House of Commons Hansard #258 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was report.

Topics

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

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

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

All those opposed will please say nay.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, February 7, 2018, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

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

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Madam Speaker, last fall Canadians with type 1 diabetes spoke out about suddenly being denied the disability tax credit. While the government insisted that there had been no change to the policy, it soon became clear that a CRA memo last May had in fact changed the way applications were reviewed and approved. I was pleased to hear in December that CRA has recognized its mistake and returned to the previous clarification memo, but I am disappointed that Canadians already suffering from type 1 diabetes had to fight for a benefit that they are entitled to.

When I speak to Canadians living with type 1 diabetes, it is clear that they cannot really quantify the number of hours they spend on life-sustaining therapy. It is a 24-7 job to stay healthy when one has this unavoidable, chronic autoimmune disorder. According to Diabetes Canada, the cost of managing type 1 diabetes is an average of $15,000 per year. Without the disability tax credit, some may be unable to afford proper treatment of their condition.

Unfortunately, this clampdown on eligibility for the disability tax credit is affecting not only those with type 1 diabetes, but also those with mental disabilities. The Financial Post reported that many who suffer from mental health issues, such as autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia, and who were previously eligible for the credit have been cut off in the last two years.

It is important that we as a society take mental health seriously, and I am very troubled to hear that CRA is making it more difficult for these Canadians to get the support they need. Even more worrisome is that this seems to be just the tip of the iceberg. A recent report by the University of Calgary's school of public policy reports that only 40% of the 1.8 million Canadians who live with qualifying disabilities actually use the disability tax credit. The report goes on to discuss the unclear eligibility rules and the burdensome application process, which are likely to blame.

If the disability tax credit exists to help Canadians living with severe disabilities, its application process should not put an additional burden on them. When will this government stand up for Canadians living with disabilities and make sure that they get the benefits they so justly deserve?

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Brampton West Ontario

Liberal

Kamal Khera LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to clarify the information shared in this House on this very sensitive matter. Our government has made absolutely clear in this House that we are committed to ensuring that Canadians receive the credits and benefits to which they are entitled.

Canada is at its best, and all of society benefits, when everyone is included. That is why our government is committed to ensuring greater accessibility and opportunities for Canadians with disabilities in their communities and workplaces. These are not just idle words. These words have meaning to our government, and we are delivering on them.

Over 6,000 Canadians participated in the national consultation to inform the development for the new federal accessibility legislation. These findings will inform the development of the planned legislation, which we are hoping to table this spring. In 2016, the minister of health announced five new SPOR chronic disease networks, led by CIHR. Through two of these networks, funding is supporting a continuum of research that engages patients as partners to improving diabetes and kidney disease outcomes. CIHR is investing $12.5 million over six years in each of these networks. That is being matched by partners such as the CDA. These networks involve leading health researchers across Canada.

We will continue to take steps to make the disability tax credit more accessible for eligible Canadians. As was announced in budget 2017, our government has made it easier for Canadians to apply for the disability tax credit by allowing nurse practitioners to certify the medical information and effects of the impairment on the application form. Nurse practitioners are often the first and most frequent point of contact between patients and Canada's health care system. As a registered nurse, I know how much this change will help make the process more accessible.

On November 23, the Minister of National Revenue also announced the reinstatement of the disability advisory committee. This important committee was abolished by the previous Conservative government, the same Conservatives who are now somehow surprised about the impact of removing experts from the consultation process.

The Minister of National Revenue has asked the committee to make recommendations and to provide the agency advice in the following three areas: number one, informing people with disabilities and the various organizations that support them about tax measures and administrative changes; number two, improving the quality of the services that the CRA can provide to persons with disabilities; and number three, increasing awareness and understanding of the tax measures in place for people with disabilities.

We look forward to the committee's recommendations on how to improve the agency's services to Canadians with disabilities. I want to thank my hon. colleague for giving me the opportunity to clarify this information.

