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House of Commons Hansard #122 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Madam Speaker, I take issue with what my colleague from the Conservative government just said in her speech. First, let me point out that we are in the process of debating an omnibus bill. This is a bill that contains measures that have nothing to do with the budget, including the Kyoto protocol, environmental assessment, fish habitat, and so forth.

The NDP feels that this is preventing parliamentarians from doing their jobs and providing oversight. We are being forced to vote on a bill that contains many measures that we do not have time to review.

I would like to know whether my colleague agrees that this is preventing parliamentarians from providing real oversight.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Madam Speaker, this is the longest debate that any budget bill has had in nearly two decades. I would remind her that her colleague took up 13 hours of time in the House when about 78 other members could have had the opportunity to speak. He took up time with things that did not make any sense and had nothing to do with the budget bill. That was time that should have been spent by her and her colleagues debating the bill with the government.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Madam Speaker, while the parliamentary secretary claims that the government is looking after the most vulnerable, in some parts of our country families eat only one meal a day instead of three and, more often than we would like to admit, some family members eat while others go hungry. When this happens, children may stop growing and they may be too hungry to learn. When they are older, they may be undereducated and unable to work to their full potential. No family should face such choices in Canada, not in a country of such enormous wealth.

We signed the World Declaration on Nutrition and it is up to us to ensure the promise. Children do not want excuses. They just want food to fill their tummies. We need a pan-Canadian nutrition program in this country.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to the efforts that our government has made in that regard. Since 2006, we have been working to put money back in the hands of average Canadian families.

I will tell the member a few of the things that we have done. We cut the personal income tax rate to 15% and removed over one million Canadians from the tax rolls altogether. We increased the amount that Canadians can earn tax free. We reduced the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%, putting money back in the hands of average Canadian families.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to focus on what is happening with foreign affairs, one area where this budget is quite regressive, although there are many. My colleagues have talked about the process itself and the fact that this is not a budget bill but an omnibus bill that is very ominous in what it would do in terms of regulation.

There is one area that we have not discussed as much as I think we should and that is the killing of Radio Canada International. A previous government tried to do this and it was resuscitated. Radio Canada International is our voice in the world. Every commonwealth and G8 country has it. The government is killing it in this budget.

The member has a responsibility when it comes to international affairs. How can she stand by and watch as our voice is being silenced on the international stage?

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

On the contrary, Madam Speaker. I think Canada's voice around the world is very strong. Just from my own work in the portfolio dealing with international co-operation, Canada has a remarkable reputation. I have been in many countries where we have CIDA projects and there is incredible gratitude toward Canada. The voice that we are carrying in those countries is enormous.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Hull—Aylmer. I must tell her in advance that I will have to interrupt her at 1:15 p.m.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Madam Speaker, things are looking very bad. I really mean it. The Conservatives have invoked closure for the 18th time on a bill that is over 400 pages long.

Bill C-38 is no mere budget implementation bill. It is an omnibus bill that amends at least 60 Canadian laws. The proposed measures are so numerous and will have such serious consequences that people will be feeling their effects for decades, not just over the coming year.

We need enough time to study such a far-reaching bill. If the Conservatives truly believed that the measures in this bill were reasonable, they would split it up and make real debate possible. Instead, they would rather do things on the sly. What are the Conservatives really afraid of?

Canadians are fed up with the government's lack of transparency. The Conservatives should lay their cards on the table. But that is not what they are doing. By using Bill C-38 as a Trojan Horse, the Conservatives have made it clear that they have a hidden agenda. Our fellow citizens want all of the necessary information about the proposed measures. They have the right to know. But being transparent is not how the Conservatives operate, and all Canadians will end up paying the price for that.

Bill C-38 reduces the Auditor General's oversight powers. This is the same Auditor General who said two weeks ago that Conservative ministers knew the real cost of the F-35s. How can the Conservatives possibly justify to Canadians this decision to slash away at an institution as important and respected as the Auditor General? My constituents and I find this very disturbing.

