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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was certainly.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Sarnia—Lambton (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 53% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Health October 18th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health.

The minister delivered a keynote address earlier this week to the Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres during the national symposium on pediatric wait times.

Could the minister please inform the House what steps Canada's new government has taken to address the important issue of wait times for children?

Hazardous Materials Information Review Act October 16th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, there is no question at all that this government is certainly in favour of improving the environment. There is no question about that. When it comes to the purpose of the amendments to Bill S-2, I think the first and foremost and prime purpose of the bill is to improve the health and safety of everyone in this country.

I think that is what this bill is going to do. I certainly look forward to the support it deserves. The sooner we can have this improvement put in place for the workers of this country, the better it will be for all of them.

Hazardous Materials Information Review Act October 16th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, certainly we all know that in today's world, in many cases, farming or agriculture is industry, and large industry. Farming, like anything else, comes in all sizes and shapes these days. In some instances, there is still the small family farm. In other instances, we have very large corporate operations that are industries for all intents and purposes.

In those areas, we know that a lot of chemicals and hazardous materials are handled. There are also regulations that apply to those hazardous materials, the same as they do to any other hazardous materials. There are certainly a lot of training programs already in place for persons who work in the agricultural community. Certifications have to be held by many of the farm owners and workers in order to use many of these chemicals.

So yes, regardless of the workplace, I firmly believe that if a hazardous material is being used there needs to be education and people certainly need the same protection as workers in any other kind of industry.

Hazardous Materials Information Review Act October 16th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite certainly brings up some issues that are of prime importance to all of us, whether we are the workers involved with using the hazardous materials, the industry involved with developing them, or the commission that is involved with regulating. Those certainly have been issues in the past. We know that. We also know that the amendments we have before us in Bill S-2 have been developed in consultation with all those involved, whether it was the workers or the industry and so on.

There has been a consensus that we need to move forward to do this. Over the history of its operation, the commission has ordered corrections to health and safety information in a very high proportion. In roughly 95% of the claims that have been filed, there has been some type of inaccuracy. The commission has acted on them. In 2004 and 2005, we saw a total of 2,103 inaccuracies. It was ordered that they be corrected. On average, eight to nine corrections to health and safety information have been required for each claim. In most instances, it has not been just a single issue. There have been several different issues identified.

A significant number of those inaccuracies result in a potential threat to the health and safety of workers, so it is extremely important that the commission is on top of this, that it continues to order these corrections and that it includes things such as first aid measures and the danger of fire and explosion. Certainly the amendments to this act in no way diminish the role of the commission. In fact, they enhance that role. The member has brought up very important issues in her question.

Hazardous Materials Information Review Act October 16th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to speak in support of Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act.

I would begin by noting that the primary objective of these amendments is to facilitate the earlier delivery to workers of the health and safety information essential to the safe handling of hazardous materials in the workplace. Further, all stakeholders, workers handling hazardous materials, their employers, suppliers of those materials, and provincial and territorial officials responsible for worker health and safety are all aware of the proposed amendments and all of them are in full support.

The work of the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission may not be highly visible to the general public, but it is to those whose health and safety depend on the commission and to those who rely on the commission to protect the trade secrets on which the competitive advantage of their business rests. This reflects the commission's dual role.

The unique part of that role is the protection of information which is truly confidential business information, a trade secret. Without such protection, products which may be key to the competitive position of industry could very well not be made available for use by Canadian businesses.

The second part of the commission's role is to ensure that those working with the hazardous materials for which trade secret protection is sought have full and complete information on the hazards posed by these materials and on the measures that they must take to handle those materials safely. I stress that the hazards faced can involve threats to their immediate safety, threats to their long term health, or indeed, risks which are life threatening either immediately or in the longer term.

The protection extended by the commission to workers' health and safety is not trivial. I have been provided with information which shows that over the past 15 years roughly 95% of the accompanying health and safety information reviewed by the commission was found to be non-compliant with legislation and that in recent years there have been on average nearly nine violations on each health and safety submission that the commission has reviewed. Many of these shortcomings pose a potentially major threat to the health and safety of workers.

