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View Karen McCrimmon Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
2020-07-22 14:07 [p.2722]
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Mr. Speaker, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we live, how we work, how we interact with other people. Over the past six months, the pandemic has taken an especially heavy toll on Canadians who are members of vulnerable populations. We have learned that COVID most negatively impacts our most vulnerable—seniors, people experiencing homelessness, Canadians with disabilities, racialized Canadians, persons who use substances, and persons with mental health challenges—along with those who work to support them. As restrictive public health measures are lifted and our economy reopens, we must remember there are vulnerable people in our communities, as well as those who support them, who will continue to need our help in order to stay healthy.
Our government is responding to these needs through funding provided to the provinces and territories under the Safe Restart Agreement, which was just announced by the first ministers on July 16. The agreement is far-reaching in its intent and scope. The $19-billion commitment will help provinces and territories, which have had to respond to COVID-19 in unique ways and have already made major investments, and will continue to do so, in critical areas, including health care and vulnerable populations. It includes funding over the next six to eight months to support capacity in health care services, procurement of personal protective equipment and support for Canadians facing challenges related to mental health, harmful substances or homelessness.
The funding will also support infection prevention and control measures to protect vulnerable populations, including residents at long-term care facilities and those requiring home care. This money will complement the Public Health Agency of Canada's ongoing efforts to provide guidance to health care providers, facility directors and administrators on resident care within long-term care homes.
Funding provided under the Safe Restart Agreement will also be used to support other vulnerable populations, such as homeless Canadians and those living in remote or isolated communities.
The agreement is an example of the extraordinary federal-provincial-territorial collaboration that has characterized our collective response to this pandemic. It is an indication of our deep and ongoing commitment to protect the health and safety of all Canadians.
The Safe Restart Agreement is the latest in a series of actions that our government has taken to support vulnerable populations throughout this crisis. Access to support or prevention programs by those fleeing family and gender-based violence has become more difficult in the context of community lockdowns and social distancing practices. In recognition of this, our government has announced new initiatives to help reduce the impacts of abuse and violence within vulnerable families. A $7.5-million investment has been made in the Kids Help Phone to help support mental health and crisis support for children and youth, an acknowledgement that without school, children may be particularly at risk.
There is also $50 million in new funding being provided through the Reaching Home program to women's shelters and sexual assault centres, including $26 million to women's shelters across Canada to distribute to shelters right across the country, $4 million to the Canadian Women's Foundation to distribute to sexual assault centres, and $10 million to support Indigenous Services Canada's existing network of 46 emergency shelters on reserve and in the Yukon.
These measures will complement other economic and financial measures to assist vulnerable individuals and families through this crisis, including the enhancement of the Canada child benefit and support for the charitable sector.
Our government also recognizes the significant and unique challenges faced by black Canadians and other racialized populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the crisis has unfolded across the country, it has become clear that we need more information on certain groups at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19. As a key social determinant of health that can affect an individual's access and willingness to seek medical care, racism is a public health issue.
Canadians who, before the pandemic, were at greater risk of poor health owing to systemic discrimination are likely to be at greater risk of suffering COVID-19's direct and indirect consequences. Given this, the Public Health Agency of Canada and partners are undertaking a number of activities to improve Canada's knowledge on the impact of COVID-19 on racialized communities.
Canada has recently established a new national COVID-19 dataset, approved by Canada's special advisory committee on COVID-19. This dataset includes race or ethnicity as a key variable to be collected in the national COVID-19 case report form, which is used by the provincial and territorial governments to report COVID-19 cases to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Until now, with the exception of a section for identifying and classifying cases as indigenous, data on these variables was not collected. Thus, this new dataset represents an important advance in Canada's ability to track the relationship between COVID-19 and race or ethnicity. However, it may take some time for all jurisdictions to be able to collect this data.
The mental health impacts of systemic discrimination can also have negative implications for physical health. Our government is working to advance knowledge of the intersections between the mental and physical health of black Canadians through an initiative on promoting health equity called the mental health of black Canadians fund. This fund is supporting projects that generate knowledge, capacity and programs that promote mental health and address its determinants for black Canadians. All funded projects are led by black Canadian experts or organizations, and they are informed by the mental health of black Canadians working group, comprising experts in research, practice and policy from diverse black communities right across the country. Funding recipients have demonstrated great resiliency during the COVID-19 pandemic and are working to continue planned activities in the pandemic context.
We also recognize that public health measures have taken their toll on the mental health of Canadians, with feelings of isolation, lack of access to usual support networks and living in fear of the uncertainties caused by the pandemic. Targeted mental health initiatives such as this are in addition to the broader supports that have been developed to help Canadians stay healthy and informed during this difficult period. For example, the Wellness Together Canada portal was developed to link Canadians to mental health and substance use supports. As of July 10, more than 283,000 Canadians had accessed the portal.
Under COVID-19 and the mental health initiative, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research has also launched, in partnership with four provincial research agencies, a funding opportunity to better understand mental health, including substance use of both individuals and communities due to the pandemic.
