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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was women.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2015, with 20% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I did not hear the question. Would it be possible to repeat it? I did not hear the question.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, while we were all in the House last night, our leader suggested that negotiations resume and that there be a truce so people could have six months to negotiate in a thorough manner. The lockout has to be stopped and the locks removed.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, as soon as they get a majority, they exercise their authority. That's how I would characterize this government's attitude toward its responsibilities. The rotating strike started just one month after the election, to the day. The principle of a rotating strike, of course, is that it lasts 24 hours at one location before continuing at another.

The rotating strike was not supposed to penalize the entire country and would ensure service at all locations, with the exception of the municipality affected by the strike on a particular day, on a rotating basis, one municipality after another.

The government cannot tell us that a rotating strike is worse than a work stoppage forced by the employer. What is happening now is not a rotating strike, but rather a lockout. We can therefore say that everything has been brought to a standstill with the aid of the Conservative government.

The public is not blind. The rotating strike left the door open to negotiations between the two parties, but the lockout does not. The workers decided to conduct a rotating strike because they were aggrieved, as the government had offered them less than their employer, Canada Post.

The workers sought increases at least equal to the rate of inflation, particularly since Canada Post is profitable and therefore would run no risk by improving the situation of its employees. Remember that it earned a profit of $281 million last year.

A number of labour strikes have been harshly suppressed in the past. I can offer the example of the Winnipeg General Strike in 1919, the most famous strike in Canadian history. Within a few hours, 30,000 workers walked off the job. The issues were the collective bargaining principle, wage increases and improved working conditions. In 1949, there was another famous strike, the strike in Thetford Mines, involving 5,000 workers, including 2,000 miners from Asbestos. The issues there were wage increases, the pension plan and recognition for the family. The issues have always been the same.

That was a time when any attempt to organize in the workplace was immediately repressed. It was a time when there was no legislation on working conditions.

I get the unpleasant impression we are reliving that period when workers had no rights.

The current incidents at Canada Post are strangely similar to what happened in the last century.

The government complains of the harm done to small businesses, harm that it has caused through its lockout.

The government is trying to pass this bill as quickly as possible in contempt of the workers' most fundamental right.

The NDP sensed what I would call this totalitarian attitude long before the election. Unfortunately, our worst fears have been realized, and not just once, but twice.

The NDP opposed the budget tabled on June 6, 2011. It opposed the bill to end the strike by Air Canada's 3,800 call centre and check-in counter personnel, which was just barely avoided. It now opposes Bill C-6 because the bill does not enable the two parties to go back to the bargaining table to reach a joint solution.

However, the workers wanted to negotiate with management, and they want to continue those negotiations.

Canada Post wants new employees to accept reduced wages, benefits, job security and pension plans compared to what is offered to current employees. Quebec law prohibits employers from creating working conditions for new employees that are different from those enjoyed by current workers. However, employees of businesses under federal authority, such as banks, telecommunications companies and the Canadian public service, are not protected by that legislation. This “orphan clause” providing for differential treatment made headlines in Quebec a few years ago.

Might we state once again that it was the government that subjected the postal service to a lockout, not the unionized employees? Unionized employees were conducting rotating strikes to avoid harming small and medium-sized enterprises and the public. Unionized employees delivered pension, workers' compensation and employment insurance cheques to Canadians.

“Aimed at the black duck, killed the white, oh, son of the king, you are unkind.” That line from V'la l'bon vent, an old Quebec folk song, is very appropriate to the work required of us today by the Conservative government.

Mail service is of course very important to Canada's economy, and any extended stoppage of that service would call for action by the Government of Canada in the public's interest. But what is the black duck at which the Hon. Minister of Labour is aiming in this matter? What is the cause of this interruption in mail service across Canada?

After a few days of perfectly lawful rotating strikes that had virtually no effect on mail delivery, Canada Post management decided unilaterally to cut back Canada's postal service, violating, with impunity, its own mission to deliver the mail quickly and efficiently across Canada. That decision alone would have constituted grounds for the minister to table a bill to summarily dismiss Canada Post management for incompetence and contempt of public order.

But now the Minister of Labour has drawn her big silver gun in the form of a special act and drafted legislation mistreating postal workers instead of rightly attacking those who are disturbing the public order, Canada Post's senior management.

