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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was help.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Vimy (Québec)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 46% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Diabetes Awareness Month June 17th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today for the last time in the 42nd Parliament of Canada to speak to Motion No. 173, which was moved by my hon. colleague from Brampton South. The motion says that November should be diabetes awareness month. I would like to congratulate my colleague on her work.

Although Canada has always promoted health care and health care developments and worked hard to improve Canadians' health—which we are all proud of—there is still a lot of work to do. Diabetes is a chronic disease resulting from an individual's inability to produce enough insulin or use it properly. There is no known cure.

The two most common types of diabetes are type 1, which requires daily insulin injections, and type 2, which can be managed with proper diet, exercise and medication.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, 425 milion people around the world have diabetes. It is a veritable pandemic, as the incidence of the disease is increasing considerably. The World Health Organization estimates that 622 million people will have diabetes by 2040. In 2015, diabetes caused five million deaths worldwide. Furthermore, diabetes kills one person every six seconds globally, which is more than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has put out the following statistics: every eight minutes, someone in Canada is diagnosed with diabetes; one in four Canadians lives with diabetes or prediabetes; and 200,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. What is even more frightening about these statistics is the fact that diabetes can lead to other health-related complications including cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, nerve damage, vision loss and depression. These are all conditions that present challenges for those living with diabetes as well as their families, their communities and our health care system. On top of that, most Canadians who have diabetes have no idea they have it.

It is also important to note that Canada has the highest prevalence of diabetes in the world for reasons that are yet unknown. If current trends hold, one in three Canadians will have diabetes by 2020. Given the growing concern about health in Canada and my many years of experience working as a nurse, I share the hon. member's vision and understand the importance of having a diabetes awareness month. This month will have a significant impact. It will help in detecting the first signs of diabetes, preventing its onset for millions of Canadians and, most importantly, it will reaffirm Canada's commitment to fighting the prevalence of this increasingly common disease.

Canada has always been a leader in the fight against diabetes. However, despite our efforts, strategies and policies, the quality of data on diabetes monitoring in Canada clearly show that more effective approaches are essential and needed, now more than ever. The prevalence of diabetes has increased considerably over the past decade, which further increases the threat of this chronic disease.

At a time when rapid strides are being made in science, medicine and health care, Canada has the financial, scientific and technological resources to fund and develop new strategies and carry out research that will lead to groundbreaking discoveries. We have the means to make more of those discoveries.

I strongly believe that one of the key strategies for fighting this disease is prevention through education. In other words, we need to invest more in raising awareness of how serious this disease is and how it is linked to unhealthy lifestyles, reflecting strong support for government measures. This would stop diabetes from spreading further in Canada.

The president of the International Diabetes Federation, Professor Nam Cho, says that the most economical, effective and efficient way to solve diabetes-related problems, from prevention to intervention, morbidity and mortality, is through education.

That is exactly what creating a diabetes awareness month would do. It would be a great way to continue the discussion and would provide a tool for educating Canadians, promoting awareness, helping diabetics manage their own condition effectively and highlighting the message that every person with diabetes deserves the best information and the best care.

As a former nurse, I know how powerful health education can be, and I strongly believe that raising awareness of diabetes, enhancing education and improving knowledge on how to control and treat it will minimize the risk of complications. That will reduce morbidity and mortality among diabetics.

Secondly, establishing a diabetes awareness month would not just help Canadians; it would help us as well. It would enable the federal government to give more thought to the areas where increased efforts are required and to identify sectors for which we could provide more effective programs and policies.

Establishing a diabetes awareness month would encourage all levels of government to work together to ensure that Canadians get the care they need and can enjoy a better quality of life because of what we have done. That is why the following message regarding Motion No. 173 is so important: in partnership with private sector organizations, non-profits and other levels of government, we are testing and broadening the scope of the measures being taken in communities across the country to prevent chronic illnesses, including diabetes.

Listening to communities and working with other levels of government, partners and stakeholders will result in improved information and data quality as well as relevant and accessible programs. This will ultimately improve the health of all Canadians.

Diabetes is a disease that can affect anyone, and I am very concerned that some 44% of Canadians with diabetes do not even realize they have it. This chronic disease can cause alarming symptoms, which vary from person to person and should never be ignored. Symptoms include anxiety, confusion, concentration problems and visual field anomalies.

It is nevertheless important to recognize that although diabetes is incurable, it is treatable. We will save lives by educating Canadians about diabetes, disease prevention and healthy lifestyle choices and by providing further education on the symptoms and long-term complications of diabetes.

In closing, I want to express my strong support for this motion, because I know that promoting a diabetes awareness month will have a significant impact and will help us improve the lives and health of many Canadians.

