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Results: 1 - 15 of 871
View Sheri Benson Profile
NDP (SK)
View Sheri Benson Profile
2019-06-19 14:20 [p.29384]
Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to the wonderful, passionate Betsy Bury and to honour her 97 years of a life well lived. Betsy died in April.
Betsy fought for a world that was safe from nuclear weapons and war, a world safe for all women and children. She did this both as part of social movements and in the realm of partisan politics.
In 1962, when Saskatchewan doctors went on strike to oppose universal health care, Betsy, along with a small group of women, started the Saskatoon Community Clinic to provide free care to anyone who needed it. Those women are a big reason that we have universal health care today. She helped start the first planned parenthood organization in Saskatchewan and the first public kindergarten in Saskatoon, and the list goes on.
From Tommy Douglas's campaign to my own personal campaign, from the CCF to the NDP, Betsy was there volunteering, leading, advising and supporting.
In 2017, Betsy received the Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case for her lifetime dedication to bringing about gender equality.
Losing Betsy is devastating, but our broken hearts are comforted by the lives she touched and the young leaders who will follow in her inspiring footsteps.
View Georgina Jolibois Profile
NDP (SK)
Mr. Speaker, the Denesuline of northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba were supposed to sign an agreement with the government after 18 years of negotiating for their land, harvesting and resource rights. A week ago, the minister backed away and now refuses to meet with them. She broke her promise and betrayed the Dene.
Meaningful reconciliation is about working with indigenous people and meeting in good faith. Will the minister meet with the Dene while they are in Ottawa and explain why she broke her promise, face to face?
View Georgina Jolibois Profile
NDP (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to present a petition led by the Elizabeth Fry Society about children in irregular situations.
View Sheri Benson Profile
NDP (SK)
View Sheri Benson Profile
2019-06-18 14:46 [p.29307]
Mr. Speaker, we have a housing crisis in Canada, and the Liberals are failing to address it. The PBO report shows that the Liberals are inflating their own figures while families in our communities are facing constant stress to find a place to call home. The report says the Liberals are doing even less to help people with immediate housing needs than the Harper government did. I find this shameful. Enough with the empty promises. Will the government act now to end homelessness and ensure families in Canada have a place to call home?
View Sheri Benson Profile
NDP (SK)
View Sheri Benson Profile
2019-06-12 15:31 [p.28999]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to present a petition on behalf of many constituents in my riding and right across Saskatchewan. The petitioners call on the Canadian government to commit to acknowledging eye health and vision care as a growing public health issue and to respond to it, particularly for Canada's vulnerable populations: children, seniors and indigenous people.
The petitioners would like the government to develop a national framework for action to promote eye health and vision care.
View Georgina Jolibois Profile
NDP (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the national day of healing and reconciliation and the anniversary of the government's apology for residential schools.
As MPs, we recognize the harms that Canada has inflicted on first nations, Métis and Inuit people. Though we can never truly understand the loss of culture and language, and the family separations Canada has caused, I continue to be inspired by the young people across Canada who are working on building a path forward. That includes people like Renée Carrière and her students at Charlebois Community School in Cumberland House. Their book entitled Muskrats and Fire teaches youth about indigenous cultural practices and how they benefit the ecosystem in northern Saskatchewan.
Reconciliation and healing are done in small and profound ways. I challenge all Canadians to follow the example of the students at Charlebois Community School to turn the promise of reconciliation into action within their communities.
Hiy hiy.
View Sheri Benson Profile
NDP (SK)
View Sheri Benson Profile
2019-06-11 14:14 [p.28915]
Mr. Speaker, the Filipino community has left its mark in Saskatoon West, particularly in the neighbourhood of Confederation Park, a wonderful neighbourhood many Filipinos are proud to call home. As Canada celebrates our first official Filipino Heritage Month, this weekend I will be in Saskatoon for our city's first Philippines Festival. I cannot wait to participate in the festivities organized by the Filipino-Canadian Association of Saskatoon.
Mar Complido and Rosalee Apostol, president and vice-president of FILCAS, and the many volunteers from the Filipino community have been busy organizing the festival since December. After a flag-raising at city hall, the Cosmo Civic Centre will come alive, offering Saskatoon residents the chance to experience Filipino food, games, art and culture.
I am proud to say I was a member of the Parliament that voted unanimously to declare June as Filipino Heritage Month in Canada. To all our Filipino-Canadian friends in Saskatoon and across Canada, salamat. I will see them on Saturday.
View Georgina Jolibois Profile
NDP (SK)
Mr. Speaker, Helen is a senior living in Meadow Lake. Every month, she goes a little more into debt, because she is on a limited income and has expensive medical bills. Now the CRA is going after Helen for back taxes she cannot afford to pay, yet the Liberals are giving up millions of dollars to big companies through tax loopholes created by the Conservatives.
