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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

Business of Supply February 25th, 2021

Madam Speaker, obviously we did not see one group being supported at the expense of another; we were supporting all of the different needs of Canadians across the country. That is why we supported families with a Canada child benefit increase and a GST top-up for low and middle-income Canadians. We are helping our students who are having an incredibly difficult time getting jobs. We also provided seniors who were working the opportunity, even if they continued to get their pensions, to access our emergency support programs if they had lost their income.

I want to make sure that the member knows we are supporting all Canadians, and not one against the other.

Business of Supply February 25th, 2021

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for addressing the fact that all seniors aged 65 and up have been facing increased expenses and issues, especially during the pandemic. That is why the government stepped up to provide the additional $300 for all seniors aged 65 who are on the OAS. Those who were on the guaranteed income supplement got an additional $200. As has been mentioned, a low-income senior couple, those who are struggling the most, received over $1,500 in direct tax-free support. That was significant support for our most vulnerable seniors, who definitely were struggling during the pandemic.

I want to make sure that we recognize that the government was and has been focused on the pandemic response and making sure that we are supporting seniors, not just with direct financial support but also with a full range of community support programs. Through new horizons for seniors and our emergency community support program, we have been actively engaged in supporting seniors now and—

Business of Supply February 25th, 2021

Madam Speaker, I would first like to respectfully acknowledge that I am situated on traditional territories and treaty lands of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, the Anishinabe of the Williams Treaties First Nations, the Huron-Wendat and the Métis Nation.

Second, I will be splitting my time with my parliamentary secretary, the member for Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation.

I thank the Bloc Québécois and my hon. colleagues for their shared interest in discussing how we can best support seniors in Quebec and across Canada. I appreciate their speeches so far today, although I disagree with some of their assertions regarding the support the government has provided for seniors, confusing the indexing of pensions with the extra COVID-19 support that was provided.

I always appreciate opportunities to discuss what we are doing for seniors and to have parliamentarians recognize the challenges they are facing, especially during the pandemic. The Bloc Québécois has pointed out some challenges that seniors face in its motion today. Since day one, we have been working to address those challenges with action. We, as a government, have long seen that seniors need an active federal government working closely with provincial, territorial and local governments to deliver important benefits and programs for them.

Our Liberal government is committed to strengthening Canadian seniors' financial security and health care, and improving their quality of life. Some of our first actions as a government were restoring the age of eligibility for old age security to 65 years of age from 67 years of age, increasing the guaranteed income supplement for nearly 900,000 low-income single seniors, and enhancing the Canada pension plan by 50% for future retirees. That increase was matched in the Quebec pension plan.

Since the pandemic hit early last year, we have been busy supporting Canadians, including seniors. More than four million seniors received an extra GST credit. We provided a one-time payment to seniors eligible for OAS, plus extra support for those eligible for the GIS. For a low-income couple, it added up to over $1,500 in tax-free support. Altogether, we delivered over twice as much direct financial assistance to seniors as we committed to in our platform. That provided $3.8 billion of direct financial support to seniors, and that work continues.

In the last election, we committed to Canadians that we would increase old age security by 10% for seniors aged 75 and up. Our proposal recognizes that as seniors age, their financial security decreases and their needs increase. They are more likely to outlive their savings, have disabilities, be unable to work and be widowed, all while their health care costs are rising. For seniors over 75, few work, and those who do have a median employment income of only $720; half have a disability, and half of these are severe; 57% are women, and four in 10 of these are widows; 59% have incomes below $30,000 and 39% receive the guaranteed income supplement. These are real pressures on older seniors' quality of life.

Our government recognizes their needs and will help address them by increasing the old age security amount by 10% for seniors aged 75 and up. This will be the first permanent increase to the OAS pension since 1973, other than adjustments due to inflation. We developed these initiatives by listening to seniors; however, the Bloc fails to recognize the actions that we have been taking since the beginning of the pandemic to support seniors.

The member for Beloeil—Chambly, the Bloc leader, has made comments that mislead seniors. We heard that again today, in speeches about what the government has been doing to support seniors with regard to their personal finances. He told seniors that they got practically nothing in support during the pandemic. In fact, a low-income senior got over $1,500 in tax-free support. That is far from nothing, and provided a significant boost to the most vulnerable seniors struggling with added costs during the pandemic.

The Bloc has also told seniors that their pensions are constantly losing their buying power. In fact, their public pensions are indexed to protect their buying power against inflation. The Bloc should not be trying to mislead seniors when they are the most vulnerable during the pandemic. I welcome good debates about how to best support seniors, but they need to be based on facts.

The Bloc has also failed to recognize seniors' broader needs during the pandemic and how the federal government has been stepping up to address those needs. Let us start with the public health.

We have provided provinces and territories billions of dollars to help protect Canadians' health during the pandemic. We have procured billions of pieces of personal protective equipment. Seniors have suffered the most from the effects of COVID-19 and have paid the highest price with their lives, none more so than those living in long-term care. While many of these facilities have been able to keep their residents safe, others have revealed the weaknesses in the system and have shocked the nation. There is clearly a call for action to address these issues and our government has stepped up to help.

