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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was support.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as Liberal MP for King—Vaughan (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2021, with 43% of the vote.

Statements in the House

National Maternity Assistance Program Strategy Act October 19th, 2016

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Kingston and the Islands for putting forward this very important bill, which I was proud to support and second.

This bill was inspired by Melodie Ballard's story. This is a story of a hard-working lady. Working as a welder, she suffered extreme financial hardship when she had to stop working due to potential health risks to her unborn child. She was unable to be accommodated by her workplace and access that maternity leave. The current EI benefit rules do not allow for her situation, so she was denied employment insurance maternity leave coverage because she did not meet the current eight weeks before the due date limit.

This bill has been brought forward to provide the much needed flexibility that women need when working in hazardous places of employment. For example, some roles in the military, some trades, resource extraction jobs, and even roles that are not normally considered hazardous, such as pilots, flight attendants, and frequent flyers, do pose a risk to pregnant women. This is an issue that is becoming more prevalent as more women are taking on non-traditional roles in the workplace and need a precautionary leave of absence during pregnancy. The bill seeks to raise awareness of the issue and would allow workers to access maternity benefits earlier, up to 15 weeks before delivery, rather than the allowed eight weeks, .

I am proud to support Bill C-243, which takes crucial steps toward advancing gender equality in the workplace of Canadians. Most importantly, Bill C-243 would ensure that pregnancy is not a barrier to a woman's full and equal participation in our Canadian labour force. I believe that no woman should have to choose between the health of her baby and putting food on the table or a roof overhead. The system today leaves women who are advised to stop working due to potential health complications with long periods of no income. We have already heard about the very distressing situation that Melodie faced, which ultimately resulted in her losing her home and creating much personal stress. Our EI system failed Melodie just when she needed it most.

Canadians pay into the employment insurance system to ensure that they can get the help they need when they are temporarily out of work. Women like Melodie need to know the employment insurance system can be there for them when they need it. I believe when the EI system was set up to assist pregnant women in the workforce, it was not foreseen that women would be employed in roles that might put their health or their baby's health at risk during pregnancy. It is about time we took a new look at the needs of our workforce and the EI system and updated it to accommodate the realities of today.

I can personally attest to the challenges encountered while applying for EI maternity benefits 20 years ago. I am pleased to see that today's EI benefits are much better than before, with more flexibility not only for mothers, as it was in my day, but fathers too. I believe it is now time to review the EI program again to make sure that it is keeping up with the realities of the workforce today. We need to ensure that our EI policies are not seen as a barrier to a woman's full and equal participation in all sectors of the workforce, including potentially hazardous jobs.

There are those who may be concerned about abuse of the system. However, the bill outlines two basic conditions that must be met in order to be eligible for this exemption: a woman must provide a medical certificate attesting that she cannot perform her usual current duties because it may pose a risk to her health or to that of her unborn child, and the employer must be unable to provide accommodations or reassignment that would mitigate that risk. This bill is not proposing to extend EI benefits but to allow flexibility as to when women can begin receiving benefits if they meet these requirements.

This bill has the support of many organizations, including those beyond the skilled trades and construction. I was pleased to see it being endorsed by several from my profession of engineering: Women in Science and Engineering Atlantic Region, the Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering, Science, Trades and Technology, the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia, Engineers Nova Scotia, and Engineers Canada.

The second part of the bill is addressing the need for a comprehensive strategy to ensure that pregnancy is not a barrier to working women. It requires the Minister of Employment, in collaboration with other federal ministers, representatives of the provincial and territorial governments, and other relevant stakeholders, to conduct consultations on the prospect of developing a national maternity assistance program to support women who are unable to work due to pregnancy.

There are many examples of how this issue has been addressed here in Canada and around the world. Many advanced industrialized countries have recognized the importance of maternal care and have taken action to ensure that women in all professions receive adequate support throughout pregnancy and child care.

Since 1981, the Province of Quebec has offered the option of preventive withdrawal as part of its safe maternity assistance program. Under this program, an employer may opt to eliminate the hazard represented by the employee's work or assign her to other tasks. If neither of these alternatives are doable, the employee is entitled to benefit from a preventive withdrawal and to receive compensation in the amount of 90% of her average pay.

