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  • Her favourite word is conservatives.

NDP MP for London—Fanshawe (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 50.90% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Seniors November 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, a new report from the College of Family Physicians of Canada highlights the failure of federal leadership under the Conservatives when it comes to improving care for our seniors. New Democrats believe that all seniors should be able to live in dignity and security. It is about priorities and intelligent planning, but the Conservatives have failed to act to fix gaps in home care.

Will the minister finally recognize these repeated calls and commit to implementing the NDP's proposal for a national seniors strategy?

Interparliamentary Delegations November 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my thanks to the House for being so gracious.

Pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian group of the Interparliamentary Union respecting its participation at the steering committee of the Twelve Plus Group held in Berlin, Germany, on September 22, 2014, and the seminar on ending violence against women and girls, held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on September 23 to 26, 2014.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act November 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my apologies, but I have a report from the interparliamentary delegation that I would like to present to the House.

Mental Health November 17th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, on November 3, a tragic fire broke out in an apartment building in my riding of London—Fanshawe. One resident died.

This building was an unregulated, unlicensed and illegal home for people with mental illnesses. Many of the people who live in places like this are discharged hospital patients with nowhere to go. They cannot afford most housing and are unable to access accommodation run by the Canadian Mental Health Association because the wait lists are up to three years long. As a result, vulnerable people are forced to choose between homelessness and unregulated, potentially dangerous homes.

This is the direct result of a lack of adequate resources to treat people suffering with mental health challenges. We need to work together with all levels of government, organizations such as the CMHA, and community treatment initiatives to provide real support for people with mental illness.

We can and we must prevent suffering and tragic deaths, like that of my constituent

Veterans November 6th, 2014

Actually, Mr. Speaker, we learned from yesterday's departmental performance report that the Minister of Veterans Affairs let $136 million in funding lapse last year. This is entirely due to the minister's failure to act on behalf of our veterans. We also saw the poor response from the minister to the all-party report on Veterans Affairs and the veterans charter.

We ask again. When will these unanimous recommendations be fully implemented?

Status of Women November 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the 2014 Shine the Light on Woman Abuse campaign kicked off in London, Ontario, on November 1 .

The goal of this month-long campaign is to raise awareness of abuse suffered by women in our communities by illuminating towns and cities and even regions in purple light.

Purple is the colour of courage, survival, and honour. Women who have been harassed or who are in abusive relationships often feel trapped. Their homes, their work places, and their communities are no longer safe places. Women need to know that any shame or blame they may feel does not belong to them, but to their abusers.

I invite all Canadians to show their support in the fight to end violence against women by wearing purple throughout the month of November.

Committees of the House November 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca.

As the House knows, we are debating a concurrence motion regarding the new veterans charter and the changes that are absolutely essential for veterans today. Veterans deserve far more than ceremonial recognition.

I am most grateful for the opportunity to take part in this important debate concerning some very remarkable citizens of this country. They are indeed remarkable citizens, because collectively they took and take citizenship very seriously. They proved their commitment to Canada through their service in the Canadian Forces.

When our country was in danger during World War I and World War II; or when our country called upon Canadians to be peacekeepers in faraway places like Lebanon, Bosnia, Somalia, Cyprus, East Timor, Suez, and Afghanistan; or when they were sent to serve in NATO; or when our country asked them to stand on guard here at home or to help communities jeopardized by floods, earthquakes, ice storms, and forest fires, they did not hesitate.

As we have seen with Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, some paid with their lives. They did what they were asked to do. They did their duty in world wars, in Korea, at home, and in multiple deployments since.

In the course of duty, our country made a contract with them, a covenant. Canada made promises that the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces would not be forgotten or abandoned. Our governments made and continue to make promises assuring these men and women that they will be remembered and honoured by a grateful nation. That is a wonderful sentiment.

I know without a shadow of doubt that the people of Canada are grateful and that they do remember and truly honour our service men and women in the Canadian Forces and the RCMP. I see it every day from my constituents in London—Fanshawe.

Sadly, however, it has become painfully obvious that our government neither honours our veterans, peacekeepers, or those currently serving nor is it willing to provide the services, pensions, programs, and special care to which these veterans and members of the Armed Forces and RCMP and their families are entitled. That is what the report of the veterans committee is about.

The committee made 14 recommendations for important changes that are long overdue. As one veteran said:

...there should be more presumptions in the system, and I don't mean that in a legalistic way. If I come to you as a double-leg amputee...I shouldn't have to do much more than that. I should just simply say, “Look, I'm a double-leg amputee. What have you got for me?”

The point is that the wounds in service are obvious. The obligation to provide care and support in a respectful manner should also be obvious.

The Conservative government likes to tout the “support our troops” line, but the minute those troops become veterans, they are all but forgotten.

A case in point is the government's lump sum payment plan for injured veterans. The lump sum plan, for the most part, has proven to be a failure. In some cases, injured vets get only 10% of what they would have received through the courts or workers' compensation. Imagine, after risking everything for one's country, having to fight the government in court to get a fair pension.

I asked the minister a year ago when the Conservatives planned to change the lump sum formula to ensure that veterans received the pensions they deserve. His answer did not address the issue. He did not seem to appreciate that some veterans receive less than what they would on workers' compensation.

Another glaring example of how veterans are abandoned is the government's phasing out of access to long-term care beds for modern veterans. These veterans are people with special needs and requirements for their care.

