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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was women.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as NDP MP for Abitibi—Témiscamingue (Québec)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 42% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Veterans Affairs September 26th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the ombudsman's latest report clearly shows that women veterans are waiting longer than men to get the financial assistance they are entitled to. They wait eight weeks longer, on average. As if that were not insulting enough, we learned that francophone women wait even longer than everyone else. In the military, there are no men, no women. There are just soldiers. All soldiers wear the same uniform.

Why do we see differences on the basis of gender or language in the services offered?

Business of Supply September 25th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, given that my colleague was once a minister at Veterans Affairs, I would like to ask him a question. What criteria should be used to determine whether the child of a veteran is eligible for benefits?

In this particular case, why would Mr. Garnier not meet that criteria?

Business of Supply September 25th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that we are all saddened by the heinous, despicable crime we are talking about today.

Even if we ignore the crime this man committed and pretend that his PTSD symptoms are the result of an attack he experienced, we are still talking about a 30-year-old man whose treatment has nothing to do with his father's military service. Even if we ignore the crime, I do not think that Veterans Affairs Canada should have to pay for his treatment. I do not think his file should even be considered a priority.

Does my colleague agree? Should Veterans Affairs Canada not be prioritizing dependent children or children who have suffered trauma directly related to their parents' military service?

Business of Supply September 25th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I simply want to say that I cannot understand anything from here, because members are yelling back and forth. I cannot hear the answers.

Business of Supply September 25th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech. Knowing that she has served as minister, I would like to ask her a question.

When ministers want answers right away on what happened with a particular situation that might be hard to understand, how do they get people to find those answers and how long should it take?

Business of Supply September 25th, 2018

Madam Speaker, a comprehensive administrative review of what happened is needed immediately. In similar cases, departments have been able to work quickly when there seemed to be a problem. I imagine that is what the minister is currently doing. When it comes to the military, the department can perform quick yet robust analyses when immediate action is needed. I think that is what will happen. I hope that is what the minister is working towards.

Business of Supply September 25th, 2018

Madam Speaker, right now, most of the veterans I know are much angrier than I am. When they see a murderer getting benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada, it is harder for them to appreciate the nuances of confidentiality and other legal issues than it is for me.

Most veterans, especially those who have fought for years to get benefits, are very angry about this situation. They really do not like how the government has handled this case.

Business of Supply September 25th, 2018

Madam Speaker, as I said in my speech, there is no connection between the treatment and the military service of Mr. Garnier's father, so I do not see how he can be eligible for benefits regardless of the crime he committed.

There is no connection between the injury and the father's military service. I do not see why Mr. Garnier would be eligible for benefits to begin with. Under the circumstances, it is clear to me that Correctional Service Canada should pay for any treatment provided.

We should be focusing on what we can do now to improve services to families and veterans.

Business of Supply September 25th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I want to begin by extending my deepest condolences to Catherine Campbell's family. Ms. Campbell was the victim of a horrific crime, and I cannot imagine the pain her parents and loved ones must be feeling. I also want to tell the family that Catherine Campbell's name will not be forgotten.

This story reminds us of how much more work needs to be done to address violence against women. Ms. Campbell had gone through police training, but sadly, she is no longer with us.

It was very important for me to extend my condolences to Ms. Campbell's family and to let them know that she will be in my thoughts as I fight to end violence against women, with the support of the NDP and many MPs.

Regarding veterans' benefits, it is important to understand that there is a huge backlog and that the process is extremely long and complex. In many cases, soldiers with chronic back pain, to give an example, send in all their forms and benefit claims, only to be told that their injury is not related to their military service. They then have to fight to prove that the injury really is related to their military service. That is one of the reasons frequently cited for denying benefits.

We understand that privacy is required in the case of Chris Garnier. However, judging by the information we have received and the public statements that were made, including at trial, the injury for which he is receiving treatment is in no way connected to his father's military service. There is no connection between his injury and military service.

In my opinion, Veterans Affairs Canada should not be paying benefits in this case. Chris Garnier can get the care he needs from Corrections Canada, but Veterans Affairs Canada certainly should not have to pay for his care, since this injury has no connection to his father's military service.

I do want to point out that when family members experience psychological trauma, this trauma is sometimes connected to military service. During their career, soldiers must regularly tell their spouse that they are being deployed, but that they do not know where or for how long.

This type of situation creates a tremendous amount of stress for the spouse, who has no idea if the person will come home or what that person is getting into. That is extremely stressful. In the long term, it can have an impact on the mental health of the military spouse and that of their children. In this case, there is a very clear link between the need for psychological care for family members and the military service of the spouse.

In the case of Ms. Campbell, the crime was especially heinous. The monstrosity of the crime aside, the logical conclusion is that there is no link between the injury and the military service of the father. We are also talking about a 30-year old man, not a teenager or a child who was still in their parents' care or whose parent was a soldier or veteran at the time that the injury occurred.

The important thing now is to discuss what is currently going on with veterans. Let us be clear and honest. I know veterans who served under the Pierre Trudeau government, and those who served under the Chrétien, Martin, and Mulroney governments, and even under the current Prime Minister. Not one can say that everything went smoothly under any of those governments or any prime minister. The problems at Veterans Affairs Canada have been going on for decades.

Everyone is trying to solve these problems but sadly, over time, other problems are created, especially with respect to access to services, which often discourages people. Generations of veterans have wound up feeling abandoned because they have had enough of the endless back and forth with Veterans Affairs about their cases and the never-ending medical exams. That is unacceptable. To their mind, the injury they received during their military service is so obvious that it cannot be challenged. Unfortunately, veterans regularly abandon their claims because they are no longer able to go on fighting and they cannot understand why they are made to feel guilty about asking for what they are entitled to. These are real injuries and there is no doubt about their military service, but they are regularly required to fight with the department. That is unacceptable.

Veterans come to our riding offices asking for help. They come with two-inch files full of papers, including their medical file, correspondence with Veterans Affairs Canada and third-party medical assessments, in the hopes of solving problems that sometimes seem unthinkable. The compensation requested is sometimes $2,000 or $5,000. With everything that has been done administratively to block their claims, I am convinced that it is more expensive for the department to try to prevent veterans from obtaining reasonable benefits.

Facing these kinds of situations, which happen every day, and knowing that benefits have been awarded in some cases, people have every right to wonder what is going on in the department. Why is such nonsense happening? So many soldiers need treatment, but there are also family members who have to fight, deal with delays and are turned away six times before they actually manage to speak with someone.

This is not to mention one particular group that is being deprived of services: francophones. All too often, people have a hard time obtaining services in French. Unfortunately, I know a few veterans who have ended up accepting services in English simply to speed up the process. It is extremely frustrating. We need to take immediate action today to provide better services to veterans.

I would also remind members of the $372 million allocated to Veterans Affairs Canada that has yet to be spent. With that funding, how many employees could be hired in the various offices to provide services? It is worth doing the math, since $372 million is a huge amount of money that was supposed to help veterans, but has yet to be spent. We should all be thinking about immediate action we could take together, as members, to quickly restore adequate services for veterans and their families.

Too many people never speak of the sacrifices they make throughout their spouse's military career because they do not want to affect their health. We need to recognize their sacrifices and acknowledge that they are very much linked to their spouse's military service. Any benefits received should be related to military service.

Business of Supply September 25th, 2018

Madam Speaker, it is obvious that Veterans Affairs could make better use of its funding to provide veterans with services.

The most recent ombudsman's report indicates that francophone female veterans have the most difficulty obtaining services.

I would like to know if my colleague has any suggestions about how to improve services provided to these women.