In Finland, for example, there is a class of special maternity benefits that are provided when conditions may cause a particular risk to a woman's pregnancy and the hazard cannot be eliminated by the employer. In Australia, if there is no appropriate safe job available, an employee is entitled to take paid no-safe-job leave for the risk period. There are similar programs that protect expecting mothers in France, Hungary, Denmark, and elsewhere.

Therefore, it is appropriate for Canada to undertake a review and bring forward a policy that is more supportive of pregnant women who are working in environments that may pose a risk to a pregnant woman and/or her unborn child.

While the private and not-for-profit sector is doing incredible work encouraging more women to enter trades, government must do its part to support those who enter the workforce in these traditionally male-dominated occupations. Data shows that while overall labour force participation among women has increased, from 37% in 1976 to 47% in 2014, women remain drastically under-represented within many traditional male occupations. For example, in 2012, women represented only 4% of those working in construction.

If Canada is to thrive in the global market, we will need to improve the representation of women in our workforce. Gender balance and diversity is but one key to making Canada's economy stronger and more competitive. However, we will not be able to achieve this if we do not develop the necessary programs to support this transition.

We have seen an opportunity for improvement. Let all MPs in the House support this step in the right direction for gender equality and ensure that the Melodies in the future have better outcomes for themselves, their families, and our country.

Paris Agreement October 4th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, that brings me back to part of the question that was asked that I neglected to answer previously.

Absolutely, 100%, first nations are intimately involved in charting the future for Canada. Reconciliation is one of the very important ways that we are going to move forward. I am on the environment committee, and we have been working on protected spaces, which is not only going to help with biodiversity but also with carbon retainers and carbon sinks for the future, as well as helping to mitigate climate change.

We are working on this file, and we went out specifically to meet with first nations and other groups and businesses, but first nations in particular. First nations have been trying to communicate to us what we should be doing going forward. Up until recently we have not been paying much attention.

We are definitely paying attention now. First nations are very involved with the government through working groups and consultations that we are doing, and in working with us to chart a course forward.

Paris Agreement October 4th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I too want to thank the member for her advocacy work over many years on this file.

It is clear that there is a problem, and we need to lean in and do something about it. It is also clear, as I mentioned in my speech, that all levels of government and all parties in Canada, every single person is going to need to be involved in this movement to a cleaner economy and creating a cleaner environment and future for the country.

I definitely agree with the member opposite that this is not something that just governments are going to be involved in. All business are going to need to be players, and so is the public. We all need to engage with this subject. This is one of the reasons our minister asked for consultation all summer. We have been hearing from people across this country on what they believe we should be doing and what they want to see us doing to ensure a better future for themselves, their children, and grandchildren.

Paris Agreement October 4th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question.

I was listening to the Prime Minister yesterday when he made it very clear that any money that is raised from carbon pricing will be going back to the provinces. There will be no money received at the federal level that will stay at the federal level.

The Prime Minister made that very clear in his talk yesterday. We know that carbon pricing is the most efficient way to reduce greenhouse gases. We know that it will stimulate the innovation in clean growth and the creation of jobs for the middle class. We know it is an important thing to do.

The money is to stay in the provinces where it is generated.

Paris Agreement October 4th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Pontiac.

It is an honour to rise today to speak to the ratification of the Paris agreement and the economic opportunities for Canada. Addressing climate change must transcend politics. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to work on this together, all countries, all levels of government, all parties. Doing nothing is not an option.

Through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, our government worked hard helping to create an agreement to reduce our global emissions and to mitigate the impact that climate change has on those most vulnerable in our world.

Canadians should be proud of the positive role their country has played in the international negotiations. In December 2015, 197 countries representing 98% of global GHG emissions signed on to the agreement, highlighting that the world is taking action to significantly reduce its carbon footprint. Many countries, including Canada, are in the process of taking the necessary steps for the agreement to come into force as soon as possible.

The Government of Canada embraces the fact that, in the 21st century, growing our economy and protecting our environment go hand in hand. Taking action on climate change provides economic opportunities while maintaining a sustainable environment and thriving communities in Canada.