In parallel with the COVID-19 pandemic, many communities continue to struggle with a second public health crisis, namely the devastating impact of substance abuse and the overdose crisis. The pandemic has exposed people who use drugs to additional barriers when it comes to accessing health and social services. While necessary public health measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 may sadly also have had unintended consequences, including increased toxicity of the illegal drug supply and reduction in the availability of life-saving services.
We have made it easier for people to access the medications they need, such as those necessary for opioid agonist treatment, such as Suboxone and methadone. Pharmacists now have the ability to extend and renew prescriptions.
We are supporting community-based projects across a wide variety of topics and we will continue to do whatever is needed to help and protect Canadians.
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View Steven Blaney Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I want to reassure those listening to us that we have one of the toughest and most effective firearms registration systems in the world. It includes two specific measures.
For instance, when people want to acquire a firearm in this country, they must follow mandatory training to possess what is called a non-restricted firearm. If they want to acquire a handgun or a more sophisticated gun, they have to take additional training. I should know, because this measure was introduced in 2014 by the Conservative government of the day, and I was the minister of public safety at the time.
We have a registration system that is simple and safe, complete with many guidelines and procedures. It would take too long to explain it all this evening, as the training takes several hours. What I can tell Canadians, however, is that people who own legal firearms in Canada have a lot of rules they must obey. Before taking that training myself, I was a total neophyte. I was very surprised to learn how law-abiding gun owners are. They know that a firearm must be used very carefully. These are often people who enjoy hunting or sport shooting, the two main categories of gun enthusiasts.
As I was saying, the system is very simple. There are unrestricted weapons, restricted weapons and prohibited weapons. For the average Canadian, prohibited weapons are automatic weapons, or machine guns. These machine guns include what are known as military assault-type weapons, which have been prohibited in this country since 1979. Canadians can rest assured that in the legal firearms world, automatic weapons and military assault-type weapons are prohibited. No one can own one, in any way, shape or form.
This is what led the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, a credible public safety agency, to declare that Canada has adequate laws and that it is perfectly legitimate to own firearms. Furthermore, the former commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, Chris Lewis, who can be seen on English TV and who is an analyst on CTV, said that instead of targeting law-abiding gun owners, the government should deal effectively with the criminals who do not obey our existing laws.
I mentioned two police organizations during my four-minute speech because the current Liberal Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is a former top cop. That makes me wonder why he did not heed the advice of his fellow officers.
Last week, he randomly and arbitrarily classified 1,600 firearms based on purely subjective criteria. One of my colleagues put it this way: Adding a skirt and spoiler combo to a Honda Civic does not make it a Formula 1 car. That is kind of what the minister is trying to do. He is using aesthetic and subjective criteria to classify firearms, and that is penalizing hundreds of thousands of honest citizens. He says he plans to buy back those firearms, which could cost a fortune and penalize what is clearly a highly legitimate industry, the recreation and tourism industry.
Why is the government not heeding the police's advice to go after illegal weapons, criminals and street gangs? Why is it going after scrupulously law-abiding people who are even more safety-oriented than the general population?
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-05-25 18:56 [p.2396]
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Mr. Speaker, the issue of firearms has been hotly debated for many years in the House of Commons. In the early nineties I was a member of the Manitoba legislative assembly, and Ottawa was debating the issue of firearms. The Conservative approach is to talk about law-abiding firearms owners. If the Government of Canada, or Liberals, New Democrats, Green Party and possibly the Bloc, propose anything that deals with any form of controls or red flags, Conservatives say the government is attacking those law-abiding firearms owners. It is unfortunate.
I have had many discussions over the years with individuals who are law-abiding firearms owners. I do not believe that what the government is advocating is irresponsible in any fashion. We have demonstrated a willingness to work with other jurisdictions, particularly municipalities. We are having discussions at different levels of government, listening to the different stakeholders and, for a majority of the political entities inside the House of Commons, we are moving forward on a very important issue.
The Conservative Party seems to want to take a hard-right approach by saying any change is bad. I was pleased when the member made reference to the fact that, while he was a minister, the Conservatives brought in some legislation. That is something that Conservative MPs do not talk about very much. I was pleased that the member made reference to the legislation, because those mandatory training programs are critically important. A good number of law-abiding firearms owners support having progressive actions taken on the issue of firearms.
I spoke with a law enforcement officer, and he talked about toy guns. Some toy guns that look like assault-type weapons have an orange cap identifying them as toys. The officer said it would be possible to spray paint these caps black and have them look very convincing.
The actions the government is taking are not on a whim. They are working and listening to what Canadians want the government to do. They want to see some action on this important file. It is about safety. It is about making our communities a better place. It is about working with others.
I would invite the Conservative Party to get on board and be part of the broader coalition that is looking to make our communities better places while still respecting law-abiding firearms owners.
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View Steven Blaney Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague that we should make our communities safer. That was our slogan in 2006.
I agree with him that firearms owners, whether they are sport shooters or hunters, are law-abiding citizens.
Why go after and harass them with costly and ineffective measures instead of examining the real problem of street gangs?
When will the government put in place measures to deal with street gangs and illegal firearms?
