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Results: 1 - 30 of 316
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-08-12 12:26 [p.2748]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister and my colleagues for their important words today. It is critical that we show solidarity and compassion in these dark times.
We have a thriving Lebanese community in Fredericton with roots that run deep. As I have been learning over the past few days, these roots indeed run across the country.
I would like to highlight our wonderful Atlantic Honorary Consulate to Lebanon, Consul Fares, who cares deeply about the connection to the homeland and Lebanese Canadians. My heart goes out to Consul Fares for his work in the months to come and to all of Lebanon as it confronts this unimaginable reality. We are with them as Canadians and as citizens of the globe. We send our deepest condolences. I call for justice for the families of victims, and for a peaceful and swift national recovery with adequate support from Canada.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-08-12 14:04 [p.2765]
Mr. Chair, my first question to the Minister of Health is very simple.
Is it the responsibility of the minister's department to uphold the Canada Health Act in all jurisdictions in Canada?
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-08-12 14:04 [p.2765]
Mr. Chair, will the government intervene then to save Clinic 554 and, by this, ensure access to reproductive health and essential services to the LGBTQ2S+ community in New Brunswick?
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-08-12 14:05 [p.2765]
Mr. Chair, the Minister of Public Safety said that he heard calls from families, survivors and advocates when he made the important announcement that the federal government was launching a full public inquiry into the Nova Scotia mass shooting. Families will get answers, communities will be able to heal and recommendations will be made, ensuring that such a tragedy will never happen again.
Can the minister also hear the voices of the families of Rodney Levi, Chantel Moore and Brady Francis? Can he hear the calls from the New Brunswick and British Columbia chiefs, the indigenous leaders and advocates, and launch a comprehensive, open and fully transparent inquiry into how the legal and law-enforcement systems have failed indigenous people in New Brunswick?
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-08-12 14:06 [p.2765]
Mr. Chair, the pandemic has shaken to the core the very way that we, not too long ago, thought how to do business: walking into a store, trying and touching various items and shaking hands once a transaction is finalized. Businesses had to adapt to new ways of doing things, and fast.
The Fredericton economic development agencies group, in its effort to respond and advocate on behalf of all businesses, highlighted the need for businesses to obtain support and information on transitioning to or expanding e-commerce options. Does the government have a plan to support businesses to make this transition?
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-08-12 14:07 [p.2765]
Mr. Chair, the last time the Official Languages Act went through a complete overhaul was 1988. I am practically the same age as this legislation. Linguistic minority communities across the country, organizational representatives and specialists have worked hard to contribute to the study, and the report and its recommendations were submitted to the government over a year ago now. I know the minister cares deeply about the vitality of official languages, but the longer the government drags its feet, the more hope fades with each passing day that anything will come of this file.
Can the minister confirm that the legislation will indeed be modernized during her present term of office?
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-08-12 14:09 [p.2765]
Mr. Chair, I read the report following the review of systemic racism and oppression at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. It is telling of the problems present in our society and how pervasive systemic racism and homophobia are when an institution that was created to promote respect for others and encourage reflection and dialogue fails its own mission. The report provides avenues for reparation. Every action toward inclusivity has the potential to lead to significant improvements in the lives of Canadians. There are some recommendations specifically with respect to the language used in communications.
My question is for the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth. Would the government be ready to adopt a gender-inclusive language, remove gender binaries and adopt an epicene style of writing in all of its internal and external communications, in English and in French?
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-08-12 16:35 [p.2788]
Mr. Speaker, as a first-time MP, this has been quite the introduction into federal politics. I have received a quick schooling on what is truly important to the people in my riding, how things work in this government environment and the ways that I can contribute.
After the initial post-election excitement, the reality of setting up an office in Ottawa and the constituency set in. We got to work putting together a team to serve the people of Fredericton and represent Canadians.
We spent the five months following the election in a typical rhythm of Parliament before the pandemic took hold in our nation. We have now spent just as much time involved in the emergency public health, social and economic relief efforts associated with COVID-19.
As many members know, I am a teacher by trade. Teaching is not the traditional path to politics, but there is nothing traditional about this Parliament for me. I spent a decade teaching youth to have a critical lens, to stand up for what they believe in and to not accept injustice. I applied those lessons to my work here as an MP, and I am honoured to be able to share them with my colleagues in this venue.