The world is shifting to clean technologies and deploying clean energy faster than ever before. Due to sustained technological progress, the costs for renewable energy have been falling significantly over time and have become cost-competitive with those of fossil fuels in certain regions. Technological improvements to energy storage have also been gaining momentum, which will facilitate wider deployment of renewable energy.

Clean technologies can also create new opportunities for traditional resource sectors in Canada and will provide new employment opportunities. Focusing Canada's efforts on science skills, business leadership, technical skills, and immigration of highly qualified workers will be paramount to accessing these opportunities.

As an example of the magnitude of these opportunities, the International Energy Agency estimates that the full implementation of climate pledges at Paris would require the energy sector to invest $13.5 trillion in energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies from 2015 to 2030.

The year 2015 saw a record investment of $329 billion in the global clean energy sector, up from $62 billion in 2004. The clean technology sector is already an important contributor to Canada's economy. Around 50,000 people are directly employed in more than 800 firms in the Canadian clean technology sector, and the Canadian clean technology sector grew by about 8% per year from 2008 to 2013, which is more than three times as fast as the economy as a whole. During that same period the global market grew at an even faster rate of 10%, suggesting that Canada has opportunity for further growth if it can keep up with the progress being made by other countries.

In March 2016, the Prime Minister and the provincial and territorial first ministers signed on to the Vancouver declaration. The Vancouver declaration entailed several commitments from first ministers, including the implementation of GHG mitigation policies in support of meeting or exceeding Canada's 2030 target of a 30% reduction below 2005 levels of emission, including specific provincial and territorial targets and objectives; an increase in the level of ambition of environmental policies over time; the promotion of clean, economic growth to create jobs; and an enhanced co-operation between provinces, territories, and the federal government.

In delivering concrete results to Canadians, the Vancouver declaration also established a pan-Canadian framework for combatting climate change, under which four working groups were put in place to identify options for action in four areas, including clean technology. One of these federal-provincial-territorial working groups focuses on clean technology, innovation, and jobs, and will deliver options on how to stimulate economic growth, create jobs, and drive innovation across all sectors to transition to a low-carbon economy, leveraging regional strengths.

We are looking forward to the final report, which will be published this fall, providing policy options for federal, provincial, and territorial partners to implement in their respective jurisdictions. This report highlights the strong potential to improve environmental, economic, and social outcomes for remote and indigenous communities to work toward energy independence through greater deployment of clean technologies. It is also important that these new approaches to encourage clean growth across the country should not result in higher costs for essential goods and services in those remote areas.

It is recognized that the adoption of clean technology can be a tool that will both improve the environment and provide economic opportunities to northern and remote indigenous communities, which can act as agents of change to help guide Canada to a low carbon economy. We also recognize the utmost importance of effective engagement and collaboration with indigenous peoples and communities for this effort to be fruitful.

While work is under way to develop options and measures this fall through the pan-Canadian framework, the federal government is already taking action to seize the economic opportunities of climate change.

Budget 2016 recognized that protecting the environment and growing the economy go hand in hand. It noted that the global clean technology market is growing rapidly, presenting Canadian businesses with an immense opportunity to showcase their ingenuity and support sustainable prosperity for all Canadians.

The commitments included in budget 2016 total almost $2.9 billion over five years to address climate change and air pollution issues. These commitments include $2 billion over two years starting in 2017-18 to establish the low carbon economy fund; $128.8 million over five years starting in 2016-17 to Natural Resources Canada to deliver energy efficiency policies and programs and maintain clean energy policy capacity; and $56.9 million over two years starting in 2016-17 to Transport Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada to support the transition to a cleaner transportation sector, including through the development of regulations and standards for clean transportation technology.

It is well understood that climate change is a threat to Canada's ecosystems, communities, and the economy. Given the seriousness of climate change, action from all sectors of the economy is required, and the shift of businesses decarbonizing their processes and products has already begun.

