Questions for candidates from readers

2. Question, via Twitter from @verityhowarth:

How will your party improve therapy services for kids with delays and special needs? What role do you see the federal government playing?


Answer, from Craig Speirs, NDP:

Most of the early intervention services for kids with special needs

are indeed provided by the provinces. However, there are several ways

that the federal government could contribute to improving life for

these kids and the NDP has included these in our platform:


1.  Recruit therapists in rural areas is difficult both Mission and

Maple Ridge have had recruitment issues over the years. One solution

the NDP has put forward is to offer support and incentives to work  in

underserviced areas. We also support the training of more health

professionals like physio therapists, occupational therapists,

speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and social workers. We

need these kinds of specialists in addition to more nurses and doctor


2.  Our plan for creating a good quality child care program could

provide young kids with special needs early intervention and more

opportunties for social inclusion and learning. With supports and well

trained early childhood educators, kids with a variety of challenged

are better able to have success in learning and making friends at

preschool. In our own community, therapy services are often provided

in child care centers, supplementing the learning that is happening at

home. They need solid multi-year funding.


3.  Finally, looking at the long term, the NDP platform includes a

priority on implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons

with Disabilities (CRPD). We have a specific plan to make sure that

groups representing people with disabilities have a clear way to

collaborate with government to help achieve priorities such as

disability supports, poverty alleviation, labour market participation,

access and inclusion.


Behind every one of these kids is a family that is under stress that

can influence every facet of their life. Money spent helping children

with these kinds of challenges helps the broader community in many

ways that create a possitive effect. Its the Canadian way of doing



Answer, from Mandeep Bhuller, Liberals:

I have a five-year-old son who was born with congenital heart disease and was diagnosed with Kleinfelter’s syndrome, so this topic is very personal for me. We were fortunate for two reasons: he was diagnosed with both of these conditions prior to being born through ultrasound and an amniocentesis. I say fortunate because it gave my wife and I time to gain enough knowledge about our upcoming challenges and to identify local services that were available to support our family once he was born. My son began to receive occupational therapy and physiotherapy services as an infant and toddler. He continues receiving services for a speech delay from the Ridge Meadows Child Development Centre.

The federal government provides transfer payments for health care and social programs. Ultimately, delivery of health care services is a provincial responsibility.

However, the Liberal platform proposes the development of a program to deal with these unexpected circumstances. At one point or another, most families will face the challenge of a loved one falling ill, whether it’s an aging parent, a young child, or a spouse and partner.

The Liberal Family Care Plan will add a billion dollars annually to reduce the economic pressure on hundreds of thousands of struggling Canadian families.

The Liberal Family Care Plan will include a new six-month Family Care Employment Insurance Benefit so that more Canadians can take time off work to care for gravely ill family members at home without having to quit their jobs, and a new Family Care Tax Benefit, modeled on the Child Tax Benefit, to help low and middle-income family caregivers who provide essential care to a family member at home.


Answer, from Randy Kamp, Conservatives:

Therapy services for children with special needs are provided by the provincial government, but there are three ways in which the federal government can assist families with special needs children. These are through stable health transfers to the provinces, ensuring world class health research into illnesses such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, and by ensuring we do everything within our area of jurisdiction to ease the financial burden on families with special needs children.

Since we took office in 2006, we have increased health transfers by 33 per cent and increased the Canada Social Transfer by $250 million a year. Furthermore, as we move forward in tackling the deficit, our party has been clear that we will not balance the books by cutting health care funding to the provinces, as was the case in the 1990s. We have committed to an ongoing annual increase of six per cent – about twice the inflation rate.

We will also continue to lead the way in world class research into illnesses and conditions that affect children. For example, since 2000, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) have spent or committed approximately $39.4 million for autism-related research.  In addition, the Public Health Agency of Canada recently began a surveillance program that will help us measure the rate of autism in Canada.

Furthermore, while these children bring tremendous joy to their families and communities, their long-term care can be a financial burden. To help address this reality, our government established the Registered Disability Savings Plan to help Canadians with disabilities and their families better plan for the future.

Finally, on a local level, last year my office initiated a program to assist constituents with the application process for the Disability Tax Credit. The DTC is also available to children with disabilities and many families have found this to be a significant financial benefit.  If re-elected, this is a service that I will continue.


1. Question, via Twitter from @Aceman1616

@MandeepBhuller How do you plan to get #pittmeadows #mapleridge aboriginals to the polls to vote liberal? Does the Liberal party or you have any position on Aboriginal issues?

Answer, from Mandeep Bhuller, Liberal:

Thanks for the question, @Aceman1616.

The Liberal Party of Canada is the party of the Kelowna Accord.  It was the Conservative and NDP parties that defeated the Paul Martin Government in 2005 leaving the Kelowna Accord to die on the Order Paper.  The Liberal Party remains committed to government-to-government partnerships with our First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples that raise the standards of living and empower communities at the local level.

Mandeep has worked with First Nations Youth, and believes that one of the keys to helping our Aboriginal peoples is education.  A Liberal Government will invest an additional $200 million to lift the cap on post-secondary education funding, invest $300 million to address inadequate K-12 education funding, and will refinance the First Nations University in Saskatchewan.

A Liberal Government will put in place a renewed Affordable Housing Framework, which will, among other things, promote progress on the housing needs of Aboriginal communities.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada estimates the number of missing or murdered Aboriginal women at more than 580.  A Liberal Government will mandate a national task force to examine this issue.

Mandeep continues to have a strong relationship with the Katzie First Nation, and looks forward to serving all residents of the Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission Riding as their Member of Parliament.