Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to participate in the debate on the Speech from the Throne delivered yesterday by Her Excellency the Governor General.
I will be sharing my time with the member for Essex.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my two daughters, Mélynda and Marie-Catherine, for the support they have shown for me through this adventure, which continues in this House. I thank the Right Hon. Prime Minister for giving me the chance to speak today in this House. Special thanks to all the citizens of Beauport—Limoilou who believed in me and in our government.
I am particularly glad to be able to speak because it gives me an opportunity to address some of the commitments we made for strengthening communities and families, which are, after all, the cornerstones of this country.
As the proud mother of two marvellous teenagers, I am very familiar with the challenges that parents have to meet if they are to raise happy, well-balanced, healthy children who will one day be able to make a special contribution to the communities they live in, and in doing so, strengthen our country.
Among the challenges facing parents, some are financial. Many families have trouble making ends meet, even when the parents are living together and both are working. For those families, there are too many bills. They cannot manage to pay them all. This situation is exacerbated by high income taxes and sales taxes, which cut into paycheques and raise the cost of everything they buy.
That is why I am glad that the speech called for a reduction in the GST, from 7% to 6% and eventually to 5%. That kind of reduction will produce annual savings amounting to hundreds of dollars per family. It will translate into more money for basic needs like food and clothing; more money for school supplies; more money for rent and bills; maybe also a bit more money for starting to save for the children’s post-secondary education.
What is even better is that this reduction will benefit everyone, no matter where they live and regardless of what their situation is, because we all pay GST on nearly all the products we buy. To put it simply, everyone will benefit from this, just like Canada itself.
In many families, both parents have to work in order to make ends meet. Many single parents have to work as well. Parents must be able to find suitable child care. Too often in the past, the government unfortunately did nothing. It came up with theories that called for one-size child care, on the assumption that everyone has exactly the same needs. As a result, only public day care centres received federal funding. The problem is that families are not all the same. They have different needs.
We have to allow parents to choose the option that best suits them. The present government is proposing to do just that by paying parents $1,200 for each child under six. Parents will be able to use this money to pay for the child care that is best for them. This is a real plan that will produce tangible results for parents. It is better than a child care theory. But our plan will go ever further. It commits the country to create more child care spaces, not by asking politicians to transfer money to other politicians, but by offering certain measures to encourage companies and organizations to create more spaces.
Let us turn now to the waiting time guarantees for patients. Families face another difficulty: they need quality health care in a reasonable time frame. This is especially important for young children and older people, who often need more care.
Here too, the government has listened, as can be seen in the promise it made to implement a waiting time guarantee. As a result, when essential medical services cannot be provided in public hospitals, people may seek treatment in a private clinic or public hospital in another region at government expense.
Here too, we are providing Canadians and Quebeckers with the health care that they need and have paid for when they need it.
I would like to turn now to youth at risk. We must recognize that some young people do not always make the right choices, as can be seen in the acts of violence that have occurred recently in our country. We can punish crime more severely by giving the dedicated officers in our criminal justice system the tools they need to protect our communities. This was also in the Speech from the Throne.
We must work as well with our partners to help put young people who have had problems with the law back on the right track. We must attack the root causes of the problem to prevent our young people from finding themselves in difficulty.
These measures can be found in the Speech from the Throne under the promise that the government made to strengthen families and communities.
So these are some of the commitments in the Speech from the Throne that should go a long way toward helping to create strong families and communities, which are, after all, the foundation of all that is best in this country.
They include: a cut in the GST so parents have more money in their pockets to pay for the necessities of life; more choice in child care so parents can find the option that best suits their situation; a medical wait time guarantee so family members can get the treatment they need when they need it; and measures aimed at making our communities safer and helping young people stay out of trouble and get their lives back on track when they do get into trouble.
Taken together, they represent a powerful agenda for change that will strengthen families and communities and ensure that Canadians can continue to enjoy a quality of life that has made us the envy of the world.
It is for those reasons that I support the measures contained in this document.
Yes, that is why I support the measures in this document.
I urge all members to work with the government to ensure that we provide families and communities with the assistance they need to be even stronger.