An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit — first aid)

Sponsor

Bryan May  Liberal

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

In committee (House), as of Oct. 26, 2016

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-240.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Income Tax Act to provide a non-refundable tax credit to individuals who complete a first aid or other health and safety instructional program or course.

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.

Votes

Oct. 26, 2016 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2016 / 5:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today on behalf of my constituents of Kingston and the Islands and perhaps on behalf of all Canadians. I rise on behalf of all Canadians because of the national impact that this private member's bill would have.

I want to commend the member for Cambridge for his excellent work on this legislation and the leadership he has demonstrated on this issue.

Bill C-240 recognizes that Canadians need to better prepare for emergencies and disasters. Now is the time to take action on this issue, and this legislation provides an excellent opportunity to do exactly that.

It is critical that we start a national conversation on how to better prepare for emergencies and equip our communities for the kind of everyday challenges that many Canadians face. This legislation, at its most basic level, is a means of encouraging all Canadians to be properly trained with first aid skills. These challenges come in many forms.

When I talk about first aid and emergency preparedness, I am talking about being better prepared for sprains and breaks, cuts and bruises, strokes and cardiac arrest, occasions when someone slips on ice in a parking lot or drops a glass and cuts a finger, or when a child chokes on food or falls at the playground. These are the types of accidents that can and do happen every day, and Canadians need to be prepared to effectively handle them when they arise. We have to be prepared for these, as well as natural disasters like floods or fires, or even the most basic recreational activities like hiking, playing hockey, or canoeing.

There is absolutely no question that a critical part of preparation will be first aid, CPR, and AED training. We need to create an environment with the proper initiatives so that Canadians can take advantage of these life-saving courses. That is exactly what my colleague's excellent bill aims to do.

In every type of emergency, from the commonplace to widespread disasters, all Canadians would benefit from an expanded appreciation and understanding of first aid, CPR and AED training. The reality is that we will never know when we will need to put these skills and abilities into practice, but we should all be prepared in case the need arises.

Accidents are by definition unpredictable, but that does not mean we cannot prepare ourselves and equip as many people as possible with these valuable skills. We need to start having a national conversation, in part because we have an aging population and we know this means there will be a greater need for first aid as we move into the future.

Any ordinary individuals could have the need for first aid or CPR at any point in their lives, and it is incumbent upon all of us to prepare for that possibility. To be honest, I consider it “Canadian” to help out our neighbours, and I am certain most would agree that having this preparedness is essential.

To get trained in first aid should be similar to shovelling people's driveways, or to taking them soup when they are sick. It is just something we should do when we see the need arise. That is why I am proud to support the private member's bill put forward by the member for Cambridge. It displays the need for the government to provide an incentive for something that we should all be doing.

When the member for Cambridge first approached me about this legislation, I admit I was surprised. I thought that something as commonplace or as common sense as a first aid training tax credit would already exist in the tax code, so I was quite surprised when I realized that it did not. What speaks to me and what is appealing about the bill is a sort of equality with which anyone can take first aid training to help others and benefit from the tax credit.

I am asking all members of the House to join me in voicing their support for Bill C-240, not only because it is the right thing to do but because it makes financial sense. It would provide a tax benefit that can yield big results. If this encourages only a handful of people to get training and that goes on to save one life, then I consider it a project well worth the time and effort.

It is easy in the House to see the work we do as having only a limited effect on some of the more pressing issues of our time. The member for Cambridge has created a bill that is clean and elegant and directly addresses the need I have heard spoken in the House on many occasions, that being better preparedness. That is why I consider it critical to give this private member's bill full consideration and why I am prepared to give full support and my voice today in support of it.

This is also a bill that does what we ask of all private member's bills: it is simple, it is focused, and it addresses a pressing societal need with precise action. Private members' bills are supposed to make a direct but small course adjustment, and I applaud the member for Cambridge who has clearly spent time creating a bill that seeks to fix a specific pressing problem in a manner that is just, measured, and targeted.

We are just about to enter the winter season, and that means Canadians will be spending a lot of time outdoors. Most people think about the winter as a time for fun, relaxation, and vacation. I think all Canadians want those memories to be present throughout the winter months.

However, the reality is that the increase in recreational activities means more Canadians will be exposing themselves to a lot of risks and potential emergency situations, whether they are camping, hiking, skating, playing hockey, tobogganing, or snowmobiling, to name a few. These are all situations where potential risk could occur, and first aid would be required to help somebody who needs it. We participate in each of those activities that I mentioned without a second's thought, and we should absolutely be encouraging Canadians to do this.

No matter what we will be doing this year, first aid training is just a good idea. As we spend time with our families and friends, loved ones and acquaintances, children and grandchildren, we should take a moment to consider how small the investment of time is for their lives to be saved.

I have spent a lot time talking about the benefits of this bill and why I think it is the right thing to do. However, I would also like to take a brief moment and thank all those who already have first aid training, and the millions of Canadians who are ready to step up on a moment's notice to help others.

This is not something we often think about as we go about our lives, but consider just how many of our fellow Canadians would come running if we were to fall down. Canadians instinctively want to help, and putting the right tools in their hands to do so is the difference between heart-wrenching tragedy and a heroic nightly news story.

I am proud to offer my support for Bill C-240, and I encourage all members of this House to do the right thing across all parties and vote for Bill C-240 next Wednesday evening. It is the right thing to do, and it would benefit many Canadians.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2016 / 5:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the people of the great riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke in the heart of the Ottawa Valley, I am pleased to participate in this debate on a private member's bill that would provide for a more educated populace, in this case in the area of first aid.

I am pleased to acknowledge the great work of the previous member of Parliament for Cambridge, Gary Goodyear. It is a cruel irony of this place that a fine MP like Gary has been given a brief time out until the next election. There should be no doubt in the minds of the good people of Cambridge. Having served with Gary for a number of years in the Parliament of Canada, I know that the current MP for Cambridge has big shoes to fill. It is truly unfortunate that his shoes have been filled with sand, after the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, a member of his own party, publicly rebuked him in this place. I was shocked when I heard the member's own party tell Canadians it has no intention of supporting him.

I cannot wait to see the video, as we have seen from the member for the Toronto riding of Beaches—East York, telling Canadians to vote against Liberal MPs who do not support their party's private members' bills, to vote against them, starting with the Prime Minister and his cabinet who led the chorus of nos. After such a public putdown from the member's own party, I am surprised this debate is even going forward. If the rebuked member for Cambridge believes in Bill C-240 and he has brought it forward with his name on it, it is clear that the only honourable thing to do, given what his party has done, is to resign.

