House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was appreciate.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Newmarket—Aurora (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 45% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Newmarket Farmers' Market June 3rd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I want to express my heartfelt congratulations to the Newmarket Farmers' Market, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this season.

The first market was actually held on June 1, 1871. Spurred on by this tradition, the market was revived, and the latest version began in May 1999. Every Saturday morning from May to October, a band of farmers, vendors and volunteers transforms the Riverwalk Commons into a bustling hive of activity reminiscent of the town's historic beginnings as a new market.

Thanks to the driving force of Marilyn Church, Joe Sponga and Jackie Playter, the market was revived 20 years ago. Many others, such as Margaret Koopmans, Julia Shipcott and Matt Haggerty helped ensure its early survival and later success.

Of course, a special thanks is owed to all the farmers who make the farmers' market what it is. As its motto goes, come for the freshness and stay for the fun. We'll see everyone at the market.

Persons with Disabilities May 31st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, National AccessAbility Week is a week when we celebrate Canadians with disabilities and raise awareness of the need for greater accessibility and inclusion. For millions of Canadians, barriers to access and inclusion still exist. We know that society benefits when all Canadians are included and have access to their workplaces and communities.

Can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility tell the House how our government is addressing and reducing barriers to inclusion for all Canadians?

Small Business May 13th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, small business owners in both Newmarket and Aurora have told me how important it is for them to export to new markets. Reaching global markets not only helps their businesses find new clients, but it also means better-paying jobs right here at home. How is the Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion helping our best and most promising small businesses prepare to export to these new markets?

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1 April 30th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the finance minister to perhaps elaborate on the importance of getting the budget to committee because of the measures in it, such as the aid for seniors that is going to go so far in helping seniors in Canada.

International Trade April 12th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, we know that our country's continued prosperity depends on innovative, hard-working Canadian companies and their ability to access new markets. Increased trade improves overall productivity and creates good-paying jobs for all Canadians.

Can the Minister of International Trade Diversification please let the House know what steps are being taken to increase trade opportunities for Canadians from coast to coast to coast?

Standing Committee on Health February 25th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, as always, it is an honour and a privilege to speak in the chamber. Today I am especially honoured to have brought this motion to the House.

First, I want to thank all hon. members who spoke in support of the motion. I thank the member for Winnipeg Centre, the member for Brampton South and the member for Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte, all of whom spoke at first reading. Today we heard from the member for Mississauga East—Cooksville, who is a former Olympian, and the member for Souris—Moose Mountain. I thank these members for their support. I am glad that they share my concern about the importance of this motion.

I know my time is limited, but I also want to thank all the organizations and individuals who reached out to me during this process. I thank them for sharing their expertise with me, and I thank them for their commitment and passion regarding the important goal of improving the health of children. After all, I think we can all agree that an active child is a healthy child. Organizations like Activate Aurora, the Nova Scotia Fitness Association, Active For Life, ParticipACTION and Sport Matters all provided invaluable input.

I also want to thank Lisa Bowes, now a children's author, who writes books about a girl named Lucy who tries different sports. She gave me some invaluable advice, and I appreciate her commitment to this. Ted Jarvis and Glenn Young also reached out with their input.

All these people are experts in this field, and they all agree that the federal government needs to play a role for us to reach our goal.

It is obviously important for the House to pass this motion. Everyone agrees that physical activity levels are not where they ought to be. The benefits of children being active are indisputable. In fact, our understanding of the health benefits continues to grow and expand, especially the mental health benefits. They are as integral a part of being a healthy child as the physical component.

Much work has been done in this regard. The government's common vision contains many great recommendations. However, this is not enough to get where we need to be. The 2018 ParticipACTION report card shows the areas in which we are failing our children. Only 35% of children aged five to 17 are meeting movement guidelines. This is unacceptable. We are not doing our job.

There is also much research regarding physical literacy and the harm that comes from too much screen time. The social benefits of having an active child continue to grow. All this work needs to be harnessed and mobilized by the health committee, which can then make prescriptive recommendations to the government.

I have two young boys, Kolton and Kash. I am also the son of a phys. ed. teacher, who unfortunately passed away months before I became an MP. He always encouraged me to be physically active, to try new sports, to play outside and to have fun with my friends.

I want my children and all Canadian children to be as active as possible. I want them all to have the same concept that physical play and physical activity is good and ought to be pursued.

The children growing up today face a very different childhood than I had. Social media was not a factor. Bullying was not as rampant. Screen time was not the threat to the well-being of our children it is today.

We need to harness the research out there. We need to make sure that the federal government plays the role it ought to play. I believe that the federal government has a significant role to play in ensuring that all Canadian children are physically active and that all Canadian children have the opportunity to play outside, to play with their friends and to play with teams to foster the formative skills that develop when they are pursuing these physical activities.

It would be unfair if all Canadian children did not have the same opportunities in this respect. That is why I think it is important that the federal government step up and continue to perform its role. Active kids are healthy kids. I urge all members to support this motion.

Precarious Employment February 22nd, 2019

Madam Speaker, I rise today to offer support for the hon. member for Sault Ste. Marie's motion, Motion No. 194, and I would like to thank him for bringing this issue to the floor for debate.

Canadians have worked hard to achieve the lowest unemployment rate in over 40 years. However, this number can only tell us so much about the employment situation in Canada. While good jobs are being created by Canadian businesses every day, there are still hard-working people who put in a full day's work but receive barely part-time compensation.

Our government has worked hard to support Canadian labour and the right of association. Immediately after the election, our government passed Bill C-4 and Bill C-5. These bills restored fairness and balance to labour relations by repealing legislation that undermined and weakened labour rights in our country. However, there is much more to do to ensure working Canadians receive fair treatment and fair compensation.

