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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was health.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as NDP MP for Salaberry—Suroît (Québec)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Vaudreuil-Soulanges for speaking about detaining children. In addition to subjecting children to completely arbitrary detention, this bill, Bill C-4, would negatively and permanently affect their development. Allow me to elaborate.

I have here a 2004 study from the Australian Human Rights Commission. It states that detaining children and adolescents has negative effects on their development and that the repercussions worsen with longer detention. Effects include anxiety, suicidal thoughts, self-harming behaviour—including self-mutilation—and lifelong post-traumatic stress. These are but a few examples of the major effects and problems that children can experience.

As my colleague said, my parents arrived as refugees with the boat people in 1979. If Bill C-4 had been in effect then, my two brothers, then one and three, would likely have been detained for an indefinite period—at least a year if not more—and these catastrophic effects would have permanently affected their development.

In addition, Bill C-4 is unfair. I would like my colleague to explain why arriving by boat is different. That is what the Conservatives are condemning. They want to penalize, for a second or third time, people who arrive here, legitimately seeking refugee protection. Yet we are putting extra pressure on them and they are being slapped with an inappropriate label. How does the member for Vaudreuil-Soulanges think this discrimination could affect these refugees?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member from the Green Party.

The goal is in fact for all the employees to go back to work. That is what the employees are writing to us every minute of every day. All these people are just asking to return to work, to earn a living and to continue building a future for their families. The goal here is not to take sides; the goal is to really try to help people return to work in a dignified workplace that is mindful of their working conditions.

We are defending working conditions here. We do not want to take a step back to when everything was dangerous, when safety and salary conditions were precarious, and when the living conditions of families were poor. What we really want is to return towards conditions that are more fair and humane.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from the other side of the House for his question. But I find that the question is inaccurate. The strikes do not happen randomly. They are a right. They were organized. And strikes do not create victims. There were rotating strikes organized 24 hours at a time in one municipality at a time, in order to apply a small amount of pressure to make people aware of the conditions faced by employees who wanted to negotiate and to exert some power over the bargaining that was underway.

We are also not attempting to place the blame on anyone. All we are doing is reporting the facts. Bargaining had begun and is not yet over. Then, there was a lockout that prevented the continuation of the bargaining. All we want is to find a solution that would enable the two parties to resume bargaining process so that everyone can have their mail delivered to them.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, before beginning my speech, I would like to thank people. Since this morning, we have been receiving dozens of emails supporting us and telling us we need to rise in the House to defend the rights of workers. I am proud to be here with all my colleagues taking turns to defend those rights. I would like to wish all my constituents, those from Beauharnois—Salaberry in particular, an excellent national holiday of Quebec.

The Conservative government is acting in bad faith by wanting to impose an unacceptable labour contract on Canada Post employees and opting for an authoritarian response to the labour dispute, as it did with Air Canada.

Yesterday, I met with a union representative who came to Ottawa to tell me that workers need us and they cannot wait to go back to work and for the lockout to end so that they can continue to work and deliver the mail.

A few days ago, intensive discussions were held to try to find a solution to the dispute, but management shut the door and called a lockout. I know that I have repeated this several times, but what we have here is a lockout and not a strike. And yet, all the employees did was use a reasonable way to draw attention to their demands, a rotating strike that did not have much of an impact on basic services. It affected only one municipality at a time for a 24-hour period. Now, as we speak here today, all negotiations have been broken off. Clearly, it is in the employer’s interest to take a hard line now that the government is on its side.

After all these hours of discussion, I can’t believe that the Conservative government has not had second thoughts about its decision and asked Canada Post to lift its lockout. Postal employees continued to provide services during negotiations and all Canadians were receiving their mail. What bothers me most is that the government would have people believe that the problem stems from the employees, when what they are claiming is a legitimate and basic right, the right to properly bargain for a collective agreement that is fair and just.

