Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Majid Jowhari Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Majid Jowhari Profile
2017-12-08 12:30 [p.16229]
moved that Bill C-375, an act to amend the Criminal Code (presentence report), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise today to address this House for a second time to talk about my private member's bill, Bill C-375, an act to amend the Criminal Code with respect to pre-sentence reports. I would like to thank my hon. colleague and friend, the member for Mississauga—Erin Mills, for seconding this bill today.
I would like to reflect at the outset of my statement on the great honour and privilege I possess as a representative of my constituents in Richmond Hill. This is an honour that no member in this House takes lightly, and like my colleagues, I am aware of the great responsibility that comes with representing one's constituents in this House.
I came to Ottawa having made the commitment to my constituents in Richmond Hill that I would focus all my energies on advancing the progressive ideals I was elected to uphold and fight for, namely, the advancement of equality for all Canadians, in particular, those who feel voiceless and marginalized.
When it comes to the subject of mental health, we are all aware of the great sensitivity involved in addressing the challenges of this often marginalized group. It is perhaps for this very reason that we must do everything we can to ensure that no stone is left unturned in safeguarding the rights and dignity of those suffering from mental illness. This is a goal I have committed myself to working toward actively and with great care.
Through my work as founder and co-chair of the all-party mental health caucus, I, along with other participating members, heard from numerous stakeholders and experts involved in the field of mental health. I know I can speak for all members who participated when I convey how eye-opening the testimony was. What we heard painted a picture of the current mental health landscape as rife with gaps and areas for improvement. In particular, issues related to mental health and the criminal justice system came to the forefront as needing special attention.
To obtain a better understanding of the current issues surrounding the treatment of individuals with mental illness, caucus members visited Kitchener, Ontario, where we took a tour of the Grand Valley Institution for Women, operated by Correctional Service Canada. We heard from Ms. Sherry Payne, herself a formerly incarcerated woman, who informed us of the various challenges faced in the correctional system when it comes to mental illness.
Our experiences working with the mental health caucus led to our resolve that many operational and legislative changes are still needed to improve the delivery of services to mental health sufferers, in particular those in our criminal and correctional systems.
Section 2 of the Criminal Code defines “mental disorder” as “a disease of the mind”. Unlike diseases of the body, the symptoms that mental illness carries are very often hidden and difficult to diagnose. In too many instances, as well, mental illness is also misdiagnosed or ignored entirely. In Canada, 10% of the population reports symptoms consistent with mental Illness. This burden, sadly, is often greater among our youth, fully 25% of whom will experience a mental health issue as they navigate to adulthood.
In our federal penitentiaries, this proportion is even higher. Over 20% of federal offenders are identified as presenting with mental health problems, often with more than one disorder. Furthermore, rates of mental illness among federal offenders have almost doubled in the last 20 years.
Globally, the World Health Organization reports that by the year 2020, mental and behavioural disorders will account for roughly 15% of the global burden of the disease, which it projects is further likely to increase in proportion in subsequent decades.
Even with respect to our attitudes toward mental Illness, there is still work to be done. While half of Canadians reported in 2017 that they are more comfortable talking about mental health than in the five years before that, it is also reported that this has not led to an adequate and proportionate growth in community resources for those suffering from mental illness.
For individuals suffering from mental illness, theirs is often a daily struggle to integrate into families, peer groups, and society as a whole. These same families and peer groups bear an untold burden, both emotional and economical, that must be addressed.
It is estimated that the total cost of mental health problems to the Canadian economy exceeds $50 billion annually in health care expenses and lost productivity. This represents nearly $1,400 for every Canadian. Over the next 30 years, this cost will add up to more $2.5 trillion for Canadians. We all must therefore recognize mental illness as an issue that affects not only the present circumstances of Canadian families but their future as well.
I am happy to be able to say that our government announced in budget 2017 that it will invest $5 billion over 10 years to improve mental health services, with an addition of $118.2 million to address mental health programming among first nations and Inuit people.
Bill C-375 is also inspired by another idea. We believe that better is always possible. Bill C-375 would amend paragraph 721(3)(a) of the Criminal Code such that, unless specified, when a pre-sentencing report was required by a court, in addition to such information as age, maturity, character, behaviour, and attitude, information outlining any mental health disorder, as well as any mental health care programs available for the accused, would be provided as part of the pre-sentencing report.
I would like to take this opportunity to outline in detail why my colleagues in the House must support this essential bill to address mental health concerns in our criminal justice system.
Currently, courts are not mandated to consider the mental health history of individuals in pre-sentencing proceedings. This significantly increases the likelihood that such vital information will not be taken into account during pre-sentencing and that individuals with histories of mental health issues may not be afforded appropriate care, compassion, and treatment during the process of their rehabilitation.
What are the real-world consequences of this status quo? Pre-sentencing reports are a vital tool at a judge's disposal, and 87% of judges see pre-sentencing reports as important in giving much-needed analysis and advice on an offender's treatment needs. By and large, when a pre-sentencing report is present in a case, there is a significantly higher likelihood that an offender will receive a community sentence as opposed to a custodial sentence.
By stating plainly and unambiguously that mental health backgrounds and treatment options must be included in pre-sentencing reports along with other background information, probation officers who are tasked with preparing these reports would have to work from a clear standard whereby the investigation of an offender's mental health background would be deemed to be at least equal to other factors.
Underlying this framework is the ideal that individuals with histories of mental illness are best approached using the model of what Justice Richard Schneider terms “therapeutic jurisprudence”. This, in contrast to traditional punitive approaches, seeks as a primary goal to limit offender recidivism with the courts. Thus, the bill in many ways takes one further step toward the de-institutionalization of mental health and one further step away from when mental health sufferers were subjected to mandatory and undignified confinement.
Across Canada, individuals with mental illness find themselves involved in the criminal justice system under circumstances that are tragic and horrific, both for themselves and their victims.
Many of the experts and advocates I have spoken to on this subject agree that a host of policy approaches are required to address this. Bill C-375 is just one such approach to addressing mental health and the criminal justice system. As a modest and uncontroversial step in the right direction, I extend my hand to all members from each caucus to work together with me on this important initiative.
In closing, I am confident that with this small yet significant change to our Criminal Code, all members of this House will do their part in ensuring that those suffering from mental illness will be afforded the compassion and care they need and deserve.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2017-12-08 13:05 [p.16233]
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand today and join in the second reading debate on private member's Bill C-375, an act to amend the Criminal Code.
