Mr. Speaker, I too would like to address the motion put forward by the Conservative Party. I am splitting my time with the member for Edmonton—Spruce Grove.
I am completely in support and in favour of developing strategies that put children and families at an advantage. Although this is primarily a provincial issue, the federal government has a role to play in developing those strategies and in setting standards, both along the lines of minimum standards, whether it is for profit or not for profit, or whether it is just providing funding that the provinces can count on, and not simply to get us through the next election and then pull the rug out from under that funding.
Members of the NDP seem to be mixing some of the philosophies and appear to be quite confused. On the one hand, they are not supportive of for profit day care, but on the other hand, they are supportive of raising the wages. Raising wages is an extremely good idea but that is actually personal profit. I am confused about that.
The NDP also seems to feel that the only reason women are out working is because of a choice to provide intelligence and benefits to the community. While that is absolutely correct, I think it is very simplistic that this is a choice and only a choice. The truth is that Canadians cannot afford to live on a single income any more. I would beg the NDP to do a little more research and to completely understand that for women it is not just a choice, it is that there are no other options.
One other thing I would like to make clear on this argument is that the Conservative Party is not saying no to day care. What we are saying is that day care should not be the only option. This is not about dictating. It is not about winning elections or trying to put forth a promise that who knows how many times this has been promised. This is about children and about families.
I am a parent of two children. I have had the opportunity and the pleasure to have my children schooled in private schools. I have had them in day care. I have had the good fortune of having a sister-in-law care for my children. My mother and my spouse were fortunate enough to stay at home for many years. That is the choice. What we see with Canadians families is that they do not have that kind of choice. I was very blessed to be able to do that for my family.
What we have here is a government that is putting forth a program that does not offer all of those choices. It is institutional day care or it is nothing. The hon. minister has proposed $5 billion, which is the 10th or 11th time this promise has been made. I completely disagree with my colleagues in the NDP. This is not after 20 years of hard work. This is after a decade of broken promises.
I am concerned that the hon. member, in an attempt to do the right thing, has put the cart before the horse. I do not see a plan or a strategy. I see a proposal and I hear discussion and talk. I have no faith this will ever go anywhere. I am concerned that the government is in over its head on this issue and is moving forward without considering the true needs of all Canadians or the fallback of another program that will not score well with Canadians. No matter how many times we tell Canadians that this is a universal program for all children, the fact is that is completely not true and it is very misleading.
My party and I do not use the term “universal” because that is absolutely not what this program is all about. For me this appears to be more about spending money and keeping promises, at least until the next election, hence the five year limit on this funding. It is more about keeping a promise than helping Canadians and I am very concerned about that.
The fact is that this program from the government will not help all children. A very limited number of children and families will be helped. The only universality in this program is that all parents and non-parents will pay for it.
What about the millions of children who fall outside the program's parameters? An estimated 250,000 children might benefit from this so-called universal institutionalized day care. What about the other approximately four million children who will not get any benefit? This is actually the fifth out of six options presented by the Vanier Institute. It is actually the second-last.
The program, as I mentioned earlier, fails to promise stable funding to the provinces. Provinces will get into an adversarial kind of positioning as a result of this limited funding. They will feel separated and divided from their federal counterparts. This kind of option promotes divisiveness. It promotes this theory of having to fight with the federal government, which again leads to this business that this is not about the people for the people of the people. This is about the Liberals trying to fulfill a promise, again without thinking about the collateral issues behind this extremely expensive and very limited program in terms of benefits.
We have had far too many opportunities to see what happens when the Liberal government gets a hold of another program that has to do with billions of dollars. We certainly do not want, nor can we afford, another boondoggle that will race out of control in terms of funding and ultimately end up somewhere in the neighbour of 20¢ efficiency on a $1.
The Conservative Party has better ideas. Just because it is the Conservative Party that has come up with these creative solutions, which are far more long term and far more universal, is no reason in and unto itself to not listen to them. I would ask the House and the minister to consider the benefits of all parents of children maintaining control and choice on the rearing of their most valuable possession.
The Liberals' program excludes grandparents. It excludes stay at home moms and dads. It excludes extended families for cultural or choice reasons. It excludes rural families.
Although I did hear the hon. member from the NDP say that we should listen to our farmers, I have travelled the country. Does the member actually think there will be a day care at the end of every lane? The people in those farming communities cannot drive 40, 60, 70 kilometres to put their children into day care. It is ridiculous to assume that this program will benefit those rural families.
What about the children in communities who have special needs?
What about the waiting times to get into this limited program? We all know about waiting times when the Liberals manage a program.
I would encourage the House to listen to the ideas that are presented. We need to give tax breaks to parents. If the hon. member in the NDP wants better pay, then we should give the people a tax break. That is better pay.
Why not add a child tax credit to the existing child tax exemption which favours the more wealthy Canadians? A child tax credit puts money back into the pockets of all parents.
Why not eliminate the penalties in the income tax system that seem to punish single income families over the double income or multiple income families?
Those are Conservative ideas but they represent true fairness and true equal rights. They support choice, they support family and they will work well beyond five years. This gives a no strings attached approach to parents across Canada in every community and from every ethnic and cultural background. This is how parents can then use this money to simply choose whether they will put their child in the day care program or pay their mother, for example, to rear their children.
I will suggest that this is a reward, not punishment. This is choice, not dictation. This is a costed and predictable way for Canadians. It has no opportunity to become a boondoggle.