Despite the change in career, I have kept my priorities and passions. I came here to create a better world for children and youth, and to create better communities for them to grow up in. In today's take-note debate, I want to talk about families, students, some of the realities of this pandemic experience and the ways we can keep moving forward to get through this together.
My family means everything to me, and they have been along for this intense journey. For us, the pandemic has meant months in intermittent isolation and a family bubble, days in the car to get here and back to New Brunswick, and only about eight hours, since March, that I have been without my two children, except for the hours I have spent sitting in this House. This is perhaps why I have one of the best attendance records.
If my colleagues did not catch the humour in that, they can rest assured that I love my children and they love me, but we are looking forward to our routines returning to normal. The point is, as a working mom, having no school or day care these past months has been like maternity leave without the leave. Full-time work while providing child supervision and care is simply not possible, especially with the added responsibilities of home schooling.
I have heard from many parents of the struggles and concerns of parenting in a pandemic. Parents in Canada need a break, especially parents of children with disabilities, autism or behavioural challenges who need educational assistance, resource teachers and guidance counsellors.
Children also need a break from their parents, especially the children who are perhaps experiencing neglect or abuse. Those children have been on my mind these past few months. Children need to hear from other adults, coaches and role models. Let us take this time to sincerely appreciate our early childhood education and public school systems and the people we rely on to make them work.
As a government, we must ensure that all parents, children, teachers and staff feel safe as they return to the classroom.
Families are stressed and apprehensive with a variety of tough choices ahead. I know there are innovative solutions and ideas out there, and I trust the government to assist provinces as they reopen schools with clear and cautious health advice.
I think also about the families separated by our border closure. Foreign national long-term partners and adult children remain unable to enter Canada to see their loved ones. These families have spent five months separated already. While enforcing two-week quarantines, we could lighten travel restrictions for students and immediate family, enabling them to return to their Canadian families and communities. These changes, coupled with the reminder that Canada is home to people from all over the world, would go a long way to combat the isolationism that has been known to breed contempt, which may already be being directed at the international students trickling into our country.
Fredericton is home to two university campuses and several colleges.
The international students who arrive in Fredericton each year are a critical component of our local communities. Having so few of them returning to us in person this year is a major loss. The universities in my home province have been announcing pandemic protocols for the coming semester. There are a lot of pressures on these institutions, but I cannot help but think of the impact on students.
On top of the anxieties the last five months have brought for all of us, they are facing the choice of continuing to take on personal student debt at a time when it is not clear what sort of economy they will graduate into. We will need the government, and likely the next government to come, to stand beside these students as they work to pay off the student debt incurred at this juncture in their lives.
Speaking of student debt, we are coming up on the end of the government's initiative to pause student loan repayment obligations for recent graduates. This will mean hundreds of dollars a month that these debt holders will need to begin paying again. This program should be extended for at least another six months, and we should start talking meaningfully about student debt forgiveness.
We need to support families, especially children, adolescents and young adults, during these uncertain times.
The public health emergency over the last months has been coupled with civil unrest and action. We have seen deaths in our streets, ongoing oppression and injustice. I think of the world that my children are inheriting, all children, the world that youth and students are inheriting across Canada. I look around, I watch the news and I read the comments on social media, which maybe I should not, because they lead me to shake my head. Our kids will have questions of all of this, and we had better have decent answers for them.
We must seize this opportunity and wield the responsibility we have as parliamentarians to address the prejudices that blind us: rampant systemic racism; hiding the many microaggressions and overt acts of racism present in our everyday lives; toxic masculinity that seeds silent acceptance of a rape culture, violence against women and girls and members of the LGBTQ2IA+ community; privilege that shrinks our world view, making invisible those living in poverty with insecure housing, with disabilities, fighting addictions and surviving trauma. We need to start seeing one another again and finding compassion for our neighbours.
