the benefit of central Canada and the federal government.

By throwing a few crumbs back into Alberta in the tar sands project and suggesting that in some way it is the benevolent government looking out for the best interests of Alberta, I frankly find that a bit of a slap in the face.

I do not forget things like that. There are a lot of people in western Canada who will never forget what the Liberal government did with the $80 billion rip-off under the national energy program. I will never forget that.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

The Speaker

I know there is a question in there someplace and the hon. member will find it.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Julian Reed Liberal Halton—Peel, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am not capable of living in the past. I try to live in the present and look to the future. It seems to me that the $400 million that is going to improve the tar sands is going to allow the tar sands to develop in a way that is going to be very beneficial to western Canada.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

The Speaker

I might have gotten the wrong signal here. I asked the hon. member for Halton-Peel if he was going to use the full time and I thought he indicated to me that he was going to use the full 20 minutes. Is that correct?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Julian Reed Liberal Halton—Peel, ON

Mr. Speaker, what I indicated to you was that I had no one to share the time with.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

An hon. member

Yes you do.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Julian Reed Liberal Halton—Peel, ON

I am learning something new every minute of this afternoon. I would be very honoured to share my time with the hon. member for Algoma.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

The Speaker

Colleagues, with your consent may we give the 10 minutes to the member for Algoma?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Algoma has 10 minutes. It is 10 minutes and 5 minutes.