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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2019-06-21 14:54 [p.29473]
I have the honour to inform the House that when this House did attend Her Excellency this day in the Senate chamber, Her Excellency the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms—Chapter 9.
C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada—Chapter 10.
S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts (ending the captivity of whales and dolphins)—Chapter 11.
C-82, An Act to implement a multilateral convention to implement tax treaty related measures to prevent base erosion and profit shifting—Chapter 12.
C-59, An Act respecting national security matters—Chapter 13.
C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence—Chapter 14.
C-77, An Act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 15.
C-78, An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act—Chapter 16.
C-84, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting)—Chapter 17.
C-58, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 18.
C-88, An Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 19.
C-93, An Act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis—Chapter 20.
C-102, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020—Chapter 21.
C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tariff and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act—Chapter 22.
C-91, An Act respecting Indigenous languages—Chapter 23.
C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families—Chapter 24.
C-75, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 25.
C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast—Chapter 26.
C-83, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another Act—Chapter 27.
C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 28.
C-97, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019 and other measures—Chapter 29.
It being 2:55 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, September 16, 2019, at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 2:55 p.m.)
The 42nd Parliament was dissolved by Royal Proclamation on September 11, 2019.
Aboriginal languagesAboriginal peoplesAccess for disabled peopleAccess to informationAdjournmentAgriculture, environment and natural res ...British ColumbiaBudget 2019 (March 19, 2019)C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tarif ...C-102, An Act for granting to Her Majest ...C-48, An Act respecting the regulation o ... ...Show all topics
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Don Davies Profile
2019-06-11 10:06 [p.28883]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-456, An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act and the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to introduce an important bill to Parliament, the post-secondary education financial assistance for persons with disabilities act, with thanks to the hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh for seconding it.
This legislation will provide tuition-free post-secondary education for all Canadians with disabilities. This bill is a result of the vision of a bright young man from my riding of Vancouver Kingsway, Sanjay Kajal. Sanjay is the 2019 winner of my annual create your Canada contest. He hopes that this bill will help all Canadians with disabilities reach their full potential, by eliminating tuition as a financial barrier to accessing post-secondary education. This is not only fundamentally just, but it is an investment in our citizens. It will level the playing field and help Canadians who need it the most.
I hope that all Parliamentarians will help Sanjay realize his vision for a better Canada.
View Cheryl Hardcastle Profile
NDP (ON)
View Cheryl Hardcastle Profile
2019-06-04 15:05 [p.28504]
Mr. Speaker, dozens of workers with developmental disabilities were fired from their jobs after the Liberal government shut down the National Archives program that employed them. Liberals have promised to find them meaningful work within government, but nothing has been done. When the Prime Minister was asked about the fate of these workers, he gave empty talking points.
These workers deserve better. They want to know, will the Liberals commit today to replace those jobs they took away?
View Carla Qualtrough Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Carla Qualtrough Profile
2019-06-04 15:05 [p.28505]
Mr. Speaker, on the eve of our third annual National AccessAbility Week, and of course with Bill C-81 having gone through this House last week, I can assure every Canadian that we will find jobs for these workers. In fact, we are showing them the dignity of giving them meaningful work so that they contribute to government operations.
I have been working with the organization. No one will be without a job.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-06-04 17:32 [p.28520]
moved that Bill C-206, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (abuse of vulnerable persons), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about seniors and vulnerable persons in our society, whether they are physically handicapped, have a mental condition or other. Bill C-206 focuses on the sentencing of individuals who perpetrate crimes against people specifically because of who they are: vulnerable.
The bill would amend section 718.2 of the Criminal Code by bringing further protection to seniors and other vulnerable persons to ensure that they live in safety, dignity and without fear.
As a former Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer for many years, I have seen many horrific crimes, brutality, theft and suicide. Fortunately for me, I have been able to take all the bad, the ugliness and the violence and push it to the back of my mind and I can forget about it. How much good we did and the people we helped save and set on the right course in life is very important to me.
