House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2015, with 22% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Opposition Motion—Job Creation February 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Windsor West.

I am rising today to speak to the NDP motion, which proposes a series of practical, targeted and carefully thought-out measures that will lay the foundation for a more solid and sustainable economy. These measures will support the middle class, strengthen the manufacturing industry and help small businesses and manufacturers create jobs.

To that end, we are proposing that the accelerated capital cost allowance be extended by two years; that the small business income tax rate be immediately reduced from 11% to 10%, and then to 9% when finances permit; and that an innovation tax credit be introduced to support investment in machinery, in equipment used for research and development and in property to further innovation and increase productivity.

This last measure will repair the damage caused when the Conservatives cut the tax credit for scientific research and experimental development and will encourage innovation in Canada.

This is an intelligent, innovative and balanced approach to resource management that will get the country back on track. These measures, which were carefully developed by our team, were well received by broad range of stakeholder groups.

I would like to quote a few of them who gave their opinion on this subject. First, 84% of members of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business indicated that a reduction of the small business tax rate would be a very effective measure to maintain or strengthen business performance. The federation believes that any lost tax revenues for the federal government will be more than made up for in the longer term by the benefits of small businesses' contributions to the economy through job creation and the growth of small businesses at the local level.

The tax burden is the most important issue for over 75% of the small businesses that make up the 20,000 members of the CFIB who answered this survey on March 3, 2014.

Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters also supports us. The organization said that the NDP made the manufacturing sector the cornerstone of its economic plan in Ottawa, following the NDP leader's announcement that he wants to reduce taxes for small businesses and support investment in job creation in the manufacturing sector.

After a decade of the Conservative government mismanagement of the economy, middle-class families are working harder than ever but their situation continues to deteriorate. The Conservatives have not built a sustainable and balanced economy. Their policies have caused the loss of more than 400,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector alone.

The Conservatives have reduced taxes by 25% for rich companies since coming to power, yet they have reduced taxes by only 1% for small businesses. Why do they still prefer to grant generous tax benefits to the wealthy few and leave most Canadians behind?

Canadians have had enough. They want a government that is capable of bringing about real and tangible change, a government that truly understands what needs to be done, not one that favours the interests of the wealthy few.

Against a backdrop of growing economic uncertainty, due in large part to the Conservative government's poor management, many Canadian families are being left behind and have difficulty making ends meet. It is becoming increasingly difficult for Canadian households to meet their economic needs, which puts at risk their long-term economic security. Businesses are closing and employees are losing their jobs right across Canada. According to recent data released by Statistics Canada, the Canadian job market closed out the previous year with a total loss of 4,300 jobs in the month of December alone. That is a very difficult situation for many families who found themselves unemployed overnight.

This is the situation in every region of the country. Southwest Montreal is also in the grips of this new reality. In my riding, especially Lachine, the Finnish industrial group Metso will shut down its Lachine plant on February 13, resulting in the layoff of 95 employees still working there. At the beginning of 2014, Metso had 191 employees. The company's reason for the decision was the plummeting number of orders because of the decline in the mining sector. This is the fourth plant to close its doors in the Lachine industrial park since I was elected in 2011. This unfortunate case among so many others perfectly illustrates that the Conservatives' economic policy does not work for employment in Lachine. It does not work for employment in Quebec and it is certainly not working in the rest of Canada.

The Conservatives' strategy aims to make foreign multinationals wealthier, but it does not benefit the majority of middle-class Canadians whose jobs are unstable. The Conservative government's policy focused on natural resource development exposes jobs to the fluctuation of the raw materials market. This policy simply does not work, and in Quebec it does not create jobs—it destroys them.

We need bold action to address this problem. We will work to develop solid economic measures that make job creation a priority. The NDP believes that we need to strengthen the traditional sectors, such as resource extraction and manufacturing, while also taking advantage of new opportunities, innovation and growth to diversify Canada's economy. This plan will help create the next generation of jobs for the middle class.

