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Results: 1 - 15 of 16
View Valerie Bradford Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I thank the previous speaker for her very heartfelt interest in this bill.
I am honoured to rise in the House to speak about such an important bill. I would like to thank the member for Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne for the work she has done to create this bill and educate members and the public about how vital this legislation is, and for advocating for the protection of firefighters all across our country. I would also like to thank the International Association of Fire Fighters, the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs, the Kitchener Professional Firefighters Association and the Cambridge Professional Fire Fighters' Association for the work they have done lobbying for support for this bill and for the work they do every day to keep us safe.
The importance of Bill C-224, an act to establish a national framework for the prevention and treatment of cancers linked to firefighting, cannot be overstated. All across the country, from coast to coast to coast, firefighters put themselves in harm’s way for the safety of others. They regularly enter unknown and unfamiliar situations that pose an immediate danger to the public. However, long after the situation has passed, the long-term and lasting effects of their service are largely unknown.
As members of Parliament, we have a moral obligation to do everything in our power to protect those who so selflessly protect us and those we represent in the House. This bill would ensure that no matter where a firefighter is serving, at least some of the long-term threats posed to them will be recognized equally. Whether they are responding to a car accident in British Columbia, a structural fire in the Yukon or a hazardous materials incident in Newfoundland, the risk of cancers posed to them because of their service will be recognized.
It is heart-wrenching to consider how many mothers have lost sons and daughters, how many spouses have lost partners and how many children have lost parents because of occupational cancer. More than 85% of all duty-related deaths among firefighters are caused by occupational cancers, a prevalence of roughly three times more than the average Canadian.
Although progress has been made by the government to limit the chance of exposure to harmful chemicals that are known to be carcinogenic, a national framework is necessary, as it would help address, all across the country, the threats faced by substances when we do not know what exposure could lead to. For firefighters, exposure to a harmful substance can occur at any time of day, but a physical reaction to a substance can occur at any point in their lives. The recognition of occupational cancers for firefighters has been a struggle for far too long.
In the city of Kitchener, in March 1987, Kitchener firefighters were called to a structural fire. It was a large fire that occurred at a local manufacturing company. Multiple alarms were called, and there were only two units in the entire city that were not at the fire at one point or another. Some of the witnesses at the scene described “smoke and flame that was every colour of the rainbow”. The blaze continued through the night and into the following morning until it was finally extinguished. In total, 69 firefighters took part in fighting this fire.
At the time, the fire marshal reported that there were no significant injuries from the incident. The only exception to this was Captain Ed Stahley, who went to the hospital, as he had a green appearance. It turned out to be nothing more than green dye used in the manufacturing of Oasis floral foam. However, what no one knew at the time was that while it just seemed like a busy night for a mid-size fire department, the exposure to the chemicals used in the manufacturing of this foam would have tragic consequences for years to come.
It only took two years for firefighters to begin dying of cancer caused by their participation in this fire, with several fathering children with birth defects. Dave Ferrede was the first to pass, and tragically not the last, dying only six weeks after being diagnosed with primary liver cancer. He was 32 years old. Those who attended the fire experienced a wide array of physical ailments, with 23 of the 69 firefighters getting either cancer or Parkinson’s disease.
For decades, Kitchener firefighters fought to have their voices heard about the effect this fire had on their lives and the lives of loved ones. While many studies have now shown the correlation between cancers and firefighting, this has not always been the case and even now the recognition of cancers is clearly not equal.
This is a tragic story that happened in my community, but there are stories just like this in communities all across this country.
Recently, I met with two local firefighter unions, the Kitchener Professional Firefighters Association and the Cambridge Professional Fire Fighters' Association, to discuss this bill. The president of the Cambridge union, Steve McArthur, captured the sentiment of this bill perfectly, stating that every firefighter knows someone affected by occupational cancers. That is every firefighter, not just firefighters in Kitchener or Cambridge, not just firefighters in Ontario, but every single firefighter across Canada. In fact, mere weeks after saying this, Cambridge firefighters lost one of their brothers to cancer.
Many provinces, such as Manitoba and Yukon territory, have almost 20 cancers recognized as being linked to firefighting. Others are very behind, with some recognizing as few as six.
A national framework would also promote research and information sharing, so that the lessons learned from one tragic experience may result in it never occurring again in Canada.