It is important for Canada to act quickly to enable a smoother transition, allowing businesses to take the best long-term decisions and thrive in a low-carbon economy. One key measure to provide this clear signal to businesses about the path Canada wants to take when it comes to GHG emissions is carbon pricing. Carbon pricing uses the market to drive investments in low-carbon innovations, leading to the development and adoption of clean technologies, energy efficiency, and reduced emissions. It creates financial incentives for consumers and producers to shift consumption and investment decisions to cleaner alternatives, which consequently foster innovation. A national approach to carbon pricing will be a central component to the pan-Canadian framework for clean growth and climate change.

It is clear that there are economic benefits to acting on climate change, and Canada has significant advantages and the expertise it can leverage to capture its share. It can count on some of the best scientists and researchers in the world to find novel solutions. It has a well-educated and highly skilled workforce.

As many countries are moving rapidly to develop and sell clean technologies across the globe, Canada needs to focus its efforts to stay in the game. To successfully compete in the global market while capitalizing on current and future economic opportunities, Canada will need to be strategic in its approach to clean technology development, commercialization, and adoption. This will allow economic growth and environmental preservation to go hand in hand and will allow all Canadians to continue to enjoy a country that is sustainable, prosperous, and innovative.

2016 Olympians and Paralympians September 22nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate our Olympians and Paralympians from coast to coast to coast who represented Canada at the summer games in Rio.

These athletes have shown Canadians that through hard work and a relentless belief in oneself, one can and will succeed.

The riding of King—Vaughan is home to opening ceremony flag bearer and back-to-back gold medalist Rosie MacLennan of King City; bronze medalist Eric Lamaze of Schomberg; and Jason Burnett of Nobleton.

Know that you have made Canada and the riding of King—Vaughan very proud, once again.

I am humbled to represent these athletes as the member of Parliament for King—Vaughan and I ask the House to join me in congratulating all our Olympians and Paralympians who participated in the summer games. To the year 2020, here we come.

Committees of the House June 17th, 2016

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development entitled “Federal Sustainability for Future Generations - A Report Following an Assessment of the Federal Sustainable Development Act”. This report has the unanimous consent of the committee and is the result of much consultation and co-operation.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

George Neal June 15th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, on April 4, Canada lost one of its most influential aviation pioneers, George Neal.

Mr. Neal learned to fly in Toronto in 1937 and was employed at de Havilland Aircraft until he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941, where he became flight commander and chief test pilot.

In 1946 he rejoined de Havilland and became chief test pilot, flying iconic Canadian aircraft such as the Beaver, Chipmunk, Otter, and Caribou. He was a winner of Canada's most prestigious aviation award, the Trans-Canada (McKee) Trophy, in 1989, and was inducted into Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1995.

In 2015 Mr. Neal was recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest active licensed pilot at age 96, when he flew his own Chipmunk from Brampton to Pearson.

I had the opportunity to work at de Havilland Aircraft in flight test when he was director of flight operations, where he was a legend even then.

His legacy will remain in our hearts and in—

Canadian Environment Week June 9th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House that this week we celebrate Canadian environment week. This year's theme is “Why climate action matters to you”.

The effects of climate change are already being felt around the world and are having an impact here in Canada on our weather, our wildlife, our air quality, our oceans, and especially our indigenous peoples.

This government is working hard to get the solutions Canadians want to fight climate change and grow our economy. We invite the members of this House, and indeed all Canadians, including indigenous peoples, to mark this year's environment week by submitting their climate action ideas to us at LetsTalkClimateAction.ca. I am delighted we are moving forward with enhancing ecological protection for Rouge National Urban Park. Let us reflect, discuss, and propose what we can do, individually and collectively, to protect our environment and foster clean economic—

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1 June 7th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, that is something I am sure many Canadians are asking themselves, so I am going to do my best to try to put in a frame.

Obviously, we have a challenge in our economy, at the moment, and certain areas are more challenged than others and have had precipitous drops in employment. The intent here is to support those areas that have had an unexpected high drop in the employment rate because it is obvious this is a support to get a person to their next job. If those jobs are not available in the area, it is going to take longer and it is obviously difficult for people to be able to bridge that gap to the next job.

We really identified areas based on the assessments done on the employment rates and the drop in employment rates. Where we saw a change, we have amended. I am sure that the government is going to continue looking at this across Canada and see where Canadians need the most help and try to be there for them.