We will continue to work tirelessly to help Canadian workers. The NDP continues to support small and medium-sized businesses, the real job creators in Canada. Under our strategy, we will reinvest nearly $1.2 billion to help small businesses.

One thing is sure. New Democrats will continue to fight for the middle class, which is and will continue to be a central priority for the party. We are ready to fix the damage done by the Conservatives, and we will not rest until we reverse the dangerous trends that have pressed middle-class families and made their lives more difficult.

As our NDP leader has said, it is without doubt that one of the most important economic assets that Canada has is the middle class, and I could not agree more.

We urge the government to seriously consider these practical and effective suggestions that will have a positive impact on Canada's industrial sector and will kick-start our economy. These measures were designed to support Canada's manufacturing base and to give a strong signal to investors, telling them that they can count on a New Democrat government to help Canada's manufacturing sector successfully transition to a new era.

I would like to add that I have visited a lot of businesses in my riding since I was elected. Two years ago we launched a big campaign focusing on credit cards. We spoke to small-business owners about a variety of topics. These are concrete actions that will help them.

I mentioned the manufacturing sector, which is not doing well in southern Ontario. A number of factories are closing down in Montreal. This is quite alarming, and our government has yet to introduce a budget while telling us everything is fine. Every time we hear from the government, it is as though the figures are perfect and everyone is doing well.

This is not the situation in my riding. In fact, a member of Parliament is primarily a service to the public. Constituents come to meet me to say that they have lost their job and that they are finding it hard to feed their children or to buy them decent clothes. When I go visit the food banks in my riding, I realize that they are being very heavily used. I go on Wednesdays sometimes to give out food and I see hundreds of people coming in for a loaf of bread because they cannot afford to buy it if there is no food bank to help them.

It is high time we diversified our economy. What has been done so far shows it is not working. It is very sad to hear our Liberal and Conservative colleagues say that they will not support this motion, because these are really very concrete measures. They have been examined and they can really make a difference for workers in the manufacturing sector. We have today to convince our friends in the other parties, for the sake of the vitality of our economy and Canada’s economy.

I heard my colleague from Parkdale—High Park earlier today telling us that Canada has always been a prosperous country. People from all over the world used to come to Canada for work because the country was creating good jobs. This is no longer the case. The situation is getting worse and it has been allowed to get worse by the current government, which tells us that everything is fine. It is often said that if we want to change something, the first thing to do is to admit there is a problem and face the facts. Once we are aware of the situation, we can change it.

I hope that this will be the case today, because when I am told all the time that everything is fine, I get the impression that the government really does not know what is going on and what is happening in ridings such as mine, where factories are closing down.

I really hope that we can make progress for the benefit of the Canadian community.

Public Safety February 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, Canada's firefighters are very concerned, and for good reason. They are asking the government to take concrete action to improve Canadians' safety and especially to save lives.

Our firefighters are on the front lines every day, and they know what makes the difference between life and death. We have to listen to them. They gave the government a detailed plan to, for example, make seniors' residences safer.

Will the government agree to work with firefighters, the provinces and municipalities to better protect public safety?

Business of Supply January 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for this question because it allows me to talk about a number of our proposals.

We have a plan for affordable child care across the country, for example. Naturally, Quebec can withdraw from this plan with financial compensation. In Quebec, the cost of day care increased recently. Assistance from the federal government would perhaps give the provincial government some breathing room. The federal government is making more and more cuts to health transfers, which increases the tax burden for the provinces and makes things more difficult for Canadians.

We also had a big campaign about ATM fees and credit cards. As for oil, the NDP has been calling for the creation of an ombudsman position in order to help Canadian families. We have a real plan that works and that will help all families across the board.

Business of Supply January 27th, 2015

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

I spoke about job insecurity and part-time jobs. Some families have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet. I am worried about children and teenagers having to work to help their parents.

I was told about a 16-year-old high school student who was working evenings and weekends to help her parents pay the rent on their apartment. I am not saying that this is a common occurrence, but it could become one.