We will support the government. We even have proposals, such as strengthening the capacity of the CBSA at the border, putting in place a better information exchange system for police services and establishing harsher sentences for the possession of illegal firearms. We have proposals, but the Liberals' actions are designed to pander to the ill-informed for purely electoral and partisan reasons. They are intent on making hunters second-class citizens.
We will be there to represent and defend them.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-05-25 19:01 [p.2397]
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Mr. Speaker, that is just not true. Our government recognizes that the vast majority of firearm owners are conscientious and law-abiding, and we have tremendous respect for them. However, when guns get into the hands of criminals with violent intent, the results can be tragic.
We also intend to take further action to prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands by strengthening safe storage laws and continuing to build a national system that will allow for the monitoring of bulk firearm purchases. The issue of gun and gang violence is complex and consistently evolving. It requires collaboration in partnership with all levels of government, law enforcement and community groups to get to the root of the problem and intervening where we know it will make a difference.
That is why the government has made unprecedented investments to support prevention, gang exiting and outreach and awareness programming through initiatives to take action on gun and gang violence. We are investing $327.6 million to give police and prosecutors new resources and tools to fight gang-related violence and address gun smuggling.
I see the time is up, but I have appreciated, as always, the opportunity to say a few words.
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View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
2020-05-13 16:16 [p.2295]
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Mr. Speaker, before I speak to the bill, I have sad news to announce to the House.
During National Nursing Week in London, my hometown and a town that I represent, Brian Beattie, a registered nurse who worked in a retirement village, died of COVID-19. He was the first registered nurse in Ontario to die of COVID-19. Brian is remembered as a dedicated nurse who loved his job and considered the residents in his care like his other family. My thoughts and deepest condolences go out to Brian's family and friends.
I want to sincerely thank front-line health care workers, who literally put their lives on the line to take care of others and take care of our families.
It is often hard to switch gears in these circumstances, but today I am pleased to speak to Bill C-16, an act to amend the Canadian Dairy Commission Act. The New Democrats are relieved to see this legislation finally come forward and are happy to support it.
I want to acknowledge the great work done by my colleague, the MP for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, the NDP's agricultural critic. He could not be here today, as he lives fairly far away, but his work on behalf of farmers across the country is greatly appreciated, despite his absence.
The New Democrats believe that increasing the buyback limit that dairy processors have with the Canadian Dairy Commission from $300 million to $500 million, allowing this Crown corporation to purchase more surplus butter and cheese and helping processors with cash flow issues until the market stabilizes again will provide some help to dairy farmers and processors so they can weather the COVID-19 pandemic. These actions are ones we have pushed for. We know they will start to help the sector at this unprecedented time of need.
Because of the losses in liquid milk sales to restaurants and other retail sectors due to COVID-19 shutdowns in the sector, producers and processors need assistance. Of course, this help is late. I have heard from a lot of farming families in the area that surrounds my riding who have been worried for months. The uncertainty and stress caused by this pandemic have had a detrimental impact on everyone, especially farmers, so I am glad that we are here today to support this plan.
Before I get into truly addressing some details regarding this legislation and the supports that are much needed for our agricultural sector and dairy sector, I will speak to some of the key issues that women working in the agricultural sector sometimes face, issues that have been long-standing but exacerbated by this pandemic.
According to the United Nations, “With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, even the limited gains made in the past decades are at risk of being rolled back.” The Canadian Human Rights Commission has echoed this statement, saying, “These disproportionate impacts could have long-term and far reaching consequences.” As the Canadian Women's Foundation notes, “The pandemic circumstances intensify inequalities related to gender, and other factors, such as economic status, race, culture, language, and other intersecting elements of our identities.”
The lack of access to services is felt by women nationwide, but rural women or women living in smaller towns are especially hit hard by the issue of the provision of services, simply because of their location or gender. Rural women have to travel long distances to get the help they need. We know women have felt the impact of this pandemic at disproportionate rates, and when they work in the agricultural sector, they often live in rural and remote areas. Their access to services is therefore dramatically reduced.
This is why the announcement last week that Greyhound is suspending its bus service operations has raised many flags with women's organizations, as the ridership of these services is 60% women and Greyhound is used by many trying to get to work. I will continue to call on the government to help people in my riding of London—Fanshawe and others across southwestern Ontario who rely on the inner-city bus industry. Travel, of course, is a necessity of life in rural Canada, and every community in Canada should be able to count on reliable transit to connect people to their jobs, health care services, schools and family members.
Connectivity in person during this time is obviously limited, which for so many has put a great deal of emphasis on virtual connectivity. Again, this pandemic has exacerbated many of the failures within our infrastructure for farmers and people living in rural and remote areas across this country. There are issues that consecutive governments have ignored for far too long.
Women, and in particular women living in rural Canada, too often feel isolated, and this is compounded by their inability to access or afford a stable Internet connection or cellphone service. It is so important to physically distance right now, but social isolation must be avoided. I have heard from so many women who say they miss their families and their grandkids, the hugs and support they provide.
In particular, I want to address the needs of women who need access to supports from government programs for mental health support and domestic violence hotlines. Those are just some examples. If they do not have that connectivity to online supports, they are left in further, more devastating isolation.
