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  • Her favourite word is chair.

NDP MP for Newton—North Delta (B.C.)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 33.40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Employment September 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the farce that the government has made of the temporary foreign worker program continues.

Today we learned that the government granted labour market opinions and work visas for a company that did not even exist. As a result a worker from Iran is out $25,000 to a shady immigration consultant, and he still has no job.

Is this what the minister considers due diligence? How are the minister's paperwork-only inspections going to catch this kind of violation the next time?

Employment September 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the minister mismanaged the temporary foreign worker program for six years. Surely if he thought it was growing out of control, as he mentioned, he had plenty of opportunity to take action. Instead, the Conservatives relaxed the rules and made it easier to bring in foreign workers. Now the minister wants us all to believe that this was the fault of the provinces. Why will the minister not take responsibility for the mess he has made and finally fix the program?

Employment September 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Employment and Social Development seemed to be a tad confused yesterday. Instead of accepting responsibility for his own mismanagement of the temporary foreign worker program, the minister is out there blaming the provinces for letting the program get out of hand. He takes no responsibility for his own mistakes.

Where is the minister's accountability for the way he completely bungled the temporary foreign worker program?

Social Development September 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, thousands of Canadians are waiting years for a hearing at the Social Security Tribunal, and now, with the lowest ever access, Conservatives reveal that this was part of their plan all along. Instead of helping, Conservatives decided that tribunals would simply hear 25% fewer cases.

Seniors, the unemployed, and people with disabilities are left years without income waiting for an appeal. Why are the Conservatives making it almost impossible for vulnerable Canadians to exercise their right to appeal?

Business of Supply September 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, many of us have been wondering exactly the same thing, wondering where the math came from and why the proposal is before us. This is the first policy that the Liberal Party has put on the table, and it is badly flawed.

I find it very hard to trust anything the Liberals say on employment insurance when it was the Liberal Party that stole over $50 billion from the EI fund the Liberal Party that reduced accessibility from 80% right down to 45%. In light of those kinds of things, maybe the Liberals could not think of anything to debate on their opposition day, so they thought they could do a little bit of Hudak, a little bit of Kijiji math, and would try to bamboozle the public into thinking that they actually have a policy.

Business of Supply September 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate that question.

I am very proud of the work done by our finance critic. I absolutely agree with the finance critic that we need a real job creation plan that gives real tax breaks to businesses when they create jobs.

The focus there is on “when”. This, like other half-thought-out ideas, uses Kijiji math. I looked at the math and I read some of the stuff economists have put out. The math the Liberals are using is so way out there that I can only call it Kijiji math.

This kind of Kijiji math and this kind of a hope and a prayer that is in this proposal as well is not a job creation plan. This is another way of pretending to do something without actually taking real action, which is to offer real tax breaks when jobs are created.

Business of Supply September 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is a delight to stand in the House today to speak on behalf of my constituents and other Canadians across this country who are probably listening to this debate and wondering what planet many of these parliamentarians live on, when they see the challenges they are facing.

We have a high unemployment rate, but we also have many workers who have to work two or three part-time jobs, with many working seasonal jobs. They have seen access to EI go down.

Let us remember that employment insurance is a shared insurance plan paid for by the employer and the employee so that employees can access the plan at times of unemployment. However, what we have seen happening, both under the Liberal government and now under the Conservatives, are more and more barriers placed in the way of people accessing an insurance plan they have paid into.

By the way, this is an insurance plan that was very well funded. The Liberals did not hesitate take over $50 billion—I'm not talking about millions here; I'm talking about billions—out of the EI plan in order to fund tax cuts for corporations and whatever other pet projects. The Liberals also reduced access to EI during their tenure from 80% of the unemployed getting EI to 45%. Working people were hit with a double whammy. This huge surplus was taken out instead of being paid to workers or used to train workers for other employment.

The Conservatives continued to raid the EI account as well. When too many questions were asked, they just shut that account. They had created even more barriers and challenges. I have talked to many constituents in Newton—North Delta who say that it is so difficult to get EI now that many do not even bother to fill out the forms. Now, under the current Conservative government, we have seen that only 36.5% of the unemployed will get access to the insurance plan that they paid into. I think that is shameful and something that needs to be addressed.

However, neither party has apologized for the stealing from the workers that took place. At the same time, once they did away with the discrete account and used the surplus, the Conservatives then raised the EI premiums.

Members will notice that this EI holiday, break, or tax credit, and I do not see why they call it a “tax credit”, is only being given to the employer. The employees will still be paying their insurance premiums, but there is no evidence and no guarantee that this will lead to greater job creation.

