Purple Day Act
An Act respecting a day to increase public awareness about epilepsy
Geoff Regan Liberal
Introduced as a private member’s bill.
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
Comments by the Member for Wellington—Halton Hills
June 6th, 2013 / 3:10 p.m.
Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of personal privilege that I think will have some relevance to my colleague across the way, the House leader for the government, as well as the House leader for the Liberal Party.
I rise on a question arising from some troubling insinuations made last night over the course of debate. I have been reviewing yesterday's debate and I was surprised and, not somewhat, but very concerned by some serious allegations that were made by one of my colleagues across the way. These statements call into question the integrity of the House and the House leaders and I wanted to raise them with you today, Mr. Speaker, as soon as possible.
During the debate on vote 1 on the main estimates, while referring to Bill C-290, an act to amend the Criminal Code sports betting, the MP for Wellington—Halton Hills mentioned:
In fact, what transpired on Friday, March 2, 2012, was that the House leaders worked together to force debate to collapse before the full two hours of third reading had transpired, preventing members like me from “standing five” to request a full standing division on that piece of legislation.
By saying that, the member for Wellington—Halton Hills is insinuating that the House leaders had come up with some kind of conspiracy to bypass the parliamentary process. Not only does this show a lack of understanding of the legislative process, it puts the credibility of the officers of the House into doubt. Moreover, Mr. Speaker, it puts your credibility into doubt by insinuating that you would allow such a conspiracy to take place.
My friend across the way knows this place well and knows the rules that govern the House. He has been here for some time now, so I find it passing strange that he has gone so far as to suggest that there was a coordinated effort to trample his rights as a duly elected member of Parliament. Perhaps a brief review of what happened in this case can help clarify the situation for him and for all, and perhaps invoke some retraction or apology to both yourself, Mr. Speaker, and the House leaders.
Bill C-290 was debated at second reading on November 1, 2011. During the debate, all MPs had the opportunity to express themselves on this bill. This opportunity was seized by the member of Parliament for Windsor—Tecumseh, the member for Windsor West, the member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, the member for Edmonton—St. Albert and the member for Charlottetown. Following these interventions, because no other member rose to speak, the Speaker put the question to the House, as is proper.
This is the normal procedure at any time when no further members rise to speak on a bill. If the debate collapses, the bill can be adopted or rejected at that point, or a recorded division can be requested by any five members in the House. In the case of this bill, there was not a single MP from any party who expressed their opposition to the bill being read a second time and referred to the committee.
The member for Wellington—Halton Hills could have expressed his concerns at this time by simply standing up. He chose not to. During the committee study, any MP could have submitted their concerns on the bill or encouraged the committee members to recommend that the House not proceed with the bill at all. This is good legislation, so no member availed themselves of this opportunity and the bill was passed by the committee, once again without opposition.
Members had a third opportunity to express themselves at the report stage on March 2, 2012. Indeed, as prescribed in the Standing Orders, when a bill comes back from the committee and there are no amendments, the Speaker automatically puts the question at report stage. Once again, the bill passed through this stage without any opposition whatsoever.
The debate at third reading provided a fourth chance for the members to examine and debate the bill. Once again, representatives from all three recognized parties took the opportunity to address the bill. It was a lively debate. The member for Wellington—Halton Hills, as well as other MPs, had the chance to give a speech on the bill at that point, but they did not. For a fourth time, the bill was passed by members of the House, without opposition.
The MP for Wellington—Halton Hills had all of these occasions to speak on Bill C-290 and to move any amendments or changes, but he chose not to. The order paper shows us well in advance when a bill is to be debated. It is not a secret. However, instead of standing to speak his voice, he chose to stay in his seat or not be present. Now he claims that there was somehow a conspiracy against him, blaming his House leader, myself and the House leader for the Liberal Party of having conspired to prevent him the opportunity to use his democratic voice.
Moreover, the MP for Wellington—Halton Hills seems to think that it is unheard of for a private member's bill to go through all steps without a standing vote. Since the beginning of this Parliament, at least two bills from opposition MPs went through all stages in the House of Commons without a standing vote. This was the case for Bill C-278, An Act respecting a day to increase public awareness about epilepsy, as well as Bill S-201, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day.
