Mr. Speaker, I apologize. I have been here in the chamber long enough to recognize that this should not be done.
The provincial ministers have begun planning a pan-Canadian dementia strategy. From a federal perspective, the initial focus of this collaboration will be on the coordination of research to advance the collective knowledge base on dementia. The provinces and territories will continue their own work on identifying best practices and on stakeholder engagement. An update on the strategy will be presented to Canada's health ministers for consideration and further direction at their next meeting.
This is truly important work. The crux of this bill is to require discussions with the provinces to set up a national strategy. Our government has already successfully negotiated with the provinces to begin working on exactly that. The work is under way, and we will continue to make progress.
The spirit and intent of this bill is also supported by current federal investments and activities on Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Many of the specific elements proposed in Bill C-356 that are within the federal role are currently being addressed. Research is needed to learn more about what causes dementia and the most effective ways to prevent, identify, treat, and ultimately, by 2025, cure it.
Since 2006, the government has invested over $220 million in research related to dementia, including $37.8 million last year. Our economic action plan announced ongoing investments of $15 million for the Canadian Institute of Health Research, CIHR, for the creation of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging and other health research priorities. Launched in 2014, the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging is the national component of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research dementia research strategy. It is a prime example of how we are encouraging greater investment in dementia research and the accelerated discovery of treatments and solutions. Through the consortium, more than 300 researchers from across the country will forge ahead with their work to improve our understanding of dementia, how we can prevent it, and how we can improve the quality of life of Canadians living with dementia, and their caregivers.
Another significant piece of work is the national population health study of neurological conditions. In 2009, our government invested $15 million over four years in this study to better understand Alzheimer's disease and other conditions and their impact on Canadians and their families. Findings from the study were released in September 2014. This groundbreaking work fills gaps in information concerning the burden of neurological conditions, their impact on Canadians, risk factors, and the use of health care services.
Research on dementia and other neurological conditions is also being funded through the Canada brain research fund.
However, research for the future is not enough. We are also working to improve the lives of Canadians living with this disease now. In September 2014, the minister announced our intention to work with the Alzheimer Society Canada to establish a new program called Dementia Friends, which will be launched this year. It is an exciting program, and I think it will make an enormous difference. It was originally launched in Japan and the U.K. It will provide education and training to help Canadians learn the facts about Alzheimer's disease and related dementias and how these diseases affect the people who live with them.
As members can see, we are making substantial investments to address the issue of dementia. While many are federal initiatives, there are also many examples of collaboration with the provinces and territories, not to mention the fantastic work being done at the international level. It is apparent that the federal government has addressed many of the themes in Bill C-356 and even some of the specific elements.
As I mentioned earlier, the minister has already secured an agreement with the provinces and territories on beginning to plan for a pan-Canadian dementia strategy that would guide our collective efforts. As I said at the beginning, I think we can all agree that this bill is very well intentioned. We have been taking action in a number of the areas laid out in it. However, with the provinces having already agreed to begin work on a strategy, many of our actions have progressed beyond what is called for in the bill, making some areas redundant.
There are also a number of technical issues with the bill. The Speaker has indicated that it would require a royal recommendation. As all members in the House know, those are extremely, if rarely, ever provided. In addition, some clauses in this bill needlessly infringe on provincial jurisdiction in areas such as health human resources and diagnostic capacity. From my understanding, conversations have not resolved all our concerns with these issues.
For these reasons and in order to respect the agreement the minister was able to secure in a co-operative fashion with the provinces, the government will not support the bill. Bringing in federal legislation to control discussions that have already happened in such a collaborative fashion is not respectful of the good work already being done.
Our government remains committed to taking strong action that will improve the lives of Canadians living with dementia, but we will do so in a way that respects provincial jurisdiction and continues to work on a pan-Canadian strategy to which they have agreed.
With that in mind, I would also like to note that my friend and chair of the health committee, the member for Huron—Bruce, has recently introduced a motion calling on the government to take continued action on dementia. This motion is yet another sign of how seriously our government takes the issue, and I look forward to debate on that motion. We will have to wait for the debate to occur, but I know my colleague fully respects the role of the provinces when it comes to health care. Perhaps it would be an opportunity for Parliament to make some further progress on this issue.
I know we are talking about something that is incredibly important to Canadians. We are talking about something with which the international community, the federal government and the provinces are grappling. I know there was a lot of conversation back and forth, but my understanding is the unresolved issues were too much of a challenge in terms of continuing at this time.
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today to talk to the red tape reduction act. This legislation would enshrine our one-to-one rule in law.
I will be sharing my time with the member for Huron—Bruce.
Before I talk about this specific legislation, I want to take a trip down memory lane. I and a number of my colleagues in the House were privileged to be part of the Red Tape Reduction Commission. The commission's goal was to be transformative in how the government related to and worked with small businesses.
We all know how critical small businesses are to Canada's economy. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business told us how small businesses were being strangled in the red tape of federal, provincial and municipal governments. The commission provided us with the opportunity to focus on what was happening at the federal government level.
A number of people made up the commission, including a number of my colleagues in the House, as well as businessmen and people from across the country who had practical ideas.
