House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was actually.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Scarborough—Rouge River (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2015, with 22% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Safe Streets and Communities Act November 30th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I will begin with a quote:

Also, the government invoked closure to impose the legislation, Bill C-49, and which imposed the tax. These things do not build confidence with Canadians. The government also has a lack of respect for free votes in this place and the treatment of private members' bill. It has a lack of commitment to a democratically elected Senate. It has muzzled politically free speech for their own backbenchers...There are also countless other examples and they do not build the confidence of Canadians.

Who said this? It was the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the quote comes from Hansard.

I ask the minister, why is the government continuing to muzzle Canadians by not allowing debate in the House, not allowing debate at committees, and not allowing for--

Citizenship and Immigration November 29th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the minister says he is doing better than bad. I guess that is the level that the government has set for itself.

With this shuffling of funds, we are still looking at an overall cut of $6 million and $45 million in cuts from two years ago, but the number of newcomers is at an all-time high. Pitting province against province is not going to solve the deficit.

This decision to cut services in Ontario was done without planning and with no warning. New Canadians are huge contributors to prosperity in this country. Will the minister maintain the key supports and services they need to thrive in this country?

Citizenship and Immigration November 29th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, on Friday we learned that the government plans to slash $31.5 million from immigration settlement services in Ontario. Community organizations are already struggling because of similar cuts last year and the year before. Ontario remains the number one destination for immigration in Canada. Why is the government making it harder for newcomers to access the services that they need?

November 24th, 2011

Madam Speaker, with the cost of post-secondary education being what it is, we are seeing an increasing gap in accessibility and enrolment in post-secondary education programs between the haves and the have-nots in the country.

The Campaign 2000 Report Card released yesterday stated that only 58.5% of 18 to 24 year olds with a before tax family income of $25,000 or less enrolled in post-secondary education compared to 81% of those with a family income of more than $100,000. What is the government doing to address this glaring gap? We need to take action on this right now. We need real concrete action to stop us from ever getting close to that limit.

On this side of the House, we are fighting for accountable post-secondary education funding through the creation of a separate post-secondary education transfer payment. We are calling upon the government to make substantial investments into the Canada student grants program. We are calling for fair and equitable post-secondary education that is truly accessible to all Canadians.

When will the government wake up and realize that having an educated population is truly the way to ensure economic success?

November 24th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the parliamentary secretary for taking the time to be here tonight. We are here tonight to discuss the topic of the Canada student loans program and student debt.

On October 7 the Canadian student loans actuarial report was tabled in the House. The report showed that the Canadian government will breach the legal limit for student loans of $15 billion by January 2013. This report stated that there were many reasons for this, with the main reason being that Canadians simply are not repaying their loans at the estimated rate. Considering the current economic climate and the recent recession, this is not surprising. We also know that quality job opportunities for our graduates are few and far between.

A recent report showed that a whopping one in five Canadian graduates are employed in positions that pay at the lower end of the income scale. This means that 20% of our university graduates are earning an income of less than the national median of $37,000. This income is not very much and too many of our Canadian new graduates are living below the poverty line.

Given this and the fact that Canada has the highest proportion of poor university graduates of any OECD country, it is not surprising that people are having trouble paying back their student loans. The breach of our student loan limit is extremely worrisome.

I asked a question on this topic on October 17. Unfortunately, when I asked the question, the members opposite did not rise and talk about what they were doing to ensure that this limit was not breached. Instead, they stood and spoke about tax credits. I am not sure how tax credits are going to help in this situation. How are tax credits going to help the Canadian government from breaching its Canada student loans ceiling? How are tax credits going to help Canadians repay their student loans?

My riding has one of the lowest average household incomes in the GTA, yet many of the families that live there are spending their life savings or incurring extreme amounts of debt to send their children to school. On average, Canadian students are graduating with a debt load of over $25,000 and tuition fees are still rising at four times the rate of inflation. Getting a degree is not getting any cheaper and now these graduates do not have good jobs to look forward to, to help them pay back their student loans.

