House of Commons Hansard #426 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.


Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

5 p.m.


Kamal Khera Liberal Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for all the work he does on behalf of his constituents, and to thank his wife as well, who served as a nurse.

With this budget, we introduced the Canada training credit. This would help working Canadians get the skills they need to succeed in the changing world. This is a new tool that would help working Canadians find the time and money to upgrade their skills and progress in their careers.

This is extremely important for health care. We are moving in such a way that people need more training. The digital economy is here, and we need to be innovative in everything we do, which is exactly why we are ensuring that people are prepared for the new skills of the future.

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

5:05 p.m.


Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-97, an honour but also a concern.

It is also an honour and a privilege to bring the concerns of my constituents of North Okanagan—Shuswap to this House and debate them as their member of Parliament. Perhaps the greatest honour I have ever known, aside from being blessed with a loving wife and becoming a parent, is to represent the people who have entrusted me to carry their issues and best interests forward, on their behalf and for the good of Canada.

We all come to this place with the intention of representing our ridings and the great people in them, and some of us are very successful at it. What I have seen over the last three and a half years is a government and a Prime Minister who have strayed away from representing the people. The Liberals have put in place a bureaucracy and a larger government with priorities far ahead of what the average Canadian's needs are. The most glaring example of that is the government's out-of-control spending, the lavish sense of entitlement of the Prime Minister and the ballooning budgets that we see year after year after year.

Bill C-97 is an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019. It is 396 pages, which is not a massive omnibus bill, but it is massive in its own right. This budget adds almost another $20 billion in deficit. This has been happening for multiple years now, with the government and its out-of-control spending.

Most people have difficulty envisioning what $20 billion would look like; a big $20-billion pile is very hard to envision. Most average Canadians cannot quite put that picture together. When I am talking to the good people in my riding of North Okanagan—Shuswap, I explain to them that the $20-billion increase to debt that the government seems to be putting forward every year works out to about $540 for every man, woman, child, veteran, senior and grandparent. It is another $540 per year, year after year after year, that the government is taking out of their pockets.

Then I ask people if they can envision what those dollars would look like in their hands and what they could do with that money in their pockets. That is when they start to get really angry, as they realize they could do far better with the dollars in their pockets rather than sending them to an out-of-control government with out-of-control spending habits. Then I also explain to them, especially those in the workforce, that they are actually on the hook for double that amount. It is over $1,000 for every working person, because only 50% of Canadians are employed full time and might be able to pay back some of this debt the government is piling on. That is when they get really upset and ask what we can do, and ask that we do everything we can to eliminate the out-of-control government and its out-of-control spending.

Average Canadians must base their lives on what they can earn, borrow and pay back within their working years. Average Canadians understand these principles. They strive to pay off their debts and provide a starter investment for their children or leave a bit of inheritance for their children or grandchildren, whatever that may be.

In contrast, we currently have a Liberal government that thinks nothing of spending beyond not just its means but the taxpayers' means. What it really comes down to is a government that is spending beyond the taxpayers' means right now and adding debt year after year after year.

This is a government that does not believe in setting aside anything for a rainy day. Instead of leaving something in the bank for future generations, it is passing on a massive debt load that current and future taxpayers will have to pay back.

On top of this increasing debt load the government is passing on, it has spent hundreds of millions of dollars offshore. Upon joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the government committed Canada to a roughly 1% share of the bank, worth about $256 million. This will all be spent over the next five years.

When I explain this to the good people back home in North Okanagan—Shuswap, they start to envision what that kind of money could have done back home. When I talk to people there, they think of the projects we talked about in the pre-budget consultations I do every year. I go around to every community, every first nation and the chambers of commerce to meet with their boards and ask what they would like to see in the budget. I compile all that information in a condensed, concise version and provide it in a letter to the finance minister well in advance of the annual budget each year. Unfortunately, what we see in return is not reflective of what average Canadians need.

The dollars being spent offshore in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank are going to build pipelines in China. They are going to build major projects overseas, but no Canadian operations will be involved in those projects. All that funding will simply go offshore rather than being used to put Canadians to work.

That really upsets the people back home when I tell them. They have requested funding and support for youth space in their small communities, such as in the village of Chase, so that their youth can have a place to be active rather than out on the street. The Sicamous community has put forward the idea of a joint project involving the community and the local first nation band, the Splatsin. They can see what these projects can do for the community and they can see the revenue generation it could create. However, those funds are not there, partly because the government has decided to send them offshore.

I have seen requests from communities asking for help in purchasing emergency equipment or in upgrading their fire halls. Again, that funding is not available, because it has been sent offshore or has been spent to service the increasing debt, as we have heard in some of the speeches this afternoon. These are debt service costs from the increasing deficit the government continues to pile on.

I have also heard communities ask for a bit of a kick-start in developing economic plans. First nations bands and small communities have asked me about this. They want to know how they could possibly get some assistance and guidance in putting an economic plan together. Again, the money is not available, because it was spent elsewhere.

We have heard much talk about the mortgage stress test. I hear a lot back home about the shortage of affordable housing. I use the term “housing that is affordable”. The term “affordable housing” rings to most people as low-income, income-assisted or payment-assisted housing. However, it is housing that is affordable at all levels that we need. I believe that it is not just in my community but right across the country. For every chance we have to move someone into a first home or into a retirement home or into a rental home, an opportunity is opened up for someone else.

Those are the kinds of things I see average Canadians in my riding asking for.

They are asking for things like highway improvements. They are asking for things like electrification for the small community of Seymour Arm, which is currently off the grid and using diesel generation to power the community. These kinds of things would really help small communities move forward and get together, but the funds are not available, because the current government is deciding to use them on lavish vacations or offshore spending or for servicing the debt.

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

5:15 p.m.


Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to the hon. member's speech, and indeed, fiscal responsibility should always be a guiding principle in public administration. However, it is also responsible and forward-looking to make investments for the future. As a matter of fact, when we talk about investing, we talk about a return at some time in the future.

I would like to ask the member a question regarding a project that is taking place in Montreal. It is a $6-billion project, to which the government is contributing $1.3 billion. This is a light rail system that will benefit future generations that have to take light rail to school. It will improve productivity in the future and bring about greater economic growth.

Should this project have been put on hold, awaiting the balancing of the budget, or is it a good investment for the future and for future generations?

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

5:15 p.m.


Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, on those types of big projects, infrastructure projects here in Canada, I cannot disagree that they are worthwhile projects. However, when we have a government that is sending money offshore, building pipelines in China and spending $4.8 billion on a pipeline here in Canada but is refusing to move forward on the investment to expand that pipeline to build our Canadian economy, I say that we have a government that has failed.

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

5:15 p.m.


Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, we were talking about the Canada Infrastructure Bank, and one of our members on this side mentioned one project. We also have the GO Transit project in southern Ontario, with $2 billion in debt financing to open up GO. As well, we can think about what providing electric trains in our region is going to mean for the future of transportation in southern Ontario and within the member's riding. There has also been an investment in a seniors residence for indigenous seniors.

