House of Commons Hansard #233 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was jobs.


Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville is not present in the House to propose the order according to the notice published in today's notice paper.

Accordingly, the bill will be dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:10 p.m.


Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, our Arctic is considered to be one of the Earth's last pristine ecosystems. It is not, unfortunately.

Potent greenhouse gases, mercury and toxic chemicals are found there, and we can find the impacts of climate change prominently on display. In fact, last year an area of Arctic sea ice greater in size than the United States melted.

Moreover, 9 of the 10 warmest years in modern meteorological record have occurred since the year 2000. The extent and thickness of summer sea ice in the Arctic has shown a dramatic decline over the past 30 years, with the 6 lowest extents having all occurred in the last 6 years, and may be unprecedented in the last 1,450 years.

While scientists are enormously concerned that these changes represent a fundamental change, and very little is known about the consequences of drastic sea ice reductions, the Minister of the Environment was perturbed mainly about how navigation patterns might be affected. There seemed to be little appreciation that the loss of sea ice had the potential to further accelerate warming and to change climate patterns. In fact, during an exchange in question period, the minister proudly shot back that the government was 50% of the way to achieving its 2020 Copenhagen greenhouse gas reduction target.

The latter is a remarkable claim given the actual emission data, as well as the fact that as recently as the fall of 2011 the government was on track to reach only 25% of its very weak greenhouse gas reduction target. The government did not in fact manage to improve its performance by an astonishing 100% in just over six months, but rather used a higher start value, a projected value, rather than actual emissions, changed the accounting rules, took credit for the action taken by the provinces and territories, and removed any climate accountability measures.

Canadians living in the north face challenges in the coming years: biodiversity loss, climate change, environmental protection, ozone depletion, and the challenge of ensuring responsible and safe shipping. Neither the region nor the rest of us are prepared to manage these challenges effectively.

My question in question period for the Minister of Health, as she takes the helm of the Arctic Council, was simple, “will she allow the continued gutting of environmental protection, or finally stand up for responsible environmental stewardship?”

Unsurprisingly, the Minister of Health failed to respond, and instead the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment stood up and completely dodged my question, a tact on climate change, and used the woefully overused Conservative phrase “we're getting the job done”. The question is on what, the destruction of 50 years of environmental protection?

I ask again, what will the Conservative government do as head of the Arctic Council? Will it be a leader in the protection of Canada's north, or will it continue to gut environmental legislation and develop Canada's resources at all costs?

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta


Michelle Rempel ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to respond to my colleague's questions.

“We did not get it done”. This phrase was uttered with regard to climate change policy. Was it uttered by someone on the government side? No, it sure was not. It was uttered by one of the litany of previously failed Liberal leaders who we on the government side have seen come to power. Why did they not get the job done? Why did the Liberal government, a party that is purported to be a defender of Canada's environment, not get the job done?

First, it signed on to an international protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which my colleague, who just spoke in the House, has proudly called a symbol of social action, a symbol of something that only included less than 30% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions when the Liberal government signed on to it. Less than 30%. That is not good policy.

Since that time, our government has stated that Canada only produces 2% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. Given that, we understand that climate change is a very important issue, and not just to our country. It is a global problem. Acknowledging that, how do we act as a world leader to ensure that there are real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions? An agreement that sees less than 30% of the world's emissions included in it is not going to achieve the results we need.

Therefore, we did two things. First, we acknowledged that and participated in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in trying to get an international agreement with binding targets from all major emitters. That was step number one. This was when we agreed to the Copenhagen targets that my colleague mentioned and, yes, our government is on track to meet those targets, as evidenced by our emissions trends report, which I am going to speak to in a bit.

The second thing we said was we need to take real action at home. We need to have policy that sees reductions in each sector where major emissions come from. Therefore, we looked at the vehicle sector and implemented regulations there, but we did it in a way that would actually save Canadians money. For example, the light duty vehicle emission and heavy duty vehicle emission regulations were put in place in a way that Canadians would actually see fuel savings over the time of implementation while seeing a huge reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Contrast this to the Liberals' approach. I have already talked about their failed international policy for greenhouse gas emissions. The second part is that they proposed a carbon tax. I have to say I do not subscribe to the belief that a carbon tax is the way to reduce greenhouse gases in a meaningful way. Why? Because it is not cognizant of the fact that this costs Canadian consumers significantly.

I am going to close with our action on Arctic climate change adaptation. It was this government that invested heavily in direct climate change adaptation and mitigation measures for the Arctic. We also invested heavily in the science behind ensuring that climate change is both mitigated and adapted to, not just here but abroad. We can look at the funding that has come through the tri-council agencies, which we have increased, and excellent research is happening in Canada, but we also have to look at the fast start climate change program in which we have invested over $1.2 billion to see real action internationally.

