Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the member for Trinity--Spadina on the question of creating real child care spaces. That is our goal as well. We want to create real spaces that will respond to a real need.
A child care solution that only helps some children or some parents is hardly a solution at all. Statistics Canada recently reported that only about 15% of preschool age children are in formal day care. That is 15% of some 2.1 million preschoolers in Canada. Well over half of all children under the age of six are actually cared for at home by mom, dad, grandma, or another close relative or neighbour. In other words, there now exists an enormous diversity in the child care choices families make.
Let us also face up to the reality that not every parent lives in a city, nor does every parent work at a 9 to 5 job. Formal day care programs do not seem to serve parents outside that mould. The solution is to provide more choice, choice in the form of delivery and choice in the design and operation of the child care facility. That is why starting next year and for the following four years we will invest in incentives that will help employers, community organizations, parents and other governments to create up to 125,000 more child care spaces.
These spaces could be created by businesses, community groups, non-profit organizations, or organizations that the member mentioned in her speech, for example, parents in communities that are linked to other resources providing support for home child care providers. To get their child care project up and running they would be eligible for financial incentives based on the number of new spaces they create.
Parents will be driving this process according to their needs, not governments driving parents. The universal child care plan is about putting choice for child care where it belongs, in the hands of the parents. We want to support the creation of child care spaces that respond to the real needs of working parents. I trust the ingenuity of parents living in our local communities to come up with practical ways to meet their child care needs.
By 2011 our government is committed to investing over $1 billion in the creation of child care spaces alone. We know that this is an ambitious project. There are challenges to creating new child care spaces that will offer the kind of flexibility that families need, but this is our commitment, and we will take the time we need to get it right. That is why we will be talking to parents, employers, and community non-profit organizations in addition to the provinces and territories to make sure we meet the needs of Canadian families.
I call on my hon. colleagues to support Canadian parents.