Would the hon. member not agree that investing in our future and investing in projects such as these is good for Canada and good for each of our communities?

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

5:15 p.m.


Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member is referring to some projects the Liberals have actually managed to get off the ground in Canada. However, the bigger project, the one that would really benefit western Canada, which seems to be ignored or just kicked down the road further and further, is the Trans Mountain pipeline.

When I did a survey of my constituents in my riding, I asked if they felt that projects like the Trans Mountain pipeline should move forward in the best interest of Canada. The response I got back was almost 80% supportive. I believe that 79.4% were supportive of that project, yet we have a government that has been here for almost four years and has failed to move that project one inch closer to the goal line.

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

5:15 p.m.


Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague made the comment that people cannot visualize what $1 billion is. Well, the Liberals this time around this year had a $20-billion deficit. They also had $20 billion in extra revenue because the world economy is doing so well. That is $40 billion they spent that they did not plan on and that no one planned on having. To put that in perspective, that is like giving one million Canadians a cheque for $40,000 and allowing them to sit at home doing nothing. If this is the Liberal idea of a job creation plan, I think we have to question that.

I would like to ask my colleague a very important question. If the Liberals continue to go down this route of deficit spending, which we have seen in Ontario, where Ontario became the worst sub-national government in the world, and these deficits become the taxes of the future and the cuts of the future, what does the member think will happen to our country? Will it be exactly what has happened to Ontario?

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

5:20 p.m.


Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague on this side of the House for putting forward a question that is really relevant to what is happening here, which is increasing debt.

I come from a small business background, which many of the people in my riding of North Okanagan—Shuswap are from. They understand that small businesses can invest when times are good but need to put something away for those rainy days when times are not so good.

We know about global economic cycles, especially the North American economic cycle we go through about every eight to 12 years. Indications are that we are now coming to a cycle where we could be looking at a major slowdown. All the current government has done over the past four years of moderate economic growth is pile up so much debt that the cost, in a few years' time, if we have a slowdown, is going to be an increasing burden, and we are going to have no choice: We can either push the country further into debt, which is the absolute worst thing we can do, or try to find efficiencies in the way we manage government. The way the government is operating, it is harder—

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

5:20 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook.

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

5:20 p.m.


Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand in the House tonight to speak to this important budget, budget 2019.

As members and Canadians know, the economy has been moving very quickly and successfully. Canadians have created over one million jobs since 2015, and over 110,000 jobs in the last month alone. That is extremely impressive.

We have also seen, with our investment of the Canada child benefit, that we lifted over 300,000 Canadians out of poverty. That is another very important signal of success that we have moved forward on for our economy. As well, we have seen and are seeing the lowest unemployment rate in 45 years. When we took office here, the unemployment rate was at 7.1%. It is now at 5.7% to 5.8%. That is a strong indication of how strong our economy is moving forward. That is because of the budgets and investments we have made over the last four years. This budget is a continuation of that philosophy.

I want to talk about veterans. As members know, I have the largest number of veterans in Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia has the highest number in the country per capita. We have made some big investments over the last three and a half years for veterans, of over $10 billion. Even in this budget, we have again made some major steps forward.

The first budget was on transition. We have been working hard to find a seamless approach with a joint committee between DND and Veterans Affairs. It is in place and we are seeing some very positive steps forward in that area. However, we were only focusing that transition on ill and disabled veterans. Now we have included, in this bill, non-ill veterans, which is another very important factor.

We have enhanced the education and training benefit for veterans, which is $40,000 for six years of service or $80,000 for 12 years. We have now added the reservists to the list of those who can benefit from those programs. Those are very big steps that the veterans community was asking for and that we were able to put forward.

The other investment is the veterans survivor fund. Prior to this budget, the benefits and pensions of veterans who got married after the age of 60 would not be moved over to their spouse or partner. We made sure that we would bring forward investments to correct that as well, which was another important ask from our veterans community.

There are also investments in the Juno Beach Centre. We are celebrating, on June 6, the 75th anniversary of D-Day. We want to remember the loss of over 14,000 Canadians during that important time.

That is just a quick run-through of some of the investments in the veterans sector. Let us talk about the young people in this country.

We need to make sure that we are helping those young individuals to move forward and we have included some major steps in this last budget. Regarding student loans, we know that if students get a job they have to make over $25,000. We talked about that in previous budgets. Now we are saying that they will pay a prime rate but will not have to pay the plus 3%, which was a big one. Also we said that there will be no interest on the loan and no payments for the first six months, which is a big change as well.

For first-time homebuyers, we have set up an opportunity for young people. If they are purchasing a home for $400,000, they would have to put 5% down, which would be $20,000, so their loan would be $380,000. However, with the shared-equity strategy that we have put in place, their loan now is $340,000 and that is major. That is a savings of $225 per month. If I run that through for 30 years, it is $81,000 that an individual would save. That is a very important investment, as members can note.

As for student summer jobs, when the Conservatives were in power the number of summer jobs was the lowest that had existed in this country. Now that we are in 2019, there is the greatest number of summer jobs. In my riding alone, there are 255 individuals who are going to or are working in those summer jobs. That is $770,000 invested in that portfolio for students in my riding. As members can see, it is a broad approach that we are bringing forward, a coordinated strategy.

Then, we have brought in some investments in the Canada training program, which is a very important new program. It is tax free and people can save up to $250 a year, $1,000 every four years, for upgrading. That is something that we did not have access to. All members in the House know that young people today will often change jobs. The technology is moving so rapidly that this training is essential. We also have a program where people can draw from EI during the four weeks they are attending upgrading courses, which is extremely important.

We need to talk about seniors. We know that by 2034, seniors will represent about 25% of Canadians. That is a very high number. In the Atlantic provinces, the number is even higher than that. We need to focus on seniors. My riding of Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook in Nova Scotia had the highest increase between 2011 and 2016. The Conservatives were going to move the retirement age to 67 and we said that was unacceptable. Canadians who have worked up to the age of 65, if they so desire to retire, they should be able to retire in dignity. Therefore, we ensured that the age of retirement stayed at 65, which was a crucial investment.

We have made investments to the GIS, the guaranteed income supplement, in two areas. The first one is a big investment of approximately $950, which allowed 700,000 seniors to move above the poverty line. That was very important, as well.

On health care, pharmacare, we are going to move forward. We have had a committee study a national pharmacare program. We should be able to deliver that in the very near future. We have made some investments in the Canadian drug agency to lower the costs. A national dementia strategy is very important. I met with a group in Sackville last week, in my riding. Northwood is trying to open an adult day program for dementia patients. Again, that is very important as well.

I must also include some of the investments on reconciliation with indigenous peoples. We have eliminated over 80-some boil water advisories. We have promised that by 2021 there will be no more boil water advisories. There is an investment for indigenous peoples for entrepreneurship and economic development, and for start-ups and expansion for Métis small businesses. Those are big investments for indigenous people.

