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  • Her favourite word is agreement.

Liberal MP for Humber River—Black Creek (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2021, with 61% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canada-United Kingdom Trade Continuity Agreement Implementation Act January 28th, 2021

Madam Speaker, I wish a happy new year to everyone who is watching.

Small businesses throughout Canada, as I had indicated in my comments, are critically important. Small companies, whether in manufacturing or elsewhere, have a desire to grow but are struggling every day to find different ways to access funds and get help navigating international opportunities. I find an awful lot of them are unaware of this, whether we are talking about the Business Development Bank or others.

I have met with many small businesses and walked them through the process. They needed capital or access to funds, and I was to able to connect them with BDC or others to help them. That is a big part of a member of Parliament's job. They do not have time to look up what the Government of Canada is trying to do. They are busy trying to make a living, survive and grow their businesses, and I think it is part of our role as parliamentarians to do outreach.

Canada-United Kingdom Trade Continuity Agreement Implementation Act January 28th, 2021

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague from Vaughan—Woodbridge.

It is great to have an opportunity to speak to Bill C-18. As the chair of the international trade committee, I think we have a great group of colleagues to continue working on a variety of things. Of course, Bill C-18 is one of them.

For the information of my colleague from Elmwood—Transcona, I had the pleasure of tabling the report yesterday on the Good Friday Agreement, which I know was so important to him. In case he missed it, I wanted to make sure he and the other committee members know that we got that done yesterday. I agree with it totally. It is very important.

Now we are dealing with this transitional continuity agreement between Canada and the United Kingdom and export promotion efforts behind Canada's free trade agreement. As we all know, Canada is very much a trading nation. As a medium-sized economy competing internationally, Canada relies on free trade and a transparent rules-based system to take advantage of global commercial opportunities and create economic prosperity at home.

Canada is one of the most open G7 countries, ranking second for both trade and foreign direct investment as shares of GDP, so members can appreciate how vital trade is to Canada's economy. The negotiation and ratification of free trade agreements reflect this government's commitment to international trade and to levelling the playing field for Canadian businesses, especially our small and medium-sized businesses, so they are able to compete and succeed in markets abroad. Allow me to elaborate a bit on this point.

Under the rules and protections of free trade agreements, Canadian goods and services benefit from a reduction or elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade, such as quotas or other protectionist obstacles. These barriers make exporting to another country costlier and time consuming for businesses.

If we take the trade continuity agreement before us today as an example, without this agreement in place, some of our Canadian businesses would face new barriers and higher costs of doing business, because the U.K. is no longer covered by the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, the CETA. Overall, after Brexit, it is estimated that 1.04 billion dollars' worth of Canadian exports to the U.K. would have been subject to tariffs. These tariffs would disproportionately affect fish, seafood and agricultural exporters. In addition to the tariffs placed on Canadian products being exported to the U.K., roughly 25% of all products imported from the U.K. would also be affected, with Canadian importers paying higher prices to bring in these goods.

While each trade agreement reflects a specific set of Canadian interests, their primary objective is to create a more open and competitive marketplace that improves access to foreign markets for the vast majority of Canadian exports, thereby supporting economic growth and creating opportunities and new jobs for Canadians. These objectives were top of mind when we signed CETA in 2016 with the European Union, when we brought into force the CPTPP with 10 Asia-Pacific partners in 2018 and of course when the new NAFTA came into force last year. We can add to that the trade continuity agreement with the U.K. once it comes into force.

We have already heard from a number of industry stakeholders, as well as the provinces and territories, about the importance of maintaining a preferential trading relationship with the U.K. However, this agreement is not just about maintaining the status quo, although that is important enough for our businesses and most Canadians. It is also about setting the stage for our future bilateral relations with the U.K.

Having said that, all the benefits of free trade agreements do not matter if Canadian businesses are not aware of how to take advantage of them. For these agreements to be fully realized, Canadian businesses need to be made fully aware of them and the benefits they offer, which is a job that I think falls upon all committee members and in particular those of the international trade committee.

As hon. members present know, most Canadian exporters are small and medium enterprises, or SMEs, as we call them. Many do not have the luxury of time or the resources to remain fully informed of game-changing international business developments like free trade agreements, much less fully digest their implications. As a result, many have not been in a position to take full advantage of the access provided by these agreements to increase their presence in international markets.

The government recognizes the need to encourage SMEs to pursue free trade opportunities and to support them in their efforts to do so, which the minister has been very aggressive in doing. Accordingly, the Prime Minister has prioritized export promotion and development, particularly for small businesses to take advantage of the opportunities that flow from trade.

