The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, there have been consultations among the parties, and it has been agreed that photographers may be allowed on the floor of the Senate for this afternoon's meeting, so that they may photograph the swearing-in of new senators with as little disruption as possible.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to inform the Senate that the Clerk has received certificates from the Registrar General of Canada showing that the following persons, respectively, have been summoned to the Senate:
JoAnne L. Buth
Norman E. Doyle
The Hon. the Speaker having informed the Senate that there were senators without, waiting to be introduced:
The following honourable senators were introduced; presented Her Majesty's writs of summons; took the oath prescribed by law, which was administered by the Clerk; and were seated:
Hon. Betty Unger, of Edmonton, Alberta, introduced between Hon. Marjory LeBreton, P.C., and Hon. Bert Brown;
Hon. JoAnne L. Buth, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, introduced between Hon. Marjory LeBreton, P.C., and Hon. Janis G. Johnson;
Hon. Norman E. Doyle, of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, introduced between Hon. Marjory LeBreton, P.C., and Hon. Ethel Cochrane;
Hon. Asha Seth, of Toronto, Ontario, introduced between Hon. Marjory LeBreton, P.C., and Hon. Consiglio Di Nino;
Hon. Ghislain Maltais, of Québec, Quebec, introduced between Hon. Marjory LeBreton, P.C., and Hon. Michel Rivard; and
Hon. Jean-Guy Dagenais, of Blainville, Quebec, introduced between Hon. Marjory LeBreton, P.C., and Hon. Claude Carignan.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that each of the honourable senators named above had made and subscribed the declaration of qualification required by the Constitution Act, 1867, in the presence of the Clerk of the Senate, the Commissioner appointed to receive and witness the said declaration.
Congratulations on Appointment
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I am pleased to introduce to you six new colleagues as they take their seats in the Senate of Canada.
I have been honoured to be a member of this chamber for almost 20 years, and I have seen many esteemed colleagues come and go. It has always been a pleasure to welcome new senators who are keen and passionate about contributing in various ways to the betterment of our great country, Canada, and today is no different. The wealth of experience these six outstanding Canadians bring to the Red Chamber is, quite frankly, remarkable. From a pioneering medical doctor to a staunch supporter of an elected Senate, I welcome today our newest parliamentarians: JoAnne L. Buth, Jean-Guy Dagenais, Norman E. Doyle, Ghislain Maltais, Asha Seth and Betty Unger.
I know that my colleague Senator Mockler will be very pleased with the background of our newest senator from Manitoba, as she shares his interest in Canadian agriculture. JoAnne Buth brings with her to the upper chamber a significant amount of experience and expertise in the agricultural community and industry. From her studies at the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba to her position as President of the Canola Council of Canada, JoAnne has significant roots in one of our country's oldest and most important industries. In fact, she was the recipient of the Manitoba Agriculture "Motivator of the Year" award.
I am pleased to welcome JoAnne to the Senate of Canada. I know that she will lend her passion and interest in Canadian agriculture to the very important work we do here in Parliament.
As most honourable senators have come to realize over the years, I am immensely proud of our Conservative caucus, and I am particularly proud that it includes so many members of Parliament and senators who have experience in law enforcement or who have worked tirelessly on justice-related issues. Among many, we have Minister Julian Fantino, the former OPP commissioner, and our colleague Senator Boisvenu, who has dedicated his life to advocating for victims' rights. Now we can welcome Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais to that distinguished list. A former peace officer with Quebec's provincial police force, Jean-Guy has also been heavily involved in police association work provincially and federally, in various capacities, most notably elected in 2004 as president of the police association of the province of Quebec.
In recognition of his many contributions to policing in Quebec, Senator Dagenais was made an Officer of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces. Jean-Guy's 40 years of exemplary commitment to public service and policing will undoubtedly be welcome as he takes up his new role here in the upper chamber and as we deal with important legislation with regard to our criminal justice system.
Many of us in this chamber on both sides of the aisle have had the great pleasure of working with Newfoundland and Labrador's most recently appointed senator, whether as a member of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly, the MHA for Harbour Main, or later as the Member of Parliament for St. John's East. I have many fond memories of working with Norman Doyle, including his stint as National Caucus Chair. As senators can imagine, I have worked with many caucus chairs in my 50 years in politics, and I must say that Norm was wonderful in this role, respectful of all points of view, while at the same time ensuring that meetings ran as efficiently as possible. If anybody knows anything about the history of the Conservative Party, that is not always an easy task.
Norm's previous experience in the other place and also in provincial politics will be of great benefit to all of us as we carry out important work in the upper chamber. Like many of our colleagues sitting in this chamber today, his experience serving the constituents of his home province is invaluable to the work we do on behalf of Canadians.
Norm, I am thrilled, and I know I speak for my colleagues, to welcome you to the Red Chamber. I know I speak for everyone when I say to you, "Welcome back to Ottawa!"
Our other Senate colleague from the province of Quebec has an eclectic background that includes a stint in the insurance brokerage industry, a member of the National Assembly of Québec, as well as a strategic consultant working in various organizations. Ghislain Maltais has an intimate knowledge of the province of Quebec and his fellow Quebecers. His experience as a Liberal MNA, a federal Liberal candidate and most recently as a political organizer for the Conservative Party of Canada gives him a unique perspective that many of us do not have.
Senator, I certainly look forward to the expertise you can lend to us here in the Senate working with the opposition who happen to be sharing the same side of the aisle.
All kidding aside, Senator Maltais, you are a most welcome addition to our Conservative Senate team.
Canada's most recently appointed senator from Ontario had an interesting situation arise when she received the call from the Prime Minister's Office to let her know that she was being considered by the Prime Minister to be appointed to the upper chamber. Dr. Asha Seth was in a taxi in Montreal with colleagues when she received the call from the Appointments Directorate. Always the embodiment of professionalism, Senator Seth was able to discreetly answer all basic questions, requesting that she return the call in the evening in order to have a little more privacy. This is a story that Senator Seth will remember in the years to come as she serves the people of our country in the Senate of Canada. Her experience as a distinguished pioneer, patient advocate and philanthropist in the health care field will be incredibly beneficial in her new role here in the Senate of Canada, not only to those of us in the Senate but also to Parliament as a whole.
While her Toronto-based family practice patients will undoubtedly miss her expertise and kind care, Senator Seth's distinguished medical and philanthropic background will be an important asset as she embarks on her new role as a senator in the Parliament of Canada.
Honourable senators, it is no secret that our government is advocating for essential democratic reform, including the election of senators to Canada's upper chamber of sober second thought. Betty Unger is a strong proponent of Senate reform and has spent the better part of the last 14 years working toward that paramount change to our democratic institutions. During her first Senate election in 1996, Betty's then six-month-old grandson Alexander wore a T-shirt that said "Grandma for Senator."
Little did they know that 16 years later, after much hard work and dedication to Senate reform and another Senate election victory in 2004, Alexander can now legitimately call Betty "Senator Grandma."
Senator Unger brings a considerable background in the health care field as she joins us in her new role as a senator. She worked as a registered nurse for several years before starting her own nursing services company, which she successfully managed for 25 years. Her company, Medico Mobile Ltd., started in Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer but eventually expanded across the province of Alberta, providing medical testing to national life insurance companies and occupational health services to industry.
We are pleased to welcome Betty, Canada's third elected senator and first female elected senator to the Senate of Canada.
Honourable senators, please join me in welcoming this dynamic group of new parliamentarians. Their varied experience, interests and strengths will be of considerable benefit to our unique and important role in Parliament.
To our new colleagues, I encourage each of you to embrace the opportunity that has been bestowed upon you by our Prime Minister and Governor General. Canadians have many diverse interests, some geographical, socio-economical and, of course, political. We have all been appointed to serve these interests in the upper chamber of Canada's Parliament.
In our distinctive role as senators, we have an opportunity to be a part of a much-needed change to our parliamentary system. You have all supported our Prime Minister's vision for Senate reform, and I look forward to the many strides we will take together in the months and years ahead to see this vision come to fruition.
Thank you very much, colleagues.
Hon. Ghislain Maltais: Honourable senators, my first statement in this chamber will of course be to thank the Right Honourable Prime Minister for appointing me and to greet my colleagues who have been sworn in today.
The work of a senator is essential: to represent people who do not have a voice. Senators speak for those who are without a voice. The life experience I bring with me — 40 years of public service — will no doubt be useful. I will put it to good use for all Canadians and for my colleagues, so that it may reflect how lucky we are to live in this big, beautiful country, Canada.
Honourable senators, I thank you.
Hon. Marie-P. Poulin: Honourable senators, in January 1993, 22 students from Laurentian University in Sudbury met in the city council chambers to start up a parliamentary project. Their goal was to discuss the political issues of the day and to learn about the Canadian parliamentary system. Laurentian University's model parliament program was born.
This model parliament has continued to evolve over the years and has attracted more and more students. In 1998, students organized the sixth model parliament in the House of Commons, here in Ottawa. Laurentian students have returned to Ottawa every year since.
On January 6, 2012, more than 150 participants gathered on Parliament Hill for the 20th edition of this remarkable event. A new component was added this year to complete the model parliament, with students and alumni in both the House of Commons and here in the Senate.
I had the opportunity to participate in this event as the "virtual Speaker of the Senate". With both chambers in operation, the students had the opportunity to discover how a complete parliament works. There was an official opening, a speech from the throne by Laurentian University Chancellor Aline Chrétien, who served as "virtual Governor General", tabling of a budget, introduction of six bills and finally, Royal Assent.
According to Laurentian University President Dominic Giroux, who participated in the model parliament as Sergeant-at-Arms in the other place:
The model parliament program is an interactive way to engage students and a unique opportunity for them to discover what democracy is about while putting into practice some of the knowledge that they have acquired.
Honourable senators, I am proud that the Senate opened its doors and participated in this activity so that students can experience in this unique way the Senate's important role in our parliamentary system. I would like to thank our Speaker, Noël Kinsella, and the Senate's administrative team, including the committee clerk, Daniel Charbonneau. Daniel made all of the arrangements. I would also like to congratulate the organizers, the students and the alumni.
