Interventions in the House of Commons
 
 
 
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View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Shaun Chen Profile
2019-06-10 14:03 [p.28803]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to recognize the Islamic Foundation of Toronto as it celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
Established in 1969, IFT is one of the oldest mosques in Canada. Over the years, what began as a small neighbourhood mosque has become much more to the Muslim community in my riding of Scarborough North and beyond. The centre serves thousands of people through its meals on wheels program, community tax clinic, workshops for seniors and high-ranking elementary school.
I congratulate Imam Shaykh Yusuf Badat, the board of directors, trustees, volunteers and the worshippers who make IFT the incredible institution it is today.
Last week, I joined the IFT congregation to mark the end of Ramadan and wished everyone a happy, peaceful and prosperous Eid-al-Fitr.
Eid Mubarak.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Shaun Chen Profile
2019-05-15 15:06 [p.27837]
Mr. Speaker, supporting young academics who are pursuing world-class, interdisciplinary research is an investment that our government recognizes as important. Science and research are vital to ensuring Canada's continued innovative progress.
Could the Minister of Science and Sport please tell the House about the new frontiers in research fund, which will help support young researchers undertake high-risk, high-reward research?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Shaun Chen Profile
2019-05-15 15:14 [p.27839]
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
We have had discussions among the parties, and I believe if you seek it, you will receive unanimous consent for the following motion: Whereas Canada and Sri Lanka share deep people-to-people ties; whereas in recent times countless lives have been lost to senseless violence, natural disasters and war in Sri Lanka; whereas Canada condemns the recent terrorist acts targeting Christians' prayer on Easter Sunday and civilians at hotels in Colombo; whereas Canada condemns the recent anti-Muslim violence in Sri Lanka; whereas Canada stands together with its allies and partners around the world in condemning all acts of terrorism, violent extremism and hatred; whereas this month marks the 10th anniversary of the end of the 26-year armed conflict in Sri Lanka, yet peace and reconciliation have not been achieved; whereas the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights investigation on Sri Lanka in 2015 established that war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed during the end of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka; whereas truth-seeking and accountability measures are critical for realizing justice for the victims, ending impunity and ensuring lasting peace and reconciliation; therefore, this House, one, extends its condolences to all the victims of violence, terrorism and war in Sri Lanka; two, supports the Government of Sri Lanka in its efforts to pursue justice for those affected by the Easter Sunday attacks, protect the rights of religious minorities and defend all places of worship; three, reaffirms Canada's call for Sri Lanka to implement its obligations under UN Human Rights Council resolutions 30/1 and 40/1 and reaffirms Canada's support in advancing accountability, peace and reconciliation among all peoples on the island; and four, calls upon the United Nations to establish an international, independent investigation into allegations of genocide against Tamils committed during the last phase of the war in Sri Lanka in 2009.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Shaun Chen Profile
2019-01-30 14:14 [p.25015]
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise to recognize the valuable contributions of the Tamil community in Canada.
Earlier this month, Tamil Canadians celebrated Thai Pongal, a four-day festival of thanksgiving for a successful harvest.
Thai Pongal celebrates peace and abundance, when families gather to enjoy rice pudding.
January is also Tamil Heritage Month, a time to highlight the role of Tamil-Canadians in our collective success. Recently, I attended events hosted by the Canadian Tamil Congress and the National Council of Canadian Tamils, both located in my riding of Scarborough North. They remind us that this year also marks the 10th anniversary of the end of the Sri Lankan civil war, which affected many in Canada's Tamil diaspora. Their stories are a stark reminder of the need for lasting peace and reconciliation.
Nandri vanakkam.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Shaun Chen Profile
2018-11-05 13:06 [p.23242]
Mr. Speaker, my fellow members of Parliament have brought up an issue that is important not only to me and this government but to all Canadians, and that is the well-being of our veterans, members of the Canadian Armed Forces and their families.
First and foremost, it is important to recognize that we might not be here in this place having this conversation were it not for the sacrifices made exactly 100 years ago during the First World War and the sacrifices made since then all over the world by the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces. It is with that formidable legacy of service and sacrifice in mind that our government is committed to providing all veterans and their families with the services and benefits they need, when they need them.