Typical violations include failure to identify the effects of exposure to a product, failure to identify risks of fire or explosion, and failure to provide adequate information on the appropriate first aid measure if a worker is accidentally exposed to a hazardous material. It is the commission's responsibility to ensure that the health and safety information related to trade secret claims is complete and accurate. Workers will then know the risks they face and will be able to use hazardous materials in ways which do not endanger their health and safety.

The trade secret facet of the commission's role in balance with the protection of workers' health and safety is of substantial financial benefit to the businesses whose trade secrets are protected. Those seeking an exemption from disclosure of confidential business information must provide the commission with an estimate of the actual or potential value of that information to their businesses or to their competitors. The estimates provided with the claims reviewed by the commission in 2005-06 show the aggregate value of the trade secrets protected to be in the range of $624 million annually.

The commission is also unique in that it carries out its dual function of protecting workers' health and safety and protecting trade secrets on behalf of not only the federal government but also the provincial and territorial governments. That is, if a business has trade secret information, for example, the full chemical identity of a hazardous ingredient in a product, it makes application to the commission regardless of whether it might normally be subject to the occupational health and safety legislation of the federal government or of one or more of the provincial or territorial governments. In all cases the commission decides whether the claim for exemption is valid and makes sure that the accompanying health and safety information is in full compliance with the relevant federal, provincial or territorial legislation.

In addition to its responsibilities to government, the commission also draws advice and guidance from those most directly affected by its operations: those working with the hazardous materials, suppliers of hazardous materials and employers using hazardous materials in their operations. The main vehicle for obtaining the input of stakeholders is the commission's council of governors, which has representation from organized labour, industry, the federal government and all provinces and territories.

It was through the council of governors that the commission initiated its renewal process. This involved extensive consultations and resulted in the identification of many modifications which would improve the operations of the commission, with the focus being on early compliance with health and safety legislation. Many of these changes could be made administratively or through regulations. These changes are already in place. There were, however, three changes which could be implemented only through amendments to the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act. Those amendments needed to effect these final changes are contained in the bill that we have before us.

In brief, the three changes required to complete the renewal program are: a provision to permit claimants to make a declaration that they believe that the information for which they are seeking protection from disclosure meets the regulatory criteria for confidential business information; a provision to allow the commission to enter into undertakings with claimants through which the claimant would make the necessary corrections to the health and safety documentation without the issuing of a formal order by the commission; and a provision to allow the commission to provide the boards hearing appeals of the commission's decisions and orders with factual clarifications of the record. Let us consider each of these in turn.

Under the current act, a claimant seeking an exemption from disclosure of what the claimant considers to be confidential business information must file a detailed justification for that claim. This includes information on the steps taken by the claimant to maintain the confidentiality of the information and estimates of the financial value of the confidential information to the business of the claimant or to the claimant's competitors. This information must be reviewed by the commission to determine whether the information meets the regulatory criteria for confidential business information, and a decision is then rendered on the validity of the claim.

This is an administrative burden on claimants and on the commission. The reviews carried out by the commission since its inception have shown no tendency on the part of claimants to make frivolous or false claims of confidential business information. In fact, nearly all of the claims for exemption that have been reviewed by the commission have been found to be valid.

The amendments we are considering will allow claimants to submit a declaration to the commission that the claimant believes the information is confidential business information as defined in the regulations and that information substantiating the claim is available and will be provided on request.

To guard against false claims, the amendments require full substantiating information to be provided when an affected party makes written representations regarding the claim, when the information contained in the summary provided with the claim must be verified, and when a claim is identified as requiring full documentation through a validation scheme established to protect the integrity of the system.

The benefits of this change are simplified procedures for industry claimants and a reduced administrative burden for both industry and the commission. This increased efficiency will expedite the delivery of health and safety information to workers who are handling the hazardous materials.

The second change will again shorten the time required to make the necessary corrections to the health and safety documentation provided to workers.

As the act now stands, when the commission finds that the documentation is not compliant with legislation, it must order the claimant to make the necessary corrections. Many claimants are prepared to make the necessary corrections without an order being issued and see these orders as questioning their commitment to workplace safety.

