House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was tax.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Mississauga South (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Income Tax Act October 5th, 1994

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank all hon. members who took part in the debate. It is obviously very important that we have this exchange of ideas.

The one area that I have to comment on is the intervention of the parliamentary secretary. The parliamentary secretary unfortunately took an early memo that was prepared by staff and signed by the minister and sent to me using a billion dollar figure. Subsequent to that we have had numerous meetings to discuss the real finances.

If we compare what the real finances are to what the parliamentary secretary has said we find a substantial difference.

In fact the billion dollar figure assumes that every stay at home parent who is presently there would take advantage of this bill but nobody else would, in which case it is a full drain. It also does not eliminate all those parents that either make too little

and are in the lower tax brackets or too much to even qualify. That reduced the figure to about $500 million.

They gave no credit for the creation of child care spaces. I wonder whether or not the parliamentary secretary would agree that if the government is prepared to spend $12,000 per space to create child care spaces, some credit ought to be generated by those who free up those spaces.

The government used figures when it discussed with me in the worst possible case. This is the fiscally responsible thing to do. I hoped there would be some movement, some understanding that in fact there is real value for work in the home to be recognized. It is an honourable profession. Some tax reform is going to be necessary sooner or later. I want to assure the House that I for one am not going to stop fighting on behalf of all caregivers, whether they be parents working in the home, the seniors, the chronically ill or the disabled.

Income Tax Act October 5th, 1994

moved that Bill C-256, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (transfer of income to spouse), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House of Commons to present for debate at second reading my private member's bill, C-256.

Every member of Parliament looks forward to an opportunity to bring before the House matters of importance not only to themselves but to all Canadians. Bill C-256 is a proposal which is foremost about the family and which also has implications for jobs, child care, tax equity and the cost of health, social services and criminal justice.

The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 1994 as the International Year of the Family. However, in my view this is not as much a celebration as it is a warning.

In the last 30 years changes in our social and economic environment have been dramatic. Family and social values have clearly eroded. We no longer feel safe in our communities. Demand for social services has expanded beyond our means and family breakdown has become the norm. Everyone knows a lone parent, but did you know that 60 per cent of them are living in poverty?

In 1961, 65 per cent of families with children under six years old had one stay at home parent. In 1991, 30 years later, this type of family structure accounted for only 12 per cent of families. In addition, today more than 70 per cent of preschool children are now in non-parental care arrangements on a regular basis while parents work.

Much of this movement has been caused by economic circumstances. Growth in incomes has been stagnating in real terms since the mid 1970s and younger families have been hit the hardest. Their incomes are in dramatic decline and the incidence of poverty is increasing. For example, among families with a head under age 25 the incidence of poverty nearly doubled from 21 per cent to 37 per cent between 1981 and 1991.

I am therefore extremely pleased that today the Minister for Human Resources Development reaffirmed our commitment to the elimination of child poverty. He has clearly stated that this is our top priority in the restructuring of our social programs.

It should be noted however that as personal home parenting becomes increasingly uneconomic, it is being portrayed as decreasingly desirable. Instead of recognizing that there may be problems with our priorities, we somehow rationalize that the choice is best for the children.

In addition, there are a number of other contributing factors to the family and social ills we are experiencing today. We appear to have designed most of our services to kick in after problems become apparent. By then the need to respond is urgent but the remedial efforts are often unsuccessful.

According to the May 1994 report of the Ontario premier's council on health, well-being and social justice, critical development outcomes are rooted in early experiences and influences. These outcomes include good physical health, the ability to learn, the ability to cope with stress, being able to relate well with others and to have a positive self-esteem.

Where, how and with whom children spend their time in the early years has a major impact on their healthy development. A secure attachment to a nurturing adult is essential and who is better than one of the parents to provide that care.

Dr. Fraser Mustard, chair of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, has long advocated focusing some of our limited resources to children in the first three years of life. Their extensive research shows dramatic links between future problems and poor child care during infancy.

