Question Period: Support for Canadian Women

Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, on International Women's Day the Prime Minister has some tough questions to answer on women's issues here at home. Canada is one of the world's wealthiest countries, yet the number of women and children living in poverty is staggering. There are enough children living in poverty in Canada to populate a city the size of Winnipeg.

The Prime Minister has said that the solutions are “not intrinsically expensive”. Why then will the Prime Minister not deliver on affordable housing, national child care, pay equity and real job support for Canadian women?

Hon. Diane Finley (Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member had not voted against every one of the government's initiatives to help on all of those issues, she might be aware of them.
*Ms. Finley's statements about voting against such measures refer to the 2009 Budget in which the Conservatives eliminated pay equity rights for women

The hon. member might be aware that we enhanced the child tax credit * the increase the Minister refers to is $3.25 a week, not enough to even buy a "Happy Meal". We have brought in the universal child care benefit of $100 a month for every child under the age of six *and taxed that benefit as income. We have lowered the taxes for families, especially for low-income families, so that they have more money to spend on their families instead of the alternative, which is welfare. We have brought in the working income tax benefit. However, the hon. member voted against every single one of those.*again the Minister refers to the 2009 Budget, which handed out billions in corporate welfare and created a structural deficit

Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, the government has consistently left women and children off its priority list. The 2009 budget was an affront to women and children living in poverty, and last week's budget again failed to deliver. The government did not create a single child care space and there was nothing to make EI more accessible for women.

The women of Canada deserve fairness, affordability, opportunity, equal pay for work of equal value, and a decent standard of living. When will the Prime Minister make women and children a priority in Canada?

Hon. Diane Finley (Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, we have done just that.

As I pointed out, we have brought in the working income tax benefit so that people are better off by working than by not working. That helps them get over the welfare wall. We have brought in the universal child care benefit *and taxed it. We have lowered taxes. We have provided tremendous support for parents with children who are disabled, through the RDSP, the registered disability savings plan*which is only helpful to parents of a disable child with a high enough income to care for that child and still save anything. This is a world leader in its class.

Again, everything that we have done, which is considerable, to help women, children and those less advantaged, the hon. member has voted against, sadly.*again, the Minister has to fall back on voting against the 2009 Budget which eliminated pay equity

*All italicized comments are clarification for Canadians on the Minister's misleading responses.