Status of Women June 11th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, in May, at the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, I had the opportunity to speak with the Minister of International Development and Minister for Women and Gender Equality about the Women Deliver conference.

In my riding, Vimy, across Canada and around the world, women are concerned about gender equality.

Could the minister inform the House about the meaningful action that was taken during this historic meeting?

Business of Supply May 15th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his passion for the environment and his truly enlightening speech.

I want him to know that people in my riding, Vimy, are really benefiting from federal, provincial and municipal incentives in the form of electric vehicle rebates. The rebate is more than $13,000. It can be up to $15,000 with the City of Laval's $2,000 rebate.

I would also like to take this opportunity to say that the City of Laval benefited from all this, too, as it became the first city in Canada with a long electric bus.

I have made several announcements in my riding about electric buses and bus shelters. We want all 400,000 or so residents of Vimy and Laval as well as everyone in the suburbs north of town to benefit from these public transit announcements.

What have our government's incentives done for my colleague's riding in Nova Scotia?

Status of Women May 9th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, anti-choice activists are rallying on Parliament Hill today. What is worrisome is that some Conservative members are joining them, trying to control women's decisions over their bodies.

We know that members of the Conservative Party do not believe that safe access to abortion services is a right, because they said so in the House last year. In the face of these threats to women's health, could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health tell the House where the government stands on women's right to choose?

World Ovarian Cancer Day May 8th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, today is World Ovarian Cancer Day, a sad day for anyone who has lost a mother, daughter or loved one to this silent, little-known disease that is often only discovered in its advanced stages.

Research on ovarian cancer is essential and has been overlooked, but our government is taking action. Budget 2019 allocates $10 million for ovarian cancer research.

Last Sunday, I participated in the shaved head challenge organized by Leucan in my riding. I would like to thank the participants and donors for their remarkable work. I would also like to thank all those who support cancer research in some way. Thank you for being such a bright light.

Employment Insurance May 7th, 2019

I am pleased to rise today to speak on Motion No. 201 and its fundamental importance to Canadians. This motion is sponsored by my colleague, the hon. member for Sydney—Victoria. I would like to congratulate him and thank him for his work.

While Canada has always striven to promote health care and its progression, there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of the employment insurance to which all Canadian employees are entitled.

According to Statistics Canada, three out of five Canadians over the age of 20 have a chronic disease, and four out of five Canadians are at risk of developing one. These chronic diseases include cancer and heart disease in particular. The most striking thing about these diseases is that although we currently consider them to be incurable, they are certainly treatable.

This alarming finding would therefore suggest that measures are in place to treat sick people and promote their return to society once their treatment has ended. However, as the member for Sydney—Victoria has pointed out, EI sick benefits are only paid for 15 weeks to eligible claimants, and the fact is that 15 weeks is not enough in most cases.

I think the member for Sydney—Victoria has a vision for an even better Canada, and the answers are there. This motion reaffirms that vision by urging the government to act. Since 2009, there have been seven different bills seeking to extend these 15 weeks of benefits. Some of those bills got as far as second reading, but none were ever passed. I share the member’s vision and believe that we can make a difference by adopting this perspective.

Approving the motion on employment insurance will result in important and necessary changes that will allow Canadians to return to their workplaces and resume their activities after receiving treatment and having had enough time to recover, because most interventions to treat long-term illnesses can be invasive and require a longer recovery period.

I would like to add that before immigrating to Canada and completing my studies in translation, I worked as a registered nurse in Lebanon during the civil war. I witnessed horrific scenes. I treated many patients who, in addition to dealing with the common ills that afflict us in western countries, had to live in an environment where they were under constant threat of violence. I saw everything from the most debilitating infections to the unimaginable suffering of victims of physical and psychological violence.

These people had one thing in common: the time they needed to recover. Based on what I have seen and my personal experience, recovery is not about the time it takes for a wound to heal. Rather, it is about the time it takes for a person to regain enough physical and mental strength to return to the work they were doing before their diagnosis or treatment. Frankly, I do not think 15 weeks is enough time to recover from treatments such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy, where patients may need several months or even a year to regain enough strength to carry out their daily activities. I can speak to that because I spent five years working in an oncology ward at the hospital in Lebanon.

While EI sick benefits provide adequate coverage for most claimants, about 35% exhaust their benefits before returning to work. This means that these claimants needed more than 15 weeks to recover, but simply could not afford it.

That is the sad reality of the EI sick benefit program. First of all, I believe that when they are not given the time they need to recover, people may relapse. For example, depression and psychological stress can significantly affect a patient's ability to recover from cardiovascular disease.

According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, about 25% to 50% of people with chronic conditions who do not receive specific support will also experience depression.

