House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel (Québec)

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

Statements in the House

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I will get right to the heart of what the minister just said. He said that the government is handing responsibility over to the provinces, but it is cutting health transfers to the provinces. It is really downloading Canada's health care costs onto the provinces. That is in no way acceptable. We need to be able to give the provinces the resources they need to offer programs that work across this country.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for drawing attention to that aspect of the bill. Obviously, I was able to touch on just one of the measures that will have catastrophic repercussions. The measure he mentioned is another totally disgusting one. Last time, they decided to stop giving refugees health insurance. That was clearly ideological. These are people hoping to escape a terrible fate in their homeland by coming to Canada in search of a better life. We cannot just tell them that because their case has not yet been ruled legitimate, they do not get to use the health care system. Now the provinces are being prevented from doing that too. The courts have already said that this is unconstitutional, but unfortunately, the government is going ahead with measures that are not in line with Canadians' values.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today we are debating Bill C-43, the second bill to implement the 2014 budget. This bill is 460 pages long and forces through hundreds of amendments without sufficient study. We are now at report stage, and the committees involved in studying this bill met less than 10 times. That is not enough for 460 pages and hundreds of amendments to dozens of laws. The bill contains measures that were never mentioned in the budget speech and that often have nothing to do with a budget. They are just bad surprises included in a big bill so that they will be passed with little more than a glance from the opposition.

The government repeatedly makes the same mistakes with its budget bills. They are poorly drafted and rushed through. Canadians do not like this method, but the Conservative government does not listen to them. This is the sixth consecutive omnibus budget implementation bill.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind members that 20 years ago, the Prime Minister himself said the following in the House: the interest of democracy I ask: How can members represent their constituents on these various areas when they are forced to vote in a block on such legislation and on such concerns?

This is a point that we often raise when we see omnibus bills introduced in the House. He said it so well. How can we say that we are in favour of 460 pages of amendments? Perhaps there is one page that contains amendments that would be catastrophic for my riding. How then can I vote in favour of the bill as a whole?

Since winning a majority, the Conservatives have passed 2,190 pages of omnibus bills and have agreed to only one opposition amendment, and that was a tax-related technical amendment proposed by the NDP. However, as the Prime Minister said 20 years ago, when so many measures are included in just one bill, it is impossible to determine which measures we support and which ones we do not. For that reason, we proposed a number of amendments at report stage.

However, I would like to point out that the NDP and I are extremely pleased to see that one of our measures was incorporated into this bill. It has to do with pay-to-pay fees. Bill C-43 will finally put an end to the practice of charging Canadians to receive or continue to receive a paper copy of their bills from telecommunications and broadcasting companies. That is a very good thing. However, Bill C-43 does not go far enough. It contains no trace of the government's promise to put an end to this practice for banks or to eliminate exorbitant banking fees.

I would like to talk about one of the measures in this bill that is really bad for the Canadian economy. It is important to understand what has been happening over the past few years. I am talking about employment insurance. This bill would implement a hiring credit for small businesses, which has already been panned by economists and the Parliamentary Budget Officer as wasteful. To pay for this credit, the government will help itself to $550 million from the employment insurance fund. The government did not carefully examine this measure. Despite the enormous cost of $550 million, the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates that this measure will create 800 jobs at most.

According to economist Mike Moffatt, the measure will actually encourage employers to fire workers, not hire more. This measure, which will cost $550 million, will create 800 jobs at most and could cause other job losses.

I would like to talk a little bit about the context in which we are discussing employment insurance. In my riding of Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, EI cuts have already affected people a great deal.

Service Canada officers are doing their best with the minimal resources they have, but they have admitted that they are increasingly swamped. They are being asked to provide crucial support to Quebeckers and Canadians who need to access the program they pay into, which exists to help them when they need it. That is not trivial; it is a fundamental part of a democratic country. When someone gets sick or loses their job, it allows them to keep paying the bills and putting food on the table.

Unfortunately, ever since the program was gutted, that is no longer the case. People can no longer count on the program while they are looking for another job or while they are recuperating from a serious illness. In my riding, these cuts have created a real problem regarding accessibility. When we talk just about the numbers and the cost of the program, we forget the human side of the story.

I want to underline some figures of Statistics Canada. They show that there has been a significant decline in access to EI benefits for unemployed workers. In January 2006, 45.7% of unemployed workers accessed EI benefits. By September 2014 that figure had fallen to 38.1%.

