Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak today to an issue that is extremely important and close to the hearts of many Canadians, particularly those in my riding. The issue of a national day care program has become paramount, especially to me since the birth of my first grandchild just three weeks ago.
On February 15 the Liberal government voted down a motion by this party to reduce taxes for lower and modest income Canadian families and giving new funds for child care directly to parents. It read:
That the House call upon the government to address the issue of child care by fulfilling its commitment to reduce taxes for low and modest income families in the upcoming budget, and, so as to respect provincial jurisdiction, ensure additional funds for child care are provided directly to parents.
In doing so, the Liberals did the unthinkable by voting against stay at home parents. That vote was a slap in the face and an insult, in particular by the social development minister who insinuated that the only reason parents stayed at home with their kids was out of guilt.
The main point I want to make here tonight is that this is about choice and fairness. When a child is born the choice of how that child is raised should be made by the parents, not the government.
The Conservative Party of Canada recognizes that parents, not the federal government, are in the best position to determine which type of child care best suits their family. We know parents would benefit from direct assistance.
The Liberals are discriminating against these families by pouring money into child care for working parents but giving no breaks to stay at home parents. An example of this is the fact that summer camps are tax deductible for working parents but not for stay at home parents.
The Conservative Party will continue to support all existing child benefit programs and introduce broad based tax relief that would directly benefit parents and allow them to make their own choices about the care and nurturing of their young children.
In fact, at our recent national policy convention in Montreal the following detailed and comprehensive policy was ratified:
The Conservative Party of Canada recognizes that parents are in the best position to determine the care needs of their children, and that they should be able to do so in an environment that encourages as many options as possible, and in a manner that does not discriminate against those who opt to raise their children in family, social, linguistic, and religious environments. We also recognize that the delivery of education and social services are provincial responsibilities under the constitution. We believe that support should go to all parents and families raising children, especially to lower and middle income parents. All existing levels of support will be maintained and improved if necessary.
The Liberals have been promising Canadians a national child care program for over 10 years. However, after broken promise after broken promise, they have finally put forward a plan that is not workable. They have failed to provide any information about how they intend to achieve this. They are willing to spend billions of dollars without a proper plan and risk creating another huge Liberal bureaucracy.
The key details, including how flexible the system can be, how to hold provinces accountable and how many child care spaces will be created are yet to be determined. This has the potential to set records of waste and mismanagement. We can think of the gun law.
A Conservative government would ensure that parents who need the money most would receive the most assistance and that parents would be given the resources they need to make the best choices for their children. This is extremely important, especially in the rural areas where a majority of children are babysat by family, friends or a local babysitter.
A Conservative government would protect parents from being forced to send their children from the cradle to an institution at a very young age.
My wife Darlene and I made the choice that she would stay home and raise our boys. That was our choice and that is the way it should be. I would like my son and his wife to have that same choice with their daughter. I want them to be able to have the same financial benefit as any other parent, regardless of whether they choose to work away from home or stay at home to raise my granddaughter.
A family like theirs and the thousands of others across this country should not be penalized for deciding to raise their children in the early years of their development. The government should be ashamed that it is not honouring its throne speech promise to reduce taxes for lower and modest income Canadians.