Committee
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Add search criteria
Results: 1 - 100 of 283
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Chair, as humanity battles COVID-19, we are confronted by the stark realities of another disease.
On May 25, George Floyd fell unconscious and died as a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. This all happened after the 46-year-old black man was handcuffed and put in a position where he could do no harm.
In Canada, we have come a long way since Viola Desmond, yet there is much more to do. Anti-black racism is institutionalized, hidden under dominant narratives of a free and multicultural society. Hatred has no boundaries, whether it is against black communities or is anti-Asian sentiment fuelled by COVID-19.
The question always is this: Who is next? We must all stand up together against hatred and for justice and reconciliation, to dismantle systems of oppression that long remained unquestioned.
Recent data from Statistics Canada shows that Canada is failing black youth, creating the conditions that push them into the justice system. To the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, my question is this: What is the government doing to address the unique challenges faced by black youth?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much.
I do want to thank our guests today for being here and for presenting the report.
My question is with respect to cultural sovereignty, which you write about in the report and which you've referenced today. Can you expand a bit more on how important cultural sovereignty is to Canadians? How can we move forward? This is an issue that has been talked about at this committee and has been written about in previous reviews of the CBC. Can you give us some more context in this report on cultural sovereignty?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Minister and General, for being here today.
I want to continue the questioning from my colleague Ms. Ludwig with respect to women veterans.
We heard from the veterans ombudsman earlier this week. He said to our committee that he had had the chance to speak to a number of women veterans and women advocates, and it's clear that a number of the programs and services they have access to were not designed specifically with women service members or women veterans in mind.
I know that our government has talked about running government policies, programs and services through gender-based analysis plus. Can you speak to how GBA+ may have been used to evaluate current programs for women veterans and how we can improve those services so that women can have greater access and be better included?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Wonderful.
I also want to thank the minister and the general for their work in supporting the Highway of Heroes. Highway 401 runs through my riding of Scarborough North. Earlier this year, on January 31, I wrote to Finance Minister Bill Morneau to encourage the government's support of this very important project that will see two million trees planted honouring our veterans, our brave servicemen and servicewomen, 117,000 of whom have paid the ultimate sacrifice. That investment is incredibly helpful. I want to highlight your comments, Minister, when you said earlier today that the best way to learn history is to ensure it lives on, and this initiative certainly does that.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'm going to be blunt because this is a report card, and to me, this is a failing report card.
I want to thank the ombudsman for making these recommendations, but I just find it very disheartening to see that—I'll give credit where credit is due—50 out of 63 have been implemented or partially implemented, but in the category of health care and support for veterans, eight out of 10 are not implemented. To me, that is incredibly tragic. Our veterans, our service men and women, put their lives on the line, put their physical and mental health at risk to serve our country. We need to make sure that we are doing better.
In looking at some of the areas where improvement is needed, Mr. Ombudsman, you said earlier that you believe it's the capacity to manage the change at the department. That is partly why some of these things that seem incredibly simple and logical lead me to ask this question. We see so many other parts of this report being addressed adequately. Why is it that when it comes to health care and support, we are lagging behind? Why is that not a priority in terms of making sure that, for example, veterans don't have to wait in the 40,000 backlog of cases. Why, for example, are they not getting the same access to dental care as they would under the public health care plan? Why is this not being prioritized?
To me, it's one of the most important things, to make sure that veterans and their families get the supports they require when it comes to their health and well-being after they have served.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
How does the accountability work? The ombudsman issues a report, addresses certain areas and highlights issues and problems that you have identified based on input and experiences of veterans. Is that simply just provided to the department, and then it's up to them where, how and when they address the concerns you have raised?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
I think that's very key because, if these recommendations are being made, the first step is to determine whether or not the department agrees with the recommendation. The second piece is, if they do agree with it, what is their plan. Where is the action plan? What steps are they going to take? What are the achievable targets and where is the accountability? To me, these things are extremely important.
You're the connection to veterans who are upset, who are frustrated and who are not getting the service that they deserve and should be entitled to, and they need to know what the answer is. It's one thing for them to raise the concern, but there has to be a response and it has to be formally communicated so that there is accountability and transparency with respect to these recommendations and what specific actions the department is going to take to address them.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much to our witnesses for being here today.
Ms. Tait, I know that you were appointed to the CBC in 2018 and that what I'm about to raise is something that happened before your time, but it's important because there's the saying that we can always learn from the mistakes of the past.
In 2012, the previous government cut $115 million in funding for the CBC. Although I know you were not at the helm of the organization at that time, what would be the consequence if that type of cut were made to CBC? How would that affect your organization?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
One of the great services—
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Our government chose to do things differently, and in 2017, for the very first time, individual applications were accepted by an independent advisory committee on appointments, which was then tasked with making recommendations for new board members. You did raise in your testimony a concern about partisan appointments to the board. Can you speak to whether or not this new process has made a difference? It sounds like you might have other suggestions as to how to improve that process.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I want to thank all the witnesses for being here.
I want to echo the comments made earlier by some of my colleagues, and to thank and acknowledge Mr. Christopherson for his contributions. He will leave an incredible void of knowledge and experience on this committee, and I know he will be missed.
