Jenny Kwan, MP

Member of Parliament, Vancouver East

Latest News

Jenny on adding respect for Indigenous peoples' treaty rights to the Canadian Citizenship Oath

On February 24, 2020, I rose to speak the Bill C-6, "An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's call to action number 94)."

Madam Speaker, for generations, Canada has welcomed newcomers from around the globe looking to arrive here and contribute to this great place we call home. Canada has openly welcomed people fleeing political, economic and social hardships as well as those looking for better opportunities to better themselves and their families.

The multicultural mosaic of Canadian society has been shaped by people from all walks of life who have chosen to live freely together to ensure peace and respect for all. In welcoming those to our beloved country, we look to continue and strengthen that tradition of diversity and inclusion for all and those who wish to call Canada home.

As we begin to debate on Bill C-6, an act to amend the Citizenship Act, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's call to action number 94, we need to acknowledge Canada's colonial history. Embedded in that history are many chapters of how Canada legislated against and discriminated against the ethnic minority community.

The Chinese people who came before me helped Canada build the railway to connect this country from coast to coast to coast. They went through hell to earn me the right to stand here today. They sacrificed everything, and some paid with their blood. They took on the most dangerous work to help build the railway, and they fought for Canada even though they were deemed “aliens”. They were discriminated against and mistreated in ways that will make us hang our heads in shame.

I have learned from elders and the stories of how it was Indigenous peoples, themselves experiencing discrimination, who came forward to support the Chinese people. They helped them, housed them, fed them, clothed them, gave them medicine and offered a sense of belonging, and treated them with humanity. In practice, they have shown the world again and again that the most important life lesson is humanity; this from the very people who were experiencing colonization, who suffered extreme hardships and discrimination themselves.

All of this is to say how very grateful I am to the Indigenous peoples for their teachings, kindness and their humanity. What a privilege it is for me to learn from them, to stand with them, to thank them, to appreciate them for the teachings that they have given to all of us. These are the teachings of lifting each other up, of being land defenders, that water is life and that mother earth is sacred. These are teaching of being united with one heart.

As a non-Indigenous person, I stand as an ally. That is why the bill before us is so important. We, as settlers, must learn and understand Canada's colonial history.

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The federal government needs to invest in child care this year!

On January 28, 2020, I stood to make a statement opn the importance and need for federal investments to make truly universal, accessible, affordable, quality childcare a reality:

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Jenny in QP: People are sleeping in the streets. End this homelessness crisis now

On February 5, 2020, I stood in Question Period to ask the following question: 

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Jenny in QP: Dental care for millions of Canadians can happen!

On January 27, 2020, I stood in Question Period to ask my first question of the 43rd Parliament:

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Jenny responds to the new Liberal minority government's Throne Speech

On December 9, 2019, I gave my reply to the Speech from the Throne. Vancouver East is one of Canada's most diverse and progressive communities in the country. I am so very proud of our record here in Van East. We fight hard for what we believe in, and we have so much to celebrate. Yet, unfortunately, like me, the people of Vancouver East were left wanting after this throne speech. From affordable housing, to lasting justice for Indigenous people; from pharmacare and dental care to the urgent need for safe supply; from electoral reform to averting climate crisis - there is so much more that needs to be done and done now for the people of Vancouver East and indeed the entire country. I put forward these suggestions in the spirit of co-operation and saying to the government it is a minority government and New Democrats are here to work with it. Let us work for the people and act now make the changes.

 

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Federal General Election - October 21, 2019

As of September 11, 2019, Canada Elections act, Parliament was dissolved and a Writ of Election was issued for a general federal election.

Election Day has been set as Monday, October 21, 2019.

If you have questions about the general election, or if you need to register to vote, please visit the Elections Canada website at: https://www.elections.ca/ or telephone Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868.

During the election period, the riding office will remain staffed, on reduced hours:

Monday                         11 am – 3 pm

Tuesday                         11 am – 3 pm

Wednesday                   11 am – 3 pm

Friday                             11 am – 3 pm

Constituents of Vancouver East who face very urgent cases or requests for emergency assistance with a federal service or program will still receive priority reply by staff. Please ensure your email message includes your full name, phone number, street address, and postal code.

You may also call the Vancouver East riding office at 604-775-5800 with urgent inquiries, or email to jenny.kwan@parl.gc.ca as this email account will be monitored throughout the election writ period.

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An Urgent Response to Housing and Homelessness Crisis and Overdose Crisis Is Needed

August 27, 2019

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

Open Letter: An Urgent Response to Housing and Homelessness Crisis and Overdose Crisis Is Needed

Minister Duclos:

The situation for the over 2200 people who do not have a home in Vancouver is severe. Many people have no access to daytime shelter, and hundreds of people have no overnight shelter option and are forced to sleep on the street. The situation becomes even more alarming when you consider that many of these individuals face serious health conditions, a mental illness or must manage a chronic disease; and are trying to survive with no income, or on a fixed income that does not meet basic daily needs like food and medicine. Some people who are trying to maintain family unity find that as a couple it can be even more difficult to access shelter that does not force them to separate. Those with children are not exempted from the impact of homelessness. I have met with people whose children are in the care because they are cannot secure safe, secure affordable housing. Even seniors can find themselves without a home. This is the kind of reality that hundreds of people in Vancouver East face every single day.

