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House of Commons Hansard #133 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cost.

Topics

Status of WomenAdjournment ProceedingsPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Labrador.

Status of WomenAdjournment ProceedingsPrivate Members' Business

February 17th, 2011 / 6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her words. However, I would reiterate that what I have said here in this House are not just my words. These are the words of the Native Women's Association of Canada and the words of the Sisters in Spirit. These are people who have worked at this for five years and some for decades.

The Native Women's Association of Canada also said that we need to establish a new and transparent partnership with the government, that the government needs to do this; that we need to create a fund made available to families and communities of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls; and that we need the government's ongoing support to the Sisters in Spirit movement and to the Native Women's Association of Canada. Obviously, when they are asking for this, it is not in the announcement. This was post-announcement. So these are obvious drawbacks in the government's approach and in what the government announced in October.

Will the government fully fund Sisters in Spirit, allow it to continue the fantastic work that it has undertaken for the last five years, and will the government call a national public inquiry into the 600 murdered or missing aboriginal women and girls?

Status of WomenAdjournment ProceedingsPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is the first time that a government has set up place a system like ours. No one had ever thought about it before, especially not the Liberals.

Therefore, five of the seven initiatives are directed at some of the other aspects. Additional funds will be provided in the western provinces, which have had a higher number of missing and murdered aboriginal women, according to the information collected by Sisters in Spirit. This will enable them to better adapt the services to the victims' culture. There are funds available to develop victim services for front-line aboriginal groups and organizations in order to address the unique needs of the families of missing and murdered women. This will help aboriginal victims and the families of missing and murdered aboriginal women.

There are also funds for aboriginal communities so that they can get together and develop community safety plans, to identify and respond to their own needs in their own communities and make a lasting difference.

There is money available for projects newly developed by aboriginal groups and front-line organizations working to reduce the vulnerability of women and young girls—

Status of WomenAdjournment ProceedingsPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order.

The hon. member for Davenport.

HaitiAdjournment ProceedingsPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, since the January 2010 earthquake, the people of Haiti have struggled to rebuild their country after over 200,000 people lost their lives and millions were left without shelter. Canadians watch with growing concern as the already frail infrastructure and the societal structure of Haiti literally fell to pieces.

Canadian opened their hearts and their wallets and donated time and money to Haiti. Donations totalled over $220 million matched dollar-for-dollar by the Government of Canada.

Haitians have had to endure innumerable challenges over the course of their country's history. They have endured a lack of development, a shattered economy, a ravaged environment and a corrupt political system, along with the recurring natural disasters. Many of these problems appear insurmountable. Although Canadians offered immediate financial assistance, it has taken a long time for it to arrive in Haiti.

Canada's military did a wonderful job in Haiti despite the challenges. Our troops were vital to clearing rubble and reopening roads. However, requests for Canadian troops to stay in Haiti past its mandate of six weeks were rebuffed by the government. The reality today in Haiti is that the country is completely dependent upon external support structures. When the Canadians left, a void was created as we took back our heavy equipment and expertise.

Canadians made significant donations to groups like the Canadian Red Cross and Humanitarian Coalition, a group of NGOs that came together to deliver the humanitarian aid more effectively and efficiently. There needs to be a more effective process for delivering this aid.

Haiti faced significant and prolonged challenges even before the earthquake. The UN report by Michel Forst identified six areas where Haiti needs the assistance of the international community, including the penitentiary situation and prison overcrowding, violence against women, lynching, human trafficking, deportation and the lack of economic, social and cultural rights.

These are specific areas where Canada and the world can help. In order to foster improvement in Haiti we should work to assist Haitians in establishing the rule of law. We also need to work with the Haitians more closely to stop criminal activity so that Haitians can feel secure.

Only 25% of the $600 million it had promised Haiti has been appropriated. These realities are taken in the context of the government spending almost $27,000, which is 55 times the gross national product of the average Haitian, on a single-use backdrop for its conference on Haiti just days after the earthquake.

This is also the government that promised to fast-track family reunifications for Haitians with relatives in Canada. Just last week we learned that the government rejected almost half of the so-called special applications. Recently an Ottawa resident who wanted to bring his daughter and granddaughter to safety applied to have his family reunited, only to have the application rejected even before the deadline to submit the documentation had arrived.

What remains is a country still in desperate need of help. Millions are still living in tent cities where real cities once stood, in squalid conditions with rubble resting where it originally landed over a year ago. Fetid and bacteria-laden water gave rise to the epidemic of cholera that has killed over 4,500 patients to date.

The political system is in chaos and there is still no clear winner of a presidential election beset by fraud and irregularities. Violence against women and children is rampant and the threat of rioting in the streets is constant.

