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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was chair.

Last in Parliament May 2022, as Liberal MP for Mississauga—Lakeshore (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2021, with 45% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Budget March 19th, 2018

Madam Speaker, the member raises the question of immigration, including the question of refugees.

Immigration, of course, is a cornerstone, not just of Canada's social success but our economic success. It will remain a cornerstone for generations to come. Canada was and is being built on immigration. We just celebrated our 150th anniversary. The next 150 years will be equally profoundly marked by immigration, by people joining us from all corners of the globe.

Specifically with respect to refugees, to correct some of the misperceptions that might be out there in terms of refugees receiving unfair handouts, in my own view and in the view shared by many Canadians, nobody is more motivated, socially or economically, than a person who has lost everything to natural disaster or a war-torn social setting in their country of origin. The economic contributions we are starting to see from our community of refugees are nothing short of extraordinary.

We need to continue to make sure that we integrate refugees speedily and successfully into the Canadian experience. I am very optimistic that immigration, including refugee influence over the decades to come, will contribute very strongly to our success as a nation.

The Budget March 19th, 2018

Madam Speaker, the question of fiscal discipline is indeed important, and it is raised frequently by constituents. Equally important is the conclusion Canadians reached in 2018, which is that the Canadian economy, in 2018 in a globally very competitive environment, requires investment. Canadians will always do well without that investment, but we will do better if we invest in our infrastructure, including our digital infrastructure and human resources, all those things that make us globally competitive.

Left to our own devices economically over the Harper decade, we did not see the success Canadians believed we could reach. We are starting to see, with the investments we made in 2015, that those results and improvements are possible. We are at the top of the list of the G7, or near the top of the list of the G7, with respect to economic growth.

Investment is required for an economy like Canada's, but equally important is the question of fiscal discipline. The term “spending” is not the right term. The right term is “investment”. One constituent I spoke to just a couple of weeks ago likened it to a home improvement loan. She said that as long as we invest in Canada and increase the value of our assets as a nation, we will do better.

The Budget March 19th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I rise to talk about what budget 2018 means for constituents in my riding of Mississauga—Lakeshore and for Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Let me start by saying that we are seeing clear signs that our government's plan is working. Nearly 600,000 jobs have been created by Canadians and the unemployment rate is down to near 40-year lows. Middle-class Canadians feel more optimistic about their future, whether their plan is to pay down debts, to save for a first home, or to go back to school to train for a new job. The Government of Canada has been supporting this confidence by investing in Canadians and the things that are important to them.

We raised taxes on the top 1% so that we could lower them for the middle class. Through the Canada child benefit we also increased support for nine out of 10 families, lifting 300,000 children out of poverty in the process. At the end of 2017, child poverty was reduced by 40% from what it was in 2013.

These are important achievements for Canadians, but we also know that some of our greatest challenges present the greatest opportunities.

By creating these opportunities, the government is taking action with budget 2018 to ensure that the advantages of a growing economy are enjoyed by more and more people.

By making an effort to support women and girls, reducing the gender wage gap, and increasing women's participation in the workforce, we are encouraging more economic growth for the benefit of all Canadians.

Here are some important facts to support those statements. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that by taking steps to advance women's equality, such as employing more women in technology and boosting women's participation in the workforce, Canada could add $150 billion to its economy by 2025. Furthermore, RBC Economics estimates that if Canada had a completely equal representation of women and men in our workforce today, we could increase the size of Canada's economy by $85 billion, or 4%.

Giving women equal opportunities to succeed will not just ensure strong economic growth. It will also encourage a more inclusive dialogue on the questions that will shape our future, in addition to improving the quality of life for our families and communities. That is why the government's 2018 budget seeks to help new parents care for their children during the early months of life, which are so critical to a child's development.

To support young families and gender equality at work and at home, the government is introducing a new employment insurance parental sharing benefit that will support the equal distribution of home and professional responsibilities. The benefit will provide an additional five weeks of EI benefits when both parents agree to share their parental leave or an additional eight weeks when parents opt for extended parental leave.

This “use it or lose it” incentive encourages both parents in two-parent families to share equally in the work of raising their children, which will allow greater flexibility for new mothers to return to work sooner.

More equitable parental leave will also help lead to more equitable hiring practices, reducing conscious and unconscious discrimination against women by employers.

In addition to this new employment insurance parental sharing benefit, budget 2018 helps those in my riding in a number of other respects.

