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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was years.

Last in Parliament March 2014, as NDP MP for Trinity—Spadina (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2015, with 27% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Federal Accountability Act April 27th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today about how we can make the government more accountable. After all, we all want a clean, transparent and democratic government, and we want a government that works better for Canadians.

I want to speak specifically to access to information and the accountability of government agencies. We must remember that these government agencies are funded by the taxpayers of Canada. In my riding of Trinity—Spadina stands an airport that operates under the authority of the Toronto Port Authority. The Toronto Port Authority has lost taxpayer money every year since its inception. It was created by the former Liberal government. It ignores the wishes of the citizens of Toronto. Every mayor since its inception said no to a port authority. This port authority continues to refuse to pay property taxes to the city. It is a completely disastrous agency. What we have been asking is that the government get to the bottom of how this agency is operated.

In April 2004, all of a sudden the former government made a secret deal with the port authority and handed $35 million over to it, which was supposed to be used to settle a lawsuit on a bridge that was cancelled. The bridge cost $22 million to build but somehow the lawsuit was for $35 million. It was not even a lawsuit. We need to know and the people need to know who received the money. Why is it a secret?

Independent folks in the local area have been asking for the information over and over again and have been completely stonewalled by the former Liberal government. People are saying that they want to know why taxpayer money has gone into a secret deal where no one knows what happened. I believe the public has a right to know.

Quarterly financial reports are needed but none are presently available. Community organizations cannot find out how many planes are flying above their heads. They do not know what kind of pollution is being caused nor do they know the flight paths. They have been asking government over and over again for information but they have not been able to get any. One year some documents are available but another year they are not.

If the government has nothing to hide there must be very clear language in the accountability bill to say that the public has a right to access information that is due to them, information that is not available right now. Only the NDP is committed to accomplishing these objectives. Only the NDP wants real access to information. People need to know about their public agencies. They need to know how the government is spending their taxpayer money.

Prior to the election last year, Mr. Broadbent and the NDP demanded change in ethics and accountability. The NDP plan recognized that access to information is essential for the public to investigate what the government is doing and is a vital part of our democracy.

Child Care April 26th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, two weeks ago here on Parliament Hill, New Democrats demonstrated the great $1,200 disappearing act. I took a stack of $5 bills and showed the impact of federal clawbacks shrinking the allowance to just $199 for some families. That is just 55¢ a day, not enough for one diaper let alone child care.

Finally, today a headline in the Globe and Mail said it all, “Child care proposal gives least to poorest”. The poorest in this country have faces. They are women and they are children. They need child care, not empty slogans.

Stay at home spouses of wealthy Canadians will get more from this bogus scheme than working couples and single parents struggling to raise their kids.

We can do better. For the sake of our children, we must do better.

Child Care April 25th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, for a party that talks a lot about lowering the tax burden on working families, I cannot understand why the minister will not make this $1,200 promise tax free. After taxes and clawbacks of federal GST credits, the child tax benefit, the federal young child supplement, there is hardly any money left of that $1,200.

Will the minister protect the allowance from all federal taxes and federal clawbacks for the families that need it most?

Child Care April 25th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, working families face the prospect of seeing their kids booted out of child care next year if the funding is ripped out after 2006.

Will the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development commit to at least $1.2 billion in annual funding in 2006 and in 2007 to create child care spaces?

Child Care April 25th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, in 1993 the Liberals promised a child care program, but they had no plan. The Conservative government has promised to create child care spaces, but the Conservatives have no plan either. Working families face the prospect of--

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply April 11th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, it would be interesting if the parents actually got that money. It is quite easy to make a promise of $1,200, that it is going to be universal for every kid six and under. That is an easy promise to make, but since the government introduced an accountability act today, I want the members to actually do some accounting to parents in Ontario.