Since being elected as a member of Parliament, I have been actively involved in calls for equality and systemic change. Recently, and in light of international and local tragedies, I have supported a call for a national Senate inquiry into wellness checks as a police response to mental health issues in Canada; I attended a healing walk for Chantel Moore and Rodney Levi; I made a public pledge to call out racism when I see it online or otherwise; I signed a petition calling for a review of systemic racism in police forces; I submitted a letter to you, Mr. Speaker, to address systemic racism in this institution; I have questioned the Minister of Health about actions on her mandate to address racism in the health care system; and I asked the Public Safety minister to declare his outrage and commit to protecting all black, indigenous and people of colour from racial injustice.
These are the promises I made to my youth, the ones that I worked with, my students. I taught them to be activists. If we see something is wrong, we do something about it. If someone's voice cannot be heard, we find ways to amplify it.
As I prepare to send my kids back to school, I have been reflecting on the immense responsibility our teachers will shoulder in this school year. They will balance public health protocols with school curricula and changing class composition. They too will face the questions of curious young minds about the world we live in. Their answers will be instrumental in shaping the minds of a coming generation of leaders.
Teachers need our support, our patience and our encouragement.
Just as our health care professionals have stepped up to respond to this pandemic, our teachers are being called to step up now to do the important work of helping to raise children, to educate them and to help them build resilience in the face of uncertainty. I thank them for their service, and I stand with Canadian families.
To the young thinkers and learners across this country, I am listening. Your leadership is essential as we face down our challenges, and we will get through this together. Please reach out at any time.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-08-12 16:45 [p.2790]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague so much for that very important question.
Absolutely, I have been hearing from my constituents on this same issue of parental and maternity benefits as a result of COVID.
There is a group that has gathered. There are parents across this country who are grappling with this question. When we had our daily or almost daily briefing calls with various government departments, I consistently asked that question day in and day out, and I was given that same response: “We're working on it. We're looking for the solution.”
For me, this delay is quite disappointing. These people have been waiting. Some have already had their children and need to receive this benefit, so I was pleased this morning to hear the minister talk about retroactive pay, but that does not get people what they need in the interim. I am very concerned with how long this has taken, but I am also encouraged that finally we might see some action on this.
Here we are five months into the pandemic, and these parents have been waiting. Let us get money into the hands of parents now. Certainly, the retroactive payment is good to hear, but it is an issue that went on for far too long.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-08-12 16:48 [p.2790]
Mr. Speaker, certainly as a Green Party member, the environment is top of mind. It is the lens I use with all policy and questions, including social justice. It is all connected. For me it is a critical component of our recovery plan moving forward. However, the youth are already fired up. They are already active and engaged. This is something that fuels me and gives me the energy I need to do my work in the House.
My advice for him is to keep this up, not to lose optimism and hope. The solutions are out there. We are the leaders of today, not the leaders of tomorrow. Those voices are so critical to the work we do to inspire us and guide us.
As parliamentarians, it is our responsibility to be role models and to bring truth to the House, to not be divisive, to not get too bogged down in the weeds of what perhaps our personal ideologies may be, but be here to do the work we were sent here to do by our electorate.
I am going to talk about environmental issues, and it is not just because I am a Green. It is because I am a Canadian. It is because I am a mother and a teacher and those things are so important to me.
On the east coast, we have seen some different weather patterns. We have seen some changes. We have seen some of the hottest days on the record in our communities. People are very aware of these impacts. It is just a matter of empowering them to continue to do that work, to continue to be active and to continue to demonstrate or to do whatever they may feel is important. Social media is a great venue for that as well.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-08-12 16:51 [p.2791]
Mr. Speaker, as a former teacher, I feel that this is an incredibly important time. It is something we have never seen before, and I think initially teachers were looking for ways to engage. They wanted to be able to help more, but because of the restrictions and all of the measures to keep us safe they were not necessarily able to do that.
With the time that has passed, I think our teachers are really ready to get back into the classroom. We enjoy our summer breaks as best we can, but we always have that feeling in September when we cannot wait to get back to our students who mean so much to us. Teachers have been ready for months and months now, so I really feel they are going to take the bull by the horns on this. They will really take the initiative and do what needs to be done to keep our children safe, keep themselves safe, keep staff safe and also keep everyone's level of well-being in check.
What is really important to me about kids returning to school right now, outside of curriculum and the necessary things to move them through their grades, is that well-being: that social aspect of being with other people besides their family bubbles they have been stuck in for the last five months.