However, there was always one type of crime I felt I could not accept, the lack of appropriate penalties in our Canadian Criminal Code, specifically for crimes against vulnerable persons. My bill would introduce tougher penalties for those who consciously use the weakness of vulnerable groups to financially, physically, sexually or emotionally abuse them.
It is difficult for the abused to admit to people that they are victims of abuse, especially at the hands of someone they know and trust. When trust is abused, the penalties should be severe. Perpetrators should be held to account with firm punishment. We must have harsher sentences for these types of perpetrators.
Criminals who target the elderly should know that they will not get away with it. Older people should not have to fear being targeted. We need stronger penalties to deter and tackle criminals who target the elderly and the disabled. There are hundreds of cases of abuse in which the offenders did not, in my opinion, receive fair punishment for their actions.
We should not tolerate or express any sort of sympathy toward conscious cruelty against seniors and other vulnerable groups. Their security should be of concern to us in Canada and their abuse should be treated as a human rights issue of the utmost importance.
I must point out that technically a judge already considers the vulnerability of a victim, including age and disabilities, when deciding on a sentencing term. It is just not specifically stated on paper or in the act. The bill would simply add it on paper as a requirement.
As people grow older, they become more isolated, so the risk of abuse increases. Punishment fails to deter would-be abusers who see older people as a soft target and we must do more to protect older people and vulnerable people. Bill C-206 would change that.
A large part of the Canadian population is either a senior or will soon be one, including me. I am already there. The demographic data released by Statistics Canada in the 2016 census shows there are approximately 5.9 million seniors in Canada.
According to government statistics, by 2031, around eight million people will be aged 65 or older. That will be almost a quarter of Canada's population. Many Canadians require care and assistance, and that number is only growing.
Offenders who exploit their weaknesses for their self-benefit and decrease the self-worth and dignity of vulnerable adults and seniors must face greater punishments in law. Statistics provided by the Department of Justice state that approximately 24% of disabled persons were victimized at least one in their lives and about 45% of seniors aged 65 and older reported experiencing some form of abuse. This is scary, especially when a quarter of our population will be in that age bracket very shortly.
However, according to the Canadian Association for Retired Persons, only 20% of elder abuse comes to the attention of responsible authorities. Why? Because many of the victims do not want to report the abuse for various reasons. These reasons include the dependence upon a caregiver who is abusive, fear of not being believed or even deep shame and humiliation because of what happened to them.
Moreover, in 32% of the reported elder abuse cases, the offender is related to the victim as a child or an extended family member. That is shocking. We can only imagine how many cases of such abuse remain unreported as the elderly are reluctant to bring charges against their family members or relatives.
It is therefore the responsibility of all of us in the House of Commons to protect those who cannot stand up for themselves by adopting measures that would deter potential offenders from committing these crimes. This is exactly what my bill is designed to do. Adopting it would mean two things: prescribing tougher penalties for the offenders and justice for the victims.
Bill C-206 covers four forms of abuse: financial, physical, sexual and emotional. I will speak about each to show how they affect vulnerable people.
The first is financial abuse, one of the most common forms of abuse against vulnerable groups.
In 2014, CBC News reported that Toronto police arrested a wife and husband who defrauded a 94-year-old woman, within four years, of $25,000 in cash, jewellery and furniture. The wife was hired as a housekeeper and became involved in the everyday activities of this victim. At some point, she forced the elderly lady into a smaller room and moved into the apartment with her husband. If it were not for a courier from a local pharmacy who, during his weekly deliveries, noticed that something was wrong when an unknown person answered the door, the consequences for that woman could have been more grave than just the money.
Under the Department of Justice, not a single reported Canadian case contains a definition of “elder abuse”. In fairness, there are some cases where the extreme age of the victim was taken into the sentencing factor, which is very good. However, my bill, Bill C-206, would take away the use of discretionary decisions and make it mandatory for the sentence to be increased due to the fact the aggravated crime was committed against a vulnerable person. This is not new in Canadian law. It is missing in certain parts of the Criminal Code and I want it to be used more broadly, especially for the crimes about which I have been talking.