There was also Bill C-313, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (non-corrective contact lenses) and Motion No. 319 from the MP for Ottawa—Orléans.
These four private members' business items all passed through the legislative process without a standing vote in the House. We heard no such cries of conspiracy or condemnation from the member who is raising the complaints now or from any other member because this is the practice of the House. My friend from Ottawa—Orléans knows this practice well and used it.
These assertions that have been made are broad sweeping and undermine the integrity of the House officers of the various parties by calling into question the work that we undertake on behalf of our parties. The member for Wellington—Halton Hills is calling into question the integrity of this House and the legislative process, a process he knows well. I hope that this is not what the member was suggesting or insinuating last night. Maybe it is just that the member has misplaced certain rules of the House.
If he feels that his rights to express himself in the House have somehow been violated, I also invite him to discuss this with his House leader or others who try to maintain an orderly and conducive debate in this place. He does not have to try and intimidate those of us in this House. We New Democrats, more often than anyone else in this place, believe in and defend the institution and the rights of members of Parliament to speak. We have opposed the 42 motions that have been moved by this government to shut down debate every single time. The insinuation that there is somehow a conspiracy to prevent certain members from speaking on a piece of legislation, simply because they are in opposition, is both offensive to myself and I would suggest to the other House leaders, although they will have their own positions and feelings about this.
I would also argue that this assertion puts your credibility into doubt by insinuating that somehow you would allow such a conspiracy to take place. I believe that these allegations constitute a prima facie breach of privilege.
If you come to the same conclusion that I have, I would be prepared to move the appropriate motion to have this studied by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
I look forward to the interventions by my colleagues across the way.
Message from the Senate
June 28th, 2012 / 2 p.m.
The Speaker Andrew Scheer
I have the honour to inform the House that when the House did attend His Excellency the Governor General in the Senate chamber, His Excellency was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
Bill C-288, An Act respecting the National Flag of Canada—Chapter 12, 2012.
Bill C-278, An Act respecting a day to increase public awareness about epilepsy—Chapter 13, 2012.
Bill C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons)—Chapter 15, 2012.
Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, the Marine Transportation Security Act and the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Act—Chapter 17, 2012.
It being 2:15 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, September 17, 2012, at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).
Statements by Members
March 26th, 2012 / 2:15 p.m.
Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS
Mr. Speaker, today is Purple Day and it is great to see so many members wearing purple and purple ribbons to help raise awareness about epilepsy.
All members received a card with information about first aid for seizures and I encourage them all to familiarize themselves with the 10 steps. The most important things to remember are to stay calm, keep the person safe and never restrain.
I also thank the House for its unanimous support of Bill C-278, which would recognize every March 26 as Purple Day so we can increase awareness of epilepsy and the impact it has on thousands of Canadians.
Canada is a world leader in this cause thanks to the commitment of people like Cassidy Megan who founded Purple Day and started a global trend.
Purple Day Act
Private Members' Business
March 9th, 2012 / 1:45 p.m.
Fin Donnelly New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to talk about epilepsy and to speak in support of Bill C-278. I also want to acknowledge the good work of my colleague, the member for Sudbury, in raising awareness about epilepsy.
Indeed, it is an honour for me to speak in the House today on this important issue. We have to bring epilepsy out into the open due to the stigma that surrounds it and the prejudice with which society has historically treated people with epilepsy. Many with this disorder are reluctant to admit it or to seek treatment.
Epilepsy is a serious neurological disorder that affects the brain and causes sudden changes in how the brain works. It presents itself in the form of seizures.
We are all touched by epilepsy, whether of a family member, a co-worker, a friend or a neighbour. Epilepsy is a condition that affects thousands of Canadians. Every year in Canada an average of 15,500 people learn they have epilepsy. That is about 42 people each and every day who are diagnosed with epilepsy. About 60% of new patients are young children and senior citizens.