It has been under our government that we have seen a real stoppage in the growth of greenhouse gas emissions while the economy continued to grow. Under the Liberal government, there was a 30% increase in greenhouse gas emissions. This is the truth. We are working hard to achieve this and we are very proud of it.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:15 p.m.


Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, yet again the parliamentary secretary dodged the question.

Recent rankings of environmental performance clearly demonstrate the Conservatives' dismal record on protecting Canada's environment. 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. In 2010, Simon Fraser University and the David Suzuki Foundation ranked Canada 24th in 25 OECD nations on environmental performance. Moreover, the Environmental Performance Index ranked Canada 96th and 102nd out of 132 countries in terms of ecosystem and climate change respectively.

Perhaps I will get an answer from the parliamentary secretary. Will the government continue to gut the environment?

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.


Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Speaker, a 30% rise in greenhouse gas emissions is my colleague's party's track record on managing climate change in our country. Those are the facts. She is dodging that fact every time she rises in the House. She has never acknowledged it.

I am so proud to stand and say that it has been under our government that we have seen a reduction in the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, while our economy continues to grow. The fact of where Canada stands internationally is that we are a leader in the growth of jobs and a leader in the growth of economic prosperity, but we are doing that while protecting the environment.

My colleague always speaks about the United Nations. Our greenhouse gas emissions reports use a methodology that is consistent with one used by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. What does that show? It shows that stoppage in the growth of greenhouse gas emissions and it shows the growth of our economy.

It is this balance that we need to be focused on with regard to climate change policy, and we will certainly continue down that path.

International Co-operationAdjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.


Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am here today to speak about Bill C-398, which would have reformed Canada's access to medicines regime in order to provide lower-cost medicines to thousands of people around the world with life-threatening illnesses and diseases such as HIV, malaria and tuberculosis.

I spent 18 months consulting all the concerned parties. I spoke with brand name drug manufacturers who were against the previous bill, but were in favour of this new bill being referred to committee. I met with a generic drug maker who has already used Canada's access to medicines regime. He explained to me why the current regime was not working. I also met with representatives of a large network of civil society organizations that supported the bill.

My colleague opposite did not make as much of an effort.

In fact, it was only in the days before the vote that he spoke to the brand name pharmaceuticals and he did so only after the same pharmaceuticals had written to us to say that they were ready to see Bill C-398 go to committee. Why? Because the people on the other side of the House did not really care about the bill. They had decided from the start that they were going to oppose it for partisan reasons. If it meant doing away with the truth, they did not care.

Let me give just a few examples.

The Conservatives argued that the bill would weaken the safeguards, ensuring that medicines would not be not diverted. This is simply false. All the safeguards adopted by Parliament when it first created CAMR unanimously in 2004 remain. None of them were changed.

They said that it would remove measures to ensure the quality of medicines being supplied. That is false again. There was absolutely no change to the requirement for Health Canada to review all drugs exported.

The Conservatives argued it would violate Canada's obligation under the World Trade Organization's treaty on intellectual property rights. Again, that is not true. Experts have testified that Bill C-398 would be fully compliant with WTO rules.

Then the Conservatives said that it could jeopardize negotiations for a free trade agreement with Europe. Oops, the E.U. has similar regulations.

In fact, all these so-called arguments are just excuses for the Conservatives to oppose the bill. That is why they came up with something else every time their arguments were refuted.

When they ran out of solid arguments, the Conservatives started talking about what the government has done to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa. I suspect that my colleague opposite will do the same in a few moments.

It is good to combat AIDS in Africa, but why could we not also adopt a measure at no cost to the taxpayer that would get the most out of the money allocated to humanitarian aid, save lives and even create jobs in Canada?

A few days before the vote, we actually had enough support for the bill to go to committee, including from Conservative MPs, but the government decided it would not let this happen. It put partisanship before a life-saving measure. It circulated lies about the bill. It pressured its MPs not to vote for what they believed was right and it ended up disappointing thousands of Canadians. Now the government can wear it.

International Co-operationAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta


Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, had the hon. member been at the committee process when it studied a bill almost identical to this one, the independent public servants who testified before that committee refuted just about everything that the hon. member just said.

I am happy to respond to the comments made earlier by the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie regarding Bill C-398, An Act to amend the Patent Act (drugs for international humanitarian purposes).

The government is an active international partner and a world leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The Government of Canada has made significant contributions to global mechanisms that have become the main instruments for low- and middle-income countries to procure medicine at lower costs.

I would like to remind everyone of one significant example. Canada is a top per capita contributor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, contributing $540 million for 2011 to 2013. The Global Fund is an international financing mechanism that seeks to disburse funding for programs that reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in low- and middle-income countries.