In another example in the same year, 3,000 kilometres away in Edmonton, Global News wrote an article on a man who was accused of defrauding his grandmother of $265,000. He acted as his grandmother's attorney under a power of attorney agreement.
Fraud and financial abuse in general can occur not only among family members, but also with people who the victims trust the most. These cases are connected to the victim's trust and dependancy on the caregiver who is abusing the victim and, due to the simple fear of being physically abused, the victim will not report the caregiver. This is not acceptable today. These abuses are happening because offenders do not get fair punishments. They rely on the vulnerability of others and take advantage of them.
Physical abuse is the second form of abuse I want to address.
Statistics show that people with disabilities are more likely to be assaulted compared to people with no disabilities. Another disturbing case happened in Ottawa involving a personal support worker who pleaded guilty to assault charges for an incident at a retirement home. He delivered 10 punches to an 89-year-old man suffering from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
In my many years in law enforcement, this is one of the worst types of crimes I have ever encountered. Should such offenders be treated equally to those assaulting healthy and capable people? I do not think so. Their punishments should reflect the gravity of their crimes. Currently, those abusers, even if convicted, rarely get punished.
Advocates for people with disabilities have confirmed that vulnerable groups are often abused. If we look back at the report that came out yesterday, people who are vulnerable are being picked on.
In October 2014, the CBC posted a story about a 19-year-old mentally disabled woman being sexually assaulted on a bus in Winnipeg, while her support worker was sitting a couple of rows ahead. I am a father and a grandfather. To me, a 19-year-old is still a child. What this child experienced was traumatic for both her and her parents. She has a right to be safe. That is why we need a stronger law.
In the spring of 2017, a support worker in Ontario walked away with a guilty plea for only one count of assault and no criminal record in exchange for the court withdrawing 13 counts of sexual assault.
We need to be stiffer in our penalties. This is where my bill, Bill C-206, would come into play. The vulnerable in our society should enjoy an increased level of protection. They need to be confident in our legal system and must be assured that those who would try to use their vulnerability will always get a fair punishment.
The last but not least form of abuse I would like to cover today is the emotional or psychological form of abuse. I would like to add that all previously discussed forms of abuse are very much connected to emotional abuse in the sense that they have a great psychological effect on the victims.
There is no dignity in disrespecting a vulnerable person. There is no dignity in taking advantage of a vulnerable person. It is a crime and it must be punished in a greater way than it is being punished now. The cases I have talked about are not single cases; there are hundreds of them out there.
How do we change this? Canada needs harsher penalties for those who exploit vulnerable people and take advantage of their weaknesses. Tougher penalties for the abuse of vulnerable persons would make abusers think twice before committing these kinds of offences and would provide more safety for those who cannot protect themselves.
My bill would ensure that those criminals who would disrespect and use the weakness of others would not be able to get away with a simple conviction or a guilty plea, leaving the families and friends of victims desperate and disappointed in our criminal justice system.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2019-06-04 17:51 [p.28522]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the second reading debate on Private Member's bill, Bill C-206, an act to amend the Criminal Code.
At the outset, I want to to acknowledge the laudable objective of the bill and thank the member from Yellowhead for giving us the opportunity to debate this important social issue this evening.
Bill C-206 amends the Criminal Code to specify that the physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse of a person over the age of 65 or of a person 18 years of age or older who depends on others for their care because of a mental or physical disability is to be considered an aggravating circumstance for sentencing purposes.
The member for Yellowhead said that the bill seeks to give vulnerable seniors further protections to ensure that they can live safely and in dignity, while protecting them against exploitation.
The bill would fulfill that objective by imposing harsher sentences on offenders who abuse these vulnerable victims, whether financially, physically or psychologically.
I am in full agreement with the member for Yellowhead that we must do everything to address the physical, financial and emotional exploitation of our seniors and other vulnerable Canadians who depend on others for their care because of a disability.
