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Federal Framework on Lyme Disease Act

An Act respecting a Federal Framework on Lyme Disease

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.

This bill was previously introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session.

Sponsor

Elizabeth May  Green

Introduced as a private member’s bill.

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment requires the Minister of Health to convene a conference with the provincial and territorial ministers responsible for health and with representatives of the medical community and patients’ groups for the purpose of developing a comprehensive federal framework to address the challenges of the recognition and timely diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

June 12th, 2014 / 10:20 a.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ben Lobb

Welcome back. We're back in session.

We'll start going through the clause by clause portion of Bill C-17. We have the departmental officials at the table, at the ready, if there are any questions. So feel free to ask questions or for clarification.

In addition to that, similar to what we did for Bill C-442, the Lyme disease bill, we'll take our time and make sure everybody knows exactly what clause and what amendment we're talking about, so everybody feels good about what they're voting on.

There's lunch at the back and recognizing the fact that everybody wants to pay attention to the clauses and the amendments and to which way to vote, we can suspend at some point, when the committee feels like it, for five to 10 minutes, just to have a quick lunch so that everybody can stay focused on the clauses and the amendments, if that's okay with everybody.

We have two legislative clerks here to help us along the way if we have any technical questions. Karin is also still here as our analyst.

If everybody's ready to go, we'll get at it.

Similar to the case with the Lyme disease bill, the title and the preamble will wait until the end, and we'll get right at it.

(On clause 2)

We have amendment CPC-1. On that, I'll say that if this amendment is adopted, so will be amendment CPC-2 since they are consequential. Would somebody like to talk about the amendment?

Ms. Adams.

Federal Framework on Lyme Disease ActPrivate Members' Business

June 11th, 2014 / 7 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am deeply indebted to all members on all sides of the House. I will not need my five minutes, as I do not plan on making a long statement.

I want to close at this third reading of Bill C-442 by turning our attention to the people who are suffering with Lyme disease. I want to thank Jim Wilson and the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation, Brenda Sterling in Nova Scotia, who first made me aware of the disease through her own suffering, and my dear friends and the family of Fraser Smith. I particularly want to thank Nicole Bottles for her amazing advocacy, struggling herself against the debilitating effects of the disease.

I want to thank members on all sides of the House. We have done something good today for people who need our help.

Federal Framework on Lyme Disease ActPrivate Members' Business

June 11th, 2014 / 7 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians need a national strategy on Lyme disease to ensure that testing and treatment options in Canada are improved.

The New Democratic Party of Canada supports Bill C-442 and congratulates the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands on her initiative.

This legislation lays out a concise plan for educating Canadians about disease risks and most important, provides a better quality of life for Lyme disease sufferers.

Lyme disease is caused by contact with the bacterium spread by tick bites. Ticks are small parasites that feed on the blood of animals and humans, and they pass on Lyme disease when they feed on mice, squirrels, birds, or other animals that carry the bacterium, and then bite humans. Ticks are more common during the warmer months from spring through to late autumn. Canadians who live in areas with mild winter temperatures and minimal snowfall have an increased risk of coming into contact with ticks.

Climate change is one of the factors causing more regions to be at risk, with warmer weather increasing tick distribution across many parts of Canada.

Bill C-442 is especially important to British Columbian coastal communities, as Lyme disease is currently more of a concern on Canada's west coast due to its mild temperatures.

Lyme disease symptoms can include a circular rash around the bite, fatigue, fever, headache, weakness, abnormal heartbeat, muscle and joint pain, and central and peripheral nervous system disorders. Symptoms get progressively worse if the disease is left untreated, which it is for many Canadians. Chronic Lyme can develop if the disease is left untreated and can have lasting effects for months or years afterwards, and according to Health Canada, can result in recurring arthritis and neurological problems.

In 2008, NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis urged the health minister to implement a national strategy to diagnose, treat, and create better surveillance of Lyme disease. I am proud of the member for Vancouver East, our official opposition health critic, who has continued to call for a national Lyme disease strategy since that time and seconded Bill C-442 when it was introduced by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

This strategy is long overdue. Canadians deserve to get adequate testing and treatment for this disease. The federal government is responsible for improving the surveillance of Lyme disease as well as establishing best practices so that the provinces can understand the disease and adopt evidence-based measures that improve outcomes.

The bottom line is that receiving early and appropriate treatment would improve the quality of life for thousands of Canadians and their families. Early treatment of Lyme disease reduces the severity and duration of illness. More accurate testing and earlier treatment of Lyme disease would reduce the health care costs associated with a lengthy illness and more severe side effects, particularly for women who suffer long-lasting side effects when their Lyme disease goes untreated.