I would especially like to congratulate Zachary Courtemanche, president of the Laurentian University Political Science Association, alumnus Nathan Chevrier and professor Rand Dyck. Their efforts made Laurentian University's model parliament a great success.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, it is an honour to rise today to draw your attention to Black History Month, which begins tomorrow. February is the perfect time for Canadians to recognize the important contribution that Black people have made to Canada's history.
February is Black History Month. This month-long event allows us to look back into the history of African-Canadians and their countless contributions to our society. It also sheds some light on some of the challenges Black Canadians are facing in today's society.
In fact, a recent study conducted by DESTA, Dare Every Soul to Achieve, recently examined the "challenges and difficulties facing Black youth in Montreal and the strategies they use to cope with them."
DESTA is a not-for-profit, community-based organization serving marginalized youth, aged 18 to 25, primarily from the English-speaking Black community in the greater Montreal area.
The DESTA research study entitled Race, Risk and Resilience: Implications for Community Based Practices in the Black Community in Montreal surveyed more than 100 youth from the Montreal area. The report published in November 2011 shows us that Black anglophone youth living in predominantly French-speaking Montreal face particular challenges and stressors.
More specifically, unilingual anglophones and those whose French language skills are poor or limited are particularly vulnerable to discrimination, in addition to facing barriers to employment. In fact, 50 per cent of the youth surveyed in the study said that their French skills were mediocre or weak.
With this study, DESTA wanted to establish what challenges or stressors are affecting Black youth and find prevention and intervention strategies.
Honourable senators, we have known for years that Black youth in the province of Quebec are struggling when it comes to education. The 2006 census shows us that 38 per cent of Black youth have not completed high school, compared to only 12 per cent of the general population.
The unemployment rate for Black university graduates is 10 per cent — more than double the rate for non-Blacks.
Honourable senators, the results of the DESTA research study show us that many Black youth in Montreal encounter racism and discrimination and are bombarded by negative images of youth like them. We need to come together as a society to remind these youth that success is attainable, that it is not impossible provided you put your mind to it.
The one big wish I have, honourable senators, is that by celebrating Black History Month we can empower Black youth across Canada and give them the tools they need to overcome some of the social and economic challenges they face on a daily basis.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, for over 50 years the men and women of the Canadian Coast Guard have been providing exceptional service and contributing to the safety, accessibility and security of our Canadian waters.
On January 26, 1962, then Minister of Transport Leon Balcer announced in the other place that the Department of Transport fleet would now be called the Canadian Coast Guard.
Some years later, in 1995, the Coast Guard fleet and DFO patrol craft and research vessels came together as one fleet. In 2005 the Coast Guard became a special operating agency within Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
The most well-known service provided by the Coast Guard is search and rescue operations. In the Maritime region the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax coordinates all search and rescue operations associated with aircraft and marine emergencies in Eastern Canada. In an average year the centre responds to 1,400 maritime search and rescue cases. On average, 410 lives are saved each year in distress situations. The value of a strong and professional Coast Guard is apparent.
The Canadian Coast Guard also has a mandate to deliver a variety of other services to Canadians, including ice breaking, placing and maintaining navigational buoys, environmental protection, and providing marine communications and vessel traffic services.
As senators will know, Canada has the longest coastline in the world, stretching approximately 244,000 kilometres from coast to coast to coast. That makes the Coast Guard's tasks incredibly challenging.
Honourable senators, more than 4,500 hard-working men and women across Canada provide professional and dedicated service to the Canadian Coast Guard. Please join with me in congratulating the Canadian Coast Guard on 50 years of exceptional service and wishing them all the best for continued service in the future.
Sixth Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee Tabled with Clerk during Adjournment of the Senate
Hon. Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie: Honourable senators, I have the honour to inform the Senate that pursuant to the order of reference adopted on June 21, 2011, and to the order adopted by the Senate on December 15, 2011, the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology deposited with the Clerk of the Senate, on December 22, 2011, its sixth report entitled Opening the Door: Reducing Barriers to Post-Secondary Education in Canada.
I move that the report be placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(On motion of Senator Ogilvie, report placed on Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Committee Authorized to Study the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate, I move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce be authorized to undertake a review of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (S.C. 2000, c. 17), pursuant to section 72 of the said Act; and
That the committee submit its final report no later than May 31, 2012.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is leave granted?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to.)
Bill to Amend—First Reading
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer presented Bill S-208, An Act to amend the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs Act (drugs for international humanitarian purposes).
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?
(On motion of Senator Jaffer, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)
Notice of Motion to Urge the Government to Modernize and Standardize the Laws that Regulate the Maple Syrup Industry
Hon. Nancy Greene Raine: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the Senate call upon the Government of Canada to modernize and standardize the laws that regulate Canada's maple syrup industry, which is poised for market growth in North America and overseas, and which provides consumers with a natural and nutritious agricultural product that has become a symbol of Canada;
That the Government of Canada should do this by amending the Maple Products Regulations, in accordance with the September 2011 recommendations of the International Maple Syrup Institute in its document entitled "Regulatory Proposal to Standardize the Grades and Nomenclature for Pure Maple Syrup in the North American and World Marketplace", for the purpose of
(a) adopting a uniform definition as to what constitutes pure maple syrup;
(b) contributing toward the development of an international standard for maple syrup, as it has become very apparent that the timing for the introduction of such a standard is ideal;
(c) eliminating non-tariff measures that are not found in the international standard that may be used as a barrier to trade such as container sizes and shapes;
(d) modernizing and standardizing the grading and classification system for pure maple syrup sold in domestic, import and export markets, and through interprovincial trade, thereby eliminating the current patchwork system of grades that is confusing and fails to explain to consumers in meaningful terms important differences between grades and colour classes;
(e) benefiting both marketing and sales for an industry that is mature, highly organized and well positioned for growth;
(f) enhancing Canadian production and sales, which annually constitutes in excess of 80% of the world's annual maple products output; and
(g) upholding and enhancing quality and safety standards as they pertain to maple products.
Notice of Inquiry
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days hence:
I will call the attention of the Senate to the content of committee orders of reference.
Old Age Security Pension
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question, of course, is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Madam Leader, Canadians are rightly worried about their pensions, and these fears were exacerbated last week when the Prime Minister announced in Davos, Switzerland, that he would be bringing about major changes to our public pension system. That statement caught Canadians by surprise, particularly so since the Prime Minister had made it clear during the recent election campaign that he would not be touching transfers to individuals or seniors.
Therefore, we have two conflicting positions: the election position and the Davos position. If this were not enough, two ministers have since offered contradictory positions to reporters at home.
Transforming the public pension system is not a game, as the leader would well know as a former Minister of State for Seniors. This is not something to be taken lightly, since 4.2 million Canadian seniors receive Old Age Security and often depend on that pension income to make ends meet. They need to know whether they have enough money to get by. What hard-working Canadians and seniors need now, more than ever, is clarity. They need the assurance that they will receive the benefits they have been expecting for decades.
Madam Leader, what is your government's plan to overhaul the public pension system? Which is it: the election answer or the Davos answer? Canadians need to know and they need to know now.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I am happy to respond to the question of Senator Cowan. I must say to him that anyone who was watching and listening to the Prime Minister's speech in Davos —
Senator Mitchell: How could they?
Senator LeBreton: There is such a thing as television.
Senator Mitchell: Not in here.
Senator LeBreton: You were not in here, Senator Mitchell.
The fact of the matter is that the Prime Minister talked about the ongoing plans of the government in a host of areas. With regard to pensions, he made it clear in that speech — and we have made it clear before and after — that people who are retired persons or senior citizens and who are receiving old age security benefits at the present time will in no way be affected by long-range plans down the road to ensure this system is sustainable. Furthermore, he also said this would not affect Canadians who are about to retire.
I must tell Senator Cowan that I am disappointed by the statements of some in the opposition and in the mainstream media. I think they have done a great disservice to our fellow senior citizens in alarming them unduly about something that will never happen.
Honourable senators, our government is committed. In the campaign, we made it clear that when we embarked on a deficit reduction plan, it would not affect transfers to provinces or individuals. That was true during the election campaign and that is true now. Our government is committed to ensuring that retirement security is there for all Canadians.
Having said that, as the Prime Minister said in Davos, we will take a balanced, responsible approach and prudent action to ensure that the Old Age Security system that has served us so well is strong and sustainable in the mid and long term for people who should be able, as we have, to look forward to a stable Old Age Security system.
Senator Cowan: The leader expresses her disappointment with the concerns that have been raised by others. I remind her that it was not someone on this side of the house, in this house or in the other place, who began this firestorm. It was her Prime Minister, and he chose to do that at an international economic forum in Davos. The Prime Minister should come here. If he proposes to make changes that affect the public pension system in this country, he should talk about them in this country and not at some private club in Davos, Switzerland.
I suggest to the leader that the concerns that are now rampant in Canada are not as a result of any fear mongering on the part of anyone else here; they are a direct result of the speculation of the comments of her leader, her Prime Minister, Mr. Harper.
Senator LeBreton: I cannot answer for the official opposition or the third party in the other place about speculation, because that is exactly what they did. The Prime Minister and the government have made it very clear that the existing Old Age Security benefits that our seniors receive are not and will not be touched, and he also mentioned people who were about to retire.
I wish to remind the honourable senator that this government has made more changes to the benefit of our senior citizens than any government in history, including pension income splitting, and removing millions of seniors off tax rolls. Furthermore, we increased the Guaranteed Income Supplement an extra $600 for single seniors and over $800 for married seniors. This was the highest increase in 25 years. Guess what, Senator Cowan? Your members in the other place voted against that.
Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, I think the question then becomes: Where is the line drawn? If this will not affect current pensioners or people who are about to become pensioners, who will it affect? Remember that many Canadians, with the economic meltdown in the recession, have seen much of their pension retirement investments battered. These Canadians are counting on Old Age Security and maybe even the Guaranteed Income Supplement to help them out when they retire.
Many would agree that Canada will go through changes when the baby boomers retire over these next few years and decades. However, the experts disagree with the government's assessment. In a recent report, the Prime Minister's own Chief Actuary said that although Old Age Security costs will increase over the next 18 years, so too will Canada's GDP. Did we forget that the economy will also increase? It will cost 2.4 per cent of the GDP this year, the Chief Actuary says, but it will only rise to 3.1 per cent in 2030. He estimates that this will be the peak. Costs will slowly decrease after we have reached the peak of the baby boomers retiring.