I am not feeling well today, but I did manage to make it to committee, and I'm not feeling much better reading some of this in the report. Paragraph 1.13 from the Auditor General, the call centres “sent millions of calls back to the automated system or told callers to go to the website or to call back later”. If any of us as elected officials did that to our constituents, we'd all be out of a job. We really would. It's unacceptable. Imagine constituents calling our offices and we have an automated message telling them to check out a website or to call back later. Then they call back and they're put on a wait-list. That is unacceptable.
Paragraph 1.48, “At the end of our audit, five years after the federal government began to modernize the technology for all of its 221 call centres, the initiative was rolling out to only 8.” Really? I was on a travel website and a box kept appearing on my screen saying they had a live agent who could help me. In the world out there, people are being proactive, making sure there is good customer service and that people can get correct information and talk to somebody, whether it's on a website or on the phone.
Here we are talking about a call centre, which I do agree for a lot of Canadians is still the most accessible way, yet we can't even get the technology up to speed.
Mr. Benay mentioned earlier that the IT policy in the department had not been changed for 14 years. I find that incredible. Can you share some of the changes that were made to the policy?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
I'm very happy to hear that. The road is moving ahead with technology, be it private sector or other institutions, and their success really depends on it. The success of companies depends on their ability to adapt to change in the information world in which we exist, so I'm happy to hear that some progress is being made.
I do have another question for Ms. MacDonald regarding the web content that is written in plain language at a grade 8 level. I know from my constituency that a lot of folks who are trying to access services and understand programs within IRCC are potentially newer immigrants, those who may not have the grade 8 reading level. Can you speak to the rationale for that level? Also, how did that decision get made?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
As our witnesses very well know, in 2012 fundamental changes were made to the asylum system. These changes included new legislated timelines that forced a hearing to be scheduled within 30 days or 60 days. However, these rules did not apply to claims that were submitted prior to 2012. As a result, this created a backlog of 32,000 people, the so-called legacy backlog, some of whom have been waiting for a hearing for seven to eight years through no fault of their own. It's my understanding that a special task force was set up in 2012 to help clear this backlog. Can one of our witnesses update us on the progress of the work of that task force?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
In this year's budget there was an even greater investment, with $208 million going to IRB over the next two fiscal years. How will this money be used? How many new staff will be hired with this money that's being committed? How do you see these resources helping to address the current number of claims in the system?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are we still scheduling hearings within the 60-day time period?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
It sounds as if we have been working to improve and invest in the system, and you've mentioned increased productivity at IRB. Do you have any specific numbers that can speak to how that productivity can be measured in a quantitative way?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Yes, thank you, Mr. Chair.
Dr. Croft, you mentioned that there are drugs that are safer and as effective as mefloquine.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Currently, it's been recorded by the Canadian Armed Forces that within the past two years, only three servicemen and women have been prescribed mefloquine and that the practice currently is that the drug is given only if specifically requested. Can you speak to the alternatives and what you would do in this case? Do you agree with this policy of prescribing it to those who request it?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Not everyone can make an informed decision if they don't have the information, and too often we rely on drug labelling to provide information on the risks of taking medications.
What do you think is needed in terms of how members of the Canadian Armed Forces can be better informed and educated before they are asked to make that decision?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
You're saying to remove it altogether and not provide it as an option.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
To continue with Mr. McColeman's line of questioning, we understand from DND that currently the drug mefloquine is prescribed to servicewomen and -men only if they ask for it. For the past two years, they reported that only three people in the armed forces have been prescribed mefloquine.
I'm hearing from you, as our witnesses, that this drug should not be prescribed at all for servicewomen and -men given the conditions under which they work and the risk of potential long-term reactions. When a servicewoman or -man is deployed to an area where malaria is a real risk, and if all other anti-malarial medications are contraindicated, would you consider mefloquine as a drug of last resort for those who might be exposed to malaria?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Dr. Sellers, I'm sorry, but I have limited time.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Dr. Sellers, I just want to clarify. Are you are saying with respect to other anti-malarials that you cannot think of a situation where someone should have to choose mefloquine over those other options?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
With respect to prescribing mefloquine, you've said that drug labelling is not sufficient. Patients need to be explicitly warned. How would that be done, in a general sense, for any doctor prescribing this to a patient?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
I'd like to hear Professor Quinn, if she has any comments with respect to my questions.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to the witnesses today for providing some incredible testimony and for their passion on this issue.
I know a few of you are from Ontario, particularly Jack, Washington and Scott. My background is in education. Before coming to Ottawa, I was the chair and trustee of the Toronto District School Board.
I know in Ontario now the provincial government has scrapped the 2015 sex education curriculum, and with it, lessons on gender expression, gender identity, same-sex marriage, same-sex relationships and sexual orientation. There have been groups and individuals, ranging from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association to teachers, health educators, medical professionals, social workers, parents and students, who have come out very strongly in recent weeks and months against these changes imposed by the Ontario provincial government.
As people who work with the trans and LGBTQ community, can you speak to the impact of those changes within the Ontario education system on young people?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
There was some testimony about racialized and aboriginal communities. Can you speak to some of the gaps in terms of education when it comes to new immigrant communities and racialized communities? How can we do a better job at promoting that education within those groups?
That's open to anyone.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I want to thank our witnesses for being here today.
I know from the last meeting where we had witnesses on this topic there was much concern about the number of servicemen and servicewomen who are choosing to use mefloquine. I do know the Canadian Armed Forces made the decision to prescribe the medication only when it had been requested.