For some of the people, the dire situations of homelessness and insecure housing have led them to seek relative safety by residing in an encampment in Oppenheimer Park. For months, community members and volunteers have worked hard to provide some level of support to those at the encampment. With their best effort, people residing in the Park can access basic sanitation services, some food security, peer support, and a VCH-sanctioned, peer-run Overdose Prevention Site.

The people at the encampment now face an order of eviction from Oppenheimer Park. At the time of the Order, encampment residents and spokespeople estimated that there were approximately 300 people residing in the encampment.

With respect to the situation in Oppenheimer Park, it is so severe that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing, Leilani Farha, has taken notice, and is concerned that governments are not meeting their obligations under international human rights law in violating the right to housing.

While BC Housing has attempted to set aside units through a “unit freeze” on other buildings in order to house the people at Oppenheimer Park, what that means is that other people who are homeless and in need of housing are displaced. The community feels very strongly that making people in dire need feel that they are being pitted against each other is no solution.

There is an urgent, urgent need for additional affordable housing units. In 1993, the federal government’s cancellation of the National Affordable Housing Program resulted in the loss of more than 500,000 units of affordable housing that would have otherwise been built by the non-profit and co-operative sectors. Having those units at that time, and building from that point moving forward would have put Canada in a dramatically different position today than we currently are. Equally important is the fact that there is a desperate need for government subsidies to ensure individuals and families are not paying over 30% of their total income for rent. In order to ensure that people are successful in their housing, support also needs to be made available to those individuals. Until all these are in place, further displacing people living on the streets from where they have found relative safety and support only increases their vulnerability and does nothing to address the homelessness problem in Vancouver.

Minister, I hope you will agree that each and every one of these individuals requires a safe place to call home. Yet, as I have raised with you and with those in your Cabinet, time and time again, much of the monies that are supposed to aid those without a home will not flow immediately. In fact, over 90% of the money first promised in 2017 for housing will not begin to flow until after this next federal election, and much of that not until after 2024. That is too long to wait. And worse, as noted by the Parliamentary Budget Officer, targeted assistance for those in the deep core of need and spending on Indigenous housing is actually reduced from that of the Harper Conservative years. I find this incredible and incompatible with the evidence of clear need in communities across the country, and mostly certainly in Vancouver East.

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Open Letter: People Deserve Urgent Action On The Affordable Housing Crisis in Vancouver

Tents line the edges of Oppenheimer park

July 25, 2019

Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

Open Letter: People Deserve Urgent Action On The Affordable Housing Crisis in Vancouver

Minister Duclos,

I wish to draw your attention most urgently to the effects of the lack of affordable housing in Vancouver East, which most recently has brought a number of people together to seek shelter and relative safety residing in an encampment in Oppenheimer Park.

Affordable, quality housing is one of the most important issues facing Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and the issue is even more acute in Vancouver East. An average one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver rents for $2,100 a month. Vacancy rates are under 1%. Home ownership is but a dream, with the average detached home in greater Vancouver over $1.5 million.

Time and time and time again, I have spoken in the House in an attempt to bring the voices and utmost concerns of my constituents to the attention of the government, in hopes of spurring action on the lack of affordable housing. I raised attention to how the affordable crisis has consequences for people’s lives. It affects people’s health. It has impacts on the opioid crisis. Lack of affordable housing affects family stability. It forces people to make impossible choices between life necessities, like food and rent. It affects settlement and community integration for newcomers. And the lack of affordable housing has left thousands of people with no home at all. In desperation, but also in a search for mutual support and community, that has led people to join the encampment in Oppenheimer Park.

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Jenny Kwan Statement: World Refugee Day 2019

MP Jenny Kwan Statement on World Refugee Day 2019

Canadians will remember the image of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea during the Syrian refugee crisis. That initiated a call from Canadians to show compassion in the midst of a global forced displacement crisis. But since 2015, the Liberals have gone from #WelcomeToCanada to ramming through significant changes hidden in an omnibus budget bill to try and stop refugees from making a claim in Canada.

On this, World Refugee Day, we learn that the US has now detained thousands of children in concentration camps. Children are now being denied access to even so much as a toothbrush while in these facilities. At least 7 children have died. There have been reports of sexual violence. LGBTQ2+ asylum claimants are being held indefinitely in solitary confinement. Canada, and the international community, recognize that as an act of torture. The US is now re-opening the very sites that the US once used to detain Japanese-Americans during WWII on the basis of racist assumptions. Yet the Liberals and Conservatives continue to pretend that the US is somehow still a safe country for asylum seekers.

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Jenny in QP: Justice for Golden Eagle Farms migrant workers!

On June 6, 2019, I stood to ask the following in Question Period: 

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