In terms of jobs, Bill C-38 only makes matters worse; it does not improve anything. The Parliamentary Budget Officer recently confirmed that the most recent budget will lead to the loss of up to 43,000 jobs by 2014. From a strictly economic standpoint, every member of this House should be considering the consequences of so many lost jobs on the economy in our communities and on Canada's economic recovery.

When a factory that employs 1,000 people shuts down, the socio-economic repercussions are felt in that region immediately. Suppliers, small and medium-sized businesses and families are all affected. What the Conservatives are proposing is the equivalent of closing 43 factories that employ 1,000 people each, all across Canada.

The Prime Minister made a commitment to Canadians to create jobs, not to increase unemployment, which is what he is doing. In my riding of Hull—Aylmer, several thousand people—people who have families—are going to lose their main source of income, all because of the Conservatives' austerity budget.

Meanwhile, the government continues to claim that its top priority is employment. How can it seriously tell Canadians that its priority is job creation, when it plans to cut 43,000 jobs? Any good economist will agree that job losses have a negative impact on household spending. When Canadian families are not spending money, small businesses are forced to close. And when small businesses shut down, people lose their jobs. It is a vicious circle, as we know. The Conservatives should know that.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I must interrupt the hon. member.

It being 1:15 p.m., pursuant to order made Thursday, May 3, 2012, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the second reading stage of the bill now before the House.

The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

All those in favour of the amendment will please say yea.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

All those opposed will please say nay.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 45, the recorded division stands deferred until Monday, May 14, 2012, at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Madam Speaker, I ask that you see the clock at 1:30 p.m.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Is there consent to see the clock at 1:30 p.m.?

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Nutrition Among ChildrenPrivate Members' Business

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) continue its dialogue with the provinces, territories, health stakeholders, industry and Canadians to promote and maintain healthy weight for children and youth; (b) encourage discussions to address the factors that lead to obesity, such as social and physical environments, physical activity, as well as the promotion of and access to nutritious food; (c) encourage individuals and organizations to commit to participating in the promotion of a healthy weight; and (d) consider the federal, provincial and territorial framework for action to promote healthy weight entitled “Curbing Childhood Obesity”, that resulted from the endorsement of the “Declaration on Prevention and Promotion” by the federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Health and Health promotion/Healthy Living, as the basis for action to address obesity, particularly in children, promoting physical activity and making healthy food choices.

Madam Speaker, first I will thank my seatmate and friend, the dedicated member for Okanagan—Shuswap, for being the seconder of this motion on a topic that is dear to me and to the good and wise people I represent in this place.

I am very pleased to address this House and all Canadians on this day, my 2,301st day as the servant of Ottawa–Orléans, in order to raise an issue of paramount importance to the future of our fine country: child nutrition.

“Youth is the smile of the future in the presence of an unknown quantity, which is itself”, wrote legendary poet and playwright Victor Hugo in his masterpiece, Les Misérables.

In his famous poem, Rabbi Ben Ezra, the English poet and playwright, Robert Browning, wrote:

Therefore I summon age
To grant youth's heritage,

In the past few decades, we have witnessed the rise of a worrisome phenomenon: more and more children and young people with a weight problem.

In 1953, when Madame Jeannette Dupuis-Desjarlais was my grade 1 teacher, very few of my classmates were chubby. That is no longer the case.

Twenty-five years later, when I served on the Ottawa-Carleton health council, the trend we are seeing today was already apparent.

I believe it is important for us to pay special attention to this problem, which affects all of us, and for us to begin discussion among parliamentarians. It deserves a national discussion.

This is why I am pleased to speak today to my private member's motion, Motion No. 319. It addresses the promotion and maintenance of healthy weights for children and youth. It encourages the federal government to continue to work in areas that are aligned with current priorities and activities following from curbing child obesity, a federal, provincial and territorial framework for action to promote healthy weights. I do not know why they have long titles like that.

Canada is facing an obesity epidemic, mainly in children and young adults. The rate of obesity in children and young persons has almost tripled in the past 25 years.

More than one in four children and young persons in Canada are overweight or obese: one in four.

These rates are even higher in aboriginal communities.

The Public Health Agency of Canada warns that childhood obesity increases the risk of obesity later in life, as well as the early onset of a number of illnesses, including type 2 diabetes, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure and all kinds of others that we cannot even pronounce.

