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Results: 1 - 15 of 416
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 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 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 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 Sheri Benson Profile
NDP (SK)
View Sheri Benson Profile
2019-06-05 17:02 [p.28598]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of the Women's March Canada and the Saskatoon members.
They point out that feminist women's organizations have been struggling for decades to keep the lights on and the doors open due to a lack of federal core funding. They point out that direct federal funding to women's organizations represents less than 0.01% of the total federal program, spending only $1 for every woman in Canada.
The petitioners therefore ask the Government of Canada to immediately provide secure, multi-year core operational funding to feminist women's organizations and set national standards to ensure equality of access to services and protections for all women.
View Sheri Benson Profile
NDP (SK)
View Sheri Benson Profile
2019-06-04 14:39 [p.28500]
Mr. Speaker, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released 231 calls for justice to protect indigenous women and children. The calls include providing sufficient and readily available transit between cities in rural and northern communities. I have asked the current Liberal government 18 times to provide safe and affordable transportation in Saskatchewan, following the closure of the STC and the Greyhound service cuts.
Will the Liberals act now to ensure indigenous women and girls have access to safe transportation options?
View Sheri Benson Profile
NDP (SK)
View Sheri Benson Profile
2019-06-03 13:01 [p.28394]
Madam Speaker, I think we all agree there is a crisis here. What the government is sharing with us as a solution really misses the mark and is just a stopgap.
In Saskatoon, the Saskatoon Express, another local paper, just went under. I want to wish Cam Hutchinson and his staff well. It is a difficult time. It went under because there was no more advertising revenue.
What the government is proposing may help. However, the fact is that the tax system is unfair and large multinationals are making tax-free income from revenue from advertisers and small papers cannot make a go of it.
Would the hon. colleague not acknowledge that what the Liberals are offering today is just not enough and that it will not solve the problem of the loss of independent media in the country?
View Sheri Benson Profile
NDP (SK)
View Sheri Benson Profile
2019-06-03 15:40 [p.28421]
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour today to table two petitions from people in Saskatchewan both from rural and urban centres. It is about recognizing the inherent rights of farmers.
The petitioners call upon Parliament to enshrine in legislation the inalienable rights of farmers and other Canadians to save, reuse, select, exchange and sell seeds. In addition, they call upon the Government of Canada to refrain from making any regulations under the Plant Breeders Rights Act that would further erode farmers' rights and/or add to farmers' costs by restricting or eliminating the farmers' privileges.
View Sheri Benson Profile
NDP (SK)
View Sheri Benson Profile
2019-05-31 13:50 [p.28370]
Mr. Speaker, I also want to offer my condolences to the hon. member for the loss of his mother.
I want to take this opportunity and a bit of indulgence to offer my daughter a happy birthday, as she is turning 30 today. She is being presented at court by the Law Society of British Columbia, so she is becoming a lawyer today. I am very proud of that.
My question for my hon. colleague is this. I have a small community association in my riding called the Hudson Bay Park/Mayfair/Kelsey Woodlawn Community Association that has talked to me about the heating and energy they need to use their ice rink in my community. Although I heard the member's comments that we cannot look at taxes as progressive or regressive, would he not entertain the fact that there are some individuals and organizations who, with their lower incomes, deserve some kind of tax break, whereas those making $150,000 could pay more? We all benefit from a tax system that allows us to have medicare and post-secondary education.
If I could hear his comments on that, I would be more open to some of the things he is talking about, such as removing the GST on heating fuel.
View Sheri Benson Profile
NDP (SK)
View Sheri Benson Profile
2019-05-30 18:41 [p.28331]
Mr. Speaker, I am again asking the federal government to help provide safe, accessible and affordable transportation to the people of Saskatchewan.
The Saskatchewan Transportation Company is an important issue for the people in my home province. Many people, particularly from rural and indigenous communities, are unable to travel to see loved ones, to go to work, to go to school, to do business or to access medical care following the closure of STC and the pullout of Greyhound service in Saskatchewan.
This is one of my last opportunities to press the government in the House before the end of Parliament, so I am doing what I have been sent here to do: share the experiences of my constituents, give a voice in Parliament to their concerns and advocate on their behalf to get something done.
Abigail Murphy, a woman living with a disability who cannot drive, stated that “the demise of STC has meant the demise of my independence and severely affected my self esteem and the freedom to visit my family.”
Valeria Middleton said, “So now I'm almost a senior and there is no public transportation to get me to those increasingly frequent doctor appointments, I don't see family much anymore and if I was able to financially, I would seriously consider moving to Saskatoon—but who can afford the rents there?”
Michele Kiss says that the end of STC has hurt her environmental business that relied on STC to ship it parts. She said they now are “making a 3-4 hour round trip to the city and back, costing paid employee hours and fuel,” or “keeping our equipment idle and jobs incomplete. It's inconvenient both ways.”
Many indigenous women are forced to hitchhike and are facing violence or discrimination as a result. One driver said two women she helped were “both recovering addicts who have, since December, been hitchhiking daily from a reserve” to seek medical treatment. When they tried to access a medical taxi, they were refused because they were addicts.
Marlene Bear picked up an indigenous hitchhiker who was inappropriately touched by the driver, who later became aggressive when she refused his sexual advances.
A stranded hitchhiker told CTV Regina, “I'm stuck on the highway at Grenfell, trying to get to my family for Christmas. I have minor hypothermia and almost died last night. Me and my dog are going to die out here and it's only getting colder.”
These are the experiences on the ground. People from Saskatchewan are isolated from family, cannot access medical treatment, are losing business, and face discrimination, harassment and potentially death while trying to travel between communities.
Many people hoped the Liberal government would be different. For that matter, where are my Conservative colleagues from Saskatchewan on this issue? There has not been one peep from these MPs on behalf of their constituents. Neither the current Liberal government nor Saskatchewan Conservative MPs are standing up for indigenous women, seniors and people who cannot travel independently.
The half-hearted measures, rhetoric and proverbial passing the buck the people of Saskatchewan get from this Liberal government, and the silence from elected Saskatchewan conservative MPs, is exactly the lack of leadership that led to the crisis on B.C. highways we have come to know as the Highway of Tears. Is that what it is going to take for governments and elected officials to take this seriously, a Saskatchewan highway of tears?
Why is the Liberal government failing to stand up and work hard to provide safe and affordable transportation to the people of Saskatchewan, as it has for people living in other provinces?
View Sheri Benson Profile
NDP (SK)
View Sheri Benson Profile
2019-05-30 18:47 [p.28332]
Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague and I have had this conversation in the House before. I want to reiterate that I really feel that what the federal government has offered is too little, too late. It has been a short-term, half measure for what is an issue of equity and safety for the people of Saskatchewan. The private sector has not stepped up and will not step up.
The Liberal government is doing what many previous governments, Liberal and Conservative, have done before: When the going gets tough and people need their help, governments throw up their hands, say they have tried to act, blame things on everyone else and walk away.
I want to thank the people who shared their stories. I thank my constituent Stephanie Sydiaha and University of Regina professors Cindy Hanson and Joanne Jaffe, as well as all of those who have shared their struggles and stories about the loss of transportation by STC and Greyhound. I want them to keep up this work and keep the pressure on the government. I am on their side.
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