Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
2018-12-13 10:09 [p.24836]
Mr. Speaker, because front-line domestic violence workers are saving women's lives, and because they are the most underfunded non-profit group in the country, petitioners from Nanaimo, Ladysmith and Ottawa call on the government to recognize the need for reliable, long-term core operations funding. Domestic violence shelters and feminist organizations are struggling to keep the lights on and to keep staff in place. They do not need program funding; they need core operations funding.
The petitioners urge the government to direct federal funding to women's organizations and dedicate the political and financial support they need to keep women in our country alive.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)

Question No. 2026--
Mr. Ziad Aboultaif:
With regard to the government's decision to resume funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA): (a) has the government put in place enhanced due diligence and accountability measures with respect to the educational needs of Palestinian children and youth, and the adopted curriculum; and (b) if the answer in (a) is affirmative, (i) when were the measures established, (ii) what are the measures, (iii) who is responsible within the government for oversight of the implementation of these enhanced due diligence and accountability measures?
Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau (Minister of International Development, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, the following reflects a consolidated response approved on behalf of Global Affairs Canada ministers.
With regard to the government’s decision to resume funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA, and (a) specifically, Canada exercises enhanced due diligence for all international assistance funding for Palestinians, including UNRWA. All programming and funding mechanisms, including those for the West Bank and Gaza, are thoroughly examined to be consistent with Canadian values and legislation, and to meet the highest standards of accountability.
With regard to (b)(i), Canada has exercised enhanced due diligence and monitored accountability for funding for UNRWA since Canada resumed its support to the UN Agency in 2016.
With regard to (b)(ii), Canada’s enhanced due diligence activities include strong anti-terrorism provisions in funding agreements, ongoing oversight, regular site visits, and a systematic screening process.
Canada and UNRWA have agreed to a framework for cooperation that outlines shared commitments and Canada’s expectations regarding the implementation of UNRWA’s reform initiatives, regular monitoring and reporting, and compliance with Canadian anti-terrorism requirements. This framework for cooperation is publicly available on the Global Affairs Canada internet site: .
Canada’s funding also contributes to UNRWA’s neutrality activities, which include regular inspections of the agency’s facilities by specially trained UNRWA officers who can identify, report, and take action on violations of neutrality; training for UNRWA staff on neutrality, including in social media, and for senior staff on how to carry out effective installation inspections; promotion of students’ knowledge and skills reflecting United Nations, UN, values, including human rights, conflict resolution, gender equality and tolerance, through educational activities and materials; and UNRWA’s development, distribution and use of additional educational materials, as part of the agency’s approach to enable teachers to promote neutrality. This support also builds on funding Canada provided from 2017 to 2019 to hire a neutrality coordinator to monitor activities and respond promptly to allegations of neutrality violations.
This assistance demonstrates how Canada and UNRWA are working together to ensure respect for the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, operational independence and impartiality. This is essential to the effective delivery of its work and to Canada’s continued support to UNRWA.
In addition, our funding enables us to be an active member of UNRWA’s advisory commission. We continue to work on a regular basis with UNRWA and other donor governments to advance reforms related to governance, effectiveness, monitoring and financial administration. Canada’s participation provides an opportunity for oversight, influence and engagement on key issues. Canada will continue to take all allegations of neutrality violations very seriously.
It is a long-standing policy for UNRWA to use the textbooks of the jurisdiction in which UNRWA schools operate. This allows students to sit for local exams. UNRWA has in place a formal framework to review all textbooks and, where needed, provides additional training for teachers to address any problematic issues related to neutrality, bias, gender equality or age appropriateness.
With regard to (b)(iii), monitoring and oversight are conducted by Global Affairs Canada officials and implementing partners. Each funding instrument requires partner organizations, including UNRWA, to provide regular reporting on work plans and activities, financial records, and results achieved. Global Affairs Canada officials reserve the right to request additional information or clarification from partners as needed, to ensure compliance with the terms of funding instruments, to manage risks, to assess results or to obtain further financial details.
