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Results: 1 - 15 of 276
View Sylvain Chicoine Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the people of Châteauguay—Saint-Constant to present a petition signed by dozens of my constituents who oppose the cuts to postal services.
This is not the first time I have presented a petition like this, since this issue is very important to my constituents. The petitioners want the government to maintain home delivery and put an end to the cuts to our postal services.
View Sylvain Chicoine Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, this government spent more than $700,000 to drag our veterans to court. That money should have been spent on something else. It could have been used to provide services to veterans and their families.
The postponement of the Equitas lawsuit until after the election is good news. However, veterans should not have had to take the government to court, period.
Can the government promise to respect its social, judicial, moral, and legal obligation to our Canadian veterans?
View Sylvain Chicoine Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, we were very proud to learn last week that the city of Châteauguay was honoured by the UMQ at its annual conference in Montreal. The municipality was awarded the Ovation municipale prize in the “economy, tourism and leisure” category for its project to purchase and develop the knoll on Saint-Bernard Island, as well as the jury's choice award. The purchase of the island was selected from about 20 or so other finalists. The winner was chosen based on various criteria, including originality and citizen participation.
I would remind everyone that Châteauguay purchased the knoll on Saint-Bernard Island from the Grey Nuns community in 2011. Since that time, the site has been open to the public and managed by Héritage Saint-Bernard and Compagnom. An estimated 165,000 people visited the site last year, which generated $2.5 million in revenues and created 80 jobs.
That said, I invite everyone to go and visit Saint-Bernard Island, which is without question an exceptional destination for recreation and tourism, and a source of pride and identity for the entire Châteauguay community. Once again, congratulations to the city of Châteauguay.
View Sylvain Chicoine Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech.
Unfortunately, we completely disagree with several of his principles. My colleague said that the Conservatives were standing up for victims, when we see that, in a number of respects, they have no regard for victims, particularly for the aboriginal women who have been going missing for years. The government is doing absolutely nothing for these women who are the victims of violence and who have been going missing. The Conservatives are all about smoke and mirrors. This bill, which is supposed to help combat violence against women, is another example of this. There are a number of laws in place to protect women, yet the Conservatives are introducing dangerous measures that could have the opposite effect and that will not help victims.
Why is the government saying that it wants to help victims when it has no consideration for the aboriginal women in our country? Why does it not take measures that could help those women deal with the violence they are facing?
View Sylvain Chicoine Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government is playing a dangerous political game. After making cuts to care and services for veterans and spending over $700,000 to defend itself against a class action lawsuit filed by veterans, the government is now trying to pass Bill C-58 in the middle of dozens of other measures, without debate, without examination in committee and without any consideration for veterans.
Why is the government playing partisan politics at the expense of veterans?
View Sylvain Chicoine Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, we have a social covenant with our armed forces. They offer to fight for us, protect us and defend our values. In exchange, the government offers them benefits, care and services during and after their service. However, the Conservative government has not been shy about challenging its obligations in the courts and closing offices. That kind of behaviour is unworthy of a government.
Will the Conservatives support our motion, and if so, will they finally fulfill all of their obligations to our veterans?
View Sylvain Chicoine Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from New Westminster—Coquitlam for moving this motion in the House and giving us an opportunity to talk about veterans and the fate the government has in store for them.
That fate is not always an enviable one . As several reports over a period of more than a decade have consistently shown, the new veterans charter contains elements that are unjust. The House adopted the new charter in 2006, but it is very flawed.
Even at that time in the House, we were talking about how the charter had to be adopted so that the government could look after modern veterans properly. The pension system was designed mainly to help veterans of long-ago wars. When the House adopted the new charter, we said that it had to be a living document that would evolve. At the time, we already knew it had some problems and would have to be improved as problems arose.
Unfortunately, the government did not do a very good job because only one measure has been adopted in the House since. The new Minister of Veterans Affairs announced a few measures recently, but they are essentially half measures that were introduced in Bill C-58. I will come back to that a little later.
Two or three years ago, when the House was doing nothing to improve this new charter, veterans in British Columbia had to go to court in order to defend their rights, as other groups have had to do as well. They had to turn to the courts to show Canadians that when soldiers are injured while serving Canada, Canada does not do enough to take care of them. It is scandalous.