It is also really important to underline that the Conservatives and Liberals misappropriated $57 billion from the EI fund, money that belongs to workers and employers. They pay into the fund. Now they are doing it again with a $550 million EI-funded so-called job credit that will only fund 800 jobs. Just in my riding in the past several years, we have lost that many jobs, and that is a small portion of how much of a hit we have been taking and how regions are trying to create jobs.

All this is happening in a context where the manufacturing sector has lost 400,000 jobs since the Conservatives took office. Furthermore, employment growth is weaker now than it was before the recession. We have 300,000 more unemployed people now than during the recession.

In my riding, one woman was let go after having worked in her job for many years, because her position was eliminated. She found another job, but her skills and work experience did not fit the new job at all. What is more, it did not provide her with any satisfaction or opportunity for growth.

She therefore decided not to keep it and to focus on finding another job. She was then denied EI and she could not get the support she needed. No one told her that she had to accept any job and that if she refused a job that was considered suitable, then she would lose her benefits.

I also want to point out that Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel is a very large riding that includes quite a few municipalities and rural areas. Residents who do not travel to attend training are automatically refused employment insurance.

I have no choice but to oppose this bill because changes to employment insurance in the past have been so catastrophic. Creating 800 jobs at a cost of $550 million is completely unacceptable.

Labour November 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the statistics are troubling.

A total of 82% of the workers who reported being victims of domestic violence stated that it affected their work performance. What is more, 40% said that it kept them from going to work and nearly 10% lost their jobs as a result.

Does the minister understand the gravity of the situation and does she really intend to implement effective solutions?

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women November 25th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and it kicks off a 16-day campaign to end gender-based violence.

Violence against women is a consequence of discrimination against women and is a testament to persisting inequalities. More than one in three of us will experience violence in our lifetime, with up to seven in ten women facing this reality in certain countries. Other types of discrimination increase the risk of violence. Aboriginal women in Canada are seven times more likely to die from violence. More than half of disabled women have been victims of physical violence.

Gender-based violence is not inevitable. We can prevent it by addressing factors that contribute to violence, like poverty, and by creating policies that respond to survivors.

We must establish a coordinated national action plan to address violence against women and encourage countries around the world to do the same, because it is long past time we put an end to violence against women and girls.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 21st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, that is an extremely good point. Indeed, this bill does not address those circumstances at all. There will be a database of previous offenders, but how would that help with reintegration? That would not seem to do anything to make sure that those people do not reoffend. It is essentially just a warning for the community; it does not address that problem. All of the other things are just stricter penalties, minimums, and raising the maximum sentence.

Those things are meant as deterrents, but when we consider the specific social circumstance of the offenders being people that children know in their social circles and sometimes in their families, there is absolutely nothing to prevent these kinds of situations from happening. That is extremely unfortunate, and it is why we need to make sure that there is good funding for organizations, mental health, and society as well.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 21st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, these are very serious crimes. We have a duty to protect our children and prevent this type of crime in the long term.

It is not enough to pass a bill that will incarcerate more people, because it does not provide the resources. By incarcerating more people in provincial institutions the government is giving more responsibilities to the provinces, but not more resources.

The same thing applies to federal prisons. The government is making cuts to Correctional Service Canada. As my colleague from Alfred-Pellan pointed out, a federal prison was transferred to the province. The government is making cuts to the prison system without providing the necessary resources. It is also making cuts to prevention and rehabilitation.

Thus, this bill is very worrisome because all it does is increase sentences. There are no long-term prevention or rehabilitation measures.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 21st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and the Sex Offender Information Registration Act, to enact the High Risk Child Sex Offender Database Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

The NDP thinks that this bill should be sent to committee to be studied. There are many proposed measures, and we want to ensure that these measures are good ones, that they are constitutional and that they will prevent such incidents. We want to have an in-depth study. We hope to have this discussion in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Our NDP justice critics, our colleagues from Gatineau and La Pointe-de-l'Île, will ensure that this bill is properly studied in committee.

This is an extremely important issue. Great care must be taken with bills on topics as important as protecting our children. The committee is equipped to do this and to ensure that we create the best legislation we can to counter this threat. I truly hope that the committee is helpful and that its report shows how effective this bill is.

