Information on Birth Tourism petition (e-397)
Make a statement in the House of Commons!
Richmond Centre Electoral District
The following is from a City of Richmond press release concerning the expansion of Lansdowne Road, from Hollybridge Way to Gilbert Road. The announcement was on November 27, 2009:
Lansdowne Road expansion provides new linkage to Richmond Olympic Oval
Richmond, BC – Access through Richmond’s City Centre to the Richmond Olympic Oval and the Canada Line rapid transit system is now greatly improved with the opening of a new arterial route. Lansdowne Road has been extended to four lanes from Gilbert Road to Hollybridge Way, with help from the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund (ISF).
“This passage is an important link in our transportation network,” explains Mayor Malcolm Brodie. “The increased roadway capacity will not only reduce traffic delays and congestion, it will encourage transit and pedestrian use with the new bicycle lanes, street lighting and sidewalks.”
Through the ISF, the City of Richmond received $1.33 million of federal and provincial grant funding. The total project cost was $2 million, with the City contributing the remaining third of the cost.
“This partnership with the Government of British Columbia and the City of Richmond will fund a very useful transportation corridor,” said Alice Wong, MP for Richmond. “The financing for this project, coming from the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, is yet another example of how Canadian tax dollars are being used responsibly as part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan.”
“The expansion of Lansdowne Road will improve traffic flow around the Olympic Oval, not just during the Olympics, but well into the future,” said John Cummins, MP for Delta – Richmond East. “Working together with the province and the municipality of Richmond, the federal government provided a third of the cost for this expansion through the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund.”
“This is yet another improvement to Richmond’s infrastructure,” says Richmond Centre MLA Rob Howard. “This is an important link to our iconic Richmond Olympic Oval and our new Canada Line.”
“Expanding Lansdowne Road will not only reduce congestion and make it easier for people to get to the Canada Line,” says Richmond East MLA Linda Reid, “it is another example of a needed project creating jobs when we need them most.”
“All of the progress we’re seeing in Richmond shows that we are ready to take our place as a world-class city,” says Richmond-Steveston MLA John Yap. “These are exciting times.”
The Infrastructure Stimulus Fund (ISF) is a new infrastructure program introduced this year to promote a stronger economy, cleaner environment and better communities while assisting with local and regional infrastructure needs.
The Lansdowne Road extension also features two green initiatives, as part of the City of Richmond’s commitment to including sustainable initiatives in its capital projects. The first is the use of LED roadway lighting instead of conventional lighting. This will result in energy savings of over 50 per cent. LED lights also have a significantly longer life expectancy, reducing maintenance costs and reducing the carbon footprint.
The second initiative is a pilot project at the corner of Lansdowne Road and Gilbert Road to create a sidewalk that will not ice over. This is the first in North America. Free Energy Solutions, a Richmond based company, has donated thermal superconducting rods that have been laid in a 50 square foot patch of sidewalk.
The rods were drilled 35 feet below the sidewalk where the earth’s temperature remains a constant 12 degrees Celsius. The rods will heat the sidewalk above, preventing ice from forming, reducing the opportunity for injuries as well as decreasing maintenance costs. The City will be monitoring this sidewalk throughout the winter and looking for other opportunities to use this innovative technology.
The Lansdowne Road extension will be open to traffic for the evening rush hour on November 27.
On November 23, 2009, Alice Wong made a Member’s Statement on David Chen, who is the owner and operator of the Lucky Moose Food Mart in Toronto, Ontario.
For some background information, the national media has some coverage. Sample articles include:
– Blair defends arrest of grocer who nabbed thief – Globe and Mail, October 29, 2009
– Two charges dropped against shopkeeper – Toronto Star, November 3, 2009
– Opinion: To catch a thief in Toronto – Globe and Mail, November 4, 2009
– Opinion: Creating contempt for the justice system – The Gazette (Montreal), November 7, 2009
– General news search on Google News – David Chen, Lucky Moose
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The following is a transcript (November 23, 2009):
Mrs. Alice Wong (Richmond, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, shoplifters, vandals and other criminals are terrorizing small businesses in Toronto’s Chinatown. The victims of crime are often recent immigrants who own and operate their own small businesses.
Every dollar’s worth of merchandise that is stolen is a dollar less a store owner can spend on food and shelter for his family, a dollar less for his children’s university tuition, a dollar less for his family’s retirement.