For parents who have an income between $20,000 and $40,000, most of the $1,200 will disappear. It will go into one hand and disappear from the other through income tax. Whether it is provincial income tax, federal income tax, the child tax benefit, it does not matter. It is going to disappear.

The other thing is that Ontario stands to gain 448--

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply April 11th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the first thing I noticed when I walked in here was that there were very few women and visible minorities. This House is supposed to represent all of Canada, but that certainly is not the case. That was immediately apparent.

I am glad to be in a party where 41.4% of our caucus are women. That is something that is worthy of celebration, but it did not just come by chance. It took work. It took commitment. It has been a priority of the NDP for a long time. Members will notice that the percentage has gone up every time.

I cannot say that of my colleagues in another party where only 11% of the party's caucus are women. Perhaps there is a steeper learning curve to understand what working families really need in terms of taking care of their children. One of the things we notice in different parts of the world is that in countries where there is proportional representation, there is a good percentage of women. That is what we need to work toward, proportional representation and electoral reform.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply April 11th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, as a new Canadian, an immigrant like so many people in my riding of Trinity—Spadina, I am proud to stand in this chamber where so many great Canadians have served.

I was inspired by this House back in 1989 when every member of every party rose to support a motion by Ed Broadbent of the NDP. That motion was a pledge by Parliament to make child poverty history. Seventeen years after that promise, I stand here on behalf of all the children and youth who live in poverty today in Trinity—Spadina. I am here because since 1989, one Conservative government and four Liberal governments have failed to act on child poverty and have failed to act on a whole host of issues so important to our future generations.

People in my riding of Trinity—Spadina are very engaged in the political process and have high expectations. They voted on January 23 with hope that we would all act together here to get results. They are listening closely. They want this Parliament to work and the government to act.

People in Chinatown in my riding have been listening to the Prime Minister's promise of an apology and redress for the Chinese head tax and exclusion act. They are listening now for news of swift action for the now very elderly head tax payers. We are listening for this news before another Canada Day has passed, because July 1, 1923 was when the Chinese exclusion act became a law, a dark day for Canada. Let us now right this historic wrong. In Canada, Chinese Canadians deserve no less.

Swift action should be a signal of hope for many other immigrants and ethnic communities in my riding, Portuguese, Italians, eastern Europeans, Koreans, Vietnamese, South Asians and people from the Caribbean. For years we have expressed concerns about the immigration and refugee system which was neglected by four different Liberal immigration ministers and is deeply flawed. We see families struggling to be reunited and families with undocumented workers being ripped apart, workers who are badly needed in our riding and our city.

The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has been listening respectfully to these concerns, but we need to see action. We need an overhaul of the immigration system. We need a plan for regularization of undocumented workers. The people of Trinity—Spadina deserve no less.

People who live and work on our waterfront have been listening very closely for a clear commitment to close down the rogue federal port authority, freeze the expansion of the Toronto Island airport and proceed with revitalization of a vibrant waterfront. We have heard some words of encouragement from the Minister of Transport and now from the President of the Treasury Board. We are listening for a specific commitment and a plan. The people of our riding and of our city deserve no less.

With the University of Toronto, the Ontario College of Art and Design, George Brown College, and Ryerson business faculty all in my riding, thousands of students are listening very closely to hear real commitment to post-secondary education, a real commitment to students and to the future. They deserve no less.

People across our riding from the most affluent to the poorest neighbourhoods are listening to the wheezing and coughing of our children and our elderly parents on smog days in downtown Toronto. Last year there were 62 smog days. We listened to the throne speech which pledged a reduction in pollution and greenhouse gases. We heard the Minister of the Environment affirm this promise. Now we are listening for word of effective action. The people deserve no less.

Working families across Trinity—Spadina are listening with growing concerns for some hope on child care. They have been waiting for a long time for some signs that the federal government actually understands the need for child care spaces and quality programs, not slogans about choice where no choice is offered. This is a great concern in my riding where three out of four mothers are in the workforce, where child care centres have long, long waiting lists, where too few children have access to affordable, high quality, non-profit child care.