Furthermore, this same government is making incoherent statements to which I strongly object. Instead of sticking to the facts, the Conservatives are twisting them and trying to scare people, as evidenced by the fact that they keep repeating that we are in a crisis and that they feel they have to intervene. What a deceiving and misleading attitude! Their disgusting intervention, rather than improving conditions for employees, is harmful to the bargaining process. It is harmful because the government, through the use of its special disrespectful act, is making a wage offer that is below what was put forward by management. Shame on them!

Why would Canada Post return to the bargaining table when the government is getting involved in the dispute in favour of management? There would be no advantage for them to do so. This inappropriate intervention by the government is prolonging the dispute, effectively holding Canadians hostage. Clearly, those who are no longer receiving their mail or their pay cheque are increasingly unhappy, and rightly so. But the employees are also no longer receiving any pay cheque.

It is therefore important to remember that it is the insidious strategy of the Conservatives that has plunged us into this difficult situation. Employees are waiting to return to work. Why would the government not encourage Canada Post, which had profits of $281 million last year, to reinvest in working conditions that would be beneficial to its employees?

Is it not obvious that a healthy working environment in which workers are treated well and acknowledged for their valuable contribution, whether in terms of personal relations between management and employees, or in terms of fair and equitable working conditions, would promote increased employee efficiency and productivity? The more people feel happy and proud to go to work, the more they do their work conscientiously. While this strikes me as elementary logic, management and the government apparently disagree.

And yet, Canada Post workers put body and soul into ensuring that their fellow citizens receive their mail. Some suffer physically from having to walk in storms, lift parcels and repeat the same movements each day. They don’t complain because they love what they do, are well paid and look forward to a happy retirement. Is this something that is now in the past?

Will the government set a precedent? It is important to realize that the key issue here is the health and safety of workers. Letter carriers and postal employees are among those workers who are most seriously affected by occupational injuries. Canada Post loses four days of work per person per year because of injury or illness. Employees spend more time standing in front of machines and this increases the risk of a back injury. Letter carriers must walk 12 to 15 kilometres per day with considerable weight on their shoulders. Not only that, but the new lettermail sorting machines require them to carry more envelopes in their arms and hands, thereby increasing the risk of injury.

By forcefully imposing a labour contract that is disparaging to employees, how does the government hope to restore a positive and productive work climate? Relations between management and employees will be very tense and the morale of workers will be at its lowest ebb. And yet, the Conservative government boasts that it is promoting the economy, creating quality jobs and fighting poverty. These are nothing but empty words. My last school principal told me to be careful of those who talk a lot, and to concentrate instead on people’s actions.

I realize that the government is making cost reductions an objective at the expense of its own employees. Because just in case they have not realized it yet, Canada Post employees are also citizens of Canada, from coast to coast, and they contribute to the country’s economy. On every post office is written “A Mari usque ad Mare ”. They are full Canadian citizens. There are 48,000 of them, not to mention their families.

Perhaps the government’s goal is precisely to sow division among people in order to reign more effectively. By imposing its back-to-work legislation, which causes a decline in working conditions, young people, the next generation, will no longer be interested in this kind of work, the workload will become too heavy and the other employees will become inefficient. And once that happens, the Conservatives will be able to suggest privatization. Is this really the beginning of the end for public services?

We therefore would do well to allow the two parties to settle this dispute. Our public postal service is one of the most cost-effective in the world. In 2009, Canada Post generated millions of dollars in profits and stamps are not very expensive here compared to other countries. For example, a stamp in Canada costs 59¢, compared to 78¢ in Germany and 88¢ in Austria. It is true however that the industry is currently facing many challenges. The emergence of new technologies such as the digitization of communications, is transforming postal services.

Traditional postal services have probably reached their peak. However, the post office is not likely to disappear. It will always remain important, particularly in rural areas. Workers understand the need to modernize services and the importance of looking towards changes for the future. The collective agreement between Canada Post and the union already allows it to adjust levels of workers, and Canada Post Corporation has reduced hours of work to a level that is proportionately higher than the decline in mail volume.

