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View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I am seeking the unanimous consent of the House to speak.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I will not take long, but as this is a unanimous consent motion, I want to put on the record that the Green Party caucus consents. These are not normal times.
We are thinking of our friends in the House who are now at risk from the virus. We are thinking of our country. We are thinking of Ms. Grégoire Trudeau and we wish her a speedy recovery. This epidemic affects everyone, all of our loved ones, friends and constituents.
We cannot tell moment to moment what lies ahead with the spread of COVID-19. I want to express thanks to the Canadian public health authorities at every level and in my own province, particularly B.C. public health officer Bonnie Henry, who has been handling what was quite clearly spreading, and the British Columbia minister of health Adrian Dix and others who have taken strong precautionary action.
I have confidence in our health authorities. I have confidence in Canadians. We gather in groups, and goodness knows, as members of Parliament, we gather in groups and travel on airplanes. It is incumbent upon us to accept that we have to stop our work in this place. Hopefully it is only for five weeks, so we again can take on the business of the nation. I think it is fair to say that as much as we travel on airplanes, we do not want to find, when history looks at what happened with COVID-19 in Canada, that members of Parliament were vectors of disease. We need to take on board our responsibilities.
Therefore, I join with all colleagues in thanking our health authorities for their diligence and the Minister of Health. We are blessed to live in a country with responsible government that does not try to make up the science as it goes along.
The Green Party consents to the adjournment and looks forward to seeing everyone again in this place, and in good health.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-12 10:27 [p.1979]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for the privilege of speaking today. I would like to thank the minister for her words and powerful statement and my colleagues for their words.
Ladies, life-givers, we make miracles and we are miracles. Today we celebrate sisterhood, the matriarchs, the clan mothers. We all have our own journeys. For me, I felt the most connected to my womanhood when I became a mother. I am a mom of two little boys, who see their mom working hard for Canada and giving a lot of time and attention to our citizens.
From the moment I announced my candidacy to taking my seat here in the House of Commons, the number one question I was asked is how I do it. What is it like balancing the demands of parliamentary life with the responsibilities of motherhood? The answer, as one might expect, is that it is difficult.
I know that seeing strong women in important positions makes them stronger, more balanced individuals with respect for all people of all genders. Even in saying this, I know it will not be that easy for us to set an example every day to be consistent and innovative in our approach to supporting women and creating opportunities for them all over the world.
While we celebrate women who are in decision-making positions and we acknowledge that a lot of progress has been made in reducing the wage gap, the fact remains that there is still a lot of work to be done.
Despite women's increased participation in the workforce, they continue to spend much of their time doing unpaid labour. On average, women continue to be the predominant providers of care to children and to family members with mental or physical limitations related to age or chronic health conditions. This mostly invisible unpaid labour means that working Canadian women spend an additional 3.9 hours per day performing household chores and caring for children, among other things.
While women are fighting against inequality in the workplace, they are also dealing with social expectations surrounding gender.
On top of it all, feeling like imperfect mothers and imperfect workers, women blame themselves for not being able to manage it all. Mom guilt is real. However, we sitting in the House know that good public policy and structural supports play an important role in shaping the experience of working mothers. We in the House need to pay particular attention to how achieving this balance becomes all the more difficult for low-income women, trans women, women struggling with mental illness, women with disabilities and women of colour.
When we invest in social services like long-term care, health care, pharmacare, mental health care, universal affordable child care and in protecting reproductive rights, we also invest in women. We normalize women's issues and interests, we level the playing field and we bring women closer to gender parity. I see the women of Canada, and they are spectacular.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-03-12 12:40 [p.1999]
I heard him say split time. I am sure about that.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-03-12 13:15 [p.2004]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to hear the parliamentary secretary's speech, but I would be more pleased if it were clear that Liberal members will be voting in favour of the opposition motion in the business of supply today. It is very clear that the majority of members of Parliament have been sent to this place by constituents who want a national pharmacare plan. Constituents want it to conform to the report by Dr. Hoskins, which was commissioned in the last Parliament. They do not want to risk delay. We want to get it passed while this minority Parliament is in session.
