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House of Commons Hansard #74 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was chair.

Topics

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Chair, I should explain that we do believe in accountability. If the hon. member is saying that the previous government rubber stamped applications once they arrived in Ottawa, that is a whole other issue. I am not sure I would want to do that because we believe in accountability. We want to ensure that the programs deliver real results in priority areas and that they adhere to very strict reporting requirements. We have turned down less than 20 out of hundreds and hundreds of proposals.

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Chair, I would like to speak about post-secondary education. I wonder if I could ask the minister what happened to Bill C-48, how much was it supposed to be, what was it intended for and where did it go.

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Chair, Bill C-48 was under the administration of the finance department. Tonight we are discussing Human Resources and Social Development.

If he is asking about our portion of Bill C-48, which is the $1 billion trust for post-secondary education, those trusts have been honoured. I actually checked with the minister today and he advised me that those trusts have been established for the provinces.

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Chair, I would like to read Bill C-48 as it pertains to post-secondary education. It states, “for supporting training programs and enhancing access to post-secondary education...an amount not exceeding $1.5 billion”, not $1 billion.

Why is it not $1.5 billion and why is it not enhancing access?

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Chair, the terms that were set out were actually dedicating it primarily to infrastructure and accessibility to post-secondary education to be used for infrastructure enhancing access, such as libraries and laboratories. That is access. If people do not have buildings to go into there is no university to access.

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Chair, I would encourage the minister to read the bill and if she sees any mention of infrastructure perhaps she could let me know because it is not in that bill. This talks about access.

I wonder if I could ask the minister what the average university tuition is for post-secondary education in Canada.

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Chair, I know we do have that information somewhere in our mountain of materials. If we cannot find it in a very short period I would be happy to provide it to the hon. member later on.

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Chair, the average tuition is $4,347. I would think the minister responsible would know that.

What has the federal government's percentage of investment in post-secondary institutions been over the past 10 years? What is the trend?

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9:05 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Chair, I will not answer what the trend of the previous government was. We have been here for eight months. The trend starts now.

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9:05 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Chair, if she read the budget documents, the answer is in there. These are her budget documents. It says that the total share of federal support has remained constant over the past 10 years at 25%.

We put money into research, bringing Canada from the lowest to the highest in the G-7 in publicly funded research.

The issue now is access for students. I wonder if she can tell me what she is doing to help low income Canadians get to university or community college.

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9:05 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Chair, we are actually doing quite a lot. In our budget, not only did we invest a billion dollars for the infrastructure, but we also increased eligibility for the Canada student loan program.

We have made scholarships and bursaries exempt from taxes for students. We believe that if they earned the money then they should be able to put it toward their education.

We brought in the apprenticeship incentive grant which will help students get into the skilled trades. We did not want to just take an approach that kids need to go to university or college, we brought in the apprenticeship program. I would be happy to mention a whole lot more if the member would give me the time.

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9:05 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Chair, what I would say is that about a year ago the previous Liberal government introduced into the House a bill that would give $2.2 billion over five years to make post-secondary education more affordable for low income Canadians.

If the minister thinks infrastructure is all there is to access, does the government feel any obligation to help the students most in need? Does the government care or has it just not gotten around to it yet?

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9:05 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Chair, quite frankly, it is rather rich hearing these numbers coming from the members opposite. That was the government that cut $4 billion out of post-secondary education. We need to find a little consistency.

Let me explain what we are investing in. We are investing in aboriginal post-secondary education assistance, $304 million; Canada graduate scholarships, $25 million; Canada education savings grants to help those with low income, $395 million; Canada student loans, $794 million; plus, we brought in a textbook tax credit.

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9:05 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Chair, the Conservative government eliminated the early learning and child care initiative altogether. The taxable $100 a month which the government is providing is not even enough to provide for one day of child care. It costs on average $783 per month for child care. That $100 creates absolutely no spaces whatsoever. In fact, in Toronto, increasing poverty has been tied directly to the fact that child care spaces are not available.

Will the minister tell us that she in fact has no plan for child care for this country?

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9:05 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Chair, it was the previous government that cobbled together on the eve of an election funding agreements with only three provinces that had absolutely no guarantee of creating child care space anywhere in the country.

We, on the other hand, have provided significant investment. We have provided $100 a month to every parent with a child under the age of six to help them access whatever child care meets their needs. It might be 9 to 5 Monday to Friday or it might be staying home with mom, dad, granny or a neighbour. The parents are the real experts on child care.