Last November I met with constituent Ruby Alvi and her two sons, Aadam Ahmed and Yusuf Ahmed, both of whom were falsely flagged through the passenger protect program or no-fly list. Their concerns and dissatisfaction were echoed by many in my community, which is why I am proud that budget 2018 proposes to invest $81.4 million over five years to improve the passenger protect program by establishing a centralized screening model and a redress mechanism for travellers affected by the program. For those families and children who have been falsely and unfairly named on the no-fly list, this investment is an important step forward to address and fix this problem.

We know that Canadians are working hard to build a better life for themselves and their families, and they deserve to have their hard work rewarded with greater opportunities and a fair chance at success. That is why budget 2018 introduces the new Canada workers benefit, which is a stronger even more accessible version of the working income tax benefit, WITB, as it will allow low-income families to take home more of their hard-earned money. This means that an employee earning $15,000 could receive up to almost $500 more in 2019 than she or he would have received under the WITB in 2018. Overall, nearly two million Canadians will receive benefits through this new program and 70,000 Canadians will be lifted out of poverty.

Like the Canada workers benefit, the Canada child benefit, CCB, is a cornerstone in the government's plan to strengthen the middle class and to help people working hard to join it. In my riding of Mississauga—Lakeshore, the Canada child benefit has helped families give their children a better start in life. Between July 2016 and June 2017, there were 17,130 children in my constituency who benefited from the CCB. With the extra help provided through this program each month, families in my community are better able to afford things like nutritious food, sports programs, music lessons, and school supplies. To ensure that families can keep up with the rising cost of living, the government is proposing to strengthen the Canada child benefit starting this July. For a single parent with $35,000 of income and two children, the increase in the CCB will contribute an extra $560 toward the increasing cost of raising children by the 2019-20 benefit year.

However, it is also important to make sure that everyone who qualifies for the CCB receives it. In particular, indigenous communities in remote and northern regions face distinct barriers to accessing federal benefits such as the CCB. To address this problem, budget 2018 proposes to expand outreach efforts to indigenous communities and to conduct pilot outreach activities for urban indigenous communities. These efforts will ensure that indigenous peoples are better able to access the full range of federal social benefits, including the CCB.

Through budget 2018, the government wants to give young people a head start by investing in the youth employment strategy and doubling the work placements for youth through the Canada summer jobs program.

Budget 2018 introduces a new apprenticeship incentive for women, a five-year pilot project to encourage more women to enter male-dominated, well-paying trades. Under-represented groups, including women, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, members of visible minorities and newcomers, would also benefit from a new pre-apprenticeship program that would help them explore the trades, gain work experience, make informed career choices and develop the skills needed to succeed.

This is part of our long-term plan to identify the list of skills our economy needs, review the programs and services offered by the government, and help people match their skills with the right opportunities and stay current.

Canadians have always understood it is possible to do better, and time after time we have harnessed our curiosity, courage, creativity, and collaboration to create positive change in Canada and around the world.

Through budget 2018, the government is acting on this understanding to create new opportunities for Canadian innovators, from junior researchers to scientists to corporate leaders. With $6.6 billion committed to science in budget 2018, I am proud that our government is making the single largest investment in fundamental research in Canadian history. The government will invest $3 billion in the next generation of Canadian research and researchers, the people behind the ideas. This means more support and training opportunities for the work of about 21,000 researchers, students, and high-quality personnel every year by 2021-22.

Budget 2018 also proposes over $1.3 billion over five years to provide researchers with access to the state-of-the-art tools and facilities they need to carry out their work at Canadian universities, polytechnics, colleges, and research hospitals. With all these investments in budget 2018, our government recognizes that new opportunities and equality are at the heart of Canada's future economic success.

Canadian women and men work hard every day. They take care of their families, run businesses, teach in schools and universities, invent new technologies, protect communities, grow food, take care of each other when they are sick, and create the music, books, plays, and art that shape culture and remind everyone of what it means to be Canadian. This is as true for my constituency of Mississauga—Lakeshore as it is for those in every other riding across our great country.

By promoting equality, this budget and government will help to create long-term prosperity and growth for all Canadians.

Canadian Forces Legal Branch February 28th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, today the Canadian Armed Forces legal branch celebrates its 100th anniversary and a century of loyal service to Canada.

Today, the Office of the Judge Advocate General has roughly 250 legal officers in the regular forces and the reserve who are deployed to many locations throughout Canada and the world. These legal services have directly contributed to the success of Canadian military operations both at home and abroad, while helping maintain a disciplined and highly professional Canadian Armed Forces, acting in accordance with the rule of law.

