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Track Joe

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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is citizenship.

Conservative MP for Don Valley East (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 36.80% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Ebola Outbreak September 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, clearly we need a full understanding of how lacking some of these countries are in infrastructure and in being able to implement things in an instant, like in Canada. It is obviously a difficult situation. Some of the areas in West Africa are extremely remote and getting to the people, and putting things into action before they discover what the virus is, is very difficult. That is clearly why Canada has put a mobile unit in that area, so it can get a quick response in diagnosing this virus.

I think Canada is participating extremely well in supporting the eradication of that in the African countries.

Ebola Outbreak September 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to speak to the House about the tragic outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, and the steps the Government of Canada is taking to ensure Canadians here at home remain safe and protected.

The Ebola situation in West Africa has been devastating. My thoughts are with those who are affected by this. The Government of Canada is closely monitoring the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and working closely with our international partners to support the response and to help those who are suffering. Thankfully, we have learned that while Ebola outbreaks have generally had a case fatality rate of up to 90%, this particular outbreak has shown a survival rate of 47%.

While this current outbreak in West Africa has been ongoing since December 2013, Ebola first appeared in 1976. The House and all Canadians should be reassured that in all this time there has never been a case of Ebola in Canada. The risk to Canadians is very low. The outbreak continues to be confined to several countries in West Africa.

Even if a case of Ebola were to arrive in Canada, it would not be able to spread easily. There are a number of reasons for this.

First, Ebola spreads in the community through direct contact with infected bodily fluids. The scientific evidence shows that Ebola is not airborne and cannot be transmitted through casual contact. The Ebola virus does not spread like a common cold or influenza or even like SARS. Furthermore, it cannot be spread by a person who is not showing any symptoms.

Second, the situation and environmental context in West Africa is radically different from that in Canada. Our hospitals in Canada have sophisticated infection control systems and procedures in place that are designed to limit the spread of infection, protect the health care workers and provide the best possible care for patients. In contrast, the West African countries that are affected have limited resources to respond to a prolonged outbreak, especially in rural areas. In the health care infrastructure, greatly in the countries and communities affected, there is a lack of personal protective equipment and, tragically, outbreak control strategies have been met with distrust due to fear and misinformation.

Despite the fact that the risk to Canadians is very low, the Government of Canada remains vigilant and is taking concerted action to ensure Canadians continue to be protected against the Ebola virus. This includes maintaining our preparedness to detect, investigate and mange people with Ebola virus in the unlikely event that a case were to appear in Canada. We are well prepared.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has recommended that Canadians avoid all non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone due to the outbreak. As well, public health notices have been issued for Nigeria and Senegal recommending that travellers take special precautions.

For those who must travel, I must reiterate that the risks remain low. To date, there has not been one confirmed Ebola case contracted on an airplane anywhere in the world. Furthermore, there are no direct flights between Canada and the countries affected by the Ebola outbreak, further reducing the risk to the rest of the Canadian public.

The government is ensuring that Canadian travellers know how to protect themselves and what they need to do if they begin to experience symptoms of illness. It is recommended that those travelling in affected areas monitor their health carefully and seek immediate medical attention if they develop symptoms that could be associated with Ebola within three weeks of returning.

Canada is well prepared to identify and manage ill travellers. The Quarantine Act is administered by the Public Health Agency of Canada 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at all points of entry into Canada. Technical guidance and protocol have been shared with provinces and territories and with the transportation sector to detect and manage suspected cases of Ebola infection. Front-line staff have been trained to screen international travellers arriving in Canada for communicable diseases and to refer any traveller suspected of being ill to quarantine officers. Under the Quarantine Act, officers have the authority to implement the appropriate public health measures to ensure public safety.

From there, a strong network of laboratories stands at the ready to detect and respond quickly in the unlikely event that a case of Ebola arrives in Canada.

