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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was colleague.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2015, with 25% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Petitions June 17th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed by my constituents in Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, who are calling on the government to stop making cuts to our postal services. My constituents are calling on the Government of Canada to not proceed with these devastating cuts to our postal services.

Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert Volunteers June 10th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to dedicate my final member's statement of this 41st Parliament to all the volunteers who have made a difference in Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert this year. We are fortunate to be able to count on the Centre de soutien entr'Aidants, Au Second Lieu, the Maison des Tournesols, the Association Sclérose en Plaques Rive-Sud, the Maison de la famille La Parentr’aide , the Centre d'action bénévole de Saint-Hubert, the Centre d'action bénévole “Les P'tits bonheurs”, the Fondation du Mont-Saint-Bruno, the Mont-Bruno and Laflèche Optimist Clubs, the Maison des jeunes de Saint-Bruno, the Groupe d'entraide G.E.M.E., and Minta Saint-Bruno.

They all make our community a better place to live in, and I thank them very much for that.

Business of Supply June 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from my colleague on the other side of the House.

We know that good ideas come from this side of the House. It is the NDP that has talked about helping family caregivers and it is our party that asked the government to provide leave for parents whose children were very ill. I would like to remind him, too, that access to special benefits has also been limited because of the changes made by the Liberals and Conservatives.

For example, we see that only 60% of new mothers receive maternity benefits. Do we know the reason why they are not eligible? It is because they have not managed to accumulate enough hours of work. We can understand how when a woman is pregnant, if she is in an environment where illness could spread or she is doing very demanding work, she would not be entitled to special benefits because she had not accumulated enough hours. We can imagine what that situation is.

Business of Supply June 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for an excellent question.

As we all know, and as I mentioned toward the end of my speech, the NDP wants to make sure that more Canadians and middle-class families have access to the help they need when they lose their jobs, take parental leave, get sick or have to take care of a family member. We recognize that employment insurance premiums belong to the workers and employers who contribute them. That money belongs to workers and employers, not to the government.

Business of Supply June 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord.

I rise in the House today to speak in support of the motion moved by my colleague from Trois-Rivières, the NDP employment insurance critic.

A number of my colleagues from different regions in Quebec and Canada will speak to this motion today. I am joining them today to draw attention to the mess that our employment insurance system is in and urge the government to implement measures that will restore the original purpose of employment insurance.

It is important to say up front that, one after the other, the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party siphoned off no less than $57 billion from the employment insurance fund and cut services to workers with reform after reform. The current situation is such that it is increasingly difficult for Canadians to receive employment insurance benefits and wait times have reached a less than enviable high.

Since the 1990s, radical reforms have had a significant impact on the lives of thousands of workers. These reforms include a significantly larger number of eligibility requirements, shorter benefit periods, lower benefit rates, the abolition of the right to benefits in cases of misconduct and voluntary leaving without just cause, and stricter punitive measures. From seasonal workers in the Gaspé, employees in New Brunswick's tourism industry, construction workers in British Columbia and farmers in the Prairies to employers in specialized seasonal fields, thousands of people are outraged at a government that is attacking their way of life and preventing them from putting food on the table for their families.

How many times will we have to state loud and clear that employment insurance is not a government benefit? Employers and employees contribute to the fund. Canadians make their employment insurance contributions in good faith because they believe that this social safety net will be there for them when they need it. This ludicrous intrusion, which dates back to when the Liberals shamelessly stole $54 billion from the fund, must stop immediately.

When the Conservatives took office, they misappropriated $3 billion. In budget 2015, the Conservatives used the EI surplus to give tax breaks to the wealthiest members of society rather than improving access to benefits. This government does not have the right to interfere in a matter that concerns employers and workers. It is high time that the government stopped playing political games with the employment insurance fund.

Employment insurance is a social safety net that provides some support to Canadians when they go through more difficult times. Unfortunately, fewer than four out of every 10 unemployed workers today have access to employment insurance.

The government is not doing anything to improve accessibility, which is at an all-time low. Instead, it insists on claiming that unemployment is the individual's responsibility. It implies that it is the individual's fault if he loses his job. Under the Conservatives, social problems like unemployment are seen less and less as a collective responsibility and more and more as an individual responsibility. Unemployment is no longer seen as a social or public issue, as though the risk of losing one's job is an individual problem and not a social one. Can a worker be blamed for losing his job because the company replaced him with a machine?