Research was prepared by Edward Whitehouse at the government's request. He worked for the government as well as the OECD. He said: "The analysis suggests that Canada does not face major challenges of financial sustainability with its public pension schemes," and he went on to say, "There is no pressing financial or fiscal need to increase pension ages in the foreseeable future." Why is it threatening people who are trying to save up for their retirement? Where is the evidence that you need to do this?
Senator LeBreton: First of all, the government is not scaring Canadians. I have made it clear, and the government has made it clear. Even when we ran in the election campaign, we made it very clear that we were not going to reduce the deficit on the backs of provinces or individuals, something that was done by the previous government that severely hampered the provinces and severely damaged our health care system.
Just to make things very clear, honourable senators, we have a clear commitment that we are going to eliminate the deficit without cutting transfers to either individuals or provinces. However, events around the world — and we only have to look at what is happening in Europe and particularly Greece — make it clear that governments have to make responsible decisions to ensure that the social programs that we enjoy now are sustainable into the future. That is our goal. We are working to protect Canadians' financial security.
The honourable senator mentioned some actuaries. There is actuarial evidence that the number of Canadians who support our senior citizens is shrinking. That is why, when the Prime Minister was in Davos, he also talked about the need to change our immigration system so that we bring skilled workers into this country.
We are looking at the big picture. We want to ensure that Canada is put on a sustainable footing so that, in the future, people who come to this country, work in this country and retire in this country, have social programs that are on a long-term, sustainable footing so that they can continue to enjoy the benefits that Canadians presently enjoy.
I repeat, honourable senators — and Senator Eggleton knows this and people know this — that this does not in any way affect our senior citizens or people who are about to retire. The government has simply indicated honestly that, in the long term, there are many things that we have to look at in this country. We have to look at our immigration system. We have to look at our resources. We have to look at the sustainability of our pension systems. We have already mentioned that the Canada Pension Plan is on sound financial footing.
Interestingly enough, the honourable senator's side in the other place and some in the media have been demanding that the government start looking down the road for long-term sustainability, yet, when the Prime Minister speaks about some of the things the government is looking at, they all run around with their hair on fire as if we are cutting off people's pensions. Honourable senators know that is not the case.
Senator Eggleton: All we are trying to finding out is what is going on here. The Prime Minister went over to Davos. I don't know about Greece. Who brought Greece into this? What have they got to do with it? He made some vague general comments in terms of our own fiscal situation. He keeps going around the world saying what sound fiscal stability we have in Canada, thanks, I might add, to previous Liberal governments. He made this statement and then here we are in limbo suddenly trying to finding out what this is all about. The speculation is that it will come out in the budget. Well, that is another month or so away. We have this thing left in limbo and people are wondering what it really means for them.
Let me pick up on one other thing the leader said. She said that the government does not want to do this on the backs of seniors and she mentioned things done by her government to help seniors. I hope we are also not going to do this on the backs of the poor, because 6 per cent of Canadian seniors still live in poverty. Most of the pension plans over the years have helped a lot of seniors, but we still have 6 per cent living in poverty.
Almost 40 per cent of the total OAS payments go to seniors making less than $20,000 a year. This includes a disproportionate number of older, single women. OAS and GIS were designed to help provide the necessities of life for lower income seniors. Many low-income, low-skilled jobs are physically demanding and difficult to perform beyond the age of 65. Automatically going from 65 to 67 will not work for everybody.
As well, those who live at or below the poverty line generally have lower life expectancies than those who are wealthy, so raising the age eligibility is a real physical and psychological burden to many people. According to the Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation, Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement play a significant role in keeping tens of thousands of seniors out of poverty.
Will the government be sure to protect the most vulnerable of our society and not bring these measures on the backs of the poor?
Senator LeBreton: I have to take issue with the honourable senator's comment on the financial health of this country. The financial health of this country is directly related to the free trade agreement signed by the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney and to the revenues brought in by his government on tax reform. The Liberals, by the way, created such chaos in this place trying to stop that and then, of course, claimed credit for it.
The fact is that our government is reviewing measures to protect Canadian pensions in the long term. We will implement any changes fairly, allowing lots of time and lots of notice to adjust. Of course, as I pointed out previously, the people currently receiving Old Age Security are not affected. It is doing a great disservice to our fellow citizens to alarm them and make them believe that this is the case.
The honourable senator mentioned low-income seniors. Of course, as was pointed out by his leader, I was the Minister of State for Seniors for three years, and I will again put on the record what this government has done for seniors.
In Budget 2011, we enhanced the Guaranteed Income Supplement with a top-up of $600 for low-income seniors and $840 for low-income senior couples, improving financial security for over 700,000 seniors in 2012. As I mentioned previously, this was the largest increase in the GIS in 25 years.
The budget extends the targeted initiatives for older workers to support training and employment programs because there are many seniors who want to stay in the workforce. We recognize that. Over 10,000 seniors have been helped by this program since 2007.
The budget also increased funding — and I was very happy I was the Minister of State for Seniors when we did this — for the New Horizons for Seniors Program.
These measures build on the results we have achieved since 2006. Six days from now will be the sixth anniversary of our government being sworn in. For example, we have twice increased the age credit, providing a tax savings to 2.2 million seniors. Pension income-splitting was introduced in 2007. We increased the age limit for RRSPs from 69 to 71, and 85,000 seniors have been removed from the tax rolls completely.
We raised the GIS income exemption from $500, which it was under the honourable senator's government, to $3,500, thereby allowing people who wanted to work to earn a little extra money without being penalized on their pension.
We introduced automatic renewal of the GIS so that eligible seniors who file a tax return no longer have to reapply each year, which was the case under the previous government. Last year, 96 percent of seniors had their GIS automatically renewed.
We launched an awareness campaign on the very serious issue of elder abuse. We are working on literacy programs for seniors. I again point out to the honourable senator that all of these wonderful measures on behalf of seniors were voted against by his party in the other place.
Senator Eggleton: All of that is very nice, but the honourable leader is avoiding the question. People want to know, now that the Prime Minister made this statement in Davos, what the specifics of it are. Put people at ease and tell them if there is nothing to fear; give them the details. What will the government do and when will the government announce what it will do?
Senator LeBreton: The Prime Minister's speech in Davos laid out in broad terms the directions that the government wants to take over the next few years. He mentioned many areas, which I have mentioned, that will position Canada to have long-term, sustainable programs so that it does not fall into the dreadful economic situation currently faced by some countries in Europe, in particular Greece.
Honourable senators, the government is reviewing measures to protect Canadians' pensions. No changes will be implemented without allowing lots of time and notice to make adjustments to these changes. In his Davos speech, the Prime Minister, like any forward-thinking leader in the world today, laid out a framework that the government intends to follow over the months and years ahead.
Public Appointments Commission Secretariat
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Six years ago, this government brought in the Accountability Act, which provided for a public appointments commission. In 2006, an announcement was made about the commission but it was never set up. A public appointments commission secretariat was put in place to back the commission, which still does not exist. However, the secretariat still exists and has spent over $3 million to date and has a budget of $1.1 million this year.
Since there is neither a commission nor a commissioner, who directs the work of the public appointments commission secretariat? To whom does it report?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I am glad to see that Senator Callbeck has Greg Weston doing her research. The honourable senator is right: The government made a commitment to this position. Early on when this government was in a minority, it advanced a name for commissioner that was rejected by a committee in the other place. The appointments secretariat in the Privy Council Office and in the Prime Minister's Office was handling the appointments of well qualified Canadian individuals from various agencies and commissions. The secretariat is basically made up of public servants in the Privy Council Office.
Senator Callbeck: The Prime Minister advanced a name for commissioner before the Accountability Act was passed. To my knowledge, the government has not advanced another name since; and that was roughly six years ago. We do not have a public appointments commission and we do not have a commissioner, but we have a secretariat that is spending millions of taxpayers' dollars that could be spent on worthwhile programs such as seniors' pensions.
Is the government planning to announce the name of a commissioner? If so, can we expect it to happen this year?
Senator LeBreton: As the honourable senator knows, the government advanced the name of a gentleman who would perform the position for $1 per year, but his nomination was voted down in the other place. Information on any movement on this commission or who may head it is not available to me. If there is any such information on an appointment, it will be forthcoming at the appropriate time.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
At the end of the 2010-11 fiscal year, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces apparently returned to the government somewhere around $2 billion of unspent budgetary allocations.
I realize that the Department of National Defence is the most discretionary source of funding that exists in the entire government. Can you explain to me why it was not possible for this department to spend the absolutely incredible amount of $2 billion, in accordance with its planned and approved budget for this fiscal year?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): It is no secret that this happens in any government department at the end of the fiscal year when resources are unused. It is standard practice in government operations no matter who the political leadership is.
As the honourable senator knows, the government is in the process of deficit reduction and is looking for savings across all government departments, and the Department of National Defence is no different from any other department in this process.
Senator Dallaire: I have a supplementary question. My question did not pertain to the 5 per cent budget cuts that the government asked all of its departments to make in the 2010-11 fiscal year, which were supposed to come into effect in the coming fiscal year. We also did not see where these cuts were going to be made, since this information was not published.
At first, the government was not asking for budget cuts and a budget was planned for the work. Approximately 10 per cent of the budget was not used.
In previous years, departments were allowed to carry up to 2.5 per cent of their budgets forward from one fiscal year to the next. It was done. It was done again this year. In addition, near the end of the third quarter, departments were allowed to transfer unspent vote 5 funds to vote 1. This represented an amount of between $400 million and $500 million a year, which was used to meet end-of-year needs. After both these fiscal operations, National Defence was within its budget.
However, last year, the 2.5 per cent was transferred, but the unspent vote 5 funds were not transferred to vote 1, so the $450 million in question was not transferred or used, for the first time ever. On top of that, almost another billion dollars was not spent.
My question is this: can the honourable senator tell us how such a large department with a headquarters that employs over 8,000 people could mismanage its budget to such an extent that it would return so much money at the end of the year?
Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator is being unfair to his former colleagues at National Defence when he says that the department has mismanaged its budget. It is clear and well understood by all Canadians that since taking office this government has made significant investments in the Canadian Forces. In fact, the defence budget has grown by an average of $1 billion per year since 2006. Over the last couple of months, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces, like all other areas of government, have looked at their resources and have identified numerous efficiencies that do not affect the core capabilities of our military.
The department is to be applauded for doing its part in the overall government's efforts to ensure best value for Canadian taxpayers' hard-earned dollars.
Senator Dallaire: I cannot believe you answered that way, saying that a government department can disregard the notion of sound management and that it is fulfilling its obligations by handing out money, when a certain amount had been budgeted and nearly 10 per cent of that budget was not spent.
Is it possible that this department no longer has the capacity to spend this money since the passing of the Accountability Act, which has made it nearly impossible to carry out and approve any projects because the process is so onerous and complicated?
Senator LeBreton: That is a ridiculous statement. As the recent awarding of the shipbuilding contracts clearly underlines, the fact is that the procurement system and the operation of our forces have been exemplary.
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the answer to the oral question asked by the Honourable Senator Moore on December 7, 2011, concerning payment of death benefits.
Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the answer to an oral question asked by the Honourable Senator Nancy Ruth on December 13, 2011, concerning the themes and graphic designs on the new polymer bank notes.
Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the answer to the oral question asked by the Honourable Senator Nancy Ruth on October 25, 2011, concerning the rights of girls and women in Libya.
Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the answer to an oral question asked by the Honourable Senator Lovelace Nicholas on December 6, 2011, concerning services in Attawapiskat First Nation.
Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the answer to the oral question asked by the Honourable Senator Poulin on November 29, 2011, concerning services in the Attawapiskat First Nation.
Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the answer to an oral question asked by the Honourable Senator Brazeau on November 30, 2011, concerning services in Attawapiskat First Nation.
Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the answer to the oral question asked by the Honourable Senator Callbeck on November 24, 2011, concerning pharmaceutical drug trials.
Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the answer to an oral question asked by the Honourable Senator Zimmer on November 2, 2011, concerning the water supply on reserves.
Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the answer to the oral question asked by the Honourable Senator Munson on October 20, 2011, concerning suicide prevention.
Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the answer to an oral question asked by the Honourable Senator Meighen on October 19, 2011, concerning Canadian Forces recruitment.
Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the answer to the oral question asked by the Honourable Senator Tardif on October 18, 2011, concerning the promotion of linguistic duality.
Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the answer to an oral question asked by the Honourable Senator Callbeck on October 4, 2011, concerning the Veterans Independence Program.
Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the answer to the oral question asked by the Honourable Senator Hervieux-Payette on September 29, 2011, concerning the support for Wapikoni Mobile.
Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the answer to an oral question asked by the Honourable Senator Callbeck on June 22, 2011, concerning youth employment programs.
Payment of Death Benefits
(Response to question raised by Hon. Wilfred P. Moore on December 7, 2011)
The Death Benefit is paid in the event of a sudden service-related death. It is paid to the surviving spouse or common-law partner and to any dependent children, based on the rationale that they are the people who would most likely have accompanied the Canadian Forces member into military life and therefore need assistance re-establishing into civilian life. Although other family members, such as parents, also suffer from the loss due to the sudden death of the Canadian Forces member, they would not have the same re-establishment need.
The Death Benefit is one of the integrated suite of benefits established under the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act (New Veterans Charter). It is a tax-free, lump sum payment and the maximum benefit payable for 2011 is $285,319.47. The rationale used in establishing the Death Benefit is in keeping with the overarching policy rationale for the New Veterans Charter; that is to assist with re-establishment and re-integration into civilian life from the military.
Other death-related benefits, however, would be available to family members such as the Department of National Defence's contributory pension-related benefits or life insurance which, in certain circumstances, may be paid to the Canadian Forces member's designated beneficiary or estate.
The Death Benefit, under the New Veterans Charter, is designed for a different purpose from that of the death benefit in the contributory pension plans. It is not a contribution-based benefit but instead is designed to address the unique needs of immediate family members (a surviving spouse/common-law partner and dependent children), in recognition of the need for the surviving spouse or common-law partner to re-establish into civilian life following the sudden death, which may involve relocating away from a military base with their dependent children and possibly re-entering the job market.
Currency Themes and Designs
(Response to question raised by Hon. Nancy Ruth on December 13, 2011)
In 2011, the Bank began issuing a new, more secure and cost effective series of bank notes, the first in Canada printed on polymer material. Since 1935, each time the Bank of Canada issues a new series of bank notes, the previous theme and designs are retired and replaced with new ones.
For instance, the 1986 Birds of Canada series $50 note featured a Snowy Owl. Prior to that, the 1969-1979 "multi-coloured" series featured the RCMP Musical Ride.
The theme of the new series is Frontiers, and each denomination will feature a different image on the reverse of the note, as announced in June 2011.
This new bank note series celebrates Canada's achievements at the frontiers of innovation. The new $50 note, which is currently in production and will be issued in March 2012, features images of the Canadian Coast Guard Ship (CCG) Amundsen in the North, reflecting Canada's leading role in Arctic research and honouring the men and women who serve in the Canadian Coast Guard, on its 50th anniversary year (see http://www.ccg-gcc.gc.ca/eng/CCG/ 50th_Anniversary/50_dollar_bill). The note's design also evokes the part that Canada's northern frontier — with its vastness and splendour — has played in shaping our cultural identity.
Bank notes are cultural touchstones that reflect and celebrate our Canadian experience. As is customary, the Bank consulted Canadians as it explored design concepts for the new series. Numerous ideas were refined to a specific theme and image concepts that took into consideration past note designs and technical specifications. Canadians were also asked to provide feedback as the bank note designs were finalised.
The key criteria used by the Bank of Canada to establish imagery for the new series of bank notes were that they:
- convey pride and confidence in Canada;
- are distinctly Canadian;
- are modern and forward looking;
- promote Canadian values; and
- not easily become outdated.
The remaining denominations will feature:
- $20 The Canadian National Vimy Memorial — evokes the contributions and sacrifices of Canadian men and women in conflicts throughout our history.
- $10 The Canadian train — represents Canada's great technical feat of linking its eastern and western frontiers by what was, at the time, the longest railway ever built.
- $5 Canadarm2 and Dextre — symbolize Canada's continuing contribution to the international space program through robotics innovation.
The Bank has informed and thanked the organizations representing the images on the previous Canadian Journey series, including the Famous Five Foundation, for the support provided to our design and communication teams during preparations for, and the issue of, the Canadian Journey series. These images will remain cherished parts of Canada's numismatic heritage.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Nancy Ruth on October 25, 2011)
The end of the Gadhafi regime turns the page on over forty years of tyranny and oppression in Libya. Canada can be proud to have stood behind the Libyan people from the outset of the conflict. Canada has re-opened its embassy in Tripoli and will continue to support Libya as it moves down the path of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law for all Libyans. Canada has expressed to the Libyan authorities our expectations that the country's new foundation will be built on the respect of human rights for all Libyans, including women and girls.
During his visit to Tripoli in October, Minister Baird led a roundtable with NGO's, including the Canadian NGO "Rights and Democracy", on the important role women should play in the new Libya. Women played a crucial role during the crisis and must be an integral and active part of Libya's new emerging civil society.
The situation in Libya remains fluid in the transitional period leading to the establishment of a new elected government. On November 1, Libya's Transitional Council elected a new Prime Minister, Mr. Abdul Raheem al-Keeb. Canada is encouraged by his commitment to make human rights a priority. He has correctly recognized that the emergence of democracy and social equality in Libya will not happen without the realization of women's rights.
On November 13, Canadian officials attended a first national conference on women's rights, "One Voice". This was the first such event to be held in the post-Gadhafi era. During this conference, women participants expressed their hope to be represented in the new government. We understand that top leaders of the National Transitional Council (NTC) participated in the conference and committed to take action towards the establishment of quotas for female representation in Parliament and to pursue the removal of citizenship laws that discriminate against Libyan women married to non-Libyans. This was well-received by participants in the conference, although progress on these commitments will need to be closely monitored.
The Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force of the Department of Foreign Affairs (START) is currently in discussions with actors on the ground to develop programming options in order to address women's rights. Canada will continue to monitor the situation closely.
During the active phase of violent conflict in Libya, Canada was very disturbed by accounts of sexual violence. Canada has always been a strong advocate for international efforts to combat sexual violence in situations of conflict. We consistently underline the importance of accountability in cases of sexual violence, particularly in conflict situations where sexual violence is used as a weapon of war. We urge states, including Libya, to uphold their responsibility to investigate and prosecute these crimes to bring justice to victims and to deter future crimes.
We continue to support investigations into allegations in this area with respect to the Libyan conflict so that any identified perpetrators will be brought to justice. In this regard, the Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force (START) has provided funding for an expert on sexual gender-based violence to work with the Commission of Inquiry on Libya. We also recognize how important it is to ensure support for the survivors of crimes of sexual violence and to assist their reintegration into their communities.
Canada provided a grant of $250,000 to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to protect and assist up to 50,000 women and girls from gender-based violence (GBV), including sexual assaults, and to provide critical care to victims of GBV in Libya.
Canada supports the International Commission of Inquiry on Libya (COI) and the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to hold accountable those who are responsible for human rights violations and who committed crimes during the conflict. We also continue to raise the protection and promotion of women's human rights in Libya in multilateral fora.
Canada is also clear in our ambitions. The reconciliation and reconstruction of Libya is a project that must be led and undertaken by the Libyan people. As clearly expressed by Minister Baird, the UN, international, and regional partners, including Canada, will be there to provide help and support, including to assist the Libyan government in respecting its commitment and obligations in relation to women's rights.
Below are excerpts from a speech and press release referring to women in Libya:
http://www.peacewomen.org/assets/file/ SecurityCouncilMonitor/Debates/WPS/WPS2011/ can_wps_oct2011.pdf
Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security, 28th of October 2011, Security Council Chamber
No. 293 - October 11, 2011 - 8:15 a.m. ET - Minister Baird Concludes Successful Visit to Tripoli
Canadian assistance will help secure weapons, improve women's rights, strengthen democracy and increase trade
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today visited Tripoli to assess the situation there and to announce the latest phase of Canada's support for Libya's transition to the post-Qadhafi era.
