House of Commons Hansard #68 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was refugees.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand to discuss Bill C-15 today, an act to amend certain provisions of the budget. Today, I would like to discuss two different issues. One thing I will be discussing is old age security and what I think we should be looking at. It is great to join in those kinds of conversations.

As I said, I will be discussing things that are important to Canadians, seniors and youth. I will begin with changes to old age security and eligibility being reversed from 67 back down to 65.

In March 2016, the Prime Minister made the announcement in the United States that the government was going to do this. When the Conservative government made the changes in 2012, it was taking a very complex issue and putting forward a very simple solution. The Prime Minister has now put forward a very simple solution to a very complex issue just by reversing it. These are considerations that we have to look at.

We see countries like the United States, Denmark, Spain, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and a variety of other countries in the industrialized world that have made these increases to age eligibility, and there are many factors in doing so. Last week, I joined the discussion in the House with the Minister of Finance about old age security and I was looking for answers. Unfortunately, I did not find them, so I am hoping that today I can find some of the answers as we go forward.

I want to point out some of the facts. When we talk about old age security, we have to look at why it came into existence and how it has moved along.

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time.

Back in the 1960s, when old age security was put forward, it was because the government saw that approximately 40% of seniors were living in poverty. At the time the change was made and the age went from 70 down to 65, there were approximately six workers for every one senior. Today, that ratio has changed to four workers for every senior, and in 20 years, there will be two workers for every senior receiving old age security.

To me or anybody who can do simple math, that is extremely problematic. In a simple pie chart, we can see that if half the group is working and the other half of the group is not working, who is going to be paying for the other half? We have to be aware of those things.

When I come to the House, I come with years of experience from working in a constituency office. Many people believe that they pay into and invest in old age security. We have to remind ourselves that old age security is derived from taxes for that year. It is not money that people put into it, like the Canada pension plan or RRSPs, or even pensions at work. Therefore, we must be aware of that when we are having these discussions.

If we look back to when the changes were made to old age security in the 1960s, the life expectancy for men was about 14 years above retirement age. In the 2011 to 2016 period, our life expectancy has grown. For males, it is 21 years above retirement age and for females, it is 25 years above retirement age. Just in those few decades, we see people living seven years longer and receiving old age security.

This is a big transition and we must recognize that there have been many changes since the 1960s, including the removal of mandatory retirement. If one person out of four is retired now, we must recognize that old age security is going to be drawn on very heavily and will be for a much longer of period of time if people are living longer. In 2011, old age security was an expense to the Government of Canada of approximately $38 billion. In 2030, it is going to be $108 billion.

Let us look at two workers per pensioner. I welcome any solutions. The Prime Minister indicated we went back to a simple solution, but just yesterday, the anti-poverty committee came up with some excellent solutions. Even Mr. Shillington, who appeared at the anti-poverty committee yesterday, indicated the proposal for a gradual shift for old age security eligibility to go up to 67, as proposed by the Conservatives, and to move the age of eligibility for GIS back down to 60. Those are things we are going to look at.

In talking about a very complex issue, let us not just take such an easy solution as the government has done, reduce the age back down to 65 and say we will be fine and then deal with it in 20 years.

Another thing I want to discuss when it comes to this is that many women are very unfortunate. Perhaps they are single or widowed, and I recognize that one in three senior women are living in poverty. That is why we need to look at this complex issue and not just have such a simple approach by reversing the decision.

We must consider that in the future this is truly going to be a greater deficit, with more and more spending, and those middle class families the government says it is going to help are going to be stuck footing the bill when we have not looked at any long-term solutions.

Therefore, I urge the government to look at solutions. We cannot just have short-term solutions. We need to have long-term solutions as well. Those are some of the concerns I have.

One of my biggest concerns is the deficit. We talk about the middle class. This middle class is going to have more deficit and more debt than we can even imagine with all the spending we have here.

I see you would like me to stop, Mr. Speaker.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member will have an additional three-and-a-half minutes for her comments when the House next returns to debate on the question.

It being 5:54 p.m., the House will proceed to the consideration of private member's business as listed on today's Order Paper.

The House resumed from May 4 consideration of the motion that Bill C-233, An Act respecting a national strategy for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

National Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dianne Lynn Watts Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House in support of Bill C-233.

The bill calls for the development and implementation of a national strategy for Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. We need to develop and implement concrete plans and actions to address the needs of those suffering from these diseases. As well, we need strategies to support those who care for family members and friends who are living with and struggling with these diseases.

It is a staggering number, with almost 750,000 Canadians living with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. Of that, 72% are women. Equally concerning is that 70% of the caregivers are also women. My mother was one of the 72% and I was one of the 70%.

I can personally say that my journey with my mother was an extremely difficult one, especially because she lived in Alberta and I lived in British Columbia. Initially, she refused to believe that she had Alzheimer's, but knew that something was wrong.

She like many others are often afraid to confront the disease. She found ways to mask the daily symptoms, wanting to give the impression to her loved ones that everything was okay. It became very problematic because my mother was a diabetic and she could not remember how much insulin she was giving herself or if she had taken any at all.

As the caregiver, trying to navigate the medical system in another province was simply a nightmare. I tried to get her transferred from Alberta to B.C., but I had no other choice, no other alternative, than to take her from her home and into the emergency department where I knew the hospital system would keep her safe. That was in the month of September. By November, she was placed in a facility, and by April she had died.

During that time, I flew to Alberta every few weeks to see her for a few days. However, during those times, I came to realize that there was no standardized care, nor a full understanding of Alzheimer's or dementia at staff levels.

When she fell and broke her collarbone, they waited two days to get her to the hospital for X-rays. The nurses and caregivers would ask her if she was in pain, and she would say no because she did not remember falling. She did not remember breaking her collarbone, so they gave her nothing. A broken collarbone and no pain medication.

I can list hundreds of times when they asked questions about her well-being and they took the answers to be the truth. The only problem was that she had Alzheimer's and did not know who these people were nor why they were asking her those questions. When I came to visit, she always wanted me to stay with her because she knew me and I was her sense of security and comfort.

