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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was families.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Liberal MP for Mississauga—Brampton South (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 45% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Health January 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, safe drinking water is essential to the life and health of every Canadian every day, and our drinking water is among the safest in the world.

While drinking water is primarily an area of provincial and territorial jurisdiction, Health Canada also plays a central role in helping Canadian jurisdictions ensure the safety of drinking water supplies from coast to coast by working in close collaboration with all provinces and territories to establish the guidelines for Canadian drinking water quality. These guidelines are developed to be protective of public health. They are based on robust science and take into consideration the ability to measure and treat the contaminant in drinking water.

The guidelines are developed for specific drinking water contaminants through the federal-provincial-territorial committee on drinking water. They are intended to apply to all drinking water supplies in Canada, whether public or private, from surface or groundwater sources. Provinces and territories use them as a basis to establish their own requirements for drinking water quality and implement them in accordance with their priorities for protecting public health. They are also used as a reference in federal legislation to ensure the safety of drinking water in areas of federal jurisdiction

Health Canada has scientists and other professionals dedicated to the development and review of drinking water guidelines. The process to determine priorities for guideline development is rigorous and includes biannual reviews conducted in collaboration with the provinces and territories. In addition to review of new and emerging science, the priority-setting process takes into consideration the needs of individual jurisdictions and Canadian exposure levels.

The development of drinking water guidelines also relies on international partnerships. Health Canada is a World Health Organization collaborating centre on water quality and has a longstanding partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the area of drinking water quality.

The quality of drinking water depends on the quality of water in the environment. A drinking water contaminant in Australia, for example, is not necessarily a concern in Canada or the United States. This means that the substances that need to be monitored and controlled in drinking water will vary from country to country.

Our approach is to establish guidelines for contaminants that are likely to be found in drinking water supplies at levels that could pose a risk to human health for people living here in Canada. There are other differences that need to be taken into consideration.

While in some cases other jurisdictions may have very stringent standards, it is important to note that they are not necessarily based on scientific evidence. Our government understands the importance of ensuring that critical decisions about the health and safety of Canadians must always be based on the best available science. That is why Health Canada always stays up-to-date on the latest evidence regarding drinking water quality and ensures that our guidelines live up to the highest international standards for safety and quality. We encourage all jurisdictions to do the same and are pleased to partner with countries that also take a science-based approach.

Although the guidelines are considered to be non-regulatory, they are adopted and enforced as standards by all Canadian jurisdictions, either through specific legislation and regulations or through permitting of treatment plants. This collaborative approach respects regional and local differences related to the presence of certain contaminants and provides national consistency and economies of scale while reducing duplication. Our collaborative system also provides the flexibility needed to address emergency situations such as spills or leaks.

Health Canada can develop drinking water screening values for contaminants for which there is no existing drinking water guideline. This is done at the request of a provincial or territorial agency or federal department using the scientific information available at the time of the request. Such screening values can be developed over a period of 24 hours to two weeks, depending on the urgency of the request and the availability of the data. Over the past five years, Health Canada has developed approximately 30 drinking water screening values to address such issues.

The Government of Canada is committed to safe drinking water for all Canadians. Drinking water in Canada is among the safest in the world, and this is built on effective collaboration with all of our provincial and territorial partners.

Health January 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to clarify that our department will continue to support mobile sonography services to northwestern Ontario.

Through budget 2010, a five-year funding cycle for the maternal child health program was announced. At this stage of the funding cycle, our government is demonstrating strong stewardship in reviewing all the evidence and outcomes from those investments.

This year alone, our government is investing over $23 million to support healthy child development programming and services in first nations in Ontario. This includes approximately $4 million for the maternal child health program in Ontario, and $2 million specifically for the Ontario region first nations and Inuit component of the Canada prenatal nutrition program.

In closing, I assure the member that these programs and services support healthy pregnancies, healthy births, and healthy child development for first nations in Ontario.

Health January 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I stand in the House today to speak to our government's continued support for sonograph services to ensure better maternal and child health outcomes for first nations in northwestern Ontario.

This year alone our government is investing over $23 million to support healthy child development programming and services in first nation communities in Ontario. The maternal child health program specifically has received $4 million in the 2014-15 fiscal year.

In addition to the maternal child health program, Canada also invests $2 million per year in the Canada prenatal nutrition program for first nations in Ontario. This program focuses on pregnant women and women with infants up to 12 months of age, supporting activities related to nutrition screening, education and counselling, maternal nourishment and breastfeeding promotion and support.

Our government also supports a number of other programs and services related to maternal and child health for first nations in Ontario. These include the aboriginal head start on reserve program, the fetal alcohol spectrum disorder program and the children's oral health initiative.