We started this process in January 2011 and it concluded in March 2011. Over that period of time, we heard from people from all across the country. We had 15 round tables in 13 different cities. We received online submissions. We reviewed what other provinces and countries were doing and we reviewed what the experts had to say.
The commission had some clear goals. We wanted to reduce the administrative burden and improve government service. We wanted to enhance co-operation and coordination. We were looking to address the specific needs of small business. Small business owners are much more overwhelmed by the onerous needs that governments create as opposed to large businesses, with many different departments and the ability to mobilize somewhat more quickly. We were also looking at ensuring we addressed the cumulative burden. These were not the only things we looked at, but they were some of the critical things.
In September 2011, we presented a report that summarized what we heard. This report reflected on the different presentations we had received from people across the country.
We then spent a bit more time taking in what we had heard and looking at what other jurisdictions were doing. We presented another report in January 2012 to the government and that report contained our recommendations. The government then provided its response with a real commitment to move forward on a number of different issues.
We had 2,300 ideas and came up with 15 systemic proposals for the government to consider. They were very large in nature and crossed all government departments. We had 90 department specifics, such as a recommendation to Agriculture Canada, the Canada Revenue Agency, and so on.
I remember one story I heard in Vancouver. A woman entrepreneur had left her job as a nurse and put her heart and soul into creating a product to help sick children. Somewhere in the process her product was reclassified from what was called a medical device to a consumer product. This had an enormous impact on her ability to move forward. It was a compelling story as to how we as a government could be more reflective of the needs of small business.
We were able to take it from that 100,000 foot level. It was a great privilege for me. At the time, I was the parliamentary secretary to the Canada Revenue Agency. There were a number of suggestions that came forward to the Canada Revenue Agency on what it might do to reduce the regulatory burden for small business. Telus wanted an online system, the ability for its accountants to get authorizations. Those were some of the things we heard.
We were very proud when the minister won the CFIB, Golden Scissors Award for cutting red tape. She took the recommendations that were specific to the Canada Revenue Agency, drilled down into them, and is in the process of making those changes that were suggested.
Today we are talking about one of the very important pieces that was one of the systemic suggestions that we made. This legislation would fulfill the commitment in October 2012, and was reaffirmed in the 2013 Speech from the Throne.
With this legislation, we hope to make it the law of the land that regulators strictly control the regulatory burdens that they impose on business. Under the one-for-one rule, for every brand new regulation that adds an administrative burden on business, one must be removed. This is smart legislation. It will help Canadian businesses become more productive and succeed in an increasingly global and competitive marketplace.
The red tape reduction act requires that regulators take seriously the requirement to control the amount of red tape imposed on businesses and the costs associated with that red tape.
As we went across the country, the one-for-one rule received a lot of reflection. We heard that more and more regulations were being added. The other thing we heard was that some regulations had more of a load on small businesses than other regulations. If we have a one-for-one rule, we need to reflect on what that burden to the business will be. It is not like we should take out something that is an easy regulation to comply with and put in something that will take hours and hours of the time of the small business.
We listened to that advice from small business owners from across the country and we reflected very carefully on that advice. That has been designed into the legislation.
The legislation challenges our regulators to think through how regulations can be designed and implemented in ways that do not impose unnecessary red tape on business. It is tough, but it is absolutely not inflexible. It can be applied in a way that will not compromise the protection of human health, safety, security, the economy and the environment.
That is another important issue. As we went across the country, many of the small businesses recognized that the government had an important role in terms of regulations, human health, safety, security, the economy and the environment. They appreciated government's role in that way, but they also wanted us to try, to the degree possible, to ensure we had that appropriate balance.
This legislation is also very timely. As we are looking to create a climate in which businesses can innovate and grow, too often red tape can get in the way. I mentioned an example earlier.
We have an economy that is important in how our small businesses contribute. There will be enormous opportunities with the European free trade agreement and the Korean free trade agreement. We want to support our businesses to be successful and to allow these new opportunities. They have to be as efficient and productive as possible.
The red tape reduction act is one way to help businesses to do just that. Enshrining the one-for-one rule in law recognizes that if Canadian businesses are to play their A game, we need to take away as many barriers to competitiveness as possible.
I am very pleased and privileged to have been a part of this process, the Red Tape Reduction Commission, the recommendations that we put forward and to move forward with both legislation and the many important changes that have been made in every department in government.
I look forward, and I hope that all members of the House will see fit to support this legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to join today in strong support of the Canada-Korea economic growth and prosperity act.
As we have said regularly, our Conservative government is committed to protecting and strengthening the long-term financial security of hard-working Canadians. We understand that Canada's prosperity requires expansion beyond our borders into new markets for economic opportunities that serve to grow Canada's exports and investments. That is why we will continue to deliver pro-export leadership.
Since coming to office in 2006, we have reached free trade agreements with 38 countries. These countries make up more than half of the global economy and represent nearly one-quarter of the world's countries. When they were in power, the Liberals took Canada virtually out of the game of trade negotiations, putting Canadian workers and businesses at severe risk of failing and falling behind in this era of global markets. In fact, the last time the Liberals tried to talk seriously about trade, they campaigned to rip up the North American free trade agreement.
