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Crucial Fact

  • 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

Public Service Labour Relations Act May 9th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands on her passion and insight. I agree with much of what she has said, including that the RCMP is one of the finest police forces anywhere, and that harassment is a problem which needs to be better addressed. We need a better regime, and we need to end an abusive culture. However, is collective bargaining the place to do that?

The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has said that this is a priority for him. He is currently developing legislation to address just that. The Government of Canada takes harassment very seriously and is addressing it.

When Bill C-7 was in committee, there was agreement among the members present to request that the commissioner and the RCMP team come back to talk about what would be part of a change in culture and what the plans were to do that. Would the member support having the RCMP coming back to the committee to begin that work of changing the culture in the RCMP?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1. May 5th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the member for Pontiac clearly understands Vancouver Quadra, because the environment is the number one concern, as people express it to me. People in Vancouver Quadra are delighted at the investments in growing a clean energy economy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions: $2 billion, I believe, over two years to help the provinces do that.

The huge increase in investment in infrastructure for public transit is very important; it will take a lot of cars off of the streets of Vancouver. There is a wealth of issues that this budget addresses in terms of the priorities of Vancouver Quadra.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1. May 5th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I do not know the source of the member's data. People making $210,000 and over will not enjoy any net benefits from the middle-class tax cuts, because there is an increase in their taxes. Nor would they enjoy any benefits from the new Canada child benefit because it will not be available to them.

Those who need it the most, at the lowest end of the income spectrum, will receive the bulk of the Canada child benefit. In fact, a low-income family with three young children could end up with about $19,000 of tax-free funding. It is almost like a guaranteed minimum income from the Canada child benefit. There will be nine out of 10 families who will benefit from the change. It is exactly what we need to address poverty and to reduce income inequality. Therefore, I am proud to support it.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1. May 5th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, in the two years that I was defence critic, no one ever came to me and said “Gee, our most severely incapacitated and disabled veterans are living below the poverty line when they turn 65, but it's a good thing because we need to cut our spending.” They were not saying that.

In fact, I want to point out that the previous government took $1.1 billion out of the funding for Veterans Affairs Canada. That has contributed to the shrinking of services, funding, and benefits for those who deserve it the most.

I am very proud that we are reversing that. If we are doing that in the context of a deficit that we will be eliminating over the course of the next few years, so be it. Our veterans deserve to be put first.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1. May 5th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on the bill that I just asked a question about, Bill C-15, which will implement many of the measures contained in the budget that our government tabled on March 22.

In electing a new government, millions of Canadians signalled their desire for change. Our government was elected, in part, because we took that desire seriously. We offered Canadians an ambitious new plan for a strong middle class and a strong economy. We promised that we would do all we could do to help every Canadian succeed.

Budget 2016 is an important part of fulfilling that promise. It offers immediate help to those who need it the most, and lays the groundwork for sustained, inclusive economic growth that will benefit Canada's middle class and those working hard to join it. It helps reduce the income inequality gap while stimulating the clean economy.

For generations, Canadians worked hard, secure in the belief that their hard work would be rewarded. They trusted that in exchange for their honest efforts, they would realize greater opportunities for themselves and their families. This sense of optimism, paired with government policies that strengthen the middle class, as well as the robust immigration we have had that has created such a diverse country, has helped to make Canada the country it is today.

However, in recent years, the benefits of economic growth have been shared by fewer and fewer Canadians. Canada's wealthiest 1% have seen their income double in 30 years. Meanwhile, even though household costs continue to rise, most families' incomes have barely risen over the same 30 years, making it harder to make ends meet.

In Vancouver, we have the double whammy of a shortage of affordable housing and skyrocketing housing prices. That first started in my riding of Vancouver Quadra, on the west side of Vancouver, but it has now moved into our metro area.

I am pleased to say that I have met directly with leaders in CMHC, to make sure they understand the Vancouver situation, how hard it is for ordinary families and young people to buy a house and make a home in Vancouver, and the downside of that for our city. I am also pleased to have met several times with the minister responsible for housing, so that he can understand Vancouver's unique situation.

Our government has responded in this budget, not only with a massive infrastructure investment, social housing being a big part of it, but also through a half a million dollars being allocated for StatsCan to thoroughly research and understand the statistics, and bring the evidence forward about the housing price increases that I just described.

