Ruth Ellen Brosseau
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NDP MP for Berthier—Maskinongé (Québec)
Won her last election, in 2011, with 39.60% of the vote.
Statements in the House
International Trade December 5th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, the Union des producteurs agricoles is worried about the impact of the Canada-European Union trade agreement. More than two months after this agreement was announced, no one has details—not producers and not members of Parliament. We support international trade, but not at any cost.
Can the minister tell us whether they plan on putting a provision in the agreement to compensate cheese producers? If so, how much?
Respect for Communities Act November 28th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, other countries have safe injection sites. Having a safe injection site does not mean there will be more people using drugs. We are not going to have people saying, “There's a place where I can do it, so I am going to start using drugs”. It means people will have access to clean needles, doctors and a referral service to get treatment.
All the statistics show that it is working, it is helping people and it is saving lives. There is no reason to have the bill. I just do not understand where the government is going on this. It is saving lives. It is a very important site in Vancouver.
Maybe other communities might decide that they have a problem. Maybe everybody works together. Maybe safe injection sites will be used in other communities. I have worked in Ottawa. I know there are a lot of drugs in the downtown core. Maybe something like that would help people here and save lives.
Respect for Communities Act November 28th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. I would also like to congratulate her on her work as the deputy health critic. She has done a remarkable job and it is always a pleasure to work with her.
Indeed, it is really important. The facts have shown that the InSite centre is successful because it helps people with a drug problem. Sometimes, it can be a mental health problem. It is clear that the site is working.
It is therefore difficult to understand such a bill, which runs counter to the Supreme Court of Canada's ruling. I can only imagine that the Conservatives decided to introduce this bill for political reasons.
When you can help people, you have to do so. It is not as if the whole community around the InSite centre is demanding that it be closed. The need is real. I think that it should be kept and that we should support the people who run it. It is a good thing.
Respect for Communities Act November 28th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, it will be very difficult for me to speak after my colleague's impassioned words. Today's debate has been very emotional because we believe that we can do better for Canadians. I am therefore honoured to comment on Bill C-2.
The government says that it would like to consult communities before opening supervised injection sites. Curiously however, on the very day that it introduced the bill, the Conservative Party posted a petition online entitled “Keep heroin out of our backyards”. The petition asks people whether they would like a supervised drug consumption site to be opened in their community. The government is doing everything it can to get in the way of those who would like to open a supervised injection centre.
According to the new rules, anyone wishing to open such a site would first have to ask how the communities in question and the police feel about it, and obtain support from the municipal and provincial authorities. However, they will have to do a lot more than that, in the form of a lot of evidence and documents, including documentation on the financial viability of the site, the need for it in the community and its potential impact on public safety. Furthermore, the Minister of Health would have the last word on applications.
And yet, evidence has shown that supervised injection sites effectively reduce the risk of contracting and spreading communicable diseases through blood, as is the case with HIV and hepatitis C, as well as the risk of dying from an overdose. It has also been demonstrated that they are not a threat to public safety and that in some instances, they promote public safety by reducing the number of people injecting drugs in public, and the violence associated with drug use. Safe injection sites strike a proper balance between health and public safety goals. They also direct people with an urgent need for assistance to the appropriate health services, such as primary care and addiction treatment.
Injection sites are beneficial to communities. However, for a number of ideological reasons—which have been properly demonstrated by my colleague—the government has chosen yet again to put on blinkers and pretend that drug and addiction problems simply do not exist. Rather than attempt to mitigate the harm, they would rather say that everything is fine and dandy. Things are not fine. The work done by these organizations saves lives. A centre like InSite helps to reduce the number of deaths caused by drug overdoses, and directs people who use drugs to the essential social services that can help them.
There is at the moment only one supervised injection site in Canada. Its name is InSite and it is located in Vancouver. Since it was opened, Vancouver has experienced a 35% decrease in overdose fatalities. It has been established that the InSite organization has led to a decrease in crime, communicable disease infections and addiction relapse rates.
The bill goes against the Supreme Court decision. In 2011, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that InSite was providing essential services and should remain open under the exemption provided in section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The court ruled that the charter authorized users to have access to InSite's services and that similar services should be authorized under an exemption.
What message is the government sending if it fails to respect the Supreme Court's decision? The Supreme Court of Canada clearly asked the federal government to stop interfering with the InSite injection site in Vancouver. The highest court in the land is of the opinion that the government's decision to stop exempting centres from criminal prosecution is arbitrary and infringes the rights of addicts to life and safety as provided under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
What more will it take? Why is the government proposing such a bill? It is doing so to impede the work of organizations that help addicts. The Canadian Nurses Association said:
Evidence demonstrates that supervised injection sites and other harm reduction programs bring critical health and social services to vulnerable populations—especially those experiencing poverty, mental illness and homelessness...
A government truly committed to public health and safety would work to enhance access to prevention and treatment services—instead of building more barriers.
The NDP believes that any legislation introduced by the Conservative government must comply with the Supreme Court ruling and strike a balance between public health and public safety.
The Supreme Court ruling also gave various organizations the go-ahead to open supervised injection sites in other areas of the country. That is why this bill should not be passed. Not only is it based on a regressive ideology, but it is also flawed. This bill shows just how out of touch the Conservatives are with reality and just how much they ignore the opinions of experts and scientists.
Supervised injection sites are essential resources for improving the safety of our communities. The Conservative campaign with regard to this bill was called "Keep heroin out of our backyards”. Precisely the opposite will happen. Passing this bill will do nothing to address the problem of drug use on the streets. This bill will not stop people from using drugs on the streets. On the contrary, it will now be almost impossible to open safe injection sites, which will bring heroin back into our neighbourhoods.