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Madam Speaker, Canadians with disabilities, both physical and mental, need our support. I want to take this opportunity to raise my concern over the fact that eligibility for the disability tax credit is a requirement for other disability benefits, like the registered disability savings plan and the child disability benefit.

When someone is turned down for the tax credit, it means that they also lose these other benefits. The Liberal government should focus on making sure that Canadians get the benefits they are eligible for instead of on their misguided small business tax changes. The process for application and approval clearly needs to be simplified. What is the point of creating a benefit when the application process is so complicated and burdensome that the majority of qualified Canadians cannot make use of it?

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kamal Khera Liberal Brampton West, ON

Madam Speaker, again, I am extremely proud of our government's commitment to supporting persons with disabilities. Improving access to the DTC is part of our overall approach to improving health care and quality of life for all Canadians. From the beginning, we have been proactive on this matter. We have reinstated the disability advisory committee to provide a way for stakeholders and experts to provide recommendations to the CRA on how to improve the administration of the DTC. We have also asked the CRA to simplify the application forms, improve the data collection process, and publicly release the data pertaining to the DTC.

As we have stated time and again, we are fully committed to ensuring that all Canadians who are eligible for the benefits receive them.

Indigenous AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, back on October 18, I stood in this place and shared the tragic story of Jennifer Catcheway, whose parents have every reason to feel betrayed by the Prime Minister and his government.

Their beautiful 18-year-old daughter had been taken from them on her birthday in 2008. She had called her mother to say that she was on her way back to her family home in Portage La Prairie and was never seen again. Nine years later, police determined it was a homicide, but no one has been arrested and her body has never been brought home for her family to bury.

After years of waiting to tell their story, they were afforded just a couple of minutes at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. This is obviously a massive offence.

The list of failures by the national inquiry is extensive, yet the Prime Minister continues to ignore the red flags or fix the process. Is this really the inquiry that he envisioned during the campaign?

The goals of this inquiry are incredibly important to bring answers and some measure of closure and peace to the victims' families and to provide a path forward for improving the lives of first nations, Métis, and Inuit women and girls, regardless of whether they live in urban centres or remote communities.

The national inquiry itself is in shambles. After just four months on the job, the second executive director has quit, adding to the list of more than 20 staff members who have resigned or been fired from the inquiry since it began. This includes commissioner Marilyn Poitras, who told the CBC that the inquiry was going down the same path as so many previous inquiries and would not provide anything new to fix these issues.

Then, in December, the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly passed a resolution calling on the Prime Minister to replace the remaining commissioners and reset the inquiry. Regional chiefs, like Kevin Hart, told the Prime Minister to address the situation right away. Francyne Joe, president of the Native Women's Association, told APTN, “We need someone to take ownership of this national inquiry.” The response by the Prime Minister is to sit on his hands and do nothing. There is nothing to see here.

The Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs said that her government would not interfere, that it was arm's length. They are responsible for this inquiry.

Not a week goes by without the media publishing yet another failure by this inquiry. Indigenous leaders are demanding the Prime Minister follow through on his lofty words and take personal action. This was a key campaign promise of the Prime Minister. If it does not succeed in the goal of bringing both peace to families and a path forward, then it is on him and the minister. He must address these red flags and failures as a concern and ensure that the government does everything it can to get it back on track, including the PMO, the Privy Council, and the department.

Canadians are asking this. Will the Prime Minister listen to the advocates, chiefs, and families of victims and get this inquiry back on track?

Indigenous AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

February 6th, 2018 / 6:35 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

Terry Duguid LiberalParliamentary Secretary for Status of Women

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to answer the question from my hon. colleague and I would like to acknowledge that I do so on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.

Our government is committed to ending the ongoing national tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. We thank the independent commission for its interim report and the government is preparing our response to its preliminary recommendations. The independent commission's mandate is clear. Families must be at the centre of its work and it is committed to finding culturally sensitive and trauma-informed ways to ensure this.