Before I begin my speech I would like to thank my hon. friend from Richmond Hill, who in caucus and throughout this Parliament has been a tireless advocate for mental health.
This legislation would amend provisions of the Criminal Code dealing with pre-sentence reports to be more responsive to offenders with mental health issues. A pre-sentence report is ordered in some cases to help the court learn more about the person being sentenced.
Specifically, the bill would amend subsection 721(3) of the Criminal Code to provide that a pre-sentence report must, where available, and unless the court orders otherwise, contain information on any mental disorder from which an offender suffers, as well as any mental health care programs available to the offender.
Requiring information about the offender's mental health disorder would be in addition to the information that the Criminal Code currently requires to be included in a pre-sentence report. Under the current law, a pre-sentence report must, wherever possible, contain certain information about the offender, such as age, maturity, character, and willingness to make amends.
Bill C-375 would make it clear to the courts that where mental health information is readily available, it should be included in the pre-sentence report. For example, often offenders will provide information about their mental health situation to the probation officer who is preparing the report. The officer will often include this information in the report, which is in turn relied upon by the crown, defence counsel, and the sentencing judge.
The sponsor of the bill, the hon. member for Richmond Hill, has indicated that his intention in introducing the bill was to ensure that information outlining any mental health disorders as well as any mental health care programs available is before the courts to ensure that those offenders with histories of mental illness are afforded care and compassion, and that they will receive appropriate treatment throughout the process of their rehabilitation.
I agree with the sponsor that this is important information that can be extremely valuable to a sentencing judge. In fact, it is my understanding that criminal courts in Canada can, and do, consider the mental health information of an offender when it is before them. Any sentence that is imposed without reference to available medical evidence, including mental health information, is vulnerable to attack on appeal. I do not read this proposal, however, as compelling offenders to provide information about their mental health situation against their wishes.
I understand that including mental health information in pre-sentence reports is already common practice in many jurisdictions. The legal effect of Bill C-375 would serve to codify this practice and signal to sentencing judges that this information is relevant to their deliberations.
Inroads are being made in recent years to eliminate the stigma around mental illness. People are more willing to talk about their struggles and their lives with a mental illness. This increased openness has led us to learn more about the scope of mental illness in Canada.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada indicates that in any given year, one in five Canadians experience a mental health or addiction problem. Other statistics indicate that by the time Canadians reach 40 years of age, one in two experienced a mental illness. Additionally, we know that our young people are more likely to experience mental health issues than any other group.
It is well known that in the past decades, the number of individuals with mental health issues involved in the criminal justice system has increased. There is no singular reason for this increase, however, a number of causes have been cited as contributing factors. These include gaps in services for marginalized populations, including housing, income, and health services. In this regard I am extremely proud to be part of a government that is making great strides in these areas, for instance, the recently announced national housing strategy.
We also know that individuals with mental health illness are often likely to come to the attention of the police and be arrested and detained. Once detained, accessing appropriate mental health services can be a challenge.
The complexities of this issue cannot all be addressed through a private member's bill, nor can the Criminal Code solve such a profound and complex social problem.
However, I think it is fair to say that the sponsor's intent is to take one meaningful step in addressing the larger problem of the overrepresentation of the mentally ill in the criminal justice system. The bill proposes a narrow and targeted approach to ensure that in situations where a pre-sentence report is ordered, readily available mental health information is to be considered.
The stated goals of the bill are consistent with the mandate given by the Prime Minister to the Minister of Justice, which asks her to address gaps in services to those with mental illness throughout the criminal justice system. I think most Canadians would agree that the issue of mental illness could be better managed in the criminal justice system. It is an area where we must continue to work together with our provincial and territorial counterparts as well as community stakeholders to ensure that meaningful progress is made.
I want to be clear that improving the mental health responses of the criminal justice system is not about letting offenders off easy. On the contrary, it is consistent with our government's stated commitment to a criminal justice system that keeps communities safe, respects victims, and holds offenders to account. In particular, addressing mental health is one of the critical ways we can divert offenders from the so-called revolving door of incarceration, improve chances of successful reintegration, and make more efficient use of scarce resources. These outcomes, and not simply punitive measures, should drive our decision-making. As a result, every step we take to improve outcomes for those with mental illness is a step worthy of careful consideration by parliamentarians.
The proposals in the bill are also consistent with our government's other efforts to improve mental health care more generally across the country.
In budget 2017, the government committed $5 billion over the next 10 years to the provinces and territories to improve access to mental health services. In addition, to ensure that federally sentenced offenders with mental health needs receive proper care, budget 2017 proposed to invest $57.8 million over five years starting in 2017-18, and $13.6 million per year thereafter, to expand mental health care for all inmates in federal correctional facilities.
This funding is in addition to the $69 million over three years announced in 2016 for immediate mental health needs, and more than $300 million provided annually to support culturally relevant mental wellness services in indigenous communities. These significant and historic investments in front-line mental health services will benefit all Canadians, not just those who find themselves at odds with the criminal justice system.
I am encouraged by these financial commitments. It reflects the importance of investing in upstream services to ensure that people can receive help when they need it, before they come into contact with the criminal justice system.
I look forward to hearing the rest of the debate on this important private member's bill. Safe and healthy communities are built upon a criminal justice system that treats all Canadians with respect, dignity, and in a manner that always upholds the rights and freedoms afforded to all Canadians by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
I would like to thank the sponsor of the bill, the hon. member for Richmond Hill, for providing us with an opportunity to debate this important issue facing the criminal justice system.
View Sven Spengemann Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Sven Spengemann Profile
2017-12-08 13:19 [p.16235]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the second reading debate on this private member's bill, Bill C-375, an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding pre-sentence reports. This bill seeks to address the issue of mental health in the criminal justice system through a targeted amendment to the Criminal Code provision governing pre-sentence reports. Specifically, the bill would clarify that a pre-sentence report should, where possible, contain information about any mental disorder from which an offender suffers as well as any mental health care programs available to them.
