On February 5, 2020, I stood in Question Period to ask the following question:Read more
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.
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 email@example.com as this email account will be monitored throughout the election writ period.
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
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.Read more
On June 5, 2019, I delivered a Members' Statement on the concluding report and Calls For Justice of the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls:Read more
As a mother of two I firmly believe in the utmost importance of universal, affordable, and quality childcare.
Every dollar invested in childcare is returned threefold to the economy. Not only is this investment good for the child and the family, it is good for our economy.
We also have clear evidence that an affordable, universal childcare system works. Quebec has a heavily subsidized childcare program, and its results have been enviable. Compared to the $1,400 per month the average family spends on childcare in Vancouver, families in Quebec City spend an average of just $190 per month, and families in Montreal spend just $164 per month. This same Quebec model has also created a surplus of $900 million for provincial and federal governments.
In addition to lessening the burden on hard working families and allowing more children access to quality childcare, this program has resulted in substantive gains for women in the workplace. In Quebec, affordable child care has helped 70,000 mothers join the workforce, boosting the economy by $1.75 for every dollar spent by the Quebecois government. The Bank of Canada has praised this program, crediting it for raising prime age female workplace participation from 74% to 84%.
Contrast the situation in Quebec to the situation faced in other provinces. Beyond the obvious impact on individual families, high fees and lack of child care spaces has negative effects on the Canadian economy, too. University of British Columbia’s Dr. Paul Kershaw has estimated that work-life conflicts of parents raising young children cost Canadian businesses $4 billion per year. Additionally, Oxfam estimates that if childcare costs in Canada were reduced by just 40%, we would see 150,000 women return to the workforce, resulting in an $8 billion increase to our GDP.
British Columbia is currently piloting a program similar to that in Quebec, with 50 childcare centers servicing roughly 2,500 parents working off a $10/day model for families. I am thrilled to see early returns of this program, especially at the center in Frog Hollow in Vancouver East, with reports of some families saving upwards of $1,000 per month thanks to this program. But to make universal and affordable childcare a reality for all families, we need the federal government to be a real partner.
Despite the overwhelming evidence suggesting that affordable childcare programs work and provide a great number of benefits to families, children, and women, the Liberal government has yet to delivery on a National Childcare program. Liberals have promised a childcare program in 1993, 1997, 2000, 2004, and again in 2015, and it's now 2019, still no national universal, affordable, accessible childcare program.
In the 2019 budget, while the Liberal government acknowledges that women’s involvement in the workplace has stalled since the early 2000s and the Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development calls universal childcare a “long term vision,” there is no new funding for childcare.
I will continue to support the goals of providing universal childcare and spending 1% of GDP on childcare, pursuant to international standards. I will continue to work to ensure that childcare providers and early childhood educators are paid a living wage. Finally, it is vital that we ensure inclusivity in our care, meaning quality care options for children with mental or physical disabilities, as well as offering services for different languages and cultures.
You can continue to count on me to fight for more affordable, accessible, and inclusive childcare services in Canada.