I would like to finish off, of course, with the African Nova Scotian community. We have made some major investments there as well. The black community is the oldest black intergenerational community in Canada. It has the biggest Black Cultural Centre in Canada. Two months ago, the Prime Minister was in the Preston area. It was the first time a Prime Minister ever stepped into the Preston area.

There are some very successful initiatives that we are moving forward on. One is the anti-racism strategy investment, which will allow community-based focus groups to come forward with all kinds of different projects. There is also some capital investment, up to $25 million over five years, for projects and capital assistance to help the vibrant black community continue to grow.

I have to close with the trade deals. We have brought three trade deals to the table, successfully. That is 1.5 billion people trading in and out of Canada.

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1Government Orders

5:30 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 4th, 2019 / 5:30 p.m.


Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

moved that Bill C-206, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (abuse of vulnerable persons), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about seniors and vulnerable persons in our society, whether they are physically handicapped, have a mental condition or other. Bill C-206 focuses on the sentencing of individuals who perpetrate crimes against people specifically because of who they are: vulnerable.

The bill would amend section 718.2 of the Criminal Code by bringing further protection to seniors and other vulnerable persons to ensure that they live in safety, dignity and without fear.

As a former Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer for many years, I have seen many horrific crimes, brutality, theft and suicide. Fortunately for me, I have been able to take all the bad, the ugliness and the violence and push it to the back of my mind and I can forget about it. How much good we did and the people we helped save and set on the right course in life is very important to me.

However, there was always one type of crime I felt I could not accept, the lack of appropriate penalties in our Canadian Criminal Code, specifically for crimes against vulnerable persons. My bill would introduce tougher penalties for those who consciously use the weakness of vulnerable groups to financially, physically, sexually or emotionally abuse them.

It is difficult for the abused to admit to people that they are victims of abuse, especially at the hands of someone they know and trust. When trust is abused, the penalties should be severe. Perpetrators should be held to account with firm punishment. We must have harsher sentences for these types of perpetrators.

Criminals who target the elderly should know that they will not get away with it. Older people should not have to fear being targeted. We need stronger penalties to deter and tackle criminals who target the elderly and the disabled. There are hundreds of cases of abuse in which the offenders did not, in my opinion, receive fair punishment for their actions.

We should not tolerate or express any sort of sympathy toward conscious cruelty against seniors and other vulnerable groups. Their security should be of concern to us in Canada and their abuse should be treated as a human rights issue of the utmost importance.

I must point out that technically a judge already considers the vulnerability of a victim, including age and disabilities, when deciding on a sentencing term. It is just not specifically stated on paper or in the act. The bill would simply add it on paper as a requirement.

As people grow older, they become more isolated, so the risk of abuse increases. Punishment fails to deter would-be abusers who see older people as a soft target and we must do more to protect older people and vulnerable people. Bill C-206 would change that.

A large part of the Canadian population is either a senior or will soon be one, including me. I am already there. The demographic data released by Statistics Canada in the 2016 census shows there are approximately 5.9 million seniors in Canada.

According to government statistics, by 2031, around eight million people will be aged 65 or older. That will be almost a quarter of Canada's population. Many Canadians require care and assistance, and that number is only growing.

Offenders who exploit their weaknesses for their self-benefit and decrease the self-worth and dignity of vulnerable adults and seniors must face greater punishments in law. Statistics provided by the Department of Justice state that approximately 24% of disabled persons were victimized at least one in their lives and about 45% of seniors aged 65 and older reported experiencing some form of abuse. This is scary, especially when a quarter of our population will be in that age bracket very shortly.

However, according to the Canadian Association for Retired Persons, only 20% of elder abuse comes to the attention of responsible authorities. Why? Because many of the victims do not want to report the abuse for various reasons. These reasons include the dependence upon a caregiver who is abusive, fear of not being believed or even deep shame and humiliation because of what happened to them.

Moreover, in 32% of the reported elder abuse cases, the offender is related to the victim as a child or an extended family member. That is shocking. We can only imagine how many cases of such abuse remain unreported as the elderly are reluctant to bring charges against their family members or relatives.

It is therefore the responsibility of all of us in the House of Commons to protect those who cannot stand up for themselves by adopting measures that would deter potential offenders from committing these crimes. This is exactly what my bill is designed to do. Adopting it would mean two things: prescribing tougher penalties for the offenders and justice for the victims.

Bill C-206 covers four forms of abuse: financial, physical, sexual and emotional. I will speak about each to show how they affect vulnerable people.

The first is financial abuse, one of the most common forms of abuse against vulnerable groups.

In 2014, CBC News reported that Toronto police arrested a wife and husband who defrauded a 94-year-old woman, within four years, of $25,000 in cash, jewellery and furniture. The wife was hired as a housekeeper and became involved in the everyday activities of this victim. At some point, she forced the elderly lady into a smaller room and moved into the apartment with her husband. If it were not for a courier from a local pharmacy who, during his weekly deliveries, noticed that something was wrong when an unknown person answered the door, the consequences for that woman could have been more grave than just the money.

Under the Department of Justice, not a single reported Canadian case contains a definition of “elder abuse”. In fairness, there are some cases where the extreme age of the victim was taken into the sentencing factor, which is very good. However, my bill, Bill C-206, would take away the use of discretionary decisions and make it mandatory for the sentence to be increased due to the fact the aggravated crime was committed against a vulnerable person. This is not new in Canadian law. It is missing in certain parts of the Criminal Code and I want it to be used more broadly, especially for the crimes about which I have been talking.

In another example in the same year, 3,000 kilometres away in Edmonton, Global News wrote an article on a man who was accused of defrauding his grandmother of $265,000. He acted as his grandmother's attorney under a power of attorney agreement.

Fraud and financial abuse in general can occur not only among family members, but also with people who the victims trust the most. These cases are connected to the victim's trust and dependancy on the caregiver who is abusing the victim and, due to the simple fear of being physically abused, the victim will not report the caregiver. This is not acceptable today. These abuses are happening because offenders do not get fair punishments. They rely on the vulnerability of others and take advantage of them.

Physical abuse is the second form of abuse I want to address.

Statistics show that people with disabilities are more likely to be assaulted compared to people with no disabilities. Another disturbing case happened in Ottawa involving a personal support worker who pleaded guilty to assault charges for an incident at a retirement home. He delivered 10 punches to an 89-year-old man suffering from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

In my many years in law enforcement, this is one of the worst types of crimes I have ever encountered. Should such offenders be treated equally to those assaulting healthy and capable people? I do not think so. Their punishments should reflect the gravity of their crimes. Currently, those abusers, even if convicted, rarely get punished.

Advocates for people with disabilities have confirmed that vulnerable groups are often abused. If we look back at the report that came out yesterday, people who are vulnerable are being picked on.

In October 2014, the CBC posted a story about a 19-year-old mentally disabled woman being sexually assaulted on a bus in Winnipeg, while her support worker was sitting a couple of rows ahead. I am a father and a grandfather. To me, a 19-year-old is still a child. What this child experienced was traumatic for both her and her parents. She has a right to be safe. That is why we need a stronger law.

