House of Commons Hansard #236 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was first.

Topics

S. O. 31
Privilege
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Joe Comartin

I thank the member for Halifax for her intervention. I can assure her that the Speaker will take into consideration her comments and those of all the other members who have intervened on this issue.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—First Nations, Métis and Inuit
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour, as always, to rise in the House to speak on behalf of the people of Timmins—James Bay, particularly on this important New Democrat motion about restoring the nation-to-nation relationship with first nation people. I will be sharing my time with the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent.

It is very important that the debate comes this week, when we have numerous issues showing us the fundamental failure of Canadians to live up to that relationship, such as at Neskantaga, where we have a horrific suicide crisis. I have seen the suicide crisis in James Bay and the damage that it does psychologically, physically and spiritually to people. I note that Neskantaga in English means Fort Hope. It seems so ironic that a community so devastated is a place called Fort Hope.

This week, nine premiers came forward and asked the Conservative government for an inquiry into the hundreds of murdered and missing women and the government continued to turn a deaf ear. In its eyes, perhaps there is one set of victims it will listen to, but it continues to stonewall the hundreds of missing first nations young women across the country.

This week the government continues its court case against Cindy Blackstock. It spied on a woman who was speaking out on the issue of education and child rights for first nation children. This is at a time when there are now more children being held in foster care and being taken away from their families than at the height of the residential schools. This shows us the broken relationship that we need to restore.

I want to speak today about Treaty 9, because that is the region I represent, the height of land in Northern Ontario. I know in the media, when we had the Attiwapiskat housing crisis, there was the sense of “We won, they lost”. That seems to be the general public view of the treaty, that it was some kind of surrender, or giving up.

However, until we understand the story of the treaty, we do not really understand why the relationship with first nation people has gone so wrong. We would not understand why people like Grand Chief Stan Louttit and Chief Theresa Spence speak so much about Treaty 9. Their grandfathers signed that treaty. This is not ancient history. This is the beginning of what went wrong in the modern 20th century.

If we look at the Indian affairs website on Treaty 9, it is amazing. The very first line on the history of Treaty 9 begins with the opening statement, “We ask you to help us”, as though the first nations were hoping that the Indian affairs bureaucrats were going to come up and make everything right.

What was being spoken about in the late 1800s was the incursion by the white settlers into first nations lands, stripping the lands of their basic resources and the attempt by the people to define some rules on the ground. They were not calling on Indian affairs to come up and take their land and put them on a reserve. They were saying that their fundamental rights, which they never extinguished, were under attack. They were under attack by CP Rail. They were under attack by the white settlers who were trying to flood the communities with alcohol, while taking away the basic hunting rights.

What was interesting also was the issue of resource development. In December 1901, the Hudson Bay Company Osnaburgh House, forwarded a petition saying “For the past two or three years exploration for minerals has been carried on in the country contiguous to Lake St. Joseph”. They asked to meet with His Majesty's officials to discuss what was happening in terms of mineral exploration "as white men are already building upon land which we desire to retain".

In 1903, the Geological Survey of Canada was turned away by the chief of the Crane Band, who said it had no right to come and explore without the express consent of first nations.

Back in 1872, near Jackfish Lake, Chief Blackstone shut down gold development, saying they had no right to be there.

Fast forward to the 21st century when we saw KI, in northwestern Ontario, kick out a junior mining company that refused to consult the Wahgoshig First Nation in my area. The company said that it was not their job to look for Indian arrowheads, that is was a mining exploration company. The refusal to consult today has resulted in the first nations taking the same actions that their ancestors took over a hundred years ago.

When the treaty commissioners came forward, it was never about the surrender of land, it was about ensuring that the land was going to be used in a fair and equitable manner, which was not happening.

