May 8, 2015

NDP

Matthew Kellway

New Democratic Party

Mr. Matthew Kellway

With regard to government funding for each fiscal year from 2008-2009 to 2014-2015: what is the total amount allocated within the constituency of Beaches—East York, broken down by each (i) department or agency, (ii) initiative, (iii) amount?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Sub-subtopic:   Question No. 1122
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(Return tabled)


NDP

Laurin Liu

New Democratic Party

Ms. Laurin Liu

With regard to trade missions conducted by the government since 2011: (a) how many trade missions have occurred and which countries have been visited; and (b) which Canadian companies have participated in each trade mission, identifying (i) the location of each company’s headquarters, (ii) the dollar value that each participating company billed, (iii) the dollar value that the government covered for each participating company?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Sub-subtopic:   Question No. 1124
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(Return tabled)


LIB

Sean Casey

Liberal

Mr. Sean Casey

With regard to the National Crime Prevention Centre (NCPC): what are the details of programs that have received NCPC funding since 2006, broken down by (i) year, (ii) recipient organization, (iii) amount of funding received, (iv) percentage of program’s funding supplied by the NCPC, (v) length of funding commitment, (vi) expiry date of funding, (vii) file number of the grant or contribution, (viii) whether the program was renewed and, if so, length of renewal, (ix) whether the program evaluations were conducted and, if so, by whom, and what were the outcomes, (x) whether the program receives funding from any other federal government department or agency and, if so, what are the amounts and sources of that funding, (xi) whether any Minister of the Crown has been involved in funding decisions and, if so, what was the nature of the involvement and when did it occur?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Sub-subtopic:   Question No. 1126
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(Return tabled)


LIB

Kirsty Duncan

Liberal

Ms. Kirsty Duncan

With regard to international development assistance: what are the particulars of all grants, contributions, loans, or other financial assistance made by any department, agency, crown corporation, or other federal government organization, to any organization, body, or government, related to any project aimed at the development, promotion, or provision of sex education curriculum, services, products, or programming in any country other than Canada, since 2006, indicating in each case (i) the recipient, (ii) the amount of the financial assistance, (iii) the government organization providing the financial assistance, (iv) the program or policy pursuant to which the financial assistance was provided, (v) the location of the activity in respect of which the financial assistance was provided, (vi) the nature or description of the project, (vii) the file or reference number associated with the financial assistance?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Sub-subtopic:   Question No. 1127
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(Return tabled)


NDP

Charlie Angus

New Democratic Party

Mr. Charlie Angus

With respect to the government’s lawful intercept condition of licenses that requires the licensee to maintain interception capabilities, since 2006, broken down by year and by government departments, institutions and agencies: (a) how many times was a request made for interception; (b) was this request made with a warrant; (c) if a request was made without a warrant, what lawful authority was used, if any; and (d) was the request made for reasons of national security, terrorism, or other?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Sub-subtopic:   Question No. 1128
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(Return tabled)


NDP

Charlie Angus

New Democratic Party

Mr. Charlie Angus

With respect to the use of the government owned fleet of Challenger jets since September 2006, for each use of the aircraft: (a) how many flights have been reimbursed; (b) which flights were reimbursed; (c) who has reimbursed the flights; (d) what was the amount reimbursed; and (e) for what reason was each flight reimbursed?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Sub-subtopic:   Question No. 1130
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(Return tabled)


NDP

Fin Donnelly

New Democratic Party

Mr. Fin Donnelly

With regard to Infrastructure Canada, from fiscal year 2011-2012 to the present, broken down by fiscal year: what is the total amount allocated within the municipalities of (i) New Westminster, British Columbia, (ii) Coquitlam, British Columbia, (iii) Port Moody, British Columbia?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Sub-subtopic:   Question No. 1134
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(Return tabled)


CPC

Tom Lukiwski

Conservative

Mr. Tom Lukiwski

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Permalink
CPC

Bruce Stanton

Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bruce Stanton)

Is that agreed?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Permalink
?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Permalink

The House resumed consideration of the motion.


LIB

Kirsty Duncan

Liberal

Ms. Kirsty Duncan (Etobicoke North, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, let me begin by thanking Change.org for its work in this initiative, the tens of thousands of Canadian women who signed petitions and the NDP for bringing this motion to the House, namely, that the government should remove the GST from feminine hygiene products. The Liberal Party agrees that these products are an essential purchase, and we will support the motion.

The GST was originally designed to designate essential products with a zero rating, which ensures Canadians do not pay tax on them. As an essential product that is used by women, charging GST on them is akin to sex-based taxation. For Canadian women living in poverty, the extra cost of GST can make access to feminine hygiene products prohibitive.

Manitoba exempts feminine products from its provincial sales tax, while Nova Scotia, Ontario and British Columbia exempt them from the provincial portion of the HST. Data available through the government of Manitoba shows that the province forgoes $18 million per year by not charging its PST on feminine hygiene products. Extrapolating this data across Canada, given current demographics, it is estimated that Canadians spent $520 million on these products since 2014 and paid an additional $36 million in GST payments.

