THE GRANDPARENT YEAR ACT
This guarantees the Bubbie's place in history. What follows is a discussion held in House of Commons in Ottawa, congratulating Bubbie Marion Schwarz for creating her television series on grandparenting, "The Bubbie Break."
PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
GRANDPARENT YEAR ACT
Mr. Julian Reed (Halton-Peel, Lib.) moved that Bill C-291, an act respecting a national year of the grandparent, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Madam Speaker, the next hour is an opportunity for the House to set aside partisan differences, to show our appreciation and to demonstrate the value of grandparents in the family unit.
Most of us have had the honour of knowing one living grandparent at one time or another. Most of us who have a family will have had the pleasure and the reassurance of having grandparents for our children.
As a very young boy and until I became an adult I had a grandfather who was a pillar of my existence. My own children had the privilege of having three living grandparents and one great-grandfather. The value they brought to our family was the same value brought to all families by grandparents.
By virtue of their more senior years, grandparents have many abilities that young parents do not have and contribute many things to the strength of the family. They show the way to young children more by example than by the things they say. They have an accumulated wisdom they pass on, which young parents do not have. Whether we call it osmosis or however it is passed on to younger people, it is done by example.
Grandparents have experience. Young people can ask them questions and they give answers based on experience, very often based on more experience than that of their parents. Naturally grandparents bring love into the family, the great common denominator that binds us together.
Grandparents express by example tolerance and teach us tolerance as children. That is particularly fitting at a time in history when the family unit seems to be virtually under attack from every corner. When grandparents are not available to provide strength and to provide enrichment, we know the results.
The grandparents of my children were of tremendous help to my wife and I as young parents with a young family. Perhaps we utilized their services more than we should have from time to time. However, I do believe that they accepted the challenges of looking after our family with grace and dignity when we needed them. It was always a pleasure and an adventure for our children to spend time with their grandparents. They helped a great deal to enrich our family and they contributed a great deal to family strength.
I know there is a cliché that has been in vogue for a few years, which is the phrase family values. Often family values and what they really mean get hackneyed very badly. But if ever there was an expression of family values and what that means, and certainly what that means to me, it is expressed very much through grandparents and what they mean to the family. They enrich our lives in so many ways, and we pay them honour here today.
I would be remiss if I did not pay tribute to the person who prompted me to bring this bill before the House. Her name is Bubbie Schwarz. Bubbie, as you might know, Madam Speaker, is the Jewish term of endearment for grandmother. Bubbie Schwarz is a television personality in the Toronto area who has a program for senior citizens. It was at her urging that this bill be brought before the House to declare 1995 as the year of the grandparent.
My grandparents are gone now. My grandfather passed away in 1963. But the influence he had on my life was as strong as the influence of my own father and mother. As I spent time with him, in the summers particularly, when school was out, and lived with him I was exposed to his code of conduct, his code of performance, the way he lived his life. A great deal of it rubbed off on me-at least the good parts of it did, I hope; the negative parts I created myself.
Our children had the benefit of a great-grandfather who actually lived with us for a number of years before at the age of 96 he decided he would go to western Canada and spend the rest of his years with his son. Our daughter grew up on his knee for the first eight years of her life.
We look back on our grandparents and on my children's grandparents with great fondness, with great respect, and a straight sense of the value they brought to our family. I feel badly for people who did not have that experience. Many people did not have a living grandparent in their lives and have had to be without that special kind of support they provide.
It is also fair to put on the record today the fact that because of the splitting of families and because of the divorce rate and so on, many grandparents are finding it increasingly difficult to access their own grandchildren. This is a serious mistake, because it denies the grandchildren that opportunity to receive the strength by the example they set.
I hope that by debating this today, as the issue of grandparents and access to their grandchildren becomes more of an issue, which it is at the present time, we will remember what our grandparents meant to us, what they mean to us, and what they should mean to their grandchildren, especially those who are involved in the break-up of a marriage where custody is given to one parent. In Canada there is no joint custody capability, and sometimes rancour, division, and bitterness cloud the break-up. Grandparents can really make a difference and add strength.
I ask the House to consider that. I realize that to speak on a subject like this probably arouses emotions in all of us, which we are not used to experiencing in a place like this. But they are important emotions. It is very important to get the message across that we support the completeness of the family and the bringing together of all the generations and making sure that they are all together. With the stresses we have on family life today, I can think of very few more important things to do in strengthening the family than to make sure that grandparents and great-grandparents and maybe some of the extended family, like great-uncles and aunts, are very much revered, honoured, and accepted as a part of the family unit. We must be aware that when we make laws in this House those laws must reflect that respect and desire to keep the family strong and together.
