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  • Her favourite word is families.

Liberal MP for Humber River—Black Creek (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 67% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Taiwan Night May 22nd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the membership of the Canada–Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group, I would like to invite all members of Parliament to attend “Taiwan Night” this evening at the Chateau Laurier. This evening's cultural celebration will be an opportunity to recognize and celebrate Taiwan's rich and vibrant diversity, as well as a chance to build a better relationship between Canada and Taiwan.

Taiwanese Canadians have contributed to the Canadian mosaic with pride and admiration. It is important that we take times such as these to recognize the many contributions they have made to our great country. The Taiwanese-Canadian community has made tremendous advances, and I am very proud to call many of its members as personal friends.

I look forward to seeing many of my colleagues at the Chateau Laurier tonight for a wonderful celebration.

Public Safety May 7th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the new commissioner of the RCMP, Brenda Lucki, has started her role as the 24th commissioner of the RCMP. Most importantly, she will be the first woman to assume that role in a permanent capacity. Commissioner Lucki has been a Mountie for over 32 years, brings a wealth of experience to the job, and has worked throughout Canada and with the United Nations.

I would like to ask the Minister of Public Safety, what are his expectations and goals for our new commissioner?

Vietnamese Canadians April 30th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I too stand to recognize the significant number of Vietnamese Canadians who have chosen to make this great country of Canada their home. Vietnamese Canadians have contributed to the Canadian mosaic with such pride and admiration, and it is important that we recognize them on this important day of remembrance. Canada is now home to a vibrant community of close to 300,000 Vietnamese Canadians, many of whom reside in my riding of Humber River—Black Creek.

The Vietnamese Canadian community has made a substantial contribution to our cultural, religious, political, and business life, and I am tremendously proud to know many as friends, colleagues, and supporters.

Today, I am delighted to wish the Vietnamese community great success in the future for all of those who mark this occasion in history.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1 April 19th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, again this is one of the initiatives that we are putting forward in this budget with the intention of helping people and making it easier for them to access small pockets, because there are not huge amounts of money in those drop-in or dropout programs.

Another part of that is investing money to make sure that people file their income tax at the end of every year. A quite remarkable number of people do not file their income taxes because they feel they do not have any income; they then miss out on a variety of different benefits that would have been available to them. Our government is investing in making sure that people know they need to file their taxes to be able to get the benefits that are there.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1 April 19th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I have to go back a little bit. When I was in municipal politics, I was not a member of any political party. I had been asked by several parties, but I decided that I was a Liberal, because I am fiscally conservative and socially responsible. That is what I call a Liberal.

At the same time that we were doing these things municipally, the Liberals had a great track record, with seven years of surpluses. When Jean Chrétien came into office as prime minister in 1993, the country was near bankruptcy. Those are not my words, but the comments made by all of the specialists out there. We turned that around, and we ended up having seven years with surpluses. I have never seen that happen with any other government, without naming one in particular.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1 April 19th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I think it is something that we all want. When I say that, I mean all members of Parliament. The government would like to see us to be able to establish this program. It is not an easy program, because it affects so many people. As well, the provinces and territories must be respected and everyone must be brought together. No major initiative like this will come easily.

I wish that we had proceeded much faster, as my colleague would like to do, and I hope that the good work that the health committee has just done on pharmacare in their report is one more tool moving us forward. We have the commitment from the Prime Minister in his appointment of Dr. Eric Hoskins to head that up. It gives me hope that we will see it sooner than later.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1 April 19th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I too am happy to stand today and have an opportunity to talk about why I am pleased to see what our government's 2018 budget is all about.

When we talk about equality and growth and a strong middle class in this budget, so many of us and so many of our communities are represented.

I want to particularly talk about the infrastructure investments that are in this budget, but I need to go back to my days as a City of Toronto municipal councillor.

As part of my job as a city councillor in North York or in Toronto, I was always doing budgets. I would have to figure out at the end of year how we were going to meet the needs of our cities while not significantly raising property taxes.

The first year that I became a councillor, I was inundated with phone calls from seniors and other low-income folks in the riding, who told me they could not afford these tax increases. At that time the increases were 2.5% or 2.8%. There were so many tears and so much sadness in those phone calls that to this day I have never forgotten those conversations, and that was some years back.

I committed at that time to those folks that I would do everything in my power to not raise their property taxes, because many of them were living on a limited or fixed income and there was no way they could afford to pay the increases. There were so many increases in other areas that adding property tax increases made them feel they were being driven out of their homes. I made the commitment to them at that time that I would do everything in my power to protect them and to avoid tax increases.

That meant getting a task force together and examining budgets and looking at ways that we could trim from here or find money from there. For 11 years we were constantly trying to balance budgets while seeing what we could cut from here in order not to increase something there.

We did zero budgeting in the city for probably about six years, but sooner or later everything comes home to roost, because money is still needed to advance. There's only so much that can be cut or saved or trimmed. There comes a point when additional funds have to be found; otherwise, roads deteriorate and the needs of the transit system cannot be met. Community centres were being neglected and the city was not in as good a shape as I would have liked to have seen it.