Shoplifting is costing Chinatown grocer David Chen, owner of the Lucky Moose Food Mart on Dundas Street West, as much as $50,000 a year. Chen employs ten people and has a family of four. David Chen is a victim of property crime. There are many more small business owners in Toronto’s Chinatown just like him.
[Member spoke in Mandarin and provided the following translation:]
Our Conservative government has introduced legislation in support for victims of crime and we will continue this support. We believe that the primary purpose of a criminal justice system is not the welfare of the criminal; it is the protection of law-abiding citizens, their property and their families.
RICHMOND, BRITISH COLUMBIA, November 13, 2009—Residents of Richmond who speak Mandarin and Cantonese now have better access to federal government services. Ms. Alice Wong, Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism and Member of Parliament for Richmond, announced today the relocation of a Multi-Language Extension Services Outreach Site in Richmond.
Ms. Wong made the announcement on behalf of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.
“Through Multi-Language Extension Services Outreach Sites such as this one in Richmond, the Government of Canada is helping newcomers gain access to government services and benefits by offering them in languages other than English and French,” said Ms. Wong. “It is important for all residents to be aware of the supports and services that will help them participate and succeed in their communities.”
Service Canada teams will offer service to Cantonese and Mandarin speakers in Richmond for programs and benefits such as Employment Insurance, the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security, as well as other information available through www.canada.gc.ca and 1 800 O‑Canada.
Service Canada is the Government of Canada’s one-stop service delivery network, giving citizens access to a range of federal services by telephone at 1 800 O‑Canada (1-800-622-6232, TTY: 1-800-926-9105), online at www.servicecanada.gc.ca, or in person at over 600 points of service in communities throughout Canada.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
— Lt.-Col. John McCrae (1872 – 1918)
The House of Commons, on November 6, 2009, published their annual Report to Canadians for the 2008-2009 fiscal year. You can read the report by clicking here.
Inside the non-partisan report is an excellent summary of the services that the House of Commons provides.
In addition, members of the public might find the Members Office and Travel Expenses 2008-2009 report to be of interest.
On November 5, 2009, Alice Wong gave a Members’ Statement on the passing of Ray Leitch.
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The following is a transcript:
Mrs. Alice Wong (Richmond, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to mark the passing of Ray Leitch, a long-time Conservative activist and volunteer. Sadly, Ray passed away in Vancouver on Monday night.
Ray was a great example of what it means to be Canadian. He took pride in Canada’s democratic process and devoted the majority of his life to volunteering for the Conservative cause.
Ray served in many capacities, from volunteering on campaigns to serving as a national councillor, and most recently to sitting as an EDA president in Vancouver.
But he was more than a volunteer. Ray was also a friend, a confidant and a trusted advisor who helped many who have served in this House achieve their dreams of participating in Canada’s political life.
Today I rise on behalf of the Conservative caucus to honour the memory of Ray Leitch and to offer my condolences to his family. He was a true gentleman and will be greatly missed.
Government of Canada enhances public infrastructure with innovative technologies
Richmond, British Columbia — Alice Wong, Member of Parliament for Richmond, on behalf of the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification today announced a $1 million federal investment, through Western Economic Diversification Canada, to ‘green’ Metro Vancouver’s Lulu Island Wastewater Treatment Plant in Richmond.
“Our Government is committed to strengthening our economy in these tough times by investing in science and technology,” said MP Wong. “This project will make the plant more efficient and sustainable, while showcasing state-of the-art wastewater treatment technology developed right here in British Columbia.”
Funding will allow the Metro Vancouver’s Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District to purchase, install and bring into operation leading-edge technology at the Lulu Island Wastewater Treatment Plant. Coined the “B.C. Bioenergy to Biogas Project,” innovative, locally-developed technology will allow the plant to more efficiently convert its wastewater by-product into biogas, which will then be converted into electricity and heat for use by the plant. In addition to reducing the plant’s operating costs, emissions and waste disposal by up to a third or more, this project is expected to model increased productivity of wastewater plants and enhance public infrastructure in British Columbia and Canada. Metro Vancouver is also contributing $3 million in funding to the project.
“We see this as a big step toward meeting our goals of sustainable energy, reduced emissions and improved air quality as expressed in our Sustainability Framework,” said Metro Vancouver Chair Lois Jackson. “We’re hoping to make this a sustainability showcase for wastewater treatment plants worldwide.”