As the veterans community evolves and expands, so do its needs, hence the required flexibility and demand-driven nature of the programs and services Veterans Affairs Canada provides. Many departments within the government deal with lapsed funding each year. They make estimates on spending, and the money can only be used for the purpose for which it was intended. In other words, this is part of regular operating procedures.
Veterans Affairs Canada, similar to many government departments, faces the challenge of accurately forecasting its variable funding requirements due to the quasi-statutory nature of its programs. This necessitates Treasury Board approval before program funding can be adjusted.
It is very important that Veterans Affairs funding be quasi-statutory. In Canada, the veterans population consists of over 600,000 former Canadian Armed Forces members and their families. The population of ill and injured veterans served by the department is closer to 200,000. Since we stand ready to help any veteran who needs assistance, that 200,000 grows as more and more veterans come forward. Whether 10 or 10,000 more come forward, the funding model allows Veterans Affairs to provide programming and benefits without having to go back to Parliament every single time more resources are needed.
Over 90% of Veterans Affairs programs and benefits are considered quasi-statutory in nature, meaning they meet the definition of being non-discretionary, demand-driven and based on need or eligibility. The amount of this funding is dependent upon the number of clients who apply for benefits and their eligibility for programs. This is what makes it so hard to estimate exact numbers.
It should also be pointed out that over the past three years, 98% of the funds available for these quasi-statutory programs was spent to support veterans and their families with the benefits and services they needed. The remaining 2% represents the flexibility required to ensure sufficient funding within the budgets of each of 26 separate programs to support all veterans who are approved for benefits and services.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
These are the very programs at the heart of this department and our government, the very programs that ensure our veterans have access to the services they need, and the very programs that our veterans and their families rely on to live their very best lives.
Nothing called for in this motion is not already being done.
Funds for Veterans Affairs quasi-statutory programs are returned to consolidated revenue and then used again in subsequent years to ensure access to these programs and benefits.
Our government is committed to supporting the health and well-being of our veterans. Just as veterans and their fallen comrades have made sacrifices to preserve our future, our government is committed to protecting them and their future.
That is why we committed almost $10 billion over the last three years to make it easier for the women and men in uniform who have served this great country to access the benefits they deserve.
In 2015, we pledged to make it easier for veterans and their families to access services, to do more to support families, to streamline benefits, to reduce the administrative overhead, to improve the client experience with Veterans Affairs Canada and to help our brave women and men make a successful transition to life after the military. These were ambitious goals, and our government has delivered progress and real change.
A lot of time and money has been spent on establishing new programs and improving existing ones, and now the focus is on service delivery excellence. We know this is an area that requires our utmost attention.
In 2016, we increased the disability award to $360,000, the amount that veterans and the veterans ombudsman said it should have been at for years.
We increased income replacement to 90% of a veteran's pre-release salary.
We expanded access to better address career limitations as a result of illness or injury.
We reopened the nine offices closed by the previous Conservative government and, given the need, we opened a brand new office in Surrey and expanded our outreach to the north to assist underserved communities.
We started the process of hiring more staff after the previous government made cuts, creating an artificial budget surplus.
We established an education and training benefit. We improved the career transition benefits offered to veterans and their families.
We introduced the pension for life, a monthly tax-free payment for life recognizing pain and suffering that resulted from a service-related illness or injury.
The veteran community has told us loud and clear that we need to make it simpler, easier and more user-friendly to access the programs and services provided by the department. They have told us about the effect of the backlog of applications for benefits and services and the time they have had to wait for decisions to be made.
That is why our government has taken concrete measures to improve service delivery, taking the initiative to reach out to veterans and their families to get the information needed to support claims and to explain benefits.
It is also why, with all of these new and enhanced benefits and services and increased efforts to inform veterans of what is available to them, application rates have increased exponentially in recent years. For example, over the past three years there has been a 32% increase in disability benefits applications.
