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Statement: New Brunswick - Rejection of Child Care Program

Honourable senators, Bernard Lord is refusing to sign on to Ottawa's child care scheme. That situation is unacceptable. This agreement would allocate approximately $110 million to start building New Brunswick's child care system over the next five years; and Premier Bernard Lord is putting the future development of the children of New Brunswick at stake.

It is my firm conviction that Premier Lord should recognize that the people of New Brunswick want their provincial government to sign the agreement, so that the $109.9 million in child-care funding offered by the federal government can start flowing to our children. In my opinion, the children of New Brunswick should enjoy the same advantages as those in other provinces when it comes to federal funding

The day-care situation in New Brunswick is deplorable. In 2003-04, New Brunswick had only 11,897 places in regulated day-care centres, which covers scarcely 11 per cent of the demand. Because of this, most children are entrusted to care services that are never inspected and not required to implement a development program. Both parents work outside the home in 75 per cent of New Brunswick families.

If the province wants to meet these additional needs, it must sign an agreement with the federal government and develop a five-year action plan that will lead us toward a system of quality child-care services. These agreements are flexible and tailored to the realities of people in all regions of the country, in both rural and urban communities. Alberta, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have already signed agreements.

It is now clear that the only obstacle to reaching an agreement is a lack of desire on the part of the Lord government to ensure the viability of a true universally accessible early childhood care program.

The people can easily see that Bernard Lord simply wants access to federal money that he can spend however he wants. The same applied to the gas-tax sharing agreements, intended for cities and communities. Premier Lord is trying to spend money as he wants without being tied by the principles that underlie it. This manipulation is now a customary practice with his government.

Bernard Lord refused to listen to the people of New Brunswick on automobile insurance. And now he is not listening to the people of New Brunswick who want an enhanced early childhood care services system.

New Brunswick already has in place the programs required by the federal agreement, which means Premier Lord recognizes that such programs are valuable, which means he has no excuse. His real excuse is nothing but his own pig-headedness, which is leading to the political posturing of the emperor who had no clothes, as far as our children are concerned.