The New Democrats' vision of Canada is one of equality, balance and fairness, a country where women's organizations have stable funding so that women can access the support and advocacy they need, and where women have the tools that they need to access those services in their communities, whether urban, suburban, rural or remote.
Shelters across Canada have faced large expenses trying to adapt themselves to meet public health physical distancing requirements and to alter programs to deal with the new reality of a COVID-impacted world. However, without the necessary core funding that many shelters and organizations need, these supports cannot exist. Core funding has not been provided by the federal government for too many years, and these organizations cannot use the project-based funding to deal with this crisis situation. Too many fundraising events have been cancelled due to COVID, so another source of income for community-based support services that women need has been cut.
This, of course, is a serious financial crisis for the not-for-profit and charitable sectors. This crisis began long before COVID-19, and if things do not change it is one that will continue well past this pandemic.
I want to specifically highlight some of the stresses that are put on rural women and women who work in Canada's agricultural industry. Women are leaders in this sector, but I do not believe the government has done a good enough job of closing the pay equity gap and ensuring that women have access to affordable child care and to education. I know that although the number of women is slowly growing in the agricultural sector, many barriers still exist. A significant barrier to most people farming, especially to women, is the large costs associated: the cost of farmland, the cost of equipment, the labour challenges. This pandemic, again, has only exacerbated the difficulties that farmers in the dairy industry face.
Before I became an MP, I was a parliamentary staffer and had the great honour of working with the past international trade critic, Tracey Ramsey. Because of this incredible work, I was able to meet and work with amazing people in our agricultural sector, including in the dairy sector. Many people know that in the renegotiated NAFTA, Canada threw our dairy farmers under the bus to appease the U.S. The U.S. has now gained 3.59% access to our dairy market on top of the concessions that were in the other two Conservative-negotiated, Liberal-signed trade deals, the CPTPP and CETA, that bring the total loss to 8.4% of market share. That translates into 800 million litres of milk that will be permanently removed from our farms. I cannot imagine any other sector from which any government would dare cut almost 10% of our market share.
These are hard-working families across the country who take so much pride in producing top-quality milk for our communities. I do not know how much more dairy farmers can bear. Once again, I come to the point that because of decisions by consecutive Conservative and Liberal governments that have hurt our supply-managed dairy industry, this sector has been weakened. It is less resilient from the effects of this pandemic. Like so many other systems that I mentioned before that women, farmers and all Canadians rely upon, we need to reinforce social programs and these market protections, which protect people and protect Canadians.
Canadian farmers have benefited from the supply-managed system since the early 1970s. The system sets the prices and creates stability for dairy, egg and poultry producers. Supply management has proven to be an effective model that equalizes the benefits of dairy production across consumers, farmers and processors, and it stabilizes the industry against price shocks or over supply. During the negotiations of CUSMA, the Liberal government, every day, repeated its rhetoric that it would preserve and protect our supply-managed sectors, but protecting it meant not allowing pieces of it to be negotiated away.
There are three pillars of supply management: import control, pricing mechanisms, and production. In production, we have the quota system in Canada. We make sure that we are only making as much as the market demands. What is being thrown away in every single trade agreement signed by the current government is the pillar of import control.
Another key concern in allowing American milk into the Canadian market is that this product contains bovine growth hormone, created by Monsanto and used by American dairy farmers to increase milk production. There are no studies on the effect of this hormone on human health. I am so relieved when I buy milk and I see the little blue cow on the package, knowing that I am supporting Canadian dairy farmers and knowing that my milk is healthy and safe. I know what is in it, and therein lies the extraordinary value of our dairy sector and why we need to fight to protect it.
To add even more insult to injury, after selling out our dairy farmers in CUSMA, the government still has not provided the financial compensation it promised to support those same farmers. Ironically, this would not be necessary if the Liberals had actually protected supply management like they said they would, and we would not have had a surplus of American milk flooding Canadian borders, leading to the current Canadian supply glut, necessitating the recent dumping of 30 million litres of liquid milk.
Also causing harm to dairy farmers is the Canada Day start for the new NAFTA, which is only a few more weeks away, when those market concessions will hit our sector hard. This is another reason it was so vital that the NDP and my colleague, the MP for Elmwood—Transcona, negotiated with this government on future trade deals being negotiated in a far more consultative and transparent way. We pushed for Parliament to be able, for the first time ever, to view future trade deals in advance of ratification, instead of merely voting yea or nay after the deal is done. That is needed to preserve our food sovereignty and systems like supply management. It is to protect our farmers for future generations and to ensure that should we have these crises or emergencies in the future, we would be able and stable enough to withstand it.
Overall, the other measures announced for farmers by this government are not enough to offset the losses Canadian farmers collectively have suffered, nor will they ensure a strong food security system for Canadians. No one in Canada should be worried about where their next meal will come from. Canada's national food policy needs to improve food security by linking producers to the communities worried about having enough affordable food.