I believe teachers are well suited to do this and, as I have said, they have just been waiting to get involved and have their turn to serve citizens in this pandemic. I am so excited to see what they will do with this. When thrown a curveball, our education systems respond very well. I am so proud of the education system in New Brunswick in particular.
I note that we fared quite well in New Brunswick during the pandemic, and we do not face as much uncertainty as some of the other jurisdictions in Canada. I wish them well. I hope we go slow. I hope we are as cautious and as safe as we need to be, but I am so thankful for kids to go back to school. I hope I can support teachers within my riding to do that as safely and enjoyably as possible.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-08-12 16:53 [p.2791]
Mr. Speaker, I did not know my colleague had a teacher training background, but I should have guessed because we align on many things.
It is going to be different across jurisdictions, as I mentioned. I am a big fan of national standards. No matter where someone is in Canada, one should be able to receive the best practices we are seeing in other provinces or territories.
I have faith in our provincial systems and feel our job is to protect and support them, so I hope they are able to monitor and ensure they are reaching the same standards as other jurisdictions. We do not necessarily have those standards yet, so I would certainly be supportive of seeing those happen here in Canada.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-07-22 14:18 [p.2724]
Mr. Speaker, the member highlighted a lot of really critical pieces of how people have been dealing with COVID-19. You mentioned support for shelters, individuals, racialized minorities, mental health issues and you also mentioned federal-provincial-territorial collaboration. On that note, there was one thing I noticed that might have been missing from that discussion. I wonder if you could speak about whether or not you believe that safe, affordable housing is a right and whether you support a rent freeze as families and individuals navigate COVID-19.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-07-22 15:23 [p.2733]
Madam Chair, I very much enjoyed the speech from the member for Edmonton Strathcona. I always do, so I appreciate her work and her efforts. The member has been discussing a very important aspect, which is universal basic income, and how that could have come to the rescue of so many more Canadians.
Why does the member think the Liberal government is resistant to that idea?
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-07-22 15:47 [p.2737]
Madam Chair, our chamber of commerce in Fredericton held a webinar with the Minister of Economic Development. She mentioned the process of dealing with COVID-19 as stopping the bleeding, sewing up the wound and then healing. I feel like we have done a pretty good job of stopping the bleeding. We have incredible programs in place now. We have made some tweaks and improvements, which is what I would call sewing up those wounds.
What does the member believe would be the best way to support this next stage of healing for which Canadians are looking?
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-07-22 16:12 [p.2740]
Madam Chair, I have been reminded again and again of the kindness and creativity of people across this country these past four months, especially in our own civil service.
That historic weekend in mid-March when the pandemic took hold in Canada began a domino effect of businesses closing to the public, employees losing work and people flocking to government relief programs, fearing whether or not they would be able to pay their rent.
The huge number of applications submitted that have been processed by Service Canada and Canada Revenue Agency staff is incredible. More than six million applications were submitted by mid-April, just two weeks after Canadians started submitting their applications again.
More unsung heroes of this pandemic are the people employed at Global Affairs Canada and the CBSA, who began an incredible effort of repatriating Canadians from across the globe. During the first weeks of the pandemic, these civil servants moved mountains to schedule flights, to confirm travel eligibility, to work with consulates and foreign governments to get Canadian citizens and permanent residents back on Canadian soil. Their efforts were incredible. The minister responsible played a significant leadership role in guiding these efforts, and I wish to thank him as well.
Who can overlook the incredible work of the people involved in Canada's public health infrastructure? Dr. Tam and all of the other provincial health officers' daily updates and leadership and the support of the entire Public Health Agency and the public health departments across each province and territory, which pooled data, tracked cases and implemented protocols, have saved countless lives.
All of these efforts are to be commended, but the staff that dedicated their time to these emergency measures had to step away from their regular workloads, and ongoing cases at IRCC, Service Canada, CRA, Veterans Affairs, etc., have been stuck and languishing for months. What do people do when their federal systems are shutting down? They come to their MPs.
