moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
Madam Speaker, I want to thank all members of the House for their support of the good Samaritan drug overdose act. Members from all regions of Canada became co-seconders of Bill C-224, although the rules of the House did not allow for more than 20. It is a resounding call for the need for the legislation to be passed, and quickly. Members recognize that the bill would save lives.
In my speech at second reading, I spoke about two young men, Austin and Kelly. Austin, Kelly and countless others might still be with us today if the good Samaritan bill on drug overdose had been a law when they made that one, fatal mistake. However, we will never really know.
When I was researching the bill, even before I introduced Bill C-224, it was evident that this law is sorely needed. What I did not expect was the groundswell of support that came out shortly after the bill's first reading. Groups and individuals from every part of Canada called and emailed, telling me how much the legislation is needed. I thank them for that. Their support motivated me even more to make sure that the bill became law.
The House is steeped in democratic traditions. Our legislation process gives members the ability to scrutinize legislation. We are elected by and for our constituents to represent their values, beliefs, and desires. During second reading, I heard impassioned speeches from both sides of the House, some of which were very personal, making it clear that the good Samaritan drug overdose act had broad support.
Outside this chamber, it is the committees that continue Canada's democratic traditions. Committees give each piece of legislation more scrutiny, and the Standing Committee on Health did just that. The committee did its job well. They heard from many witnesses, from paramedics, front-line workers, Austin's mom, academics, and from drug users themselves.
For me, the most compelling testimony came from the drug-using community. That community does not feel safe and does fear law enforcement in an overdose situation. The committee heard that the bill would not go far enough, that exemptions from prosecution should be broadened beyond simple possession. I agree with that.
Studies show that fear of prosecution for possession is just one of the key reasons that people do not call 911 in the event of a drug overdose, but there are also other reasons, such as outstanding warrants and breach of probation. The bill is only one piece in the harm reduction tool kit. It is a tool kit that needs to be broadened and expanded over time.
I believe it would have been good to have broadened the scope of the bill to include outstanding warrants and breach of probation. However, that would have made the bill way too complex and controversial, lessening the chances of its passage.
If passed in its current form, the good Samaritan drug overdose act would still save lives.
I laud the Standing Committee on Health for their work on this bill and for referring the good Samaritan drug overdose act back to this House without amendment. The committee recognized the urgency of opioid deaths and how Bill C-224 is desperately needed in Canada.
The committee should also be commended for taking heed of the testimony they heard during the study of Bill C-224. The powerful testimony of witnesses led to a motion being introduced during the deliberations on the good Samaritan drug overdose act, a motion to study the opioid crisis in Canada. Now, the committee is doing just that, and I have been honoured to have participated in some of the committee's meetings on that study. We cannot delay taking action on the opioid crisis in Canada.
During the course of the deliberations on the bill, countless lives have been lost. I see it in the news every day. We do not know how many lives would have been saved if the Good Samaritan drug overdose act had been law.
Our government has been continuing to put more tools in that harm-reduction toolkit since the bill was introduced. That includes removing naloxone from the list of prescription drugs. The government is also listing the six essential ingredients that make fentanyl deadly as controlled substances.
In the coming weeks the Minister of Health will be arranging an opioid abuse summit, which will prioritize how we can start to get out of this mess.
I thank members of this House for their support of the good Samaritan drug overdose act.
I want to thank the Library of Parliament, the House of Commons legal department and the private members' business office for their incredible support on Bill C-224. There are several moving pieces to drafting and supporting legislation and without them this bill would not have happened.
Ultimately this bill needs to become law. I ask all members of the House to come together and support the good Samaritan drug overdose act to help save lives.