I live in an incredible area rich in agricultural land. However, farmers are facing significant challenges in southwestern Ontario. As the farm belt gears up for the growing season, the landscape has been radically changed by the COVID-19 virus and the lockdowns and security precautions that it has brought. The closure of the food service industries, with dine-in restaurant doors shut, has forced food producers and processors to adjust to a high demand for retail and direct-to-consumer products. The processing of food is incredibly different for home consumption than from food service, which is causing some significant challenges in our system. Again, although they have been delayed, I am glad we are passing these supports today.
With businesses and restaurants closed during the pandemic, the government has finally accepted the NDP's call for the government to buy surplus food to support food producers and help local organizations enhance food security for people in our communities. Canada is a privileged country because of its agricultural diversity, but it still faces many challenges concerning food. In 1976, Canada signed onto the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which includes a right to food. Yet, more than 40 years later, too many Canadians are still having difficulty putting food on their tables. It is well past time for the federal government to live up to its obligations and ensure access to safe, affordable and healthy food.
Farmers have been waiting for weeks for this emergency support, and while New Democrats welcome the bill in front us today that would increase the Dairy Commission's credit line, this should have been done weeks ago, and there is still a great amount to do. Instead of investing more to help our agricultural producers during this crisis, the government again has let farmers fall through the cracks. So many are not eligible for support programs. After everything this government has done to dairy farmers, this is the least it can do to support them during this pandemic. Instead of investing more to help our agricultural producers during this crisis, the government is letting them down. Many are still not eligible for support programs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed many failings in our systems and social programs. Cracks have been created over many years, and people are falling through those cracks because of the government's consistent cutting and gutting. The undermining of the supports provided by these programs has cost us a great deal now.
The question remains, will we continue down a road where we are shortsighted? Will we look only to what will benefit a small group in a short term, or will we now repair the damage done by the cutbacks and decide to further build and strengthen the programs we have? Will we ensure fairness, balance and equality within sectors, including our agricultural sector? Will we value the work of farmers in every sector? Will we value the sourcing of local food? Will we fall back from the belief that globalization and a neoliberal agenda are inevitable or supreme and realize that it is actually through social stability, the strengthening of people and the foundations they stand upon, that will make us thrive?
Now is a good time to start to ask these hard questions and to talk about our lives post-COVID. I know what my answer is, and I am willing to do the work involved to achieve something better for everyone.
Before I officially conclude, I want to briefly take this opportunity to recognize a very important anniversary.
Fifty years ago, almost to the day, members of the Vancouver Women's Caucus travelled to Ottawa with the Abortion Caravan. In 1970, members of the Abortion Caravan marched on Parliament Hill in opposition to the 1969 amendments to the Criminal Code. However, this women's organization knew then that a lack of fair and equal access to proper reproductive rights was putting women's health in danger.
The Abortion Caravan arrived in Ottawa on Mother's Day weekend in 1970, a convoy of Canadian women, over 500 strong, arrived here with coat hangers and a black coffin in tow to demand the legalization of unrestricted access to abortion services for all Canadian women.
On May 11, 1970, approximately three dozen women entered the House of Commons, taking their seats in the various galleries circling the chamber. Once seated, the women quietly chained themselves to their seats, listening intently as NDP MP Andrew Brewin asked Minister of Justice John Turner if he would consider reviewing the abortion law. Turner tried to dismiss the matter, but just before 3 p.m., one of the women rose from her seat in the gallery and began reciting the Abortion Caravan's prepared speech, interrupting debate on the floor of the House of Commons. As parliamentary guards approached the woman, a second woman stood up in another area of the gallery and continued to give the speech. One by one, the women rose from their seats, adding their voices to the call for safe and equal access to reproductive rights.
The Abortion Caravan brought national attention to this issue. Sadly, women today are still forced to fight for access to health care options. Specifically on this 50th anniversary, I think about those brave women who were part of that caravan and built that movement to ensure that women of my generation have the freedom of choice.
I also think of the women in Fredericton today and the fact that the so-called feminist federal government still has done nothing to ensure that the women's clinic in Fredericton is properly and fairly funded to do what is needed to protect the rights women are supposed to have under the Canada Health Act.
Like those women 50 years ago, and like MP Brewin, New Democrats will continue to fight for safe and fair reproductive rights. In recognition of this 50th anniversary, I believe that if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion: “That the House recognize this week marks the 50th anniversary of the Abortion Caravan, commemorates the caravan's important contribution to modernizing Canada's reproductive rights laws and calls upon the government to take further action to increase access to abortion services, including by enforcing the Canada Health Act and ensuring that Clinic 554 in Fredericton is properly and fairly funded.”
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View Larry Maguire Profile
CPC (MB)
View Larry Maguire Profile
2020-05-13 17:43 [p.2308]
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Mr. Speaker, my colleague made many good points in her speech. I saw a report published in The Globe and Mail earlier this week by a grain farmer in Alberta, whose name is Mr. Nielsen. He indicated that he got into agriculture because he loved it, not because he thought it would be easy. The dairy industry is certainly not easy, as I pointed out earlier today.
Mr. Nielsen also makes a comment that farmers face weather, market volatility and costs of input on a regular basis, but they manage for that as much as they possibly can.
