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  • Her favourite word is rcmp.

Liberal MP for Vancouver Quadra (B.C.)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 59% of the vote.

Statements in the House

TRIUMF Particle Accelerator April 17th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I rise to celebrate the 50th anniversary of TRIUMF, Canada's particle accelerator centre, a hub for discovery and innovation. Founded in 1968 as the regional tri-university meson facility, TRIUMF is now a multidisciplinary, nationwide partnership of 20 universities.

Powered by top talent and advanced accelerator infrastructure, including the world's largest cyclotron and a new superconducting linear accelerator, TRIUMF is driving the leading edge in science, innovation, and technology.

As a perfect example of the value of the pure science our government embraces, TRIUMF is enhancing the lives of Canadians as it continues to push the frontiers in research to advance science, medicine, and business. By asking the big questions about our universe and exploring tiny particles, TRIUMF boosts the knowledge economy. By providing inspiration and training to the next generations of young scientists and innovators, TRIUMF ensures that Canada will continue to lead for the next 50 years--

Health March 29th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle for her question and for her hard work.

Empowering women and respecting their rights, including reproductive health rights, is what our government does. In the public service that means we are putting women and the health of women first, including their choice of contraceptives.

I am very happy to announce that effective April 1, non-oral contraceptives will be covered under the public service health care plan. As promised, we worked hard and collaboratively with the unions to bring this about, and we have delivered.

Child Care March 22nd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, since first being elected in Vancouver Quadra, one of the primary concerns I hear from constituents is the shortage of quality, affordable child care spaces. For example, wait times at UBC Childcare Services can reach two long years.

With budget 2018, our government is making significant investments to address this shortage. We have committed $7.5 billion over 11 years to help fund early learning and child care in the provinces and territories. This much-needed investment will lower the cost for parents and create an estimated 40,000 new child care spaces.

Recently, I was honoured to host UBC professor and Order of Canada recipient, Janet Werker, at my “MP Breakfast Connections”, to discuss her brain research on early child learning. She spoke of how a rich early learning experience sets the stage for success in life.

This federal funding will increase parental options, help the economy, and improve the lives of many families in all our communities.

Business of Supply March 1st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I thank my NDP colleague for his question. It is not always easy to communicate a change in an initiative or process to the entire country or population of Canada. It is very important, and it is a privilege for us, as MPs, to be able to talk to our constituents and to religious and non-religious groups to explain the goal and objectives of this program and how its regulation and the changes made by the government can better promote Canadian values. The jobs can serve the public good, as the member was saying.

Business of Supply March 1st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the member's question gives me an opportunity to reinforce and confirm that it is not about the beliefs of an organization. Organizations are not being asked to submit their beliefs to any test.

I have a huge respect and admiration for faith communities of all stripes, because of the kinds of services they provide to their community, and the assistance they provide in their communities. There are many faith communities that have in the past and will continue to be part of the CSJ program.

The attestation is about the job. What is the purpose of the job, and the organization's core mandate which means its activities, not its beliefs. It is not appropriate for government dollars to go to a job, or an activity, that is not consistent with Canada's value around a woman's right to choose, or around the inclusion and equal opportunity for the LGBTQ2 community.

Business of Supply March 1st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, before I begin I wish to inform the House that I will be splitting my time with the member for Edmonton Centre.

I am pleased to provide some background and some perspective on a Government of Canada program that has brought support to, and transformed, the outlook of young people in Canada for decades. I am referring to the Canada summer jobs program.

I have had the privilege as an MP of meeting many employers and many students of the CSJ program over the years. I have seen just how much difference it makes in the community, whether I was visiting students who were helping disabled people learn how to sail at Jericho Beach, or whether it was the many youth camps where young people go out into the wilderness of Pacific Spirit Regional Park to learn about ecology, or whether it is the legal clinics where young people who are entering into their education to become lawyers are hired to provide free services to people who cannot afford to pay for legal services, or whether it is those young students who are teaching swimming lessons to the children of families in Vancouver Quadra. There have been many ways that I have seen the benefits for the community.