It is interesting that Indian Affairs, in its history, blames Ontario. It states:

It was Ontario which had licensed the surveyors and mining exploration parties the Indian people were complaining about to federal officials. And, as the Cree and Ojibwa were later to discover, it was Ontario which had already given out timber licenses to lands they wished to reserve for themselves. If the incursion of whites was the gun pointed at the head of the Indian people, Ontario's finger was on the trigger.

That is the official history from the Indian Affairs point of view.

Certainly we know that across the Prairies, Ontario and Quebec, the provinces treated the first nations people as non-existent. They were a federal responsibility. Hence, they did not exist, and the provinces could do whatever they wanted. However, in the case of Treaty No. 9, the issue was that they were trying to get some certainty with respect to the land. Ontario took the hard line. It said that it would not allow a reserve to have any kind of hydro development potential, period. The first nations were going to get the land that was absolutely worthless. The fact is, it did not tell the people in Treaty No. 9.

When the commissioners came forward in 1905-06 across the upper lakes, they made oral promises to the people, because this was not a written culture. Duncan Scott, the treaty commissioner, knew that no negotiation was going to take place, because Ontario said that if it did not get everything it wanted, it did not care what the first nations did. It was just going to apply. It was going in with a gun to the heads of the first nations.

It is interesting that when the people landed in Fort Hope, where today we have the huge suicide epidemic, Chief Moonias stood up and said to the people that the white guys were not giving them money for nothing. If they were offering money, they were taking something substantial away from them. That is what he was warning the people, and the commissioners had to give the people a story. They said that the people were going to get medical coverage and schools. The issue of schooling was very important to people on the James Bay coast. The Cree communities knew that they needed education as a way to address the fact that their communities were in crisis. They knew that the world was changing.

Daniel MacMartin's diary has only recently come to light. He was with the commissioners as they went across northern Ontario in 1905 and 1906. Daniel MacMartin said that the commissioners had to sweeten the deal verbally, but they did not put any of it in writing. What the people were told they were signing was completely different from what they actually signed onto. Later, of course, government leaders said that they had surrendered the land. It was all there on the page in black and white, but that was not the verbal commitment made.

That was the record of the so-called honour of the Crown for the following 100 years. I have seen it myself. I saw it in Barriere Lake, where the Liberal government signed an agreement with the community, and as soon as the agreement was signed, they walked away. I saw it in Kashechewan First Nation, where we sat down with the then Liberal government. We had an agreement to rebuild the community, and we sat down to look at the paper to have the whole commitment they had made verbally. I remember saying to the chief that none of the promises were on the paper, and we were told that they could trust the honour of the Crown. We know what happened to that. So much for the agreement with Kashechewan, but it took the present Conservative government to rip up that agreement. That was the so-called honour of the Crown.

Daniel MacMartin said that the people were misled. The commissioners had to mislead them to get them to sign off.

It is fascinating, and really deeply disturbing, that it was Duncan Scott who led the Treaty No. 9 negotiations. The people who were coming to him said that they understood that their way of life was under threat. They said that they would make an agreement if he promised that their children would get an education. Duncan Scott had a plan for their education all right; it was the residential schools. Duncan Scott said that the residential schools had to be mandatory, because it was to “get rid of the Indian problem... to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed”. This was about a genocidal policy. However it is said, it was about the destruction of the first nations people. They went into those communities, misrepresented themselves and punished those communities with the residential schools, which nearly broke them.

One hundred years later, history is calling on us. It is knocking on the door of this House of Commons saying that it is time to restore that broken relationship, show that there is honour in the Crown and ensure that the first nations people are treated with the rights and dignities they have as the original first nations people, who never extinguished their rights in this country.

Opposition Motion—First Nations, Métis and Inuit
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Timmins—James Bay for his work and for his dedication to our first nations.

We heard previous speakers from the Liberal Party, and since the member is talking history, I would like to ask him a question regarding the Kelowna accord. It is my understanding that once the Kelowna accord was signed, the next budget did not have any funding in it at all to back up the promises that were made. That is the first question.

