Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak tonight to Bill C-456, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act to exempt cloth and disposable diapers from the GST. I appreciate the bill put forward by the member for LongueuiI. I also appreciated her comments at the beginning of the debate. I hope that her two boys are watching their mom on CPAC, or whatever the equivalent is in Quebec. I hope they are watching their mother speak out on an issue which is very important to families.
I think, if anything, this bill speaks to the reason why we need a lot more women in the House of Commons. We see issues that are very down to earth and essential to our families. They need to be discussed here in order to bring forward practical solutions. This is as good an example as any why we need a lot more women in the House of Commons.
I support this bill and I believe that New Democrats support this bill. We are trying to come up with ways of eliminating more of the hardships facing Canadian families all over this country and helping people deal with the rising costs of raising children. It will make a difference. It will bring relief on a dollar per dollar basis of the amount that goes out every week on essentials, such as diapers. That is a really positive benefit of this bill.
The member for Longueuil mentioned that Quebec is more progressive when it comes to measures to assist families. I have always looked to Quebec and the kind of day care assistance it gives to families. I have wished very much that we could offer the same kind of assistance for all families in Nova Scotia, where I live and where I represent people.
I think that Quebec has also been working to assist families deal with escalating costs of raising children in other ways. I read that effective March 31, the Quebec sales tax is no longer applicable to the following items, and these are again important items involved in child raising: children's diapers and training pants, breast and bottle feeding equipment, waterproof pants worn over washable diapers, absorbent liners, and biodegradable paper used with children's diapers.
The goods and services tax continues to be applied to these items, but the Quebec sales tax, QST, has been removed. This is an important progressive step. The NDP believes in this kind of step to remove these consumer taxes on items that are essentials in daily life.
In February, my colleague, the member for Winnipeg North Centre, introduced a private member's bill to eliminate the goods and services tax on feminine hygiene products. That is another important elimination of a consumption tax on essentials. At that time, she said that charging the GST on feminine hygiene products clearly affects women only. It unfairly disadvantages women financially, solely because of our reproductive role.
If a proper gender based analysis had been done when the GST was introduced, this discriminatory aspect of the tax would never have been implemented. I agree with the member for Winnipeg North Centre.
I would say that applying the GST to diapers unfairly disadvantages people who have children. I would hope that this is certainly not the intent of the government. It certainly is not the intent of anyone in the New Democratic Party. The NDP finds this kind of consumption tax on essentials unacceptable.
The NDP has been at the forefront in speaking out on child poverty in this country. A decade ago the House of Commons gave unanimous support to an NDP motion made by our leader at the time, Ed Broadbent. It was a resolution to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000. At the present time, one in five children still lives in poverty.
There is a direct relationship between child poverty and poverty facing parents in this country. Last week I had the opportunity to speak with people from Campaign 2000, a group speaking out about child poverty. I heard some astounding statistics. More than 60% of single mothers living in poverty earn less than $10 an hour.
Canada is a very low wage country among industrialized countries in terms of our wage scale. We are second only to the United States. One in four wages in this country is under $10 an hour. Into that mix are added on some very expensive consumer taxes to essential products such as diapers and feminine hygiene products. It is unacceptable that we have such low wages and unacceptable that so many people are living in poverty. It is also unacceptable that we further penalize people by putting on these kinds of consumption taxes.
I appreciate and support the bill put forward by my colleague from Longueuil. I hope that the bill will have the support of everyone else in the House.