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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 November 26th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not begin by highlighting our government's recent passage of Vanessa's Law, which received royal assent just a few weeks ago. It will help quickly identify dangerous drugs and ensure the quick recall of unsafe drugs. It requires the reporting of serious adverse reactions so we are aware of new risks.

I would also like to point out, and this is critical to the hon. member's debate, that the purchase and use of single-use medical devices are part of the practice of medicine and thus fall under provincial and territorial jurisdiction, not federal jurisdiction. I simply cannot agree that the federal government is absent from regulating this activity. In fact, I am pleased to report that Health Canada has licensed its first reprocessed medical device.

Health Canada received an application from a reprocessor to sell a reprocessed device and authorized it under the existing federal Food and Drugs Act and medical devices regulations. Our government will apply this regulatory framework to incoming licence applications from commercial reprocessors of single-use devices that wish to sell reprocessed instruments to Canadian health care facilities. In doing so, we will obviously hold reprocessed devices to the same standards of safety and effectiveness as brand new devices.

We will also, obviously, hold commercial reprocessors to the same regulatory requirements as new device manufacturers. This means that commercial reprocessors seeking market authorization in Canada must meet requirements for licensing, labelling, maintaining distribution records, investigating and handling complaints, conducting recalls, reporting problems to Health Canada and informing Health Canada of any changes to the information in their device licence application, and being subject to quality system inspections or audits.

Under the existing regulations, devices are classified into classes based on the type of risk they pose. The evidence requirements to support a given licence application are proportional to the risk of the device. On the label of the reprocessed device, Health Canada will request that the single-use symbol be removed and replaced with clear instructions, for example, on where to send the device for reprocessing to ensure the appropriate safety oversight.

The department itself began raising awareness of the reuse of medical devices in 1985. Since that time, it has taken steps to mitigate the potential risks. For example, it issued letters to the health care facilities, established a scientific advisory panel on the reprocessing of medical devices, and co-chaired a federal-provincial-territorial working group of infection control specialists that reviewed safety data and developed a pan-Canadian framework statement.

The framework provided direction to the provinces and territories, and was used to help inform the development of their respective policy or regulatory positions on single-use devices. Traditionally, medical device reprocessing was done in-house by hospitals. More recently, reprocessing models have evolved to include greater use of commercial reprocessors and service providers to hospitals. Health Canada has been closely following this business model evolution and actively engaging on this with its partners in the health care system.

Canadians can be assured that we have a rigorous regulatory framework in place to oversee the activities of commercial reprocessors seeking to sell reprocessed single-use devices to Canadian health care facilities. While Health Canada applies existing regulations to incoming licence applications from single-use device reprocessors, we continue to encourage medical device manufacturers to design devices according to their intended use. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to provide the necessary safety information to Health Canada for review, as required by regulation.

The Environment November 26th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, quite to the contrary, for every proposed project that our government reviews for environmental impacts, we assess the adequacy of our consultation to ensure that we are fulfilling the Crown's duty to consult.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is actively engaged in conducting consultations in communities across the country. It is committed to look continually for ways to improve opportunities for aboriginal participation in environmental assessments.

This government will continue to work with aboriginal communities throughout the environmental assessment process and build on lessons learned to best meet the needs of aboriginal peoples.

We will continue to protect our environment while supporting economic growth.

The Environment November 26th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is my great honour to respond to the hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona regarding the government's engagement of aboriginal peoples throughout the environmental assessment process.

Since the coming into force of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, this government has focused its resources on realigning processes to most effectively fulfill its roles and responsibilities associated with responsible resource development, including its responsibilities for consulting with aboriginal peoples.

When responsible resource development was first introduced, this government indicated its commitment to streamline the environmental review process to support economic development while simultaneously strengthening environmental protection and enhancing consultations with aboriginal peoples. Under Canada's modernized environmental assessment regime, this government has an approach that integrates consultation with all aboriginal peoples into the environmental assessment process.

Meaningful consultation occurs throughout the environmental assessment by identifying groups that may be impacted by a project early in the process, listening to their concerns at key stages of the process, and accommodating those concerns where appropriate.

The information and views provided by aboriginal groups are reflected in the environmental assessment findings and can be helpful in identifying mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate the effects of the project on the environment and on aboriginal areas of interest.

Aboriginal traditional knowledge is recognized as an important part of project planning and resource management. Project proponents are encouraged to work with aboriginal groups and communities to gather traditional knowledge for consideration in the environmental assessment.

The commissioner's report indicated that some aboriginal people have concerns about their capacity to participate effectively in the environmental assessment process. With regard to this capacity, I want to make it clear that funding is available for aboriginal peoples to participate in the environmental assessment process. Between April 2013 and March 2014, approximately $1.6 million was distributed to 90 recipients to enable consultation with aboriginal peoples and participation in the environmental assessment of some 27 projects.

I want to assure hon. members that this government is working closely with aboriginal groups and is engaged in meaningful consultation with them. Our government has also increased funding and opportunities for consultations throughout the environmental assessment process.