I can tell the member that, unlike his fair-weather friends on the government benches, I will support this bill at second reading.

So what is it that the member's own party finds so objectionable in this proposed private member's bill? This bill proposes to amend the Income Tax Act to provide a non-refundable tax credit to individuals who complete a first aid or other health and safety instructional program or course. St. John's Ambulance alone certifies more than 550,000 Canadians a year in more than 100 locations across Canada, including locations in Pembroke and Renfrew in my riding. The proposed tax credit would be similar to the federal student tuition tax credit. Anyone who takes a lifesaving, first aid, CPR, or automated external defibrillator, AED, training would be able to apply.

I am pleased to observe that this legislation builds on the good work of the previous Conservative government, a government that was committed to the health and safety of Canadians. It was our government that initiated the national automated external defibrillator, or AED, program that saw $10 million funded through the Public Health Agency of Canada in partnership with the Heart and Stroke Foundation to install AEDs in rinks, arenas, and recreation centres all across Canada. In my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, I participated in assisting a number of municipalities to acquire automated external defibrillators.

Defibrillators are electronic devices used to restart a person's heart that has stopped beating. They are safe, easy to use, and while they can be safely operated by the public, training equips people with the knowledge and the skills to confidently use these devices and to deliver quick CPR. With Bill C-240, individuals who are trained to operate an AED would be able to apply for a tax credit. Unlike in urban ridings, where medical facilities are close by, in a rural riding like Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, precious minutes are lost driving to a hospital when every minute counts. The Heart and Stroke Foundation tells us that each year up to 40,000 Canadians experience sudden cardiac arrest. Without rapid and appropriate treatment, most cardiac arrests will result in death.

Access to early CPR and defibrillation, preferably in the first one to three minutes after cardiac arrest, increases the chances of survival by as much as 75%. Although AEDs are easy to use, training on how to use these devices is important, so that bystanders have the knowledge and skills to confidently step up during emergency situations. Just one second can make all the difference in a person's life.

This Conservative program was responsible for the installation of 3,234 AEDs and the training of 25,360 Canadians on how to respond to a cardiac arrest situation. In my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, the automated external defibrillator program allowed for over 54 AEDs to be installed in public areas. These locations include the Round Lake Recreation Park; the Chalk River outdoor rink; the Eagle's Nest Hall in Eganville; the Forester's Falls arena; the Westmeath Recreation Centre; the Horton Outdoor Arena; the community resource centre in Killaloe; the Combermere and Area Community Centre; the Rankin Culture and Recreation Centre; the Paul J. Yakabuski Community Centre in Barry's Bay; the Greater Madawaska Public Library; the Town of Petawawa Municipal Hall; St. George's Anglican Church; the Ma-Te-Way Activity Center in Renfrew; the Alice and Fraser Recreation Centre; the Shady Nook Recreation Centre; the Cobden Arena; the Nick Smith Centre in Arnprior; the Palmer Rapids Community Centre, Rink and Hall; and the Kinsman Pool in Pembroke, to name just a few of the locations. I had the privilege of assisting to receive an automated external defibrillator.

The AED program has already been responsible for saving lives across Canada. Thanks to Robert Blackwell, public access defibrillator program coordinator and trainer in the County of Renfrew Paramedic Service, for his role in contributing to the local success of this program.

It is also my privilege to recognize three Renfrew county paramedics who were honoured recently at the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs' fall meeting with exemplary service awards for 2016. Paramedics Gary Sutton, a primary care paramedic with 20 years' experience; Mr. Andy Brown, an advanced care paramedic with 26 years' experience; and Mr. David Ostroski, a district manager with 30 years' experience, each received the Governor General of Canada Exemplary Service Medal at the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs Ceremony.

If I understand the intent behind this legislation, it is to encourage Canadians to be trained in first aid, so that we can help each other in emergency situations that require some first aid knowledge. While the parliamentary secretary has reduced the intentions of the member for Cambridge to one of cost only, it is really about helping our fellow citizens.

The government is happy sending billions of taxpayer dollars to other countries to fight climate change, yet it thinks that a tax credit for first aid training is a frivolous expenditure. In some of the small, particularly rural, communities found in my riding of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, many firefighting departments are completely run by volunteers. These Canadians sacrifice their time and safety to help protect others. Training gives people the confidence to volunteer in their area.

This past Saturday was Scouts Canada Apple Day in Cobden in my riding. The challenge that too many youth programs have in Canada today is not a shortage of youth who wish to participate, but a shortage of leaders. Scouts Canada asks that leaders be trained in first aid, as do many other programs that work with young people. A tax credit is a small recognition for community-minded individuals who step up to the challenge to be positive role models for our future citizens.

Increasing the number of Canadians who have the financial ability to be trained in CPR, first aid, and AED use will help Canadians, especially in remote and rural areas where medical assistance is not always around the corner. The Conservative Party highly values life and life-saving capabilities. If this proposed legislation gives Canadians an increased opportunity to be certified in first aid, CPR, and AED use, and reduces a barrier to their volunteering in their home communities, it deserves support.

I thank the Red Cross, St. John Ambulance, and all the organizations that promoted this program.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2016 / 5:35 p.m.
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NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Madam Speaker, coastal communities, especially like the ones in my riding of North Island—Powell River, offer many opportunities to work and play in nature. Whether it is fishing, logging, hiking, skiing, or simply enjoying the outdoors, the general ruggedness presents many unique dangers. The advantage of knowing first aid can mean the difference between life and death.

I am glad to be speaking about the importance of first aid this afternoon. I wish to thank the member for Cambridge for tabling this private member's bill.

While nearly 80% of Canadians believe that first aid is a very important skill to have, only 18% of Canadians are actually certified. The bill we are debating aims to provide a financial incentive to encourage more Canadians to receive first aid and other emergency health and safety training courses. Taxpayers would be eligible for this credit, and so would their qualifying children.

Bill C-240 proposes to introduce a non-refundable tax credit of up to $200 for first aid courses, CPR training, and automated external defibrillator, or AED, training. According to the Red Cross, Canadians with first aid training and certification are considerably more confident in their skills and ability to help someone experiencing a medical emergency.

Life emergencies are generally unexpected and can be life changing. Having the know-how to prevent, manage, and respond is profound. Whether in the wilderness or at home or at a workplace, having someone with first aid creates a safer environment for everyone.

Agencies in Canada offer a wide variety of courses and are often accessible to smaller communities. This is important, because being trained in first aid techniques allows us to determine the immediate course of treatment required until advanced medical help arrives.

While I support this initiative at this current stage of debate, I would like to point out four concerns I have about the bill and its unintended consequences.

