House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was system.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for St. John's West (Newfoundland & Labrador)

Won her last election, in 1993, with 55% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Aquaculture Industry March 4th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, the future of the aquaculture industry in Newfoundland is very promising. Announcements made by the federal aquaculture development strategy is evidence of this.

Also, the aquaculture steering committee's strategic plan for the development of Newfoundland and Labrador is further evidence. Additionally, a $100 million economic renewal program has committed $20 million to the industry to foster development.

Aquaculture in Newfoundland is entering a growth period where production is expected to rise dramatically over the next two to three years and well into the future. With this new growth, new jobs will be created in my riding of St. John's West as well as many other rural and coastal communities where limited opportunities exist.

Business Of The House December 12th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I stood in my place just shortly after the vote. I would like to note that I was unavoidably late for the vote. Had I been here I would have voted with my party.

Employment Insurance December 11th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, in Newfoundland, as in most other provinces, seasonal work is very important to the economy. Would the Minister of Human Resource Development assure me, the constituents of St. John's West and the rest of Canada, that the particular circumstances of seasonal workers have been taken into account in considering the new employment insurance legislation?

Committees Of The House December 8th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans on Bill C-98, an act respecting the oceans of Canada. As vice-chair of the committee, I would like to extend my thanks to the members of the committee for their hard work in connection with this bill. It demonstrates the kind of co-operation we have received in this instance.

Auditor General Act November 23rd, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in support of Bill C-83. The Liberal Party red book stated that the government would provide national environment and economic agendas. We also said that one of our priorities would be to appoint an environmental auditor general who would report to Parliament directly and would have powers of investigation similar to those of the auditor general. Bill C-83 fulfils this commitment and does even more.

Bill C-83 demonstrates that the government is serious about environmental and sustainable development, that we are willing to change the way government does business, and that government is not afraid to be held publicly accountable for what it does or does not do.

Federal government policies and operations have an impact on the decisions of Canadians, on the economy and on the environment. It is critical therefore that environmental and sustainable development considerations are integrated in government decision making. By getting its house in order the federal government can actively promote the shift to sustainable development throughout Canadian society. This is what Bill C-83 is all about.

The Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development deserves a large share of the credit for the bill. The committee examined the government's red book commitment to establish an environmental equivalent to the auditor general. It recommended the establishment of a commissioner of environment and sustainable development. It provided valuable input at report stage when it made several recommendations to improve the bill.

Bill C-83 explicitly incorporates environmental and sustainable development in the Auditor General Act. It would also give the auditor general the explicit legal mandate to include environmental effects alongside the traditional considerations of economy, effectiveness and efficiency among the considerations he uses to determine the observations he will bring to the attention of the House of Commons.

Bill C-83 will also provide the federal government with leadership in making the shift to sustainable development. The amendments will proactively promote sustainable development across all federal departments.

Under the act ministers will be required to table in the House sustainable development strategies that include their departments' activities and plans of action to further sustainable development. Departments will also be required to update their strategies every three years and ministers to table updates in the House.

Bill C-83 will authorize the auditor general to forward petitions on environmental matters from the public to the responsible ministers. These ministers must respond within a specified timeframe.

The amendments I have just mentioned are significant in and of themselves but the bill goes much further. It creates a truly independent commissioner of environment and sustainable development. The commissioner will be established within the office of the auditor general. This will strengthen the role of the commissioner, ensuring independence and greatly enhancing the auditing of the government's environmental performance. The office of the auditor general has clout. It is independent from government. It is well respected and has solid expertise that can be put to use at once.

There is another advantage to the innovation. Within the work of the auditor general issues of environment and sustainable development will be integrated directly with economic considerations. This kind of integration is what sustainable development is all about.

To ensure his independence as an effective critic of government the commissioner will be appointed by the auditor general. The commissioner will be the auditor general's right hand person, helping him perform all his duties in so far as they relate to environmental and sustainable development.

The commissioner will monitor and report annually to the House on any aspects of sustainable development, environmental, economic or social, where they merit attention. These issues would include the extent to which departments are implementing their sustainable development action plans as set out in their strategies; the extent to which these action plans are effective and departments are achieving their sustainable development objectives; and the number, subject matter and status of petitions received by ministers.