Those with loved ones suffering from epilepsy are all too familiar with the fear that surrounds this disease. They fear for their loved ones and the powerlessness that accompanies a seizure. They fear that they will be in the wrong place when a seizure occurs, that it will happen in the shower or when they are home alone.
There are so many variables to this condition that we have no power to control. However, we are not powerless. The government has a role to play and the public has a role to play too. The government must do a better job of adequately funding medical research and ensuring that medication is readily available and affordable.
The public can also play a part by educating itself about epilepsy and how to identify a seizure. Each one of us can commit to helping someone in distress and taking action so that seizure-sufferers are cared for appropriately when they experience an episode and to notifying emergency services if necessary.
Unfortunately, even today, the general public does not know how to react to a person having a seizure. There are so many misconceptions about how to help a person who is having a seizure. For example, restraining a person during a seizure is the wrong action to take, yet many people do not know that. Also, nothing should be placed in the mouth of the person having a seizure. However, old myths persist and the public needs to made aware of the facts. It should be basic first aid.
With so many Canadians living with epilepsy, awareness is the key. In my home province of British Columbia, the B.C. Epilepsy Society works to increase awareness of epilepsy and seizures by offering seizure awareness workshops, and distributing information materials for employers, community organizations, including school staff and students, child care providers, recreational leaders and community support workers.
I encourage all Canadians, and in particular the constituents of my riding of New Westminster—Coquitlam and Port Moody, to educate themselves about what to do when someone is having a seizure. It is as easy as contacting the B.C. Epilepsy Society to request their seizure first aid postcards, posters or wallet cards. This commitment to education and action will literally save lives.
March is Epilepsy Awareness Month, a time for Canadians to be reminded of the prevalence of this disease, how it affects those who live with it and their families, and what work remains to be done to support those who live with it and to support efforts to find a cure. March is also when Purple Day occurs. It is March 26.
I would like to acknowledge a brave young woman named Cassidy Megan, who had the idea for the Purple Day for epilepsy campaign. She joined with the Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia in 2009. The Purple Day for epilepsy campaign was launched internationally.
The Purple Day for epilepsy campaign has been so important in raising awareness about epilepsy. It has involved countless organizations, schools and celebrities from around the world. It has also engaged politicians, like us in this House.
Cassidy wrote about her diagnosis in an open letter. She said:
Educating people about epilepsy is so important because people need to know what to do if they see someone having a seizure and they need to know that there are different types of seizures and that they don’t have to be afraid of epilepsy or the people who have it. Education also helps people with epilepsy know they aren’t alone.
The intent of the legislation before us in the House today is to increase public awareness about epilepsy. It proposes designating March 26 as Purple Day and it would encourage all Canadians to show their support for people with epilepsy by wearing the colour purple.
I would like to reiterate my support for the bill and its commendable goal of increasing awareness of epilepsy. However, I would like to challenge my colleagues on both sides of the House to consider what we can do as parliamentarians to go beyond simply raising awareness. We know the importance of raising awareness of epilepsy among Canadians. It saves lives, breaks through stigmas and enables us to better understand the challenges faced by those living with this disorder. As parliamentarians, I believe we owe it to Canadians to consider what additional actions the federal government can take to improve the current and future situation of those living with epilepsy beyond encouraging Canadians to wear purple.
As parliamentarians, we know there is a drug shortage in Canada, which also includes a shortage of medication to treat epilepsy. This past October, the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance warned that this drug shortage endangered the lives of those living with epilepsy. It is clear that the federal government can and must do more to address the critical issue of drug shortages in our country.
It is the job of pharmaceutical companies to develop and market effective products that best serve the interests of their bottom lines, but it is not their job to ensure that all Canadians have access to the drugs prescribed by their health professionals, nor should it be. That is the responsibility of government, representatives democratically elected to serve the higher interests of the public good. Canadians are waiting for the Conservative government to step up to the plate.
Today we are considering a bill to designate March 26 as a day to raise awareness of epilepsy. I fully support the bill. I imagine all my colleagues will do the same, but let us not be afraid to roll up our sleeves and get the hard work done of ensuring that Canadians have access to the drugs they need toward eradicating epilepsy.