One of the previous witnesses has shared that in the U.S., mefloquine accounts for less than 1% of the prescriptions to treat servicewomen and servicemen. Currently, in the Canadian Armed Forces that's at 5%. Can you speak to some of the reasons you might be aware of as to why individuals are opting for mefloquine?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
What would be the up-to-date numbers?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Then, essentially, with respect to last year, are you aware of the reasons that those three individuals opted for this particular drug?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Correct. So somebody might request it if they've taken the drug before and they're able to use it without any adverse side affects. There are other medications that are available. Given this information you've just shared, that so far this year nobody has requested it, and last year there were only three servicemen and servicewomen who requested it, and given the concerns that have been raised around this particular drug, what is the rationale? Although I hear from you that the research is possibly not entirely definitive, what is the rationale to continue to offer this particular drug? Is it because the other options are not suitable for the people who might opt in for this drug? Can you speak more about that?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
In the U.S. there have been veterans who have been compensated for medical conditions that were directly linked to the use of mefloquine. Do you know of any cases in Canada where that has occurred or possible cases moving forward where that might be the same situation?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
I'm not aware. I just understand that in the U.S., some folks have been compensated, veterans specifically.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
With respect to the types of compensation that we may have provided to veterans, it's more in terms of dealing with the conditions they currently are in and to assist them. In any of those cases, have we linked specifically the cause of those conditions to the use of mefloquine?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Has there been any litigation—
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
If I had to venture a guess, I would say that most Canadians would be quite shocked to hear what has been shared in this committee today, and to read the Auditor General's report. Most Canadians would find a lot of pride in knowing there are sites of national importance, and heritage buildings that are identified as important to Canada and to Canadians, and they would be shocked to hear that these sites and buildings are not being properly conserved.
I want to pick up on a few points and, quite frankly, I don't know where to start, because there's just too much here that I want to look into.
When it comes to, for example, the two departments, where, as one of my colleagues pointed out, maintenance decisions were based on operational needs, I certainly can appreciate that if a building is being used, you need to consider first and foremost the health and safety of the users. With that said, it sounds to me like departments are left on their own to decide how much they invest or not in conserving heritage properties. It sounds to me like there's a federal policy that really only mandates that heritage buildings are kept by those particular departments if they are required for operations.
Can the Auditor General's office give me a better indication of who is ultimately responsible, or mandated to be responsible, for conserving heritage sites that are identified as such? To me, it makes no sense to have a site designated a heritage building, or one of national importance, and then to do nothing to conserve it. Why bother?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
They're the ones to take care of it. Under the Financial Administration Act, they must submit buildings that are over 40 years old to be evaluated and considered. Once a building is designated heritage, they can then decide whether or not to make sure it's properly conserved and maintained. Is that correct?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
It was mentioned earlier that over successive governments, there really was not enough investment into ensuring that the long-term capital needs of these buildings are being provided for. Can you mention the investments that have been made most recently, and whether the Auditor General's office was able to determine if those were sufficient for the long-term needs of these buildings and sites?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
I did hear that money was a major concern, as has been reiterated by Mr. Christopherson. I just want to read paragraph 2.76 again, in the conclusion of this report:
We concluded that Parks Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and National Defence did not work sufficiently to conserve the heritage value and extend the physical life of federal heritage properties. They did not have a full picture of their heritage properties; for example, information on the condition of their heritage properties was not current.
What is the solution here? It might be a rhetorical question, but I'm trying to figure it out here. They're working hard to catch up with having an understanding of what properties are under their department. Simultaneously, they're the ones responsible. This problem has been looked at since 2003, with the first report, the 2007 report and now this report. It just feels like déjà vu.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I want to thank our witnesses, Dr. Nevin and Dr. Ritchie, for being here today.
From headaches and diarrhea to anxiety, hallucinations and depression—you've called it poisoning of the brain and poisoning of the central nervous system. Dr. Nevin, you said that 5% usage in the Canadian Armed Forces is tremendously higher than in the U.S. It's been pointed out that in the U.S., it's less than 1% usage.
In the Canadian Armed Forces press release, it says that “Mefloquine will now only be recommended for use if a CAF member requests it.” Why on earth would anyone request this drug? From your experience, can you speak to why this is? I know it's from the CAF. Why would it be given out? Why would somebody request this drug?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
If there are servicewomen and servicemen who can take the drug and not experience the potential adverse effects of it, Dr. Nevin, you said there is a risk with taking the very first tablet that there can be the development of a permanent disability.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Dr. Ritchie, in terms of the U.S., where there is less than 1% usage of mefloquine, can you speak to any information you have in terms of how the U.S. armed forces might better inform or educate members of their military with respect to the side effects? How do we account for the difference in usage of mefloquine?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thanks, Mr. Chair.
This has been incredibly powerful testimony. I want to thank the witnesses again.
I want to go back to the issue of informed decision-making of servicewomen and servicemen taking mefloquine.
According to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, mefloquine is contraindicated for individuals with a recent history of psychiatric disorders. Given that service women and men are potentially out in the field experiencing events that can be traumatic, how could we continue to give out this drug? As has been pointed out earlier, 5% of servicemen and servicewomen in this country are taking this drug.
