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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word is conservatives.

NDP MP for Joliette (Québec)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 47.30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

If we were to increase the minimum wage to $15, people would be able to regain their dignity, be proud to go to work and not feel as though they are essentially modern-day slaves, when both members of a couple have to work for a measly wage to make ends meet.

If the federal minimum wage were a little higher and the provinces and territories were thus encouraged to increase their own minimum wage, we might have fewer health problems. People would be able to eat better. They could buy fruits and vegetables, which they cannot always do right now. A family cannot buy four apples at $1.30 a pound.

I am sure that a better wage would lead to better physical, mental and psychological health and would reduce violence in our society.

Business of Supply September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the federal minimum wage was abolished in 1996.

Today, I think we must absolutely help people. When I go door to door and meet people, they tell me they are sick of living in poverty. We must help employees under federal jurisdiction. Increasing wages to $15 an hour in five years is not a lot to ask to eliminate poverty.

Business of Supply September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, if I understand correctly, 8.8% of the population lives below the poverty line. That number is too high. It should be zero, period. There should not be any poverty in such a wealthy country.

We are often criticized for not voting for certain bills, but why do the Conservatives put everything into omnibus bills? Why do they limit how much time we have to discuss bills?

Business of Supply September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to take this opportunity to speak to the House about the concept of privilege. As everyone knows, members of Parliament are afforded more privileges than other citizens.

We all function in a world of privilege. I, for one, have not always been privy to that reality. I have been an entrepreneur and a farmer; I have been wealthy and I have been poor. I know what money means to the middle class and the poor. It always upsets me when I talk to women on the telephone who tell me that they do not have enough money for their children to live comfortably.

I know that the workers who get up early each morning deserve every dollar they earn, and that is why we need to recognize that a $15 minimum wage for federal employees is not too much to ask. We know that women continue to earn less, yet we are still asking them to set money aside for retirement. How will they manage to do that on $10 an hour? Then they will be told that they do not know how to budget.

For me, $15 an hour is about decency. Housing costs are on the rise and Canadians families also have to deal with skyrocketing gas prices. We know what that means: it costs more to get to work. In an area such as Joliette, work is sometimes 30 minutes or an hour away. Some people will tell you that they travel three hours to Montreal. When the price of gas goes up, the cost of food goes up, too. Buying groceries is very expensive.

I have children. One has four girls between the ages of 12 and 24. Two of them are working. Imagine how much it costs to feed that family.

The Liberals abolished the federal minimum wage in 1996. Perhaps those who are sitting here today have never known what it was like to earn less than $15 an hour. Meanwhile, the GDP is going up and the government is bragging about strong economic growth, but salaries are stagnating.

In the past 35 years, 94% of the increase in income inequality has occurred under Liberal governments. This speaks volumes about that party's respect for the middle class. During that time, workers got up early and continued to slave away for every dollar they earned. However, between 1975 and 2013, the average minimum wage increased by only 1¢, and pennies are not even being made anymore.

In 2006, the Federal Labour Standards Review Commission recommended that the government reinstate the federal minimum wage and set it based on Statistics Canada's low-income cutoffs. This is not just any agency. The commission recommended that the minimum wage be established so that a person working full time would not be living below the poverty line.

Despite all the admiration that some members of this House have for the Chinese model, I think it is appalling to have to work full time and yet remain below the poverty line. Perhaps if people earned more, they would not need to use food banks at the end of the month.

Canada is a rich country, rich in resources, in brain power and in businesses. No one is going to convince me that we cannot pay full-time employees $15 an hour.

Job creation is a hot topic in politics these days. However, the government is not creating jobs directly outside the public service. We can encourage job creation by ensuring that our businesses grow and pay their fair share in society. We can also decide that, to set an example, we will now pay federally regulated employees a minimum wage of $15 an hour. That sets a good example and makes families more stable and happier.

The business community will get that money back because people who earn more will make more purchases.

As a result, I hope that everyone in the House who respects workers will join me in supporting my colleague's motion. In my opinion, it is really just common sense.

