House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Green MP for Thunder Bay—Superior North (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 8% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Environment May 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the G7 environment ministers meet regarding climate change in Berlin next week.

Canada has the weakest performance of any G7 country in meeting our climate projection targets.

When will our Prime Minister announce a real plan to prevent dangerous climate change? How does he intend to meet even our feeble targets? Especially, where is his commitment to controlling all greenhouse gas emissions from all oil sands activities, not just some of them?

National Defence May 14th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, MSK injuries are a growing problem in Canada. Not only is it detrimental to the health of those affected, but it also affects their ability to work, which is bad for all Canadian taxpayers. It is both unfair and expensive.

The government needs to realize that the status quo has not been sufficient, and we cannot just pass the buck to the provinces. We need a nationwide strategy to help MSK injuries in both Canada's civilian and military populations in every riding, like Thunder Bay—Superior North, and in all provinces and territories.

When is the government going to see the light and treat our veterans and service members with the respect and health care they deserve?

National Defence May 14th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, MSK injuries, musculoskeletal injuries, are increasingly becoming a major problem and health concern here in Canada, particularly among our military population. MSK is by far the biggest health problem facing members of Canada's armed forces, including many in my riding of Thunder Bay—Superior North.

MSK injuries are a very serious health issue that is often both misunderstood and underestimated in its severity. MSK is a broad term used to describe injuries and chronic problems with the musculoskeletal system. It is currently the second greatest cause of disability in the world, according to a newly released study called “Global Burden of Disease”.

MSK injuries are increasingly common, costly and a significant cause of long-term sick leave and work loss across Canada. The Canadian Chiropractic Association has said that it should be at the forefront of all government health discussion and policy, and yet the current Conservative government has given it no attention in any of its many years in power.

MSK injuries cause long-lasting and chronic health problems and impact the ability of Canadians do their jobs. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces are suffering from MSK injuries at an alarming rate. MSK conditions are associated with 54% of all medical releases from the Canadian Forces and half of all veterans' health claims. They are the number one reason why a Canadian Armed Forces member is unable to redeploy.

Currently, the Canadian Armed Forces spends $60 million a year on dealing with MSK injuries, and it is not even doing an adequate job. These soldiers are protecting Canadians and it is time we start protecting them. MSK injuries are a burden on the well-being of civilians and veterans alike. They are by a large margin the biggest health problem facing the armed forces, and they are a burden on both the taxpayer and the Canadian economy.

The status quo is not good enough for a problem of this magnitude. We need to develop a nation-wide strategy for dealing with MSK injuries. The burden of those injuries has increased by 45% over the last 20 years and will continue to do so unless we take action. The Canadian Chiropractic Association has recommended implementing a strategy for MSK injuries that addresses the entire continuum of health, including preventative strategies, assessment, diagnosis and appropriate management of MSK conditions.

Canadians and our military need a robust MSK strategy that has health care providers, patients and governments working together to support Canadians, including the military, with MSK injuries from all backgrounds so that they can continue to be independent, contributing members of society. Also, chiropractic care should be supported not only in Thunder Bay—Superior North, but right across Canada by both the federal and provincial governments.

Implementing this strategy makes economic sense and political sense. Every dollar spent on relieving MSK will not only ease the lives of Canadians, but will also allow the military to make better use of its resources, and make Canada more productive in the long run. It is more of a long-term investment than a short-term cost.

When will the Conservatives begin giving this problem the attention it deserves? When will members of the armed forces actually see action on MSK strategies?

Health May 6th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, our hospitals are not intended or well equipped to deal with preventing and treating chronic diseases. The government's lack of planning is forcing us to ship our seniors off to overcrowded and expensive emergency care facilities instead of providing them with appropriate long-term care. We must invest in long-term care and home-based care for seniors in Thunder Bay—Superior North and across Canada, partly in order to free up acute care beds in the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

Investing now will save the taxpayers billions of dollars in the long run. If the government truly believes in innovative policy, then when will it start investing in it? The feds and the provinces used to each pay 50% for health care costs. Today, the federal share is less than one half of that. When will we see some adequate funding? When will we see some real, evidence-based health care policies for Canada?

Health May 6th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we Canadians are getting older. The percentage of Canada's population over 65 has nearly doubled since the early 1970s. As our population ages, the strains on our health care system continue to grow.

Dealing with this situation will not be easy. In response to my question, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health spoke about innovation. Innovation is exactly what Canada's health care system needs, but it is not what we are getting from the Conservatives.

The Conservative approach to dealing with Canada's health problems has been to evade and download the issue onto the provinces and pray that the costs will somehow get better. The Conservatives refuse to plan ahead.

In Thunder Bay—Superior North, our seniors are being stacked up in temporary cots in hospital hallways due to a lack of beds. Our system is overburdened by inadequate federal funding and a total lack of long-term planning. Canada is the only country is the G20 with no national health care strategy. As Canada's population gets older, our health care woes will only get worse if we do not start making some serious plans and start taking action. We must invest in long-term solutions for our health care system.

Continuing care is now, incredibly, excluded from the Canada Health Act, if members can imagine. In contrast, Nordic and European countries have long-standing public, comprehensive, universal and tax financed continuing care programs.

Chronic disease management programs require a multidisciplinary approach designed to encourage adherence to medications and lifestyle changes, and promote prevention and patient self-management. Such programs can reduce complications, avoid costly readmissions to the hospital, and improve survival and quality of life.

The federal government needs to stop forcing those who need long-term care onto emergency facilities that are not designed and are not equipped to deal with their needs. Up to 90% of seniors deal with at least one chronic disease. Treating those diseases amounts to 67%, or two thirds, of all health care costs. On any given day, patients approved for hospital discharge who cannot access appropriate post-hospital care occupy about 7,500 beds across Canada.

