- Get e-mail whenever she speaks in House debates
- Subscribe to feeds of recent activity (what you see to the right) or statements in the House
- Her favourite word is climate.
Liberal MP for Etobicoke North (Ontario)
Won her last election, in 2011, with 42.40% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns May 9th, 2013
With regard to access to information requests ATI 2012-005 and 2012-006 submitted by Ms. Kirsty Duncan, M.P., for which a response was sent on February 22, 2013: (a) on what date were the two submissions made and what was the timeframe for completing the response; (b) why were the two requests returned together, some parts featuring page numbers and others not; (c) how many updates have been received from the Canadian Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI) Systematic Review Group to date, (i) how many studies in total have met the criteria for inclusion in the review, (ii) why does the group not identify, for each complication, the number of cases per number of people treated, (iii) why does the government not provide, for each serious complication listed, the number of cases per population treated; (d) on what date was the request for proposals for the CCSVI trials first drafted, (i) how may drafts were undertaken and on what dates, (ii) how many people worked on these drafts, for how many hours, and at what average cost to taxpayers, (iii) on what date did the provincial and territorial Ministers of Health review the draft, (iv) what was the feedback provided; (e) why, on November 22, 2012, was the amount available for the CCSVI trials in the range of $3-5 million, (i) what is the significance of the expression “should we just fudge a number”; (f) how was the decision made to earmark $3 million for the CCSVI trials and on what date was the decision made; (g) on what date and at what time was the Request for Applications (RFA) announcement for clinical trials published on the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR)'s website, (i) on what date and at what time was Bill C-280, An Act to establish a National Strategy for Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI), scheduled to be debated; (h) why was there a change by the President's office at CIHR that the commitment from the CIHR be $2 million with the balance to come from partners, i.e. the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada (MSSC) and ''relevant provinces and territories'', and what were the relevant provinces and territories referred to; (i) how many versions of the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) research update deck were produced and on what dates, (i) how many people worked on these drafts, for how many hours, and at what average cost to taxpayers, (ii) when was the final draft presented, and for what purpose; (j) how many government MPs has the Health Minister met with on the issue of CCSVI/MS since May 2010, and how many government MPs have the Minister's officials met with on the issue of CCSVI/MS since May 2010; (k) how many draft speeches were prepared for government MPs for Motion M-274, (i) how many versions of each speech were produced and on what dates, (ii) how many people worked on these drafts, for how many hours, and at what average cost to taxpayers, (iii) how many government MPs read these prepared speeches; (l) regarding the briefing note for Dr. Alain Beaudet`s meeting with Dr. Jeffrey Turnbull, President of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) on December 21, 2010, why did a recommendation in the briefing note state “The possibility of the CMA producing a position statement regarding patient access to physicians for patients who have received the Zamboni procedure”, and “The fact that CIHR would be willing to provide the CMA with any necessary support in order to produce this statement”, when the Scientific Expert Working Group (SEWG) stated that, “media reports that have stated that Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients who experience complications after Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI) treatment are not being seen by Canadian doctors are not justified”; (m) regarding the briefing note for Dr. Alain Beaudet's meeting with Paul Emile Cloutier, CEO of the CMA on January 31, 2012, which shows CMA President Haggie testified before a Senate committee on Dec 2, 2011, and a House committee on October 17, 2011, (i) did President Haggie bring up at either committee meeting CMA's lack of support for either bills C-280 or S-204, (ii) why was President Haggie unaware of the lack of follow-up care for MS patients treated for CCSVI when President Turnbull was made aware, (iii) why was there a hiatus in correspondence with the CMA, (iv) for how long was the hiatus, (v) when did the hiatus end; (n) regarding the MS-Societies' seven funded studies regarding CCSVI, why was there, at the 18-month mark, an inquiry into the training of the teams, (i) which of the teams were trained by Dr. Zamboni and which individual members of each team were trained by Dr. Zamboni, (ii) which of the teams were trained by Dr. Zivadinov and which individual members of each team were trained by Dr. Zivadinov, (iii) which teams were trained by neither or by another team; (o) how many people worked on drafts of prepared speeches for bill C-280, An Act to establish a National Strategy for Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI), for how many hours, and at what average cost to taxpayers and how many government MPs read these prepared speeches; (p) how many people worked on drafts of prepared speeches for bill S-204, An Act to establish a National Strategy for Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI), for how many hours, and at what average cost to taxpayers, (i) how many government Senators read these prepared speeches; (q) on what dates was the Canadian MS Monitoring System to be ready to receive data and when did the system start collecting data; (r) is the government's position regarding MS patients’ input into the Scientific Expert Working Group (SEWG) in accordance with the statement "CIHR's Scientific Expert Working Group includes researchers with expertise in