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Results: 1 - 15 of 23
View Deepak Obhrai Profile
View Deepak Obhrai Profile
2019-06-04 11:57 [p.28476]
Mr. Speaker, I have been here for over 23 years, and I have always spoken to budget bills, whether the Conservatives were in opposition or on the government side. That is because a budget is what defines our economy; a budget is what defines where Canada's economy will move.
My colleagues on this side have highlighted, in very great detail, what is wrong with this budget bill put forward by the Liberal government. Let me start by saying certain things. I have been sitting here and listening to the Liberals when they get up. They like to attack us, calling out Mr. Harper's name all the time. The Liberal members have used Mr. Harper's name more than anybody I have ever heard. Somehow it is in their psyche that the former prime minister should be used to highlight their deficiencies.
Let me just show, using facts, why they are wrong. The international Institute for Management Development puts together a yearly world competitiveness ranking. Within one year, Canada has fallen three spots on the world competitiveness ranking, from 10th in 2018 to 13th this year. We are the lowest of the G7 countries. In 2018-19, the Liberals were in power. We fell from 10th to 13th.
Let me say this. In the same report, previously, from 2007 to 2015, Canada rose from 10th place to fifth place. That was under the Conservative government of former prime minister Harper. Let me repeat that for the Liberals who speak from their points. Under their regime we dropped in the ranking, going from 10th to 13th, the lowest of the G7 countries. During the period when we were in power under former prime minister Harper, which was 2007 to 2015, we rose from 10th place to fifth place. This is something they should take into account every time they talk about it.
When it comes to economic performance, government officials, business efficiency or infrastructure, the institute says we are not in the top five countries in this index. This is terrible management. Business investment in Canada under the Liberal government has fallen by an annualized rate of 10.9%. This is the second time it has fallen by over 10%. What a shame. This is the management record of the Liberal government.
The Liberal government seems totally oblivious to economic conditions. I come from Alberta. We have seen the devastating impact the government has had on my province. In my city of Calgary, the downtown is completely empty. Right now, businesses in the suburban area are suffering from tax hikes, because the downtown, which used to be the core economic sector in Calgary, has half its buildings empty. That is since the Liberals came into power. They had the opportunity to fix that.
The Liberals bought the Trans Mountain pipeline, but even if they started construction on it, what about Bill C-69, and what about Bill C-48, the tanker bill? Those bills are a direct attack on Alberta.
Albertans are now reeling from the disastrous management of the government. When the father of our current Prime Minister was there, that was the first time Alberta was suffering. I was there at that time. The government tried to seize the oil royalties. The finance minister was Marc Lalonde. It was a disastrous result. Since then, the Liberals have never recovered in Alberta. During the election of 2015, the current Prime Minister said that he would do business differently than his father in Alberta. Lo and behold, those sunny days are gone. This is something that, again, he has not fulfilled.
I am talking about Alberta and the energy sector. The energy sector benefits the whole country. It is not only Alberta's sector. It is British Columbia's, Quebec's, Ontario's, the Maritimes', everyone. It is one of our key sectors.
What is very important is that our companies have spent billions of dollars on clean technology. I will give one example. I was on the foreign affairs committee in the opposition. At that time, in the oil fields of Sudan, Talisman, a Canadian company, had a percentage of the operation in Sudan. All these NGOs that are based in western Canada found that it was easy to target a Canadian company, so they went after the Canadian company, accusing it of all kinds of crimes committed against the environment. The ultimate result was that Talisman sold its shares to China and to India. The next day, all the protests were over.
Has oil stopped? No, it has not. Whom will they target? They will target Canadians. Why will they target them? It is an easy way to do it for these environmentalists. All of a sudden, they disappeared. That shows that the targets of these environmentalists are where they are doing it right now.
I want to go on to another issue, which is the media outlets these guys are giving money to. I can tell members why it is going to be a problem. What about the ethnic media? There are a huge number of ethnic media in the country. Are the Liberals going to give money to the ethnic media, or are they only going to give money to the old Canadian media that are sitting here on the national scene? Are they the only ones who are going to benefit? This is a slippery slope. I will accuse them of discrimination if they do not give money to the ethnic media.
On the panel, there sits a guy who is absolutely anti-Conservative. He said the day before yesterday that he has a right to speak freely. Absolutely. We in the Conservative caucus warn their labour union that he is absolutely right that he can speak, but he is not going to sit on an independent panel and decide which media are going to get money. That goes against democracy. That goes against the principles of democracy. It puts all journalists under a cloud. These journalists had better wake up, because they are going to be under a cloud. Can we trust them when they are getting money from the government? Any time anyone else gets money, they oppose that. How can I believe that what these journalists are writing is unbiased? All indications are that the government is using the money it has to buy votes and to buy publicity. It is a slippery road. It is best not to get involved. The whole country has media, so it is easier for the Liberals not to do that.
In my conclusion, let me say clearly that this is an absolute economic disaster by the government.
View Georgina Jolibois Profile
Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by recognizing my community for the support they gave me, my parents, my siblings and my cousins, Dean, Debra, Desi and Dallas. I especially want to recognize my late cousin, Danielle Herman, also known as Superstar.
I rise today in a somewhat surprised and spontaneous way to speak once again to Bill C-91, an act respecting the languages of first nations, Métis and Inuit people. As a Dene language speaker and someone who grew up on a trapline, speaking Dene and learning from the land, I know how important this legislation is and how important it is to get it right.
Let me begin by saying that I only found out about 15 hours ago that this bill would be debated this morning. I only found out last night that we would be doing third reading of this bill, well outside the 48-hour time frame that it would take to get a Dene interpreter into the House so that I could speak my language.
When I am speaking with constituents back home, I try as often as I can to speak our language, because it is as much an act of resistance as it is of community. When we speak our language, we share our experience, our histories and our stories. When we speak our language, whether it is Dene or Cree or Michif, we remind ourselves that we survived residential schools and that we keep speaking, even though Canada did not want us to.
To speak here today in a language that I learned for the benefit of others, without enough opportunity to get an interpreter so that a large portion of my constituents can follow a debate on a bill that directly affects the future of their own language, to speak without interpretation is incredibly disappointing and is evidence that, once again, first nations people are expected to do business only on the terms of their colonizers. The government describes this bill as an act of reconciliation, but the actions that go on behind the scenes are the farthest thing from reconciliation.
Throughout the first two readings of this bill and the long committee meetings, I and my fellow members of Parliament repeatedly heard two things about this bill. First, we heard that the bill is not perfect. The Minister of Heritage told us this. The leaders of indigenous organizations told us this. ITK repeatedly said that this bill is not good enough for the unique needs of the Inuit. Language speakers and educators told us that they do not understand what this bill would mean for them. Rather than offering a meaningful response to the very real objections that indigenous language advocates and the NDP put forward, the government has consistently given the second response we heard repeatedly. The answer has been that despite its imperfections, Bill C-91 is an important first step toward the much bigger project that is the protection and restoration of indigenous languages.
We have been told that it is crucial for the government to fulfill the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action 13, 14 and 15. We have been told that while the government acknowledges there is much more work that needs to be done, this bill points the government in the right direction.
Let me be clear. We cannot claim victory for only taking the first steps toward good legislation on indigenous languages, just as we cannot say that we are bilingual for being able to count to 10 in a new language and we cannot say that we completed a marathon after only the first kilometre. As an indigenous person who has repeatedly been told that the government is turning the page on indigenous issues, or starting fresh, or taking a new step, or going in a new direction, or whichever euphemism the government is using this week, I think I speak for the vast majority of indigenous people who will not settle for beginning again. We do not want the promise of a better tomorrow if it is not followed by concrete action and funding. We do not want the promise of better legislation tomorrow, because we have no guarantee of a willing partner.
When the Minister of Heritage appeared before committee to present the bill, he told us that he would be open to amendments. Many of the elders, organizations and language educators who consulted on this bill told us that there were conversations had and recommendations that they made that were not reflected or included in the final draft of this bill.
Many of those same elders, organizations and language educators came to committee to share their stories, advice and recommendations. In good faith, and knowing it was the will of those who know better than us, the NDP, the Green Party, the Conservatives and the member of Parliament for Nunavut proposed a number of amendments to improve the bill at committee. They were virtually all rejected.
I want to take some time now to tell this House why the amendments we proposed on behalf of others were so very important. On a number of occasions, the NDP and the member for Nunavut tried to include language that recognized the distinct language needs of the Inuit, based on the recommendations the committee heard from the ITK and its president, Natan Obed. One of the most startling facts we heard was that Nunavut actually has more English-speaking teachers than it does English-speaking students and that the English and French languages receive more funding than Inuit language education programs.
Inuit people wanted a bill that worked for them, and the ITK made a number of thoughtful and balanced amendments, but they were rejected entirely by the government.
The member for Nunavut, with his community in mind, put forward an amendment that would have allowed the government to enter into agreements with provincial and indigenous governments, in regionally specific cases, to further the language needs of those regions. His thoughtful amendment would have opened the door for federal services to be offered in indigenous languages based on a nation-to-nation understanding of what communities need.
In a territory where the large majority of people speak Inuktitut, it is a crucial act of decolonization to have access to government services in the language the people speak. Instead, services are available in French or English, and too many people do not have access. The government, by rejecting this amendment, has failed to meet the needs of the Inuit people.
This amendment was part of an ongoing conversation we have been having about the status of indigenous languages in Canada. As the House well knows by now, decades of oppression by the Canadian government and residential, boarding and day schools have told our language speakers that they and their languages have no place in Canada.
What we are seeing now is a resurgence of our languages, one where we are free to speak them in our homes and communities. We are seeing more and more young people engage with their traditions, learn the languages their elders and parents speak and practise their languages in their schools and on the land. We are seeing our elders step forward to teach their languages, many no longer afraid of what might happen if they are seen sharing their knowledge. We are seeing language speakers start camps and summer programs to teach their language. Along the way, language speakers are told by the government that they are doing good work for their people.
However, governments, both provincially and federally, are not supporting the work of language educators and youth with funding or resources to grow our languages or preserve them on our own terms. In Saskatchewan, for example, the province just announced that high school students will now be able to take classes in Dene and Cree, which sounds like a really good initiative. Unfortunately, language educators know too well that language education needs to be funded throughout childhood. Language education needs to begin in kindergarten. Meaningful education takes place in every grade, in every lesson and throughout one's life.
What we are not seeing is the recognition of the status of our languages. Without the status of our languages, we will not see the right investments made in education. We will not see the right investments made in preservation. We will not see the right investments moving forward.
I understand that there are practical concerns about status the government is concerned about, but to seriously consider those concerns is a profound act of reconciliation and decolonization the government did not want to consider, because claiming success for small steps is easier than being courageous and taking big ones.
I dream of the day when indigenous people in Canada can walk into government services buildings in their own communities and have the ability to speak their language, but that day is yet to come.
One of the other big concerns I have heard from my constituents is about the role of the indigenous languages commissioner. I understand that overseeing the funding, restoration and preservation of indigenous languages requires some bureaucracy, and this legislation would create that bureaucracy, but language educators and indigenous organizations do not know what the language commissioner's powers would be, how they would affect their day-to-day operations or how funding models would be established. All we know so far is that language educators would presumably need to go through an extra layer of government through yet another new application process to get funding.
What we also know is that elders and language educators know what is best for their own communities. The creation of another level of government that educators would have to go through is troublesome for two reasons. First is the more principled reason that the government should be funding language programs directly instead of accepting the high overhead costs of a new government agency. Second is that educators would now be under the direction of a languages commissioner, who may have the ability to say if certain ways of learning and preservation are not good enough, without knowing a particular language or cultural group and its needs.