My second question is this. In the winter the member and I met with Chief Theresa Spence. We talked with her about the nation-to-nation view of discussions and respect and the importance of that approach.

I would like to have him speak to both issues, if he would.

Opposition Motion—First Nations, Métis and Inuit
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, our fundamental relationship in this country, the relationship that goes back to the original agreement of 1763 to build the relationship together with first nations, has been a broken relationship. It needs to be repaired.

There have been numerous broken promises. Numerous treaties were not implemented or people had their land stolen or, when the Kelowna accord came at the 11th hour and 59th minute of the Liberal government, there was no money on the table to actually bring about change.

Unfortunately, this has left a sour taste in the mouths of people and a suspicion, a rightful suspicion. We see that in Attawapiskat, where the people are still living on a postage-stamp-sized reserve without access to their resources and their young people do not even have a school.

We need to do better, and it is upon us all. It is a historic problem, but this is the time to change it—today. All members of the House of Commons have that ability. We need to come together and do the right thing.

Opposition Motion—First Nations, Métis and Inuit
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Joe Comartin

It being 1:15 p.m., pursuant to order made earlier today, all questions necessary to dispose of the opposition motion are deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Tuesday, April 23, at the expiry of the time provided for government orders.

Business of the House
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I want to make a brief statement respecting business of the House for the next week.

As I said at the start of question period, leadership requires decisive and serious action in response to serious threats of terrorism. To give members of this House an opportunity to express their views on the appropriate way to respond to terrorist violence, on Monday and Tuesday the House will debate Bill S-7, the combating terrorism act.

This bill is at its final stage in Parliament, and I call upon all members of this place to pass this bill. We do not need further study. We need action.

As a result, the original government business that was scheduled for those days will be rescheduled to a later date.

Business of the House
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Joe Comartin

Pursuant to order made earlier today, the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business, as listed on today's order paper.

Anaphylaxis
Private Members' Business

April 19th, 2013 / 1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, anaphylaxis is a serious concern for an increasing number of Canadians and the government should take the appropriate measures necessary to ensure these Canadians are able to maintain a high quality of life.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand before the House today to discuss Motion No. 230.

To go over the background of my motion, I raised this issue in the previous Parliament, but as a result of an election, it did not get a chance to make it all the way through. Therefore, today I will talk about what anaphylaxis is, some of the challenges people have to deal with, what is being done by our government and what we can do to help address this issue.

I am grateful for the number of people who have helped me understand this issue in great detail, and I think it is important to explain to all Canadians exactly what that is.

Anaphylaxis is a severe medical condition and a serious public health issue. Unfortunately, there is no cure for anaphylaxis or food allergies in general, at least not yet. The only way to prevent an anaphylactic reaction is to avoid the allergen causing it. The best way to diminish the likelihood of a reaction is through greater public awareness of the condition and its triggers.

Anaphylactic reactions are caused by a negative response to an allergen. Allergens can be in the form of medications, insect bites, latex, certain foods, and in fact there are over 200 recognized allergens. The top 10 food allergens are eggs, seafood, milk, tree nuts, sesame, sulphites, wheat, mustard, soy, peanuts and other cereal grains containing gluten.

Adults are more prone to reactions from medications, insect bites and stings, while foods are the most common allergic trigger in children and in young people.

There are many symptoms that can occur as a result of an anaphylactic reaction. They generally happen within minutes of coming into contact with the allergen, although a reaction could also occur several hours after exposure. There are five areas where symptoms present themselves: the skin, the respiratory system, the gastrointestinal system, the cardiovascular system and mood.

When symptoms present themselves, usually two or more parts of the body are affected. Symptoms present themselves on the skin 80% to 90% of the time, while the respiratory system is affected in 70% of cases. The gastrointestinal system is affected in 30% to 45% of cases, while the cardiovascular system is affected 10% to 45% of the time. In addition, the central nervous system is affected in 10% to 15% of anaphylactic reactions.