This legislation is out of all proportion to the harm it aims to remedy. Senior management at Canada Post, feeling supported by such a well-connected accomplice, will thus order a lockout of its workers, putting the finishing touches to its sabotage of mail delivery across the country.

One can just imagine the size of the bonuses those gentlemen will be receiving for that brilliant idea.

This bill is a crude joke that rewards the turpitude and incompetence of Canada Post management. “Shameful,” as our leader would say. In addition, the minister adds insult to injury by getting back at the unionized workers: the legislation even provides for working conditions inferior to those set out in the draft collective agreement.

To vote for this bill would be to show contempt for Canada's unionized workers and to deny them their rights. However, Canadian taxpayers pay the minister's salary in order to protect those rights.

To vote for this bill would be to reward the laziness of Canada Post's senior management, who are more concerned about their year-end bonuses than about the performance of the service they are required to provide to Canadians.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the constituents of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles and wish them a wonderful Fête nationale. I am missing the celebrations today and it is the first time that I have been outside Quebec for Saint-Jean Baptiste Day.

I have a question for the hon. member for Verchères—Les-Patriotes. As she knows, the cost of living is very high. A loaf of bread is $3, and gasoline costs $1.30 or more per litre. Small and medium-sized businesses are very important to the NDP. We have even proposed, in our platform, to reduce their tax rate from 11% to 9%. We support employers.

I would like the hon. member to explain to the House how the lockout and the current situation will harm the Canadian economy.

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services Legislation June 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member for Don Valley East. Today, we were supposed to return to Quebec. I must say that my heart is in my province more than it is here, but my mind remains here.

There is a lot of pathos surrounding what I have been hearing for the past few hours. I have been familiar with a number of community and charitable groups for a long time. They have been using the Internet to collect donations and grants for a long time.

My in-laws are 94 and 90 years old and they receive their pensions by direct deposit. Not every single Canadian from coast to coast is affected by this strike. We had rotating strikes that affected a small number of people, but the lockout is what made all the difference.

The government is complaining about the damage being done to small businesses, damage that it caused itself with the lockout. A lockout occurs when the employer shuts down a business in response to a strike or the threat of a strike. It just decides to shut down the business.

Who locked out the letter carriers? I will let my colleague answer that. Who is harming small-and medium-sized businesses? When the government talks about protecting the best interest, it is no doubt referring to the interests of major corporations, the banks and oil companies. When we talk about best interests, we are referring to those of the population, our constituents.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act June 15th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, many things can be done to help new immigrants. For example, a national anti-poverty strategy needs to be created, one that includes them and is based on targets and deadlines. As well, an action plan must be created in collaboration with the opposition, accountability must be ensured and official indicators of poverty need to be established.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act June 15th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member once again. During the campaign, I met many seniors in my riding. People are refusing to see their family members go to a nursing home to be taken care of. They want to do it themselves. They decide to work together. I met a family where two sisters decided to take care of their mother. Other people have decided to create multi-generational homes in order to be able to have elderly parents close by, especially if they are suffering from Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. They are then able to take care of their loved one and ensure that the person is receiving good care. These people also told me that the elderly need to be taken care of. But putting them in homes is too expensive and difficult, so it is better that they do it themselves.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act June 15th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

It is absolutely possible to fight poverty, because persistent poverty in a country like ours is the result of bad policies. If we change some policies, we can considerably reduce poverty and inequality. Some countries in Europe, such as the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, have managed to curb poverty and inequality by adjusting their policies.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act June 15th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to answer my colleague's question.

Those most affected are single parents, single individuals between the ages of 45 and 65, recent immigrants—since 2000, three-quarters of new immigrants have been members of a visible minority, persons with disabilities and aboriginals.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act June 15th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the House that I will be sharing my time with the member for New Westminster—Coquitlam.

I would also like to thank the voters in the riding of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles and my family, my husband and my two daughters, Frédérique and Sarah-Alexandre. I would also like to thank my entire team of volunteers who made it possible for me to be here today.

On June 6, the hon. finance minister introduced his 2011 budget entitled “A Low-Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth”. The budget, as introduced in March 2011, was rejected by the NDP. We are still not satisfied with this new, slightly modified version, which does not meet the expectations and needs of the voters who placed their trust in us.

