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

Business of Supply May 31st, 2005

Mr. Chair, I know that the member is passionate about the issue. First of all I do not think anyone would like to see anyone who should have been eligible for the GIS not get it.

Out of the 1.5 million Canadians who receive the GIS, 1.3 million automatically receive it through their tax returns. Unfortunately, 200,000 or thereabouts do not apply when they do their income taxes. Therefore applications are sent out to them every year. Unfortunately some do not respond. That is why we continue trying in every way possible to work with other levels of government, to work with our outreach people to go out, knock on the doors, do advertising, to find ways to reach as many seniors who are eligible so that they get what they deserve.

As members know with the $2.7 billion in this budget, it is the first time in Canadian budget history that seniors have been a line item in a main budget. I am very proud that $700 million a year will go to low income seniors, $433 when fully implemented. I am very proud of what the government has done.

Business of Supply May 31st, 2005

Mr. Chair, I just want to clear up one thing. The member indicated that I said something about him being insulting. I did not say that. Perhaps the translation did not get it right.

The hon. member was a member of the government in Quebec. It too has 11 months retroactivity on its programs. I wish he had fought as hard when he was a member of the Quebec provincial government to change all the programs to five years as he so desires.

Business of Supply May 31st, 2005

Mr. Chair, I know that the hon. member has a great concern in terms of retroactivity and those who were eligible but were not receiving the GIS at the time. The department sends out hundreds of thousands of information packages. We have outreach people. We continue trying to find ways--

Business of Supply May 31st, 2005

Mr. Chair, first of all I would like to express my gratitude to and support for the hon. member for Dartmouth--Cole Harbour. We can see the compassion and the understanding of the issue that we face regarding caregivers, the unsung heroes of our society.

I have spoken to many in this House. I know that many have their own personal circumstances, which they have dealt with for a long time. Some are more fortunate than others. There are many who are not.

As a society and a government what we must do is work with all the stakeholders and all levels of government to find ways to help our aging population, the disabled and the families that care for them with willingness, with love and with compassion. We must ensure that we help those three million people who do this unpaid, who give of themselves and find economic opportunities to help their families, especially in certain circumstances, or when they age, and a spouse, a partner, a neighbour or a friend becomes affected and they are there for them, whether it is to help them shop for groceries, cut the lawn, take them to a doctor or do whatever they need.

Together with all levels of government we must find ways to help these people. Without them Canada would be in very dire straits, because all the money that we put into health care would not come close to what is required to give these people the kind of life we would want for our loved ones.

In this budget, the first step we took was to increase the medical expense tax credit from $5,000 to $10,000. It is a first step.

With the round table discussions that we had in Atlantic Canada, the prairie provinces and Ontario, and which we will be having in B.C., what we are hearing from all the stakeholders, all the persons who make up the society from a caregiving perspective, is a clear message that sometimes one person alone cannot do it. The message is that it is a responsibility as a society for all of us to share, to help and to be there, whether it is in an economic way, lending a helping hand or just lending an ear sometimes. I think we can do it. What we are finding with our round tables is that everyone has a different opinion depending on their circumstances. This is not one size fits all.

What happens on the first day someone is actually in a situation where a loved one needs attention? What do people do? These are the kinds of questions that we are asking of ourselves in trying to find out what the first step is. With our election platform of $1 billion over five years, working with the provinces and with stakeholders, what is it that we can do to help fill the void, the vacuum, which will alleviate some of the first pressures that people face? Where do they turn?

As we all know, all levels of governments often work in silos. On day one, where does that person begin? As we work with everyone at our September national round table and as we ask this committee to actually consider as a priority where members can work with government, with us, what we are hoping to do is find a solution to some of the problems. We are not asking members to wait until we come here and give the answers. We are asking members to work together because there is no one answer.

I was hoping that the committee would be able to do some of that as we are travelling the country and meeting with all the stakeholders and the provincial ministers responsible. I believe that is a start. It is similar to the early childhood and child care program: we start somewhere.

Yes, there are tax measures to deal with the disabled, the 25 points that were put in the budget in terms of what the committee wanted. We are always moving the agenda forward because 40% of our seniors are disabled and people, regardless of their framework in life today, can be affected.