I am in full agreement with the sponsor that the issue of mental health is of great concern to the criminal justice system. It has been identified as a key concern by many criminal justice stakeholders over the years. As part of our commitment to broadly review the criminal justice system in Canada, the Minister of Justice has indicated that addressing the needs of vulnerable offender populations in the criminal justice system is a key priority. Addressing the issue of mental health is also part of the Minister of Justice's mandate letter from the Prime Minister. Specifically, her mandate directs her to address gaps in services for those with mental illness throughout the criminal justice system.
The issue of mental health has arisen numerous times so far in the course of the minister's criminal justice review. It was raised by experts and other community stakeholders at the series of criminal justice round tables hosted by the Minister of Justice across Canada over the past two years. This thorough consultative process included a total of 20 round tables, with at least one in every province and territory. Mental health professionals, as well as representatives from traditionally marginalized communities, including indigenous and other racialized populations, featured prominently among the participants.
The round table held in Vancouver, in August 2016, was explicitly focused on mental health. At that event, our government heard, in no uncertain terms, that our criminal justice system must do a better job responding to mental illness. Experts in the field, as well as those with first-hand criminal justice experience, explained that addressing mental health is one of the critical ways our government can reduce crime, and in doing so, create safer and more prosperous communities throughout Canada.
Not only must we recognize mental health issues among those already involved in the criminal justice system, but by improving the mental health of our citizens before they engage in criminal behaviour, we can prevent longer-term struggles, which ultimately deprive our society of the full potential of those people. This idea was borne out in many of the stories and first-hand accounts we heard from Canadians throughout the round table process.
A typical story, one that is all too often true in our society, frequently begins with a young person from a marginalized community. That person experiences symptoms of mental distress, often beginning with depression or anxiety, but they go unnoticed because of a lack of institutional capacity or social support. The young person's mental state deteriorates, leading to lower performance at school, social withdrawal, and poor decision-making. The person's first involvement with the criminal justice system is often pursuant to a minor offence, such as a low-value theft or mischief. Nevertheless, he or she is convicted, and most likely, on a second offence, sentenced to a short period in custody. At this stage, the system fails to recognize the presence of worsening mental illness. Once inside the criminal justice system, the youth is exposed to an environment that aggravates rather than treats the mental health issues and the young person identifies with older, more serious offenders.
Upon returning to the community, the young person now suffers from a worsening, untreated mental illness and lacks the tools to effectively reintegrate. The unfortunate reality is that this person is now far more likely to reoffend and to live a life of continued criminal behaviour.
This story should not surprise any member of this House. While it is merely an example, our experience, including that gained through our own government's consultation process, has shown that this type of scenario continues to present itself in Canadian society.
It is because of stories like these that I commend the sponsor for his commitment to addressing mental health in the criminal justice system through Bill C-375. As I read the proposal, it would essentially codify the current practice of including mental health information in a pre-sentence report, where that information is readily available. In my view, this bill would not compel offenders to provide information about their mental health situation against their wishes, nor would it provide the court with the power to order the production of mental health records or empower it to order an assessment of the mental condition of the offender.
I understand that it is already common practice in many jurisdictions for offenders to provide information about their mental health through a probation officer where they feel it is beneficial to them. Therefore, in my view, the practical result of the bill would be to signal to a sentencing judge that this information is a relevant consideration at sentencing.
As I was reviewing the bill, I considered how such a proposal might fit within the broader goals and mandate of the Minister of Justice. The criminal justice system must protect all Canadians and keep our communities safe, but it must also protect the rights of all Canadians.
Our government is committed to ensuring the criminal law meets the highest standards of equity, fairness and respect for the rule of law. Healthy and safe communities are built upon a criminal justice system that treats the individuals with whom it interacts with respect, dignity, and in a manner that always upholds the rights and freedoms afforded to all by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Such a proposal could be seen as complementing our government's broader objectives of improving access to mental health care services for all Canadians.
For example, as members of the House will know, our government made a historic investment in mental health in budget 2017, with $11 billion of federal money being transferred to the provinces and territories over the next 10 years, almost half of which is to be dedicated to improving access to mental health and addiction services.
In addition, budget 2017 committed $118.2 million over five years to improve mental health supports for first nations and Inuit peoples. This money will be provided directly to communities so they can specifically tailor programs to meet their individual needs. This funding is in addition to the $69 million over three years announced in 2016 for immediate mental health needs and the more than $300 million provided annually to support culturally relevant mental wellness services for Canada's indigenous communities.
These significant and historic investments in front-line mental health services will benefit all Canadians, not just those who find themselves at odds with the criminal justice system. These upstream investments in mental health services could prevent a mentally ill person from coming into contact with the criminal justice system in the first place. Investing resources in our currently saturated mental health care system could decrease the likelihood that the criminal justice system would become the default method of dealing with these individuals.
I would like to briefly reflect on the communication I have had with members of my own community, constituents in my riding of Mississauga—Lakeshore, who have repeatedly written to me on the importance of mental health in Canada, particularly with respect to young people, indigenous communities, and also increasingly our seniors. In their correspondence to me, they underscore the importance for the government and all parliamentarians to take mental health seriously, to integrate mental health systematically into our policy decision-making processes, and to backstop the need to invest in mental health with adequate resources and investments.
I would like to thank the sponsor again for the steps he took in introducing the bill into the House of Commons. Through his own framework, his own lens of criminal justice and its intersection with mental health needs in Canada, he has moved the yardstick forward.
I am thankful for the opportunity to discuss this important proposal. I look forward to continued debate on this important private member's bill.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Mr. Speaker, the Cowichan River in my riding is a designated heritage river with significant cultural and historical importance to the Cowichan people. Climate change is causing unprecedented dry springs and summers, and river water flows frequently reach critically low levels, endangering fish and fish habitat.
The Liberals promised to protect our communities from climate change with investments in green infrastructure. The salmon that depend on the Cowichan River need strong federal leadership.
Will the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans commit in the House today to provide federal funds for raising the Cowichan weir?
View Dominic LeBlanc Profile
Lib. (NB)
View Dominic LeBlanc Profile
2017-12-06 15:02 [p.16097]
Mr. Speaker, we obviously share his concern about fish and fish habitat. The member is absolutely right. The Cowichan River is a critical piece of fish habitat in the country.
Our government is committed to doing more to protect and preserve fish habitat. In fact, we committed in the election campaign to return lost protections to the Fisheries Act. We announced habitat protection programs, including funding to ensure we did everything necessary to protect these iconic wild fish species.