How are we able to give them that informed decision-making if they are put in circumstances that could potentially create situations where they are being exposed to trauma and very challenging situations that increase their risk of the adverse side effects of this medication?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
So you're suggesting this drug should not be used or prescribed.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I want to thank Dr. Douglas and Dr. Suter for joining us today and providing their testimony.
I want to begin by reading from the 2014 report by the European Medicines Agency. It stated, “There is enough evidence from the presented drug safety reports, the submitted literature report and the FDA assessment report supporting a causal relationship between mefloquine and the occurrence of long lasting and even persistent neuropsychiatric side effects.” Certainly, both of our witnesses provided much testimony today.
Within our Canadian Armed Forces, currently, mefloquine is used for less than 5% of malaria prevention prescriptions. From my understanding, since June 2017, it is only prescribed to members of the Canadian Armed Forces when it is specifically requested, or when other options are deemed a contraindication. What is your thinking, what is your assessment of how the armed forces is currently prescribing this drug?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
That's an excellent question in terms of why somebody would ask specifically for mefloquine. As far as I can see, there's no literature to look at that question. That would certainly be a good research question to put out there.
You mentioned other drugs, but that they also carry risk. As you mentioned earlier, there could be underlying conditions or a buildup of different events in, for example, a soldier's career where he or she actually hits that point where they break the camel's back and they reach that critical point of PTSD.
With respect to the other drugs, can you speak to the neurological or psychiatric conditions as well as experiences that are potentially traumatic? What are the potential risks with other types of medications that are used for malaria?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Dr. Suter, do you have anything to add?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
I know we've talked about the research questions you put out there of how many soldiers have been exposed. What do you think would be some of the broader research questions, because these drugs are used by folks who are outside of the Canadian Armed Forces?
What type of research do you think would be very helpful for us, as a community, to move forward on this issue in the interest of public safety?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I have a question for the physicians, the doctors here with us today and the researchers.
In 2016, Veterans Affairs Canada reduced the maximum allowable reimbursement limit for medical marijuana from 10 grams to three grams per day. They also established an exceptional approval process for those who require a higher dosage. Some have argued that there is a lack of medical professionals who specialize in treating PTSD and are simultaneously well versed on medical marijuana usage. Many of you have pointed out the lack of research and the need for more data on the effects of using medicinal cannabis.
Can you comment on some of those concerns that have been previously raised?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Doctor, thank you for sharing that.
This goes to your earlier comments. You spoke about the development of a national information registry and an information campaign, combined with what you have just raised with respect to medical schools arming the next generation of doctors with the proper knowledge.
Can you talk a bit more about that national information registry that you mentioned at the end of your testimony earlier?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
The data is showing, in fact, that the department spent in the 2016-17 fiscal year, $63.7 million on medicinal cannabis. That amount was triple the amount that it had spent the year before. Simultaneously it reduced the limit from 10 grams per day to three grams per day.
Based on your experiences, and I'm happy to hear from Mr. Baldwin-Brown as well, what are some of the reasons and factors you can share with us as to why there has been such an increase in just one year?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to all the witnesses for being here today.
In 2016, the Auditor General released his report on recruiting and retention in the Canadian Armed Forces. Specifically he said, in section 5.25 of his report:
We found that although the Canadian Armed Forces had established a goal for the representation of women among its ranks, it set this overall goal with no specific targets by occupation. We also found that despite the fact that achieving this goal depends heavily on increased recruiting, the Canadian Armed Forces had not implemented any special employment equity measures....
The AG went on to say in his recommendations:
The Canadian Armed Forces should establish appropriate representation goals for women [in] each occupation. It should also develop and implement measures to achieve them.
We're now in 2019. Have we implemented what the AG has recommended?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are visible minorities and indigenous peoples included in that encouragement in those particular occupations where they are under-represented?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
In 2016, the chief of the defence staff stated that the goal is to have 25% women, that the forces would increase by 1% each year.
I like numbers, so I drew a little table here. In 2016 there were 14.4% women and currently there are 15.7%. The goal is to have 25.1% in 2026, so there's a long way to go. When it comes to indigenous peoples, in 2016 it was 2.7% and currently it is 2.8%. That is not much of a change over two and a half years. The goal is 3.5% in 2026. Finally, with respect to visible minorities, it was 6% in 2016 and is currently 8.7%. The goal is to have 11.8%.
Out of the three groups we are looking at, the visible minority group seems to be making the most progress. How are we going to fill the gap for women and indigenous people? Are you confident that you're going to be able to meet those targets that are set for 2026?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
So you're getting there, good. I have one final question.
Lieutenant-General Lamarre, you said in your testimony earlier, “I know of many members who do not self-identify as belonging to any group within visible minorities” and “They do not want to be known for being a minority”.
That comment got my back up, because I wear my racialized identity. The salience of race prohibits anyone from not being able to identify what their racialized identity is.
How did you get this information? I did not read that coming out of the Auditor General's report. Can you explain to me how you came to that conclusion?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I brought up an issue earlier and didn't fully mention my question. Lieutenant-General Lamarre said earlier in his comments, “I know of many members who do not self-identify as belonging to any group within visible minorities” and “They do not want to be known for being a minority.”
One's racial identity is visible and as a Canadian of Chinese descent I wear my Chinese face and I am a very proud Canadian. It is an intrinsic part of my self-identity.
How did Lieutenant-General Lamarre get this information? I know that in the Auditor General's report, as far as I can recall, there was no mention of members of the Canadian Armed Forces and their self-identity and how they identified.