The annual green report of the commissioner will not be the only report to the House on the government's sustainable development and environmental performance. The auditor general, assisted by the commissioner, may also report on environmental matters in his traditional reports to the House.

These amendments are historic and unprecedented. They will have far reaching implications for the way the federal government does business. They ensure that no matter who the auditor general happens to be, environment and sustainable development will have a high profile in the work of the office. They will provide leadership on sustainable development by proactively promoting and operationalizing sustainable development across federal departments and across economic sectors of the country. They will hold the government fully accountable to the public for its leadership and progress in making the shift to sustainable development.

The government has taken a red book commitment and engaged Parliament and Canadians in fulfilling it. Contrary to what the Bloc member who spoke said, it was a commitment in our red book and not one of their ideas.

I look forward to Bill C-83 becoming law and to the appointment of a strong and independent commissioner.

Canada Oceans Act November 23rd, 1995

Mr. Speaker, on June 14 the government tabled Bill C-98, the Canada Oceans Act. This legislation is structured to provide a legal framework for the implementation of a new ocean management strategy. The Canada Oceans Act is needed to enable nation-wide management of our oceans on an ecosystem basis while ensuring that economic opportunities are achieved.

The province of Newfoundland is unique in its location and its dependency on intelligent oceans resource management. For this reason, the Canada Oceans Act is a landmark piece of legislation and is directed at the promotion of sustainable development and the protection of ocean resources.

With the Canada Oceans Act came the merger of the Canadian Coast Guard and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. One key role for this integrated fleet will be fisheries conservation inside the 200-mile limit. Groundfish and other species will be protected while nature rebuilds these resources and shellfish will be protected from over-exploitation.

The Canada Oceans Act signals a renewal of Canada's-

Veterans Week November 7th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to make mention of the fact that the Prime Minister has declared a special period of commemoration which will run from November 4 to 12 to be known throughout Canada as Veterans Week.

Veterans Week will increase awareness among Canadians of the contribution of those who served during wartime and in peacekeeping activities throughout the world.

One of the activities designated for Veterans Week was the national spirit of peace run that took place in St. John's, Newfoundland on November 5. The run was arranged to create a link between the 50th anniversary of the end of the second world war and that of the founding of the United Nations. It took place in designated cities across the country and represented a nationwide gesture of commemoration and support of Canada's ongoing peace efforts.

Department Of Health Act November 7th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak in support of Bill C-95 not only because it provides a framework for Health Canada, not only because Canadians are renowned worldwide because of their health care system, but because today more than ever we need the support of a vigorous health care system.

There are those who condemn the cost of uniform health care to all Canadians. These individuals fear that a changing economy and a fast moving society will make it more difficult to maintain the current system.

As technology improves and surgical breakthroughs evolve, expenses increase. Transplants and bypasses are becoming more common and the therapy and equipment associated with these operations are more costly.

We are moving from an industrial age to an information era. Associated with this transformation are economic and social disruptions which bring greater demands to the system.

Our current system though stressed is simply reflecting the pressures associated with change. We already have a system that has provided a foundation stable enough to support change and we now maintain that system as the cornerstone of our society.

In my riding of St. John's West unemployment rates are some of the highest in the country. Every rise in the unemployment rate brings a greater increase in stress related diseases.

Our country represents a nation united. This could be seen in the strong support that Quebecers received, including support from those in my riding.

As our nation experiences change, we see fluctuations of high and low points in the economy of each province. What we need is stability. We need stable variables to rely on. One variable must be our health care system. This system must serve to maintain stability and unity within and between the provinces, a symbol of what it means to be Canadian.

Increases in stress related diseases produce associated afflictions such as increase in spousal abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction, high blood pressure and cardiac problems. The stress of not having the stability of a uniform health care system to rely on will certainly generate increases in stress and stress related diseases.

Members opposite have from time to time criticized the Department of Health because they say it spends too much money. I say it is money well spent, and not more than its responsibilities require.

The Department of Health is the department of defence against disease, the common enemy of all Canadians. Health allows no fiscal restraint. It is the challenge of the Department of Health to maintain an infrastructure that guarantees quality health care to Canadians in good times and in bad regardless of their economic position.