different disciplines such as neurology, vascular surgery and vascular imaging who are treating MS patients and who will be bringing their patients' concerns to the table" (ATIP); (s) is it still the government's position that "Benoit's motion speaks far more to PHAC's monitoring system than anything we are doing on the trials front" (ATIP); (t) how many draft MS slide decks were prepared for Senatorial Caucus, (i) how many versions of each deck were produced and on what dates, (ii) how many people worked on these drafts, for how many hours, and at what average cost to taxpayers, (iii) who presented the deck to the Senatorial Caucus; (u) is the government's position as per the information sheet provided when Dr. Alain Beaudet wrote to the Colleges of Physicians on February 29, 2012 which says, “MS patients who have received a venous procedure abroad should be reassured that they will be continued to be cared for by their physicians and/or regular MS specialists as any other patients?” or is it that follow-up care is primarily the responsibility of provincial and territorial governments to ensure that no Canadian is denied post-treatment and follow-up care (ATIP) and what role does the federal government have if patients are being denied follow-up care by a province or territory; (v) why did the government ask the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada (MSSC) on February 7, 2012 about approved venous angioplasty; (w) is it still the government's position that the MS documentary that aired on the Nature of Things on February 9, 2012, was “balanced and fair”; (x) why does a February 16, 2012 e-mail list MS patients who are also CCSVI advocates; (y) is the government's position regarding imaging for CCSVI in accordance with the International Society for NeuroVascular Disease (ISNVD) venography statement and consensus document and, if not, why not; and (z) does the government know how many Canadians are actually impacted by MS, (i) if so, what is the number, (ii) if not, why not; and (aa) when Dr. Alain Beaudet wrote to the Colleges of Physicians on February 29, 2012, (i) why was the list of 11 recent peer-reviewed publications provided not a comprehensive list, (i) why did the list not specify what were positive and negative studies, and what imaging techniques were used, (ii) for MS patients who are denied follow-up care, what recourse and resources do they have, (iii) what is the position of the Scientific Expert Working Group concerning MS patients who have been denied follow-up care, such as Roxanne Garland?
Petitions May 9th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this petition regarding physical activity.
A lack of physical activity is a major public health issue in Canada. Canadian children are getting more than six hours per day of screen time, and are spending more than half their waking hours sitting down. Only 9% of boys and 4% of girls meet the Canadian physical activity guidelines.
The petitioners call upon the government to work with the provinces and territories to develop a comprehensive pan-Canadian strategy to promote physical activity, to commit to the resulting strategy and to make the necessary investments.
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1 May 6th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I mentioned that in budget 2013 the government offers a $1 million credit for a $1 trillion industry. Canada should be having a green economy strategy, so we lead in the new economy. We should have a national sustainable energy strategy. We need a comprehensive climate change plan.
Unfortunately, the environment and sustainable development are not government priorities. Recent rankings of environmental performance clearly demonstrate this fact. For example, the 2008 climate change performance index ranked Canada 56th out of 57 countries in terms of tackling emissions. In 2009 and again in 2013, the Conference Board of Canada ranked Canada 15th out of 17 wealthy industrialized nations on environmental performance.
Our world-renowned heritage was then further imperiled by the government's economic action plan 2012 and its draconian omnibus budget bills, Bill C-38 and C-45, which destroyed 50 years of environmental safeguards.
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1 May 6th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, the information is not incorrect; it is very well researched. I notice he did not bring up child hunger. He did not bring up the environment. I did recognize there are positive steps, but by and large it is a negative budget and I simply cannot support it.
I will talk a bit about youth jobs. The youth employment rate is now more than five points worse than it was before the recession. Last year, Canada had some of the worst summer job numbers since Statistics Canada began measuring this in the 1970s. Despite these challenges, the only measure for youth in Bill C-60 is to encourage greater charitable donations. They cannot donate because they cannot find work.
In stark contrast to the government's inaction, Liberals would introduce a real job strategy for youth to give young Canadians the job experience they need to succeed, including a youth hiring credit for small business, significant new investment in the Canada summer jobs program and re-opening the youth job centres the Conservatives closed.
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1 May 6th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege of representing a wonderful riding, the riding of Etobicoke North, the community where I was born and raised. We are proudly one of the most multicultural ridings in the country, but sadly, we also have our challenges.
Recent statistics show that almost 20% of our residents are not yet citizens. Our families face family reunification challenges and language and job barriers. Almost 25% of our families are headed by single parents who work two and three jobs just to put food on the table. Almost 20% of our riding is engaged in manufacturing, the second highest percentage for the entire country. In stark contrast, only 5% are involved in management, the 301st ranking of 308 ridings in Canada.