In order to avoid going down that road, we need to diversify our economy. We need to have the necessary resources and we need to have alternatives in case there is a problem in a certain sector. Let us have an economy that is fair and helps not only the upper class, but also the middle and lower classes.

The laws put in place by the government favour the upper class. For example, income splitting will favour the wealthiest families and do nothing for the most underprivileged families. We need to put good policies in place that will help everyone and diversify our economy. That will help us create quality jobs.

Business of Supply January 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to the opposition day motion moved by my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley. I will read the motion, for the benefit of my constituents:

That the House call on the government to (a) immediately present an Economic and Fiscal Update to Parliament outlining the state of the nation’s finances in light of the unstable economic situation, including job losses, falling oil prices, and declining government revenues; and (b) prepare a budget that addresses the economic challenges facing the middle class by creating more good-quality full-time jobs, and by encouraging economic diversification.

Before I go any further, I wish to say that I will be sharing my time with my friend, the member for New Westminster—Coquitlam.

To paint a picture of the current situation, I will talk about my riding and the issues facing this country. I will explain why we are asking for what is in the motion and the reasoning behind it. I hope all members of the House will support this motion.

Why are we discussing public finances and the economy? At present, things are not going well across the country. In Lachine, in my riding, we recently saw the closure of a new plant, the Metso plant. I was elected in 2011, or four years ago, and since then many businesses have closed, unfortunately. The Humpty Dumpty and BlueWater Seafoods plants closed. Everyone has heard about Aveos. Andritz moved in the fall and, unfortunately, the Metso plant will close its doors on February 13.

More and more people are losing their jobs across the country. The government is telling us that it is creating jobs, but they are precarious, part-time jobs. We do not really have very clear figures on all of that. We want to know exactly what is happening.

Why am I saying that we have to talk about the economy? I participated in the Lachine charity drive in my riding. We went door-to-door asking people for food, and they were generous. Sometimes I met people who told me that they had lost their job. They would have liked to contribute, but they had just lost their job and could not donate anything. There are many such people.

One of the important parts of an MP's job is to be in this place, to legislate and to create laws. However, we must also help constituents. Every week, people come to my office and tell us that they cannot make ends meet. They try to make a budget, but after paying for rent, food, health care, school books or clothing for their children, there is not enough to get to the end of the month. We sit down with them and try to make a budget, but this is difficult for a vast majority of Canadians. We help them. We take the time to help them. My team is there to answer their questions and to try to find solutions. However, it is very hard.

A lot of people come to my office and give me their resumé. I tell them that I am not a job bank and I direct them to the right organizations and give them contact information for Emploi-Québec. I advise them to go to the community economic development corporation and to Carrefour jeunesse-emploi for help putting together a resumé. Once that is done, there are no jobs. They have good resumés and are qualified. Many of them speak two, three or four languages and cannot find a job. They are in Montreal, a metropolis with all kinds of factories and companies, but they cannot find a job. People tell me that they get job offers but they have to work nights every other weekend. That does not work. These are qualified people who cannot find work.

The gap between the rich and the poor is widening. The middle class is getting further and further away from the wealthy in this country. That is not normal, and it is the result of policies dating back 20 or 30 years. Now we are suffering because of those policies. What we want is a clear picture of the situation, because we do not even know the exact figures.

One of the reasons we moved this motion is that people are very concerned about our natural resources. There is a lot of talk about the price of oil. The price at the pump is great. When I visit my riding, people are always telling me that it is great, that they went to fill up and paid less than $40. They ask me if I saw that gas was at 82¢ at one station.

People are taking advantage of that, which is great. Obviously, this is good on an individual level, but what is happening in our country overall? Oil was the primary source of revenue for three provinces, and they will now have a great deal of difficulty. These three provinces had a mono-economy because previous governments did not diversify our economy or ensure that there were good jobs available in a number of sectors. They put all their eggs in one basket. Now, the basket has tipped over and there are no more eggs. That is what is happening.

