House of Commons Hansard #123 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.

Topics

Canada Pension Plan
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, the seniors' charter is the answer. Once again I want to congratulate my colleague from Hamilton Mountain for bringing that to the House. Clearly the Parliament of Canada supported it because it saw the value in it. We need to move forward on that. We need a government that is willing to look at that charter and say that seniors matter, their dignity matters and the fact that they built this nation matters to Parliament, to the nation.

Income security is first and foremost. We must make sure that seniors have the kind of income security to enable them to meet the rent, to pay the utility bills and to have the medication they need. We should extend that. We need pharmacare so that seniors do not have to choose between buying groceries and filling their prescriptions. We need home care so that seniors who want to remain in their homes can have access to the kind of care that prolongs their independent living. We need long term care. The government has an opportunity today to bring in the kind of measures so that seniors will not have to worry about what happens when their health will no longer allow them to live in their own homes.

My own family has experienced this. My father suffered a second stroke and he needs long term care. Could he find it close to home at an affordable price? No. He had to travel far out of town and my mother is faced with the reality of making a trip of more than one hour every day just to visit him. There will be nothing available to accommodate him in their community for at least the next two and one-half years. That is wrong. It is unethical. This is a nation that is great because of its seniors and we have abandoned them.

Yes, there is much we could do. We have not seen much of it from Parliament. We have not seen much of it in terms of previous governments. It is time. We have an opportunity and we need to do it now.

Canada Pension Plan
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, Western Arctic is a riding that has mostly rural and remote communities. There are many elders who have not had regular job experience that would allow them to build a comfortable pension. They live in communities where the cost of living is 200% higher than that of most of our cities.

The problem that seniors have identified to me over and over again is that when they do a little extra work, maybe go out trapping for a few furs or something else in the community that allows them to make a few extra dollars, it all gets taxed away from them. It gets taken out of their guaranteed income supplement. This is a huge problem throughout northern Canada. How can we address this problem? How can we give these people some relief? Seniors just want to work to make a little bit extra to pay the bills. It is very expensive for them to live.

Canada Pension Plan
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, quite simply, we end the clawbacks. There are so many seniors in rural and remote communities who, because of low incomes over their lifetimes, have to supplement their incomes in their retirement years.

The government once again has the opportunity to do the right thing. I hope that today's budget will show that the Conservatives have been paying attention to the fact that our seniors are in desperate need. This is the time to come forward with aid so that seniors in all parts of the country have access to the kind of income security that would allow them to live with dignity in their retirement years.

Canada Pension Plan
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-36.

Although this has been termed a housekeeping bill, it is unfortunate that we did not take this opportunity to examine some of the other issues that are facing seniors in this country. It is unfortunate that we did not take the steps the NDP proposed in the seniors' charter to address some of the very real issues that confront seniors in our country today.

Canadians are worried about a number of different issues. Canadians are worried, for example, about the solvency of their pension plans. In the previous Parliament a substantial amount of work had been done to look at protecting those pension plans for seniors. One proposal was that if a company should be so unfortunate as to go bankrupt, the protection of workers' pensions needed to be front and centre.

The NDP had argued very strongly for much stronger measures than actually came forward in former C-55. One step which parliamentarians and I am sure all Canadians would support would be to make sure that workers' pensions are protected, and that when a company went bankrupt, the workers' pensions would be the first to be paid and would not be somewhere far down the line.

In addition, we have discovered that since the mid-1990s, seniors' incomes have reached a ceiling. The gap between seniors' revenue and that of other Canadians is increasing. We have talked about fairness and affordability. We have talked about a prosperity gap. Seniors are truly facing that prosperity gap.

According to the government's own National Advisory Council on Aging, between 1997 and 2003, the mean income of senior households increased by $4,100 while the average income of other Canadian households increased by $9,000. The situation is even worse for seniors who are living on their own. Sometimes people only pay attention to numbers. In total, over a quarter of a million seniors live under the low income cut-off, or as we also say, below the poverty line.