I look forward to working with my colleague in that regard.
View Cathy McLeod Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am extremely pleased to speak in support of this historic bill, Bill C-61, Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement Act. It is a momentous occasion, and I want to offer my sincere congratulations to all those who have given so much time and energy in seeing this through.
As was mentioned, negotiations began in 1993 and concluded in 2015, at the end of the Conservative government's last term. The agreement was signed August 16, 2017. It truly has been created through a bipartisan process.
However, it is important to note that it has taken much too long. As we move to other agreements in the future, whether it be education or health, I hope we have a much more nimble process to get us to a final conclusion. The people who are here in the gallery listening today would agree that 20 years is much too long for this kind of important agreement to move forward.
We all recognize the importance of education. I want to share some of Roberta Jamieson's words:
Indigenous peoples are the fastest-growing demographic group in Canada. They have the potential to make a strong contribution to Canada's economic well-being. But if that is to happen, we must deal with the gap between the well-being of indigenous and non-indigenous people in Canada. That requires understanding the role education plays in closing that gap—and the action required to make that happen. The economic advantages of “closing the gap” far outweigh the costs.
As Matthew Calver of the Centre for the Study of Living Standards notes:
The benefits of education extend far beyond labour market performance...[It] is also associated with better health, reduced crime, political engagement and better financial decisions.
Ms. Jamieson went on to say:
We must build awareness that education is more than just the ABCs—it is the means of restoring cultural loss by strengthening identity, language, culture, and indigenous peoples' history. Our children require an education that recognizes and respects our values and our science, and is intended to contribute to the rebuilding of nations. When our youth realize they have reason for a strong affirming sense of identity, when they believe they are persons of value, knowing they are part of a positive change being woven into the history of Canada, they will respond by realizing that they have talent, potential, intelligence, and something special to offer the world.
As the minister described the signing agreement, and seeing the two youths with the sweatshirts, that just speaks to those words so clearly.
Hopefully, this agreement is going to do all that for these communities. As has been mentioned, 23 of the 39 Anishinabek First Nations have signed on, and of course the remaining communities have an option to sign on in the future if they want to. It recognizes the control over education on reserve from junior kindergarten to grade 12 in the 23 participating first nations.
It is an enormous agreement. There are over 25,000 students, of which approximately 2,000 currently attend band-operated schools. The 39 first nations in Anishinabek Nation are spread across much of Ontario, from Thunder Bay to Pembroke to Sarnia. For those of us who come from different provinces, it is important to really understand the scope of the massive area this is going to include. As has been mentioned, this is the first self-government agreement in Ontario.
The agreement comes with a number of pieces. It has an education fiscal transfer agreement, which is going to be updated and renewed every five fiscal years, the first of which the previous Conservative government signed on July 8, 2015. It provides stable, predictable, and flexible funding to ensure the school board can deliver quality education to the same standards as the province of Ontario.
It is important to note we are moving in the right direction. We still have a long way to go. The 2016 census revealed some positive steps forward in terms of completion rates. I do not think that we have caught up to where we need to be, but there was a movement, very importantly, in the right direction, and agreements such as this will further close the gap.
The minister will not be surprised to hear that I am pleased to see there is clear language around the financial transparency of each first nation and the school board, which will be fully accountable to the band members for the spending to ensure the money will go where it is needed most. Having that financial transparency and accountability in these communities will be a very important measurement. It will include audited statements, which will be made available to the membership.
My children were raised in a small rural community with a small high school. At the time, rural broadband was not available. I remember looking at options, but they just were not available. However, now with broadband being widely available, there is an ability for our budding doctors to take physics, or someone who wants to be an engineer to take calculus, which are typically opportunities that are not available in small rural communities and some of our first nation communities.
Hopefully, in the future, when we have signed agreements, they will include a component where we commit to bring into these communities high-speed broadband, which will allow even greater opportunity for the students to have flexibility and an expanded scope.
The minister also talked about how many of the students could not stay in their communities and had to move on in terms of high school. Again, this would allow greater flexibility in terms of choices, and students could spend more time in their home communities and get a full and robust education. If we are looking at agreements, this should be something that requires a significant discussion.
In closing, this is a monumental achievement. My sincerest congratulations go to the people who have worked so hard on it. Jurisdiction over their primary, elementary, and secondary education will be very important, as well as the ability to deliver a culturally-relevant curriculum every day. Ultimately, as these schools learn by doing and succeed, perhaps we will have lessons that we can learn from for some of our more traditional schools in larger centres.
I remember visiting a day care in T’it’q’et, a small community, that welcomed members from the nearby off-reserve community to attend. I remember how enriching it was for the children that lived in Lillooet to go to that particular day care. They also benefited from the cultural programming that was part of this particular day care. Therefore, I see that there is going to be opportunity in the future for everyone to be a little better.
Again, I am pleased to support the bill and congratulations to all.
View Marilène Gill Profile
View Marilène Gill Profile
2017-12-06 16:49 [p.16114]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the Bloc québécois to speak to Bill C-61 because we strongly encourage these types of initiatives.
With Bill C-61 we will be able to help implement the agreement enabling the Anishinabek Nation to create and oversee its own education system by partnering with the federal government and the Ontario government.
After more than 20 years of negotiations, 23 communities will now be united under their own education system, a system they will be able to shape according to their culture and their priorities. This means that Anishinabek communities in Ontario will be able to develop programs that promote their language and pass on their history. It is also an opportunity to develop educational environments that allow children to adjust to their schools more easily and to feel at home.
The Bloc québécois recognizes indigenous peoples as distinct peoples who are entitled to their cultures, languages, customs and traditions, and to the right to decide how to develop their own identity.
It goes without saying that nation-to-nation relationships begin with recognition of the different nations and their right to self-determination. We welcome these types of agreements, which give first nations more autonomy, an initiative that follows perfectly on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is essential that first nations have full control over their children's education.
In a context where indigenous languages are often on the brink of extinction and children's academic success is jeopardized by education systems that do not correspond to the cultures of the first peoples, gaining control over education means taking charge of the future.
Quebec has already signed agreements with nations that took this direction, such as the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, which led to the peace of the braves. We would never go back to the old way. We are sure that the Anishinabek people will not regret it either, but the federal government will have to become a real partner and meet its funding responsibilities.