Other countries have managed to meet the challenge of modernizing postal services while keeping them universal. How? They provide services that focus on new public needs that are more lucrative and then using the profits to finance basic services in all regions. Some people seem to believe that no one sends letters anymore and that postal service is doomed to disappear. That is false. The volume of lettermail is 10% higher than it was in 1997.

Despite the many challenges facing our postal service, it is important not to forget that most Canadians support maintaining universal services and are against privatization, as was pointed out by a postal service consultative committee. Canadians want quality, universal and affordable service for all urban and rural communities. Furthermore, the postal service is important for small and medium-sized businesses.

What is happening now is extremely important for all Canadians. The special bill to force through a regulation that attacks the most basic rights of workers is a Conservative government strategy to use force to settle a dispute, and it risks creating a dangerous precedent.

What kind of society do we really want? Do we want a fairer and more democratic society, one in which disputes are settled by means of negotiations, or a country that attacks the rights of workers and forces them to return to work without being consulted? I stand proudly beside my colleagues…

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

Mr. Speaker, what I find most irritating is that the Conservatives do not seem to realize that they are violating the rights of workers. Over the noon hour today, I spoke with a Canada Post union steward who turned up in my office on the Hill. He told me that the workers feel as though this government has sided with the employer. The workers want to negotiate. They were locked out by the employer and, more importantly, they are saying they that contribute to the profits.

Why punish the workers when their duties are constantly increasing and they have already gone through staff cutbacks?

Ragweed June 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I rise here today to commend the entire community of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield for its involvement in the fight against ragweed. Over 400 partners, including the City of Valleyfield, public health workers, the health and social service centre and the people of this city in my riding, have all joined forces for the past three years to take part in a study on pollen concentrations.

Ragweed is systematically cut down every year in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, and as a result, the intensity of allergy symptoms has dropped by over 58%. This goes to show that, by working together, it is possible to positively influence people's health. I would remind the House that 25% of Canadians suffer from this kind of allergy. I therefore invite all communities in Canada to follow the example set by Salaberry-de-Valleyfield in order to improve air quality and everyone's health.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish the people of my riding and everyone in Quebec an excellent Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day.

Health June 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is once again telling us that the expiry of the health accord in 2014 is still a long way away and that it would be useless to start working on it now; however, the Wait Time Alliance's report says the exact opposite. The chair of the alliance, Dr. Lorne Bellan, has criticized the excessive amount of time people have to wait before receiving care. The longest wait times are here in Ottawa.

Will the Prime Minister wait until 2014 before taking action?

Health June 16th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Health Council of Canada is asking all levels of government to work together to strengthen our health care system. During the last session, the government asked the Senate to review the 2004 health accord. The Senate is an undemocratic institution that is not accountable to anyone.

Will the government assign the responsibility of reviewing this important accord to the Standing Committee on Health, which is made up of elected members of Parliament?

National Blood Donor Week June 13th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, we are celebrating National Blood Donor Week from June 13 to 19.

Recognized by a bill in 2008, National Blood Donor Week is an opportunity to thank the donors and volunteers that help to ensure the health of all their fellow citizens.

It is also an opportunity to make people aware of the importance of donating blood and encourage them to do so, particularly during the summer months when donation levels are usually down.

On behalf of the New Democratic Party and the people of Beauharnois—Salaberry, I would like to thank Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec for their commitment. I encourage everyone to give blood. Let us work together to save lives because giving blood is giving of ourselves.

The Budget June 9th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question. The NDP is very concerned about respect for provincial jurisdictions. However, there is the Canada Health Act to consider. Any funds invested in health care will be allocated at the discretion of the provinces. We want to improve the public health care system. We are proposing an increase in the number of doctors and nurses, which could only improve the system and relieve the pressure in emergency rooms.