While maintaining our domestic vigilance, the Government of Canada is also involved in an international early warning system that detects reports of outbreaks and emergencies from around the world. The Government of Canada is keeping frequent contact with the WHO and other international partners and authorities responding to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Some Canadians were unnerved to hear the media reports over the past few weeks of suspected cases of Ebola in Canada from people who had travelled to West Africa. In every case, the individuals suspected of being infected with the Ebola virus were identified, isolated, investigated by the public health authorities and tested for the Ebola virus by the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.

While each case turned out to be negative, these cases tested our responsive capability and demonstrated to Canadians that we were ready to respond and that our systems were working. We have learned from our experiences with SARS and the H1N1 influenza pandemic, and we are applying those learnings to how we prepare for future outbreaks.

Canada should be proud of its world-class researchers and science capacity. It was our very own scientists at the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory who developed an experimental vaccine for the Ebola virus. The Government of Canada has offered a donation of 800 to 1,000 doses of this experimental vaccine to the WHO. We are committed to supporting the efforts of our international partners to control the Ebola outbreak, and we hope that the experimental vaccine will help to address this global crisis.

Canada is keeping a small supply of the experimental vaccine to conduct research and clinical trials on safety and efficacy. We will also keep some doses in the unlikely event that it is needed in Canada. At the same time, Canada continues to work with our international partners to explore the significant legal and ethical issues on the use of experimental vaccines and therapies in humans. The Public Health Agency of Canada is working with Health Canada to develop the Canadian protocol for this compassionate use of the vaccine.

Canada should also be proud of our humanitarian support to address the spread of Ebola in West Africa, including significant funding and the deployment of Canadian experts to assist on the ground.

While the situation and the media reports from West Africa are quite dire, I want to reiterate that the risk to Canadians is very low. There has never been a case of Ebola in Canada. The Ebola virus does not spread easily from person to person, and it cannot be transmitted by casual contact. The Government of Canada is already taking action and will continue to take action to prepare and protect Canadians against the Ebola virus and other infectious disease threats.

I would like to close by extending my heartfelt condolences to those affected in West Africa and by encouraging Canadians to support international relief organizations working in this area.

Recognition of Service June 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I, and constituents in my riding of Don Valley East and my party, would like to recognize Constable Mike Buzzetti, who is retiring this summer after 30 years with the House of Commons security services.

Many of us know Constable Buzzetti as the friendly face who greets us as we arrive each day, and who takes the time to say hello or exchange a few words when we pass through the entrance.

Constable Buzzetti's passion for this place and its history are evident to any of us who have been guided through this building by him.

Congratulations and best wishes on his well-earned retirement, and may he have many years of happiness.

African Institute for Mathematical Sciences June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise to highlight the works of AIMS, the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, also known as the Next Einstein Initiative.

AIMS has already set up education centres in South Africa, Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana, and the next centre will be in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

I had the privilege of meeting with the AIMS team made up of Professor Neil Turok, founder and chairman of AIMS, Mr. Thierry Zomahoun, Dr. Habiba Chakir, Mr. Sam Awuku and His Excellency Jakaya Kikwete, the president of Tanzania, to discuss the Tanzanian centre due to open in September 2014. The Government of Tanzania has committed a historic building for this purpose.

AIMS is a recipient of funds that our government has provided for the purpose of higher education in Africa. These centres are providing masters and doctorate degrees in mathematics and science. I hope that the funding for this outstanding program will be renewed.

Service Canada Mandate Expansion Act June 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address Bill C-247 as proposed by the hon. member for Guelph.

If the bill is adopted, Service Canada would be responsible for notifying all interested departments and programs of the death of an individual once the estate had informed Service Canada. The sensible purpose of this legislation is to increase efficiency and improve service to Canadians, and that intention is laudable.

Let me explain how the current system works.

When a Canadian or a Canadian resident dies, a death certificate is created and issued by these agencies. Service Canada receives this information through agreements with vital statistics agencies in nine provinces. These agreements are called vital events linkages. This ensures that further payments to the deceased from federal programs are stopped. It is estimated that 96% of the deaths occurring in Canada are currently covered by these agreements.