Could the hon. parliamentary secretary inform the House whether the Liberals will support this motion so we get a pharmacare plan in place as quickly as possible?
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-12 15:08 [p.2024]
Mr. Speaker, experts testified last month at the Veterans Affairs committee that treatments for family members of a former soldier were cut off or not approved and that there is a backlog of 18,330 cases.
The average wait time for applications is 32 weeks.
They also testified that there is a longer than average turnaround time for women and francophones.
The Minister of Veterans Affairs was tasked to ensure that the government lives up to its sacred obligation to our veterans and their families. I want to know when and how the government will start acting concretely on that commitment.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-03-12 15:34 [p.2027]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague and neighbour for her excellent speech.
I completely agree that we need a national pharmacare plan right now. I want to ask another question that is in line with the one asked by my friend from Vancouver Kingsway.
Does the member know if the Liberal caucus plans to vote in favour of the motion, or is it just her intention as a member to vote in favour of the motion?
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-03-12 16:47 [p.2039]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have an opportunity to discuss pharmacare today. To me it is clear the majority of members in this place are on side to see this motion pass. I certainly hope that is the case. It is the tone of the debate.
I want to ask my colleague this. As we go forward, we know that a national pharmacare plan and the bulk buying of drugs will bring down the price of these drugs for every Canadian. I wonder if we can also think about assuring that the drugs we register will do more good than harm.
I think the motion suggests it. I am very taken by the work of the UBC therapeutics initiative. It assesses the drug data package to make sure that we are resistant to big pharma deciding we need drugs that might have significant and dangerous side effects, to make sure we register the drugs and make them accessible to all Canadians, and to make sure they are the drugs that we need and will do more good than harm.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-03-12 17:12 [p.2043]
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. With all due deference to my friend, I am sure at some point he will discuss pharmacare, but his discussion seems a little off topic so far.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-03-12 17:33 [p.2046]
Madam Speaker, the Green Party supports this motion. It is a very good time to be moving toward universal pharmacare in our country. We know this will save our health care system money. We are the only country with a universal health care system that does not include universal pharmacare.
People who have chronic diseases and cannot afford their medicine end up with catastrophic medical issues. They end up in the hospital, which costs much more than if they had been able to get medicine provided to them through a universal single-payer pharmacare system.
We know that half the visits to emergency departments by seniors are related to them not taking the medication they need. Per capita, my riding has the largest population of people over the age of 75. Hospital officials will tell us that people need their medicines.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-12 17:38 [p.2047]
Madam Speaker, I wish to thank my NDP colleagues for giving me the opportunity to speak. I will be splitting my time with the member for Edmonton Strathcona.
One third of working Canadians do not have employer-funded drug coverage. One in five households reported a family member who had not taken a prescribed medicine in the past year due to its cost.
Every year, nearly three million Canadians say they cannot afford to fill one or more of their prescriptions.
In the 2019 election, I heard these statistics echoed at doors and across party lines. I am excited by the idea of national pharmacare and the support I know we have from members of the House to improve the lives of Canadians. I am also excited by how much work has already been done to understand what our national pharmacare plan needs to look like.
Last June, the well-known published final report of the advisory council on implementation of national pharmacare, also known as the Hoskins report, advised that it had received questionnaires from more than 15,000 people and organizations, received more 14,000 petitions or letters, reviewed more than 150 written submissions, investigated global best practices and hosted town halls and round tables. It uncovered significant gaps in drug coverage.
Of the nearly three million Canadians who said they were not able to afford their prescriptions, 38% had access to private insurance coverage and 21% had public coverage. However, with co-pays and exemptions, they still did not have the resources to afford their medications. Almost one million Canadians were forced to cut back on food or home heating to pay for their medication.
Nearly one million Canadians have had to borrow money to pay for their prescription drugs.
This highlights the crushing poverty weighing on Canadians. It has many causes but with pharmacare, we can take one worry away. We can alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty in their lives.
In the Hoskins report, the advisory council laid out several recommendations to address these gaps, and I will reiterate them.