This means veterans are more aware of the benefits they may be eligible for, which is good news. It also means the department needs to add to the capacity to respond and to evaluate those applications in a reasonable amount of time. This will allow them to respond more quickly and with increased flexibility, so that veterans can choose the suite of benefits and services that suit their particular needs.
Many changes have already taken place. Staff now triage claims to ensure that veterans who apply for mental health services receive priority in their evaluation, so that they can receive treatment without any delay.
Through additional staffing and process improvements, the department has been able to increase the number of disability claims processed and allow a larger number of veterans to receive decisions on their applications. For example, 96% of first applications completed for PTSD are approved.
To keep up with the rise in demand and ensure that veterans get services and benefits when they need them, our government is spending $42.8 million over two years, starting in the 2018-19 fiscal year, to improve service delivery at Veterans Affairs Canada.
The increasing number of applications continues to outpace the increase in capacity at the department, so progress is ongoing to hire new employees to help ensure that veterans, Canadian Armed Forces members, RCMP personnel and their families are provided with the best possible services when and where they need them.
Change like this cannot happen overnight and efforts are under way to create an easy-to-access, simple-to-navigate, veteran-centric process. We owe veterans the means to get back on their feet and on with their lives, and that is what our government is committed to delivering every day: to help veterans accomplish a successful transition after serving, rebuild their lives and enjoy a healthy state of well-being. Lapsed funds at the end of a fiscal year have no impact on that commitment or on the department's ability to deliver on that commitment. Funds returned to the fiscal framework cannot be redirected for a new purpose nor would they have any impact on the department's ongoing efforts to improve service delivery.
Make no mistake, our government continues to strive to provide faster, more efficient and higher-quality service for our veterans. We know that we are not finished with this work, but our commitment and hard work continue to make improvements in the lives of the women and men who have dedicated their lives to Canada's peace and security.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Shaun Chen Profile
2018-11-05 13:16 [p.23244]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his passion in supporting our veterans.
I am on the same page with the member when it comes to ensuring that veterans receive the benefits and services they need. We already know that money is returned to consolidated revenue funds for quasi-statutory programming and used again in subsequent budget years. That is why we continue to make smart investments. In fact, our government has invested $10 billion. Ninety-three per cent of the department's budget goes directly to programs and benefits that help our veterans.
Our veterans have served and given so much to the peace and security of our country and we are working very hard to repair the damage that was done under the previous government. We opened nine offices that were previously closed and hired 470 new staff. That good work is going to ensure that veterans receive the programs and services they need for a successful life after the military.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Shaun Chen Profile
2018-11-05 13:18 [p.23245]
Mr. Speaker, we are supporting benefits and services to help veterans. That is exactly why our government put in a joint suicide prevention strategy. We created a veterans emergency fund. We invested in a new career transition service. We created a pension for life for veterans who have served our country. We created the education and training benefit. We have expanded the medical tax credit for psychiatric service dogs. We also continue to invest in a centre of excellence for PTSD research.
These important investments are helping ensure veterans have a successful transition to life after they have served hard to defend our country and create peace and security for Canada and all around the world. We will continue as a government to make sure our veterans are well served and that we support them—
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Shaun Chen Profile
2018-11-05 13:20 [p.23245]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her continued advocacy and work on this particular file.
The fact is, whether 10 or 10,000 veterans need help and come forward for benefits, our government is ready to provide them with the benefits and services they need. That is why we have increased accessibility by reopening nine offices that were previously closed by the last government. We have hired 470 new staff. We understand there is a backlog to address, but veterans oftentimes need service immediately, which is why we have made targeted investments into, for example, areas on PTSD research. We are creating more benefits and programs so veterans get the supports they need.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Shaun Chen Profile
2018-11-01 12:45 [p.23129]
Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today in this House to speak to the 2018 budget.
Three years ago, I was privileged to be elected by the people of Scarborough North as Canadians from coast to coast to coast put their faith in our government. They sent us to Ottawa so we could fulfill our promise of delivering real change.
I know that every member in this House is here because he or she believes in improving the lives of all Canadians. With unemployment now at its lowest level in 40 years, and strong economic growth across this country, our government's plan is working, and our efforts are bearing fruit. As we expressed during the campaign and in the years since taking office, we believe in building a strong middle class and creating economic prosperity for all Canadians. Budget 2018, entitled “Equality and Growth: A Strong Middle Class”, would do exactly that.
