House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was million.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for St. John's South—Mount Pearl (Newfoundland & Labrador)

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 29% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply May 28th, 2009

Madam Chair, could the minister advise us on the status of the scientific research vessels that have been attempted to be put in place for a number of years?

Business of Supply May 28th, 2009

Madam Chair, is the minister confirming that she is indeed maintaining the science program for those numbers of years or is she increasing it?

Business of Supply May 28th, 2009

Madam Chair, I am looking under healthy and productive aquatic ecosystems, sustainable development integrated management of resources for in and around Canada's aquatic environment through oceans and fish habitat species at risk management, and I see that science for health and productive aquatic ecosystems is down $8.5 million. Is the answer the same?

Business of Supply May 28th, 2009

Madam Chair, I would like then to ask the minister a series of questions about the 2009-10 estimates.

From those estimates, I am referring to sustainable fisheries in aquaculture. I would like to ask the minister if she would look at the science for sustainable fisheries in aquaculture forecast for 2008-09 of $165.3 million. The plan for 2011-12 is a decrease over those years to $140.3 million, a difference of $25 million.

I would like to ask the minister if she would advise what exactly she is cutting from the science for sustainable fisheries in aquaculture.

Business of Supply May 28th, 2009

Madam Chair, does the minister believe that investments in fishery science is important to a healthy fish stock? Just a yes or no would be fine.

May 28th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear, in the response, that the Conservatives are committed to helping Canadians through this crisis. I would just like to know when they are going to start.

The member responded by talking about the EI training program. While I am fully supportive of funding for training, it is not going to help one single new worker qualify for EI. That particular worker will not be able to benefit under this program. In his response, he talked about monitoring measures to see if they work. I hope the government is monitoring measures because it will see very quickly that they are not working right now for Canadian workers who have lost their jobs.

One of the ways we can stimulate the economy and help families is by making some changes to EI. If Canadians cannot qualify for assistance in the first place, how is it going to do them any good?

May 28th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to an issue that I first raised with the minister on April 28 and that is the issue of eligibility for employment insurance.

This is a critical issue, not just for my riding of St. John's South—Mount Pearl but one that reaches every corner of our country and one that the government is really failing to address. Unfortunately, the government would rather leave Canadian families to fend for themselves than to fix this crucial program.

I believe, as my party does, that a temporary national 360 hour standard of EI eligibility should be introduced for as long as the economic crisis in Canada persists. This would help families, as it would make it easier for workers who have lost their jobs, through no fault of their own, to qualify for benefits during this crucial time of economic downturn.

There are 58 regional standards currently governing the eligibility and benefit periods for EI, and they are clearly not meeting the needs of our country and our families.

Let me give a few examples of this. To qualify for benefits in my riding, workers need a minimum of 630 hours of insured work. This standard exists for both St. John's and Mount Pearl as well as the rural community of the Goulds as well as the fishing community of Petty Harbour. No consideration is given for the different industries in these communities, but all are simply subject to the same standard as the urban areas which have a very different economic picture. During this time of record job losses there are varying standards that are creating unfair problems for my constituents.

I recently heard of a young woman in my riding who was an occupational therapist and has been laid off from her job. Her hours had been already scaled back. She was mostly working part-time in the months leading up to the permanent layoff. As a first time filer in my region, she needed 840 hours to qualify for the benefits. The reduction in hours and taking part-time work meant that she only had 581 insurable hours, not nearly enough to qualify.

I think about the fisheries workers in Petty Harbour, for example, who work hand in hand in fish plants with colleagues just one community over. They tell me that the eligibility rules are completely different. They need to have 630 hours to qualify. The people in the next community that they work hand over hand with in the same region of my province, the same area, have to have only 420 hours. That makes a disparity for some people because of the downturn in the fisheries industry. They will not even qualify this year. Does the minister not understand that?

I could go on. One of the processing plants, for example, was scaled back in recent years and another constituent of mine decided to leave the province looking for work. That happens all too often in my province. People have to travel outside the province looking for work.

This individual went with a friend who lives in another community, not necessarily in my riding of St. John's South—Mount Pearl but a more rural riding. Both worked side by side. One qualified for EI and the other needed an additional 200 hours.

The government's solution to a national crisis is just to reannounce training funding when fewer than 40% of unemployed Canadians actually qualify for this. It seems like the government's solution to the EI crisis really has not been effective.

I note in response to my question the minister stated, “The worse the situation gets, the easier it is for people to collect benefits”. That is not quite the answer we were looking for. Yes, businesses are closing. Companies are failing. More Canadians are losing jobs and the thresholds are really not changing. It is an inadequate strategy.

Does the government fail to understand that people are losing their jobs, that they need help now, that it needs to expand the EI system, or is it just going to fail people as it has failed the economy?

Fishing Industry May 27th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, all these announcements are for tomorrow's money. They do not help for today.

The government can tell us all it wants that it will deliver money for marketing of lobsters, for example, just like it told us we would not have a deficit.

However, on this side of the House we want to hear and Canadians need to hear what the government will do. Will it give us a new Minister of Finance, one who actually cares about Canadians and is competent enough to deliver?

Fishing Industry May 27th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, fisher, Kevin Nash, is getting the lowest price in 20 years for his lobster catch. He cannot break even. In Quebec and throughout Atlantic Canada the story is the same. At the same time, these fishers are watching the minister mismanage the finances of Canada. A lot of these people will soon be out of work without qualifying for employment insurance.

Could the Minister of Finance explain to those struggling Canadians why he should not be out of work as well?

Focus on Youth Awards May 13th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, it is my great honour to rise today to congratulate the winners and honourees at the 20th annual Focus on Youth Awards held last night in Mount Pearl.

I have been privileged to be involved in these awards for many years, and am proud to be part of a community coming together in celebration of youth in Mount Pearl.

Erica Fitzgerald and Colin Rose were chosen as the Mount Pearl female and male youth of the year. Also honoured last night were Sydney Burton, Hannah Noseworthy, Adam Keating, the Mount Pearl Synchro Tier 2 Team, the 4th Mount Pearl Pathfinders, Amy Fifield, Ben Mercer, Chris Doyle, Stephen Holloway, the Mount Pearl Show Choir, the Mount Pearl Senior High Drama Club, the O'Donel Jazz Band, and O'Donel “Back to the Eighties”. Also Carol Ann Kelloway was honoured as the adult volunteer.

I am proud to count these individuals among my constituents and offer my heartiest congratulations to the winners and to all honourees.