The NDP is carefully examining the proposals in this bill. We must focus on creating laws that will provide clear ways to protect our children. This means working with experts on the ground and with public safety professionals. I want to point out that we cannot play politics with this kind of bill. Crimes against children are the most heinous of crimes. I think that all members of the House would agree on that. Sex crimes are obviously all heinous, and we are moved by these issues. We want to create good laws to combat these crimes, especially against children, who are some of the most vulnerable members of society. We need to protect them because they are our future.

Unfortunately, crimes against children are not decreasing. When he appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, the Minister of Justice himself pointed out that sexual offences against children had increased by 6% over the past two years. That is very concerning. There has been an increase despite the many tough-on-crime measures that the Conservatives have implemented since 2006. For example, they changed the age of consent, forced Internet service providers to report child pornography, increased sentences for dangerous offenders, and so on. This clearly resonates with this government. Despite all that has been done, there has been an increase in these kinds of crimes, as the Minister of Justice himself said.

It begs the question as to whether stiffer sentences actually prevent these types of crimes. The hon. member for Alfred-Pellan pointed out that what is needed is not just sentences, but also rehabilitation.

How can Parliament, the government, lawmakers as it were, make that happen? We have to make sure that the necessary resources are being provided to the RCMP and for mental health, rehabilitation and reintegration.

For example, we know that our communities need more resources to fight sexual abuse of children. Obviously, harsher prison sentences are not good enough when police resources and aid organization budgets are being cut. We will have to emphasize that when the committee studies this bill.

I also want to bring up what Steve Sullivan, the former federal ombudsman for victims of crime, said. He said that the federal government recently announced plans to eliminate the meagre funds provided by Correctional Service Canada. The funds that CoSAs receive from the National Crime Prevention Centre will also dry up this fall. The total annual cost of the program is $2.2 million. Like most community-based victims' services, the CoSA program is not very costly. It has 700 volunteers across the country who meet with offenders after their release and help them find a job and a place to stay. They meet for coffee and help offenders rebuild their lives and avoid reoffending. They help them develop a sense of accountability.

It is important to ensure accountability and reintegration so that once offenders have gone through the correctional system and are released from prison, they are able to return to society and not reoffend. Furthermore, it is important to know that there is now a publicly available list of offenders who are returning to the community.

It is not that simple, though. Most people alleged to have committed a sexual offence against a child or minor are known to the victim. Indeed, the alleged offender was known to the victim in 44% of cases, and even a family member in 38% of cases. It is important to keep that in mind. It is not just a question of protecting our communities from strangers. Too often, it is someone the victim knows. We must therefore also ensure accountability and protection, which have to do with prevention. To ensure prevention, we need to make sure that police forces, communities and mental health services have the resources they need.

I would also like to talk about the work done by Circles of Support and Accountability, whose budgets have been cut. The mission of these organizations is to make communities safer and reduce the number of victims of crime by supporting and helping people who have committed crimes, as well as holding them accountable, so they can begin to lead responsible, productive lives. They do so in partnership with correctional and police services, in order to make communities safer and help offenders reintegrate into their communities.

It is crucial to point out that, according to studies, the rate of sexual recidivism is 70% lower among those who take part in a Circle of Support and Accountability. According to another study, these kinds of support groups help reduce the rate of recidivism by 83%. What we need, more than this bill, is resources in the community to really protect our children and our communities in the future, as the government claims it wants to do.

We will examine this in committee and see what comes out of that.

Child Poverty November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, 25 years ago, Ed Broadbent rose in the House to give his last speech as leader of the NDP and underscored the importance of fighting child poverty. He issued a challenge to eradicate child poverty before the year 2000. Unfortunately, we have yet to attain that goal.

Even more unfortunate are the Prime Minister's comments about Ed Broadbent's proposal: “Well, I think the 1989 resolution you talk about probably was the high-water mark of political stupidity in this country...”

In Canada, one in five children lives in poverty. That is unacceptable. It is shameful that the Prime Minister thinks an initiative to eradicate child poverty is stupid.

In 2015, the first NDP government will put in place an affordable day care system and a plan to fight child poverty.

Taxation November 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' proposed income splitting plan creates additional barriers for women and their careers. Not only does their plan ignore the reality facing women and the labour market in the 21st century, but it will also only benefit the wealthy.

Why are the Conservatives putting forward regressive policies that completely disregard 86% of families, including single-parent families, couples without children and parents with children in university?