This motion deals with a serious problem: the distribution of wealth. The creation of wealth is important, but in my opinion, its redistribution is even more so. Consequently, supporting this motion is an affordable and responsible solution.

Very careful studies have shown that a slight increase in minimum wage does not have a major impact on employment. A moderate and incremental approach will therefore allow companies that do business with the federal government to adapt to this situation.

In terms of other benefits, an increase in the minimum wage can reduce staff turnover and thereby stabilize the operations of companies that do business with the government.

This is clearly important when we consider the fact that 820,000 people worked in federally regulated industries in 2008. Of these employees, over 40,000 were earning less than $12.49 an hour. These people are not rich. Finally, approximately 100,000 people were earning less than $15 an hour.

Women and young people are often among those who earn the least. Let us take young people for example. They need money to pay for rising tuition costs. Otherwise, they will accumulate debt that will force them to delay purchasing a home and starting a family. When all is said and done, helping these individuals supports the entire economy. It could even be profitable for the government since these people would pay more taxes.

The same could be said of women, immigrants and new graduates since the federal minimum wage affects many people who have a lot to offer and who work really hard.

Income inequality is growing at a worrisome rate, and I believe that we must take this crisis seriously. We owe it to our constituents to discuss issues that affect their lives here in the House.

For 35 years, without pause, the income of the top 1% of high earners has been skyrocketing, while the income of the average Canadian household has fallen. Such a significant inequality slows growth because people no longer have the means to stimulate the economy. It also prevents many people from contributing all that they could to our country.

The NDP believes that growth should be real, profitable, sustainable and beneficial to Canadians. In short, we are fighting for growth worthy of the 21st century.

When the gap between the wealthiest and the vast majority of Canadians began to widen in the 1990s and the early 2000s, the Liberal and Conservative governments did nothing to fix the problem. Maybe to them it was not a problem at all.

To the NDP, the growing inequality between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population is a real danger and we want to address it swiftly. That is what we will do in 2015.

I am joining my colleagues in calling on the Conservative government to shoulder its responsibilities towards hardworking Canadians and increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

In closing, I invite the House to admit that it is not just a privilege to represent our constituents, but a responsibility and that comes with its share of duties. Among those duties, we must recognize the seriousness of the problem of the growing gap between the rich and the poor and do something about it.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns September 15th, 2014

With regard to the funding of First Nations educational infrastructure: (a) what are the prioritization criteria for deciding in what order on-reserve schools are to be renovated or modified; (b) what are the first one hundred schools on the prioritization list; (c) where does École Simon P. Ottawa in Manawan rank on the list; (d) what was the estimated useful life and capacity of École Simon P. Ottawa in Manawan at the time it was built; (e) when will École Simon P. Ottawa be replaced; and (f) what is the assessment in terms of the capacity of École Simon P. Ottawa in Manawan, given the population boom in this community?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns September 15th, 2014

With regard to the operation of the Skills Link Program: (a) what is the approval process for an application; (b) how many parties propose recommendations to an application before ministerial approval; (c) how does the Minister’s office assess an application; (d) how is the budget for the program split up across the country; (e) how much money was spent in each of the areas specified in (d) for the 2013-2014 program; (f) how much money was allocated and spent in each constituency for the 2013-2014 program; and (g) is money left over from the 2013-2014 program?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns September 15th, 2014

With regard to spending in the Joliette riding, what was the total amount spent, from fiscal year 2005-2006 up to and including the current fiscal year, broken down by (i) the date the funds were received in the riding, (ii) the dollar amount, (ii) the program through which the funding was allocated, (iv) the department responsible, (v) the designated recipient?

Agricultural Growth Act June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech and for the work that he does in the House and in his riding.

Had a member opposite made a speech, what question would my colleague have liked to ask him or her about Bill C-18?

Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, there are no words.

Even though my colleague made a speech earlier, we would have liked to hear from our colleagues opposite once again.

Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Repentigny for his question.

I sometimes get visits at my office from members of the military, and what they have been through is no laughing matter. They have seen the horrors of war. If I understand correctly, my colleague was once a member of the military.

My grandson wants to enlist in the army to help people. I hope that he will never go to another country to be blown up.