Dr. Mustard cites a 19 year study of early childhood enrichment in the United States. As a result, the group of children had a higher proportion who graduated from high school and went on to college. There was a 50 per cent lower incidence of mental health problems, 40 per cent fewer on welfare, and there were 50 per cent fewer teenage pregnancies.

Dr. Penelope Leach, renowned author on child care, masterfully stated the case when she said: "The real issue is not motherhood or career, but something closer to parenthood and paid work". Today, children are more a part of paid work than of home life. As such, they are currently of secondary importance in our society. Those priorities will have to shift.

The critical importance of quality child care is particularly dramatized by the facts related to young unmarried mothers. Each year over 20,000 unmarried women aged 12 to 19 give birth with the majority choosing to raise the children themselves. As a result, most do not finish their education and are likely to become dependent on subsidized housing and welfare. Their offspring are at a higher risk of being premature or low birth weight, more likely to experience difficulty in school, and more likely to become single parents themselves.

These facts raise serious questions. What has become of the traditional family? Are we fully aware of the potential consequences to our children's future development by having both parents work? Is it really up to governments to take the responsibility for the future development of our children? Has society decided that managing the family home and caring for preschool children is no longer important?

Who would dare say that a stay at home parent does not work? A parent working in the home has chosen a very honourable profession which contributes more to the quality of our society than most jobs. Yet it is a profession which is not specifically compensated in recognition of the value of the work done. That is the reason why I have tabled this bill. It is an attempt to provide a modest financial benefit to families who choose to have one parent work in the home and care for preschool children.

As a consequence of the bill, jobs in the external work force would be freed up for those who urgently need them. In addition, child care spaces would be freed up to partially address the critical shortage we are now experiencing.

Take the example of two working parents with two children in day care with the lower income earning spouse earning $25,000. After income tax, child care expenses and the cost of employment, the net take home pay is less than $100 per week.

Parents in this situation often question why they are sacrificing so much for so little. Their lives are driven by a child care schedule. They rush in the morning to get their child ready, they rush to deliver the children to day care, they rush to work to put in a full day and they cannot delay leaving work because the children must be picked up and taken home to be fed dinner. By the time they settle in the home, it is time to get the children ready for bed. Parents may want to spend family time with children but often it is the case that the children are too tired or not in the mood to play when the parents have the time.

What do parents do when their children are sick? That much stress cannot be helping the family unit. The amount of time that parents and children spend together has dropped by 40 per cent in a single generation. As a rationalization we dreamed up the notion of quality time. However, that implies that to spend a small amount of time with a child is satisfactory if it is quality time whereas if you are around the child all of the time only some of that time is quality time. That kind of thinking is simply flawed.

Economic considerations are important, but in certain circumstances parents are struggling to decide whether the modest take home pay of the lower income earning spouse is worth all the family sacrifices they are making. Although the vast majority of parents do work, a 1991 Decima poll found that 70 per cent of women would choose to provide direct parental care if they could. This bill would provide a financial bridge to assist those parents, and I stress, who would like the option to make that choice.

It should also be noted that our present income tax system in fact discriminates against one income families. The child care expense deduction permits two income families to claim up to $5,000 of child care costs per child under the age of seven regardless of how much income they have. No such deduction is available to one income families due to the false assumption that they have no child care costs.

Child care costs exist not because both spouses work but rather because children exist. The child care expense deduction has an inverse relationship to need. That means that the higher the family income, the higher the savings to the two income family.

Consider also the case where two neighbours each have children. One neighbour can be paid to take care of the children of the other neighbour and vice versa. Each family then gets to claim the child care expense deduction because they care for each other's children. Ironically, however, you do not get any deduction when you care for your own children. This favoured tax treatment may produce financial savings for those who care for the children of others but it does nothing for those who care for their own children.

The child care expense deduction should be means tested and extended to all families to address the profound inequities in our Income Tax Act. This initiative would provide equitable benefits to all families based on financial need. Accordingly, I will

shortly be tabling in the House a motion to effect this change and I hope it will have the support of all hon. members.