"Our government remains committed to protecting the Libyan people and supporting their efforts to build a brighter future for themselves," said Baird. "Obviously, there are a number of pressing needs and our support will help ensure those needs are met."
In Tripoli, the Minister met with Mustafa Abdul Jalil, Chair of the National Transitional Council, to discuss the progress of Libya's transition. He announced that Canada would be contributing $10 million to help secure weapons of mass destruction and remove and dispose of explosive remnants of war.
"The security situation in Libya is still quite volatile and the risk of these items falling into the wrong hands or injuring civilians is very real. Canada sees this disarmament as a top priority in making Libya and the entire region safer," said Baird.
Baird also hosted a round table with Libyan women's rights advocates to discuss the important role that women must play in the new Libya and its democratic institutions.
"The Libyan people have chosen for themselves a future in which there is respect for freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and Canada will continue to support that vision," said Baird. "We continue to encourage the new government of Libya to ensure the role of women in Libya's transition."
Representatives from non-governmental organizations and Canadian businesses in the infrastructure, technology and natural resources sectors joined the Minister on this trip.
Visit Canada's Response to the Situation in Libya for a full picture of Canada's commitment.
Attawapiskat First Nation
(Response to question raised by Hon. Sandra Lovelace Nicholas on December 6, 2011)
Federal funding to support third party management of a First Nation is provided through the annual Band Support Funding Grants provided to First Nations from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.
Services in Attawapiskat First Nation
(Response to question raised by Hon. Marie-P. Poulin on November 29, 2011)
Our Government continues to work with the Attawapiskat First Nation and has taken action to improve conditions for the community.
Significant government funding has been provided to Attawapiskat First Nation to support programs and infrastructure development over the past six years. Since 2006, $4.3 million has been allocated to the First Nation for housing, and more than $90 million dollars in total funding during the same period. A comprehensive audit is being undertaken to identify how this money has been spent and what oversight measures have been taken over the past five years.
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada immediately committed $499,500 in funding to Attawapiskat First Nation toward the renovation of existing homes to meet the community's immediate needs as identified by Chief Spence in early November 2011.
Departmental officials maintained ongoing contact with the community's leadership and worked to help them implement their existing emergency plan and assisted the community in ensuring the safety and security of residents.
On December 11, 2011, Minister Duncan announced that 22 modular homes had been purchased for families in Attawapiskat First Nation, to be delivered when the winter ice road opened. To address immediate short-term shelter needs, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada approved funding to renovate the Jules Mattinas Healing Lodge and the ATCO (Debeers) Trailer Complex in the community. This investment implemented improvements to the water/wastewater, electrical, and mechanical systems in these facilities, and provided warm dry shelter to community members in need.
This Government appointed a Third Party Manager on December 5, 2011 to help assure residents' immediate health and safety needs, and to help the community operate effectively through the winter. The Third Party Manager continues to ensure that departmental investments in the community are made in a transparent manner and bring concrete results.
The Government will continue to work with the community to assess future housing needs with a focus on ensuring the health, safety and well-being of the residents.
The Minister assures the Senate that we have, and continue to move forward in partnership with the community, to ensure a better quality of life for the people of Attawapiskat First Nation.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Patrick Brazeau on November 30, 2011)
Attawapiskat First Nation has made its audited financial statements public for each fiscal year from 2005 through to 2011 on its website: www.attawapiskat.org/financial-statements.
Auditor General's Report—Pharmaceutical Drug Trials
(Response to question raised by Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck on November 24, 2011)
Health Canada accepted the Auditor General's (AG) recommendations and work is well underway to implement these recommendations.
In considering this issue, it is worth noting that this audit covered the two years prior to the implementation of the updated fees.
A key step in responding to the AG's concerns was to update industry user fees, which were many years out of date. These updates were required to provide stable funding for the delivery of important regulatory services for Canadians and the industry. The new fees, which came into effect on April 1, 2011, have been key Health Canada's response to the AG's findings.
For example, as noted in the 2010-11 Departmental Performance Report (DPR), 73 — 80% of Health Canada's drug reviews, depending on the submission category, met the departments own standards and timelines for brand name pharmaceuticals. For biologics and radiopharmaceuticals, 57-80% of Health Canada's reviews met its performance targets.
More recently in 2011-2012, after the implementation of updated fees, performance has improved to over 90% for brand name pharmaceuticals and 100% for biologics and radiopharmaceuticals.
For over-the-counter drugs, the average review times have decreased from 539 days in 2009-10 to 349 days, an improvement of 190 days. In the area of generic drugs, over the last several years the number of applications has tripled. This 300% increase in the volume of submissions placed a serious burden on the available resources in the Health Canada department, and resulted in unmet performance targets. Since then, the Department has and continues to take steps to eliminate the backlog in generics, and meet its performance standards for timelines.
With the new user fee revenues, Health Canada is taking measures to improve the timely review of drug applications by:
- Hiring and training a significant number of new scientific evaluators;
- Opening a satellite office of generic drug reviewers to capitalize on regional expertise and address the backlog;
- Leveraging external expertise when required;
- Strengthening our project management capacity and queue management, this includes performance monitoring and new methods to forecast incoming workload;
- Increasing our use of electronic tools with the goal of eliminating paper reviews thus reducing the burden on industry and our evaluators;
- Enhancing regulatory cooperation with other agencies and adapting and adopting international best practices and standards as appropriate;
- Developing more guidelines to assist drug companies in submitting better quality applications which will require less time to review.
These strategies will improve timelines and Health Canada's reporting in generic drug review and ensure continued strong and improved performance in brand name pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter drugs, and biologics and radiopharmaceuticals. These efforts demonstrate the continuing commitment of Health Canada.
Water Supply on Reserves
(Response to question raised by Hon. Rod A. A. Zimmer on November 2, 2011)
There are 17 remote fly-in communities in northern Manitoba that are serviced by the winter road network for the shipment of supplies. These communities have a total of 3895 houses, of which 997 or 25.6 per cent are not serviced by an in-home water supply.
As recently reported in the media, approximately 800 of these homes are located in the Island Lake Tribal Council area and include the communities of Garden Hill, Red Sucker Lake, Wasagamack and St. Theresa Point First Nations.
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada is working with the four Island Lake Tribal Council communities towards a long-term strategy to address the water and wastewater needs of the communities.
In the meantime, the Department is prepared to take interim action with the communities to address their highest priorities and achieve important short-term progress. The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, announced on November 17, 2011 an investment of $5.5 million toward improving water and waste water services in the four Island Lake First Nations.
Specific priorities will be determined in collaboration with First Nation leadership and are anticipated to include the procurement of building materials for retrofitting of homes and provision of additional equipment such as water and septic trucks.
In order to expedite the anticipated winter road shipments this fiscal year, the Department is working with the Island Lake Tribal Council on a housing study and subsequent work plan to identify and prioritize the shipment of goods over the winter road network.
With the continued cooperation of the four First Nations, the Department anticipates that the retrofitting of houses in the communities can begin early in the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
For the long term, major capital projects to expand water and sewer systems are planned for each of the communities over the next five years.
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada has made significant investments to improve water and wastewater systems on reserves across the country. Since 2006, more than $2.5 billion has been invested in First Nation water and wastewater infrastructure, including more than $55 million in the Island Lake communities.
The Government of Canada also remains committed to introducing safe drinking water legislation that will be designed to ensure that First Nations have the same health and safety protection for drinking water in their communities as do other Canadians.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Jim Munson on October 20, 2011)
Suicide prevention requires action by multiple stakeholders at all levels. This action needs to be positioned within the context of other key factors including actions to address mental health promotion and the prevention of mental health problems. International evidence indicates that most effective suicide prevention efforts are integrated within broader mental health promotion / mental illness prevention initiatives. Furthermore, studies indicate that more than 90% of suicide victims suffer from a mental illness or substance abuse problem.
The federal government has a role to play in raising awareness, promoting collaboration, developing knowledge, sharing best practices, and providing services. The Government of Canada (GoC) currently invests significantly in mental health and suicide prevention. In particular, the following key areas of action are supported by the GoC:
Public awareness and education
In 2007, the Government of Canada invested $130 million over ten years to establish and support the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC). Funding for the MHCC supports initiatives such as the Mental Health First Aid Program and an anti-stigma campaign entitled Opening Minds. These programs provide early intervention for those who have mental health problems and address the need to change inappropriate attitudes and behaviours of Canadians towards people living with mental illness, such as rejection and discrimination.
Building protective factors and intervening on key risk factors for suicide
The GoC invests in a range of initiatives to build protective factors such as healthy childhood development. It also supports programs to reduce key risk factors such as substance abuse, family violence and homelessness.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has committed $27M to fund nine mental health promotion projects over 4 years in over 50 communities. These initiatives focus on ensuring the existence of mental health protective factors for children, youth and families to enhance health and well being across the life-span. These projects also address key risk factors such as bullying and aggressive behaviours that are associated with higher risks of poor mental health, including suicidal thoughts and behaviour.
In addition, the Government provides over $230M for the Anti-Drug Strategy to address the problem of illicit drug use in Canada and to protect our youth and families against its harmful effects. The Government also invests $7 million each year to fund the Family Violence Initiative to improve prevention of violence within families and to intervene early to avoid related problems, including child maltreatment and neglect.
Homeless individuals with mental illness are part of the most vulnerable, highest-risk populations. The GoC has also invested in initiatives through the mental health commission to better address homelessness among individuals with mental illness, a key risk factor in this population.
Knowledge development and research
A number of federal departments and organizations develop and disseminate information and statistics on suicide and suicide related behaviours, including Statistics Canada, Canadian Institute for Health Information, and the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Government of Canada has invested $234.4 million in mental health research since 2006, and has invested $65.2 million in 2009-2010 alone. In 2009-10, $6 million of this amount supported research in the area of suicide prevention. A total of $20.4 million has been spent on suicide prevention research since 2006.
CIHR has also funded the Aboriginal Community Youth Resilience Network (ACYRN), a Community-led research to prevent youth suicide.
On January 10th 2012, the Government of Canada announced that it will invest $300-thousand in three research teams to gather global evidence on suicide prevention and will produce this knowledge in a readily accessible format.