I hear about this issue in my work here in Ottawa, in my work around the country and also in my riding of Parkdale—High Park. Constituents speak to me about the statistics, which are problematic. Those statistics show that seniors and Canadians with disabilities are at a higher risk of being victims of crimes.
For instance, while older Canadians have historically reported low victimization rates, the physical disabilities and cognitive impairments experienced by some seniors may increase their vulnerability and make them more prone to certain kinds of abuse, such as online financial crime, neglect, financial exploitation and family-related violence.
By 2036 the size of Canada's senior population will increase about twofold, and persons aged 65 and over will represent approximately one quarter of the Canadian population in total.
Given Canada's aging population, Statistics Canada notes that police-reported violence committed against seniors will continue to increase if it is left unaddressed.
According to police data, Canadian seniors were more likely to be the victim of family violence in 2017 than they were 10 years ago. In 2007, Statistics Canada reported that the overall rate of police-reported violence against seniors had increased by 20% between 1998 and 2005. From 2009 to 2017, the rate of police-reported family violence against seniors rose 7%.
In 2014, people with a disability were about twice as likely to be victims of a violent crime than people who did not have a disability, and women and men with cognitive disabilities or mental health-related disabilities reported violent victimization approximately four times more often than their counterparts who did not have a disability.
Elder abuse, senior isolation and the abuse of vulnerable persons are completely unacceptable. Our government is working hard to provide Canadian seniors with greater security and a better quality of life. That is what compelled us to appoint and name a Minister of Seniors to the federal cabinet.
We have also invested in the new horizons for seniors program, which, through budget 2019, will receive an additional $100 million over the next five years. One of the key initiatives of that program is to tackle elder abuse and fraud.
Several legislative amendments have been enacted by Parliament to address the problem of elder abuse. For instance, in 2011, the Standing Up for Victims of White Collar Crime Act enacted an aggravating factor to the fraud offence found at section 380.1 of the Criminal Code. This was referenced in the earlier part of tonight's debate.
This provision directs a judge to treat evidence that the offence had a significant impact on the victim, having regard to “their personal circumstances including their age, health and financial situation”, as an aggravating factor at sentencing.
In 2012, there was also legislation enacted called Protecting Canada's Seniors Act, which enacted a provision that directed courts to treat evidence that the offence had a significant impact on the victim, having regard to his or her age and other personal circumstances, including health and financial situation, as an aggravating factor at sentencing.
These two legislative amendments essentially codified the current sentencing practices. In other words, when these legislative amendments were proposed, the law already required the courts to consider all aggravating and mitigating circumstances related to the offence and the offender's degree of responsibility, including the effect of an offence on a particular victim under all circumstances. In a given case, this can obviously include the victims' age and their vulnerability.
In summary, by codifying the aggravating circumstances, parliamentarians clarified the sentencing law for all Canadians and sent a message to the courts that it is important to consider these aggravating circumstances in sentencing decisions.
The Criminal Code includes a broad range of offences that apply equally to protect all Canadians, including vulnerable and elderly Canadians, as well as specific offences that take into account the vulnerability of the victim. For instance, the offences of assault, assault with bodily harm and aggravated assault apply to protect everyone, regardless of age, health or gender. However, there are also specific offences that target the abuse of vulnerable persons, such as in section 153.1 of the Criminal Code, which applies to the sexual exploitation of a person with a disability. The code also lists several aggravating factors that can apply in cases involving abuse of an elderly or vulnerable person who depends on others for care because of a mental or physical disability.
There are four aggravating factors: one, evidence and offences motivated by bias, prejudice or hate or based on, for instance, age or mental or physical disability; two, the fact that the offenders abuse their spouse or common-law partner; three, the fact that offenders abused a position of trust or authority in relation to the victim; and four, evidence that the offence had a significant impact on the victim having regard to their age or other personal circumstance, including their health or financial situation.
Based on my interpretation of the aggravating circumstance proposed in Bill C-206, I have to wonder if the amendment proposed in the bill could overlap with the circumstances already set out in the Criminal Code. I wonder if the amendment fixes any flaws in the law regarding the abuse of seniors and other vulnerable persons.