With budget 2016, our government seeks to help more Canadians and to restore the confidence of Canadians in a brighter, more prosperous future. I am going to speak about a couple of things that are near and dear to my heart. One of them is the environment, and another one is veterans.

The environment is actually the top issue for Vancouver Quadra constituents, according to the surveys and how they fill them out. Our government is operating on the principle that the economy and the environment go hand in hand. I used to say that 15 years ago when I was an environment minister for the Province of British Columbia, but that principle has not been in operation over the last 10 years. I am very pleased that our environment minister, our Prime Minister, and our cabinet see the world that way.

I would like to highlight some of the investments in the environment. Budget 2016 provides $3.4 billion over five years to address climate change and air pollution, ecological protection, and to restore public trust in the environmental assessment processes. It is a very important investment.

In addition to that, the budget invests $81 million to boost Canada's marine and coastal protected areas, from 1% today to 10% by 2020, a very ambitious program of improving protection for our marine areas.

In addition, $40 million a year has been reinstated for ocean science investments for research and science, so we can help protect our fish stocks, like our wild salmon that are so important to British Columbians.

The Kitsilano Coast Guard base, which is an absolutely necessary facility and was closed by the Conservative government, has been reopened. The announcement took place a week or so ago. This base will have a strengthened mandate to protect our environment, our ecosystem in English Bay and Burrard Inlet, and the beaches, by responding to oil spills. There is a lot of good news on the environment.

The other area where we needed real change to happen, and which Vancouver Quadra constituents see as a core responsibility of a responsible government, has to do with veterans. Veterans have dedicated their lives to the defence of our country and deserve our unwavering support. Frankly, they did not receive that from the previous government.

The Government of Canada, over the decades, has had a social covenant with all veterans and their families. However, the previous government had their lawyers arguing in lawsuits that it did not exist, and they tried to prevent the veterans from having a fair settlement for their injuries. That is a sacred obligation that we must and we will meet with both respect and gratitude.

As the defence critic for two years prior to the recent election, I met many times with veterans in town halls, in Legion halls, and meeting rooms across the country and in Ottawa, and heard their many concerns. I am delighted that our government will give back to veterans who have given so much to Canadians. We will respect the social covenant and this sacred obligation.

The bill restores critical access to services for veterans and ensures the long-term financial security of disabled veterans. Canada's veterans will receive more in local in-person government services, as well as better access to personalized case managers.

With this budget, we are providing additional funding to Veterans Affairs Canada, so it can reopen service offices recently shuttered in Charlottetown, Sydney, Corner Brook, Windsor, Thunder Bay, Saskatoon, Brandon, and in Prince George and Kelowna in my province of British Columbia. We are also planning to open a new office in Surrey, B.C.

To help veterans in their rehabilitation process, we will enhance front-line services by hiring additional case managers and reducing the client-to-case manager ratio to no more than 25 to one. We will increase the earnings loss benefit from 75% to 90% of a veteran's monthly gross pre-release military salary. The principle here is that veterans who have been injured should not have to live in poverty because the government is ignoring their needs.

There are many other aspects of the veterans' requests that are being satisfied in the budget, and the government will continue to consult with veterans toward the full package of support and respect that they have earned and they deserve. Canadian Armed Forces and veterans with service-related disabilities will see an increase in the benefits they receive, and they will see an increase in the services that they are provided.

The measures contained in our budget will not only benefit our veterans, but other groups of Canadians who deserve our support and our respect. This includes senior citizens and our children.

Unfortunately, I do not have time in this speech to elaborate on the groundbreaking investments we are making in seniors and children that will remove almost one million low-income seniors from below the poverty line and lift hundreds of thousands of children above the poverty line as well.

By boosting funding for the most vulnerable, we are reducing income inequality. We are investing for the years and the decades to come. We are investing in our children and grandchildren, so that they may inherit a more environmentally sustainable, prosperous, and hopeful Canada.

Simpler, tax free, and more generous, the child tax benefit is an example of the kind of good public policy that is in this budget. The bill is an essential step to restoring prosperity to the middle class and fairness to all Canadians.