In this regard, our ambitious export diversification strategy seeks to maximize opportunities for Canadians created by our existing trade agreements while pursuing new ones. That means continuing to attract and support Canadian companies doing business with the U.K. through the team Canada approach that we often talk about. This includes the trade commissioner service network; Export Development Canada, or EDC; the Business Development Bank of Canada; the Canadian Commercial Corporation; and Invest in Canada. These organizations are all working together, along with our provincial and territorial partners, to help Canadian businesses navigate the implications of Brexit. They remain committed to continuing to assist Canadian companies doing business with and in the U.K. and the E.U.

These relationships are critical in supporting prosperity through the economic recovery from COVID-19 and beyond. For all of us, the economic recovery from COVID-19 cannot come quickly enough.

I urge all hon. members to support Bill C-18, which would allow the government to implement the trade continuity agreement, without undue delay, to support Canadian companies as they seek to take advantage of the benefits of this agreement.

Committees of the House January 27th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on International Trade, entitled “Good Friday Accord”.

Community Service January 27th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, while the COVID-19 pandemic has caused tremendous hardship in our communities, it has also presented an opportunity for our Canadian spirit of kindness and generosity to shine through. In my wonderful riding of Humber River—Black Creek, Dennis Keshinro is one of those wonderful individuals.

Dennis and his great team of volunteers have been heroes in our community, delivering bundles of food and personal protective equipment to over 500 residents, and organizing fundraisers for those in our community worst affected by this pandemic. His contribution and his wife and family's dedication to Humber River—Black Creek are a reminder to us all that even in dark times we can all strive to do better and exemplify what it means to be Canadians. I thank Dennis.

Committees of the House December 10th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on International Trade, entitled “Trade Between Canada and the United Kingdom: A Potential Transitional Trade Agreement—Interim Report”.

Bravery and Heroism December 3rd, 2020

Mr. Speaker, I want to recognize an outstanding display of bravery and heroism that occurred at the Coca-Cola bottling facility in my riding of Humber River—Black Creek.

After a team member suffered a serious heart attack, rendering him unconscious and unable to breathe, four of his colleagues bravely jumped to his aid. They jumped into the situation without hesitation, administering CPR to the individual and stabilizing him before the first responders arrived on the scene. Without the courageous actions of these employees, this man would not be alive today.

I want to recognize these brave individuals and thank them for their heroics: Ernest Ashwood, David Murray, Inhuoma Onuoha and Shirlene Peddie.

On behalf of the House, the people of Humber River—Black Creek and myself, we thank them for their courage and life-saving actions. They are truly heroes. I also want to give my best wishes to the family of the patient and offer my prayers for his speedy recovery.

Derek Selleck November 27th, 2020

Madam Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate the life of a remarkable man, Master Corporal Derek Selleck. Derek served as a loyal member of the Canadian Armed Forces for over 20 years. He was a recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal. He served his country valiantly, as well as his community.

Humber River—Black Creek was where Derek called home. It is where he founded a multicultural women's organization that empowers women from all cultural backgrounds through sport, specifically soccer.

He was a selfless, generous man, who was proud of his legacy in the Armed Forces. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, his brothers and sisters, and to all the community who have suffered a significant loss.

Canada Pharmacare Act November 18th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to join the debate tonight, even if it is virtually, to address Bill C-213.

I must say to my colleague that it is great that he took the initiative to bring the bill forward. I think that any time we have a chance to move the discussion on things that we know clearly Canadians would like us to discuss, we should take it. The work that is required to make that all happen, of course, is way ahead of us. Every time we have a debate, I think it is terrific.

I never thought that I, as a member of Parliament, would deliver a speech from the comfort of my home office, but this is a new normal that we are all experiencing in order to stay safe and flatten the curve of COVID-19. It is my hope that I will soon join my colleagues in the House to continue the great work that this government is providing for Canadians.

We know Canadians should not have to choose between buying groceries and paying for medication. That is just unacceptable, and I believe every one of us in the House believes that.

When constituents from my riding of Humber River—Black Creek visit the Yorkgate Mall or Jane Finch Mall, they should be able to reach into their pockets and purchase the food and medication they need. That is why the government is committed to implementing a national pharmacare program that would ensure all Canadians have access to the prescription drugs they need, and why I also welcome this discussion tonight.

It is a goal we have been working toward since we first formed the government in 2015, and it remains our goal. No matter how difficult COVID has been, it is still our goal to see national pharmacare, as we clearly stated in the most recent 2020 Speech from the Throne to remind everyone that we intend for this to happen.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us how important it is that Canadians have access to the medicines that keep them healthy. We need to implement a national pharmacare plan that gets Canadians the drug coverage they need as soon as possible. People are struggling: we know that. I get calls at my constituency office every day from seniors and others looking for help, who want to visit loved ones, play cards at their local community centres and simply want to get their lives back to normal.