The fund has become one of the most significant mechanisms in the fight against these diseases, supporting 4.2 million people with HIV/AIDS, treating 9.7 million people with tuberculosis, and distributing 310 million nets to prevent the spread of malaria. Other major contributions include $149.6 million to the Global Drug Facility of the Stop TB Partnership; $450 million to the Africa Health Systems Initiative; and $2.85 billion for maternal, newborn and child health, providing leadership through the Muskoka Initiative.

This government stands by our commitment to increasing access to medicines in the developing world. Our approach has yielded results like the ones I have mentioned. In contrast, the bill would have put us offside our international trade obligations and would not have resulted in greater exports to the developing world.

Canada is not a low-cost producer of generic drugs and cannot be expected to compete against low-cost emerging markets. It is estimated that India, for instance, supplies 80% of donor-funded antiretrovirals to developing countries. Furthermore, according to the World Health Organization list, over 98% of essential medicines are generic or are not patented in developing countries.

Bill C-398 would have eroded patent protection, reducing Canada's attractiveness for investment in innovative science that develops new medicines without increasing the supply of Canadian drugs to those in need.

That is why our government will continue to lead global initiatives to get much needed medicines to those in need and we will continue to do so using the most effective means necessary to actually save lives.

International Co-operationAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.


Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it would take me 10 minutes to reply to all of that.

First, my colleague said that civil servants have testified against this bill at committee while the bill never went to committee. I am wondering if he even took time to read the bill, which I doubt.

Then he said that it is outside our trade obligations. The experts who have participated in WTO negotiations to set up the framework that would permit that said that the bill was completely consistent with WTO obligations.

Then we are told that it would infringe on patent protection and basically that it would affect brand name pharmaceuticals. The brand name pharmaceuticals wrote to the leaders of all the main parties in December to say that they had no objection to seeing the bill go to committee.

Really, the Conservatives are so isolated and they are trying to find arguments that just do not hold water.

International Co-operationAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.


Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, the experts that I am talking about are the independent public servants who have testified time and again and have said that the bill does do the things that the hon. member says it does not do.

Bill C-398 would not have increased the export of Canadian-made generic drugs to the developing world. The bill ignored the fact that countries are accessing generic medicines from other low-cost producers like Brazil or India. The bill, if implemented, would have been inconsistent with Canada's international obligations and would have weakened Canada's intellectual property regime. That is what the independent experts said.

Our government will continue to focus on what works, and what has been proven to work is the government's comprehensive approach to helping those in the developing world. This includes maintaining Canada's access to medicines regime and providing financial support to global public health initiatives. We will continue to be a leading contributor to funds like the global fund, the Africa health systems initiative and the global drug facility.

These initiatives, and others like them, have achieved significant results. Globally more than eight million people living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries were receiving HIV antiretroviral therapy at the end of 2011. This represents a 25-fold increase from 2002. Progress has also been made for other diseases. Four times as many people are receiving treatments for TB than were in 2000.

We will not stop there. We will continue to lead by example in the global community to increase the availability of treatment to the world's most vulnerable.

Aboriginal AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.


Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the Conservatives are so disconnected they actually believe their false talking points.

I am glad to have this opportunity to revisit the issue of chronic underfunding of women's shelters available to aboriginal women, especially those living in more remote first nations communities. This is a critical shortfall that must be addressed so that headway can be made on the grim reality of violence against women.

Any other measures the government will undertake will be incomplete if these shelters are not available to allow a woman to remove herself from a violent environment and begin the process of restoration and healing. If we do not provide long-term adequate funding to aboriginal women's shelters, we are turning our backs on some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

Shelters provide front-line health services to first nations, Inuit and Métis people. Their mandates and responsibilities range from emergency services to transition homes. With that in mind, we must consider the lack of women's shelters on reserves as a public health crisis.

Aboriginal women are not protected by the same legislation that non-aboriginal women enjoy. Matrimonial real property on reserves differs from off reserves. A 1986 Supreme Court ruling states that when the conjugal relationship breaks down, courts cannot apply provincial and territorial law to deal with real property, such as the family home. That job is the responsibility of the federal government.

While there have been motions to modernize this legislation and protect aboriginal women when their marriage dissolves, both the Native Women's Association of Canada and ministerial representatives agree that increasing shelter funding should happen before creating a matrimonial real property regime. However, these shelters remain chronically underfunded, and any funding they do receive is pieced together from a series of limited-term options.

In 2012, on-reserve aboriginal women's shelters received the majority of their funding through the family violence prevention plan, which totalled $12 million for one year. According to the 2013 budget, that program has been extended for two years, with funding totalling $24 million. Given the projections for inflation over the next two years, this actually amounts to a cut to the program. With inflation expected to run at about 2%, the funding should have been increased by $480,000 to maintain the real value of the funding for the program.