The amendments set out in this bill allow the commission to enter into an undertaking with a claimant to make the required corrections to the health and safety documentation on a voluntary basis. If the claimant fulfills the conditions of the undertaking, the commission will confirm compliance and, for transparency, will publish the corrections that have been made in the Canada Gazette. If the undertaking is not fulfilled, the commission will revert to the current process and order the claimant to comply.

Aside from the increased satisfaction of claimants, this amendment will avoid delays built into the system currently and will therefore significantly speed up the process of getting full and accurate health and safety information on the handling of hazardous materials into the hands of the workers.

The last change deals with appeals of the commission's decisions and orders. The act does not now provide for any participation by the commission in appeals. This has meant that the commission cannot respond to requests of appeal boards for clarification of the record. The amendments we are considering would rectify that situation. This will facilitate the appeals process and, again, speed up the process of getting accurate health and safety information into the hands of workers.

In summary, then, the amendments set out in the bill are very positive for workplace health and safety and they will simplify and streamline processes to the benefit both of workers and of industry. I cannot stress too strongly that those amendments have the full and unanimous support of all affected parties. There is no opposition. I most strongly support the passage of this bill.

Petitions October 6th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to present a petition on behalf of my constituents of Sarnia—Lambton. The petitioners ask the government assembled in Parliament to take all necessary measures to immediately raise the age of consent from 14 to 16 years of age.

Aboriginal Affairs September 29th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, after so many years of inaction on the part of the former Liberal government, could the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development tell us what he will do to address the on reserve matrimonial real property issue?

Business of Supply June 19th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear the member say that we all know what needs to be done. She addressed several of the issues we have talked about today. I think we are all in agreement that there has to be action taken. I am really heartened when I hear agreement from members of all parties that we need work in cooperation. That is extremely important.

The previous member asked about some of the acts that were in place and whether we were aware of those. Of course we are aware of those acts. They are all part of the negotiating process. The minister is dealing with all these issues. He is dealing with poverty, with women's issues and with environmental issues.

I am heartened when I hear members from all parties say that we need to cooperate and work together, rather than blame. That is wonderful news. If we all throw our support behind the minister, we can get this job done.

Business of Supply June 19th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to reiterate the fact that the member opposite has a great understanding of aboriginal issues and has worked very hard to improve the status of aboriginal, Inuit and Métis in our great country. I would like to commend her for the work she has done.

We all know that a tremendous number of issues face us when it comes to aboriginal peoples and we have talked about a few of them. We have talked about environmental and water issues. What could be more important to our communities than having clean drinking water? We have talked about health care and women's issues with respect to matrimonial property rights. These issues are important to all aboriginals.

The member opposite asked about different projects. These projects are continuing and progress has been made. The residential school agreement is one example of that progress. There have been Improvements in drinking water. Commitments have been made to that as has money. The member opposite also--

Business of Supply June 19th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Westlock—St. Paul.

In my riding of Sarnia—Lambton there is one aboriginal community. There are two aboriginal communities directly adjacent to my riding. I am happy to acknowledge the three communities in the House of Commons today, the Aamjiwnaang First Nation, the Walpole Island First Nation and the Kettle Point and Stony Point community. I have worked with members of these aboriginal reserves extensively over the years as warden and I look forward to working with them in my new capacity as their member of Parliament.

In fact I am happy to announce a new native craft and gift store in the village of Point Edward that will feature merchandise from vendors who reside at Aamjiwnaang, Walpole Island and Kettle Point. Native culture in the village of Point Edward is especially important because of the remarkable archaeological sites that continue to be found in the area.

I am happy to rise in the House today to talk about this government's early actions to improve the quality of life of aboriginal people in Canada. These early actions that we have taken stand in evident contrast to the last 13 years of Liberal rule during which very little was done for aboriginal Canadians.

We recognize that many aboriginal people face pressing challenges in their communities every day. This government is committed to improving the quality of life and reducing aboriginal poverty across Canada. Our government has taken concrete steps to develop real solutions to the problems facing aboriginal people. Indeed, in our few short months as government, we have moved swiftly to implement carefully structured, targeted investments that will reduce the level of aboriginal poverty and bring about tangible, measurable results.