Ottawa has been almost perpetually lax when it comes to funding for first nations education. One year ago today, the parliamentary budget officer criticized the Canadian government for underfunding indigenous schools. He found that Ottawa invests just half of what the provinces invest per child in education. What the numbers tell us is that the federal government considers indigenous children to be worth only half as much as non-indigenous children. Former prime minister Paul Martin has also harshly criticized this imbalance on many occasions since leaving politics.
Although funding is already massively deficient, federal spending on on-reserve education is increasing at a slower rate than indigenous populations themselves. These young and fast-growing populations are not being properly served by Ottawa's usual grand plans, in part because Ottawa is too far from these communities to know what people need.
In fact, the parliamentary budget officer criticized the rigidity of the federal funding model, which fails to account for a wide range of factors, including geographic location, school size, language and culture, percentage of students whose mother tongue is neither French nor English, specific socioeconomic conditions, climate, and percentage of students with special needs.
The parliamentary budget officer must have had a sense of déjà vu, because in 2009, his predecessor came to the same sad conclusion that, at best, Ottawa was underestimating actual school infrastructure needs by more than half. Perhaps he got wind of the work that had been done in 2007 by the Quebec National Assembly's committee on education, which is in an ideal position to observe the differences between the treaty education systems and the work of the federal government. At that time, the committee members found significant differences between band schools and those of treaty first nations. They added:
At first glance, the funding formula of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development seems to put band schools at a disadvantage as compared to treaty first nation schools.
The committee ended its report by calling on the Government of Quebec to pressure the federal government to release the necessary resources so that indigenous communities in Quebec could offer education services comparable to those offered by the province.
The committee also criticized Ottawa's lack of flexibility with regard to funding. It indicated that federal funding failed to keep pace whenever changes were made to the programs and services offered by Quebec schools, and schools on reserves were unable to keep up with the advances that other Quebec students were entitled to, or were only able to make such advances after long delays. Simply put, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The Bloc Québécois salutes the Anishinabek communities and fully believes that they will benefit immensely from this promising agreement. It should be clear by now that although it is unusual for the Bloc Québécois to speak on bills that do not involve Quebec, we have no hesitation about supporting Bill C-61.
The Prime Minister made a commitment on his very first day in Parliament. He said:
We will keep our diverse communities strong and will renew Canada’s nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples.
He added that this would include:
...working in collaboration so that every first nations child receives a quality education.
We are taking him at his word. The government must take the initiative to ensure there are more agreements like the one we are implementing by voting for Bill C-61.
The government will have to be both a partner and a leader in its negotiations with first nations.
It took the Anishinabek people 20 years of hard work to get to this point. That is too long. A whole generation of children missed out on having an education system that was tailored to their specific cultural needs and well equipped to help them achieve their highest aspirations.
Make no mistake, first nations face many obstacles on their road to academic success. These will take some time to overcome, but one thing is clear: the future lies in self-government and a nation-to-nation relationship.
The future does not lie in non-indigenous governments imposing their own priorities. When it comes to decisions about education, the further away the federal government stays, the better off everyone will be.
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
2017-12-06 17:12 [p.16117]
moved that Bill C-352, An Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and to provide for the development of a national strategy (abandonment of vessels), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
She said: Mr. Speaker, oil spills and marine debris from thousands of abandoned vessels across the country pollute our waterways and put local fishing and tourism jobs at risk. For too long, jurisdictional gaps have left coastal communities with nowhere to turn when they need help with abandoned vessels.
I first encountered this on Parker Island, a small island off Galiano. Constituents came to me saying that for 10 years they had been trying to get an enormous abandoned barge off of their white sand beach. They had asked every single department, provincially and federally, and got the runaround for 10 years. Someone had had a big dream of turning one of the old Expo 86 barges into a floating bed and breakfast, or something like that, but by the time it beached on the shore, it was rotting. My constituents would phone the Coast Guard, which would say it was a hazzard to navigation and that maybe they would have a look at it. The Coast Guard would then simply tie on the rotting pieces of rebar or the chunks of concrete or asbestos insulation that had fallen onto the beach. Children could not play there and the fisheries were harmed. It was a total mess, and no one would help.
I was chair of the Islands Trust Council at the time. We did not have any authority to deal with this, but we tried to find out whether this really was a result of a hole in jurisdiction and if other communities were having the same problem. We went to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities, the local government association for the Sunshine Coast on Vancouver Island. We took past resolutions, asking for action, to the Union of BC Municipalities, representing 180 municipal and rural governments all bound together.
One time, I led a delegation of 19 different local governments to meet with the Liberal B.C. minister of forests, lands and natural resource operations. There were 19 different local governments all in one room asking for help, saying that the minister should get it fixed or implore Ottawa to assume its responsibilities, that this was a marine issue, that it was about the oceans and vessel registration, and that the minister should be acting. Other countries act in regard to such vessels, but Canada fails to act.
For 10 years, we were completely ignored. That is one of the reasons I wanted to get elected as a member of Parliament: to bring the solutions here and to fix this once and for all.
During the course of the election campaign, the Viki Lyne II came into prominence in the riding I was hoping to represent. In Ladysmith Harbour, four years earlier, Transport Canada had found a beautiful old 100-foot fishing trawler adrift, the Viki Lyne II. She had been built in 1961 and had met a bad end. Transport Canada towed her into Ladysmith Harbour, which was viewed as a safe harbour, and there she sat for four years at anchor. Ladysmith had put an awful lot of effort into waterfront beautification, tourism promotion, and yet this horrific rusting hulk was sitting there, a hull that the Coast Guard, in a marine survey in year one, had said was maybe only being held together by the rust, yet it was a vessel with 125,000 litres of contaminants on board.
Ladysmith has jobs invested in aquaculture, tourism, and fisheries. All of them were threatened if the worst-case scenario happened to Viki Lyne II, and still we could not get action. A huge rally during the election campaign was organized by Take 5, one of the great local newspapers. Former MP Jean Crowder had been very active, trying to bring solutions to this. The former mayor of Ladysmith, Rob Hutchins, and then his successor, Aaron Stone, had a very strong alliance with the Stz'uminus First Nation. Here I raise my hands to Chief John Elliott, who was a very strong partner, he and his council. They repeatedly wrote letters to the federal government asking for help.