In response, the government has said that it is going to take longer to table its budget. What a great idea. I would like to make an analogy. This situation is similar to one parent in a two-parent family losing his or her job. The family then has one less income. The parents acknowledge that this is not a good situation, but they do not want to talk about it too much and decide that they will look at their budget again in three or four months. What a great solution. They will pretend nothing is happening and will talk about it again in three or four months. That is what this government is telling us. Things are not going well. Jobs are being lost, there are fewer and fewer well-paying jobs, and more and more unstable and part-time jobs. However, what the government is telling us is that rather than taking responsibility and talking about this situation right away, it is going to wait a while to see what happens and deal with the budget in April. What this says to me is that the government is panicking and does not want to deal with what is happening in our country right now.

There are also financial challenges. The reason we are asking for hard facts about the current situation is that the government is not transparent. We want to know what we can do to make life affordable for everyone, not just some people. We should all have a little mad money in our budgets. There should not be so many people coming to tell me that they can no longer make ends meet.

A woman around the age of 40 came to see me in November. She lived in a small apartment in Lachine. She had to take in four roommates because she could not make it work. They had Internet access at home to look for work, but after a while, they could not afford it, so they not longer have it. These days, the Internet is not a luxury; it is not something that only the well off should have. It is a social tool for everyone. Everyone should have access to the Internet so they can stay informed and find work if that is what they need. Now this woman's only option is the library—when it is open. She uses the library and will continue to do so. Of course the Lachine library has the Internet, so she goes there, but that means she cannot get online to look for work at 8 p.m. Unfortunate things like that are going on all the time.

More and more families are being forced to do without because they do not have the means to live like everyone else and have the same perks. Making life more affordable is definitely a priority for the NDP. We have suggested some concrete solutions and we want to succeed. We also want to protect and create well-paying full-time jobs.

The government has fabricated quite a story. It says it is bringing in a tax cut that will create jobs. According to its figures, it will create 800 jobs at a cost of half a billion dollars. That is the plan this government is currently proposing. We think there might be a better way to invest that money in order to create more jobs, better jobs and jobs in sectors that will boost the economy.

We want to defend public health care. We are told that there is not enough money to transfer to the provinces for health care because the government has to balance the budget. How can we protect this service? It has taken years to build up medicare. It serves the entire population, and the government is telling us that we have to tighten our belts. We cannot lose that. As a society, we cannot decide to cut in the area of health care. We need to have better information to know how to protect this service. Furthermore, how can we protect the environment now, so we do not leave debts in the future?

I would have liked to explore this further and talk about how we see that and how we want things to be done.

We are calling on the government to present a budget as soon as possible, because we need to address this alarming situation. Waiting three months will only postpone the problem.

Red Tape Reduction Act January 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. The NDP presented nine recommendations to prevent the government from eliminating regulations relating to health, safety, food safety, transportation safety, safety management systems and Canadians' environment. The members of the committee voted against these amendments.

This means that we are not able to ensure that this bill will not affect safety, health or transportation safety. I refuse to hand the government a blank cheque, and I especially refuse to put so many powers in the hands of the President of the Treasury Board without first ensuring that the health and safety of Canadians will not be affected.

Red Tape Reduction Act January 26th, 2015

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

I will go back to the small businesses in my riding and explain to them why I voted against this bill. The government cannot brush aside certain regulations that are necessary for the health and safety of Canadians just so that it can put other regulations in place.

Many witnesses supported us in committee. Chris Aylward from the Public Service Alliance of Canada said that Bill C-21 was useless and would not protect Canadians properly. Robyn Benson, the president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said that the regulations could save lives if they were enforced properly, but that it sometimes takes a serious tragedy to make people aware of the importance of these regulations, and even then, that is not always the case.

There are necessary regulations that cannot be eliminated. By imposing the one-for-one rule, the government is eliminating regulations that should not be eliminated. I therefore cannot vote in favour of this bill. There are other ways to help small businesses. The hiring credit was an excellent way to help, as is the reduction of credit card fees.

Also, the cost of mailing letters and parcels through Canada Post has increased so much that it has become another burden on small businesses. Clearly, there are concrete ways to help our SMEs. I really want to do that, but this bill does not meet the criteria that I think are important in protecting Canadians. I cannot vote in favour of this bill.

