Letter to the Editor: Liberals omit the facts on refugee health careJuly 30, 2014,
In response to a recent letter to the editor from Liberal MP Hedy Fry on our Government’s changes to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP), I wish to provide some key facts that she failed to include.
Canada has a long and proud tradition of providing protection to refugees and we will continue to do so. We are appealing the Federal Court decision on our Government’s reforms to the IFHP because it fails Canadian taxpayers and neglects genuine refugees.
We remain committed to putting the interests of Canadians and genuine refugees first. We strongly believe that failed claimants who refuse to leave Canada and individuals making asylum claims from US or the European Union should not be entitled to better health care than Canadians receive through provincial health plans.
Under the old, broken refugee system, abuse was commonplace. Thanks to our reforms, we’ve seen the number of asylum claims from safe countries fall by 87%. This means countries truly in distress, like Afghanistan, Syria and the Congo, have resumed their place among the top ten countries for asylum claimants in Canada.
Thanks to fewer unfounded asylum claims, we have already saved taxpayers $600 million in health and social benefits, with anticipated savings of $1.5 billion over five years.
Canadians can be confident that our Conservative Government will continue to vigorously defend the interests of Canadian taxpayers and the integrity of our fair and generous refugee determination system.
Leon Benoit, M.P.
MAKING OUR STREETS AND COMMUNITIES SAFERJuly 30, 2014,
An important secondary focus of our Government (other than the economy and jobs) over the past year has been to create safer streets and communities across Canada. I am pleased to report the many accomplishments made during this past sitting that are helping to reach this goal.
A major milestone of our Government is Bill C-32, The Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. A first in Canadian history, this bill recognizes the vital role victims deserve and need to play in the criminal justice system. The legislation seeks to grant rights for victims of physical or emotional harm, property damage, or economic loss as a result of an offence committed under the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, or some offences under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. This helps deliver on action taken by Reform Members of Parliament as early as 1995. Bill C-32 is currently at second reading in the House of Commons. The statutory rights included in this bill are as follows:
Right to information: Victims would have the right to general information about the criminal justice system, available victim services and programs, as well as specific information about the progress of the case at hand.
Right to protection: Victims would have the right to have their security and privacy considered at all stages of the criminal justice process, to have reasonable and necessary measures to protect them from intimidation and retaliation, and to request their identity be protected from public disclosure.
Right to participation: Victims would have a right to convey their views about decisions to be made by criminal justice professionals and have them considered at various stages of the criminal justice process and to present a victim impact statement.
Right to restitution: Victims would have the right to have the court consider making a restitution order for all offences for which there are easy-to-calculate financial losses.
Along with the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, our Government has set out to pass many other initiatives this past year that I look forward to supporting come the next parliamentary sitting. These measures, while still going through the parliamentary process, will improve our justice system and help keep law-abiding Canadians safe by:
· Providing a stricter application process for supervised drug consumption sites that would allow for the use of what would otherwise be illegal drugs in Bill C-2, Respect for Communities Act;
· Advancing efforts to combat the trafficking and cross border smuggling of contraband tobacco by establishing a 50-officer RCMP Anti-Contraband Force as well as a new criminal code offence in Bill C-10, Tackling Contraband Tobacco Act;
· Protecting Canadians from cyberbullying by enhancing authority of the court to gather evidence and convict, as well as provide compensation for victims in Bill C-13, Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act;
· Protecting Canadians from unsafe medicine by mandating more reaction reporting, better labels, and recalls on therapeutic products from Health Canada in Bill C-17, Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act (Vanessa's Law);
· Mandating stricter sentencing laws for sexual offences against children and establishing a publicly accessible database of high-risk child sex offenders in Bill C-26, Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act;
· Enacting serious consequences for those who harm law enforcement, service and Canadian Armed Forces animals in Bill C-35, Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law) and;
· Creating A Made-in-Canada Model that criminalizes the demand for prostitution, including laws against advertising, and communicating for the sale of sexual services next to a school, playground or daycare centre in Bill C-36, Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act.
Additionally, I am pleased to announce here that C-14, The Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act, received Royal Assent in April of this year. This new law will allow public safety to be given top priority when deciding if accused persons are to be found Not Criminally Responsible on Account of Mental Disorder (NCR).
