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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word is health.

NDP MP for Vancouver East (B.C.)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 62.80% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Health April 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister would do well to check if seniors really are such strong supporters of his party, because they are pretty upset right now with his government's record. Even for those who can afford it, wait times can be up to eight months to get into long-term care. This leaves too many Canadians in limbo and their families struggling to cope.

Today a new poll by the Canadian Medical Association reveals that seniors' health care is a top priority for Canadians, so why are Conservatives yet again turning their backs and failing seniors on health care?

Health April 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, keeping people safe is the first job of any government, whether it is airlines or drug safety. Why can the Conservatives not understand that?

Conservatives are keeping Canadians in the dark about drug safety reviews. Last year the minister promised that reviews would be published, quote, “transparently”, but it turns out that Health Canada is keeping over 80% of the reviews totally secret, and even then, the published reviews will only be very brief summaries.

Why did the minister break her promise to be transparent with Canadians about drug safety? She said that. She is not being transparent anymore.

Pan-Canadian Palliative and End-of-life Care Strategy April 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to support my colleague, the member for Timmins—James Bay, and this great motion he has brought before the House.

It is a simple and straightforward motion, but it is incredibly important. As the member outlined, it is about establishing a pan-Canadian palliative care, end-of-life care strategy. It is about providing more support for caregivers, improving the quality and consistency of home and hospice, palliative, end-of-life care, and actually encouraging Canadians to discuss this issue.

When we look at our health care system, sometimes we think that things do not affect us. However, I think it is very true to say that we have all had experiences where a family member, a close friend, or maybe a neighbour, has been in the situation where they are approaching the end of their life, and it becomes a real struggle in terms of where they might be and what kind of care they might receive.

Palliative care and end-of-life care, whether in a hospice or at home, is something that is really very deep. It is very meaningful. For many years, we did not talk about these issues. We do not like to talk about death or think about what happens to us at the end.

However, we should talk about it. More than that, we need to have public policy around it. That is why this motion is so important. It shows us that across the country there are incredible examples of palliative care.

However, it is very patchy. For example, in my community in East Vancouver, the St. James Cottage Hospice, located in an historic building in Burrard View Park, is an amazing place. It is like a home. It is a place where people feel comfortable. It is where they have dignity. They do tremendous work there.

Every year in our community in East Vancouver, there is a festival of lights. The houses are dressed up with Christmas lights, and people vote and give donations in the street adjacent to the palliative care home. The money goes to palliative care. The whole community comes together to express itself. It is a wonderful initiative undertaken.

We need to state in this debate that, unfortunately, there are big gaps in the system. I was very proud last Monday when the NDP unveiled a very important document based on 18 months of consultation across the country about health care in Canada.

We went out and talked to Canadians. We did our homework about what needs to be done to improve and sustain our public health care system. It is a wonderful document, and I would certainly urge people to go check it out on the NDP website.

In the public forums and consultations we held across the country, one of the key issues people put forward, based on their own experience, their own need about what they know needs to happen, was that we need better home, long-term, and palliative care. That came through to us again and again.

I would like to quote from that document we put out a week ago.

Canadians want to see home care, long term care, and palliative care recognized as essential medical services just like treatment in the hospital. These services are not luxuries, and they need to be fully accessible, whatever a patient’s income, and provided at the same high quality and standards wherever they live.

That quote has come to us in our document because of what people told us. We are very cognizant that palliative care is part of a bigger issue that needs to be critically addressed in this country, which is the issue of continuing care of which palliative care is a part.

We do need to have home care. We do need to have long-term care. Again, it is very spotty across the country. Some provinces do well, others do not. People who live in smaller and remote communities have very little access.

The reliance we have on acute care facilities, the over-reliance because there is nowhere else to go, people end up in hospital, as the member for Timmins—James Bay pointed out. For people to die with dignity, they need to be in an appropriate place where there is support, resources, the right kind of medication to relieve pain, and the right kind of guidance, whether spiritual or emotional, from their family.

These are probably the most important times in anyone's life, yet these services really do not exist across the country in the way they should.

I really want to make the point today that in debating this motion, let us recognize that it is linked to a bigger issue around our health care system and that we have to make sure that the federal government shows leadership on this issue.

There are many reforms needed in our health care system. This is one of them. Today, I met with a group, the Parkinson's Association. I have met with many other groups. They all say the same thing, which is that the burdens financially and sometimes emotionally of caregiving create enormous stress for the family where people have to leave work, quit their jobs, and take out loans.

This is not what should be happening. There are incredible groups out there who have been calling for this kind of pan-Canadian end-of-life care strategy for so long. I think it is fantastic that we had an all-party parliamentary committee working on this issue.