We must ensure that those cancers affecting female firefighters are also acknowledged and recognized. This is particularly important as more and more females are joining this band of heroes. This means ensuring that cancers unique to women, such as breast, ovarian and cervical cancer, must be recognized everywhere in Canada and that all measures possible must be taken to protect them, such as having proper-fitting equipment.
While we debate many subjects in the House, I hope the need for occupational cancers to be recognized equally no matter where firefighters serve is not debatable.
This bill is not some abstract policy proposal. This is a bill that has many faces and many names of those who have served, those who continue to serve and those we have tragically lost. From 2012 to 2021, 400 Canadian IAFF members got cancer as a direct result of their duties. This is by far the number one cause of line-of-duty deaths in Canada. We must do more to prevent firefighters from getting cancer and to treat those who do get cancer.
People often think that the greatest threat facing firefighters is something they can see, such as a burning building, fallen debris, raging water, but it is more often the things they cannot see. That is why the other part of this bill is so important, designating the month of January as firefighter cancer awareness month.
This would help increase awareness and educate people about this most serious threat that firefighters face. The ability to identify symptoms early and provide knowledge about the occupational hazards present when performing duties is necessary for reducing the number of firefighters affected by occupational cancer.
By dedicating an entire month toward firefighter cancer awareness, we can help ensure there is a meaningful dialogue about this terrible reality and make sure the public prioritizes protecting firefighters everywhere from occupational cancers.
Firefighters are heroes. They run into danger while the rest of us run away. They put their lives on the line at great personal risk. Unfortunately, all the risks they are exposing themselves to are not known at the time and often the damage from unknown toxins, etc., only manifests itself years later.
Firefighters have our backs. I urge all members of this House to support Bill C-224 to ensure that firefighters know that Canadians have their backs.
View Valerie Bradford Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, on April 7, our government put forward its plan to make life more affordable for Canadians through the 2022 budget. A top area of concern in my riding of Kitchener South—Hespeler is the issue of housing affordability. We know that Canadians deserve a safe place to call home and that it should be affordable.
Can the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance tell us what the government is doing to make the dream of owning a home a reality for more Canadians?
View Valerie Bradford Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, in my riding of Kitchener South—Hespeler, I have seen our main street businesses find new ways to stay open and battle throughout the pandemic. Our government has been there for small businesses.
Can the Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario inform the House about what our government is doing for main street businesses across Southern Ontario?
View Valerie Bradford Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to share with the House that just last month, the Rohingya Centre of Canada opened its doors in Kitchener. Waterloo region is home to 60% of the Rohingya living in Canada, the vast majority of whom are in my riding of Kitchener South—Hespeler. We are honoured to have this centre located in our region, as it not only benefits those receiving services, but enriches the wider community as a whole.
The Rohingya are often cited as among the people who are the most discriminated against in the world. However, through this tragedy, they have shown us their ability to persevere, no matter the odds.
The Rohingya Centre of Canada perfectly captures this spirit of perseverance, as it ensures that Rohingya Canadians thrive after arriving in Canada. Here, new arrivals can get employment resources, celebrate their culture and receive assistance in navigating the customs of their new country.
I ask members of the House to join me in applauding the Rohingya Centre of Canada and the work it does to support people and empower communities.
View Valerie Bradford Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to share with this House that ApplyBoard is one of the recipients of the Governor General's innovation award. This local business with global impact was founded only six years ago by three brothers, Martin, Massi and Meti Basiri, two of whom are residents of Kitchener South—Hespeler.
In this short time, they have grown their company to the largest online international student recruitment platform in the world. They have helped more than 300,000 students to date and are on a mission to improve access to education for everyone, no matter where they are from. Their work has strengthened the diversity of our student population, supported the flow of academic talent and fostered internationalization. It is for these reasons that ApplyBoard has received this award, and it is very well deserved.
I ask the members of this House to join me in applauding ApplyBoard for receiving this prestigious award in its pursuit of educating the world.
View Valerie Bradford Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, we know how important child care is for families in our economic recovery, but we know how expensive it has been for families. Parents in Ontario have been paying some of the highest fees in the country. We also know that we need to grow the number of spaces available, so that all families can benefit.
Could the minister please update the House on the government's progress toward building a Canada-wide early learning and child care system and what it will mean for Ontario's families?
View Valerie Bradford Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mister Speaker, today I would like to recognize Greg White, who is a teacher, coach and leader in the Hespeler community. After 31 years of teaching at Jacob Hespeler Secondary School, Mr. White has retired.