Its first and foremost recommendation was that the federal government work with provincial and territorial governments to establish a universal, single-payer, public system of prescription drug coverage in Canada. A two-tiered system would create further inequity, leaving low-income and unemployed Canadians at risk. The administration of such a program would be cost-ineffective. A privately administered system would create profit incentives where public interest must be the first priority.
The council also recommended that national pharmacare benefits be portable across provinces and territories. This reinforces the need for federal leadership to come alongside provincial health departments to ensure the system is truly national in scope.
Another recommendation was to make everyone in Canada eligible for a pharmacare program to ensure that everyone can get the drugs they need to maintain their physical and mental health.
It also recommended a national formulary be developed to list which prescription drugs and related products should be covered to ensure all Canadians would have access equally to the medicines they needed to maintain or improve their health, no matter where they were living in Canada.
Clearly this is a big job. We are going to need leadership from our Prime Minister and his cabinet, and we are going to need significant financial investment from the federal government to make this happen.
It is remarkable that Canada is the only developed country that has a universal health care program that does not include universal coverage for prescription medication, especially when we know there are real costs associated with people who need to skip doses or avoid filling prescriptions because they cannot afford to buy them. These decisions put strain on our health care system.
People are struggling to stay healthy their whole lives, which leads to complications and chronic illnesses later in life.
Individuals end up in urgent health care situations, needing to return to hospital emergency rooms and taking up hospital beds, because they can not afford to properly manage their conditions and illnesses at home.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer has already indicated that this will save federal, provincial and territorial governments billions of dollars, and that does not even consider the quality of life for Canadians who require prescription medicines.
A recent study by St. Michael's Hospital's MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions found that providing free medicine resulted in a 44% increase in people taking their essential medications and led to a 160% increase in the likelihood of participants being able to make ends meet.
Ensuring people have access to the medications they need throughout their life will have real, positive impacts, such as poverty reduction, as people become able to direct their money toward food, rent, home heating or child care. When a chronic condition is well managed with medications, individuals can better access the workforce and participate in their communities.
People with rare diseases should not have to go bankrupt because of their diagnosis.
Those living on fixed incomes, such as seniors, are not stuck with increasing pharmaceutical costs. For people in immediate mental health crisis, the extra financial anxiety of a new medication does not have to weigh on them.
I am struck as well by the consensus that exists around this issue.
The majority of MPs in the House are members of parties that made this issue a priority in the last election.
Polls show that 90% of Canadians support equal access to prescription drugs, regardless of income. When I saw national pharmacare reference in the mandate letters of four ministers, I was hopeful that we would actually see this happen in the 43rd Parliament, but I am a little concerned that nothing seems to be moving on this front yet, and I am so thankful for this motion from my NDP colleagues.
Maybe we will be pleasantly surprised when the budget is tabled, but I fear that the government may be losing its courage, perhaps because of the lobbying that is being carried out by pharmaceutical and insurance companies. I hope the government is being vigilant against letting entities with deep pockets and full-time Ottawa-based lobbyists buy influence on our policy development process.
I have spent time with representatives from community organizations and health care professionals and their unions. They said that we need universal public pharmacare. These groups include the Heart and Stroke Foundation, National Nurses United, the Canadian Diabetes Association, the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association, the Canadian Health Coalition, the Canadian Labour Congress, and I could go on. These organizations represent average Canadians, workers in the health field and those who are living with, or caring for, people with chronic or acute disease. These are the people we work for.
The Canadian Medical Association shared stories of doctors fighting for national pharmacare. Dr. Nav Persaud had this to say: "Why did I spend all those years training to become a doctor if at the end of it, when I give someone a diagnosis, they don't fully benefit because they can't afford the treatment?"
The advisory council on the implementation of national pharmacare left us with the way forward: "It will take time, significant federal investment and close collaboration among all health system partners to turn Canada's patchwork of prescription drug insurance plans into a national public pharmacare program.”
But it is possible. Thanks to the work of the council, the path forward is clear. The data are incontestable, Canadians are on board and parliamentarians in the House are mostly on board. We are here to represent the people, and this is what the people want.