The health system I see is one that does not represent a net cost to the country, but a benefit. It is not an expense but an investment. Every element of economic and social life in Canada gains from medicare. Canadian patients are freed from the extra burden of health spending when the trauma of illness weighs heavily. Physicians are assured of payment for their services, while retaining professional freedom. Hospitals have more financial security and can better serve Canadians.

Most important and least obvious is the fact that Canadian medicare provides many economic benefits to the country as a whole. To take one example, more than $7 out of every $10 that is spent on health care in Canada is paid out of a provincially administered insurance plan. This single payer system in each province has built in efficiencies that allow considerable control over total expenditures. This efficiency is what holds per capita health costs in Canada well below comparable costs in the United States. Because of this control over spending, personal resources are freed for other priorities, such as education, housing, and nutrition, all of which enhance the well-being of Canadians.

There are aspects of medicare that provide Canadian business with competitive advantages in the global market. Some international firms have established plants here because the cost of providing employee benefits in Canada is significantly lower than in the United States. Medicare enhances labour force mobility, and access to quality health care helps to ensure a healthy and productive workforce.

In St. John's West the labour force mobility is currently essential to long term sustenance, and the maintenance of our health care system is vital to ensuring the people of Newfoundland have a fighting chance in terms of labour mobility. Healthy business means economic growth, which in turn results in jobs, less unemployment, a healthier population, less stress related disease due to undue stress in the workplace, fewer demands on the health care system, and lower health care costs.

Health must be everyone's top priority. We must commit a large percentage of resources to maintaining health. It is our right and responsibility to do so. At the same time, we must be vigilant and

innovative to ensure that what we are spending is done with economy in mind.

Among the areas the Department of Health is investing in is health intelligence. This initiative, which will include participation in a new global network designed to detect emerging diseases, is endorsed by provincial governments. The provinces know that national leadership in this area is essential if we are to make the most cost effective choices among all available health technologies and options.

Inevitably, there will be an increase in movement toward international standards or international processes. This department on Canada's behalf is very much in the forefront of this trend and will lead, not follow, other countries in establishing health standards.

The minister has spoken about maintaining traditional values and at the same time getting value for money. In St. John's West and throughout Canada tradition is what has made our country so unique. Health Canada promises to work closely with the provinces and territories in order to avoid duplication of programs and services, contrary to the comments made previously by my colleague in the Bloc.

All in all, I have confidence that the department that will be brought formally into being by this bill has its priorities straight. It will serve Canadians. It will guard our health and our health care system. It will do this with regard for efficiency and for getting at least $1.10 of value for every $1 it spends. Above all, it will continue to provide assurance that our national life and economy will stay vital at the domestic level and competitive abroad based on a healthy and vigorous Canadian population.

I have no hesitation in supporting the passage of this bill to create the new Department of Health. I urge my colleagues across the floor to do the same.

Canadian Unity November 1st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to thank all those Canadians who travelled to the no rally in Quebec this past weekend, particularly those from my riding of St. John's West.

My office has been overwhelmed with letters of support expressing kind regards to all Quebecois and a hope that Quebec will remain within Canada.

I would like to read an excerpt from one of the letters that was written to me by a woman from Argentia in my riding which expressed her feelings on returning from the no rally in Montreal:

Dear Jean:

I have never felt more Canadian than when we arrived in Montreal last weekend and were greeted with such expressions of love and appreciation for attending the rally. The people we met were the same-their expressions of gratitude for our presence was really heartwarming.

"Thank you so much for your consideration", said one woman. "We need it; we don't want to be separate from Canada; we are suffering very much at this moment".

Small Business Loans Act October 27th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to add my voice to those of my colleagues today in speaking on Bill C-99, an act to amend the Small Business Loans Act.

As parliamentarians we are frequently called upon by our constituents to assist in the creation of employment in order to boost the economies of our ridings and subsequently the economy of our country.

Often two very significant areas, increased employment and minimal debt, are found to be in contrast with one another. Bill C-99 will provide a vehicle whereby businesses have greater access to capital which of course in turn creates more employment resulting in a healthier economy.

In my riding of St. John's West, the community of Argentia was struck about a year ago by the closure of the U.S. naval base. The closure of that base caused the residents of the area a great deal of distress. However, they did not roll over and die at the thought of losing their jobs. Instead they decided to build on what had been left on the base by the Americans.