In the spring of 2017, a support worker in Ontario walked away with a guilty plea for only one count of assault and no criminal record in exchange for the court withdrawing 13 counts of sexual assault.

We need to be stiffer in our penalties. This is where my bill, Bill C-206, would come into play. The vulnerable in our society should enjoy an increased level of protection. They need to be confident in our legal system and must be assured that those who would try to use their vulnerability will always get a fair punishment.

The last but not least form of abuse I would like to cover today is the emotional or psychological form of abuse. I would like to add that all previously discussed forms of abuse are very much connected to emotional abuse in the sense that they have a great psychological effect on the victims.

There is no dignity in disrespecting a vulnerable person. There is no dignity in taking advantage of a vulnerable person. It is a crime and it must be punished in a greater way than it is being punished now. The cases I have talked about are not single cases; there are hundreds of them out there.

How do we change this? Canada needs harsher penalties for those who exploit vulnerable people and take advantage of their weaknesses. Tougher penalties for the abuse of vulnerable persons would make abusers think twice before committing these kinds of offences and would provide more safety for those who cannot protect themselves.

My bill would ensure that those criminals who would disrespect and use the weakness of others would not be able to get away with a simple conviction or a guilty plea, leaving the families and friends of victims desperate and disappointed in our criminal justice system.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne Québec


Sherry Romanado LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Seniors

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Yellowhead for his advocacy.

As the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Seniors, I know first-hand that abuse to seniors is a lot more prevalent than we probably know, and I want to thank him for bringing the bill forward.

Given the fact that my colleague has worked in the field of policing and given his comments tonight, I would like to ask him what his thoughts are with respect to our decision to create a ministry of seniors. Also, in budget 2019, we brought forward financial increases to the new horizons for seniors program specifically to help elder abuse, elder fraud and isolation.

I would like to get my colleague's opinion on those initiatives.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.


Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, any committee that is formed to assist seniors in any capacity will definitely help. However, my bill does not only stick with seniors; it is anybody who is in a vulnerable position. We need to ensure that in our courts, when people are found guilty, they will dealt with more severely if they have assaulted a 95-year-old man or a person in a wheelchair

What I am trying to get to with Bill C-206 is that there have to be consequences if someone picks on vulnerable people just because they are vulnerable.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.


Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's dedication to preserving the dignity of seniors.

In the last Parliament, almost all parties agreed with the proposed elder abuse legislation. In that bill was an aggravating factor with respect to when someone either physically or financially assaulted a senior. That needed to be taken into consideration when sentencing after someone had his or her day in court.

Could the member explain how his legislation is different and why it is appropriate today?

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.


Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is different in two ways.

First, it would make it mandatory. Right now is at the discretion of the prosecutor or the judge to look at the aggravated sentencing. Let us take that away. Automatically, people will be punished greater if they assault a vulnerable person than if they assault someone else, just as if someone defrauds, steals or takes advantage of a vulnerable person.

The second part that comes into play is the fact that there are criminals out there. There are people who prey upon the vulnerable. The public needs to know that if people prey on a vulnerable person, they will pay a greater penalty if caught than if they were to prey on another person.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.


Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, given that the member has a large amount of personal experience in these things, what is one thing he would like to ensure people in his riding know about this legislation, as well as the people in this room and Canadians in general?

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.


Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, the message I want to get out to all Canadiana is that vulnerable people must be respected regardless of their vulnerability, whether it is age, a disability, the way they were brought up or lifestyle. If people choose to perpetrate crimes against vulnerable persons, I want to get the message out that they are the worst types of criminals and we need to deal with them in a more severe manner than we do today.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario


Arif Virani LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Democratic Institutions

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the second reading debate on Private Member's bill, Bill C-206, an act to amend the Criminal Code.

At the outset, I want to to acknowledge the laudable objective of the bill and thank the member from Yellowhead for giving us the opportunity to debate this important social issue this evening.

Bill C-206 amends the Criminal Code to specify that the physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse of a person over the age of 65 or of a person 18 years of age or older who depends on others for their care because of a mental or physical disability is to be considered an aggravating circumstance for sentencing purposes.

The member for Yellowhead said that the bill seeks to give vulnerable seniors further protections to ensure that they can live safely and in dignity, while protecting them against exploitation.

The bill would fulfill that objective by imposing harsher sentences on offenders who abuse these vulnerable victims, whether financially, physically or psychologically.

I am in full agreement with the member for Yellowhead that we must do everything to address the physical, financial and emotional exploitation of our seniors and other vulnerable Canadians who depend on others for their care because of a disability.

I hear about this issue in my work here in Ottawa, in my work around the country and also in my riding of Parkdale—High Park. Constituents speak to me about the statistics, which are problematic. Those statistics show that seniors and Canadians with disabilities are at a higher risk of being victims of crimes.

For instance, while older Canadians have historically reported low victimization rates, the physical disabilities and cognitive impairments experienced by some seniors may increase their vulnerability and make them more prone to certain kinds of abuse, such as online financial crime, neglect, financial exploitation and family-related violence.

By 2036 the size of Canada's senior population will increase about twofold, and persons aged 65 and over will represent approximately one quarter of the Canadian population in total.

Given Canada's aging population, Statistics Canada notes that police-reported violence committed against seniors will continue to increase if it is left unaddressed.

According to police data, Canadian seniors were more likely to be the victim of family violence in 2017 than they were 10 years ago. In 2007, Statistics Canada reported that the overall rate of police-reported violence against seniors had increased by 20% between 1998 and 2005. From 2009 to 2017, the rate of police-reported family violence against seniors rose 7%.

In 2014, people with a disability were about twice as likely to be victims of a violent crime than people who did not have a disability, and women and men with cognitive disabilities or mental health-related disabilities reported violent victimization approximately four times more often than their counterparts who did not have a disability.

Elder abuse, senior isolation and the abuse of vulnerable persons are completely unacceptable. Our government is working hard to provide Canadian seniors with greater security and a better quality of life. That is what compelled us to appoint and name a Minister of Seniors to the federal cabinet.

We have also invested in the new horizons for seniors program, which, through budget 2019, will receive an additional $100 million over the next five years. One of the key initiatives of that program is to tackle elder abuse and fraud.

Several legislative amendments have been enacted by Parliament to address the problem of elder abuse. For instance, in 2011, the Standing Up for Victims of White Collar Crime Act enacted an aggravating factor to the fraud offence found at section 380.1 of the Criminal Code. This was referenced in the earlier part of tonight's debate.

This provision directs a judge to treat evidence that the offence had a significant impact on the victim, having regard to “their personal circumstances including their age, health and financial situation”, as an aggravating factor at sentencing.

In 2012, there was also legislation enacted called Protecting Canada's Seniors Act, which enacted a provision that directed courts to treat evidence that the offence had a significant impact on the victim, having regard to his or her age and other personal circumstances, including health and financial situation, as an aggravating factor at sentencing.