In my multicultural riding of Scarborough North, hard-working individuals and families are benefiting from the programs and initiatives our government has introduced. Let me share the story of the Zhang family.
A proud mom and dad who recently immigrated to Canada to build a better life and a brighter future for their children came to visit me in my constituency office, along with their newborn baby girl. The Zhang family can rest assured that their daughter will be supported by the Canada child benefit, money that can be used to help pay for such baby essentials as diapers and clothing. Indeed, since our government introduced the Canada child benefit, over 300,000 children across this great country have been lifted out of poverty.
The 2018 budget would ensure that families such as the Zhangs would continue to receive adequate assistance through the Canada child benefit in the long term by indexing it so that it would keep pace with the cost of raising a child.
That is not all. Under the previous government, we saw the continued disappearance of the middle class. Hard-working Canadians saw their wages stall, their hopes and dreams shattered as they struggled to pay rent and put food on the table. That is why our government has introduced, in this budget, the new Canada workers benefit, which would put more money back into the pockets of low-wage earners. This new benefit would encourage Canadians to join the workforce. It would provide real help to over two million lower-income workers and raise over 70,000 people out of poverty. By next year, the Canada child benefit and the new Canada workers benefit, along with our government's national housing strategy and enhanced benefits for seniors, would lift 650,000 Canadians out of poverty. That is real change that will make a difference in the lives of people, not only in Scarborough North but all across this great nation.
What is even more transformative, however, is our government's commitment to gender equality and pay equity. We all know that equal pay for work of equal value is not just the smart thing to do but is the right thing to do. After consulting with key stakeholders, such as employers, organized labour, researchers and other experts, our government is putting forth legislation to establish federal proactive pay equity. When women and girls are given a fair chance to succeed, we all reap the benefits. In fact, gender equality in the workplace could add $150 billion to the Canadian economy over the next 10 years. Our government is doing the smart thing and the right thing when it comes to equal pay for equal work.
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Oakville North—Burlington.
Achieving gender equality also requires us to work together for environmental sustainability. All around the world, women and children are disproportionately impacted by the effects of environmental degradation. Here in Canada, Canadians continue to pay for the costs associated with increasing storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and extreme heat. It is clear that there is already a significant cost to pollution. That is precisely why our government is working to protect the environment, while growing the economy at the same time. By phasing out coal, protecting our oceans, and investing in renewables and public transit, our government is investing in Canadians and their future.
Not only have we created 500,000 new full-time jobs over the past three years, our carbon emissions are down, showing that economic prosperity and environmental sustainability go hand in hand. By listening to scientists and engaging with experts, our government would now be putting a price on pollution and growing a cleaner, greener economy at the same time.
Lower carbon emissions, air that is cleaner, emerging business opportunities and more money back in the pockets of Canadians: that is our plan to build a more sustainable and prosperous future for our children and our grandchildren. Speaking of that, investing in future generations remains a key goal of this budget.
I have worked with youth and in public education for most of my professional life, and I can attest to the importance of providing young people with opportunities to succeed, because when youth succeed, our nation succeeds.
Each year, over $330 million is invested in Canada's youth employment strategy, which enables young Canadians to gain important knowledge and hands-on job experience. Through the 2018 budget, our government would invest an additional $448.5 million over five years to enhance the youth employment strategy. This investment would fuel the success of our youth, allowing them to gain the skills and work experience needed to secure good, permanent employment through such initiatives as the Canada summer jobs program.
Last August, I met with some of the 260 youth employed at 51 organizations that are doing good work across my riding of Scarborough North. These summer jobs were possible thanks to $848,000 of federal funding through the Canada summer jobs program
Budget 2018 would go even further, proposing $46 million over five years, with an additional $10 million per year thereafter, for a new program to develop and enhance pre-apprentice training. This program would work in partnership with the provinces and territories, post-secondary institutions, training providers, unions and employers to help Canadians get trained, particularly under-represented groups such as women, indigenous peoples, those with disabilities and new immigrants. They will be able to explore different trades, gain invaluable work experience and develop the skills needed to succeed.
