An Alliance member is asking how that affects divorce? We are talking about creating a strong environment for family units. Members across the way addressed that as one of the major issues relating to breakups and divorce. I was addressing their comments as previously stated in the House.
Those are some of the things that could specifically happen in regard to creating a strong environment for family units. We know that the House has discussed the issue. However, it has not been acted upon and has not led to any action. This is one of the important factors that needs to be addressed.
Legislative changes are happening. I would like to point out that legislative changes are important. We cannot ignore the difficulty with legal aid and legislative changes. We know that women earn less and are less able to purchase effective legal services. Legal aid has been cut quite a bit in B.C. and Ontario is reinstating some of the legal aid cuts. However, legal aid has been a tool that has been reduced in this country.
We need to make sure that legal aid is available for people so that they are able to go through these processes, to make sure that they have strong opportunities to be able to put forth their cases for their actual situations.
Another issue with regard to legislative changes is that the terms of custody and access will be eliminated for the purposes of the act and the new model will be based upon a parental responsibilities framework. It is outlining more of the jurisdictional aspect over the framework. To some extent, I think that is actually good. It is jargon in the sense of the framework tool, but perhaps defining these things more will be very helpful and actually provide some framework and, more important, some obligated responsibilities.
However, like a lot of other issues, the courts cannot always legislate people to do things. We have to provide the proper environments and the proper tools for people to be effective, and that simply is not happening with the set-up we have right now.
In addition to changes to the Divorce Act, amendments will be made to the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act. They are important in consolidating some of the things we have out there. I have had a number of constituents call me with concerns in regard to being able to access the supports that were given to them through a legal process. Parents not having the ability to get those resources directly affects the child. That is one thing that needs to be addressed, as well as, potentially, the backlogs in the system so that people can actually get the resources that have been derived for them.
I would like to touch briefly as well on the fact that the bill still seems to isolate divorce as being a one-family situation. This does concern me. It is important to start to move toward understanding that it takes the whole community to raise a child, that it is the community's responsibility, not just that of the parents. The parents obviously are very important in this, but bringing children into the world and rearing them requires the support of the community. Just putting the fault on two people, on the fact that they could not get along, is not sufficient in the debate. There has to be a healthy environment and there have to be the tools necessary for them. As well, we have to provide the necessary supports for them.
We know that right now, regardless of who has custody, women have a greater challenge with single parenting. This is an important thing to recognize in single parenting. We know right now that households led by women earn less. We know that. It is an additional challenge that they are going to have to face and society has to have the supports there. We know right now that there is not access to day care. It is very important for single mothers to be able to access affordable day care that is going to be a nurturing environment for their sons or daughters.
There is a fundamental question. Whatever the family structure, a child's adjustment is associated with the quality of parenting and not the structure of the family itself. This is a fundamental question to debate. Once again it goes back to the fact that obviously the parents, in a strong environment, are going to be a great asset, but when that situation does not happen we have to ensure that the proper supports are there.
I believe the government can do that by moving to more comprehensive strategies to eliminate child poverty. That is going to ensure that at the end of the day the children who have to go through the system are going to have the supports there. It will not be whether or not someone is going to pay up somewhere down the line or whether someone is going to show up for the child. There must be proper supports for them. That is going to be very important in the future.
In summary, I will conclude my remarks by saying that it has taken a long time for the government to address the situation of child poverty. Our issue with regard to Bill C-22 is going to be the struggle on how it is going to relate to being able to advance the beneficial elements for children. The struggle will be whether or not it is going to be part of a process to eliminate child poverty or part of a process that is going to further create that problem. I think that is a loss for the country.