We will continue to protect our environment while supporting economic growth.

ALS Research November 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, ALS is a deadly and degenerative disease. The summer of 2014 will be known as the summer of the ALS ice bucket challenge.

ALS societies across Canada are pleased to announce that the ice bucket challenge in Canada raised $16.2 million, thanks to the generosity of more than a quarter of a million Canadians. This represents a record amount of ALS donations. ALS societies will invest $10 million in research and $6 million in programs to support those living with ALS.

I was pleased this morning to announce that through Brain Canada, we will be matching dollar for dollar the research partnership dollars, bringing the total amount invested in ALS research to $20 million. On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to thank all Canadians who participated in the ice bucket challenge this year.

National Day of the Midwife Act November 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member.

Maternal, newborn, and child health remains a top international development priority for our government. We are committed to working with Canadian and international partners towards the goal of ending the preventable deaths of mothers, newborns, and young children.

I would like to highlight that our government is ensuring that moms in Canada get the support they need. Each and every year we invest $27 million in the Canada prenatal nutrition program, an important initiative that seeks to improve the health and well-being of pregnant women, new mothers, and babies. It provides 59,000 new moms in over 2,000 communities with important nutritional and health information across Canada. We also provide over $2.4 billion each and every year for aboriginal health, including access to midwife services and prenatal care.

Through Canada's leadership, global attention has been drawn to this issue. In June 2010, under our Prime Minister's leadership, the G8 launched the Muskoka initiative on maternal, newborn, and child health with the aim of saving the lives of mothers, newborns, and children. As part of this initiative, Canada committed $2.85 billion between 2010 and 2015 to help women and children in the world's poorest countries.

Midwifery training and service provision is also a key component of our government's support through the G8 Muskoka initiative.

For example, through the strengthening midwifery services in South Sudan project, we are providing support to train midwives and other health workers at four national health training institutes across the country. A total of 540 health workers are expected to graduate during the project, including 315 midwives.

Maternal mortality is estimated at 2,000 for every 100,000 live births in South Sudan. The midwives Canada is helping to train will be vital in reducing maternal and infant mortality. More than 20,000 babies are expected to be born in the hands of a midwife or a midwifery student over the course of this particular project.

Another example points to Afghanistan, which currently has one of the highest levels of maternal mortality in the world. In addition to all of the other challenges faced by women in Afghanistan, 50 women die every day in Afghanistan from complications related to pregnancy. Dedicated delivery or examination rooms are scarce, and trained health care professionals can be hard to find.

I am pleased to say that we are working in partnership with the Afghan government, the United Nations, and non-governmental organization partners to train midwives and establish 49 family health houses in the province of Daikundi. Each family health house has a delivery room and an examination room in which a trained community midwife can safely work. Midwives in these communities will be trained not only to provide maternal and essential newborn care services but also important health information and immunization services. These centres will be equipped to provide health care services for up to 4,000 people.

Our government has also supported a project to reconstruct Haiti's national school of midwifery and local maternity clinics. Each new maternity clinic has two certified midwives and aims to provide increased access to qualified, preventative, and basic emergency obstetric and neonatal services to approximately 230,000 women and girls affected by the earthquake, including 25,000 pregnant women.

Finally, as part of its commitment to the Muskoka initiative for maternal, newborn, and child health, Canada has partnered with UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and the United Nations Population Fund in support of the project for accelerating the reduction of maternal and newborn mortality, a five-year, $21 million initiative. This project has assisted 15 Nigerian states and the federal capital territory to strengthen the delivery of key maternal, newborn, and child health services. It seeks to ensure that health workers have the skills, equipment, supplies, and medicines to provide care.

Since 2010, the project has achieved impressive results, including the training of 248 nurse-midwives to provide life-saving care to an estimated 100,000 pregnant women, and 280 community health extension workers have also been trained and equipped to provide community-based newborn care.

These are but a few of the numerous examples of the work that Canada is undertaking internationally.

Thanks in large part to the Muskoka initiative in 2010 and subsequent global action, maternal mortality rates are declining and millions more children are celebrating their fifth birthdays. Access to health care and nutrition is up, and millions of lives continue to be saved each and every year.

This important work will continue. This government will seek continued progress toward ensuring that the nearly 40 million women internationally who give birth without trained help receive skilled care, decreasing the risk of death and disability both to the mother and the newborn. In May of 2014, the Prime Minister hosted the Saving Every Woman, Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach summit. At the summit, Canada committed $3.5 billion in support for the period of 2015 to 2020 and renewed global momentum to advance maternal, newborn, and child health as a global priority beyond 2015. Canada will continue to work with its country partners to fill system gaps by investing in improved service delivery at the local level, training more health workers, and increasing access to adequately equipped local health facilities.