This is a program that also has specific objectives for meeting the current and future needs of the labour market, and for improving the situation of the youth as they prepare to enter the labour market. This is why national priorities for the Canada summer jobs program, CSJ, were established in the first place.

Here is an outline of some of those priorities that our government has established. We are giving priority to employers who hire youth from under-represented groups, including new immigrants and refugees, indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, and visible minorities. It is true that all young people face challenges, but some young people face more challenges than others. They could benefit hugely from an opportunity to have a summer job.

For example, indigenous youth are less likely to complete high school than non-indigenous youth. We all know that abandoning high school will have a significant impact on a person's future career prospects. It is important to be able to access a summer job.

Most often youth who are immigrants have no work experience in Canada, and have no network to rely on. As well, they do not necessarily have the basic skills in one of our official languages, and have challenges in getting their foreign credentials and credits recognized.

These are all key elements of a successful integration into the Canadian market and a Canada summer job. The income is important to the students, and so is the work experience, the mentoring they receive, and the chance to improve their skills in the workplace. That is why youth from underrepresented groups are part of our national priorities in the context of the CSJ program.

A second priority is favouring small businesses that play such an important role in creating jobs in Canada. Having come from a small business and then a medium business background, I am very mindful of how difficult it is for small business people. Small business people, as we know, are one of the key drivers of the Canadian economy, accounting for some 97.9% of all businesses in Canada, and representing, on average, 30% of our national GDP, playing a very important role in job creation.

Small businesses do not always have the ability to pay a full salary to a summer employee, to be able to expand the services, or respond to extra demand over the summer. This federal incentive of the CSJ program is the element that allows them to hire young, inexperienced staff who will benefit from the training that they receive, but also bring new ideas and experience to the workplace.

A third priority is with regard to the official language minority communities. This program also considers organizations that support employment opportunities for official language minority communities as a national priority.

It is no secret that minority language groups often experience challenges in maintaining the vitality of their language and culture. The CSJ programs helps by promoting the delivery of bilingual service and the use of the second language in the workplace. I know the francophone communities in British Columbia and Vancouver experienced this to be a very useful support for all of the hard work they do, often on a volunteer basis, to maintain and increase the services and vibrancy of their communities.

A fourth priority of this Canada summer jobs program is organizations that offer services or support to the LGBTQ2 community. Our government recognizes that all individuals should have the right to live according to their sexual identity, and to express that identity without discrimination. Why does the CSJ program give priority to organizations that provide opportunities for young people in the LGBTQ2 community? Simply because it is the right thing to do. This community has always been discriminated against in the workplace. Even today, members of the LGBTQ2 community earn less than their peers. Therefore, having an opportunity for a summer job can help bridge that opportunity gap.

Science and technology is a key theme for our government, and for our country's future. The CSJ program will place a particular focus on organizations that support job opportunities in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics sectors, as well as the information and communications technologies sectors, particularly for women.

Already in my constituency of Vancouver Quadra, UBC has been a beneficiary of the CSJ program to increase the opportunities it can provide to students, and the work that can be done during the summer months for the very important programs, particularly research.

I am very pleased to hear that this is now an explicit priority for the program to support our vision of making Canada a global innovation centre. This complements the historic investments in research that budget 2018 has just announced, which I am thrilled by, as are so many Canadians. By helping employers create early work experiences in the areas of science and technology, our government enables students to consider careers in the high-demand well-paid occupations that are shaping the future of the country.

Women tend to be less represented in the STEM sector. Women need to have equal opportunities to participate. This year, employers in that category are actively encouraged to consider employing women, because we know that the proportion of women is too low in science and technology. We want to think about ways that we can help reverse that trend through our government initiatives.

Service Canada will evaluate the applications based on the eligibility conditions and the local MP's priorities as well, because local MPs understand what makes sense on the ground in terms of supporting the government's larger direction, and all eligible applications are ranked by their evaluation score.