I tell this story because of the many others across this country where loved ones are suffering with this terrible disease. We need a strong national strategy because of the 750,000 Canadians who are currently suffering, but also for those yet to come.

Early detection, research, collaboration, and partnerships remain key to early diagnosis and treatment, and to ultimately finding a cure.

Research is currently underway in my community between the Simon Fraser University and an incredible partnership with the Sagol Neuroscience Center at Sheba Medical Center in Israel to identify the correlation between diabetes and Alzheimer's. As this begins to be proven out, one can only imagine the impact of Alzheimer's and dementia on those suffering from diabetes.

We need to be ahead of the curve. We need to put measures in place to assist those who are potentially at risk. There is excellent research being done currently right across the country, but a national strategy will bring all of those pieces together to ensure a solid plan is in place.

I have walked down this road with my mother. I have seen and experienced significant gaps within the system. I have lost my mother to a terrible disease that many do not fully understand.

This is the first step of many more to follow, and I am proud to give my support to Bill C-233 today.

National Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Peschisolido Liberal Steveston—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I too am pleased to rise today to speak in support of Bill C-233, an act respecting a national strategy for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Just like the member of Parliament for South Surrey—White Rock, I was in a similar situation. I was not the caregiver, but my parents were the caregivers to my beloved grandma, my beloved nonna. As was eloquently, passionately, and poignantly pointed out by the member for South Surrey—White Rock, there are 750,000 people suffering from all types of dementia. As the proposed act properly states, it is Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. Our family's situation was a bit different from that of the member for South Surrey—White Rock. My parents were able to give everything up and basically they became the caregivers. I would try to get home as much as I could to see a bittersweet situation. I always referred to my grandmother as Nonna Me, because as a little boy I was unable to say her name, Domenica. I saw first-hand where my grandma became a child. My mother and father had the resources and the time to stay home. My aunts and uncles also had the time to take care of my nonna.

However, a lot of folks are not blessed. We have many situations throughout Canada of different family dynamics and situations from coast to coast to coast, and that is why I am very pleased to rise today in full support of Bill C-233.

I am also very pleased to note that this bill has bipartisan support. I listened to the eloquent and passionate presentation by my colleague from South Surrey—White Rock and also to the member of Parliament for Niagara Falls who put forth this piece of legislation; as well as to my colleague, the member of Parliament for Richmond Centre. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health also spoke eloquently as did the co-sponsor, the member of Parliament for Don Valley West and the member of Parliament for Vancouver Kingsway.

As well, I believe the member of Parliament for Abitibi—Témiscamingue spoke eloquently about not the exact bill but a similar bill put forth by the former NDP member of Parliament, Claude Gravelle, back in 2012. While not exactly the same approach, it was a similar bill to deal with a national strategy on dementia. We need a national strategy on dementia because Canada is big.

As others have done, I will talk about the elements of the bill. After 180 days, the Minister of Health would put forth a conference, bringing experts from all the provinces and territories, from all the stakeholders and people. There would be an advisory board of no more than 15 folks from different sectors of Canadian society who would advise. As well, every two years the minister would report to Parliament on the approach and the success of the national strategy.

There are big buzz phrases such best practices and evidence-based. Ultimately, what this means is that the Parliament of Canada would work with the provinces and also with the levels of government closer to the people: the municipalities, health boards, and universities.

Kwantlen College in my riding of Steveston—Richmond East is also doing research. Yes, we need a national strategy to deal with the folks who are suffering from a horrific disease. I saw that with my nonna, my grandmother. We also have to figure it out. Dementia or Alzheimer's should not be part of the natural process of aging. It does not have to be that way. It will be tough. It will require the investment and the research. I am not a scientist but it requires research with respect to how the brain works and how everything is connected.

This strategy would do that. It is the first step, but it is a very important step. I urge all members of the House to fully support the bill.

National Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, last month, I joined my community in Nanaimo on the walk for Alzheimer's where our community walked in support of Alzheimer's patients and their families.

The honoree this year was the late Dale Horn. She was born in 1933 in Australia and she came to Canada at the age of 24. She was such a strong part of Nanaimo's community boards and the life of its community spirit.

At this Alzheimer's walk a month ago, her son, John Horn, honoured her at the walk for all the hundreds of participants ready to get started, saying: “Dale was a fantastic companion, fully engaged, witty and keenly observant. She drew you in and made you feel lucky to be included in her world.” With “a steely resolve and genuine grit,” Dale was unfazed by her disease, said John. “When affected by Alzheimer's, she insisted on helping others with the disease. She retained a wicked sense of humour and immense grace, right up to the end of her life.”

This year's Nanaimo Alzheimer's walk raised $18,000. This is to promote critical research to reduce the effects of Alzheimer's, but also to provide services for those living with, or assisting with Alzheimer's. This is really to ease the personal circumstances that exist for the people suffering and for their families every day.

It is in that spirit that I am pleased to stand and speak today in favour of the bill at hand and to speak about Canada's responsibility to improve care for the hundreds of thousands of Canadians suffering from dementia, and to give better support to their families and caregivers.

Bill C-233, which calls for the development and implementation of a national and comprehensive strategy to improve health care delivered to persons suffering from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia is something we can and should all support. Canada has fallen behind other countries such as the United States, the U.K., Norway, France, the Netherlands, and Australia. All of these countries have coordinated national dementia plans in place already.

Past president of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Chris Simpson, spoke to this when he said:

We have the dubious distinction of being one of the few G8 countries without a national dementia strategy. Meanwhile, our acute care hospitals are overflowing with patients awaiting long term care placement and our long-term care facilities are understaffed, underspaced and underequipped to care for our most vulnerable seniors. This leaves patients and their families in limbo, struggling to fill these gaps in our system.

He also said:

The reason your father has to wait nine months for a hip replacement is that the beds are being used by dementia patients.... That is the single biggest reason why elective surgery wait times are so long.

Now, it was the NDP that first introduced a proposal to the House to create a national strategy for dementia. In 2012, former NDP MP Claude Gravelle introduced Bill C-356 in Parliament, prescribing a national dementia strategy. Unfortunately, that bill was defeated at second reading a year ago by a single vote. The bill was opposed by a majority of Conservative MPs, Bloc MPs, and, critically as it turned out, a single Liberal MP who failed to stand for the vote. I was watching it on CPAC. It was heartbreaking because it would have made a big difference in our communities.