This system has been operating for eight years. It has a track record of integrity, security, and respect for privacy. Service Canada is constantly working with the provinces and with programs that use the social insurance number, or SIN, as we often call it, to improve the disclosure of vital events information.

I want to assure the hon. member that even when deaths occur in jurisdictions that do not have a vital events linkage with Service Canada, they do not go unrecorded. Service Canada receives information on deaths through the administration of the Canada pension plan, the old age security program, the Canada Revenue Agency, Régie de l'assurance maladie du Quebec, and from survivors of the deceased.

We also have agreements with a number of departments that are authorized by the Government of Canada to use a social insurance number for identification purposes. Other departments and agencies, such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, also have legal authority to validate identity information with the social insurance register.

We have all heard about the plague of identity theft. The SIN may only be collected or used for the purpose expressly permitted by legislation or approved by Treasury Board or the Employment Insurance Commission. The current policy is to limit authorized users of the SIN to key programs only. To protect the privacy of Canadians, not every department or government agency is allowed to have access to the SINs of Canadians.

There is also the issue of reliability of information. The process in place does not require a survivor to physically go to Service Canada. It is a good thing not to force somebody to physically visit a Service Canada centre to tell it about the death of a loved one.

Service Canada is also working with Citizenship and Immigration Canada to determine how Passport Canada could benefit from receiving death notifications from the provinces.

The processes that are already up and running are not only reliable but are also efficient.

I look forward to listening to the second hour of this debate.

Canada from Space Maps June 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, thanks to the extraordinary success of Commander Chris Hadfield's mission aboard the International Space Station last year and to Canadian inventions like the Canadarm and Dextre, students across this country have come to understand that Canada has an extremely proud history of accomplishment in space.

A key pillar of the space policy framework is “inspiring Canadians”, which is why, today, our government unveiled the Canada from space giant floor map. This map was created from 121 images of Canada shot by our country's own RADARSAT-2 satellite.

The Canada from space maps and teaching tools will be available to schools across the country, and will give students the chance to be inspired about Canada's role in space and to understand the role space plays in their everyday lives. These maps will help to inspire young Canadians to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math, so that we can continue to learn, explore, and push the boundaries of human ingenuity.

Canada-Africa Leadership Intern Program June 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my constituents of Don Valley East, I rise to congratulate the trainees of the first Canada-Africa leadership intern program that was recently completed in Ottawa.

The participants represented the Kingdom of Lesotho, the United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda and the Republic of Zambia. This leadership program was a resounding success and the participants enjoyed their experience, including the snow that they had never seen before.

I thank all those who helped make this program a success, including the Library of Parliament; ITTS, Parliament clerks, table officers and committee clerks, Senate and Senate staff, Office of the Black Rod, human resources; commissioners, Sergeant-at-Arms, and all the staff and assistants. I thank them all for their help on this program.

I also thank High Commissioner Tsepa from Lesotho, First Secretary Joseph Sokoine from Tanzania, former High Commissioner Margaret Kyogire from Uganda and High Commissioner Bobby Samakai from Zambia for their support and help in facilitating this program.

I look forward to initiating further programs and the inclusion of more African countries.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act June 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the way it is going to change is by the following: increasing the efficiency of the citizenship program to improve application processing; reinforcing the value of citizenship by strengthening the requirements and deterring citizenships of convenience; improving the tools we have to maintain program integrity and combat fraud; and protecting and promoting Canada's interests and values by honouring those who serve Canada, by revoking citizenships of dual citizens who are members of armed forces or recognized armed groups engaged in conflict with Canada.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act June 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, clearly the number of citizenship applications and the volume we have taken on since we have come into power has significantly increased from what it was prior to that.

There are some 260,000 people who are immigrating, and 85% of them are applying for citizenship. This has created a backlog that was much bigger than was expected.

Hopefully this bill will have some reforms that will reduce that time to approximately a year.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act June 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, before these decisions are made by the minister or any of his staff, they do have to go through a court process, so there is a process in place ahead of time for that to happen.