If we value the input of educators on the ground, we need legislation that would keep the people at the front of the legislation. As it is written, it is unclear to me and to educators what the act respecting indigenous languages would actually do for indigenous language.
Furthermore, we proposed an amendment at the heritage committee that would ensure that the indigenous languages commissioner and the directors of that office would be first nations, Métis or Inuit people. It is so important that the languages commissioner be indigenous. It is only through having the lived experience of an indigenous person, knowing what our communities deal with, the history of our people, the resistance we have put up against the Canadian government and the daily experience of what it is like to live in this country that the indigenous languages commissioner could operate.
We wanted to enshrine that minimum lived experience and understanding in this position, knowing how important it would be. What we were told at committee was that asking as much was unconstitutional but that the government would do everything possible to make sure that an indigenous person would hold the position of commissioner. What I hear from the Liberal government is that it wants to protect the Constitution but act in a way that goes against it. The government wants to uphold a colonial document but use words to say that it is on our side despite it.
My big concern, and the concern I have been hearing from so many of my constituents, is that the position of languages commissioner may become a political appointment for someone who means well but does not fully understand our experiences.
At virtually every committee meeting with the Department of Canadian Heritage, Indigenous Services or Crown-Indigenous Relations, these branches of government are represented by non-indigenous people. While these ministers and professionals are educated and well meaning, there will always be a barrier to full understanding of our communities and what our communities need, because their experiences in life are so profoundly different. We had an opportunity with Bill C-91 to make sure that the barrier would be lifted and that the languages commissioner would be an indigenous person and would have a better understanding of our unique needs, but that opportunity was shut down for a mix of political and colonial reasons.
Last, there is the question of funding. A lot has been said publicly about how this legislation would just be one phase of the Liberal government's plan for indigenous languages and that funding would come later. However, there is a direct correlation between the mandate of an organization, which would be created by this bill, and the funding of an organization, which was noticeably left out.
It is unclear how the government would assist with education funding, and it is on this basis that language educators are confused by the bill. Would funding be given through a projects-based approach? How would that funding work, and on what basis would funding be given? Would existing educators be supported, or would they have to start over? Would priority be given to innovative teaching styles through apps and the Internet, or would our known ways of learning on the land and in small groups be the priority? How would sign languages be included in this funding model? How would this funding work for children who attend public and private schools across the country?
Would the languages commissioner work with provinces to fund educational initiatives from kindergarten to high school graduation? How would that work for communities that have more than one language group, such as in northern Saskatchewan, where Michif, Dene and a few dialects of Cree are all spoken in one community? Would students be forced to choose which language to learn, or would the opportunity exist to learn all languages available to them?
What about residential school survivors, survivors of the 60s scoop and the thousands of survivors and their descendants who have lost their languages at the hands of the government? We tried to include these specific groups through amendments to the preamble of the bill, but they too were rejected. How will their right to their languages be recognized, supported and taught? How will we empower survivors to regain what was taken from them and their families?
If it is not clear at this point, the bill creates a lot more questions than answers. It would be nice, if not expected, to at least know some of those answers before the bill passed through the House so that we could let indigenous people and indigenous language speakers determine for themselves if the bill would be a success.
There is a lot of pressure to support the bill. The government is running out of time to complete its mandate before the election this fall. I know that indigenous leaders are doing their best to make sure that the bill has the support it needs, because it is, at the end of the day, a step forward. However, there is exponentially more pressure to make sure that the bill, which would affect such a large aspect of our way of life, is done correctly.
While the bill would be a step forward, to what goal and to what end are we walking toward? Is the goal one of half measures that would marginally improve indigenous language education in Canada, or is the end goal one of fundamental change to Canadian society that fully respects the needs of indigenous languages, recognizes their place in our culture and creates a generation of indigenous youth who speak the same languages that generations of people before them spoke?
When I think of the bill before us, I do not think about how it will affect the outcome of the next election. I think about people like Marsha Ireland, Kevin Lewis, Graham Andrews, Cheryl Herman, Vince Ahenakew, Cameron Adams, Julius Park and so many others who have worked so hard to teach and ensure their language in northern Saskatchewan.
To conclude, it is the people and culture we have to keep in mind when we think about the bill. When I think about the future of all indigenous languages across Canada, we have to do what is right and not just what is politically convenient.
View Rosemarie Falk Profile
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Kitchener—Conestoga.
I am happy to have this opportunity to speak to this motion today. Housing is a basic need, and I have no doubt that the importance of having this need met is recognized on all sides of this house. If we agree that all Canadians should have a realistic opportunity to own their own homes, and all Canadians should have access to safe and affordable housing, the question then becomes how we meet these goals. How do we empower vulnerable Canadians to help lift themselves out of poverty, and what action will have a long-lasting and meaningful impact?
To start, the very first line of this motion identifies a significant problem with the Liberal government's housing strategy. The problem is that 90% of the funding the Liberal government has announced is scheduled for far beyond the next federal election. This is not the first time we have seen this. There seems to be a pattern with the current Liberal government. The Liberals make a great big funding announcement with the intention of spending that money well beyond their mandate.
For the most part, what the Liberals have offered Canadians in their housing strategy are promises. Unfortunately, we know that failing to deliver on their promises is the norm. Therefore, action should be taken today in the medium term and in the long term to strengthen our communities. For this action to be successful, the federal government cannot go it alone.
The text of the motion we are debating today calls on the federal government to take specific action, but what it seems to be missing is the inclusion of the roles of other levels of government and the private sector in addressing housing needs in Canada. Social housing falls under provincial jurisdiction, and this is not recognized in the motion. The federal government certainly shares some of the responsibility when it comes to housing in Canada, but again, I would state that the exclusion, or even the downgrading, of the involvement of the provincial government from the motion before us is problematic.
Another concern that I know has already been raised by many of my colleagues today, but I would like to reiterate, is the language used in the text of the motion relating to housing being a human right. The legal implications of this language could be tremendous. The recognition of a right to housing in federal legislation again conflicts with jurisdiction on this issue. I would caution that its adoption could have many unintended consequences.
While this motion offers opportunities for the federal government to spend money, this approach is probably too simplistic. A discussion on access to safe and affordable housing must recognize that a need for housing is often a symptom of poverty. A fulsome debate must also consider poverty reduction and the barriers many face in lifting themselves out of poverty: education, addictions, health issues, disabilities and so on.
A strong economy is key to reducing poverty. In fact, a strong economy is key to making housing more affordable and accessible for all Canadians today and in the long term. First, any government-funded social program is dependent on a strong economy to ensure that funds are available in the long term. When the economy is succeeding, government revenues are available, but if we tax our economy to death and chase away investment and opportunities, the shelves will be bare for social programs. That is why it is so important to have a realistic plan, a plan to create jobs and opportunities for economic growth. Unfortunately, there is no such plan.
The Liberal government has been failing Canadians when it comes to the economy. Its high-tax agenda is chasing away business and investment opportunities. The energy sector is a perfect example of lost economic opportunity.
Prior to the current Liberal government, there were three private companies willing to invest in three pipeline projects. These projects would have created tens of thousands of jobs and generated billions of dollars in economic activity. However, now the Prime Minister's disastrous policies have chased away all of the investment interest. Not only is the government not succeeding in growing the economy, it is actually hindering it.
The average Canadian is paying more and higher taxes with less money in their pockets to spend on their priorities, which includes less money to spend on their rent or their mortgage. Canadians want to work, provide for themselves and make meaningful contributions to our communities. The federal government should not be creating barriers to that goal. Unfortunately, the failed policies of the Liberal government are hurting Canadians.
The availability of rental housing has also been part of the discussion today. If home ownership were encouraged and achievable for more Canadians, it would have the potential to address the vacancy rates in Canada for rental housing, but the Liberals have not encouraged home ownership. In fact, they have discouraged it. The current Liberal government made changes to mortgage rules that make it harder to qualify for a mortgage, and essentially make home ownership out of reach for many Canadians, particularly young Canadians. A federal housing strategy should also recognize the need for measures to increase affordable and responsible home ownership across the country.
When it comes to homelessness reduction, it is important to consider programs and strategies that have already seen some success. One such program is the housing first approach, which was introduced by our former Conservative government. This program reversed the traditional approach of addressing homelessness by providing a home first with no strings attached to a homeless individual and then made social programs and services available to them. The pilot program of this approach was successful in helping many move along the homeless continuum into independent housing and ultimately become self-sufficient. The success of this pilot program was followed with an expansion of it.
The expansion of the program and the housing first approach received widespread support from stakeholders across the country, including the support of the sponsor of the motion, the member for Saskatoon West. At the time, the member stated that, “We're most excited about the emphasis on housing first, getting people into safe, affordable housing and bringing support services around them so people can stay housed.”
This program was helping Canadians through proven, evidence-based homelessness reduction programs. If a program is helping to reduce homelessness, it should be continued and even expanded. That is why I, like many, was discouraged when the Liberals diverted 65% of the housing first investment target to other programs. While the Liberals' housing strategy commits a lot of taxpayer funds to address the need for housing in Canada, there is a reason to question the strategy's ability to make real progress in this area.
I thank the member for Saskatoon West for tabling this motion and providing the opportunity to have this important debate. Moving forward with measures that will help provide a better quality of life for vulnerable Canadians and all Canadians should always be a priority. Access to safe and affordable housing is essential to a better quality of life.
As the federal government looks to address the housing need in Canada, the focus should be on proven and evidence-based programs. We need to identify and remove barriers from home ownership. We need to take concrete action to support the Canadian economy, and we must acknowledge and address the cause of the housing need and not just address the symptoms. We have to not only respect the provincial jurisdictions over housing, but also work co-operatively with other levels of government and the private sector.
As I said at the beginning, let us look at solutions that can be implemented today and not down the road.
View Rosemarie Falk Profile
Mr. Speaker, an interesting point that needs to be taken into account is Canada is a very diverse country. Different areas have different socio-economic problems. In my own experience, especially in my riding of Battlefords—Lloydminster, I feel the government does not take that into account. We are not seeing any funding for any of this until after its mandate.
I alluded to this earlier today. Mental health, addiction and disabilities all need to be taken into account, but people are resilient and want to work. When they are given the opportunity to do that, when they are able to actually do it themselves and lift themselves up, that is a great success and shows the great resiliency that people have in them.
View Len Webber Profile
View Len Webber Profile
2018-09-27 18:03 [p.21962]
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak to Motion No. 189, which seeks to improve the organ and tissue donation system here in Canada.
This is a very timely issue for debate in the House, in a week that has seen the tabling of the health committee's report on organ donation, the second reading of my private member's bill on organ donation, and now Motion No. 189 on organ donation. It has truly been an organ donation week here in the House.
Like the hon. member for Thérèse-De Blainville, I am a long-time advocate of organ and tissue donation in Canada. I have heard many triumphant and also tragic stories related to organ and tissue donation.
As a former MLA, I had a bill pass in the Alberta legislature that resulted in the creation of the Alberta organ and tissue donation registry.
However, more work needs to be done to get Canadians on board, so I introduced another bill just this week here in the House of Commons. That bill proposes to amend the annual income tax return to ask Canadians if they wish to become organ and tissue donors. It has the potential to register millions more donors.
Over 90% of Canadians support organ and tissue donation, but just over 20% of Canadians are registered. We need to do better. We can do better.
I am honoured to have the member for Thérèse-De Blainville as an official seconder of my bill, and I certainly will be supporting his initiative here with Motion No. 189.
Also, on Tuesday of this week, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health presented an important report regarding organ and tissue donation. The report is an accumulation of the work we did together after I proposed a study at committee.
I must note that the committee did an amazing job of working together toward a common goal. I must thank all hon. committee members for allowing this study to happen. This non-partisan effort, along with the tremendous expert testimony that we received, made the report a fair and accurate representation of the study we undertook.