Inexplicably, the member for Niagara Falls, the sponsor of the bill before the House today, voted against the national dementia strategy just a year ago. If the House had followed New Democrat leadership in the last Parliament, Canadians would have a national dementia strategy in place right now. Canadians would not have lost precious time, and that is something that is so precious to people suffering from a degenerative illness.

This has had real human impact. I have heard countless stories in my riding about the impacts of Alzheimer's disease and dementia on my constituents. Many cannot afford quality home care for their parents and it is especially shameful that the Liberals abandoned their election promise to invest $3 billion in home care.

I have heard stories from personal care workers, nurses, and physicians who report emergency wards overwhelmed with patients, long-term facilities that are understaffed, and long gruelling hours for caregivers. These are very often offering low-pay work in the homes of dementia patients.

These stories underscore the need for real leadership in this chamber. So many are affected. Three-quarters of a million Canadians were living with dementia in 2011. That is 15% of Canadian seniors. That might double by 2031. This costs our country $30 billion a year in medical bills and lost productivity. Left unchecked, that number could skyrocket to $300 billion within 25 years.

As Canada's population ages, we must prepare our health care system and our communities for the inevitable rise in the number of Canadians suffering from dementia.

To paraphrase Tommy Douglas, the father of medicare and a New Democrat, only through the practise of preventative medicine will we keep health care costs from becoming excessive.

The need is pressing. The burden for caring for patients with dementia and Alzheimer's falls primarily on family members. In Canada, family caregivers give millions of unpaid hours each year caring for their parents and family. That is $11 billion in lost income and a quarter million lost full-time equivalent employees from the workforce.

If nothing changes by 2040, it is estimated that family caregivers in Canada will be spending 1.2 billion unpaid hours per year providing care, and a quarter of family caregivers are seniors themselves.

Dementia also has a disproportionate impact on women. Women are two and a half times more likely to be providing care. Women themselves represent 62% of dementia cases and 70% of new Alzheimer's cases. That puts them at the epicentre of a growing health care crisis. Also, women are nearly twice as likely to succumb to dementia.

Another group of vulnerable patients are affected by another bill in the House, and that is the government's physician-assisted dying bill. We keep hearing arguments again and again that people with a dementia diagnosis should have a real choice over how their lives end. The federal government's legislation for assisted dying would not allow Canadians with a dementia diagnosis, while they were still of sound mind, to make an advance request for physician-assisted dying. This puts up an enormous barrier for thousands of Canadians with dementia or other degenerative illness.

Without the right to make advance requests for assisted dying, Canadians with a dementia diagnosis are faced with what the courts call a cruel choice between ending their lives prematurely or, potentially, suffering immeasurably and unbearably. This is completely unacceptable. To us it looks as if those who most need physician-assisted dying may inexplicably be excluded from it. We remain optimistic that amendments will be made to ameliorate that very serious flaw.

Let us go back to the national Alzheimer's strategy.

The New Democrats believe that the bill must be crafted correctly to ensure the best outcome for patients, their families, and their caregivers. While we support Bill C-233, it is less ambitious in its scope and implementation provisions than last year's New Democrat bill.

We will work constructively at committee stage to bring about meaningful and substantive amendments to strengthen the final version of the bill. Canadians deserve no less than the best national Alzheimer's strategy possible. The New Democrats have a long and proud history of advocating for federal leadership on health care issues.

In fact, as my colleague, the member forVancouver Kingsway likes to remind me, we invented it. The New Democrats stood alone in the House unanimously for a national dementia strategy in 2015. We stand in the House in 2016 and work so every Canadian, every Canadian family, every caregiver, can have a world-class dementia strategy, as the New Democrats have fought for in the last five years.

National Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a real honour to be here as official opposition critic for seniors and to speak to Bill C-233, the national strategy on Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.

I would like to begin by thanking, particularly, the member for Niagara Falls for introducing this important bill. The secret to the success of the bill moving forward is his non-partisan approach. This is not an NDP, Liberal government, nor an official opposition Conservative Party issue, it is a Canadian issue on which we need to work together as parliamentarians. It is moving forward because of his non-partisan approach and I congratulate the member for Niagara Falls. He is a well-respected member in this House.

Bill C-233 provides for the development and implementation of a national strategy for the health care of persons affected with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

Just to divert for a moment, my understanding of what my NDP colleague said was that people with dementia, with Alzheimer's disease, deserve to have assisted suicide. I hope that is not what she meant because people with dementia already feel bad and they may feel stigmatized.

They realize that their brain is getting a little fuzzy and they are forgetting. It is frustrating for them and maybe even a little bit embarrassing. We would not want them to think people expect them to take the obvious choice, and we heard that from Dying With Dignity, saying that it would be sensible for persons with dementia, lying in bed in the last years of their life with an adult diaper, to ask for assisted suicide.

That would not work in Canada. It is not dignified to expect people to leave this world because they are in a state of dementia. We need to show them dignity, show them love and support, and only in the most extreme cases should assisted suicide be considered.

When someone's pain is intolerable, irremediable, that is what the court said, and in extreme cases, but assisted suicide and euthanasia should not be considered the norm because it is a horrible loss when someone finds themselves in that situation. We should never put this on to people who are suffering with dementia through Alzheimer's disease or any other dementia disease.

As the seniors critic, I have met with the Alzheimer's Society and many other seniors organizations which are very supportive of this bill. Mimi Lowi-Young, the CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Canada had this to say about Bill C-233:

We’re thrilled that parties are working together so soon after the election to address the urgency of dementia. We all need to get behind this bill. We strongly believe that a national dementia strategy that focuses on research, prevention and improved care is the only solution to tackling the devastating impact of this disease. We’re ready to collaborate with our federal, provincial and territorial partners to make this a reality.

I am really thankful to her and the Alzheimer Society of Canada for supporting Bill C-233. According to the research done by the society, 83% of Canadians have said that they want a national dementia strategy.

