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Results: 1 - 15 of 32
View Rachel Blaney Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am scared.
History has shown us, too many times, that when change happens, people all too often target who they see as “other”. When anyone defines a person or a group of people as “other than”, we forget the connection of our human family.
All people want an environment that sustains us. All people want safety for their community and their loved ones. All people want to be heard and seen for the realities they are experiencing. In my riding and across Canada, pressure is rising to address indigenous rights and title, to build an economy that will provide living wages while protecting the environment.
I am calling on all Canadians to put down the weapons of racist language. I am calling on all people to not be silent but to remind one another we can have a difference of opinion, but we should not spread hate.
As the mother of indigenous children and grandchildren, they are precious to me. I am calling on all of us to keep all of us safe.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
Madam Speaker, I enjoy my time with the member at the PROC committee, and I appreciate her time in the House on this issue.
One of the realities is that sexual assault and gender-based violence disproportionately impacts women, members of the LGBTQ2+ community, persons living with disabilities, people who are poor and suffering on the socio-economic ladder and sex workers.
Could the member speak to the issue of how the bill will ensure those groups are consulted. hopefully, and implement the training to better educate these folks on the realities facing them?
View Rachel Blaney Profile
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in this House today to discuss a question I asked a few weeks ago of the Minister of Veterans Affairs.
The reality is that last year there was an NDP motion put forward in the House by the member for Courtenay—Alberni, who proposed that when we look at the reality of so many veterans in our country, we want to make sure to support them the best way we know how, and the best way to do that is to make sure that any unspent resources at the end of the fiscal year would move forward into the next fiscal year.
That motion was voted on in this House and actually was one, happily, that was voted on unanimously. It was good to see support from all members for the veterans who have served our country. The motion was voted on positively, but sadly, the implementation was not carried out. In fact, last year $381 million was not spent on veterans as it should have been, in my opinion. I believe that the veterans of this country who served us so fearlessly deserve better.
The minister answered the question that I asked by saying, “benefits are demand driven."
Then on February 10, multiple articles came out, letting Canadians know that there were 44,000 veterans waiting on information about their disability benefits. That list of veterans at the end of September 2019 showed a 10% increase from six months earlier. It was quite a startling number.
We know, because veterans have told us, that long delays are stressful. To change these delays, it seems to me that more resources are needed for things like finding staff who can actually help deliver these services so that those backlogs do not become so long.
What was interesting to me is that the minister, when interviewed on this particular fact, said in one article:
Of course I always want more money. But what we have to do is deal with the money that we have and make sure we put the system together as efficiently as possible.
The minister said that he would always want more money. There was a motion in the House saying that if there were unspent dollars at the end of the fiscal year, we would forward them and put them into the next year's fiscal year. That was the NDP motion, and we all voted for it in this House unanimously. Then we realized that the 2018-19 allotment for veterans affairs was actually $127 million less than the year before, and at the end of that same 2018-19 period, over $100 million was left unspent.
The veterans ombudsman's report stated very clearly that issues about wait times are the single greatest complaint that they receive.
Today I am here to ask the question again: Why are the resources promised to veterans not being forwarded, and when will action be taken?
View Rachel Blaney Profile
Madam Speaker, I am sort of shocked.
I would not disagree in any way that the Conservatives did not support veterans in the way they had demanded. That was something I witnessed. However, the reality is that the new government, which keeps comparing itself to the last government, has still not hired back the right number of people to do the work, those the Conservatives removed. It is definitely something the lapsed money could help out with.
There are 44,000 veterans on the wait-list for disability benefits. We are hearing from the government that they should not worry because they will receive their benefits. However, the question is: when? Why is this process taking so long?
I hope the government will take this seriously, treat veterans a bit better and look at the opportunity provided by the motion that was in the House to make sure that lapsed spending is given back to this particular group that needs it so desperately, especially when the wait-lists are very long.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
Mr. Speaker, at the end of the day, what I am hoping to see with this bill is external oversight for the Canada Border Services Agency to ensure that travellers are protected, but also fundamentally to address the issue of public trust. We want to make sure that the public has trust in our institutions and ensure there is accountability and transparency so that trust is there. It is important.
I wonder if the member could answer how this bill deals with it and if there are any gaps in those concerns.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
Madam Speaker, one of the concerns I have around this bill, and I am hoping we will be able to fix it at committee stage, is it explicitly says that reviews cannot be conducted if resources are not available to do so. That worries me.
Could the member let the House know what kind of resources the government is planning to commit to ensure the PCRC has the resources it needs to carry out its review function?
View Rachel Blaney Profile
Madam Speaker, I will say that unfortunately the member and I do not see eye to eye on some of the environmental concerns. However, as a member who represents a more rural and remote riding, I understand that using our resources is really important.