On November 19, I asked the Conservative government why it was not showing leadership and why we were not hearing anything from it in this regard and on the ongoing humanitarian crisis. I ask again, when will the government report to Parliament and give us an update on its promise to help the people of Haiti? When is it going to honour the terms of its pledge to expedite family reunifications?

HaitiAdjournment ProceedingsPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Newmarket—Aurora Ontario

Conservative

Lois Brown ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I know that it has been said in this House before, but I want to reiterate our government's unwavering support for the people of Haiti.

Like all Canadians, our government is very concerned about the people affected by the outbreak of cholera, particularly those living in the makeshift emergency shelters dotting the landscape outside the urban centres.

Our most recent information indicates that over 4,500 people have succumbed to this deadly disease and over 120,000 people have been hospitalized.

We know the epidemic started in Saint-Marc in the Artibonite region north of Port-au-Prince but that it has since spread to most of the country, including the city of Port-au-Prince and the camps.

I know we live in a media age where every tragic event is broadcast around the world almost instantaneously, and I know that some can become very desensitized. However, when I see the haunting images coming out of Haiti, a country where close to 1.3 million are still homeless, I cannot help but to imagine what it must be like.

The devastating progress of the disease was hastened by inadequate sanitary conditions in many parts of the country, and grew worse because of the heavy rains brought on by hurricane Tomas. Members will also recall the civil unrest in the north, which slowed the response times and hindered some activities in response to the initial outbreak.

This is a very serious situation, indeed, and Canada's response to the cholera epidemic now totals $7 million. Last year on October 23, Canada's Prime Minister was among the first world leaders to announce support for Haiti. In fact after the initial announcement of $1 million, Canada quickly responded with an additional $6 million.

Working with the Pan American Health Organization and the Haitian government, we moved quickly and efficiently to ensure that humanitarian assistance was getting to the most vulnerable. Through our support to PAHO, we were able to provide supplies to treat approximately 80,000 cases of cholera in the early stages of the outbreak.

Our support to UNICEF and its 74 partner organizations provided over 13 million water purification tablets, 2 million oral rehydration salts, and over 600,000 bars of soap.

When a devastating disease such as this occurs, education and prevention become key. I am pleased to tell the hon. member who raised this issue tonight that through UNICEF and its partners, we have reached over 5,000 vulnerable schools, representing 1.2 million children in our effort to educate and stop the spread of cholera.

We are also working with World Vision Canada and Médecins du Monde Canada.

World Vision Canada has provided up to 120,000 cholera patients with life-saving treatment in specialized health facilities, and will provide additional families with access to clean water and the necessary supplies to slow the spread of the disease.

Médecins du Monde Canada has established rehydration centres and cholera treatment centres, providing life-saving medical treatment in Cité Soleil. The organization is also providing further training in cholera treatment and prevention measures to community-based and hospital health workers.

Canadians can be proud of the government's partnership with the Canadian Red Cross. Through a contribution announced by the Minister of International Cooperation last November, the Red Cross has set up its new emergency field hospital. This state-of-the-art mobile hospital includes the medical materials and supplies, as well as professionals, needed to treat thousands of Haitians.

I assure the members that the Government of Canada continues to monitor the situation very closely to help ensure the needs—

HaitiAdjournment ProceedingsPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Davenport.

HaitiAdjournment ProceedingsPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is important for Haiti that Canada and all nations of the world demonstrate determined and prolonged leadership in assisting this country.

The recent return to Haiti of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier only serves to create more instability. I am regularly in touch with Haitians who are presently working to assist in the prosecution of Duvalier. Human Rights Watch, just days ago, stated that:

The government of Haiti should be encouraged and supported in its decision to move forward with the prosecution of the former dictator Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier—

The Government of Canada needs to lend assistance to this process.

Haiti can benefit from unprecedented levels of international support. Work to build government structures, security and sustainability, as outlined in many UN reports and other studies both before and after the earthquake, must take place.

Our shared history with Haiti is rich and our shared culture is still growing. I would encourage the government to forcefully and with greater resolve undertake every possible action to assist the people of Haiti and to reverse the country's longstanding trend toward failed state status.

HaitiAdjournment ProceedingsPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians can be proud of the response this government and Canadians have shown in providing support for our friends in Haiti.

The hon. member talked about showing leadership. Canada was on the ground almost immediately when Haiti called for help after the earthquake, and we have continued to show that leadership in all of the efforts we have undertaken and demonstrated over the last year.

In conclusion, I would like to quote from the Prime Minister's January 25 speech when he was talking about our efforts to rebuild Haiti. When characterizing Canadians' response, he said:

This generosity–both public and private–is a testament to the kindness and compassion that unites humanity in the face of catastrophe.

I could not agree with the Prime Minister more.

HaitiAdjournment ProceedingsPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:28 p.m.)