Purple Day Act
Private Members' Business
March 9th, 2012 / 1:35 p.m.
Colin Carrie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health
Mr. Speaker, I will start again.
This bill seeks to establish March 26 as Purple Day in Canada, helping to raise awareness of epilepsy. On March 26 we can encourage people to wear the colour purple to show their support for people living with this disease.
This is an idea that all of us can support.
It is an area in which we all play a role, whether it is through raising awareness, learning about the disease or working with government colleagues and stakeholders on important programs, activities and research. For my part today, I would like to take a few minutes to tell the House more about epilepsy and the federal government's role, including its initiatives, programs, research and support.
The government is committed to promoting and protecting the health of all Canadians. Those living with epilepsy face challenges on a daily basis: discrimination, stigma, and at times a lower quality of life. The incidence of epilepsy continues to increase with diagnosis now more common in children and older adults.
There is no cure for epilepsy. The major form of treatment is long-term drug therapy, which bears its own side effects and costs every day for those suffering and their families. We now know that people living with epilepsy are often able to live normal, happy and full lives. Most go to school, make friends, date, have jobs and raise families. However, routine tasks and everyday life can still be very difficult. Whether it is coping with the negative stigma and reactions associated with unpredictable seizures or dealing with low self-esteem, self-confidence and depression, people living with epilepsy do not have an easy life, but by raising awareness of these kinds of facts, for example, what it is like to live with epilepsy, we can help affected Canadians reach their full potential.
There is much we do not know, but we do know that symptomatic epilepsy has known causes. Brain damage, head injuries, infections and tumours all contribute to this condition. Although not all of these issues can be prevented, precautions can be taken to lessen the chances of injury. This government is investing in efforts to raise awareness and shed light on this condition, including steps that can be taken to reduce risks and prevent injuries.
Before we get into the details, it is important to understand the terminology.
Epilepsy can be separated into two types: idiopathic epilepsy and symptomatic epilepsy. Idiopathic epilepsy accounts for 60% of cases. It cannot be prevented and its cause is unknown. Symptomatic epilepsy is caused by trauma to the brain, and steps can be taken to prevent it.
I would like to focus on the latter as it represents a key area in which all sectors of society can play a role. Why? For selfish reasons. I believe this is the cause of my own epilepsy, but also because injury prevention begins with all of us.
According to the Canadian hospital injury reporting program, almost 50% of all injuries in children between the ages of 10 and 19 are play related. Additionally, 40% of all reports are attributed to injury through the participation in team sports such as hockey, baseball and soccer. Between 2000 and 2002, skull and brain injuries related to team sports made up almost 15% of all reported injuries, with almost 5% of these cases requiring hospitalization.
This government is committed to reducing that incidence. For example, $5 million has recently been allocated to address sport and recreational injuries among children and youth through the active and safe injury prevention initiative.
This initiative focuses on raising awareness of the importance of safety and precaution in sports and recreation activities while encouraging children and youth to be active.
As part of the active and safe initiative, in January 2010 the Government of Canada announced approximately $1.5 million in funding to address the prevention of brain injuries and concussions in hockey.
ThinkFirst Canada, in partnership with Hockey Canada, the Coaching Association of Canada and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport also continue to make significant headway.
Epilepsy Canada, founded in 1966, is a non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance the quality of life for persons affected by epilepsy. Through promotion and supportive research, education and awareness initiatives, this organization is building understanding and acceptance of epilepsy.
The Canadian Epilepsy Alliance is a Canada-wide network of grassroots organizations dedicated to the promotion of independence and quality of life for people with epilepsy and their families. It provides support services, information, advocacy and public awareness, and is working to make a difference for those living with epilepsy.
Working together to develop shared resources, they have standardized protocols for the prevention of head injuries and activities that target sports organizations at all levels. This includes team sports participants, their coaches, trainers and parents.