The New Democrats have been working with Canadians in support of a national strategy on Lyme disease for years now. Now is the time for the federal government to adopt such a strategy to protect the health and safety of Canadians in the face of this rapidly spreading disease.

I urge all members to support the bill.

Federal Framework on Lyme Disease ActPrivate Members' Business

June 11th, 2014 / 6:50 p.m.
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NDP

Dany Morin NDP Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to this bill this evening. As I also have the great privilege of sitting on the Standing Committee on Health, I was able to hear the witnesses and experts discuss the bill when it was referred to the committee and to learn about the improvements that we could make to strengthen it. I also saw that the government had a certain agenda.

At the Standing Committee on Health, we essentially sat down together around the table and agreed that this bill should go forward. Obviously, it cannot necessarily be perfect for everyone, although the NDP will support it. There is a consensus in the Parliament of Canada in 2014 that this bill on Lyme disease is to be taken more seriously.

As many NDP colleagues have mentioned, the tick that carries Lyme disease has been moving northward for many years as a result of global warming. Now we must find ways to protect the people living in southern Canada, and increasingly those further north as well, from this tick, which can have a disastrous impact on people’s lives.

Before discussing the more technical aspect of the subject, I feel that the people who are listening to us at home may not know what Lyme disease is. We talk about a tick, an insect. They may not understand.

My speech this evening will focus essentially on what Lyme disease is and what the tick is. Then I will talk about ways to prevent the disease. I will also talk about my region, Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean.

I got lucky last week. An excellent journalist from my hometown, Patricia Rainville, published a very good article on Lyme disease in the local newspaper, Le Quotidien. It will be a pleasure for me to read certain interesting excerpts from it.

The disease was discovered in 1977 in the U.S. town of Lyme, Connecticut, where several children were suffering from arthritis. The disease then gradually spread northward. Cases have been recorded in Quebec since 2011, but numbers have skyrocketed since 2013.

Therefore, we can see that the problem will only get worse for the people of Quebec and of Canada. That is why this is the ideal opportunity for the Parliament of Canada to move forward with a bill on the subject.

Once the tick attaches itself to the skin, it can stay there for approximately 72 hours if it is not detected. Seventy-two hours is the length of time it needs to feed, and during that period it can transmit the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.

A person bitten by a tick carrying the bacterium that causes Lyme disease will develop in the first few weeks a red rash more than 5 cm in diameter around the site of the bite. At that point, the disease can easily be treated with antibiotics. If nothing is done in the following weeks, however, the individual may suffer paralysis, swelling of the limbs, heart palpitations, headaches and even meningitis.

Clearly, the tick that carries Lyme disease can have a serious impact on human health. This is why people ideally should try to avoid being bitten by this tick, which could transmit the disease. To prevent infection, it is recommended that people apply mosquito repellent and wear long clothing and closed footwear before entering high-risk areas. Taking a shower and examining one’s body in the two or three hours following exposure is another excellent suggestion.

This is important, particularly since the tick is more likely to be found in wooded areas. Hunters are obviously at risk when they spend long hours in the woods, which is why many hunters have caught Lyme disease.

Ticks infected with Lyme disease have not yet settled in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region, which is a good thing for us. Only one case was reported in the hospitals back home last year, but the disease had not been contracted in my region, thank God. There were no cases of Lyme disease in Quebec five years ago, but the blacklegged tick has come a long way since then.

Today, there are a number of cases of infection in Montérégie. Entomologist Robert Loiselle, whom I greatly admire and know personally, is urging the public to be on the lookout:

I have been talking about this for 15 years. The blacklegged tick was well established in the northern United States, but for the past few years we have been seeing more and more of them in southern Quebec, in Montérégie for example. Tourists who come to enjoy nature have to be extra careful and check themselves after a hike or a walk.

At the Agence régionale de la santé et des services sociaux, spokesperson Éric Émond confirmed that a case of Lyme disease had been reported at a hospital in Lac-Saint-Jean last summer, but the bacteria was not contracted here. This year, as I said, no cases have been reported. Obviously, we never know what will happen if we are not careful.

The Quebec ministry of health and social services is asking the public to be careful. Dr. Danielle Auger, director of public health said:

For the past few years in Quebec, we have observed an increase in the number of ticks carrying the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease. The disease can be contracted from a tick bite during activities in wooded areas, including in higher risk areas in southern Quebec, such as the northern eastern townships, southwestern Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec and especially Montérégie, where the majority of cases contracted in Quebec have been reported to date.

According to entomologist Robert Loiselle, it is highly likely that the blacklegged tick could end up in my region:

I recently caught a tick, but upon analysis, it was not carrying Lyme disease. Nevertheless, ticks follow the deer populations. It is therefore not outside the realm of possibility that ticks will show up one day.