I would like to give a brief summary on the issue of dementia. Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia are progressive, degenerative, and eventually fatal. They impair memory, judgment, and the ability to reason, think, and process information. Changes in personality and behaviour also result from dementia.

Currently, 747,000 Canadians have some form of dementia. This number is expected to nearly double to 1.4 million in my lifetime. Three out of four Canadians, 74%, know someone who is living with dementia. As Canada's population ages, the number of Canadians diagnosed with dementia is expected to double.

Research, collaboration, and partnership remain the key to finding a cure. Early diagnosis and support for treatment can lead to positive health outcomes for people with any form of dementia. Early diagnosis also has a positive impact on the family and friends providing care for their loved ones.

The Government of Canada, in consultation with the ministers responsible for the delivery of health care services in each province and territory, should encourage the development of a national strategy for the care of people living with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.

What is dementia? Dementia is a difficult disease, but it does not define the person who has it. People with dementia are people first. They can lead happy and vital lives for a long time, especially when the right care and support and understanding is in place. Timely diagnosis is very important. It opens the door to treatment and connects people with the disease and their families with helpful resources like the Alzheimer's Society.

While there is no guarantee, Canadians can reduce their risk of dementia by eating a healthy diet, doing more physical activity, learning and trying new things, staying socially active, quitting smoking, and watching their vitals.

While dementia is not a part of growing old, age is still the biggest risk factor. After age 65, the risk doubles every five years. Seniors represent the fastest growing segment of the Canadian population. Today, one in six Canadians is a senior. In thirteen very quick years, it will be one in four. That is a major demographic shift. Dementia also occurs in people in their forties and fifties, in their most productive years.

A good question that needs to be asked, and is asked, is this. What is the impact of dementia on families and the Canadian economy? For every person with dementia, two or more family members will be providing direct care. The progression of dementia varies from person to person. In some cases it can last up to 20 years. Because of its progression, caregivers will eventually provide 24/7 care.

In 2011, family caregivers spent 444 million hours providing care, representing $11 billion of lost income and about 230,000 full-time jobs. By 2040, caregivers will be providing 1.2 billion hours of care per year.

Dementia is a costly disease, draining approximately $33 billion per year from our economy. By 2040, it will be very close to $295 billion every year.

There is a need for a strategy that includes awareness and research.

It is commonly believed that dementia is a normal part of aging, but it is not. This kind of attitude means too many Canadians are diagnosed too late, and their caregivers seek help when they are in crisis mode. The causes of dementia are still not fully understood. Nor do we have a cure for dementia. Effective treatments are lacking and there is no proven prevention. Dementia can lie dormant in the brain for up to 25 years before the symptoms appear.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and accounts for over two-thirds of dementia cases in Canada.

What would Bill C-233 achieve? It would achieve a national strategy. The minister or delegated officials would work with representatives of the provinces and territories to develop and implement a comprehensive national strategy to address all aspects of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Within two years of passing the legislation, every year after that the minister must prepare a report on the effectiveness of the national strategy, setting out his or her conclusions. The national objectives need to be given priority. A report will be tabled in the House during the first days of the sitting after the report is complete.

A number of western countries have a national dementia strategy: the United States, Mexico, Argentina, Belgium, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Finland, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Japan, Israel, South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia. It is Canada's time to have a national strategy.

I again want to thank the member for Niagara Falls for bringing this forward. Together, if we work as a Parliament, we can pass the legislation quickly. It is needed in Canada.

National Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Cheryl Hardcastle NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-233, an act respecting a national strategy for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

The New Democrats believe that a national strategy for dementia is long overdue. In fact, one should already be in place, and would be, had the current sponsor of this bill, the member for Niagara Falls, and his party not voted down a similar yet more comprehensive NDP bill that was tabled in the previous Parliament.

Dementia disease is a progressive degenerative disorder that attacks nerve cells in the brain, resulting in loss of memory, thinking, language skills, and behavioural changes. The disease forms lesions in the brain cells of patients, causing nerve connections to sever and nerve cells to die.

Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, which is a general term used to describe a group of systems, such as loss of memory, language, motor skills, and other brain functions. Alzheimer's is not part of the normal process of aging, and currently has no cure.

The New Democrats ardently support the need for national leadership to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy across Canada to address Alzheimer's and other dementias. Our caucus unanimously supported former NDP MP Claude Gravelle's bill in May 2015 to create a national dementia strategy. Further, in election 2015, the NDP committed $40 million toward the implementation of a national Alzheimer's and dementia strategy.

Our party recognizes the crisis facing Canadian health care as our country's population ages, including the growing prevalence of dementia among the elderly. We believe immediate action must be taken to tackle these serious challenges on a comprehensive basis. Accordingly the New Democrats are concerned by the decision of the Liberal government to abandon its home care promise in budget 2016. By abandoning the necessary investments now, the Liberal government will only further exacerbate the costs and suffering down the line .

A national strategy for Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia must include mechanisms to ensure that staff have the necessary knowledge about the disease and the skills to deal with it. This means that people have to share information. The purpose of a national strategy is to share that information. People should not be working in isolation.

We have to find a way to ensure that everything we learn, everything that might be useful, such as best practices, is communicated to people struggling with the same problems. It is essential for people to have ways to talk to each other. The goal is not to step in for the provinces, but to ensure that communication channels remain open and people work together. Real collaboration needs to happen so people can share best practices. We have to ensure that nursing staff, doctors and other professionals, such as police and emergency responders, know and understand how to deal with dementia. They need to have the right skills and knowledge to work with people with dementia and provide them with quality care that is appropriate for their situation.

They are often forgotten, but the volunteers who work in this field need to be able to understand the reality of a person living with dementia. It is not always an easy thing to do. There are certain situations that are very difficult to go through on a daily basis, and it is hard to know how to intervene. The volunteers who work at these centres must have access to the knowledge and skills they need to properly understand the reality of the field they have chosen to work in.

As far as research is concerned, we have extraordinary Canadian researchers. However, we could also form international partnerships to further our knowledge. In my opinion, the quality of daily life for people with dementia is an essential area of research. Lately, a lot of research has been done on daily life, and we have learned how significant and deeply impactful this research can be.