New Democrats are concerned about the excessive number of boutique, non-refundable tax credits that have been added to the Income Tax Act in recent years. The Conservative government was well known for introducing a myriad of these tax credits. The trouble is that often these tax credits make the tax system less transparent and they add to the complexity of the income tax system, yet once they are put in place, there is little public accountability with respect to their effectiveness or the amount of money spent on them.

According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, whether or not these measures are desirable and effective in achieving their objectives, they have distributional impacts in that they affect the taxes paid by different income and demographic groups, and indirectly, they reduce available revenues that could be used for income transfers or public services.

These kinds of tax credits are believed to primarily benefit middle- and upper-income families who would not face the same financial barriers as low-income Canadians in accessing this training.

If the goal of this bill is to increase the accessibility of first aid training by means of incentives, we must therefore look at the question of who could be left out. The cost of undergoing training is prohibitive for many large families or lower-income Canadians, meaning that they may not have enough income to benefit from a non-refundable tax credit. This is problematic. All Canadians deserve access to first aid training and the incentives that would go with it.

I hope the committee studying Bill C-240 will be able to broaden the reach of the bill.

According to a 2012 lpsos Reid survey undertaken for the Canadian Red Cross, first aid training for 53% of the respondents had been arranged by their employers, in which case the employers likely financed the cost of the course. The sponsor of the bill acknowledged this fact in his speech to this House.

This initiative may also have the unintended consequence of subsidizing the corporate sector by inadvertently encouraging employers to abandon their existing first aid training programs. This may be a second potential drawback of Bill C-240. I would be keen to hear stakeholders speak to this if the bill makes it to committee.

The third concern I hope the committee will commit to study is costing. Canadians have a right to know and as parliamentarians we have a responsibility to stay on top, and see how much this is going to cost.

I truly believe that all bills that amend the Income Tax Act should be properly and transparently costed for parliamentarians and the Canadian public. As of this moment, the Library of Parliament estimates there will be a potential cost of between $30 to $60 million a year. That is concerning for me.

I wish to highlight a possible omission in the bill. I regard first aid as help given to a person until treatment is available. The bill, as drafted, supports a limited vision of first aid: standard first aid, mariners first aid, CPR, etc., but what about mental health first aid? MHFA is excluded. I hope the sponsor of the bill will be able to explain this.

One in three Canadians will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life. Just as physical first aid is administered, MHFA is given until appropriate treatment is found or the crisis is resolved.

Whether we are talking about the skills taught by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, or different distress centres across Canada relying on applied suicide intervention skills training, let us not forget that these workshops do save lives.

In rural and remote communities like the ones that I serve, having people with all types of training in first aid is significant. The need to support people during times of distress, whether it be mental health issues or physical health issues, is key in the regions where the help that is required may take some time to access. Many service organizations in my riding work hard to provide these supports and benefit from MHFA training.

I would like to finish by commenting on the reasoning given by the member for Cambridge for tabling his bill. In his speech he talked about the approaching demographic shift, and the associated challenges with an aging population.

Emergency preparedness is indeed a crucial element to this, and I commend the member. Having performed numerous consultations in my riding, specifically, on seniors issues, I can share with full confidence that what is needed and what seniors want is home care.

The 2016 federal budget does not include any additional provisions for home care or palliative care, even after the Liberals promised $3 billion for home care during the campaign. It is time for the Liberal government to act.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2016 / 5:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Madam Speaker, I am proud of our government and all of my colleagues. I am kind of embarrassed by the efforts of the member opposite in trying to shame my colleague from Cambridge who is putting forward a good bill. We are a lot stronger on this side of the House, and comments like that will not divide us.

I appreciate the opportunity to rise in the House and speak today on this important piece of legislation. I am incredibly proud to represent my constituents of Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge, and today I rise to speak to Bill C-240, a bill that would serve the members of my community and all Canadians.

I want to thank the member for Cambridge for putting forward Bill C-240. It is a bill that fits the bill, something we can be proud has advanced in the House. It would use government and taxation as a positive incentive to encourage people to do the right thing, to be able to help their friends, families, co-workers, and neighbours when faced with emergencies, big or small.

I believe that, when we come to the House as representatives of the people who have elected us, we have a responsibility to get all of the big things right—foreign trade, defence, immigration—but we have just as much of a responsibility to get things right for the daily life situations in which our constituents find themselves. Those kinds of policies have the ability to reach into someone's life and make an actual difference.

Bill C-240 is that kind of bill. This legislation would give a tax incentive to those who take the initiative to get trained in basic first aid. It addresses a clear problem, which is that not enough Canadians are trained in first aid. We can lessen the financial burden of taking a first aid course by allowing Canadians to claim the cost of the training course on their taxes, a solution to the problem that can be applied within the existing tax code, so it would be seamless, easy to understand, and quick to administer.

I also believe that when we come to the House we have a duty to remember where we come from, the experiences in the past that have brought us to this place. First aid has always been a part of my life. I am proud to say that as a youth I was in the army cadets, in the Royal Montreal Regiment. At one point I was captain of the first aid team. As a young adult, I volunteered with St. John's Ambulance for all the special events, where I was able to put to use my first aid skills. I assure my friends in the chamber that they are in good hands. As a business owner and a restaurant operator who has opened more than 140 restaurants in my career, I can say that first aid skills are also important to have in the workplace. From a cut in the kitchen to a customer choking on food, first aid skills both reduce the extent of injury and have the potential to save lives.

One of the things that was so important to me as a young man was that part of first aid is helping us to develop our own self-esteem. I remember, as a 12- or 13-year-old, there was an emergency. I had just started my training, but I was too scared to actually get up and react to the situation. I looked around the room to see if someone else would do it. Eventually, an ambulance came and everything was good. However, that was a lesson I had to learn, and it gave me perspective on what is good and what needed to happen in my life.

Now, as a member of Parliament, I am working with the Katzie seniors network in my riding. It is one of the recent recipients of the new horizons for seniors grant in my riding. It is developing an emergency preparedness program for seniors across Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge. Think about that: we have an emergency preparedness guide for seniors, and if they were all able to have that first aid training, in an emergency they could rely on each other and actually help each other, rather than waiting for one of our three ambulances to come.

First aid plays a vital role in our communities. Whether hiking in the UBC forest, boating on Pitt Lake, or playing a Saturday morning football game at Albion Sports Complex, the residents of Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge would benefit if more members of our community were equipped with first aid training.

I know this is true of all communities across Canada, and I am sure that hon. members on all sides of the House would agree.