Currently the Excise Act allows for a GST zero rating on several products that are considered essential, including basic groceries, with a loss of $4.2 billion per year in tax revenue; most prescription medications, about $785 million; medical devices, $335 million; and child care and personal services, about $170 million.

It is time to recognize feminine hygiene products as essential purchases and remove what is akin to sex-based taxation, because quite simply it is unfair, and in the words of one woman, “Underlines sexism in society, a financial handicapping that extends to dry cleaning and pay equity”.

The tax on feminine hygiene products represents a ground zero of the ways in which women in Canada face unfairness and must be addressed. I will outline other areas now.

Despite significant global and national attention to gender equality and women's empowerment, Canada is nowhere near achieving equality. For example, the World Economic Forum's 2014 Gender Gap report found that Canada's ranking had fallen from a high of 14th in 2006 to 31st in 2008, and then flatlined between 18th and 21st position since 2010.

According to the World Economic Forum's 2014 report, Canada scores 17th on economic participation and opportunity, 25th on labour force participation and 27th on wage equality for similar work.

Women have been fighting for pay equity for one hundreds years in Canada, yet the gap in income between men and women in Canada still remains at 19%. Accordingly to the Conference Board, Canada ties with the United States for the 11th spot out of the 17 countries and earns a C grade. A 2005 Royal Bank of Canada report estimated the lost income potential of women in Canada due to the wage gap at about $126 billion a year.

A new report just this week from Catalyst paints a disturbing picture for Canadian women. The report found Canadian women doing the same work earned $8,000 less than men. The gap is double the global average of $4,000. The gap has serious consequences for women, their families and the Canadian economy.

Canadians should remember that in budget 2009, the Conservatives attacked the rights of Canadian women by undermining pay equity, and in 2010, they voted down the Liberal private member's bill to implement the recommendations of the 2004 Pay Equity Task Force. It included a new pay equity commission for the federal public service, crown corporations, and federally regulated corporations.

It is more than time that the value of women's skills and contributions to the labour force was recognized and the injustice of wage discrimination acknowledged and that efforts were made to achieve equal pay.

Another gap is in unpaid work. Each week I am struck by the enormous unpaid, often unknown, and under-valued contributions women make in my own community and in communities across Canada: grandmothers who look after grandchildren while parents work, young mothers who choose to stay home to raise their children, women who volunteer daily for charities, and women who serve as caregivers to ailing family members.

A staggering two-thirds of the 25 billion hours of unpaid work Canadians perform every year is undertaken by women. It is estimated to be worth up to $319 billion in the money economy, or 41% of GDP. The lack of pay for much of women's work has a direct impact on their economic security and even on their health. When women spend their time on unpaid work, they cannot undertake paid work, and as a result, their earning potential decreases considerably.

Because women's unpaid work traditionally has no dollar value attached, it took many years for governments to recognize and measure the hours dedicated to unpaid work. As a result, many women's activities were not taken into account in the development of laws and policies. This gross oversight worsened existing inequalities.

A major breakthrough in the long journey towards women's equality was initiated by a Liberal government when we started measuring unpaid work in the 1996 long form census, which provided an example to countries around the world. However, in the summer of 2010, the Conservative government eliminated the mandatory census and later replaced it with the voluntary national household survey. Question 33, which gathered data on the time spent on unpaid work, was cut from the survey, despite Canada's commitments at the United Nations.

Everyone in the House should therefore be asking these questions: How will we know how women are fairing economically and socially and how far they have come or how far they have yet to go? Why are we paying more money to receive less information, which will then make it easier for the government to hide incompetence?

Another gender gap is Canada's shocking drop in the overall health category. According to the 2014 World Economic Forum, Canada ranked 100th out of 142 countries, a drop from 49th place last year. Canadians should remember that the tragic gaps in aboriginal health outcomes continue unabated.

This past summer, Canadians grieved 15-year-old Tina Fontaine, who was found dead, wrapped in plastic, and dumped in Winnipeg's Red River. Her tragic death prompted renewed calls from families, from every provincial and territorial government, from every indigenous group, and from international organizations like the United Nations for a national public inquiry into the 1,181 missing and murdered indigenous women.

While aboriginal women make up 4.3% of Canada's population, they account for 16% of female homicides and 11.3% of missing women.

The Prime Minister and the Conservative government are on the wrong side of history in their refusal to launch a public inquiry to study the appallingly high number of missing and murdered indigenous women.

More broadly, after falling for a decade, rates of domestic violence in Canada have now levelled off, with rates of self-reported spousal violence in 2009 being the same as in 2004. We know from our daily lives that gender-based violence remains rampant. The facts support this conclusion. Half of women in Canada have suffered physical or sexual violence.

Exactly when did we as a society become accustomed to violence? Why do some men still respond angrily when the issue of gender-based violence is raised, and why does the government respond to a long-standing serious crisis in our country in a fragmented and piecemeal fashion? Violence against women and girls is abhorrent. It is a human rights violation with devastating and serious impacts that may last generations.

