House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 27% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Public Works and Government Services October 18th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, after this cocktail fundraiser at which the former minister of public works and government services passed the hat, Joseph Broccolini won at least three federal contracts worth a total of more than $650 million to construct federal buildings.

How can the former minister of public works and government services deny that government suppliers are being asked to fund the Conservative Party, just as they were under Alfonso Gagliano?

Public Works and Government Services October 18th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Natural Resources has offered up a third explanation for his presence at a cocktail fundraiser attended by major construction contractors. The minister now admits he talked business with a real estate developer at a fundraiser, even though he had denied having done so.

Will the minister finally admit he used a Conservative Party cocktail fundraiser to discuss government contracts with a contractor who later won lucrative contracts?

Guaranteed Income Supplement October 7th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, responding to FADOQ's initiative, thousands of seniors have signed a petition calling for this heartless government to improve the guaranteed income supplement. This government claims, with a straight face, to have done everything for seniors.

Can the minister tell us if she will heed this call for improvements to the GIS and increase the monthly benefits by $110 in order help the tens of thousands of seniors living below the low-income cutoff?

Petitions October 7th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to present an initial petition circulated by the FADOQ network and signed by more than 1,200 people from Quebec and my riding of Châteauguay—Saint-Constant who are calling on the government to improve the guaranteed income supplement paid out to our poorest seniors. This is a matter of social justice and dignity for those who built our society over the years, and who are now living below the poverty line.

Privacy October 6th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, in her annual report to Parliament, the Privacy Commissioner criticized the Conservative government's lack of concern over protecting personal information. According to her findings, not one of the five departments and agencies audited adequately assesses the risks associated with using wireless communication devices. She also noted that 90% of the departments had not properly wiped their computers’ hard drives before donating the computers to schools.

Does the government realize that protecting personal information is not optional?

Ministerial Responsibility October 5th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the minister cannot get out of his responsibilities that easily. His aides violated the Access to Information Act. They tried to hide information from the public.

If ministerial responsibility is more than just a principle to help them avoid being held accountable, will the minister act accordingly and resign in light of the actions taken in his name?

Ministerial Responsibility October 5th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, in committee, the Minister of Natural Resources said that he would answer for the actions of his aides. Now that three of his closest advisors have been caught pressuring government officials to cover up this information, in violation of the Access to Information Act, the minister refuses to take responsibility.

How does the minister explain that in June, he was ready to take responsibility for the actions of his staffers, but now that they are in hot water, he is nowhere to be seen?

Ministerial Responsibility October 4th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, on Friday the Prime Minister's spokesman, Dimitri Soudas, said that Mr. Togneri was responsible to his minister for his actions. Period. In short, minister's staff are accountable to their ministers but the minister is not accountable to the public when it comes to mistakes made in his name by his staff.

Will the Minister of Natural Resources abide by his own definition of ministerial responsibility and resign?

Ministerial Responsibility October 4th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Natural Resources did not allow his assistant, Sébastien Togneri, to testify in committee, invoking ministerial responsibility and stating that “ministers [are responsible]...for the actions of their subordinates.” His assistant has acknowledged making serious mistakes in relation to the Access to Information Act and has resigned.

If “ministerial responsibility” is not merely a principle used to avoid accountability, will the minister be consistent and resign?

Older Workers October 4th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the motion that my colleague from Edmonton East has proposed targets workers over the age of 55 and aims to ensure that government policies and programs encourage older workers to remain in the workforce.

This motion is very interesting. It is primarily focused on the targeted initiative for older workers, a program that my Conservative colleagues find attractive because it trains older workers who have lost their jobs and returns them to the workforce as quickly as possible.

Of course, this initiative is useful, but the government is forgetting that age is exactly what makes it difficult for older workers to find a job, especially because they often have less education or simply because there are not many jobs available in their region.

Once again, the Conservatives' lack of compassion is obvious; they are ignoring the socio-economic challenges facing older workers, especially following the 2008 economic crisis and specifically in regions hit by factory closures or closures stemming from the forestry industry crisis.

As the Bloc Québécois critic for seniors' issues, I would like to remind the members that seniors were one of the main interest groups left out of the last Conservative budget. In fact, they were ignored on two fronts.