I do not want to sound overly dramatic, but even my region, in northeastern Quebec, is not safe from Lyme disease. This is a growing problem, but it is also a national problem. Earlier my colleagues from British Columbia and Nova Scotia discussed the situation in their part of the country. People and health authorities are on alert and are turning to the federal government, as are patients and their families, in the hope that it will do something.

That is truly unfortunate because the Conservative government has put nothing forward for years. The NDP has been proactive in this matter since 2008. NDP member Judy Wasylycia-Leis strongly recommended in 2008 that the minister of health implement a national strategy for the diagnosis, treatment and better monitoring of Lyme disease. Yes, the NDP has been talking about it and making it a priority since 2008. The Conservative government, on the other hand, has been dragging its feet for years. That is why I am grateful that my colleague has introduced this bill. At last we can move forward in 2014.

The official opposition health critic has always recommended that such a strategy be adopted, and she supported Bill C-442 when it was introduced. That is an indication of the NDP's good faith.

The requested strategy should have been adopted long ago. Canadians deserve proper tests and care. The onus is on the federal government to improve monitoring of Lyme disease and to establish best practices so that the provinces can understand the disease and adopt more effective evidence-based measures.

Over the years, the Conservatives have taken no initiatives on important health issues such as the coordination of services provided for chronic and complex health problems and funding for innovative screening and treatment measures. The matter before us is one in which the federal government should show leadership in health care and strive to better protect Canadians.

Many patients in Canada report problems with screening and treatment for Lyme disease. The various blood tests conducted to detect the disease often yield inaccurate results. Patients who have Lyme disease may not be diagnosed with it or may be incorrectly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis or chronic fatigue syndrome. Consequently they do not receive necessary care and, as a result, their symptoms worsen. It is important that we move forward to help these patients.

Federal Framework on Lyme Disease ActPrivate Members' Business

June 11th, 2014 / 6:40 p.m.
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NDP

Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be speaking after my colleagues, particularly our health and environment critics. Every speech teaches us a little bit more about Lyme disease. I am pleased to also say a few words about Bill C-442, An Act respecting a Federal Framework on Lyme Disease.

I must say that this bill is of interest to me, as are so many other bills. We have heard some stories, and last February I received a letter from a constituent about this bill:

I am one of your constituents and on behalf of the thousands of Canadians suffering from Lyme disease, I am asking you to support Bill C-442 respecting a national strategy on Lyme disease. Debate on the bill begins on March 4.

Later on in the letter, she wrote:

We need to support Bill C-442 so that we can develop a national strategy to fight this serious disease.

The person who wrote me asked me to meet with her, which is what I did. The meeting was truly amazing for me. I was there with the mother of someone with Lyme disease.

She told me about the ordeal that she and her child, now an adult, had to go through before getting a diagnosis. Finally, after several years, it was discovered that this person was afflicted with this terrible disease. The child experienced a number of symptoms, got several diagnoses, and underwent numerous tests before being accurately diagnosed. Despite numerous doctors’ appointments and hospital tests, they were faced with more questions than answers. Over this time, the disease took its toll, and became chronic. This person will have to live with the chronic symptoms of Lyme disease.

Finally, thanks to a test in the United States—not in Canada—a clear diagnosis was obtained. In spite of the trials and tribulations, and an established diagnosis, the parents told me that it was actually a relief for the person with the disease to know what the diagnosis was. Indeed, once the disease becomes chronic, many of the symptoms of Lyme disease closely resemble chronic fatigue syndrome.

What happens when a person has symptoms but no clear diagnosis? Often, those afflicted get depressed because they do not know what has caused the symptoms. Their family and friends are left wondering what to do. They do not know how to help people with the fuzzy diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. When a diagnosis was established in this case, the family was able to support the person with Lyme disease and at that point they could come together to develop a plan of action as to how to cope with the disease.

The parent in question also praised the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation, commonly known as CanLyme. The Foundation carries out very important work to raise awareness about the symptoms, diagnoses and ways to prevent Lyme disease. CanLyme is also a not-for-profit organization, and its website contains a great deal of information dispelling a number of myths and misconceptions around the disease.

I would like to commend the foundation on its extraordinary work. I would also like to salute the courage of this parent who came to meet with me to talk about their story and the plight of their loved one with Lyme disease, who had to go through quite an ordeal before getting a diagnosis.

The bill calls on the government to develop a national strategy to combat Lyme disease. I think that the government has to understand not only the need to put a strategy in place, but also the need for resources and financial backing. Parks Canada needs tools to advise people visiting our national parks on how to recognize the infamous insect that infects people with Lyme disease and the steps they should take if they are bitten, to ensure that the illness does not become chronic.