I would like to take a moment to highlight some of the key items from the report, as they speak directly in support of Motion No. 189.
We found that the federal government could help by first, supporting the adoption of best practices in organ donation and transplantation across all jurisdictions; second, investing in national public education and awareness campaigns to promote a conversation among family members regarding organ donation; third, creating more opportunities for Canadians to register their decisions regarding organ donation; and fourth, providing sustained funding for research and data collection to ensure that organ transplantation results in improved health outcomes for Canadians.
The health committee quickly agreed on a number of key recommendations after listening to these key stakeholders and experts.
The first recommendation from the health committee is that the Government of Canada provide the Canadian Blood Services with sustained funding to strengthen and expand upon existing interprovincial organ donation and transplantation-sharing programs; develop a sustained national multimedia public awareness campaign to promote organ donation, and promote the adoption of best practices in organ donation and transplantation across the country.
The second recommendation is that the health minister establish a working group with provincial and territorial ministers of health to examine best practices in organ donation legislation across the country, such as the adoption of mandatory referral of any potential organ donor, and to identify any barriers to the implementation of these best practices.
Our third recommendation is that the Government of Canada identify and create opportunities for Canadians to register as organ donors through access points for federal programs and services, in collaboration with provincial and territorial organ donation programs. Of course, I have to note that this particular recommendation directly supports my Bill C-316 and my efforts to amend the annual tax return so that Canadians can register as donors.
The fourth recommendation of our health committee is that the Government of Canada provide information and education to Canadians regarding organ donation as part of its efforts to promote organ donation registration through federal programs and service access points.
Our fifth recommendation is that the Government of Canada continue to provide funding for organ donation and transplantation research through its networks of centres of excellence program.
Finally, the sixth is that the Canadian Institute for Health Information and Canadian Blood Services work together to develop a national data collection system to monitor outcomes in organ donation to support research and systems improvement.
Improving the transplant system in Canada is not a political issue; it is a human issue. I believe we have a united House when it comes to dealing with this issue of organ donation, and I firmly believe that we can improve the system. We have the potential to save hundreds of lives and improve the quality of the lives of many Canadians in every community of this great country. Inaction or delays in making necessary improvements will cost lives and money. It is a known fact that life-saving transplants save us costs in our medical system because they remove the dependence of thousands of people from costly treatments and hospitalizations. This leaves more resources for other challenges to be addressed.
I recognize that in Canada, because organ and tissue donor registries are a provincial jurisdiction, we face some unique challenges in implementing change. That said, I also believe that where there is a will there is a way. I believe that Canada can move from being a country with one of the worst organ-donation rates in the world to one of the best. I believe that Canadians will register in greater numbers if we make the process easier and more convenient. I believe we need to be innovative in how we reach potential donors and how we educate and inform potential donors. I also believe that we need to do a great deal more work to make sure that families respect the wishes of their family members. The number of people who want to donate but have that decision overruled by their surviving families is shocking. One study suggests that one in five donors does not have his or her relatives respect his or her wishes to donate. We need to open up the discussion in Canada so that we do not bury perfectly good organs every day while other people in our community face death daily, waiting for a life-saving transplant.
In closing, I would again like to thank my colleagues from all parties for their support on this issue that is so close to my heart. I want to thank them for their non-partisan and collaborative support to improve the lives of so many Canadians. I believe we can achieve some great things here if we all continue to pull in the same direction. For this reason, I am proud to be a strong supporter of Motion No. 189.
View Linda Duncan Profile
View Linda Duncan Profile
2018-06-14 17:09 [p.20969]
Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to rise to speak to this motion. I am going to say many things that my colleagues from Alberta should hear because it is very important for them to be reminded where this idea of a carbon tax or carbon levy came from.
I am a proud Albertan for many reasons and counted among them is the fact that my province was the first Canadian jurisdiction, in fact the first jurisdiction in North America, to impose a levy on carbon emissions. Our colleagues in the Conservative Party, minus the Progressive Conservative aspect of it, seem to want to forget about that. In fact, my guess would be that not a single one of them mentioned that fact during the debate in this place on the carbon tax. In 2007, Premier Stelmach's Progressive Conservative Government of Alberta became the first in Canada, a North America jurisdiction, to legislate greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The specified gas emitters regulation imposed a carbon levy on large industrial emitters.
This came about because of the remarkable institution in Alberta called the Clean Air Strategic Alliance. It is a mechanism that I have long recommended should be duplicated at the federal level. It is a tripartite organization shared jointly by someone senior in industry, maybe a TransAlta, Suncor, or Syncrude vice-president, and by a deputy of energy or environment, and a senior environmentalist. It also includes indigenous peoples and farmers. On behalf of the Alberta government it takes on what should be done to reduce air emissions in our province. The alliance took on the coal-fired power industry and significantly reduced those emissions. It also took on the major emitters of greenhouse gases and as a result, the government very wisely issued these regulations.
Those regulations have since been replaced and I will talk about that in a minute, but under those regulations, an industry could choose to either reduce its emissions substantially or contribute to a research fund. That research fund was headed up by the former head of Syncrude Canada. It is considered a great model for investment in cleaner technology. A lot of the money went to try to clean up the fossil fuel industry, which some people might question, but it indeed does also need to clean up. A lot of that money also went into things like geothermal energy, renewable energy, using alternative energy in the fossil fuel industry, and reducing the energy used by the fossil fuel industry. It was remarkable.
We really need to honour Alberta for that because Alberta did that first. I find it really stunning in this place that every Conservative keeps standing up and ranting about the very measure that my Government of Alberta put in place.
A decade later, along came the government of Rachel Notley who put in place a very impressive climate action portfolio. She announced a new regime that includes the carbon competitiveness incentive regulations. Those have been in place since January of this year. They apply to facilities like the oil sands, cement plants, fertilizer producers that produce more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2003 or thereafter. The Notley government also imposed a cap on oil sands carbon emissions and it was great news for me because I volunteered for seven years to finally deal with the emissions from the coal-fired power sector.
Again, I am very proud of Alberta because it has moved forward. The federal government is still talking about it and the federal government acts as if it has done it, but in fact, it has done nothing to change the Harper era coal-fired power regulations.
All the Harper government did was to say that by 2050 the coal-fired power industry either has to shut down or deal with carbon emissions. That was the big push for carbon capture sequestration. Guess what? It is really expensive and with the big push for that, in the end, the industry did not want to pay for it and the public is not happy about subsidizing it. At the big international conferences there are people trying to sell this, but it just did not work in Alberta.
The reason this industry was not shut down earlier in Alberta was that the government refused to look at the health impacts of that sector. I tried really hard to get the federal and provincial governments to speak to it. I eventually had to intervene on my own with a lifelong friend who is a family doctor and who had documented in the Lake Wabamun area, where most of the coal-fired power industry is, the higher rates of multiple sclerosis and other diseases related to neurological disease. As a result of his and my intervening, and our having brought in an American expert from the eastern coast, the government finally put in place the only mercury control regulations in this country for coal-fired power.
Bit by bit, the Government of Alberta was doing good work. Along came the Rachel Notley government and Dr. Joe Vipond, who is a Calgary physician. He started gathering information from the Canadian Medical Association to determine an absolutely huge number of serious illnesses and deaths related to coal-fired power in my province. As a result of that data and as a result of costing those injuries, health impacts, and deaths, a lot of the issues having to do with asthma, lung disease, and heart disease, the government decided that it would move forward the date for the shutdown of coal power in Alberta. Therefore, by 2030 the coal power industry will be gone in Alberta.
Those are great measures by the Government of Alberta, which were initially started by Premier Stelmach, a Progressive Conservative. These regulations replace the specified gas emitters regulation.
I want to share with members the voice of one of my neighbours, who is a remarkable man. He travels around the world and advises China and Bhutan; he goes everywhere. He is an environmental economist. Mark Anielski has reminded us that the health care costs associated with climate change are “in the order of $300 million per year, along with other impacts of pollution”, and it is what he dubs an “unfunded liability”. He estimates this overall liability is worth “about $13.7 billion if you value carbon at $50 a ton which is what Shell and other companies shadow price carbon at”. He added, “This is in the spirit of taxing the bads and not the goods” and “everyone requires a share of responsibility...paying for that liability. But the tax really is an incentive to change our behaviour to be more efficient.”
I heard my colleague from Calgary rant about what the gas tax will do to address and stop the floods and terrible fires that have blighted British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. That is not the point. The point is we need to reduce the burning of fossil fuels so that we do not have more catastrophic floods and fires. We have been fortunate in Canada because we are not seeing the brunt of it that the rest of the world is already seeing. We need to understand that putting in place a carbon tax is meant as a preventive measure, not an after-the-fact enforcement measure. It is meant to trigger a different behaviour.
The Alberta regime is forecasting $5.8 billion over a three-year period from the carbon levy on large industrial emitters. We need to also recognize that the regimes put in place in each province are going to be different. My province is blessed with, although some people say it is cursed with, major emitters. We have the major oil and gas sector. What that means is if we impose a tax, we are going to generate a lot of revenue. We also have been blessed with having a good number of people earning a good income that is higher than in a lot of places in the country. Therefore, we are going to garner a higher tax revenue. However, most of that tax will be from the purchase and burning of fossil fuels in our homes, in small businesses, and our vehicles.
What will happen with that revenue? Unlike what British Columbia originally did, where it simply returned that tax money, I am glad that Alberta has taken a different direction. My understanding is that under the new B.C. government, it has also shifted over what it is doing with that revenue.
Two-thirds of that revenue is going to be reinvested in the Alberta economy: $1.3 billion in green infrastructure and $300 million in phasing out coal power. The government, in its wisdom, decided to buy out some of the coal industry because, foolishly, previous governments had allowed the coal power industry to expand at a moment in time when we should have known it was going to be phasing out. It has agreed to pay out some of those operations and the power purchase agreements. There will be $600 million going to energy efficiency for homes and businesses, and $1 billion will be going to support the coal communities that have housed the workers who have worked in the coal mines and the coal-fired power plants. That is a good initiative. It will also go into renewable energy investments, and innovation and technology.
I would add here that the Rachel Notley government has also put $50 million toward the retraining of workers in the coal-fired power and mining industries, and persuaded the federal government finally to extend EI. Where is the money from the federal government to match that? We hear a lot of talk, and there is yet another advisory committee.
We hear pleas from members of the Conservative Party about what the carbon tax is going to do for them. What Canadians are looking for is what is being done to help communities and workers who feel they are suffering directly because of the shift to a clean energy economy.
One-third is going to helping households, businesses, and communities directly. Some $500 million is going to small business tax cuts. Some $1.5 billion is going to low- and middle-income households. There is $1.5 billion in assistance for indigenous communities. It would be nice if the federal government would match that. The effect will be that the average natural gas bill is to rise by approximately $5 a month, and that is before the 2018 rebates. The majority of the gas bill costs remain in delivery, administration, and fixed costs because of the Ralph Klein deregulated system, which the Notley government is also trying to deal with. Two-thirds of Albertans are to receive a rebate.
The projected costs are actually posted on the Alberta website. Any members in this place who are concerned about their constituents can go to the Alberta government website and find out what the carbon tax will be.
As long as Alberta's carbon tax remains in place, we in Alberta will not be subject to the federal tax regime. The government has been very clear on that. Of course, all provinces and territories have the option to implement their own choice of cost regime: cap and trade, carbon tax, or anything else that they can invent.
However, a tax alone will not cut it. Broader federal action is needed if we are to deliver on our Paris commitments. Who said that? Many, including the federal commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, who continues to raise concerns that we are failing to deliver on our commitments in meeting our greenhouse gas reduction targets. Deeper actions are needed, including on climate adaptation. That was in a very recent report by the commissioner. Of course, the government thanked the commissioner for the report, but where is the action?
