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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word is years.

Liberal MP for Humber River—Black Creek (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2019, with 61% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Criminal Code November 20th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I think we all share this major concern that Bill C-75 would improve the safety of women and others throughout this country. Much of the new Department of the Status of Women will have additional funding in that category so that we can support initiatives that will help women get out of difficult relationships.

Part of this, as we go forward, I think, is that the # MeToo movement has had a huge impact. The fact is that no one will get away with abusing anyone, whether a man, woman or child. Society, for far too long, has stayed too quiet on many of these fronts. I think we have to really push on the whole issue of education. I know that our government will continue to invest significantly so that education becomes a big part of this. No one should be allowed to raise a hand against anyone, man, woman or child.

Criminal Code November 20th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, let me say to my hon. colleague that I appreciate his interest in the issue of human trafficking. Many of us in the House and elsewhere are well aware of what goes on out there in this terrible world when it comes to trafficking in human beings, whether it is occurring on our local streets or elsewhere.

Some of the work I did on prostitution and trafficking some years back, as a city councillor, was about helping people better. I think we all intend to make sure that the laws of the land protect people and help those victims who find themselves in the terrible position of being trafficked or used for sexual exploitation.

Criminal Code November 20th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate today on Bill C-75, introduced on March 29, 2018. The bill has now been studied by the justice and human rights committee and returned to the House. I am optimistic that we can move this important piece of legislation forward today. Bill C-75 includes important amendments that reflect the government's unwavering commitment to tackling gender-based violence.

Last June, the government launched a federal strategy to prevent and address gender-based violence across Canada. The 2017 budget included $100.9 million over five years and an additional $20.7 million per year thereafter to fund this important strategy, which would ensure there is more support for vulnerable populations, such as women and girls, indigenous people, LGBTQ2 community members, gender non-binary individuals, those living in rural and remote communities, and people with disabilities, among many others.

Budget 2018 announced a further $86 million over five years and $20 million per year in ongoing funding to enhance this strategy. The three pillars of the strategy—prevention, support for survivors and their families, and promotion of a responsive legal and justice system—will better align these and existing resources to ensure that current gaps in support are filled.

Bill C-75 complements these initiatives and further supports the third pillar of the federal gender-based violence strategy by promoting a more responsive legal and justice system. It specifically targets intimate partner violence, which is one of the most common forms of gender-based violence. Intimate partner violence includes things like sexual, physical and psychological abuse, as well as controlling behaviours. Bill C-75 proposes to define “intimate partner” throughout the Criminal Code to clarify that it includes a current or former spouse, common-law partner and a dating partner.

This clarification is sorely needed to reflect the current reality, which is that so many of the individuals accused of violence against women before the courts are in fact dating partners, as opposed to spouses. According to data from Statistics Canada, victimization by an intimate partner was the most common form of police-reported violent crime against women in 2016. Based on police-reported data from 2016, we also know that violence within dating relationships was more common than violence within spousal relationships.

The new definition of intimate partner violence would apply in the sentencing context, where judges would have to consider any evidence of abuse against a former or current spouse, common-law partner and dating partner as an aggravating factor. Higher maximum penalties for repeat intimate violence offenders would also be available to sentencing judges under this legislation.

In addition to the reverse onus on bail, Bill C-75 would add two new factors that a judge would have to consider before making an order to release or detain an accused. Bail courts would have to consider an accused's criminal record, something that already routinely occurs but is not mandated, as well as whether an accused has ever been charged with an offence that involved violence against an intimate partner. These factors would ensure that judges have a more complete picture and are fully informed of any prior history of violence that could threaten the safety of a victim or the public at large.

In 2016, Statistics Canada reported that the type of violence most often experienced by victims of intimate partner violence was physical force, which includes more serious harm, such as choking. The reforms proposed in Bill C-75 would further enhance victim safety by clarifying that strangulation, choking and suffocation constitute a more serious form of assault under section 267 of the Criminal Code, punishable by a maximum of 10 years' imprisonment, instead of a simple assault, which carries a maximum penalty of five years. It would also ensure that sexual offences involving strangulation, choking or suffocation are treated as the more serious form of sexual assault, which imposes a maximum penalty of 14 years' imprisonment if the victim is an adult, and life if the victim is a child, under section 272 of the Criminal Code. This would depart from the existing penalty for simple sexual assault, which is a maximum of 10 years' imprisonment under section 271, or 14 years when the victim is under 16.