If it can be done for poison ivy, I do not understand why it cannot be done for Lyme disease. Moreover, a national strategy would help us work together with the provinces to develop tools to prevent this disease.

It is important to understand what is happening. Why is this disease spreading? It was previously a little known disease because it did not occur in Canada, where many insects die in our frigid winters and therefore do not cause a problem. However, climate change and global warming are having an effect on us as a Nordic country.

I am an agronomist by training. I got my training not so long ago. In class, we were told that Canada needed to adapt to changes in agriculture and prevent diseases that will emerge as insects head a little further north. The government must tackle these problems head on.

That is why the An Act respecting a Federal Framework on Lyme Disease is a step in the right direction, and that is why I support it. I also support it on behalf of a parent who came to meet me in my office to tell me about Lyme disease and make me more aware of it.

Federal Framework on Lyme Disease ActPrivate Members' Business

June 11th, 2014 / 6:20 p.m.
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NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak in support of third reading of Bill C-442 for a national framework for Lyme disease.

Today is a special day. It is not every private member's bill that gets to third reading. The fact that this bill has means that it has stood the test. It has gone through the challenges of going through second reading, going to committee, through amendments, and here it is back in the House. We are anticipating and hopeful that the bill will be approved today in the House of Commons and then go to the Senate.

I would like to speak briefly to the bill, but I would first like to congratulate the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for the hard work that she has put into this bill, into building alliances and talking to people in different parties. It is a good example of the goodwill and the solidarity that can develop around an issue when people recognize that something needs to be done. I only wish it would happen more often in the House. There are so many issues that need our attention, collectively, with a spirit of fair play and goodwill. Maybe this bill will be a good model for that, but I wish it would happen a little more often.

When this bill came to the health committee, I was pleased to be there. We went through it and heard witnesses. Hearing the witnesses was incredibly compelling. We heard from Jim Wilson of the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation. People shared personal experiences about this disease, which is not easy to do in a formalized parliamentary hearing as a witness with all of the official trappings that go along with that.

Chris Powell and her daughter Nicole were quite remarkable. Nicole, who is from British Columbia, was quite remarkable in sharing her experience of having Lyme disease and the suffering she was going through. It is not only physical suffering, which she still endures, but also the emotional anguish of not being able to get a proper diagnosis.

One of the critical elements of the bill is that it would bring together the different elements we need in terms of not only prevention and better public awareness, but a medical community that is in a much more heightened state of awareness with respect to Lyme disease, as well as better clinical diagnostic tools and testing.

We heard horrifying stories from people who had gone to extraordinary lengths to find out why they were so sick and why they could not get help. We know there are two tests available in Canada, but they pertain only to basically one strain of the tick that produces Lyme disease. There is so much that needs to be known.

We heard stories about the amount of money people had spent to go to the United States, for example, where other testing has been available, to finally get a correct diagnosis. Then they would come back to Canada and have somebody contradict that diagnosis. It a nightmare for these people to live through, not just enduring and living with the disease, but coping with systemic barriers and obstacles to proper diagnosis and get the treatment they need. We heard all of that at committee. It was compelling and it made us all acutely understand that we needed a national framework.

I want to spend a moment on that. As the health critic, I meet with many organizations across the country, in Ottawa, in my riding and elsewhere. There are so many issues and people are literally begging the federal government to show leadership to develop a national strategy, whether for dementia or Alzheimer's. This is just another example of that. It is a reflection of our complex system.

We know that health care is a provincial delivery system. There is no question about that. However, there is a necessity for federal leadership. Under the Canada Health Act, we have a duty and responsibility to ensure that all people in our country, whether rich or poor or whether they live in the north, south, east, west or the centre, in small communities or large urban centres, have accessibility to our health care system. We know the inequities are getting greater, and not just between provinces but also within provinces.

There is an overarching issue that the bill also reflects, which is that we need to see the federal government be at the table. We need to see the federal government take leadership on these issues. Many groups are calling for a national strategy. People know the reality of this kind of scattered approach. It is like a patchwork across the country and that just is not good enough.

The bill speaks about a federal framework and would bring together the players. As the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands has outlined, a key element of the bill is to convene a conference and include people who have Lyme disease and advocates so they are at the table as well. It is really about trying to bring the players together to develop that national framework.

We also heard at committee very interesting testimony from representatives of the Public Health Agency of Canada. They told us that Lyme disease had been a reportable disease only since 2009. We are only beginning to get a sense of the numbers out there. Of course many cases are not reported. Either people do not know they have the disease or if they suspect it, they do not get a proper diagnosis.