The Ladysmith Maritime Society, a community-owned marina, pushed as hard as it could for solutions. Finally, having been loud about this in question period, which some members might remember, a former fisheries minister, now the member for Nunavut, said that he would find a way to fund the removal of the Viki Lyne II. A little more than a year ago, there was a huge community celebration when, five years after was had first asked, the Viki Lyne II was finally towed away. In our effort, the Ladysmith Chronicle, a great local newspaper, had really helped us keep the pressure on and tell the story.
After the Viki Lyne II was towed away, every person who had been involved in her removal recommitted to a comprehensive coast-wide solution. The one off approach of dealing with the problem on a boat-by-boat basis, and not dealing with it until it became an emergency, had not been tenable. All them said that no community should have to work as hard as Ladysmith had to get that one boat removed.
Therefore, I brought to the House legislation based on all of the years of advice from coastal communities to fix vessel registration; to pilot a vessel turn-in program; to create good, green jobs by working with local salvage companies and innovating with recycling. Maybe we can find some markets for fibreglass, which has just not been done yet. Finally, my legislation aimed to end the jurisdictional runaround by making the Coast Guard the first point of contact. If someone finds an abandoned vessel, they contact the Coast Guard, and the Coast Guard works it out between other federal agencies who should take the first action.
From Tofino, B.C., to Fogo Island, Newfoundland, my legislation has been broadly endorsed. Fifty coastal communities; businesses; harbour authorities; marinas; and labour groups, such as the the BC Ferry and Marine Workers' Union, Vancouver District Labour Council, and the Union of BC Municipalities all endorsed my legislation.
This summer I went to Nova Scotia and met with local leaders from all over who are facing the same problem, and they all agreed that this legislation would meet their needs and that we needed to accelerate it. We kept raising the pressure, along with many of my other Vancouver Island colleagues, some whom are sitting with me here today. We raised the issue of abandoned vessels 80 times in the House just in this Parliament alone.
The government kept promising that action was imminent. It did announce some funding back in the spring, which was better than a kick in the head, but, honestly, a drop in the bucket, with $260,000 this year for small craft harbours and $300,000 for removal from anywhere else in the rest of the country. The bill for removing the Silver King from my colleague's riding of Courtenay—Alberni was $300,000. This one vessel would have blown the whole budget for the entire year. The capital regional district, which my colleague, the MP for Victoria, represents in part, has applied to the federal government for $1 million to remove the backlog of abandoned vessels. Therefore, $300,000 is not going to go very far.
Then, on October 22, another vessel sunk in Ladysmith Harbour, the Anapaya, which had already been on Transport Canada's inventory of vessels of concern for three years. It certainly was a lot more expensive to recover, and more damaging to local jobs and the environment once it was sitting on the bottom of Ladysmith Harbour leaking oil than if, proactively, we had been able to remove it before it sank. I am very grateful to the Coast Guard, as it has so many times risen to the call for action without really having the proper resources, and without a super-clear authority. Those good men and women of the Coast Guard have acted. However, we need to support and resource their work and give them clear responsibility.
On October 30, just eight days after the Anapaya sank, the transport minister introduced Bill C-64. The bill is compatible with my legislation, as there is no overlap. When I saw that the minister had finally acted, I thought, great, my bill would really fill the gaps in his bill, and both pieces of legislation could move forward together. The transport minister's bill does not legislate on the most pressing issues with abandoned vessels. It does not deal with the backlog and does not fix vessel registration. The transport minister wants to be able send fines and penalties to the owners of vessels, but if there is no proper vessel registry, how will he ever know where to mail the bill?
Therefore, these two pieces of legislation should have been able to go forward together. Again, because the government's bill did not deal with the backlog, part of my bill suggested a vessel turn-in program, kind of like the successful cash for clunkers program for vehicles, which many provinces have worked on. Without that kind of turn-in program, we will just not be able to deal with the backlog.
We have heard of all the procedural games the Liberals used. They blocked my bill at the procedure and House affairs committee. I went to an appeal and showed them exactly all of the ways the bills were compatible and not in conflict, but they used their majority on committee to vote me down. We then used an unprecedented tool that had never been used in the history of the House of Commons, a secret ballot vote.
Even under the cover of the secrecy of the ballot box, I had an awful lot of Liberal colleagues say they were sorry but were voting with the government on this one. I wish they had voted with coastal communities, voted to have the solutions from all of those coastal mayors, brought to this House, and at least had the courage to have these debated in committee. To me, it felt like a real betrayal of the Liberal commitment to work across the aisle co-operatively, and to work with local communities to find solutions. I am disappointed. None of the B.C. coastal voices are included in this legislation, and I do not believe there are any B.C. Liberals on the speaking list today who are willing to speak about why they did not want to support this bill. In contrast, in the previous Parliament, when the Liberals were the third party, they voted for former MP Jean Crowder's version of this bill. That included the fisheries minister, transport minister, and the prime minister. Anyway, times have changed.
Tonight is the end of the road for Bill C-352. It is what coastal communities have been asking for for decades, but this is our consolation prize final hour of debate. Because of the Liberal push, this will not go to committee or a vote, which almost never happens. However, here we are making history again.
Yesterday, I was very pleased to have the support of all parties of the House to fast-track the transport minister's bill, Bill C-64, to committee immediately. Our communities are so hungry for solutions, and I am really glad there was agreement to move that quickly. The minister's bill will go to committee and I will do my best, along with my colleagues, to insert as many of those coastal solutions that remain from my blocked bill within the minister's bill.
I will finish by saying that I continue to be awed by the power and innovation of coastal communities. These are people who take matters into their own hands, find fixes, and use the system to advocate for them. Honestly, they should not have had to work this hard. This should have been solved 15 years ago, as every other maritime country has pretty much done.
I will not forget that the Liberal government tried to stifle coastal voices. However, my resolve to include the innovation and problem-solving nature of coastal community leaderships into the government's bill continues so that we can finally solve the abandoned vessels problem and get it off the backs of coastal communities. For ecology, the economy, and local jobs, let us respect that coastal wisdom. Let us honour the advice of these elected local leaders and bring their abandoned vessels solutions to this House and into Canada's legislation.
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-12-06 17:30 [p.16119]
Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an honour to stand before the House to talk to the private member's bill from our colleague from Nanaimo—Ladysmith, Bill C-352. It is unfortunate that we are speaking at a time when really the government has pretty much scuttled her bill, as we get jeers across the way, and really did everything in its power at every step of the way for the member of Parliament and her advocacy for the issue.