Could I hear from Lieutenant-General Lamarre?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
I hear you, Lieutenant-General, and I appreciate that explanation. I can't speak for the person you're referring to, but as a member of Parliament, as a Canadian of Chinese descent, I am very proud to be a member of Parliament. I would imagine any person who serves within our Canadian Armed Forces is proud to serve.
However, in any organization there is a dominant culture, and we need to be mindful that when people feel it unnecessary to self-identify as a particular group or that they believe it's not good to be known for being part of a minority, it speaks to the possibility of a cultural dissonance, the feeling they are better off being part of that dominant culture in the absence of self-identity.
I believe that any person is very well aware of their self identity if they are racialized. We should encourage women and visible minorities to self-identify as who they are and to be accepted and to have a sense of belonging in that organization. To me that is very important.
I believe that if we are looking at a situation where people feel they do not need to self-identify and they do not want to be known for being a minority, then we need to do a better job of creating that inclusive environment where they should be comfortable and to be able to do their jobs as members of the Canadian Armed Forces with pride, having the diverse lived experiences, histories and culture they can bring to the work they do.
My colleague Mr. Spengemann's question on how that diversity enriches the work of the Canadian Armed Forces gives a very good example of the importance of enabling that true inclusiveness.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
I just want to reiterate that I do congratulate the work that is being done, as I said earlier, with respect to visible minorities. There's clear progress in the number of people who are serving. I just want to underscore that my concern really is that when we hear people say that they do not self-identify as belonging to a particular group, then we have to reflect on why that is.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
On a point of order, Mr. Chair, can we get some order in the room, please?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'm very pleased to hear from our witnesses today that the Tom Longboat award was reinstated for federal recipients. Can you share with me when that occurred? When was the award not given out?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
I'm asking because I have a connection to Tom Longboat in my riding. I have a school that is named Tom Longboat Junior Public School. Tom Longboat is, of course, known as the dominant long-distance runner of his time, but what some people might not know is that he was born into poverty. He was forced to attend a residential school at the age of 12. He grew up poor. This is the legacy, the history that has been passed on from generation to generation, faced by indigenous youth.
I look at this issue and I'm new to this committee, I'm a guest today, but I know that the government committee led by Dennis Mills, a former MP who is a predecessor to the Chair's riding, released a report in 1998, and I just want to quote from that report:
Aboriginal people have a poverty rate comparable to that found in developing countries, an unemployment rate among adults of almost 25%, a poorly educated population and a dramatic suicide rate, which among 10- to 19-year-olds, is more than five times higher than that of their non-aboriginal counterparts.... Forty-four per cent of aboriginal people smoke daily, 61% report problems with alcohol abuse and 48% report problems with drug abuse.
I know that there was a significant investment made in last year's budget, $47.5 million over the next five years, as my colleague mentioned, that is specifically targeted to expanding the use of sport to achieve social mobility in indigenous communities. From my other committee, public accounts, it was a very stark message that our Auditor General, the late Michael Ferguson, shared last year. He described Canada's inability to help improve the lives of indigenous peoples in Canada as “an incomprehensible failure”.
We have come a long way, yet there is a lot more work to do. Can you share with me anything that has changed since that 1998 Mills report? What do you anticipate this budget of $47.5 million will do to turn this around, so that the next auditor general does not come back and say that Canada has again failed our indigenous people?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Lieutenant-General, Captain, Doctor, thank you very much for being here. You folks represent the great work that is being done to support our veterans. At the same time, while veterans may be in contact with you and the organizations that you work with, they are often out there seeking service from traditional homeless shelters, for example.
Dr. Forchuk, you talked about those traditional homeless shelters as being too unstructured, and you also pointed out an absence of research on indigenous homeless veterans, save one study that has been done. To me, this speaks to the need for more focused, culturally relevant programs and services to support veterans. It sounds to me that there is a dominant culture out there in the traditional services that is not meeting the needs of veterans.
Lieutenant-General Beare, you pointed out how the language that is used during an intake, for example, “Are you a veteran?” versus, “Have you served?” can be very important when making sure that veterans receive the services they are entitled to.
With this situation, what do you believe is necessary? How do we disrupt that dominant culture? Is there a lack of training on the ground for these traditional service providers? How can government support those efforts to make a difference?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you for that.
Captain Ralph, you're the national program director of Wounded Warriors Canada, and, Lieutenant-General, you are with Soldiers Helping Soldiers. Can you talk about the importance of incorporating veterans into helping veterans? We've heard many times about the connection that veterans themselves can bring to that work. Because they've experienced it themselves, they're able to speak the language better and relate those experiences. Can you talk about the importance and perhaps give some examples of how this is beneficial?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
So veterans can play a very important role in complementing the work of professionals and those who are working to serve veterans. I'm trying to connect the two. If there are services, programs and shelters out there that don't have the expertise in how best to speak the language and work with veterans, do you find that there is a resistance to some of those traditional institutions really working to tap into the expertise and experiences of veterans so that they can better fine-tune how they deliver services?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I want to get back to what Mr. Christopherson was trying to address. On page 25 of the Auditor General's report, 5.111 states:
The 2015 External Review recommended creating an independent body outside of the Canadian Armed Forces that would be responsible for receiving reports of inappropriate sexual behaviour and act as a central authority for collecting information.