The motto of the legal branch is fiat justitia, or “let justice prevail”. Over the course of 100 years, the women and men of the legal branch have proudly embraced this motto with the dedication, perseverance, and professionalism that define the Canadian Forces. I wish them the very best as we celebrate this important milestone with them. I ask all members of the House to join me in thanking them for their outstanding efforts in the service of Canada.

Jim Tovey January 31st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, with a heavy heart, I pay tribute to my friend, Jim Tovey, who served as councillor for Mississauga's Ward 1, or “Ward Wonderful”, as he loved to call it. We lost Jim suddenly on January 15.

Jim Tovey was pure life force. He saw our shared humanity in every person and put all his energy into everything he did. Jim also saw government as a force for good. An accomplished musician, poet, and carpenter, he entered politics to champion the arts, culture and heritage, veterans, science and technology, social justice, the environment, and the Great Lakes.

I stand with Jim's wife, Lee, his family, colleagues at all levels of government, friends, and the residents of Ward Wonderful as we say goodbye. We miss Jim terribly, but we take comfort in knowing that his memory will inspire us for years to come.

I will close with Jim's own words:

And as we sleep our spirits soar amongst the stars and run
to build new worlds in empty space, where love will be our sun.

Criminal Code December 8th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the second reading debate on this private member's bill, Bill C-375, an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding pre-sentence reports. This bill seeks to address the issue of mental health in the criminal justice system through a targeted amendment to the Criminal Code provision governing pre-sentence reports. Specifically, the bill would clarify that a pre-sentence report should, where possible, contain information about any mental disorder from which an offender suffers as well as any mental health care programs available to them.

I am in full agreement with the sponsor that the issue of mental health is of great concern to the criminal justice system. It has been identified as a key concern by many criminal justice stakeholders over the years. As part of our commitment to broadly review the criminal justice system in Canada, the Minister of Justice has indicated that addressing the needs of vulnerable offender populations in the criminal justice system is a key priority. Addressing the issue of mental health is also part of the Minister of Justice's mandate letter from the Prime Minister. Specifically, her mandate directs her to address gaps in services for those with mental illness throughout the criminal justice system.

The issue of mental health has arisen numerous times so far in the course of the minister's criminal justice review. It was raised by experts and other community stakeholders at the series of criminal justice round tables hosted by the Minister of Justice across Canada over the past two years. This thorough consultative process included a total of 20 round tables, with at least one in every province and territory. Mental health professionals, as well as representatives from traditionally marginalized communities, including indigenous and other racialized populations, featured prominently among the participants.

The round table held in Vancouver, in August 2016, was explicitly focused on mental health. At that event, our government heard, in no uncertain terms, that our criminal justice system must do a better job responding to mental illness. Experts in the field, as well as those with first-hand criminal justice experience, explained that addressing mental health is one of the critical ways our government can reduce crime, and in doing so, create safer and more prosperous communities throughout Canada.

Not only must we recognize mental health issues among those already involved in the criminal justice system, but by improving the mental health of our citizens before they engage in criminal behaviour, we can prevent longer-term struggles, which ultimately deprive our society of the full potential of those people. This idea was borne out in many of the stories and first-hand accounts we heard from Canadians throughout the round table process.

A typical story, one that is all too often true in our society, frequently begins with a young person from a marginalized community. That person experiences symptoms of mental distress, often beginning with depression or anxiety, but they go unnoticed because of a lack of institutional capacity or social support. The young person's mental state deteriorates, leading to lower performance at school, social withdrawal, and poor decision-making. The person's first involvement with the criminal justice system is often pursuant to a minor offence, such as a low-value theft or mischief. Nevertheless, he or she is convicted, and most likely, on a second offence, sentenced to a short period in custody. At this stage, the system fails to recognize the presence of worsening mental illness. Once inside the criminal justice system, the youth is exposed to an environment that aggravates rather than treats the mental health issues and the young person identifies with older, more serious offenders.

Upon returning to the community, the young person now suffers from a worsening, untreated mental illness and lacks the tools to effectively reintegrate. The unfortunate reality is that this person is now far more likely to reoffend and to live a life of continued criminal behaviour.

This story should not surprise any member of this House. While it is merely an example, our experience, including that gained through our own government's consultation process, has shown that this type of scenario continues to present itself in Canadian society.

It is because of stories like these that I commend the sponsor for his commitment to addressing mental health in the criminal justice system through Bill C-375. As I read the proposal, it would essentially codify the current practice of including mental health information in a pre-sentence report, where that information is readily available. In my view, this bill would not compel offenders to provide information about their mental health situation against their wishes, nor would it provide the court with the power to order the production of mental health records or empower it to order an assessment of the mental condition of the offender.