Red Tape Reduction Act January 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this is the first time I have had the honour of rising in the House in 2015, so I would also like to take a moment to wish all my colleagues a happy new year. I wish all my constituents a happy, healthy and successful year. I also want to take this opportunity to acknowledge all the small and medium-sized businesses in my riding and wish them a happy new year. I am lucky to have many small businesses throughout my riding, including the Lachine industrial park and the Dorval industrial park. There are SMEs in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine and Montreal West. I am very familiar with these SMEs because I am involved in the business groups in my riding. I talk to them regularly and they tell me about the problems they face. As I said, my husband owns a small business that he started three years ago, with a storefront that just opened this year. We talk about it a lot, because it can be complicated, so I am very familiar with what is at stake.

I am rising in the House today to oppose at third reading Bill C-21, which seeks to control the administrative burden that regulations impose on businesses.

I would first like to remind members that the bill was meant to respond to the poor management of regulations, which has been hindering the growth of our companies. The red tape that our businesses have to deal with is preventing them from successfully carrying out their innovative projects, which promote economic growth and benefit the entire country. In that regard, it is important to point out that many regulations are problematic for our economic activities. I think that everyone agrees that there are too many regulations and that something needs to be done. However, it is important to point out that this debilitating situation is the result of the action taken to date by Liberal and Conservative governments. We are trying here to repair the damage done by previous governments through neglect. As I said, the administrative burden is too heavy right now, but regulations cannot just be changed willy-nilly. A procedure must be followed. Right now, the government is eliminating regulations that are very important.

To explain why I am opposed to this bill, I would like to remind members that, in 2012, the Conservatives passed an action plan that consisted of 90 measures to be taken by the departments and six major reforms, including the one-for-one rule. This rule requires the government to eliminate one regulation for every new regulation it adopts. The one-for-one rule also stipulates that departments must evaluate the impact that any proposed regulation would have on small businesses. What is more, the government must offset any new burden on small businesses, that is, time and money spent by businesses to demonstrate compliance, with amendments to existing regulations. That was the theoretical answer the Conservative government gave us in 2012.

I understand that a reduction in red tape in necessary. However, the government cannot simply say that a regulation must be eliminated every time a new one is adopted. I think that happens naturally at some point. If there are outdated regulations or regulations that are no longer useful, they should be eliminated. This should not be a requirement every time a new regulation needs to be put in place. I think we need to look beyond that.

In truth, Bill C-21 is dangerous. I will explain why I think we should not support it. First, it gives the President of the Treasury Board a completely arbitrary position. He might unilaterally decide to get rid of some regulation or another. He can establish policies on how the rules will apply. He will have the power to regulate how deadlines will be determined for taking the necessary measures in order to comply with the regulations. He will have the power to determine the manner of calculating the cost of the administrative burden and how the law will apply to regulations that are amended when the one-for-one rule comes into effect. He will also have the power to grant exemptions.

We all know that our President of the Treasury Board is not the biggest fan of regulations in general. In my opinion, giving him too much authority might jeopardize the many regulations that are essential for Canadians.

We might also wonder what right the President of the Treasury Board has to hold such power. Since I have been here, I have seen the Conservatives give a lot of power to the ministers and the President of the Treasury Board. In our system, I do not think we should give all the power to the government in place, the ministers or the President of the Treasury Board.

In a democratic Canada, if we have democratic principles, we need to care about what Canadians want. I think it is very dangerous to put all the power in the hands of one person. One has to wonder.

Furthermore, we cannot stand for compromising regulations that deal with sensitive topics, such as those that protect the interests of Canadians. Contrary to what the government appears to be trying to show, some regulations truly are necessary and essential. Regulations dealing with the health and safety of Canadians, for example, must be handled carefully and wisely. The Conservatives seem to want to reject any protections related to the interests of Canadians. The only mention of regulations that protect the health and safety of Canadians is in the preamble. There is no other mention in the bill. How can the government completely disregard a topic that so directly affects how we protect Canadians?