The mental health of farmers is something we need to look at too, and I would ask my colleague to comment on that. That article published by The Globe and Mail indicates that 58% of farmers meet the threshold for anxiety and 35% already meet the level of what is classified as depression. Even though they are like that, they love the industry. I was a farmer all my life so I know where they are coming from.
Could my colleague expand on that or does she have anything to add?
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View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2020-05-13 17:45 [p.2308]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments. I also thank him for letting me speak about mental health as well.
That is of course collateral damage. There are two considerations in our communities. We are talking about agriculture. However, depending on the size of the farm, we know very well that some farmers live a solitary life. It is a huge endeavour that entails many risks, whether it is a dairy, horticultural or grain farm. Farmers experience a great deal of stress and anxiety.
As I said earlier, there were flaws in what the government offered as a result of the agreements. There is compensation that has not been paid. We see what is currently happening. There is even more pressure on farmers, whose work is considered essential. The fact that they are considered essential also means that our help is urgently needed.
This was also among the demands made by Quebec, the provinces and farmers with respect to mental health. They obviously need support, because these people work hard. I had a spouse who was a farmer, and I saw what a life of farming was all about, with all it demands. I saw the stress, but also the desire, since farmers love what they do. As my colleague said, it is a passion. We need to support them.
I want to expand on the topic of rural life. Many rural ridings have high rates of suicide among men, primarily, and among farmers, as we heard earlier. These two aspects combined make this situation even more urgent.
I completely agree that we need to support them on this. Obviously, if we want to help them, we need to provide financial support, because that is where the stress comes from.
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View Dane Lloyd Profile
CPC (AB)
View Dane Lloyd Profile
2020-04-11 14:42 [p.2125]
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Mr. Chair, we need to be sure that the government is taking action, particularly on this.
Is the government tracking a significant increase in mental health issues and suicides? What actions is it taking to protect Canadians from taking their lives at this particularly stressful time?
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View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
2020-04-11 14:42 [p.2125]
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Mr. Chair, that, I am sad to say, is an excellent question.
One of the prices we are all seeing right now through this period of physical distancing is that more Canadians are suffering from mental health problems. We are very much focused on it. Health Canada is definitely putting forward some measures to be sure to help people at this time.
I also want to encourage individual Canadians to keep doing what they have been doing, which is to help their neighbours, friends and family.
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View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
2020-03-12 15:35 [p.2027]
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Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski.
In the days before medicare, we saw our neighbours suffer because they could not afford the health care they needed. We saw people lose their homes, their farms and their businesses as they struggled to pay their medical bills. We saw illness destroy entire families. Today, decades later, as we look across the country we see the pain of inaccessible and unaffordable health care once again.
Millions of families cannot afford to take the medications they need because they have no employer-provided drug coverage. The number of uninsured people forced to skip their medications is growing as more people work on contract, are self-employed or have jobs that just do not come with health benefits. Too many seniors are putting their health at risk because they do not have job coverage and cannot afford to pay out of pocket. One in five Canadians either has no prescription drug coverage at all or has inadequate coverage for medication needs. That is 7.5 million people.
I met one gentleman in my riding of London—Fanshawe who really highlighted this issue for me. He was injured on the job. Thankfully his employer had health benefits that would cover some of his recovery. He wanted and needed to get back to work even though he was not well enough, because he knew that he was up against the clock and his employer's health benefits would soon run out. He would have to make the impossible choice of going back to work, further risking his health and the health and safety of others, or paying out of pocket with money he just did not have, throwing himself into deeper poverty.
Sadly, this story is not anything new. That is why on clinical, ethical and economic grounds universal public drug coverage has been recommended by commissions, committees and advisory councils dating as far back as the 1940s. Health policy experts are clear: A U.S.-style, private patchwork approach will cost more and deliver inferior access to prescription drugs.
It is why New Democrats have always understood that health care must be a right in Canada, not a privilege. We have been calling for universal public drug coverage since our founding convention in 1961.
Today, Canada is the only wealthy country in the world with a universal health care system that lacks universal prescription insurance coverage. We pay the third-highest prices for drugs in the world and have to deal with a patchwork of programs and coverage, if we are lucky enough to have coverage at all.
For 10 years, instead of addressing the growing costs of drug coverage, the Conservatives made the problem worse by reducing health care funding to the provinces and undermining efforts towards a national approach to pharmaceutical pricing. Now, the Liberal government has spent four years stalling, promising lower drug costs but delivering delays and more of the same piecemeal system that is failing Canadians and costing us more.
We see the direct cost of this inaction in our hospitals and our communities. With people unable to get the medicine they need, they turn to our emergency rooms. When patients cannot afford their prescription drugs, they access provincial and territorial health systems more often as their conditions deteriorate. In 2016, about 303,000 Canadians had additional doctor visits, about 93,000 sought care in the emergency department and 26,000 were admitted to hospital after being forced to forgo prescription medication due to cost.
HealthCareCAN, the national voice of health care organizations and hospitals across Canada, estimates that between 5.4% and 6.5% of hospital admissions in Canada are the result of cost-related non-adherence to prescription medication, resulting in costs of approximately $1.6 billion per year.
