House of Commons Hansard #325 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was affairs.


Canada Revenue AgencyAdjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.

Sean Fraser

Mr. Speaker, I would again like to thank the hon. member for raising the important issue of seniors poverty and the timely delivery of GIS benefits.

As I mentioned, it is heartbreaking to speak to seniors living in poverty. We know that seniors poverty has a disproportionate impact on women as well, which is why the government's measures to increase the GIS by 10% for low-income single seniors is going to have a positive impact on senior women who are living in poverty no matter which region of Canada they are from.

I would point out again that 95% of GIS beneficiaries have their benefits renewed automatically each year by Service Canada, which is determined by a person's income details.

There is a process in place so that seniors can get in touch with Service Canada should they be concerned about receiving the GIS, and I encourage them to do so. I encourage all members in this House to educate their constituents on how to do so.

The CRA is going to continue to provide quality service to Canadians so that they can receive their benefits as quickly as possible.

This is important and we need to get this right.

Status of WomenAdjournment Proceedings

September 25th, 2018 / 7:05 p.m.


Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canada marks Gender Equality Week this week.

From the New Democrats' perspective and women in the grassroots movement, women continue to bear the brunt of successive failures by both Conservative and now Liberal governments to invest properly in women's true equality, the programs that would combat the inequality that they face.

Women would have more to celebrate this week if the government, with its very strong mandate from the people and very strong intentions and declarations of gender equality, had actually acted on that mandate to implement.

I am going to focus today particularly on ending violence against women. Canada made a commitment to the United Nations, and I am very proud that our country stood up with other countries, saying that yes, we will use our power to end violence against women and we will enact a national action plan to end violence against women. However, the government has not enacted a national action plan. It has a federal plan which is much more narrow.

What happens within the United Nations system is there are visits every five years by the United Nations representatives to find out whether Canada or any country that has signed on to a UN declaration or treaty is actually upholding its commitments.

In April of this year, Canada had its visit from the UN special rapporteur to end violence against women. She was only in Canada for 13 days, but she visited such an array of regions of the country and talked to such a variety of strong grassroots women's groups and front-line workers who gave her fantastic advice.

She summed up the ways that Canada has failed. First, violence against women in Canada is still a serious, pervasive and systemic problem, unfinished business that requires urgent actions. Second, women's human rights in Canada are protected in an incomplete, patchwork way. Third, federalism should not be a barrier to human rights implementation.

I had this debate in the House with the Prime Minister which was the impetus for this further debate today. He said that I should not be so judgmental and that I should recognize that Canada is having conversations at the United Nations among other partners. This is the root of the problem. The conversations do not actually enact real change for women on the ground.

The New Democrats are going to continue to press this in the most constructive way we can. Please, let us get on with the implementation. The talk is over. We know everyone would benefit from achieving gender equality. We know it is the right thing to do, but it cannot just be the celebratory stuff and it cannot just be conversations.

The national action plan to end violence against women, as I noted, is one of the failures. There is a dire shortage of shelters for women and children escaping violence. There is a lack of sustainable funding for a sufficient number of safe and confidential shelters. There is inconsistency in policy and legislation across all jurisdictions in order to promptly address sexual violence on campuses and in schools.

It is a damning report from the UN special rapporteur. What has the government done since April to put the UN special rapporteur's mind at ease?

Status of WomenAdjournment Proceedings

7:10 p.m.

Sean Fraser Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to thank the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith for her contribution not only to the debate tonight but for her advocacy on behalf of women. I had the pleasure of sitting with her on the Standing Committee on the Status of Women for my first few years as a member of Parliament. I thoroughly enjoyed her thoughtful and engaging approach to our dialogue.

I am similarly pleased to defend and highlight our government's action, not just words, on gender equality and the work we are doing, in particular, to end violence against women and girls. I am especially proud to rise today during the first-ever Gender Equality Week, a week to celebrate Canada's progress in advancing gender equality and an opportunity to reflect on the work that remains, recognizing the countless benefits of gender equality for people, no matter their gender.