Bill C-240 is a little thank you that will reward Canadians for taking the time and money to get trained in first aid, because quite honestly the life a person saves with that training most likely would not be his or her own. It could be a neighbour, a child, a colleague, or a stranger at the hockey rink. There is no good reason why we should not be saying thank you. That is why I am supporting the bill, and everyone in the House should do the same.

I am supporting Bill C-240 because I have to face my constituents and tell them that every day that I come here I am doing my best to make their community and this country a better place to live. Bill C-240, in its own little way, does just that. It meets the test. There is no good reason why the bill should not pass unanimously next Wednesday in the House.

There are those in the House who would say that the bill is based on compassion without heeding the costs. However, Bill C-240 takes into account both the costs and benefits of equipping more Canadians with first aid training. Every life saved, every wound healed, all add up. From the numbers that I have seen, Bill C-240 is estimated to cost taxpayers a maximum of approximately $29 million in lost revenue. The real costs would likely not be much lower than that.

When we account for the lives that would be saved and the injuries that would be limited, it would reduce preventable visits to the clinics or hospitals. We know that our hospitals and clinics are overwhelmed at times. All we need to do is go to any emergency room to see the lineups there. Being trained in first aid gives us the opportunity to take control of our own lives at that point.

The member for Cambridge has made a compelling argument why the bill is fiscally responsible, and it is why I am encouraging all of us to vote in favour.

Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to rise in the House and advocate today for Bill C-240. I look forward to having it brought forward for a vote next Wednesday, and I applaud my friend, the member for Cambridge, no matter what the outcome, for his dedication to this issue and his work on behalf of all Canadians.

The bill is not a band-aid solution to a real Canadian problem. I encourage all of our hon. colleagues in the House, whether former first-aid captains or not, to rise in the House and vote in favour of C-240. Safety first, my friends.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2016 / 5:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-240, which was introduced by the member for Cambridge. This is an extraordinary initiative. I look forward to seeing how much support this bill will get because it is absolutely essential and we have needed legislation like this for a long time.

I truly believe that one of the reasons why it is good to be in Parliament is to be able to come up with bills that could change people's lives. I therefore tip my hat to my colleague from Cambridge. When we vote on this bill either this week or next, I hope that all my other colleagues will join me in supporting it.

This bill seeks to provide a non-refundable tax credit to individuals who complete a first aid or other health and safety instructional program or course. In other words, it will ensure that care can be given as soon as possible when an incident occurs or someone feels unwell. It will save lives and protect the health of all our constituents.

Whether at work, at home, or taking part in recreational activities, we all run the risk of getting into a situation where we need other people's help because something has happened to us and we do not know what to do. As my colleagues are beginning to see, I really like to talk about my constituents and the things that happen in my riding in the House to show just how much the work we do here can affect the people in our ridings.

I have three stories to tell, which explain why I think that Bill C-240 is becoming increasingly important. First, I used to be the president of the gymnastics club where my two daughters had the honour of practising the sport. When I became president, I was surprised to learn that none of the coaches had any first aid training, even though gymnastics is a relatively dangerous sport and can inflict many injuries on the young girls who participate in it. Nevertheless, none of the coaches had the training to help someone while they wait for the ambulance to arrive, for example.

One of the first things I did as president, together with the Amigym gymnastics club's board of directors, was require all coaches, be they 14 years old or 30, to get first aid training. All of the coaches at the club now have first aid training.

My second story is about a specific incident. Soon after the hon. member for Cambridge introduced his bill, my daughter was in a gymnastics competition in Lévis near Quebec City. After warming up on the uneven bars, she decided to get up there one more time because she wanted to do well in her first competition of the year. Unfortunately, she had an accident. As she was dismounting, her foot hit the bar and she fell.

I was in the next room, and people rushed in to tell me that something had happened, but they did not tell me what. When I got there, my daughter was crying and surrounded by people. I had no idea what had happened. When I reached her side and saw her leg, I realized right away that it was serious. Unfortunately, I have no first aid training. Even if I did, seeing my daughter like that, I would have been in no position to administer first aid because I was so upset.

As I was trying to comfort my daughter, some people appeared out of nowhere wanting to move my daughter's foot. My first instinct as a father was to tell them not to touch it. Then I heard someone say she had training and could help my daughter through these difficult moments. It was such a relief to know that there was someone close at hand that was able to help. She was not a coach, but someone with more advanced medical training. However, before that person arrived at my daughter's side, things got quite intense.

Fortunately I can reassure my colleagues that my daughter is grown up and doing well. She started teaching gymnastics again and now she is a coach. She no longer does gymnastics, but she is still coaching. I am pretty sure that there will be some great gymnasts in Thetford Mines thanks to my daughter.

My third story makes me a little more emotional. Yesterday, during the lengthy votes, I got a call from my wife. She told me that our youngest daughter was taken to hospital by ambulance after a cheerleading practice. Again, who was there? No one around her was equipped to administer first aid. Someone managed to immobilize her and tell her to wait, but that was all. Someone phoned my wife, who was very far away. When things like that happen, Ottawa seems quite far from our riding. My daughter was immobilized. My wife arrived on the scene, but she was at a loss as to what to do. Someone decided to call an ambulance, which transported my daughter to the hospital. Fortunately, she is also doing well. Her arm is broken, but she is strong and will recover. She will be able to go back to cheerleading.

It is exactly at such times that it is reassuring for a parent to know that those nearby have first aid training and know what to do and when to do it. First aid training is needed not just because it might be useful, but because we never know when an incident will happen. It could happen at home or at school. It happened in a place where many accidents such as this one can happen. Even in these places, there are never enough people with first aid training.

That is why this bill hits home with me. I truly believe that we should provide more people with the opportunity to learn first aid and, above all, we need to know that they are well trained. It is worrisome to be approached by people intent on providing medical care without knowing if they really know what to do.

My colleague's bill will ensure that more people have the skills to intervene, more people will know what to do, more young women will be able to do gymnastics or be cheerleaders, more young people will be able to play hockey, and more people will ski because one day there will be no shortage of first responders.

Before arriving today, I wondered how many of my colleagues here have first aid training. How many of us have had a chance to take this training? Are there many? I know we have firefighters, nurses, doctors, and engineers in the House. However, we are not always with them. Sometimes there are committee meetings, and sometimes those members are not with us.

We are no longer kids here; we are all getting older. All kinds of things can happen after the age of 50. We need to know that people can help us. The moment that no one wants to happen can in fact happen to any one of us, or someone we love, our children or our parents. This moment eventually happens to everyone. To ensure that someone is there to help us right when we need it, incentives are needed. We need a bill like Bill C-240. It will give people the opportunity to take first aid training that may well one day save someone's arm or their leg, or possibly even their life.

