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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was know.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as NDP MP for Surrey North (B.C.)

Won her last election, in 2006, with 46% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Petitions November 22nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to present a petition from a variety of people from across the country concerned about the lack of child care in their communities and the lack of opportunity for their children.

The petitioners call upon the government to reinstate the previous commitment to a national child care plan and to remove the condition that the child care funding that had been committed would be reduced after one year because there are many remote and rural communities with very unique needs that have plans in place that will now be destroyed and there will not be opportunities available for those children.

Health November 21st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, in Canada we spend 17% of health care money on prescription drugs and only 13% on doctors. Simple economics tells us that when medication is bought in bulk, it will cost less for working Canadians. Logic tells us when drug patents are limited to reasonable duration, medication becomes cheaper. No one waiting for cancer should be forced into poverty.

Why will the minister not implement the simple and logical solution, a catastrophic drug program? It is affordable, it is efficient and it strengthens our health system.

Health November 21st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the pharmaceutical policy of the federal government is driving up drug costs. The provinces, territories, employers and ordinary Canadians are left to pay the bills. Currently, the federal government only pays for approximately 2% of drug expenditures and 3.5 million Canadians are without any coverage if they find themselves in need of catastrophic drug coverage.

It is time to heed the call of Roy Romanow and create a national pharmaceutical plan. When is the minister going to get started?

Questions on the Order Paper November 20th, 2006

With respect to programs and spending administered by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, CMHC, within the riding of Surrey North: (a) what is the total annual budget of CMHC spending in 2006; (b) what is the projected budget for 2007; (c) how many CMHC funded housing units for singles and families currently exist; and (d) how many CMHC funded housing units for singles and families are planned for the remainder of 2006 and 2007?

Food and Drugs Act November 8th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, my vote was yes.

Criminal Code November 6th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, one of the reasons why we have seen a very small number of cases go forward is that we have to look at the people who have been exploited. These are not people who are likely to get a class action suit together and take it to court. These are people who do not have the resources to do that. They may not have the knowledge about how to do that. Almost unanimously, the most vulnerable people are not the people who are going to take a court case forward.

Am I worried about the people who want regulations? No, I am not. I will be watching very carefully, though, to make sure that those regulations are followed. I will take them at their word that they want those regulations and that they will follow them.

Criminal Code November 6th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I must say that I would need to have a very careful look at what Wal-Mart would intend to do in terms of bringing banking within their scope of business.

The member is correct when he says that Wal-Mart has extended hours, but Wal-Marts are not likely to find themselves in the same areas as those places that are under-serviced, such as the downtown east side of Vancouver or small rural areas that do need extended banking hours and are not likely to be within driving distance, walking distance or bus distance, if there is a bus, of a large anchor store such as Wal-Mart.

I do support anything within reason that would bring extended hours to people. Maybe there is a message for another kind of banking as well. The bank that eventually developed in the downtown east side of Vancouver offered a great deal more flexibility to its members than regular banking hours do. It recognized that the people who used that bank either did not work regular hours or did not have regular hours and were able to come in at times that other people could not. I think there would be an interest in anything that would provide more flexibility for banking. I must admit that I would want to see more carefully what Wal-Mart would intend to do with its banking, but we do see this within Safeway.

Criminal Code November 6th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I heard a statement. I am not sure I heard a question. I think people have recognized that Quebec has its own legislation and it does work. I do not believe that this is an attempt to override the legislation being brought forth by Manitoba or the legislation of Quebec. If the member believes that to be the case, then I would hope that those questions could be raised and debated at committee. I do not see this as an attempt to override the legislation that Quebec already has in place.

Criminal Code November 6th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for sharing her time with me.

I rise to support this legislation. If there were some way that my words would make it go faster or expedite it, I would happy to use whatever words those would be. I think it will move quickly because everyone understands what this means to the people in their communities. Even as we stand here today talking about it, there are people who are losing their homes and assets because they have found themselves in this irreversible cycle of interaction with payday loan companies and they cannot get out of it.

We perhaps would not necessarily expect, particularly in these economic times, many people to be in the situation where if they had an emergency before their next paycheque, they would not be able to manage it. This is not about people who fit a model where people understand why those people go to a payday loan company. Many people live from paycheque to paycheque. It could be a dental emergency for a child, or expensive medication, or a repair to a house, which they did not expect, and all of sudden they are stuck.