My final reflection is this: What are we waiting for?
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-12 17:47 [p.2049]
Madam Speaker, I think back to the election process and knocking on countless doors, visiting every long-term care facility and senior care facilities in my riding to discuss these issues of health care and high costs. I have a very high demographic of seniors in my riding as well, and this was something that they acknowledged would help them.
They talked about the times they had to make the decision between heating or food and medication. We have heard that line so many times, but it is because it needs to be repeated. That should not be happening in Canada. There were nurses and doctors as well. We had so many meetings with these organizations over the past few months, and it was unanimous. It seemed to be a no-brainer, and I really hope that we can make this happen for them.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-12 17:49 [p.2049]
Madam Speaker, I am happy to be here as well, instead of my predecessor. I also want to thank the hon. member for his advocacy for rare diseases. We also care deeply about that issue. We know we need to work harder.
To address the issue, maybe we should deal with the regulatory system as it is first, but I do not think we have time to wait. I think we can do these alongside of one another. It certainly should be part of the considerations for national pharmacare, but I do not think it has to mean we are leaving those patients behind.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-12 17:51 [p.2049]
Madam Speaker, that is a challenge. It is going to take all provinces on board for this to be cost-effective and so it is really important that we have these debates in the House, that it goes to committee and we make sure that the interests of Quebec are looked after.
I look at all the statistics, the support and organizations, and I have a hard time understanding why someone would not want that program. We have also advocated for increases in health transfers. It seems like it would be the best thing for Quebec, as well as Canada. I would like to know more about why.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-03-12 18:05 [p.2051]
Madam Speaker, discussing universal pharmacare is a really important thing. It is something this Parliament should do. We have talked about the cost savings and how much money we can save our health care system by providing prescription medicine to people who cannot afford it.
I wonder if the hon. member could expand on the cost savings to our system and how this is going to help Canadians and our health care system.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-03-11 15:18 [p.1938]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to present a petition today that follows up on International Women's Day.
The petitioners call upon the House to enact legislation and policies that will promote pay equity and pay equality so that women in Canada get the equal treatment they deserve.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-03-11 15:19 [p.1939]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to present a second petition from members in my riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith.
The petitioners ask that the government commit to uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada by immediately halting all existing and planned construction of the Coastal GasLink project on Wet'suwet'en territory; ordering the RCMP to dismantle its exclusion zone and stand down; schedule nation-to-nation talks between the Wet'suwet'en nation and federal and provincial governments, which I am glad to see has happened; and prioritize the real implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-03-11 15:22 [p.1939]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this place to present an e-petition that was started by one of my constituents from Galiano Island. I want send a shout-out to Christina Kovacevic for starting the petition, which has accumulated more than 15,000 signatures.
It calls on the government, as other petitioners today have mentioned, to observe and respect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, particularly in relation to the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and land claims; to halt all existing and planned construction of the Coastal GasLink project on their territory; to ask the RCMP to dismantle its exclusion zone; to have nation-to-nation talks, which, we note with real gratitude to the ministers involved, have happened, and there is an agreement currently under consideration with the Wet'suwet'en; and to make sure that it continues toward real implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-11 15:26 [p.1940]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to present a petition that calls upon the House of Commons to adopt a notional poverty elimination strategy, thereby assuring Canadians of a suitable quality of life and opportunity to succeed.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-11 15:26 [p.1940]
Mr. Speaker, I have a second petition. It is similar to other petitions presented today. It calls on the government to uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action by immediately halting existing and planned construction of the Coastal GasLink project on Wet'suwet'en territory; asking the RCMP to dismantle its exclusion zone and stand down; scheduling nation-to-nation talks with the Wet'suwet'en, which has happened; and prioritizing the real implementation of UNDRIP.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-03-11 15:32 [p.1942]
Madam Speaker, my thanks to the hon. parliamentary secretary for finishing his speech and remembering to acknowledge territory, as he does whenever he stands to speak. It is much appreciated.
I will say that I am voting in favour of the ratification. I think this is a much better version of NAFTA than the original NAFTA that we have been under all these years.