Promoting collaboration across sectors and jurisdictions
Developing comprehensive suicide prevention strategies requires action and coordination across all levels of government, as well as with stakeholders and communities themselves. The MHCC will continue its work to improve the mental health of Canadians through collaborating across sectors and government jurisdictions. Furthermore, such work is also undertaken by PHAC for example through the Federal Provincial Territorial Public Health Network (PHN). The PHN has already identified mental health as a priority for collaborative action.
Sharing knowledge and best practices
The Government of Canada is supporting the Mental Health Commission of Canada to develop and implement a Knowledge Exchange Centre to provide Canadians and stakeholders with critical knowledge and information on mental health and mental illness.
Serving populations within direct federal responsibility
The federal government provides mental health and suicide prevention programs and services to populations of federal responsibility.
The Government committed $75 million in Budget 2010 to extend the National Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy until 2015. Under this Strategy, Health Canada will continue to fund 150 suicide prevention projects in First Nations and Inuit communities across Canada, as well as invest in critical crisis response services and knowledge development activities.
Suicide prevention is also addressed through the programs and services of several federal government departments and agencies including National Defence, Veterans Affairs Canada, Correctional Service of Canada, and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. For example, the Department of National Defence has developed and is implementing suicide awareness and mental fitness programs for the Canadian Forces.
In addition to federal investments noted above, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, funded by the GoC, will release its Mental Health Strategy for Canada in early 2012. It is expected that the Strategy will integrate suicide prevention in its proposed actions and priorities, and provide direction upon which the mental health community, all levels of government and other stakeholders can work together to achieve better mental health, including the prevention of suicide.
While the GoC invests in a number of initiatives that are critical to suicide prevention, it is currently considering options to better coordinate and therefore strengthen federal actions in this area. In particular, the Government is carefully taking into account current evidence as well as important deliberations in the Senate and the House of Commons on this matter. Together, we will continue to work on efforts for suicide prevention in Canada.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Michael A. Meighen on October 19, 2011)
In the Canada First Defence Strategy (CFDS) in May 2008, the Government committed to expanding the Regular Force to 70,000 and the Reserve Force to 30,000 by 2028. The CF remains on track to meet its recruitment targets as outlined in the CFDS.
The Canadian Forces have reached expansion targets ahead of schedule due to successful recruiting and low attrition. There was a surge in recruitment to grow the force to the government-mandated level, in large part to sustain the mission in Afghanistan. Given the tremendous success of recruiting to meet this requirement, the CF are currently working to maintain the strength of the Regular Force at the 68,000 level. The intake requirement for this year is set at around 4,000. This represents the number of servicemen and women who are expected to be retiring or being released from the CF. As of early November, the CF have completed approximately 41per cent of the Reserve intake for this fiscal year with about five months still remaining.
The recruiting administrative process has been streamlined in the last few years to better facilitate the administration of recruiting Reserve candidates. Recruitment has taken advantage of the robust interest in the CF and mechanisms have been put in place to ensure that the CF are selecting the best applicants from across Canada. This can translate to longer times between application and selection in some cases. In addition, while it is possible for recruitment files to be delayed due to the specifics of an individual file, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces are not aware of any systemic issues that may result in delays.
Current CF recruitment policy remains both unchanged and in line with CFDS. As for the recruitment of Reservists, there is no separate Reserve recruiting policy. Reserve units attract applicants and CF Recruiting Centres process applicants to fill the positions identified for Reserve units.
Reservists are meant to be a predominantly part-time force with periodic full-time opportunities. From time to time, full-time Reservists are needed to fulfill roles in support of critical CFDS tasks. The CF have relied heavily on Reservists over the last few years, due in large part to the need to support operational missions, to complement the Regular Force.
The Minister of National Defence would like to take this opportunity to thank both Regular and Reserve Force members for their contribution to the Government's commitment to Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Promoting Linguistic Duality
(Response to question raised by Hon. Claudette Tardif on October 18, 2011)
The Commissioner of Official Languages Annual Report contributes to the Government of Canada's reflection on official languages.
There are many support and guidance mechanisms in place in order to assist federal institutions in implementing Part VII of the Official Languages Act (the Act), and the Government continues to improve them. In fact, its current efforts in this area are fully in line with the intent of the Commissioner's recommendations.
As we know, the Department of Canadian Heritage (the Department) already provides significant support and guidance to some thirty institutions whose activities have the greatest impact on the development of official-language minorities and the enhancement of English and French in Canadian society. The Department, in collaboration with the Treasury Board Secretariat, is now expanding its coordination activity to all federal institutions.
The objectives of this chosen approach are to have all institutions better understand their obligations related to Part VII of the Act, identify more effectively the measures to be taken and report on them more easily. This approach will harvest the potential of each federal institution, according to its mandate, and convey a full picture of the federal action in this area.
The new approach will also ensure a more coherent implementation of the Act, through better coordination with the Treasury Board Secretariat's reporting activities in official languages.
The Department and Treasury Board Secretariat are pursuing this objective of coherence through a variety of other collaboration activities, notably in the context of the Board's current policy suite renewal.
Finally, we must keep in mind that the Treasury Board Secretariat already contributes to the implementation of Part VII of the Act in many ways. For example, the Secretariat:
- ensures that all initiatives submitted for Treasury Board approval take official languages issues fully into account; and
- reminds all federal institutions of the importance, during financial strategic reviews, of determining the impact of any potential decision on official-language minorities and the enhancement of English and French in Canadian society.
Veterans Independence Program
(Response to question raised by Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck on October 4, 2011)
The Veterans Independence Program (VIP) was established in 1981 by Veterans Affairs Canada. The intent of the program is to assist veterans to remain healthy and independent in their own homes and communities as long as possible by providing a range of services.
Eligibility for the Veterans Independence Program (VIP) has evolved over the years to meet the needs of Veterans, their primary care-givers and other eligible clients. The most recent change to Veterans Independence Program (VIP) eligibility occurred in 2008. At that time, eligibility was expanded to include low-income or disabled survivors of certain war service Veterans who were not receiving Veterans Independence Program (VIP) housekeeping and/ or grounds maintenance benefits when the Veteran passed away. This was the first time these benefits were made available to survivors of Veterans who had not been receiving the benefits prior to the death of the Veteran.
This expansion addresses the situation where the traditional war Veteran received a disability pension or the War Veterans Allowance but was not receiving Veterans Independence Program (VIP) housekeeping and/or grounds maintenance benefits at the time of death or admission to a health care facility. As a result, the survivor never had the opportunity to access Veterans Independence Program (VIP) housekeeping and grounds maintenance services. With this expansion, those most in need — low-income or disabled survivors — may have the help they need to remain in their homes. It also honours the commitment of the survivors to our Veterans, recognizing their years of support which enabled our Veterans to remain independent in their homes as long as possible.
Veterans Affairs Canada encourages Veterans to apply for Veterans Independence Program (VIP) services when a health need arises to ensure that those in need can receive Veterans Independence Program (VIP) services while they are still able to, and before they are admitted to a long-term care facility.
Veterans Affairs Canada continues to look at ways to improve programs and services. This will ensure Veterans and their care-givers who have the greatest need for Veterans Independence Program (VIP) services will have the help they need to remain independent in their homes and communities.
Approximately 108,000 clients of all ages benefit from Veterans Independence Program (VIP) services.
Support for Wapikoni Mobile
(Response to question raised by Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette on September 29, 2011)
The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of helping youth facing barriers to employment to acquire the skills, knowledge and work experience they need to participate in the job market.
The Skills Link Program provides funding for projects that help these youth to develop the broad range of skills and work experience needed in today's labour market.
Based on the number of applications received each year, the Skills Link Program is clearly very popular with community organizations, employers and youth.
The Government of Canada's goal is to fund quality projects that meet community needs. However, it receives many good quality proposals and not all can be approved with the funding available.
Youth Employment Programs
(Response to question raised by Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck on June 22, 2011)
Youth and Employment Strategy (YES):
- Skills Link - helps young people who face more barriers to employment than others, find employment to help them gain valuable work skills. These individuals could be high school dropouts, single parents, Aboriginal youth, young persons with disabilities, youth in rural areas or newcomers. 17,465 youth were assisted through this program in 2010-2011.
- Career Focus - helps post-secondary graduates develop advanced work skills, through work experience, to find careers in their field of study. 2,537 youth were assisted through this program in 2010-2011, (this does not include those assisted through the International Academic Mobility program).
- Canada Summer Jobs - provides funding for not-for-profit organizations, public-sector employers, and small businesses with 50 or fewer employees to create summer job opportunities for students between the ages of 15 and 30. Some 36, 908 youth were assisted through this program in 2010-2011.
- Youth Awareness — The Youth Awareness (YA) Program is composed of Skills Competitions and awareness activities promoting youth as a viable source of labour for employers to address their human resources needs.
Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS):
The Government of Canada has invested $1.68B in the ASETS over five years (2010-2015). This investment supports over 80 Aboriginal organizations to deliver and develop labour market programs and services targeted to the unique needs of their clients. These programs and services include measures for youth. There is no specific funding allocation for youth; however, on average, approximately 30,000 youth per year are served under ASETS and its predecessor program, the Aboriginal Human Resources Development Strategy (AHRDS).
Trades and Apprenticeship:
The Government of Canada provides incentives to apprentices and employers to encourage apprenticeship training and stimulate employment in the skilled trades. Apprenticeship Grants are designed to encourage more Canadians to pursue and complete apprenticeship programs in the Red Seal trades.
The Apprenticeship Incentive Grant (AIG) is a taxable cash grant of $1,000 per year for registered apprentices once they have successfully completed the technical, in-school and on-the-job requirements of their first or second year/ level (or equivalent) of an apprenticeship program in a designated Red Seal trade for a lifetime maximum grant of $2,000. As of September 11, 2011, 219,965 AIGs were issued nationally to eligible apprentices since the program's inception in 2007.
The Apprenticeship Completion Grant (ACG) provides an additional $2,000 taxable cash grant to registered apprentices upon completion of apprenticeship training and receipt of journeyperson certification in a designated Red Seal trade. As of September 11, 2011, 57,004 ACGs were issued since the program's inception in 2009.
