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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word is colleague.

NDP MP for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert (Québec)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 44.60% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Instruction to the Standing Committee on the Status of Women (violence against women) September 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am quite honoured to rise here today to speak to Motion No. M-504 by my colleague from Sault Ste. Marie. As a feminist and member of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, I care deeply about the issue of preventing violence against women.

Before I get to the main part of my speech, I would like to draw the attention of the House to the excellent work being done in my riding. Last Friday I met with the Association féminine d'éducation et d'action sociale de Montarville, the Carrefour pour elle, the Centre des femmes de Longueuil, L'Envol, the Conseil central de la Montérégie CSN and Com'Femme.

I would like to take this opportunity to commend them for the work they do in our community. Thanks to organizations like these, we can improve the social and economic situations of many women. I spoke with representatives from these organizations at length, and they told me about some of the difficulties they are up against. Their concerns confirm my own.

On the one hand, the government has not clearly identified its priorities when it comes to the status of women, and on the other hand, it is not providing these organizations with the resources to meet the needs of target communities. With the cuts to Status of Women Canada, subsidies have become very limited. In order to receive those subsidies, the organizations have to group themselves together by themes. This does not correspond to the reality on the ground. An organization fighting violence against women in Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert does not face the same reality as an organization in Greenfield Park or Sault Ste. Marie. This is a real problem. How can these organizations carry out their mission with these kinds of administrative roadblocks getting in the way?

The motion before us this evening reads as follows:

That the Standing Committee on the Status of Women be instructed to undertake a study on the subject of best practices in education and social programs in Canada that prevent violence against women, and report its findings to the House within one year of the study's initiation.

The danger I see in this wording is that we will once again be studying best practices funded by the government. It is too easy to highlight practices that are already in place.

However, I will support the motion so that we can have a detailed study in committee because today, there are still too many women who are assaulted and abused and remain silent, hidden in the shadows. Every day, we are in the presence of victims without knowing it. The silence in which many of them seek refuge should be seen as an alarm signal for the government. In order to correct the situation, we must go further and attack the core of the problem. If we really want to make changes and provide the help they need, we should first look at the underlying causes that prevent these women from reporting the assaults and violence to which they are subjected. Reported cases are too few in relation to actual cases. In order to do as much as we can to eliminate violence against women, we must take tangible measures in order, hopefully, to restore their freedom to these women.

While Motion No. M-504 is well-intentioned, when we realize how widespread violence is in Canada, we feel that it does not go far enough. Half of all Canadian women have been victims of at least one incident of sexual or physical violence after age 16, and the proportion has not changed over the last 40 years.

However, the Conservative government claims to have taken real action to address violence against women. I do not know what figures the Conservative government is looking at, but when one woman in two has reportedly been physically or sexually assaulted after age 16, I do not believe the government can say that the measures taken are effective.

The same Conservative government that congratulates itself on programs to combat violence against women refuses to develop a national action plan, whereas the members of Canadian civil society and service providers to women who have suffered violence are almost unanimous in stating that a national action plan is an urgent necessity. For example, the Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters and Transition Houses and some 30 partners are currently working to develop a model for a comprehensive national action plan to deal with the problem. Why would the government not follow the example set by this kind of initiative in driving the development of a national plan?

It is not enough to move a motion and study the issue in committee. There has to be cohesive follow-up to these good intentions. The government has to listen to proposals from the members of civil society who appear before the committee, and it has to implement them. That is not what it is currently doing, though.

In 2006, the government changed the women’s program so that in providing grants to organizations, Status of Women Canada could no longer fund advocacy, lobbying or general research into women’s rights. In addition to that restriction, when grants are awarded to organizations that serve women, it is on a short-term basis. I would also remind the members opposite that 12 of the 16 Status of Women Canada regional offices have been closed.

If the government is concerned about this issue, it should begin by putting an end to the cuts that are preventing local and national organizations from working on behalf of women in our communities.

Today, efforts to address violence against women are hampered by financial insecurity and a lack of resources to provide an effective response to women’s needs. The issue of violence against women is much too important to be used for electoral purposes.