Victims of anaphylaxis can exhibit symptoms such as hives, itching, swelling, rash, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, hay fever symptoms and chest pain. They could experience cramps and nausea, develop a weak pulse and light-headedness, and even go into shock. Mood and behaviour can also be affected, bringing on a feeling of anxiety and a sense of impending doom.

The most serious symptoms are breathing difficulties and a drop in blood pressure, both of which can be life-threatening. The throat constricts, oxygen is not delivered to the brain, and one could experience a panic attack and actually go into shock. When these signs or symptoms arise, patients must immediately receive medical attention, specifically a dose of epinephrine. Those with a serious allergy carry an epinephrine autoinjector, an EpiPen or Twinject, to prevent an anaphylactic reaction when exposed to the allergen. However, if left untreated, one could fall unconscious and possibly die.

Clearly, anaphylaxis is a serious and dangerous medical condition. It is estimated that 2.5 million Canadians live with anaphylaxis, and this number continues to rise every year. It is projected that 3,500 Canadians experience anaphylactic shock each year from eating the wrong foods. Of those 3,500, about a dozen die.

One in two Canadians knows someone with a serious food allergy. Alarmingly, it is most prevalent in young children, specifically those under the age of three. Close to 6% of children below the age of three and 300,000 youths under the age of 18 are affected by general food allergies.

Disturbingly, the frequency of food allergies has increased by 350% from 1996 to 2002. The prevalence of peanut and nut allergies has increased by over 250% over that time, and it should be noted that the majority allergic persons are under the age of 30, with an excess of those being born in 1992.

As such, it is no surprise that more than 40% of Canadians examine the ingredient information on food labels either for themselves or for someone living with anaphylaxis. The most recognized allergy is the one to peanuts. Peanuts and tree nuts are responsible for the majority of fatal anaphylactic reactions. A study examining 13 fatal and near-fatal cases in children concluded that 10 of the 13 incidents occurred as a result of reactions to peanuts or nuts.

Even with greater vigilance, someone with a peanut or nut allergy will have an accidental episode every three to five years. Accidental exposures occur as a result of not being able to see the residue of the food allergen that can be left on any appliance or piece of furniture. Airborne proteins can also cause serious issues as they can induce an asthmatic attack. These statistics emphasize the magnitude of the anaphylaxis and the importance of bringing it to national attention.

Many Canadians, including numerous families from my constituency, face a frequent and frightening threat of an anaphylactic reaction. Liam and Lucas, two young children from my riding, both live with a peanut and tree nut allergy. Liam has had three serious allergic reactions, one of which required immediate emergency medical assistance as he was transported to the hospital by ambulance. Thankfully, he was okay.

Similar to Liam, Lucas has to avoid many areas and events where he could come in contact with allergens that affect him. He avoids social gatherings, sporting events, and travelling on airplanes as the risk is just too great.

David, another young man in my riding, lives with a serious latex allergy. He has experienced several reactions while undergoing an operation. His condition was stabilized by the medical staff, but not before terrifying his family. This goes to show that even in Canada, with our most health-conscious environments, anaphylaxis demands more awareness and attention.

Another young man also named Lucas lives with a life-threatening dairy allergy. Lucas also has a serious heart condition, but the risk of anaphylactic reaction is what worries his mother most. Families dealing with anaphylaxis try to vet everything that goes into their households. However, those who live with anaphylaxis are most at risk outside of the house where one has little or no control over the surroundings. Parents try to teach their children the risks of the condition so that children can safely interact with friends and teachers.

Travelling by airplane is perhaps the best example of a high-risk environment where peanuts and mixed nuts are common snack foods. With airplanes being so enclosed, the risk of having an allergic reaction to a nearby allergen residue or airborne protein is very high. Air travel is unnerving for those living with anaphylaxis as flying at 35,000 feet leaves them highly vulnerable and far from medical facilities.

