House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was conservative.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2015, with 30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Labour December 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, thank you for letting me participate in this evening's adjournment proceedings.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to return to a question that I asked in the House on October 2 concerning protection for interns working in federally regulated businesses.

I have spoken with many organizations and young people in the past few years and months. Across the country, young workers are asking that the challenges they face be recognized. They cannot find paid work. They graduate but cannot support themselves because they cannot find full-time work in their field. They are carrying record debt, and their unemployment rate is double the national average.

They are also often exploited by employers who turn paid jobs into unpaid internships. Thus, young people are working for no pay. We have also seen the number of unpaid internships increase considerably in recent years. it is estimated that there are approximately 300,000 unpaid internships in Canada. That is a huge number.

In the meantime, the NDP is calling on the federal government to help these young workers find stable, paying jobs. In May 2013, the NDP member for Davenport introduced Bill C-542 to create an urban workers strategy and increase support for people with unstable jobs. My NDP colleague from Davenport called on the federal government to work with the provinces to challenge the use of unpaid internships and to protect these vulnerable unpaid interns.

Furthermore, the government would have to start collecting data now, through Statistics Canada, on the extensive use of training internships. Unfortunately, right now, there is no information on the number of unpaid internships in Canada. The figure that I mentioned—300,000—was just an estimate, and Statistics Canada does not have any information about this.

I remind members that the Conservative government made cuts to the long form census. We know that youth unemployment is a serious problem, but how can the federal government take action if we do not even have the facts and figures? It is a huge problem.

The NDP thinks that the federal government should commit to working with the provinces to create a national policy on unpaid internships.

When I asked that question in the House, the Conservative government did not give me an answer. The minister said that unpaid interns can file a complaint if ever they find that there have been issues of abuse during their internship. Unfortunately, the minister was mistaken.

Currently, there is no recourse for unpaid interns because they are not considered employees under the Canada Labour Code. That is a major loophole, and I am calling on my colleagues to support Bill C-636 so that we can protect unpaid interns.

Will the government finally put an end to this abuse and work with the NDP to extend rights and protections to interns?

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law) November 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her very interesting speech. I also support the bill we are debating today.

I would like to hear my colleague talk a little more about the Conservatives' approach, because this is certainly not the first bill we have seen with minimum sentences.

Could she talk about the other bills the Conservatives have introduced that contain minimum sentences? Could she also talk about the effect these bills will have on our prisons and about Canada's approach to this?

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law) November 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her speech. In particular, I appreciated that she shared her personal story. She clearly understands the importance of these animals.

I would simply like to reiterate a point that has already been mentioned by my colleague regarding minimum sentences and so on. The NDP will be supporting this bill. That said, even the Minister of Justice said that minimum sentences have not had a demonstrable deterrent effect.

Can the hon. member share evidence or scientific studies that can explain why there are minimum sentences in this bill?

Steel Industry November 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Buy American Act is being applied on Canadian soil. Canadian steel suppliers cannot even bid on a bridge being built in Prince Rupert, here in Canada.

Meanwhile, Canadian workers, such as those at Nova Bus in Saint-Eustache, are victims of the Americans' protectionist policies.

Why are the Conservatives unable to protect Canadian jobs?

Intern Protection Act November 25th, 2014

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-620, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (unpaid training).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be introducing the intern protection act.

After consulting with experts and stakeholders, we made some changes to this bill. I would like to thank the family of Andy Ferguson for their help in developing this bill.

Basically, this bill would ensure that paid positions cannot be turned into unpaid internships. The bill will also offer basic protections for unpaid interns, such as protection against sexual harassment, protection of hours of work and protection against dangerous work.

I encourage all of my colleagues to support this bill, which is urgently needed and very important for our young workers.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Petitions November 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition concerning defined benefit pension plans. The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to oppose any changes that will allow employers to break their promises regarding defined benefit pension plans and to not authorize the conversion of defined benefit plans into so-called shared risk plans, which would reduce the amount of pension benefits payable to retirees.