Why is the government making life harder for seniors like Helen instead of fighting for their right to live with dignity?
View Sheri Benson Profile
NDP (SK)
View Sheri Benson Profile
2019-06-11 17:43 [p.28945]
Mr. Speaker, I want to let my hon. colleague know how pleased I am to see this come to the floor and to hear him speak of the need for leadership from Parliament and the government.
The member may remember that I tried to pass a similar motion to get the government to make a bigger plan to end homelessness and to set goals and targets. Therefore, the member knows I am onside.
Depending on what happens in the House, I would like to hear his commitment to continue to fight to ensure, regardless of what happens with the motion today, that he will commit to move his government. He has introduced a very solid plan. I do not see any reason why the government cannot move forward to end veterans' homelessness in Canada.
View Sheri Benson Profile
NDP (SK)
View Sheri Benson Profile
2019-06-11 18:00 [p.28948]
Mr. Speaker, the fact that I am able to stand here today with my democratically elected colleagues from all parties and freely debate this motion is a testament to the service and bravery of our veterans and active military personnel. I thank them for all they have done, and will do, for our country.
New Democrats believe that the service and sacrifice of veterans and their families is something that must be remembered and honoured. We believe that it has earned them a safe, affordable place to call home, but sadly, for too many veterans that is not the case.
Only two things are required to end homelessness among veterans: a government that makes it a goal and that has a plan to achieve it. Sadly, up until this point, the government has had neither. Therefore, I want to thank the hon. member for Bay of Quinte for tabling this motion and for making the ending of homelessness among veterans a priority. I would like him to know that it has my support.
Once upon a time, a veteran without a home was absolutely unthinkable. Before it became the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the CMHC was founded as the Canadian Wartime Housing corporation. At that time, Canadians and our federal government believed that in return for their service and sacrifice, veterans and their families deserved a safe, affordable place to call home, so we built them one.
Today, our successive federal governments have gotten out of the business of building homes. Frankly, some would say that our government has nearly gotten out of the business of serving veterans as well. To no one's surprise, when the federal government stopped building homes and supporting veterans, we saw a sharp rise in homelessness among veterans. The good news is that we can eliminate homelessness among veterans and all Canadians.
I have no doubt that this motion was inspired by the testimony and proposals put forward by witnesses at the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, which has studied this very issue over the last six months. On behalf of the NDP, I would like to take a moment to thank the 22 individuals and groups who shared their experiences with that committee and for their work on behalf of veterans and their families.
I would like to read a quote from testimony at that committee, which I think sums up the challenges of eliminating homelessness among veterans quite well.
At one of those committee meetings, Debbie Lowther, chair and co-founder of VETS Canada, said the following:
We know that there are many pathways into homeless, such as poverty, lack of affordable housing, job loss or instability, mental illness and addictions, physical health problems, family or domestic violence, and family or marital breakdown. What sets veterans apart is that they not only deal with all of these same issues but they also struggle with their transition from military to civilian life. I talked about the military being a unique culture. Well, now the veteran is trying to adapt to a new civilian culture, feeling as though they have lost their identity and doing so without the social support network that was always so important.
Veterans of different ages, genders, regions and personal experiences have their own unique individual challenges that can create the conditions in which homelessness becomes a possibility. Tim Richter, the executive director of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, understands this fact as well. He stated this:
I believe that with a focused effort and a sense of urgency, veteran homelessness in Canada could be eliminated within three years or less.
We have to document the names and unique needs of every veteran experiencing homelessness and have an ability to share that information among those in the community who can house and support them. We have to be able to monitor performance, notice fluctuations, identify problems and respond in real time.
We should carve out of the new Canada housing benefit a federally administered veteran housing benefit....
In other words, we need a plan, which brings us to this motion. Motion No. 225 calls upon the government to do three things to help end homelessness among veterans: set a goal to end veterans homelessness in Canada by 2025; table a plan to achieve this goal in the House of Commons by June 2020; and, when formulating the plan, the government should consider whether a national veterans housing benefit, similar to the one in the United States, would be a good fit for Canada.
This motion is well informed, but will it actually make a difference? I do not know the answer to that question. It is certain that we could, and it really could be a game-changer. However, up until this point, I do not believe that the government has been serious about ending homelessness, for veterans or anyone else. Some may think that is a harsh statement, but there is evidence to support my claim.
First, the government has no formal goal or plan to end homelessness in Canada. Its goal is only to cut chronic homelessness in half over 10 years. This past fall, in the week before Remembrance Day, this place unanimously adopted an NDP motion to end lapsed spending at Veterans Affairs. Lapsed spending is the portion of the money that is approved by Parliament for Veterans Affairs, but that is left unspent by the department for one reason or another. This leftover money is then returned to the treasury, never to be seen again.
