Workplace child care with tax benefits to employers

Elizabeth May

Madam Speaker, I am going to resist the temptation to pick up on the pipeline debate and will go to the bulk of the presentation by the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, which I thought was a really interesting discussion around child care in a budget that is supposed to be about gender.

I think we really do need to look at what kind of child care arrangements the Government of Canada can help facilitate, recognizing, as he said, that one size does not fit all. I was disappointed that in a budget that was about gender there were not the funds that we need to create the opportunity, for those families that want it, to have high-quality early childhood education enriched child care.

To push the point a little further, I wonder what he thinks of the Green Party’s policy, which is to promote opportunities for workplace child care, with tax benefits to employers where the situation is appropriate, such as not in a high-risk environment. A lot of workplaces can provide workplace child care so that the mom or the dad has the advantage of much more time in close proximity to his or her children when at work.

Garnett Genuis – Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan

Madam Speaker, I will also resist the temptation to comment on pipelines. I am sure my friend and I will have plenty of opportunity to discuss them in the future.

In terms of child care and looking at what options the government can facilitate, I think that parents are the best child care decision-makers. I think there are a lot of different types of child care arrangements that can work. The member spoke about one that I think is reflective of the kind of flexibility people are looking for.

For some people, their ideal would be to work from home, over the Internet or phone, while having their children there. For some people, the ability to bring their children with them to work is important. It may be more realistic in the context of the kind of work they do. I see a cultural shift happening where it is more and more acceptable to bring one’s children to things, even things that in the past people may have raised their eyebrows and wonder why a child was there. From time to time, I will bring my children to meetings that I have. When we have round tables in my office, from time to time, we try to set it up so that there are toys and parents can bring their kids to play while the parents are participating in political discussions. I think those kinds of things are important.

From a government perspective, in terms of the spending power of the government, let us not decide where the ball is going. I do not think we should be picking winners and losers in terms of the economy. I also do not think we should be picking winners and losers in terms of the kind of child care arrangement. We should be looking for a way to support families in the context of the flexibility that they expect. The way we initially proposed to do that was by providing direct support to families, but there may be other ways, such as tax credits around initiatives that are undertaken by employers. Again, seeking the greatest possible flexibility in the context of how we do that is the way we should go.