Now that we are actually having this debate, we have our own power here to vote, one by one. We have the power to say that this motion has merit, that it is legitimate and has all of this groundwork, all of this homework, behind it. It is non-partisan. It crosses all political lines. We have this opportunity in the House to vote for this motion and to say to the government that this is the will of Parliament.

It is based on what we hear from our constituents. It might be based on our own experience. I certainly have my own experience. My partner of 24 years died of cancer just before I was elected. We were very fortunate that we had palliative care at home under the B.C. health care system.

I cannot imagine what that experience, as hard as it was, would have been like if my partner had been in a hospital, just in a ward or maybe in the hallway. Being at home and having people around him who loved him and cared for him on a daily basis and having the professional help and support that we needed was critical to how we went through our own process of grieving and losing someone that we loved so much.

That is just my experience, and this is manifest in hundreds of thousands of people across the country every day, so I want to say, let us pay attention to the motion. Let us look at how it is putting something forward that is real and legitimate. Let us put aside partisanship. Let us recognize the good work that has been done on this issue by an all-party committee. Let us unite, come together, and say to the government that we want to pass this motion so that the Government of Canada will establish a pan-Canadian palliative care strategy.

I would also like to move an amendment.

I move that the motion be amended by replacing the words “Canada; (b) respects the cultural, spiritual and familial needs of Canada's first nation, Inuit and Métis people” with the words “Canada, as well as Canada's first nation, Inuit and Métis people; (b) respects the cultural, spiritual and familial needs of all Canadians”.

Pan-Canadian Palliative and End-of-life Care Strategy April 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I thank the member for Timmins—James Bay for bringing forward this motion. It is a very important debate. I noticed that in the debate, he said that he hopes that all parliamentarians come together with this motion. I think that is really what we hope for.

I would like to ask more about the all-party committee. Canadians see in question period every day the partisanship, but there are many occasions when members of Parliament from all the parties in the House work together on an issue. This is a very good example of where that has happened.

I wonder if the member could tell us a bit about the all-party committee, why it came together, and the work they undertook.

Petitions March 31st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from people who are very concerned about the cuts to Canada Post.

We know that postal increases are taking place. The petitioners are calling on us to reverse the elimination of door-to-door delivery. They are very concerned that these cuts will hurt seniors and disabled Canadians in particular. They believe that Canada Post is a public institution and that public service should be protected. The petitioners are urging the Government of Canada to reverse the cuts to services announced by Canada Post.

Petitions March 31st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to present two petitions.

The first has several hundred signatures from both Vancouver and Calgary. I have presented these petitions on many occasions in the House. The petition draws to the attention of the Government of Canada and parliamentarians that every year hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats are brutally slaughtered for their fur in a number of Asian regions and that these animals live in deplorable conditions. The petitioners are calling on Government of Canada to join the U.S.A., Australia, and the European Union in banning the import and sale of dog and cat fur.

I want to thank the organizations that are collecting these signatures. I have now tabled thousands and thousands of these petitions over the last year. They are obviously very dedicated organizations that are very concerned about this issue and urge us to take action.

Health March 31st, 2014

Really, Mr. Speaker? Let us get serious. Let us get past the doublespeak.

Eight years in power and Conservatives have failed on every single count. They failed to reduce wait times, failed to live up to their commitments on health care transfers, and failed on key commitments in the accord on things like electronic health records, pharmacare, home care, and the list goes on and on.

When will the government stop misleading Canadians, stop avoiding accountability, and start working with the provinces to build a strong, stable, and accessible public health care system in this country?

Health March 31st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today marks the last day of Canada's health accord and the start of $36 billion in Conservative cuts to Canada's health care system.

The Health Council of Canada, the only agency tracking government performance on health care, will be shut down today. There will be less accountability for health spending for veterans, first nations, and the commitments in the health accord. How will slashing accountability and cutting federal investments improve health care for Canadians?

Questions on the Order Paper March 28th, 2014

With regard to The Royal Society of Canada (RSC) Expert Panel on Safety Code 6: (a) which department and persons within the government were responsible for contracting RSC to conduct the expert panel; (b) what were the criteria for selecting an organization to conduct the expert panel; (c) what is the mandate of the expert panel; and (d) why was the sentence “certain members of the general public may be more susceptible to harm from microwave exposure” removed from the 2009 Safety Code 6 update and will it be included in this year’s update of Safety Code 6 following the conclusion of RSC Expert Panel on Safety Code 6?

Health March 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, once, a long time ago, the Conservatives promised Canadians a patient wait times guarantee. However, what Canadians got were longer wait times. I do not usually quote it, but the Fraser Institute reported that wait times cost our economy over a billion dollars annually.

Why have the Conservatives cut $250 million a year that was earmarked for the provinces to help reduce wait times? Why are they giving up on ensuring timely access to medical care? Do they not care any more?