There are many groups of people who are adversely affected as they age. One such group of people who are adversely affected is women. There is a recent Ottawa Citizen article entitled, “Late CPP applicants lose thousands in benefits: Women hit hardest by 11-month limit on retroactive payments”. I am going to quote from that article because it is helpful when there are other words out there besides those of parliamentarians.

Canada Pension Plan
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member but the time has arrived for statements by members.

Navy League of Canada
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, in January, I was proud to announce that the Navy League of Canada in Sarnia--Lambton had resolved its tax problems, thanks to the help of my federal colleagues, the Minister of Transport, the Minister of Public Works, the Minister of National Defence and our Prime Minister. They all took action when I asked them to save the organization that runs the Sarnia Sea Cadets.

For nearly 20 years, young people aged 12 to 18 have learned all about seamanship and water safety, while being taught the importance of discipline, teamwork, self-reliance and leadership in Sarnia--Lambton.

It took a Conservative government to finally resolve a problem that had plagued the Navy League for years.

I would like to give further thanks to Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley, as well as the local Navy League, including Dave Anderson who always kept faith that our government would ensure such an important youth program survived.

Now we look to a bright future for the Navy League and the Sea Cadets. I urge parents in Sarnia--Lambton to sign up their kids in the cadet programs.

Cabinet Ministers
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are starting to learn what Ontario already knows which is that they just cannot trust the three Harris triplets sitting on the front benches of the Harper government.

The Minister of the Environment has a particularly disturbing record from his Ontario government days. He was part of the Harris government that increased Ontario's energy dependence on coal-fired plants by 127%. The minister was also a member of the Harris cabinet whose decisions on municipal downloading lead to the Walkerton tainted water tragedy. He had the honour of serving as energy minister during the blackout of 2003. Ontarians were treated to the joke that he was doing a rain dance to keep the province cool and power usage low during that summer before the blackout.

Ontario already knows the damage that has been done by those former Harris ministers. Canada should not have to pay the same price.

Daniel Tessier
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Raymond Gravel Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, two weeks ago, the Laval Police Brotherhood lost a member for the second time in less than 15 months. The first was the tragic death of Valérie Gignac, a police officer in Laval. This time, it was my personal friend, Daniel Tessier.

As the brotherhood's former chaplain, I met with Daniel the night before the tragedy. He gave me a hug and told me I was his favourite member of Parliament. Who could have known that a few hours later, during a risky and dangerous operation, he would be killed so tragically and cruelly?

I would like to salute these courageous police officers, the men and women who risk their lives to serve their communities. I would also like to pay tribute to Daniel and tell him that he will always be in my thoughts and in my heart. I would also like to salute his wife, Dominique, and his daughters, Marie-Andrée and Véronique, and tell them that I care for them and I share their sorrow.

Infrastructure
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, communities across northern Ontario are scrambling to deal with the growing municipal infrastructure deficit. The federal government, along with the provincial Liberals, have simply walked away on the north. Sure we will hear them talk about the COMRIF program but COMRIF has been a complete failure to deal with the years of underfunding.

Meanwhile, the municipal infrastructure gap continues to grow. Homeowners are facing massive increases in municipal tax rates to pay for water, sewage and road improvements. Many of these communities do not have the tax base to cover it.

I want to speak today to the issue facing the people in Larder Lake and Virginiatown, Ontario. These are proud communities. They are not asking for handouts. They want to know why the federal government has shifted the burden of infrastructure costs onto the family economy. This is a fundamental issue of fairness. The gold resources from these communities helped build the Canadian economy and yet it feels like these communities, along with communities right across the rural north, are being cut adrift from the rest of this country.

How are we going to build viable communities as long as we continue to shift the infrastructure debt down to the municipalities? It is time we dealt with the growing gap between the rural and the urban south.

Curling
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Bruce Stanton Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, just over a week ago, Glenn Howard's Coldwater Ontario curling rink won the 78th Brier Curling Championship in Hamilton, Ontario. This was Glenn's first Brier win as skip and his third in a winning Brier rink.

