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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was liberals.

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

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act October 6th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would like my colleague to explain to us how the government's budget is undermining the public health care system by doing nothing to prevent the private sector from moving in and weakening the public system. Instead of adding doctors and nurses, the government is moving doctors from the public system to the private system, which is further crowding emergency departments in the public system.

Health October 6th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, not only did the government ignore the expert panel's recommendations on energy drinks, but on top of that, it is going to take years to implement the changes that it is proposing. In other words, companies will have two years before they have to adjust to the new labelling rules. I do not find these regulations particularly energetic or very beneficial for our adolescents.

Why did the government give in to the interests of the industry and bring forward such a weak plan?

Business of Supply October 4th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the question.

Indeed, the federal government could invest in implementation measures, in treatment programs and in giving a little more power to the people who are already working on the ground, but do not have enough funding.

There are not enough school psychologists. There are not enough street outreach workers to help homeless people who need help often, see no solution to their problems and simply need a little one-time assistance to rebuild their hope and courage and regain control of their lives. We need to recognize the important work being done by these people through financial assistance or prevention programs that provide more measures and more practical solutions.

Business of Supply October 4th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member across the way for his question.

That is a very appropriate proposal given how youth embrace new technologies and how accessible they are.

However, we cannot forget that this is a human issue and we need to have support workers who can provide youth with tools as well as offer help and active listening. We also cannot forget that networks do not always reach the regions. High-speed Internet is not currently available throughout the country, particularly in the regions.

These issues need to be dealt with and support workers need to be on site so that they can speak face-to-face with and provide friendly help to these people who are already so isolated.

We must not accentuate the isolation felt by the youth facing these issues, although virtual help is another option. These measures need to be accessible to youth.

Business of Supply October 4th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Vancouver East for sharing her time with me. I would also like to say that the NDP will be supporting the Liberal motion regarding a national suicide prevention strategy, since this is a very urgent problem that needs to be addressed.

A national prevention strategy is essential, because it will save lives. To achieve that, however, we need to work together and provide the assistance that people who are suffering need. To ensure that all communities in Canada receive the care and attention they need, we must take a coordinated approach. Over the past 20 years, our society has become more aware of the complex issue of suicide. We now know that at-risk people usually feel isolated and are often suffering terribly. We also know more about the medical, social and economic causes of suicide.

In the 1980s and 1990s, some programs started up in various provinces and they have produced tangible results. Since 1998, Quebec has had a provincial suicide prevention strategy with specific funding. The help centres work together and form a provincial network. There is also a provincial emergency help line and a hotline devoted exclusively to young people, called Kids Help Phone. We now have suicide prevention training for health professionals and the provincial government is funding research in this field. Youth centres, the CLSCs, NGOs and other partners are now working together to offer people at risk the necessary help and aftercare.

Before adopting this strategy, the suicide rate in Quebec was one of the highest in the industrialized world. The suicide rate dropped from 18% in 1981 to 14% in 2009. That is a clear improvement, but much more progress remains to be achieved. The data show that an effective strategy, involving all the players, can be fruitful.

Unfortunately, a number of our country's isolated communities still do not have access to these programs. That is why it is important to focus on local and provincial initiatives and come up with a national strategy to ensure that no one is forgotten. Although suicide is an individual action, it has to be viewed as a public health issue. Quality of life, one's social network and the help available can have a positive impact on a person in distress, if those resources are accessible, of course.

Without help, people in distress are isolated and left alone with their suicidal thoughts. There is a great risk that the person will go through with it. Family violence and drug and alcohol use can aggravate the state of the person in distress. Things such as trouble finding a place to live, a broken heart, failure, rejection, financial problems or any other stressful event that causes anxiety or sadness can trigger suicidal ideas. That is when the straw breaks the camel's back.

The incidence of suicide is higher in some groups. People with mental health problems, the homeless, seniors or youth, for example, are at higher risk. In the case of the homeless, their distress is aggravated by their miserable living conditions. These people often cannot access health services because of their precarious social situation and the fact that they do not have an address. Homelessness remains a phenomenon that is not well understood and the homeless are often treated with disdain. For that reason any initiative to help these people must be applauded.

I would like to point out that, on October 21, outdoor vigils will be held in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, which is in my riding, and throughout Quebec. The Nuit des sans-abri is organized by the organization P.A.C.T. de rue. These events can help us understand what the homeless experience, their distress, and also their needs and rights, which are often overlooked.

Other groups are also considered to be more susceptible to suicidal thoughts, including aboriginal youth. This has been mentioned several times today. The community of Akwesasne, located in my riding, knows all too well what I am speaking about. In the past 18 months, four young people have taken their own lives. For a community of 15,000 people, this loss of human life is a tragedy. The youth of this Mohawk community often struggle with drug and alcohol abuse. Some of them steal prescription drugs, or are recruited by criminal gangs to run drugs to be sold on the black market.