The Conservative government has always refused to support the NDP motion protecting women’s rights. The member for Churchill, with whom I serve on the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, moved Motion No. M-444 in May 2013. It asked the government to consult civil society in order to develop a comprehensive, multisectoral national action plan to address violence against women that would include prevention and education strategies.

It is easy to move motions a year before a general election, but what would be remarkable would be for the government to respond to the motion by my colleague, the member for Churchill. She proposed a practical plan for the federal government. It called for co-operation with the provinces, the territories and civil society as well as the first nations, Métis and Inuit in order to eradicate violence against women.

We must maintain the commitment of the women who struggled before us. We must work to break the cycle of violence against women. We must strive to guarantee economic justice for women. Lastly, we must ensure that women’s rights are respected and reinforced.

I am proud to be a member of a party that fights for gender equality in Canada. Women make up 40% of the New Democratic Party caucus, and we are taking practical steps to honour our commitment to equality.

We are committed to building a stronger Canada in which equality is not just a dream, but a reality.

Canada Post September 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, elected officials in the greater Longueuil community are angry about the Conservatives' intransigence and arrogance regarding Canada Post. The people of Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, especially seniors and people with disabilities, are very concerned about the arrival of community mailboxes.

How can the government support the elimination of home mail delivery and continue to ignore the unanimous voice of elected officials in the greater Longueuil area?

Business of Supply September 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my Liberal colleague's speech. I would like things to be clear in the house. Her party plundered $57 billion from the employment insurance fund, which is funded by employer and employee contributions. The Conservatives legitimized this practice in order to balance their budget.

Once again the Liberal Party does not seem to be embarrassed, and it is presenting a misguided plan. The employment insurance fund ran a deficit for a number of years because the Liberal government siphoned off $57 billion. Why is it acceptable to have annual surpluses when 63% of unemployed workers are not receiving benefits?

Canada Post September 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, for months, we have been asking the government to reconsider its position on the Canada Post job cuts and the elimination of the home delivery service. To date, we have collected more than 1,000 signatures, in Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert alone, against the elimination of this service. The government is turning a deaf ear.

It is now the municipal officials' turn to mobilize. I congratulate the municipal officials from Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville for taking a firm and clear stand by passing a resolution asking Canada Post to abandon its plan to unilaterally impose the termination of the home delivery service.

What is the government waiting for to finally listen to Canadians and local elected officials too?

Ebola Outbreak September 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for another relevant question.

This is currently an epidemic. As we have heard, this infection is spreading exponentially. I am not an epidemiologist or a biologist—I am a family doctor—but to my knowledge, the best thing to do to prevent this disease from spreading would be to work on the ground. We need to help people by providing information and making people aware of proper hygiene practices. We need to create a system to treat people and perhaps even set up an air corridor so we could send infected patients to regional centres where they would be treated.

Therefore, it is very important to target this disease in West Africa before it becomes a pandemic.

Ebola Outbreak September 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her relevant question.

She asked a two-part question. The first part has to do with Canada's participation in the Security Council. Unfortunately, we all know that we lost our seat on that council. Up until now, no application has been made to try to join the council.

As for the second part of the question regarding the possibility of having a doctor who is specialized in these urgent cases, my colleague knows that I am a doctor by training. I think it would be a good idea for doctors to be explaining the Ebola virus, which is known as a hemorrhagic fever in medical jargon. It would make a lot of sense for public health officials and a doctor, as the member said, to explain things and avoid causing panic. As I already explained in my speech, there is a lack of information about this disease.

Ebola Outbreak September 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank my colleague from Laurier—Sainte-Marie for requesting that this emergency debate on Canada's response to the Ebola epidemic be held tonight.

Today, three countries in West Africa are facing an exponential Ebola epidemic crisis. These are Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Doctors Without Borders reports 600 new patients every week in those countries. The World Health Organization is projecting that 20,000 people will be infected in three months. Cases have also been identified in Senegal and Nigeria. We must not wait for this epidemic to spread and claim even more victims.