I have heard from many people struggling with anaphylaxis. I have also had many discussions with members of the Canadian Anaphylaxis Initiative, or CAI, and Niagara Anaphylaxis Support and Knowledge, or NASK. These two groups do great work spreading awareness of anaphylaxis. They improve the lives of Canadians living with the condition by promoting anaphylactic-safe environments, as well as educating governments, organizations, and businesses to do the same. CAI, NASK and those who live with anaphylaxis recognize the total elimination of various allergens is an unrealistic goal. Instead, their objective is to reduce accidental exposure to allergens as much as possible.

The ideal way to achieve this goal is to increase the awareness about the condition. That is what Motion No. 230 seeks to do. With more awareness, Canadians will become familiar with the risk of anaphylaxis and will hopefully take precautions to limit accidental exposure for those who may be vulnerable. This, in turn, will create a safer environment for everyone. There should be supportive and alert communities that ensure preventive measures are taken to avoid anaphylactic reactions.

It is important to mention that preliminary steps have been taken to spread awareness of anaphylaxis and to recognize its severity. Individuals, companies, and governments have acted appropriately in this regard. For instance, in 2005 the passing of Sabrina's Law by the Ontario government was a good step forward. In 2003, grade nine student Sabrina Shannon experienced an anaphylactic reaction to a dairy protein and, tragically, passed away. Her death led to an important piece of legislation, the very first of its kind in the world.

It guarantees that all Ontario school boards have policies and procedures in place to respond to the threat posed by anaphylaxis. Some of these policies are comprised of education and training for staff to administer treatment to students who suffer an anaphylactic reaction. The result of this new law is increased protection for the thousands of children who were at risk before its implementation.

In the private sector, the Toronto Blue Jays offered a peanut-controlled zone for three of their home games in the previous season. These zones ensured that fans at risk of a serious anaphylactic reaction were given a safer place to enjoy the game.

Similar to the Blue Jays organization, there are several practical steps that ordinary people could take to prevent anaphylactic reactions. People could find out if friends, neighbours or co-workers are anaphylactic. If hosting an event that includes a guest with a severe allergy, the host could look up recipes that do not contain products relating to the allergen. Furthermore, one could thoroughly clean food preparation surfaces before cooking, to ensure that no potential allergen residue is present.

It is my hope that we will see more individuals, organizations and businesses take similar precautions in the future. It must be mentioned that this government has recognized the importance of addressing anaphylaxis and has acted on previous recommendations by providing funding to allergy research.

In March 2012, my colleague, the hon. Minister of State for Science and Technology , announced $36.5 million to support AllerGen, the allergy, genes and environment network centres of excellence, for the next seven years. AllerGen does important work in researching allergies and reduces the risk of anaphylaxis.

Also, in August of 2012, new regulations came into effect that enhanced the labelling of priority food allergens on prepackaged retail foods. These regulations will help consumers distinguish which foods are safe and which products they should avoid.

Finally, I want to draw attention to this government's decision to designate May as national anaphylaxis month. It is evident that progress has been made in addressing anaphylaxis. However, as with other public health concerns in Canadian communities, more can be done. There is more awareness of the serious medical condition that is needed on a nationwide level.

That is why I urge the House to approve my motion and launch anaphylaxis onto the national stage. The motion will promote greater awareness, and since there is no cure, anaphylaxis awareness is the best way to mitigate the risk. By adopting this motion, the Canadian government will be taking another step forward to ensuring that Canadians living with anaphylaxis are able to maintain a higher quality of life. I am certain my colleague from St. Catharines shares my feelings on this issue. He first introduced the motion in the 39th Parliament, but unfortunately it expired when an election was called in 2008. I would also like to thank him for starting the process and for his continued support to see anaphylaxis recognized as a serious concern.