Both the AIG and the ACG are administered by HRSDC and delivered by Service Canada. More information can be found by visiting the Service Canada website at: www.servicecanada.gc.ca/apprenticeship.
Building on the Apprenticeship Grants, 2011 Budget announced that occupational, trade and professional examination fees will be eligible for the Tuition Tax Credit.
Labour Market Agreements (LMA) and Labour Market Development Agreements (LMDAs):
LMA and LMDAs are bilateral agreements between Canada and the Provinces and Territories (P/Ts) through which Canada provides financial support for P/T labour market programs and services to address current and emerging labour market needs and priorities.
LMAs are funded at $3 billion over six fiscal years (2008-09 to 2013-14). Under the Economic Action Plan, an additional $500 million was provided over two fiscal years (2009-10 and 2010-11) for the Strategic Training and Transition Fund (STTF), which was delivered through the LMAs.
The P/Ts may use LMA funding to provide assistance to improving the labour force participation of groups that are under-represented in the labour market. Eligible clients are:
- unemployed persons who are not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits (including, but not limited to, youth, Aboriginals, immigrants, new entrants to the labour market, older workers, people with disabilities, social assistance recipients, unemployed individuals previously self-employed, and women) and;
- employed persons who do not have a high school diploma or recognized certification, or have low levels of literacy and essential skills.
In 2009-10, the LMAs assisted 126,730 individuals who self-identified themselves as youth. This represents roughly 36 per cent of the total individuals assisted. Information on individuals assisted in 2010-11 has not yet been received from the P/Ts.
LMDAs are funded at $1.95 billion annually. Under the Economic Action Plan, LMDAs were given additional funds of $1 billion over two fiscal years (2009-10 and 2010-11). Under the LMDAs, P/Ts assist unemployed Canadians to find work through skills and employment programs and services. For the benefit-based programs (such as skills development, wage subsidies, and self-employment assistance), eligible clients are unemployed individuals who are currently eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits or who have collected EI benefits in the past three to five years. The employment measures (such as employment assistance services) are available to the unemployed, regardless of their eligibility for EI benefits.
In 2009-10, the LMDAs assisted approximately 118,352 individuals aged 15-24, representing 18 per cent of all individuals assisted.
Canada Student Loans Program
Program Number of Students Assisted (2009-10 academic year) Canada Student Loans 404,000 Canada Student Grants 295,000 Repayment Assistance Plan 160,000
The Government of Canada (GoC) supports post-secondary students through the provision of loans and non-repayable grants. Following the completion of studies, the GoC provides repayment assistance for borrowers experiencing difficulty making their Canada Student Loan payments.
For the 2009-2010 academic year:
- Student Loans were disbursed to 404,000 students;
- Canada Student Grants were disbursed to 295,000 students; and
- 160,000 borrowers in repayment received assistance through the Repayment Assistance Plan.
In addition to the supports identified above, the GoC recently announced through Budget 2011 the following new measures to assist full- and part-time post-secondary students in Canada:
- An increase to the in-study income exemption from $50 per week to $100 per week. It is expected that this measure will assist approximately 100,000 students each year by allowing them to work more without affecting the amount of loans they receive.
- An increase to the eligibility thresholds used to assess eligibility for part-time Canada Student Loans and Grants. This measure will allow more students to qualify for part-time assistance.
- Reducing the in-study interest rate charged on loans for part-time students from prime plus 2.5 per cent to zero, bringing it in line with that charged on loans for full-time students.
As well, beginning in the 2012-2013 academic year, the GoC will forgive a portion of Canada Student Loans for new family physicians, nurses and nurse practitioners who agree to work in under-served rural and remote communities, including communities that provide health services to First Nations and Inuit populations.
Economic Benefits—Inquiry—Debate Adjourned
Hon. Michael A. Meighen rose pursuant to notice of December 8, 2011:
That he will call the attention of the Senate to the economic benefits of recreational Atlantic salmon fishing in Canada.
He said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak on this inquiry into the economic benefits of recreational Atlantic salmon fishing in Canada. Let me say at the outset that they are substantial and of critical importance to the well-being of many rural areas in Quebec and Atlantic Canada, where there are few, if any, alternatives.
Many of you are aware of the work of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, or ASF. Since 1948, ASF has engaged in efforts to save wild salmon from the detrimental effects of habitat loss, over-harvesting and pollution. In support of these conservation and restoration objectives, ASF has a conservation network made up of seven regional councils in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Maine and western New England. ASF also has 120 affiliated local watershed groups that represent more than 30,000 conservation volunteers.
ASF does work that is integral to ensuring the health of this natural resource. Wild Atlantic salmon represent an important part of Quebec and Atlantic Canada's culture and heritage. Through its conservation and restoration efforts, ASF is committed to ensuring that wild Atlantic salmon will continue to be a salient social and economic resource for future generations.
Honourable senators, while the history of the existence of wild Atlantic salmon has been characterized by repeated instances of over-exploitation, ineffective conservation actions and a gradually declining presence, there are reasons to be guardedly optimistic about the future.
Here are some data to shed light on the situation. In less than 300 years, the wild Atlantic salmon population shrunk by 90 per cent. More recently, the number of wild Atlantic salmon, which return to spawn in North American rivers, dropped by 1.8 million in 1973 and reached an unprecedented level of just 418,000 in 2001.
But since 2001, thanks to measures such as the agreement the Atlantic Salmon Federation reached with fishers in Greenland to suspend their commercial fishery, the increased number of line fishers, who release their catch, and habitat restoration initiatives, the salmon population has rebounded slightly and reached over 600,000 in 2010.
When the 2011 population estimates are complete, we anticipate that they will show continued growth. I should mention that in addition to the ASF and other groups, governments play a vital role in achieving conservation objectives, which consist in protecting and increasing wild Atlantic salmon stocks, despite financial difficulties and austerity measures.
As we know, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible for the prudent management of our Atlantic salmon stocks. The minister has taken numerous steps to improve management and conservation, announcing a whole range of measures, including prohibiting and reducing the commercial Atlantic salmon fishery in Canada in the 1990s and, in certain areas, suspending recreational salmon fishing and salmon fishing by First Nations, passing legislation to protect fishways and habitat, and gathering knowledge and scientific advice on stock regulation and management.
Despite these important steps, DFO must and I would add is obligated to do more. In 1985, DFO's budget for wild Atlantic salmon management, protection and conservation was $25 million annually. Today, DFO's annual budget for wild Atlantic salmon is only $12 million, a reduction of more than half, and that is without factoring into the equation any consideration for inflation over the last 25 years — a reduction, honourable senators, of over 50 per cent in DFO's budget.
How do we expect DFO, its fisheries managers, scientists and protection officers to do their jobs? How do we expect the department to deliver on its mandate if it does not have anywhere near the resources it requires?
Honourable senators, in view of the recent modest improvements in wild Atlantic salmon returns to Quebec and Atlantic Canada, it is time to determine how we can further measure and maximize the enjoyment and economic benefits of this important resource for all Canadians. With this objective in mind, the ASF retained an independent economic group to develop an assessment of the socio-economic value of wild Atlantic salmon.
Prepared by Gardner Pinfold of Halifax, Nova Scotia, this study indicates what most of us already know intuitively: that wild Atlantic salmon and Canada's recreational Atlantic salmon fishery are important economic generators. Most strikingly, however, this study's conclusions illustrate that there are significant economic benefits from vigilant and enhanced public sector and private sector support and funding dedicated to the conservation and restoration of this iconic species.
Honourable senators, there are sizeable, value-added benefits to be derived from the enjoyment, usage and conservation of this resource. Simply put, investments in wild Atlantic salmon yield net economic returns and enhance standards of living just like any other thriving sector of Canada's economy.
In terms of raw figures, the Gardner Pinfold study determined the actual value of wild Atlantic salmon in Canada as $255 million in 2010. This figure includes $150 million in Quebec and the Atlantic region, $128.5 million of which is directly attributable to the recreational Atlantic salmon fishery. This independent assessment also points out that further restoration of wild Atlantic salmon, with more fish returning to our rivers, more anglers fishing and more ecotourism would of course result in a much higher GDP and far more jobs. In other words, there are opportunities to grow this industry and its economic potential for the benefit of all Canadians.
The study goes on to ascribe an additional annual value of $105 million to the existence of wild Atlantic salmon by the general public of Eastern Canada. Basically, this is the amount that Gardner Pinfold concluded the general public is willing to contribute each year in tax dollars to ensure that wild Atlantic salmon thrive in our rivers. This assessment went further and probed why Eastern Canada's general public places such a value on this resource. Essentially, they found that the top two reasons for support by the general public for spending on wild Atlantic salmon are the importance of the existence of the species and the importance of natural heritage and ecosystem integrity.
Beyond GDP, the Gardner Pinfold study provides detail about the economic benefits of wild Atlantic salmon and the recreational Atlantic salmon fishery in terms of jobs that it either maintains or creates. It found that spending on wild Atlantic salmon created the equivalent of 3,872 full-time jobs in 2010. Almost 86 per cent of these jobs were created by the recreational fishery and contributed to the sustenance of the economies of rural communities where, as I mentioned earlier, there are few, if any, alternatives.
Please take a moment, honourable senators, to reflect on that. Wild Atlantic salmon runs in Quebec and Atlantic Canada currently support nearly 4,000 full-time jobs. Just imagine how many thousands more good jobs could be created if the wild Atlantic salmon resource was restored to its full potential.
The impact and marketing of successfully executed conservation and restoration strategies are also assessed by this ASF-commissioned analysis. For instance, it concluded that the recent increase in salmon numbers relative to 10 years ago has been an important factor in attracting more anglers and has stimulated spending growth in this sector of the economy. In a nutshell, increased numbers of wild Atlantic salmon will result in increased numbers of anglers and more economic activity. By way of illustration, Garner Pinfold pointed out that more people participated in Atlantic salmon angling in 2010, when there were 53,883 anglers and better runs, compared to 2005, when there were only 41,737 anglers and the salmon runs were not as robust.