I am sharing this because we need real investment in our families and in our community, particularly during tough economic times. What we do not need are broken promises such as the Conservatives promising that they would not cut the rate of increase to transfers for health care, education and pensions.
The previous cuts to old age security, a move that would cost our seniors tens of thousands of dollars in support, are still causing outrage in my community. Single moms ask how the Prime Minister could do this, when he promised not to touch pensions. They have children and have to work. How will they pay for their children's education? They have no money to put away for retirement. What will happen to them?
Humber College students are saying that once they graduate they will have no job, and that is not fair. They ask why they are being treated differently by their country. Grandparents continue to come in wanting to know why their grandchildren are being targeted by the Government of Canada.
Today we are debating Bill C-60, the first Conservative omnibus bill following its 2013 budget, which impacts at least 18 different government portfolios. While there are some items in the bill that people could generally support—for example, better allowances for veterans and more incentives for charitable giving—these are mixed with many negative measures that will hurt the people of Etobicoke North. I simply cannot support these negative measures.
It is important to remind those watching at home that when the Conservatives came to power in 2006, they inherited from their Liberal predecessors 10 straight years of balanced budgets, an annual surplus that was running at the rate of $13 billion every year, lower debt, lower taxes, a sound Canadian pension plan and 3.5 million net new jobs. The last time a Conservative government actually balanced a budget for Canada was 101 years ago in 1912.
Bill C-60 creates the illusion of action regarding jobs and training. The government proposes to claw back the $2.5 billion per year in labour market money that it now sends to the provinces and renegotiate it with provincial governments. This amounts to recycling existing money. There is nothing new, no additional federal investment.
My community needs jobs, and each day at least one young person calls our office looking for work and we help find jobs, week after week. The youth unemployment rate remains a staggering 14.2%, nearly twice the rate for other Canadians. Today, 404,000 young people lack a job and another 171,000 have simply given up and dropped out of the labour market.
Another reason I cannot support the bill is that it increases taxes—for example, new Conservative taxes on safety deposit boxes totalling $40 million a year; new Conservative taxes on credit unions amounting to $75 million a year; and the list goes on. However, what I really object to is the new Conservative increase of tariff taxes, taxes on imports, which will take about $333 million every year from Canadians.
The people of Etobicoke North do not want the cost of baby carriages to go up 3%; bicycles to go up 4.5%; blankets to go up 5%; ovens, cooking stoves and ranges, 3%; plastic school supplies, 3.5%; pillows, 6%; and vacuum cleaners, 5%. I have heard from Canadians battling cancer, who must fight their disease every day, that their cosmetic wigs will go up by an astonishing 15.5%. It is absolutely shameful.
When all these measures are fully implemented, as well as some other taxes that are buried in the legislation, the burden will add up to more than $2 billion per year in new Conservative taxes on Canadians.
I did make a specific request to the Minister of Finance for budget 2013, as families in Etobicoke North asked, and respected the minister's request that ideas be cost neutral or non-spending steps. My appeal was for a joint meeting of federal, provincial and territorial ministers of health and agriculture to develop a plan of action to work with stakeholders across the country to improve student nutrition, because children in my riding and across the country go to school hungry, and hungry children cannot learn.
Forty per cent of elementary students and 62% of secondary school students do not eat a nutritious breakfast. Poor nutrition status leads to poor health outcomes for children, and Canadian children from all income brackets are vulnerable to inadequate nutrition, especially the one in five Canadian children who live below the poverty line.
In addition to making the human argument, to do the right thing and to honour the promises Canada has made to our children, I even made the economic argument for student nutrition. The Boston Consulting Group reports that, on average, each high school graduate contributes an extra $75,000 to the economy. They earn higher salaries than dropouts, pay increased taxes, have lower health care costs and are less dependent on social assistance. If providing food at school increases graduation rates by only 3%, a pan-Canadian school meals program in high schools at a cost of $1.25 a day could result in an annual net payback of more than $500 million annually.
The potential economic stimulus for Canadian agriculture is also considerable. Realistically, 70% of the pan-Canadian nutrition program could have domestic content, with an annual return to Canadian producers of $1.5 billion.
Not only do our children want healthy food now, but they also want a healthy environment to grow up in and raise their children and grandchildren. While no cuts to the environment are specifically mentioned in budget 2013, Canadians should remember that cutting is actually a three-year program with a $13 million reduction this year, growing to $31 million, then $58 million and ultimately representing a 5% cut for Environment Canada.