The commissioners stated in their interim report that they are striving to make stronger connections with families, survivors, and women's and indigenous organizations who are their key partners on the front line. Many survivors and family members have said that they need to have answers and they want this inquiry to continue. Some families have been waiting decades for answers and we will ensure that families get the answers they are looking for.

The terms of reference authorize the commission to enquire into the circumstances of individual cases in order to identify systemic issues at play, be it institutional issues or otherwise. The mandate has always been clear that the commission can re-examine any case file it requests and can compel police forces to provide those files if they do not do so voluntarily.

The commission can refer any cases it chooses to be reopened. The commission is also authorized to examine and report on the root causes of all forms of violence that indigenous women and girls experience and their greater vulnerability to that violence. It is looking for patterns and underlying factors that explain why the higher levels of violence occur. This includes and has always included looking at issues around policing.

Our government is also committed to ensuring the commission has all the support it needs to succeed. We take seriously the concerns raised by the commission about administrative support provided by the government, and a working group has been created and is meeting regularly to provide effective back-office support to the commission to ensure it is able to do its work effectively.

We are also taking immediate action with investments in women's shelters, housing, education, reform of child welfare, and safety on the Highway of Tears.

In closing, we know that we need to bring healing for the families, justice for the victims, and to put an end to this national tragedy once and for all.

Indigenous AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, no one is saying that this inquiry should not continue. It now has support of all parties in the House and was a key election promise by the government. We are saying it is time for the Liberals to listen to the red flags, and respond to those red flags and the very important voices of groups such as the AFN and the Native Women's Association of Canada.

I would like to know why, in spite of the fact that there are two ministers and two parliamentary secretaries who are responsible for the indigenous file, tonight as I ask this important question again, they are not here to answer those questions.

With all respect, it is time for the minister who was part of the establishment of the inquiry to listen to these flags and to take action.

Indigenous AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I want to remind the member that she is not allowed to mention who is and who is not in the House.

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary for Status of Women.

Indigenous AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

Terry Duguid Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Madam Speaker, again, the Government of Canada is actively working to stop the racialized and sexualized violence experienced by indigenous women and girls in this country.

As the Prime Minister said in the House on October 4, we continue to be committed to doing everything we can to work with indigenous communities, to protect our sisters, our daughters, our cousins, our nieces, our aunts, and our grandmothers. This must be done, but this must be done right for the survivors and families, to honour the spirits and memories of those we have lost and to protect future generations.

Status of WomenAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to stand here tonight. The Canadian Federation of Students is on the Hill today, and I thank its members for their work on ringing the alarm on sexual violence on campus.

We are talking about the federal failure to lead on preventing campus rape. One in five women will experience sexual violence while studying at a post-secondary institution. Young women in Canada face, and we heard this at the status of women committee, a fragmented patchwork of, and often inaccessible, services across the country. In some cases there are non-existent policies in schools and workplaces.

We heard especially why this is a national issue. A woman whose big sister goes to UBC may learn one sort of framework for supporting sexual safety on campus but also the reporting system and the justice system that might accommodate her if it happens, as it so often does, when the woman is most vulnerable, which is her first few weeks away from home. During their first few weeks on campus women are particularly vulnerable to campus rape and sexual assault. That young woman may well go to school at Dalhousie in Nova Scotia on the other side of the country without any family support, and may find a completely different framework, both to prevent assault and then to respond to it both from a health care and a justice system point of view.

That is why it is so important for the federal government to step in, use its good words around feminism and preventing and acting to prevent violence against women, and take that leadership role to coordinate campus and post-secondary responses to prevent and respond to campus sexual assault.

Some of my colleagues and I met with a group named Our Turn, a national student-led association advocating for an action plan to end campus sexual violence. Its report gave Canada a very poor grade. It really showed us that work needs to be done. It talked so much about the impacts, including the mental health impacts, changes in how victims of campus assault view trust. We really do commend that report.

