Bill C-12 (Historical)
Emergency Management Act
An Act to provide for emergency management and to amend and repeal certain Acts
This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in October 2007.
Stockwell Day Conservative
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
December 2nd, 2009 / 3:55 p.m.
Daniel Lavoie Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Emergency Management and National Security Branch, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Thank you. I would like to come back to the issue of cooperation. As recommended by the Auditor General, the approval of the Federal Emergency Response Plan will significantly contribute to maximizing the support we can obtain. It is a very good recommendation, which we support and which will help us move forward.
We do not have major issues, but it is often better not to have any issues at all. You raised a number of examples earlier, including issues such as farming, erosion and flooding. A number of levers are pulled as part of the emergency management process. Municipalities are the first to react; followed by the provinces. There is much discussion with our provincial colleagues. In the last three years, we have re-established a committee that had lost its sense of direction, but is now up and running. I am referring to the FPT committee of senior officials responsible for emergency management.
We had a discussion no later than yesterday. We are cooperating on a long list of issues. A problem affecting one province will have an impact on its neighbour, because neighbouring provinces will help each other out in the event of major problems. Since this also affects the federal government, it is in our best interest to come up with solutions. A lot of work is being done in terms of prevention. We have done much prevention work with individuals. You might have seen the advertising campaign entitled “72 hours... Is your family prepared?”, which targets individual Canadians. First, we prepare individuals, then we deal with municipalities.
We can develop programs or a process to ensure that, in the event of an uncontrollable disaster, the citizens affected will have quick access to the appropriate services—whether provincial health care services, or services for small and medium enterprises provided by Industry Canada or assistance from HRSDC. We have come together to develop such a process.
I would like to come back to your example when you spoke about farming. We have an ongoing planning process with regard to evolving risks. A part of the 2007 Emergency Management Act clearly indicates that the Minister of Public Safety has specific responsibilities and that each government minister is responsible for analyzing and assessing the risks within their portfolio. Who better than the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to inform us of the actual risks within that sector? He is also responsible for assessing the situation.
Therefore, the Auditor General recommended that we provide the department with more assistance so that it can effectively carry out its responsibilities.
October 22nd, 2009 / 11:50 a.m.
Rob Oliphant Don Valley West, ON
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Minister, you're the Minister of Public Safety and you said that some of the work our committee has undertaken, since this review that you felt should have been done, is trivial and of a partisan nature. I'm wondering which work our committee has dealt with in the last two and one-half years that you would consider trivial. Is it Bill C-3, to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act? Is it our work on contraband tobacco, the witness protection program, the study of security issues concerning the Minister of Foreign Affairs, our taser study, agri-chemicals and agri-retail, arming of the CBSA officers? Is it Bill C-12, regarding emergency management? Is it Bill C-279, DNA identification? I could go on.
It has been significant work that this parliamentary committee has dealt with, none of which has been trivial, all of which may be partisan to some degree. But I would argue that it is unfair for you to assess this committee's work as either trivial or partisan.
Because I know you can run out the clock with that statement I want to ask you: were you aware that our committee was in the final process of finishing our report, and actually we changed our agenda, when you introduced this legislation on June 1 so you would not take advantage of our interest and expertise in this area?
It was not one year away, as you just suggested in your testimony.
Message from the Senate
June 22nd, 2007 / 12:20 p.m.
The Speaker Peter Milliken
I have the honour to inform the House that when the House did attend Her Excellency the Governor General in the Senate chamber Her Excellency was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
Bill S-6, An Act to amend the First Nations Land Management Act--Chapter 17;
Bill C-277, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (luring a child)--Chapter 20;
Bill C-18, An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to DNA identification--Chapter 22;
Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (adoption)--Chapter 24;
Bill C-47, An Act respecting the protection of marks related to the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games and protection against certain misleading business associations and making a related amendment to the Trade-marks Act--Chapter 25;
Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Quarantine Act--Chapter 27;
It being 12:23 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, September 17, 2007, at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).