Given that UNRWA has operations in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, the Government of Canada officials based across the region closely monitor project activities and results.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
2018-12-11 17:48 [p.24788]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House and speak to Motion No. 206, brought forward by my colleague, the member for Newmarket—Aurora.
The government is on the right track in helping young Canadians become more physically active. However, children are not active enough, and they are getting less and less active as they get older. According to a report conducted by the Region of Peel's public health department, 32% of students in grades 7 to 12 are overweight or obese, and a staggering 41% of grade 9 students score in the low-fit category of cardiovascular fitness.
I would like to take this opportunity to applaud all of the wonderful residents of Brampton who teach, coach and encourage our youth to lead a healthy and active lifestyle. In particular, I would like to thank David Laing and Kevin Montgomery, who lead the BikeBrampton group. The Region of Peel and the City of Brampton have partnered with BikeBrampton on events to encourage cycling, such as Bike the Creek, which has seen significant participant growth over the past four years. I would like to commend the entire team of the Union Street YMCA in Brampton, and in particular the general manager, Ivan Rabinovich, for his tremendous efforts in helping keep the youth moving.
While almost half of the children aged five to 11 are active for about an hour a day, that falls to about a quarter of youth by the time they are 12 to 17 years of age. Children in homes with lower incomes are also less active and are at higher risk of being at unhealthy weights.
According to the WHO, physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death, because it is linked to a number of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. People who are physically active live longer, healthier lives. Active people are more productive and more likely to avoid illness and injury.
Canadians need to move more and sit less. Therefore, what are we doing to address this problem? Earlier this year, federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for sport, physical activity and recreation released a new common vision, “Let's Get Moving”, to address physical activity and reduce sedentary living. Let's Get Moving was implemented in part by the principles and objectives under the “Global Action Plan on Physical Activity”, also released this year, by the World Health Organization. Let's Get Moving is an important new and collective way forward for government to help guide and address physical inactivity and chronic disease prevention in Canada. This work represented an important milestone for governments and was the culmination of three years of work by officials, including federal, provincial and territorial health officials, the non-governmental sector and indigenous organizations. This vision presents further opportunities to showcase the collective leadership of our government internationally as we support Canadians to move more and sit less.
This government is also supporting Canadian youth physical activity through many great programs and research initiatives. Through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, or CIHR, this government is investing in research to better understand the linkages between physical activity and health outcomes in youth, including diabetes and cardiovascular health.
Over the past five years, CIHR has invested over $26 million in research related to physical activity and health, including over $9 million in 2017-18 alone. For instance, CIHR is investing in the work led by Drs. Mélanie Henderson and Matthias Friedrich at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre in Montreal. The doctors there are studying the links between lifestyle choices, such as physical activity or sedentary behaviour, and the development of cardiovascular disease in children with type 1 diabetes.
The physical design of spaces and places also plays a major role in helping Canadians move more every day. Why do spaces and places matter? The design of neighbourhoods can influence our health. The rise of urban sprawl is a concern, as it has been linked to such things as driving more and eating less nutritious foods.
The relationship between the built environment, healthy living, people's behaviour and health status is complex. Indeed, in her 2017 report, the chief public health officer of Canada chose to highlight this topic because of the tremendous potential that changing the built environment has for helping Canadians make the healthy choice.
Our government has invested in several projects that focus on making changes to the built environment. In St. Thomas, Ontario, Southwestern Public Health is working to re-design their community so that people can walk, rather than drive, more easily and more safely. Another great example is the Canadian Cancer Society's Trottibus initiative. With this walking school bus, elementary school children have fun walking to school, under the supervision of adults who monitor their safety.
Canadians will also soon be even more motivated to get moving. Budget 2018 announced $25 million in funding over five years for Participaction to get Canadians moving more and sitting less. Participaction has committed to match our federal investment over the course of the five years of the “let's get moving” initiative through a combination of public and private sources, for a total investment of $50 million.
