- NDP Caucus Chair, 2015 (elected by her fellow MPs)
- The Official Opposition Critic for Seniors Issues, Deputy Critic for Canadian Heritage
- Developed a National Strategy for Aging to help address the needs of, and prepare for the growing number of seniors in Canada.
- Fought against Conservative cuts to women’s organizations, housing programs, and the student summer jobs program, successfully winning reinvestment in all three areas.
- Served for 5 years as the NDP Critic for the Status of Women.
- Has also served the critic for Housing, Pensions, deputy Critic for Veterans Affairs, and the deputy Critic for Public Safety.
As a frequent, strong voice in Parliament, Irene has introduced:
- Bill C-498 , an amendment to the Navigable Waters Protection Act to protect the North Thames, Middle Thames, and Thames River.
- Bill C-422 , an amendment to the Employment Insurance Act to eliminate the waiting period that follows termination of employment.
- Bill C-407 , an amendment to the Financial Administration Act to require gender balanced representation on federally regulated Boards of Directors.
- Bill C-286 , an amendment to the Employment Insurance Act which will increase the period a claimant may receive special benefits to care or support a family member from six weeks to fifteen.
- Bill C-285 , an amendment to the criminal code that will add a person's sex to the list of "identifiable groups" in relation to hate propaganda.
- Bill C-284 , an Act to create the Advisory Council for the Status of Women.
- Bill C-283 , an Act to create the office of the Veterans Ombudsman, which will review certain matters pertaining to veterans and and other clients.
- Bill C-282 , an amendment to the Excise Tax Act to exempt female hygiene products from the GST.
- Bill C-256 , an amendment to the criminal code to offer more protection to firefighters.
- Bill C-254 , an amendment to the Income Tax Act to increase the RRSP deduction limit to include a taxpayers one-time contribution of any severance pay to an RRSP.
MOTIONS IN PARLIAMENT
Irene has introduced more than 40 motions in parliament on a wide variety of topics including the following:
M-536, a motion urging the government to develop an Urban Forest Strategy to help protect forests and tress in our cities.
M-59 Proportional Representation
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should work towards incorporating a measure of proportional representation in the federal electoral system, making use of a framework which includes: ( a ) a report on proportional representation prepared by an all-party committee after extensive public hearings; and ( b ) a referendum to be held, either before or at the same time as the next general election, on this issue where the question shall be whether electors favour replacing the present system with a system proposed by the committee as concurred in by the House.
M-61 National Housing Strategy
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should develop a national housing strategy and establish a Ministry of Housing which would ensure that: (a) government investments in housing are maintained and kept up to code over the life of the building; (b) reviews are done every five years to determine the needs of new affordable housing initiatives; (c) federally-funded cooperative housing are considered as part of the national housing strategy; and (d) all of the above is reported annually to Parliament.
M-64 Tax Exempt Reading Material
That, in the opinion of this House, the Minister of Finance should introduce legislation to eliminate the GST and the HST on all reading materials.
M-75 Worker's Pensions & Benefits First
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act to give preferred status to pension, health and long term disability plan deficits and unpaid severance above any unsecured creditors.
M-220 Improve GIS and OAS for Seniors
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should revise the Guaranteed Income Supplement and Old Age Security Program to ensure: (a) automatic enrollment; (b) retroactivity for up to 36 months; and (c) an increase to guarantee that the annual income of Canadians over the age of 65 is above Statistics Canada’s after-tax low income cut-off.
M-280 Education Savings Awareness
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should work to: (a) raise awareness of private education savings investments, the Canadian Education Savings Grant, and the Canada Learning Bond; and (b) help Canadian parents afford rising post-secondary tuition rates in Canada.
M-290 Employment Insurance Reforms
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) eliminate the two week waiting period for employment insurance; (b) reduce the qualifying period for employment insurance to 360 hours in all regions; (c) increase the rate of employment insurance to 66% of previous earning; (d) exclude severance, vacation and pension entitlements from earnings under the Employment Insurance Act; and (e) allow a reach back period of five years in order to qualify for employment insurance.