As a matter of fact, the Conservative government has given billions in tax cuts to huge corporations and we have seen very little job growth flowing out of that. Economists have studied this and have not seen the links. However, we see a history of companies that take our tax breaks and subsidies and then go over the border anyway, taking the jobs with them and leaving Canadians struggling.

Once again, I see that my colleagues in the Conservative and Liberal parties are trying to treat the EI contributions made by employees and employers as something that they own. I would say that the NDP is the only party that can be trusted to stick up for workers. The Liberals are always so full of rhetoric. They make promises galore, yet when it comes to real action, there is very little there.

I am proud of our leader, the leader of the official opposition, the NDP, because our party has tabled a motion to protect EI contributions so that no government and no political party, no matter what its colour—orange, red, blue, or whatever—when it is in government can raid the EI fund and use it as a slush fund. That money would be targeted to assisting those who are unemployed.

A lot of disillusionment has resulted from only 36.5% of people being able to access EI. There is a psychosis that sets in when people cannot get work. I can still remember today a young man who came to see me in my office. By “young”, I mean 55, because 55 is the new young. He had been out of work for over 12 months. I asked him if he had applied for EI, as he would have qualified. His response was “I went, and they were asking me these questions and they gave me all these forms, and you know what? I just couldn't get over those hurdles.”

Those are the kinds of hurdles that the government has put in the way of workers being able to access EI.

The government cannot keep doing the same things and expecting different results. We should use the EI fund for what it is meant for, but we should also look at real job creation ways. Let us take a look at real tax credits for small and medium-sized businesses to have job creation. There are many other ways that we could support our businesses.

I know that my colleagues across the way have very little respect for those who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. That happens because of the conditions that the Conservatives helped to create with a vast number of temporary foreign workers, which has led to a lot of instability. We have seen the government calling those who are unemployed “repeat offenders” over and over again. Is that not an offensive term? I can tell members that unemployed people who are unemployed through no fault of their own find that very offensive, and let us not forget the Conservative minister who stood and attacked the EI eligibility by saying, once again, the NDP is supporting the bad guys.

Surely this is the 21st century, and knowing today's reality, that is no way for our parliamentarians to speak.

I pointed out the very high number of people who are not qualifying. As a result, many Canadians end up having to appeal once they are turned down. With only 36% getting approval, we can imagine that the appeal rates are very high, but the government has broken the social security appeal system by creating the Social Security Tribunal, and the EI appeals under this new system that the Conservatives created have a dismissal rate of 80%. The government has made the system so dysfunctional that it is almost impossible for those who are denied EI to make a presentation except through written submissions. There were over 1,000 referees all over the country; the government has replaced them with 75 tribunal members.

This system is working exactly the way the Conservatives wanted it to work, and they are making sure they are denying the rightful access to EI that unemployed workers who paid into that system deserve.

Business of Supply September 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Trois-Rivières for the work he has done on this file. I have been so impressed with his thorough notes and his passion as he speaks up for those who are vulnerable, those who lose their jobs and are then abandoned by the government and denied access to EI.

I would like him to explain how, despite the rhetoric we are hearing from both the government and the other opposition, both have been party to stealing from EI and how both have reduced access to EI.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act September 22nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, a hard-working member, whom I know is stellar in his service to his constituents. He does amazing work here in the House as well.

This bill is all about politics. It is about playing politics. We have parts of a bill that the current government said would never come forward again, and elements of that bill in Bill C-13 right now that are from Bill C-30. This bill, or kernels of it, originated with the NDP, as I said, by my hard-working colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour.If this bill were separated, we could have passed it months ago. That concerns me. However, once again, the Conservatives would rather bury things that get into invasion of privacy.

Even the mother, in one of our most tragic deaths, says that this bill goes too far.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act September 22nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to give a quote from Michael Geist. He said this over and over again, on the threshold needed to gain a warrant and the fact that the threshold is far too low in this bill. He said:

Given the level of privacy interest that is involved with metadata, the approach in Bill C-13 for transmission data warrants should be amended by adopting the “reasonable grounds to believe” standard.

It is not going to come as a surprise. There are some serious concerns already about this bill and the overruling powers it would give. We have already had the Supreme Court of Canada make a ruling that bars Internet service providers from voluntarily disclosing the names, addresses, and phone numbers of their customers to law enforcement officials in response to simple requests. There is a possibility that this bill may be unconstitutional.

Why is it that the Conservatives, even when the courts have made a ruling, continue to go down that path? They seem to feel that they know better than our court system.