The first session of the 39th Parliament was prorogued by royal proclamation on September 14, 2007.
June 4th, 2007 / 5:05 p.m.
Susan Kadis Thornhill, ON
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I guess I'd first ask this question about this due diligence amendment. Did that specifically come about in response to expanding it or to putting it back to all conveyances, including land? Because it wasn't in the original Bill C-12. Due diligence wasn't in Bill C-12.
April 18th, 2007 / 5:20 p.m.
Bonnie Brown Oakville, ON
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I think from what I'm hearing on both sides of the table, I have to say I'm not ready to go to clause-by-clause.
Mr. Fletcher said that we have to lean on our officials, and I really believe that. But these are the same officials who brought us Bill C-12 and implied they could do it, and now we're hearing that they don't know how to do it or they don't have enough money to do what they brought to us themselves in Bill C-12.
So Mr. Fletcher was right: These are changes that meet the needs of the officials who don't seem to know how to do this or who maybe don't have enough money for more quarantine officers. If you're going to check people at a border and have a quarantine official, you can't have somebody driving from the Toronto airport to Windsor to look over people on a bus. Yet that's what they're telling us. There are only 30 locations. That means all the major international airports and the two main ports in the country. Is that good enough? I would question that.
We heard at the time from the CMA, the Canadian Medical Association, and now this thing has been in place for a while, at least at airports and ports, and I'd like to know what they have to say about the Quarantine Act and what they think about the safety.
The other thing, before I could possibly decide, Mr. Chair, is I need to know how many of those 266,000 people who enter our country come by land. What if it's more than half? I agree with Dr. Bennett: why would we give this up? This is not a technical amendment. It is a change in policy, and it therefore has to be dealt with much more seriously than would a technical amendment.
So, no, I'm not ready, and if you want, I'll make some suggestions for witnesses.
April 18th, 2007 / 4:20 p.m.
Susan Kadis Thornhill, ON
I spoke in Parliament to Bill C-12 originally--and felt very strongly about it, as most people did, I believe, in the House in general--in response to the changes that had taken place, such as those regarding SARS, etc., and potential threats globally. I'm not yet hearing any rationale as to why we would dilute the act, and I'm not being convinced that we should.
You're in one sense talking about strengthening or implying that you want to strengthen the act, which would be something that would be very highly supportable, but on the other hand, it seems to be completely contradictory to now delete some of these opportunities to catch potential illness and threats.
April 18th, 2007 / 3:50 p.m.
Bonnie Brown Oakville, ON
That wouldn't be my experience. If I were sick on a bus and I was coming towards Toronto, I'd want to get home. I wouldn't tell anybody how sick I felt, even if I had perspiration flowing down my face. I'd want to get home. I'd want to meet my family and get to my own doctor. But I could be bringing in a disease, and I think if there were a bus driver on that bus, he should be required to report, as well.
What is the real technical issue that makes this so difficult? Is it the whole problem of having quarantine officers available, say, at two o'clock in the morning at the Ontario-Michigan border? I'm sure there's something else underpinning this change, because it is reducing the requirements that were set out in Bill C-12.
April 18th, 2007 / 3:45 p.m.
Manager, Legislative and Regulatory Policy Group, Public Health Agency of Canada
It's reduced from what Bill C-12 originally said. However, it is not reduced from the point of view of the existing regulations. The existing regulations, which have been in effect for probably fifty years, only required air and marine conveyances to report. Furthermore, as Dr. Clarke pointed out, the International Health Regulations only require marine and air conveyances to advance-report.
March 28th, 2007 / 5:10 p.m.
Nicole Demers Laval, QC
Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin my remarks by mentioning the beautiful light that shines on this side of the House. This is not a coincidence. The sky is blue and God is a sovereignist. We are going to take advantage of this light to enlighten our colleagues, the members opposite, who form the government. I hope they will be wise enough to listen.