The status of women committee made recommendations 11 months ago, recommendations 7, 8, 9, 10, and observation 1, on actions that the federal government could take. The NDP specifically asked Canada “to lead a national coordination of policies to prevent campus sexual assault”, and that the federal government lead national coordination around policing and in the justice system to ensure equal access to protection and justice across the country for victims of violence against women and girls.

That was more than 11 months ago. The only answer we got from the Minister of Status of Women is:

Preventing and addressing violence is a shared federal and provincial/territorial (PT) responsibility. Currently, all PT [provincial and territorial] governments have initiatives or actions underway that are related to GBV [gender-based violence].

That was it.

Madam Speaker, my question through you to the government is, when are you going to take this leadership role? Do you have anything more to tell us than this highly inadequate response?

Status of WomenAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Again, I would like to remind the member that she is to address the question to the Speaker and not to the parliamentary secretary.

Status of WomenAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

Terry Duguid LiberalParliamentary Secretary for Status of Women

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for all of her efforts to combat gender-based violence, and her very fine work on the Standing Committee on the Status of Women.

The hon. member would acknowledge that our government has made a strong commitment to ensuring that all women and girls can live lives free of violence. We know that the damage it does to women, their families, and communities is absolutely unacceptable.

Gender-based violence happens in both public and private spaces, including at home, at work, at school, on college and university campuses, and online. It often occurs because of someone's gender, gender identity, or perceived gender.

Women and girls as well as LGBTQ2 and gender non-conforming people are more likely to experience gender-based violence. The same is true for indigenous peoples, young women, people with disabilities, seniors, and those living in rural and remote communities.

That is why one of our government's first priorities upon taking office was to begin developing a federal strategy on gender-based violence. Listening to Canadians was a first critical step. We engaged Canadians and met with experts, advocates, and survivors from across the country to hear about their insights and experiences.

The result was an investment, the first investment of its kind, of $100.9 million over five years for a plan entitled “It’s Time: Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence”. The title underscores our desire to engage Canadians in a conversation with three major elements: it is time to better understand the problem; it is time to believe survivors; and it is time for action. I think the hon. member would also agree that we need to break cycles of violence and prevent gender-based violence from occurring in the first place.

The strategy is based on three pillars: prevention, support for survivors and their families, and promoting responsive legal and justice systems.

To fill the gaps in data and knowledge on this issue, we are working with Statistics Canada to develop a new questionnaire designed to capture information on sexual victimization among students enrolled at post-secondary institutions in Canada. It will focus on experiences or the witnessing of sexual misconduct, harassment, and sexual assault, as well as impressions of the campus climate and feelings of personal safety. In order to make this as successful as possible and reach as many post-secondary campuses as possible, we are also working with the provinces and territories on the development and implementation of the survey.

We intend to continue our whole-of-government approach to improving how we respond to gender-based violence in this country, with the goal of engaging all Canadians, including men and boys, as part of the solution.

Status of WomenAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, I would certainly agree with my colleague across the aisle that the government has made very deep commitments to women and to preventing violence against women, but that action is not following.

This was a debate we had in the House four months ago. I asked specifically about campus rape. The minister chose not even to mention students or campuses in her answer.

I note that although the member opposite is describing a survey, not a single witness at our multi-month study recommended that we further survey the problem. They asked the federal government to take leadership to coordinate a national response so that young women across the country have equivalent access to justice.

Why will the government not take leadership to end campus rape?

Status of WomenAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Liberal

Terry Duguid Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Madam Speaker, the hon. member mentioned the word “action”, and we know action is needed if we are to create a safe, inclusive society for all Canadians, including on post-secondary campuses.

There is some great work being done across the country by grassroots organizations and post-secondary institutions. We can learn from these best practices. Through our strategy to prevent and address gender-based violence, a knowledge centre will support enhanced new research and data collection to create opportunities to share that knowledge and ensure informed decision-making.

This is one more part of the whole-of-government approach that we are taking to help end all forms of gender-based violence.

Status of WomenAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

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 6:52 p.m.)