I look forward to hearing other members' thoughts about whether this conduct is already covered by the Criminal Code and how this amendment would affect the criminal justice system. For example, if we were to adopt an aggravating circumstance that is similar to the ones already in the Criminal Code, would there be an increase in the number of cases related to determining the scope of the new provision and how it differs from the aggravating circumstances set out in the Criminal Code?
Moreover, I wonder about the implications of setting a chronological age distinction of above 65 as the hard limit in the Criminal Code for assessing a person's vulnerability. Witnesses who testified before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights as part of its study of former Bill C-36 emphasized that the impact of a crime on an elderly victim is not necessarily dependent on chronological age, but rather on the combined unique characteristics of that elderly victim.
This leads me to question whether an individual's vulnerability is not best assessed by weighing a combination of factors, such as mental and physical health, financial situation and degree of autonomy. I am sure members of this House can come up with examples of when age is not the best indicator of a person's level of vulnerability. For these reasons, I look forward to a thorough debate on these important policy questions.
During second reading debate of the former Bill C-36, the member for Pierrefonds—Dollard at the time said that if we focus only on legal measures, we will be missing a very important point. Non-legislative measures can also significantly help address the problem.
In total, I would underscore that the bill proposed by the member for Yellowhead targets a very important and laudable objective. I look forward to the important debate continuing on this issue and on the issue of combatting elder abuse.
View David Yurdiga Profile
CPC (AB)
View David Yurdiga Profile
2019-06-04 18:12 [p.28526]
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today in support of a very important piece of legislation, private member's bill, Bill C-206, an act to amend the Criminal Code to expand powers ensuring protection against the abuse of vulnerable persons, such as the elderly and people with various disabilities, put forward by my friend, the member of Parliament for Yellowhead.
Our criminal justice system needs to be strengthened to protect the most vulnerable in our society. This legislation looks to close some of the gaps in our system that negatively impact vulnerable Canadians across our country every day.
The physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse of a person over the age of 65 or a person with a mental or physical disability should be considered an aggravating circumstance. This legislation would ensure criminals who take advantage of vulnerable persons get stricter sentences for their crimes.
First, I would like to discuss elder abuse. Elder abuse can take many forms, and both the mental and physical impairments seniors face increase their vulnerability in our society. Roughly 8% to 10% of seniors in Canada experience elder abuse. This means over 750,000 seniors have been subject to unfair physical, financial or psychological abuse. Elder abuse is severely under-reported in Canada, with an estimated 20% of abuse victims never coming forward and never receiving the justice they deserve.
Looking for the appropriate care in their later years, our elderly often unknowingly entrust their finances, health and futures into the hands of individuals who do not have their best interests at heart. I have heard stories of caregivers stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the purses of their wards. I have heard of physical abuse cases going largely unreported. I have heard of elderly couples afraid to report their injustices for fear of losing their homes and their independence.
In my riding, an elderly gentleman living alone in a remote area had his home broken into. The robbers stole his precious belongings and beat him to the point where he had to be hospitalized. Though the perpetrators were later caught, they were released after only serving part of their sentence. After their release, those same criminals went back to the elderly man's home and beat him again to within an inch of death. That elderly man will now spend the rest of his life in a nursing home, as the injuries he sustained took away his independence entirely.
Our broken system does not have strict enough sentences for criminals, and it is failing victims. It is not just individuals perpetrating crimes of elder abuse. Studies show abuses are taking place in over 99% of care homes across the country. These bonds of both necessity and trust are too often taken advantage of by ill-fitted caregivers.
We need to put more legislation in place to protect our most vulnerable, as our elderly are our family and friends. Some victims are dependent on their caregivers, some fear retaliation and social shaming, some fear they will not be believed by resource providers and others do not nave the right tools at their disposal to report elder abuse, being impaired by their own disabilities to an extent to which they cannot reach out.
One day we will all be in their shoes. We need to act today to ensure a better future for all Canadians in their golden years.