He dedicated his personal and professional life to the betterment of the school. For years, he even hosted regular fundraising events alongside his best friend and colleague Mark Hatt in order to raise money for the school.
Later, becoming head of the physical education department, he transformed the fitness program and facilities to rival those of universities, let alone other high schools. While known to many as a coach, his influence did not stop on the field, as he pushed students to excel no matter their pursuit. Mr. White touched the lives of thousands in Hespeler, including my son Brad.
I ask the House to join me in congratulating him on his retirement and thanking him for working so selflessly to inspire the next generation of leaders.
View Valerie Bradford Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, today I would like to recognize a small business that is unlike any other in my riding of Kitchener South—Hespeler. The Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory is a privately held attraction in Cambridge, Ontario, that is recognized as one of Ontario's iconic attractions, drawing many tens of thousands of visitors every year to the Waterloo region. The 10,000 square foot indoor tropical conservatory houses thousands of free-flying butterflies and actively funds and implements butterfly conservation research.
In addition, it is important to the health and mental well-being of those who visit, importantly providing guests with a respite from the harsh realities of the past two years of COVID.
Since opening in 2001, over 300,000 schoolchildren have participated in the conservatory's educational programs. The conservatory also manages a robust outreach program, visiting libraries, schools, seniors' homes and community centres.
Please join me in congratulating the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory as it celebrates 21 years of serving the community.
View Valerie Bradford Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, many Canadians are struggling to find affordable housing, including those in my riding of Kitchener South—Hespeler. The need for affordable housing has been highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, I had the honour of speaking at a virtual open house for one of our government's rapid housing initiative programs in my riding of Kitchener South—Hespeler. Could the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion please tell the House how our government is building more affordable housing in Kitchener South—Hespeler and across Canada?
View Valerie Bradford Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to address something that is affecting all Canadians. My riding of Kitchener South—Hespeler is home to two Toyota plants that directly employ over 5,000 employees. The situation at the Ambassador Bridge had a direct impact on the many constituents in my riding who work in the auto sector, when the plants were forced to close for several days.
Blockades in cities and at border crossings have disrupted the lives of families across the country. I have heard from constituents in my riding of Kitchener South—Hespeler, thousands of whom were sent home from work as a direct result of the blockades. This is hurting our neighbours, crippling the manufacturing industry, disrupting the supply chain and making life even harder for all Canadians, who have already gone through so much.
I encourage and ask that all levels of government continue to work together on the current situation at our border crossings and allow Canadians to return to work.
View Valerie Bradford Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, today I would like to highlight an amazing small business located in my riding of Kitchener South—Hespeler. Papou's Place Subs and Ice Cream, affectionately known as Papou's, has been a fixture of Hespeler's downtown core and a local favourite for 25 years.
Owner Chris Bogas purchased the business when it was in its infancy, and through hard work and determination, has turned it into the award-winning icon that it is today. Immigrating from Greece and trained as a butcher, Chris is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit that makes Canada great. He has provided locals not only with great food and friendly service but also with countless fond memories for the people of Hespeler to cherish.
As Papou's bears such local significance, I was saddened to learn that it will be closing its doors later this month. While we will all deeply miss Chris's presence here in Hespeler, he has assured me that his Galt location will remain open and he looks forward to serving his loyal customers there. Trust me, it is worth the drive.
I speak on behalf of all those in Hespeler when I thank Chris for all the memories and his many years of service to this community. I ask the members—
View Valerie Bradford Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, recently I met with Stephen Jackson of Anishnabeg Outreach, a non-profit organization for indigenous healing in my riding of Kitchener South—Hespeler. Over the past three years, under his leadership, this centre has grown from a staff of two to 30.
Using digital technologies, the outreach centre has transformed from a local organization providing service to the 50,000 indigenous people living in the region to a national organization providing healing and employment opportunities to friendship centres, reserves and urban centres. The processes and tools being used by this trail-blazing organization will position the current and future first nation, Métis and Inuit generations as prosperous leaders and strategic partners in Canada's future.
I encourage the members of this House to take a moment and join me in recognizing the remarkable work being done by the Anishnabeg Outreach centre.
View Valerie Bradford Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I am humbled and honoured to rise today for the first time in this special place as the member of Parliament for Kitchener South—Hespeler. I am grateful to the fine people of Kitchener South—Hespeler for placing their faith in me to represent them and to be their strong voice in Ottawa. I am also honoured to serve with fellow members from across Canada who have been chosen to represent the interests of their fellow Canadians.