I have great admiration for the Pembina Institute. The institute and others have said that the political will still appears to be high in the Liberal government. At least they voice support for it, but so is the greenhouse gas inventory high, and it is rising. The government cannot keep adjusting the timelines forward. Now it is saying it cannot possibly meet the 2020 target, so let us try for the 2030 target. The commissioner has spoken out loudly against that. She said that the government has to stop just moving the targets forward and it has to start taking action. Of course, we are already not going to meet the 2020 Copenhagen accord target. Apparently, we are also slated to fail to deliver on our Paris commitments for 2030. That is less than 15 years away. That means we have to be taking a lot of action right now.
Close to 50% of emissions come from two sectors: oil and gas and transportation. We should also take care in the conversion from coal to gas. Burning fossil fuels will remain a health threat. There should be clear timelines for shifting to renewables. I am deeply concerned, and most Canadians are probably not aware that the standards the government is about to impose for a coal plant shifting to gas are not as strict as they are for building a new gas-fired plant. That is unforgivable. That is unforgivable for regions like mine in the Lake Wabamun-Genesee area that is almost the entirety of the supply of electricity in my province. Switching to gas is still going to provide a lot of pollution and we will have a lot of health impacts, and therefore a lot of costs to the public coffers.
The reductions in the building sector have also remained stagnant. We need to move forward on changes to the national building code so that new housing stock is energy efficient. All federal dollars for indigenous housing, schools, and facilities should require energy efficiency standards for sustainability and major cost savings to the communities.
We absolutely need the federal government to deliver the promised dollars to get isolated northern communities off diesel. We can look at the budgets over the last three years that the Liberals have put forward, and I have memorized page 149 and 150 of the 2017-18 budget. All I saw were zeroes for moving reliance of rural and remote communities off diesel: budget 2016-17, zero dollars; 2017-18, zero dollars; and 2018-19, nearly $40 million.
We know how many first nations communities there are, and we know what the costs will be in some of those isolated communities, particularly in the high north. Come on, get with it. Let us move that spending forward.
Supposedly the nation-to-nation relationship is the most important, and we recognize that those communities are struggling. We hear story after story of first nations that are fed up with waiting for government to help them, and they are moving forward themselves with groups like Iron & Earth.
For example, Iron & Earth is partnering with first nations in a community in the Maskwacis in Alberta teaching the local indigenous people how to install solar, and then installing solar. Why are we not doing that right across our country? I do not understand what the delay is.
We talked about skills development in the New Democrats opposition day. In the pan-Canadian program, supposedly for all the jurisdictions to work together to address climate change, what is missing? It is investment in skills development. Even when we put those questions to the government the other day, the answer back is always exactly the same: “Well, we're supporting clean technology”. However, who is going to work for the clean technology firms?
There should be massive amounts of money flowing right now into every technical school in Canada. I sat down the other day in my constituency and started listing all the technical schools across this country that deliver renewable energy training. It is unbelievable. It is almost every community college. Certainly the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in my city has a fantastic program, but it is oversubscribed. Young people are dying to learn these skills. Who is dying to learn it the most? It is our boilermakers, steelworkers, and electricians. They are begging to get into this field. They are saying that they may still work in the fossil fuel industry, but they want to transition over. There is no reason why, when there is a downturn in the oil and gas sector, they could not slide over and work in the renewable sector.
Kudos to Iron & Earth, which started as a small group of men and women who worked in the oil sands. It has now spread right across the country. There is testimony after testimony. I encourage members to go to the Iron & Earth website and look at the testimonials from men and women working in those sectors, and how badly they want to get into this sector.
We heard all the promises from the Conservatives when they were in power. They were in power for 10 years, and they never issued those promised oil and gas regulations. So much for their actions on climate change. They never joined IRENA. Finally, three years later, kudos to the Liberals for finally discovering this international agency for renewable energy and joining it. However, I do not know what they can bring to it. I think they need to start investing and showing that we are actually taking action.
I will close with my former colleague, Paul Dewar, who is kick-starting an initiative next week for youth. I have been working closely with a fabulous group called the 3% Project. Two young people have travelled right across the country visiting just about every high school and every university, including in this city. Their objective of 3% is to reach one million young people in Canada. They want them to learn about the need for action on climate change and sustainability, and to take on a project. It is absolutely inspiring. I encourage everyone to look into 3% Project. That is our future, and I know that they believe we should take action and will not listen to the naysaying from this motion, which we will clearly vote against.
View Amarjeet Sohi Profile
Lib. (AB)
View Amarjeet Sohi Profile
2018-02-12 15:16 [p.17057]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Lakeland for her motion on a matter of such importance, not only to our shared province of Alberta, but to British Columbia and indeed all of Canada.
As an Albertan, I am proud that our government, after extensive consultation, approved the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline. Before I go into why we approved this pipeline, let me first remind the hon. member how her party, under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, failed to protect the interests of Alberta's resource sector. For 10 years, Harper Conservatives talked the good talk but failed to build a single pipeline to take our oil to non-U.S. markets.
I would also like to remind the hon. member that the struggles Alberta families and workers have faced in the last number of years started when her party was in power. More than 25,000 energy sector jobs were lost in the last year of the Harper government. What did it do to help those workers and families? It did absolutely nothing. It even held back infrastructure investments of nearly $1 billion that could have helped those struggling families to gain jobs. I guess that criticizing Premier Notley and the Government of Alberta was more important to the Harper government than helping struggling Alberta families.
When we took office, we immediately started looking for solutions to help Alberta workers and families. In March 2016, we provided $252 million in fiscal stabilization funding to the Government of Alberta. At the same time, we significantly extended employment insurance benefits for all Albertans who needed them. As a result, over 100,000 workers received more than $400 million for five additional weeks of EI support.
Very early in 2016, Export Development Canada provided $750 million in financing, guarantees, bonding instruments, and insurance to oil and gas companies. In July 2016, the Business Development Bank of Canada and ATB Financial partnered to provide $1 billion aimed at making more capital available for small and medium-sized businesses in Alberta. In March 2017, our government announced $30 million, which unlocked $235 million to accelerate the cleanup of orphan wells over the next three years.
My department, Infrastructure Canada, has provided support to almost 200 provincial, municipal, and indigenous infrastructure projects, leading to over $4 billion of joint investment in infrastructure over the coming years. This is on top of the $200 million that flows from the federal government to Alberta communities yearly through the federal gas tax program.
Finally, our government approved two oil and two gas pipelines, including Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain expansion, which will help get more of our resources to the markets we already have and open up new markets so we are not so reliant on our neighbour to the south to buy our oil.
We approved Kinder Morgan because it is in the interest of Canada. It is in the interest of Canada to create thousands of jobs in virtually every part of the country. It is in the interest of Canada to create a way for our resources to get to the global markets. It is in the interest of Canada to receive a fairer price for those resources. It is in the interest of Canada to partner with indigenous communities, respect and recognize their rights, and ensure that traditional knowledge is integrated into our decisions. It is in the interest of Canada to develop its resources in a way that does not compromise the environment.
The previous government generated complete uncertainty, widespread public mistrust, and a total inability to get a major energy project built. That approach did not work, as demonstrated by the Federal Court of Appeal ruling that overturned the Harper government's approval of the northern gateway pipeline because it failed to consult with indigenous peoples.
Since coming to office, our government has been guided by a simple but profound belief: that the economy and the environment must go hand in hand. In effect, the only way to have a dynamic economy is to ensure that it is done in a sustainable environment. We also know that good projects, such as the Trans Mountain expansion, will not get built unless they carry the confidence of Canadians.
That is why, in January 2016, the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change introduced a set of interim principles to move forward on projects already under review. These principles reflect our priorities: maintaining certainty for investors, expanding public consultation, enhancing indigenous engagement, and including greenhouse gas emissions in our project approvals and assessments. The benefits of the interim principles were felt immediately.
However, our goal has always been a permanent fix to Canada's environmental assessments. That is why, just seven months into our mandate, we launched a comprehensive review that included modernizing the National Energy Board, protecting our fish, and preserving our waterways. We appointed expert panels, enlisted parliamentarians, released a discussion paper, and consulted Canadians every step of the way, listening more than we spoke.
Last week, our government revealed the fruits of those efforts with a new plan for reviewing major resource projects. Introduced last Thursday by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Bill C-69 has the potential to transform our natural resource sectors, providing project proponents with clearer rules and greater certainty while ensuring that local communities have more input and the rights of indigenous people are respected and recognized.
The Trans Mountain expansion decision was consistent with this approach. It was accompanied by a historic investment of $1.5 billion in the oceans protection plan, an unprecedented commitment to safeguard our coasts and partner with indigenous and coastal communities to ensure the health of our waters, shores, and marine life. That is how we have demonstrated our commitment to the environment. That is how we will ensure that economic growth comes because of, not at the expense of, protecting the environment.
I am delighted to see the hon. member supporting the TMX pipeline. Unfortunately, she has chosen to use this as an opportunity for wedge politics instead of nation building. She asks the government to take action. As the Minister of Natural Resources has pointed out, that advice, while welcome, is late.
The Prime Minister reached out to Premier Notley and Premier Horgan shortly after this issue arose. The Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change have been having discussions with their counterparts, and high-level officials from our government have flown out to British Columbia to seek a resolution. I have no doubt that a way forward can be found. It is in our national interest, and in the interest of the Government of Canada, to speak with some degree of moderation in encouraging a path forward to achieve the objective, which is to get this project built.
As the Minister of Natural Resources has already pointed out, our government consulted widely on the TMX. The National Energy Board conducted a thorough review and recommended approval with 157 binding conditions. The minister then extended the process and appointed a special ministerial panel to hold additional hearings, allowing even more people to participate. Our government believes in consulting with Canadians, and we are certainly not going to try to stop a provincial government from doing the same.
Let me be very clear. Any proposed regulation by the B.C. government to attempt to limit the flow of bitumen through the pipeline would be outside provincial jurisdiction. We approved the federally regulated pipeline project that will create thousands of good, well-paying jobs across Canada, and we stand by that decision.
In December, we intervened with the National Energy Board when the City of Burnaby attempted to delay the permitting process. At that time, the board created a dedicated process to resolve future permitting delays, should they arise. In that case, there was a specific action to challenge. At the moment, there is no comparable initiative by the Government of British Columbia.
This is not a time to fan the flames of division or to set parties hunkering down in one section of the Constitution Act or another. Now is the time for a measured, thoughtful, and appropriate response, one that responds to actions, not intentions. Should the Government of British Columbia attempt to impose unacceptable delays or take any other action that is not within its jurisdiction, our government will act as any other reasonable and responsible government would.
As a member of Parliament from Edmonton, Alberta, I know first-hand the importance of projects such as TMX to our communities. When our government was elected, Alberta's economy was struggling. Resource prices were down. Unemployment was up, and too many of my friends, neighbours, and fellow Albertans were suffering through a significant economic downturn. Our federal government recognized that Alberta and other resource economies needed help, and we stepped up to provide that assistance. The approval of the Kinder Morgan TMX is part of that effort to help the global economy and to create jobs for Albertans and for Canadians. That is why TMX is so important. That is why our government approved it. That is why we have criss-crossed the country supporting it, and that is why we will make sure that it is built.
View Michelle Rempel Profile
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2017-06-12 18:58 [p.12502]
Madam Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise tonight to debate the amendments to Bill C-6.