I could not help but smile when I saw that this legislation was coming back here to be amended. Let us not forget that, at the beginning of this session, a bill was rammed through the House, namely Bill C-2. We felt that this issue had not been debated long enough to ensure that this legislation would provide measures that could be implemented, and that it would be responsible and meaningful for our fellow citizens, whom we represent here.
Today, I see that we have to go back to Bill C-12, which was passed in 2005, when I was still a new member in this House. In fact, this bill was my first experience with the legislation here. I had to learn how to debate it in the Standing Committee on Health, along with my colleague, the member for Hochelaga, who was then our party critic on health issues. Even at that time we had serious reservations about the provisions that the government wanted to include in the bill, because we often felt that they were too intrusive or not logical enough to allow for concrete, easy and effective implementation.
We have to be very cautious and serious when we talk about infectious and communicable diseases, about viruses and bacteria that proliferate. We have to take our role seriously. At the time, we deplored the fact that people would be accountable to an authority designated by the Minister of Health, because we felt that this was a somewhat complex process that would prevent the bill from being an effective piece of legislation.
When I saw the bill and saw that there was a move to amend this section, that is, section 34, I thought to myself, “Two years later, people are finally seeing that, once again, the Bloc Québécois was right.” Naturally, it was members of the Bloc Québécois who were the first to oppose that part of the legislation, which called for an authority designated by the minister. We did so because we believed that the bill encroached too much on provincial jurisdictions, especially in the area of health.
In Quebec, our department of public health is very effective and takes great care to protect us against all communicable and infectious diseases. I know that this is not necessarily the case everywhere. A hospital in Vegreville had to close its doors this week. Also, in Loyds, hundreds of patients had to be informed that they had probably contracted HIV or hepatitis, because the doctor had not reported, as one must, these diseases to public health authorities.
It is not enough to simply enact legislation. That legislation must be respected, obeyed and enforced, and we must be able to use that legislation effectively to protect ourselves against what we could call barbarian invasions. Any mention of tuberculosis, west Nile virus or SARS is sure to arouse fear. I would remind the House that the original Quarantine Act was drafted around 1872, if I understood my hon. colleague from Richmond—Arthabaska correctly.
We know that diseases crossed borders with the influx of pioneers who came here to start a life for themselves and become proud citizens of what was then Lower Canada and Upper Canada, in other words, the Quebec and Canada of today.
Infectious diseases did not stop crossing our borders just because we passed this legislation in 1872. In the early 1900s, around 1910 or 1918, right here in Hull, on the other side of the river, a very serious Spanish influenza outbreak killed many people. It decimated entire families. We still see traces of those families today in the names of the hon. members sitting in this House and the people nearby, who live in Hull, in Gatineau. These people probably have in their lineage, among their ancestors, people who died from the Spanish flu. At the time, even though the legislation existed, we did not have the means to enforce or apply it.
As far as such epidemics are concerned, we have to think about all these soldiers we send abroad. Often we pay more attention to what is going on over there in terms of equipment, tools and armament, and not pay much attention to what they might be bringing back with them when they come home. This can be very dangerous for them. These days, a number of women take part in these missions. Many of them come back and can also spread infectious diseases to their families and children because they did not receive the necessary care when they were abroad on a peacekeeping mission or, unfortunately, at war.
It is not enough to have laws, we also need the political will to apply them. We have to start resolving the problems in our own backyard. We currently have tuberculosis epidemics in a number of our first nations communities. It is unthinkable that in 2007 there are still people suffering from tuberculosis. That is the direct responsibility of the federal government. It is a responsibility that it neglects far too often and which it has not respected because the epidemic is spreading, not stopping.