Each year in Canada violence and abuse drive over 100,000 women and children out of their homes and into shelters. Women in Canada continue to outnumber men 9 to 1 as victims of assault by a spouse or partner. Girls between the ages of 12 and 15 are at the greatest risk of sexual assault by a family member. The human costs of violence are incalculable.

There are economic costs too. According to a study by the Department of Justice, violence against women costs Canadian society $7.4 billion each year, including $21 million in hospitalizations and visits to doctors and emergency rooms as well as $180 million in related mental health costs.

In August 2013, the minister of health spoke at a meeting of the Canadian Medical Association, the CMA, where she announced that she would make ending family violence the theme of her tenure. She repeated a similar message at the most recent meeting of the CMA in April 2014. Canadians are still waiting for a national action plan to end violence.

According to the World Economic Forum, the gender gap is widest in politics. While the highest ranking Nordic countries have closed more than half the gap, Canada still ranks a dismal 42nd, with men outnumbering women in Parliament by a ratio of 3:1. In stark contrast, women held 45 of the 80 seats in parliament in Rwanda.

The Conservative government must put in place fundamental incentives to orient public action and policies to actually support gender equality. We need more women in politics to address the lack of fairness and justice in the institutions that formulate laws and programs that affect women's lives in such areas as family violence, health care, and pay equity. We must also understand that simply boosting the number of women in public office is only a first step.

There is a tool that would help address unfairness and address the gender gap. It is gender-based analysis, or GBA. GBA assesses how the impact of policies and programs on women might differ from their impact on men. Used correctly and implemented consistently, it can contribute to attaining the goal of gender equality.

Since 1995, the federal government has repeated its commitment to implement GBA through several announcements, yet in 2009, when the Auditor General undertook an audit of seven departments “whose responsibilities can impact men and women differently” the audit found that there was no government-wide policy requiring departments and agencies to apply GBA.

A briefing by Status of Women Canada officials revealed the presence of, and I quote, a “centre for excellence for gender-based analysis”, yet when I questioned what this centre consists of, whether it is part of the network of centres of excellence, and whether it had dedicated funding, I was told that it was “just a name”.

It is meant to reflect that GBA+ is a core competency for the government. The “plus” contained in the name is to highlight that GBA goes beyond gender and includes the examination of a range of other factors, such as age, culture, education, geography, income, and language.

When I questioned what funding is provided for GBA+, I was informed that there is, quote, “no funding”, because it is considered a core competency, and thus everyone is expected to undertake it. When I questioned what it cost to produce the two-hour online course intended to train civil servants, no answers were available.

Some 1,500 officials were thought to have taken the interactive course and received certificates. According to the Clerk of the Privy Council, the number of employees of the federal public service in March 2013 was close to 263,000. How many of the bureaucracy's executives, deputy ministers, and associate deputy ministers have actually taken the course and have prescribed it to their teams?

It should be noted that no further training was thought to be required beyond this initial one-time, two-hour course. It is disturbing that there was no tracking of whether departments had a GBA+ unit, whether they had undertaken the pilot project, or what they had invested in GBA+.

More broadly, what agencies and departments can provide evidence that shows that GBA+ is used in designing public policy? What agencies and departments can provide evidence to cabinet and Treasury Board on the gender impacts of policy proposals? Has there been a gender-based analysis of the tax on feminine hygiene products?

Today we know that women account for 50.4% of the Canadian population. We also know that gender equality can enhance productivity, improve outcomes for the next generation, and make institutions more representative.

Ending unfairness and closing the gaps in Canada will require real answers regarding the government's level of commitment to GBA+. Let us all hold the federal government accountable for its responsibility to effectively engage Canadian women, and let us demand that it stop shirking this responsibility by disarming advocacy groups.

Women's help and ideas are needed to see what Canada can do better to increase the participation of women in our economy, to ensure their health and safety and that of their children, and to build a better life for all Canadians.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Feminine Hygiene Products
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CPC

Rick Norlock

Conservative

Mr. Rick Norlock (Northumberland—Quinte West, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I was listening to the member intently, and she made a lot of accusations. I guess that she fails to realize that the government has done much for the women of this country.

She just needs to take a look at small businesses. We know that the majority, some 60%, of single-employer businesses or small businesses are owned by women. Those are the last statistics I have heard. What did we do? We turned around and made the employment insurance program for those small businesses, most of them owned by women, so that they could collect employment insurance and receive the same kinds of benefits, especially maternity benefits, that other people enjoy.

When we talk about reducing taxes, we have reduced taxes right across the board. We have reduced the GST by 2%, so every single person, including women, does not pay that amount in GST.

In this government, some senior civil servants and more and more heads of departments are women. Under the previous Liberal government, I do not think there were any more senior bureaucrats who were women.

We have done much, especially in the private sector. My question is this: If a person is male, should he be refused a job in the civil service or anywhere else simply because of his gender, or should it be that the best person who is qualified for the job gets it?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Feminine Hygiene Products
Permalink

May 8, 2015