It does not have to be that way. Our motion called upon the government to reinvest this money into improving services for veterans in the following year, and to do so until the department eliminates wait times and can meet all of its 24 service standards. Averaging about $124 million per year, this money would be enough to double the staff at Veterans Affairs; speed up the processing of disability claims, applications for the earnings loss benefit and career transition services; and for every other program or service provided by the department to veterans. As this money was already approved by Parliament, there would be no additional cost to taxpayers, just better service for veterans.
Our motion was passed unanimously and was openly supported by both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance. However, as we heard, here we are in June, with yet another federal budget behind us, the fourth of this government, and there is no end in sight to either the lapsed spending or the enormous wait times and poor service at Veterans Affairs. In so many ways, this is a government of somewhat empty gestures and determined inaction. This lack of integrity hurts people, vulnerable people, people who need and deserve better from their government, people like veterans.
While I appreciate the member for Bay of Quinte bringing this motion forward, I do not want anyone listening today to be misled into thinking that this government has done something simply by tabling this motion. At the moment, they are just words on a page.
In closing, I want to reaffirm my support for this motion and again offer my thanks to the member who sponsored it. Ending veterans homelessness is possible, and this member has provided the Liberal government with a plan, a way forward, the means to end homelessness in Canada. Veterans need and deserve a government that prioritizes ending their homelessness.
With the tabling of this motion, the Liberal government is now on notice. There are no more excuses for inaction on ending homelessness for veterans. In fact, this motion is a call to action for the government. As I have said before, the government needs to take a page from the Nike playbook and just do it.
My NDP colleagues and I will support this well-meaning and thoughtful motion, and will continue to work with anyone in this place who seeks to improve the lives of veterans and their families. We will continue to demand more than words. We will demand action by the government to end veterans homelessness in Canada.
View Sheri Benson Profile
NDP (SK)
View Sheri Benson Profile
2019-06-11 18:57 [p.28956]
Mr. Speaker, I hear the minister talking about the bill having two years of debate and consultation. In fact, that is a time frame, but it is not two years of debate.
The debate has been limited at every stage of a very important bill, one that would collect people's personal data. Therefore, I want to challenge the minister when he says there have been two years of debate. I do not believe that is the right characterization. There has been debate, but it has been very limited and we are here this evening once again limiting debate.
View Sheri Benson Profile
NDP (SK)
View Sheri Benson Profile
2019-06-11 21:12 [p.28964]
Madam Speaker, what we are discussing tonight is the fact that we do not have an opportunity to hear what the minister has to say, have a good debate and talk about a process that perhaps was very good and was built on consensus. This possibly is very good legislation. However, this is the House. This is Parliament. As parliamentarians, we have a right to review the bill and the government still has a right to bring it forward and talk about it. I may very well find the bill and the consultations good, but what we are talking about right now is closure on that debate. You are denying my right to review that legislation. That is the piece that is offensive to me.
View Georgina Jolibois Profile
NDP (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I rise today with great appreciation for my colleague, the hon. member for Windsor West, for bringing this motion to the House today.
As members know, I have the honour of representing the people of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, which includes the entirety of northern Saskatchewan. My riding is about the same size as the nation of Poland, and people come from all walks of life. People live in bigger cities like Meadow Lake; they farm products like canola or grain and work in small businesses. On the east side of my riding, where I just had the opportunity to attend the high school graduation in Pelican Narrows, the story is very much the same, where people work hard to raise their families, practise their Cree traditions and protect the environment. In the far north, in communities like Fond Du Lac and Black Lake, communities gather together for feasts and celebrations while working in the resource industry.
However, what is true everywhere I go, whether it is Waterhen Lake First Nation, Hatchet Lake, Cumberland House or La Ronge, is that people want to be connected, just like everyone else in Canada. People in my riding want to use the Internet to connect with their friends and families, to connect with the world to know what is happening and to gain better access to education so that they can carry new skills into the working world.
Having a better connected north would mean that the north is able to attract new talent in doctors, new investments for companies, new jobs for our youth. Being better connected means that we can show the rest of Canada what makes us great. We can show the homegrown talent of jiggers in Île-à-la-Crosse, share photos of the beautiful Saskatchewan River delta, or sell our bead work and crafts so that a little part of the north can be present somewhere else.
Being better connected also means better support from the RCMP and community safety officers who could more quickly respond to dangerous situations. It means better ways of calling for ambulances in an emergency or contacting a neighbour for a cup of tea or a loved one who has gone into the city.
In fact, it may even be easier for people to contact their member of Parliament. In my office, far more people reach out to me through Facebook than by email or mail. For these reasons, I must support this motion to guarantee that northerners have the same level of service as many others in Canada at a much more affordable rate.