The facts are clear. Costs of post-secondary education are rising and there are low job prospects for students upon graduation. This current system is simply unsustainable. If the government is as serious as it says it is about securing Canada's economic future, it would make a real commitment to investing in education. If it were really concerned about Canada's economic recovery, it would realize that investing in education of all Canadians has a huge return on its investment. Yet, in the height of the recession, the government did nothing to ease the burden of student debt.

According to public accounts and supplementary estimates, during the fiscal years of 2008-09 and 2009-10, not a single penny was spent on wiping out Canada's student loans debt. This is unique to those years. I find it very interesting that during the years when people were having the most difficult time paying back their student debt, the government decided that it would not spend a single penny to wipe out some of that debt.

We need real action to tackle student debt. We need to make post-secondary education more accessible and more affordable to all Canadians. We need accountability in terms of post-secondary education spending.

I will ask my question again. When will the government take real action to address the looming Canada student loans crisis? When will it reduce the cost of post-secondary education, thereby making it more accessible and affordable for all Canadians?

Privilege November 24th, 2011

My apologies, Mr. Speaker. Clearly it is a very important issue for me and my constituents.

My question of privilege is that when I was making my statement, there was an excessive amount of noise. I was very disappointed that members opposite felt it appropriate to be excessively noisy. It is very disrespectful of the fact that I am here, as are all of us, to speak on issues on which our constituents want us to speak. However, what I was trying to say could not even be heard by members in the House let alone maybe even caught by the recording devices.

I feel my privilege was lost. I was unable to do the job that I was sent here to do, which is to speak on behalf of my constituents, because the members opposite were so loud.

I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to rule that this is a prima facie case of privilege in the House.

Privilege November 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to raise this question of privilege because earlier today members on the government side raised issues of decorum in the House, the need for respect and the history of the House. However, during statements by members today, on behalf of my constituents of Scarborough—Rouge River, I raised the very important issue of the need for affordable housing across the country.

Safe, affordable housing is a major issue in my constituency and sadly it is something that too many Canadians go without. Many on this side of the House feel the government does not pay enough attention to this issue. Safe and affordable housing in communities like mine is a huge problem. I was trying to make a statement about this in the House because that is what my constituents asked me to do.

I am seeing almost 3,000 of my constituents lose their homes—

Affordable Housing November 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, this week we marked National Housing Day. Safe and affordable housing is a major issue in my constituency and, sadly, is something that far too many Canadians go without.

In recent months, municipal authorities in Toronto have taken the steps to sell up to 2,356 public housing units in my constituency alone to address budget shortfalls, displacing 2,356 families in my community. Further, many of the residents in these units that are up for immediate sale were not even informed that they were going to be sold.

Safe and affordable public housing in communities like mine and the people who occupy these units have been neglected and pushed aside to prioritize budgetary concerns and deficit problems. Budgets are being balanced on the backs of the poor and vulnerable.

Today I call upon the government to take action to make safe and affordable housing a reality for all Canadians. I call upon my colleagues from all sides of the House to support the establishment of a national housing strategy.

Let us ensure that no—

Copyright Modernization Act November 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, it is important for me and for many of the new members of the House who did not have an opportunity to participate in the consultation process during the last Parliament to hear not only from corporate Canada, large moviemakers and industry but also individual artists, educators and students who are being affected by this legislation.

This legislation affects and boosts not only large industry players; it also affects the small people, the individual students, the universities, the colleges, the professors and the textbook authors who will now have to ensure that their textbooks will not be available to students 30 days after the completion of their course. That is problematic for me.

Copyright Modernization Act November 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, jobs are being lost in this country. There were 72,000 full-time jobs lost in one month. I see that as a big problem. I know that many of my constituents are in precarious employment situations right now and that many of them probably did lose the good full-time jobs that the member across is speaking about, but copyright legislation was created to protect the creators and to have a balance between the rights of creators and consumers. This legislation does not respect that balance.