Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to tell the House about our government's child care policies.
Our government recognizes that families are the building blocks of our society and that getting the best possible start in life is crucial to ensuring that children reach their full potential. That is why this government is investing in the well-being of all families, including those with young children.
Our approach to child care, the universal child care plan, respects the role of parents in determining how best to care for their children and recognizes the responsibility of the provincial and territorial governments for the delivery of child care services. Our plan puts choice in the hands of parents and helps them choose the child care option that suits their families' needs, whether they work in the paid labour force or stay at home with their children, whether they live in a small town, rural community or urban area.
In 2011-12, the federal government is providing $6 billion in support of early childhood development and child care through transfers to the provinces and territories. In addition, we are providing direct support through the universal child care benefit and tax measure,s such as the child care expense deduction and the child tax credit. This is the largest investment in the history of Canada.
In the 2010 budget, we reaffirmed our commitment to offering Canadian parents a reasonable choice with regard to child care.
We improved the taxation of the universal child care benefit to ensure that single parent families are treated fairly. We enhanced the delivery of child benefits for parents with joint custody. The child tax credit introduced in 2007 complements this benefit by providing up to $300 of tax relief annually to more than three million Canadian families with children.
Our government also invested in child care spaces to help parents find a better balance between child care and career responsibilities.
Our approach has been providing tangible results for Canadians. A growing body of Canadian and international research suggests that the provision of cash benefits is an effective way to improve child outcomes, especially for younger children in low-income families. Our government provides $250 million per year to the provinces and territories through the Canada social transfer to help support the creation of new child care spaces across the country.
Since 2007, many provinces and territories have announced plans for the creation of new child care spaces, over 102,000 so far. Others are investing in enhancing the quality of these spaces and their affordability.
The family is the building block of our society and our government will continue to support Canadian families. We believe Canadian parents know what is best for their children. A one-size-fits-all model does not work for Canada's diverse families. We are providing choice in child care by putting more money in the pockets of parents to choose the child care of their choice.