House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was saskatchewan.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as NDP MP for Saskatoon West (Saskatchewan)

Lost her last election, in 2019, with 40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Betsy Bury June 19th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to the wonderful, passionate Betsy Bury and to honour her 97 years of a life well lived. Betsy died in April.

Betsy fought for a world that was safe from nuclear weapons and war, a world safe for all women and children. She did this both as part of social movements and in the realm of partisan politics.

In 1962, when Saskatchewan doctors went on strike to oppose universal health care, Betsy, along with a small group of women, started the Saskatoon Community Clinic to provide free care to anyone who needed it. Those women are a big reason that we have universal health care today. She helped start the first planned parenthood organization in Saskatchewan and the first public kindergarten in Saskatoon, and the list goes on.

From Tommy Douglas's campaign to my own personal campaign, from the CCF to the NDP, Betsy was there volunteering, leading, advising and supporting.

In 2017, Betsy received the Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case for her lifetime dedication to bringing about gender equality.

Losing Betsy is devastating, but our broken hearts are comforted by the lives she touched and the young leaders who will follow in her inspiring footsteps.

Housing June 18th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, we have a housing crisis in Canada, and the Liberals are failing to address it. The PBO report shows that the Liberals are inflating their own figures while families in our communities are facing constant stress to find a place to call home. The report says the Liberals are doing even less to help people with immediate housing needs than the Harper government did. I find this shameful. Enough with the empty promises. Will the government act now to end homelessness and ensure families in Canada have a place to call home?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns June 17th, 2019

With regard to the 2019-20 federal budget presentation of March 19, 2019, and issues related to the Phoenix pay system for public servants, as of today: (a) what is the total number of affected clients; and (b) what is the total number of affected clients in each electoral district?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns June 17th, 2019

With regard to the Non-Insured Health Benefit (NIHB) Program, and the provision of medical transportation benefits in Saskatchewan for each fiscal year from 2012-13 to the current : (a) what is the number of clients served; (b) what is the number of approved trips; (c) what were the approved transportation service providers and the number of trips approved for each; (d) what were the approved modes of transportation and the number of trips per mode; (e) what was the average wait time for approval of applications; (f) what was the number of trips that required lodging, accommodations, or other expenses unrelated to the provision of the treatment being sought; (g) what were the reasons why additional expenses in (f) were approved and the number of applications or trips approved for each; and (h) what was the number of appeals launched as a result of rejected applications, the average length of the appeals process, and the aggregate results?

Petitions June 12th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to present a petition on behalf of many constituents in my riding and right across Saskatchewan. The petitioners call on the Canadian government to commit to acknowledging eye health and vision care as a growing public health issue and to respond to it, particularly for Canada's vulnerable populations: children, seniors and indigenous people.

The petitioners would like the government to develop a national framework for action to promote eye health and vision care.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act June 11th, 2019

Madam Speaker, what we are discussing tonight is the fact that we do not have an opportunity to hear what the minister has to say, have a good debate and talk about a process that perhaps was very good and was built on consensus. This possibly is very good legislation. However, this is the House. This is Parliament. As parliamentarians, we have a right to review the bill and the government still has a right to bring it forward and talk about it. I may very well find the bill and the consultations good, but what we are talking about right now is closure on that debate. You are denying my right to review that legislation. That is the piece that is offensive to me.

National Security Act, 2017 June 11th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I hear the minister talking about the bill having two years of debate and consultation. In fact, that is a time frame, but it is not two years of debate.

The debate has been limited at every stage of a very important bill, one that would collect people's personal data. Therefore, I want to challenge the minister when he says there have been two years of debate. I do not believe that is the right characterization. There has been debate, but it has been very limited and we are here this evening once again limiting debate.

Veterans Homelessness June 11th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, the fact that I am able to stand here today with my democratically elected colleagues from all parties and freely debate this motion is a testament to the service and bravery of our veterans and active military personnel. I thank them for all they have done, and will do, for our country.

New Democrats believe that the service and sacrifice of veterans and their families is something that must be remembered and honoured. We believe that it has earned them a safe, affordable place to call home, but sadly, for too many veterans that is not the case.

Only two things are required to end homelessness among veterans: a government that makes it a goal and that has a plan to achieve it. Sadly, up until this point, the government has had neither. Therefore, I want to thank the hon. member for Bay of Quinte for tabling this motion and for making the ending of homelessness among veterans a priority. I would like him to know that it has my support.

Once upon a time, a veteran without a home was absolutely unthinkable. Before it became the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the CMHC was founded as the Canadian Wartime Housing corporation. At that time, Canadians and our federal government believed that in return for their service and sacrifice, veterans and their families deserved a safe, affordable place to call home, so we built them one.

Today, our successive federal governments have gotten out of the business of building homes. Frankly, some would say that our government has nearly gotten out of the business of serving veterans as well. To no one's surprise, when the federal government stopped building homes and supporting veterans, we saw a sharp rise in homelessness among veterans. The good news is that we can eliminate homelessness among veterans and all Canadians.

I have no doubt that this motion was inspired by the testimony and proposals put forward by witnesses at the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, which has studied this very issue over the last six months. On behalf of the NDP, I would like to take a moment to thank the 22 individuals and groups who shared their experiences with that committee and for their work on behalf of veterans and their families.

I would like to read a quote from testimony at that committee, which I think sums up the challenges of eliminating homelessness among veterans quite well.