I agree with the member that we will face an explosion of cases, particularly with climate change and a warming environment. In southern Canada and places like B.C., where we really have not seen that many cases of Lyme disease, this will be on the increase.

I was very interested to hear that the Public Health Agency of Canada was conducting a fairly major public awareness campaign. In fact, the people from the agency assured us that Lyme disease should be a household word by the end of summer. People would know what it was, what they needed to be aware of and what they should do. I hope they are right because we do not want to see anybody suffer through this.

The issue of testing is very important. We heard loud and clear that there was an inadequate testing procedure in Canada. We need to have much better availability of testing with a greater depth of testing for different kinds of bacteria and strains.

Then finally on research, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research told us that some very good research was going on in Canada. I believe one of the researchers was in Calgary and another was maybe in Ontario. We need to fund that research. We need to know about the different strains so people can receive the appropriate diagnostic analysis and treatment.

The New Democrats have been very happy to support this bill all the way through. We are critically aware of this issue. It is something we speak about with our constituents. I am sure many of us have had visits from our constituents who have been affected by Lyme disease.

At the end of the day, we owe gratitude and thanks to the Lyme disease Foundation of Canada, which has done incredible work on this and has never given up. It is not easy. We have resources here. We can bring forward a private member's bill, which I do not want to diminish as it has a very important part. However, what is really wonderful is the fact that the people in the community, those who themselves are suffering, pushed this boulder uphill. They did not give up and they compelled us as legislators to take on this issue and support it.

Finally thanks go to those advocates. We need to remain vigilant and monitor what goes on to ensure this framework becomes a strategy that will help people.

Federal Framework on Lyme Disease ActPrivate Members' Business

June 11th, 2014 / 6:15 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the hon. member for Vancouver East took a moment or two to put the question so that I could pull myself together. I am quite overwhelmed and very grateful.

I appreciate that there were changes made at committee. I do not believe that they take anything away from the thrust of the bill, but as with any piece of legislation, we will have to remain vigilant.

I know that the current Minister of Health is very committed to this, but the bill will require initiatives from the Minister of Health to hold a conference. That conference will gather expertise from the health and medical community and the Lyme disease patient community and, of course, engage at some level the federal, provincial, and territorial ministers for health.

One amendment changed that process from a six-month mandatory window from the point of passage to twelve months in order to incorporate and provide flexibility for the fact that Bill C-442 would mandate ministerial consultations at a very significant level.

We just have to commit that there is goodwill here. There is an intention to make a difference for people. We have all learned a great deal from the Lyme disease patient community. There are people whose lives have been cut short. They cannot do the job they used to do.

One of the most heartbreaking cases in my own riding is that of a young man who wrote to me and who I saw on Boxing Day. He had not been well enough to come down the corridor on Christmas morning to watch his girls open up their Christmas presents.

The sense of urgency is with us. In the spirit of goodwill, we will monitor this bill and keep pushing in a friendly fashion. We will not let the bill just sit on a shelf. I believe that is the motivation of the Minister of Health, as it is for my hon. colleague, the official opposition health critic.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-442, an act respecting a federal framework on Lyme disease, as reported (with amendments) from the committee.

Concurrence in Vote 1--SenateMain Estimates, 2014-15

June 10th, 2014 / 9:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Speaker, going back to this particular example, my colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands introduced this legislation in the House in accordance with the precedents set on private members' bills. I believe the bill is coming up for debate shortly.

The bill will be debated here at second reading stage and will go to committee. Many of the stakeholders that my colleague has consulted on the bill will provide their input at committee stage. I hope that we have great debate on this particular bill. Should the bill be supported in the House, where would it go to become law? What is the next step in this process?

If we go back to what I just went through, which is publicly available and part of any civics lesson, the bill will go to the Senate for the next stage of review, and then royal assent. That is how the legislative process in Canada works. In order for Bill C-442 to become law, the Senate needs to be funded in order to pass it.

Not putting this vote forward in the estimates means that the NDP is voting to shut down the legislative process in this country. It is as simple as that.

We can have an extensive debate on Senate reform and how senators should be elected and so on, but that is not the subject of the debate tonight. The NDP has proposed to shut down the legislative process in Canada. For all of the democratic woe is us, for all of the democracy in Canada is this and that and what not, we have before us a suggestion to shut down the legislative process in Canada.

We are late in the session. Many of us want to be in our ridings connecting with our constituents. We should all give pause for thought as to what that means. It means that if legislation from the House cannot be passed, then it cannot be enacted. It means that next year, the routine process of government that goes through the Senate would not happen. Whether one agrees with Senate reform or abolition or however a member thinks we should seek to change it, the reality remains that not voting this particular piece forward means we cannot put government legislation through.