The repercussions of what can be called the obesity epidemic threaten both the health and the economy of our country and because, as I have just shown, the weight problem among young people has worsened in the past decades, Canada's future could suffer.

Links have been established between obesity and the incidence of asthma, gall bladder disorders, osteoarthritis, chronic back pain, cardiovascular illnesses and certain types of cancer, including colon, kidney, breast, endometrial, ovarian and pancreatic cancer.

We have to invest in the future of our children. It is critical that we ensure that everyone understands the importance of promoting and maintaining a healthy weight in the early years.

In the May 8, 2012 edition of the Journal de Montréal, journalist Héloïse Archambault wrote about how young persons, particularly young women, attempt to lose weight. In her article on teenagers who want to be thin, she quotes Jacinthe Côté, a psychology professor at Université du Québec à Chicoutimi and the author of a study on how young persons try to lose weight.

Her alarming observations are a concern. According to the study, while three out of four young women between the ages of four and eighteen are unhappy with their figure, what they do in an attempt to become thin is frightening.

The most popular weight-loss method include, for nearly 45% of young women, skipping meals. More than one in five young women decide not to eat all day. Dieting, starting to smoke or going back to smoking, taking appetite suppressants or laxatives and vomiting after meals are also among the attempted solutions.

By taking such drastic measures, these young women are jeopardizing part of their future. Is that the sort of approach we want our young people to take in order to lose weight?

The situation is an economic burden on Canada and if nothing is done, it will become increasingly problematic.

The direct health care costs of overweight and obesity have been estimated at $6 billion a year and the indirect costs are roughly an additional $1.1 billion per year in Canada. I am sure that the various levels of government have other uses for what is, on its face, taxpayer money.

Canada is not alone in this situation. Many developed countries are facing similar obesity trends. This is one of the reasons we are seeing renewed momentum to address chronic diseases, including risk factors such as overweight and obesity, on a global scale.

Last September, for example, Canada participated in a United Nations meeting on chronic diseases. At that meeting there was clear recognition that obesity is a global health problem, and countries agreed to make it a priority. While it is not the role of government to force people to adopt particular lifestyles, the government must endeavour to raise Canadians’ awareness of this situation and must become involved in the search for solutions.

In this search for solutions, the government is already moving forward.

Families that register their children in physical activity programs are entitled to a $500 income tax credit each year. The government also funds Participaction, an agency that helps Canadians adopt healthy lifestyles through physical activity and sport. One year ago today, this highly beneficial agency honoured two young constituents from Ottawa—Orléans.

Alexis and Loïc Gagnon-Clément, two brothers studying at Garneau high school and St. Joseph elementary school respectively in Orléans, were the winners of the Dare2Move Your Own Generation Teen Challenge.

In this contest, ParticipACTION invited young people across Canada to produce a short video to educate young Canadians about the inactivity crisis. In the winning video, Loïc plays the role of an obese tweenie, using humour to illustrate times when physical inactivity is a drag.

After the scenarios, the two students present scary statistics about the health of Canadian young persons.

This is exactly the kind of program the government should be encouraging.

My motion is meant to encourage this dialogue among all the sectors, particularly health care, the economy, the environment and education. It also encourages individuals, families, industry, NGOs and governments across the country to take action and to raise awareness.

First, this motion encourages the federal government to continue its dialogue with the provinces, territories, health stakeholders, the industry and Canadians to promote and maintain healthy weights among children and youth.

This motion also calls on the federal government to encourage discussions that address the factors leading to obesity.

For example, we must expand the dialogue to include key areas for action in order to promote strategies for building social and physical environments that encourage physical activity and promote healthy eating and access to nutritious foods.

My motion calls on the federal government to encourage individuals and organizations to commit to participating in the promotion of healthy weights.

We know that engagement and collaboration are fundamental aspects of mobilizing action.

This brings me to the final element of my motion.

The fourth part of this motion urges the federal government to use this framework as the basis for action plans to address obesity, particularly in children, and to promote active living and healthy food choices. This will ensure that governments continue to work together in three specific areas: first, to promote healthy eating and active lifestyles; second, to create favourable environments; and third, to promote multi-sector partnerships.