All of these initiatives speak to our Conservative Government’s commitment to making a safer place for Canadians to live for now and generations to come. My colleagues and I look forward to passing these bills into law come the next sitting of Parliament.
Our Conservative Government has always been committed to standing on the side of law-abiding citizens while holding criminals accountable for their actions. Since 2006, our Government has made great strides in tackling crime, supporting victims, and overall improving the effectiveness of our justice system. We have made our streets safer and held those responsible accountable by passing the following legislation since 2006:
· Safe Streets and Communities Act (2012);
· The Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act (2010)
· The Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Shoker Act (Discourages repeat offender behavior by prohibiting use of drugs and alcohol) (2011)
· Truth in Sentencing Act (2010);
· Identity Theft and Related Misconduct (2010);
· An Act to amend the Criminal Code (organized crime and protection of justice system participants) (2009);
· The Tackling Violent Crime Act (2008);
· An Act to amend the Criminal Code (street racing) and to make a consequential amendment to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (2006);
· The Protecting Canada's Seniors Act (2013);
· Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act (2012);
· An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service (2011);
· Protecting Victims from Sex Offenders Act (S-2)(2011);
· Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act (2011);
· Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act (2011);
· Abolition of Early Parole Act (2011);
· Standing Up For Victims of White Collar Crime Act (2011);
· Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act (2012);
· Preventing the Trafficking, Abuse and Exploitation of Vulnerable Immigrants Act (2012);
· Fair and Efficient Criminal Trials Act (2011) and;
· An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Criminal Procedure, Language of the Accused, Sentencing and Other Amendments) (2008).
These laws provide only a brief overview of what our Government has accomplished to ensure safer communities in Canada. Come the fall, our Conservative Government is committed to building on our track record of success for victims and law-abiding citizens.
Leon Benoit, M.P
BENOIT CONDEMNS ONGOING VIOLENCE IN UKRAINEJuly 29, 2014,
OTTAWA (29 July, 2014) – Leon Benoit, Member of Parliament for Vegreville-Wainwright, has expressed concern over the recent developments in eastern Ukraine. “As the Prime Minister has said, Canada condemns this outrageous and unwarranted attack on a civilian airliner,” said Benoit. “Canada is ready to apply further tough economic sanctions on certain individuals until all aggressors seek a path of de-escalation.”
On July 17th, a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet was shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing all on board including one Canadian citizen. According to U.S. officials, a surface-to-air missile, launched from an unconfirmed source, is to blame for the crash. “While it has not been confirmed who is responsible for the attack, the cause of unrest within the region is clear; Canada continues to condemn the illegal Russian occupation of Ukraine,” continued Benoit.
Not far from the Malaysian Airlines crash site, two Ukrainian military jets have since been brought down by rocket fire in recent days. Based on preliminary information, Ukraine’s Security Council claims that these rockets were fired from within Russian territory. The US Pentagon also claims that there is evidence, from the past several days, of Russian artillery being fired into eastern Ukrainian territory. Benoit was clear that Canada will not waver in its support of a sovereign Ukraine, no matter the extent of the crisis.
“There is no question that our Government has taken swift action throughout the crisis to condemn those responsible for violence and to support those who courageously advocate for democracy and the rule of law in Ukraine,” stated Benoit. “The world knows on whose side Canada stands.” Since the outbreak of unrest in Ukraine, Canada has been a world-leader in its steadfast support for democracy in Ukraine. Canada has imposed travel bans and economic sanctions against a number of Russian and Ukrainian individuals responsible for threatening the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. In addition to a ground-breaking visit in March, Prime Minister Stephen Harper committed $11 million to support a presidential election monitoring mission to Ukraine in which 500 Canadians participated. Going forward, Canada will continue to call for de-escalation of violence and for additional economic reforms, including steps to further pursue a Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement.
“As I’ve said before, Canada remains one of Ukraine’s strongest supporters as it works to restore order within its borders,” concluded Benoit. “I’m confident that international support for Ukraine will allow for a successful economic recovery and democratic transition.”