Budget 2013 offers mere scraps for the environment and in no way makes up for the war on the environment and science that the government has been waging and continues to wage: for example, $4 million for marine-based ecosystem conservation, when the government has promised to protect 10% of marine areas and yet has protected only 1%; $10 million for the conservation of fisheries and a salmon conservation stamp after eviscerating the Fisheries Act; and a new tax credit for clean energy worth a tiny $1 million for a global $1 trillion industry.
Perhaps most concerning of all is the lack of action on climate change, when the government is under increased study for its environmental and climate change record, particularly by our largest trading partner, the United States, and the fact that record low Great Lakes levels, which many experts attribute to a changing climate, are mentioned but not acted upon in the budget. For a government that is desperate to greenwash its record, budget 2013 and Bill C-60 clearly show that the environment is only an afterthought for the Conservatives, although Liberals support the funding for the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
In closing, I do not support this bill because it will make life harder for the people of Etobicoke North to make ends meet and does nothing to help youth find work. My hard-working constituents should not have to pay for the government's wasteful spending.
Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada Act May 3rd, 2013
Mr. Speaker, World Salt Awareness Week falls between March 11 and 17. However, unlike last year, there does not appear to be a record on Health Canada's website of the Minister of Health issuing a statement on the importance of reducing salt in the diet of Canadians. That is perhaps because of the fear of potential blowback for the Conservative government's killing of this important bill, which would implement the recommendations of the previous Conservative health minister's sodium working group.
The minister's reason for killing the bill is, wait for it, not a $21-billion tax but a $48-billion tax. Perhaps the government would be good enough to table, for all members of this House, who did the calculations for the tax, the method that was used and the results obtained. Perhaps, at the same time, the government would also table the health costs of chronic diseases that are linked to consuming too much salt.
In her statement on salt last year, the Minister of Health said:
On average we eat more than double the amount we need for good health.... It is important for Canadians to remember that consuming too much sodium is a risk factor for high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke and is also linked to other diseases such as stomach cancer, osteoporosis and kidney disease.
As Minister of Health, I want to help Canadians avoid these health risks by promoting the adoption of a healthy diet that is low in sodium.
Therefore, it is clear that the minister understands the problem, yet thinks it is funny to say the bill is “...tough on potato chips”. It is not funny to a family struggling to control blood pressure, and not funny to a family battling heart disease or stroke. More distasteful still is the fact that once again she is prepared to put industry before the health of Canadians. Specifically, the minister is refusing to reduce the average sodium intake from about 3,400 milligrams per person per day to 2,300 milligrams by 2016. Health Canada's own recommended daily intake level for sodium is just 1,500 milligrams. The minister's own sodium working group estimated that a decrease in the average sodium intake to about 1,800 milligrams per day, still above Health Canada's recommendation, would prevent 23,500 cardiovascular disease events every year, and would save $1.4 billion per year in health care costs.
The Minister of Health is also refusing a consumer education campaign, a monitoring plan and public database to track if individual food products meet specific reduction targets, and new regulations to force companies to use uniform serving sizes and the nutritional facts on food. Why did this health minister disband the sodium working group at the end of 2010? Why did the minister fail to endorse a federal-provincial sodium reduction plan at the health ministers' meeting in Halifax in November 2011? Why is this minister ignoring the overwhelming scientific evidence?
The reality is that this private member's bill is supported by the Canadian Medical Association and 40 other groups and experts, including: the Canadian Institute of Child Health; Canadian Nurses Association; Canadian Pharmacists Association; Canadian Public Health Association; Canadian Society of Internal Medicine; Canadian Women's Health Network; Dieticians of Canada; Food Secure Canada; Hypertension Canada; Kidney Foundation of Canada; and Public Health Physicians of Canada.
The Canadian Medical Association stated:
The Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada Act is an important piece of legislation that can lead to healthier lives for all Canadia2 Parliament support it.
The Canadian Medical Association also very clearly stated:
Canadians consume on average 3,400 milligrams of sodium daily, well above recommended levels. High sodium levels in food are responsible for almost one-third of hypertension cases in Canada. Hypertension is a major cause of heart disease (heart attack and heart failure), stroke and kidney failure, and is an important contributor to premature death, disability and health care costs in Canada. It is estimated that 7.5 million Canadians have been diagnosed with this chronic condition, with an estimated 1,100 new patients being added every day.
Dr. Norm Campbell, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research chair in hypertension prevention and control, said:
The bill provides concrete measures for reducing the amount of salt food processors add to food. The measures proposed in the Bill include close government monitoring and oversight and mandatory labelling of foods that fail to comply with sodium targets. If passed, Bill C-460 will for the first time provide Canadians an opportunity to even know if they are even making a healthy or unhealthy food choice.
