House of Commons Hansard #195 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was consent.


Persons with DisabilitiesAdjournment Proceedings

8:55 p.m.

Brampton West Ontario


Kamal Khera LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, first and foremost, I want to thank my hon. colleague and good friend, not just for his question but for all the tireless, hard work that he does on behalf of all those affected by autism. I have a lot of respect for my colleague because of his advocacy for the most vulnerable in our communities.

Our government recognizes the complex challenges facing families affected by autism spectrum disorder, also known as ASD. This is why, federally, we are supporting a range of initiatives that are needed to make a difference for families, and that will increase inclusion and participation in society by Canadians with disabilities or functional limitations.

Several federal departments and agencies are advancing work on ASD, including the health portfolio, Employment and Social Development Canada, as well as other federally funded organizations that are focused on brain health and neurodevelopmental disorders.

The Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities has recently conducted Canada's largest ever national consultation on disability and accessibility issues in preparation to introduce federal accessibility legislation. Over 6,000 Canadians participated in this consultation, which ran from coast to coast to coast. The minister just released a report on what was learned from the rich input received. This legislation will ensure greater accessibility and opportunities for Canadians with both visible and invisible disabilities, including Canadians with autism, in their communities and workplaces.

Through this process, our government is embarking on a new era of leadership, collaboration, and co-operation in improving accessibility and increasing the social, economic, and civic participation of the 14% of Canadians with disabilities, including those with autism spectrum disorder.

As a registered nurse, I am fully aware of the costs of taking care of an individual with a severe disability. That is why our government continues to provide the child disability benefit, an annual amount of $2,730 per child eligible for the disability tax credit. This is in addition to the $2,300 average increase Canadian families now receive from the recently revamped Canada child benefit. Through Employment and Social Development Canada, we have also made a long-term investment of $7.5 billion for early learning and child care, for which families with ASD are eligible.

We have also heard from individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their families that supportive housing and employment are key issues of concern. That is why budget 2017 includes a commitment to invest $5 billion over 11 years in a new national housing fund that will prioritize support for vulnerable Canadians, including persons with mental health challenges and intellectual and physical disabilities.

In the area of employment, we know that people with disabilities, including those with autism spectrum disorder, face unique challenges in preparing for and entering the labour market. That is why we are investing $40 million through the opportunities fund for persons with disabilities, administered through Employment and Social Development Canada, to support their transition to the workforce.

These are examples of the practical and very tangible measures that we have in place to help families living with autism. Within the health portfolio, our government is also making investments in research and improving national data as foundational areas to support autism spectrum disorder. The Public Health Agency of Canada, working with provinces and territories, has established the national autism spectrum surveillance system, which is collecting and tracking reliable data on ASD prevalence and incidence, describing the epidemiology of ASD and comparing patterns domestically and internationally.

While there are no quick solutions when it comes to the challenges posed by ASD, our government is committed to working in collaboration with the autism spectrum disorder community to ensure that our initiatives support the needs of those affected by ASD. We believe, and are confident, that by working together across sectors and jurisdictions, we will continue to make progress.

Persons with DisabilitiesAdjournment Proceedings

9 p.m.


Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, like parliamentary secretaries before her on several days and like the Prime Minister, the hon. member talks a lot about initiatives that the former Conservative government put in place and an endless series of consultations and meetings in the future by the Liberal government, which will have zero impact on Canadians families that desperately need it right now.

I know the hon. member to be a compassionate person, and I know she was whipped to vote the way she did on May 30. Her colleagues were as well. Several of them assured me they would support the Canadian autism partnership and then voted against it down the road. “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” That is a quote from John F. Kennedy.

For Canadians watching, we live in a democracy and it is very important that Canadians make their voices heard right now. They should let their Liberal members know that this is critically important to them. For Liberal members and that Liberal member in particular, these are the moments that matter. Will she have the courage to go into the Liberal caucus meeting next Wednesday, tell her Liberal leadership to tell her colleagues they most clearly are on the wrong side of this issue and that she is not prepared to read the notes she is given any longer to defend this indefensible Liberal position on autism?

Persons with DisabilitiesAdjournment Proceedings

9:05 p.m.


Kamal Khera Liberal Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I have stated, we remain committed to ensuring our federal programs are aligned to meet the complex needs of people living with autism spectrum disorder and their families. Our investments in vocational training, research, and improving data are core to the federal role. I greatly admire the dedication of organizations that work tirelessly to provide important services and to raise awareness that leads to better understanding of disabilities like autism spectrum disorder.

We will continue to engage our partners in provinces, territories, and the autism spectrum disorder community on ways to increase the reach and impact of federal investments and make a difference for those affected with autism spectrum disorder.

Status of WomenAdjournment Proceedings

June 15th, 2017 / 9:05 p.m.


Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government owes Canadian women economic justice. Equal pay for work of equal value is a fundamental human right. However, today, women in Canada continue to be paid far less than men for work of equal value. To fix this injustice, in February 2016 I moved a motion in this House to create a special committee on pay equity to implement the recommendations of the 2004 pay equity task force. That was adopted by this House and by the government opposite. A year ago that committee on pay equity tabled a report called “It's Time to Act”. It called for pay equity legislation to be tabled in June 2017. That is now. I did not think that a year later the government would still not have legislated equal pay for work of equal value.