I will therefore enthusiastically support the bill introduced by my colleague, the member for Cambridge. I also urge him to promote it amongst his colleagues, so that the bill can pass next week at second reading.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2016 / 6 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak today on this important piece of legislation, which I will be supporting.

The bill reflects the work of the hon. member for Cambridge, which he has done his whole life on behalf of his community. He has worked for the YMCA and YWCA, the organization in Canada whose new logo is “For a better us”.

I have been familiar with Bill C-240 since the member for Cambridge and I spoke in the early days of Parliament about good ideas to bring forward as private members' business. What we are looking at here is a topic that is positive. It reaches across partisan aisles and would accomplish something for our constituents and, indeed, all Canadians.

I spoke with the member for Cambridge soon after the election, who was excited to be bringing this forward in the PMB process. Indeed, he and I are in neighbouring ridings. He is excited about it because he will not table many private members' bills and wants to get it right. He is excited because he could see the possibilities that developing a PMB on this topic would bring, and for the opportunity to speak to everyone across the country about what kind of people we are and want to be.

I want to thank the member for Cambridge for bringing forward the bill, Bill C-240, which addresses a clear problem. Enough people are not training in first aid, something that we have heard from stories around the House this afternoon. This bill poses a clear, intuitive, and positive solution. Would it not be great to be able to provide a mild incentive to individuals to help them to be trained in first aid? What if we embedded that policy within the existing tax code so that it was seamless, easy to understand, and easy to administer? I really have to applaud the member for putting together a policy that not only makes sense, but also is clearly explainable and efficient.

When I was first out of school, I worked in some physically demanding jobs. I was going into factories and servicing equipment. I was working in environments where it was critical that everyone around me was trained in first aid. Fortunately, I was never hurt in a serious accident, but it was sure nice to know that the people around me would be able to step in if I had a problem. Indeed, at one point I had to save a person's finger. The person had an accident in one of the machines, and those around us knew how to do first aid. We were able to recover the finger, get him to the hospital, and get it re-attached.

For people in our communities who do not have the training to put to work or through their profession, the bill at the very least would help them get trained in first aid so they can help the people around them.

When I have spoken to others about Bill C-240, they are immediately supportive and see its value. People understand that our tax dollars go directly to things that benefit everyone in our society. They go to benefit the fabric of our society itself, and Bill C-240 is saying at its very core that whenever an individual gets trained in first aid to help fellow Canadians, they are doing something that benefits us all. The country has decided to thank them by helping to pay a little piece of their training.

It is a simple thing we can do that would have a big ripple effect in our communities. I am not alone in thinking this either. Bill C-240 has been endorsed by non-profits, including the Heart and Stroke Foundation and DeafBlind Ontario. I would like to cite a brief quote from DeafBlind, that their “interveners”, the name of the direct service employees who work for them, “are required to maintain up-to-date first aid and CPR certification at their own cost. Bill C-240 will make that training more accessible to them, and more accessible to the broader public.” It is so important for those working in the not-for-profit sector especially.

I want to take a moment to speak about an incident in my riding and one of the reasons I am supporting the bill today. This summer I was knocking on doors in Guelph. On Saturday morning I was invited into a home. There was a gathering of people around the kitchen table. There were a lot of people at 10 o'clock on a Saturday morning. What was going on? They were there because of a young boy, 12 years old, who in the last week of school had heart failure at his school. The people around the kitchen table that day were the people who had saved his life, the people who had provided CPR while he was on the floor at school, the people who had connections to the first aid from the emergency services, the people who brought him to the hospital, the people in the hospital who had saved his life, and then the people who had helped with his recovery process.

Today that person is alive. He is now 13 years old, because of the first aid that was administered at his school on the last week of class.

Stories like this sound like a once-in-a-lifetime or freak accident of nature, but really they are happening behind the doors of houses and businesses, and within schools across our country. They are happening every day in every riding. In each and every case, there is a real world difference that can make an outcome positive or negative, and that difference can be the difference in whether a person survives or not.

I am thankful for the opportunity today to advocate for the bill, and I look forward to voting in favour of it next Wednesday. I applaud the member for Cambridge for his work on the bill and for making our neighbourhoods safer.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2016 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Bryan May Liberal Cambridge, ON

Madam Speaker, first of all, I thank my opposition colleague for his kind words.

I am very proud and blessed to represent the fantastic people of Cambridge, North Dumfries, and North Brant.

I would like to take a moment to thank all the speakers here today and all those who spoke in the first hour of this debate.

Today it is my pleasure to rise and speak to my private member's bill, an act to amend the Income Tax Act, to provide a non-refundable tax credit for those who take first aid courses.

From the very beginning, I have said that it is key to starting a national conversation in this country about emergency preparedness. I have tried to prepare a PMB to go beyond partisan goals and achieve something that will work for all Canadians. I am proud to say that I have received support from all sides. People in this House and across the country realize that we must work to develop our human infrastructure.

The financial benefit of the bill would include faster recovery times, lower health care expenditures, and more lives saved.

More than half of adult Canadians live in a household in which no members have up-to-date first aid or CPR training. According to Ipsos Reid, only 18% of those who have ever taken first aid courses are current. In fact, one-third of Canadians have never taken a first aid course. Those statistics are shocking.

There is a solution, which is fiscally responsible, immediate, and well-targeted, and that is Bill C-240.

Bill C-240 is a bill that is moderate in scope, low in cost, and potentially massive in outcome. The bill is designed to provide a modest change, innovate within a sector, and improve lives in a measured and specific way. The bill has the potential to make a lasting impact on the lives of Canadians without making a lasting impact on their wallets.

I hope that my attempt to create this bill, however humble, will save lives and achieve far grander benefits than might otherwise be apparent.

When people undertake first aid training, what they are ultimately doing is gaining skills and knowledge to serve their communities, but they are also developing the confidence to act in an emergency situation, when literally every second counts.

This House has the opportunity to recognize, incentivize, and facilitate, these selfless acts by reducing the costs incurred by these civic-minded individuals.

The bill proposes a non-refundable tax credit of 15% to anyone who takes an accredited first aid, CPR, or AED training course. This tax credit would come at a relatively low cost to the government but would make a difference in the affordability of lifesaving training for individual Canadians.

Approximately 1.8 million Canadians will take lifesaving training this year. At $15 per person, the bill would cost the government a maximum of $26.5 million this year. Compared with the value of lives saved and injuries healed, this is miniscule.