In her speech to the UN on September 2, Dr. Joanne Liu said:

Leaders are failing to come to grips with this transnational threat. The WHO announcement on August 8 that the epidemic constituted a “public health emergency of international concern” has not led to decisive action, and states have essentially joined a global coalition of inaction.

This situation is simply unacceptable. As a doctor by training, I can only be moved by this statement. Canada is a developed country with considerable financial means compared to the countries in the grips of Ebola and yet the government was slow to act. When it did take action, the measures were inadequate.

This epidemic knows no borders. We cannot take action just to protect our borders. We must attack the roots of the epidemic to eradicate it. Releasing funds is not enough for this. This humanitarian emergency needs trained medical personnel to actively detect new cases. It also needs the proper structures, treatment centres and safe isolation facilities.

Doctors Without Borders has pointed out that its personnel had to turn patients away because they had no space. In Sierra Leone, infected people are dying in the streets because they cannot get to a medical centre. In Liberia, the victims are stopped at the hospital doors. Because of a lack of capacity, the hospitals cannot admit them.

We have civilian, logistical, technological and even military capabilities to help the organizations on the ground. That is where the containment action can be taken. That is why the Canadian government should deploy the Disaster Assistance Response Team with the ability to use all the resources it needs. This should be done in close collaboration with the affected countries.

In support of this argument, I would like to remind members that the entire health care system in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone has been undermined. More than 150 health care workers have been infected, 79 of whom have died. These deaths decrease these countries' capacity to respond to the crisis. Some health care professionals are afraid to go to work because they might catch the virus.

Health care facilities have therefore been abandoned, leaving the population on its own to deal with the virus and other illnesses such as malaria, diarrhea and other common diseases that unfortunately cannot be treated. Providing support on site and increasing the number of secure isolation facilities will help to ease the burden on health care systems that today can no longer respond to the demand.

It is also important to set up an efficient information system. I would like to tell members what I heard at a meeting with the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association. I did not ask permission to share this information, but in the Ivory Coast, people will no longer touch each other. The minister told us that people greet each other without touching. That is because there is a lack of information. It is important that we go and help these people. By so doing, we would also protect ourselves. That is some background on what is happening in those countries, and it shows that an efficient information system must be implemented.

People also need to have access to information, otherwise mistrust of medical personnel will only grow, resulting in more violence. We agree that Canada cannot do this alone. A cross-government response is required.

The UN Security Council is holding an emergency meeting this Thursday. Decisions will be made regarding what action to take and what measures could be implemented. I would like to know how the government intends to get involved in the solutions that will eventually be implemented even if it cannot participate in the meeting.

We have been slow to act, but we can remedy that by taking immediate action. When we hear Liberia's national defence minister tell the UN Security Council that Liberia's existence is seriously threatened, the situation is more than urgent. The longer we delay, the greater the threat to the future of an entire generation.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation September 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, this Saturday, my south shore colleagues and I led a day of action regarding the future of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

I would like to commend the support shown by my constituents, especially the many volunteers who came out despite the cold and the rain. I am very proud of the Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert riding's record. We gathered over 700 signatures.

This shows that Canadians care about our public broadcaster and they are prepared to take action to save it from the budget cuts imposed by the Conservative government.

We love the CBC and we will continue to defend it against attacks from the Conservative government.

Red Tape Reduction Act September 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague the following question.

We are well aware that the Conservatives boast about helping small businesses by eliminating this so-called red tape. However, they did not renew the hiring credit for small business.

What does my colleague think about the Conservative government's approach to this issue?

Red Tape Reduction Act September 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to answer that question. I will talk about the NDP's sensible, tangible solutions that will make things better for SMEs.

We want to reinstate the hiring credit for small businesses, cut taxes for SMEs, cap hidden fees for credit card transactions and create a tax credit for hiring and training young people. Better access to credit for SME owners will help those businesses grow. We want to make it easier for parents to transfer family businesses to their children, cut red tape, create tax credits to reduce the toll of payroll taxes and encourage SMEs to innovate.