I tell them we are doing everything we can to fight the pandemic. National pharmacare would make a significant difference in the lives of many people in my riding. It would be a relief to many of these individuals if we could assure them that in their lifetimes they would have the dream of seeing national pharmacare happen.

People today need a break, and while we are now more committed than ever, it is important we get this plan right. To modernize the whole issue of drug regulations, we need to address the rising cost of drugs in this country. As the price of drugs continues to go up, trying to find sustainable drug costs has to be a solution.

Canada's approach to patented drug price regulations was outdated. Our previous pricing regime was established a very long time ago, and it needs to change to be brought up to date with current issues. We have more than 100 different public drug plans and thousands of private drug plans. All this means is we have many drug plans. It does not necessarily mean they are doing what they are supposed to be doing, other than being a patchwork.

It is well past time to bring these regulations into the 21st century. In order to make drugs more affordable, Canada needed a modernized approach to regulating patented drug prices that would protect Canadians from excessive prices. That is why last summer the government modernized the Patented Medicines Regulations, which provide the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board with the tools and the information it needs to protect Canadians from excessive prices.

Secondly, we want to consider the value a drug offers and its overall affordability. Most other countries with national pharmacare programs already do this, so we are behind the eight ball on this. When setting a price, one needs to have many discussions on things such as value for money, if the drug offers a therapeutic benefit that justifies its cost, the size of the market, how many people will benefit, Canada's GDP and GDP per capita, and if we can afford to pay for it. These things are not easy.

These changes would provide the Patented Medicines Price Review Board with the tools it needs to protect Canadians from excessive drug prices, and would bring us in line with the policies and practices of most other developed countries.

These regulatory changes were critical steps toward improving the affordability and accessibility of prescription drugs. Along with other consumer protection initiatives at the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board, we anticipate that these changes will save roughly $13 billion over the next 10 years. These are significant savings for Canadians. From the savings, public and private drug plans will have greater capacity to improve benefits for plan members or to consider new therapies not currently covered. All Canadians, including those with drug plans and those paying out of pocket, will benefit from lower prices for prescription drugs.

Modernizing pricing regulations complements the work already under way at Health Canada to streamline the regulatory review process for drugs by enabling priority drugs to reach the market more quickly. This supports the work already taking place under the pan-Canadian pharmaceutical alliance to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs. As a member of this alliance, the Government of Canada is able to combine its buying power with that of the public plans in the provinces and territories. It is estimated that the alliance will save public drug plans more than $3 billion over the next five years. Successful negotiations will result in more affordable prescription drug prices for public drug plans and will lower generic drug prices for all payers.

These steps that we have taken to increase the affordability of drugs will improve the viability of a national pharmacare program. A national pharmacare program would be another step that could help us further control drug prices and make drugs more affordable for Canadians, especially drugs for patients of ALS and some of the other very serious rare disorders.

The government has also made some significant investments to ensure that we continue to take important steps in the right direction as we build this national pharmacare program we all want.

Budget 2019 earmarked $1 billion over two years beginning in 2022-23, with up to $500 million ongoing, to help Canadians with the rare diseases that I alluded to earlier access the drugs they need. Budget 2019 also proposed $35 million over four years to support the implementation of a Canadian drug agency, including the development of a national formulary, an important step toward a national pharmacare program.

A national formulary and increased capacity to coordinate across drug plans would bolster Canada's negotiating power to achieve better prescription drug prices on behalf of all Canadians. Negotiating better prices could help lower the cost of prescription drugs for Canadians. However, as we develop this formulary, we must work with the provinces and territories to determine which medicines represent the best value for money for Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

The people of Humber River—Black Creek and across Canada want a national pharmacare plan. I am confident that the government will be successful in implementing the initiatives that I have outlined today, and I congratulate my colleague for bringing this issue forward in a private member's bill so that we can continue to keep everybody's feet to the fire. That includes all of the provinces and territories, which have to be partners with us on this issue.

Public Safety November 17th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, the gun violence in our big cities is getting out of control. Last weekend, in my riding of Humber River—Black Creek, an innocent 12-year-old boy named Dante was killed as he was shopping with his mother. As we mourn the loss and honour the memory of this brave young life, we must resolve to end gun violence once and for all.

Could the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness please report to the House what this government has done and what the government is committed to doing to keep guns off our streets and end gun violence in Canada?

Committees of the House November 5th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on International Trade entitled “Main Estimates 2020-21: Vote 1 under Invest in Canada Hub” in the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2021, and reports the same.