This is a proud moment for the citizens of Glenn's hometown of Penetanguishene in my riding. It is a proud moment for the members of the Coldwater District Curling Club, also in Simcoe North.

Glenn's Ontario rink included Richard Hart, Brent Laing and Craig Savill. Now they will be representing Canada at the World Men's Curling Championship starting March 31 in Edmonton. They will be seeking the 30th world title for Canada since 1959, an honour that no other country can claim.

I would ask all hon. members to join me in congratulating Glenn and his rink for their Brier win and wish them all the best in bringing home another world championship for Canada.

Cabinet Ministers
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, the three musketeers of the Harris government are back on the political scene, but now they are operating at the federal level.

We have seen how they governed in Ontario and left the province with a $6 billion deficit.

Now we get to see them in action in the federal government: from flip-flopping on the income trust issue to breaking wait times promises, not to mention big contracts for their friend, Gordon Haugh, and, to top it off, an environment minister who does not believe in climate change.

The return of these three musketeers is a real nightmare.

Female Victims of Violence
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, last May I introduced a private member's bill to support women who must take extreme measures to get out of threatening situations with their violent ex-spouses. After exhausting all available resources, these women must go as far as changing their identities.

After years of waiting, our new government took concrete action last Friday.

The Minister of Human Resources and Social Development and the Minister of Public Safety announced the beginning of consultations for a new service for these victims of abuse.

Today, I would like to thank my fellow ministers for finally taking action after so many years when nothing was done.

I would also like to thank the sponsor of my private member's bill, the member for Prince George—Peace River, who was moved by the experience of one of his constituents caught up in a process that has been going on for eight years, with no help from the former government.

The years of waiting are over. To victims of abuse: our new government is ready to step up to the plate.

Les Brasseurs du Nord
Statements By Members

March 19th, 2007 / 2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, Blainville's microbrewery Les Brasseurs du Nord, which is one of the most important in Quebec, is once again standing out by investing $5 million to double its space. What is special about the expansion of these facilities is that they incorporated environmental measures that promote sustainable development.

By changing her architectural plans, transplanting mature trees and plants elsewhere, improving energy efficiency by building a solar panel and recovering the heat generated by the fermentation tanks, Ms. Urtnowski demonstrated, in an innovative and socially responsible way, that sustainable development is also a matter of business.

Well done, Ms. Urtnowski.

Ralph Lung Kee Lee
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, two weeks ago, I received an invitation to celebrate the 107th birthday of Mr. Ralph Lung Kee Lee, the oldest remaining member of the Chinese Canadian community to have paid the infamous $500 Chinese head tax.

Mr. Lee came to Canada at the age of 12. After paying off the head tax fee, Mr. Lee joined thousands of Chinese labourers who were working to construct the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Last Saturday, I had the honour, on behalf of the Government of Canada, to personally apologize to Mr. Lee and his family and deliver to him a redress cheque, a redress that Mr. Lee had waited 95 years to receive.

I feel it is my responsibility to inform the House that this past Thursday Mr. Lee died in his Pickering home. Canada has lost a living link to its past dreams, a man who chose our nation and, despite adversity, lived his life with dignity, love and honour for his family and his country.

Canada thanks Mr. Lee.

[Member spoke in Chinese as follows:]

Xie Xie Ni, Lee Xian sheng.

Health Care
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Omar Alghabra Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health, another of the Harris triplets, is the honorary president of the wait times guarantee broken promise club.

The minister was ousted from power in Ontario after his stint firing nurses and closing hospitals. Ontario taxpayers especially did not like the huge $25,000 per month contracts handed to personal friends like Gordon Haugh.

Today the minister is up to his old tricks in Ottawa, handing yet another $25,000 contract to Gordon Haugh.

Maybe the health minister does not realize that he has an obvious priority that has yet to be fulfilled.

Perhaps we will see in today's budget if he has actually been able to get something, anything, done on the Conservative promise to take action on wait times and do something positive for the health care system in Canada. Or, is that triplet going to remain as ineffective in Ottawa as he was in Ontario?