Since 1991, the International Day of the Midwife has been recognized on May 5 by organizations such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization to raise awareness of the importance of the role midwives play and the care they provide. Our government believes that all mothers, newborns, and children in Canada or anywhere in the world have the right to be healthy and safe. The declaration of a national day of the midwife would further demonstrate Canada's commitment to maternal care on the international stage. I would like to offer our government's support for Bill C-608, which would increase awareness of the contributions that midwives make in improving the health and well-being of women and their families, both domestically and internationally. I am pleased to support this initiative.

A national day of the midwife will certainly help to increase awareness of the value of this important profession in providing maternal care services to women and their families, both domestically and internationally. Our government will support Bill C-608, which seeks to designate May 5 each and every year as the national day of the midwife.

Health November 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the fight against Ebola is a complex matter. That is why our government has announced an additional $23.5 million for further research and development of Ebola vaccines and treatments this afternoon.

As members are aware, we cannot do it alone. We are working with our international partners, including the World Health Organization, the United States, and the United Kingdom, and with multiple private sector entities and regulatory authorities, to accelerate clinical trials and fast-track steps for mass production of the vaccine for possible use in the current West Africa outbreak.

In this spirit, Canada has donated 800 vials of its experimental vaccine to the World Health Organization to support the response to the outbreak. The World Health Organization, in consultation with partners, including health authorities from the affected countries, will guide and facilitate the distribution and use of the vaccine.

As an active and engaged international partner, this government is fully committed to supporting the international efforts to combat the Ebola virus disease.

Here at home, we continue to ensure that Canada is well prepared for a possible case of Ebola. Protecting the health of Canadians is our greatest priority.

Health November 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Kingston and the Islands for this very important question, and I stand this evening in the House to speak to our government's continued efforts to address the Ebola outbreak.

Canada remains at the forefront of the international response to the Ebola outbreak. We are ready to respond if a case arrives in Canada. We are ready with our hospitals that have infection control systems and procedures in place to limit the spread of infection, protect health care workers, and provide the best care possible for patients.

Research on such a virus can only be done in a high-containment laboratory. The Public Health Agency of Canada's national microbiology laboratory is the only lab with the required capabilities in Canada. It is from this facility, through a cutting-edge and innovative special pathogen research program, that the VSV-EBOV vaccine for Ebola was developed. I am proud to say that it was a Canadian discovery, one that was the result of 15 years of work, and one that required ongoing support from the Government of Canada.

In addition to the VSV-EBOV vaccine, Canada has had a major role in the development and testing of the ZMapp Ebola treatment. This post-exposure treatment has shown promising results when tested on non-human primates. The treatment uses a unique regimen of multiple doses of antibodies, designed and engineered to find, attach, and effectively coat the Ebola virus, preventing the virus from reproducing and multiplying in the body. It has had no side effects to date.

It is believed that the ZMapp treatment was directly responsible for saving the lives of some front-line workers who became infected with the Ebola virus in West Africa. This is an important example of work being done in the Government of Canada laboratories that has led to the saving of lives. It is a proud moment for all Canadians.

Our government reiterated its commitment to this important work today through the Minister of Health's announcement this afternoon of an additional $23.5 million for further research and development of Ebola vaccines and treatments.

Canada can stand proud as an international leader in the field of infectious disease research. However, this work was not done in isolation.

Discoveries of this magnitude rely on co-operation among government departments, private sector investments and, in particular, international partnerships.

In seeking such partnerships with private companies, in the case of our experimental Ebola vaccine, for example, it is important to highlight that Canada has maintained 100% of our intellectual property rights. The Government of Canada's main objective in developing this vaccine is and has always been the public good.

The vaccine has been tested in animal models, such as mice, guinea pigs, and non-human primates. Testing in animals has demonstrated protection during pre-exposure, and significantly less protection when administered post-exposure.

Phase I clinical trials have now started and are important to assessing the overall safety of the vaccine in humans and determining the appropriate dosage. The trials were launched on October 13 at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, in Silver Spring, Maryland. Canada has supplied 20 vials of the experimental vaccine for use in these trials. The next step will be to proceed to phase II and phase III trials in West Africa, in early 2015.

Health November 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I can tell the member that Canada is actually a world leader when it comes to assisting the West African nations that are facing Ebola. I would also like to reassure all Canadians that there are no direct flights from the affected nations in West Africa to Canada.

I am pleased to inform this House that all personal protective equipment has now been shipped to the West African countries. This includes 1.5 million gloves, 2 million masks, and 1.2 million gowns.

Canada has been very generous in assisting the international relief efforts.

Science and Technology November 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, Health Canada includes some of the leading research scientists in this country. In fact, we invest over $1 billion in health research across the country. We are the top investor when it comes to health research in this nation.

As I have just indicated, we are quite concerned about the recent allegations and we are investigating.

Science and Technology November 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, nowhere is confidence in transparency and openness more important than when it comes to the health and safety of Canadians. Health Canada, in co-operation with its international partners, participates in these publication activities as a means of sharing important risk analyses in an open and transparent manner.

I can tell the House that reports of alleged malpractice by the publisher are very concerning and the department is actively reviewing its relationship with this publisher.