That was one of the reasons I decided that I was going to become a candidate at the federal level. I felt the federal government was where the money was, and if we going to be investing and building our cities, then the challenge for me would be to go to Ottawa and argue for the same things that I was arguing for at the city level, meaning investments in transit and investments in the quality of life of our citizens to make people's lives a bit better. Subsequently I did seek office, and with the blessing of my community I have had the good fortune of representing it at the federal level for 19 years or so.

The first thing I did when I arrived here was exactly what I said I was going to do. I started arguing about how I could get more money for the cities. I approached the then prime minister, Jean Chrétien, and told him about what was going on at the city level. He reminded me that cities are creatures of the provinces, not the federal government. We could not use the word “cities” here in the House. I could not talk about the City of Toronto or Hamilton or Niagara and their difficulties because they were not directly a federal responsibility.

In spite of that and my persistence, Mr. Chrétien put together a task force and asked me to chair it. He also asked me to consult with our urban centres. I think it was his way of keeping a new MP busy, but I took on that 18-month challenge that he gave me. I travelled a lot more in the city and across the country. I consulted with the urban centres about the pressures facing them. I worked with FCM, York University, Vancouver, and a lot of academics as well, and we put together a great report that talked about the need for a national urban strategy that would address their needs.

In addition to to that, of course, we now have a gas tax, we have infrastructure programs, and we can freely talk about the challenges facing our cities across the country. Hence the reason for my enthusiasm for what we have been doing as a government in the last almost three years in investing in transit, infrastructure, and all of the things that we need the federal government to do because the cities do not have enough money and the provinces are struggling with their own challenges.

Therefore, working in partnership is what it was all about. It was about establishing a partnership between federal, provincial, and municipal governments to ensure that our country would move forward in a positive way. Being able to do that and to see it happening, frankly, was the best satisfaction I have had since I came here. With the billions that we are investing in this budget going out into cities all across the country, we are ensuring that we will have infrastructure that can compete with any other country, and it is desperately needed.

We talk about the congestion in cities. In order to relieve that congestion, we need to be investing in transit, both in small communities and in large ones. I am very fortunate in being able to say that after $685 million was invested some years back, we have just opened the new subway that goes up Highway 7 to the city of Vaughan and has a stop at York University. It takes thousands of cars off the road and, more importantly, it reduces congestion. It also provides a better transitway for many of the students, increases the opportunity for York University to expand, and makes for a better quality of life for all of the students and academics going to the university every day.

Of course, we are now starting on the LRT across Finch Avenue, which will be a tremendous asset for the thousands of people who use the bus line to get to Humber College.

Connecting all of that costs money. There is no way around it, and it would not happen without significant investment from the federal government, which is why I am so pleased to see what we are doing with this budget in 2018, as well as in the budgets of 2017 and 2016.

Let me talk now about some of the folks who live in my riding.

All the seniors at 35 Shoreham, a seniors residence, are people who have struggled. They are low-income seniors and are all receiving the GIS that we topped up a bit more, which we continue to do almost every year. We are trying to keep it up with the cost of living, recognizing the challenges that are facing all of those seniors. Many of them suffer from poor health, are new immigrants to the country and have language issues, and are struggling.

We have also invested in research. Whether it is the genomics centre or NSERC, research is such an important thing to help us identify the answers to some of the terrible diseases that affect us. As a member of the ALS caucus, I think of Mauril Bélanger very often, and I think all of our colleagues remember the sad loss. Putting more dollars into research will help us find answers and solutions to rare diseases like ALS.

Pharmacare is our new initiative, and I hope that in the future we can bundle our efforts together to reduce the cost of drugs throughout the country. This is a new initiative that I look forward to seeing come to completion, and I know all of us in this House would like to see that happen.

The Budget March 20th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I was very pleased to see that we are putting an advisory council together. Something that many of us as parliamentarians have talked to our constituents about is their struggles about whether they buy medication or put food on the table. The government is moving forward with the advisory group to put a plan together that is going to end that struggle and that decision-making for seniors by being able to provide drugs for all of them.

The Budget March 20th, 2018

Madam Speaker, it depends on the applications from the various organizations. Some are doing summer programs and they are simply hiring for a six-week plan. Others are doing it for 14 or 16 weeks. It all depends at the end of the day on the companies that are offering the employment opportunities for these students.

I was going through my summer job applications this morning and there are a lot of them that are offering 12 and 14 weeks, tying in with many of the university students who are seeking employment opportunities. Therefore, the application put in seeking a partner is what matters and how they match up the funds.

The Budget March 20th, 2018

Madam Speaker, in my many years here as an urban member, my colleagues from the rural part of our caucus and our staff, including my previous employee who was with me for 16 years, constantly made sure that I as an urban member was sensitive to the issues that the rural areas experience.

In terms of the many things we did in last year's budget as well, in expanding the broadband and the opportunities, our rural caucus and rural members speak of them very passionately and care very much. It is important that we make sure as we go through with a balanced budget that we do not forget anyone and do not leave anyone behind.