Now that we have trumpeted the accomplishment of removing the investor-state provisions of chapter 11 of NAFTA in the new version of CUSMA, can the parliamentary secretary tell me whether the government is prepared to examine the other investor-state provisions in other agreements?
Particularly egregious is the secret deal done by the Harper administration with the People's Republic of China, which binds Canada for three decades to secret lawsuits from state-owned enterprises in the People's Republic of China.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-03-11 15:53 [p.1945]
Madam Speaker, I would like to recognize we are on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people, and I thank my Liberal colleagues for sharing this speaking time with me.
The Green Party will support the new CUSMA. We believe in fair and equitable trade that improves health, safety, labour and environmental standards. I would like to congratulate the Canadian negotiating team for getting this deal done with the Trump administration in the White House. Things could have turned out much worse.
CUSMA is not a perfect agreement. It is still a corporate model of trade. There are deficiencies. Climate change is not mentioned. The softwood lumber agreement has not been fixed. The good regulatory practices chapter could be very problematic. The extension of copyrights was not necessary. Indigenous rights and title are a particular area of concern in both Canada and Mexico. Aluminum was not properly covered in the rules of origin. The dairy industry faces increased imports and constraints on its exports. The negotiating process could still be a lot more transparent and consultative.
However, there are significant wins. The proportionality clause for energy exports has been removed. Labour standards have been improved in Mexico. The rules of origin have been improved. Supply management has been protected. The environmental rules have been strengthened. The cultural industries remain protected.
In my view, removing investor-state dispute settlement provisions, or ISDS, is the biggest win. We need to remove ISDS from all our trade and investment agreements. ISDS gives foreign corporations extraordinary powers to bypass national court systems and challenge domestic laws in a private tribunal system. It gives foreign corporations rights that domestic corporations do not have. Foreign corporations can demand millions and even billions of dollars in compensation from governments for the loss of potential profit when domestic laws and regulations get in the way of their profits.
These secretive tribunals take place behind closed doors, with no public scrutiny or participation from some of the affected parties. Under some treaties, such as the Canada-China FIPA, the public may never know that a tribunal took place or that a Chinese state-owned corporation received financial compensation from Canadian taxpayers.
These are not real courts. Trade tribunals are made up of three corporate lawyers who work for major private law firms and earn $1,000 per hour or more. These lawyers switch roles in different arbitration cases. Sometimes they work for the corporation, sometimes they defend government and other times they act as the deciding judge.
I know the Conservatives are big supporters of investor-state dispute settlements, so I would like to correct some of what I have heard from them on this subject.
No Canadian corporation has ever been successful in bringing an arbitration case against the United States. ISDS has not been a helpful tool for Canadian corporations under NAFTA. Canada's laws and policies have been challenged by NAFTA investor-state rules 48 times, and we have lost eight of the 17 cases that were completed. Canadian taxpayers have paid out hundreds of millions of dollars to foreign companies for the loss of potential profits, not for real expropriation.
For example, Canada banned imports of gasoline carrying MMT, a known neurotoxin, to protect the health of Canadians. The U.S. company that makes MMT, Ethyl Corporation, went to a NAFTA tribunal and received $13 million in compensation from Canadian taxpayers.
Bilcon v. Canada is another egregious case. The Nova Scotia government told Bilcon it was open for business. Bilcon wanted to build a quarry and a shipping terminal and blast rock for 50 years in the vicinity of the calving grounds of the North Atlantic right whale. Bilcon failed the environmental assessment. It then bypassed Canadian courts and received $7 million in compensation from a NAFTA tribunal. It should have received nothing.
The U.S. government has not paid a penny for an arbitration case because it has not lost a single case under NAFTA. It won all of the 21 claims against it. We need to remove investor-state dispute settlements from all trade and investment agreements.
One of the most problematic of those agreements is the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, or FIPA. This is an ISDS agreement that will be impossible to change.