Canadians should be asking broader questions. Why did the minister quash trans fats recommendations in 2009 and again in 2012? Why did she ignore the advice regarding caffeinated energy drinks? Why did the minister immediately shoot down the idea of the Institute of Medicine's report, sponsored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, calling for a fundamental shift in the way companies were allowed to present certain nutritional information on the front of food packages? Where is the leadership?
It is outrageous that the government would resort to invoking fear in Canadians to kill this bill. We heard from a government member who said:
—the bill would pose many challenges. While unintentional, implementing the bill may potentially have negative impacts on food safety and health; I repeat, negative impacts on food safety and health.
The member suggested that reducing salt and sodium-containing food additives to levels still higher than Health Canada's own recommended limits might affect preservation.
The member did not stop there, saying, “The bill simply does not anticipate the food safety consequences that this could create”.
Equally ludicrous is the government's argument that a warning label for sodium could be very misleading to Canadians, even though the government's own approach has been to encourage healthy eating through positive messaging, awareness and education activities.
I would like to finish by bringing some reality to the government's position and arguments.
On average, adult Canadians consume about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day. This is significantly above recommended levels. Health Canada and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences have determined that the tolerable upper intake level for adults is 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Of most of the sodium Canadians consume, 77% comes from processed foods sold in grocery stores and in food service outlets. Only about 11% is added during preparation at the table, with the remainder occurring naturally in foods, hence, showing the fundamental flaw in the parliamentary secretary's comments regarding a salt shaker.
In some people, too much sodium causes blood pressure to rise. High blood pressure increases risks for heart disease and stroke. About six million adult Canadians have high blood pressure or hypertension, the leading risk for death in the world, the number one risk factor for stroke and a major risk factor for heart disease.
It has been estimated that excess sodium intake is responsible for one million hypertension cases in Canada today. Dietary sodium reduction could eliminate hypertension for over a million Canadians, with a resulting savings of at least $430 million annually in direct high blood pressure management costs alone.
A recent study in the United States shows reducing salt intake by three grams per day would save the country up to $24 billion in health care costs a year. Even a modest reduction of one gram per day between 2010 and 2019 would be more cost-effective than using medications to lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
Is it not time that Canada's Minister of Health acted, not ignored experts and stonewalled?
Petitions May 3rd, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present four petitions regarding climate change, our most pressing environmental issue and perhaps the defining issue of our generation.
Climate change will profoundly affect our economy, environment, health, lifestyles and social well-being. How we respond will define the world our children and their descendants grow up in. More astringent actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions cannot be postponed much longer as dangerous climate change is associated with a global temperature rise of 2° Celsius. The latest analysis suggests the world is already on track to a warming of 3.5° Celsius.
The petitioners call on the government to accept the science of climate change, table a comprehensive climate change plan and commit to attaining the greenhouse gas emission goals it has promised internationally.
Petitions May 1st, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this petition on CCSVI. Canadians with MS want to know when Conservative MPs and senators learned of their government's position to kill both the House and Senate bills for CCSVI as a decision was taken by February 6, 2012. Canadians with MS should not have been given false hope for eight months. Such treatment is unconscionable. Follow-up care continues to remain a problem. Another person was refused follow-up care this week.
The petitioners are calling upon the minister to consult experts to undertake Phase III clinical trials on an urgent basis and to require follow-up care.
Petitions April 29th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present two petitions on the need for comprehensive action on concussion in Canada to improve the lives of all those living with this brain injury. For many people living with the affects of concussion, the physiological, psychological and social impacts are devastating.
The petitioners call upon the government to enact a pan-Canadian concussion awareness week to promote understanding of the injury, develop a pan-Canadian strategy to address prevention, diagnosis and management and develop a centre of excellence in concussion research.
Business of Supply April 25th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his speech and for talking about severe weather.
Severe weather is jeopardizing the lives of Canadians, their livelihoods and their property. Losses from natural catastrophes in Canada are rising; in fact, claim payouts from severe weather have doubled every five to ten years since the 1980s.
The national round table study predicts that the cost of flooding alone due to climate change will be between $1 billion and $8 billion per year by the 2050s.
Climate change is a significant and emerging threat to public health, with considerable effects on the Canadian economy. It therefore seems strange that the Minister of the Environment claimed that staying in Kyoto would cost the country $14 billion but thinks it is okay to saddle our children with actual and not trumped-up annual adaptation costs of $21 billion to $43 billion by 2050.
What specific adaptation measures is the NDP suggesting to reduce the direct human health impact of climate change?