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Conservative MP for Mississauga—Brampton South (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 44.70% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Budget February 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, Canada has one of the safest and healthiest food systems in the world. Economic action plan 2014 would commit a new $400 million in spending to hire additional food inspectors. That is in addition to the $500 million we have already additionally invested.

Food Labelling February 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, in the Speech from the Throne, our government committed to consulting with Canadian parents to improve the way nutritional information is presented on food labels.

I have been thrilled to work with our Minister of Health, who has asked me to spearhead consultations with families across the country to ensure that labels provide the best information for moms and dads.

I was pleased this week to see the First Lady of the United States announce new ways that they plan to present this information. It is encouraging to see these efforts toward healthy eating and healthy living not only here in Canada but also internationally.

In the coming months, I look forward to continuing these face-to-face consultations with Canadian families to gather the information about what food-labelling changes are needed to make healthier and more informed choices. Our government is going to make sure that Canadians receive the information they need to make the most healthy choices for their families.

Rail Transportation February 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, CN is following the service discontinuance process that is outlined in section 146 of the Canada Transportation Act. This section of the act is in place to encourage the retention of rail lines by providing interested parties with the opportunity to continue railway operations.

If the member opposite wishes to strike a committee and perhaps purchase the line, he is most welcome to do so.

CN must maintain the rail line as this process unfolds so that the service is not disrupted. VIA Rail, a crown corporation that makes its own operational decisions independent of our government, will decide on the routing and schedule of the Ocean service in the region based on the outcome of this discontinuance process.

Rail Transportation February 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question.

VIA Rail's objective is to operate a national rail system that is safe and efficient. To help VIA Rail accomplish this, our government provides it with significant funding to deliver passenger rail services to Canadians.

In 2012-13, our government provided $275 million to VIA Rail for operation and maintenance of its network. In addition to providing annual funding, our government has provided nearly $1 billion in capital funding since 2007 for VIA Rail to upgrade track and signalling infrastructure, modernize stations, and refurbish rail cars.

As the minister has indicated on previous occasions, VIA Rail is a crown corporation that operates independent of our government. Our government does not operate the railway or get involved in its day-to-day operations. It is VIA Rail that is responsible for determining how best to provide passenger rail services, what routes or tracks those services will operate over, and how frequently its various services will be offered to consumers.

VIA Rail also determines the price that it charges for these services. VIA Rail is ultimately responsible for making business decisions on its operations, including making decisions about its passenger rail services in New Brunswick. Our government has made it clear that it does not intend to purchase the rail line in New Brunswick that CN has listed for sale. Our government is not in the business of buying rail lines and believes this is best left to those who are in the business of operating railways.

Instead, our federal government's approach and role is to provide a legislative framework under the Canada Transportation Act that encourages stakeholders to seek commercial solutions to issues such as the discontinuance of rail service. The line transfer and discontinuance provisions in the Canada Transportation Act are aimed at encouraging the retention of rail lines, by giving railway operators and other interested parties the opportunity to buy rail lines for continued operation where it makes economic sense for them to do so.

In the meantime, CN will continue to be responsible for maintaining the rail line during the discontinuance process to ensure that service is not disrupted. It is also important to note that there are public transportation options available in this region. In addition to the service that is provided three times weekly by VIA Rail, there is a bus service between Moncton and Campbellton that provides daily service.

Health February 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, having an appropriate level of regulatory oversight for compounding-like activities is a priority for our government.

Health Canada acted quickly following the reported under-dosing of certain chemotherapy drugs in Ontario and has taken on a leadership role in facilitating the development of a long-term solution for all of Canada.

Health Canada issued an interim directive to facilities undertaking admixing and compounding activities and outlined the conditions under which they could be allowed to continue providing those services.

The department continues to work with provinces, territories, and other stakeholders to develop a collaborative approach to increase patient safety and to ensure that an appropriate level of regulatory oversight is in place for compounding-like activities.

Health February 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, from the moment our government was told about the reported under-dosing of certain chemotherapy drugs in Ontario and in New Brunswick, we took the situation very seriously. We supported the provincial government's investigation into this incident and we accept the findings of the Thiessen report.

We agree that compounding-like activities conducted by third parties, such as Marchese Hospital Solutions, require more effective regulatory oversight, and we are determined that Canadians will have tough, effective regulations for drug safety.

While this work is ongoing, Health Canada has given direction to companies providing these types of services to ensure that they have oversight in place to protect patients' safety.

This direction states that admixing and compounding activities are done within a hospital, meeting provincial regulatory requirements; are done outside of a hospital, as a service under the supervision of a provincially licensed pharmacist; or, in the third instance, are done in a manner that meets the licensing and manufacturing requirements of the Food and Drugs Act and the Food and Drug Regulations.

Canadians can be assured that organizations following these directions have the appropriate oversight in place to help ensure the safety and effectiveness of health products prepared in this way.