These two legislative amendments essentially codified the current sentencing practices. In other words, when these legislative amendments were proposed, the law already required the courts to consider all aggravating and mitigating circumstances related to the offence and the offender's degree of responsibility, including the effect of an offence on a particular victim under all circumstances. In a given case, this can obviously include the victim's age and their vulnerability.

In summary, by codifying the aggravating circumstances, parliamentarians clarified the sentencing law for all Canadians and sent a message to the courts that it is important to consider these aggravating circumstances in sentencing decisions.

The Criminal Code includes a broad range of offences that apply equally to protect all Canadians, including vulnerable and elderly Canadians, as well as specific offences that take into account the vulnerability of the victim. For instance, the offences of assault, assault with bodily harm and aggravated assault apply to protect everyone, regardless of age, health or gender. However, there are also specific offences that target the abuse of vulnerable persons, such as in 153.1 of the Criminal Code, which applies to the sexual exploitation of a person with a disability. The code also lists several aggravating factors that can apply in cases involving abuse of an elderly or vulnerable person who depends on others for care because of a mental or physical disability.

There are four aggravating factors: one, evidence and offences motivated by bias, prejudice or hate or based on, for instance, age or mental or physical disability; two, the fact that the offenders abuse their spouse or common-law partner; three, the fact that offenders abused a position of trust or authority in relation to the victim; and four, evidence that the offence had a significant impact on the victim having regard to their age or other personal circumstance, including their health or financial situation.

Based on my interpretation of the aggravating circumstance proposed in Bill C-206, I have to wonder if the amendment proposed in the bill could overlap with the circumstances already set out in the Criminal Code. I wonder if the amendment fixes any flaws in the law regarding the abuse of seniors and other vulnerable persons.

I look forward to hearing other members' thoughts about whether this conduct is already covered by the Criminal Code and how this amendment would affect the criminal justice system. For example, if we were to adopt an aggravating circumstance that is similar to the ones already in the Criminal Code, would there be an increase in the number of cases related to determining the scope of the new provision and how it differs from the aggravating circumstances set out in the Criminal Code?

Moreover, I wonder about the implications of setting a chronological age distinction of above 65 as the hard limit in the Criminal Code for assessing a person's vulnerability. Witnesses who testified before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights as part of its study of former Bill C-36 emphasized that the impact of a crime on an elderly victim is not necessarily dependent on chronological age, but rather on the combined unique characteristics of that elderly victim.

This leads me to question whether an individual's vulnerability is not best assessed by weighing a combination of factors, such as mental and physical health, financial situation and degree of autonomy. I am sure members of this House can come up with examples of when age is not the best indicator of a person's level of vulnerability. For these reasons, I look forward to a thorough debate on these important policy questions.

During second reading debate of the former Bill C-36, the member for Pierrefonds—Dollard at the time said that if we focus only on legal measures, we will be missing a very important point. Non-legislative measures can also significantly help address the problem.

In total, I would underscore that the bill proposed by the member for Yellowhead targets a very important and laudable objective. I look forward to the important debate continuing on this issue and on the issue of combatting elder abuse.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.


Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Yellowhead for introducing the bill we are debating today. I also thank him for his years of service in another life.

We serve together on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. While I tend to disagree with the Conservatives on matters of justice or public safety, I have to say that I often nod my head when the hon. member asks questions or makes proposals in committee. That speaks volumes about the work he does in committee, and I thank him for that.

I also thank him for drawing the attention of the House to the important issue of elder abuse. This abuse can take different forms, as has been pointed out in the speeches we have heard so far. It can be physical, sexual, financial or emotional. I think it is important for the House to address this issue.

The NDP has always cared about this issue and has always understood the importance of judicial sentencing discretion. That is why I am pleased to tell my colleague that I will be supporting the bill at second reading so that the committee can examine this issue more throughly, given how serious it is.

As mentioned earlier, not only will our aging population continue to grow in the years to come, but statistics show that abuse is unfortunately becoming increasingly common in our society. This phenomenon is growing at an alarming rate, and it is underestimated and all too often under-reported.

I would like to use this debate as an opportunity to talk briefly about initiatives being taken in my riding. I must say, I am proud to support them in various ways. I became aware of the abuse that can be directed at seniors because of these initiatives.

First of all, I would like to recognize the contribution of the seniors' forum that is held in Chambly every October. It is organized mainly by the Association québécoise de défense des droits des personnes retraitées et préretraitées. I want to salute Ginette Grenier, among others, from the Centre d'écoute Montérégie. I will come back to this in a moment.

The fair brings together almost every stakeholder in the territory. It brings together MPs, including me and my Quebec counterpart, as well as representatives of the Régie intermunicipale de police Richelieu-Saint-Laurent. It also brings together organizations that work to break the isolation of seniors in different ways and that consider issues directly related to my colleague’s bill. The fair takes place at the Chambly seniors’ centre every year. It is a prime opportunity to learn more about this issue which plagues our society.

It is disturbing to hear what the police have to say. The team that works at my riding office is at our booth to talk about the services offered to seniors. Our booth allows me to meet with representatives of various organizations. When police talk about the various forms of elder abuse, they tell us that this abuse is often perpetrated by caregivers, family members and friends.

We have heard many stories of abuse in our society. These stories involve not only seniors, but all vulnerable individuals, including children. The abuse suffered by these individuals is often perpetrated by the people who are meant to help them, such as family members, for example. That is unconscionable, and it is a problem that society overlooks.

After all, when we see a neighbour or someone who lives in our building helping a senior, we think that neighbour must be a very nice person. It may be the senior's niece, nephew or child who comes to help the senior every weekend. We tend to believe that the person is acting in good faith, in the interests of the senior, who may unfortunately have lost their independence and need help from their family as they get older. However, those family members may be treating the senior inappropriately, which could have a serious impact on the senior's finances and physical well-being, among other things. These can be horrible situations.

The seniors' forum led me to support the Réseau actif de dépistage des aînés à risque or RADAR, a network that identifies and helps at-risk seniors. It is an initiative that is being undertaken in the area served by the Richelieu and Patriotes local community service centres, which covers most of the riding of Beloeil—Chambly. This initiative was mainly funded by community stakeholders and the Government of Quebec and was supported by the efforts of members from both levels of government.

I would be remiss if I failed to talk about the stakeholders who worked on this project. Many organizations attended the seniors' forum, but the police were also there. That is important to point out, because the bill before us was introduced by a member who used to be a police officer. The police are on the front lines when it comes to identifying at-risk seniors. They see the horrible crimes committed against seniors. It is therefore crucial that they be included in this type of project, which also includes social workers from health and social service centres and local community service centres.

The frontline workers in Quebec will correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that this initiative is quite novel and commendable. This is something rare that could be a model for creating other similar initiatives across Quebec and Canada to tackle this scourge.