The organization will partner with municipalities, indigenous communities, schools, sport and recreation organizations, and community groups to involve Canadians in moving more, and sitting less. Participaction will communicate with Canadians to drive participation in community events across Canada, and implement a national multimedia campaign. Indeed, members might have seen a billboard or heard recently of Participaction's “better campaign', which encourages Canadians to get moving because “everything gets better” when people are active. The campaign shines a light on ways in which everything, such as thinking, mood and relationships to sleeping, can improve with physical activity.
However, participaction is only one of many partners. No one organization, including government, can work in isolation to tackle the problem of physical inactivity in this country.
It is recognized that through active engagement and partnerships, we can make progress to support and sustain behavioural change that will positively impact health. All segments of society, communities, academia, the charitable and not-for-profit sector and the private sector, must work together if we are to be successful in getting Canadians to move more and sit less.
A great example of federal, provincial and territorial partnerships is when ministers of health across the country endorsed “A Declaration on Prevention and Promotion” in 2010, presenting a shared vision for working together and with others to make the promotion of health and the prevention of disease, disability and injury a priority for action. The same set of ministers endorsed “Curbing Childhood Obesity: A Federal, Provincial and Territorial Framework for Action to Promote Healthy Weights” to make curbing childhood obesity a collective priority in Canada. Another example is the partnerships to develop and now to implement “let's get moving” initiative on physical activity and sedentary living that I mentioned earlier.
The Government of Canada, through its community-based programming, has invested millions of dollars to prevent chronic disease and to promote healthy living by partnering with the private sector, the not-for-profit sector, organizations within and outside the health sector, and other levels of government. Everyone has a role to play.
In conclusion, it is clear that our government can be proud of all the work it is doing together with its partners to promote physical activity in children and youth. However, the statistics are clear. There is still much more work to be done so that Canadians choose to move more and sit less. We need to ensure that all of the efforts around physical activity across the country are optimally addressing physical activity in Canada's youth.
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
2018-12-11 18:19 [p.24793]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my New Democrat colleague from Saskatoon West talking about the calamity of violence against women. Once every six days, a woman in Canada dies at the hands of an intimate partner. The place where women should be the most safe is where they end up losing their lives at terrible rates. Therefore, we are right to ring the alarm on this in the House.
We are at the end of the 16 Days of Action to End Violence Against Women. It is a global movement, a global commitment to call out for action to end violence against women. At the all-party Status of Women committee, we have just finished studying how we can better fill the gap between need and supply for domestic violence shelters.
Every day women are turned away, women who are brave enough to ask for help in finding safety and often bringing their children with them. They are turned away because the shelters do not have enough space. We asked shelter operators across the country what they needed the most. They told us again and again that they were struggling to keep their doors open and to keep the lights on.
The #MeToo movement has really removed the taboo against complaining and ringing the alarm on gender-based violence in every form, but the funding to support the front-line groups doing this brave work has not come forward. In particular, it is operational, core funding that pays the rent, the heating bills and pays the front-line staff doing extremely difficult work with extensive training. They get burned out. We need to pay them well so they can make a sustainable living in this field. Again, core operations funding is what these groups have asked for from the government.
I will give a couple of quotes from this study.
Kristal LeBlanc from the Beausejour Family Crisis Resource Centre in New Brunswick said: the end of the day, we can't do our jobs effectively if we don't have that core funding. The amount of bugging and pushing in trying to get a small grant to operate our first transitional housing in a rural community is unbelievable, when we were turning people away.
Lyda Fuller from the YWCA in the Northwest Territories said:
I would like to see core funding. I'd like there to be a funding model that is fair across the country and provides adequately for shelters for that women have access no matter where they live in Canada.
Megan Walker from the London Abused Women's Centre in Ontario said:
It's just a no-brainer to me that if you value the lives of women, you're going to appropriately fund those organizations that are serving these women and potentially saving their lives....Frankly, what we need is money....We're failing those women right now if we can't serve them.