We cannot have a debate or a speech on abandoned vessels without first giving due to our hon. former colleague, John Weston, who also brought forth a bill very similar to this. It was in June 2015 in the 41st Parliament that Conservative MP John Weston introduced Bill C-695, which would have dealt with very similar issues or similar points that Bill C-64 and Bill C-352 have. One of the things that I will agree with our colleague across the way from South Shore—St. Margarets about is the responsibility. Whether it is somebody who is polluting or somebody who is abandoning a vessel, Conservatives also agree that there has to be some onus and responsibility on that person, the owner of that vessel or the person or organization that is doing the polluting.
One of the things that I will take a bit of deference to in terms of our hon. colleague who just spoke before us from South Shore—St. Margarets, whom I respect greatly, is the fact that her motion, Motion No. 40, really precipitated BillC-64. I would offer that it probably helped along the way, bringing the awareness to the government, but I would also then say that those who walked before us, including our hon. colleague from Nanaimo—Ladysmith and our hon. former colleague, Mr. John Weston, and the work that he did in the previous Parliament, set the ground for where we are today.
We have heard examples. While our hon. colleague from Nanaimo—Ladysmith did name the Expo 86 barge, it was affectionately known on the Pacific coast as the McBarge. I believe that is the one she was referring to. It was a floating McDonald's during Expo 86 and it had been towed out to Ladysmith. Some entrepreneur had some grand ideas as to what he or she was going to do with it. However, as with many of our small businesses, with all the whims and whimsies and “fail to plan” and “plan to fail” it sat there and collected rust.
In doing research for this speech today, I looked quickly in the news articles. Just recently, at the beginning of November, the Town of Ladysmith applied for federal funding to remove nine derelict vessels. That is unacceptable. Whether it is a small municipality on the Pacific coast or on the Atlantic coast, this is unacceptable and that is what the challenge has been in terms of abandoned vessels. Whose responsibility is it? There is a lot of finger pointing when there are abandoned and derelict vessels as to whose responsibility it is, who is going to take control of and mitigate the situation. What I felt was compelling in our hon. colleague's private member's bill, Bill C-352, was something that I was not aware of. I have to say that when I was tasked to talk to this, I actually reached out to our hon. colleague and wanted to find out a bit more about the issue. I am from British Columbia. I can read the headlines and know that there are challenges and issues there, but I confess I am in a landlocked area. Outside of maybe a rowboat, there are not a lot of the huge derelict vessels that we will see in some of our coastal communities.
Therefore, I want to know what the difference is between Bill C-64, and our hon. colleague's bill in the previous Parliament, Bill C-695, and our hon. colleague from Nanaimo—Ladysmith's bill, Bill C-352. She said that the fundamental difference is it assigns responsibility to the Coast Guard. I will touch on that quickly when I get a chance.
The overwhelming issue that we have, and I think our hon. colleague said it very articulately, is that when we are trying to track down the owner of a vessel that has perhaps changed hands three, four, or five times, how do we assign a fine to somebody who does not own that vessel anymore? The federal registration process for marine vessels is and has been flawed. I thought that Bill C-352 identified this issue, which I was unaware of. I look forward to Bill C-64 coming to committee and working with my colleague across the way from South Shore—St. Margarets to make some amendments to it, because I think there are some strong points that will allow us to finally put this issue to rest.
One of the things I want to talk about is the responsibility of the Coast Guard. Our hon. colleague from South Shore—St. Margarets made a great point. The responsibility, as it sits with Bill C-352, would go squarely on that of the Coast Guard. Somebody ultimately needs to take responsibility for that. Whether with respect to enforcement, or mitigating the issue and removing it from the waters, somebody should be responsible. There should be a singular group or organization that one can call when one has a ship that is rusting in one's area, whichever that is, the Coast Guard or Transport Canada. There is no finger pointing. The challenge is that we have a Coast Guard today, and I think my hon. colleague knows where I am going with this, that is challenged for resources. My hon. colleague across the way from South Shore—St. Margarets knows that this is something that as the shadow minister for this file I am deeply aware of. We have 27 marine vessels in our Coast Guard fleet with 75% to 148% of their notional lifespan. We have perhaps the oldest marine vessel fleet in the world.
Canada has the largest coastline in the world, yet we are asking our brave men and women in our Canadian Coast Guard to brave the waters, to enforce our Arctic sovereignty, and because 90% of all of Canada's trade goes by marine and waterways, to make sure that our seaways and waterways are free of ice so that our ports and communities can remain viable, and our mariners, fishermen, and those coastal communities can receive the services they require from our Canadian Coast Guard, with a fleet and resources from a federal organization that I believe requires some attention.
I understand I have about a minute left. I do not know if there is much more that needs to be said.
I congratulate our hon. colleague for her tireless efforts in seeing this through, and working with our former colleague, Mr. Weston, in supporting his bill also, Bill C-695. I know Mr. Weston supports Bill C-352. I look forward to perhaps having our hon. colleague at committee, and working with our colleague across the way from South Shore—St. Margarets, to do some great work, as we usually do at the fisheries committee, and come up with a piece of legislation that will protect our harbours and our coastal communities, and make sure that those who require the resources are getting it, like our Canadian Coast Guard.
View Don Rusnak Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Don Rusnak Profile
2017-12-05 18:39 [p.16080]
Mr. Speaker, as my colleague, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, reiterated, our government is proud of our commitment to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We are pleased to be here today discussing our support for Bill C-262.
In considering the elements of the proposal, it is imperative that we consider it within the context of where we are now and where we are going. We are in the midst of a number of ongoing processes and initiatives that will assist in the implementation of the UN declaration in Canada. In addition to the establishment of a process to review laws, policies, and operational practices relating to indigenous peoples, and the creation of permanent bilateral mechanisms with the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and the Métis National Council, a number of other initiatives are furthering our pursuit of a renewed nation-to-nation, Inuit-crown, and government-to-government relationship with indigenous peoples. For instance, the Government of Canada has undertaken a review of Canada's environmental assessment and regulatory processes, including the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, the Fisheries Act, the Navigation Protection Act, and the National Energy Board Act.
