Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member from Laval.
Today's debate is becoming surrealistic. The Liberals want to convince us that their family policy is better than the Conservatives’; the Conservatives are trying to have us think that the $1,200 family allowance is better than the Liberals’; and the NDP is attempting to convince us that its family policy is better than the ones proposed by the other two parties. None of these three parties seems to realize that family policies are the exclusive jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces.
For the Bloc Québécois, the best family policy for Quebec is the one developed by the members of the National Assembly, in collaboration with civil society in Quebec. It is not surprising that Canada wishes to acquire a child care system based on the Quebec model, since Quebec’s is the best model ever, according to the OECD, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The creation of these centres, however, is not within federal jurisdiction, but within the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces.
The early childhood centres contribute a lot to Quebec. For example, they make it possible for women to get back into the labour market after having a baby. For someone earning a small salary and wishing to get back into the labour market, it is much better to pay $7 a day for child care than the $30 that it would normally cost. Quebec developed a family policy for itself in order to help those young women and the young women who wish to go back to school but cannot afford to pay $150 a week for child care. Once again, it is preferable to pay $7 a day. Early childhood centres are non-profit agencies that provide a structure for children to help them progress in society.
The $7 a day early childhood centres have an economic impact. These women who are returning to the labour market pay income taxes to the government. If the early childhood centres cost $150 a week, we do not think that these same women and these young families would get back into the labour market. We are thus investing in our young people and our children, as well as in the young women and young men who wish to get back into the labour market. This also helps our children grow. Early childhood centres are like little schools where children learn to grow. They are also in contact with other children and are properly supervised during the day. Thus they can progress. This is the choice made by Quebec and it is a very good investment.
The Liberal motion mentions that proactive intergovernmental measures are necessary. That is false, because Quebec did not give permission and certainly did not wait for whomever it might be to create its own child care system.
I have nothing against the provinces creating child care centres. That is their choice. Each province should invest in that, it is not up to Parliament to do it for them, or to impose its terms. Family policy is under provincial jurisdiction, because it is closely connected with the transmission of values and culture. And in that vein, child care centres socialize and educate our young children.
In any event, Quebeckers do not want their money to be invested in federal interference, unlike the Liberals who have interfered in the provinces’ jurisdictions for over 100 years. Child care centres must absolutely remain under provincial jurisdiction, and in Quebec they must be managed by Quebeckers. But we will give this a chance.
The Bloc Québécois is pleased with the agreement for $1.1 billion that came out of the child care agreement. Unfortunately, Quebec is losing $800 million because the Conservatives have thrown that agreement overboard, even though it was welcomed in Canada and in Quebec.
Canada had its child care centres and Quebec had its financial contribution.
The Conservatives are now offering families a taxable benefit of $1,200. The Bloc does not oppose this measure in principle, but it could be unfair and it has serious flaws. Instead, the Bloc proposes a refundable tax credit that will be equitable for families.
The government has fixed some of the flaws; for instance, its benefit will not affect the national child benefit. This is only a start, which the Bloc welcomes, but there are other things to be done in order to keep moving forward.
The Bloc Québécois also welcomed the government’s plan to put an end to the fiscal imbalance. Obviously, the $800 million that Quebec has lost is included in the solution. We are extremely pleased.
In the meantime, the fiscal imbalance must certainly not be exacerbated, as the Liberals are still proposing. When the fiscal imbalance is corrected, Quebec and the provinces could be in charge of their own investment choices, which include education, health and child care.
As well, since Quebec established its early childhood centres, Quebec and Ottawa have been pocketing even more of the taxpayers’ money. The government confiscates $250 million from parents in Quebec, an average of $1,300 per child. That is more than the taxable $1,200 that the government is offering them in the recent budget.
The Bloc Québécois has for years been calling on the government to transfer the money it is saving on the backs of Quebeckers to Quebec. However you look at it, those are our taxes. Transferring it back would enable Quebec to invest in its family policy, among other things.
The Bloc Québécois is grateful for the concern of Canadians who want to raise our children, but we will tell them no, thank you, because we are grownups and we prefer to look after it ourselves.
Quebec has an effective child care system that is the envy of the rest of Canada and the world. We are very proud of it.
I would like to point out that if the fiscal imbalance were solved—better yet, if we were a sovereign country—we would not be here debating a societal choice that should be made only by Quebeckers. While we wait for that magical moment to come, the Bloc Québécois will continue to put its heart and soul into defending the interests of Quebec’s families.