It is a great honour for me to say these few words today on behalf of grandparents. I thank the House for arranging the time for this debate. It is not the most usual issue to be raised in this place, but I do consider it very important. I hope this will underline our view of the family and our view of the senior people in the family, who have done so much and continue to do so much for all of us.
Mr. Maurice Dumas (Argenteuil-Papineau, BQ): Madam Speaker, I rise in this House to address Bill C-291, which seeks to declare, throughout Canada, 1995 as the Year of the Grandparent.
As the official opposition critic on issues concerning seniors, I am very interested in this bill which would grant grandparents the status which they deserve. Grandparents develop a special bond with their grandchildren, for whom they may represent stability in a sometime fragile environment.
Many modern families are the result of break-ups. The blended family is made up of members who do not all have the same biological links between them. There is no model for this new family; every member must adjust, so as to ensure his or her integration in the new family unit.
Grandparents play a major role during the early years, as well as during the teenage years of their grandchildren. They can provide emotional security and stability to their grandchildren, particularly when the parents divorce or separate. Grandparents can identify problems, but they must not take part in the debate, since such an intrusion can sometimes exacerbate the situation.
Bill C-291 finally gives recognition to older people, who are often perceived as a burden in our communities. This, in turn, often leads to social isolation, feelings of uselessness, isolation, loneliness, as well as low self-esteem.
Older people play a vital role in their grandchildren's lives. To that end, grandparents need minimum economic well-being. Financial security is essential for the elderly to maintain their independence.
Seniors represent an increasingly larger part of the overall population. It is estimated that, over the next 15 years, the number of elderly will increase by 40 per cent. The government must respect our seniors and recognize their contribution. Bill C-291 seeks to recognize that contribution. It is important that grandparents have the necessary tools to provide them with a quality of life, so that they can adequately assume their role.
Let me give you a brief outlook on how Canadian seniors use their spare time. According to a document published in 1993 by the National Advisory Council of Aging, seniors participate in the following activities. In 1986, 66 per cent of seniors between the ages of 65 and 74 went to a theatre or a restaurant once a month, while this figure was 50 per cent in the case of seniors who were 75 and over. From 40 per cent to 66 per cent of seniors purchased sports equipment and related services-for playing golf, skiing, camping, home exercising-and equipment for leisure activities, including computers, compared with 83 per cent of other Canadians.
Seniors would prefer to spend money on spectator activities like the movies, concerts and sport events, as opposed to recreational equipment for the home. However, seniors spend less than all other groups on recreational activities.
Statistics also showed that 12 per cent of seniors spent money on organized holidays, while 11 per cent of younger Canadians spent money in this way. Furthermore, 58 per cent of seniors travelled outside their community in a given month. Men 60 and over watched an average 33 hours of television per week, while women in the same age group watched an average of 36 hours.
These statistics prove that seniors are not passive and can share different types of recreation with their grandchildren. However, the Bloc Quebecois has always made it clear that the federal government is trying to reduce the deficit at the expense of the most vulnerable in our society.
According to a report by the National Advisory Council on Aging, the disposable income of seniors is broken down as follows. In 1989, the average income of single persons aged 65 or over was $16,316, while the average income of single persons under the age of 65 was $23,080. A single person is someone who lives alone or in a household where he or she is not related to the other members of that household.
In 1992, the average income of single seniors was $18,434, while that of other single persons was $25,039. Nearly 21 per cent of all seniors, in other words, 625,000, live on what are considered to be low incomes. The percentage of seniors living on low incomes is always higher than in the general population.
On March 9, 1994, I addressed the following question in this House to the Minister of Human Resources Development and Minster of Western Economic Diversification, and I quote: ``By making alarming statements on the old age security system, is the minister preparing to hit seniors with a considerable cut in their old age security pensions?''
The Minister of Human Resources Development responded simply that he wanted to provide a stable, effective, fair and honest system for seniors, one that Canada could afford.
Bill C-291 should be seen as recognizing the role of seniors. However, I would like to point out that I find the choice of year, that is 1995, unfortunate, since the United Nations has declared 1995 a year of tolerance. Accordingly, the Bloc Quebecois obviously supports the bill, but feels that 1996 would be a more appropriate year. Furthermore, a number of months have elapsed, significantly reducing the impact of Bill C-291.