I think a lot of Canadians in the last year have realized how important the issue of immigration is to the country, not so much as an if immigration is important conversation but how we do it well. Bill C-6 is the Liberal government's first legislation to deal with immigration. In the ensuing time since Bill C-6 was originally put in front of the House, many issues related to how we do immigration in Canada have come up which the government has not addressed.
To provide context for the Senate amendments, it is first important to paint a picture of how we got here.
There are several components to Bill C-6, including issues which I will speak to at length, issues such as language proficiency for people who seek to become citizens, at what age they become exempt from those requirements and why, the situations and circumstances under which people can have their citizenship revoked and why, and how they are addressed in the bill.
There are other very important components to Bill C-6, but I want to start with restating the position I and my party have on the components of Bill C-6 in its original form.
New Canadians enrich and strengthen our country. Their experiences and perspectives make us stronger. Immigration is an important part of who we are as a nation and the strength of our nation's future. We want newcomers to Canada to have every opportunity to succeed, opportunities for economic success, the experience of our many freedoms, and the experience of safe communities.
We are concerned that the Liberals' first priority, when it came to tabling legislation and public safety legislation, was to effectively give back the citizenship and protect the rights of a committed member of the Toronto 18, Zakaria Amara.
Under the bill, a dual national citizenship cannot be revoked for committing a terrorist act, but can be for fraud. Revocation for obtaining citizenship under fraudulent circumstances is still allowed under the bill, but the amendments would materially impact this component.
The bill would also lower the language requirements for citizenship, but we believe adequate knowledge of either French or English is a key factor in successful integration into our communities and the labour force. Canadian citizenship bestows rights and protections that many foreign nationals do not have. As Canadians, they can vote and seek an elected office. Proficiency in our official languages helps enrich both their experience and our country's future. This again speaks to the residency requirement that has been changed in Bill C-6. These are material changes that Bill C-6 would make to how we would allow immigration in Canada.
The parliamentary committee review on Bill C-6, after it progressed from second reading, gives me cause for alarm on a few things. When we asked for quantitative justification on why some of these changes were made, both the minister and the officials were not able to answer. That is concerning. I do not think we should provide arbitrary justification for changing things such as the age of the language requirement. There should be some justification or rationale given that language is a unifier, for example.
The same thing goes for the residency requirement that has been changed in Bill C-6. I do not know why no justification was given by the minister, officials, etc., on how this would impact the ability of newcomers to Canada to spend time to connect with our country, promoting successful integration, both for the newcomers of Canada, as well as Canadian society as a whole. A lot of testimony was lacking on Bill C-6.
I have followed the progress of this bill through the Senate. I think that the Senate was wise to look through the form and substance and make some changes to it, some that I accept and some that I do not. I also notice that the Liberal government has made changes to some of the amendments that have come forward, and I want to speak to those as well.
Again, the bill was tabled well over a year ago now. In the ensuing time, a lot of things have happened in Canada with regard to immigration. The migrant crisis in the Middle East has escalated. It is now, I would say, a top policy concern, not just for European nations that are being impacted by it but as a humanitarian crisis that impacts every country around the world.
We are having very serious conversations about how many people we allow into the country and under what circumstances. I just feel that as a country, we have not completed the sentence that started with “We are bringing 30,000 Syrian refugees to Canada”, or whatever the number was.
We, in our parliamentary committee, had a very in-depth study on the Syrian refugee initiative, and one of the most moving moments for me in the last year of my parliamentary career was listening to a Syrian refugee talk about not being able to access language training services because of issues such as child care and lack of funding for some of these programs. I was very disheartened when the Calgary Board of Education appeared before that same committee in that same study to talk about how the Calgary Board of Education gladly and with open hearts welcomed several hundred Syrian refugee students—the equivalent, as they said, of an entire new elementary school in the Calgary school system—yet had had no conversation with the minister or with the provincial government on how to address the funding needs that were precipitated by having to address the unique and worthy needs of these students coming into the school system.
We have to understand that many of these children that we welcome into Canada have had very difficult lives. They have grown up in refugee camps. They have fled from their homes. Their education has been interrupted.
I notice that the government's talking points have changed since the campaign, just recently. Until now it has always been about numbers. There is a flip side to that coin, which is how to support these people into success.
The result of that committee study was some very damning testimony on the state of our government's plan to provide support for these refugees. The minister has only appeared before our committee once since he has been appointed. I find that very odd, but when he did appear, we asked a very pointed question about how many government-sponsored Syrian refugees had found employment, and he was not able or willing to answer the question until he was repeatedly put under the gun. It was to the point of my frustration and everyone else's to admit that the government does not have a plan to help refugees integrate with employment or to have an honest conversation to ask, “Should we as a country be expecting Syrian refugees who have lived through this situation to find employment, and if so, what is the cost of that to the Canadian public and how will we pay for it?”
That is not a sexy conversation. It is not one that will sell a campaign slogan very well, but it is one that is worthy. As a legislator I feel a level of responsibility to the people we brought to this country. If their success is not guaranteed or seen through, not only have we failed them, but we have also failed to develop social licence within the Canadian public, writ large, for sustained high levels of refugee admissions, and that is my concern.
When I look at the rhetoric that happened around Brexit, the rhetoric that happened in the American election, I am greatly concerned that unless we have a very difficult and worthy conversation on how we deal with the issues of integration of newcomers to Canada, we will continue to see this type of us-versus-them rhetoric, when in fact there is no “them” anymore. We are a globally integrated community.
We need to have government policy, with honesty in that policy, in order to see success in the long term, and I am not seeing it there.
To go back to Bill C-6, this bill was introduced in the House of Commons and has gone through successive stages of passage without dealing with some of the most pressing issues of our time. Speaking further to the Syrian refugee initiative, I found it very disheartening to spend nearly six months working with members of my caucus to raise attention on the Yazidi genocide. While I realize there are many people in need in the Middle East, surely when a genocide occurs, there are people who require immediate and out-of-the-box-thinking help. The fact that it took us so long to acknowledge the genocide and then to include Yazidi genocide victims as part of our commitment to bringing high levels of refugees to Canada was very disheartening.
I am going to be very blunt. I strongly feel that our process for selecting and prioritizing refugees and internally displaced people for resettlement is flawed. I met with one of the representatives from the United Nations who deals with referrals to Canada through the government-assisted refugee program, and I asked very bluntly, “Why were there zero Yazidi genocide victims referred to Canada as part of the government-assisted refugee program?” I had my staffer in the office, so there were two people there who witnessed this. The answer that came back was essentially that they were under a very severe time crunch from the government to fulfill a quota, and it was easier to refer the people they did. In that moment I wondered, “Are we seeking to do what is easy, or are we seeking to do what is right?”
A process that cannot refer genocide victims to our country for resettlement is flawed. I am not saying it is necessarily the government's fault. It becomes the government's fault when we fail to discuss these issues in a way that seeks justice and beauty in our immigration processes, and there is none of this in any of the government's approach or forward motion on the immigration file.
Since that discussion, it has been interesting to watch the international reaction, because I think that there has been some acknowledgement that the process by which Canada selects refugees to come to our country deserves the scrutiny of Parliament. That has not happened at all, but internationally people are starting to realize that it is a topic worthy of debate.
Right now, we know that there are gay men in Chechnya who have been rounded up and are being placed in concentration camps simply because of their sexual orientation and who they are, and they are being persecuted and tortured. That is wrong. That is a place for Canada to use our refugee resettlement policy as a way to send a strong diplomatic message to states that sanction this activity, yet we have a failure to be able to act. Every single time a situation of urgency like this happens, we should have some sort of mechanism as parliamentarians or within the government to respond to these crises without having to spend opposition day motions and go through political chicanery for months in order to do what is right.
I do not think there is a single person in this place who would disagree with me that we need to be bringing Yazidi genocide victims to Canada under resettlement or that we need to be addressing the issue of gay men being tortured and persecuted in Chechnya or that we need to be addressing the issue of the South Sudanese, which I am sure will be declared a genocide in very short order.
The point is that we do not have a mechanism to deal with this situation. The government comes forward with talking points, saying it relies on the UN to provide lists of refugees to come to Canada. In that case, we should be able to audit those processes. None of that has been discussed in any of the amendments or this bill. It is a glaring gap for me.
I realize we cannot change the bureaucracy of Canada overnight, like the United Nations, so the trick becomes how Canada can exert pressure. There are many worthy things the UN does, but on this issue, it cannot respond quickly enough. The United Nations does not have a nimble way of dealing with the resettlement of internally displaced persons. It does not have a nimble way of referring genocide survivors or people living with the situation in Chechnya to us. That is something we should be asking the United Nations to change.
Where is the government on this issue? It is silent. For a government that purports to be compassionate on refugee resettlement, not using its leadership position to ask these questions, which are not partisan but humanitarian, is a glaring gap. I do not know why we do not have a subcommittee to our parliamentary committee to deal with the issue of internally displaced persons in emergent situations, such as ones in Chechnya or South Sudan.
I have to give credit to the chair of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration across the aisle, who I felt put partisanship aside and went to bat in his caucus to have a hearing on the Yazidi genocide, which led to action going forward. We should not have to argue over whether we will study something and then study it to death while people are dying when we could have intervened. It is a great frustration and sadness for me. Members of the government have privately talked to me and said it is a frustration for them too, yet the government has refused to act.
My request to the government on this issue is that it put partisanship and the rhetoric of the United Nations aside and say that this needs to change, that we cannot act this way anymore.
The second thing I would like the government to do with regard to refugee resettlement is be honest about the fact that what was said in the campaign was not the reality. I remember television talk show panels and debates on the question of the Syrian refugee crisis, and two things came up. The first was a game of one-upmanship on who was going to bring more people here, which I found deplorable.
I remember being on a panel with former minister McCallum and listening to some of the things he said. He said the initiative was going to cost no more than $250 million within the context of a fully costed platform, and he also made a very clear statement that refugees add to the Canadian economy. They might, but we have seen that many government-assisted refugees who came to Canada under this initiative—I believe the minister said 90%—have not found jobs 13 months after they came to Canada. That number is important because that is when their refugee resettlement funds run out.
The fact that the numbers are so high is at odds with what the then minister said during the campaign. We should have a conversation on whether we expect government-assisted refugees to become employed. Many Canadians would say yes, some Canadians would say no, but regardless of what the government chooses or feels on that question, it needs to be honest with the Canadian public about the cost of integration and support over the long term, and it has not done that. It has not done that to date.
I asked the minister in committee about there being no planning for the cost of social assistance payments for refugees who do not find jobs. That might seem very callous, but the government made a statement during the campaign about the economic impact of refugees. It should have said it was going to be charitable and would support refugees, told us how much it was going to cost, and asked Canada to give it a mandate to do that, but it chose not to.
In doing so, the Liberals off-loaded the cost to provincial governments, including my provincial government, which is having some very tough times right now. Who is left in the lurch on all of this? It is the refugees themselves.
We heard testimony from one Syrian refugee at our committee who said that they were living in a bug-infested apartment. This is not the experience that Canada should be offering to newcomers. We should be talking about things like the cost of affordable housing, the cost of social assistance, and special education for children who have had their education disrupted, yet we are not. This allows the rhetoric of not helping: What about me? What about us?
To be honest, it is the right of Canadian taxpayers to ask how much this is going to cost and why we are doing this. However, we have not had a space to have a public debate on this topic in this place, which is why I am very pleased to stand tonight to finally be able to put this on the record in the House of Commons.
It is very, very frustrating. As the years go by and we follow Syrian refugees, my prayer and hope is that they are going to be successful. However, when I hear numbers like 90% not finding employment after one year, what is the plan? What is the government doing to move them to a place of employment? What about the lack of language training services? What about the fact that there might not be the best alignment in terms of educational systems? The government has not completed the sentence on this project. Moreover, the Liberals have not completed the sentence on this project where they are failing some of the world's most vulnerable, like genocide survivors, or LGBTQ who have been persecuted.