In a case backed by Equitas Society, they went to court because the veterans said that the pension system used to be more generous and took better care of injured veterans. They used reports to clearly illustrate that when veterans are injured, they get lump sums and pensions that are not big enough. What is more, if a soldier is injured in combat and does not have a pension, at age 65 he or she ends up with nothing. A number of troubling things like that have come up over the years. Equitas Society ended up going to court to call on the government to take better care of veterans and give them better compensation.
To block this class action suit, the government's lawyers had the audacity to tell the court that the government had no moral, sacred, fiduciary or legal obligation to take care of veterans. That was nonsense. This is the fist time since World War I and the days of Sir Robert Borden that anyone has dared to say that the government has no obligation to take care of our injured veterans. Obviously our veterans were outraged.
Two years ago, when the minister and the government were asked repeatedly to refute the arguments of the lawyers in charge of this case, there was radio silence. The minister let the case move forward with that argument, which raised the ire of a number of opposition members and, obviously, of the veterans themselves, because it makes no sense. No government is so indecent that it would deny its sacred obligation to look after veterans.
When soldiers undertake to serve Canada, they also agree to put the nation's interests before their own. They agree to risk their lives. They agree to go into battle without the certainty that the country and Canadians will look after them and their families. That is completely absurd. We strongly condemn this situation, and that is why my colleague moved this motion.
Instead of fighting it out in the courts and opposing this class action suit, the government should have made appropriate improvements to the new veterans charter and at least responded to all the recommendations made by the committee nearly one year ago. These recommendations are not new as they have been raised many times before.
The new minister is only announcing half measures. One of the committee's recommendations was to include the sacred, moral, fiduciary and legal obligation to properly care for veterans. This was ignored by the government, which did not agree to this recommendation even though it said it would accept it.
Recently, my colleague from Sackville—Eastern Shore asked the minister several times whether the government recognized this obligation. Once again, there was nothing but radio silence. The government refuses to recognize the sacred obligation to properly care for veterans. It is mind-boggling that the government continues to behave this way. We had to move this motion today to force the government to commit to fulfilling this moral obligation. I would like to once again thank my colleague from New Westminster—Coquitlam for moving this important motion because it will allow us to see where the government stands on this issue. Will it once again simply pay lip service to this issue and attack the opposition?
Because of the many questions we have asked in the House, the government accused us of voting against the $5 billion it claimed to have invested since taking office. The Conservatives said it again not so long ago before they were caught red-handed. They did not invest $5 billion, since over $1 billion was returned to the public treasury. What is more, they are firing nearly one-quarter of the front-line staff who take care of our veterans, they are closing regional offices, and they are not consistently using the whole budget even though, as I mentioned, our veterans are not receiving sufficient compensation for injuries. Veterans receive less compensation than other people working in the public and private sectors. It is an ongoing battle for many of them to have their rights recognized, and now they have to deal with a shortage of staff.
The minister acknowledges that the budgets were cut too much in recent years, since the case managers were overburdened and the government is now having to backtrack and hire 100 new people to process veterans' files. There was a ratio of 40 veterans to one case manager, which was far too high. These case managers were not able to provide proper assistance to the veterans, follow up and fill out paperwork. There is often a large number of forms to fill out. The paperwork is never-ending, even if the veteran is an amputee, as we recently saw. An amputee was asked the following year to confirm that he was still an amputee. Veterans are swamped with forms to fill out, and the unspoken objective is to discourage veterans so they will stop filling them out. That makes no sense, when there are not enough case managers to pick up the slack.
The government needs to stop playing politics and stop accusing the opposition of playing politics when the government is the one doing it. The government must support this motion to improve the new veterans charter. We can put an end to the Equitas case by supporting our veterans and giving them appropriate compensation. That is what the government needs to do in this case.
View Sylvain Chicoine Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Guelph for his question and comments. He is one of the newest members of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, and I have to say that he got into the swing of things quickly. It did not take him long to get up to speed on veterans' issues.