In many places there has been a shift from a very medically-based approach to one focusing on the daily experience of dementia sufferers. The goal is for the transfer to long-term care to go as smoothly as possible. For that to happen, the person with dementia needs to be able to create reference points.

A lot of advances have been made because of these various approaches that focus on quality of life and ways of providing care and intervention. Not only is this helping those living with dementia to live much more happily, it is enabling families to be an integral part of the care process.

There is a lot to do. With the challenges this will present in the coming years, it is essential to share information in order for us to adopt an effective national strategy for dementia. According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, as we heard earlier tonight, the disease and other dementias now directly affect 747,000 Canadian patients, and this number is expected to double to 1.4 million by 2031. Current dementia-related costs, both medical and indirect lost earnings, of $33 billion per year are expected to soar to $293 billion by 2040.

Sadly, the burden of caring for patients with dementia and Alzheimer's falls primarily on family members. In Canada, family caregivers spend 444 million unpaid hours per year caring for dementia patients, representing $11 billion in lost income and 227,760 lost full-time equivalent employees in the workforce. Providing millions of hours of unpaid caregiving has forced people to cut back or leave work altogether, which harms them and our economy. I want to talk about that this afternoon.

I learned from the Canadian Medical Association that 15% of scarce acute care beds are occupied by people who could be placed elsewhere, and half of them are dementia patients. Beyond those statistics, I have learned the real face of the problem. The real face of dementia is not just older people. I learned that 15% of dementia patients are under 60 years of age. I learned that we have a health care crisis and a social and economic crisis that we must address.

This is therefore an issue that cries out for leadership from Ottawa, working with the provinces and territories, which of course, have primary jurisdiction duties for health care delivery. I want the leadership from Ottawa to tackle five main elements: early diagnosis and prevention; research; a continuum of care for people and families in the home, the community, and institutions; real help for caregivers; and training for the dementia workforce.

Alzheimer's disease puts enormous emotional stress on millions of families in Canada and costs our health care system billions of dollars every year. Delaying the onset of Alzheimer's by two years could save our health care system $219 billion over a 30-year period. A national strategy for dementia may be able to make an astounding difference in advancing research to work toward achieving this goal, which would diminish this enormous economic hardship and subsequently, and most importantly, improve the lives of those affected Canadians.

The challenge caregivers face needs to be discussed. Over the years, I have known people who have been forced to take a leave of absence without pay to take care of a loved one suffering from dementia, sometimes for several years. In such situations, money gets tighter as families try to keep their loved ones in their homes for as long as possible. They often have to draw on savings that were meant for their own later years.

Canada needs a national strategy for dementia that comes from Ottawa but one that respects provincial and territorial jurisdiction over health. One strategy tailored to the needs of each province or territory would be far better than 13 separate strategies implemented in isolation. We want a national strategy that goes beyond research to also help those now living with the disease, their caregivers, and the dementia workforce.

National Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias ActPrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Resuming debate.

Accordingly, I invite the hon. member for Niagara Falls for his right of reply. The hon. member has up to five minutes.

The hon. member for Niagara Falls.

National Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias ActPrivate Members' Business

June 8th, 2016 / 6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all members of the House who have contributed to this debate. I appreciate, in particular, my colleague from Don Valley West for supporting and seconding this piece of legislation. He has a great career, among other things, as a United Church minister. As a pastor, he was constantly challenged by the personal and social consequences of Alzheimer's and dementia.

One of the stories that he passed on to me was about one particular woman, Mae MacMillan, who was a vibrant, intelligent, committed, and compassionate woman. She was trained as a nurse and was ahead of her time in promoting women's rights. She loved strong and powerful women and she was one herself. However, dementia slowly crept up on Mae.

At first, she thought it was just part of the normal aging process, which I have heard before. She was slightly forgetful and misplacing objects, but as she moved on in age, she moved from being the object of affection to being the object of attention. Family, friends, and professional caregivers helped her to live with some independence for as long as possible. Sadly, this is a case of where the mind cannot remember, the heart never forgets. So many of us can relate to that sentiment.

When I introduced the bill, I told of my own family experience with this and one thing that has moved me over the last couple of months since introducing the bill is all the stories and experiences that people have shared with me. The members for Steveston—Richmond East and South Surrey—White Rock shared their encounters with this terrible disease, and all of us were moved by it.

In one sense, I was surprised, after introducing the bill, that so many people either contacted my office or sent emails and letters. People stopped me on the street, even when I was not in my hometown, to tell me about their experiences with these diseases.

The bill before us was very carefully drafted. When I showed it to my colleague, we were very concerned about ensuring that there was no restriction on provincial autonomy and that it was not framed in a way that would require a royal recommendation, which, as we know, would stop the legislation.

Again, I am pleased that so many colleagues have moved forward on this. I believe this is the right thing to do. I believe that we can make progress on these things. In all of our lives, we have seen the terrible consequences of diseases. There are cases where we know that changes can be made. I always remember, as a small child, what a terror polio was in this country. Then I remember hearing the news—I do not think I was any more than five—that a cure had been found for it. Every child in Niagara Falls went to the arena to get the vaccine.

I can appreciate that some diseases are very complex and it is not just a question of coming up with a special potion, but as my colleagues have said, there are so many different parts of this in terms of care, diagnosis, support, and working together. I firmly believe that supporting the legislation is the right thing to do, and again, I am deeply appreciative of all those who have indicated that they support it.

National Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

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

National Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

National Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Health.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

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

Agriculture and Agri-FoodAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, near the end of March, I asked the government to explain its broken campaign promises to Canadian farmers.

I appreciate the hon. Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food's answer and understand that he is excited about the government's efforts to increase the accessibility of broadband Internet in rural regions, something that would be of great benefit to my riding of Essex. However, I remain concerned, because the issues I raised went unaddressed and this directly impacts the livelihoods of family farms in Essex and across Canada.

I asked the minister why the budget slashed agricultural research funding, cut the new CFIA investments, and dropped any mention of the promise of a value-added investment fund. These issues are important to family farms.