Unfortunately, under existing law, courts do not always recognize the seriousness of these types of assaults, which often occur in the context of intimate partner violence. These aggressive acts cannot be underappreciated or dismissed as simply reflecting a perpetrator's anger management problem. Strangulation and choking pose a much higher risk to safety than other forms of assault, because they deprive a person of oxygen, with potentially fatal consequences, despite the fact the person might not have any visible injuries. The proposed amendment would better reflect the gravity of the harm inflicted.

While strong laws are a necessary part of tackling gender-based violence, it is important to understand how this legislation complements existing programs and initiatives that, together, ensure that the justice system is working at its full potential.

Over the past couple of years, the government has been working closely with the provinces and territories to improve the criminal justice system's response to gender-based violence. For example, since 2016, the government has provided funding for projects designed to improve responses to sexual assaults against adults. This funding has been made available through the federal victims fund to provinces and territories, municipal governments, first nations, and criminal justice and non-governmental organizations.

The funding is supporting pilot projects in Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador to provide independent legal advice to victims of sexual assault, and the Government of Ontario to further enhance its existing project. Alberta has developed a similar program that is being administered and funded through the provincial ministry of the status of women.

Strong criminal justice responses to gender-based violence, including measures that aim to enhance access to justice for victims, as well as the proposals in Bill C-75, are especially significant right now in the wake of the #MeToo movement, as so many sexual assault survivors are coming forward to acknowledge and share their experiences of sexual violence. Indeed, a November 9, 2018 report by Statistics Canada indicates that the number of police-reported sexual assaults sharply increased by 25% following the beginning of the #MeToo movement in October 2017. The harrowing accounts shared by survivors have shed light on the many social and economic barriers that sexual assault victims have faced and continue to face, with devastating consequences for individuals, their families, and their communities. As more stories of sexual assault are told, we must ensure that the victims and survivors are treated with compassion and respect and that the criminal justice system responds appropriately.

I firmly believe that the proposals to enhance the safety of victims of intimate partner violence in Bill C-75 are a necessary response to this horrific societal problem. I am proud to be part of a government that takes violence against women seriously, as I know all of us in the House do, and one that remains unwavering in its commitment to ensuring that the victims of gender-based violence and their loved ones are treated with the utmost respect and dignity. I hope members will all join me in supporting this bill.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities November 19th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased we have this opportunity to debate Motion No. 190, a private member's motion brought forward by my colleague from Mississauga East—Cooksville.

One of the first things we talked about following the 2015 election was the ongoing problem of labour shortages and what we could do about it. All of us know very well the various unions that represent people throughout the country. We also know that the labour shortage is a very serious problem. I was pleased that the member for Mississauga East—Cooksville put forward Motion No. 190, which provides us with a way to focus on this issue.

As we heard from previous speakers, this is not just an Ontario problem. It is in fact a problem in various parts of our country. It is important to try to focus some attention on how we can meet the demands.

I applaud my colleague for the work he has done in putting this together. His continued passion for the skilled trades is like no other. He had a former career as a provincial member of Parliament, so he is familiar with labour issues and labour shortages.

The study that is being proposed by the motion would examine ways to solve the skilled labour shortage problem throughout Canada.

Ensuring that skilled workers are available to meet labour demands is a responsibility that our government takes very seriously. Following the 2015 election, we have had many discussions with colleagues of all parties on how to better deal with the labour shortage.

I have been monitoring the progress and path of the motion for quite some time, as it would have a significant positive impact for the constituents of my riding, an area within the GTA.

Whether we are talking about carpenters, bricklayers, masonry workers, the shortage is there. One of the challenges with our young people today is getting them interested in the trades. They are much more interested in IT and so on. When I speak in schools, it is hard to get them interested in this type of work, even though I tell them that great jobs can be found in the building trades, that the jobs pay well and that they will not be out of work. When they see workers outside on snowy, cold days doing the things they have to do, this does not exactly interest them. However, for those who do go that way, they have positive careers. They are able to buy houses and purchase cars. They have everything they need. However, there is a real challenge in trying to get people interested in that.

