House of Commons Hansard #93 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was crime.

Topics

Purple Day Act
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I agree with my hon. colleague and former law school classmate on this point. We ought to be looking for opportunities. When people Google the words “Purple Day” and find more information, they will see the list of things to do when a person is having a seizure. This all helps to demystify epilepsy. It helps people understand this is a fairly common condition and to know what to do when this happens. This can make a positive difference in the lives of people who have this condition.

We can keep looking for ways to spread the word about this, not just when the bill passes, but on future occasions and especially on March 26 each year. I hope we can work to overcome the issue of drug shortages which is affecting many epilepsy patients.

Purple Day Act
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, I applaud my colleague for the bill today. It truly is a great thing to see us all come together and support such an important issue.

In a former life, I ran group homes for developmentally handicapped adults. Many of these individuals had epilepsy. We saw over and over again that when someone was having a seizure, no one knew what to do. Everyone panicked. If we can have a bill like this and if we can carry the card in our wallets, it will encourage us as a society to step in and help where we can.

The bill is one more step, one more tool in the toolbox, to ensure that individuals living with epilepsy across the country can live normal and fruitful lives.

Purple Day Act
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, one of the things I have learned through this process is that, for example, when someone is having a seizure, people should not crowd around. Certainly one person could help by providing comfort and making sure the individual is on his or her side. Also, it does not help when the individual comes out of the seizure and sees a big crowd looking down at him or her, causing the individual to feel uncomfortable and embarrassed.

There are many other things on the card. I sent an email earlier today to one of my assistants to say that I gave my card away this week and I hope there is a bunch to give out on Purple Day, along with the ribbons I want to hand out that day for members to wear. The answer came back that there are 500 of those cards, so I expect to have one back in my wallet by the end of the day.

Purple Day Act
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey
Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, I commend the member for Halifax West for bringing this bill forward. It is greatly appreciated.

As has been mentioned, there is a lot of fear when a person has a seizure. I know that from my practice and I have witnessed it first-hand. It is extremely important that we are moving forward with this.

Could the member elaborate on what he thinks is the one thing we as members of Parliament should be doing to ensure that Canadians across the country understand epilepsy in a meaningful way and can make a difference in saving lives?

Purple Day Act
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is a doctor and certainly knows about this issue.

Members may have a variety of answers to that excellent question. The first one that occurs to me is that if members wish, they could put in their householders, members' quarterly mail-outs, the information which is on the card. They could put that information in their householders so people would know what steps to follow when someone has a seizure.

I hope to be able to make a member's statement on Purple Day to list some of the things and tell members about them. If members could put that information in their householders, it would be a big help. Members can find that information as well on the epilepsy association website, which should not be too hard to do. However, if members want to wait until they get the card, that is an option as well.

Purple Day Act
Private Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I will start again.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today about Bill C-278, which was introduced by the hon. member for Halifax West.

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

1:45 p.m.

NDP

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

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

There being no other members rising to debate the bill, I turn to the hon. member for Halifax West for his right of reply. The hon. member has five minutes.

Purple Day Act
Private Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the support of all members and their comments.

Earlier today I was in the lobby when one of the interpreters came by and said to me that I was not wearing a purple tie. Of course it is not Purple Day, but I pointed out that I did have some purple in my shirt.

This highlights the fact that our interpreters, who do a wonderful job, do not just hear what we say and repeat it in another language, but they actually look ahead and see what is coming to ensure that they have the terminology ready and that they are on the ball at all times. It is an impressive thing and we must remember the work they do is very valuable. I know members would join me in appreciating the work of our interpreters.

I want to thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, the member for Oshawa, for his words today and for sharing his experience with epilepsy when he was young and what it was like for him.

I also appreciated the words from my hon. colleague for New Westminster—Coquitlam. I mentioned that I was hoping on March 26 to list some of the things that one should do when a person has a seizure. I am glad he did that today. That is very valuable. This effort is about raising the awareness and understanding of what epilepsy is and what to do when someone has a seizure.

One of the things that is important, as has been mentioned, is if a seizure goes on for more than five minutes, it is very important to call an ambulance because people can die from epileptic seizures. All of these bits of information are valuable and I hope we all continue to look for ways to make more Canadians aware of it.

Purple Day Act
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Purple Day Act
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Purple Day Act
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

Purple Day Act
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order with respect to the last item and the vote that was just taken. Did you observe that the motion was adopted unanimously? That would be an appropriate observation.

Purple Day Act
Private Members' Business

March 9th, 2012 / 1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

I thank the hon. member for Wascana for his intervention. Unfortunately I do not have the institutional knowledge to know whether the addition of “unanimously” is in order. It seems to me that there is unanimous consent to add that particular provision to the motion so let us do that. I declare the motion carried unanimously.

Accordingly the House stands adjourned until next Monday at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 1:57 p.m.)