While the government's commitment to broadband Internet is appreciated, it falls far short of the support that farmers have asked for. Farmers in Essex and across Canada deserve better. New programs, like the value-added investment fund or increased investment in agricultural research, are the types of initiatives that would have been welcomed. These initiatives would increase the opportunities available in Canada's agriculture sector.

Instead, the value-added fund was completely excluded, and overall investments were shortchanged by $130 million over two years. The government must do more to support family farms. How does the government expect our farmers, some of Canada's most valued small business owners, to be able to innovate and thrive in today's globalized marketplace when they cannot count on their federal government to follow through on simple commitments?

One step that the government must take is to support Canadian farmers by implementing a PACA-like program here in Canada.

Earlier this year, I tabled a motion calling on the government to take action to implement a payment protection system by the end of the year. Canadian produce farmers have already lost their preferential status in the U.S., and now face serious financial risk when trying to collect outstanding payment for their perishable products.

The government's inaction is hurting the ability of family farms to trade with our largest trading partner. These families deserve action. This was also a promise that was made during the election to farmers, and many of the members opposite shared this information throughout the campaign. It is something the government needs to follow through on.

Canadian farmers also deserve more information on another issue that may seriously impact their livelihoods. The previous Conservative government promised $4.3 billion in compensation to egg, poultry, and dairy farmers for losses that will be inflicted by CETA and potentially the TPP. Now, the Liberals refuse to guarantee this compensation and made no mention of it in their March budget. How does the government expect Canadian farmers to prepare for the future under this cloud of uncertainty?

Last week more than 3,000 dairy farmers came to Parliament Hill to protest the government's inaction on diafiltered milk. The government promised a solution for dairy farmers, just like they promised a solution for produce farmers. However, in both cases, time ticks on while the solutions are staring us in the face.

Meanwhile, farmers are losing money, and they are fed up. When it comes to compensating farmers for CETA, implementing a PACA-Iike system, and stopping the import of diafiltered milk, when will the minister finally start delivering the change his government promised?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard—Verdun Québec

Liberal

David Lametti LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, on March 24, the member raised a question regarding agriculture in our budget as well as issues associated with CETA.

Our government strongly recognizes the contribution Canadian farmers and food processors make to the well-being of Canadians and to the economy. They are the foundation of Canada's agricultural sector, which delivers over $100 billion to Canada's economy, or close to 7% of the country's GDP, and one in eight jobs.

We are proud that budget 2016 includes investments in innovation and science infrastructure that will help farmers to create jobs and growth.

Our budget includes $30 million over six years to support agricultural research in genomics to help deal with on-farm risks of pests and diseases. Over $40 million, or $41.5 million to be exact, will support the modernization of a number of research centres across Canada.

Budget 2016 also reiterates our government's commitment to increasing trade, which creates more jobs, growth, and prosperity for all Canadians.

The budget states Canada's commitment to swiftly ratify the Canada-EU comprehensive economic and trade agreement, CETA, and to continue to consult Canadians in an open and transparent manner on the trans-Pacific partnership. We are working with industry to ensure it continues to thrive and benefit from these agreements.

As we committed to in early May, our government has held many consultations with the Canadian dairy sector over the last few weeks to discuss mitigation and transition measures for CETA, among other important issues facing the dairy industry. We have announced that we will be moving forward with a plan to help this important Canadian industry adjust to market access concessions, and we will be using the very productive and co-operative consultations over the past month to inform our decisions on this matter.

The member raised questions as well about investments in agriculture in budget 2016. Therefore, I would like to point out some other budget highlights for the agriculture sector, which include over $1 billion to support clean technologies, including in the agriculture sector; a $500 million investment to extend high speed Internet to hundreds of rural and remote communities across Canada, again touching on farmers; and a $38.5 million investment in the CFIA to further strengthen Canada's food safety system.

These important investments follow years of Conservative cuts to Agriculture Canada, which totalled $700 million.

Our government has underscored its commitment to farmers, to food processors, and indeed to the entire agricultural sector through the investments announced in budget 2016. We are committed to working together with our agricultural stakeholders from coast to coast to coast, making Canadian agricultural safer, stronger, and more innovative.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the work of the parliamentary secretary and his effort on this file. However, strongly recognizing farmers is not enough. This is not enough for our agricultural sector.

At the trade committee, supply-managed farmer after farmer sat before us. They were left wondering where they stood on the promised compensation. Saying that they are moving forward is a positive step, but until we see that compensation, we know these farmers will lose big. This is why we see farmers protest out on the street, like we did last week.

The time for consultations is well past. The Liberals know what is needed. The farmers know what is needed. The government knows what is needed. When it comes to the issue of diafiltered milk, there is a simple solution, and it is time for action. It is past the time for discussion.

Unfortunately, the government did not support the opposition motion that we brought forward on this issue. Therefore, we see farmers once again coming to Parliament Hill in a huge demonstration. They need action now because they are losing money on a daily basis.

This threatens the very health of our family farms and the ability for them to move forward, generation after generation, supplying us all with safe, quality food in Canada.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Liberal

David Lametti Liberal LaSalle—Émard—Verdun, QC

Mr. Speaker, as I said, investments through budget 2016 will support the agricultural sector in a way that allows it to be a leader in job creation and innovation. These investments reflect what matters for Canada's hard-working farmers and food processors, and keeping Canadian agriculture on the cutting edge.

We are working together with our dairy industry to address issues such as the appropriate mitigation package to help the industry adjust to market access concessions for CETA. We have also committed to meeting with our supply-managed industries if and when we choose to ratify the TPP, a decision that this government has not taken yet and in which we are still consulting.

Our government is seizing opportunities to make Canada's agriculture and agrifood sector safer, stronger, and more innovative.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rose in the House in April to draw attention to government-sponsored Syrian refugees in Saskatoon. We learned that the government-sponsored refugees had not received their monthly funding for April. In fact, many families received their monthly assistance nearly three weeks late.

In the Lower Mainland, there have been situations where the IRCC officials have not even shown up for their appointments with the Syrian refugees. This has put significant strain on the refugee families and the community organizations working with them.