I would like to thank all the members of my community, and those across Canada, who have helped to bring this important issue forward. Special thanks go to Mindi Ferkul, Cindy Paskey, Chris George and Debbie Bruce for their tremendous help. I realize there are many others as well. However, these are the individuals I have had the pleasure and opportunity to work with on this issue on an ongoing basis. I appreciate their tremendous help for that. Their dedication to anaphylaxis awareness is inspiring, and their support for this motion from day one was greatly appreciated.

I would also like to thank my colleagues in the House, and from all parties, for their kind words of support. With so much encouragement from so many people I am determined to see this motion pass. We must recognize the seriousness of anaphylaxis at the federal level, as a critical problem affecting too many Canadians. This motion aims to make their lives easier and would contribute to much deserved peace of mind.

When voting for this motion, I would ask members to consider the story of Liam, Lucas and David, as well as the 2.5 million Canadians who live every day at risk of an anaphylactic reaction. With this motion, we will send a clear message to all those who live with the condition that the Canadian government and the Canadian people recognize their struggle and that we are taking action to improve their lives.

I look forward to seeing this motion receive the support of all parties in the House.

Anaphylaxis
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Djaouida Sellah Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Niagara West—Glanbrook for bringing this issue up for debate in the House.

I know that 500,000 Canadians suffer from anaphylaxis and that they all live with that stress. However, I also know that this is not the first time that the member has brought this motion before the House for a vote.

Does the hon. member still think that we need the motion—especially in its current form—when his government has been in power since 2006? Could it be that the hon. member wishes his government to pay closer attention to this issue?

Anaphylaxis
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, I did not think an issue like this would be politicized. That was an interesting comment, but I guess some people cannot help themselves.

This issue has been brought forward a couple of times, but it has not made its way through the House. My concern is about awareness. Our job as members of Parliament will never be completed when it comes to bringing awareness to certain issues. As I mentioned, my colleague from St. Catharines brought this forward in the House, but then we had an election. I also brought it forward in a previous Parliament and we had an election.

We will need to continue to talk about anaphylaxis as we move forward, whether it is additional money for research or coordinating strategies for education. There are a number of things we could do, and we need to move forward on them. We will continue to push this issue and continue to talk about it every chance we get.

Anaphylaxis
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Nunavut
Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Niagara West—Glanbrook for his hard work on this important file. I am proud to lend my support to this important motion. This is an important issue to many Canadians. I want to congratulate him for his hard work on this file. It is long overdue.

Could the member elaborate on how important it is to use plain language about allergens on food products?

Anaphylaxis
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Minister of Health for her leadership with respect to labelling, research dollars and so on.

The use of plain language is one of the challenges we have. A label that says “may contain” is not very reassuring for those who are trying to drill down to what exactly is in a product.

Under the leadership of the minister and this government, we have moved to make labelling more concise and understandable. We sometimes forget that people who suffer from allergic reactions are never sure whether a product may contain small amounts of an allergen. This is a challenge for them. That is why labelling and education and additional research are so important. Individuals must be given a choice as to whether they should avoid a product.

Once again, I thank the Minister of Health for her leadership on this file with respect to the labelling issue.

Anaphylaxis
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, many of us in the House have experienced a friend or loved one dying because of an allergic reaction. A good friend of mine in university was attending a wedding and she ate a piece of the cake which contained peanut oil. Nobody was aware of the situation.

My colleague brought up the importance of making May national anaphylaxis month and of raising awareness of this condition. We can have labels and we can put information out, but people have to be aware of the dangers of this condition.

I wonder if my colleague could take a few moments to comment about his initiative to raise awareness of the importance of this.

Anaphylaxis
Private Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think it is fair to say that unless we have to live with the condition we have no understanding of its danger. It is important that government, businesses and individuals let people know about the dangers. A lot of people have not heard of anaphylactic shock. Awareness is key.

We need to take a multi-pronged approach. We will look at education and research and figure out a way to continue to raise this issue so that people have the tools they need.