The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to improve retirement security for workers who have to use a company pension plan.

Science and Technology November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for commenting on this topic.

However, my question had to do with the muzzling of scientists and not with funding for science. That said, since my hon. colleague brought it up, I will tell her that Statistics Canada has shown that funding for science and technology in Canada has dropped by more than 14% over the past five years. This looks bad for the federal government.

Not only do the Conservatives want to muzzle scientists, but they also want to dismantle any mechanism that would enable us to investigate this censorship.

Despite a 31% increase in complaints to the Information Commissioner this year, her budget has been cut by nearly 10% since 2009. Wait times have now reached disastrous levels. That is not standard practice for a government that has nothing to hide.

Why does the Conservative government not take action to unmuzzle scientists?

Science and Technology November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to follow up on a question I asked during question period on October 21 regarding a letter written by more than 800 international researchers who criticized the fact that Government of Canada scientists are seeing a rapid decline in funding while their freedoms are being eroded.

The letter, addressed to the Prime Minister, spoke about how important it is for the international science community to work together to address the threats to our health and environment. The scientists urged the government to put an end to its war on knowledge and to provide adequate funding for research. They also said that the Conservatives' muzzling of scientists was undermining international co-operation among researchers. In their letter, they even quoted a New York Times editorial that denounced the Conservative government's muzzling of scientists and called this practice an attempt to guarantee public ignorance.

The scientists who signed this very recent letter come from 32 different countries, including Argentina, Australia, Austria, France, Germany and Israel.

It seems that the Conservatives have gotten used to muzzling and ignoring the advice of Canadian scientists. They also ignore scientists and Canadians who speak up to oppose their unsound approach. This letter proves that their despicable practices are not only undermining democracy and knowledge in Canada, but they are also undermining our international reputation.

It was only a matter of time before the international scientific community criticized this government. In the last year alone, many published reports have described in detail this government's disdain for research and science.

Last October the report by Evidence for Democracy, a non-profit organization, and Simon Fraser University assessed the degree of accessibility of federal researchers. The report gave 85% of departments a grade of C or lower. All departments scored lower than their U.S. counterparts. If Americans have the right to access their federal scientists, why do we not have that right?

Another report by the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria and the non-partisan group Democracy Watch described this government's Orwellian efforts to silence researchers. The 128-page report was widely quoted in the media across the country. It also led the Information Commissioner to call for a formal investigation into this muzzling.

I would like to conclude by referring to the comprehensive survey commissioned last year by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada. The report entitled “The Big Chill” found that 90% of federal scientists do not feel that they can speak freely to the media about their work. If their minister made a decision likely to harm public health, safety or the environment, nearly as many said they would face censure or retaliation if they shared their concerns.

We can see that the government is afraid of science, facts and democracy.

How can the government deny that its malicious approach is not conducive to Canadians' well-being and that it is now a source of embarrassment in the international scientific community?

Canada Post November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government is complicit by allowing Canada Post to eliminate home delivery.

While provinces and municipalities are trying to adapt their services to the needs of an aging population, Canada Post and the Conservative government are making things harder on seniors. Next year, the people of Boisbriand, and more specifically those with reduced mobility, will suffer the consequences of this reduction in service.

Why is the Conservative government cutting our public services?

Pay Equity November 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, a new Statistics Canada study confirms that we are still a long way from achieving pay equity. The study followed women who began working in 1991, and 20 years later, those women were earning between 36% and 48% less than men with similar levels of education.

For women with undergraduate degrees, that adds up to half a million dollars less in earnings during that period. This disturbing study reminds us that we do not yet live in a fair society.

I would therefore ask my colleagues to support the NDP bill to implement the recommendations of the pay equity task force. I should point out that these recommendations were made in 2004, but the Conservatives have let them gather dust. Enough is enough. It is time for action.