People will continue to find dirty needles on the ground. Drug users will still not have access to clean, safe equipment, and the rates of HIV and hepatitis will continue to climb. It is obvious that safe injection sites have been proven to work, and the Conservative government needs to face the facts and listen to what health experts have to say.
When researching this bill, I found a statistic that I thought was quite striking: people who used InSite's services at least once a week were 1.7 times more likely to enter a detox program than those who visited infrequently.
This statistic clearly shows that supervised injection sites can help people into detox programs. Facilities such as InSite play a vital role in reducing harm and getting people off drugs.
One argument that I often hear made against programs such as InSite is that people prefer to allocate resources to initiatives that help people overcome their addiction instead of opening additional safe injection sites. That is only natural; I can understand that argument.
However, that statistic clearly indicates that safe injection sites are a step towards getting off drugs. People who use drugs in the street will not wake up one morning and decide to stop using. However, by going to a safe injection site, users have the opportunity to speak with medical professionals, receive advice and learn more about how to access treatment centres.
InSite administrators clearly saw those benefits and opened OnSite in 2007. Users can be sent on OnSite, located directly above InSite, which provides detox and rehab services. There, users who are ready to take control of their addiction can undergo detox treatment under the supervision of social workers, nurses, mental health specialists and doctors. Those specialists can also help users plan their next steps and provide counselling to avoid a relapse.
I touched on the benefits of safe injection sites, and now I would like to speak to Bill C-2 and how it makes it nearly impossible to set up a new safe injection site.
Preparing an application for a new supervised injection site will be such a cumbersome process that it may dissuade applicants from even opening a file. If an applicant mistakenly forgets to include certain documents, the application could be automatically denied. Even if an applicant manages to obtain all of the documents needed for the application and has the community's full support, the minister can still deny it. Some applications may also take forever for no good reason, which means groups could be kept waiting for months or even years.
This bill is a serious obstacle to opening safe injection sites that can really help drug users and improve safety in our communities.
It is clear that safe injection sites have proven their worth.
They are a sound and effective solution to the problem of addiction in Canada.
I am ready to answer questions.
Food Safety November 27th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General's report is clear. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency does not appropriately manage the food recall system.
The agency does not have the means to verify whether companies affected by a recall of contaminated food have appropriately disposed of the recalled products.
How much money has been or will be allocated to ensure that the agency has the necessary resources to appropriately follow up on recalled food?
Food Safety November 26th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, in fact the Auditor General explicitly called for the system to be improved, because it is not working.
It is not enough to accept the recommendations; the government must act. The Auditor General clearly said that the system is not working. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency cannot even guarantee that companies subjected to a recall are able to correct the problems at the source. The minister's emergency response plan is even creating confusion in the department.
What will the minister do today, in practical terms, to correct her mistakes?
Ethics November 22nd, 2013
Mr. Speaker, Irving Gerstein knew that Mike Duffy racked up more than $32,000 in illegal expense claims because he refused to cut a cheque for $90,000. However, they would have us believe that the Prime Minister knew nothing of it. Everyone knew that Mike Duffy could embarrass the government. Senator LeBreton was afraid of what would be revealed if Mike Duffy handed over his documents.
If the Leader of the Government in the Senate was worried about potential damage, why would she not have told the Prime Minister?
Louiseville Christmas Telethon November 22nd, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I am very worried about the growing number of people living below the poverty line. Every year, food bank statistics make me shudder.
Food banks and donors play a crucial role. It is unbelievable that, in 2013, in a country as rich as Canada, so many people cope with poverty every day and food banks have become a permanent solution.
On Wednesday evening, I attended a Christmas spaghetti dinner for Louiseville's Noël du pauvre campaign. I would like to congratulate Pierrette Plante, the organizing committee and la Porte de la Mauricie on setting up a wonderful evening.
For the past 55 years, people's generosity during the Noël du pauvre telethon has made it possible for nearly 4,600 families to celebrate Christmas fittingly. Close to 2,000 volunteers contribute to the success of the telethon, which will be broadcast beginning at 5 p.m. on December 6 on Radio-Canada Mauricie-Centre-du-Québec television.
Congratulations to everyone involved. I am proud of the solidarity I have witnessed in my community, and I am really proud to represent you.
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2 October 28th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question and congratulate her for the speech she made earlier. I always love listening to the hon. member for Gatineau, because I always learn something.
This omnibus bill contains many elements. They should be separated so that we can study them in depth. We know that we cannot trust the government of the day because, once more, the things it is foisting on us are full of mistakes. Nor has it learned a thing. My son makes mistakes but he understands that he must not make them again. He learns from his mistakes. The Conservatives do not.
According to Statistics Canada, there are 6.5 unemployed people for every job vacancy in this country. Are the Conservatives going to fix that? I see nothing to that effect in this omnibus bill. The number of unemployed people has increased by more than 270,000 under the Conservative government. Well done!
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2 October 28th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I know that the Liberals like to talk about the middle class and what they are doing to defend the middle class. However, members of our caucus represent Canadians well. I am a single mother, and I know what it is like to work two jobs and pay for day care and juggle it all.
The government is not doing enough to help families get out of poverty. We talk about the middle class, but consider the people under the middle class. We need to help people get out of poverty. We need to make sure that they have good jobs and that when they retire, they have une retraite assez décente.
I recently read an article from the Wellesley Institute about the children's fitness tax credit. It is great. It is a tax credit. However, the article says that it only helps families with incomes over $200,000 a year.
Make that tax credit reimbursable.
That would make life more affordable for families who are truly in need. This is a concrete measure that the government could include in the budget.