At one of those committee meetings, Debbie Lowther, chair and co-founder of VETS Canada, said the following:

We know that there are many pathways into homeless, such as poverty, lack of affordable housing, job loss or instability, mental illness and addictions, physical health problems, family or domestic violence, and family or marital breakdown. What sets veterans apart is that they not only deal with all of these same issues but they also struggle with their transition from military to civilian life. I talked about the military being a unique culture. Well, now the veteran is trying to adapt to a new civilian culture, feeling as though they have lost their identity and doing so without the social support network that was always so important.

Veterans of different ages, genders, regions and personal experiences have their own unique individual challenges that can create the conditions in which homelessness becomes a possibility. Tim Richter, the executive director of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, understands this fact as well. He stated this:

I believe that with a focused effort and a sense of urgency, veteran homelessness in Canada could be eliminated within three years or less.

We have to document the names and unique needs of every veteran experiencing homelessness and have an ability to share that information among those in the community who can house and support them. We have to be able to monitor performance, notice fluctuations, identify problems and respond in real time.

We should carve out of the new Canada housing benefit a federally administered veteran housing benefit....

In other words, we need a plan, which brings us to this motion. Motion No. 225 calls upon the government to do three things to help end homelessness among veterans: set a goal to end veteran homelessness in Canada by 2025; table a plan to achieve this goal in the House of Commons by June 2020; and, when formulating the plan, the government should consider whether a national veterans housing benefit, similar to the one in the United States, would be a good fit for Canada.

This motion is well informed, but will it actually make a difference? I do not know the answer to that question. It is certain that we could, and it really could be a game-changer. However, up until this point, I do not believe that the government has been serious about ending homelessness, for veterans or anyone else. Some may think that is a harsh statement, but there is evidence to support my claim.

First, the government has no formal goal or plan to end homelessness in Canada. Its goal is only to cut chronic homelessness in half over 10 years. This past fall, in the week before Remembrance Day, this place unanimously adopted an NDP motion to end lapsed spending at Veterans Affairs. Lapsed spending is the portion of the money that is approved by Parliament for Veterans Affairs, but that is left unspent by the department for one reason or another. This leftover money is then returned to the treasury, never to be seen again.

It does not have to be that way. Our motion called upon the government to reinvest this money into improving services for veterans in the following year, and to do so until the department eliminates wait times and can meet all of its 24 service standards. Averaging about $124 million per year, this money would be enough to double the staff at Veterans Affairs; speed up the processing of disability claims, applications for the earnings loss benefit and career transition services; and for every other program or service provided by the department to veterans. As this money was already approved by Parliament, there would be no additional cost to taxpayers, just better service for veterans.

Our motion was passed unanimously and was openly supported by both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance. However, as we heard, here we are in June, with yet another federal budget behind us, the fourth of this government, and there is no end in sight to either the lapsed spending or the enormous wait times and poor service at Veterans Affairs. In so many ways, this is a government of somewhat empty gestures and determined inaction. This lack of integrity hurts people, vulnerable people, people who need and deserve better from their government, people like veterans.

While I appreciate the member for Bay of Quinte bringing this motion forward, I do not want anyone listening today to be misled into thinking that this government has done something simply by tabling this motion. At the moment, they are just words on a page.

In closing, I want to reaffirm my support for this motion and again offer my thanks to the member who sponsored it. Ending veterans homelessness is possible, and this member has provided the Liberal government with a plan, a way forward, the means to end homelessness in Canada. Veterans need and deserve a government that prioritizes ending their homelessness.

With the tabling of this motion, the Liberal government is now on notice. There are no more excuses for inaction on ending homelessness for veterans. In fact, this motion is a call to action for the government. As I have said before, the government needs to take a page from the Nike playbook and just do it.

My NDP colleagues and I will support this well-meaning and thoughtful motion, and will continue to work with anyone in this place who seeks to improve the lives of veterans and their families. We will continue to demand more than words. We will demand action by the government to end veterans homelessness in Canada.

Veterans Homelessness June 11th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I want to let my hon. colleague know how pleased I am to see this come to the floor and to hear him speak of the need for leadership from Parliament and the government.

The member may remember that I tried to pass a similar motion to get the government to make a bigger plan to end homelessness and to set goals and targets. Therefore, the member knows I am onside.

Depending on what happens in the House, I would like to hear his commitment to continue to fight to ensure, regardless of what happens with the motion today, that he will commit to move his government. He has introduced a very solid plan. I do not see any reason why the government cannot move forward to end veterans' homelessness in Canada.

Philippines Festival in Saskatoon June 11th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, the Filipino community has left its mark in Saskatoon West, particularly in the neighbourhood of Confederation Park, a wonderful neighbourhood many Filipinos are proud to call home. As Canada celebrates our first official Filipino Heritage Month, this weekend I will be in Saskatoon for our city's first Philippines Festival. I cannot wait to participate in the festivities organized by the Filipino-Canadian Association of Saskatoon.

Mar Complido and Rosalee Apostol, president and vice-president of FILCAS, and the many volunteers from the Filipino community have been busy organizing the festival since December. After a flag-raising at city hall, the Cosmo Civic Centre will come alive, offering Saskatoon residents the chance to experience Filipino food, games, art and culture.

I am proud to say I was a member of the Parliament that voted unanimously to declare June as Filipino Heritage Month in Canada. To all our Filipino-Canadian friends in Saskatoon and across Canada, salamat. I will see them on Saturday.