In my riding, dairy farmers are very concerned. There are several dairy farms in my riding and they are very concerned about the changes that are happening and the impacts that those changes will have on their communities. One of the things I would like to hear the member speak on is when we look at trade agreements how we can start to do a better job of remembering the rural and remote communities, where we have those huge impacts, if we are not thoughtful in moving forward.
I would love to hear how the member plans to move toward some really meaningful climate activism that we need to do across this country. We have not done well in our emissions in this country, but let us just leave it on the rural and remote communities and making sure that as trade agreements are negotiated, that lens is put in place. I feel that they are not looked at seriously enough at this point.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
Mr. Speaker, this House unanimously passed an NDP motion to help veterans by automatically carrying forward unspent funds to the following year. This did not happen.
Last year alone, the Liberal government shortchanged veterans by $381 million. While the department is facing staggering backlogs of disability claims and failing on more than half of its service standards, veterans are struggling to get their basic needs met.
Why is the government breaking promises to our veterans?
View Rachel Blaney Profile
Mr. Speaker, over $100 million this year alone was left on the table. When we know veterans are struggling every day to get some of their key supports met, we know that we have to see the government do better.
I want to repeat that there was a unanimous motion where we all agreed, across every party in the House, to take care of veterans who we know are on wait-lists, waiting for the immediate services that they need now. We know that the service standards are not even close to meeting their targets, and we know that workers are getting burnt out every single day.
Why does this money continue to be left on the table?
View Rachel Blaney Profile
Madam Speaker, in my riding, one of the biggest challenges in this trade agreement, and actually cumulatively through the multiple trade agreements that have happened, is really impacting my dairy farmers. I have several dairy farms in my riding and the farmers are very concerned about when it will be and what the compensation is actually going to look like and of course, most important, that we see stronger protection of supply management, which provides us with safe milk and dairy products. I wonder if the member could speak a bit about how he sees this being lost and what that does to rural and remote communities.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
Madam Speaker, I am here today to speak to the trade agreement now before the House. I have had opportunities in the last few days to stand in the House, but this is my first speech.
I would like thank all the people in my riding who helped me in being elected to serve in the House for a second term. When we have an election, it is amazing how many people come forward to volunteer, and they do so much significant work in the community.
I also want to thank my family members who supported my being here today, especially my sister Mary. Even thought she has three small children to care for, she flew in to spend the last few days of the election with me. It meant a lot to have her there.
However, I also want to acknowledge all the volunteers for every party. At the end of the day, democracy is fundamental to our country. It is important to acknowledge all the people who volunteered and spent time working very hard for their candidates.
I have some concerns about this agreement and I am torn on this issue. I recognize the importance of trade to our country and to its economic success. We live in a global economy, but I have a lot of concerns about how that works.
The U.S. is is Canada's most significant trading partner. It is our friend and our neighbour. We have some political challenges with the U.S. at certain times, but there is a lot of back and forth between our two countries. Therefore, trying to find ways to work with the Americans is important.
However, at the end of the day, trade needs to focus on fairness. We need to have trade that assures all Canadians are respected throughout the process.
I live in a rural and remote community. North Island—Powell River is just under 60,000 square kilometres. There are several ferries. It is both on Vancouver Island and on the Mainland. One of the things that worries me in our trade process, and I will talk about the transparency of that process, is we often forget some of our rural and remote communities and the challenges they face when we do not think about trade through that lens.
My riding has several dairy farms. When we look at what has been happening with the past several trade agreements, supply management is struggling. From my perspective, supply management is really under attack. I understand that there are challenges when we trade, but supply management is so important. It assures all Canadians of a good product in which they can trust. I encourage people to check out a Canadian dairy farm. It is an amazing thing. It is a lot more healthy and wonderful than one thinks, and we can trust that product.
Protecting rural and remote communities is key. Supply management allows us to have robust farms that are small and local, that provide local jobs, not only on the farms but in the services they use, and that is important.
Viewfield Farms, Daldas Farms and Lloydshaven farm are in my riding. Those farms are a big part of our community. Not only do they employ people at their farms and create amazing products, they also access the services around them to care for their farms, their milk products and their cows.
When we look at the negotiations that have taken place on supply management, under CUSMA, CPTPP and CETA about 10% of the market share has been taken away from those sectors, which makes it harder for those farms. I hope we do not want more focus on centralization. That takes away from those small rural and remote communities and starts to build in larger centres. Therefore, this is important.
The other thing that worries me is that this trade agreement contains a provision that would grant the U.S. oversight into the administration of the Canadian dairy system. It undermines Canada's sovereignty and our ability to manage our product. When we look at the product produced in the U.S., we need to be concerned about it. We know that the American dairy sector uses bovine growth hormone, which increases milk production up to 25%. There are no studies on what that does to people when they consume these products.
We know it is really bad for the cows. They suffer from more stress and there is a higher incidence of udder infections, swollen legs and premature death. It should be very concerning when that product is coming across our borders. Canadians need to know what the product is. As I said earlier, those who go to Canadian farms will feel good about eating dairy products. Farmers take care of their cows.