I would also like to mention that grandparents are not all seniors. Statistics also show an upswing in the birth rate among adolescents, resulting in younger and younger grandparents. In closing, I would congratulate my colleague for Halton-Peel on Bill C-291, because it recognizes the importance of grandparents throughout Canada and pays tribute to them.
Mrs. Daphne Jennings (Mission-Coquitlam, Ref.): Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise in the House today to speak on Bill C-291, introduced by the hon. member for Halton-Peel.
During this past year I have spoken with many Canadian grandparents, as over a year ago now, March 25, 1994, I presented for first reading in the House my Bill C-232 relating to amending the Divorce Act to provide grandparents an automatic right to standing in the court so they could speak on behalf of their grandchildren and thereby protect the right of access of the child to his or her family.
As my bill is votable, we had many grandparents sitting in the gallery for each of the first two hours of debate to see how their members of Parliament dealt with this very serious issue. I expect that during the last hour of debate scheduled for this Thursday, May 4 we will once again see many of our seniors in the gallery.
Are grandparents still an important section of our society? Do Canadians recognize grandparents as a valuable resource, one which we as legislators should encourage and work with, respecting their years of training, skill, knowledge, experience, patience, love, understanding and their willingness to serve, help, teach and spend time with our many young Canadians, many of these children who just need someone to listen to them and care about them?
Most of us realize in our present society we have many grandparents already raising their grandchildren, not because after raising their own family they are anxious to raise another generation. Usually it is simply because they are needed and their help is asked for.
Joan Brooks, a grandmother from Toronto and a member of a grandparents' group, said: ``Let the parents parent; we do not want to do their job''. It is much easier for grandparents to enjoy being grandparents, visiting their families, sharing stories, guidance and love with their grandchildren.
However, life is not perfect and due to the rising divorce rate, split families, substance abuse and financial difficulties, more and more of our young children need an extra someone in their lives. It is only natural that wherever possible that person or persons should be grandparents.
In the United States there are over three million grandparents raising their grandchildren. We know this because the Americans already have protected national legislation to secure a child's right to his or her family. Consequently we were able to see some real statistics of the true state of society's needs.
Some of our Canadian citizens place a very high value on a grandparent's role in the family. One grandparent, Abnash Gill of Coquitlam, writes:
If the tree does not have solid roots it will not provide us with healthy fruit. It does not matter how much you spray the top part, if the roots are weak they will catch disease. Our roots are grandparents. That is where we begin. It is important for children to have grandparents. It is important for parents to get along with both sides of the family. Grandparents will tell stories of their lives to their grandchildren. Children will learn much from their grandparents' life stories. There is no school teacher who could teach children that.The history strengthens the children's roots. They keep these sweet memories with them. They will remember them, and they will use them in their lives. That will be their history.
Ray Ali, marriage and family therapist from Winnipeg, states:
I was having coffee with a colleague of mine and in the course of our conversation we began talking about grandparents. As he talked about his loving relationship with them, I envied him that he had grandparents who loved him. It was the same type of envy that I experienced as a child when my friends would tell me about visiting their grandparents during the weekend. Remember the Dick and Jane books when they visited their grandparents at the farm? Oh, how I envied them. Perhaps growing up without grandparents made me realize, even at a very early age, that they play an important role in our lives. I did not have anyone telling me stories about my parents nor stories about how life used to be. So I live my life secretly, envying people like my friend. He had something very special- something I never had. Fortunately the situation is different for my children because they have a special relationship with their grandparents. My children are lucky because they have both sets of grandparents. If this isn't enough they've adopted another elderly couple who are also given the special title of grandparents. My children are fortunate but they are far from being unique.
According to recent statistics 90 per cent of all children have at least one living grandparent. If this fact is reliable then it is indeed unfortunate that many children in this 90 per cent are refused access to see their grandparents, often by the custodial parent.
Statistics Canada recently published some poignant statistics on grandparenting. They report that even though the frequencies of visits decrease as children grow older, 40 per cent of adolescents over 15 see their grandparents at least once a month.
Secondly, the image that grandparents are old, fragile and a huge financial burden to society is clearly flawed. A significant number of grandparents are still working and/or volunteering their time. Approximately 40 per cent of seniors provide unpaid help to their families in the form of child care, transportation and financial support. When called upon they are often there to help. Clearly we often overlook the contributions that seniors themselves make to others.
