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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was clause.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Parkdale—High Park (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2015, with 40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Petitions April 22nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is in support of the NDP's plan for affordable child care. It notes that after a decade of Conservative government, child care costs are soaring. I know in my riding, I speak to constituents who are paying thousands of dollars each and every month for child care. They know that early child care, early learning programs provide the best start in life for kids, and it also strengthens our economy.

These constituents are supporting the NDP plan for quality affordable child care spaces at a maximum of $15 a day. They are calling on the Government of Canada to work with the provinces and territories to implement the NDP plan for affordable child care in Canada.

Petitions April 22nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today. The first petition is on behalf of hundreds of constituents in Parkdale—High Park calling for the government to stop the attack on our civil liberties by voting down bill C-51.

The petitioners agree that terrorism is a threat that must be confronted, but rather than making Canadians safer, the Conservatives are playing politics with Bill C-51 and that it is dangerous, vague and ineffective by giving CSIS sweeping new powers without proper oversight.

They are calling on the House of Commons to stop this attack on our civil liberties and join the NDP in voting down Bill C-51.

Petitions April 20th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am also happy to present petitions today calling on the government to develop a national auto strategy, to review the current policy to attract investment in the auto sector and to maintain and increase jobs in auto manufacturing.

Under the Conservative government's watch, we have lost more than 400,000 good jobs in manufacturing. My colleague talked about the loss of Ford investment. General Motors just announced a couple of days ago a $16 billion joint investment in development new cars. Where? In China.

We need the government to stand up for manufacturing, to stand up for the auto industry and to stand up for good, quality Canadian jobs. That is what we are supporting.

Manufacturing Industry April 20th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, far too many Canadian families are struggling to make ends meet while job losses keep mounting. Under the Conservative government we have lost more than 400,000 good manufacturing jobs. Now the Conservatives say they are going to have a deathbed conversion to manufacturing in the budget, but their actions speak louder than their words. These job losses have affected Canadian families who depend on them to pay the bills and to send their kids to school.

Will the Conservatives reverse their trend of neglect and invest in Canadian manufacturing to create and preserve good Canadian jobs?

Intern Protection Act April 20th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I certainly do not want to deter my colleagues in their enthusiasm for my presentation, which is, of course, always welcome.

As I was saying, there was a very interesting round table in Parkdale—High Park that the member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles participated in. She gained a great deal of support from intern organizations and from youth and students in our community. They were very enthusiastic about Bill C-636. They talked about how the average level of student debt is about $28,000 on graduation. That is a huge burden for young people to be saddled with when they are just starting out in their working lives.

We know that persistently high youth unemployment in Canada, due to the lacklustre economic performance of our economy and the lack of clear policies and initiatives from the federal government, has been a serious burden and a challenge for young people in our society today. Many, in fact, are quite excited about and happy to take on internship programs and feel that they will help them get important experience as they begin their working lives, but they need some basic protections. They need some clear rules, and that is what Bill C-636 is all about.

I was very glad to hear my colleague across the aisle agree with the NDP that there should be a growing number of paid internships. We think that this is an important step forward, and we are glad to see that government members agree with us about the need for paid internships. However, we are very disappointed that they do not support an effective measure, which this bill is, to protect interns and set clear rules for them.

What are we talking about here? We are talking about basic protections in the workplace such as protection from sexual harassment and protection related to health and safety. We know that young workers are especially vulnerable to workplace accidents. They have a higher accident rate. Interns and young people just starting out are not even covered by basic health and safety legislation, and that needs to change.

They need reasonable hours of work. It is easy for young people who are hungry to get into the workforce to be exploited. What they need are clear hours of work, rest days, and recognition of statutory holidays.

We also need clear rules, which this bill lays out. The internship should be beneficial to the intern and not just to the employer. It needs to be educational and linked to the intern's program of study. The employer needs to inform the intern about the hours of work, the kinds of work he or she will be undertaking, and whether or not the intern will be paid. There should be record keeping of the hours they are working.

The reality is that because of the lack of federal rules, there has been exploitation of young workers. Often entry-level jobs, which in the past were paid, are being replaced by paid internships. The reality is that interns deserve the protections anyone would expect if they were paid, which many people are not.

Let me give a couple of examples. Last year, Bell Mobility was forced to close down an internship program after public scrutiny exposed that it had hosted more than 280 unpaid interns and had forced them to work overtime. These interns were essentially performing the work of paid employees and probably should have been paid. In fact, some of the interns are seeking back wages.