First, there was nothing in that budget to improve the guaranteed income supplement, which provides assistance for our poorest seniors. In fact, on April 22, I was forced to introduce a new bill, Bill C-516, which we will hopefully be debating very soon in the House.

Second, what does the budget the Conservatives brought down on March 4, 2010, have for older workers? Nothing. Yet for years the Bloc Québécois has been calling on the federal government to bring in a new income support program for workers 55 and over who cannot be retrained and who are victims of massive layoffs.

This program was well known as POWA until 1997, but it was abolished by our Liberal friends, which was not a great idea, I must say. Why do we want a POWA? Because there will always be older workers who cannot retrain, and an income support program is essential for these workers. It is a matter of social justice.

During its 2006 throne speech, this same government committed to creating such a program by adopting a Bloc amendment proposing an income support program for older workers. Since then, it has not taken any concrete action. Nothing has happened.

In October 2006, the Minister of Human Resources announced that the government would pursue the targeted initiative for older workers, known as TIOW, which does not provide for any funds for an income support program for older workers. TIOW projects are designed to improve the employability of participants from 55 to 64 years of age, and may assist them through activities such as prior learning assessment, skills upgrading, and experience in new fields of work.

In the 2007 budget, the Conservative government did not provide any money for the income support program for older workers.

The same goes for the 2008 budget. In that budget, the Conservative government announced that the TIOW would carry through until 2012, and that it would invest $90 million in the project.

The annual budget of the TIOW is now $50 million a year until 2012, with additional funding of $60 million for the 2009 budget.

Once again, this still does not help our older workers who cannot be retrained. To substantiate my comments, I will add that in 2005, the Employment Insurance Commission acknowledged that all training programs for people aged 55 to 65 were inadequate. Yet the Conservative party has done absolutely nothing in that area. It proposed retraining those workers, even though we all know that what is most important to those people who have lost their jobs is to provide them with the income they need to bridge the gap between the end of their employment and the beginning of their old age pension.

Furthermore, an expert panel was established in 2007 to examine this whole issue. The panel completed its report in 2008. It proposed a few interesting solutions, which the government chose not to implement.

For instance, it recommended that severance pay not be regarded as earnings for EI purposes. The Bloc considers this recommendation important and believes that this measure should be available to all workers, not just older workers.

The experts also recommended a complete overhaul of the EI system. Do I need to remind the House that the Bloc has been calling for such reforms for years? In fact, there was a vote in the House on October 28, 2009, on motion M-285 moved by my colleague, the hon. member for Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour. The motion proposed the following:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should as quickly as possible implement a genuine income support program for older workers who lost their job in order to ease their transition from active employment to pension benefits.

The result of the vote: 143 in favour and 137 against. Only the Conservatives voted against this motion. I have given up trying to figure out their reasoning.

Every Conservative party response is based on the same overly simplistic logic: training people and putting them back in the job market will help get the Canadian economy back on track.

What happens if the training provided by a targeted initiative for older workers, or TIOW, project does not lead to a job? Then many older workers will have to go back to square one and divest themselves of their assets and investments in order to survive. Without an income, some will even have to sell their homes in order to access social assistance.

Is that what we want to happen to those who worked for many years to build our society? Certainly not. If they are unable to find another job at the end of their benefit period, older workers will be forced to apply for social assistance, or what is now known as employment assistance. To qualify for employment assistance and receive help, they must first deplete all their assets. This means that if they have more than the equivalent of one month's benefits in their bank account, they will have to wait until they have used up all their savings before receiving assistance.

For example, if someone owns an $80,000 home or a $5,000 car, the government will not help them until it has deducted $20 of monthly benefits for every $1,000 in assets exceeding the allowable amount. Not only will older workers have to deplete their assets, but they will have to do so at a loss. Being a homeowner will seem like a bad thing.

Nevertheless, we will be supporting this bill. The TIOW can be beneficial but it must be supplemented by other income support measures for those who cannot benefit from it and who are not able to find a job after this training. The motion presented today may be excellent, but it is incomplete. It must be combined with an income support program for older workers who have lost their jobs.