Bill C-256 specifically seeks to amend the Income Tax Act to permit one spouse to split up to $25,000 of their income with the spouse working in the home and caring for at least one dependent child who has not commenced full time attendance at school.

As a result of the graduated tax brackets presently in our income tax laws, this would result in a lower tax burden on family income. Depending on the level of incomes and deductions the benefit could be as much as $3,500 per year or about $65 per week.

In the example I cited if instead of forgoing $100 per week of net take home pay it were reduced to only $35 per week the option to have one parent work in the home would be much more attractive to the family. The income split with the spouse working in the home would be treated as self-employed income and as such would not be eligible for unemployment insurance. The income would however qualify for the purchase of RRSPs.

Under the Canada Pension Plan Act this income would not qualify for CPP benefits. I have however tabled in the House Bill C-269 which would change the CPP act to make such earnings pensionable. That change will require approval of two-thirds of the provinces representing 50 per cent of the population, plus Quebec which operates its own Quebec pension plan.

If we truly believe that working in the home and caring for preschool children is an important job, should we also not acknowledge the fairness of providing pension benefits?

The benefits of this bill do not stop there however. This is not just a bill which would give a tax break to some Canadians. If a lower income earner withdraws from the external workforce to work in the home, a job would be freed up or created depending on how we looked at it. With 10.7 per cent of our workforce unemployed the importance of job creation cannot be overstated.

Furthermore the person filling the vacated job will likely have been on UI which can be up to $429 a week, or on welfare which can be up to $663 per week. Under these circumstances the government will in fact be saving on the cost of these social benefits. As well the new taxpayer would not likely have the same level of child care expenses, which means that more tax would be paid by the person on the same job than by the person who formerly held that job.

A further consequence of the bill is the freeing up of child care spaces. In its red book the government has committed to create 50,000 child care spaces per year for three years following the achievement of 3 per cent growth in GDP. Since that growth will be reached this year these 150,000 spaces will be created at a cost of $1.4 billion split between the federal and provincial governments. That represents $9,600 per space per year.

It is also expected that the users will pay $2,400 per year for the space. Therefore, in total each of these spaces will cost $12,000. That is a fair indicator of just how much value should be attributed to caring for a child in the home.

While it is certainly true that more day care provision would increase the number of mothers in the external workforce, it is also true that more financial help with the costs of being a parent would reduce that number no matter how much affordable day care was available. In the long term it is crucial for us to realize that direct parental care will also contribute to savings in the areas of health, social programs and criminal justice.

Each year it costs literally billions of dollars to respond to the problems rooted in poor child development. Today we face serious challenges related to the family which are complex. We must however remember that there are no simple solutions. We need a range of initiatives spanning both preventive and remedial approaches. Bill C-256 represents an important preventive approach which recognizes the value of work in the home, creates jobs and provides child care spaces.

Since introduction of the bill over 160 members of Parliament have indicated their support for having the bill referred to committee. In addition, thousands of Canadians across the country have told us through letters and petitions that they want to see the subject matter of the bill pursued.

In the year of the family I believe the House of Commons should embrace every possible opportunity to examine initiatives which may help Canadian families to raise our children who are of course our future.

Private members' bills require unanimous consent of the House at second reading in order to proceed to the next stage. Such consent is very rarely achieved but the value of the process is the extensive dialogue generated not only in the House but also among Canadians interested in the subject matter.

This morning I had the opportunity to speak with the Minister of Human Resources Development about the issue of benefits for those who give care. I have his assurance that the subject matter of Bill C-256 can be addressed as part of the review of the social programs outlined in his discussion paper tabled today in the House of Commons. This will allow a broader consideration of the issues and the options to Bill C-256.

One such option to spousal income splitting is the creation of a caregiver tax credit which would be available to those Canadians who provide care directly rather than relying on extensive social services. Caregivers would include those who care for preschool children in the home or who care for the disabled, the chronically ill, or seniors requiring continuous care. These

Canadians have put their family members first, ahead of their own interests, and they should be recognized.

I am grateful for the opportunity to continue the fight on behalf of parents and all caregivers who provide care in the home. The dialogue has just begun. I thank all hon. members for their interest and their support.