These are the key evaluation criteria for the CSJ program. They help ensure that the program brings benefits to our citizens, their families, and the students. In this spirit, the CSJ program will not fund organizations whose primary activities involve partisan political activities, or whose activities do not respect or do actively undermine established individual human rights in Canada. That is not what government money or the CSJ program should be for.

There has been some representation on behalf of some groups and persons who have been critical of our evaluation criteria. However, I want to assure members of this House, and the people following this debate, that there is ample opportunity for those who are supporting Canada's rights and values to access this program. Many organizations are clear that the safeguards introduced to the CSJ program are not discriminatory, and do not represent any infringement on the freedoms of religion or conscience, or any other rights that people enjoy.

I am very happy that the CSJ program will continue to bring important benefits to young Canadians and their communities for decades to come.

Business of Supply February 26th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member opposite laying out the fact that this is a human matter. The impact on employees of the pay system and the cascade of complexities that have mounted is of deep concern to our government. Our government is doing everything it can to resolve pay issues as quickly as possible, working hand in hand with public servants, their managers, their directors, and their bargaining agents.

We have invested over $140 million for training. We have opened extra processing centres. We have hired people. We have put in place changes in governance and processes. Does the member not believe that she is impugning the civil servants who are working so hard to correct this as she impugns the government and all of the work—

Business of Supply February 26th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, this has been a learning experience for all. Those lessons are being put into a framework of accountability and oversight that this government was quick to move to when it became clear that the problems were growing and not being reduced.

I want to go back to the record of what transpired when the decision was taken to go ahead. Initially, the problems that were emerging, which in such a large change will always occur, were being managed, but gradually it became clear that there were additional problems. That ties into, among other things, the fact that there were no collective agreements signed under the member's government. Instead, the Conservatives were busy trying to change the law to undermine the collective bargaining process and to reduce the options that the unions had and to create situations where the President of the Treasury Board could unilaterally define issues around sick leave.

That is what the Conservatives were busy with, rather than actually negotiating the collective agreements. This meant there was a massive backlog of new collective agreements with all the changes in pay, the retroactivity, and the changes in rules. All of that was laid onto a new system that was in itself a challenge.

Business of Supply February 26th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I want to repeat what my colleague, the parliamentary secretary, already said. We accept responsibility for having taken the advice of the senior public service officials who said that everything was ready. We acknowledge that we took this advice. However, what I want to add is that the conditions were unacceptable. The number of public servants who had been laid off too soon came as a surprise. The conditions were not in place for this system to succeed. That is why we are working so hard with the public servants and unions to fix the situation and help those who have been affected by this problem.

Business of Supply February 26th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak about the government's response to the problems with the Phoenix pay system. I personally share our government's deep regret that federal employees, so many people and their families, are experiencing pay issues that affect their lives. All of us in the Government of Canada feel the same way about this.

We have the greatest respect for public servants. We know and appreciate the work they do to ensure the economic, social, and cultural prosperity of Canada. We take very seriously our responsibility to negotiate in good faith with the unions and to pay our employees properly and on time. That is why we have worked diligently and will continue to do so to implement signed collective agreements as quickly as possible. We have teams of dedicated compensation advisors who are processing pay raises, benefits, and retroactive payments associated with collective agreements.

I would like to put this situation in context. In 2015, when our government came to power, all collective agreements that Treasury Board was responsible for had expired, which meant that we had to negotiate several collective agreements at the same time.

In response to this unprecedented situation of essentially all collective agreements having expired, we made it clear that we would work collaboratively with the bargaining agents and negotiate in good faith, restoring a relationship of respect after a decade of antagonism and animosity between the government and the representatives of the employees. We did that. We will continue on that track until the collective agreements with all the unions representing all of our employees have been signed. After just two years, thanks to hard work and good-faith negotiations, we have now reached 21 out of 27 agreements for the core public service. That means that more than 90% of unionized public servants for which Treasury Board is the employer now have collective bargaining agreements that were negotiated in good faith. As a result, there are many signed collective agreements that must be implemented.