I understand that it is already common practice in many jurisdictions for offenders to provide information about their mental health through a probation officer where they feel it is beneficial to them. Therefore, in my view, the practical result of the bill would be to signal to a sentencing judge that this information is a relevant consideration at sentencing.

As I was reviewing the bill, I considered how such a proposal might fit within the broader goals and mandate of the Minister of Justice. The criminal justice system must protect all Canadians and keep our communities safe, but it must also protect the rights of all Canadians.

Our government is committed to ensuring the criminal law meets the highest standards of equity, fairness and respect for the rule of law. Healthy and safe communities are built upon a criminal justice system that treats the individuals with whom it interacts with respect, dignity, and in a manner that always upholds the rights and freedoms afforded to all by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Such a proposal could be seen as complementing our government's broader objectives of improving access to mental health care services for all Canadians.

For example, as members of the House will know, our government made a historic investment in mental health in budget 2017, with $11 billion of federal money being transferred to the provinces and territories over the next 10 years, almost half of which is to be dedicated to improving access to mental health and addiction services.

In addition, budget 2017 committed $118.2 million over five years to improve mental health supports for first nations and Inuit peoples. This money will be provided directly to communities so they can specifically tailor programs to meet their individual needs. This funding is in addition to the $69 million over three years announced in 2016 for immediate mental health needs and the more than $300 million provided annually to support culturally relevant mental wellness services for Canada's indigenous communities.

These significant and historic investments in front-line mental health services will benefit all Canadians, not just those who find themselves at odds with the criminal justice system. These upstream investments in mental health services could prevent a mentally ill person from coming into contact with the criminal justice system in the first place. Investing resources in our currently saturated mental health care system could decrease the likelihood that the criminal justice system would become the default method of dealing with these individuals.

I would like to briefly reflect on the communication I have had with members of my own community, constituents in my riding of Mississauga—Lakeshore, who have repeatedly written to me on the importance of mental health in Canada, particularly with respect to young people, indigenous communities, and also increasingly our seniors. In their correspondence to me, they underscore the importance for the government and all parliamentarians to take mental health seriously, to integrate mental health systematically into our policy decision-making processes, and to backstop the need to invest in mental health with adequate resources and investments.

I would like to thank the sponsor again for the steps he took in introducing the bill into the House of Commons. Through his own framework, his own lens of criminal justice and its intersection with mental health needs in Canada, he has moved the yardstick forward.

I am thankful for the opportunity to discuss this important proposal. I look forward to continued debate on this important private member's bill.

Housing November 24th, 2017

Madam Speaker, our government announced a national housing strategy that will be very transformative. By enshrining the right to housing for all Canadians into this strategy, the government is playing a key role in reducing homelessness and poverty.

Can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development share with this House how seniors like those in my riding of Mississauga—Lakeshore, who are advocating for more affordable housing, will benefit from this new strategy?

Business of Supply November 23rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Brampton East for his passion and energy, and his public service.

Today's motion really is a product of the ideological residue of the former regime. The previous government refused to believe that investments would pay off. It refused to give Canadians credit for the idea that when we invested in them, they would do well.

We have made social and economic investments, which the Minister of Finance is putting forward with the same passion reflected by my colleague from Brampton East, the same passion for public service.

When my colleague goes knocking on doors in his riding, what does he hear about the work of our Minister of Finance, his commitment to public service, and the compound effect of the investments, which my colleague described so well, we have made in Canadians in social structure and in our economic future?

Myanmar November 3rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the Rohingya population in Myanmar continues to face unspeakable suffering. Many of my constituents are gravely concerned, and the international community has issued an urgent call to end this humanitarian crisis.

Last month, I joined fellow delegates to the Inter-Parliamentary Union's general assembly in St. Petersburg, Russia in passing a resolution that sharply denounces the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Myanmar regime.

We must persevere and maintain pressure, and I am proud that, under the leadership of our Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, the Government of Canada is stepping up to do its share.

The Prime Minister recently appointed Bob Rae as special envoy to Myanmar, and this week, Canada announced the Myanmar Crisis Relief Fund.

Our government will match donations.

Advocacy and action must continue. I call on my colleagues, the government, and all Canadians to do their part, and all they can, to end the suffering of the Rohingya.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2 November 2nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, my colleague hit the nail on the head when he said that we are investing in Canadians and that it is paying off. When he goes door knocking in his riding of Kitchener South—Hespeler, what is he hearing about those investments, particularly the Canada child benefit and the other investments we are making in Canadians?