Department Of Public Works And Government Services Act October 4th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, in his comments at the conclusion of his speech the hon. member said that we should be straight up with Canadians and I agree.

If his party formed the government today, would that member's government also be spending more than it took in? The question clearly relates to the fact that no matter which party was forming the government the government expenditures and the deficit clearly were going to take more than one year to be dealt with. Yet the member continues to harp as if the Reform Party somehow would magically eliminate this if it were the government. Could the member answer this simple question: Would the Reform Party also be spending more than it took in?

Domestic Violence September 28th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to bring to the attention of my colleagues and to all Canadians the recent StatsCan statistics on spousal assaults.

Domestic violence is a harsh reality which we can no longer choose to ignore. The report published by Statistics Canada found that one in three abused wives said they feared for their lives at some point in their relationship and that one in five abused women said that the assaults occurred while they were pregnant.

These figures are horrifying. A man who uses his size and strength to assault or otherwise abuse a woman is not only a coward but a criminal. I challenge all Canadians to speak out at every opportunity, declaring that there is no excuse for abuse.

It is time all Canadians worked together to eliminate spousal abuse once and for all.

Canada Pension Plan September 21st, 1994

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-269, an act to amend the Canada Pension Plan (income transferred to spouse).

Madam Speaker, the purpose of the bill is to amend the Canada pension plan to permit income transferred to a spouse to qualify as pensionable and thereby extend CPP benefits to stay at home parents.

The bill is a follow-up to my, Bill C-256, introduced on June 7, 1994 which proposed to amend the Income Tax Act to allow one spouse to pay or split income up to $25,000 to the other spouse who is managing the family home and caring for at least one dependent child who has not commenced full time attendance at school.

This new bill would give further recognition to the principle that caring for children is an important job to be fairly compensated including the extension of pension benefits to a parent working in the home.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Dystonia September 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to bring to the attention of the House the existence of a condition which is more prevalent than Huntington's, ALS or muscular dystrophy.

This condition is dystonia, a neurological disorder that causes involuntary muscle spasms and twisting, resulting in abnormal body postures. Only 5 per cent of the estimated 250,000 sufferers of dystonia in North America have been diagnosed and sadly one third of those afflicted are children.

The Dystonia Medical Research Foundation, a national organization which provides funding for a research and patient support, is committed to raising public awareness of dystonia. As with many medical conditions the lack of public and medical awareness of dystonia contributes to the sense of isolation and alienation that many sufferers of dystonia experience.

I encourage my colleagues in the House as well as all Canadians to support the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation in its efforts to raise public awareness of this painful disorder.

Questions On The Order Paper September 20th, 1994

For the years 1992 and 1993, have any departments, agencies or crown corporations contributed funding to Planned Parenthood of Canada or to Planned Parenthood International and, if so, ( a ) which ones and ( b ) in what amounts?

Petitions September 19th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 it is my honour to present a petition

relating to the Young Offenders Act on behalf of a large number of constituents of my riding of Mississauga South.

On May 15, 1994 Mr. Brian Baylen, a resident of my riding, was robbed and viciously murdered by two youths age 15 and 16. To more effectively deal with such serious youth crimes the petitioners call for amendments to the Young Offenders Act. They specifically ask for stiffer maximum penalties for violent crimes, a redefinition of the term young person so that persons who commit criminal offences when they are 16 years or older do not receive benefit of the act, and allow youths under age 16 to be tried in adult court if the crown deems it appropriate to do so.

Committees Of The House June 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I understood that the motion was to adopt a report that had been previously tabled in the House. It appears to me that we have debate on the substance of the discussion within the committee and not the recommendations or the-

Points Of Order June 17th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise on the same point of order. I would simply like to advise the House that I was in attendance at the committee meeting between midnight and 5 a.m. during the point at which the question was raised by the hon. member.

The clerk presented the appropriate documents to the Reform Party for examination and advised the chair of the committee that the member for Yukon was eligible to vote. The chair proceeded on the basis of the advice of the clerk appointed by the House.