Metro Vancouver is a federation of 22 communities, one electoral area and one treaty First Nation that make up metropolitan Vancouver. Metro Vancouver provides regional services to its member communities in the areas of drinking water, sewage treatment, solid waste disposal, recycling, housing and parks. Other responsibilities include management and planning for the region’s growth, development and sustainability through a series of community-approved plans and initiatives.
Western Economic Diversification Canada works with the provinces, industry associations and communities to promote the development and diversification of the western economy, coordinates federal economic activities in the West and represents the interests of western Canadians in national decision making.
On November 3, 2009, the government introduced legislation to the House of Commons, Bill C-56, that will enable people that are self-employed to opt into the Employment Insurance program. They will have to pay the employee premium only (not the employer’s amount). In 2009 this amounted to $1.73 per $100 of income, up to a maximum of $731.79 in EI premiums per year – observe the earliest date that a person can opt into the program is January 1, 2010, and the 2010 EI premium rates have not been announced yet.
Self-employed people opting into this program, after one year, will be eligible to claim EI benefits for Maternity (15 weeks), Parential/Adoptive (35 weeks), Sickness (15 weeks) and Compassionate Care (6 weeks). Note that this does not include regular EI benefits (i.e. for loss of employment).
The following is a backgrounder on the details of the legislation:
Fairness for the Self-Employed Act
Income protection for life-transition events, such as the birth of a child, adoption, illness, and the care of a gravely ill family member, is a key contributor to the financial security of all Canadian workers. The 2008 Speech from the Throne recognized the challenges facing self-employed Canadians as they deal with the dual pressure of being entrepreneurs and caring for their families. In Budget 2009, the Government proposed to examine ways to best provide self-employed Canadians with access to Employment Insurance (EI) maternity and parental benefits. The Government has now introduced the Fairness for the Self-Employed Act, legislation that would fulfill and exceed this commitment.
Through the new legislation, self-employed Canadians who opt into the EI program would be eligible to receive the same special benefits currently available to salaried employees, specifically:
* maternity benefits (15 weeks maximum) are available to birth mothers and cover the period surrounding birth (a claim can start up to 8 weeks before the expected birth date);
* parental/adoptive benefits (35 weeks maximum) are available to biological or adoptive parents while they are caring for a newborn or newly adopted child, and may be taken by either parent or shared between them (if parents opt to share these benefits, only one waiting period must be served);
* sickness benefits (15 weeks maximum), which may be paid to a person who is unable to work because of sickness, injury or quarantine; and
* compassionate care benefits (6 weeks maximum), which may be paid to persons who have to be away from work temporarily to provide care or support to a family member who is gravely ill with a significant risk of death.
Under the proposed legislation, self-employed Canadians would be required to opt into the program at least one year prior to claiming benefits. They would also be responsible for making premium payments starting with the tax year in which they apply to the program. With a program start date of January 2010, claims could be made as early as January 1, 2011.
To access EI special benefits, self-employed individuals would need to have earned a minimum of $6,000 in self-employed earnings over the preceding calendar year.
The self-employed could opt out of the EI program at the end of any tax year, as long as they have never claimed benefits. If they have claimed benefits, they would have to contribute on self-employed earnings for as long as they are self-employed.
Self-employed Canadians who opt into the program would pay the same EI premium rate as salaried employees. They would not be required to pay the employer portion of premiums, in recognition of the fact that they would not have access to EI regular benefits.
Self-employed residents of Quebec would continue to receive maternity and parental benefits through the Quebec Parental Insurance Program provided by the Government of Quebec. In addition, they would now be eligible to take advantage of the sickness and compassionate care benefits being offered by the Government of Canada through EI. Should they choose to take advantage of the program, they would pay EI premiums at the same rates as employees in Quebec, where rates have already been adjusted downward to take into account the existence of a provincial maternity and parental benefit plan.
Through the Economic Action Plan, the Government of Canada has also implemented measures to support all unemployed Canadians. These measures include providing 5 extra weeks of EI regular benefits, increasing the maximum duration of benefits from 45 to 50 weeks in regions of high unemployment, protecting jobs through the Work-Sharing program, and freezing EI premiums for 2010 at the same rate as 2009 to provide economic stimulus. For more information on these measures, please visit www.actionplan.gc.ca.
Most recently, the Government introduced legislation to extend EI regular benefits for unemployed long-tenured workers, who are individuals that have paid EI premiums for years and made limited use of the program, and who now need additional support while they look for jobs in a recovering economy. Further information on this proposed measure is available at www.hrsdc.gc.ca.