Without question, grandparenting is as important now as in any other time period. Maybe even more so. Unlike 50 years ago, today's grandparent- grandchildren relationships often last more than 20 years. It is quite conceivable that we will spend more time in our lives being grandparents than parents thus contrary to common perceptions, grandparents can have potentially greater influence on our children than they did in years past.
Grandparents want to feel useful but we as a society have done a very poor job of tapping into this tremendous natural resource.
A recent letter writing competition in Winnipeg, `My Grandparents are Special', gave me cause to select two letters written by two grade six students.
Rebecca Spuszak writes:
My grandparents are special because they have been married for over 50 years and showed me that love is one of the most important things we have in life. My grandparents are always there for me, willing to listen and to give me the most welcomed hug. My grandpa loves to tell his jokes over and over but they always have that loving touch. My grandma has a beautiful smile each and every day. Their home always makes me feel so warm and cosy inside. If I had just one wish it would be that everyone could have special grandparents like me. So when they need help I hope they know I'm there for them just like they are for me. I really feel blessed.
Kera Johnson writes:
My grandma is special because she understands. She helps me and so much more. My grandma loves me, she gives me love even when I shouldn't get it. She is helpful, she is understanding and most of all she is loving. Every day my grandmother spends at least seven hours of her day helping physically and mentally challenged children. That's how special my grandma is. I think that my grandma is as good as a person can get.
I would like to share part of a poem with the House today written by Chief Dan George. It gives words of advice and counsel to his grandchild. This is from a special course I used to teach on native studies.
Perhaps there will be a day
You will want to sit by my side asking for counsel
I hope I will be there
But you see, I am growing old.
There is no promise that life
Will live up to our hopes
Especially to the hopes of the aged.
So I will write of what I know
And some day our hearts will meet in these words.
If you let it happen.
You come from a shy race
Ours are the silent ways
We have always done all things
In a gentle manner
So much as the brook that avoids the solid rock
In its search for the sea and meets the deer in passing
You too must follow the path of your own race
It is steady and deep, reliable and lasting
It is you.
If you let it happen.
Today I have spoken on the wonder of grandparents and their positive influence and their needed assistance in Canada's future.
Bill C-291 tries to recognize grandparents. In a grandparents year we could have the ceremonies and activities to recognize them. That would be good. We should definitely also have a grandparents day so we could recognize them every year. They are the unsung heroes of Canada's society. They give everything and ask for very little in return.
Perhaps Margaret Mead said it best: "In the presence of grandparents and grandchildren the past and the future merge in the present.''
Ms. Hedy Fry (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I am delighted to speak today to Bill C-291, an act respecting a national year of the grandparent. I take the opportunity to speak on behalf of the government's commitment to Canada's grandparents.
I have not yet had the fortune of becoming a grandparent. I guess my sons have control over that and so I may never become a grandparent. I have grandparents. All of us have grandparents.
My grandmother was my mentor, a woman who was a feminist long before the word feminist was popular. She was strong, feisty and she told me that if I did not like how things were I should go in there and change them and not complain. She lived that. She was always fighting for causes. Like a battleship at full steam, she was always there making things happen, changing things. She always had courage. She was an outspoken and strong woman.
My grandmother set for me an example that I have followed. If she were alive today I think she would be very pleased and proud that I am standing here talking about her role in my life and about grandparents as a whole.
Grandparents play a vital role in the lives of families and in the lives of all Canadians. Whether you have grandchildren or not, you can be a grandparent. In British Columbia there the Volunteer Grandparents Association. It meets and looks after children. As we all know, in society today families can live so far away from each other and many families do not have an extended family or a grandparent close by. These grandparents whose children are not around become grandparents to children whose grandparents are not around and they bridge the gap.
It is interesting to see them at baseball games, to be there at ballet recitals and to watch these adoptive grandparents enjoying all the things their adoptive grandchildren do.
I have to tell members about filling the lives of children. Whether you are a young child, an older child or an adult, grandparents fill your life. My children's grandparents are very far away and they have benefited from volunteer grandparents. I think they always needed to know there was somewhere a safe haven they could go to when their parents did not understand; to go to somebody who had the wisdom and could remind them their parents were children once.
I remember my children telling me I sometimes forgot I was once a child. Grandparents are always there to remind us, to assure us our parents were not as perfect as they pretended to be. They bring that sense of vulnerability and fallibility into parenting, which is good. It gives children something to believe in and something to feel strong about.