We may think that seniors are not vulnerable because they are supported by family members, but we sometimes learn, to our utter dismay, that it is those same family members who commit acts of violence against them. This type of project seeks to bring them help from their community.

Now I would like to take this opportunity to give a shout-out to the people at the Centre d'écoute Montérégie and talk about their work. I am proud to have had the chance to work with them to secure a federal grant that enabled them to hire a young man in his twenties to answer the help line. There are volunteers, but there are also employees. The centre also underwent a major renovation. It is located in an outdated building in the older part of Chambly, where zoning regulations make renovation extremely difficult. The people who work at the centre know what I mean, because we talked about it at length last time I visited. It is very expensive to maintain heritage buildings in old Chambly, which makes sense considering everything that has happened there lately. I am not saying that preserving our built heritage is not important, but it is a major burden for organizations.

I am proud to highlight this achievement, but the people at the centre deserve all the credit. I mentioned Ginette Grenier, whom I have known since I was first elected in 2011. She helped me understand why the organization's work is so important. These people dedicate time to a call centre to help seniors overcome isolation. Many of the people involved with the Centre d'écoute Montérégie are also involved in other initiatives.

The Centre d'écoute Montérégie's logo appears on the website because the centre is partly responsible for the success of this new initiative, which is just a few years old. The Centre d'écoute Montérégie works to help seniors overcome isolation, which is a significant factor in much of the abuse my colleague wants to tackle.

I would like to take this opportunity to talk about what is being done in my riding because everyone on the ground is aware of this issue, including organizations, police forces, elected representatives and municipal officials.

This bill shows that we can do more, through the Criminal Code, to ensure that crimes are punished in a way that raises public awareness. The population is aging and abuse is increasingly common, so we must get people to understand that any abuse is unacceptable in our society.

In closing, I would like to thank my colleague and reiterate my support for this bill at second reading, so that we can further study the issue. I hope that we can all work together to eradicate this scourge in every riding across Canada, because our seniors deserve better. They deserve to live with dignity, and we owe them that, at least.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


David Yurdiga Conservative Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today in support of a very important piece of legislation, private member's bill, Bill C-206, an act to amend the Criminal Code to expand powers ensuring protection against the abuse of vulnerable persons, such as the elderly and people with various disabilities, put forward by my friend, the member of Parliament for Yellowhead.

Our criminal justice system needs to be strengthened to protect the most vulnerable in our society. This legislation looks to close some of the gaps in our system that negatively impact vulnerable Canadians across our country every day.

The physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse of a person over the age of 65 or a person with a mental or physical disability should be considered an aggravating circumstance. This legislation would ensure criminals who take advantage of vulnerable persons get stricter sentences for their crimes.

First, I would like to discuss elder abuse. Elder abuse can take many forms, and both the mental and physical impairments seniors face increase their vulnerability in our society. Roughly 8% to 10% of seniors in Canada experience elder abuse. This means over 750,000 seniors have been subject to unfair physical, financial or psychological abuse. Elder abuse is severely under-reported in Canada, with an estimated 20% of abuse victims never coming forward and never receiving the justice they deserve.

Looking for the appropriate care in their later years, our elderly often unknowingly entrust their finances, health and futures into the hands of individuals who do not have their best interests at heart. I have heard stories of caregivers stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the purses of their wards. I have heard of physical abuse cases going largely unreported. I have heard of elderly couples afraid to report their injustices for fear of losing their homes and their independence.

In my riding, an elderly gentleman living alone in a remote area had his home broken into. The robbers stole his precious belongings and beat him to the point where he had to be hospitalized. Though the perpetrators were later caught, they were released after only serving part of their sentence. After their release, those same criminals went back to the elderly man's home and beat him again to within an inch of death. That elderly man will now spend the rest of his life in a nursing home, as the injuries he sustained took away his independence entirely.

Our broken system does not have strict enough sentences for criminals, and it is failing victims. It is not just individuals perpetrating crimes of elder abuse. Studies show abuses are taking place in over 99% of care homes across the country. These bonds of both necessity and trust are too often taken advantage of by ill-fitted caregivers.

We need to put more legislation in place to protect our most vulnerable, as our elderly are our family and friends. Some victims are dependent on their caregivers, some fear retaliation and social shaming, some fear they will not be believed by resource providers and others do not nave the right tools at their disposal to report elder abuse, being impaired by their own disabilities to an extent to which they cannot reach out.

One day we will all be in their shoes. We need to act today to ensure a better future for all Canadians in their golden years.

Canadians who suffer from various mental or physical disabilities are also at risk of abuse. Imagine people living their lives, unable to fully care of themselves, having their independence stripped away at no fault of their own, and being forced to entrust their lives into the hands of others.

People with disabilities are twice as likely to be abused than any other group. In fact, people with disabilities are more likely to experience workplace, domestic, medical, financial and sexual abuse than any other demographic. Instances of abuse against Canadians with disabilities are on the rise. Forty per cent of incidents of violent crime happen to people with disabilities.

Much like elder abuse, people with disabilities are most often abused by people they know. Caregivers, spouses, common-law partners or other family members are the most common perpetrators of this crime.

Alberta's human services website provided testimony from a man living in an apartment building for persons with disabilities. He spoke on his experiences with assisted care. He wrote, “When the person who is supposed to be my care aide came in the morning to help me get up and dressed, we had a disagreement. We argued for a while. And then the care aide looked at me and said, 'So did you want to get out of bed today?'” Too many caregivers are using a victim's independence as a bargaining tool to ensure they get what they want, rather than providing the best care possible.

There needs to be stricter punishment for the mental, physical and psychological harm this abuse leaves its victims. The abuse of vulnerable persons is too often overlooked at the national level and the signs of abuse are easily missed. Anyone can become a victim of abuse, including our mothers, fathers, children, neighbours and friends. We need the right tools to recognize abuse and put a stop to it now.

Aside from changing the culture surrounding the treatment for our most vulnerable, we also need stricter laws and punishments surrounding these heinous crimes. Often victims of abuse are forgotten and overlooked by our bustling society, as we are so consumed with the here and now. It is time we pause and recognize these largely forgotten victims.

My colleague and I in the House today are determined to get vulnerable persons the support and services they need to stay independent and stay safe. I am grateful for the member for Yellowhead's bill, which will hopefully shed more light on this important issue. It is time we give a voice back to the hundreds of thousands of people who have been silenced by the injustice of our broken system.

These vulnerable persons feel isolated and alone and often these caregivers are their only connection to the real world. However, we, the Canadian government, are also their caregivers and we have a duty to stand up and protect these people when they cannot protect themselves. Abuse can happen to anyone at any time, but it is far more dubious to commit abuses against individuals without the means to protect themselves.

As our society changes, our government needs to equip itself with the right legislation to confront our current issues and provide a safer future for all. Bill C-206 would provide just that: a method to provide a safer future for all Canadians, especially Canada's most vulnerable.

