Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North is aware, the environment is a shared jurisdiction between the provinces and the federal government. We have always been clear that all levels of government and industry have a role to play in addressing climate change, as do all Canadians. Provinces and territories are implementing programs and measures that will contribute to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Montcalm, Health; the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North: The Environment; and the hon. member for Québec, Quebec Bridge.
Mr. Speaker, Canadians from Thunder Bay—Superior North and across Canada are repeatedly sending me petitions about the Communist Chinese persecuting Falun Gong only because the latter have a spiritual belief in truth, compassion, and forbearance.
David Kilgour, a former member, has compiled tremendous amounts of evidence about murders and organ harvesting, and so my petitioners request that we condemn the Communist Chinese government for murdering people for their organs, and to end the persecution of Falun Gong in China.
Before resuming debate, it is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North, Natural Resources.
Mr. Speaker, I have received a series of petitions from people in Thunder Bay—Superior North and northwestern Ontario. The petitioners are concerned about the NWMO's, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, plan to bury waste, quite likely in 1 of 15 northern Ontario communities
The petitioners call on the Government of Canada to not allow the construction of nuclear waste depositories in northern Ontario, nor the transport of radioactive material through northern Ontario communities.
I believe the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster was making an appeal for relevance. He will know that the Chair does not usually intervene on relevance in the first seven or eight seconds of a question or comment, but I do think the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North will get to the substance of the private members' bill with which we are dealing.
The hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North.
Mr. Speaker, I am receiving hundreds and hundreds of petitions dealing with the Nuclear Waste Management Organization. Many of these petitioners are from Thunder Bay—Superior North, and others from across northern Ontario.
NWMO is considering 15 communities for the storage of nuclear waste in northern Ontario, in close proximity to Lake Superior, which supplies drinking water to 60 million people. The petitioners ask that the NWMO reject proposals to construct nuclear waste facilities in northern Ontario and reject any proposals to transport nuclear waste through northern Ontario communities.
Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today.
The first one is from citizens of Thunder Bay—Superior North who are concerned about the nuclear waste management organization's plan to perhaps bury nuclear waste from southern Ontario in northern Ontario, especially in the Lake Superior watershed, which supplies drinking water indirectly to 60 million people in the Great Lakes Basin, which holds over 20% of the world's fresh water.
The petitioners ask that the proposals be rejected and that transport through Thunder Bay—Superior North also be rejected.
The second petition is with regard to climate change. The petitioners say that the economic costs will be in the tens of billions of dollars annually, that flooding damages to a variety of coastlines will occur and that there are many other effects as well.
The petitioners want us to invest in climate adaptations.
Mr. Speaker, Canadians across the country have written to me repeatedly expressing their anxiety over the lack of quality services for seniors especially, including the slashing of services to veterans. In Thunder Bay—Superior North, my constituents are extremely concerned about how the Conservatives plan to deal with their growing problems. Health care is a priority for Canadians and the Conservatives have not adequately addressed the needs of seniors.
As Canadians, we pride ourselves on our universal health care that seems to shield us from inequalities sometimes seen by our neighbours in the U.S. We hear stories of how radiation therapy has bankrupted American families, how Americans hesitate to visit the emergency room because they do not know if they can afford it. We listen to these stories and have thought we were protected from this, but our confidence is declining.
Not only is the cost of pharmacare too high for most Canadians, but the growing demand for long-term care facilities and in-home workers for seniors has not been met with planning, or funding or action.
The Conservatives should realize by now that our growing senior population will require more long-term care facilities and that there is a huge demand for residential care as well, as many seniors wish to remain in their homes and with their loved ones as long as possible. Unfortunately, the supply of in-home care is simply insufficient. We are not doing enough to support in-home care for seniors. As a result, many seniors are forced into expensive acute care beds in hospitals that are better used for other patients. This is hugely inefficient and winds up costing seniors more than they can bear, and our health care system even more.
In-home caregivers and services have been praised by those in the health care system as being a more dignified and cost-efficient way for seniors to receive the care they need at home. Seniors can maintain their independence much longer and thus have the freedom to manage their lives as they see fit.
A part of managing their lives is learning to manage their finances. Seniors need some education on how to organize the financial aspects of their lives in this complex world. Without this, seniors are prone to poverty and a reduced standard of living. Education is one key to keeping seniors financially stable despite the changing economic climate.
It is hard to see what the Conservatives have done to improved health care for seniors while they have been in power. One thing they have entirely neglected is the vulnerable state of seniors' retirement savings. We need to increase CPP. We know that most Canadians depend on CPP, but with their current benefits, many seniors are falling into poverty. We need to strengthen CPP and protect seniors from the trappings of poverty.
The Conservatives have avoided this issue every time it has been brought up. They have done nothing to implement much-needed pension reform and thus leave Canadian seniors worried for their financial stability. Canadians need a national strategy to fight seniors poverty. The federal government needs to match sentiment of Canadians and make this a priority.
It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North, Seniors; and the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst, Official Languages.
Resuming debate. The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice.
Mr. Speaker, addiction is a huge problem in Thunder Bay—Superior North and across Canada. Canadians are the world's second-largest per capita consumers of opioids, and these cause one in eight deaths among young adults.
Suboxone is not addictive like methadone, actually prevents abuse, and is much safer and more effective than methadone. Will the minister take steps to make Suboxone the first line of treatment for opioids?