The important role grandparents play in the life of a family should never be underestimated. Today where families are fragmented grandparents often take up the life of the family and carry it by themselves; sometimes only temporarily when there is a family crisis or illness and sometimes even permanently because of a divorce.
That is why we clearly need to support grandparents today. We must ensure they remain a stable factor in the lives of their grandchildren, regardless of where the parents are. The reason they do is that grandparents have a sense of continuity. They bridge the past and the present. They bring yesterday into today. Grandparents make us feel as if we have always been here as a people. That continuity is very important to us. Especially when our lives are fragmented and unstable they bring that sense of permanence, that sense of tradition, that sense of stability and reality which is needed in today's world. It is a sense of timelessness, if I may use that word.
Grandparents are very important because they are traditionally wise. They are always wise. Grandparents are a source of advice. They are a good source of advice because they have stepped aside from being subjective and can offer the objective wisdom parents are unable to offer because they are too closely linked to their children.
Three out of every four Canadians over 65 are grandparents. What is interesting is that you do not have to be over 65 to be a grandparent. The image of a grandparent as being someone kind with twinkling eyes behind glasses and an ample bosom and a warm laugh may not necessarily be what grandparents are. Grandparents are also now in their forties and fifties. They bring a sense of vitality to the family that was not there before when grandparents were only supposed to be one age.
Grandparents bring a sense of trust as well. They help us to feel safe because no matter what happens, they are always there. They seem to have a sense of immovability and a sense of complete and total stability. They are an anchor for most of us.
In many cultures grandparents are historians. Many cultures do not have a written history where we can go back and read it, especially in our aboriginal cultures for example. In those many other cultures where there is no written history grandparents bring the stories with them that tell us where we came from and talk about our traditions.
In many aboriginal societies the elders and grandparents are bringing aboriginal people back home, especially today's aboriginal people who have been removed forcibly from their homes at one point in time, have been severed from their past. Today's grandparents are healing in native cultures. They bring the old ways back, the sense of spirituality, the sense of permanence, the sense of bonding.
Health Canada has recognized this and has given grants through the new horizons program to assist grandparents in aboriginal cultures to bring their young people home. They help not just anecdotally but in a real way with issues such as suicide, substance abuse and alcoholism. They have been making a real difference by bringing back the cultures and helping the children. In fact Health Canada's grants send children to camps where grandparents tell stories, teach the native language, teach them basic survival skills, how to sew and counsel them on issues that are bothering today's young aboriginal people.
It is sad to note that despite their important role in society some derogatory myths exist about grandparents. Those myths continue to be perpetuated.
One myth depicts older grandparents as frail and dependent. Like their young counterparts actually, the majority of older grandparents live active, healthy and productive lives. A 1990 study showed that one out of every two seniors over 65 provided assistance to people outside of their household, such as unpaid transportation or financial support.
Still another myth suggests that families sometimes neglect and even abandon grandparents and many older family members. That is not actually true. Studies have found that seniors obtain 80 per cent of the help they need from their families and that 92 per cent of seniors and grandparents say that they feel emotionally close to their families.
Half of Canada's senior grandparents live within 10 kilometres of at least one child. I did not know that fact until I looked it up recently. They visit regularly, they telephone daily and they offer very clear and strong emotional support to their families.
I reiterate the fact that the grandparent through all of these ways, regardless of what culture, does play a very clear and strong role. Grandparents are ageless and timeless; they have always been here. They defy socioeconomic barriers. All of us have grandparents. Whether we are rich, middle class or poor, no matter whether we live in a developed world or in a developing world, no matter whether we speak English or any other language, we all have grandparents. They are a common universal treasure.
Because of their timelessness, because of their universality, because of their holding the family together, grandparents offer a sense of stability and a sense of permanence that bridge the past and the future.
I support the bill because grandparents make us immortal.
Mr. Jack Frazer (Saanich-Gulf Islands, Ref.): Madam Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I speak to Bill C-291, presented by the hon. member for Halton-Peel, an act respecting the national year of the grandparent which calls upon Parliament to designate 1995 the year of the grandparent.
I say this not only because I am a grandparent to my grandson, Spencer Drew, the most handsome, intelligent, talented and clever boy in the whole wide world who will celebrate his first birthday next Sunday, but because I believe that anything which strengthens the family unit will help to better our society.
Through all generations and cultures grandparents have generally played a caring, supportive and nurturing role in the lives of their families and extended families. The time has come for Canada to formally reaffirm the invaluable contribution grandparents have made and will continue to make to society.