This budget is one all Canadians can be proud of. It would ensure that Canada's economy keeps growing while simultaneously providing more opportunities for the middle class and those working hard to join it.
It strives to improve our youths' present and their future and would take important strides in protecting our environment while simultaneously growing our economy. It would make smart investments and promote equality so that all Canadians can prosper.
All Canadians can feel confident in this budget and the real change our government is delivering, as I am.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Shaun Chen Profile
2018-11-01 12:55 [p.23131]
Madam Speaker, our government has worked incredibly hard to achieve the new USMCA agreement between Canada and the U.S. We are looking forward to continuing to build on the economic prosperity that comes from the trade and investment between Canada and our closest ally and friend, the United States.
The numbers speak for themselves. Since our government has taken office, 500,000 net new jobs have been created in this country. Canada has one of the strongest economies in the G7, and in fact, we have the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio.
Our government has made smart investments in infrastructure and in building the middle class and those working hard to join it so that our economy can prosper and we can build a better Canada for everyone.
In this budget, we would go even further, through pay equity legislation, through equality, and through environmental sustainability so that Canadians continue to prosper on the road ahead.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Shaun Chen Profile
2018-11-01 12:56 [p.23131]
Madam Speaker, the facts are these. Our government raised taxes on the wealthiest 1% of Canadians so that we could give a tax break for the middle class. We have made investments to put in the Canada child benefit, ensuring that 300,000 children have been lifted out of poverty. That number continues to go up.
We are certain that Canada is on the right track, because we are working very hard to ensure that environmental sustainability is front and centre in our government's agenda. We also believe that in protecting the environment, we can simultaneously grow the economy. That is why we have made smart investments. We have invested in green infrastructure, creating new economies, so that while we are working hard to protect the environment and reduce emissions, at the same time we are creating good jobs for Canadians.
Canadians have seen the results, the lowest unemployment rate over the past 40 years and unprecedented growth among G7 countries. We will continue to fight hard and do good for Canadians and their families.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Shaun Chen Profile
2018-10-30 14:57 [p.23030]
Mr. Speaker, since we took office, the Minister of National Revenue has been working hard to repair the damage the Harper Conservatives did to client service at the Canada Revenue Agency.
Can the minister explain how the appointment of CRA's first chief service officer will help the agency to meet its client service objectives?
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Shaun Chen Profile
2018-10-29 14:07 [p.22930]
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today on the occasion of Islamic History Month to pay tribute to the wealth of Muslim culture and to acknowledge the remarkable contribution of Muslim Canadians.
In Scarborough North, the Muslim Welfare Centre was established 25 years ago by Major Muhammad Abbas Ali and his wife Sarwar Jahan Begum as a modest Halal food bank. Today, this multi-service agency is focused not only on feeding those in need through such initiatives as project Ramadan. It also runs a free medical clinic, funds schools in underprivileged communities in Pakistan and coordinates disaster relief efforts all around the world.
Celebrating its silver jubilee, the Muslim Welfare Centre is a shining example of the care and compassion exemplified by Canada's Muslim community.
Let us come together as Canadians to celebrate Islamic History Month and cherish the remarkable diversity and pluralism that make Canada so great.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Shaun Chen Profile
2018-10-18 14:06 [p.22560]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today during National Infection Control Week to emphasize the importance of preventing infections in our communities.
Ayesha Riaz, a resident of my riding of Scarborough North, was only 24 years old when she tragically died earlier this year, just three days after giving birth to her beautiful son.
Her death, at the hands of septic shock resulting from a bacterial infection, left young Eesa without his mother, Ahmad Saleem without his loving partner, and our community without an intelligent woman who had a bright future ahead of her. It is not fair.
However, such tragedies can be prevented. That is why it is necessary to create awareness and knowledge of proper infection-control procedures in workplaces and especially in health care facilities. Whether it is promoting good handwashing or other preventative measures, National Infection Control Week deserves our utmost attention.
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