This support is paying off. Indeed, we are seeing significant improvements in first nation communities with this programming, such as higher proportions of first nation children being breastfed for longer than six months, and increased screening for developmental milestones, prenatal risk factors and existing health conditions.

Specifically on the issue of the provision of ultrasounds, through the maternal child health program, Health Canada funds the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre to provide ultrasound services to remote communities in northwestern Ontario, including travel for a sonographer to perform the ultrasounds.

In response to the questions posed by the official opposition's deputy critic for aboriginal health, under the arrangement with the health centre, if the current sonographer retires, it is expected that the health centre will undergo a recruitment strategy to ensure continued ultrasound-sonography services.

Further, the deputy critic had concerns over the weight of the equipment, suggesting that it could adversely affect qualified women from being recruited. I understand that the previous mobile unit weighed in excess of 100 pounds. However, Health Canada invested in a new unit in 2013, which weighs approximately 10 to15 pounds.

Regarding concerns about the weight of additional supplies that are also carried from community to community, I understand that it is possible that a stock supply of support items, such as paperwork, ultrasound bags and scan gel, be sent to the communities in advance and that Health Canada's nursing stations are willing to hold these supplies for the sonographer's use exclusively.

I understand that the sonographer must also carry a cart, which holds the ultrasound equipment during a procedure, from community to community. To further reduce the weight burden for the sonographer, my departmental officials will open a dialogue with the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre to explore options for purchasing sonography carts which can remain on site in high volume communities.

Regarding options other than having the sonographer travel, the option of bringing clients to a central location for scans is not an ideal resolution to this issue. For example, in 2013-14, through funding provided by Health Canada, the sonographer made 35 trips to remote communities in northwestern Ontario and conducted 634 ultrasounds. It would be more cost-effective and efficient for the sonographer to travel than for the clients to travel.

Purchasing ultrasound equipment for each of the remote communities would also not result in actual savings, as a sonographer would still be required to travel to the community to perform the procedure. Moreover, there would be costs associated with maintaining the equipment.

The current system of having the sonographer carry the equipment to the community, even though it may result in overweight baggage charges, is still more cost-effective.

In closing, our Government remains committed to working with our partners to improve the health outcomes for these women.

Health January 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I can inform the House that, unfortunately, the first case of H7N9 has now reached Canadian soil. The patient is being monitored, is in isolation, and is recovering.

Health officials have also been in contact with the close contacts of that patient, and all of those individuals are being monitored.

The Public Health Agency advised us that the risk to Canadians remains very low, as H7N9 does not appear to spread easily from human to human.

Health January 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, nothing can ever undo the pain and suffering that has been inflicted on these survivors. This tragic event from the 1960s reminds us why we need to take drug safety so seriously.

I have had the pleasure of meeting with many members of the Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada and will continue working to ensure that survivors are properly supported.

We hope that the minister will be able to make an announcement very shortly.

Health January 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I can absolutely assure the House that we remain committed to working collaboratively with the survivors to ensure that their health care needs are supported.

Officials from Health Canada are working to undertake the analyses needed to approve this new spending. As one can imagine, in government all sorts of spending programs will have checks and balances that need to be covered off.

We are hopeful that the minister will be able to make an announcement very shortly.

Taxation December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, thanks to our work, Canadian families can be assured that their hard-earned money is making its way back into their bank accounts. Soon, families in my riding will receive just under $2,000 annually for children under the age of 6 and $720 for children age 6 to 17.

Instead of bureaucratic spending, we offer a simple time-tested plan. We are investing directly in families. We trust parents to invest in their children and spend their money as they see fit. We want families to be better off and we will continue to put forward measures to ensure that.

As this is the last member's statement for 2014, I would like to take the opportunity to wish all Canadians a very merry Christmas, and to especially thank the hospital workers and first responders who will not be able to spend that day with their families.

Merry Christmas.

Mental Health Commission of Canada December 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2013-2014 annual report of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

I am very proud that our government continues to support the commission's important work. I would like to acknowledge the important achievements included in this year's report.

Health December 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, to the contrary. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research operates independently. It is its board of governance that came up with and developed these changes. It is the one that recommended them.

As I have assured members, we have invested over $247 million in aboriginal health research since we took office, and that is in addition to the $2 billion we invest each and every year in direct aboriginal health care.

Health December 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the changes made by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research's board of governance were made independently. These changes will allow for additional support for researchers as they leverage new dollars.

I can assure this House that Canada, through Health Canada and through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, remains the single largest contributor to health research, spending over $1 billion each year. Since we have formed government, we have invested almost a quarter billion dollars in aboriginal health research.