We just underwent a study in committee on how Canada can support LGBTQ refugees. However, there is nothing in the bill or any of the amendments that have dealt with this. The reality is that LGBTQ members of this community are some of the world's most vulnerable and persecuted people. We know there are countries that have state-sanctioned persecution of members of this community.
Our former government started a pilot project that provided assistance to an NGO to prioritize and assist in bringing persecuted members of the LGBTQ community to Canada through our refugee program. However, the current government has not committed to making that an ongoing program to date. Where is that in how we do immigration in Canada? It is nowhere in the bill or in the amendments. Again, the testimony we heard in committee on that issue was heart wrenching. It is one thing to stand and march in a Pride parade in Canada and to acknowledge that we still have work to do at home, but it is another thing entirely to be silent on how Canada is assisting members of this community through formal government policy, including refugee resettlement.
It is not just about refugee resettlement. Whenever we look at international policy related to displaced persons or migrant crises, there is more than just the resettlement component of the policy stool. There is also the question of military intervention, and long-term aid and development, to build civil society and processes by which people can stay in their indigenous homelands, which is certainly something that is a question around genocides. Is resettlement the only option? The government, especially on this issue, has been largely silent. As we said—
View Martin Shields Profile
View Martin Shields Profile
2017-06-01 22:27 [p.11913]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's oratory. He has obviously woken up the House. I am afraid I am going to put everyone back to sleep.
As I stand here with my colleagues, Canadians are paying close attention to the discussion we are having on the legalization of the distribution, sale, and possession of recreational marijuana in Canada. This subject no doubt evokes many emotions on all sides, and I know there can be some strongly held views on this issue.
I feel that the government has rushed into the bill without really stopping to consider all the consequences. The Liberals are doing it to meet a campaign commitment without considering all the repercussions and effects that this legislation scheme may have.
In April, shortly after the legislation was introduced by the Liberals, I had the opportunity to host a series of community round table meetings with municipal officials throughout my constituency. I met with mayors, reeves, councillors, MLAs, and media. One of the very major concerns that these officials had was with respect to the timeline of the bill. The Liberals have introduced this very broad legislation, setting the minimum age, the number of plants, and the potency of marijuana that can be sold. They then basically told the provinces and the territories to develop their own implementation plan for the rest. That means there could be 13 different regimes across Canada.
In the lead-up to what they knew was impending legislation from the feds, the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association asked the Province of Alberta to act. As a result, in Alberta, the provincial NDP formed a secretariat to deal with this issue. That is great. The problem is that the secretariat in Alberta is excluding the municipalities from being part of it.
The Liberals keep talking about consultations with municipalities and municipal involvement, but how can this work? When the provinces are tasked with doing most of the heavy lifting for the feds, the municipalities are in fact left out of the decision-making process at the grassroots level.
As a former mayor for many years, I have a particular concern about the impact on communities and on municipalities. Municipalities are really concerned about this rush to legalize marijuana completely. They are concerned about the fact that they are going to have to pick up the tab for a variety of new responsibilities that are essentially being dumped on them overnight.
Municipalities will likely be responsible for enforcement and zoning, as well as for creating an entire new set of by-laws surrounding this new regime. With respect to zoning and by-laws, there will be a very long process. Staff will have to develop a plan. There will be public meetings and hearings. Advertising will have to be done. City staff will devote countless hours and resources over several months. There is a time factor here, and it cannot be rushed, which calls into question the government's timeline.
Licensing is not a cash cow, despite what some on the government side would have us believe. It will not be anywhere near what is required to cover the new costs this regime will impose on municipalities.
In a previous sitting of the House, I asked the Liberals what concrete actions they would be taking to support municipalities, seeing that they had dumped such a huge burden on them with very little time for them to adapt. The answer from the government side was quite generic, and it is not something I am particularly enthusiastic about. For example, the parliamentary secretary mentioned providing equipment and training, but did not mention who would pay for it. This does not help municipal planning.
Another area that will impact municipalities is they will have to rewrite their HR policies, because now they will have the threat of people coming to work under the influence of marijuana. The last thing any municipality wants is an employee operating heavy equipment while under the influence.
Enforcement as well means a whole new set of rules and regulations, planning, and money spent by municipalities.
The Liberals have essentially washed their hands of having to do any of the local work on this file. They have told municipalities, “Here is a big new change; you have about a year to implement it. Have a nice day.”
This is unfortunate, because I am sure that municipalities in my riding would have been willing to work collaboratively with the province, but they have been exempted from that. It is unfortunate that the province would not allow this to take place.
Another area of concern that I heard in the private sector while crisscrossing my riding hosting community roundtables was the concern surrounding workplace regulations regarding health and safety. Whether these organizations are small to medium-sized enterprises like ECS Safety Services in Brooks in my riding of Bow River or large outfits like oil and gas sector companies, there are some major concerns about work-related marijuana use.
As we know very well, my home province of Alberta has a large oil and gas sector, and it requires a significant amount of labour. These sectors now struggle at times to have enough clean employees. Coming under the influence of marijuana now is another significant challenge they are going to be facing.
I understand that the federal government must respect constitutional division of powers, and it says it is consulting with municipalities. It talks about some of the 22 major cities, like Toronto. In my riding, there are none of those 22 major cities. They are not talking about where the vast majority of our rural people live, so when they are talking about consulting, they are talking about some of the 22 major cities. That is not where I am from.
However, the Liberals can absolutely consult with the provinces to make sure they are going to support the municipalities. There is a process, if they wish to do it strongly enough. The federal government could, by funding, support these new powers for enforcement. It could come through the form of equal sharing of the tax revenue generated by legalized recreational marijuana. Let us consider the federal gas tax model, for example, where we cut out the middleman, which is the province, and the money goes directly to the municipalities, mostly. If it does not, it is property taxes that would end up covering the cost of this, because municipalities will be doing the heavy lifting at the grassroots level.
There are other ways the government may be able to support this as it rushes the terms of this brand new piece of legislation. However, if it does not take the time, if it pushes it too quickly, it will be the property tax payers as the major source of revenue for municipalities. As a result, taxes will go up in the local municipalities to pay for this scheme.
Lisa Holmes, president of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, has said that many Alberta municipalities could theoretically be ready by 2019, one year or so later than the government's deadline. If there is any way the government could work with the provinces to provide them with some flexibility in timelines and implementation, this might work. Ms. Holmes understands that, otherwise, the only way this new regime would be paid for is by property taxes in municipalities.
Another group of those concerned are many of the provincial premiers, including Liberal premiers. The NDP Premier of Alberta, Rachel Notley, has expressed concerns about the short timeline.
There are many other issues that are arising from this legalization. For example, I found it somewhat distressing that we are going to be encouraging people, including young people, to smoke marijuana now, when for years we have been trying to get people to stop smoking. For years, I was involved in a regional health care board, and I was also an educator. We worked very hard with the resources we had to deliver public education on anti-smoking issues. We worked hard to educate youth as young as 10 years old on the hazards of tobacco smoke. The goal of these campaigns was to ensure that these youth never started smoking, period. In one case, we had more money to do this than the Liberals are spending across the country in five years. The $9 million spread out so meagrely over five years is tragic. It is simply not enough.
There is an opportunity here to mandate that federal taxes go to municipalities for health promotion and prevention. A specific percentage should be mandated by the federal government to ensure that prevention is being adequately funded, because $9 million is just blatantly wrong.
In tobacco prevention, one of the biggest at-risk groups, where prevention was least successful, was with pregnant teenagers. We already have a situation where these young pregnant girls, the mother and unborn child, are at risk. With Bill C-45, the Liberals are adding a new toxic substance that is going to put these girls and unborn children at even more risk. Here is a disturbing fact. One in seven teenagers will get addicted to smoking marijuana once they begin smoking it. In single, pregnant teens, that number is even going to be higher.
The government is facilitating this more by its outright legalization. It is facilitating it by making it easier for teenagers to get their hands on marijuana. This is the reason we need significant funding for prevention, and it is up to the federal government to take the lead. It is not enough to simply download it.
With all this in mind, I look forward to continuing debate on Bill C-45, with the hope that the government will reconsider the timeline. We really need that reconsidered.
View Rachael Harder Profile
View Rachael Harder Profile
2017-06-01 22:57 [p.11917]
Mr. Speaker, marijuana legalization would certainly have a big impact on society as we know it, and of course, I am speaking with regard to Canadian society. In particular, I am talking about Canada's overall health and the well-being of Canadians in this country. What the Liberals are attempting to do in this one piece of legislation, which they are rushing through this House, actually required decades of work when it came to doing something similar with alcohol and tobacco. With a significant change to our legal code, and the responsibilities that would be imposed on provinces and municipalities, I believe that we need to ensure that the Liberal policy is backed by scientific evidence, which, to be fair, I have reason to be skeptical of, based on committee work and other pieces of legislation the Liberals have actually put through this House. It certainly has lacked these components in the past.
We also need to make sure that the provinces and the municipalities have time to properly develop rules and regulations in their areas of jurisdiction. This is to say nothing about consideration for employers, who would then have to implement policies within their workplaces as well.
I have concerns about Bill C-45. I believe that it has flaws, both with its rushed time frame and its lack of scientific backing. I wish to explore those to a further extent today.
The legalization of marijuana is a policy area that must be informed by science. When I say this, I am particularly concerned about the health and well-being of our country's young people. We know from the Canadian Medical Association, as well as the Canadian Paediatric Society and the College of Family Physicians of Canada, that marijuana has negative health impacts on a person's brain before the age of 25, in terms of development. I have talked to young people from coast to coast, and I am impressed by the fact that many of them actually are also concerned about this. This is one of the things they raise when I hold round table discussions or a town hall and I talk to them about this piece of legislation and the decisions going forward. They tell me that 18 is simply too young. They recognize that using cannabis actually slows and harms brain development in those under the age of 25, and many of them are fearful that the use of marijuana will in fact cause schizophrenia, which of course has also been scientifically and medically proven. Furthermore, I know from peer-reviewed research, as well as from speaking to youth directly, that the legalization of marijuana would also reduce the perception of risk among young people. In other words, it would normalize the use of marijuana.
The last thing I would like to mention with regard to young people is that for youth under the age of 18, under this piece of legislation, if they were found in possession of less than five grams of marijuana, they would not be prosecuted. I have to ask, then, how this would in fact reduce access by youth. This is one of the primary arguments the Liberals use to defend this piece of legislation, and unfortunately it just does not hold up.
If the government insists on moving forward with this poorly drafted legislation, then at the very least I believe we need to ensure that there is strong and comprehensive education put in place with regard to our young people. That needs to be put in place before marijuana is legalized in our country. While cannabis education is accounted for in the 2017 budget, the plan is to put forward only $9.6 million, not over one year but actually over five years, which means less than $2 million per year for education. That is how important the Liberal government thinks our young people are. They are worth not quite $2 million of public education per year, not to mention that there is no way the education program is going to be sufficiently in place before the deadline of July 1, 2018.
While Bill C-45 clarifies the need for health and safety warnings on product packaging, by the time a young person has the product in his or her hands to read that label, it is too late for that individual to really learn about the risks. We cannot afford to overlook the necessity of education for the sake of simply rushing this legislation through. I believe that it is our responsibility as parliamentarians to defend and champion the future of Canada's young people. For that to be the case in the matter before this House today, both medical and scientific evidence must be given supreme weight when we put in place this legislation.
I also have serious concerns with regard to the ability to test for impairment, particularly, while driving. Scientific research shows the struggle to detect marijuana when it comes to impaired driving. Unlike alcohol, the amount in the bloodstream does not indicate the level of a person's impairment. THC is not easily detected by a breathalyzer because of the drug's nature as a fat-soluble substance.