Before I continue any further, I will mention that I will be splitting my time with the member for Huron—Bruce.
Our government cares deeply about trade and our country's economic growth. Last fall the Prime Minister announced a historic agreement in principle with the 28-nation European Union that will give Canadian businesses preferred access to half a billion affluent customers.
I always go back to what my cattlemen said. They did not talk about the affluent customers but about the hungry customers, because they saw a tremendous opportunity for the cattle export business. Right in my own riding, people are seeing the enormous opportunities that this agreement would provide.
Our Conservative government recognizes that protectionist restrictions stifle our exporters and undermine Canada's competitiveness, which in turn adversely impacts Canadian families. That brings me to the issue at hand today, which is the Canada-Korea free trade agreement.
Implementing this free trade agreement is critical to maintaining Canada's competitive position in the global marketplace. It would restore a level playing field for Canadian companies in the South Korean market. Right now our competitors, including the U.S. and the EU, are already enjoying preferential access because of their respective FTAs with South Korea.
For Canada, the Canada-Korea free trade deal is a landmark agreement. It represents our first bilateral trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific region.
I heard the critic for the NDP talk earlier in terms of central Canada and eastern Canada, which tend to look to South America and Europe, but to our western provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, the whole Asian-Pacific gateway is incredibly important. It really is a key to increasing our global competitiveness.
Of course, trade and investment represent the twin engines of growth for the global economy, and again I have to reflect on the anti-trade ideology of the NDP. Although the NDP may support the bill a little bit, it is a fact that it did try to sabotage this bill at the trade committee. Rather than thinking about what is best for all Canadians, the NDP tabled amendments to remove the investor protection provisions, cornerstones of a modern trade and investment agreement, in order to please a small group of its supporters and perhaps some supporters of the Green Party.
On this side of the House, we know that there is no better job creator or economic growth generator than freer and more open trade. Canadians are proud of our long history as a trading nation, and for good reason: one out of every five Canadian jobs is dependent on exports. In fact, trade drives 64% of all of Canada's economic activity every year. That is why we have embarked on a very ambitious pro-trade plan. I believe it is the most ambitious in Canadian history.
A diverse range of sectors would have increased trade opportunities because of this free trade agreement, including industrial goods, agri-food products, fish and seafood, and forestry products. Earlier I mentioned beef; another area that is relevant to my riding in British Columbia, Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo is forestry. It is incredibly important to open that up, as it has gone through a little bit of a difficult time with the economic recession. There are huge opportunities.
Canada's world-class service sectors would also benefit from improved market access, including professional services and research and development services.
The Canada-Korea free trade agreement would create thousands of jobs for Canadians by increasing our exports to South Korea by 32% and boosting our economy by $1.7 billion. Over 88% of Canada's exports would be duty free upon entry into force, and over 99% would be once the deal was fully implemented. The huge amount of Canadian exports becoming duty free upon the coming into force of the agreement is important, given the urgency of restoring our competitive position in the South Korean market.
It is important to note that when embarking on trade deals with other countries, we do so bearing our responsibilities in mind. I am happy to say that while we are working hard to advance our trade agenda, our government is also ensuring that labour rights and obligations are respected. That is why the free trade agreement with Korea has a labour chapter that includes robust labour provisions.
Canada and Korea have committed to ensuring that their laws embody and provide protection for internationally recognized labour principles and rights, notably those included in the International Labour Organization's 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. For those who may not be aware, the declaration covers the right to the freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining, the abolition of child labour, the elimination of forced or compulsory labour, and the elimination of discrimination in the workplace. Through these provisions, we demonstrate our shared commitment to improving labour standards and protecting the rights of workers.
Both countries have also committed to ensuring acceptable protections concerning occupational health and safety, including compensation in cases of injuries or illness; employment standards, including minimum wage and overtime pay; and non-discrimination in respect of working conditions for migrant workers.
The labour provisions in this agreement stand out from the pack. For the first time, all obligations are now subject to a dispute settlement mechanism, which may apply financial penalties in the case of non-compliance. The labour provisions are comprehensive and enforceable. That speaks to the level of commitment from both countries to maintain high labour standards in this trading relationship.
Our relationship with South Korea is not new. Canada has long enjoyed positive relations with South Korea. In 2013, we marked our 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations. While the agreement would provide a modern and stable foundation to grow our bilateral relationship, it builds on a long history of political and economic co-operation. During the Korean War between 1950 and 1953, Canada contributed the third-largest contingent of troops to the United Nations Command. There were some 26,791 Canadian soldiers who served in Korea, of which 516 lost their lives. After the Korean War armistice, 7,000 Canadian soldiers served as peacekeepers between 1953 and 1957.
Significant trade and investment ties have further solidified our relationship. South Korea represents an important market for Canadian commodities and has proven to be a valued source of investment. Without question, the agreement will level the playing field for Canadian companies and enhance their ability to tap into global value chains, boosting their global competitiveness, profitability, and long-term sustainability.