In Kashechewan, people may be forced to leave their homes and to be relocated because their water is not potable. However, they cannot do it today because there is no money. If we have billions of dollars to invest in arms, we should at least have a few million to invest in providing safe, healthy housing where individuals can live with dignity and respect. At present, this is not the case. It is much easier to adopt a laissez-faire attitude. Hundreds, even thousands of individuals will suffer from these illnesses, including tuberculosis and other diseases. They will contract them because of unhealthy living conditions. Nothing is being done about that.
The previous government ratified the Kelowna accord. We all voted in this House to honour that accord. However, the government decided otherwise and is not making any further commitments. That is most unfortunate.
First nations communities, Inuit communities, all these communities find it difficult to carve out a place for themselves in our society. It is difficult for them to have access to adequate health care, appropriate education, and affordable, healthy, safe housing. It is difficult for them, but they have been abandoned even though it is our first responsibility to help them. We abandon them, we do not invest in these societies. Why? Why is there constant encroachment, to the tune of millions of dollars, on provincial responsibilities and jurisdictions when we do not even take care of our own responsibilities?
I do not understand. And yet, some small countries who have very little do much more for their citizens. I regularly visit Cuba, because I love the island and the people. Someone will say to me that they do not have a great deal of freedom, but I sometimes wonder which one of us has more freedom. I know that they have first class health care. All Cubans can study as much and as long as they wish. Education is free. Later, the government assigns the doctors it has trained to various countries to work for humanitarian causes. These doctors are very well trained.
Whenever I go to Cuba, I am never afraid of getting sick. I know I will be taken care of. When we went to Taiwan last fall, my travelling companion got a toothache on Taiwan's national holiday. The person I was with had a toothache. We had to go to a hospital because there are no dental clinics. At the hospital, two doctors took care of us. In under 10 minutes, my companion was in a chair and personnel had administered a sedative and something to take away the pain, and all of this happened on Taiwan's national holiday. Of course, thousands of people live there and their hospitals do not have all the equipment we have here. But their government chooses to invest in human resources to provide a standard of care and services that we rarely find here.
That service standard is rare here largely because of our provincial governments. Why do our respective governments not have enough money? Because previous federal governments cut transfer payments. Beginning in 1994, cuts to provincial transfer payments, including payments to Quebec, resulted in the sorry state of our health care systems today compared to those of some small countries that have much less than we do, but that care about their citizens' health.
We support the principle underlying this bill. We are not against it. Obviously, we cannot be against what is right, but today, as we study this bill, we must ask ourselves a question. Will this bill provide enough money to train quarantine officers? Will enough money be invested in training customs agents and all of the front-line staff who meet people at the border?
That was one of the concerns expressed by the Standing Committee on Health in 2004-05. We were not certain that all steps would be taken in order to enforce Bill C-12. After two years, we see that enforcing it is very difficult indeed, and that it was not really being enforced because there were flaws in the bill. In the years to come, we will likely find other flaws in the bill, given that the Standing Committee on Health had considerable reservations about approving the bill, which was adopted on division.
If we all minded our own business, there would likely be fewer bills of this kind to review. For example, despite what the government thinks, Bill C-2 was adopted very quickly, and a number of its sections are still not in force.
Why are we asked to debate bills that seem so important to the government, only to then have it dismiss everything we determined, everything we decided, everything we wanted to be able to give to our citizens as members of Parliament here in this House? We wonder why.
I do not know. I only hope that, in the future, we will be more careful. If it is true that Bill C-42 is crucial to the proper enforcement of Bill C-12, through the amendment of section 34, it is also true that there are several other sections of the bill that should be reviewed. In enforcing—
Emergency Management Act
December 11th, 2006 / 5:50 p.m.
Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak to Bill C-12 at third reading.
The Government of Canada has needed this bill for quite some time, in the sense that it allows us finally as a government and our agencies across the country to prepare for a state of emergency. I think mostly we are addressing natural disasters. These are ones that can cause great damage, not only of a monetary amount but also in terms of deaths and injury to our citizenry.