Another example that came to light is the terrible tragedy of a young man named Andy Ferguson, who, in 2011, as an unpaid intern at an Edmonton radio station, had been working long, back-to-back shifts. When he went home one night, he fell asleep at the wheel and was killed in a traffic accident.

The federal labour program investigation determined that he was not an employee and therefore not covered by the Canada Labour Code. That must change. We need to make sure that young people have basic workplace protections.

In March of last year, 2014, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance produced a report on youth employment in Canada. I was pleased to participate in that report. Recommendation no. 9 states:

That the federal with the provinces and territories to ensure the appropriate protections under relevant labour codes.

That is an important recommendation. That would include the Canada Labour Code.

The Canada Labour Code provides basic protections on things like hours of work, the right to refuse dangerous work, and freedom from sexual harassment in the workplace, but as of right now, these protections do not apply to unpaid interns.

Unlike many provinces, the federal government has no rules governing the use of unpaid internships to ensure that young Canadians are not exploited. This must change.

What New Democrats want is adequate protection for all workers, whether they are interns or paid workers. We want to limit the use of unpaid internships to those that are educational and of benefit to the interns so that they get something out of them and they really are a stepping stone to a career. We want active enforcement of updated labour laws, and we want Statistics Canada to track the use of unpaid internships. What we do not know about and are not measuring we cannot take action on.

This is a basic issue of intergenerational equity. As people who have already been active in the workforce, who have established their careers and track records, we need to make sure that the next generation of young people has the same opportunities and can use their educations, gain that foothold in the workplace, and get the kind of experience they need to have successful careers.

I would urge my colleagues across the aisle to reconsider their negativity on this issue of internships and to support Bill C-636. Let us do the job young people would expect us to do as their parliamentarians.

Intern Protection Act April 20th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for their enthusiasm in support of this important bill from our colleague from Rivière-des-Mille-Îles. I would like to thank her for all of her work with respect to seeking protection for interns. I especially want to thank her for coming to my riding of Parkdale—High Park and participating in a round table on the issue of internships. She was very diligent and spent quite a bit of time meeting with folks in our community who are very supportive of Bill C-636, the bill we are debating today. We met with students from the Canadian Federation of Students, the Canadian Intern Association, the University of Toronto, and with unpaid interns who certainly would be affected by this bill. What we heard is that—

Bank Act April 2nd, 2015

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-665, An Act to amend the Bank Act (international remittance transfer fees).

Mr. Speaker, today I am proud to introduce my bill, an act to amend the Bank Act (international remittance transfer fees).

When newcomers come to Canada, they leave behind family members, children, spouses and siblings. They often work for low wages and yet they take some of those low wages and send it back to their country of origin. This act would cap the fees banks can charge on personal remittance transfers to 5% of the total value of the transfer.

When Canadians send money back to their relatives and loved ones, they face fees of often 10%, 15% or even 20% of the value. This takes money away from their meagre wages and often forces them to work extra hours to pay the fees. By capping the rates charged at the percentage of the total cost, low-income Canadians sending small amounts of money will not have their remittances eroded, allowing more money to be received for education, food or even a toy for their children.

When the bill comes up for debate, I urge all members to support it.

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

Citizenship and Immigration April 2nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, a new report from York University legal researchers says that Hungarian Roma who came to Canada claiming refugee status have encountered systemic bias at Citizenship and Immigration Canada and unfair treatment by the government, despite increasing persecution and danger in their home countries. Between 2008 and 2012, only 8.6% of the more than 11,000 Roma refugee claimants were successful. These systemic failures must be fixed.

Will the government stop mistreating the Roma and denying them refuge?

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act April 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, my vision of democracy is one in which people of different viewpoints are able to come together to have an open and honest debate, exchange ideas, and hopefully find some middle ground. Maybe they find a little bit of compromise through listening to each other and make the very best decisions for the people they represent. Surely that is the aspiration we have when we come to the House.

We are dealing with a bill that is extremely important. It is about firearms safety. I come from the largest city in the country, where young people are dying of gunshot wounds and families are being torn apart because of gun violence. It is a serious issue. I know that there are strong views on gun safety and that views differ all across the country. I think the best way to find good legislation is by listening to people on all sides of the issue and trying to find common ground and the best result.

My question for the minister is this: what is the panic on the bill? Why are members not being allowed to debate it? Why is there this offence to fundamental democracy? Why is debate being shut down in this place for the 93rd time? What are they afraid of? Why do they not let us debate the bill?

Petitions April 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, my second petition is signed by more than 100 constituents who call for a stop to the cuts to Canada Post. Many of my constituents, seniors and people with mobility problems, are very concerned that they will no longer get home delivery.

They call on the government to stop the cuts to our postal service.