My team and I have been handling an incredible number of these case files and the people whose lives are on hold while their files stagnate in a backlog. Even as our government slowly works to address these files that are piling up on desks across departments, the traditional supporting documentation that people need to track down is not always available, and they cannot possibly complete the requests being made of them. We need these systems to empower workers to find alternative pathways for Canadians. This system collapse is having second- and third-order impacts on individuals and families across the country.
Let me tell members about a few of my constituents.
There is a gentleman in my riding who has been working in Canada for several years now and is applying for his permanent residency. He has submitted all of his documentation, but has been asked to submit one last piece of information: an FBI security check. It is not possible for him to get this document right now, as the FBI is not conducting these checks at this time. Relying on other countries to provide documentation is highly complex, given how hard it is to get documentation within our government. Will he need to leave Canada because we insisted on a document he could not get? How long will we leave this man and his loved ones in limbo? We need flexibility in the immigration system, and case workers who are empowered to identify alternative paths to residency and citizenship, or we risk losing our neighbours who have come to call Canada their home.
In another case, there is a couple in my riding who rely on their GIS cheques each month like so many other Canadians. They both submitted paper versions of their taxes at the same time in February. One of them had their taxes reviewed. One of them had their tax file lost. As a result, they have been denied their GIS payment until they can resubmit their taxes. They are being told that it must be done via e-file, but they have not been able to make that happen. We need flexibility within the CRA and employees in that department to be empowered to work with people and, in this case, to either track down the paper file or to work with this couple to facilitate the refiling of their taxes so they can receive their GIS payments.
In yet another case, there is a mother in my riding who lost her child tax benefit just before the pandemic shut down offices in March, because the father of her children claimed that he had custody when he did not. The CRA has placed the burden of proof on her shoulders to regain the benefit, which she needs to raise these children. One of the supporting documents required was a letter from a health care provider substantiating her claims. For months, doctors, dentists and other health professionals have not been providing these services. Getting these supporting documents has been incredibly difficult.
We need to implement flexible systems that enable federal employees to work more closely with people in these uncertain times.
I know that many of my colleagues in the House worked day and night in the first months of the pandemic to get support to constituents in crisis, and continue to do so. That workload has now shifted to support constituents in their backlogged cases. While my constituent assistants and I are continuing to advocate on behalf of the individual cases that come through my door, we need to fix this at a macro level.
I want to raise this today to articulate a question to my colleagues in government. What comes next? Can we initiate a major hiring push, just as Veterans Affairs Canada announced last month to handle its backlog?
So many Canadians remain underemployed and unemployed. This seems the perfect opportunity to get more hands on deck to start working across government departments.
Can we empower case workers with more flexibility and tools at their disposal to massage case files through the system, recognizing that the standard burden of documentation is not realistic now, and may not be for months to come?
I am but one opposition member of the House, and a rookie member, at that. I do not pretend to have all of the solutions, but I know that the solutions are out there, and I believe they lie in our civil service. The brilliant and compassionate minds that have worked tirelessly through March and April to get support into the hands of Canadians need to be equipped and empowered to put their brilliance to work to address these issues.
Communities across the country are changing. The government must adapt its services and embrace new technology.
There is so much about this virus that we cannot control, but we can control how we respond to it.
I wish to end on a positive note, a “thank you” to our civil service and a pledge to do all I can with my colleagues in the House to ensure that they have the tools and the respect they need to help Canadians in this time and in the future ahead.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-07-22 16:19 [p.2742]
Madam Chair, I am very supportive of the government's response to COVID-19. I mentioned yesterday just how proud I am to be a member of Parliament and to be a Canadian, at that, because we have fared quite well on the global stage, as far as COVID-19 goes.
The programs are not perfect, but we worked together to make them as applicable as we could to most Canadians. I do feel, however, that I must voice my support for a guaranteed livable income. That was something that, at the onset, would have supported so many more Canadians without the existing strict eligibility criteria. They would have had the support they needed to get through these months and the months ahead.
We are talking a bit about the healing and the recovery and what comes next, and I really hope the government is very open-minded with regard to the concept of a universal basic income or a guaranteed livable income, because I really feel that is the next step that we need to continue supporting Canadians with, as we have done throughout this COVID-19 crisis.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-07-22 16:21 [p.2742]
Madam Chair, I thank my hon. colleague for her work in the House. We certainly align on just about everything, so I am glad to be here with her in the 43rd Parliament.