Although the government is relieved that it has obtained its majority and will govern for four years, it should not forget that the majority of voters gave their vote of confidence to other parties, which have not formed the government. We are talking about 60% of the voters.

Not all Canadians said yes to the economic plan proposed by the Conservative government. This clearly indicates that voters want to have a say in what will be decided and implemented in Ottawa, and the government must take that into account. The government will also have to explain to millions of voters why some measures to support families are not in the budget.

It is this reality that the NDP is concerned about. There is nothing in the government's proposals to improve the living conditions of Canadian families. Poverty exists in Canada and increases every year. All experts agree that, for the past few years, the gap between rich and poor families in Canada has been widening. Inequalities persist rather than diminish.

However, there have been some small steps forward. In 1989, Canada's poverty rate was 10.2%; in 2008, it was 9.4%, a reduction of 0.8% in 20 years. In 1989, the poverty rate for those under 18 was 11.9%; in 2008, it was 9.1%, a reduction of 2.8% in 20 years. Canada can do much better for its people, and we cannot be pleased about such a small decrease in poverty.

Our youth are in a precarious position. In 1981, 31.2% of young workers between 14 and 24 had a low-wage job. In 2000, the proportion had risen to 45%, a sharp increase in 20 years.

Given the precarious situation facing young people, parents are being forced to provide for their children longer, since they do not have the means to start their own families. The only significant measures brought in to help children date back to 1990 and 1998—so over 10 years ago now—namely, the Canada child tax benefit and the national child supplement.

The benefits of those measures, which were meant to make things easier for families, have diminished over the years, because at the same time, employment insurance benefits have decreased and certain medical services have been delisted. Social assistance payments were lower in 2007 than in 1986. The employment insurance system was less generous in 2008 than in 1981. In 2007, the poverty gap was the same as in 1981. The average family needs an extra $6,700 a year.

Disparities also persist in the workplace. Canadians now have to work a lot more in order to provide for their families. The percentage of Canadians working 50 hours or more a week has increased. Disparities also persist in health care. More and more young people are reporting health problems that affect their daily functioning—things like memory, reasoning and mental health problems. In 1998, 80% of young people aged 12 to 19 said they were in good health. In 2005, only 67% reported the same.

The Canadian government needs to do something for the future of our children and youth and support all Canadian families that contribute to our economic development, even though some of these families are going through tough times, such as job loss, the death of a parent, illness or any other number of things that can happen in life.

All programs are needed in order to help Canadians re-enter the workforce and allow them to get by when they face an unexpected financial loss.

Any decreases or cuts to support for families undermine the many years of effort to combat poverty and inequality in Canada.

The NDP is asking the government to urgently consider measures that are not included in the budget but that would help families meet their basic needs, namely, decent housing, jobs with salaries that are commensurate with skills and experience, help for all children living at home, benefits to ensure that all families are able to eat a healthy diet every day, programs that give access to health care and programs to support young workers and those will less training.

The NDP is also asking the government not to call into question assistance that has already been granted and not to reduce assistance for unemployed workers. The NDP reiterates its request that the government help people who are unable to work and who do not have the resources to meet their family or other obligations.

In a recent report, the OECD expressed its concerns about the high rate of unemployment in Canada. Young people and those with less training are still the most affected by unemployment. As a result, reducing or eliminating programs to help unemployed workers will make many families more vulnerable by depriving them of the support they need, or it might plunge them into long-term poverty.

The government is capable of adopting measures to support businesses in case of an economic crisis or recession. Why then is it so difficult to do the same for families who are also experiencing financial crises? Why ignore this reality that affects many families each day?

Immediate action must be taken to increase assistance. It will be too late for many families if we do not act quickly enough.

In another area, the decrease in the public service's budget will directly affect workers who will be under a great deal of pressure to get the work done in deplorable conditions. They will be asked to produce more and work longer hours for the same salary. They will be at risk of burnout, depression and psychological harassment.

The NDP believes that it is shameful and completely irresponsible to attack families once again; on the contrary, they need relief from their troubles.

In conclusion, Canada seems to have become a much richer country but, in reality, only the incomes, and thus the wealth, of the richest 20% of Canadians have increased.

Poverty in a rich country is not an inevitability; it is the result of poor policies. Therefore, the government must propose a real agenda to eradicate poverty and inequality.