The Conservatives are trying to claim that they have created countless new jobs, but the facts speak for themselves: today, we have more than 1.3 million unemployed Canadians for about 270,000 available jobs. This means that there are five unemployed workers for every job.

Moreover, 15.1% of Canadians aged 15 to 25 are unemployed. There are still 200,000 more Canadians out of work than there were before the recession. Right now, it seems as though the Conservatives are squeezing workers and forcing them to accept undesirable low-paying jobs instead of helping to make these jobs more desirable and focusing on effective ways to stimulate the economy. That is shameful.

Furthermore, instead of improving people's standard of living, they are actually setting the bar even lower, lower than it has ever been. The EI system is part of our economy. It is what gives us a sound and diversified economy. It is precisely this system that makes our tourism industry possible and means that fishers, substitute teachers, and forestry, silviculture and farm workers can have jobs. These jobs contribute enormously to our economy and to the overall quality of life of all Canadians, even those who will never draw benefits in their lives.

In closing, since 1995, Liberal and Conservative governments have taken over $57 billion from the employment insurance fund. The purpose of the Employment Insurance Act—it was called unemployment insurance until 1997—has always been to compensate workers if they lose their job. That is no longer the case today.

One thing is clear: based on what we have seen over the last few decades, the NDP is the only party that can be trusted when it comes to employment insurance. We are the only party to propose policies to improve access to employment insurance benefits, not further limit access.

Health Care May 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure for me to debate issues related to health care, as that is something that I care deeply about, as do my constituents in Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert.

However, I rise today to oppose this motion to implement a national strategy for innovation in health care. The only good thing about this motion is its name. Unfortunately, it offers no concrete measures to improve our health care. Worse still, the motion makes no mention whatsoever of the public health care system, which needs to be strengthened.

On the contrary, the motion explicitly seeks to foster competition for better outcomes. That is definitely not what Canadians want. I am left to really wonder about what is really behind this motion.

We in the NDP want to see real improvements to our health care services, and we would have preferred to see a motion that proposes restoring the Health Council of Canada, an agency that the Conservatives demolished in 2014. In its reports, that agency assessed the results of the federal-provincial health accords. It allowed us to adjust and better target our programs.

After 10 years of contempt and repeated cuts to health care, suddenly the Conservatives are claiming that they care about innovation in this field. Who would believe them? Not Canadians. Canadians are not stupid, and they want concrete measures that will improve their daily lives.

We would also have liked to see this motion address the budget cuts imposed on our health care system. We would have liked to see the government understand that health care expenses will increase as the population ages, and that if we invest today, our seniors will be better off tomorrow.

Canadians want to get back the $36 billion that has been cut in recent years. The truth is that the Conservative government sacrificed our health care system for the sake of savings. We cannot do more with less.

When the New Democrat government comes to power in October, we will restore the health transfers to the provinces. We will talk with the provinces and will work closely with them, since that is how we will develop a real national strategy for health care innovation.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her relevant question.

It is no secret. Everyone knows that we cannot do anything without our health. This Conservative government, which cut provincial health transfers from 6% to 3%, is going to deprive the provinces of $35 billion in health care funding. As my colleague mentioned, these cuts will have a negative impact on the quality of care, the accessibility of care and every other area affecting health. It is unacceptable for a government to make cuts to health care when we know that the provincial systems are suffering.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I loved the question from my colleague opposite because it really speaks to what we want to do.

I am pleased to hear that the government has come to its senses and wants to adopt the NDP position on small and medium-sized businesses. However, according to this budget, the measure will only be implemented in 2019. We have said that if we were elected, we would implement it in our first term in order to lighten the tax burden and stimulate the economy. We know that SMEs are the driver of the Canadian economy and that they create the most jobs.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his comment and his question.

What he said about the Conservatives' record is definitely true. However, the fact remains that the Liberals have nothing to offer to two-thirds of Canadians and they would only help wealthy Canadians who earn up to $200,000 a year. Neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals are concerned about the middle class, which cannot make ends meet.

For our part, we will establish an NDP government that will propose concrete solutions for the middle class and increase prosperity for that segment of the population.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to denounce this government's undemocratic ways.