NAFTA had a six-month notice clause for abrogation or renegotiation. The Canada-China FIPA is locked in for 15 years, and then there is a one-year notice period, after which corporations that invested get a further 15 years of investor-state. It is 31 years in total. The Canada-China FIPA locks in the discriminatory practices that China had in place at the time of signing. The Canada-China FIPA was negotiated in secret, and signed and ratified without a vote in the House. It was ratified by an order in council by the Harper Conservative government while there was an ongoing court challenge by the Hupacasath First Nation. Let us imagine that. It is complete disrespect of our judicial system and of first nations.
The Canada-China FIPA does not have a national security carve-out or exemption, so if Canada blocks Huawei based on national security grounds, then Canadian taxpayers could be on the hook for billions of dollars for the loss of potential profits that Huawei claims, and we may never know that there was an arbitration case or payout, because both parties would have to agree to make that information public. That is another egregious part of the Canada-China FIPA: secrecy.
Canada has FIPA agreements with the A to Z of small-market and developing countries, from Armenia to Zambia. This is where Canadian companies are using ISDS successfully. Canadian companies have won $2 billion in compensation from developing countries, and there is another $10 billion being sought through ISDS, predominantly from extractive companies. For example, the Canadian mining company Gabriel Resources is seeking $4 billion after the Romanian government, under massive public pressure, blocked a project that would have levelled four mountains, destroyed three villages and turned a valley into a toxic, cyanide-laced tailings pond. This is under the Canada-Romania FIPA.
Imagine if that happened in Banff. Imagine a state-owned mining company taking up Alberta on its open-for-business approach and putting in a proposal to level four mountains, relocate Banff and turn Lake Louise into a toxic tailings pond. Then imagine paying that corporation billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded compensation for the loss of potential profit when Albertans reject the project. Imagine that arbitration case and payout being kept secret.
The legal firms that specialize in ISDS shop these arbitration suits around to hedge funds and finance companies that also reap massive profits from these cases. The Wall Street hedge fund Tenor Capital invested $35 million in the Crystallex v. Venezuela case and got a whopping 1,000% return on its investment when the Canadian mining company was awarded $1.2 billion in compensation. The Crystallex case also came under a FIPA agreement. Indigenous people in Venezuela objected to the mine because it was destroying their community and territory. In this era of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we are going to see more challenges to destructive extractive projects not just here in Canada but around the world.
Canada has signed trade and investment agreements with some countries that have terrible human rights records. The Harper government negotiated and signed the Canada-Honduras Free Trade Agreement after a coup toppled the democratically elected government.
Is that how we reward anti-democratic behaviour? Should trade not lift all boats? Should the improvement of judicial systems, the rule of law and democratization not be part of these agreements? Should trade agreements not improve the health, safety, consumer, labour and environmental standards of all concerned? The Green Party believes so.
Investor-state dispute settlement, by its very nature, is anti-democratic and should be removed from all of our trade and investment agreements. I would like to applaud the Canadian negotiating team for getting rid of ISDS in CUSMA. Our work is cut out for us: one down, many more to go.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-03-11 16:04 [p.1947]
Madam Speaker, it is really important to get rid of investor-state, so the sooner we get this ratified the better. People who know me would be surprised that I am supporting a trade agreement that still follows this kind of corporate neo-liberal model, but I think the wins in this agreement are significant, especially with respect to investor-state.
As I outlined, it is an egregious part of the trade and investment agreements that have been signed by Canada and other countries around the world. There are some 3,000 of these investor-state agreements around the world. It is really a system of corporate capture that is fundamentally anti-democratic and blocks governments from doing things that are in the best interests of their citizens. I applaud the negotiating team and the government for getting rid of investor-state in this agreement.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-03-11 16:07 [p.1948]
Madam Speaker, investor-state is a huge problem for dealing with climate change. Given the number of investor-state dispute settlement agreements around the planet that are going to impede climate action, we are going to have to deal with this through article 20 of the WTO to try to solidify something that overrides the investor-state dispute settlements that have been signed in multilateral and bilateral agreements.
In terms of the Hupacasath and their challenge, as the previous speaker said, article 19 of UNDRIP should have been taken into consideration and there should have been proper consultation with first nations about this. In the case of the Canada-China FIPA, to have it ratified in the middle of a federal court case is egregious.