The benefits of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement for our country are far too significant to overlook. Canadian stakeholders from across the country have repeatedly called for the agreement to enter into force immediately to secure Canada's competitive position in the South Korean market. Our government is equally keen to tap into the Asian market and create more jobs for hard-working Canadians. For these reasons, I call for the urgent passage of Bill C-41 and the rapid implementation of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Huron—Bruce.
I am pleased to address the House today on this critically important issue.
Canada is fortunate to be among the countries that remain free of Ebola. As a country, we have been at the forefront of the international response efforts in West Africa. There are overwhelming reasons to help the countries that are not as fortunate as our own. It is also very clear that by helping our Ebola-affected West African partners, the government is also further safeguarding the health and safety of Canadians.
As members know, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is unprecedented in its scale, geographic reach and humanitarian impact, as well as social and economic impact which will be felt for a long time to come. The developing world is ill-equipped to manage a health emergency of this kind. The crisis is evolving in a context of chronic fragility in places of high poverty and after decades of conflict and civil strife.
While there are no confirmed cases of Ebola in Canada, Canada must be prepared for a case to come here. Provincial and local health officials are the lead on any Ebola case in Canada, but the Public Health Agency of Canada continues to assist them to ensure that they remain prepared.
The increase in the number of cases continues to accelerate, particularly in Liberia and Sierra Leone, where weak health care systems are ineffective in controlling the spread of the virus and treating those who are infected. People are dying of Ebola, but they are also dying of other health problems, such as malaria because they do not have access to the basic services they need. It has become nearly impossible to keep up with the growing medical needs of populations that grow sicker by the day.
In addition to the health burden, the disease and efforts to contain it have disrupted trade and the rain-fed agricultural season, both primary livelihood sources in the region. The Ebola virus is reversing hard-won progress after difficult chapters in the history of some of the affected countries and keeping people from supporting themselves and their families.
According to the World Health Organization, as of October 17, there have been more than 9,211 cases of Ebola and more than 4,554 deaths from the disease reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
I would like to acknowledge the valiant work of West African countries, many of whose health care workers have tragically died as they worked to contain this outbreak. As of October 14, Ebola had affected 423 health care workers, killing 239 of them. The World Health Organization has warned that there could be 5,000 to 10,000 new Ebola cases per week by December of this year if the international community fails to act.
Right now, this outbreak has the world's attention and deservedly so. There are very sound reasons to treat this situation with great urgency and seriousness. However, if history has taught us anything, it is that few challenges cannot be overcome by the determination and resources of a united and committed global community. In the face of an unprecedented challenge, the world is capable of unprecedented action.
We know what needs to be done and the tools exist to do it. We are at a turning point where it is critical to respond to the rallying cry for help if we hope to contain this devastating disease and treat those who have been affected.
I have been very proud to see that Canada has been at the forefront of the international response to this outbreak. We have committed over $65 million to the United Nations and others to improve treatment and prevention, improve health capacity to save lives and support basics such as nutrition. We need to combat the disease as well as the fear and ignorance that surround it if we are to be successful.
On September 18, the United Nations Security Council declared the Ebola outbreak to be a threat to peace and security in West Africa. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged last month, this has become more than a health issue; it is now a social and economic one as well, with regional implications.
As a result, the UN announced the deployment of a new Ebola emergency health mission to bring together the full range of UN actors and expertise in order to support national efforts in affected countries. UNMEER is the first-ever UN emergency health mission set up in response to the unprecedented outbreak.
The United Nations and the World Health Organization have declared the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in West Africa both a public health emergency and a complex crisis requiring a range of measures. With our recent announcement, Canada is among the key donors to the Ebola crisis response. Canada recognized early the risks that this Ebola outbreak represents and has already made significant contributions in support of humanitarian and security interventions to help contain its spread.
Ours is a whole of government approach which includes contributions from our embassies in affected regions, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Transport Canada. Canada's funding will support the international efforts to stop the outbreak, treat patients, ensure essential services, preserve stability and prevent outbreaks in surrounding, but as of yet, unaffected countries.
Up to $18 million of this new funding will go to the WHO and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to strengthen the medical response in Ebola-affected countries as well as assisting non-affected neighbouring countries. They will also help prepare local health structures in how to deal with people who have contracted Ebola.
Up to $13.5 million will be contributed to the World Food Programme and the UN Ebola multi-partner trust fund to meet critical gaps in the response as well as the logistics and transportation needs of responders.
Finally, up to $20.5 million will go to the UN and World Food Programme to provide health education to communities and improve access to basic services including food and water. This will provide a foundation for greater local engagement on the dispelling of fears surrounding the disease as well as expanding prevention and community care services for Ebola patients.
We are providing on the ground laboratory diagnostic support in Sierra Leone through the deployment of scientists from the Public Health Agency of Canada and also supporting experts to be sent through the Red Cross and UN operations.
In addition, Canada donated up to 1,000 doses of experimental vaccine developed in labs in Canada to the WHO, so that they can be made available as an international resource. The vials represent two-thirds of the total vials of this experimental vaccine currently in the possession of the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Canada will keep a small supply of the experimental vaccine to conduct research in clinical trials on safety and efficacy. We will also keep some vials in the unlikely event they are needed in Canada. These vials, offered for donation, are already on their way to the WHO in Geneva. The first shipment left yesterday.
