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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was ensure.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Trinity—Spadina (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2006, with 40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Seniors October 31st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, we want to ensure that every senior who is eligible for GIS receives it. Of the 1.6 million seniors who receive GIS, every year 1.3 million automatically get renewed with their income tax forms. For the remaining we outreach, we advertise, we do mailings and we continue to communicate.

We care for the most vulnerable in our society. That is why we have increased the GIS by $433 when fully implemented. I encourage all members of the House to reach out to their constituents and ensure that they all receive what is fully due to them.

Social Development October 17th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her concern for our three million Canadians, our unsung heroes, who give of themselves 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with little at their behest.

What we are saying is that we are having a national conference today and tomorrow. We brought together Canadians from across the country to ensure that cooperatively with the provincial and territorial governments we will find a long term solution to help those who are our heroes.

Social Development September 30th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his great concern regarding our seniors who helped build this great nation of ours. As we know, tomorrow is the United Nations' celebration of older persons. It is a year of great celebration, considering what they have done in our country and around the world.

In Canada we are developing our national action plan for seniors, with a $2.7 billion increase in GIS, a seniors' secretariat, a new horizons program, affordable housing measures and rent supplements. We continue to do this to ensure that our seniors live with the dignity they deserve.

Social Development September 27th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend the hon. member on her efforts with regard to seniors and caregivers.

As the hon. member knows, this government has been working ferociously to ensure that our seniors have the dignity that they deserve in our society. We have doubled the medical expense tax credit for those disabilities and the families and caregivers. We have made the largest GIS increase in the history of this country. We will continue working with the seniors secretariat to ensure that we are ahead of the curve on the demographics so that our seniors are taken care of. We are working with the caregiver stakeholders across the country to ensure that we are sensitive--

Extended Sitting Period June 22nd, 2005

I hope you go into prime time so Canadians can watch what you are saying.

Extended Sitting Period June 22nd, 2005

Say something meaningful.

Department of Social Development Act June 6th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I just came in to put my book in and I was listening to the hon. member. We have had this discussion and debate for quite a while.

As he knows, the $2.7 billion is $700 million a year when fully implemented for low income seniors, $12,400 that they receive with an increase of $433 per year. I would be surprised if the hon. member would want to deprive his low income seniors from receiving that. With his vote against the budget, I am very shocked and surprised because on the one hand he speaks as if he cares about the seniors, which by the way I do believe, but on the other hand, he ignores that he is voting against those same seniors, and not only those who did not apply for the GIS who were eligible, but he is going against all the low income seniors in his riding who actually do receive the GIS because that $433 increase is not a lot in an overall number but it is a great deal compared to what they have received over the last 20-plus years.

I know that in the government they have been reaching out, sending out letters and outreach workers to ensure that anyone who is eligible for the guaranteed income supplement will receive it.

I ask the hon. member, who has been a member in this House for many years, if he chose to write in his householders or his 10 percenters, or search for those low income seniors who might not have applied. Did he do all that good work to ensure that each of those persons who deserve the money actually applies? The role of a member of Parliament is to ensure that their constituents receive all that is available to them. That is what upsets me in this House sometimes.

It is very nice to give the rhetorical storyline that the government is taking six years back, six years forward. If only he would deal with the facts as they are presented.

In January of this year it will be a $218 increase for those low income seniors and then fully implemented a year later. It was supposed to be over five years but we reduced it to over two years to speed it up because we care about our seniors. We created the Seniors Citizens Secretariat, with the budget they voted against, to ensure that seniors across the country have a person at the cabinet table, have research facilities and have all that is theirs because they helped build this great country.

There is a lot that the hon. member is speaking to which I believe but on the other hand he voted against the budget which would have allowed this to happen, especially with the new horizons program. When we take into account the organizations that will help seniors to become less isolated, there are many good measures in this budget that the hon. member and his party are voting against.

It is very nice to tell his constituents that he cares but he should put it into action, go against his party and pass the budget for seniors because they ultimately will be the beneficiaries of this and that is what is going to count.

What did the hon. member do to ensure any of his constituents, any low income seniors, actually were able to receive the benefit and not just talk about it and then cry later?

Business of Supply May 31st, 2005

Mr. Chair, we are working with the minister and we do understand the issues of affordable housing on this side of the House. I was on the Anne Golden task force in Toronto regarding homelessness and of course caucus colleagues pushed very hard on that report to ensure that SCPI would be the result of all of our work.

A billion dollars toward transitional housing has been in place across the country and I believe also in the member's community. It has worked extremely well for many Canadians, who do not have the income, to allow them to have the home that they want. This has been a great step in my riding alone. Many transitional housing units have been built very successfully and there are more coming.

With the national housing agenda that is coming forward with $600 million in the member's province of Ontario, it will go a long way to build affordable housing. The coop housing administration was passed over to the CHT. I think that has gone extremely well with the support of many members in the House.

There is a lot that is taking place in housing. As I mentioned earlier with the rent supplements, that will go to help low income persons who are on waiting lists in many regions. With the previous Conservative government in Ontario, I went up to see minister Hodgson at the time and of course he would have no part of affordable housing. However, we have persevered and now with a government that is more cooperative with us, we are looking forward to ensuring that all Canadians have the kind of housing of which they can be proud.