The facts that emerged surrounding the under-dosing incident in Ontario highlighted how the practice of pharmacy has changed and evolved to include new drug preparation and purchasing models.

The regulation of traditional drug compounding is premised on the issuance of a prescription by a health care practitioner for a single drug to a single patient as part of the practice of pharmacy, and as such, it is in the realm of provincial and territorial jurisdiction. The regulation of drug manufacturing requirements and processes most often undertaken by pharmaceutical companies is in the realm of the federal government.

Under new drug preparation models, compounding-like activities are being conducted in dedicated facilities by third parties outside a health care setting for many patients at once and often without a specific prescription. This type of activity can be described as a hybrid of compounding and manufacturing.

As I said, Health Canada has taken on a leadership role in addressing this issue and is developing a proposal for a federal approach for these compounding-like activities. Our objective is to enhance the oversight of these practices for the safety of all Canadians: for my family, for members' families, for families across Canada. Federal oversight would focus on the quality of products and would include additional requirements such as labelling and reporting and enhancing patient safety.

Moving forward, it is important that we continue our collaborative, thoughtful approach with provinces, territories, and other partners to avoid unintended consequences in developing the new approach.

We also want to create an approach that respects both the federal role in drug safety and the provincial and territorial role in the safe use of drugs, particularly because of the diversity of approaches in the oversight of these activities across Canada.

The Budget February 25th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my hard-working colleague from British Columbia is quite right.

Transfers to the provinces are reaching record levels. However, in addition, we are also the largest investor in the nation for research, delivering over $1 billion of much-needed research money.

My colleague raises a question about matching skills with job shortages, and he is quite right. Our government has shown leadership on this issue, looking to tackle it. It is devastating to see our neighbours searching for jobs in areas of the country while other areas come to us and tell us how they just cannot fill jobs, how they are unable to compete successfully with other countries because jobs are going unfilled.

Our government is showing clear leadership, trying to match up this imbalance. That is why we are investing and focusing, and if the provinces do not join us, which we hope they will, we will take action.

The Budget February 25th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, in fact it was not myself who spoke to that. Another colleague of mine spoke to that earlier on. However, I am happy to address it.

Some people are always going to be negative and doom-and-gloom. I think the facts speak for themselves. Around the world, one country has dominated and has really led in the recovery from the recession, and that country is Canada. As Canadians we ought to be proud of that.

There are other parties with obvious motivated self-interests, and it is to their benefit to deride Canada's economy. However, something is very clear: whether it is the OECD, an independent third party that cites it, or whether it is Canadians as they look at their own books and compare themselves to other countries like the United States, Germany, and Greece, the results speak for themselves.

Canada has shown leadership. We have pulled out of the recession. We are the strongest in pulling out of the recession. I am terribly proud to be a part of the government that has worked to do that for our neighbours.

The Budget February 25th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the numbers speak for themselves. In fact, the transfers to the provinces have increased year over year.

We made a commitment to increase spending and transfers to provinces by 6%, and during the most difficult economic times we have delivered on our word.

I think the member is perhaps mistaken. If he is looking at Ontario, which is where I hail from, he may want to speak with the provincial government. While we transferred a 6% increase to that province, it has spent only an additional 3% on health care. I am not quite clear where the province has chosen to invest otherwise.

The Budget February 25th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to speak to budget 2014 and outline some of our government's key points from our economic action plan.

Six years ago, Canada and the world faced an economic crisis unlike any seen in generations, perhaps the worst we had seen since the Great Depression. Rather than hope that the crisis would resolve itself, rather than make glib statements about how budgets balance themselves, we chose to act. We chose to assess the problem, develop a concrete action plan, and take strong action.

We chose to invest in much-needed infrastructure as a time-limited stimulus. This action plan put our neighbours to work. It built for our community, certainly in the GTA, roads, bridges, water pipes, and community centres. I was young and determined and led my community, the sixth-largest city in our country, to match the Prime Minister's leadership and undertake an ambitious building plan.

Today the GTA stands as the beneficiary of that much-needed infrastructure. This past weekend, in fact, a neighbour of mine who used a swimming pool that generously carries my name on a bronze plaque at the front entrance shared with me how her family has used that pool each and every week for years. Results speak for themselves, and Canada has led the world in pulling out of the recession and rebuilding prosperity.

However, back then there were many naysayers. There were quite a few so-called experts, some advocating that we should hoard money and take it out of the money supply. We understood that was not the prudent course. We chose to show leadership and make time-limited investments immediately, investments that would be needed to be built anyway. Those investments would be accelerated by a few years, and we could plow the money back into the Canadian economy and put our neighbours to work. In fact, we could save dollars, because we would not be competing at some future date with the private sector and ramping up the costs for steel and concrete. We could instead choose to invest the money immediately and potentially save taxpayers some money.