We are investing millions of dollars in infrastructure projects throughout Canada. This increases the need for many skilled workers. I cannot tell people the number of companies with which I have spoken. They have a lot of work, but they cannot get workers to get the jobs done. We want infrastructure money hitting the road, so new buildings can be built and so forth.

There were many examples of the shortage with respect to finishing up the renovations to West Block. There was a lack of a sufficient workforce.

The current employment numbers are estimated at approximately 413,600 jobs, which are evenly split between residential and non-residential construction.

The demand in the construction industry is expected to grow, and we want to see it grow. I have always found that if the construction industry is doing well then Canada is doing well.

Many years ago, my husband, who is a carpenter, immigrated to Canada from Italy. As a result of his skill trade as a carpenter, he went on to build a very successful career, and we have a successful family.

There are many needs out there and Motion No. 190 focuses on finding solutions to the problem. Workers currently in the country who are looking to sponsor family members to come here will help to continue to build on that.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 November 6th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, we have been doing a lot of work on this whole issue of what we can do when it comes to bankruptcy and insolvency. Sears is an example and Nortel is another example before that. There have been many debates and discussions in this House as to how we work forward to protect pensions. I think our government is looking at that and I know several other parties in the House are also looking at trying to find a solution to a difficult issue.

People's pensions have to be protected. People have to know they can count on the money that has been put in for their retirement. We all need to work forward to try to ensure that very much happens.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 November 6th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, it is always nice to get a question from my hon. colleague. In many ways, we share similar points of view on a variety of things.

One of the issues that I have been working on for the last almost four years, which started when I was one of the members in opposition, is the issue of paying our bills promptly. One of the things that I find most aggravating here is the fact that it takes forever to get anything done. It takes years to get legislation through. It takes years to make changes. If the government has an omnibus bill and it is including a lot of things in that bill, sometimes that is a way of helping move certain agendas along.

Let us talk about the issue of protecting our marine environment. There are a variety of things in this bill that are important and need to get done, yet there were more delays as we progressed and moved along. There are complaints all the time that governments take far too long to get things done and, as the previous government did, sometimes the decision is to take a different avenue to get things done. At the end of the day, government is responsible to move legislation along and to move bills like Bill C-86 along as well.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 November 6th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the discussion today on Bill C-86, the budget implementation act.

It is well known by everyone inside and outside this House that we are going into an election year. I often think back to the last election in preparation for my plans for what is going to become the 2019 election for Canada. Of course, I look forward to being the nominated candidate, which I am, for the election in October 2019. Congratulations to you, Mr. Speaker. I see that you received your nomination last week.

In the last election, Canadians chose to elect the government with a plan to invest in the middle class and a government that planned to truly build an economy that would work for everyone, not just a select few. The results over the last four years speak for themselves. There are more Canadians employed today than in years and years. We have the lowest unemployment rate we have had the good fortune to have in well over 40 years, and that is a result of investments and the infrastructure and so on that our government has done.

Since November 2015, the Canadian economy has created nearly 600,000 jobs, most of which are full-time jobs. The unemployment rate, as I mentioned, is near historic lows, and that is something I know everyone in this House is pleased about. Canada has had the fastest-growing economy among G7 countries.

Wages are increasing. People are being paid a better wage, and then they are taking that wage and reinvesting it by purchasing things for their families. They are able to upscale to new homes or better cars. Consumer and business confidence is clearly stronger than ever. Middle-class Canadians, as I said, are seeing first-hand that our plan is continuing to work. By this time next year, a typical family of four will be better off, with more money in their pockets. If it is a family of four, we are talking about $2,000 more. If it is a family of eight, it will be reflected in the child tax benefit.

More money in their pockets is something that will be tremendously important to the families in my riding of Humber River—Black Creek. I have a particularly interesting riding. It is mixed, very multicultural, with a lot of new immigrants and a lot of people who are struggling to get ahead, find jobs, get decent housing and achieve the Canadian dream. What our government is doing is clearly going to help them achieve that dream. More money in their pockets means that the constituents in my riding can afford to buy additional things they need for their children. They can purchase school supplies and maybe even have the opportunity for a nice evening out with a loved one. They can have the ability to offer music classes to their children or enrol them in hockey or soccer or many activities that are quite expensive.