The vaccine vials are being sent in three separate shipments as a precautionary measure due to the challenges in moving a vaccine that must be kept at a very low temperature, -80°C is my understanding, at all times and in the event that there is an accident during shipping.
The WHO has determined that there are some important safety and ethical considerations that it needs to resolve before the vaccine vials can be given to people. The global community, under the leadership of the WHO, is making progress addressing those issues. There are also logistical challenges.
Canada stands ready to support the WHO and we expect to see our donated experimental vaccine deployed as quickly, ethically and as safely as possible. Canada welcomes efforts to strengthen the co-ordination of efforts through the new UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response and we have called for an integrated plan that outlines the roles of all groups and countries involved.
Canada will continue to explore how we can further respond acting on the humanitarian assistance that is the clearest expression of our shared Canadian values. Canadians stand with the people of West Africa during these extraordinarily challenging times and with all those on the front line fighting the Ebola outbreak in this region.
In that context, Canada remains committed to working with our partners in the international community to help stop the outbreak, treat patients and meet humanitarian needs.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to respond to a question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster. He took issue with a comment that I made on the floor, which I will cite verbatim. I stated:
There are regular reports of people receiving multiple cards and using them to vote multiple times. That, too, can be found on the Elections Canada website.
The cards in question are the voter information cards Elections Canada provides to electors who are on the voters list to indicate to them where and when they can cast their ballots.
The second sentence in my statement is as follows:
That, too, can be found on the Elections Canada website.
That, of course, is used as a pronoun here and refers to multiple voting and multiple cards. Therefore, let us check whether Elections Canada's website does, in fact, have cases that deal with either or both of those. I turn members' attention to that website, and I will share a few URLs, which are too long to list here on the floor, but I am sure members will have no problem finding them.
For example, I turn members' attention to the Commissioner of Canada Elections' compliance agreement, which states:
This notice is published by the Commissioner of Canada Elections pursuant to section 521 of the Canada Elections Act, S.C. 2000, c. 9 (hereafter referred to as the “Act”).
On September 20, 2013, and pursuant to section 517 of the Act, the Commissioner of Canada Elections entered into a compliance agreement with Ms. Laura-Emmanuelle Gagné (hereafter referred to as the “Contracting Party”), of the city of Montréal, Quebec, who was an elector in the electoral district of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie during the 2011 federal general election.
The Contracting Party has acknowledged acts that may have constituted a failure to comply with section 7 of the Act, which provides that no elector who has voted at an election may request a second ballot at that election.
The Contracting Party has acknowledged that, on May 2, 2011, polling day for the 2011 federal general election, she voted in the Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie electoral district before proceeding that same day to the Laurier—Sainte-Marie electoral district and requesting and obtaining a second ballot.
Specifically, the Contracting Party has acknowledged the following:
During the period leading up to the May 2, 2011, federal general election, she received two voter information cards in her name, one for the electoral district of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, in which she resided, and one for the neighbouring electoral district of Laurier—Sainte-Marie, in which she did not reside.
On May 2, 2011, she went to polling division No. 103 in the electoral district of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie with three unidentified persons and a hidden camera provided by those persons, and voted.
That same day, she went to polling division No. 002 in the electoral district of Laurier—Sainte-Marie, and found that her name had been struck off the list of electors for that electoral district and moved to the list of electors for the electoral district of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
Given that her name had been struck off the list of electors for the electoral district of Laurier—Sainte-Marie, she asked to register using a registration certificate so that she might vote, then requested and obtained another ballot, which she completed before spoiling it.
She erroneously believed that spoiling the second ballot meant that she was not committing an offence under the Act.
The hoax in which she took part was broadcast on May 5, 2011, on Infoman, a show produced by Zone3 Inc., on Radio-Canada.
The Contracting Party has accepted responsibility for these acts, and she is now aware of section 7 of the Act and the offence provision at paragraph 483(b) of the Act.
There we have one example of someone receiving multiple voting cards, enabling the possibility of voting more than once. She obtained two ballots as a result of having two voter information cards and having been allowed to use those cards for that said purpose.
I have a second case, which is almost identical. I am not going to repeat all the same language, because it is pro forma, but the second example is of Mr. Simon Poulin, hereinafter referred to as “The Contracting Party”, and I quote:
...he voted in the Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie electoral district before proceeding that same day to the Laurier—Sainte-Marie electoral district and requesting and obtaining a second ballot.
It goes on to say:
During the period leading up to the May 2, 2011, federal general election, he received two voter information cards in his name, one for the electoral district of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, in which he resided, and one for the neighbouring electoral district of Laurier—Sainte-Marie, in which he did not reside.
On May 2, 2011, he went to polling division No. 103 in the electoral district of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie with three unidentified persons and a hidden camera provided by those persons, and voted.
That same day, he went to polling division No. 002 in the electoral district of Laurier—Sainte-Marie, and found that his name had been struck off the list of electors for that electoral district and moved to the list of electors for the electoral district of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
Given that his name had been struck off the list of electors for the electoral district of Laurier—Sainte-Marie, he asked to register using a registration certificate so that he might vote, then requested and obtained another ballot, which he completed before spoiling it.