Canadians who suffer from various mental or physical disabilities are also at risk of abuse. Imagine people living their lives, unable to fully care of themselves, having their independence stripped away at no fault of their own, and being forced to entrust their lives into the hands of others.
People with disabilities are twice as likely to be abused than any other group. In fact, people with disabilities are more likely to experience workplace, domestic, medical, financial and sexual abuse than any other demographic. Instances of abuse against Canadians with disabilities are on the rise. Forty per cent of incidents of violent crime happen to people with disabilities.
Much like elder abuse, people with disabilities are most often abused by people they know. Caregivers, spouses, common-law partners or other family members are the most common perpetrators of this crime.
Alberta's human services website provided testimony from a man living in an apartment building for persons with disabilities. He spoke on his experiences with assisted care. He wrote, “When the person who is supposed to be my care aide came in the morning to help me get up and dressed, we had a disagreement. We argued for a while. And then the care aide looked at me and said, 'So did you want to get out of bed today?'” Too many caregivers are using a victim's dependence as a bargaining tool to ensure they get what they want, rather than providing the best care possible.
There needs to be stricter punishment for the mental, physical and psychological harm this abuse leaves its victims. The abuse of vulnerable persons is too often overlooked at the national level and the signs of abuse are easily missed. Anyone can become a victim of abuse, including our mothers, fathers, children, neighbours and friends. We need the right tools to recognize abuse and put a stop to it now.
Aside from changing the culture surrounding the treatment for our most vulnerable, we also need stricter laws and punishments surrounding these heinous crimes. Often victims of abuse are forgotten and overlooked by our bustling society, as we are so consumed with the here and now. It is time we pause and recognize these largely forgotten victims.
My colleague and I in the House today are determined to get vulnerable persons the support and services they need to stay independent and stay safe. I am grateful for the member for Yellowhead's bill, which will hopefully shed more light on this important issue. It is time we give a voice back to the hundreds of thousands of people who have been silenced by the injustice of our broken system.
These vulnerable persons feel isolated and alone and often these caregivers are their only connection to the real world. However, we, the Canadian government, are also their caregivers and we have a duty to stand up and protect these people when they cannot protect themselves. Abuse can happen to anyone at any time, but it is far more dubious to commit abuses against individuals without the means to protect themselves.
As our society changes, our government needs to equip itself with the right legislation to confront our current issues and provide a safer future for all. Bill C-206 would provide just that: a method to provide a safer future for all Canadians, especially Canada's most vulnerable.
In closing, I would like to thank the member for Yellowhead and everyone who spoke today in support of this bill.
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for having an opportunity to speak on the second reading debate of Bill C-206, an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding the abuse of vulnerable persons.
I would like to begin by thanking my colleague from Yellowhead for giving us the opportunity to discuss this important social issue as well as for the excellent work he has done in his riding and here in the House of Commons over a number of years.
From what I understand about this complex social issue, we will need a multi-faceted approach to effectively address exploitative and abusive conduct toward seniors.
Bill C-206 proposes to amend paragraph 718.2(a) of the Criminal Code to list as an additional aggravating factor acts that target abuse toward seniors and vulnerable adults who depend on others for their care because of their mental or physical disabilities. The objective of the bill is to bring further protections to seniors and other vulnerable persons by imposing tougher penalties on offenders who commit crimes of abuse against these types of victims.
The Criminal Code presently includes a number of offences of general application that offer equal protection to all Canadians from abusive criminal conduct. Additionally, the Criminal Code directs a sentencing court to account for all aggravating and mitigating circumstances relating to the offence or the offender. It explicitly lists a number of aggravating factors that can apply in cases involving the abuse of elderly or vulnerable persons. These aggravating factors include evidence that an offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on age or the mental or physical disabilities of the individual.
This last aggravating factor was enacted by Bill C-36, the Protecting Canada's Seniors Act, which essentially codified common law sentencing practices, because courts were already required by case law to consider the specific impact an offence had on a particular victim, given all their circumstances.