One in five Canadian households reports a family member who, in the past year, has not taken a prescription medication due to its cost. Nearly three million Canadians per year are unable to afford one or more of their prescription drugs. With a system that still struggles with mental health supports, we see people on the streets and in our correctional systems when what they really need is help.
In London, Victoria Hospital of the London Health Sciences Centre has a significant overcapacity problem, with more mental health patients than beds for 179 of the last 181 days. The hospital's average capacity on any given night was around 111%.
We see the desperate need for a national, single-payer, universal pharmacare program. I believe my colleagues across the way believe that we need one too. I am so glad to hear that they will be supporting our motion today.
Why would Liberals keep promising to bring forward a national pharmacare program for the last 23 years? Why would Liberals propose study after study, after commission, after advisory committee if they did not see a need for pharmacare? That is, unless they are constantly studying the program to make it look like they are considering the issue and have no intention of implementing it. This is my great fear.
Liberals have been promising pharmacare since 1997, but I wonder how long they have been making promises to big pharmaceutical and insurance companies to secure their skyrocketing profits. We know that drug costs have increased every year the Liberals have been in power since 2015, and in that same time the Liberals have met with companies from the pharmaceutical and insurance industries more than 875 times.
New Democrats have a clear plan on how to implement pharmacare. In fact, our plan is laid out by the Liberals' own Hoskins report. We are so committed to ensuring this happens that, immediately following the last election, the NDP began working to draft a framework to make a universal, comprehensive and public pharmacare program a reality. It was the first private member's bill that my colleague, the member for New Westminster—Burnaby, put forward and I thank him so much for his hard work. I thank my colleague, the member for Vancouver Kingsway, for the hard work he has done on this file, not only in putting forward this motion today but for his work on the health committee in the last Parliament.
The NDP's national pharmacare act is modelled after the Canada Health Act, again as recommended in the report of former Ontario Liberal health minister Hoskins. After all the studies and commissions, if we read the report, it lays out a very clear path on how to implement pharmacare. A plan should follow the same principles that are the bedrock of our public health care system: universality, comprehensiveness, accessibility, portability and public administration.
What also comes out of the endless reports and studies is that, beyond the positive impacts on health and fighting poverty, pharmacare will save Canadians and businesses money. Universal, comprehensive and public pharmacare will reduce annual system-wide spending on prescription drugs by $5 billion through the negotiation of lower drug prices, increased generic substitution and use of biosimilars and other shifts in prescribing toward lower-cost therapies. It will stimulate our economy by reducing prescription drug costs for businesses and employees by $16.6 billion annually and reduce out-of-pocket costs for families by $6.4 billion, according to that same Hoskins report.
When we consider the average median household income in London—Fanshawe is under $60,000 a year, and $30,000 per individual per year, it is well below the Canadian and Ontario average and this would be a huge boost to people in my riding. I think of the many seniors in London—Fanshawe that I have talked to, either on their doorsteps or in my constituency office. They tell me about how the cost of everyday items continues to increase while their incomes remain the same. The cost of drugs continues to be the fastest-growing expense for people and for families. Average drug costs are increasing by 4% every year. On average, Canadian households spend $450 a year on prescription drugs and $550 on private health plan premiums, which is a combined average of $1,000. Private premiums have risen rapidly in recent years, thanks largely to escalating drug prices, and are taking a growing bite out of workers' take-home pay.
After decades of delay, we have a historic opportunity in this minority Parliament to finally deliver for Canadians. We can come together and deliver, lifting people up in a real way and at the same time creating a healthier Canada. It is time for this Parliament to have the courage to put forward this program, to strengthen our health care system, strengthen our economy and strengthen our communities.
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View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-11 18:30 [p.1968]
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Madam Speaker, I am pleased to stand in the House today as a follow-up to my question on funding for a national framework for mental health. I would like to start today by sharing how mental health has impacted my journey here.
I began my career as an educator. One day, a 14-year-old student got into some trouble in class and was sent down to see me. As we talked, it became clear there was a lot going on. I was aware of some social struggles in the friend group and I knew a bit of family history.
Suddenly and unforgettably, this student for whom I cared deeply, said the words, “I do not want to live anymore.” The student had the means and the motivation to escape this painful experience. The weight of the suffering hung thick in the air. I did what any human would do under the circumstances. I did my best to stumble through the rest of the conversation with empathy, but I recognized very acutely that my colleagues and I were not equipped to navigate the complexities of these conversations with the youth who trusted us the most. I would spend many hours and resources finding the tools to tackle this crisis, and I wish many other Canadians would also have that opportunity.
I am acutely aware of the pain of suicide, as many of us are. We have all lost someone. a cousin, the child of a teammate, a co-worker, a friend, a grandmother. Research shows that approximately 90% of people who die by suicide suffer from mental illness or addiction. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth ages 15 to 24. Rates of suicide are three times higher for members of first nations communities than they are for non-indigenous people. Risk factors are directly linked to socio-economic characteristics, including household income, employment status, level of education and family support.
I have shared a story. I have shared the data. I would now like to look to the solution.