I look forward to hearing from colleagues from all sides of the House as we discuss the bill in the coming days. It is a very timely and very important piece of legislation for Canadians.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1. May 5th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I have three children who were educated in their primary school years in Surrey, so I know the community quite well.

I would like to hear from the member what this budget offers, in his view, to alleviate the shortage of affordable housing and address housing prices in his riding and in the greater Surrey area.

Simon Fraser University May 4th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am standing today to recognize the 50th anniversary of my alma mater, Simon Fraser University. From its beginnings as a young university, with the eminent architect Arthur Erickson having built this amazing building on the top of Burnaby Mountain, its atmosphere of radicalism and exploration resonated across the country.

This was a centre of the peace movement and the environmental movement, and was a great place to go to university. Fifty years later, a mature SFU is a leader in innovation, research, and community engagement.

I want to congratulate Simon Fraser University for being ranked as one of the top comprehensive universities by a Maclean's magazine survey in 2015.

Please join with me, everyone, in congratulating Simon Fraser University and wishing everyone there a happy 50th anniversary.

Criminal Code May 2nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question.

I can guarantee that my friend's condition was consistent with the criteria of our bill.

As I said in my remarks, with such a short time to deliver on the Supreme Court's mandate in the timeframe available, it is important to be cautious on how this is framed. That is what the proposed law would do. It finds the correct balance between safeguards for the vulnerable, the rights of physicians and nurses, and the personal rights of those who wish to have assistance in dying.

We have time moving forward to continue considering situations such as the member has brought forward to confirm that we have the balance right, or make adjustments in the future when the bill is reviewed in five years.

Criminal Code May 2nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for those thoughtful proposals.

There will be a committee process in which these kinds of ideas can be put forward and the committee can hear from expert witnesses. What we do not want to do is put unnecessary barriers in the way of people who are qualified to have this kind of end-of-life assistance.

I do want to say that it would have been helpful if the Conservative Party had done the work on how to follow through on the Supreme Court of Canada's requirement for medical assistance in dying when that Supreme Court ruling came out. There could have been much more discussion in Parliament a year ago, which is what our party called for and the Conservatives refused to do.

Criminal Code May 2nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Parkdale—High Park.

I am proud to stand in this House today in support of Bill C-14, introduced by the hon. Minister of Justice.

With this bill, our government recognizes the autonomy that Canadians hold over their own lives, the expertise of our medical professionals, and the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada. Through extensive consultation, we have introduced a balanced solution that will restore dignity, protect the vulnerable, and allow our nation's medical professionals to respect the wishes of their patients.

Until now, Canadians faced horribly debilitating end-of-life suffering and had no legal control over their own lives. In desperation, some have gone to court to regain this control. However, it is a difficult process, which has compounded the physical and emotional strain felt by the patients and their families.

Doctors, nurses, and family members alike have felt powerless to assist those they care for, with no legal means to honour the wishes of those who suffer. They face emotional strain and difficult moral dilemmas, as the law prohibits them from respecting the dignity of their patients and doing what they often know is compassionate medical assistance for a good death.

Many of us in this chamber and across the country have personal stories of the kind of suffering I have mentioned. I do as well. I have an indelible memory of visiting a dear friend of many decades in the hospitals, whose body was breaking down from a terminal illness. He was in excruciating pain for weeks. He eventually declared that he would not eat or take any water or liquids. He finally passed away after six days of even more miserable suffering.

We are here to talk about a bill that is setting out a new form of medical service in Canada, which is medical assistance in dying. With this bill, we recognize that the decisions over one's person, including the decision to end one's life with dignity, should ultimately rest with the individual and not with the government.

Through consultation and careful consideration, Bill C-14 includes the following safeguards: a requirement for a second independent medical opinion; a 15-day reflection period; the ability for a patient to withdraw consent at any time; and a rigorous requirement for documentation at every step, with new criminal offences to prevent any potential abuse.

This government recognizes the need to respect the moral conscience of individual medical professionals. While every patient who fits the medical criteria will have access to medically assisted dying, no individual doctor or nurse will be required to participate if it conflicts with his or her values and beliefs.

Some medical professionals have expressed reluctance to refer a patient seeking medically assisted death to a physician who can provide the service because they feel that the referral would make them complicit in the death of the patient.