The government says that it wants to protect women from violence and that it is willing to spend on infrastructure in all kinds of areas, for example, buying a leaky old pipeline at a cost of $4.5 billion. It is core operations funding, sustainable funding for which these groups are asking. Why will the government not fund them in the way that have they asked?
View Terry Duguid Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Terry Duguid Profile
2018-12-11 18:23 [p.24793]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the question asked by the hon. member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith and to rise, probably for the last time, in this beautiful and historic chamber. It has been a great honour to represent the people of Winnipeg South in the House of Commons for these past three years, and I hope to represent them in the new place for many years to come.
Last September, we celebrated an important first for Canada, the first-ever Gender Equality Week. It is a new opportunity every year to celebrate Canada's progress on advancing gender equality, reflect on the work that remains and recognize the countless benefits of gender equality for people of all genders.
We understand the importance of a strong women's movement, and how critical it is and has been to advance gender equality in Canada and around the world. That is why we are supporting equality-seeking organizations across Canada.
It was the women's movement that was instrumental in ensuring equality for women was a focus for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It was the women's movement that worked to safeguard a woman's right to choose. It was the women's movement that brought gender-based violence out from the darkness and into the light. We recognize that the work of the women's movement is ongoing as efforts continue to advance gender equality in our country.
Our commitment to advancing gender equality has been clearly demonstrated since we formed government and appointed the first-ever gender-balanced cabinet. It continued to be demonstrated in budget 2018, which signalled our commitment to entrench the gender equality agenda. It also spoke directly to the issue that the hon. member is speaking about, the need to provide funding to the non-profit sector, including women's organizations, by committing $100 million in new dollars to provide reliable, predictable and accessible funds to ensure the sustainability of women's organizations. Of course, this is on top of the $200 million over five years that was allocated for a strategy to prevent and address gender-based violence.
That is not all. Just last week, the Minister of Status of Women announced more than $50 million in funding for nearly 60 projects to support survivors of gender-based violence and their families in communities across Canada. This more than doubles the initially announced funding of $20 million from budget 2017.
By providing stable, predictable and flexible funding to women's organizations, our government is able to support more organizations to continue and expand their vital activities and work collaboratively to advance gender equality.
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
2018-12-11 18:26 [p.24793]
Mr. Speaker, I do not believe the member actually heard my question. It is core operation funding which the NGOs that are doing this brave work at the front line are asking for. He sat through the whole committee study that I had been reading testimony from here.
Anita Olsen Harper from the National Aboriginal Circle Against Family Violence said, “The most pressing issue that on-reserve women's shelters face is insufficient financial funding from Indigenous Services Canada.”
It is not the program funding that he is talking about, which requires an application and some kind of design of a new and innovative program, which only then lasts for a year or so, before it is shut down and a new program is designed. It is just the basics, the same as any other health care service.
We have given this work to the front line. The government is not delivering counselling or prevention from sexual violence. That work has been given to the non-profit sector. The NGOs have told us loud and clear that they need their core operations funded in a long-term way. The government has not provided that. Even testimony five days ago said that it has not. Why will the government not listen to the women's movement in this regard?
View Terry Duguid Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Terry Duguid Profile
2018-12-11 18:27 [p.24794]
Mr. Speaker, I beg to differ with the hon. member. Our government is taking action by providing capacity funding and sustainability funding. We know that governments cannot do the work alone. Every individual in every sector has a role to play. Evidence shows that one of the most effective ways to advance gender equality is through the work of women's organizations. That is why we are providing stable and flexible funding to women's organizations to help them grow and endure.
While I have the floor probably for the last time before the break, I want to wish the hon. member all the best in the next stage of her political career. I hope, if she is fortunate enough to be elected to the B.C. legislature on the government side, she will work as hard as we have as a government to support women's organizations in her province, and perhaps even provide them with core funding.