This motion speaks to a serious and growing problem across Canada that if left unaddressed could lead to serious labour issues. That is why this motion is so important. An in-depth study on precarious employment in Canada can provide the government with a blueprint to tackle this issue head-on.

As was pointed out earlier by the member for Sault Ste. Marie when speaking to this motion, precarious employment is tricky to nail down. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that a fifth of professionals are in some form of precarious work. Furthermore, the survey found that professionals in precarious employment are more likely to have a post-graduate degree than professionals who are in non-precarious work. Professional women are also more likely than their male counterparts to be in precarious situations, with women accounting for 60% of all professionals in a precarious work circumstance. Clearly, precarious work does not fit neatly into the norms of the traditional work environment and traditional work definitions.

These statistics offer far more questions than answers, questions that the HUMA committee can begin to unravel. While we do not know all that we would like to know, the root of this problem clearly lies in our rapidly changing economy. Thankfully, government has already started to address some of the stress points in this changing economy.

To provide young people the skills and networking opportunities necessary to find meaningful employment, our government invested $221 million in Mitacs, for example. This program creates 10,000 paid internships per year, providing the experience young people need to succeed. This program, coupled with the $73-million investment in the student work-integrated learning program, means nearly 60,000 Canadian students will benefit from a paid internship over the next five years.

The Government of Canada has also partnered with Ryerson University to create Canada's largest work-integrated learning, recruitment and reporting platform, known as “Magnet”. Magnet combines a network of employers, post-secondary institutions, industry associations and community partners to match skills with employment opportunities.

On February 14, the hon. Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour as well as the Minister of Finance announced plans for a new future skills centre and future skills council. To support this initiative, the Government of Canada is investing $225 million over four years and $75 million per year thereafter in future skills development.

However, it is not enough to prevent people from becoming precariously employed. We need to develop pathways for precarious workers to acquire skills that are in demand. In budget 2017, the government initiated a three-year pilot project to help adults who want to return to school, with an investment of $287 million over three years. It is clear, as the national and international economies change, that Canada and Canadians must put an emphasis on lifelong learning and skills development.

The disruption in the labour market calls for a flexible and forward-thinking policy. For this policy to be effective, we need a two-pronged approach. The first begins with Motion No. 194 to identify and narrow down the indicators of precarious employment. As the motion calls for, we need to dig into the data to come to a more complete understanding of what exactly precarious employment is both in terms of who it is affecting and in terms of its larger role in the Canadian economy.

The second part of this plan depends on a suite of flexible and proactive programs to lead young people to opportunities for quality employment. The plan must also offer those in precarious work situations a route to new opportunities or new skills and new training that will allow them to find fair, meaningful and reliable employment.

Yesterday the finance minister echoed the Prime Minister's comment that the global economy is changing faster than it ever has before, and it is moving slower now than it ever will in the future. If Canadians are to prosper and find security for themselves and their families in a changing global economy, we need to understand how these shifts will affect workers and Canadians.

As indicated in the speech by the member for Sault Ste. Marie and his motion, Canadians affected by precarious employment do not fit neatly into one or two industries or demographics.

Our government has taken steps to strengthen union rights to association and to provide access to education and skills training programs. However, precarious employment is unlike other forms of work and demands a more thorough examination by Parliament. Understanding the indicators of precarious employment will help federal, provincial and municipal governments address under-compensated workers.

When we tolerate full-time work turning into part-time pay with no benefits, we run a serious risk of losing ground that workers and Canadians will struggle with over the next generation.

As legislators, we have a responsibility to act in the best interests of Canadians, which is why I will be supporting Motion No. 194. I urge all members to also support Motion No. 194.

I would like to thank the member for Sault Ste. Marie for bringing this motion to the floor for debate.

John Abel February 22nd, 2019

Madam Speaker, John Abel was many things: town councillor, deputy mayor, musician, community volunteer, father, brother, husband and friend. He was a friend to many. He was a friend to me.

On December 6, we lost him far too soon. At age 64, he was full of life and had much more to give, and he had a long track record of giving. He gave of his time and he gave of his talents, and talented he was. He enjoyed playing the guitar and singing. He loved the Aurora Winter Blues Festival.

Many organizations benefited from his generosity, including the Aurora Seniors Centre, the Aurora Cultural Centre and the Aurora Sports Hall of Fame. He coached baseball, hockey and soccer. It was a rare day in Aurora if we did not see John Abel supporting a local group or an important cause, such as accessibility. His final act of generosity saw him donate his lungs.

To his wife of 32 years, Tracy, and to his children Devon and Eric, I send my deepest sympathies and condolences. I also send my appreciation for sharing John with all of us. Aurora will never be the same without him.

We miss John. May he rest in peace.

Standing Committee on Health December 11th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, to walk more, to get active and get outside more certainly should be a component of any healthy lifestyle. The study also shows that there are a lot of subgroups or populations that are even worse than the 37% of youth that are active. If that is broken down by gender, it is actually only 26% of females and 47% of males. We need to take all this into account as we consider how to get Canadian kids moving.

Standing Committee on Health December 11th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I alluded in my speech to that exact study. I have it here and I am abundantly aware of it. I have read it from cover to cover. It is a great study. It is a much broader study than just focusing on youth and all Canadians. It is great that the territorial and provincial ministers and the federal Minister of Science and Sport together came up with a report, but it is just a report and there are a lot of recommendations. However, there is other evidence and they did not necessarily encompass all the components that I want the health committee to study, including putting more of a focus on mental health, anti-bullying and perhaps a change of culture in some of the broader concepts that I alluded to.

I suspect that the health committee will do its due study. It will reflect and carry a nice weight in its report, hopefully because it is good work, but I believe we need to focus more just on youth.