Despite the outcry of major stakeholders to increase the funding and make a long-term commitment to aboriginal women, this year's budget offered no help and seems to be acceptance of the de facto cuts due to inflation.

As it cuts funding for aboriginal health facilities, let me remind the government that aboriginal people are the fastest-growing segment of our population. This is an ongoing trend, and that population is expected to grow at more than twice the rate of the general population over the next four years.

Of the aboriginal women living in remote areas, 70% do not have access to shelters. Despite rising populations, essential services are receiving less and less funding, limiting their effectiveness and limiting access to services for this target population. Shelters like the Mississauga Women's Shelter in my riding do their best to meet the needs of their population, but with the government starving them of resources, how can we reasonably expect them to accomplish their ever-growing list of tasks, especially since there is more need now than ever for the work that these shelters do?

Given that we know that violence against aboriginal women is a public health crisis for which women's shelters are a key front-line service and that the budgets for shelters are frozen, which amounts to a cut once inflation and population growth are factored in, will the government reconsider its position and commit to increasing core funding for women's shelters on reserve?

Aboriginal AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Kenora Ontario


Greg Rickford ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to speak to the question from the hon. member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing.

Our government is committed to ensure that women, children and families on reserve have access to the services they need to protect their safety and security.

The Government of Canada is taking action to address all forms of violence, particularly the high number of aboriginal women and children who are affected by violence.

We take violence against aboriginal women very seriously. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada supports access to a network of shelters serving on-reserve residents and also works in partnership with provincial and territorial governments, first nation people and other stakeholders to develop effective and appropriate solutions to the issues of domestic violence.

To support family violence prevention programs and services on reserve, economic action plan 2013 is investing in the ongoing operation of the family violence prevention program on reserve.

Our government has committed, in economic action plan 2013, $24 million over two years for the family violence prevention program. These funds would allow the total funding level of the program to remain at $30.4 million for each of the next two years.

Family violence is an issue that can affect Canadians from all walks of life and can have tremendous costs, particularly for children, so it is important to ensure that help is nearby. Families in first nations communities that are remote and isolated may face particular challenges in accessing protective and supportive services. The family violence protection program funds shelter services and violence prevention programming on reserve. This investment contributes to enhanced safety and security of on-reserve residents, particularly women and children.

We will continue to support the vulnerable. Shelters for women, children and families living on reserve are important for their safety and well-being in family violence crisis situations.

Currently, the shelters funded by the Government of Canada to serve women and children on reserve are spread across all provinces, including five new shelters in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. These shelters cover 330 first nation communities.

The need for emergency shelters and services for women and children is an unfortunate reality. We continue to work with our partners to ensure an adequate level of support to the shelters and the workers providing these services. We will continue to support these programs and services because they make a real and tangible difference at a critical time for those who need them.

What exactly is at the heart of addressing violence? Without a doubt, it is prevention. Prevention programs and services in first nation communities must be responsive to the specific needs of first nation members.

Family violence prevention projects supported by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada are proposal-driven and may include promotion and public awareness, education campaigns, conferences, workshops, counselling and community needs assessments.

We will continue to support and develop effective, appropriate solutions in partnership with provincial and territorial governments, first nation people and their leadership and other important stakeholders. Our government, along with its partners, is concerned about all forms of violence and its impacts.

Aboriginal AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.


Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, the goal here is to protect the victims, and obviously the actions of the government are not addressing that.

As of 2010, the largest portions of on-reserve shelters were emergency shelters. The number one reason women require these shelters if for spousal abuse. Aboriginal women are twice as likely to report spousal abuse as non-aboriginal women.

In 2009, about 15% of aboriginal women with a partner reported they had experienced spousal violence. Comparatively, the number is 6% for non-aboriginal women.

Instead of access to adequate, culturally sensitive healing opportunities, these women are met with barriers like overcrowding and limited access, and obviously these facilities have limited funds.

Clearly, we need a long-term commitment to women's shelters, so that women in abusive relationships can take control of their situations without fearing things like housing insecurity.

For aboriginal women living on reserve, this is all the more pressing, as shelters are often their only option to escape abusive relationships and receive the care they need.

With that in mind, I repeat my call for the government to commit to increasing core funding for on-reserve women's shelters.

Aboriginal AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.


Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to address the problem of violence against women and girls. To support family violence prevention programs and services on reserve, economic action plan 2013 is investing in the ongoing operation of the family violence prevention program on reserve.

Economic action plan 2013 commits $24 million over two years for the family violence prevention program, and these funds would allow the total annual funding level of the program to remain at $30.4 million for each of the next two years.

Investments contribute to enhanced safety and security of on-reserve residents, particularly—and importantly—women and children. We will continue to work with our partners to meet the needs of aboriginal women, their families and their communities.

Aboriginal AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted.

Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:42 p.m.)