View John Aldag Profile
Lib. (BC)
View John Aldag Profile
2018-12-06 10:34 [p.24515]
Madam Speaker, this morning I have two petitions that I would like to table.
The first is from the residents of the city of Calgary. This petition calls on the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to demonstrate federal leadership at historic places by working with the Minister of Finance to create a multi-million dollar fund in budget 2019 to support the efforts of indigenous peoples, charities and not-for-profits to save and renew historic places and to encourage private-sector investment and heritage philanthropy.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2018-12-03 11:14 [p.24324]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Courtenay—Alberni for his continued interest in combatting plastic pollution in our waterways and oceans.
Our government shares the hon. member's concerns about the negative impacts of plastic waste and marine litter on the environment, and the Liberals will be supporting the motion.
As we all know, plastics play an important role in society due to their low cost, unrivalled functionality and durability. However, the negative impacts of plastic waste and pollution in our environment are undeniable. Plastics do not belong in our waters or scattered around our land.
We subscribe to the view that plastics that leave the economy as waste represent a loss of resources and value. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that between $80 billion and $120 billion worth of plastic packaging alone is lost from the global economy every year.
Plastic production continues to grow, with about a 620% increase in growth since 1975, outpacing most manufactured materials. If current consumption, production and disposal rates continue, about 12 billion tonnes of plastic will be lost to landfills or the environment by 2050. In Canada, in 2014, approximately 90% of plastic waste was lost with only about 11% recycled. It is estimated that about 8,000 kilograms of our own plastic waste ends up as marine litter every year.
With a growing economy and population, nationally and globally, we need to think differently about how we design, produce, recover and use plastics. A high point of our G7 presidency was the release of the Ocean Plastics Charter in June 2018. The charter has since been endorsed by 11 governments and 19 businesses and organizations worldwide, all committing to move toward a more resource-efficient and sustainable approach to plastics that will reduce plastic waste and marine litter.
The charter includes ambitious targets and actions along the entire life cycle of plastics, from sustainable design, production and collection to management, as well as actions to advance education, research, innovation, new technologies and on-the-ground improvements.
Actions to meet the charter targets need to happen on two fronts: internationally and domestically. Internationally, we continue to advance policy discussions and research in international fora so that our efforts are amplified along with others. For instance, we joined the United Nations Clean Seas campaign and pledged, with numerous others, to take action on marine litter. We participate in the United Nations Global Partnership on Marine Litter. We also contributed to the recently adopted guidance on fishing gear from of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Canada also recently joined the Global Ghost Gear Initiative to tackle lost fishing gear, and we are working on scientific methods to detect plastics in dredged materials from ocean disposal sites.
We need to innovate and embrace solutions across the entire plastics value chain and change our entire system to one with no waste. I am very pleased to note that Canada will be hosting the World Circular Economy Forum in 2020. This will offer a great opportunity to showcase Canadian progress on plastics while fostering dialogue on moving Canada and the world toward a circular economy for all materials, including plastics. To achieve this, we are working together with a broad range of stakeholders: industry, academia and civil society.
Through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, we are working with provinces and territories to implement the newly launched CCME strategy on zero plastic waste. The next step is to develop a Canada-wide action plan to eliminate plastic waste, reduce marine litter and use a circular economy lens to address plastics throughout the value chain. The action plan will provide a platform for collaboration among different levels of government, industry and other stakeholders.
Industry and Canadians have signalled they are ready to make the necessary changes. This means making plastic design and production more sustainable; improving collection, management systems and infrastructure; adopting a more sustainable lifestyle and creating awareness of environmentally sound alternatives and good practices; continuing to improve on our understanding of the issue and solutions through research and innovation; and finally, taking action to capture and remove the plastic litter that is already covering shorelines and our near-shore waters.
