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  • 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

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.

Red Tape Reduction Act September 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Beauport—Limoilou for his relevant question.

As I mentioned, I work hands-on in my riding of Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert. I have met with and listened to owners of small and medium-sized businesses. In response to my colleague's question, I will share the story of a family-owned grocery store. The store owner told me that the situation had become unbelievable.

He told me that he did not have much cash on hand. Furthermore, his wife had to spend time filling out cumbersome forms in the office, for which she was not even paid. This cut into his business's profits. He said that all levels of government should agree on a single form in order to reduce red tape. I told him that the NDP is listening and would improve the situation.

Red Tape Reduction Act September 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by welcoming all my colleagues back to the House. I hope this return to Parliament is more productive than previous ones have been.

I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Pontiac.

I have the honour to speak on this first day back to Bill C-21, An Act to control the administrative burden that regulations impose on businesses. The bill introduced here at second reading stage is a good idea insofar as it claims to cut red tape for SME's.

I want to remind hon. members that in April, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said that after taxes, red tape was the second biggest concern of small business owners.

The one-for-one rule included in this bill tells businesses that every time a new administrative burden is placed on them, another will be lifted. That is a start. The bill is telling them that the administrative burden will not become greater in future. However, this rule still needs to be applied effectively, fairly and transparently.

However, like many of this Conservative government's bills, this one falls short of the mark. Government regulations to protect the health, safety and environment of Canadians should be a priority. This bill seems to completely disregard that obligation.

We need more than the government's promises and the preamble of a bill that could leave room for interpretation. We want to be assured that deregulation will not apply to these regulations.

On the one hand, the government wants to seem co-operative by introducing a bill like this, and on the other hand, its actions show that all it does is keep piling on administrative measures, whether it is through personal income tax measures or through various government programs that never reach their targets.

Last of all, this bill provides for a five-year review. This will result in a new administrative burden.

We believe in reducing the paper burden and in sensible solutions, but we need more than half-measures in a gimmicky bill, because small businesses are the drivers of entrepreneurship in our country. However, because of their limited resources, small businesses feel the weight of the administrative burden more than other businesses.

This summer, I had the opportunity to meet with the owners of small and medium-sized businesses in the riding of Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert. If it were also to meet with them, the government would realize that this bill is deficient. The owners told me that there is a real lack of co-operation among the different levels of government.

We know that this Conservative government finds it difficult to get along with its provincial and municipal counterparts. We have seen this from the beginning of its mandate. It is a serious problem.

SMEs must sometimes fill out federal and provincial forms. We need an agreement to make things easier. They should not have to fill out the same form twice and send it to different places based on different criteria. Small businesses told me that this is a real waste of time. They all agree that they have been squeezed by bank charges this year and that their profits have plummeted.

They sometimes even have to reconsider their decision to go into business. This goes for SMEs that have been in business for several years and those that are just getting started. Banking fees have gotten so high that SMEs have no choice but to take them into account. Today, people no longer pay with cash. It has become common to make small purchases with a debit or credit card. However, such transactions cost money; business owners must pay a percentage. That percentage has a serious impact. It considerably reduces profit margins and available funds that could have been reinvested in the local economy to hire a new employee or expand a store, for example.

The government says that it is prepared to help SMEs, but it does not go far enough. To date, the NDP is the only federal party to propose real solutions to this problem. We proposed regulating the fees that credit card companies charge merchants by creating an ombudsman position. Obviously, the Conservative government rejected this proposal, as usual.

Red tape is not the only thing that small business owners come to me about. They also regularly tell me that the Conservatives boast about helping small businesses, but that they did not renew the hiring credit for small business. It was not even included in budget 2014. However, SMEs have been clear that this hiring credit is important. It allows them to build their businesses and create dependable jobs.

SMEs get very little attention from the Conservative government. Perhaps the government needs to be reminded that there is a direct correlation between red tape and the long-term prosperity of these SMEs.

Unnecessary red tape puts a wrench in the smooth flow of trade and limits the exchange of goods and services that is the lifeblood of a healthy economy. However, as we know, this Conservative government would rather give billions of dollars in tax cuts to big businesses than help SMEs, which support our communities.

The NDP knows that small business owners work really hard. They create good jobs across the country and we believe that they deserve a break.

I support this bill at second reading. However, measures must be added to improve it and particularly to ensure that it meets the requirements of our entrepreneurs.

Criminal Code June 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to contribute to the debate on Bill C-590, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (blood alcohol content).

Today, in Canada, it is a crime to drive with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. It is a crime under paragraph 253(1)(b) of the Criminal Code. Offenders can be sentenced to 18 months to five years in prison, depending on the nature of the offence.