At least one family was close to eviction until the Saskatoon Open Door Society stepped in to buy more time. Were it not for the dedicated and hard-working folks at the Saskatoon Open Door Society, these families would have been evicted. When I questioned the minister about this, or when I brought to his attention the issue that many Syrian refugees are stuck in hotels for weeks on end, he referred to these situations as “hiccups”. It is not a hiccup for the families impacted.

We should put ourselves in their shoes for just a minute. They almost lost their homes, homes that were difficult to find and secure because of the lack of affordable housing in the market. They did not have the resources to buy food for their children. Families were frustrated, worried, and embarrassed as they were made to feel like they had to beg for funding.

I would like to know this. How long is the overall average wait for the late funding? How frequently is this happening? How many families have received their assistance late? What assurances can the minister give to ensure that this does not happen to any other family?

I had the privilege of meeting Amer Alhendawi and his family in B.C. Just last week, he was able to appear at the citizenship and immigration committee to share his story. He and his family came to Canada as refugees from Syria. His family arrived prior to the Liberal government's waiving of refugee travel loans.

The family arrived, and there were no winter coats given to them from the Prime Minister in front of the media. Do not get me wrong. They were very grateful to be Canada. However, unlike the government-assisted Syrian refugees who arrived after November 4, the family is starting out indebted. The Alhendawi family owes the federal government over $7,000 for their transportation loan. Each month, the family receives a hefty bill of over $600 from the government demanding payment. Despite the family's best efforts, the loan is already in arrears. After the monthly loan repayment and the high cost of housing, this family of seven has merely $200 to live on. They have to resort to the food bank on a regular basis.

Waiving the transportation loan for only some Syrian refugees is bad public policy. It makes a clear statement that in Canada, there are different classes of refugees. How is this acceptable? The Prime Minister called the former Conservative government out by saying that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian. I wholeheartedly agree, yet under this Prime Minister's policies, we now have different classes of refugees. Such policies are saying that some refugees deserve support more than others. How is that better than the previous government's unjust policies of creating different classes of Canadians?

When this unjust policy is questioned, the minister is on the record as saying that he is reviewing the issue. It has been months since this inequitable policy has been in place and pointed out to him, but still there is no action. Just what will it take for the government to act, and when will the government act to ensure that all refugees are treated the same way and offered the same opportunities to succeed?

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Arif Virani LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend, the member for Vancouver East, for her work on this issue, for her advocacy on behalf of her constituents, and for her advocacy in terms of immigration policy; specifically, making Canada a more welcoming and better place for resettlement of refugees, not just the Syrian refugees.

In terms of responding directly to some of the comments the member opposite has raised, such as the issue about wait times, about getting money delivered to individuals who are here, I cannot provide her details on specific cases. However, what I can endeavour to do is work with her going forward to find out about average wait times, in terms of delivering those much-needed income supports. The income supports are very critical, and any delays in receiving those income supports do not serve the individuals, they do not serve the government's policies and programs, and they do not serve in terms of propagating or perpetuating Canadian values.

She raised the case of an individual who appeared before the committee. I would raise a few points in response to my friend's comments.

There is, obviously, a difference between the policies that were enacted by this government versus the ones of the previous government. The individual in question arrived here during the time the previous government was in power. Obviously, it had different policies, policies that we do not believe in and have not chosen to replicate.

Yes, travel was not covered at the time the previous government was in power. Also, clothing was not provided at ports of entry, such as the Pearson airport or the airport in Montreal. Those are changes, and they are good changes.

There is a reference, my friend acknowledged, to looking at some of the policies going forward. Are we keen on revisiting the travel loan program, potentially ways to make it more fair and more equitable? Absolutely we are. What we are looking at are things such waiving the interest requirements, loan forgiveness, or loan renegotiation.

This issue about differentiating between refugees from different parts of the world is a difficult subject. I am always candid with the opposition critic, and I will be candid here. Difficult decisions are being made by government, in terms of immigration policy and in terms of many policies, but the decision was informed by the single fact the Syrian crisis is the single largest humanitarian crisis on the planet right now. We have heard this before but it bears repeating. It has resulted in the largest number of displaced people, both internally and externally, in the world, and those levels have not been seen since World War II. That is specifically why we made a decision about this refugee population.

Can more be done? Absolutely, more can be done.

Are we willing to entertain some of the issues being raised by the member for Vancouver East? Of course, we are. We are an open and consultative government.

However, we also know and are buoyed by the fact that the steps we are taking are being recognized not just here in this country, but also around the world.

Yes, there have been challenges, and we have acknowledged those changes. However, there have also been significant success stories, not only in terms of the settlement of Syrian refugees in this country but also in terms of the overall targets of 44,000 individuals coming in on humanitarian grounds just this year. That has been recognized by the UNHCR. It has been recognized by people in communities throughout this country, including in my own community, where we get school kids writing welcome cards for refugees and asking us to deliver them within our communities.

Do we feel strongly that we are on the right path to sorting out Canada's commitment on the refugee file? Absolutely, we are confident about it.

Can we use the opposition's help in perfecting this process? Absolutely, and I encourage that support going forward and I encourage that co-operation going forward.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, on the transportation loan question, there is nothing that would bar the government from retroactively waiving the transportation loan for those who arrived prior to November 4. Absolutely, the government can act on that, and it is much needed, by the way.

The government has made ambitious promises around the commitment to address the Syrian refugee crisis. However, I must say that once they have arrived here in Canada, Syrian refugee families are struggling to survive and to rebuild their lives in Canada. The truth is that the income assistance rate is woefully inadequate. This is especially the case for those who arrived prior to the travel loans and medical costs being waived.

Refugee families are turning to food banks on a regular basis to make ends meet.

By the government's own admission the IRCC estimates that a family of four would receive roughly $1,349 per month in Vancouver. According to CMHC, the average rent for a two-bedroom “purpose-built rental” in Vancouver, in 2015, was $1,360 a month. That means, without covering food, utilities, or any other incidentals, the average Syrian refugee family is already in the red by $11.

This is the case for all people on income assistance. There is no question that this needs to change.

It is time for a national poverty reduction strategy.

I am calling on the government, the minister, to convene a provincial and territorial discussion with his counterparts to develop an anti-poverty strategy.