I was at a fundraiser, a Bay Street crowd for MS, and I was able to speak. I very briefly said to them that any of them could go home that night and face the difficulties of becoming a caregiver. It is important for all of us to work together, to reach out and to contribute in any way we can on an individual and collective way. Together we can solve some of the problems that are faced by caregivers.

We have an aging population and Canadians are living longer and healthier lives. However, they will also require government to be a part of that process.

There are many issues that will in effect be important for the committee to look at to ensure that we will make a difference in lives of people. I am excited about this issue because it really is a non-partisan issue. I can speak to any member, as I have in the past. I know members care just as deeply as we do. I challenge them to put some energy into this so we can come up with some solutions as we travel the country to make a difference. Some members have personal experiences and know better than others on how to solve some of these problems.

Business of Supply May 31st, 2005

Mr. Chair, taking into account that when the Mike Harris government in 1995 went in and from that point on there are three million more jobs in this country, 25% more Canadians are working today. It is because of good economic policies, but we also have a social conscience which is unlike the other party. We believe that Canadians have the opportunity. We have created opportunities from a good fiscal policy to ensure that all Canadians and children especially have all the opportunities for a good education to fulfill their dreams and our country's dreams.

Business of Supply May 31st, 2005

Mr. Chair, I would like to respond to the hon. member. Unfortunately before she became a federal member eight or nine months ago, and I guess a while before that, the hon. member was with the provincial Tory government that made tremendous tax cuts. Yet poor Laurie and her family still had the problems.

Imagine tax cuts alone if they were the solution. We would have all the problems solved. We would not be discussing that issue.

What we have is an opportunity to create an early learning child care system that yes, is only the beginning but will allow young children and their families to have the opportunities that many other families in our country have if they have money.

This is a great opportunity for the future of extending the system at the provincial level depending on the regions and what they institute.

Guaranteed Income Supplement May 20th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I know of the member's interest in seniors as we spoke earlier this week. However, he is also very much aware that the government is committed to ensuring that low income seniors have more opportunities in our society. In the budget, which he unfortunately voted against last night, the $2.7 billion over five years for low income seniors, especially in his region, will be very beneficial to many of the people who want to have the standard of living as he does.

Seniors May 18th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, this Liberal government believes in the value and the well-being of our seniors. Our seniors have helped build this nation to what it is today. In this budget there is $2.7 billion over five years to ensure our seniors are given the respect and the dignity they deserve.

We ask the members opposite to support our seniors and vote for the budget because they believe in it. We ask them to do so also.

Government of Canada May 13th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, his party is doing cheap political tricks. As he knows, on Thursday he will have all the opportunity to ensure that Canadians will have a say. As he knows, this budget is extremely important for low income seniors, those who only receive $12,439. When fully implemented this budget will give them $433, an increase that they desperately need. I ask the opposition to support low income seniors.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments May 10th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, it is very interesting to listen to the member who forgets a lot of the facts about his party. When we first took government in 1993 there was 11.4% unemployment and the interest rates were extremely high. In the last 12 years there have been three million new jobs. Twenty-five per cent more Canadians are working today than 12 years ago. It is because of good fiscal policy.

What one finds is that 85% of all new jobs are from SMEs, the small business sector. The government has instituted many policies to ensure that the small business community, the entrepreneurs of Canada, use their creative juices to put Canadians back to work. That is the reason we have been able to have the eight consecutive budgets. We have bypassed two American recessions even though we continue to supply many of our goods and services to them, because our entrepreneurs have become extremely efficient. With our fiscal policies, with the opportunities through the EDC and many other tools, they have been able to expand the horizons for all Canadians across the country and around the world.

It is very interesting that the member does not understand that this budget is a people budget. It ensures that all Canadians can have the standard of living that we all want for our own families and all Canadians. I know that the hon. member on the other side may be interested more in terms of tax cuts to large corporations as he was referring to the Americans but I know that this side of the House is very much interested in all Canadians sharing in wealth and being able to have for their children and their families all that we want for all of our own. I wonder when he is going to read the books that explain how this country has been doing extremely well because of the sensible policies we have been putting forward to ensure clean air and clean water, and security and safety for all of our citizens.

It is a pleasure to see the member for Abbotsford over there. The only shame is that he will not be running again.