No one says there should not be payday loan companies. As the member has said, as did other members, I know there are times when those companies can provide assistance to people who otherwise cannot get it. However, if they are already in difficulty, they do not need assistance to become bankrupt. They do not need to lose all those things they were trying to keep because of that one financial outlay and the truly criminal rates that many payday loan companies charge.

We have many payday loan companies in the community in which I live. I am sure some are operating honourably. I have had payday loan companies say to me that they want to have regulations. They know the reputation of other kinds of payday loan companies is spilling over on to everyone.

This legislation shows that we can look at something and find a way, if we wish to, to respond to these issues without a big broad sweeping brush. As the member who spoke before me said, Manitoba is ready to bring in legislation. Quebec already has legislation and other provinces are looking at it, although as I look at these provinces, some may be looking at it more closely than others. I am not sure, but they are certainly working on legislation.

I think it shows that we can find a way, that this is not the heavy hand of the federal government saying to the provinces that it does not care what good things they have done, that those things are gone and that it will now go in and tell them. We recognize the good work the provinces have done. We also recognize that we cannot exploit the most vulnerable people.

The research and polling I have seen says that there certainly is a percentage of people who use a payday loan company once or twice in an emergency and do not go back, so they are fine. However, some people get caught in that cycle because of the interest rate, and they will never, ever be able to get out of it until they have lost all of their assets. We see people across this country who are in that situation.

I would like to believe that voluntary regulation works in anything, but my experience is that voluntary regulation does not work in very much. I know that the payday loan companies have introduced a set of voluntary guidelines, but we still see the abuse going on. No matter what the issue, I have yet to see voluntary guidelines that have been picked up by everybody. We have to provide a better solution for people in Canada, better than having the good people following voluntary regulations while the others do not.

We could recognize Manitoba's regulations or Quebec's, but having this piece of legislation in place across the country means that we would not have hundreds of companies suddenly packing up and moving to the province where they can make the most money because there is no regulation there. That is the last thing we want.

We have seen this with other businesses. They just move to where they can make the most money with the least restrictions. We cannot have that either, because it means that people in one province become even more vulnerable than other people have been across the country. This legislation ensures that companies are not able to do this. We have had court cases brought before the court by individuals or groups of customers, but they still do not provide safety for everyone in Canada.

The other issue this raises for me is that there are several places in Canada that do not have banking services. Some have been mentioned. Some are very small communities where the banks have closed up and moved out of Dodge, but there are also very poor urban areas where banking facilities are not available. In the downtown east side of Vancouver, with one exception brought in by some colleagues, there was no place for people to bank. People cashed their cheques somehow. They carried the money around and were very much at risk. There was no kind of banking service available. While I agree that it is primarily in small communities that banks leave, there are very poor parts of urban areas where banks do not exist and people do not have the services or the resources.

Nor do many people have information about payday loan companies, so the companies do not get caught. I do not know if any of their rates can be called reasonable, but if they know what a reasonable or a more common rate would be, they do not get caught. But when we go to a payday loan company because we have an emergency, we are desperate. Most people do not do this because they choose to. They do it because they are desperate. People do not have time to sit back, research, read some pamphlets or talk to someone about it. They use payday loan companies because they have an emergency situation. They are very vulnerable.

One point raised in a question from a colleague from the Conservative Party was about what would happen if a province chooses not to be involved. I think there are some issues that people can work out at committee, but given the circumstances in which people live in the country, given the incredible exploitation, given that people have lost their homes and do not have a place to live or resources for their children, I would hope that the bill would proceed expediently through committee so that Canadians will be protected as soon as possible.

Health November 1st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, over two years ago this House of Commons passed an NDP motion to ban trans fats in Canada. The entire city of New York will soon be trans fat free. Even the worst of the worst fast food has changed its ways, but the health minister is nowhere to be found on this issue. Trans fats have been scientifically proven to drastically increase the risk of heart attacks. They are totally unnecessary.

Will the minister announce today that Canada will officially be the second country in the world to ban trans fats in our food?