What I particularly like about this motion is how it recognizes the substandard service that communities across my riding are receiving. In my province, there are only two major Internet service providers in a province that has a dedicated Crown corporation that exists to ensure that everyone in the province can have service on their cellphone or Internet in their home. Many in my riding still do not get reception in their house or have come to expect long periods of time when their Internet does not work. With unreliable cellphone and Internet service, northerners are still paying significantly high bills each and every month.
I recently heard from several of my constituents over the past few weeks about their Internet and cellphone service. For many of them, the unreliability of the service affects them the most. Towns and villages in my riding are very spread out, and I often spend hours on the road driving between community visits. In between major population centres, there is virtually no cellular service, and along the highways, service is spotty and causes major anxiety for people who travel those roads every day.
I recently drove from Creighton to Pelican Narrows and for the two and a half hours of driving in the rain and mud, we did not have any cellular service and there were no gas stations if we needed help. Also, two of my constituents, Lyle and Muriel Sundbo, live in Candle Lake and they do not get any cellular service for 20 kilometres between their home and Prince Albert, where I am told many people go to buy their groceries or to visit their doctor. North of where the Sundbos live, there is no cell service at all.
While we speak a lot about sharing photos on Facebook or checking our emails, we cannot undermine just how essential being connected to the Internet or getting reception on a cellphone is. The world is moving faster than ever. Even though our small towns take pride in their charm and how unlike the big cities we are, that does not mean we do not need the services of the modern world.
Our northern communities are very quickly being left behind because of big corporations and governments that are unwilling or unable to see what our communities have to offer. It is not just the north that is suffering as a consequence. When the Internet has become an essential service in Canada, it is completely unacceptable that northerners have to settle for less or accept nothing at all.
What have we seen from consecutive Conservative and Liberal governments? Why is there such an urgent need to change the conversation about access to these essential services for northerners? So far, the answer from the Harper government and the current Liberal government has been that the market will decide a price, and access will be provided based on supply and demand.
Essentially, if there is enough demand in the north for better Internet and there is a profit to be made, my constituents will see better services. Without a doubt, the demand is there for better and cheaper service. What is not there is the profit, so companies will not invest the capital needed to build better cellphone towers or invest in Internet infrastructure. When they do, the rates that are charged to northerners are so high that many northerners cannot afford the services and all they are told is that it is the cost of doing business.
To address this, the government announced its intention to use the infrastructure bank to provide a minimal level of high-speed Internet for all Canadians including northerners. However, the government's plan once again relies on the goodwill and significant investment from the private sector in order to adequately fund better services. The Liberals' plan is to provide tax breaks to giant telecom companies to invest in infrastructure, but there is no guarantee that those investments will be made in rural or remote areas.
Budget 2019 also promised $1.7 billion over 13 years to go toward investment in telecom infrastructure to give Canadians better access to the Internet. However, the government's own estimate is that it would cost $6 billion to provide every Canadian with a broadband connection. From experience, I know that when services are underfunded, it tends to be the people in northern Saskatchewan and the people in rural and remote areas who are left behind by the Liberals and the Conservatives.
The status quo is to invest in northern communities so that Internet speeds of 50 megabits per second are the new normal, and that normal will be in place by 2026. In other places in Canada, like Ottawa, major telecom companies are offering service plans of 100 to 5,500 megabits per second. In many homes, speeds up to one gigabit per second are now available.
Seven years from now, northern Saskatchewan will still be at a level of service lower than what is available today, while service will only continue to get faster and better for people in more populated areas. People in my riding will always be playing catch-up to the technology of urban centres, but they will continue paying as if they already have the best service.
It does not have to be this way. We can do better. We in government can call for better consumer protections by ending predatory sales practices. We can invest in infrastructure to provide our communities with services at internationally recognized levels. By doing so, we can create jobs for northerners, who are always willing to work hard to better their community. We can set price caps to ensure affordability because price gouging is immoral and does not lead to the investments we expect.
Northern Saskatchewan is looking for better service, and we have the ability to help so many families and workers in the north. The NDP, through this motion, has shown we have the will to help northerners because it is time to treat the north with the respect it deserves.
View Georgina Jolibois Profile
NDP (SK)
Mr. Speaker, the member opposite speaks about misleading Canadians. Every day, members in this House, including the member opposite, are continually misleading. Under the Liberals' plan, every Canadian, especially people in the north of provinces, do not have access to the $10 per month service that he is talking about. The majority of communities in the northern part of provinces are excluded. Therefore, the Liberals are the ones who are misleading Canadians across Canada.
View Georgina Jolibois Profile
NDP (SK)
Mr. Speaker, on both sides of the House, the Liberals and the Conservatives had consecutive governments, going back and forth.
Both have shown where their priorities lie, with corporation—
An hon. member: Why can the member not answer the question?
Ms. Georgina Jolibois: I am answering this question. The NDP is the people's party. Both parties, when they were in government, have given millions and billions of dollars to corporations and to support big companies, but never to the Canadians who need the support.
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