This is evidence of people receiving multiple voting cards, which enables the practice of multiple voting.
I will move on to additional examples.
On December 5, 2011 the Commissioner of Canada Elections, pursuant to section 517 of the Canada Elections Act, entered into a compliance agreement with Mr. Jacques Nadeau (hereinafter referred to as the Contracting Party)...
The contracting party has acknowledged that he voted by special ballot in the office of the returning office for the electoral district of Mégantic--L'Érable on April 20, 2011. He also acknowledged that he wilfully requested a second ballot for the same electoral district at the advance poll on April 25, 2011.
That case, I should point out, did not involve the use of the voter information card. However, going back to my original statement, I referred in general terms to the phenomenon of multiple voting, and this case is one such example.
I will now move on to a fourth example of dealing with the issue of multiple voting. On June 27, 2006, the commissioner entered into a compliance agreement with the contracting party, who is from Montreal, and I quote:
In this agreement, the contracting party admits to acts that constitute an offence under section 7 of the Canada Elections Act, as she registered and requested a second special ballot on January 12, 2006, in the electoral district of Jeanne-Le Ber, after having already voted by special ballot in the same electoral district on December 5, 2005, with the mistaken belief that in the case of the first vote, it was in a by-election.
Now I move on to a fifth example of multiple voting, which is also on the Elections Canada website:
In this agreement, the contracting party admits to acts that constitute an offence under section 7 of the Canada Elections Act, as she registered and requested a second ballot on polling day, June 28, 2004, in the electoral district of Clarington—Scugog—Uxbridge, after having already voted at an advance poll in the electoral district of Huron—Bruce...
This case is where someone voted twice, once in each riding. This was based on the mistaken belief that if a person has two residences, a person can vote twice, something that is obviously not true and something that this particular elector has since learned and acknowledged.
I have a sixth example. On July 20, 2006, the commissioner entered into an agreement with the contracting party, of the city of Stephenville. It is an issue whereby the individual in question requested a second ballot on January 23, 2006, in the electoral district of Random—Burin—St. George's, after having already voted in the advance poll in the same electoral district on January 16, 2006.
There is a seventh example. The commissioner signed an agreement with a citizen from Woodstock, Ontario. The offence, again, was that the person requested a second ballot in the 2004 election in the riding of Toronto—Danforth after having already voted in the advance poll in the electoral district of Oxford.
I have just given seven examples of multiple voting, and I gave two examples where the receipt of multiple voter information cards occurred and led to electors seeking a second ballot after they had already voted. Therefore, if you look to my original comments, you will find that they were indeed accurate.
All the examples I have shared with the House are found on Elections Canada's website, which is precisely what I suggested in my statement. Therefore, my comments are an accurate reflection of the reality people would find if they went to that site, and I stand by the comments.
The member for Huron—Bruce must address his comments to the Chair and not to other members.
I do not know if he wants to complete his answer, which he has time to do.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the great and hard-working member for Huron—Bruce. His speech follows mine.
I would like to join my colleagues in voicing support for the implementation of the Canada-Honduras free trade agreement. On November 27, 2013, our Conservative government unveiled the global markets action plan. This strategy is part of our ongoing efforts to create jobs, growth, and prosperity for Canadians. The global market action plan will focus on 80 countries that have been identified as target markets for Canadian business. The plan aims to grow our exports, which are vital to Canada as a trading nation. For example, the plan foresees increasing the percentage of Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises that are active in emerging markets from 29% to 50% by 2018.
However, we will not focus only on traditional areas, such as exports. Canadian companies need to innovate to survive. Businesses that make science, innovation, and research and development a core part of their strategy are creating the kinds of skilled, well-paying jobs that we want here in Canada, so the plan will also work to stimulate new innovation partnerships.
Gaining preferential market access is also an important role of the government's strategy. We cannot afford to hold back while our competitors are securing important trade deals. We need to be sure that we can compete and that we can deliver on the expectations of Canada's exporters, investors, and service providers. They have made it clear that we need to help them open doors so that they can generate jobs and growth in their communities. This is precisely why bolstering Canada's commercial relationships in rapidly growing markets around the world, such as Honduras, is an important part of our long-term prosperity plan.
Our Conservative government is currently pursuing an ambitious trade and investment agenda. Last fall the Prime Minister announced that an agreement in principle had been reached with the European Union. Once the Canada-EU comprehensive economic and trade agreement is implemented, it will secure access to 28 diverse markets and more than 500 million consumers. There would be 500 million new customers for Canadian businesses. The agreement will cover virtually all aspects of our trade with Europe, such as goods and services, labour mobility, investment, and procurement, including sub-national procurement, to name just a few of the areas. Canada stands to benefit from access to the world's biggest market, with a $17 trillion GDP. This is a landmark achievement for Canada and Canadian companies.
While the agreement with the EU will bring important benefits for Canadian companies, it would be short-sighted to focus exclusively on one area of the world. In October 2012, Canada joined the negotiations for the multilateral trans-Pacific partnership, the TPP. This group includes 12 Asia-Pacific countries, and when we look at all of the current TPP countries together, we see they represent over 39% of the world's economy, with a combined GDP of $28.1 trillion. It is absolutely critical that we take advantage of this chance to favourably position Canadian companies in the Asia-Pacific market.