We know from looking across the globe, when other countries have faced those kinds of natural disasters, that it is abundantly clear that if we are ready, prepared, have a plan and coordination in place, have resources in place, both in terms of dollars and personnel that a substantial difference can be made in the outcome, both in terms of the number of lives and the number of injuries we save and, yes, the amount of dollars we save for our communities by reducing the impact of natural disasters.
I do not think we have seen that more clearly in a developed country than what we saw in the United States with hurricane Katrina about a year ago. We had the wealthiest country in the world in terms of economic well-being that was not prepared, did not have the coordination in place, the personnel in place and the resources in place.
As a result, one of the major cities in the U.S. was devastated for an extended period of time. The city had mass evacuations and many more deaths than would have been normal for that type of an incident had the city been prepared and had that coordination been in place.
What Bill C-12 does is to provide us with that infrastructure. Parts of the bill are already there. A good deal of it is already there, but it is not in a coordinated fashion.
The people who do this work, who came before us and have testified, both from the federal government and from other areas, both the non-profit area and some of the other institutions that are most keenly affected by this, the utility companies for instance, all made very clear their desire to work in a coordinated fashion, to get all of the structure in place.
We need a structure should we be faced again with a flood in your home province of Manitoba, Mr. Speaker, or with an ice storm that we had here in Ontario, or with the loss of power that we had along the whole eastern seaboard only a couple of years ago that also affected Ontario. We can go down the list and we know that we have not always responded to the very best way.
Hopefully, this structure that we are building by way of this legislation will in fact allow us to respond to our absolute maximum. The NDP is going to support this legislation. It is badly needed legislation, as I have already said. The one trepidation I have in supporting the bill is that we have not dealt fairly with the local level of government and with the NGOs, the non-profit sector and the volunteer sector.
There is passing mention of them in the legislation. The crucial part we know. We can say this because we heard some of this evidence in committee. In March I was at an international conference that was hosted here in Canada. We had people from Pakistan who recently dealt with an earthquake about this time last year. We had representatives from a number of the countries that had been devastated by the tsunami in Asia.
Every single country, without exception, whether they were an undeveloped and poor country or a first world developed country, said the same thing. They said that the key to minimizing the impact, other than the coordination and the planning in advance, was the ability of the local community to respond in the first few hours, the first 24 to 48 hours.
Generally speaking, regional governments, in our case, the provinces, or national governments, our government, are not able to get their people in fast enough, their equipment in fast enough, or their resources in fast enough to respond immediately. That happens at the local level. We talked in terms of first responders and that, with very few exceptions, is the local level of government, the municipal level of government.
Certainly, the Red Cross and agencies like that are also there, oftentimes again, within the first few hours. They provide the initial immediate relief. They are the ones who save lives. They are the ones who prevent further injury and minimize injuries. They provide food and clothing immediately and shelter, oftentimes immediately.
The legislation has a failing in this regard in that it does not adequately reflect that key essential role that the local level of government provides and I want to take this opportunity acknowledge that.
The official opposition and I made various attempts to amend the legislation in committee during clause by clause study to try and get that acknowledgement in, buttress the role that local governments play by way of officially acknowledging them in the legislation. However, between the Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois, they would not support those amendments and they did not pass.
The end result is that although we have had extensive consultation with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Red Cross and some of the other agencies, the legislation is not fair to them. I make these comments recognizing all of the very fine work that they have done and that I am sure they will continue to do.
There are some additional things that the federal government could do in terms of bringing them in early to the consultation process and having them on some of the planning and coordinating committees that will be established. Some are already under this legislation and they play a key role when we actually are faced with this kind of a disaster.
We will be supporting the legislation with those reservations. It is important that we get started on this. That planning and coordination, putting in place the resources, will further protect our citizenry. No government has any greater responsibility than to protect its citizenry from this type of public danger. The sooner the legislation gets through and we begin to deploy it, the better off the country will be as a whole.