I would agree that we have a lot of things to work on. We have a lot of fights ahead of us to deal with the spiderweb of investor-state that surrounds this planet and deal with the climate crisis to make sure we are able to fight it clearly, without corporate influence and blockage.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-03-11 16:21 [p.1950]
Madam Speaker, it is always difficult to look back. I know people tend to forget what happened in the 41st Parliament.
The passage of the Canada-China investment treaty is one on which we really need to focus. People forget that it exists. I have heard so many members speak to the issues we have in CUSMA, now that we have gotten rid of chapter 11, the investor-state dispute settlement provisions, that allowed the U.S. government to sue us in secret.
However, it was under Stephen Harper that we are now obligated, for decades, to secret tribunals, where the People's Republic of China state-owned enterprises have the right to lean on the Canadian government in secret, first for six months, and then bring secret arbitration cases, if we do anything that hurts the expectation of profits of corporations from the People's Republic of China.
Would the member be willing to look into the implications of that, which was passed in secret, in cabinet, without a vote in Parliament?
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-11 18:30 [p.1968]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to stand in the House today as a follow-up to my question on funding for a national framework for mental health. I would like to start today by sharing how mental health has impacted my journey here.
I began my career as an educator. One day, a 14-year-old student got into some trouble in class and was sent down to see me. As we talked, it became clear there was a lot going on. I was aware of some social struggles in the friend group and I knew a bit of family history.
Suddenly and unforgettably, this student for whom I cared deeply, said the words, “I do not want to live anymore.” The student had the means and the motivation to escape this painful experience. The weight of the suffering hung thick in the air. I did what any human would do under the circumstances. I did my best to stumble through the rest of the conversation with empathy, but I recognized very acutely that my colleagues and I were not equipped to navigate the complexities of these conversations with the youth who trusted us the most. I would spend many hours and resources finding the tools to tackle this crisis, and I wish many other Canadians would also have that opportunity.
I am acutely aware of the pain of suicide, as many of us are. We have all lost someone. a cousin, the child of a teammate, a co-worker, a friend, a grandmother. Research shows that approximately 90% of people who die by suicide suffer from mental illness or addiction. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth ages 15 to 24. Rates of suicide are three times higher for members of first nations communities than they are for non-indigenous people. Risk factors are directly linked to socio-economic characteristics, including household income, employment status, level of education and family support.
I have shared a story. I have shared the data. I would now like to look to the solution.
Canadian provinces and territories need financial support from the federal government to ensure they can address the mental health crisis impacting families and communities across the nation.
We need to invest in training for professionals across sectors, educators and everyday Canadians to access resources and learning opportunities to support those suffering from mental illness.
We need to invest in a timely diagnosis process. Service providers and families need access to early diagnosis to ensure early intervention.
We need to invest in a national pharmacare system. Canadians should never have the financial anxiety of needing to choose between buying groceries or life-saving medications.
We need to invest in support for sexual assault survivors. This is a massive missing link in this conversation.
We need to invest in support for elders, like intergenerational housing, to avoid isolation and loneliness.
That is why on February 26, I asked the Minister of Finance if the budget would include funding for a national framework on mental health so the provinces and territories could work together to find solutions to address this crisis. I look forward to hearing the response from the hon. member as to how we might come together to restore hope for Canadians across the country.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-11 18:37 [p.1970]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for that really wonderful response. There are lots of great initiatives taking place in Canada. I feel we have come a very long way.
I do want to highlight that there are still some missing pieces. Mental health has long been recognized as a fundamental aspect of one's health; however, under our current health regime, the majority of mental health services do not meet the eligibility requirement of “medically necessary”.
I feel we need to have another look at this, and that is why I am asking for a national legislation framework. There is a patchwork of provincial and regional initiatives, but I feel we need a more unified approach. I am thinking of a story of a constituent who is searching for their son across provincial lines and is having a lot of difficulty because there is not a lot of collaboration and communication that occurs.