I am very supportive, as well, of a universal child care system. I have two children of my own; many of my friends, families and Canadians know how important child care is to these next steps in our recovery in building back better for Canada, so we certainly need to put a lot of emphasis on that. We know how women have been disproportionately impacted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Certainly, I have felt some of those pressures as a woman, especially as a newly elected MP and what that brings into play, but I also recognize my privilege, so I cannot imagine those in a less privileged position having to deal with these last few months and then what is to come with all of the uncertainty.
There certainly need to be some changes. You mentioned some changes to the EI system; I really believe, again, that putting that patchwork of supports into a guaranteed basic income for all Canadians would really be the best step forward. It would alleviate a lot of the administrative costs and the stresses that we have experienced as parliamentarians in the rollout of these programs. That would be the direction that I would put my energy and my vote behind.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-07-22 16:23 [p.2742]
Madam Chair, I thank my colleague from Victoria for joining us virtually. That is a testament to how we have been doing our work here in Parliament.
In my speech, I gave a couple of examples of people struggling during this time. I think specifically about those who are waiting for their GIS cheques to come in. I think about those living on a limited income. I think about mothers who are struggling to find work or who want the option to stay with their children before they go on to their school-age classrooms.
For me, it would help countless individuals such as entrepreneurs, people wanting to take risks in their lives, artists and anyone in the gig economy. Specifically, I am thinking of many people in Atlantic Canada. I think about those with disabilities and those struggling with mental health issues. I feel this is the net we need to cast out into Canada, because it eliminates those holes we have been seeing glaringly throughout this COVID-19 crisis.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-07-21 13:41 [p.2683]
Madam Speaker, I am happy to be in the House with my colleagues. Once again, it was quite a journey to get here, especially on short notice, but I know there is important work to be done.
I have been supportive of the government as we navigate COVID-19. I also want to thank fellow opposition members for their hard work and for getting things done. I am honoured to be a member of the 43rd Parliament and am proud to be Canadian.
I do have one regret: partisan politics. Quite simply, it has made a mockery of our institution. It has allowed us to perpetuate systemic issues within the House and has pitted us against each another. It inflames hatred and fear, the type that one can read about in the manifestos of domestic terrorists.
I want to offer my sincere concern for our Prime Minister and his family, as well as the Governor General. I think we should all reflect very deeply on what has occurred at Rideau Hall and commit to doing a better job of teaching love in our communities.
Our system sees its members fighting for credit and recognition, and tearing each other down at every available opportunity. It is the people of this country who are suffering. I think of all the Canadians who are eagerly awaiting the one-time payment for persons with disabilities that was proposed in June. It was poor planning and political posturing that has left these Canadians an extra month without aid.
I too have been made to draw lines in the sand where I did not want to. There is no definitive wrong or right side. If we are truly here in the best interests of Canadians, the taxpayers who elected us, then I must ask us all, what are we doing? Why pour our energy and resources into one-upping each other?
This is in no way to say that we are not to disagree, seek clarification, challenge evidence or hold the government to account. On the contrary, what I am calling for is increased participation and collaboration. I am calling for respect. Call it decorum or call it human decency.
On that note, I would like to speak about some of the specifics of Bill C-20. The most important thing we can be doing right now and in the coming months is to ensure that Canadians have the resources they need to meet their needs. I applaud the move by the government to support wages for Canadians. I question the complexity of the system it has devised and I am particularly concerned that the ongoing lack of clarity about the details of this program will make business owners vulnerable to audits and investigations to come.
It is essential that one year from now, or seven years from now, we remember that these programs were evolving in real time and that Canadians who accessed the wage subsidy, the emergency response benefit, the emergency student benefit, etc., did so in good faith based on the information they had available to them at the time. Heavy-handed, retroactive penalties will be the wrong approach.
I am pleased to finally see the one-time payment for persons with disabilities being passed, hopefully. My own province has the highest rates of disability in Canada, and many of those with disabilities live in rural communities. The nature of New Brunswick as Canada's only bilingual province means that many francophones living with disabilities are also trying to find adequate resources in their mother tongue. This funding is a step forward, but it should never have taken this long.