New Democrats are advocating that the federal government continue the veterans long-term care program. Currently, World War II and Korean vets are eligible for a dedicated departmental contract bed or priority beds in veteran hospital wings like Parkwood Hospital in London, Ontario; Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto; and Camp Hill in Halifax, Nova Scotia; or approved provincial community care facilities if they meet certain criteria.

This program will cease when the last World War II or Korean War vet passes away, and the Conservative government has no intention to open access up to CF and RCMP veterans.

This means that veterans will no longer have priority access to departmental contract beds and will compete with the civilian population for access to long-term care in provincial community care facilities.

Unlike the minister, New Democrats continue to advocate that the federal government has a responsibility for long-term care for our veterans, in recognition of those who accept the unlimited liability of service in the Armed Forces.

The NDP proposes that veterans have access to veterans' hospitals and wards throughout Canada, staffed with health care professionals experienced in the dedicated and exclusive treatment of injured veterans.

Obviously, the minister is not getting the message and people are suffering, people like retired veteran Air Force Colonel Neil Russell, who is confined to a wheelchair. He cannot return home and he was callously denied a long-term care bed at Parkwood Hospital, in London. It is ludicrous, because Neil would have been on the street because there was a two-year waiting list for a nursing home bed.

After many letters to the minister and media pressure, Colonel Russell was told he had a bed. Sadly, within a few days, the Colonel was then told he did not have a bed and was informed he had simply misunderstood and was given a provincial contract bed, for which he has to pay.

I would like to remind the minister that veterans are a federal responsibility, not a provincial responsibility. They served our country and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Ensuring that they have access to the long-term care they require is the very least we can do.

What we urgently need is an overhaul of the way Veterans Affairs Canada administers health and disability benefits for CF and RCMP veterans. Too many veterans spend years caught up in the system of bureaucratic red tape, trying to prove they have a disability related to their service years.

Veterans, and those who support them, want programs that evolve with their needs. Many veterans cannot access the veterans' independence program because their health condition in later years is not linked to a specific war- or service-related event. We absolutely must tailor these programs so that they evolve with the changing requirements of veterans. More help is also needed to support veterans and their families struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Today, in Canada, we know that some veterans are turning to food banks and homeless shelters for assistance. It is unknown how many veterans access food banks across the country, because our veterans are proud; they do not talk about it. They have done their duty for this country, yet we know a recent report from the national association of food banks tells us that food bank services are now more than ever utilized by children, seniors, and veterans.

We also know that there are more and more homeless veterans seeking shelter, couch surfing, or even living rough outside of our communities—the very communities they served and protected.

This is a national shame and a direct failure of the federal government and the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide immediate help to those who served our country.

I would like to remind the House that, when in opposition, the Conservatives promised they would make significant veterans reforms, but none of these have been implemented.

Just as the current government has ignored the veterans affairs committee report, so too has it forgotten our veterans and the contribution of modern-day Canadian Forces veterans and RCMP members who served in peacekeeping around the world. That is absolutely unacceptable. It is a travesty, and it is a crisis in this country.

Canadians are very passionate about their pride in and gratitude for veterans. During Remembrance Week and beyond, Canadians choose to honour the men and women who gave us a strong and free country. It is long past time for our federal government to likewise honour all veterans, both past and present, by serving their needs.

Monuments and parades are important, but they are cold comfort to the veterans and families who are neglected and suffering.

It is time to mean what we say when we repeat the promise to remember. Let us truly remember. Let us see the 14 recommendations of the veterans affairs committee implemented and implemented immediately.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act November 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my colleague for Parkdale—High Park has shed some important light on this issue. We have to ask some questions about some of the issues she has brought to the House. Essentially, they have to do with the budget cuts that were reviewed in finance committee. The CSIS budget was cut by $15 million in 2012, followed by an additional $24.5 million in 2014-15. CBSA was cut by $143 million, and the RCMP was cut by $195 million.

The member talked about the Conservative government being penny-wise and pound foolish. Have the Conservatives made a terrible mistake? Have they jeopardized the safety of Canadians with these cuts to make themselves look fiscally responsible? Are they trying to make up for that foolishness now?

CBC/Radio-Canada November 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the minister keeps telling us that she has nothing to do with the unprecedented crisis facing our public broadcaster. However, it is her government that has imposed cuts of $115 million to CBC. It is her government that is responsible for appointing the president and the board of directors, which surprisingly is now mostly made up of major donors to the Conservative Party.

Why is the minister condoning such political interference and encouraging the slow dismantling of our public broadcaster?

Secrets of Radar Museum November 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Secrets of Radar Museum is a not-for-profit museum that preserves the stories and personal experiences of the men and women who served in the Canadian Forces radar division during World War II and the Cold War.

These almost 6,000 Canadians deserve the recognition of the House. In a recent visit to the museum, I was able to see an H2X radar system used on B-52s, which improved the accuracy of bombing raids and allowed bad weather and night patrols. This changed the course of World War II for the Allies.

The H2X radar equipment at the Secrets of Radar Museum is thought to be the only completely intact radar system from that period in all of North America. It must be preserved for future generations. Sadly, the museum needs funding to preserve its many historical artifacts.

We owe it to our radar veterans and all veterans to retell their stories, cherish their triumphs, remember their service and preserve our history.