It goes on to say that the department created a sexual misconduct response centre and then it says, "the Centre was not given responsibility for receiving reports or collecting information", which is exactly what the external report had recommended.
Can we hear what the rationale was for not implementing what the review had suggested, given the further comments made by the Auditor General that there is a lack of internal oversight, that the data collection was not being done in a systematic way, that there was inconsistency because information was collected in different databases and that reports of incidents were sometimes duplicated because of those multiple systems? Can we get an answer to why that was set up in that way?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Does the centre have responsibility for receiving reports and collecting information? If not, will we get there?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
I want to start off by thanking Inspector Yee and Constable Smith for their work. It's really good to see that the Vancouver Police Department sees the issue of homelessness as one that needs to involve outreach. That's very important. You have a policing role but also a role to serve the community.
Mr. Pearce, you mentioned a very good point, that it's important to have a quick turnaround when it comes to providing service. Often homeless people who are coming in are then heading out very quickly. To build on what my colleague Ms. Ludwig said, our government has invested tremendously, with $10 billion provided over the past three years to provide services and programs to support veterans. One of those is the veterans emergency fund, through which an eligible veteran is able to get up to $2,500 per year.
Have you been able to connect any of the homeless veterans you come across with this particular fund, which can provide money for housing, food and other expenses?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Our committee has met with veterans and has heard from many of them. I know for a fact that there's a caseworker assigned now per veteran, somebody whom they can contact, and that has been very effective in providing more direct service. A lot of these programs will hopefully, over the coming months and years, have that positive impact that we are all looking for. I know the veterans emergency fund became effective this past April. These changes, I hope, will bring about positive change to help complement the work that the police and organizations like yours are doing.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I want to thank Mr. Howard and Mr. Richter for joining us today in our meeting.
I really appreciate and value the optimism, Mr. Richter, that you shared. You said that we know what to do and we know how to do it. We pointed out in today's meeting the fact that in the United States, the number of homeless veterans has been reduced from 2009 to 2017 by a half. It was originally 73,000 and went down to approximately 40,000. In Canada we don't have data prior to 2015, but the 2015 report identified that there were 2,250 homeless veterans using shelters in our country.
Data collection, of course, as you point out, is very important. How do you think we can better capture some of the homeless veterans who are not using shelters? You've pointed out that some are out there living in parks. How do we get that data, in your experience, having worked with many veterans on the front line?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
That's an excellent point. I know, Mr. Howard, you talked about having wraparound services when you built those villages for the homeless veterans. Can you talk about what those wraparound services are? I think it aligns very much with what Mr. Richter just talked about in terms of having a comprehensive approach.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Howard, you would know that nine of the federal VAC offices that were shut down have been reopened over the past three years, and an additional office was opened in Surrey. VAC is working very hard to further their outreach into northern and indigenous communities as well. In terms of that federal leadership, we've seen the $10 billion in investments that have been made over the past three years.
What else do you see us doing? Do you feel there is a need for more VAC offices to be opened? Do you feel that the partnership with the various organizations needs to be expanded? I know that funding opportunities like the veteran and family well-being fund are available for organizations to apply to. How do you see us moving forward and working together to ensure that our veterans are well served and that those homeless veterans are not on the streets or living in the woods?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'll be splitting my time with Mr. Samson.
In my short time on this committee, I've heard witnesses and others talk about the importance of veterans being part of the solution.
Mr. Stanfield, you mentioned that when reaching out to homeless veterans, sometimes word of mouth or a helping hand from another veteran to bring in that homeless veteran is very powerful.
Can you talk to some more examples of how important it is to include veterans in providing solutions for veterans?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
That is extremely powerful.
I was meeting today with the Canadian Construction Association. They had read my bio and knew that I was sitting on the veterans affairs committee. They were talking about how interested they were to reach out to veterans to provide opportunities to them to train and find employment in that vast and booming industry.
Can you talk about some of the challenges veterans might face with respect to finding employment and how these tie in to the other issues they might be facing, such as homelessness or health issues, and whether there's a gap there and how it relates to the broader concern we want to give attention to for our veterans?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
I want to start by thanking the three witnesses here today.
You clearly speak with such care and compassion for our veterans, and the work you do is tremendous. It is a great service to veterans and to our country, so I want to commend our witnesses for their hard work. This care and compassion is exemplified by the investments that I know over the past three years have been made to support veterans—a total of $10 billion.
One of the challenges, as you mentioned, Mr. Cléroux, is to be able to identify veterans and to offer and provide the types of support they need. I'm glad you gave the example of the veteran who was living in a tent and all he wanted was a lamp and a bicycle to get to work with. Of course, there are many other resources and services that can be provided to support veterans like him.
Mr. Cléroux, I know that your organization offers direct financial assistance through a number of different funds. One of the new funds that was launched April 1 of this year is the veterans emergency fund.
Do you know if that fund is being accessed to its potential in providing the $2,500 per veteran per year for extenuating circumstances, and to help pay for food, shelter and other situations that come up that veterans need support for?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
That's great. It sounds like it's being used.
The pension for life is rolling out in April. That fund, as you've mentioned, is for veterans and the pain and suffering they have endured as a result of service-related injury or illness. Hopefully, that fund will be utilized by the veterans that need it. It provides that monthly tax-free payment to them so that they can access the financial resources they are entitled to.