I would like to read an excerpt from a letter to the minister responsible for disability inclusion from a newly formed group, the New Brunswick Coalition for People with Disabilities:
...day after day during his daily briefings, the Hon. [Prime Minister] hardly ever even mentioned people with disabilities. Then, when a promised payment of $600.00 failed to get approved at the House of Commons, we told ourselves maybe we should "let the adults hash it out". But then, we said no. No, we will not sit quietly anymore. This is what has been expected of people with disabilities for too long.... Let's be honest here. [The Prime Minister] said that Covid19 had exposed some "uncomfortable truths" about how we look after our seniors. The truth of the matter is, should we not also be embarrassed of the way we have been treating people with disabilities in this country? Here we have a group of people who live below the poverty line month after month, year after year. With no chance of EVER going back to work.... And we sit in the sidelines, watching as the Prime Minister of our beloved country decides that $2000 per month is the amount needed to get by in this country. And yet... We are asking people with disabilities to get by on so much less. And then, in a time of crisis, we tell them—by not saying anything at all—that we will deal with them last. And when we do decide to help them with a one-time payment of $600.00, well...it doesn't go through. The only financial aid during this whole Covid nightmare that does not go through.
It is the responsibility of those with power to ensure that the most vulnerable among us are receiving the support they need. Many Canadians were already struggling to make ends meet, particularly because they could not access employment before COVID. For those relying on provincial social assistance programs, CPP or the disability benefit, their regular activities have been terribly interrupted by COVID.
The precariousness of housing, loss of community kitchens, closure of public spaces and limitations on public transit have all had financial consequences for people who are already living on the edge. These citizens should have been among the first to receive aid. Instead, most of them have still received nothing and those living with disabilities have waited five months for a one-time benefit. It is not good enough. There are two weeks before the House is scheduled to sit again and I encourage my colleagues in cabinet to come back to us in two weeks' time with a meaningful pitch to support all Canadians who are the most financially vulnerable.
I am also encouraged to see that the Canada-China relations committee will be able to continue its work. My hope is that we will be brave enough to be outspoken about China's occupation of Tibet and its treatment of religious minorities, including the Uighur concentration camps, and about the recent security law in Hong Kong.
I am also pleased to see the commencement of virtual meetings of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. We have incredibly important work to do as parliamentarians, and the more we enable this activity virtually, the better served each of our constituents will be.
I look forward to seeing how we address the question of virtual voting, especially as we expect a second wave of the pandemic to occur this fall. It would be irresponsible of us to become vectors of transmission in our communities. However, there is no question that we must get on with the regular business of the House to debate and pass important legislation.
This brings me back to my opening comments about partisan bickering hurting Canada. I encourage all members of the House across party lines to consider how we can work together to ensure that the needs of our constituents are best met, rather than the various partisan interests we represent. We have all been experiencing the pandemic as parliamentarians and as individuals. I wish my colleagues well. I hope they are all doing okay.
I know how this experience has affected my family and friends, my staff and their families. There is a collective struggle occurring across Canada and the globe. In this time of crisis, we need to tear down the barriers inherent to our ideologies and find ways that we can align. We need each other. We cannot get through the next phase of this virus without supporting each another as Canadians. We are stronger united. We must be able to have discussions, to challenge norms and stigmatization, but let our example of human decency in the House set the tone for the respect, kindness and compassion we want to see in communities across this country.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-07-21 13:50 [p.2684]
Madam Speaker, I just think it shows so much about our society today, about how we prioritize, how we have completely lost the idea of eldership and how important seniors are in our communities. We are all going to be there, and we should definitely be trying to improve our quality of life at all stages, but particularly as we face our senior years.
To me, we need to do far more to protect those in our communities who are most vulnerable and who have years and years of experience being Canadian, who have gone through so many things, other difficult times and experiences similar to this. There is so much to learn from them. To support them with a one-time $300 payment is symbolic of how much we value them, and we should do so much more.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-07-21 13:52 [p.2684]
Madam Speaker, to be honest, I have to disagree with the first part of my hon. colleague's question. I feel, especially as a Green Party member, that I have actually been given more opportunities to participate in debate. I particularly enjoy the virtual participation when we have the five-minute question slots, with the back-and-forth that occurs. We are getting our questions to Canadians. We are getting messages from the ministers responsible.