With the very generous assistance of this government, they are now slowly beginning to open a few new businesses. One of the greatest setbacks to many of those new businesses is the inability to obtain financing in order to keep the businesses going. They seem to be having difficulties obtaining the required financing because of the size of their businesses. This new act will be a major asset to them.

Bill C-99 is a vehicle those people will be able to use hopefully in the very near future so they can continue to keep their businesses operating. This loans act is a part of the government's overall strategy to provide a positive environment for the growth of small business, especially with regard to accessing financial capital.

The SBLA came into effect in 1961. Its purpose was to continue to increase the availability of loans for the establishment and improvement of small business enterprises. Since then more than 420,000 loans totalling over $15 billion have been made to businesses. For over 30 years the SBLA has been helping such businesses obtain capital for improvements and expansion. This government is committed to maintaining the basic nature of this successful program.

The goal of the program is to assist small businesses in obtaining fixed asset financing which is otherwise unobtainable because businesses lack sufficient collateral, they are too new, or they are not located in large growth areas such as central Canada. Of all SBLA loans, 35 per cent go to start-ups and a further 20 per cent go to businesses under three years old.

As I stated earlier, the SBLA is particularly significant in my riding of St. John's West because it does provide funding for the formation and stabilization of an economic foundation based on small enterprise. The benefits are widely recognized. It helps small businesses which are so important to the economy right across the country. They are the foundation for economic strength and stability. The future economy of our country has been built on small business and it will continue to depend on them.

The cod fishery off the coast of Newfoundland has suffered a destruction and now there is a moratorium. Alternate measures must be found to promote the economy of that area. The SBLA mandate provides for funding to be targeted toward small businesses which are lacking collateral, which are not new and which are not located in the large centralized or industrial areas of Canada.

Newfoundland is a province with an abundance of culture, an educated populace and an international accessibility through trade due to its coastal location. Throughout my riding of St. John's West, industry based resources are abundant. There are natural harbours, forestry, and watershed management, to name a few.

Since April 1993 activity under the program has increased dramatically. A potential program deficit of over $100 million annually based on the 1994-95 activity levels was threatening the sustainability of the SBLA. The proposed changes would decrease the costs and increase the efficiency of the SBLA. The resulting strengthening of the program will enable it to continue to provide benefits to small businesses.

The proposed legislation was developed after extensive consultation with lenders and borrowers alike. Recommendations of the Standing Committee on Industry and the small business working committee have also been addressed. The major recommendation of all those consulted was unanimous: the government should act quickly to put the SBLA program on a full cost recovery basis, a move initiated by a regulatory change effective April 1, 1995.

Bill C-99 moves to initiate full cost recovery. The regulatory amendments of April 1 include a new 1.25 per cent annual fee which is levied on each lender's average outstanding balance on loans made after March 31, 1995. The second amendment states that the maximum rate a lender can charge under the SBLA is increased by 1.25 per cent to the prime interest rate plus 3 per cent for floating rate loans, and to the residential mortgage rate plus 3 per cent for fixed rate loans. These changes have put the SBLA

program on a sustainable cost recovery basis for all loans made after March 31, 1995.

In addition to full cost recovery incentives, Bill C-99 provides for improvements relating to borrowers and low volume lenders. These changes are secondary to the major regulatory changes of April 1, 1995 which introduced a new annual fee on lenders and an increased maximum interest rate.

Bill C-99 will continue the process of renewal by putting in place additional changes to the SBLA. It will permit the release of security, including personal guarantees, taken by lenders for repayment of the loans. It will also permit the establishment of a claims processing fee by regulation. It will improve government guarantees for coverage for low volume lenders, to improve competition among lenders particularly in the smaller communities, such as those in my riding.

Bill C-99 will permit the SBLA program in the future to respond more quickly to changing economic and program circumstances by allowing the guarantee percentage to be adjusted by regulation. It will accelerate a previously legislated decrease in the percentage of an SBLA loan which is guaranteed by the government from 90 per cent to 85 per cent.

These changes are of particular importance to my riding of St. John's West because of the emphasis on smaller communities.

In addition, new resiliency clauses which will be implemented into the SBLA are tailored to help small business respond more quickly to changing economic circumstances.

In summary, the changes incorporated into Bill C-99 will ensure that the program will continue to be successful in assisting small businesses in obtaining the financing which they so badly need for expansion and the creation of jobs throughout the country.