We regret that despite our best efforts, we have not met our obligations to process a number of collective agreements within the agreed upon deadline. That said, we will not let up on our efforts to work with the unions to resolve our employees' pay issues. We are taking action on a number of fronts. When it comes to pay increases, allowances, and retroactive payments related to these collective agreements, I assure members that we are making every effort to process these outstanding payments as quickly as possible.

As we have worked with bargaining agents in good faith to sign the new collective agreements, we are also working with them to fix Phoenix. In fact, we are collaborating regularly with unions to help identify the fastest and easiest possible way to resolve all outstanding pay issues. We are doing everything possible to ensure that no employee remains out of pocket because of the pay system. This is not only our common goal, it is our moral responsibility as the employer to resolve these issues on behalf of public servants, and we will.

I would like to itemize the concrete actions we have taken to make this situation right. In December 2016, we set up a process to reimburse employees who have incurred out-of-pocket expenses, such as interest charges and late fees. We have made sure that they can request an advance while their situation gets sorted out. In addition, we will reimburse costs incurred by employees seeking tax advisory services during both the 2016 and the 2017 income tax years to address tax implications caused by problems with Phoenix. In fact, employees may seek up to $200 in reimbursement for each of the two tax years.

For the 2017 tax season, we are implementing measures to help ensure employees do not experience any permanent impacts because of Phoenix.

First, we will not seek reimbursement of any overpayments before summer 2018, to allow the Canada Revenue Agency and Revenu Québec to complete their tax assessments. Second, we are reimbursing employees whose income is being taxed at a higher tax bracket. Third, we are reimbursing employees whose Canada child benefits or other income-tested benefits have been reduced. Finally, employees who were underpaid in 2016 and who received greater amounts for social benefits and credits can rest assured they will keep those amounts as they were rightfully entitled to them.

Concerning compensation for hardship, we are committed to treating employees fairly and to compensating them for expenses they have incurred because of Phoenix. In fact, all the tools are in place for departments and agencies to support employees with emergency salary advances or priority payments if they are having pay problems. Deputy heads have been told to ensure they are aware of their options. In particular, they have been encouraged to issue payments where the amounts owed to employees have been accumulating over an extended period or have resulted in financial hardship.

As I mentioned, the government is working in good faith with the unions to address the issues and make sure employees' pay issues are processed and that they are receiving their correct pay. In June 2017, under the direction of the senior level Phoenix union-management consultation committee, a joint union-management subcommittee on damages was established to explore the issue of damages for all those whose compensation was affected by the implementation of Phoenix.

The pay problems experienced by too many Government of Canada employees are completely unacceptable. We understand that. We are taking responsibility. We are taking steps to fix the situation, and to do the right thing for federal employees. In fact, the Clerk of the Privy Council has made addressing employees' pay issues a top priority for all government departments.

In a country like ours, no one should have to worry about being paid for their work for their government. Our government is committed to positive and responsible relationships with our employees and the bargaining agents that represent them. From day one, we have been committed to restoring a culture of respect for, and within, the public service. We have accomplished a great deal together, and this will continue. We are focused on fixing Phoenix and the pay problems it has created, and we are pulling out all the stops to ensure our valued employees are paid what they deserve.

On a personal note, in a previous period of my political career, I was the minister responsible for the BC Public Service Agency. I had the opportunity to work closely with the agency that was responsible for the management, well-being, and training of British Columbia's public servants. I had the opportunity to award public servants the premier's excellence awards for their amazing innovation, hard work, and accomplishments.

I have a great deal of admiration for the work that public servants do in provinces across the country and for the federal government. I am personally committed to working with the Treasury Board Secretariat, with our minister and other ministers to ensure the pay issues and inequities that are affecting our employees and their families are resolved as soon as humanly possible.