Frankly, I have a hard time disagreeing with some of the issues the member raised in her speech, although I do take issue with her mischaracterization of the actions our government has taken. By taking steps to advance gender equality, we are strengthening the middle class and growing the economy for everyone. We could add $150 billion to our GDP in less than a decade if we successfully brought in policies of fairness and equality.

I am glad the member made reference, in particular, to the visit of the UN special rapporteur on violence against women in her question. Before I speak to the many actions our government is taking, I would like to quote the special rapporteur, who said:

I would congratulate the Canadian Government on its current efforts of upgrading the Federal Agency on the Status of Women into a full-size department, which I see as an important step that will enable better coordination and alignment of laws and policies and better relation to the protection of women’s rights...across the country, in order to fully integrate national feminist policy at all levels,...with the participation of all stakeholders, including indigenous women who today face intersectional discrimination and violence at a higher level than non-indigenous women, and therefore require specific attention and focus.

Further, the special rapporteur went on to say:

This development, together with the new Strategy to prevent and address Gender based violence [as an obstacle to achieving gender equality], are important steps that are needed to respond to current challenges in the prevention of gender-based violence in Canada.

We are making gender equality a priority in a number of ways. For example, we have made Status of Women a full department and introduced legislation to ensure that gender-based analysis plus is applied to all federal budgets. We have invested $40 billion in a national housing strategy, 25% of which is reserved for homes for women and their families. We have invested $7 billion to address early learning and child care needs. We have strengthened the Canada child benefit so that it continues to help families most in need, in particular households with single parents. We have created a new parental sharing benefit to support an equitable distribution of child care within the home. We have created safer work environments by ensuring that all federally regulated workplaces are free of sexual harassment and violence, and we will be introducing historic proactive pay equity legislation and pay transparency measures to end pay discrimination.

We all need to work together to prevent gender-based violence. That is why the Minister of Status of Women launched the first-ever federal strategy to prevent and address gender-based violence. Gender-based violence cannot be tolerated in Canada in 2018, and we are going to continue to work with all Canadians to end gender-based violence in all its forms.

Status of WomenAdjournment Proceedings

7:15 p.m.


Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, the good intentions of the government aside, the ministry of Status of Women and strategies and budget announcements do not change women's lives on the ground. Although the UN report does laud some of those initiatives, that is not where the rubber hits the road as far as ending violence against women.

I will read another quote from the rapporteur's report:

Due to the lack of shelters or second-stage housing facilities, many women who have fled from domestic violence are subsequently forced to return to their homes exposing themselves to the risk of facing further violence.

In my riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith, that is Samaritan House, which is operated by the Island Crisis Care Society. It is a homeless shelter for women. Fifty per cent of its clientele is over the age of 50 now, and it turns people away every night. It is not safe. The government must act.

Status of WomenAdjournment Proceedings

7:15 p.m.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.

Sean Fraser

Mr. Speaker, in response, I would reiterate that the words we have put forward and the announcements we have made are not restricted to the paper they are written on. People are feeling the impact of the investments we have made today. I can look at projects in my own riding. If I look at the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre that has benefited from investments, it is actually helping them get into schools to create policies that are going to help reduce gender-based violence by educating young men and boys in communities today.

I outlined measures in my remarks earlier. Each have projects across the country, in every pocket of Canada, that are actually making a difference in the lives of women. I will not stand here today and say that everything is perfect in Canada. We have 150 years of a history when we should have been doing more but did not. I am so proud to be part of a government that is finally taking gender equality seriously, in particular the announcement of $100 million for a gender-based violence strategy in our federal budget. This is a record I am proud to stand on and defend, and I thank the hon. member for her many contributions on the committee that we sat on together.

Status of WomenAdjournment Proceedings

7:15 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The hon. member for Courtenay—Alberni is not present to raise the matter for which adjournment notice has been given. Accordingly, the notice is deemed withdrawn.

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:17 p.m.)