Bill C-590 seeks to amend section 255 of the Criminal Code to establish more severe penalties for offences committed under section 253. The result of the amendment would be that when the offender has a blood alcohol content that exceeds 160 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, or double the legal limit, the offender would be found guilty of an indictable offence.

In 2009, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights examined the issue of drunk driving. Witnesses who appeared before the committee made it clear that impaired driving, which can be caused by alcohol, remains the number one criminal cause of death in Canada. The Canadian Police Association indicated that, despite our collective best efforts and intentions, it is apparent that the problem of impaired driving is worsening in Canada and we are losing ground in our efforts to eliminate the problem.

In light of this, the approach of the member for Prince Albert is a step in the right direction. We will support this bill so that it can be studied in more detail, since we must ensure that these new measures will be effective in putting an end to impaired driving, a problem that costs far too many Canadians their lives each year. Every day in this country, on average, four people die and 175 others are injured in collisions that are directly related to drug- or alcohol-impaired driving.

Other figures back up their statements. Canadian police reported more than 90,000 incidents of impaired driving in Canada in 2011, which is approximately 3,000 more than in 2010. The rate of 260 incidents per 100,000 people was 2% higher than in 2010, the fourth increase in the last five years. Faced with these facts, one cannot help but want to do something to decrease these alarming numbers.

Before we rush into anything, we need to ask the right questions. Will this bill help to eliminate this problem? Is the bill consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Canada's criminal law? Bill C-590, which was introduced by the member for Prince Albert, seeks to make our roads safer by imposing minimum sentences.

I am worried that these minimum sentences are not the way to go. Generally speaking, minimum sentences become the default sentence, meaning that they could become automatic and may be applied to every offender, no matter how serious the crime. Someone who is caught driving with 161 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood and someone else who is caught with 250 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood could potentially be given the same sentence. The minimum sentence is 60 days for a first offence. We can expect that type of outcome with the amendment set out in Bill C-590.

I would like to raise another point that came to me as I was reading this bill.

The bill amends section 255 of the Criminal Code to create stiffer penalties for the offence set out in section 253 when the offender's blood alcohol content exceeds 160 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood. Many families of victims are calling for stiffer penalties for all drinking and driving offences. Why not increase the penalties when the offender's blood alcohol content exceeds 80 milligrams?

Once again, this does not go far enough. This bill is consistent with the Conservative ideology of law and order, the backbone of which is the fight against crime. However, drinking and driving is a problem that must be considered in its entirety, and the discussion around it should not be limited to penalties. We also need to know what effect these amendments will have on the length of sentences.

According to the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, close to 70% of impaired drivers killed in car accidents have a blood alcohol content that exceeds 100 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood. Will this bill lower that percentage?

I have already mentioned the study on alcohol-impaired driving by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, which emphasized the need to bolster prevention. I am going to emphasize prevention based on the 2011 Statistics Canada report on impaired driving in Canada. This report reveals that one-half of impaired driving incidents reported by police take place at night, between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m., and that the peak is reached after the bars close.

The authorities, police forces and organizations that promote safe driving must continue and even increase their efforts. The goal is not to discourage good drivers and those who are reasonable, but to ensure that every driver always keeps in mind that they must be sober and always vigilant when they get behind the wheel. Drivers have a tendency to be overconfident at 3 a.m.

We must not forget that provincial and territorial road safety laws govern issues related to drivers with a blood alcohol concentration below the allowable limit. Nine out of the 13 provinces and territories impose administrative licence suspensions on drivers with a blood alcohol concentration equal to or lower than 0.05.

In general, provincial and territorial laws are intended as a quick and effective administrative means of reinforcing the Criminal Code sanctions, which are slow to be applied and are not always imposed, even when Criminal Code charges are laid.

Would it not be better to consider a possible amendment to shorten timeframes rather than extend them with sentences and increase fines?

This bill raises many questions. We will support it, but we will focus on the proposed measures to determine if they are a step in the right direction that will effectively address drunk driving.

Drug-Free Prisons Act June 17th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to my Liberal colleague's remarks.

We all know full well that this bill has a misleading title, and that it will do nothing, in reality, to truly eradicate drugs from our federal prisons. Moreover, Correctional Service Canada said that this was a pipe dream, and that what the Conservatives are seeking to do is unrealistic. I know that when the Liberals were in power, not much was achieved either.

Now, I would like to ask my colleague a sincere question, since we in the NDP believe in a correctional system that provides effective rehabilitation programs, continuing education and drug treatment programs, as well as support for programs that promote the reintegration of inmates and ultimately help make our communities safer.

Does my colleague agree with the NDP's point of view when it comes to public safety, reducing recidivism rates and preventing new crimes from being committed?