House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was autism.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Independent MP for Verchères—Les Patriotes (Québec)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 43% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Women's Support Centre in Ste-Julie September 26th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House today to draw attention to the 20th anniversary of an organization in my riding. Entre Ailes Ste-Julie was established on October 7, 1992, and has been helping women in the region ever since. Its goal is to help women improve their living conditions. It also organizes meetings to help women feel less isolated.

A non-profit since 1998, Entre Ailes Ste-Julie is an independent organization with its own organizational structure. It has 181 members and more than 80 volunteers. It offers three programs per year, training, workshops, courses, speakers, special events, group outings and much more. Volunteers regularly conduct home visits for women with reduced mobility who experience isolation. Support sessions for the bereaved are also available.

On November 3, a special evening will be held at the Maurice-Savaria hall in Sainte-Julie to celebrate the organization's 20th anniversary. Congratulations to the vice-president, Christiane Pelletier, and the executive director, Marie-Chantal Paquette, and all the volunteers. Your contributions and efforts on behalf of women in the region are invaluable.

Employment Equity June 15th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, the Trojan Horse budget is an attack on our most vulnerable workers.

The federal contractors program for employment equity affects over a million workers. The program goals have not yet been achieved. A legitimate economic action plan would include women, cultural communities and first nations.

Why are the Conservatives dismantling a program that fights discrimination?

Laure Frappier and Raymond Poisson May 30th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I would like to salute the work of an exceptional woman in my riding. Sixty-year-old Laure Frappier has been an super-volunteer since the age of nine. Even losing her sight in 1998 hardly slowed her down.

After a complicated rehabilitation process, she embraced new challenges, eager to serve her community. She went back to university in 2003 and earned a bachelor's degree in psychosocial intervention. In 2007, she founded Contact'L, an organization that helps women in distress.

I would like to congratulate Ms. Frappier on her dedication and generosity. Thanks to her, many women find their way to a life with dignity.

I would also like to congratulate another of my constituents. On May 1, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI appointed Raymond Poisson as auxiliary bishop. Father Poisson was the rector of the Sainte-Anne of Varennes Basilica and the pastor for Varennes, Verchères, Contrecoeur and Calixa-Lavallée. I am delighted for him, but at the same time, we will be sad to see him go.

I wish Father Poisson continued success on the other side of the river.

Transport Canada May 14th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, almost two years ago, the City of Verchères asked Transport Canada to install a safety barrier at the railroad crossing at Montée Calixa-Lavallée.

The City was told that the funds were not available, and now the project is gathering dust on the Minister of Transport's desk. Several accidents have happened at that crossing over the past few years.

When will the government show some concern for people's safety? Why is the minister waiting for tragedy to strike before taking action?

International Cooperation March 30th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, it is not just the environment that was put on the back burner in this budget. The Conservatives confirmed that they will once again slash spending related to foreign aid and diplomacy.

By 2014, Canada's foreign aid to GDP ratio will be the lowest it has ever been.

Why are the Conservatives balancing their budget at the expense of the poorest people in the world? Why not improve Canada's position on the international stage and try to make a difference in developing countries?

The Environment March 16th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, two women in my riding are afraid of losing their home on the Îles-de-Boucherville in the St. Lawrence River. The Durocher family has been asking the federal government since 1997 to reinforce the embankment with rocks to prevent erosion. The situation is urgent: their ancestral home is in jeopardy and could be lost within two years.

Will the Minister of the Environment act quickly to protect all the homes located along the St. Lawrence as well as the archaeological and architectural remains of the municipalities along the St. Lawrence?

Canada Post March 16th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I want to draw the attention of this House and of the minister responsible for Canada Post to the fact that 10,000 people from Verchères—Les Patriotes will no longer have access to postal service effective March 26. Autoroute 20 separates Domaine des Hauts-Bois from the rest of the town of Sainte-Julie, and the only road linking the two is a viaduct that is being demolished in a little over a week.

Domaine des Hauts-Bois's only postal outlet has been closed since March 5. The town's 10,000 residents therefore no longer have any postal services since the other points of service in Sainte-Julie will no longer be accessible to them and especially to the countless people who do not have a car. Many seniors live in this area, and most of them have a hard time getting around. It is unbelievable that they are being denied such a service.

Last June, the government declared that postal service was so important to the economy that it was worth attacking the workers' constitutional rights in order to protect it. It is time for the government to be consistent for once and to take all the necessary measures in order to provide permanent postal service in Domaine des Hauts-Bois.

Transport March 2nd, 2012

Mr. Speaker, over $1 billion lies dormant in the government's coffers, when that money should be spent on upgrading trade corridors. This government has rejected all of the Port of Montreal's funding applications under the Ontario-Quebec continental gateway initiative.

After demonstrating such a lack of leadership in the transportation sector in the Montreal region, can the minister explain to us why he is so intent on punishing the south shore by refusing to improve road and port infrastructure?

Jeannine Poloni March 2nd, 2012

Mr. Speaker, one of my constituents in Verchères—Les Patriotes, Jeannine Poloni, is facing deportation after having lived in Canada for 47 years. Now 67, Ms. Poloni has spent her entire adult life working in Canada. Her only sources of income are old age security and the Quebec pension plan. She has a mental disorder for which she has been receiving treatment for several years. Because of her mental disorder, kleptomania, Immigration Canada considers her a serious criminal and wants to deport her to France, her country of origin.

If the government deports this woman, it will present a shameful image of Canada as a country that picks and chooses its immigrants and decides who is more Canadian. Ms. Poloni is proud of her French roots, but her life is here, and she feels just as Canadian as anyone else. In France, she will have no source of income, and for all practical purposes will find herself in the street. Ms. Poloni has been struggling with mental health issues for years and has been suffering from deep depression since learning that she is to be deported. She needs help. She does not want to leave Canada, which is her country now.