There's an application that must be filled out. What do you think needs to be done to ensure that veterans who are out there and suffering, who do have those service-related illnesses or injuries, are aware of the pension for life and are going to apply? How can we better reach out to those veterans to make sure that every veteran who deserves that payment gets it?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
That's great.
Ms. Le, you mentioned Helmets to Hardhats. As I told the previous round of witnesses, I met with the Canadian Construction Association earlier today. They really want to attract more people to work in Canada's booming construction industry, and one of the groups they mentioned was veterans.
This sounds like something in that realm. Could you perhaps share with us a bit more about that program?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My question relates to the security deficiencies at Canadian missions abroad, particularly with respect to overall project management. It's my understanding, based on the AG's report, that Global Affairs is responsible for overall project management, but they did not seem to have proper people in place.
Government is extremely big, and there is expertise in many places. I'm wondering if you had a satisfactory answer from the department as to why that knowledge wasn't tapped into, why the people perhaps doing a good job in project management in other departments were not consulted or brought over, and why these positions were not filled with the great expertise we have out there.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I want to start off by thanking both of our guests for being with us today.
I want to echo the comments that they and my colleagues on the committee have made with respect to the work of VETS Canada and the Royal Canadian Legion. I'm very lucky to have the Centennial Branch 614 of the Legion just across the street from my constituency office. They do a fantastic job of getting veterans together. They've invited me a few times to their karaoke night, but it always seems to fall on a weekday when I'm in Ottawa. I do hope to join them one day. More importantly, they're really there to help veterans when the help is needed. The fact that the veterans are there to support each other is very, very important and tremendous.
My colleagues have mentioned the emergency fund. I know that this fund provides up to $1 million every fiscal year. This is a new fund, from my understanding. When was this fund first put in place?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
It's 2018. Prior to that, if veterans needed access to emergency funding and support, and they called Veterans Affairs Canada, what would happen?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
The decision on whether to support a veteran is made by Veterans Canada. It's a new fund, and there's a tremendous need. This, to me, is in fact a great success because, as was pointed out earlier, 66% of the fund has already been spent for this fiscal year. Veterans are hearing about this, they're calling back and they're getting the supports they need.
What types of situations can you share with us regarding veterans who are getting funding through this emergency fund? What are they facing?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I want to thank both doctors for being with us today.
Based on Dr. Courchesne's testimony, it's my understanding that the use of marijuana for medical purposes for veterans is in fact nothing new. In 1999 it became legal to possess medicinal marijuana, and since 2008 VAC has covered the use of medicinal marijuana by veterans.
You mentioned the Auditor General's report on this issue. Fortunately, I sit on the public accounts committee, so I'm quite familiar with the Auditor General's reports.
The Auditor General's report that's been referenced by the doctors today states the following in paragraph 4.44:
While the Department advised us that it covered only the amount of marijuana for medical purposes recommended by the physician or a medical specialist, as outlined in the Regulations, we found that the Department had not established limits on cost or the amount to be covered.
In 2008 there was no limit on the cost of the medicinal marijuana that veterans were using. There were also no specifics provided on how much could be covered. To me, that sounds like there's a lack of a specific framework through which VAC provides benefits to veterans.
Can you tell me what has changed since 2008? Arising out of the Auditor General's report two years ago, what has the department done to contain cost and provide a framework for the benefits that are provided to the veterans?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
That same report by the Auditor General also critiqued the department's management of the drug benefits list. Medicinal marijuana is one of many ways in which veterans address their medical concerns. It was recommended by the Auditor General that the department look at creating a decision-making framework that would seek specific evidence for deciding which drugs to reimburse and for how much. It was also identified in the Auditor General's report that when they looked at a number situations where veterans were given drugs, there wasn't sufficient evidence as to how those drugs would be helpful to them in those situations. To me this sounds like a larger problem.
How would you say the department is now viewing the drug benefits list? How are they better managing it? Are you more or less relying on the due diligence of physicians prescribing these drugs or medicinal marijuana to give their patients the best medical advice that they need?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I want to thank all the guests who are before our committee today for providing their testimony.
My first question is to the Auditor General's office. Exhibit 2.2 on page 7 of the AG's report gives a summary of the number of items that were requested to be transferred or sold per federal organization. The numbers are all over the map.
I know that CRA operates under different policies that they developed because they're not subject to the Surplus Crown Assets Act. With respect to the other departments, you see Shared Services Canada at a ratio of one to three, for example. For every item they transfer, three are sold. In contrast, if you look at the RCMP, for every item they transfer, 133 items are sold. For every item Public Services and Procurement Canada transfers, 24 are sold.
Can the AG shed light on this discrepancy? Is it simply the culmination of individual actions within those departments? Is there any factor that relates to the type of assets and whether they are more easily sold or transferred than others, or are we dealing with comparable or similar items when we track these assets?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Generally speaking, these items would be chairs, tables, desks, computers and items of that nature.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Fair enough.
I want to echo the comments made by a number of the committee members today and say congratulations to the CRA. What a wonderful job. As Mr. Christopherson said, there's a gold star here for you.
What I found really encouraging was what they had done, how they had done it, and the results that came out of those efforts. The AG's report specifically says, under paragraph 2.36, the following:
In July 2014, the Canada Revenue Agency introduced a moratorium that limited the purchasing of new office furniture. Before purchases could be approved, buyers had to show that the asset transfer website did not offer anything that served their needs. The Agency expected to save approximately $2.3 million over three years through this initiative. Instead, the Agency saved more than $4.5 million over three years.