I have been listening to the questions and answers tonight. We have had a lively debate on how we could possibly make the Senate more accountable to Canadians; that is subject matter worthy of debate, but it is not the substance of what is being debated right now. Sometimes we lose sight of that.

I would ask my colleagues across the way just to have a think. The NDP has put forward a few private members' bills over the years, not just in this session, that have achieved consensus in the House. How do they become law? They become law by going through the Senate. This is part of Canada's Constitution.

The vote on the estimates that has been put forward here is for this upcoming fiscal year. Our government asked for a Supreme Court opinion on what we could and could not do in the House in terms of scope for Senate reform. We were obviously quite disappointed with the outcome of that decision. That said, my colleague the Minister of State for Democratic Reform has talked about how we as a government will press forward on this particular issue because it is something of concern to Canadians. We also have to look at this upcoming fiscal year, which is the subject matter of the estimates.

I would like to see government continue to operate because I would like to see legislation continue to go through the House. I hope that my colleagues will give pause for thought on this one and support Vote 1, because the reality is that this is part of Canada's Constitution. We need to separate the debate around how we could reform the Senate, which again is worthy of debate, from the reality of this particular motion.

I could go through numerous bills in terms of how this particular vote would affect them. The Senate right now has a very heavy legislative calendar. Many of the committees are tasked with a review of bills that have come from here.

Certainly my colleagues opposite would say that there is support for some or all components of some of these bills. I would like to see those bills passed. I would like to see that process continue to operate, which is why we support Vote 1 in the estimates. It is because constitutionally we need the Senate to operate in order for legislation to be passed.

It is very short-sighted for us as a House to sit here and say we cannot fund the Senate and that we are going to pull the funding from it. How, constitutionally, would we put legislation through? I just do not understand this. It is actually a little mind-blowing that the substance of this situation has not come up. Constitutionally, the Senate has to operate. Certainly in the next fiscal year, even if we work at lightspeed beyond the speed of government, the Senate has a job to do right now, and certainly we would all say that we should continue to support it.

Because the topic of Senate reform has come up in debate tonight, I would like to take this opportunity, because I have been itching to do so for a few months, to talk about the approach to Senate reform of my colleagues in the Liberal Party. I find it a bit disingenuous for the senators who consider themselves Liberals in their caucus to all of a sudden walk out and say that they are not Liberals anymore.

Concurrence in Vote 1--SenateMain Estimates, 2014-15

June 10th, 2014 / 9:35 p.m.
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Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel ConservativeMinister of State (Western Economic Diversification)

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to address the House and anyone who might be in the gallery tonight on a beautiful summer evening in Ottawa.

We need to be clear on what we are talking about tonight, what the substance of the debate is. It is my understanding that my colleague from Winnipeg Centre gave notice of opposition to Vote 1 in the estimates, which is an amount of approximately $57 million under “The Senate—Program expenditures, in the Main Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2015”.

What does this mean? It means that this amount is part of the amount that the Senate uses to conduct its operations. There has been a lot of important debate tonight about changes in the Senate, about how we could reform the Senate, about how the Senate could act in a more transparent manner or be more accountable to Canadians. These are important, weighty issues.

I have certainly been quoted in the media. My opinions about the need for Senate reform are on the public record. When I go out to talk to my constituents, it is an issue. How do we make the folks who are responsible for legislation in this country more accountable to Canadians? There are several senators who would agree that this body should be made more accountable. This is a topic of debate.

Going back to what we are talking about tonight, it is the allocation for this upcoming fiscal year for the operations of the Senate. I am going to take a moment, because I have some time tonight, to read an article that is on the Parliament of Canada website. It is entitled “Making Canada's Laws”. It states:

...Canada's Constitution states that both the Senate and the House of Commons must approve bills separately in order for them to become law. Legislative basics The lawmaking process starts with a bill — a proposal to create a new law, or to change an existing one. Most of the bills considered by Parliament are public bills, meaning they concern matters of public policy such as taxes and spending, health and other social programs, defence and the environment. A bill can be introduced in the House of Commons (C-bills) or the Senate (S-bills), but most public bills get their start in the Commons. A bill goes through certain formal stages in each house. These stages include a series of three readings during which parliamentarians debate the bill. Prior to third and final reading, each house also sends the bill to a committee where members examine the fine points of the legislation. Committee members listen to witnesses give their opinions on the bill, and then subject it to clause-by-clause study based on the testimony. Either house can do four things with a bill: pass it; amend it; delay it; or defeat it. Sometimes, one house refuses changes or amendments made by the other, but they usually both agree eventually. All laws of Canada are formally enacted by the Sovereign, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and the House of Commons. Once both houses have approved a bill, it is presented for Royal Assent and becomes law.