This is an unfortunate demonstration of the Conservative government's lack of interest in issues that truly matter to Canadians. These subjects do not seem to be priorities for the Conservative government. Think of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy. That was the result of decades of Liberal and Conservative deregulation. Canadians' safety is not an option; it is an objective. We should all keep that in mind as we discuss this bill.

I also want to point out that Bill C-21 is silent on the environment. The government continues to ignore the protection of nature and the consequences of human activity on the resources available to us. Once again, it looks like taking care of those things is not on the government's agenda even though creating a regulatory framework for that would be very useful. That is why I do not think that the one-for-one rule should apply in this case. There are necessary regulations that should not be summarily discarded.

This bill is awash in paradoxes. Although touted as a bill to reduce the burden, it is counter-productive. The bill calls for an annual report on the implementation of the one-for-one rule and gives the Governor in Council the power to adopt regulations dictating how that report should be structured. In addition, the bill calls for a review of the law after five years, thereby creating an even greater administrative burden. Instead of simplifying the existing regime, these measures will slow down reforms and end up wasting public funds at Canadians' expense.

Instead, the NDP is proposing more consistent and more careful management of regulations. We want to promote SMEs and help young entrepreneurs and family businesses so they can contribute to the growth of our country and our economy. As I was saying, SMEs create most of the jobs in this country and wealth that could spur economic growth. With everything that is going on, we know that growth is sluggish. We really need to focus on SMEs and jobs that are created locally. That is really important.

Clearly, the Conservatives have not really managed to improve the situation. They have made it worse. For instance, the hiring tax credit was eliminated from the 2014 budget. That credit was really important to small businesses. The transaction fees that Canadian businesses are charged are among the highest in the world. Lowering those fees would also really help small businesses.

The Conservatives promised to do something, but instead, they allowed credit card companies to use voluntary measures. This is another fine example of self-regulation. This just goes to show how little this government cares about the interests of SMEs and Canadian consumers. They come second to the interests of large corporations and multinationals.

It is not complicated. We want to help SMEs. As my colleagues said, we are in favour of reducing red tape. We are in favour of reducing this burden. However, we cannot go about this in any old fashion. The NDP proposed 12 amendments in committee. Nine of those sought to protect health and safety, food safety, transportation safety and the environment. They were all rejected. This is a government that never listens to the opposition and does not want to work with us.

Bill C-21 had the potential to be good. Unfortunately, the government did not allow us to give our opinion and stand up for the interests of Canadians. For that reason, I will be forced to vote against this bill.

That being said, I think that it is important in future to have a better way to work with small businesses on reducing their burden. It is very important. They create good local jobs and we must help them.

Red Tape Reduction Act January 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her speech. It is obvious that she is very knowledgeable when it comes to her riding and businesses. She does an incredible job for co-operatives.

Co-operatives will also be affected by this bill. Even though my Conservative colleague says that we are not being clear, we do want to reduce the burden for small business.

My spouse owns a small business that has five employees. He is always telling me how all the forms make his job difficult. He has to ask for help from many people, including his accountant. At the end of the year, his income is modest because he spends money on getting help to fill out the forms. This bill only increases that burden.

We understand why the one-for-one rule was introduced. However, the NDP wonders whether that is the best solution. New products are coming onto the market every day and there is a great deal of innovation. The one-for-one rule may well be obsolete.

Would my colleague comment on what the NDP is proposing to do to help make small businesses more profitable? She mentioned that these businesses create 75% of jobs in Canada. What does the NDP want to do to help them?

Employment Insurance December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, not only have the Conservatives managed to backlog the Social Security Tribunal, but they have also created a totally unrealistic requirement.

Unemployed workers now have to have a lawyer representing them at the tribunal. When people are unemployed and do not have any income, how are they supposed to pay for a lawyer?

Will the government act quickly to fix this mean-spirited stupidity and let Canadians choose how they want to be represented, as in the old system?