His comments on the government's half-measures are right on the money. After the government proposed its measures, many people said that they were just half-measures. They were announced in Bill C-58, which will die on the order paper because all of those measures were subsumed in the budget implementation legislation. We will be opposing that because it includes income splitting and many measures that we find utterly indecent.
I can already hear the government MPs saying that we opposed their measures, but those measures include lump sums that will help just a tiny fraction of veterans. They will not help enough people. For family caregivers, the government announced $7,000, which is not very much. Those are the only measures—
View Sylvain Chicoine Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and his remarks. Yes, these are indeed half measures. The ombudsman said that they are insufficient, and Sean Bruyere said they were merely half measures, as did Jenifer Migneault, Donald Leonardo and Brian Forbes, just to name a few. They all agree that these measures are not enough.
The government has had several years to address all the problems related to the New Veterans Charter, which have been raised in various reports. Instead, it is proposing only a few small measures so that it can claim that is taking care of veterans and that it will give them more support, when that is just not true. When a spouse has to quit her job to take care of a veteran, which happens quite often, they are given $7,000 a year, and that is a pittance.
As another paltry measure, the government also proposed lump sum payments. According to Veterans Affairs Canada, that will help just a handful of veterans every year, even though many of them are seriously injured and not being paid adequate compensation. The government is still giving them just peanuts. It is obscene.
View Sylvain Chicoine Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.
My colleague is also a member of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. In May 2014, almost a year ago, following a study of the new veterans charter, we submitted a unanimous report on our observations and on ways to improve the charter.
To arrive at this unanimous report that all parties supported, I must admit that we watered down some of our positions to reach a joint agreement with the government, in order to present it to the minister and ask him to make the necessary changes to the new veterans charter.
Recent announcements include a very small minority of the things that were in the report, so much so, that I feel like we were swindled. By coming up with a unanimous report, we were under the impression that the government had no choice but to apply all these recommendations, which it did not.
What are my colleague's comments about the recommendations made with regard to the introduction of Bill C-58?
View Sylvain Chicoine Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, when people decide to join the armed forces to serve their country, they expect to get their government's support once that service is completed. It is a pact that every member of the armed forces has with their government. However, after fighting in service, our veterans have to keep fighting against their government, this time to get the compensation and services to which they are entitled.
If the government plans to support our motion, in what tangible way does it plan to honour our obligations to our veterans?
View Sylvain Chicoine Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my constituents in Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, I want to present a petition signed by about 200 people from the Châteauguay region. They are clearly indicating that they are opposed to the cuts to Canada Post's services. With this petition, they are saying that they very much want to continue receiving home mail delivery.
View Sylvain Chicoine Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the government is pleased to contribute millions of dollars to commemorate wars. However, when it comes time to take care of veterans, there is no end to the cuts.
Under the Conservatives' watch, services for veterans have been cut, regional service offices have been closed, and support staff have been laid off. It is not surprising that one-third of veterans are dissatisfied with the services offered by the department.
Why is the government not treating our veterans with the respect they deserve?
View Sylvain Chicoine Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, in true Conservative style, this budget goes nowhere and does not offer any solutions to veterans' demands.
The budget simply contains old announcements that were already in their previous budget. It was not even worth wasting ink and paper on that. Veterans deserve better.
Why does the minister refuse to reopen the regional service offices and to give veterans the services that they are demanding and that they deserve?
View Sylvain Chicoine Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend a wonderful display of solidarity by one of my constituents, who took on an ambitious project to give the Corbeil-Clément family a new home after they tragically lost theirs in a fire on December 15, 2014. With a huge mortgage and no insurance, the family might have had the worst Christmas anyone could imagine.
Moved by this terrible tragedy, Michel Énault, an electrical contractor, made it his mission to rebuild their destroyed house. With the help of volunteers, he managed to raise over $170,000 in cash donations, labour and building materials.
A week after the tragedy, Mr. Énault announced the amount that had been raised to rebuild the house at a fundraising event. By asking for help from basically all the business owners and merchants in the Châteauguay area, Mr. Énault's team was also able to give the family and the children a number of Christmas presents, a trip and enough furniture to fill the new house, which should be completed by mid-April.
Many thanks to Mr. Énault and his entire team for moving heaven and earth to transform what could have been a nightmare into a real-life fairy tale.
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