Mr. Speaker, there was so much factually incorrect about the statement from the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North that I really do not quite know where to start. Maybe if I could get him to step out from under that umbrella of conspiracy theories, we could just talk about the facts instead of some fictional conspiracy theory he has.
Here are the facts. Charities registered under the Income Tax Act are afforded the valuable privilege of providing tax receipts to their donors. In fact, in Canada, as the hon. member should know, 86,000 registered charities issued receipts worth more than $14 billion in 2012. The idea that none of those charities should be checked is ludicrous.
The reality is that in return for those tax receipts, Canadians expect that the government will take all the necessary steps required to ensure that their charitable donations are used for charitable purposes. All registered charities are required by law to have exclusively charitable purposes. Some political activity may be allowed, provided that it is not partisan in nature and that it is connected and subordinated to the charity's purposes.
These rules are not new. They have been around for decades. I know the CRA goes to great lengths to support charities and help them meet their obligations as easily as possible. In recent years, it has provided a wide range of new tools and resources and has updated and improved existing ones to help charities better understand the rules, including those rules that relate to political activities.
Fostering voluntary compliance and helping charities get it right from the start is always the number one priority.
The CRA ensures compliance through a balanced program of education, guidance, and responsible enforcement. Audits are an important part of the CRA's overall approach, as they allow CRA officials to better understand a charity's activities to confirm whether it is complying with the rules.
Whenever the CRA conducts an audit, whether related to political activities or any other issue, it follows an education-first approach and uses the full range of compliance measures at its disposal, including education letters and compliance agreements, to ensure that the rules are followed.
Let me be clear. The rules related to political activities apply to all registered charities, and the CRA's compliance efforts also apply to all charities. No charity, no sector, is singled out. The process for identifying which charities will be audited for political activities is handled by the CRA alone in a fair and consistent way. As with all CRA audit activities, it is not subject to political guidance.
Frankly, the member opposite is attempting to politicize something that is completely removed from the political process, and it is absolutely shameful that he would do that.
That member, along with a few others, should be asking himself why he is attempting to score cheap political points at the expense of public servants. I have full confidence in the professionalism, integrity, and fairness of CRA officials who administer the charities program on a day-to-day basis. I can assure the members of this House that these officials are doing their jobs professionally, competently, and free of any political direction.
It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North, Canada Revenue Agency; the hon. member for Halifax West, National Defence; the hon. member for Winnipeg North, Ethics.
Mr. Speaker, veterans and all seniors in Thunder Bay—Superior North are worried. My constituent, Louise Fisher, laments that, “Nothing is being done federally to ensure that quality services are available across Canada for our seniors.” For example, we have declining health care services and a lack of in-home support for our seniors.
When will the minister ensure that all of Canada's seniors are respected and supported?
Mr. Speaker, I represent Thunder Bay—Superior North and more than 85,000 northern Ontarians who have seen high rates of unemployment thanks to NAFTA, the recession of 2008 and the collapse of the forestry industry. Unfortunately, the Conservatives have consistently limited access to EI and residents who are struggling to make ends meet are forced to pay the price.
Sadly, the Conservative attack on EI is nothing new. The Conservatives are simply taking a page from the playbook of the Liberal government that came before them. In 2000, the Liberals were the first to limit access to EI. They established a huge surplus for the government's benefit to pad the government's pockets with workers' money and the money of small businesses. Later, the Supreme Court ruled the Liberals had illegally turned the EI fund into a tax grab.
I had hoped that the Conservatives might be serious about ending the Liberals' excessive premiums for employers and workers, but in 2010, the Conservatives showed their real colours and followed in the footsteps of the Liberals.
The government of the current Prime Minister made it increasingly difficult for EI claimants to access benefits, all while hiking costs to workers and employers. The EI rate was increased 9% between 2008 and 2013. The Conservatives, after three successive years of EI premium hikes, have now elevated rates well above what the program actually costs, with no regard for the consequences the average Canadian will face.
When the Minister of Finance first announced a slight rollback in EI premiums for small-business owners in September, I was somewhat hopeful. As a small-business owner myself, I am keenly aware of how important small businesses are to our economic growth. Under the Conservatives, big businesses get plenty of subsidies. Meanwhile, small and medium-sized businesses are responsible for the lion's share of job creation and economic activity in Canada.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer found just this month that the Conservative approach to the EI will cost Canadian workers an incredible 9,200 jobs, almost 10,000 jobs, through mismanagement. What's more, their small business credit would cost $0.5 million and would only generate 800 jobs over the next three years.
However, the government claimed the credit would create 25 times as many jobs as that. Once again, as is frequently true, the Conservative claims are at odds with the facts. Even conservative economists are slamming the government's bad plan. Jack Mintz, from the University of Calgary, says that EI premiums should be lowered across the board, which would make sense given the years of unnecessary hikes.
The extra EI money could have been used to extend benefits to those who need them. Instead, the Conservatives are slashing benefits. The surplus could have aided an additional 130,000 workers over the next three years, or they could have used it to boost the economy, health care or education, including job training. Keeping unemployed workers from slipping into poverty makes good economic sense. Each dollar dispensed to EI benefits sparks $1.60 in economic growth.
It is incredible to me and to logical Canadians that the Conservatives keep reiterating their blarney about jobs, economic prosperity and long-term solutions, when all they ever seem to do is pad their own government pockets with taxpayers' money.
When and how will the Conservatives end their legacy of carelessness and damaging employment insurance policies?
The electoral district of Thunder Bay--Superior North (Ontario) has a population of 82,589 with 62,338 registered voters and 195 polling divisions.
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