In order to make its own programs work, the government relies heavily on research and surveillance. For this reason, $15 million has been allocated to the national population health study for neurological conditions to strengthen the knowledge and evidence base related to this condition.
Along with other neurological disorders, this study will examine the prevalence of symptomatic epilepsy and emerging risk factors, identifying trends in preventable injuries so that an appropriate response can be developed.
It is a suite of studies aiming to fill gaps in knowledge about individuals with neurological conditions, their families and their caregivers. The studies are administered by the Public Health Agency of Canada. They will provide key information to improve current knowledge about the incidence and prevalence of neurological conditions.
Some will study risk factors for the development and for the progression of neurological conditions. Others will investigate the use of health services by patients with neurological conditions, identify gaps in those services and recommend improvements. Finally, they will assess the impact of neurological conditions on individuals, families, caregivers and communities.
In addition, the Government of Canada funds research into new treatments for epilepsy, notably through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, CIHR.
Since 2006, CIHR has invested more than $46 million in epilepsy research to deepen our knowledge of this disease. This research investigates how genetics affect the development and treatment of epilepsy. It examines how epilepsy affects development in children, and it attempts to develop interventions to benefit the quality of life and care for people living with epilepsy.
In addition, McGill University's Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital is examining the link between brain conditions and epilepsy.
CIHR also provided funding for the brain connectivity workshop in June 2011. This workshop brought together leading Canadian and international experts on brain development, epilepsy and neuroscience. These are partnerships that will enhance our relations with Canadian scientists and researchers in Canada and will focus attention on important health concerns. The resulting research will help us to better understand epilepsy, its causes and possible interventions.
Research funded by CIHR will improve our understanding of this complex condition, our capacity to respond effectively, and the quality of life of those living with epilepsy. Improving our understanding of the disorder will facilitate the development of treatments and better drug therapy regimens for epilepsy.
The Government of Canada is committed to these goals. Regardless of the specific area, it is critical that we work together with all sectors of society. To be fully successful in preventing secondary epilepsy through the promotion of injury prevention, our efforts must be shared and be collaborative in nature. Encouraging and supporting the work of partners and stakeholders to address symptomatic epilepsy and its causes is one way we can do just that. For example, many municipalities across Canada are making it mandatory for children and beginners to wear a certified multi-impact helmet during public skating sessions.
By working with others and taking responsibility at all levels, we are better able to prevent serious head injury and reduce the potential for secondary epilepsy. However, governments and stakeholders cannot act alone in injury prevention. We all know well that the most effective strategy for reducing any injury is to take personal precautions. According to research, many head injuries are the result of improper playing techniques and can be prevented or reduced by teaching proper skills and enforcing safety-promoting rules.
Improved conditioning, particularly of the neck; protective head gear; and careful medical supervision also minimize the risk of head injury or trauma. By encouraging and supporting the use of proper safety equipment and training, we can all greatly reduce the risk of injury and, subsequently, consequences such as symptomatic epilepsy.
By learning more about the impacts of epilepsy, we will gain reliable information on its effects on Canadians. Knowledge is power, and through that knowledge we can build awareness of this important disease.
Bill C-278 would be an important step forward toward raising awareness of epilepsy in Canada. It would be a clear sign of our support for those living with this challenging condition.
Purple Day Act
Private Members' Business
March 9th, 2012 / 1:25 p.m.
Colin Carrie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health
The bill seeks to establish March 26 as Purple Day in Canada, helping to raise awareness of epilepsy in Canada. On March 26, we can encourage people to wear the colour purple to show their support for people living with this disease.
Purple Day Act
Private Members' Business
March 9th, 2012 / 1:20 p.m.
Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS
moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, how about that indeed. It does not happen around here every day to have unanimous agreement on something like this and to have it move so quickly. I must manage to speak today without bringing tears to my eyes.
I thank members for their ongoing support of the bill. I look forward to marking Purple Day on March 26, even though the bill will not likely be law by then. However, I am hopeful that today we will see it pass the House and go off to the Senate. I hope it goes there very quickly. However, who knows how quickly this act to increase public awareness of epilepsy will in fact move. We will wait and see.