Of course, not all course participants would be eligible, nor would all owe taxes. The most significant fact is that over half of all of those who take this training have it paid for by their employers and therefore would not be eligible for this credit.

When these facts are considered, we can see that the cost to the government would actually be much lower, likely less than $13 million.

This House has an opportunity to safeguard the lives of Canadians and display our commitment to emergency preparedness. Training leads to confidence. Confidence leads to action in an emergency. Action leads to lives saved, people healed, and more Canadians looking after others, which is something we can all support.

I thank members for their support on this issue. I look forward to the vote on Wednesday and to speaking with all members of this House.

I want to take the last few seconds I have to recognize a group of people who often do not get recognized, and that is my staff. They have put a lot of work into this, and I would like to thank them.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

June 2nd, 2016 / 5:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Bryan May Liberal Cambridge, ON

moved that Bill C-240, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit — first aid), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, today it is my pleasure to rise in the House and speak to my private member's bill, an act to amend the Income Tax Act to provide a non-refundable tax credit for those who take first aid courses.

I recognize well that my role is often to advocate for and represent my riding of Cambridge in North Dumfries. This is a role that I am honoured and humbled to fulfill, and I thank the people of my riding for placing their trust in me.

Private members' bills provide a unique and valuable opportunity to represent all Canadians. That is something that was foremost in my mind when I was designing my bill. I wanted to ensure that Canadian values and interests were inherent and that my bill would create a benefit that all Canadians could access equally.

With my PMB I wanted to achieve a few broad goals. We need to start a national conversation in this country about emergency preparedness and getting ready for the demographic shifts that we know are approaching.

The need for emergency preparedness has always been present in our society. However, with an aging population, Canadians need to be ready for more medical emergencies, more cardiac arrests, more strokes, and more falls.

The need for basic medical emergency preparedness in Canada is still growing, and this need has never been greater. In Canada, there is a heart attack every 12 minutes. People experiencing cardiac arrest have their chance of survival increased exponentially if there is a first responder or similarly trained individual present. Unfortunately, in many cases of cardiac arrest, no one with this lifesaving knowledge is nearby.

Right now more than half of adult Canadians live in a household in which no members have an up-to-date first aid or CPR certification. This reality is as dangerous as it is unacceptable, particularly when the training is readily available. These Canadian households are not prepared for emergencies. They are at risk, and it is our moral duty to do whatever we can to help our citizens be better prepared.

This legislation would fill a void in our current legislative framework and our broader society. Training to prepare people for medical emergencies is there, and we know it works. The only limitation is how many people in Canada have the training and the confidence to take action. This legislation is a measured response to the need for an incentive to encourage more Canadians to get trained.

The bill is designed to provide a modest change, innovate within a sector, and improve lives in a measured and specific way.

The legislation has the potential to make a lasting impact on the lives of many Canadians without making a lasting impact on their wallets. It is designed to appeal broadly to those members of the House who consider themselves fiscally responsible, as the costs are reasonable. At the same time, the bill's appeal is obvious to those members who seek an avenue for bettering people's lives and making our communities stronger, safer, and healthier.

I hope that my attempts to create this legislation, however humble, will save lives and achieve far grander benefits than might otherwise be apparent.

When people undertake first aid certification, what they are ultimately doing is gaining the skills and knowledge to serve their community at a personal cost. Perhaps even more important than the skills they are learning is the confidence they are gaining in an emergency situation where literally every second counts. The confidence gained through these courses can be the difference between life and death. Undertaking first aid training and administering first aid are fundamentally selfless acts that benefit not only the individual citizen but our communities as a whole. The House has the opportunity to recognize, incentivize, and facilitate these selfless acts by reducing the costs incurred by these civic-minded individuals. That is something that all members should laud, appreciate, and promote.

With this private member's bill, I propose that our government should provide a tax credit to those who take an accredited first aid, CPR, or AED training course. This tax credit would be non-refundable and provide a deduction in the amount owing equal to the lowest federal income tax rate currently at 15%. This tax credit would come at a relatively low cost to the government but would make a difference in the affordability of lifesaving training for individual Canadians.

According to Ipsos Reid, only 18% of Canadians have an up-to-date certification, meaning they have passed a course in the last three years. That means approximately 1.8 million Canadians will take this lifesaving training this year. At $15 per person, the bill would cost the government a maximum of $26.5 million this year. Compared to the value of the lives being saved, this is miniscule.

Of course, not all course participants will be eligible for the tax credit, nor will they all owe taxes. More than half of certified Canadians have their training financed by their workplace. When these facts are considered, we can see that the cost to the government would actually be much lower, likely less than $13 million.

As I have said, a great many Canadians are trained in lifesaving first aid, CPR, and AED techniques through the generosity of their employers. This generosity is to be commended. These employers recognize the value of having certified employees in their workplace. However, employers who pay for their employees' training are not eligible for the tax credit, because they already receive tax incentives when they claim it as a business expense. Similarly, the employee cannot claim the cost of a course that their employer has paid for.

For many Canadians, however, this type of training is not available at their workplace. Many of these people are still interested in the training and frankly, society would be greatly benefited from their having this training.

First aid training is lifesaving. My hope is that by making first aid courses more financially accessible, Canada will have more citizens with these lifesavings skills. Having more people with first aid training increases the likelihood of trained individuals being at hand during an emergency.

One-third of Canadians have never taken a first aid, CPR, or AED training course. This is a huge lifesaving resource that we are not accessing as a culture, but we should be. Helping Canadians gain the skill to treat medical emergencies out of hospital also has the potential to result in cost savings to the health care system by giving individuals the skills to better respond to minor situations, such as cuts and scrapes, and the knowledge and confidence to help minimize the damage sustained in the case of more substantive injuries.

For someone who breaks a bone, for example, knowing how to place a splint could have a major impact on their recovery time and the cost associated with it. For someone having a seizure, a passerby with the knowledge of rescue treatments, how to give care, comfort, and first aid, and when to call for emergency help can prevent injuries and keep many Canadians safe.

It is my hope that Canadians will take advantage of this modest tax credit to gain the skills that might allow them to save lives, prevent injuries, and help keep their neighbours and families safe.

I know that I am not the only member of Parliament for whom safeguarding the well-being of Canadians is of the utmost priority. The member for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston has made it his personal mission over the past number of years to increase the number of automatic external defibrillators in his riding and has campaigned for greater access to these devices all across Canada.

An AED is a small portable device used to deliver a shock to correct abnormal beating of the heart. These AEDs, when kept in public spaces, are an incredible asset to the safety of those around them. Every police cruiser in Ottawa has one of these devices, and it has directly resulted in around 10 lives saved every single year.