Canada is sending a clear message to the rest of the world that everyone has a part to play in healthy weights.

Members may know that in January 2010, I started a gym fitness and nutrition program. My goal is to be in good shape for the years to come.

Getting started at my age is not easy. I still have a lot to learn about healthy eating. Habits are hard to break, especially for people in their sixties.

In rising in the House to speak to members today, I earnestly hope that the Canada of the future, which this motion addresses, will have the means to make wiser choices than I did. While it is true that it is never too late to change one's habits, efforts are a lot easier to muster with the energy of youth.

In walking the walk—not just talking the talk—I am going to take Canada’s Food Guide in hand as my pilgrim’s staff and visit schools in the constituency of Ottawa–Orléans that I serve, to take part in the promotion and discussion projects described in the motion I have moved in this House.

Over the next few weeks, all the schools in the constituency of Ottawa—Orléans, from St. Peter High School to Gisèle-Lalonde, by way of Cairine Wilson, will be invited to take part in this activity that I propose. I invite all hon. members, regardless of political stripe, to do the same.

Obesity is a complex phenomenon, and addressing its causes is a long-term goal that will require not only changes in individual behaviour, but also innovative action by governments, industry, non-governmental organizations and other partners.

We each have a role to play.

In conclusion, I would like to thank the employees of Health Canada for their support in this project.

I would also like to thank my staff for their support: Lynne Bernard, Andrej Sakic, Gina Vilsaint, Amanda Weir, Colette Yelle and my executive assistant, Brian Michaud.

I hope all members of the House will support my motion and take part in these discussions and awareness projects to further the important cause of child nutrition.

Young people are our future. Let us not allow this dark cloud to loom over them.

I thank you, Madam Speaker, for your kind attention and assure you that I shall take questions from my colleagues with the same respect.

Nutrition Among ChildrenPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Ottawa—Orléans for presenting this initiative in the House.

I noted that he said in his speech that it is time to walk the walk, and not just talk the talk. As we all know, twice now, the government has created expert panels on health, specifically to address the problem of obesity: in 2005, a task force on trans fats and, in 2009, just a little over two years ago, an expert panel on sodium. In both cases, the Minister of Health shut down those panels without implementing their recommendations.

I would like to know my colleague's thoughts on this. Since it is time to now walk the walk, will he speak with the Minister of Health so that she follows the recommendations of her own experts?

Nutrition Among ChildrenPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Madam Speaker, I sincerely thank my colleague for pointing out these things.

On this side of the House, we cannot be held responsible for decisions made by previous governments—governments that have since been thrown out.

However, with regard to an action plan on health—primarily youth and children's health—we must not forget the tax credit for physical fitness, which was offered to all Canadians. We have a myriad of advice that we can give to young people, including of course Canada's Food Guide.

Any warnings the members can provide to us would be very useful.

Nutrition Among ChildrenPrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for raising student nutrition in the House.

Child hunger is a major issue in Canada. That is why we need a pan-Canadian nutrition strategy. We remain one of the few industrialized countries without a national breakfast program.

Physical inactivity is also a major public health issue in Canada. Only 9% of boys and only 4% of girls meet the Canada physical guidelines. There is a real disconnect between the government's articulation of the importance of the childhood inactivity crisis and its leadership and investment.

We need a comprehensive pan-Canadian strategy to promote physical activity. We need to commit to that strategy, and we need the investments. Stakeholders across the country have been calling for that.

Nutrition Among ChildrenPrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Madam Speaker, I am not sure I heard a question in there. I think I discern some support for which I thank the hon. member for Etobicoke North.

It is important to have national strategies. This is why it is important for the provincial and territorial governments and other agencies responsible to get together with the Government of Canada to get on with it. Frankly, this is why I am standing today.

I appreciate that the hon. member stood in support.

Nutrition Among ChildrenPrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to my colleague's remarks. As the mother of a 17-year-old daughter myself, I realize the importance of activity and how important it is that the government has put forward initiatives to promote physical activity among young people.

What are my colleague's goals and what should be the goals of this kind of strategy? In other words, why is the member putting it forward?