Of course, nobody arrives at this place on their own, and I owe a debt of gratitude to my three children. Brad and Allison encouraged and supported me from the beginning and worked hard on my nomination and election campaigns, and Ian cheered me on from a distance in Houston. I am in fact what I refer to as a “late onset politician”. I followed my son Brad, a Toronto councillor, into this line of work, and he was very instrumental in helping me to achieve this lifelong goal.
I would also like to thank my tireless team of volunteers, who stretched from Ottawa, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo and all the way to Windsor. Many of them were with me right from the beginning when I first sought the nomination well over a year ago and stayed with me throughout the journey. I would not be standing here today without their dedication, enthusiasm, hard work and determination. Some of them have now transitioned into staff members in my constituency and Hill offices. They continue to serve the residents of Kitchener South—Hespeler.
My journey to this place has been a long and winding road. I grew up on a dairy farm near Dunnville, Ontario, where I learned the value of hard work and responsibility at an early age. For the past two decades, however, I have called the region of Waterloo home.
Over my working life, I have been able to experience working in a number of careers, both in the public and private sectors. These included the tourism industry, financial services, real estate, media and municipal government. Most recently, I spent the last 15 years working in the field of economic development for the great city of Kitchener, focusing on business development in the manufacturing sector, which is still the largest sector of the local economy. Public service is my passion, and I am excited to have the opportunity to continue my commitment to public service in this new way.
Life, for me, has not always been easy. I suddenly found myself a single parent when my children were ages three, six and seven. It was a struggle raising three children on my own without a safety net, as I did not have family close by who could help out on a regular basis or on short notice. Failure was not an option. There was no plan B.
I know many Canadians are facing these challenges today. I have been there and I empathize with those struggling to balance family, finances and careers. These past two years have only made it harder.
This is why I am so passionate about our government’s early learning and affordable child care plan, which will enable parents, primarily women, to participate fully in the economy, as they are able. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it makes sense from an economic standpoint. The best thing the government can do to get more women into the workforce, close the gender gap and build our economy is to provide more affordable child care. Canada is at its best when all individual Canadians are at their best and able to fully utilize their skills.
Our government is committed to delivering on this and has successfully completed agreements with all provinces and territories, save Ontario. It is a shame that Ontario families are the only ones left out at this point. Rest assured, our government will continue to pursue affordable child care for the children and families of Ontario so that no one is left behind.
Another area of focus for me is that of workforce development. I had the privilege of serving on the Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo Wellington Dufferin for eight years, including the past three years were as its chair. It is critical for the success of Canada and our economy that everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential and enjoy meaningful work that they are trained and equipped to succeed in.
This is a very achievable goal, but it will require the involvement and co-operation of all levels of government. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that this is indeed possible. We need to continue that level of collaboration and co-operation to help all Canadians succeed and prosper.
Canada is at its best when individual Canadians are at their best and are able to participate fully to their maximum potential. I believe the federal government can do great things when it listens to people, takes action and supports our most vulnerable. Let us build a future where everyone can succeed and let us build it together.
I am looking forward to working with members from all sides of the House to make this happen for Canadians. The recent unanimous passage of the bill banning conversion therapy demonstrates what can be accomplished when we set aside our differences, put the needs of Canadians first and work together for the benefit of all. Canadians expect and deserve no less.
View Valerie Bradford Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I share the hon. member's concern about housing affordability. Unfortunately, the rest of the world has discovered what a wonderful place the Waterloo region is to live. However, our government has done a number of things to address this.
In fact, it was our government that first announced the national housing strategy, a 10-year plan to invest over $72 billion to give more Canadians a place to call home. Launched in 2017, it would create up to 160,000 new homes, meet the housing needs of 530,000 families, and repair and renew more than 300,000 units. We also have the rapid housing initiative. The first round exceeded its initial target of creating up to 3,000 new affordable units. It has actually resulted in the construction of more than 4,700 units across Canada since October 2020.
Expanding on this successful initiative, 10,000 new affordable housing units will be created across the country through the rapid housing initiative, exceeding the initial goal of 7,500 new units. Most of these housing units will be constructed within the next 12-18 months. We are also introducing a new rent-to-own program that will help people who cannot accumulate a down payment or meet the requirements for a mortgage to be able to buy their houses over time.
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