Just to recap, how does a bill become law? It passes through the first House—sometimes the Senate, but usually the House of Commons—and it passes through the second House—usually the Senate, but sometimes the House of Commons—and then royal assent is given by the Governor General.

How does it pass through a House? It goes through first reading, when the bill proposing a law is received and circulated. At second reading, the principle of the bill is debated to verify that the bill represents good policy, et cetera. Then it goes through committee stage. Members of the public appear as witnesses to comment. At report stage, the committee report is considered by the whole House. Third reading is final approval of the bill, and the bill is either sent back to the other House or set aside for royal assent.

As a recap on how the legislative process works here, right now, for this fiscal year, we require both Houses in order to pass legislation. I actually do not think anyone here can argue that, and if they do, they need to have a refresher course prior to continuing their activities in the House. We need to have both sides under our Constitution right now.

The subject of the debate tonight is whether we should or should not approve funding for the upcoming fiscal year to keep the government operational. To put this in a real-life context, there is opposition on this particular vote. If this vote in the estimates were to be defeated, what would that mean in a real-life context?

A bill is coming up that my colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands is keen on, because she proposed it. I am talking of Bill C-442, an act respecting a national Lyme disease strategy. It had first reading in the House on June 21, 2012, according—

Business of the HouseOral Questions

June 5th, 2014 / 3:10 p.m.
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York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I will start with the concept of the very strange proposition put forward by my friend. He uses this concept of shifts and believes there is some perverse obligation on the part of the government that, if the opposition wishes to filibuster the production of new laws and delay their production, we somehow have an obligation to match them step for step in extending that process. His comparison is with ordinary Canadians. He said that ordinary Canadians should not produce a product at the end of the day at work; they should take two, three, or four days to get the same thing made. That is his idea of getting things done. That is his idea of how ordinary Canadians can work. I think that says something about the culture of the NDP and the hon. member. I will let members guess what culture that is. It is a culture that does say we should take two or three times longer to get something done or to get to our destination than we possibly can.

We on this side are happy to make decisions to get things done for Canadians. In fact, that is exactly what we have been doing. Since I last rose in response to a Thursday question, the House has accomplished a lot, thanks to our government's plan to work a little overtime this spring.

I know the House leader of the official opposition boasts that the New Democrats are happy to work hard, but let us take a look at what his party's deputy leader had to say on CTV last night. The hon. member for Halifax was asked why the NDP agreed to work until midnight. She confessed, “We didn't agree to do it”. She then lamented, “We are going from topic to topic. We are doing votes. We are at committees. They are really intense days. We're sitting until midnight”.

On that part, I could not agree more with the deputy leader of the NDP, believe it or not, but with much more cheer in my voice when I say those words, because we think it is a good thing. These are intense days. We are actually getting things done. We are actually voting on things. We are actually getting things through committee. For once, we are going from topic to topic in the run of the day.

Let me review for the House just how many topics, votes, and committee accomplishments we have addressed since the government asked the House to roll up its sleeves.

Bill C-24, the strengthening Canadian citizenship act, was passed at second reading and has even been reported back from the citizenship committee.

Bill C-10, the tackling contraband tobacco act, was concurred in at report stage and later passed at third reading.

Bill C-31, the economic action plan 2014 act, no. 1, was reported back from the finance committee.

Bill C-27, the veterans hiring act, was passed at second reading.

Bill C-20, the Canada-Honduras economic growth and prosperity act, was concurred in at report stage.

On the private members' business front we saw:

Bill C-555, from the hon. members for West Nova in support of the seal hunt, was passed at second reading.

Bill C-483, from my hon. colleague, the member for Oxford, cracking down on prisoners' escorted temporary absences was passed at third reading.

Bill C-479, from the hon. member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, on improving the place of victims in our justice system was passed at third reading last night.

Progress is not limited to Conservative initiatives. The Green Party leader's Bill C-442, respecting a Lyme disease strategy, was reported back from committee yesterday.

The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay saw a motion on palliative care pass.

We have also seen countless reports from committees reviewing the government's spending plans, as well as topics of importance to those committees.

This morning we even ratified the appointment of an officer of Parliament.

Finally, I do want to reflect on the accomplishment of Bill C-17, the protecting Canadians from unsafe drugs act (Vanessa's law), which members may recall me discussing in last week's Thursday statement. It finally passed at second reading. However, this did not happen until the NDP relented and changed its tune to allow the bill to go to committee. It was the first time ever that we had an expression from the New Democrats when we gave notice of intention to allocate time in which they said, “We don't need that time; we're actually prepared to allow a bill to advance to the next stage”. I think, by reflecting on the fact that those dozens of other times the NDP did not take that step, we could understand that they did not want to see a bill advance; they did not want to see progress made. That lets Canadians understand quite clearly why it is we need to use scheduling and time allocation as a device to get things done in the face of a group that thinks the objective is to fill up all possible time available with words rather than actual votes and getting things done.