Another important area for me, especially in this day and age, is environmental protections and addressing issues like climate change. When there are trade discussions, Canada has an important opportunity to reflect on how it is doing with respect to its climate change actions, on which we need to do a lot better. However, it is also an opportunity to negotiate with other countries to increase their accountability. I want to see more trade agreements where provisions around the environment and climate change are binding and fully enforceable. We do not see that in this agreement.
The provisions should also focus on and be in line with Canada's international obligations. When we look at the Paris agreement, we do not see that reflected. When I look at this trade agreement, it really does not help us move forward and toward those important environmental climate change targets.
I have another frustration. I remember being in this place in the spring of last year, talking about ratifying this agreement. Again and again, the NDP asked why the government was rushing this, that we needed to ensure the U.S. Democrats in Congress had an opportunity to do their work on this deal, that they would make it a better deal, and that happened. However, we kept hearing that it was the best deal we could get. Then the government would go back to the table and come back again, saying it was a better deal.
It is important for the government understand it has an obligation to get the best deal it can, to take every action it can to ensure Canadian workers are cared for, that we are respectful of workers in other countries, that we look at how it will impact our businesses and economy, what it looks like in urban settings and in rural and remote settings. I am glad the work was done, but it is frustrating to keep having this conversation.
I am very pleased that chapter 11, the investor-state dispute settlement of NAFTA, is finally gone. When we look at the history of the country, Canada was sued repeatedly and this mechanism kept us in a vulnerable position. I am glad it is gone.
However, I am also concerned about some of the language I see in the agreement that leads me to believe some of those things are entwined in the language. We will have to watch that carefully, and we should be concerned about it.
At the end of the day, though, one of my biggest frustrations on all trade agreements is the lack of transparency of the negotiation process. It needs to be addressed and I hope that is fixed soon.
Canadians across the country need to understand what we are negotiating and why. As I said earlier, I represent three dairy farms in my riding and one thing they wanted to know how much supply management quota we were giving away. They were frustrated by the lack of communication and clarity around this very important issue.
We have a huge country with a lot of diverse economies. We also have a lot of rural and remote communities, like mine, that are struggling as we adjust to this changing world and changing economy. We need to ensure that trade recognizes this and looks at how we can work collaboratively to ensure those folks are not left behind in these discussions.
I call on the government to understand that we need a more transparent process. I understand that when we are negotiating something, we do not want to lay all our cards on the table publicly. However, there still was not enough information that allowed different sectors in our communities across Canada to express their concerns and ensure that those voices were heard. Even in the states, Trump was very clear about his goals, so we need to hear the goals of government.
I look forward to having further discussions. I am excited for the bill go to committee, where we can study these issues more fully.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
Madam Speaker, I am a little concerned about the fact that the member does not seem to understand fulsomely what supply management is. He also does not seem to support it. It is not exactly what I thought I would hear from that side of the House.
I want to be really clear. In Canada, we have, through our supply management system, a really strong dairy sector that is reliable and strong. We know what we are getting in that product. The cost of our dairy is very reasonable. It is a great relationship between ensuring we have fair prices and providing stability and support for those businesses that are often held by families for generation after generation.
I am going to come back to the good, healthy product we have. We know what is in our dairy products, and that is really important.
I am a little concerned that side of the House, which says it supports supply management, seems to have a different opinion.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
Madam Speaker, I apologize for not responding in the member's first language, French. I am working on it, but it is taking me a long time.
This is an important part of the reality for our dairy farmers across the country. I want to be really clear. I am not sure about the dairy farmers in her riding, but the dairy farmers in my riding have said that they will take the compensation if they have to. However, what they really want is just to do their job and to provide a good product, and not have their quota moved all the time.
That does raise a lot of concern. How is that compensation going to come back to those businesses? How is that going to roll out? Is it going to be continuous? How are we going to ensure that those dairy farmers have the opportunity to be strong and well-funded in their own right. This is a concern.
As I said earlier, in small, rural and remote communities, we need these dairy farms. They assure us of a good product. They do all the things in which I think Canadians really believe. We need to ensure we protect them. Compensation helps, but it is not the last solution. Hopefully we will see something from the government soon, because they deserve it.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
Madam Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to remind the member that I am actually in a seat on the opposition side. My job and my duty to all Canadians is to look at agreements and offer suggestions on how I feel we could do better based on the conversations I have in my riding.
That is the work I do, and I am really proud to do it. I would just encourage that member to look a little more closely, because the environmental commitments are nowhere near what he is suggesting.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
Madam Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to respectfully congratulate the Shelter Point Distillery. This amazing distillery in my riding produces an amazing array of whisky. It took home best all-rye whisky at the 2020 Canadian Whisky Awards, gold medals for single cask rye and smoke point single grain whisky, and several silver medals.
I congratulate the distillery for all its contributions to our community and for its great reputation for whisky in Canada.
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