Cannabis also affects chronic users to a lesser extent than first-time users, so this would have to be accounted for as well, because the same amount in a person's system is not going to have the same impact.
The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse has found that marijuana significantly impairs a person's ability to focus when there is more than one source of incoming information. This describes driving very well. When a person is driving and they are using marijuana, it actually causes them to swerve on the roadway, it causes them to maintain dangerous following distances behind other vehicles, it sometimes causes them not to miss a pedestrian as they are crossing the street, and it causes the inability to monitor one's speed. Of course, all of these factors lead to a high probability of crashing. Worse than that, they lead to the loss of life all too often.
With cannabis being the second most common substance detected in drivers after an accident, second only to alcohol, the danger of impaired drivers on our roadways must be considered and the risk must be mitigated.
Furthermore, many concerns have been shared with me by provincial and municipal officials in my riding. They have said that while the federal government is responsible for overseeing the production of marijuana and the Criminal Code exemptions for recreational cannabis, it really is up to them. They are required to design the rest of the regulations related to public health and zoning, along with managing the system for the sale and the distribution of marijuana. They feel that this is quite a burden to be placed on them. Of course, it is being placed on them and it has to be in place by an arbitrary deadline of July 1, 2018.
Why July 1, 2018? This is much too soon for provinces and municipalities to be able to adequately put the needed regulations and bylaws in place. By the time the bill passes, they will have only six months to do that, because it is likely that the legislation is going to be in the House until about Christmas.
If that were not enough, the provinces and municipalities also have to create non-criminal offences for youth under the age of 18 if they wish to further deter the use of marijuana among young people. This is needed because the legislation before us allows youth between the ages of 12 and 17 to legally possess five grams of marijuana.
In conclusion, I do have significant concerns with regard to Bill C-45, the cannabis act. However, before I wrap up, I believe it is time for a fun fact.
The legislation allows for four plants per dwelling. I am from an agricultural background, so naturally I was curious as to just how much this would yield. A quick Google search and some of the most reliable do-it-yourself bloggers tell me that one plant will yield 1,200 grams. They also tell me I have to be careful. I have to use the right bulbs in order to produce that much. I did some further research and I found out this equates to 800 joints. Then I multiplied that by four, in order to figure out that actually we can produce 3,168 joints within that household. Then I found out that, on average, a user smokes about three joints a day. That means four plants will provide each household with just under three years' worth of joints.
I do not know about members, but this seems a little excessive to what a person might need for their individual use. I wonder if perhaps at some time the Liberals could clarify their thinking there.
We should be looking at the information presented in order to find facts on how the drugs affect the development of youth, and not accepting a politically motivated age in order to hurry up the process. We must look at potential education plans to inform our citizens about the risks. Furthermore, we must work with law enforcement to come up with better ways to test for THC levels, along with better ways to test an individual's level of impairment.
In addition, we should be talking to provincial and municipal governments to understand the timelines needed for creating distribution systems and new regulations.
Here is the thing. We need to admit that this legislation is only half-baked, and the last thing the Liberals should be doing right now is pursuing a political buzz by letting Canada go to pot.
Let us end on a high note. Let us roll up this legislation and let us get out of this joint today.
View Mike Lake Profile
View Mike Lake Profile
2017-05-18 10:52 [p.11393]
Madam Speaker, the member should know that the Canadian autism partnership working group travelled from coast to coast and worked with every government. In fact, CAP is endorsed by governments across the country. This is the very mechanism the member spoke of when he asked his question. CAP is designed to work with governments, in their jurisdictions, on issues facing families with autism. I can assure him that it will make a very real difference for those families.
View Linda Duncan Profile
View Linda Duncan Profile
2017-05-18 11:18 [p.11398]
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue.
Before I start, I would like to give a shout-out to all of those in Canada of Ukrainian-Canadian descent. Today they are celebrating the wearing of the vyshyvanka. One of my dear friends has lent me theirs, and I am looking forward to celebrating with my colleagues in the House. I know that the member for Edmonton—Wetaskiwin probably has many Ukrainian Canadians in his riding and will not mind me mentioning that.
I am rising in full support of the motion brought by the member. As I mentioned previously, I have had the pleasure many times in my eight years here of meeting his son Jaden, who is a delight, as are many of the children in my community who suffer from autism. In fact, I have a dear friend who lives half a block from me. I get to chat with her son daily on my street as he walks his three-legged dog. He is an absolute delight. Even though he has autism, he is graduating from high school this year.
The motion tabled by the member for Edmonton—Wetaskiwin simply asks that autism spectrum disorder, or autism, be recognized. It is widely considered the fastest-growing neurological disorder in Canada, impacting one in 68 children. It has increased over 100% in the last decade, so we are talking about a significant situation in this country that deserves intensified support. It is a life-long condition that includes difficulty communicating, as the member shared about his son, some social impairments, and restricted and repetitive behaviour. Individuals with autism and their families, as the member discussed, face unique challenges when they take their children or family members into the community. There can be awkward moments. It is very important that we not only support these families through funding but that we also be patient and supportive of the struggles they face.
The member also pointed out in his motion that it is not just a health issue, although the plea is to the health minister to free up some monies. It has overarching implications for Canadian society as a whole, and the member is calling on the government to grant the $19 million over five years to establish the Canadian autism partnership that would support families and address key issues, such as information sharing, research, and early detection, diagnosis, and treatment for every family in this country.
I am very pleased to rise to support this motion. There is not a single member in this place who does not know someone who is affected by this disorder. Just on the basis of the number of organizations in the city of Edmonton, it is clear that support is greatly needed for those diagnosed with ASD so that they can live a quality life and their families can provide them with care and support and they receive the support they need. They could learn from the experience of others across this country through this proposed partnership.
I will list only a few of the entities in my city. They include the Centre for Autism Services Alberta, the Children's Autism Services of Edmonton, the Maier Centre, and Autism Edmonton. I could go on and on about the number of associations that have formed to try to serve the needs of these families.
Our nation's current approach to autism spectrum disorder is failing to support thousands of Canadians with autism and their families. In my research it has become clear, as is always the case, that particularly those in isolated or northern communities struggle to get access to any kind of health supports, let alone the specialized supports needed to address autism. I and my NDP colleagues share their disappointment and stand in support of the call for action to support the Canadian autism partnership.
The number of Canadians being diagnosed with autism continues to rise, yet across our country vital services, supports, and resources cannot meet the need. The partnership would not create just another bureaucracy, and that is something to keep in mind. The partnership was created as a solution to the current challenges being faced across the country. The chair of the Canadian Autism Disorders Alliance, who is also the executive direct of Autism Nova Scotia, stated:
...the [CAP] business plan not only outlines the complex lifespan issues related to autism, it prioritizes five key complex issues, identifies the best starting points for action and details a collective impact model to address them....
Her article continued:
For far too long, our community has been disjointed, a result of the isolation, fear, anger and hopelessness that often fills the void left in the absence of necessary life-changing supports and resources....
and concluded with:
Jessica Pigeau, an autistic member of our Self-Advocate Advisory Committee, framed the need for this partnership more passionately and eloquently than I could ever attempt: “It is taking all of our hopes, all of our wishes, all of our pain … all of our efforts and all of our skills—and we are putting it toward a single purpose, we are moving as one.”
The partnership is a reasonable request for the government to sit down with the provinces and territories to negotiate an accord that is backed by real funding to address three critical needs.
The first is the lack of applied behaviour analysis/intensive behavioural intervention in Canada's school systems.
The second is the lack of public health care coverage for behavioural treatments. Those treatments, I am told, can cost from $50,000 to $100,000 a year.
The third is the lack of appropriate housing accommodation for adults in the autism spectrum, as the member for Edmonton—Wetaskiwin pointed out.
An investment by the previous government in July of 2015 supported the launch of the partnership, which included the development of a national autism spectrum disorder working group, a self-advocates advisory group, a comprehensive stakeholder engagement strategy, and the development of a business plan for the implementation of this partnership.
An intensive stakeholder engagement process was delivered. It engaged with over 100 government representatives in all the provinces and territories and with relevant stakeholder groups, and included over 4,000 responses to an online survey.
A special focus has been placed on the needs of indigenous people and northern communities to identify their particular priorities and identify appropriate methods to examine meaningful responses to their service needs, both on and off reserve.
In November 2016, the partnership, CAPP, presented its final report to the current health minister, including the proposed business plan for the partnership and a request for $19 million over five years. It included a framework for agencies in provincial, territorial, and indigenous communities to work together.
However, the minister refused the request. The refusal seems indefensible, given the need and the goal.
The partnership is not intended as a substitute for the funding needed for essential services or supports to those on the autism spectrum or even for ongoing research. It could play a critical rote in coordinating across the country—across jurisdictions, across agencies, and across communities.
We hope the Liberals' refusal to invest in this worthwhile initiative is not premised on the fact that it was initiated under the previous Conservative government. Certainly it would have been helpful if the Conservatives, while in power, had backstopped this work with the funding or political commitment necessary to improve service delivery and supports, but the request and the need have not gone away.
It could support opportunities for many autistic individuals, their families, and their caregivers in receiving more timely and effective support, thus reducing the frustration and isolation that can accompany their search for appropriate and effective intervention and care. It could also provide a national platform for multisectoral collaboration, an authoritative access point for reliable data and information, and improved collaboration in research. Also, as previously mentioned, it could provide a unique indigenous engagement strategy and an increased capacity for northern and remote communities to access services. It could help promote partnerships to enable the pooling of resources and ensure greater equity across the provinces and territories.
In closing, I would remind this place of the cuts the government has imposed across the board on health care. That has caused shortages in the delivery of these specialized, very important programs.
I support the motion. The need is clear. The proposal is sound. It deserves federal funding.
View Amarjeet Sohi Profile
Lib. (AB)
Mr. Chair, we are proud of our relationship with the provincial government. Under the leadership of Premier Notley, the climate action plan implemented with her government is exactly what the hon. member is talking about.
Diversifying our economy and not relying on a single source, investing in new technology, investing in sustainable energy, transferring the carbon levy to low-income Albertans to offset the cost, and investing those resources in public transit and in technology is exactly what the Alberta government is doing. We are here to support the Alberta government through our investments in green infrastructure. We will be investing close to $25 billion over the next 12 years to support those kinds of initiatives.
View Sheri Benson Profile
View Sheri Benson Profile
2016-11-22 14:02 [p.7069]
Mr. Speaker, recently I met with housing advocates to discuss recommendations for what must be included in a national housing strategy. Safe, affordable, and adequate housing can fight poverty and improve the quality of life for all Canadians.
In its March budget, the federal government committed $253 million for new affordable social housing, and provinces and territories were to match that. It would indeed be a wonderful National Housing Day present if these governments were to allocate and mobilize the funding they promised eight months ago, even though it is but a quarter of what is needed each year to alleviate the affordable-housing crisis.
Canada needs a comprehensive, long-term, fully funded housing plan. We cannot achieve the vision of what we want it to be when 13% of Canadians do not have adequate shelter and almost 20% of indigenous peoples have substandard housing.
A roof is a right. Let us celebrate National Housing Day by truly committing to put the needs of low-income and vulnerable Canadians first.
View Linda Duncan Profile
View Linda Duncan Profile
2016-10-03 13:10 [p.5368]
Mr. Speaker, in tabling the motion, the government has presented us with a quandary. My constituents, in fact, the majority of Canadians, want Canada to take action on climate change. There was cheering when the Paris agreement was signed. Canadians were delighted when the Minister of Environment and Climate Change took Canada's commitment one step deeper and agreed to take action to limit temperature rises to only 1.5oC.