Last year the United States Congress adopted House resolution 355 and Senate resolution 198 proclaiming 1995 as the year of the grandparent, encouraging citizens to observe the year with programs, ceremonies and activities.
Having already reached the month of May, it would seem that we in Canada have been slow off the mark to honour the family and grandparents.
Quebec's civil code has enshrined the role of grandparents in article 611, which states:
In no case may the father or mother, without a grave reason, interfere with personal relations between the child and his grandparents.
The intent of Bill C-291 truly goes beyond partisan politics in giving grandparents recognition for their important fundamental contribution to family and society, love given freely with no strings attached. Bill C-291 should receive unanimous consent in the House.
Grandparents bring a tremendous amount of affection, energy and other beneficial things into the lives of children. One thing unchanged through all time is that children still require a loving and secure environment. Most grandparents are ready, willing and able to provide love in abundant quantities and children are quick to realize that when in grandma's or grandpa's care they are safe, secure and adored. They have a home away from home, often with fewer or more lenient rules to follow.
Grandparents provide a link to our past, to our roots and to our heritage. During every day conversation they share the trials and joys experienced during their lives. They pass on knowledge of the ways, whys and wherefores of previous generations and give meaning to the changes that have evolved over time.
Grandparents care deeply for the happiness and well-being of these innocent, young, impressionable lives and do everything within their power to pave the way for a better and more caring tomorrow.
Parents can usually depend on grandparents to care for their grandchildren whenever help is needed. They are there when difficult situations such as illness or problems within the family relationship present themselves. Grandparents are there to provide stability and continuity for their grandchildren.
It is only natural that grandparents should be nurturing and caring. After all, they were parents at one time and are now the beneficiaries of the experience they gained while raising their families.
A strong family structure is the best means by which to nurture children and society as a whole and grandparents are an integral part of the structure. Thus, it is most fitting that 1995 be officially proclaimed the year of the grandparent. As 1994 was declared the international year of the family, it seems to logically follow that 1995 should be chosen to give special recognition to grandparents.
Not too long ago, the nuclear family, including grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins formed a cohesive, interdependent unit which helped to provide the basic necessities of life. Small communities were self-sustaining and so were families.
Today, the economy and times have changed. People have moved away from the hometown and have found employment in places often far removed from the traditional nuclear family. Our society is fast paced, often demanding that people not only change jobs, but pick up roots and change careers several times over their working years.
There is increasing displacement and stress on the family in today's environment, with the result that in many cases, the reassuring support traditionally given by the family unit is not readily accessible nor available to provide immediate support when it is needed.
More and more homes see both parents working. This evolution has impacted on the role of the grandparents by restricting their access to their grandchildren. Often it is not easy for them to maintain close contact with their grandchildren but despite these obstacles, families do remain united, tied by their common roots. Grandparents have and always will be an integral part of the family because love transcends all obstacles and survives the onslaught of modern society.
Families are the anchors of a caring society. It is vital to do everything possible to preserve the nuclear family unit.
Governments should recognize that the family is best equipped to provide and inculcate those things which make a society strong and caring. Interference or attempts to replace positive family influence with questionable or intrusive government programs simply erode the strength the family can provide to society.
Often, grandparents step in to accept the role of primary caregiver. In cases of family breakdown, they are usually willing to do what comes naturally by simply being available to be part of the solution, an option lawyers and courts often fail to consider.
To have access and be able to provide a continuing, dignified, stable, supportive presence in the lives of children caught in the middle of an emotional and bitter family dispute is a service grandparents are often well suited to assume. Present laws do not foster this option.
In a time when government is looking for ways to restructure social and welfare programs, it should recognize that millions of dollars could be saved and a better solution arrived at by including grandparents in custody and access hearings. This is not only in the best interests of the grandparents but also in the best interests of children often caught in the crossfire.
The courts should recognize there are other options at least in the interim, a neutral third party willing to accept the role of caregiver. Most grandparents, if able, are willing to take on this responsibility and be part of the solution in what is often a highly emotional, indeed devastating time for all parties involved. Again, they are needed but often not considered as an option or part of the solution.
With 1995 designated as the year of the grandparent, it would be logical for government to take the steps necessary to amend current legislation to allow grandparents to be grandparents by providing the care, love and support they are so willing to give.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): There being no further members rising for debate and the motion not being designated as a votable item, the time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped from the Order Paper, pursuant to Standing Order 96(1).
Is there unanimous consent to proceed with the adjournment motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.