However, while it is absolutely critical to reflect important safeguards, we must also respect that the people seeking this procedure should have reasonable access.

In Carter, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized that the conscience rights of physicians will need to be reconciled with the charter rights of patients seeking medical assistance in dying. Although much of the necessary balancing will be a matter for the provinces and territories, our government is committed to working collaboratively with provinces and territories to support access to medical assistance in dying while respecting the personal convictions of health care providers.

The federal government will offer support to help ensure that all Canadians have access to the medical aid they need. One approach is a pan-Canadian coordination system for access to medical aid in dying. We can start by reviewing the assisted dying regimes in other countries to see what they have done and assess their applicability to Canada.

Closer to home, in Quebec, the act respecting end-of-life care offers other examples. It includes a range of end-of-life care, including palliative care, palliative sedation, and medical assistance in dying. The legislation makes the service broadly available in institutions and at home.

Physicians in Quebec are not required to provide this option, but they are required to notify the institution or local authority of any request and to forward the patient's request form. The institution will then take the necessary steps to find another physician as soon as possible to address the request.

Many people in Vancouver Quadra who have contacted me about the bill have expressed their support for medical assistance in dying. As their representative, I am pleased to support the work of my colleagues, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Justice.

Under the proposed legislation, medical assistance in dying would be available only to mentally competent adults who are eligible for publicly funded health services in Canada, who have an incurable illness, disease, or disability, are suffering intolerably, are in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability, and whose death is reasonably foreseeable.

Some of my constituents have also expressed concerns about access.

Our criteria permit medical assistance in dying for some, but not all individuals who may seek it. We have heard concerns from some Canadians and experts about extending eligibility to mature minors, permitting requests made in advance, and including psychological illness as a sole underlying condition.

I want to let Canadians know that our government has heard their concerns.

At the present time, the limited information available on these issues warrants the cautious approach in the draft legislation before us.

However, the government is making a commitment to undertake independent studies on these issues to better understand the risks. The results of the reports will feed into the five-year legislative review set out in the bill.

There are other facets of the challenge of access. As we all know, our country has many remote and rural communities that face challenges in accessing health care services, including access to a physician or other health care provider. Although delivery of health care is a provincial and territorial responsibility, accessibility is one of the five main principles of the Canada Health Act.

I am pleased to report that, along with the protection of vulnerable populations, questions of access have been considered and addressed throughout the proposed legislation and in the complementary initiatives.

Let me provide an example. The umbrella term “medical assistance in dying” encompasses both the situation where a provider must be physically present to administer a substance that causes death, and the situation where the provider prescribes a medication that the person can take himself or herself. Having criminal exemptions for both procedures would help to increase access for eligible people and provide choices in the circumstances around which medical assistance in dying is provided.

Second, the draft legislation provides exemptions for both physicians and nurse practitioners to be able to provide this assistance. Nurse practitioners, or those with an equivalent designation, are authorized in many provinces to perform medical functions that are necessary for medical assistance in dying.

Exempting nurse practitioners from criminal liability provides the provinces and territories with an additional option to facilitate access to medical assistance in dying in underserved areas.

I will offer another example of how we are working to support access in our health care system. Canadians, experts, and stakeholders have focused on the need to improve access to quality palliative care in Canada, even as we consider how to implement medical assistance in dying. We have listened. Our government is making the commitment to develop, along with the provinces and territories, measures to support the improvement of a full range of end-of-life care, including palliative care.

In the context of a new health accord, our government has committed to providing $3 billion over the next four years to improve home care, including palliative care. Discussions with the provinces and territories are already under way.

In the meantime, it is essential that we end the suffering and restore the dignity of Canadians currently experiencing grievous and irremediable medical conditions as soon as possible.

The draft legislation before us acknowledges the need for access, alongside the need for safeguards and protections. With the bill, our government would achieve these objectives and meet the deadlines imposed by the Supreme Court of Canada.

I have confidence that we can put in place a system that meets the needs of Canadians for compassionate care and support at the end of life.

I invite my colleagues in this House, and all Canadians, to contribute their views to this discussion as we continue the process of updating our laws to reflect 21st-century realities. Our door is open, our government is listening, and we are committed to supporting our medical professionals, protecting our most vulnerable, and restoring the dignity of Canadians in their most trying moments.