In closing, I would like to thank the member for Yellowhead and everyone who spoke today in support of this bill.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for having an opportunity to speak on the second reading debate of Bill C-206, an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding the abuse of vulnerable persons.

I would like to begin by thanking my colleague from Yellowhead for giving us the opportunity to discuss this important social issue as well as for the excellent work he has done in his riding and here in the House of Commons over a number of years.

From what I understand about this complex social issue, we will need a multi-faceted approach to effectively address exploitative and abusive conduct toward seniors.

Bill C-206 proposes to amend paragraph 718.2(a) of the Criminal Code to list as an additional aggravating factor acts that target abuse toward seniors and vulnerable adults who depend on others for their care because of their mental or physical disabilities. The objective of the bill is to bring further protections to seniors and other vulnerable persons by imposing tougher penalties on offenders who commit crimes of abuse against these types of victims.

The Criminal Code presently includes a number of offences of general application that offer equal protection to all Canadians from abusive criminal conduct. Additionally, the Criminal Code directs a sentencing court to account for all aggravating and mitigating circumstances relating to the offence or the offender. It explicitly lists a number of aggravating factors that can apply in cases involving the abuse of elderly or vulnerable persons. These aggravating factors include evidence that an offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on age or the mental or physical disabilities of the individual.

This last aggravating factor was enacted by Bill C-36, the Protecting Canada's Seniors Act, which essentially codified common law sentencing practices, because courts were already required by case law to consider the specific impact an offence had on a particular victim, given all their circumstances.

If a sentencing court is already required under the current law to consider all aggravating or mitigating factors relating to the commission of the offence and the offender, including consideration that the offence had a significant impact on the victim, having regard for his or her age or other personal circumstances, including, of course, health and financial situation, I am interested to hear from the member for Yellowhead what situations he is imagining would be covered by his proposed amendment that are not currently covered under the Criminal Code.

It is important to acknowledge that the investigation and prosecution of crime involving elder abuse or abuse of persons with disabilities in Canada is predominantly undertaken by the provinces. As such, it may be wise to consider the impact Bill C-206 would have on the provinces, including the potential for increased litigation relating to interpreting the scope of the proposed aggravating factor, in light of what is already in the Criminal Code.

While it is important to address any gaps in the law with respect to protecting offended seniors or other vulnerable persons, non-legislative responses, such as public education campaigns about the protection offered by the law and further investments in services and programs, are also important measures for Parliament to consider. Non-legislative measures can target the socio-economic factors that increase the susceptibility of these victims to be exploited or abused.

I recall the testimony of Ms. Susan Eng, a representative of the Canadian Association for Retired Persons, who testified before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Bill C-36, the Protecting Canada's Seniors Act, that the aggravating factors proposed in that bill, on their own, were “but one element in a comprehensive strategy needed to prevent, detect, report, investigate, and ultimately prosecute elder abuse.”

I agree with Ms. Eng. I know that there are a number of non-legislative initiatives the federal government has spearheaded to support the needs, and prevent the abuse, of the victims referred to in Bill C-206.

The federal victims strategy initiative, led by Justice Canada, aims to give victims a more effective voice in the criminal justice system. For instance, the victims fund, which is available through the federal victims strategy, is accessible to provincial and territorial governments and non-governmental organizations to support projects that address the needs of victims and survivors of crime in the criminal justice system. It is my understanding that the victims fund can support projects that meet the needs of the victims who are the focus of Bill C-206.

In 2016, Justice Canada issued a call for proposals, under the victims fund, to non-governmental organizations for projects that would help address gaps in supports and services, raise awareness or advance research to benefit victims and survivors of crime with disabilities, including seniors with disabilities. Seven projects are currently being funded.

In one project, researchers at the University of Toronto worked with three organizations, Womenatthecentre, DAWN Canada and Brain Injury Canada, to address existing gaps in supports and services for women with disabilities who are survivors of crime. The focus of the research project was women who experience intimate partner violence who have sustained disabling, permanent traumatic brain injuries. As a result of this work, a toolkit was developed to provide knowledge of intimate partner violence through educational materials for front-line staff who are supporting women survivors of intimate partner violence who have sustained traumatic brain injuries.

As well, the University of Toronto worked with indigenous organizations across Canada to raise awareness with respect to women with disabilities who are survivors of crime and to expand a toolkit that is specific to the indigenous context.

I am also aware that through the federal victims strategy, Justice Canada hosts knowledge-building events that are designed to provide information about elder abuse and supporting victims who are seniors.

In addition to commemorating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, 2018, Justice Canada hosted an information session to explore various approaches in supporting and empowering women victims and survivors with disabilities, including senior women with disabilities who are victims of domestic violence. These knowledge-exchange information sessions are available to victims and survivors of crime, victims advocates, victims service providers, police officers and legal professionals.

I am also aware of the Justice Canada component of the federal family violence initiative, an initiative that is led by the Public Health Agency of Canada. It provides project funding to support the development of models, strategies and tools to improve the criminal justice system's response to family violence, including elder abuse.

The family violence initiative also addresses elder abuse by providing resources for the public. One helpful tool is the booklet published by the Department of Justice on its website entitled “Elder Abuse is Wrong”. The publication is designed for seniors who may be suffering from abuse by someone they know, such as an intimate partner, spouse, family member or caregiver.

Educating these vulnerable people about the resources available, as well as making investments in the services and programs that will address these victims' needs, can have an extremely positive impact on curbing these forms of abuse and exploitation.

The objective of protecting elders and other vulnerable victims is of great importance, and I look forward to hearing the views of other members as we continue to explore a full range of issues that come forward in considering Bill C-206.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired, and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

Members Not Seeking Re-election to the 43rd ParliamentGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

It being 6:32 p.m., pursuant to order made on Tuesday, May 28, the House will now proceed to statements by members not seeking re-election in the 43rd Parliament.

Before we begin this evening's debate, I would like to remind hon. members of how the proceedings will unfold.

Each member speaking will be allotted 10 minutes. Speeches are not subject to a question and comment period.

Pursuant to the same order, this evening's debate will be interrupted after three hours or when no member rises to speak.

Members Not Seeking Re-election to the 43rd ParliamentGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.


Bill Casey Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate this opportunity. I hesitated to give my farewell speech, because this is the third farewell speech I have given. I have had a rather zigzag career, so members have to pay attention, because I am going to outline it.

I was first elected in 1988 as a Progressive Conservative. Then, in 1993, I was defeated by a Liberal, if members can believe that. Then, in 1997, I was recycled as a Progressive Conservative and elected again. Several elections later, Mr. Harper came along and changed the party to the Conservative Party of Canada, and I ran for that party. He invited me to sit as an independent, which I did. Then, in 2009, I resigned my seat for health reasons, thinking I would never come back. I made a farewell speech at that time, which I just read, and it was kind of interesting.

Here I am, back again. In my last farewell speech, I said I had sat 6,149 days, and I figure that now I have spent something like 7,499 days in the House.

