House of Commons Hansard #171 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was water.

Topics

Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I will read the motion:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of this House, Bill C-62, An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, the Wage Earner Protection Program Act and chapter 47 of the Statutes of Canada, 2005, shall be deemed to have been read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole, deemed considered in Committee of the Whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at the report stage and deemed read a third time and passed.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time, considered in committee of the whole, reported, concurred in, read the third time and passed)

Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Zed Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Discussions have taken place among members and parties with respect to Bill C-440, An Act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act, which, as members know, is for mail free of postage to and from members of the Canadian armed forces, that was introduced in the House of Commons on May 8.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that if you were to seek it you would find consent for the following motion to support our troops and their families: That notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-440 be deemed to have been read a second time, referred to a committee of the whole, reported without amendment, concurred in at report stage and read a third time and passed.

Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Saint John have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Government Operations and Estimates
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Diane Marleau Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates met earlier today to consider the certificate of nomination of Christiane Ouimet to the position of Public Sector Integrity Commissioner and the committee agreed that said nomination be concurred in.

Therefore, we seek unanimous consent that the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates dealing with the certificate of nomination of Christiane Ouimet to the position of Public Sector Integrity Commissioner be deemed tabled and concurred in.

Government Operations and Estimates
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is it agreed?

Government Operations and Estimates
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Government Operations and Estimates
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Quarantine Act, be read the third time and passed.

Quarantine Act
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia
Manitoba

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I was only a couple of minutes into my speech before members' statements and oral questions, and I was just getting to the good part of it too. As I was saying, under the leadership of the Minister of Health, the government decided to put forward two amendments to Bill C-42. One requires advance notification by land conveyance operators. The other addresses potential confusion with respect to the availability of a due diligence defence for all operators. These amendments reflect the commitment of the minister and this government to protect the health and safety of Canadians.

The first amendment would revert to the original definition of conveyance operator as found in the Quarantine Act. This means that all conveyance operators in the business of transporting cargo and passengers, including buses, trucks and trains, would need to alert a quarantine officer in advance of their arrival in Canada should they suspect a person or thing on board could cause the spread of a listed communicable disease, or if a person has died.

Land conveyance operators, like air and marine, would only be required to inform a quarantine officer of a public health problem on board as specified in section 34. They would not have to perform health assessments.

This advance notice is critically important as it permits an appropriate response to health emergencies on board conveyances and permits the minister to divert conveyances before arrival, if required, to protect the health of Canadians. This would be over and above what the international health regulations require for advance notification, as member states need only to impose this obligation on air and marine conveyances.

As a signatory to the international health regulations, Canada fully intends to meet its international obligations under the instrument. In addition, Canada is prepared to go a step further. The obligations for land conveyance operators will be the exact same as those for air and marine conveyance operators engaged in the business of carrying passengers or cargo.

For conveyances travelling to Canada, conveyance operators will be required to notify a quarantine officer in accordance with the requirements in section 34, even before they arrive in Canada. The obligation to provide this advance notification continues until the conveyance “lands”, so to speak, at its first destination in Canada. For air and marine conveyances, this will be the first airport or port at which the conveyance touches down or docks.

We will also work to make it relatively easy for industry to meet its obligations under section 34.

To implement this requirement in a simple fashion, the quarantine program will develop an information bulletin that will explain what to look for in terms of symptoms, and provide a 1-800 number to call to reach a quarantine officer 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As well, an awareness campaign will be undertaken to inform land conveyance operators of the requirements in Bill C-42. Taken together, the use of a 1-800 number and the awareness campaign will make notification as simple as possible for conveyance operators.

Further, by having early warning of communicable disease threats approaching our borders, we may be able to ease the flow of cross-border traffic. Traffic flow could be eased, as early warning would allow authorities to direct travellers who are suspected of having a listed communicable disease to areas where they could be looked at quickly, while other border traffic continues unimpeded.

This amendment therefore strikes a balance between protecting Canadians from the threat of dangerous communicable diseases, and facilitating the movement of persons and goods across our international borders.

We are also proposing a second amendment to Bill C-42 to clarify that the common law defence of due diligence applies to all conveyance operators. This common law defence was always intended to be preserved in the Quarantine Act.

When we examined the language of subsection 34(4) in Bill C-42, we realized that our intention to preserve the due diligence defence was not entirely clear. Under the charter an accused person has the right to invoke such a defence if facing the possible penalty of imprisonment.

For an offence under section 34, conveyance operators could face up to six months in jail as a potential penalty. Clarifying that all conveyance operators have access to the common law due diligence defence will ensure that the charter rights of those who have made all reasonable efforts to comply with the law are protected.

It is important that we make sure that conveyance operators who make all reasonable efforts to comply with the advance notification requirements know that the defence normally associated with such efforts remains available to them.

Consequently, the second amendment will ensure it is clear that a reasonable effort defence remains available to all conveyance operators that make all reasonable efforts to comply with the requirements in section 34.

We are constantly striving to give Canada the best public health system in order to protect the health and safety of all Canadians.

Through these amendments, Canada will have the most complete advance notification requirements in the world for quarantine purposes.

I feel very strongly that a comprehensive set of legislative tools needs to be available with the intent to protect the health of Canadians so as to avoid the human tragedy and economic and social disruption that would inevitably accompany another event such as SARS.

Consequently, I am seeking hon. members' support to provide Canadians with a greater standard of protection from the threat of dangerous communicable diseases spread via land conveyances. I am therefore asking today for members' support for Bill C-42, as reported from the Standing Committee on Health.

I want to congratulate the Standing Committee on Health for its hard work with respect to Bill C-42. The committee's work on Bill C-42 is a fine example of what parliamentarians can accomplish through the spirit of cooperation and mutual respect for one another's opinions and points of view.

I call upon my hon. colleagues in this House to support the amendments and ask for their cooperation in securing speedy passage of the bill.

Again, it was a great pleasure working with the Standing Committee on Health on this important bill. It was a pleasure to have worked hand in hand with members from across the country from coast to coast to coast, and from each party to ensure that these amendments were brought forward and ensure successful passage of the bill.

Quarantine Act
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, certainly it is a very important bill. The reporting requirement under the bill is restricted to aircraft and commercial watercraft only. That means truck traffic and rail traffic, cargo that crosses our border every day is exempt from the reporting requirements.

I think Canadians and parliamentarians would be interested to know what the relative magnitude and historic risk indicators have been to convince the government that these exemptions would be appropriate.

Quarantine Act
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Mr. Speaker, I encourage the member to read the amendments. In fact he is completely wrong.

Section 34 now reads to include land conveyances. That is what the committee came up with. The government and all committee members had a very thoughtful discussion on this issue. We were able to come up with wording that addresses the member's concern, and more important, meets the health and safety of all Canadians.

The Minister of Health's leadership in this area was tremendous. I would also like to thank the opposition health critic, the member for Oakville, for her help in this matter and the Bloc health critic and the NDP health critic as well.

This is an excellent example of how the parliamentary process can work in a minority Parliament. I am very pleased and honoured to have had the opportunity to work with the committee.

Quarantine Act
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to split my time with my colleague, the member for Thornhill.