Madam Speaker, the idea that instead of acting to address poverty the Government of Canada is simply trying to define poverty away is a grave misunderstanding of what the government stands for.
Rather, the government has consistently demonstrated its concern and commitment to low income Canadians and especially the needs of children and youth. For instance, the government, in partnership with provincial and territorial governments, has taken action in the area of child poverty and has made children a priority through the national child benefit. The benefit will help low income parents to improve their circumstances.
By the year 2000 a total of $1.7 billion per year of new money will be directed to low income families. This is over and above the $5.1 billion the government spends on families with children year after year.
The member opposite has made clear that this $1.7 billion on top of the $5.1 billion does not impress her. Perhaps this is because she arrived in this place at a time when the government had begun to reverse the fiscal situation that we all faced when we first came here in 1993. Had she been here at that time she might realize that any new money was pretty miraculous, considering we had been through years of doing nothing but cutting. We are pretty proud of the fact, and maybe we do overstate it, that the first new money we spent was on families with children who are in poverty.
The government is concerned with the measurement of poverty as well but not in the way she implied in her question. The fact is that among experts there is no consensus around the existing measures of poverty. Some think existing measures are too high and some think they are not high enough.
Statistics Canada has stated that its low income cutoff, a measure used by many—