That is a wonderful example.
Ms. Lemay talked earlier about wanting to learn from CRA, and I have a question for each of the departments. I'm looking for just a simple yes or no. Have you put a moratorium on the purchase of new furniture, especially after seeing the results of this audit? The AG has clearly demonstrated that there is a wide discrepancy across departments and that there are assets that could be reused. Have any of the departments here before us put a moratorium on the purchase of new furniture or equipment in light of these findings so that we can better make use of the assets the government departments do hold?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Okay.
Can the RCMP comment?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
I just want to note what the AG said very clearly in paragraph 2.37 with respect to the CRA's practice: “In our view, this was a good practice that could be applied to other federal [departments].” I believe the answers are all here. You have a model example through which we can learn, across all departments, to better use or reuse usable items and assets.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I want to start off by acknowledging that we are on the traditional Algonquin territory.
I'm a big believer that education is an incredible social equalizer. We've talked quite a bit about that today. I do believe it is an important topic for us to talk about on the path to reconciliation.
In examining the achievement gap, graduation rates were compared between on-reserve first nation students and those of other Canadian students.
Does the data on other Canadian students include indigenous students who are not living on reserves?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
In looking at other Canadian students, you are including indigenous students who quite possibly might have moved from on reserve to off reserve. To me, it's very important that we drill deeper into the data.
Coming from nine years of serving on the Toronto District School Board, I know there are key groups in the public education system that routinely are pushed out of school. That includes both the black student population and the indigenous student population. When we make that comparison, and we've talked quite a bit about comparing the same data as opposed to different ways in which you calculate graduation rate, you need to parse out the fact that there are indigenous and black students that historically and continue to disproportionately be pushed out or drop out of school. To me, it's very important, because that would result in a picture that clearly tells you there is an extremely disproportionate achievement gap between indigenous students and those who are non-indigenous across the country.
I note that in the Toronto District School Board, there were specialized programs and alternative schools created specifically for indigenous as well as black students. One is the Africentric Alternative School and the other is the First Nations School.
The concept of reconciliation is not only about ensuring that indigenous students on reserves are given the educational opportunities they need to succeed, but it is also about looking at the country as a whole and how we deliver education. Are we inclusive? Are we incorporating the lived experience, histories and cultures of different diverse communities? Only then, with that understanding of indigenous knowledge and experiences among the general public, can we as a country truly move towards reconciliation with the indigenous peoples.
I also want to follow up in terms of gender analysis. In the data that you look at, have you considered, for example, in education how girls versus boys might be performing and whether that information has been looked at?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
You have a plan in front of us. I note that in wave three, for 2019 to 2020, you're looking at co-development with first nations governments in areas like education.
Can you talk a bit more about what that looks like and how that will lead to self-determination and enable indigenous communities to create the types of education environments that will lead to success?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
With respect to the data, I could add that it's very important to track a student as they move through the system. There are students, as the Auditor General has pointed out, who might be pushed out or drop out of school in grades 9, 10 or 11. There are also students who might not graduate in grade 12, but they might do an extra year or an extra two years and graduate.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
They need to be tracked. There are students who might leave an on-reserve educational institution and complete their education elsewhere.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Those are some considerations I would throw out there.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Walbourne, Ms. Hynes and Ms. Hansen-Reeder for being here today.
I want to first congratulate Mr. Walbourne on his upcoming retirement. He has served for many years in our public service. Without a doubt, I wish him all the best as he moves on to the next chapter in his life.
Mr. Walbourne, you talked about, in the training of our troops, the values, and the importance of honesty, learning and purpose. Certainly, I believe your office plays an important role to ensure that those values are upheld when we consider our Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. You have in the past spoken up about fairness. You have talked about challenging the status quo.
I had the pleasure of meeting a few rangers who were part of the first patrol group among a group of 1,800 who serve across 60 patrols in Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Yukon. That was when I participated in the Canadian Armed Forces parliamentary program aboard the HMCS Charlottetown, which sailed from St. John's up to Iqaluit. It was my first experience meeting the rangers. I was quite impressed with their professionalism and their demonstration of the various activities and functions they perform. I was also very baffled to see, when I went to the area corner store, a bag of chips for $8 and a bottle of water for $10. That illustrated to me the challenges of working in the north and the important role that the rangers play.
Going back to your work, what would be one message you could leave us with respect to the rangers? We've talked about a number of things today, including access to medical services and banking in the north. Is there a big message you could leave us with in terms of what needs to be challenged? How can we make better what we are doing in terms of how we serve the rangers? For everything they have done to serve our country, what would that message be?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Unlike our other units of the Canadian Armed Forces, the rangers don't participate in military operations. They are not subject to the same principles that apply there. Can you share with us why that distinction was made, to your understanding, and whether that is working in the context of the work they do?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
With respect to rangers who are no longer able to perform service because of injury or illness, are they receiving the same supports that are available to veterans through Veterans Affairs Canada? Is there any differentiation in the level of supports and service?
Results: 1 - 100 of 283 | Page: 1 of 3

1
2
3
>
>|
Export As: XML CSV RSS

For more data options, please see Open Data