To propel the full range of Canadian industry to action, we recently launched the Canadian plastics innovation challenge. The challenge will accelerate innovation in our country by providing over $12 million to Canadian innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses to tackle plastic challenges in seven key areas: separation of mixed plastics; food packaging; plastic wastes from construction activities; removal and management of ghost fishing gear and marine debris; improved compost ability of bioplastics; recycling of glass fibre-reinforced plastic; and sustainable fishing and aquaculture gear.
The federal government is also leading by example. We have committed to divert at least 75% of the plastic waste from government operations by 2030. This will be accomplished through changing our own practices as well as in the procurement of more sustainable plastic products such as those that are reusable, recyclable, repairable or are made with recycled plastic content.
This adds to other federal efforts, including pollution prevention legislation, such as our phased ban on microbeads in toiletries that came into effect this year; investments in waste and waste-water infrastructure to prevent debris from entering the environment; and raising awareness through public engagement and education.
With respect to increasing awareness and community action among Canadians, in September we collaborated with five NGOs and launched an ocean plastics education kit for students and teachers to increase awareness of marine plastic litter and empower youth to develop solutions and take action.
On Earth Day, we launched the Canadian dialogue on plastic waste. We heard from more than 1,900 Canadians about their views on ways to reduce plastic waste and pollution. We posted a summary of what we heard on our website. Participants across the country recognized the need to take prompt action on this issue and that no one solution would do the trick.
We have supported community projects as well as national conservation initiatives. The Government of Canada is a partner with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup that removes plastic litter and collects citizen science data.
We are working with the United States and Mexico, through the Commission of Environmental Cooperation, to implement a pilot project in the Salish Sea watershed in British Columbia. The project will engage local decision-makers and the community to identify local plastic waste and litter challenges and implement small scale solutions.
We also continue to advance science to support action on plastics. We also conduct and support research on the plastics economy in Canada and the impacts of plastic pollution in aquatic environments and fauna.
This month, we hosted two scientific workshops with international and national experts to help inform our plastics science agenda. We discussed the state of current science on the effects of plastics in the environment, identified knowledge gaps and prioritized areas where we could take concerted action to strengthen our science. Strong science is the foundation of effective decision-making.
We look forward to continuing action in these areas and working with partners in Canada and abroad to move to a circular plastics economy, one without plastic waste.
We recognize that achieving a zero plastic waste future that is protective of the environment is multi-faceted. There is no one solution.
To address the issue of plastic waste and its pollution, actions are required at each stage of the plastic life cycle. All levels of government, from municipalities to national governments, as well as industry, civil society and citizens have a role to play.
The Government of Canada will continue to support action by these players and through its own efforts in sound science, research and development, funding, regulation and other policy levers to keep plastic waste in the economy and out of the environment.
This is why today we will support the motion put forward by the member for Courtenay—Alberni.
View Robert Aubin Profile
View Robert Aubin Profile
2018-12-03 19:16 [p.24392]
Mr. Speaker, I imagine that you are not surprised to see me using the adjournment debate to try to get an answer to a question I have been asking for many moons. In fact, it has been longer than that because we can now count how long I have waited in years. Moreover, I am not the only one waiting. I keep coming back to this because not only does everyone in Trois-Rivières agree on this, but everyone in the Quebec-Windsor corridor is waiting for a response from the Minister of Transport. After spending $11 million on studies, the minister is still unable to tell us anything about the government's plans or directions.
To illustrate, last month, at special meetings held by the UMQ in Trois-Rivières with a special committee of elected members committed to determining how we might develop rail transportation in Quebec and Canada in the years to come, the invited guest was the Minister of Transport. We were obviously pleased that he was there, since we took his presence to mean that we would finally find out his vision for developing passenger rail service in Quebec and Canada.
No such luck. During his speech, the minister told us yet again about how important safety is to him. Far be it for me to diminish the importance of transportation safety in any way, but the question remains: How is it that after all this time the minister is still unable to give us at least a hint about his plans for the VIA Rail high-frequency train project?
The UMQ president expressed this hope, which I will now reformulate as a question: If nothing else, will the Minister of Transport tell us whether his development vision includes a high-frequency train along a corridor dedicated solely to passenger transportation?
