Hon. Pierre J. Dalphond: Welcome to the Senate, minister.
In the mandate letter you received from the Prime Minister, you are asked to introduce, and I quote:
. . . federal child care legislation to strengthen and protect a high-quality Canada-wide child care system.
Could you tell us what stage that project is at? Also, given that education and child care are essentially under provincial jurisdiction, what steps have been taken with the provinces to avoid a jurisdictional dispute?
Hon. Karina Gould, P.C., M.P., Minister of Families, Children and Social Development: Thank you for the question, senator.
The issue of jurisdiction is one of the most important in our system of government in Canada and the provinces.
It is a topic we are currently discussing with the provinces and territories. We held consultations with them and have received their responses.
The important thing, and what motivates me on this issue, is not necessarily that the legislative authority gives instructions to the provinces and territories, but that it protects the federal investment.
During the last election, we heard Mr. O’Toole say that he would cancel the child care agreements with the provinces and territories. We want to make that more difficult for a potential future Conservative government to do.
The program is being well received by the provinces and territories. Implementing this system is a major investment; it is a big job at the national level. It is a project that offers a lot of possibilities, but we must do whatever we can to move forward and ensure that a potential future Conservative government can never cancel this agreement.