I am asking for a national strategy to be looked at and funded by the government.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-03-11 18:39 [p.1970]
Madam Speaker, Retirement Concepts runs 23 long-term care facilities for seniors in Canada. Nineteen are in B.C. and seven are on Vancouver Island. Retirement Concepts provides independent living, assisted living and complex care for seniors.
In 2017, the government approved the sale of Retirement Concepts to the Chinese corporation Anbang Insurance. The following year, Anbang's CEO was convicted of corruption, and the company was taken over by the Chinese state.
The conditions at Retirement Concepts' Nanaimo Seniors Village in my riding were atrocious. The home was understaffed and provided substandard care. Seniors went for weeks without receiving a bath. They were left in soiled clothes and soiled beds. Bedsores and other related health consequences of neglect were common.
After numerous complaints by residents and their families, the Vancouver Island Health Authority took over Nanaimo Seniors Village and two other Retirement Concepts care facilities on Vancouver Island. Last month, another facility, in Summerland, had to be taken over as well.
Under the Investment Canada Act, Anbang had an obligation to maintain staffing levels. The federal government made assurances to the provinces that patient care would be protected. The B.C. Seniors Advocate has stated that she did not understand how the federal government could make such an assurance. The reporting and transparency required to make that promise do not exist. The federal government should not be permitting foreign ownership of businesses that provide taxpayer-funded health care services. When seniors are hospitalized as a result of neglect and substandard care, we all carry the cost. Our seniors deserve better than for-profit care run by foreign corporations that lack accountability.
Recent analysis by the B.C. Office of the Seniors Advocate found that the not-for-profit sector spends 59% of its revenue on direct care. That is 24% more per resident per year than the for-profit sector. The for-profit sector failed to deliver 207,000 hours of funded care. The not-for-profit sector provided 80,000 more hours of direct care than it was paid to deliver. Wages for care workers in the for-profit sector were 28% less than the industry standard. Nanaimo Seniors Village had a hard time attracting workers, with an average wage of $18 per hour, rather than the industry standard of $24 an hour.
There is a waiting list for every government-funded care bed. There is no competition to provide these services, no free market. These beds will be filled, whether or not a facility is properly staffed and delivering appropriate care. That revenue stream is guaranteed.
The abuses that have resulted from this situation are horrifying. We have failed to protect our seniors. We must remove the financial incentive to provide substandard seniors care. Corporations cannot be permitted to squeeze profit out of the health care system through vague accounting, paying below-average wages and neglecting vulnerable seniors. That is unacceptable.
The operation of seniors long-term care facilities is under the jurisdiction of the provinces, but the government must be actively involved in creating a solution to these problems. The government needs to mandate national standards to ensure the safety and dignity of Canadian seniors. Going forward, the government should not permit foreign ownership of businesses that provide taxpayer-funded health care services.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-03-11 18:46 [p.1971]
Madam Speaker, now that the Chinese state has created a new corporate entity called Dajia, which owns Retirement Concepts, it is time for the federal government to review the original purchase and rescind the agreement.
The Canadian seniors of today are the workers and business owners of yesterday. They worked hard, paid their taxes and contributed to building what they believed to be retirement security. They are also our parents and grandparents. We owe them dignity and care in their final years. No one in a care facility in Canada should be left in a soiled bed for hours until he or she gets a septic wound. No one in a care facility in Canada should be left without a bath for weeks on end.
We should not have allowed this critical health care service to be sold to the highest foreign bidder. This crisis must be fixed.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-03-10 10:07 [p.1843]
Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition today from constituents in Nanaimo—Ladysmith who are concerned about the opioid crisis and the number of deaths that have been caused by overdoses of contaminated products.
Petitioners are calling on the government to declare a public health emergency due to overdose deaths in Canada; reframe the overdose crisis in Canada as a health issue rather than a criminal issue; take a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach to the overdose crisis by addressing issues of addiction, poverty, housing, health care, racial discrimination, economic inequality and instability; listen to and act on recommendations made by social workers, front-line workers, nurses, doctors, drug users and individuals directly involved in the drug-using community; and decriminalize drugs in Canada.
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