Looking beyond the TPP, talks are also well under way with Japan and Korea.
I would also like to highlight our Conservative government's most recent international trade announcement, the launch of modernization and expansion negotiations with Israel. During his first official visit to the region, the Prime Minister confirmed that we will modernize existing chapters in the Canada-Israel free trade agreement in the areas of market access for goods, rules of origin, institutional provisions, and dispute settlements. In addition to updating key areas, Canada will also seek to negotiate new chapters in the areas of trade facilitation, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, intellectual property, electronic commerce, labour, and environment. This undertaking will enhance the bilateral commercial flows by reducing technical barriers, enhancing co-operation, increasing transparency in regulatory matters, and reducing the transaction costs for businesses.
The updated Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement is yet another aspect of our broad international trade agenda. Modernization of free trade agreements, like the one we are undertaking with Israel, are about keeping Canadian companies competitive.
The issue of competitiveness is also at the heart of why we need to implement our free trade agreement with Honduras. The U.S. and EU already have free trade agreements with Honduras. How can we give our companies an edge if we cannot ensure they are getting comparable treatment? Keeping pace with Canada's main competitors is just one reason that we need to move forward with this deal.
There are other benefits to the free trade agreement as well, which I would like to reiterate. First, the agreement would help Canadian producers and exporters by eliminating tariffs. That is what free trade does. This will help a variety of Canadian companies and sectors, such as chemical products, wood, pulp, pulp and paper products, vehicles, auto parts, as well as fish and seafood. It will also be advantageous to Canadian agriculture producers in areas such as beef, pork, and processed potato products. Canada's service providers would enjoy enhanced commitments in sectors of export interest to Canada, such as natural resources, professional services, information and communication technologies.
Moreover, Canadian investors would be protected by the agreement's legally binding obligations to ensure they will be treated in a non-discriminatory manner and have the ability to access transparent, impartial, and binding dispute settlements.
As part of Canada's 21st century approach to trade agreements, Canada has also included language on corporate social responsibility, as we heard from my colleague earlier in this free trade agreement. This acknowledges Canada's expectations that our companies observe internationally recognized standards of responsible business conduct, both at home and abroad.
Our commitment to supporting good corporate governance does not end there. Along with the free trade agreement, we are also ratifying parallel agreements between Canada and Honduras on labour co-operation and environmental co-operation. This is part of our commitment to make sure that labour and environmental practices do not suffer at the hands of increased trade.
With such a comprehensive approach to free trade agreement negotiations, it is no surprise that the resulting Canada-Honduras free trade agreement is a high-quality agreement. Its benefits, and those of the government's and other international trade initiatives, should be clear to all hon. members. That is why I am urging that this House adopt this agreement.
That is not a point of order. Returning to the member for Huron—Bruce.
Point of order. The member for Huron—Bruce will have to take his chair for a moment.
The hon. member for Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher on a point of order.
Order, please. I did not hear that. There is quite a lot of noise going back and forth. It would be easy for the Speaker to pick up on these things if there was less of that.
I will give the floor back to the hon. member for Huron—Bruce who has two minutes left to conclude his remarks.
I did not catch it but I would remind the hon. member for Huron—Bruce that even when quoting from other documents or articles, members are still not supposed to use proper names.
I will give the floor back to the hon. member for Huron—Bruce.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Huron—Bruce for his support for veterans and for bringing the Helmets to Hardhats partners to the table.
This morning, I spoke to the Royal Canadian Legion in Halifax and announced a new measure to cut red tape for veterans who travel for medical purposes.
With these new measures, veterans will no longer have to submit receipts to receive the financial support they need to cover travel expenses incurred for medical appointments. Dominion president, Pat Varga, says that any change or improvement that makes the process easier for veterans is great.
I will support—
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Huron—Bruce for his commitment to our great veterans and their families.
We are building on the successes of the privacy action plan to ensure that the private information of our veterans remains protected. That is why I present today the privacy action plan 2.0, which includes providing targeted training on privacy principles, streamlining consent forms and ensuring new initiatives are compliant with privacy requirements.
Our government is clear: we will not tolerate any privacy breach.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Huron—Bruce is a colleague of mine on the agri-food and agriculture committee.
We are protecting the safety of individuals. There has been a number of questions with respect to whether we are cutting inspectors. The answer is we are not reducing staff or cutting programs that would impact the health and safety of Canadians in any manner. We are returning inspectors to the provinces where they belong, under provincial jurisdiction, and rightly so as they are responsible for that.
I would also add that our agriculture minister has been outstanding in terms of what he has done to try to open markets for Canadian farmers, cattlemen and hog producers right across the country and around the world.
Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure for me to join this debate in the House of Commons on the quality of care for Canada's veterans. Some misinformation has been put out in the House today with regard to cuts or possible cuts to veterans' services and benefits. Many of my colleagues, including the minister, have corrected this misinformation in question period a number of times. Once again, I am pleased to set the record straight.