Every workplace under federal jurisdiction is required to have first aid kits for this same reason, but we need to ensure that their are hands capable of wielding these tools so that they can be effective at saving lives.

Before working in the House, I was an employee at the YMCA for many years. I remember, as the director of the YMCA about 10 years ago, my boss came to me and said that he wanted me to become a lifeguard. My first response was why. At 30 years old, why was this something that was important?

I am very glad for the opportunity to do that, although it was incredibly humbling, at 30 years old, to be taking lifesaving training with a number of 16-year-olds. However, I can say that this first aid training has made me confident that in the face of any emergency I would be able to safeguard the lives and well-being of my neighbours, my family, and my colleagues.

It is my hope to spread that kind of knowledge and confidence within Canada. I have been asking for support for the bill for the past few months. In fact, I have been nagging people to a certain extent and sending them video emails and those sorts of things. I have risen today in the House to debate it and ask for the support of all members.

I ask for this support for the sake of the well-being of our communities. The House has the opportunity to safeguard the lives of Canadians and display our commitment to emergency preparedness. I am confident that the members of the House will appreciate the impact of the legislation on the lives and safety of ordinary families. My hope is that my bill passes second reading and goes to committee, where I am open to any recommendations to make the bill better.

I thank members for their support on this issue, and I look forward to hearing their thoughts and answering any questions from the House.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

June 2nd, 2016 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-240, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit — first aid). I thank my colleague from Cambridge for bringing this important issue to the House.

I was excited to see my colleague opposite offering Canadians a tax credit rather than increasing their taxes. I hope it is the first of many.

This bill, as we all know, proposes amending the Income Tax Act to provide a non-refundable tax credit to individuals who complete a first aid or other health and safety instructional program or course. The proposed tax credit will be similar to the federal student tuition taxation credit for everyone who takes life-saving first aid, CPR or automated external defibrillator, AED, training.

This bill could mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation. Tax credits like the one proposed in this bill will encourage Canadians to get trained and certified in CPR, first aid, and AED use. During an emergency, having someone on site who is trained in first aid and CPR could make the difference as we all know.

In fact, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, there are 40,000 cardiac arrest incidents in Canada each year. That is one every thirteen minutes, and 85% of those incidents will take place outside of hospitals. After 12 minutes, the survival rate is just 5%. After four minutes, significant brain damage can occur. During an emergency situation, CPR plus an AED double the chance of survival.

These are our neighbours, our friends, and family. The importance of CPR, first aid, and AED training is clear just by looking at the number of people who spend their hard-earned money to be trained, groups like Scouts and Girl Guides, youth groups, babysitters, camp counsellors, first responders, just to name a few. That includes, of course, both adults and children.

St. John Ambulance alone, certifies more than 550,000 Canadians a year, with more than 100 locations across Canada, including a location in Lindsay in my riding.

The proposed bill will have a direct impact on Canadians who may be considering training, but are worried about the cost. However, for most people looking to take these types of courses, it really is not about the prices. It is about helping our fellow Canadians. Therefore, why not give them thanks from the Government of Canada, after all they are spending their own money.

Canadians coast to coast will see the direct benefits of this proposed change. This is not a new issue of importance for Canadians or for the government. It was our government that initiated the national AED program, which saw $10 million funded through the Public Health Agency of Canada, to install AEDs in rinks, arenas, and recreation centres all across Canada.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, this initiative, recently concluded, was responsible for the installation of 3,234 AEDs and the training of 25,360 Canadians on how to respond to cardiac arrest situation.

In my riding this program allowed for 23 AEDs to be installed in public access areas like the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena in Minden, the A.J. LaRue Arena in Haliburton, and the Lindsay Recreation Complex.

This program has already been responsible for saving 10 lives across Canada.

I believe this bill represents a continuation of a number of tax credits initially started by our previous government, including the children's fitness and arts tax credits, both of which are now sadly gone, and the volunteer firefighters tax credit. The volunteer firefighters tax credit had the same effect I think this bill will have. It encouraged Canadians to be trained and to help each other. It allowed for Canadians to help themselves. Again, it is not about the cost, it is about helping our fellow citizens.

As such, we should let the measure we are discussing now, and the previously mentioned measures, act as a way of giving back to Canadians for trying to help and do the right thing. In many small communities, like those in my riding, many firefighting departments are completely run by volunteers. These Canadians sacrifice their time and safety, even time with family, to help protect others.

Increasing the number of Canadians who have the financial ability to be trained in CPR, first aid, and AED use will help Canadians coast to coast to coast, especially in remote and rural areas where medical assistance is not always around the corner.

A 2012 Ipsos Reid poll showed that 38% of Canadians said that they had provided first aid, and 78% believed it was important to know how to perform first aid. While the information is a few years old, it is still very relevant for the discussion on this bill. The results showed that two in three Canadians had taken a first aid course, with only 18% having taken it within three years of the poll, and 49% having taken it more than three years before that poll.

Canadians who have taken a first aid course are significantly more competent in their skills to help someone in a medical emergency.

The results of this poll help paint a very big picture. It paints a picture of the importance of first aid, CPR, and AED training. Similar information has been found by our neighbours south of the border. According to the American Heart Association, each year more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States. Almost 90% of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die.

CPR, especially if performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person's chance of survival. Seventy per cent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in homes. Unfortunately, only about 46% of people who experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest get the immediate help they need before professional help arrives.

Our Conservative Party highly values life and life-saving capabilities, and I support incentives and rewards to help save lives. If more medically trained personnel exist, financial burdens to emergency services may be reduced, resulting in greater efficiency and productivity.

While there is much to praise about the proposed bill, I look forward to seeing what the potential cost of these measures will be. We need to ensure that proper balance of tax credits and fiscal responsibility are there.

Canadians are kind and generous people, as we all know. I believe the bill would give Canadians an increased opportunity to be certified in first aid, CPR, and AED use, which of course, as I think we all agree in the House, is a benefit to all.

I would like to thank the Canadian Red Cross, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, St. John Ambulance, and all the organizations that have promoted, trained, and certified Canadians in first aid, CPR, and AED use. I would also like to thank the volunteers, because we cannot forget the volunteers who work so hard in our communities to make them safer.

People should remember that during CPR, we should push on the chest at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute, or to the beat of the Bee Gees song, Stayin' Alive.

I encourage all members to support the bill and to encourage all Canadians to get trained in first aid, CPR, and AED use. It could mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

June 2nd, 2016 / 5:40 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-240, an act to amend the Income Tax Act, to provide a tax credit for first aid courses. This bill proposes to introduce a non-refundable tax credit of up to $200 for all first aid courses, cardiopulmonary resuscitation training, and automated external defibrillator training.