Canada's economic action plan invested billions of dollars into local communities to strengthen Canada's infrastructure and promote local business investment. These investments were necessary to position Canada to strengthen and weather the storm. However, even during those challenging economic days of 2008, even as our government stood firm on its commitment to returning Canada's finances back to balance by 2015, even then there were many skeptics who doubted it was possible—yet look at where we are today.

Today I am proud to stand before all members of the House to indicate that we expect to be back to balance on time, as promised by our great Minister of Finance. In fact, under economic action plan 2014, our government's deficit will be eliminated, and a surplus of over $6 billion is anticipated.

It is important to put this into perspective. Thanks to the stewardship of our Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, our government made some challenging but responsible choices. We have reduced wasteful and redundant government and we have reduced spending by some $9 billion through prudent fiscal management and administrative efficiencies.

Balanced budgets promote stability, business investment, confidence, and lower taxes. Most importantly, they protect families. Unlike what happened under the Liberal government of the 1990s, the fiscal recovery in Canada has not been, and will not be, borne on the backs of hard-working families and future generations. To be clear, we have not cut health transfers to the provinces. In fact, what we have done through these most challenging economic times is honoured our word and increased transfers to the provinces. By the end of the decade, they will reach an historic $40 billion. My family, my mother, and my children rely on our health care system, as do all Canadians, and Conservatives are firm and committed to the priorities of average middle-class Canadians.

Economic action plan 2014 continues to build upon our government's strong record of supporting everyday Canadians. Budget 2014 will further improve the quality of life for Canadian families by expanding access to vital services, increasing consumer protection, reducing taxes, and, most importantly, promoting job growth.

For example, we will further enhance employment insurance sickness benefits for parental benefit claimants. Beginning this year, people who receive benefits to care for critically ill parents will receive enhanced access to sickness benefits.

Disproportionately, the challenge of taking care of family members seems to fall to women, so I am very proud of our government's initiative on this front.

Similarly, economic action plan 2014 will continue supporting families who seek to grow through adoption. In recognition of the many expenses related to the adoption process, our budget will enhance the adoption expense tax credit up to $15,000 per child.

These measures outlined in our budget build upon our record of putting families first, and since 2006, our Conservative government has taken many steps to improve the quality of life for Canadians of all ages. For example, in 2006 and since then, we have reduced the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%. That saves Canadians money every single day, every time they make a purchase.

Our government also established the tax-free savings account, strengthening Canadians' ability to save for their future.

We have introduced dozens of new tax credits to help stretch the family budget even further, initiatives like the universal child care benefit, the family caregiver tax credit, the textbook tax credit, and the public transit tax credit.

As I indicated earlier today, I am the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, and we are vitally focused on the health and safety of all Canadians. I am pleased to report that this budget will invest more in Canada's world-class health care system while keeping Canadians safe and well.

Canada has one of the finest health care systems in the world. We expect the best from our health care professionals and they expect the best from us. That is why our government is sending more health transfers back to the provinces than any government before. These investments will ensure that the provinces and territories have the necessary capacity to deliver vital medical services to Canadians when they need it the most.

Another area of prime importance is Canada's food supply system. This budget will invest almost $400 million in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to further enhance food safety. We all have a shared goal of ensuring that the food we purchase from grocery shelves and place before our families at the kitchen table is safe. We will invest $153 million to strengthen the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's food safety information programs. We will provide funding to hire 200 new food inspectors, and we will invest almost $31 million to establish a food safety information network so that we can link provincial bodies together to increase safety and our knowledge of hazardous events.

The health and safety of Canadians is not limited to the food we eat; it includes the communities in which we live. I am proud that this budget has considered the important work of my committee and will invest almost $45 million to combat prescription drug abuse across Canada.

Sadly, prescription drug abuse is a growing danger in Canadians' lives and sometimes targets the most vulnerable in our society. Prescription drug abuse has effects on all segments, all ages, from seniors to adults to teens and even very young children, and many families are forced to suffer in silence without adequate resources to support them or their loved ones. As a government and as a society, it is our responsibility to ensure that these individuals and their families are protected and have access to programs to help them cope with these very difficult challenges.

By investing in and expanding the national anti-drug strategy, we will ensure that Canadians and their families are properly supported.

It is not only dangers from prescription drug abuse that I am concerned about. A growing number of individuals are becoming addicted and are dependent on illicit drugs such as heroin. Our government has taken concrete, strong action to ensure that we do not continue their addictions, but instead, that we intervene and try to help these people back to a drug-free life.

I am pleased that our Minister of Health and our Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness have taken decisive action to keep our streets safe from dangerous narcotics. Through the introduction of Bill C-2 respect for communities act, which I spoke to earlier this session, we will help protect Canadians from the dangers of illegal drugs, including those who struggle with drug addiction.

In a nutshell, I believe that economic action plan 2014 strikes a much needed balance between balancing our books, paying down the debt, and making the crucial investments that average hard-working Canadians have come to expect from our government.