Mental health services are available in the Akwesasne community, but not all young people will accept help. The reserve's leaders point out the importance of providing services that are tailored to the reality of these young people and would like to set up a help line for aboriginal youth, because there is none at present.

In addition, the adolescent treatment centre in Akwesasne, which provides care for young people with addictions, is still waiting for federal government funding so that staff can continue their work with youth. Thus, it is of the utmost importance that these young people receive help that respects their cultural and spiritual identity. In general, these young people are at a higher risk of suicidal ideation. Suicide is the leading cause of death among youth aged 10 to 24. Adolescence is a critical time involving significant changes. It is a time when young people are building their personal identity and self-esteem. They are experiencing peer pressure and feel pressured to succeed in school. They are also sometimes the victims of schoolyard bullying or domestic violence.

Mental health problems often become apparent during adolescence. The role of psychologists, psychoeducators, social workers, street workers, teachers and others is key in identifying the warning signs. These teachers and health professionals must be trained and given the financial support they need to know how to act and react when faced with the distress of these young people.

It is also important to reduce the stigmatization of young people with suicidal thoughts and behaviour. There are still too many taboos, and people do not dare to speak out about their unhappiness. Consulting mental health professionals and identifying themselves as someone who needs help is not an obvious course of action for them because there is still a lot of prejudice in this regard. Nevertheless, we must encourage these young people to talk to the appropriate people. This will show that they are trying to improve their situation and that they want to regain balance in their lives. That is what we must encourage. Help must therefore be available when people need it.

The bill introduced by my colleague from Halifax addresses a number of aspects of suicide, including prevention. The bill would provide for better training of professionals in the field, better media coverage, and support for research to prevent suicide and better identify risk groups. The bill focuses on collaboration with community organizations and stakeholders in the first nations who already have expertise in the area. It encourages the communities, provinces and cities to work together to prevent suicide. The bill also recognizes the importance of changing attitudes, breaking taboos and being able to speak openly about suicide.

Furthermore, for all of these reasons, countries like Australia, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway and the United States have all established national strategies. Canada is one of the few industrialized countries that does not yet have such a strategy. But the clock is ticking. Every day, as we have heard many times, 10 people commit suicide in this country. Every year, 3,500 people choose to end their lives. We must take action. A national strategy would allow us to prioritize listening, helping and offering compassion, and to help those who are suffering across the country.

This is a critical issue, and the elected members of this House must stand united and adopt the motion moved by the Liberals.

We have a responsibility to address this problem. We also have the means to help people in distress. Now it is up to the government to show its political will to take positive and concrete action and get involved in developing and implementing this national suicide prevention strategy that is so crucial and so urgent. We can choose to build a more positive and just society. Let us do it.

Public Safety October 3rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Franklin border crossing in my riding has been closed since April. Yet the Americans have increased patrols on their side of the border. The government claims that the economy is a priority, but cuts at the crossing in Franklin show the complete opposite. In addition to customs officers and business people, workers have also lost their jobs. As a result, the local economy and the security of neighbouring communities are in jeopardy.

Will the government rethink its decision and invest in security and people's jobs?

Senate Reform Act September 30th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I found the speech given by the hon. member across the floor rather incoherent, especially when it comes to giving powers to the provinces. The bill supposes that the provinces could, at their expense, hold elections to elect senators, but it very clearly states that the Prime Minister would not be obliged to accept those elections or that choice of senators. Where is the democracy in this bill?

Also, the member across the way added that it would be unconstitutional to give these powers to the provinces. What do the Conservatives ultimately want from this bill? Do they want to give powers to the provinces or not? Where is the democracy in that?

Health September 30th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Supreme Court's unanimous ruling is clear. Insite saves lives without compromising public safety. Nonetheless, instead of looking at the facts and scientific studies, this government has spent years in court, at the taxpayers' expense, trying to shut down the Insite clinic.

Will this government finally put aside its ideology and act in the best interest of the health and public safety of all Canadians?

Business of Supply September 29th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to clarify the NDP's position on taxes. First, the NDP is not in favour of raising taxes for large corporations. It simply wants the Conservatives to give big businesses fewer tax breaks since there is no reason for them. Taxes, which are a progressive system for the equitable redistribution of wealth to all classes of society, are very positive since they make it possible to provide public services to all classes of society in a very fair manner.

Second, as if government policies were not discriminatory enough, tax policies have created even more unequal societies in the G8 countries. Approximately one-third of Canada's economic growth in terms of revenue benefited the richest 1% of the population. In this regard, the Conference Board of Canada has said repeatedly that tax expenditures, including the ineffective tax breaks the government grants to large corporations, should—

Safe Streets and Communities Act September 28th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member from the Liberal Party for her question. We have a lot in common. I used to work in the school system as a teacher.

Many children are pleased to get help at school, whether it comes from social workers or remedial teachers. With that help, they can finally manage, after several treatments, to control their anger, express in a non-violent manner what they are feeling and discuss the problems they are experiencing. They end up working through their problems in a more positive way.