As the Minister of Veterans Affairs just mentioned in his speech, our government will always ensure that there are the necessary funds to provide Canadian Forces members, veterans and their families with the care and the support that they need. It is true that the number of traditional war service veterans served by the Department of Veterans Affairs is decreasing. While there are younger veterans entering the system at Veterans Affairs, the overall number of veterans served by the department is decreasing.
Their needs must be addressed. If we look at this government's record over the last six years, members will see that the benefits provided have actually expanded. I would like to point out all of the programs to which veterans are entitled are quasi-statutory. Many people will ask what exactly this means. There may be some uncertainty on the other side of the House. What it means is that the Government of Canada must provide these funds to administer those programs.
I will say that one more time for clarity. The Government of Canada must provide the funds to administer those programs. Veterans have the right to various programs and services that they need. The Treasury Board sets aside whatever money is necessary each year to make sure that the department can continue to provide those benefits.
The member presenting the motion is either misinformed or trying to misinform. The fact is the Minister of Veterans Affairs has said it very nicely. He has clearly summarized that the improvements our government has made over the last six years have been in the name of veterans. We know that the needs of veterans are changing and the care of veterans is evolving. It stands to reason that the way veterans access and receive those benefits should change as well.
Our government recognizes this. It has chosen to invest in new programs and initiatives and not just maintain the status quo. Veterans Affairs Canada is creating a more responsive environment for veterans to make sure that they have faster and easier access to the benefits that they deserve with as little stress as possible.
I am splitting my time with the member for Huron—Bruce.
The department serves close to 215,000 modern-day veterans, war service veterans, members of the Canadian Forces, members and former members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and their families. All of these people in these groups have their own individual needs. It is our job to ensure that these needs are met effectively and efficiently.
How are we achieving this? A lot has changed. The minister announced two weeks ago that he is cutting red tape for veterans' initiatives. Most of these changes enhance front line services and reduce processing times. The minister launched the cutting red tape for veterans' initiatives, which will provide our veterans with the hassle-free service they have asked for without bureaucratic roadblocks. There were resounding responses from veterans saying this is exactly what they have been asking for.
We have also taken action in the following areas. We are communicating with veterans in plain language. Information provided to our veterans, whether it be decision letters or brochures on benefits and services, will be written in a language that is easy to understand.
We have invested in technology which allows the department to make greater use of digital imaging and electronic records.
We have supported the helmets to hardhats program, which helps veterans who are trying to find high paying opportunities to see those opportunities in trades and areas where their skills are needed. We have implemented directed deposits for some VIP payments or reimbursements for treatment benefits.
We have also reduced by one-third the time it takes for a veteran to receive a decision on applications for disability benefits. We have cut in half the time that it takes for a veteran to receive a decision on applications for rehabilitation programs. We have established an Afghanistan and serious injury unit to fast-track the benefits for Canadian Forces members and veterans who have become seriously injured or ill while serving in Afghanistan or elsewhere.
We have added case managers to areas of high demand across this country to deliver one-on-one service for veterans. They have been given more authority to approve vocational rehabilitation plans and work with the veterans to resolve complex challenges. We have reduced the amount of paperwork for veterans when they apply for veterans independence programs which now help 107,000 veterans, survivors and their caregivers remain independent in their homes for as long as possible.
That is an impressive list of accomplishments. Long overdue some would say. Nevertheless, real progress has been made by the department to update the care for Canada's veterans.
I know that the work is far from done. In fact, the Minister of Veterans Affairs has stated very publicly that he intends to lead by example. He wants his department to be one of the most efficient and responsive in all of government. After all, Canada's veterans deserve nothing less.
As the minister stated in his remarks, Canada's veterans have done far more than their fair share to build our great country, to defend our shared values and to make Canada's red maple leaf an enduring symbol of peace and freedom around the world. This government is doing its fair share in ensuring that they are well looked after.
The motion of the member--
Order, please. I regret to interrupt the hon. member. I would ask for a little order from members while the member for Huron—Bruce is answer questions.
The hon. member for Huron—Bruce.
Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Huron—Bruce says he is passionate about this issue. However, I detected a distinct absence of passion and perhaps even an absence of recognition that we are facing a demographic crisis in this country as an aging population is left with insufficient resources to enjoy the dignified senior years that he was waxing eloquently about a couple of minutes ago.
Let me ask him about the double whammy that is facing us.
In the post-war years, we tried to address seniors' poverty and we did put in place measures that drastically reduced seniors' poverty. However, that curve has turned. It has hit bottom and is rising back up again. At a time that we have this exploding demographic blip of baby boomers reaching their retirement years, we have an assault on pensions; not only an unwillingness to increase the state-sponsored pensions but Thomas d'Aquino, in his wisdom, 10 years ago declared war on the defined benefit pension system and then he systematically set about to attack it at every turn. Now they are blaming so-called legacy costs on lack of productivity. It is an attack on pensions just when the demographics of the country indicate and dictate that we should be expanding, broadening and enhancing pensions.
How does the member explain this contradiction and a lack of action by his government on either of those fronts?
The electoral district of Huron--Bruce (Ontario) has a population of 104,313 with 76,964 registered voters and 217 polling divisions.
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