We have before us a budget implementation bill that is over 160 pages long, contains over 270 provisions and amends dozens of laws. I find it appalling that the government has introduced such a huge bill that includes legislation that has nothing to do with the budget. What is the prevention of terrorist travel act doing in a budget implementation bill?

I think it is worth pointing out that the current Prime Minister was the first to condemn this kind of practice when the Liberals were in power. At the time, he was shocked that a government could enact so many laws in one fell swoop. He has become very good at something he once denounced.

The number of pages in this omnibus bill is not the only problem. Another frightening thing is that the government is refusing to debate it. It imposed a gag order, as it does every time one of its bills contains contentious provisions. We cannot properly represent our constituents, the people who elected us, if we do not have the time to thoroughly examine the proposed provisions.

We are talking about the budget implementation bill. We are talking about Canada's future, and it is not right for a government to have such contempt for the people or toy with its institutions. This government is making a mockery of democracy and thumbing its nose at Canadians.

I will now talk about the content of the bill. Bill C-59 is a bill that we cannot support.

Let us start with income splitting. This is the perfect example of how out of touch the Conservatives are, since, as we know, only families with two incomes in two different tax brackets will benefit from this measure.

I would like to remind everyone of the impact that income splitting has on women. I have the good fortune of sitting on the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, and I would like to share some of what we heard from witnesses. According to them, single women and single-parent families will not benefit at all from income splitting.

Similarly, the elimination of the child tax credit will take away about $2 billion from parents, many of whom are single parents. All of the family-related tax transfers actually deter the very women the government claims to care about.

Fewer women will be participating in the workforce as a result of this measure. According to Kathleen Lahey of the faculty of law at Queen's University, the advantages of income splitting will actually encourage young women and female college graduates to pay even less attention to their salary, since, after they talk to their peers, spouse or partner, they will know that it may be more worthwhile for the family to replace paid work with unpaid work.

While the whole country is trying to find better jobs for women, the government is using tax breaks to encourage them not to work. Even the Parliamentary Budget Officer, whom the Conservatives love to quote, has been critical of income splitting.

He estimates that the average benefit will go to families whose income exceeds $180,000, which is 15% of families. He also said that income splitting will cost taxpayers $2.5 billion in 2015. The Conservatives are ignoring the 85% of Canadian families who will not benefit from this measure. Why? Because they have their sights set on the election coming up in a few months and they are more interested in helping out those they think will vote for them. That group of people never seems to include families that are working very hard and having trouble making ends meet. The fact is that these families are struggling with income stagnation and the rising cost of living, which is prompting them to take on massive debt.

There are now 250,000 fewer jobs in Canada than there were before the recession, and 160,000 fewer jobs for youth. If one believed all the ads the government has bought with taxpayer money—almost $750 million worth—one would think everything was hunky-dory. However, Canadians know different because they are still carrying the highest debt loads in Canadian history.

In an atrocious economic environment, one would think job one from the government of the day would be to create jobs, to get people back to work, to diversify the economy, and to invest in the economy in ways that would actually produce the jobs that we have been missing since the last global recession.

Instead, we see the true priorities of the Conservatives when it comes to jobs, and that is their own jobs. They are hoping to buy back re-election just one more time. That is why they raised the ceiling for the TFSA, which will benefit only 20% of the wealthiest Canadians and will not increase Canadians' savings; however, it will certainly cost our economy billions of dollars.

Instead of doing things that are not going to stimulate our economy, the government could have invested in our health care system. Investing in health is an investment in Canada's economic future. For example, providing care to someone over 65 costs five times more than providing care to someone between 15 and 65. This Conservative government is turning a deaf ear and abandoning our seniors, the middle class and the least fortunate, who will not be able to access adequate health care. They prefer to spend money on catering to the needs of the highest earners.

Canadians deserve a government that works for all Canadians, not just for its supporters. They deserve a budget that works for them and contains sound economic measures, not electoral goodies.

I will close by emphasizing that this is the 96th time the government is imposing time allocation in this parliament. In Canada, we have never had a government that abused time allocation and closure as much as this one has. This is a testament to the arrogance and incompetence of this government, which has introduced a number of bills in the House of Commons that have been rejected by the courts. They were rejected because the government does not really do its due diligence to verify its bills. Canadians are fed up with this government that plays fast and loose with its institutions and they will prove it in October.