We hope that the minister will review her case and do everything in his power to ensure that Ms. Poloni receives the care and support she needs here in Quebec.

World Autism Awareness Day Act February 28th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to salute this initiative, which has been brought forward again by our distinguished colleague, the hon. member for Sackville—Eastern Shore. He first introduced a bill on World Autism Awareness Day in 2005. Six long years later, it looks as though people with autism and the families of children with autism spectrum disorder will finally get the recognition they so greatly deserve.

For interest groups working in the field, an annual day would be a date around which activities could be organized and would provide the groups with the motivation to focus their efforts around a day to work with parents and people with autism spectrum disorder.

Autism is the most common brain disorder among children since one in every 110 children has some form of autism. There are an estimated 35 million people living with autism throughout the world. Although detailed epidemiological data are rare, in Canada, approximately 48,000 children and 144,000 adults suffer from some form of the disorder. Furthermore, the rate of autism has increased each year for no apparent reason. It is estimated that the rate of autism increased by 600% over the past 20 years.

It is important to understand the reasons behind this dramatic growth, but it is also important to help Canadians gain a better understanding of autism. There are a number of types of autism but, generally speaking, autistic disorders are marked by difficulty with social interaction. Some forms of autism do not completely limit the individual's ability to interact with others; however, other forms of the disorder cause individuals to show no interest whatsoever in other people.

People with autism generally have a great deal of difficulty engaging in and maintaining a conversation. The disorder makes communication extremely difficult. Forty per cent of autistic children will not learn to speak without intensive and early intervention. This type of intervention requires resources that must be made available to the families that need them. Unfortunately, the government is doing almost nothing to help people with autism. The recognition of World Autism Awareness Day is important, but it is really just the beginning.

Members on this side of the House have suggested numerous measures to support families that are already making countless sacrifices for a relative with autism. For example, the treatments that autistic individuals depend on to promote their social development should be covered by public health insurance. These treatments can have a significant impact on the lives of individuals with an autistic disorder. Countless experts have said that if autism is diagnosed early enough—before the age of two—and if the family has the necessary tools to support the child, the child may be able to attend school normally without requiring special assistance.

Such measures can have a significant impact, and that is why the government should develop a national strategy to coordinate services for people with autism. Canadian families affected by autism living in different parts of the country do not all have the same access to health and social services. Currently, there is no comprehensive national strategy to help Canadians with autism. As a result, help for people with autism is available primarily from provincial governments, health promotion organizations and families.

Some people with autism function relatively well and are independent, while others need substantial social and educational support. For years, the Conservatives have failed to show leadership on a number of important health issues, including funding for autism research and services in that area. Rather than have an awareness day, why not implement a national strategy to offer more help to people with autism and their families?

Government support for World Autism Awareness Day does not give provincial governments any funding to carry out effective, evidence-based preschool interventions, to provide autism training to teachers and teacher aides, or to provide appropriate residences and treatments for young people and adults with autism.

Frankly, I am disappointed that this is not the first time we have had to rise in the House to talk about an issue that we all seem to agree on. This bill has been introduced and reintroduced repeatedly since 2005. Maybe it is just because I am new here, but am I the only one who finds it odd that a bill everyone agrees on has to be debated for six years before seeing the light of day?

I understand that the procedure is what it is, that we have had consecutive minority governments in this House, and that a bill must pass through several steps before it becomes law. However, should it really take six years just to give the parents of autistic children and people with autism spectrum disorder the recognition they deserve, if only for one day a year?

This government has no problem rushing through a bill to spend billions of dollars to toss young offenders in prison, no matter how minor the crime. This government wastes no time destroying the data from the firearms registry, ignoring the interests of Quebec taxpayers who paid for the registry for years and want to keep it. But when it comes time to commend the courage and determination of parents of kids with autism spectrum disorder, for once will the government hurry up and help pass this bill once and for all?

Fortunately, civil society did not wait all this time to offer this recognition, albeit only symbolic, to the people in question. For instance, the Autism Society of Canada already celebrates World Autism Awareness Day in April. The NDP has also been recognizing World Autism Awareness Day for some time now; we did not wait for the government to get on board. We hope the bill will pass this time and we will finally be able to make this gesture, however symbolic, to support Canadian families and community organizations that help those with autism disorders.

Despite the importance of this gesture, it nevertheless remains merely symbolic. No government resources will be earmarked to support families and organizations. No resources will be made available to organizations that can help us understand why autism has become so much more common over the past 20 years. We are all well aware of this government's aversion to research, but considering such a strange phenomenon of such scope and with such a serious impact on the people affected, it is high time more action was taken.

It is unfortunate to note that this government has chosen to help its friends, to reward those close to power, to walk away from helping the families of autistic children and has failed to make appropriate investments in the health system by increasing provincial transfers or helping community organizations in their work. It has also backed away from funding research in general, as well as autism research.

We are hoping that the situation will change. We are hoping that this government will finally assume its responsibilities and help those in need. We hope that it will respect Canadians' values of solidarity and show respect for the devoted families looking after autistic children. We hope that, after six years, this bill will finally pass and that it will be just the first step towards greater recognition of the sacrifices and the passion of parents, community workers and volunteers who look after those with autism.

Although we deplore the fact that this bill lacks consistency and does not provide resources for families in need, we nevertheless salute the awareness that it will raise. It is a sign of things to come that gives hope to all these families and volunteers and the people affected by autism spectrum disorder.

Therefore, we salute this bill, and I am proud to say today that it was brought forward by a member of the NDP. I hope that it will finally be passed by the members of the House.