Business of Supply May 31st, 2005

Mr. Chair, what is exciting is we are conducting round tables across the country. We hearing from professionals, from caregivers and from the care receivers. We are hearing a lot of ideas. We hope that in late September we will continue to crystallize where the vacuum is in order to achieve some relief for those who continue to make the lives of their loved ones better.

Aside from what we mentioned earlier, take into account the medical expense tax credit and the moneys that will eventually be there for home care. Of course respite care is extremely important to give people a break, especially the unpaid caregiver.

We have also launched in Social Development Canada an interactive web page that will allow caregivers to express their concerns and experiences. That way we can continue to enrich our ideas in a way that will make a difference in their lives.

In the first week alone there were 3,500 hits with personal experiences and suggestions. We encourage all Canadians to go to the Social Development Canada website and communicate with us if they cannot attend one of the other round table perspectives.

Business of Supply May 31st, 2005

Mr. Chair, I would like to congratulate the hon. member for York West who has been working with seniors for a countless number of years. Every several days she has a new group coming into Ottawa and hosts a great number, including a group of 110 seniors from her constituency tomorrow, with whom I hope to meet.

There is a lot we should be excited about regarding our seniors. In 1980 the poverty rate was at 21% and in 2003 it was below 7%. We have a way to go but we will work very hard with all members of the House. We know that without our seniors, who worked to build this great nation, we would not have democracy, freedom and the respect we have around the world.

We should take into account members on this side of the House who have been working on issues regarding with seniors for many years. There are several here today, including the member for Beaches—East York and many others who continue to work with us to ensure that we are always ahead of the curve when it comes to our seniors, who we all respect.

The Prime Minister's task force made 17 recommendations only a year ago and close to 13 of them already have been implemented. We are working toward a way of reducing poverty among seniors and giving them the kind of dignity and respect we all want for our own families.

The hon. member mentioned the GIS increase. When someone is earning $12,400, the amount of $433 is not a lot but it is a good beginning. It cost the government $700 million a year. Along with that we have a new senior secretariat that will be formed when the budget passes. This will allow us to be the lens, where all issues from all levels of government will be dealt with in a way that we around the cabinet table can ensure that any issue that affects seniors will be looked at and dealt with the respect it deserves.

At the FPT meeting for seniors last week in Quebec City, we had a great start. Many of the provincial ministers talked about wanting to go with the program, to meet yearly, to work together cooperatively on issues that would make the lives of our seniors much better.

We work across departments such as housing. The Minister of Labour and Housing has been kind enough to work with us in a way that ensures that a portion of the affordable housing money will be put aside for low income seniors and the disabled, such as through RRAP, to ensure that seniors stay in their homes much longer so they can live in the communities they helped build.

We are working toward ensuring that many issues will come forward to ensure seniors have the access to affordable housing which the hon. member across the aisle asked about earlier today, such as rent supplements. As we know, if we take several of the ratings, whether it is the low income cut off point or the market basket group, whichever method one wants to use, we are trying to ensure that seniors reach this level so they are not living in poverty. We know seniors are living longer, healthier lives so we want to ensure they have the accommodations and extra dollars that will allow them to fully integrate in our society.

This brings us to the new horizons program. It will allow those organizations across the country that deal with seniors to find ways to reduce isolation, to include seniors who have contributed a great deal and who have so much more yet to contribute and to ensure that they are integrated, whether it is in our school systems with our young or mentoring society at large.

We know our seniors contribute more voluntary time, double the amount of others. We have to ensure that they are given the tools to continue to make our lives better together.

Of course there are many other issues that are extremely important to ensure our seniors can contribute in many ways to make our lives better.

We are talking to the minister responsible for CIDA about the Canada Corps and about the possibility of having our seniors participate in that program. On veterans' day sometimes our seniors go into schools and communicate with the children. They tell people of the sacrifices they made so we could live the freedom we so cherish.

We want to expand that. We want to find ways of working together with community groups. New horizons for seniors is a perfect vehicle for that.

There are many more issues about which we can continue to talk, whether it is the caregiving file or seniors who are disabled. We have to find ways to keep them in their homes, similar to Veterans Affairs which uses the home independence program.

We have to find ways that allow our seniors to create, as we did with the minister of housing with the garden suites or seniors flats. This allows seniors to have some company in their home if they so choose. With the money the government gives through the RRAP program, they can create that extra suite and extra source of income. It also creates the opportunity for a low income senior to possibly move in with a senior who has that extra room. It allows for both to have reasonable cost and reasonable revenue.

I think that is the creative approach about which the hon. member asked. She asked what were doing to ensure that we made the lives of our seniors better. Many more ideas will be coming forward. With the minister of housing, I am trying to see if a reverse mortgage will ever be introduced by CMHC for low income seniors. We are looking forward to the day it gives us some good news on that.

I think of the excitement we have within our caucus. Members continue communicating with us and giving us the information that they think will work. We challenge once again our hon. members across the aisle to come up with ideas. Together we can make the lives of seniors better, where they will not in any way live in poverty.