The time has come for Canada to eradicate poverty in this country.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.

Liberal

Arif Virani Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Vancouver East for her comments. There have been significant success stories in terms of some of the resettlement efforts, albeit that there are some continuing challenges that we are seeking to meet. For example, at the time my hon. colleague asked her question, approximately 90% of Syrian newcomers had been permanently housed. That figure is now at 99% and it is 100% in the city from which my friend hails and the constituents she represents.

However, in terms of addressing the income support, it is a very important issue that deals with challenging housing markets, such as in Toronto and Vancouver, and trying to see how much money is left over for addressing basic needs apart from housing.

I wish to inform the House that the minister has recently increased the maximum level of support from $25,000 to $50,000 per resettled refugee family. That is an increase for all government-assisted refugee families, not only Syrian families, if a family composition and circumstances warrant it. Therefore, there is an effort being made to ensure that income support will continue to align with social assistance rates, so that the amount allocated per individual will not change.

These are positive developments in terms of trying to address what is a dynamic process in terms of resettlement efforts, and trying to calibrate the funding necessary to ensure the success of this effort. Will it continue? I am confident that it will, but with the help of the opposition.

JusticeAdjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, on April 13, I asked the Minister of Justice a question related to the fact that, on the one hand, she has found a lot of time to attend pay-to-play fundraisers on behalf of the Liberal Party, but has not seen fit to find the time to fulfill a core responsibility as Minister of Justice; namely, to appoint desperately needed judges.

The Minister of Justice has a duty not only to at all times be independent but to also at all times be seen to be independent. The Minister of Justice compromised the perception of her independence by attending a fundraiser at a law firm with extensive dealings with the federal government on legal matters which were targeted to a select group of lawyers and lobbyists, and which was advertised as an opportunity for attendees to engage with the minister on matters that pertain directly to the minister's responsibilities. Pay-to-play is what the fundraiser was all about. One pays money to the Liberal Party in return for access to the Minister of Justice.

It even gets worse because a senior partner at the law firm that hosted the pay-to-play fundraiser, namely Torys LLP, happens to be a registered lobbyist who until the eve of the fundraiser was registered to lobby, guess who, the Minister of Justice.

The Minister of Justice not only compromised the perception of her independence in attending the pay-to-play fundraiser but also violated the Prime Minister's ethics code by which the minister and all ministers of the government are bound.

While the Minister of Justice found plenty of time to attend a pay-to-play fundraiser and found plenty of time to compromise her independence as the Minister of Justice, after seven months in office the Minister of Justice has not seen fit and has not found the time to appoint a single judge. There are some 46 to 50 judicial vacancies and the minister has not found the time to appoint a single judge.

The minister is creating a crisis because of her own inaction. Serious criminal cases are being thrown out of court because of delays due to the backlog that this minister has created.

To recap my question of April 13, when will the Minister of Justice stop attending pay-to-play fundraisers, return the pay-to-play cash, and begin appointing desperately needed judges?

JusticeAdjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, like everyone else, I was there when the member asked the question to the Minister of Justice. I must say I was somewhat disappointed that the Conservative Party, through this particular member, has decided to try to create something that is just not there. At the end of the day, there was nothing that took place with that particular event that was inappropriate or improper. All one has to do is consult the Conflict of Interest Act or go to the commissioner. The commissioner has told us that the minister was quite right to be there. There was nothing wrong.

It is important to recognize that in November, as part of the Prime Minister's commitment to accountability and transparency, he issued “Open and Accountable Government”, a guide for the conduct of his ministry. It includes core principles regarding the roles and responsibilities of ministers in Canada's system of responsible parliamentary government. As well, it includes expectations for personal conduct of office-holders, which includes compliance with statutory obligations under the Conflict of Interest Act and the Lobbying Act, with the ethical guidelines set out in annex A of the guide and with the guidelines on fundraising set out in annex B.

This was a prime ministerial initiative, very transparent, and accountable. It reminds me of when we were sitting as the third party and our leader, who is the Prime Minister today, took the bold initiative to talk about proactive disclosure for all members of the House. We tried to get it passed through unanimous consent, and both the Conservatives and the New Democrats opposed it.

That was just a couple of years ago. Not wanting to settle for that, we ultimately took that step alone. We are the ones who made the proactive disclosure. In fairness to the Conservatives, it took them a couple of months before they finally came on side. Then, a number of months later, we had the New Democrats come on side. However, let there be no doubt, in terms of transparency and accountability, the leader of the Liberal Party, even back then, started to set the stage. What we saw in November is a very proactive approach on transparency and accountability.

We take conflict of interest and ethics issues seriously. The ministers' individual and collective responsibilities are an essential principle guiding the role of cabinet government in Canada, and it is at the core of the standard for ministerial behaviour.

To the issue of judges, we recognize the importance of making appointments to the judiciary across the country and doing that is based on merit and diversity. We are entering into a comprehensive process to do just that. We recognize that there are a number of positions that need to be filled in the very immediate future. We are undertaking a quick process to do just that. We are committed to ensuring that we will make substantive and thoughtful appointments to the judiciary. Our government will ensure and is committed to engaging with the different stakeholders, including the judiciary, on these appointments.

JusticeAdjournment Proceedings

7:10 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, in response to the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader, the issue is not whether the Minister of Justice contravened the Conflict of Interest Act. No one is suggesting that. The fact is, the Minister of Justice is bound by a higher standard than the Conflict of Interest Act. The fact that the minister is obeying the law, not breaking it, should be a given for a minister of justice.

The issue is the fact that the minister has contravened, in black and white terms, the Prime Minister's own ethics code. The Prime Minister's ethics code in black and white terms expressly states that a minister shall not solicit funds from department stakeholders or lobbyists. The minister clearly did that when she attended the pay-to-play fundraiser at Torys LLP, and therefore, compromised her independence and breached the Prime Minister's ethics code.

With respect to judges, with all due respect to the parliamentary secretary, I found it alarming, but also telling, that he would say that the minister has just started a process. It is seven months in. It is time for the Minister of Justice to stop talking and start appointing.