Opinion

Cannan: Conservatives address veterans needs and prostitution bill

The House of Commons is currently sitting until midnight most days in order to get as much work done as possible before the summer recess.

When that time comes, my colleagues and I will return to our ridings to work from our constituency offices.

In the meantime, here is news on government funding to three of our local schools, the latest report from the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, and new legislation that has sparked some robust discussion across the country.

Computers in local schools

Hundreds of thousands of young people will be given access to digital learning opportunities they otherwise did not have, thanks to a $36-million investment by the federal government, which will put about 280,000 computers in schools across Canada, and create around 1,000 training opportunities for young people in all areas of digital technology.

The Computers for Schools Program, an initiative that repairs, refurbishes and then donates computers to schools, public libraries, and aboriginal communities gives students access to the equipment and skills they need to succeed in the digital economy.

Local schools receiving computers are Heritage Christian School, Kleos Open Learning and Studio 9 School of the Arts (Vedanta).

In partnership with Canada’s Youth Employment Strategy (YES), since its inception in 1993, Computers for Schools has also given over 6,000 young Canadians valuable experience in working with digital technologies. Last year, almost 7,500 computers were shipped to schools in British Columbia. This is in addition to the more than 135,000 computers that have been shipped to schools in the province and more than 1.3 million across Canada since Computers for Schools.

Veterans charter review

On June 3, the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs tabled its unanimous comprehensive report on the New Veterans Charter.

As the committee report noted: “The committee members unanimously agree that the principles of the Veterans Charter should be upheld and that these principles foster an approach that is well suited to today’s veterans.”

The new charter is the product of over six months’ worth of meetings and deliberations by the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs.

The committee heard from veterans, veterans experts, civilians, veterans’ family members, and representatives from the Equitas Society as they developed their 14 recommendations.

Since our government came to office, there has been an increase of almost $5 billion in new funding for veterans.

The next step is for the government to review the report and respond within the timeframe afforded by the Committee. To review the report and its recommendations, please go to www.parl.gc.ca and follow the committees link.

Prostitution legislation tabled

On June 4, the federal government responded to the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in Canada v. Bedford to ensure that Canada’s laws and the criminal justice system continue to address the significant harms that flow from prostitution to those engaged in prostitution and to other vulnerable persons, while protecting Canadian communities.

Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, is a “made in Canada” model which directly targets the demand for this dangerous activity and involves a significant overhaul of the Criminal Code’s treatment of prostitution and related activities.

It would:

• Criminalize those who fuel the demand for prostitution, i.e.: purchasers of sexual services

• Continue to criminalize those who financially benefit from the exploitation of prostitutes, such as pimps and those who procure others for the purpose of prostitution

• Prohibit advertising for the sale of others’ sexual services in print or online

• Immunize prostitutes from criminal liability for any part they play in the purchasing, material benefit, procuring or advertising offences

• Protect our communities by criminalizing  communicating for the purpose of selling sexual services in public places where a child could reasonably be present; and,

• Increase existing penalties relating to child prostitution.

These measures will be supported by $20 million in new funding, including support for grassroots organizations dealing with the most vulnerable prostitutes with an emphasis on programs that have a proven record of helping prostitutes exit the sex trade.

The legislation is available for review in full at www.parl.gc.ca.

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