As I said at the health committee recently when the bill was heard there, I was delighted, surprised and even shocked how quickly, after passing second reading here, the health committee decided to hear the bill and consider it. I really appreciate the amendments that were brought forward at that committee to correct some issues with the French language side of the bill.
I am very pleased that amendments were proposed by the hon. members who suggested that some terms should be changed in the French version of the bill; for example, “maladies” should be changed to “conditions” and “pourpre” should be changed to “lavande”. That is the French word used in reference to epilepsy by the Canadian association for this disorder.
I was also very pleased to be in committee with witnesses who know much more about this subject than I do. There was Aurore Therrien, executive director of Épilepsie Montréal Métropolitain, and members of the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance.
Mrs. Iris Elliott of the Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia was there as was Ms. Sarah Ward, a medical student who has quite bit of knowledge and interest in this area and who has done a lot of volunteer work. I appreciated all of them being there.
I am very grateful for the support that all members of House have shown for Bill C-278, the Purple Day bill.
I was also moved by the amazing and touching stories that my colleagues brought forth during second reading debate. I believe we have already had tremendous success in making Canadians aware of epilepsy and how it impacts the lives of thousands of Canadians through this process. It is a great example of how members from all parties can come together. People do not see that very often. They do not realize that it does happen more than they know. Members actually can, when question periods are over, often get along, get things done and make things move. Even in committee, we often have a great deal of co-operation. It is too bad more people do not see that we do come together and put partisan interests aside, as we are in this case, and push for a bill that has an impact on a policeman in Ottawa, a dad in Edmonton or a little girl in my riding of Halifax West.
I think many members now know that in 2008, 9-year-old Cassidy Megan founded Purple Day for epilepsy and started a global trend. In fact, when she had her first epilepsy seizure at the age of 7, she was a bit embarrassed and concerned about the fact that other people around her did not know anything about epilepsy and why she was having this seizure or why she had it. Her classmates obviously would not know what to think of that. Therefore, when she was 9, she talked to her teacher about the idea of having a day for that at the school. It just so happened that the principal picked March 26, and that is the day that has now stuck and is the day that continues to be celebrated as Purple Day.
I hope Cassidy is listening today. She would be pleased, as I am sure we all are, that Canada has been a leader in epilepsy awareness. I am pleased to hear, and I am sure members will all be pleased to hear, that other legislatures, such as the state of New Hampshire and many others around the globe, are following this with Purple Days of their own. I understand that Purple Day is now celebrated in more than 60 countries. How about that? I am sure we will hear more about that as that number continues to grow.
This is an opportunity to remind members and their staff who are often back in their offices around the Hill and are watching or listening to the proceedings that Purple Day this year will be on Monday, March 26, which is the Monday after the break week. I would suggest, just as a thought, that perhaps members' staff should consider putting a note on their calendars for two weeks from today, that would be the Friday of the break week, to remind their members to bring something, a tie, a blouse, whatever, something purple to wear on Monday, March 26. I am hopeful that little reminder will be heard by members and their staff.
I am very happy to be associated with this initiative. However, it is people like Cassidy herself, Aurore, Iris, Sarah and many others who really deserve the credit. Bill C-278 is a direct result of their commitment to this cause and their support of the bill.
The bill is a pretty simple one, as members know. Bill C-278 would help to create public awareness about epilepsy and would officially designate March 26 as Purple Day in Canada. We will ask Canadians to wear purple clothing that day. It is not a legal holiday but it touches a lot of lives. I thank members for their support.
The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-278, An Act respecting a day to increase public awareness about epilepsy, as reported (with amendments) from the committee.
Committees of the House
February 17th, 2012 / 12:10 p.m.
Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB
Madam Speaker, I have two reports.
I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Health in relation to Bill C-313, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (non-corrective cosmetic contact lenses). The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendment. I am very pleased with the hard work that has been done on the committee.
I also have the honour to also present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Health in relation to Bill C-278, an act respecting a day to increase public awareness about epilepsy. The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendment.
February 16th, 2012 / 10:10 a.m.