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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

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.

Ministerial Expenses April 22nd, 2016

Madam Speaker, Canadians deserve openness and transparency, and the Liberal Party has been a leader on that. In fact, it was a Liberal prime minister, Paul Martin, who was the first to proactively disclose the expenses of ministers. Then it was a Liberal leader, our Prime Minister, who in opposition led the charge on being the first party in the House of Commons to have open and transparent disclosure of MP's expenses, and other parties, sometimes reluctantly, followed suit.

We will continue to disclose our expenses, because it is the right thing to do.

Constable Sarah Beckett April 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Constable Sarah Beckett of the West Shore detachment of the RCMP, who was killed last week while on patrol in Langford, British Columbia.

I know I speak for all members of this House in offering our heartfelt condolences to her family, her friends, her colleagues, her community, the community she loved and worked so hard to protect and serve.

No words can describe the loss this tragedy represents. Each day in communities in Canada, police officers put themselves in harm's way and put their lives on the line to keep us safe. Each day we owe them a debt of gratitude for the safety they work to ensure.

Today, a grieving and grateful community says goodbye to one of its heroes. Today, we thank Constable Sarah Beckett for her service and acknowledge the sacrifice she made for us.

Public Service Labour Relations Act March 24th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I was very disappointed to hear that the member for Cariboo—Prince George has already made up his mind that he will not support Bill C-7, when it has not even been at committee to be reviewed.

That is very surprising, considering his very eloquent remarks on the rich tapestry and history of the RCMP and his deep regard for the force. Our government is respecting the Supreme Court ruling that respects the right to be represented in bargaining by members and reservists of the RCMP. That is exactly what this bill is all about.

The member's concerns are actually about another bill, Bill C-4, which rolls back changes that were made without any consultation in Bill C-525, which force a one-size-fits-all bargaining system on the Public Service Labour Relations Board.

Why would the member want to have that when he wants a vote free of reprisal? That is exactly the purpose of the board. They have the tools to ensure that. They have options for how to implement a vote. They have laws that support freedom from any intimidation. They have penalties and orders they can impose. They review a vote, whether it is done by card check or mandatory vote or secret ballot.

Why would the member want a one-size-fits-all approach, pre-judge this very important legislation, and be prepared to vote against legislation that is all about respecting the members of the RCMP?

Public Service Labour Relations Act March 24th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his thoughtful comments. Indeed, the bill should go to committee. It will be examining all of these issues in great detail. Our government is open to those discussions and hearing from the witnesses. As we discussed in the debate previously, this can be thoroughly canvassed at committee.

The member talked about legitimacy of a process of certification. Our government is absolutely committed to supporting the dedicated members of the RCMP. That is what this bill is about. With respect to certification, there is a board that is responsible for the democratic process. As for legitimacy, if it has any concerns about any method, it can then apply a secret ballot. It has that responsibility.

The secret ballot has its pros and cons, as the member mentioned, and so does card check, as the member mentioned. The board has the power and responsibility to ensure a proper democratic process. Why would the member argue for a one-size-fits-all approach, when clearly that is not necessary and we have a board that has options to have the best approach for the situation?

Public Service Labour Relations Act March 24th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Yellowhead for his service on behalf of Canada.

I would like to point out that the Public Service Labour Relations Act has a number of sections that prohibit intimidation. I agree with him that a vote by RCMP members for or against unionization must free of intimidation. In fact, that is required by law in sections 186.1 of the act, and sections 187, 188, and 189. The law requires that be no intimidation by the employer or the union or any person.

Once this law is passed it will allow the board to select the appropriate method, whether it be a card check or mandatory vote or secret ballot. Why would the member require a one-size-fits-all approach that would not be suitable for all situations, rather than giving the board the flexibility to put forward the method that makes sense in the situation?

Public Service Labour Relations Act March 24th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, given that the last two major reviews of federal-private sector labour legislation have found that the card check system is an effective way of gauging employee support, given that holding a secret ballot representation is typically more time-consuming and costly than card checks, and given that the board has the option of adding a vote if it is not satisfied with the card check, could the member discuss why the board having a choice of what to apply in terms of a certification method is better than a one-size-fits-all situation, no matter what the current situation may be?

Public Service Labour Relations Act March 24th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her speech and support for this very important bill, and for her words of respect toward RCMP members. We will welcome this debate on the challenges and purpose of this bill in committee.

What does the hon. member think of the unique operational challenges of this national police force? What are the unique aspects of the work done by RCMP members?

Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act March 22nd, 2016

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments by the member for London North Centre about respecting the work of the RCMP, and about respecting its unique and particular circumstances as Canada's national police force. The member also talked about fair labour relations and the respectful process and content of this legislation.

Given that my colleague has an RCMP headquarters and a detachment in his riding, could he speak a bit more about the individual women and men of the RCMP and why they are deserving of the respect of the House through this legislation?