Honourable senators, I urge you to obtain a copy of this study and familiarize yourself with its contents. Like other iconic animals or natural wonders that have come to represent Canada's distinctiveness, history and heritage, I think that we can all appreciate the symbolic and environmental importance of wild Atlantic salmon. While the historical decline in their numbers has led some to gloomily predict their eventual extinction, the combined conservation and restoration efforts of recent years appear to be working and should give us cause for hope. Indeed, efforts by government and non-governmental groups alike seem to have reached a critical mass with respect to effectiveness. The fact that we appear to have turned a corner relative to 2001 in terms of wild Atlantic salmon returns to our rivers should strengthen our resolve to push further. Now is the time to ensure that DFO has the budget it needs to deliver on its wild Atlantic salmon conservation mandate.
Finally, honourable senators, by choosing to frame this inquiry through the prism of the economic benefits of the recreational salmon fishery, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, whose board of directors I have the honour to chair, wanted to underline the fact that conservation is not an end in itself but rather a means to other ends. In fact, as the Gardner Pinfold study amply demonstrates, additional conservation and restoration measures for the wild Atlantic salmon will yield expanding economic and quality-of-life dividends for all Canadians, hopefully for generations to come.
(On motion of Senator Robichaud, debate adjourned.)
Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool, pursuant to notice of December 15, 2011:
That she will call the attention of the Senate to the evolution of education in the language of the minority.
She said: Honourable senators, I rise today to remind you of the long fight by both of Canada's official language minorities to be educated in their own language. As an Acadian from New Brunswick, I find it my natural role to speak to you about my corner of the country. I will therefore summarize the history of French education in my province to show you how difficult it has been to arrive at our present situation.
The story I will tell today is the story of my people, the Acadians. It is the story of our history. It has influenced my entire professional life. That is why I felt compelled to launch this inquiry so that this story, our history, could be placed on the record.
It is my fervent wish that many honourable senators will take part in this inquiry and add your own story to the record.
In 1604, at the beginning of the French colonization of Acadia, led by Pierre Dugua and Samuel de Champlain, Acadia covered a large part of what we today call the Maritime provinces. The first recorded school in Acadia opened in Port Royal, Nova Scotia, in 1642. A second school, for girls only, opened next door and was run by Jeanne Brice, the first woman teacher in Acadia. However, these two schools closed their doors when the city was captured by the British in 1654.
Confessional education continued throughout the rest of the 17th century and girls were supervised by women who belonged to the Notre-Dame, Filles de la Croix and other religious orders. But the situation changed with the British conquest of Acadia in 1710 and the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. The Protestant British conquerors sent many of the French elite and members of Catholic religious communities back to France, leaving the Acadian population to fend for themselves until the 1755 deportation, the Great Upheaval that ended in 1758.
In 1764, a British decree allowed for the return of Acadian families and the rebirth of education in French. Some 20 years later, in 1784, the British colony of New Brunswick was officially created. At the time, most education was provided by the all powerful Church. Girls were generally entitled only to primary education, as they were not deemed to have enough intelligence for higher education.
In 1792, the New Brunswick Assembly started to take an interest in education. The 1802 Parish School Act, the first ever dealing with education, gave responsibility for public education in parish schools to justices of the peace in each county, with school trustees taken over. This apartheid system of mostly English-speaking schools was supplemented among the ill-educated French-speaking population with an informal network of missionaries and traveling teachers.
In 1819, the first formal public education system in English was established. Some of its teachers were Acadian, including the first documented female teacher in my province, Rosalie Cormier, in the county of Westmorland, in 1830. However, this first system was underappreciated by the public and underfunded. The School Act of 1833, revised in 1837, established a structured system for parish schools, but primary school teachers were often incompetent and student attendance was voluntary.
In the 1840s, the government began to recognize French Catholic teachers. In 1847, through revised education legislation, the government tried to improve access to education and its quality, and some Acadian French schools started to receive subsidies from the province. It is interesting to note that in 1850, there were more female than male primary school teachers. The reason is sad, though, and was based only on finances: it cost much less to pay a woman's salary than a man's, which proves that today's fight for pay equity did not just start yesterday . . .
In 1848, we see the launch of two training schools in Fredericton and Saint John. There, would-be teachers underwent a 10-week training program and New Brunswick appointed its first chief school superintendent in 1852, adopting a new Parish Schools Act.
Yet, for all these improvements, education financing remains voluntary and the responsibility of parents. Unfortunately, this lead to unintended consequences. Rather than pay to educate their children, parents preferred to have them work instead, bringing in much-needed money.
In 1852, there were only 29 officially recorded francophone teachers in New Brunswick. Two years later, an all-boys' school for future priests and teachers, Séminaire Saint-Thomas, was established in Memramcook and run by the Holy Cross Fathers. Girls went to Académie de Madawaska, which was run by the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception. In the 1870s, many other girls' schools opened across the province and were run by the Hospitallers of St. Joseph, the Sisters of Notre-Dame-du-Sacré-Cœur or the Marist Sisters. I am thinking here of the very beautiful Académie Sainte-Famille, which is located in my hometown of Tracadie, where I went to school when I was young.
In 1870, the government closed all the Training Schools in the province and replaced them with a new Normal School, which centralized teacher training in Fredericton. In 1871, in response to the failure of the 1858 act, a new act, the Act Relating to Common Schools, rendered elementary and secondary schools non-denominational and made school taxes mandatory. This new legislation incurred the wrath of the province's Catholic population, including francophones who, upon seeing the removal of their Church from the education sector, feared greater linguistic assimilation. These Catholics refused to finance an atheist school system, and provincial authorities decided to crack down on them and their priests. This repression by authorities led to an incident in Caraquet that all Acadians now know as the Louis Mailloux affair.
Later that same year, in reaction to this serious school crisis and in order to ease tensions, the Executive Council granted Catholics a limited right to catechism. It also granted francophones the right to an elementary school education in French. However, everything else fell within the secular curriculum.
In 1878, the Normal School, which provided teacher training in Fredericton, began a preparatory program that specifically targeted francophone teachers. This program became a proper department in 1884. In 1898, the seminary in Memramcook officially became Université Saint-Joseph, the province's first francophone university. In 1899, the priests of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary founded the Collège du Sacré-Cœur in Caraquet. It became a university in 1914 and, in 1916, it moved to Bathurst to a magnificent building that still exists and is still used as a school today. If I seem to be dwelling on the role that religious communities played in education in my province, it is because they were extremely important to French education.
The convents run by the sisters trained many teachers who helped to educate generations of children, as well as to preserve the French language and Acadian culture. Classical colleges run by priests — as along with the francophone department of the Normal School in Fredericton and its first director, Alphée Belliveau — helped to train educators.
However, it was not really until the beginning of the 20th century that Acadians became convinced that a good education would ensure a strong future and took charge on all fronts: occupational training, textbooks, resources, establishment of classes by education level, literacy enhancement and everything else. In 1911, the first meeting of New Brunswick French teachers took place in Saint-Louis-de-Kent for the purposes of discussion and training. Around the same time, the first Acadian textbooks were published for the province's francophone minority. In 1922, the first major reform of education legislation took place.
Please remember that French was not yet officially accepted in schools at that time. The government waited until 1928 before it accepted the creation of bilingual schools in the province, thereby granting legal status to French. A year later, however, the government rescinded this status under pressure from provincial Orangemen. In 1932 the Macfarlane Inquiry, set up the year before, tabled its report on the status of the provincial school system. That inquiry recommended that primary education be given in the child's mother tongue. This would not happen until the 1940s, however, again owing to obstruction by the provincial Orangemen.
In 1936, the New Brunswick Department of Education was officially established. That same year, francophone teachers were trained during the summer at Université St-Joseph in Memramcook and Université du Sacré-Coeur in Bathurst. Also in 1936, the Association acadienne d'éducation was established; in 1946 it became the Association des instituteurs acadiens, and in 1967 the Association des enseignants francophones du Nouveau-Brunswick, or AEFNB. In 1983, I had the honour of being the first woman president of that association.
In 1960, the government of the honourable Louis J. Robichaud took office. That gave a great deal of hope to Acadians in my province and brought new reforms in the provincial education sector. The Université de Moncton, the third Francophone university — the first secular one in the province — was established. It incorporated Memramcook's Université St-Joseph and Bathurst's Université Sacré-Coeur.
In 1967, in keeping with its "Equal Opportunity for All" program, the government standardized school taxes and teachers' salaries across the province and took over funding of the education system from the counties. This ended the disparity in financial means available to schools. In 1968, the government opened the École normale francophone on the campus of the Université de Moncton, which later became the university's faculty of education.
Taking over from the Honourable Louis J. Robichaud in 1970, the government of the Honourable Richard Hatfield continued to implement his predecessor's reforms and 1972 saw the launch of the 11-campus provincial network of the New Brunswick Community College. The community college provided technical and professional training in a number of fields, thereby allowing high school graduates to train for a job without going through university. Of the 11 campuses of the NBCC, five are French-speaking, including one in the Acadian peninsula in northeastern New Brunswick. The other six are English-speaking.
In 1973, a joint (English and French) committee of the Department of Education conducted an indepth review of the province's public education system. The following year, the department was divided into three large sections: one for French education, the second for English education, and the third section for administration and finances to support the first two sections. It was duality in education. In 1980, the province was divided into 14 French or English school boards and the bilingual school boards that offended the francophone population were abolished.
In 1981, the provincial government passed legislation recognizing the equality of the official language communities. Shortly afterward, the government overhauled the school act to implement a language-based school system, signalling the end of the bilingual schools that were considered to be tools for linguistic assimilation.
The most recent education reform occurred in 1985. To obtain a secondary school diploma used to require the successful completion of mandatory courses and passing departmental exams. In 1991, the province created a public network of optional kindergartens. In May 2010, the Community College and its 11 campuses began a transition process to branch off from the Department of Education and become an independent business by March 2013.
Honourable senators, may I have two more minutes?
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Losier-Cool: Next summer, as part of its budget cuts, the government plans to cut the number of school boards in half and keep only four anglophone and three francophone boards.
And that, honourable senators is the history of French education in my province. You will agree that the road was hard and that the human and financial costs that were paid for such a long time to get to where we are now were fully warranted. The benefits we now enjoy are the result of a long struggle, which we hope is now over, at least in New Brunswick.
(On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.)
(The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, February 1, 2012, at 1:30 p.m.)