It is clear that our approach is working. We are getting things done in the House of Commons and delivering results for Canadians.

Perhaps I might be overly inspired by the example of Vanessa’s Law, but I do want to draw the attention of the House to Bill C-32, the Victims Bill of Rights Act.

So far, we have seen three days of debate on second reading of the bill, but “debate” is actually not accurate. What we have witnessed is speech, after speech, after speech—most of them from New Democrats—offering platitudes of support for the idea of getting that bill to a committee where it could be studied. What I want to know is, why will they not just let it happen? Victims of crime want to see meaningful action, not just kind words.

Suffice it to say that I will need to schedule additional time for discussion of this bill. Perhaps the NDP will let it pass after a fourth day of talk.

This afternoon, we will continue with the report stage debate on Bill C-31, our budget implementation bill. When that concludes, we will turn to Bill C-20, to implement our free trade agreement with Honduras, at third reading. If time permits, we will continue the third reading debate on Bill C-3, the Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies Act.

Tomorrow morning, we will start the report stage debate on Bill C-24, which makes the first modernization of the Citizenship Act in 35 years. After question period, I will call Bill C-32, the Victims Bill of Rights Act, to see if the NDP is ready to deliver results, not talk.

Monday morning, we will continue the third reading debate on Bill C-20, if more time is needed, and then resume the second reading debate on Bill C-18, the Agricultural Growth Act. After question period, we will get back to the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act.

Tuesday shall be the eighth allotted day when the NDP will have a chance to talk, and talk, about a topic of their own choosing. At the end of the night, we will have a number of important votes on approving the funds required for government programs and services and pass two bills to that end.

On Wednesday, we will debate our budget bill at third reading, and then we will start the second reading debate on Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, which my seatmate, the Minister of Justice, tabled yesterday.

We will continue the debates on Bill C-36 and Bill C-24, if extra time is needed, on Thursday. After those have finished, and on Friday, we will resume the uncompleted debates on Bill C-3, the Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies Act, at third reading; Bill C-6, the Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act, at report stage; Bill C-8, the Combating Counterfeit Products Act, at third reading; Bill C-18, the Agricultural Growth Act, at second reading; Bill C-26, the Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act, at second reading; Bill C-32, the Victims Bill of Rights Act, at second reading; and Bill C-35, the Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law), at second reading.

To make a long story short, we have accomplished much in the House over the last week, but we still have much left to do, which inspires me to note that, in the week ahead, I have to take my automobile in for maintenance. At that time, when I take it to the dealership, I hope one person will work on it for an hour, get the job done, and then return it to me at a reasonable cost. I do hope I am not told, “But there are still many more employees who have not had a chance to have a shift working on your car as well; so we are going to keep it here another three days and give everybody a turn to work on your car”. I hope the dealership will do as Conservatives do: get the job done and then deliver me the product.

HealthCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 4th, 2014 / 4 p.m.
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Conservative

Ben Lobb Conservative Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Health in relation to Bill C-442, An Act respecting a National Lyme Disease Strategy. The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.

June 3rd, 2014 / 10:40 a.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ben Lobb

That covers what we needed to do, and we're five minutes ahead of our plan, so we'll consider Bill C-442 dealt with and we'll report it back in due course.

Ms. May has a short comment, and then we're going to go in camera.

Go ahead.

June 3rd, 2014 / 9:55 a.m.
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Conservative

Eve Adams Conservative Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Chair, we move that Bill C-442 in clause 3 be amended by (a) replacing lines 12 to 14 on page 3 with the following:

3. The Minister must, no later than 12 months after the day on which this Act comes into force, convene a conference or otherwise engage with the provincial and territorial ministers and

And (b) replacing line 18 on page 3 with the following:

federal framework that includes

And (c) replacing line 21 on page 3 with the following:the Agency to

And (d) replacing lines 26 to 29 on page 3 with the following:management of Lyme disease, and the sharing of best practices throughout Canada;

And (e) replacing, in the French version, lines 6 and 7 on page 4 with the following:

nationale et d'en améliorer la prévention, l'identification, le traitement et la gestion.

June 3rd, 2014 / 9:15 a.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

I have one last question to you before I turn to Dr. Ouellette.

Having looked at Bill C-442, I don't think any bill is perfect at first reading. Are there things in it that you'd like to see improved that are not currently before us in government-recommended amendments?