We will also be creating new spaces that will be in compliance with provincial regulations and helping parents meet all their different needs.

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9:05 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Chair, a year into the making and it has been working but we are losing thousands of spaces.

The government also broke a promise from the election. It said that the $100 would not impact the child tax benefit. In fact, the government eliminated the young child supplement program, and the modest income that Canadians are now receiving does nothing to help them. There is no affordable child care to boot and the money is taxable. This gives parents absolutely no choice.

What does the minister have against children and learning and providing them with the opportunities they need to succeed?

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9:05 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Chair, I might ask the hon. member why she does not believe that parents are good people to raise their own kids.

No one said that we would provide 100% subsidized day care, but that is not what most Canadians want anyway. We want to respect the choices of Canadian parents, parents like yourself, Mr. Chair, so they have the flexibility to put their young children where they need to be.

I have had a lot of parents, many of whom I have never even met before, come up to me and thank me for that universal child care benefit because they said it makes all the difference in the world to their families.

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9:10 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Chair, the minister is giving families no choice at all. The reason that poverty is up in Toronto is because there is no child care.

The Caledon Institute says that the Conservative plan discriminates against low income families. Indeed, the $100 per month is taxed and the less people make the more they are taxed.

Why does the minister insist on continuously punishing the more vulnerable in our society? They have no child care and they have discriminatory income support. Will the minister fight for children or not?

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9:10 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Chair, I think that is a little backwards. We made it very clear that the child care allowance would be taxed in the hands of the lower income spouse. We worked very hard to get agreement from all 13 provinces and territories that they would follow our lead and not include that money when the social assistance programs and parents eligibility for those programs was being calculated. We were protecting low income Canadians because that is where the help is needed most and that is where we are delivering it.

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9:10 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Chair, she is not protecting low income Canadians because being taxed on the lower income means that single moms who do not have a spouse pay taxes on everything they earn. In fact, the data shows that the lower the income the higher the tax.

The government says that the $10,000 tax incentive to create child care spaces will be unused, and we know that. The sum of $10,000 is a mere fraction of what it costs to set up a new space. In Vancouver it would cost about $40,000 to create a new space in child care.

Why will the minister not realize her mistake and honour the agreement with the provinces?

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9:10 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Chair, we do not pretend to have all the answers, which is why we go to the experts. The experts on what would motivate people to create spaces are the people we want to create the spaces in the first place, businesses and community groups, including child care providers who fit into both categories. Those are the people we are consulting with and those are the people who will be leading my ministerial advisory committee that will be designing the incentives to create the spaces. They will be coming up with recommendations because they are the ones who should know what works. I look forward to seeing the results.

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9:10 p.m.

Blackstrap Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Chair, I am not so sure I am pleased for this opportunity tonight. I am pleased, though, to join in the committee of the whole proceedings alongside the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, whom I serve as parliamentary secretary.

During the course of my remarks, I will highlight the measures Canada's new government has undertaken to support seniors, those Canadians in need of affordable housing and caregivers. These measures represent a tangible demonstration of our commitment to those most in need, our most vulnerable citizens.

First and foremost, in recognition of the important contribution our seniors have made in building Canada, we are committed to ensuring they enjoy their later years in the peace and dignity they so richly deserve. Working in conjunction with our provincial and territorial partners, as well as others serving the needs and interests of seniors, we are continually seeking to address the growing and increasingly diverse needs of our seniors population.

Key among our priorities is ensuring the ongoing sustainability of the pillars of Canada's retirement income system: the Canada pension plan and old age security. As the chief actuary confirmed, the CPP and the old age security are financially sound for the next 75 years, even after taking into account the pressures of our aging population.

At the present time, over four million seniors receive old age security benefits and over three million seniors receive CPP retirement payments. Canada's seniors receive over $50 billion in public pension benefits each year.

Included in that figure are the 1.6 million low income seniors who annually receive the guaranteed income supplement at a total cost of $6.5 billion. To further augment such existing support for low income seniors, the GIS was increased approximately $18 in 2006 for single recipients and $29 for couples.

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9:10 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Thanks to the Liberals.

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9:10 p.m.

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Conservative Blackstrap, SK

An identical increase will again occur in January 2007, thanks to the Conservatives.

We can take pride in the fact that poverty among our seniors has significantly declined to among the lowest levels in the world.

Human Resources and Skills Development—Main Estimates 2006-07Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

9:10 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

There are Liberal spaces under the agreement. You are getting rid of it.