We are having adequate conversations and discussion, but I would love to see virtual voting, because that is the missing piece here. We can do the work we need to do in the House. We need to adapt to the changes that have been thrown our way during this pandemic, and the way to do that is through virtual voting.
I cannot see this room—
An hon. member: If you do not want to come to work, resign.
Mrs. Jenica Atwin: I am at work right now, thanks very much. I am still speaking, so if you could respect the decorum—
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-07-21 13:53 [p.2685]
Madam Speaker, we cannot fill this room with 338 MPs. It is already quite filled at the moment. Each of us has our own lives, families and communities to return to, and it would be very irresponsible of us to have everyone return. Without virtual voting, without giving members the equal opportunity to represent their constituencies, this is the way it has to be, and I am very supportive of that.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-07-21 15:03 [p.2698]
Mr. Speaker, the pandemic is forcing us to rethink the world we live in, from food security to our workspaces to the impacts of systemic racism. As we continue to respond to the COVID-19 health crisis, we must not forget that the climate crisis is also a health crisis, an economic crisis and a social crisis. They are intricately connected, and a response requires that we build resilient communities that will be ready to adapt.
Could the Minister of Environment and Climate Change explain how exactly the undeniable impact of the climate crisis will be taken into account in the upcoming budget and within the long-term post-pandemic recovery plan?
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-07-08 13:37 [p.2550]
Madam Chair, I want to begin by expressing my relief that the attack on Rideau Hall where both our Governor General and the Prime Minister and his family live ended non-violently and that Corey Hurren was taken into custody.
I would like to ask the hon. minister and the Prime Minister about the following names: Chantel Moore, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, D'Andre Campbell, Ejaz Ahmed Choudry and Rodney Levi, who, not meaning any harm to anyone, were killed during the process of a wellness check. They are dead. They were all indigenous, black or racialized Canadians who are now dead.
Is it not time to have a federal inquiry into the use of wellness checks to ensure that the people who are being cared for do not end up in the morgue?
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-07-08 13:39 [p.2551]
Madam Chair, earlier today in question period, there were a number of questions about waiving cabinet privilege in matters that require investigation.
According to The Globe and Mail, as recently as March 2020, the RCMP were still investigating the SNC-Lavalin matter and whether obstruction of justice took place.
I wonder if the minister could answer the question of whether the Prime Minister is, at this point, prepared to waive cabinet privilege in the matter of SNC-Lavalin.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-07-08 13:39 [p.2551]
Madam Chair, I have an opportunity to ask a different question.
Earlier in question period, there was some heckling, friendly banter one might say, asking the Liberal government if it were not time to reconvene Parliament. I do not happen to think it is. We are in a pandemic and we have to protect ourselves and our communities from the travel back and forth to this place potentially spreading COVID-19.
My question for the Liberals is this. When will we accept what the British Columbia legislature is already doing and allow voting from our constituencies so that legislation can be passed in this place?
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-07-08 13:41 [p.2551]
Madam Chair, I would be very happy to ask the Conservatives that, but I am afraid questions go to the government members.
My question now for the government members is this. We are having a lot of concern, particularly in areas such as Saanich—Gulf Islands near the U.S. border, about what is being called the Texas loophole. I do not think we actually meant to put in place something called a Texas loophole. I spoke with the Minister of Public Safety.
What we are going to do to ensure that the Canada Border Services Agency does not let tourists into Canada for less than essential purposes, potentially spreading COVID-19?
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-07-08 14:08 [p.2555]
Mr. Speaker, I want to briefly correct the record. In my earlier question, I referred erroneously to a Texas loophole. I was thinking of the people from Texas who claimed they were driving to Alaska. It is generally known as the Alaska loophole. I apologize and hope to correct the record.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-07-08 14:37 [p.2560]
Mr. Speaker, I echo the comments from my friend, the New Democratic Party finance critic. The minister has indeed been accessible.
I have a very specific question. This document is a snapshot. I know that if someone has a crystal ball, it is pretty murky right now. We cannot see very far ahead. However, I do wonder how it is that on page 20 of this document there is a reference to a payment for people with disabilities as though it has happened. We know that it has not.
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