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Conservative MP for Niagara West—Glanbrook (Ontario)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 57.30% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Pakistan May 9th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I rise to express our government's concern regarding the recent violence and targeted attacks in Pakistan in advance of this weekend's general election. Our sympathy goes out to the victims and their families.
The deliberate targeting of candidates by terrorist groups in Pakistan is an attack on the democratic rights of all candidates, democratic institutions and governance. Canada commends the commitment to democracy of the more than 4,600 candidates standing for office federally, the 11,000 standing provincially and the 86 million Pakistani citizens registered to vote. We express our unequivocal support for free, credible and transparent elections in Pakistan.
The 2013 general elections are an historic moment for that country where political authority is being passed from one elected government to another. We believe it is essential for Pakistan's continued democratic development that women and men in all parts of Pakistan feel safe to commit their energy to the democratic process by standing for election and voting without fear.
Anaphylaxis May 8th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleagues on all sides of the House before I get to my prepared remarks to wrap up. One of the great things about being a member of Parliament is the opportunities to learn on an ongoing basis. I want to thank my colleague from Québec who shared his personal experiences, as well as my colleague from Halifax West who, as we have mentioned, worked on committee before.
I personally have never had family members who have had to deal with this, but as I have gone through the learning process, it has been most educational. The purpose of what we are trying to do with this motion is to make sure we educate people and raise awareness, as has been mentioned. I want to thank the two members on the opposite side of the House for sharing their personal stories. They were very helpful.
I would also like to thank everyone who has spoken on Motion No. 230. Their inspiring words of support are very encouraging. I am glad to see that so many members recognize the dangers of anaphylaxis. When I began this process, I received a lot of support from various individuals and organizations. I would like to thank the hon. member for St. Catharines who first introduced the precursor to Motion No. 230 in the 39th Parliament.
I also extend a special thanks to the Canadian Anaphylaxis Initiative and the Niagara Anaphylaxis Support and Knowledge. These two organizations do tremendous work. They spread awareness of anaphylaxis and have been unwavering in their support of this motion. They have provided me with much appreciated knowledge and expertise throughout this process, and I am grateful for their insight.
I would also like to thank the numerous people who have called, written and met with me in person to discuss their personal struggles with anaphylaxis. Their stories furthered my commitment to seeing this motion brought to the House and passed. This widespread support is an indication of the magnitude and dangers of this condition.
With 2.5 million Canadians affected, a number which continues to rise every year, it is concerning that many Canadians are not aware of the risks associated with anaphylaxis. An anaphylactic reaction is a very serious and potentially life-threatening experience and, on the average, there are 3,500 reactions per year in Canada, of which 12 will be fatal.
As mentioned in many of the speeches on this motion, epinephrine treats the short-term symptoms of anaphylaxis, but awareness can substantially reduce the amount of anaphylactic reactions in the future. Awareness includes an understanding of anaphylaxis as a condition, its different causes and triggers, and strategies to limit exposure.
On the first day of discussion in the House, I referred to the stories of Lucas, Liam and David. Their daily struggles with anaphylaxis and the fear of reaction can be reduced. Motion No. 230 aims for this goal. By bringing more attention and awareness to the Canadian public, this motion will help these children and many other Canadians who live with this condition. It will help Canadians understand the signs, dangers and consequences of an anaphylactic reaction. As was mentioned in the first hour of debate, important steps have been taken by various businesses and levels of government.
My colleague from Mississauga—Streetsville mentioned that the Toronto Blue Jays, a member of the private sector, introduced a peanut-controlled zone at three of their home games in the previous season. By doing this, they created a safer environment for their fans to enjoy the game. I am pleased to have recently found out that the Blue Jays plan to carry on this policy during the season. There will be at least another three home games that will have a peanut-controlled zone.
As a government, we have provided a significant amount of funds for allergy research, including $36.5 million to support AllerGen, which is the Allergy, Genes and Environment Network of centres of excellence that conducts allergy research. Also, in August 2012, new regulations were implemented which enhanced the labelling of priority food allergens on prepackaged retail foods. These regulations help consumers classify which foods are safe and which products they must avoid. Our government has also designated May as National Anaphylaxis Month.
Although these considerable steps have been taken, more can be done. Businesses and governments should do more to help those who live with the condition. More specifically, Parliament should recognize that anaphylaxis is a serious condition and create the necessary awareness to help those living with anaphylaxis have a higher quality of life.
Preventive measures should be taken by everyday Canadians in order to ensure the safety of those around them, especially those at risk of having an anaphylactic reaction. Understanding the condition and which allergens could cause reactions could lead to a reduction of incidents and more peace of mind for Canadians living with severe life-threatening allergies. With the passing of Motion No. 230, Canadians living with anaphylaxis will receive much needed recognition from our government. We stand with them in their efforts to promote awareness of the condition.
Once again, I would like to thank all the hon. members here today, as well as those who have pledged their support for this motion.
Anaphylaxis April 19th, 2013
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.
Anaphylaxis April 19th, 2013
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 April 19th, 2013
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 April 19th, 2013
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.
Manufacturing Industry March 28th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, Canadian manufacturers are major contributors to our economy, employing nearly 1.8 million Canadians in a wide range of industries. With 60,000 jobs in research and development, it is the number one sector for direct foreign investment and accounts for well over half of our merchandise exports.
Can the Minister of State (Science and Technology) please tell the House how our government continues to be an active partner in helping our manufacturers innovate and compete in the global economy?
Petitions March 21st, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition signed by residents of my Niagara West—Glanbrook riding, as well as citizens across Ontario. The petition calls upon the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada to amend the Criminal Code to recognize the growing incidents of violent assaults against public transit, school bus, para transit and inner city bus workers across Canada in the same fashion as peace officers are recognized in the code.
Interparliamentary Delegations February 13th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly respecting its participation at the election observation mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly, in Kyiv, Ukraine, October 26 to 29, 2012.
Elementary Student Petition February 8th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand before the House today to share a rather touching story of the marked maturity of young students in my riding.
In November, I received a package containing a petition from Ms. Makarewicz's grade 6 class from Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Elementary School in Grimsby. This class had been focused on social justice issues, specifically the story of Malala, the brave Pakistani girl who was brutally attacked for speaking out for young girls' rights to a proper education.
The students were truly moved by her story and were shocked that 32 million girls worldwide are not in school today. They created and circulated a petition to staff and students in the school, bringing attention to Malala's story and the fundamental right to education for girls all around the world. Although this petition does not meet the guidelines for a petition to be certified, their efforts should still be recognized.
With children like those in Ms. Makarewicz's class being the future leaders of Canada, I am confident that our country's future is secure.