This government did not wait 13 years to address this situation on the eve of an election three days before a non-confidence vote. Since taking office, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians has been meeting with aboriginal leaders. These ongoing discussions contribute to setting the stage for initiatives and programs that will address key aboriginal issues.

Backing words with the necessary resources, this government put forward a federal budget that allocates $3.7 billion to fund programs and initiatives to improve the quality of life of aboriginal people living both on and off reserve, in the north and in urban settings. The budget unveiled last month includes targeted investments in key areas such as aboriginal housing, clean water, education, and women, children and families. The returns on these investments will deliver real improvements by eliminating poverty in aboriginal communities, strengthened relationships with the provinces and territories and aboriginal leaders and organizations, and a more promising future for all Canadians.

The government has allocated $300 million to go directly to affordable housing programs in the territories benefiting both aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples. Nunavut, where the problem is most pressing, will receive $200 million. Yukon and the Northwest Territories will receive $50 million each. Another $300 million will be targeted for aboriginal housing in the provinces.

Furthermore, $450 million has been set aside to fund initiatives for water and housing on reserve, education, and women, children and families. Through education aboriginal communities can successfully battle poverty, while women's initiatives will nurture healthy children and families and communities.

Aboriginal people deserve no less than the same opportunities we all seek for our families, our communities and our country. We are committed to securing these opportunities for aboriginal people.

Of the $3.7 billion earmarked for aboriginal peoples and northerners, $500 million will promote community development in areas potentially impacted by the Mackenzie gas project.

A settlement agreement was signed on May 10 to launch an advanced payment program for seniors who suffered abuse in residential schools. There has been $2.2 billion set aside in the budget for common experience payments and for other programmatic elements such as healing and commemoration.

Please do not misunderstand me. I do not believe that just the money in the recent budget and the actions we have taken so far to resolve the challenges facing aboriginal people are enough. This is just the beginning. We must take on the hard work of renovating laws and institutions. This government is working collaboratively and respectfully with partners to identify and implement effective and lasting solutions through collaboration and mutual respect, as witnessed by the government's recent settlement offer to the Dehcho First Nations.

There have been other significant achievements. On March 9 an agreement in principle was signed with the Yale First Nation in the province of British Columbia.

Upon coming into office, this government launched an action plan to address drinking water concerns in first nations communities. This comprehensive plan consists of measures to identify communities at risk from unsafe water; to ensure treatment plant facilities are managed by certified operators; to implement standards for the design, construction, operation, maintenance and monitoring of treatment facilities; and to institute a framework to regulate water systems in first nations communities.

Last month the Government of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations announced the establishment of an independent three member panel of experts to examine the regulatory framework for water in first nations communities. The expert panel will hold public hearings across Canada in the coming months to obtain suggestions and advice from people with technical expertise and experience in the operation and management of water systems. At these hearings, participants will have the opportunity to provide their views and suggestions on what should be regulated and what legal framework should be used.

The panel's interim report on regulatory options will be submitted to the minister by September 2006. A progress report on the panel's findings to date will be submitted to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development also in September 2006.

The initiatives this government has undertaken so far to improve the quality of life of aboriginal people are an example of the way we intend to do business. We will work with aboriginal partners, provinces and territories to develop viable and effective solutions to the challenges in first nations, Inuit and Métis communities.

The government's approach to resolving aboriginal issues, including water, education, housing, and women and children is focused on tangible results and clear accountability.

We believe aboriginals deserve the same standards as non-aboriginal Canadians and we will not let 13 years go by without action. We have already taken action as I have just described. Our record already shows our commitment to improving the lives of first nations, Inuit and Métis Canadians. This is just the beginning. We all know there are many, many issues that need to be addressed, not only the issues that we have already started to address, but others as well. There are environmental issues, health care, education, women's issues, including matrimonial property rights.

At this time I would like to give recognition to the member for Winnipeg South Centre, the mover of today's motion, for her work on native women's issues. I have the privilege of sitting on committee with the member and I know how diligent she is and how hard she has worked to improve conditions.

The reality still exists. We have had 20 years of consultation on this and other issues and little or no action. The time for action is now. The Conservative government is committed to real action as we move forward in a positive and beneficial manner.