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.