If a sentencing court is already required under the current law to consider all aggravating or mitigating factors relating to the commission of the offence and the offender, including consideration that the offence had a significant impact on the victim, having regard for his or her age or other personal circumstances, including, of course, health and financial situation, I am interested to hear from the member for Yellowhead what situations he is imagining would be covered by his proposed amendment that are not currently covered under the Criminal Code.
It is important to acknowledge that the investigation and prosecution of crime involving elder abuse or abuse of persons with disabilities in Canada is predominantly undertaken by the provinces. As such, it may be wise to consider the impact Bill C-206 would have on the provinces, including the potential for increased litigation relating to interpreting the scope of the proposed aggravating factor, in light of what is already in the Criminal Code.
While it is important to address any gaps in the law with respect to protecting offended seniors or other vulnerable persons, non-legislative responses, such as public education campaigns about the protection offered by the law and further investments in services and programs, are also important measures for Parliament to consider. Non-legislative measures can target the socio-economic factors that increase the susceptibility of these victims to be exploited or abused.
I recall the testimony of Ms. Susan Eng, a representative of the Canadian Association for Retired Persons, who testified before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Bill C-36, the Protecting Canada's Seniors Act, that the aggravating factors proposed in that bill, on their own, were “but one element in a comprehensive strategy needed to prevent, detect, report, investigate, and ultimately prosecute elder abuse.”
I agree with Ms. Eng. I know that there are a number of non-legislative initiatives the federal government has spearheaded to support the needs, and prevent the abuse, of the victims referred to in Bill C-206.
The federal victims strategy initiative, led by Justice Canada, aims to give victims a more effective voice in the criminal justice system. For instance, the victims fund, which is available through the federal victims strategy, is accessible to provincial and territorial governments and non-governmental organizations to support projects that address the needs of victims and survivors of crime in the criminal justice system. It is my understanding that the victims fund can support projects that meet the needs of the victims who are the focus of Bill C-206.
In 2016, Justice Canada issued a call for proposals, under the victims fund, to non-governmental organizations for projects that would help address gaps in supports and services, raise awareness or advance research to benefit victims and survivors of crime with disabilities, including seniors with disabilities. Seven projects are currently being funded.
In one project, researchers at the University of Toronto worked with three organizations, Womenatthecentre, DAWN Canada and Brain Injury Canada, to address existing gaps in supports and services for women with disabilities who are survivors of crime. The focus of the research project was women who experience intimate partner violence who have sustained disabling, permanent traumatic brain injuries. As a result of this work, a toolkit was developed to provide knowledge of intimate partner violence through educational materials for front-line staff who are supporting women survivors of intimate partner violence who have sustained traumatic brain injuries.
As well, the University of Toronto worked with indigenous organizations across Canada to raise awareness with respect to women with disabilities who are survivors of crime and to expand a toolkit that is specific to the indigenous context.
I am also aware that through the federal victims strategy, Justice Canada hosts knowledge-building events that are designed to provide information about elder abuse and supporting victims who are seniors.
In addition to commemorating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, 2018, Justice Canada hosted an information session to explore various approaches in supporting and empowering women victims and survivors with disabilities, including senior women with disabilities who are victims of domestic violence. These knowledge-exchange information sessions are available to victims and survivors of crime, victims advocates, victims service providers, police officers and legal professionals.
I am also aware of the Justice Canada component of the federal family violence initiative, an initiative that is led by the Public Health Agency of Canada. It provides project funding to support the development of models, strategies and tools to improve the criminal justice system's response to family violence, including elder abuse.
The family violence initiative also addresses elder abuse by providing resources for the public. One helpful tool is the booklet published by the Department of Justice on its website entitled “Elder Abuse is Wrong”. The publication is designed for seniors who may be suffering from abuse by someone they know, such as an intimate partner, spouse, family member or caregiver.
Educating these vulnerable people about the resources available, as well as making investments in the services and programs that will address these victims' needs, can have an extremely positive impact on curbing these forms of abuse and exploitation.