That all being said, for these things I have mentioned to happen, we must see Bill C-86 pass. Bill C-86 needs to pass to support our government's people-centred approach and ensure that every Canadian, from coast to coast to coast, has a fair chance for success.

Our government is taking the next step toward building an equal, competitive, sustainable and fair Canada. By making substantial investments and real progress for the middle class, our government is demonstrating its commitment to all Canadians, and especially to those who need it the most in our communities. My riding of Humber River—Black Creek is no different. There are a number of key measures contained in Bill C-86 that would have a positive impact for Canadians, but I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the measures that will impact the lives of the people of Humber River—Black Creek in a positive way.

Our government is taking the next step to help grow the economy in a way that would strengthen and grow the middle class by introducing the new Canada workers benefit. The Canada workers benefit will put more money in the pockets of low-income workers and deliver real help to more than two million Canadians who are working hard to join the middle class.

Canadians who qualify for the Canada workers benefit will be automatically enrolled, thereby ensuring that no worker will be left behind. We often hear that when the government initiates programs people are not aware that they have opportunities for support in various ways. Automatically enrolling people will ensure that people get whatever benefit they are entitled to. The Canada workers benefit will raise approximately 70,000 Canadians out of poverty by 2020.

Our government's poverty reduction strategy is a really important issue for communities like mine that have a lot of new immigrants, a lot of people who are struggling to find jobs and settling in with their families. The first three or four years after moving into a new community are very much a struggle for them. The government's poverty reduction strategy will help many newcomers.

Since taking office in 2015, our government has been growing the middle class by helping those working hard to join it. There has been an increase in the numbers when we talk about the middle class today.

Housing is a very big issue in my riding. I know of three or four homeless people in my riding who are looking for housing. They are women and at the moment they share a room with a friend. They have their names on a list that contains the names of about 18,000 other people who are also trying to find safe housing.

The enhanced seniors benefit is important. Our government has done a lot on the seniors file. We now have a new Minister of Seniors whom we are thrilled with. She and our government will do a lot of work to deliver assistance to our seniors.

Thanks to programs like the Canada child benefit, the national housing strategy and others, by 2019, our investments will have lifted over 650,000 Canadians, including more than 300,000 children, out of poverty. All of us should be thrilled with that.

Guided by opportunity for all, Canada's first national poverty reduction strategy, we are establishing an official poverty line for the first time ever, and setting firm targets for reducing poverty to the lowest level in Canada's history. Opportunity for all represents a bold vision for poverty reduction that will build a Canada where every Canadian from coast to coast to coast has a real and fair chance at success.

Pay equity is another very important goal that we finally managed to see achieved. We have talked about it for well over 25 years and it is nice to see that it is finally going to come to fruition. We have been having discussions about pay equity for the full 19 years or so that I have been here.

I have appreciated the opportunity to say a few words today and I welcome questions.

Committees of the House November 5th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 107(3), I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the ninth report of the Liaison Committee entitled, “Committee Activities and Expenditures—April 1, 2018-August 31, 2018.” This report highlights the work and accomplishments of each committee, as well as detailing the budgets that fund the activities approved by committee members.

International Religious Freedom Day October 31st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the house today to recognize International Religious Freedom Day on October 27.

In light of the recent horrific events in Pittsburgh, it is important to recognize that the protection of religious freedoms is a fundamental right of all Canadians.

Unfortunately, in many parts of the world people of all faiths face persecution. This is why it is enormously important to make sure that religious freedom is respected and protected by all. Where religious freedoms flourish, there is greater stability and more economic opportunity.

Today, and all days, we should always underscore our commitment to peace and inclusion at home and abroad for all religious and faith communities.

Elections Modernization Act October 30th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the 2011 election was very discouraging to the people who worked on the elections. Candidates were also very discouraged as a result of finding out that a lot of irregularities were happening, but not a whole lot was being done. Strengthening services for the Commissioner of Elections Canada is important in order to provide the ability to give serious penalties to people who violate and interfere with our democracy. It is too important a treasure for us. Anybody who interferes needs to receive a very stiff penalty so it does not happen again.