The government needs to develop a national health care strategy with a focus on dealing with chronic diseases through investment in preventative, long-term and home care. There is a huge shortage of long-term care facilities in Canada and, as we get older, demand is only going to go up. Many provincial governments have recognized the need for these facilities and have begun investing in them. The Conservative federal government needs to step up and join them.

Investing in home-based care is a very practical strategy. An astonishing 13 million Canadians already provide some kind of home-based care to their own family members or friends with long-term illnesses. Some 96% of Canadians support public policy changes that would allow seniors to age in their homes, while receiving effective home-based care from professionals. The Canadian Nurses Association, as well as numerous health care experts from across Canada, have advocated heavily for long-term and home-based care.

Every time someone cannot find a room in a long-term care facility and is forced to go into a hospital, they are costing taxpayers. A hospital bed costs the taxpayer 6 times what a long-term care bed costs, and about 20 times what home care costs.

When will the government listen to the experts and invest in long-term care strategies that work and dramatically lower costs in the long run?

Aboriginal Affairs May 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, 126 first nation reserves have unsafe drinking water. In Scandinavia and Europe, zero communities have unsafe drinking water. One such reserve is Shoal Lake 40, in Thunder Bay—Rainy River, which has had to boil its water for 17 years.

The reserve wants to know, and the Council of Canadians wants to know. Why does Winnipeg get safe water from Shoal Lake while the first nations on that very same lake do not?

Petitions May 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is also from various communities and people in Thunder Bay—Superior North and northwestern Ontario, including Schreiber, Nipigon and Manitouwadge.

The petitioners are concerned that the Nuclear Waste Management Organization is planning or hoping or at least considering burying nuclear waste in northern Ontario. They would not like that to happen and they would not like to have high-level nuclear waste transported through northern Ontario communities.

Petitions May 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today.

The first petition is with respect to national pharmacare. It is from various communities and people throughout the Thunder Bay—Superior North riding.

The petitioners basically want three things. They want to establish a Canada-wide prescription drug program that would cover all citizens; they want to reduce the cost of prescription drugs through bulk buying by the government; and, they want to ensure that all new drugs are evaluated through sufficient evidence-based research.

Health May 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the numbers speak for themselves. Conservatives have only $40 billion for health care per year versus $34 billion in subsidies to fossil fuel companies.

How can the current government consider subsidizing fossil fuel companies, some of the richest companies in the world, to be even remotely as valuable as our universal health care system?

Canadian families and, especially, seniors are feeling the pinch right now. With our aging population, things will only get worse if the current government continues to ignore the need for a national health care strategy.

When will the current government finally start prioritizing health care, and are the rumours true that if the Conservatives get another false majority, we will be seeing more cuts to health care and more privatization of that health care?

Health May 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, in 1958, Lester Pearson and Tommy Douglas collaborated to develop our world-class universal health care system in which every Canadian, regardless of their status, would receive medical care. At that time, funding for this system was split evenly at fifty-fifty between the federal and provincial governments.

Close to 50 years have passed, and much has changed. The federal government's share of the cost is now less than half of what it was at that time. Over the past decade alone, the cost of Canadian health care has risen by about 50%. This is quite worrying, since the cost of providing health care is growing faster than our economy and our population.

This increase in cost does not seem to be tied to improvements in the quality of treatments that Canadians are receiving. Wait times are as long as ever, and acute care hospitals like the one in Thunder Bay—Superior North have been in gridlock for years

On January 26, the Thunder Bay hospital had nearly 100 more patients than beds. Patients, most of them seniors, were piled almost on top of each other, like cordwood on cots in hallways. What is most worrying is that as Canada's population ages, there seems to be no relief in sight for our health care system.

Canada needs some real leadership that is willing to take responsibility, invest in health care and address the needs of our aging population. The Conservatives have instead decided to offload those responsibilities and their growing costs onto already overburdened provinces.

The Canadian health care system is in need of some serious attention. The last thing it needs now is for the Conservatives to cut and run as they are doing.

It is the most vulnerable members of Canadian society who suffer the most from the government's irresponsibility. Canadians living in rural, northern or aboriginal communities are facing a doctor shortage much worse than the rest of Canada. Our hats go off to rural physicians who struggle to take up the slack, like our own doctor, John Jackson-Hughes, did for 39 years in Nipigon, Ontario, in my riding of Thunder Bay—Superior North, before retiring this week. Even in urban Thunder Bay, one third of our families have no family doctor.

Historically, the federal government's role in health care has been to ensure that these kinds of discrepancies in care do not occur. However, in March, 2014, the Canada health accord was allowed to expire without any sort of plan to renew it or even replace it. Canada is the only country in the G20 without any national health care strategy, and it is starting to show. Canada's global ranking in health care performance is dramatically decreasing, and the government's reckless cuts are only going to further increase that problem.

Canadians can, however, take comfort in the knowledge that Canada is a world leader when it comes to handouts to oil companies. The IMF has pegged the Conservative government's subsidies to fossil fuel companies at $34 billion per year. If that money were directed toward improving the health of Canadians, rather than lining the pockets of some of the wealthiest corporations on earth, we would be well on our way to solving this issue.

Poll after poll shows that Canadians consistently put health care among the issues most important to us. Why does the government place its priorities so far from those of Canadians? It is time for the Conservatives to start listening to Canadians. It is time for a national health care strategy.

Do the Conservatives have any plan to restore the Canadian health care system? If so, we would love to see it.