Mental health issues, support for veterans and diversity in the Senate were some of last week’s highlights.
This week, in recognition of World Health Day, our senate caucus asked the Government Leader in the Senate, Senator Harder, questions relating to this year’s theme Depression: Let’s Talk. I was pleased to ask the Government Leader what the federal government is doing to reduce the stigma associated with mental health.
Senator Yonah Martin asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate to make inquiries regarding research the current government has supported into maternal health, particularly on the prevention of depression and suicide in new mothers and what community-based programs the federal government supports to help pregnant women and new mothers, to promote their emotional health and well-being. Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais asked the Government Leader in the Senate about the implementation of the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in Canadian workplaces launched by the Conservative government in 2013.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. More than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015 (WHO, 2017). In asking these questions, our caucus is able to hold the government to account when it comes to developing solutions to reduce stigma and give Canadians the resources they need.
I would also like to congratulate Senator Percy Mockler for his nomination as Chair of the Finance Committee. Senator Mockler is also a new member of the twitter community. I invite you to follow him @SenMockler
Last week during Question Period in the Senate Chamber, we had the opportunity to pose questions to the Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence. Inviting a Minister of the Crown to respond to our questions has become a weekly tradition in the Senate and I was pleased to have the opportunity to ask a question on behalf of a gentleman from Bass River, Nova Scotia.
When our group became an independent Senate Liberal caucus, one of the initiatives that we introduced was to invite Canadians to send in questions that they would like to see posed directly to a representative of the government. “Your Question Period” was launched in March 2014 and while we have asked a number of questions to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (both former and current), this was the first time we were able to direct a question to a Minister.
Stuart Mills wanted to know: “Why, when a veteran is released medically, do they continually have to fight with Veterans Affairs Canada/the Department of Veterans Affairs to prove that our injuries during our time in service were, in fact, caused from the soldier’s time in service?”
Parliament is here to represent all Canadians, not one or another political party. I look forward to future opportunities to bring the voices and issues of more Canadians to the floor of the Senate.
The Independent Senators Group (ISG) was formed to give structure to parliamentary debate. The members of the ISG are not obliged to share a united position on legislative issues.
This week, our ISG contributor is Acadian Senator René Cormier from New Brunswick.
In the Senate of Canada, no two days are ever alike. The upper chamber is a unique and exciting place where Canadian democracy is exercised with rigour and commitment on a day-to-day basis. Whether we are debating in chamber, examining legislation or meeting with citizens, our goal is to ensure that, as a society, we are able to co‑exist. I am committed to working to: defend minorities and regions, promote citizenship, ensure that our history and symbols are respected, promote gender equality and ensure that artists and their work are valued.
On November 15, 2016, I joined the Senate as an independent senator from New Brunswick and, as I entered the upper house for the first time, I felt a tremendous sense of pride in witnessing the diversity of cultures in the chamber. This diversity reflects the inclusive nature of our country.
“US” and “ NOUS” — two words that resonate strongly in Canada’s two official languages and that, more than ever, require listening, openness and great solidarity. That, fellow senators, is our challenge. We have the privilege of working together for the betterment of all Canadians.