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  • Writer's pictureLeah Taylor Roy

C-35 - Early Learning Childcare

Updated: Aug 1, 2023


LEAH: Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour to rise and speak, and it is a great

honour to rise and speak to Bill C-35. I am a mother who has been an

advocate for affordable child care since the 1980s, and if I had to be in

the House until midnight debating something, there is nothing more than this

that I would rather debate.

I have been listening to people speak today, and a lot of the remarks have

been read from a script. I would like to pay homage to my colleague, the

leader of the Green Party, who often says we should be speaking without

notes. As one can see, I am doing that because I could not recall the name

of her riding.


What I want to talk about is what this bill is really about and what the

opposition is saying about it. It is one thing to say we need to move

forward and we need to work together. It is very easy to sit and criticize

something that has been brought forward and to point out all the

shortcomings, all the faults and all the things that are not being done

without recognizing —


Well, it is funny. Someone across the aisle just said that is

literally their job, but I actually do not believe that. I believe that as

members of Parliament, we are all here to work together for the future of

Canada and Canadians.


So I think, what we need to do is collaborate, and that is what this government has been doing with every province, territory and group to put in place the child

care system we have been advocating for as women for over 50 years. Think

about that. It is 50 years that we have been asking for this, and it is now

coming to fruition. Rather than celebrating that fact, all we can do is

criticize the shortcomings and act as though it was the fault of the

legislation that certain things are not happening.


There are two basic things we hear often. I hear it in my communities, and

according to what I have heard tonight and over the last few days, it is

something we hear in many constituencies. There are two concerns among

several. The cost of living and affordability are one and the second is the

labour shortage. This bill, for all the perceived shortcomings that have

been pointed out, addresses both of those of issues and addresses them

well.


Child care costs some families $50 a day depending on the age of the child.

This bill would bring into place child care that will cost $10 a day by

2026. I can guarantee that the young families in my riding I speak to, the

parents, both men and women, are very grateful for the fact that their costs

have already been cut in half and are looking forward to $10-a-day child

care.


This bill is addressing the affordability crisis. We hear constantly from

members opposite that this is one of the biggest concerns they have. We are

putting forward legislation that addresses it, yet all we hear is

criticism.


The other issue is the labour shortage. We have the example of early

learning and child care and the good-quality program in the province of

Quebec. In Canada, we are lucky because we have an example of what could

happen to labour force participation, and in particular the participation of

women in the labour force, when we have a reliable, affordable child care

program.


Estimates have been provided by many private sector firms, although I will

not name them, that show the return on this investment is between $1.80 to

$2.50 for every dollar we spend. This is a viable economic proposition that

is going to increase labour force participation and reduce the cost of

living, yet all we hear is that it is not flexible enough and that there are

not enough early childhood educators. Is this the fault of the legislation?

No. It has been designed and implemented through work with provinces and

territories, with bilateral agreements that the provinces have agreed to and

wanted.


The shortage of early childhood educators existed before this legislation

was introduced. If anything, increasing labour force participation is going

to address the labour shortage. It is going to allow for more people to work

as child care workers or anything else they want to work as, and it will

help address this problem.


In some cases, I think the members opposite confuse causality and

correlation. That is a very important concept. Just because something

happens over a period of time does not mean it is caused by something during

that period of time. We have to do significant regression analysis with

multiple variables to figure out what is causing it. We hear accusations

time and time again that under this government, something has happened, so

it must be the fault of this government. That is not how it works. We have

to look at what is actually causing things. We can look at the labour

shortage, we can look at what is causing it and we can look at this bill and

say the bill would address it.


We have been asked why we have to pass this bill now when the money is

flowing. This is about ensuring that this program continues over time. We

have had plenty of examples of good legislation being made, with good

investments in Canadians, only to be overturned. We have heard several

Conservative leaders say they would overturn this legislation, that this

legislation is no good. For many young families in my riding, that would be

a huge step backward. I believe that for all Canadians, that would be a huge

step backward.


Parents today raising their families would have more choices. This bill

would not limit flexibility in any way. It is up to the provinces and the

child care providers. As we all know, and as the Bloc has repeatedly told

us, this is not our territory. We can fund, we can provide leadership and we

can provide vision, but it is up to the provinces and territories to

implement this as they see fit. That is why we have individual agreements

with each of them. The $30 billion we are investing to help provinces and

territories provide adequate child care for families over the next five

years would create over 250,000 new spaces and ensure accessibility for all

people.


As a member of Parliament, as a woman with two daughters and as a woman who

has helped raised six children and has grandchildren, I do not want to leave

my children and grandchildren with fewer choices. I want them to have more

choices, and I believe that this bill, Bill C-35, would give more choices to

people. I ask members to please look at the values behind this bill, look at

supporting families, look at trying to bring down the cost of living and

look at addressing labour force shortages. Vote with me, vote with the

Liberal Party, vote with the young families in Canada that desperately need

child care and need someone to take that first step.


It has been 50 years. Let us stop talking about what is not there and let us

look at what we are doing for the future of our country.

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