The objective of protecting elders and other vulnerable victims is of great importance, and I look forward to hearing the views of other members as we continue to explore a full range of issues that come forward in considering Bill C-206.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2019-06-03 14:07 [p.28403]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform the House that Prince Edward Islander Hannah MacLellan will be representing Canada at a UN conference on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in New York next week.
At 20, Hannah has already made her mark in P.E.I. politics. She was the driving force in the adoption of a bill known as Hannah's Bill, which passed through the P.E.I. legislature in 2016.
While working toward a degree in human rights and disability studies, Hannah has been an active member of the Carleton University Young Liberals and is a valuable employee in my office. She has been a fixture in the gallery of this place, especially during the debate on the government's bill to create a barrier-free Canada. Hannah most recently represented the riding of Cardigan in Parliament for Daughters of the Vote, where she gave an impassioned speech on Bill C-81.
I am proud to say that persons with disabilities have a formidable advocate in Ms. MacLellan. Today also happens to be her birthday. I wish Hannah a happy birthday.
View Cheryl Hardcastle Profile
NDP (ON)
View Cheryl Hardcastle Profile
2019-06-03 14:43 [p.28410]
Mr. Speaker, Mr. and Mrs. Karki, age 66 and 69, missed their flight from Vancouver to Edmonton after being left in their wheelchairs without assistance for hours at the airport. They could not go to a washroom or even get a drink of water.
The Liberal government passed an accessibility act that exempts the Canadian Transportation Agency from enforcing it. How can we rely on airlines to include people with disabilities when Liberals failed to make it mandatory in Bill C-81?
View Terry Beech Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Terry Beech Profile
2019-06-03 14:43 [p.28410]
Mr. Speaker, we are focusing on making Canada more accessible, and we are sorry for the situation that happened to this couple. Our government takes accessibility and transportation in Canada very seriously, and we are standing up for Canadian air passengers to ensure they are treated with fairness and respect.
Through the accessible Canada act, we are taking concrete steps to move forward a barrier-free Canada for all Canadians. The Canadian Transportation Agency is an expert in passenger considerations and complaints, and I would very much recommend that these individuals approach that agency with any complaints they have.
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2019-06-03 14:46 [p.28411]
Mr. Speaker, thalidomide was used off-label in the 1950s and early 1960s to treat morning sickness in pregnant women. The drug had devastating consequences and led to miscarriages, birth defects such as missing organs and stunted limbs, and premature death.
Our national government has taken action in launching a new, more compassionate support program: the Canadian thalidomide survivors support program. Could the Minister of Health please give us an update on the status of this program and how it will help thalidomide survivors?
View Ginette Petitpas Taylor Profile
Lib. (NB)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the member for Davenport for her advocacy on behalf of thalidomide survivors.
Our government believes that thalidomide survivors deserve to live the rest of their lives in comfort and dignity. We have held a dialogue with the community and listened to their concerns with respect to the original program, which is why the new Canadian thalidomide survivors support program will use a probability-based medical assessment process to determine eligibility. I am very pleased to announce that the applications were officially launched today.
View Kyle Peterson Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Kyle Peterson Profile
2019-05-31 11:46 [p.28350]
Mr. Speaker, National AccessAbility Week is a week when we celebrate Canadians with disabilities and raise awareness of the need for greater accessibility and inclusion. For millions of Canadians, barriers to access and inclusion still exist. We know that society benefits when all Canadians are included and have access to their workplaces and communities.
Can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility tell the House how our government is addressing and reducing barriers to inclusion for all Canadians?
View Kate Young Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Kate Young Profile
2019-05-31 11:47 [p.28351]
Mr. Speaker, our government believes that all Canadians deserve to have the same opportunities and chances at success. Bill C-81, the accessible Canada act, was passed with unanimous consent this week. Once it receives royal assent, it will allows us to transition from a system where Canadians with disabilities have to fight for every basic access, to a new system that systematically identifies and prevents barriers from the start. This legislation reflects the work and commitment of those in the disability community who, for years, have been tireless advocates of an accessible Canada. This success is theirs.
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