However, all in this place, including her own colleagues, are faced with this dilemma. Are we facing a repeat of 2002 when another Liberal government ratified Kyoto with no plan to deliver and then did nothing for 13 years? Absent a concrete action plan with measurable carbon reductions to achieve that target, is this just another photo op?
As the Minister of Environment stated in this place, last January, “It would be irresponsible to come up with a new target without actually having a plan to implement it, as the Conservatives did.” However, is this not exactly what she agreed to in Paris, deeper reductions?
The Department of the Environment has reported that even with collective action on the commitments made to date by the present government, the provinces, and the territories, Canada will fail to meet even the pathetic reduction target set by Harper.
The motion before us says that the House support the government's decision to ratify the Paris agreement, and second, support the Vancouver declaration, calling upon the federal government, the provinces, and the territories, to work together to develop a pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change.
What exactly has the government committed to deliver under the Paris agreement?
In Paris, last December, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change committed this country to take action to support global actions to deliver deep reductions in greenhouse gases. Canada committed to do our part to ensure that the world can hold the increase and global average temperature to well below two degrees centigrade, above industrial levels, and pursue efforts to a lesser increase of 1.5oC.
Less than a year later, the same government is asking members in this place to embrace its decision to backtrack on its promised greenhouse gas reductions. While the Paris agreement allows the parties to adjust their nationally determined commitments, the undertaking is to move to reduce more, not less, greenhouse gases. Paris calls upon parties to expedite action as rapidly as possible, reflecting the highest possible ambition.
Canadians are aghast that the Liberals are seeking support for the decision to ratify the agreement, while simultaneous backtracking on their commitments here at home. The present government is now adopting the same Harper reduction targets that the Liberals called inadequate, the weakest, and catastrophic. Today, it has asked us to vote to adopt them. This we cannot and will not do.
Our glaciers are melting. Arctic ice is receding at an unprecedented rate. I learned last evening that the major glacier in Kluane National Park has receded so far, it is now only feeding one of two rivers. Communities are experiencing catastrophic fires and flooding, with experts advising they will only worsen as the climate changes.
Second, the motion before us calls upon members to agree that Canada has shown sufficient evidence of an action plan to be made binding to our share of reductions by submitting to the Vancouver declaration.
Yes, Paris also commits Canada to recognize the importance of engagements of all levels of government and other actors in addressing climate change. The present government has engaged the provinces and territories in a dialogue and an aspirational agreement for action. However, the Vancouver declaration is just an aspirational document, not an actual strategy for action. It offers no concrete plan with concrete actions to achieve measurable reduction targets. It simply says the signatories will “work together to develop”.
The Paris agreement requires that Canada, in ratifying, provide clear, accurate, and transparent information on how exactly it will deliver the reductions. As the Climate Action Network has said, “Show us the tonnes”.
We have yet to have presented to us the action plan showing the quantity of emissions that will be reduced under provincial, territorial, and federal initiatives, and by what date. Surely, we are not setting about ratifying another international agreement without a clear, credible action plan, and the legal measures to measure how exactly Canada can and will deliver its commitments. We witnessed that with Kyoto. Surely this time around Canada will not move to ratify the Paris agreement until first finalizing and submitting a credible plan with legislative measures and a timeline to achieve compliance.
Today the announced targets appear encouraging but where is the implementing instrument? The starting point of $10 a tonne is far below that imposed even by the provinces. What concrete measures if any are actually offered by the Vancouver declaration? The declaration states:
First Ministers commit to:
Implement GHG mitigation policies in support of meeting or exceeding Canada's 2030 target of a 30% reduction below 2005 levels of emissions, including specific provincial and territorial targets and objectives....
Again, as noted, this target backtracks on Liberal promises of deeper reductions.
The Vancouver declaration provides no actual reduction targets nor does it specify the measures that would be taken to achieve those targets. The declaration states that it provides merely a vision and principles. It does not document how any of the commitments would deliver specified reductions. As the Climate Action Network has called once again, “Show us the tonnes”.
The provinces, territories, and federal government admit they need to act to address the climate risks facing our populations, infrastructures, economies, and ecosystems, particularly in Canada's northern regions. They all agree our country needs investment in climate-resilient and green infrastructure, including disaster mitigation, but to date, the provinces and territories have merely agreed to develop a strategy. Where are the working group reports? What concrete progress has been made? As far as we are made aware, there is no agreed strategy, most certainly no comprehensive reduction commitments. Where is the accountability?
We still await the federal law that would impose national reduction targets either on emitting sectors or the provinces and territories with potential for equivalency. Some provinces have stepped forward with concrete measures and target dates and in some instances the intent to impose caps on specified sectors. To its credit, Alberta has committed to accelerating the phase-out of coal-fired power and is imposing a cap on greenhouse gases from the oil sands. Is this enough?
The commitment under the Vancouver declaration is to increase the level of ambition of environmental policies over time in order to drive greater greenhouse gas emissions reductions consistent with the Paris agreement. However, the Liberal government is already backtracking to a low bar starting point. The Vancouver declaration also provides no clear timeline for improvement, by how much or by taking what specific actions.
Under the Vancouver agreement, the jurisdictions promise to promote clean economic growth to create jobs. They assert this will be achieved by a transition to a climate-resilient and low-carbon economy but only by 2050. In the meantime, Canada will continue to support their agreed Canadian energy strategy for sustainable energy and resource sector economy as Canada transitions to a low-carbon economy.
The measure of commitment to an energy transition is zero emission target dates and zero commitment of dollars to renewable energy, jobs, and training. We see some evidence of that commitment at the provincial levels by way of an example of the Northwest Territories, which is adopting a renewable energy strategy. Alberta has at long last committed to joining others and establishing an energy efficiency program.
The Vancouver declaration promises the development of an integrated economy-wide approach that includes all sectors, creates jobs, and promotes innovation to be determined at a later date. The same goes for investments in clean technology solutions, especially in areas such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, and cleaner energy production. Few solid commitments are yet stated on achieving reductions.
While the federal government and the provinces promised to make deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, to foster and encourage clean technology, and to implement measures grounded in the idea that clean growth and climate change are of net economic development, we still await the concrete measures.
On the central issue of imposing a price on carbon, we are advised there is no consensus. It is equally important to recognize that the Vancouver declaration specifically references the Canadian energy strategy, a strategy developed through a process excluding the public. It is a strategy that in large part endorses co-operation and continuance of the carbon-intensive energy sectors.
What concrete actions has the federal government taken to reduce greenhouse gases? The federal government committed under the Vancouver declaration to take specific and early actions, including investments in green infrastructure, public transit infrastructure, and energy-efficient social infrastructure. However, the government has yet to release any detailed plan for green infrastructure, including what portion of infrastructure dollars would be dedicated to greening.
During the election campaign, the Liberals promised to tackle climate change and invest in the green economy. However, even their first budget came up far short. After promising over $3 billion for public transit and over $3 billion for green infrastructure in the first two years of their platform, budget 2016 was short by over $800 million for transit and green infrastructure. The budget failed to deliver on their promise to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, which continue to give hundreds of millions of dollars to polluting industries.
Much of the funding announced in 2016 is just repurposed money, with only $100 million in new money out of the $300 million promised for a clean growth economy this year. The investment in Sustainable Development Technology Canada is just $50 million over four years, far less than previous investments in this entity of $40 million each year. Is this enough action to deliver rapid change? The Canadian investment in clean tech has fallen by 41% over the last decade, while global investments in this sector grew exponentially, surpassing investments in fossil fuels.
We have a lot of catching up to do if we hope to provide economic opportunities for our youth. The Liberals promised to advance the electrification of vehicle transportation, foster regional plans for clean electricity transmission, and invest in clean energy solutions for indigenous, remote, and northern communities, yet their budget commits to levels that will not deliver expedited action on any of these. At least their commitment to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas production substantially by 2025 is good news, as it finally plays catch-up with Alberta.
Canadians had hoped for better. Of concern, the thrust of the Liberal action plan to date has, in the majority, been to download the federal duty to reduce greenhouse gases to the provinces and territories, not to mention the municipalities. When asked what actions her government is taking, the minister now repeats the same refrain, that she is consulting the provinces on a plan.
We are expected to agree to ratification without the courtesy of even seeing the working group reports, which I understand may be coming forward today, including, for example, the report on carbon pricing mechanisms. It is important to recognize that the burning of fossil fuels delivers impacts beyond climate change. They emit significant sources of pollutants, causing well-documented impacts to our health and the environment. The Government of Alberta strategy recognizes this aspect in announcing the accelerated phase-out of coal power. Many others are calling for the federal government to follow suit and amend its regulations. It is high time the federal government finally replace its absurd Canada-wide standard on industrial mercury with a binding regulation. Also, when can we expect federal action on harmful particulates?
It is also important that we pursue energy generation alternatives that reduce environmental impacts or impacts to treaty or constitutional rights. The over 190 conditions to the approval of the Petronas LNG plant and the associated pipeline of fracked gas indicates additional significant, and in some instances, unmitigable impacts to the environment and indigenous rights and interests. Government and independent scientists have documented significant environmental impacts from oil sands operations, including localized and long-range pollutant loading. Indigenous communities near the oil sands operations still await a health impact study and have called for action.
What would an ambitious strategy actually look like?
Both the Paris and Vancouver agreements commit the government to a just transition to a clean energy economy. The federal government must contribute more generously to programs already in place, including building Canadian expertise and offering hands-on training in the renewable and energy efficiency sectors. In my province alone, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, and the Lethbridge College, all provide these programs, and they are oversubscribed.
As the Pembina Institute has said, Canada needs to be at the front of the race for a new global, clean, sustainable economy.
First and foremost, the government must expedite the promised removal of the perverse fossil fuel subsidies. Some have called for a 2050 target of zero-emitting electricity. This could readily be enabled by federal investment into a grid that better serves renewable power sources, including localized generation sources. While support for cleaner energy research must continue, with particular emphasis on energy storage, I encourage much greater support and attention to increasing the actual deployment of renewable power.
By finally imposing a price on carbon and a steadily rising price, the federal government will provide an important driver for both investments in renewable technology and cleaner technology, but also hopefully for installation.
A report by a parliamentary committee a few years back documented the potential for substantial savings if the government committed greater funds now to retrofit federal facilities, saving in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars. Canada could also mirror U.S. federal directives prescribing efficiencies in energy and water use and purchase of renewable power.
It is long past time the government revised the National Building Code and the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings. The federal government should also contribute more generously to provincial and municipal energy retrofit programs. Some have called on the federal government to assert its powers to take concrete measures to expedite greenhouse gas reduction in transportation by prescribing targets for Canadian manufacturers of electric vehicles and zero-emission vehicles. People have also called for increasingly stringent low-carbon fuel standards for all transportation fuels.
Where is the promise in the Vancouver declaration for public engagement? What Canadians want more than vacuous consultations is measures to actually help them lower their heating bills or to install solar panels. They want their governments to switch to cleaner energy sources that do not impact their health, their environment, their farming operations, or their treaty rights.
Finally, Canadians want the right to share their voices for a cleaner energy future. Let us expedite the reform of federal law, policy, and practice on environmental protection, assessment, and project review to actually enable that voice. Therefore, I wish to move the following subamendment.
I move, seconded by the member for Trois-Rivières:
That the amendment be amended by:
a) replacing the words “, the provinces, and the territories” with the words “to work with provincial, territorial, municipal and indigenous governments and the Canadian public”; and
b) deleting all the words after the words “combat climate change” and substituting the following: “that commits to targets that deliver on Canada's undertakings from the Paris Agreement, and finalizes the specific measures and investments to achieve those greenhouse gas reductions prior to ratification.”
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