I want everyone to know that every single day has been fantastic. It has been the most interesting thing anyone could ever do, and I encourage people to consider running for office. The hours are long and the stress is awful, but representing people in a riding is the most wonderful job a person can do. For me, it has been a great honour and a great pleasure.

I do not know if Canadians knows this, but this place works. It really works well. We have a government, which could be one party or another, and we have opposition parties. The opposition parties have a job to do and the government has a job to do. Between them, they keep Canada between the rails of a highway, as I like to think of it. If the government goes too far to the left and hits the guardrail, the opposition brings it back. If it goes too far to the right and hits the guardrail, it will come back. This keeps Canada on the straight and narrow, and we never vary too much. We are very fortunate to have this system.

We are also really fortunate to have this system because, as a backbencher, I know that every single day the ministers are going to be here. I can walk across the floor and talk to them if I have an urgent issue from a constituent. I actually do this. The same thing goes for opposition members. I do not know of another system on the planet that has that availability of ministers to backbenchers and other members of Parliament. It is a good system and it works.

I also think that every single member of Parliament I have ever met has brought something to the table. If a person can get through the nomination process in this country and then get through the election process to get a seat in the House, he or she brings something to the table. Members bring experience, knowledge and personality to the table, and every single member of Parliament adds value, with the possible exception of the member for Cape Breton—Canso, but he is all right.

I want to acknowledge the contribution made by backbench MPs, as often the focus is on cabinet. Backbench MPs do a lot of good things, and I think they are not recognized enough.

I sit on the health committee. We have a great health committee, with NDP, Liberal and Conservative members. We are there for one reason only: to hear about the health concerns of Canadians. Nothing else matters. We have philosophical differences, but mostly we are there to deal with the health concerns of Canadians.

Today we heard about violence against health care workers. I had no idea this was an issue until witnesses came to our committee. It sounds like a frightening situation. Hopefully the backbenchers on that committee can advise the health minister on how we might be able to make a difference.

Committees work, and the backbenchers do a good job.

Another thing backbenchers do is propose private members' bills, and these change the lives of Canadians. I want to run through a few of them. As it happens, the five I will mention are from members of Parliament from Nova Scotia.

The member for Halifax brought forward a motion to ensure that sound environmental consultations are completed before infrastructure investments are made. I think this is a great idea.

The member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour established a national strategy for safe disposal of lamps containing mercury. His mother, Joy, is my constituent, and she is my favourite constituent.

The member for West Nova brought forward a bill ensuring that Remembrance Day is formally recognized as a federal holiday. I always thought it was.

The member for South Shore—St. Margarets moved a motion ensuring that abandoned and derelict vessels are taken care of in a sound manner. That is now national policy coast to coast.

I, the very distinguished member for Cumberland—Colchester, had a bill asking the government to establish a system to help indigenous groups repatriate their artifacts. That passed unanimously.

There is another one I want to mention. The member for Calgary Confederation, a Conservative member, brought a private member's bill to enhance organ donation in this country. We are way behind in this. His bill is simple, and it is important that it get passed. It passed in this House unanimously. It is stuck in the Senate, and I hope it can move along with my bill and many others.

My point is that private members make a difference in the lives and the environment and the health of all Canadians. They deserve a lot of credit, and sometimes that is overlooked.

When I made my last speech, I did not know I was going to come back. I thought I was done. I had health issues and did not think I would ever see this place again. However, in 2014, I got an email from the leader of the Liberal Party, which was in third place at the time. He asked if I would be interested in running. These are the people who defeated me back in 1993, but I felt very comfortable with them. I had gotten to know the member for Papineau when I sat over there as an independent with him. It has been a very productive three and a half years.

I am so glad that through Parks Canada we designated the Acadian village of Beaubassin as a national historic site. Parks Canada has now erected a pavilion and commemorative plaques and is going to have signage right away that will enhance that location.

Another project was Isle Haute, a wonderful pristine island in the Bay of Fundy. In 2001, the government was considering divesting it. It took from then to now, but just three weeks ago we designated it a wilderness preserve, and it is preserved forever. I am so grateful for that.

I am really glad that the issue of rising sea levels and climate change is being recognized, because I live at the head of the Bay of Fundy, and everything at the Bay of Fundy is exaggerated. The tides at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy are five or six feet; at the head of the Bay of Fundy, they are 50 feet. They are exaggerated, so a little rise in sea level at the mouth is a big rise at the head of the Bay of Fundy. The Government of Canada has now identified two different programs to deal with erosion and rising sea levels, which are critical.

In a month, we are going to recognize the Amherst prisoner of war camp. It was the biggest prisoner of war camp in Canada in World War I. It is going to have its 100th anniversary, and the ceremony will include the entire German Luftwaffe band. I encourage everybody to go to and have a look.

In this short time, I have a lot of thanks to give and I am going to rush them because I am running out of time. They should not be rushed; they do not deserve it.

I want to thank my staff in Amherst, Truro and Ottawa: Sandra, Jon, Deby, Trish and Joel, and all those staff who helped me over the years to make me a successful member of Parliament. Every single one of them is dedicated to helping people and giving the help they need.

I want to thank the security people on the Hill, everywhere. They help us all the time. They protect us, but they also help us.

I thank the pages, who make sure we know what we are doing and where we are.

I want to thank the clerk and the table officials. They understand this place like none of us do. We can go to them and find out what is going on all the time. Not only that, but they remember every single one of our names, somehow.

Of course, I want to thank the voters who sent me here under three different party flags and as an independent. I am truly honoured to represent the interests of Cumberland—Colchester. I am grateful to every single person in the riding, whether that person voted for me or not. I appreciate them very much. This has been an honour, off and on for 30 years, and I will never forget it.

I want to thank our Liberal caucus, our Nova Scotia caucus, Atlantic caucus and national caucus. I went to the first Liberal caucus and on the way home I called my wife and said, “You know what? They laugh at the Liberal caucus.” It has been a great experience to get to know everybody, and I have made some great friends.

Finally, I want to thank my family. My number one person in my life is Rosemary, my wife of 49 years and five months. Everybody everywhere should know that this job is hard on spouses. We see the cut and thrust, but we also see that when the cameras are off we get along pretty well. All they see is the cut and thrust, and I find that it puts an awful strain on spouses. Everybody should keep that in mind. It is a very difficult job for spouses; it is hard on them.

I want to thank our children, Michael, Holly and Allison. I am very proud of them all. They are working their way through life and they have made a sacrifice for 7,499 days while I was a member of Parliament as well. I appreciate it. I want to recognize our grandchildren, Willow, Jasper and Autumn. They bring joy to our life, and they even seem to like us.

With that, I want to say thanks for this opportunity. I want to thank everybody in this House, from all parties and all positions, for the opportunity to work with them. It has been an honour. I am not done yet. I am going to be here for a while, but this is my opportunity to speak. It is truly an honour to be part of this, in this building and the other building. I could not have done anything for 30 years that would have been more rewarding, more satisfying and more interesting. Thanks very much.