The United Nations declaration was, and continues to be, considered one of the key elements of these review processes. Indigenous peoples were engaged in all four reviews. The government is currently considering the wide range of recommendations from the review reports, including those on how best to respect the rights of indigenous peoples and involve them in decision-making processes.
Since 2015, we have been engaged in recognition of indigenous rights and self-determination discussions with indigenous groups to address their rights, interests, and needs, and enable greater self-determination. At last count, there were more than 50 such discussion tables under way, representing 300 indigenous communities and a population of more than 500,000 people. Additional rights and recognition tables are also being contemplated.
Discussions like these are contributing to the development of new relationships and approaches that are ultimately intended to support the actualization of self-determination and contribute to reconciliation. These discussions are also resulting in the co-development of section 35-related policy reforms. All of this work aligns with the UN declaration. Concrete action reflecting the minimum standards of the UN declaration has also been taken in a variety of policy and program areas, including economic development, housing, education, access to safe drinking water, and governance.
The proposals in Bill C-262, including the development of an action plan aimed at ensuring consistency between Canadian laws and the declaration, are consistent with this work and highlight the importance of providing opportunities for dialogue on what changes can be made to federal laws and policies to advance reconciliation in this country.
However, Bill C-262 will not, on its own, operationalize the United Nations declaration in Canadian law. What is required to do that is to move from dialogue to tackling real issues faced by indigenous communities across Canada. Let me take a moment to describe some of the concrete progress we are making.
For example, the Inuit-crown partnership committee is working together to identify and oversee the implementation of short, medium, and long-term initiatives and solutions for addressing the housing crisis in the Inuit territory. As part of this process, we are currently co-developing an Inuit Nunangat housing strategy. This approach recognizes the direct role of Inuit organizations and governments in addressing housing needs in Inuit communities, the need for long-term sustainable investments, as well as the importance of ongoing collaboration among Inuit, the federal government, and provincial and territorial governments.
First nations communities and the government are also working towards long-term solutions to improve on-reserve water and wastewater infrastructure, ensure proper facility operation and maintenance, and strengthen capacity into the future. Since the commitment of $1.8 billion over five years for water and wastewater infrastructure in budget 2016, 348 projects have been completed, or are under way, or are planned to address and prevent long-term drinking water advisories now and into the future.
Together these projects will serve approximately 270,000 people in 275 first nation communities.
We are also working with indigenous people on the development of distinctions-based legislation to promote and revitalize Métis, Inuit, and first nations languages. In October this year, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs introduced Bill C-61, the Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement act. This legislation would give effect to an agreement negotiated between Canada and the Anishinabek Nation that recognizes Anishinabek control over education for 23 participating first nation communities.
Each of these specific measures and initiatives play an important role in contributing to achieving the standards described in the UN declaration. However, there is more to do to get us where we are going.
The process of dissolving Indigenous and Northern Affairs to better align with the needs and rights of indigenous people is one such forward-looking measure. This shift to a new department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs coupled with the department of Indigenous Services will better support indigenous peoples in strengthening their own political, cultural, and economic institutions. In turn, this supports indigenous self-determination, reflected throughout the UN declaration. In this context, the approach proposed in Bill C-262 would continue to build on the progress that has already been made, and it deserves serious consideration by the committee.
View Pierre Nantel Profile
View Pierre Nantel Profile
2017-12-04 15:00 [p.15952]
Mr. Speaker, a lot of people are fed up with the heritage minister. The cultural sector, print media, and even a number of her own Liberal colleagues are calling on her to take action to help our cultural sector and our media, but she is refusing to do so.
When we tell her about newspapers that are shutting down, she talks about the CBC or a federal fund that does not support daily papers. Everyone, from her own colleagues to people such as Fred Pellerin, Boucar Diouf, and Alexandre Taillefer, has reached the breaking point. Even a former advisor to Jean Chrétien had some choice words for her recently.
For pity's sake, can the minister offer up just one concrete measure she will take to save print media, if only to salvage her own reputation? She has two reports full of ideas to choose from.
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Mélanie Joly Profile
2017-12-04 15:01 [p.15952]
Mr. Speaker, Canada's cultural sector is very pleased that we invested $2.3 million in the Canada Council for the Arts, the CBC, Telefilm, and the National Film Board, organizations that employ thousands of people across the country.
We are, of course, very concerned about what is happening in the print media industry. We know the media are facing huge challenges. That is why I have already announced that we are going to modernize our approach so that we can better support the industry in both paper and online formats.
We are also going to help the media show leadership in transitioning to the web to ensure their viability.
View Joël Lightbound Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Joël Lightbound Profile
2017-12-01 10:26 [p.15876]
: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his question.
I believe that our government is committed to making our tax system fairer where we see it is lacking. I think that my colleague has made some valid suggestions. We are open to looking at the different options available to enhance the fairness of our tax system.
We must acknowledge that the public transit tax credit had very little impact. Again, you have to pay taxes in order to receive a tax credit. We are making historic investments in public transit. We are spending $180 billion over 12 years, with a large part going to public transit. We know that this improves access to public transit and makes it easier for Canadians to get around. We believe that it will help improve the lives of Canadians and also make a difference to our environment.
When we looked into the analyses of the public transit tax credit, we noted that it was not a very effective measure. I believe that the NDP cares about the most vulnerable, as I do. The most vulnerable quite often do not pay tax, and they did not benefit from this tax credit. You have to know about it and, often, you need an accountant in order to use it. You have to know something about taxes, and not everyone does.
By investing directly in public transit, we are making it easier for everyone to access it and at the same time we are helping the environment.
View Bob Bratina Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bob Bratina Profile
2017-12-01 11:45 [p.15889]
Mr. Speaker, today I stand in recognition of World AIDS Day, a day whereby we can all work together to reduce the stigma of this tragic illness and provide support to those affected by it.
Can the Minister of Health please inform this House about what actions our government is taking to address HIV and AIDS in Canada?
View Ginette Petitpas Taylor Profile
Lib. (NB)
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Hamilton East—Stoney Creek for this important question and for his important advocacy on this issue.
World AIDS Day is a reminder that HIV/AIDS remains a persistent health issue around the world, and our government is deeply committed to addressing it. This morning, I was pleased to announce $26.4 million in investments for 84 projects, involving 122 organizations, and almost $10 million for five research projects. These projects will help reduce stigma and prevent HIV, hepatitis C, and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne diseases.
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