The effects on women are real. Since 2004, the gender wage gap has cost Canadian women $640 billion in lost wages. That is $640 billion that successive Canadian governments owe Canadian women because of Liberal and Conservative failures to act. Without pay equity, that amount is growing every day. On average, women working in Canada full time year-round make only 77% of what their male counterparts earn.

I will list many more ways that this impacts women. Women have to work 14 additional years to earn the same pay that a man earns by age 65. Women do not earn enough during their working years, so when they retire, disproportionately, senior women fall into poverty in Canada. Early childhood educators often do not earn enough, so they either leave the profession or else they have to rely on a spouse to supplement and support them. Women are expected to take time out of the workforce to care for children and seniors, because they earn a lower wage than their male partner. Women are forced to work insecure jobs because they do not have enough savings to wait for better work. The low minimum wage means that women often cannot get themselves out of poverty. Women who are indigenous, visible minorities, transgendered, or living with disabilities experience an even wider wage gap.

What is the government doing? It is delaying justice again for women for no good reason. Oxfam Canada told the status of women committee this year that there are no barriers to the government moving forward with pay equity legislation now.

The government could follow the good examples of provinces that have proactive pay equity legislation, like Ontario and Quebec. My aunt, Kim Malcolmson, a social justice activist and feminist, was one of Ontario's first pay equity workers when its commission was established in the early 1980s.

I will keep fighting, as many generations of women have before, so that women have equal pay for work of equal value, no matter where they live in Canada. The current government is what is holding that process up. Thirteen years have passed since the Liberal 2004 pay equity task force report. It was a comprehensive blueprint for pay equity. A three-year study, with 113 recommendations, it stands up very well in the House, which supported it again a year and a half ago.

Barb Byers, former secretary-treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress, testified at the special committee on pay equity. She said:

Let us also be mindful that women have been waiting for longer than 12 years. We've been waiting for decades and decades, and while we wait, the debt owed to those who are caught in the wage gap continues to mount. These are women with children to raise, women who deserve a dignified retirement....

Therefore, my question for the government is this. When exactly will it listen and introduce proactive pay equity legislation so that women will get the justice they deserve?

Status of WomenAdjournment Proceedings

9:10 p.m.

Cape Breton—Canso Nova Scotia


Rodger Cuzner LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment

Mr. Speaker, I know my NDP colleague is very committed to this issue. She asked, back on March 8, when the government intended to pass a law on pay equity and whether it was in the near future.

Our government is committed to a whole-of-government approach to providing opportunities for women in our country: more women in skilled trades, more women in work integrated learning opportunities. Science, technology, engineering, math, we are committed to providing support for women in those fields. Getting more women on boards, and young women and girls taking up coding. Those are the types of initiatives we are supporting across government to make sure that women and their contributions to society are recognized.

Specifically with pay equity, we are currently undertaking meaningful consultations with all stakeholders. As my colleague indicated, there are a number of provincial models. Quebec and Ontario both have pay equity models that we are discussing with them and trying to draw best practices from.

In the response when she asked the question in March, we said we would undertake consultations through the spring, and those consultations are taking place with PSAC, the CLC, and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. With these consultations, we are where we said we would be.

What we are seeing is the New Democrats scrambling to try to get ahead of progressive issues again because we know in the last election they had that big shift to the centre, and they were going to balance the budget. They went more Tory than the Tories, so all they can do now in the House is ask, “When is the government going to do it?”

They asked, “When is the government going to fix CPP?” We developed a supplemental CPP. They asked, “When is the government going to do something for women on the guaranteed income supplement?” We fixed it with an additional $1,000 a year for the most vulnerable seniors in our country. They asked, “When is the government going to do something about asbestos?” We banned asbestos.

They are scrambling, trying to get back on the progressive side of the political continuum in this country. This is another sign. It may change under new leadership, but all we have seen so far is a battered and bruised party trying its best to get on the best side of progressive issues. The NDP members get up and ask, “When is someone going to do something?” Our government is the someone. We are doing something, and we are going to deliver on pay equity for the women of this country.

Status of WomenAdjournment Proceedings

9:10 p.m.


Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government was ready in 2004 with a perfect model that had full consultation. Everyone was delighted. It did not happen. Pay equity was in the NDP federal election platform. It was not in the Liberal election platform, but I was very pleased when they agreed with our motion to say let us do this. They took it on. They promised they would.

The recommendation of the all-party committee, the consensus of all parties, was that legislation would be tabled in the House this month, right now. Not a single witness at the committee study that was done said anything other than to enact the 2004 model. They did not say the government needed to consult. They said to get it done.

There is no reason in the world for the government to be talking about asbestos or what was in or out of their election platform, or ours. Pay equity was in ours. I have asked a hundred times this year when they will act. When will we see the legislation that will get Canadian women equal pay for work of equal value?

Status of WomenAdjournment Proceedings

9:15 p.m.


Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, she asked a hundred times, “When will someone do something?” We are the someone and we are doing something. We are fixing this. Things have changed since 2004 in Canada. She might want to refresh those stats. She might want to refresh that data. I think Alexa McDonough might have been the leader of the NDP at the time.

We are consulting with experts in the field. We are consulting with the people on the ground who have dealt with this issue before. We do not want just any pay equity strategy. We want a pay equity strategy that is right for Canadian women. We will get it done.

Status of WomenAdjournment Proceedings

9:15 p.m.


The Deputy 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 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 9:16 p.m.)