Provinces and territories have the jurisdiction for long-term care and we are working together with them to better protect seniors and staff in the long-term care system. We recently added $1 billion to the funding to assist with infection prevention in long-term care. We have expanded eligibility for federal infrastructure funds so they can be used to modernize and renovate long-term care facilities. We are also working to set new national standards with the provinces and territories, and we will establish new offences and penalties in the Criminal Code related to elder abuse and neglect.

To help address acute labour shortages in long-term care and home care, we are funding training and work placements for 4,000 new personal support worker interns. We have provided $3 billion to the provinces and territories to increase the wages of long-term care workers and other low-income essential workers. Furthermore, we have provided the provinces with over 22 million rapid tests, with more on the way. We know that rapid tests are an important way to protect seniors in long-term care homes, according to a federal expert panel. By strengthening screening, rapid tests can save lives and give worried families greater confidence that their loved ones are safe.

Another tool to help keep seniors safe in Canada is our vaccine plan. Canada has distributed over 1.8 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to provinces and territories. By the end of March, we are on track to receive six million doses. Following that, we will be receiving millions of doses in April. We will be seeing seniors and essential workers getting vaccinated as we move into spring.

The hard work that is being done in the provinces, cities and by Canadians over the last few months has worked. Cases are down, hospitalizations are down and the number of deaths is down. However, the threat from variants is real, so we have to keep going with strong public health measures; otherwise, we could see a third wave that is worse than the second before vaccines have been rolled out and our seniors can be protected.

Our government will always be there as a partner with provinces to keep people safe, working together with a team Canada approach, and that is what will get us through this crisis.

I would like to say a few words about seniors' mental health. We cannot let physical distancing become social distancing. We need to find new ways to help seniors stay connected while they are staying safe. Through the new horizons for seniors program, we added an additional $20 million in support. The federal government has funded over 2,000 community projects across Canada. Many of these projects have helped seniors connect online for the first time by providing tablets and help on how to use them, and group activities like exercise classes. Others helped seniors continue to access critical services like medical appointments, food and crisis support.

Looking ahead, our government has an ambitious agenda for seniors. That includes increasing old-age security by 10% once a senior turns 75; taking additional action to help people stay in their homes longer; providing a new Canadians disability benefit modelled after the GIS, ensuring that everyone has access to a family doctor or primary care team; continuing to support Canadians with mental illness and substance-use challenges; and further increasing access to mental health resources. We are also accelerating work to achieve national universal pharmacare.

We know there is more to do and, as a government, we are doing that work. I look forward to the debate today and to answering some questions now.

Questions on the Order Paper February 25th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order on the discussion that has been going on.

You, Mr. Speaker, along with the staff, have been very much trying to replicate, as much as possible, the procedures in the House. We have to recognize that when members are in the House, you choose when someone has the microphone. When members are at home and working remotely, I am hearing the argument that we should have control of our microphones, but I would like to say, as you reflect on this, that we should follow the House procedure as closely as possible. Members have the ability to raise their hands and be recognized as if they were standing in the House, which is better than continuously interrupting and disrespecting those who are speaking and have the right to speak because the Speaker has recognized them and given them the right to speak.

That is what I would like to be considered as you are deliberating on this issue, Mr. Speaker.

Federal Tax Expenditures February 25th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, on behalf of the Minister of Finance, a document in both official languages entitled “Report on Federal Tax Expenditures”.

Main Estimates, 2021-22 February 25th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the President of the Treasury Board, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Main Estimates, 2021-22.

Also, on behalf of the President of the Treasury Board, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the departmental plans of 88 departments and agencies for 2021-22.

Health February 5th, 2021

Madam Speaker, we are there for seniors, and we have been there since the beginning of the pandemic. We have made sure that we provided financial support through one-time, tax-free payments. We made sure that we put additional money into the community so that we could have community supports to help seniors through this terrible time. We are making sure that we are there, providing additional funding for health care support and for the long-term care sector.

Seniors January 28th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Marc-Aurèle-Fortin for his work on behalf of seniors.

Our government has taken strong action to support seniors in their communities, providing over 2,000 senior-serving projects through the new horizons for seniors program. I have been inspired by the stories of seniors connecting with their families and one another virtually for the first time as a result of these programs.

This is in contrast to the Conservatives, who have criticized our investments to support Canadians during the pandemic. It is important our government is supporting seniors through this difficult time.

Seniors December 11th, 2020

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for raising this very important question. Guaranteed income supplement payments, we know, are critical for seniors. We know that it is important that everybody who should have gotten the payment was able to get it. That is why we were managing this very carefully and making sure that those who could get it and may not have gotten it were assessed, evaluated and got it.

However, there were some of those who missed the deadline for being able to get it and it is unfortunate. Maybe the member could please bring this specific case to our office and we will make sure—

Seniors December 1st, 2020

Mr. Speaker, for many months we have been providing support for seniors through tax-free payments and enhanced community supports. The fall economic statement reiterated our government's support for seniors by establishing a new $1-billion safe long-term care fund that will help the provinces and territories protect seniors in long-term care. We are also committing $38.5 million to support training of up to 4,000 personal support worker interns, and we will move forward in establishing the foundational elements of national universal pharmacare. It is clear that we will always stand with seniors.