As a supplementary question, the UMQ and I would also like to know if the current government will actually fund a high-frequency VIA Rail train, or if this will merely be an election promise that would end up putting off indefinitely this long-awaited project, despite the community's unanimous support.
I am using this adjournment debate to try to get an answer because, the last time I asked the question, the government once again changed the subject and talked about VIA Rail's fleet renewal. Obviously, we applaud that initiative, even though we have serious concerns about the fact that the government is giving VIA Rail $1 billion as part of that renewal without including a clause that would guarantee jobs for workers here, which would have made it possible to build on and maintain our existing expertise.
My question is this: is there an interest in passenger rail? Is there an interest in VIA Rail's project? Will the government soon make a funding announcement or will we once again have to wait for an election campaign announcement?
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
2018-12-03 19:20 [p.24393]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Trois-Rivières for his question because it give me an opportunity to tell him about the importance of our government's long-term vision for rail transportation across the country.
Our government is exploring the best way to achieve a transportation system that is not only responsive in meeting the needs of our society and economy, but also fluid in its operations and organic in its connections to Canada.
To this end, the government secured important funding in budgets 2016 and 2018 to support an in-depth assessment of VIA Rail's high frequency rail proposal. These funds will help us to better understand not only the viability of the project, but also its potential to support our government's vision for the future.
The proposal for dedicated tracks has the potential to provide Canadian travellers with reliable and more rapid service by allowing VIA to set schedules and frequencies to satisfy the demand for passenger rail service. By reinvigorating its services in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor, VIA's proposal also aims to reduce its overall funding requirements from Canadian taxpayers. There is real potential here, but an investment of this magnitude requires careful study.
Just as the people of Trois-Rivières have expressed an interest in VIA's high frequency rail proposal, so have many other Canadians along the Quebec City-Windsor corridor. Our government shares this interest, given the potential benefits of this project. We will do our part by working collaboratively with key players to ensure that the best information is available to allow for sound investment decisions on VIA's proposal. Our government will carefully consider the high frequency rail proposal as part of determining the best approach to delivering a safe, efficient and reliable passenger service for Canadians.
View Robert Aubin Profile
View Robert Aubin Profile
2018-12-03 19:22 [p.24393]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for her answer.
I do think there is an interest. At least we are both interested in the basic issue of developing rail transportation across Canada. Today we are talking about the Quebec City-Windsor corridor, but it could be about other routes as well.
Obviously, I did not get much of an answer to my question, but one element of my colleague's interesting statement caught my attention. She said her government will be studying long-term development.
My question is very straightforward. When the Liberals and the government talk about the long term, how many years do they mean? I have been raising this issue in the House since 2011, and soon it will be 2019. It seems to me that the long term is already here. It is high time for an announcement, rather than a vague mention of broad principles.
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
2018-12-03 19:23 [p.24393]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. colleague for his interest in this and for his advocacy. It is important. I know he cares very deeply for his community.
We understand that passenger rail service is a very important part of Canada's transportation system. It is very important to Canadians coast to coast to coast. We recognize this. We are taking the time necessary to determine the best approach to improving service in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor.
Canadians want passenger rail service that is not only safe, efficient and reliable, but one that is greener, more integrated and seamless with other modes of transportation and more affordable. We want to take the time to do our due diligence to ensure the viability of VIA Rail's high frequency rail proposal.
View Sheri Benson Profile
View Sheri Benson Profile
2018-12-03 19:24 [p.24394]
Mr. Speaker, last week, I had the opportunity to ask the Minister of Transport directly about the withdrawal of Greyhound from western Canada. The minister made time to appear before the transport committee, and I was grateful to have had the chance to tell him in person about how serious the lack of safe, affordable transportation is in Saskatchewan.
While the minister was gracious in giving his time to the members at the transport committee, unfortunately, many questions still remain, including my question in the House of last September directed to the lone Saskatchewan minister.