The people in my riding are listening. Mr. Speaker, while you can allow ministers and members to speak, you cannot instruct the government to listen. If you could, Mr. Speaker, I would ask you to instruct the government to listen to the community leaders and the mayors of Canada's municipalities who are trying to proceed with a child care program in the face of budget cuts. They should listen to the first nations, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, because they understand the impact of child care on breaking the cycle of poverty. They are crying out for child care spaces as 40% of aboriginal children live in poverty in this country.

The government should also listen to the provinces. Recently Nova Scotia's new Conservative Premier Rodney MacDonald added his voice to those of the premiers from Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec. They are all calling on the Prime Minister to deliver on child care spaces and funding for child care programs.

The government should listen to the economists, the human resource professionals and corporate leaders who can point to the economic advantages of publicly funded child care. There are examples such as Norway which show that there is a clear link between public child care and high productivity in the workforce. Public child care reaps economic rewards and creates new taxpayers.

Finally, the government should listen to the children. Think of the responsibility of every government to all its citizens, including the most vulnerable, including those who have no vote and no choice.

Parents struggling to make ends meet have heard the pledge of $1,200 per child under six and that has raised some hope, but they are listening for the catch 22. As it stands, the $1,200 allowance would be subject to taxes and benefit clawbacks, to the point that a working couple earning $30,000 a year in Ontario would see only $199 of that $1,200, according to the Caledon Institute. They would lose the balance of it to taxes, benefits and credit reductions.

The choice in child care allowance would therefore amount to only 55¢ a day for that working couple. Fifty-five cents is not even enough to buy one diaper, let alone provide child care. Even worse, some families living in poverty, the poorest families who are on social assistance, may not get a penny of this because there is no guarantee that the provincial government would not claw back every penny of this $1,200 family allowance.

We can do better. We must do better. The children of Canada deserve no less. The children of this country deserve so much more.

We can and we must do better. The children of Canada deserve so much more.

Our party will work with others in this Parliament to achieve multi-year funding to ensure that publicly operated child care programs are sustainable for the long term. Our party will work with others in this Parliament to protect child care by enshrining it in legislation with a national child care act to be a cornerstone of Canada like the Canada Health Act. Our party will worth with others in this Parliament to help end child poverty through ensuring families receive every penny of that $1,200 family allowance without taxes or clawbacks. That would be achieved by delivering the $1,200 through the child tax benefit.

We have an extraordinary opportunity to make this minority Parliament work. Let us start by reaching across the aisle and across party lines to make choice in child care more than a slogan, but a reality for today's children and for future generations.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply April 7th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, certainly the minister understands that for a single parent who earns $30,000 and receives that so-called $1,200 family allowance, the dollar amount that he or she will receive is only $460. As for one parent who is working, as the minister has mentioned, the person will receive only $673 per year. This means that half of it is being clawed back or taxed back. For a two income family, for a couple that earns $35,000, it is even worse. Two out of three dollars are clawed back or taxed back. If the person is on social assistance, there is absolutely no guarantee that the $1,200 family allowance will not be clawed back by the provincial government.

The government's promise on this rings hollow if it is taxable or available for clawback. I hope the new government is not learning from the old Liberal government and making a lot of promises but not doing a lot of delivery. That would be truly disappointing.

Will the minister please work with the NDP and support the NDP and Bloc plan that basically says to protect that $1,200 family allowance delivered through the child tax benefit so that not one dollar of it would be taxed back or clawed back?

Child Care April 7th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, for a couple earning $35,000 a year that is worth $1 a day after the tax backs and clawbacks. One dollar a day does not even buy diapers. It does not even provide child care. It is $1 a day. The government gives with one hand and takes away with the other.

Will the minister promise the House today that every penny, every dollar, will go into the hands of the families without tax backs or clawbacks?