People who suffer from depression following a heart attack are at greater risk of having a second heart attack. Indeed, people with depression are more likely to develop poor lifestyle habits, such as excessive alcohol consumption, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity, which can affect their recovery from the original illness. Indeed, depression can undermine the motivation and determination that patients need to complete their treatment.

In addition, it is important to point out that these are not people on the cusp of retirement. Most of them are young adults who still have a lot to offer Canadian society in terms of its progress.

According to the HealthPartners’ Chronic Disease and Mental Health Report, 21.4% of Canada’s working population has a chronic illness, with our youth being the hardest hit.

One study found that in any given year, 28% of people aged 20 to 29 will experience a mental illness. One in two workers has a mental illness by the age of 40. In addition, 500,000 Canadians are absent from work every day due to depression. This absenteeism is a major problem because it costs our national economy more than $51 billion annually. Our government must invest in these young Canadians. They will give back to Canada by being active in the job market and thereby contributing to the country’s economy.

It is well known that most people living with chronic disease receive care outside of hospitals, relying on family and community for their medical needs. A Statistics Canada survey shows that 20% of caregivers looking after someone with a chronic illness reported depression as a result of their responsibilities.

Not all claimants will necessarily be eligible for the extended benefit period for their recovery and treatment. Since decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis, this will be a subjective procedure, and claimants will therefore only receive benefits for the number of weeks required for their recovery. As such, the government's duty will be to provide the necessary assistance to patients and their families by extending the benefit period to enable patients to fully recover from their illness and not develop additional ones.

In conclusion, I strongly support this motion because I recognize and understand the impact it can have on helping Canadians who may need a longer recovery period than the current 15 weeks and who will experience financial stress when they realize that there will be no more EI sick benefits if they take a longer period of leave.

Motion No. 201 calls on the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities to examine the possibility and practicality of extending the maximum number of weeks of employment insurance sick benefits for those with long-term illnesses. It therefore seems obvious that Motion No. 201 must be allowed to continue.

Imagine the relief of all those families who can only watch helplessly as their loved ones slowly fade away. This is not an unattainable goal, and it could be achieved more quickly than we think. After all, we have an obligation to help Canadians so that they, in turn, can contribute to productivity growth in Canada.

Battle of Vimy Ridge April 9th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, more than 100 years ago, on a ridge in France, all four divisions of the Canadian Corps, including the 4th Battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment, which is in my riding of Vimy, combined forces for the first time in combat. These were extraordinary Canadians from across the country.

Today, as we gather to commemorate the 102nd anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, we remember the thousands of Canadians who gave their lives far from Canada's shores. We pay tribute to them on the anniversary of a defining battle that has forever marked our history.

As the member for the riding of Vimy, I encourage us today and every day to pay tribute to every Canadian who answered the call to serve and sacrifice at the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

Status of Women April 3rd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, as a member of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, I travelled to New York City in March for the 63rd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, together with my colleagues on the Canadian delegation led by the Minister of International Development and Minister for Women and Gender Equality. We underscored Canada's commitment to achieving gender quality through the empowerment of women and girls across Canada.

As an official delegate for the Inter-Parliamentary Union, along with my global counterparts, we shared best practices for increasing women's political participation around the world. As parliamentarians, women, peace and security should be in our DNA, and we need to be more vigilant to ensure that women are always at the peace negotiations table.

I am very proud of Canada's leadership at the CSW. Together, let us continue to share Canada's experience and work toward a better future for women everywhere.

Finally, I want to wish all Daughters of the Vote a warm welcome to the Hill.

Value Village February 19th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to draw your attention to the presence of several executives from Value Village on Parliament Hill today.

This global thrift retailer, which is very well known in Canada, employs 10,000 people in 136 stores, including in my riding of Vimy. Value Village is a leader in environmental protection and invests in local communities.

I am pleased to have its representatives here with us today and to congratulate them for the $123 million they have given to Quebec charities over the past 10 years, for the 320 million pounds of used goods that they keep out of Canada's landfills thanks to their resell and recycle model, and for their commitment to improving the lives of Canadians.

Mental Health January 30th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, today, across the country, Canadians are participating in Bell Let's Talk Day. Last year, thanks to everyone who joined in to break the silence on mental health issues, Bell raised nearly $1 million to donate to various organizations. One such organization, La Ressource anxiété et trouble panique, in Laval, was chosen to be a recipient of the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund in 2019. Last week I was honoured to attend the press conference announcing a $21,000 donation, which will be used to create two support groups for people suffering from anxiety. Once again this year, for every text message and social media post with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, Bell will donate five cents to various organizations.

Together, let us continue the conversation and make a difference in the lives of Canadians.