Since the shutdown of the STC, many women fleeing domestic violence have had to hitchhike or turn to Kijiji to get a ride to a shelter. It is unconscionable for a feminist government to know this and do nothing.
Last January, the Minister of Innovation told the House that his government would work with me to look for meaningful solutions to this crisis. To this day, I have heard absolutely nothing.
I suggested I ask the lone Saskatchewan minister this time what he would do to ensure people in Saskatchewan have safe, reliable public transportation. The answer I received that day was from the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, who said that his government would always be there for the people of Saskatchewan, and that there would be good news coming. He also said that I could come and see him or the Minister of Public Safety and his colleagues.
I have reached out to that minister, as well as the lone minister from Saskatchewan, to no avail, To date, I have not heard anything back from either minister, which leads me to believe that the government is very good at talking a good line, but when it comes to delivering on solutions, not so much. Take, for example, the recent announcement in response to Greyhound's withdrawal. For a full year after the cancellation of the STC, the government did nothing. It took the withdrawal of a private company for it to actually take notice of the growing transportation crisis in western Canada.
Fortunately for British Columbia and Alberta, those provinces have progressive NDP governments, which have already stepped up to mitigate the serious gaps in public transportation in their respective provinces.
Unfortunately for my province, Saskatchewan's provincial government decided to shut down the STC. The silence from the Saskatchewan Conservative MPs on this issue is deafening. It is unfortunate that when it comes to standing up for safe, affordable transportation, it appears politics trumps the needs of communities and constituents.
Have we actually heard anything from the Minister of Public Safety, who is from Saskatchewan? Sadly, no. The safety of women and children fleeing domestic violence must be made a priority by the Minister of Public Safety.
People in my province relied on STC to get them to medical appointments, to work and to school, to run their businesses and to connect them to friends and family in other parts of the province and Canada. People in northern, rural and remote areas especially need this safe, affordable mode of transportation. Surely, there is a role for the federal government's leadership and real investment when such a serious gap exists.
View Marco Mendicino Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Marco Mendicino Profile
2018-12-03 19:27 [p.24394]
Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the member that the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Infrastructure are two very prominent advocates for the needs of Saskatchewan when it comes to infrastructure and for all of the other causes she referred to in her question.
Indeed, the Government of Canada recognizes the importance of high-quality, safe, accessible and reliable public transit. That is why we have invested over $180 billion in our investing in Canada plan. Public transit brings communities together and provides residents with better access to services, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
We worked in close collaboration with the provinces and territories to develop and implement our plan.
We understand that transit plays an important role in the lives of Canadians. That is why we are making unprecedented investments of more than $28 billion to support public transit across the country.
In Saskatchewan, communities are using federal funding to finance the projects that best meet their needs.
Our funding under phase one of the plan has helped support projects like the renewal of Saskatoon's vehicle fleet, the replacement of 17 buses and nine para-transit buses in Regina and upgrades to the public transit fleet in Prince Albert. Moose Jaw and Saskatoon have used funding to improve their own systems and address their most pressing transit needs.
As well, it is important to note that the decision to terminate the services referred to by my hon. colleague across the way provided by the STC was made by the Province of Saskatchewan. The STC is a provincially run service. It is up to the provinces to decide how best to provide public transit services to their communities within their jurisdictions.
The Government of Canada and the Province of Saskatchewan worked closely to finalize and sign the integrated bilateral agreement on October 17, 2018. This is something we should celebrate. The agreement will provide long-term infrastructure funding for public transit under the next phase of our plan.
Saskatchewan and its communities can also pursue public transit projects through the Canada Infrastructure Bank. The bank was established to help provide even more infrastructure, and with $5 billion set aside for public transit, is currently open to receiving proposals and engaging with stakeholders.
The Government of Canada has made historic investments in infrastructure for communities big and small.
We look forward to continuing to work with the Government of Saskatchewan and all of our provincial partners to make strategic and formative investments that will build 21st century tools.
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