CONTINUED GROWTH FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS AND RETURNING TO BALANCED BUDGETSJuly 25, 2014,
As we enjoy these mid-summer days, I would like to take the opportunity to highlight the great strides our Conservative Government has made and will continue to make in order to put more money in the pockets of hard-working Canadians.
CONTINUED GROWTH FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS
Our Government has been working hard to implement policies that will make families and communities stronger. In fact, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has recently concluded that federal tax cuts made under our Conservative Government (since 2005) have saved Canadians roughly $30 billion per year. He also noted that these tax savings benefit low and middle income earners the most. Our efforts to improve the Canadian middle class are also recognized internationally, with the New York Times reporting that Canada’s middle class is thriving under our Conservative Government and is now the “richest in the world.” These results reaffirm that our Conservative Government’s focus on jobs and economic growth is making a real impact on the lives of everyday Canadians.
Our Government is committed to continue this record of success for the middle class through Economic Action Plan 2014. The initiatives included in Budget 2014 will save the hard working people of Vegreville-Wainwright money. Some of these measures include:
· Capping wholesale domestic wireless roaming rates to encourage competition in the telecommunications sector and lower costs for consumers;
· Cracking down on unjustified cross-border price discrimination by helping ensure Canadian consumers don’t pay artificially high prices;
· Eliminating the practice of pay-to-pay billing by ensuring banks are prohibited from charging for monthly printed credit card statements;
· Increasing the Adoption Expense Tax Credit by helping parents with the unique costs of adopting a child;
· Expanding tax relief for health care services by covering more health care needs like acupuncturists and naturopathic doctors; and
· Overall tax savings of nearly $3,400 for an average family of four in 2014.
These initiatives are building on our track record of tax relief for the middle class. Since 2006, our Conservative Government has introduced the following measures:
· Cut the lowest personal income tax rate to 15%;
· Increased the amount Canadians can earn tax-free;
· Reduced the GST from 7% to 5%, putting more than $1,000 back in the pockets of an average family of four in 2014;
· Established the landmark Tax-Free Savings Account—the most important personal savings vehicle since the RRSP;
· Children’s Fitness Tax Credit;
· Children’s Arts Tax Credit;
· Child Tax Credit;
· Family Caregiver Tax Credit;
· First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit;
· Registered Disability Savings Plan;
· Volunteer Firefighters Tax Credit;
· Working Income Tax Benefit;
· Textbook Tax Credit;
· Public Transit Tax Credit;
· Canada Employment Credit;
· Tradesperson’s Tools Deduction;
· Home Buyers’ Plan;
· Medical Expense Tax Credit;
· Universal Child Care Benefit; and
· First-Time Donor’s Super Credit.
Our Government believes that low taxes and financial freedom for the average Canadian is what allows Canada to truly prosper on the world stage. My colleagues and I look forward to supporting the remainder of Budget 2014 when the House resumes in the fall.
ON THE ROAD TO A BALANCED BUDGET
Our Conservative Government understands that a thriving Canadian middle class relies on sound national economic policy - this includes a balanced budget. It is important to note that the deficit has been reduced by almost two-thirds; from $55.6 billion in 2009–10 to $18.9 billion in 2012–13. Specifically, with measures taken by our Government, including those in Economic Action Plan 2014, we now forecast bringing the deficit down to $2.9 billion by 2014–15 and moving to a surplus of $6.4 billion in 2015–16.
Balanced budgets provide numerous benefits for Canadians and our economy. A few examples include:
· More taxpayer money can be put towards initiatives that matter to Canadians, instead of paying interest payments on debt;
· Boosts investor confidence and job creation by keeping interest rates low;
· Keeps taxes low and encourages more tax relief for Canadians and their families; and
· Signals to the world that Canada is a strong economic force, open for opportunity and ready to face potential challenges.
Canada’s fiscal and economic strength is something all Canadians can be proud of. Canada’s economic standing still remains the envy of the G-7 and we will maintain the lowest net debt burden among all G-7 countries in the years ahead—by far. Canadians can be assured that our country is on the right track for economic growth and long-term prosperity. I once again extend my best wishes for a safe and enjoyable summer.
Leon Benoit, MP