Canadian provinces and territories need financial support from the federal government to ensure they can address the mental health crisis impacting families and communities across the nation.
We need to invest in training for professionals across sectors, educators and everyday Canadians to access resources and learning opportunities to support those suffering from mental illness.
We need to invest in a timely diagnosis process. Service providers and families need access to early diagnosis to ensure early intervention.
We need to invest in a national pharmacare system. Canadians should never have the financial anxiety of needing to choose between buying groceries or life-saving medications.
We need to invest in support for sexual assault survivors. This is a massive missing link in this conversation.
We need to invest in support for elders, like intergenerational housing, to avoid isolation and loneliness.
That is why on February 26, I asked the Minister of Finance if the budget would include funding for a national framework on mental health so the provinces and territories could work together to find solutions to address this crisis. I look forward to hearing the response from the hon. member as to how we might come together to restore hope for Canadians across the country.
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View Gudie Hutchings Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
2020-03-11 18:33 [p.1969]
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Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member first and foremost for sharing her story and for providing the House with this opportunity to speak about mental health.
According to Statistics Canada, one in three Canadians will be affected by a mental illness in their lifetime. Mental health is influenced by a number of factors, including life experience and social and economic conditions. Our government recognizes the need for a comprehensive approach to mental health, one that embraces promotion and prevention alongside treatment and recovery.
For this reason, we have worked with our partners and stakeholders to put in place community-based programs and initiatives that promote mental health and contribute to the prevention of mental illness.
Our government is also committed to increasing the availability of high-quality mental health services for all Canadians. Through budget 2017, we provided provinces and territories with $5 billion over 10 years to improve access to mental health and addiction services. These targeted investments will address specific gaps in the availability of mental health services, including those for children and youth.
Allow me to illustrate, through concrete examples, how these investments are expected to directly help Canadians suffering from mental illness.
With this funding, in my province of Newfoundland and Labrador we will add new community crisis houses to provide a safe place for people experiencing a mental health crisis. Several models will be explored for these beds, based on the emerging needs of each of the province's regional health authorities.
Quebec will improve accommodation and community retention services to provide psychiatric hospitalizations and reduce psychiatric ward stays.
The Northwest Territories will contract an itinerant private counselling team that will provide surge capacity assistance to individuals struggling with mental illness through timely crisis supports when local resources are either unavailable or overwhelmed.
Saskatchewan will establish residential options that include intensive supports for individuals with serious and persistent mental health issues.
With federal funds, Ontario has committed to develop and provide new services in supportive units, such as daily living supports and case management for those living with mental illness, those with addictions, and those who are at risk of becoming homeless.
In Ontario, as well as in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia, federal investments will also support other initiatives that integrate mental health and addictions services into supportive housing programs, justice services, and education settings, all of which will have a particular focus on youth.
To provide support for those struggling with suicidal thoughts, our government is also investing close to $3 million over five years to support the development of the Canada suicide prevention service through Crisis Services Canada. This service connects people in Canada to confidential 24/7 crisis support and resources through trained responders.
Finally, to promote child and youth mental health, our government is also investing $1.1 million in 2019-20, $4.7 million in 2020-21 and $4.9 million from 2021-22 and onwards through the mental health promotion innovation fund. The fund will support the development of new and promising interventions that aim to address the underlying determinants of mental health in children and young people throughout Canada.
To sum up, mental health is a priority for the federal government, and we will continue to work with all our partners to make improvements in this area.
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View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-11 18:37 [p.1970]
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Madam Speaker, I thank the member for that really wonderful response. There are lots of great initiatives taking place in Canada. I feel we have come a very long way.
I do want to highlight that there are still some missing pieces. Mental health has long been recognized as a fundamental aspect of one's health; however, under our current health regime, the majority of mental health services do not meet the eligibility requirement of “medically necessary”.
I feel we need to have another look at this, and that is why I am asking for a national legislation framework. There is a patchwork of provincial and regional initiatives, but I feel we need a more unified approach. I am thinking of a story of a constituent who is searching for their son across provincial lines and is having a lot of difficulty because there is not a lot of collaboration and communication that occurs.
I am asking for a national strategy to be looked at and funded by the government.
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View Gudie Hutchings Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
2020-03-11 18:38 [p.1970]
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Madam Speaker, I know my hon. colleague is passionate about this issue and I encourage her to reach out and work with all the departments.
I am sure the member knows that the provinces determine where most of the federal money given to them goes. That is why we were so adamant in earmarking that money for mental health initiatives.
We are committed to a comprehensive approach to mental health, one that embraces promotion, prevention, treatment and recovery. We are investing in a range of culturally appropriate mental health initiatives and programs that take into account social, economic and environmental factors, such as income, housing and education. We are also working with our provincial and territorial partners to improve access to mental health services for Canadians.
As mentioned, through our commitment of $5 billion over 10 years in budget 2017, investments have been made in appropriate and cost-effective mental health services for Canadians. We will ensure that the provinces continue to do so.
The challenge of addressing mental health issues requires the combined efforts of all levels of government and many stakeholders, as well as all members in this House.
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