The member for Cambridge introduced this bill with the intention of providing a financial incentive to encourage more Canadians to receive first aid and other emergency health and safety training courses. If adopted, all taxpayers and their eligible children would become eligible for this credit. I want to congratulate him on this initiative and tell him that the New Democrats will be proudly supporting this at second reading.

First aid, CPR, and AED are skills that can be used by everyday citizens in emergency situations to stabilize health conditions until first responders arrive. An Ipsos Reid poll commissioned in 2012 revealed that nearly 40% of Canadians say they have provided first aid in their lifetime. The majority of first aid is provided, importantly, to a family member.

As well, while nearly 80% of Canadians believe first aid is a very important skill to have, only 18% of Canadians have been certified. According to the Red Cross, Canadians with first aid training and certification are considerably more confident in their skills to be able to help someone experiencing a medical emergency. It saves lives.

Here are a few relevant facts about first aid in Canada. The Red Cross estimates it trains approximately 600,000 Canadians every year in first aid, CPR, and/or AED. While nearly 80% of Canadians believe first aid is a very important skill to have, only 18% of Canadians were certified. An Ipsos Reid poll commissioned in 2012 revealed that 40% of Canadians have provided that important skill to their family members. First aid saves lives, and efforts to promote this training should be encouraged.

New Democrats support the objective of this bill and look forward to engaging in a deeper study at the committee stage. As a party, New Democrats believe fundamentally that the lens of equity and social justice should be applied to all legislation that passes through the House. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that New Democrats are always concerned by the proliferation of non-refundable tax credits that have been added to the Income Tax Act in recent years.

Many expert observers argue that these kinds of tax credits primarily benefit middle- and upper-income households. To quote a 2013 report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives:

These credits...make the tax system less transparent and...once they are put in place there is little...accountability of the amount of money spent on them or their effectiveness.

...a large number of current deductions and credits disproportionately benefit high earners....

The question of accessibility cannot be forgotten in the larger discussion around the promotion of first aid training. When assessing this bill, members should ask themselves who benefits and who could be left out. Certainly, this bill can achieve the desired effect of promoting first aid training among a number of families. However, the same must be focused on low-income Canadians and those on social assistance.

There are Canadians for whom the cost of first aid training presents a barrier. These are the Canadians who might not have enough income to benefit from a non-refundable tax credit, and like the rest of us, these Canadians would also greatly benefit from first aid training. It is, therefore, my hope that this bill progresses to the committee stage and that the committee is given the opportunity to take a closer look at the issues of accessibility in this bill, in the hopes of broadening its reach.

On a similar note, New Democrats believe all bills involving tax credits should be properly costed before being adopted by Parliament. In my research on this bill, I asked the Library of Parliament to draw up a rough estimate of the annual cost of Bill C-240. Accounting for multiple variables, the analysts have estimated a cost at between $30 million and $60 million per year. While relatively small in the grand scheme of a $300-billion budget, it is not insignificant, particularly when we consider the number of proposals for tax credits that have been introduced in Parliament and the others that are already on the books.

Finally, this initiative may also have the unintended consequence of subsidizing the corporate sector by inadvertently encouraging employers to abandon their existing first aid training programs. We would have to keep a close eye on that.

These are some of the issues that New Democrats believe require consideration at committee stage, and I look forward to having the opportunity to participate in that analysis.

As I have stated before, Mr. Speaker, this bill has the laudable goal of promoting life-saving first aid training among Canadians, and it spurs a conversation about how best to improve first aid training in our communities.

While reading Bill C-240, I was reminded of the local heroes in Vancouver and across Canada who either teach or use first aid, CPR, and automated external defibrillation to save lives every day. My thoughts go to those remarkable first responders in Vancouver who have worked admirably throughout the years, and today, often in very challenging situations, to make our communities safer for everyone.

I have often had the great pleasure to meet with firefighters in Vancouver, from IAFF Local 18, people like Rob Weeks, Lee Lax, Dustin Bourdeaudhuy, and Chris Coleman. These are hard-working local heroes who, with their workmates, often on the front lines of traumatic and tragic events, provide life-saving skills every day. In their jobs they save lives, livelihoods, homes, and more. In my meetings, I hear the pride they have to serve the public and to perform their jobs with honour and professionalism. These men and their colleagues truly make Vancouver a safer community for everyone. On behalf of the residents of Vancouver Kingsway, I want to thank them here in this House for their work.

I have also listened to the legitimate requests these local heroes have made to improve their occupational health and safety, and their quality of life. I have heard their requests for a firefighter compensation fund, funding for increased staffing in fire halls, and better PTSD services for working firefighters. We need to act on these justified and necessary requests, and do so soon.

My thoughts also go to first responders such as Tom Stamatakis, from the Vancouver Police Union, and the men and women who serve us in the police forces across this country. I have heard of the valiant work of policemen and policewomen who patrol the streets and are often the first people to answer emergency calls. In cities sometimes blighted by organized criminal activity, the policemen and policewomen are on the front lines every day to make our cities and towns safe and secure places to live. They save lives every day as well. I want to thank them in this House for their work.

In my capacity as health critic, I have also had the great pleasure of meeting with representatives from the Paramedic Association of Canada. Paramedics save lives every day in emergency situations, using first aid skills, and a variety of other specialized medical training. We need to thank them and support them in their work.

My thoughts also go to the countless organizations in Canada that provide first aid training in schools, community centres, and offices, to better equip the public for emergencies. Many see first aid as a form of community care, a form of empowerment for people in our communities to take care of themselves and save lives.

As many know, Vancouver is blessed with its location between the mountains and the ocean. Despite the wonderful geographic features that make Vancouver so unique around the world, we also live with many of the associated risks. Vancouverites are active boaters, swimmers, hikers, and skiers. These exciting sports are part of the attraction of the west coast lifestyle, but they also raise the risk of accidents and emergencies. Widespread first aid training is vital to creating a safer environment for Vancouverites, British Columbians, and indeed all Canadians, to get out and play in our beautiful environment and our country. Therefore, thousands of Vancouverites, and millions of Canadians, count on incredible non-profit Canadian agencies, such as the Lifesaving Society, St. John Ambulance, Canadian Ski Patrol, Canadian Red Cross, and Heart and Stroke Foundation to provide life-saving first aid training.

Vancouver is a city that sits on a seismologically active fault line. Frequent minor earthquakes in the region are a reminder of the power of the earth beneath the feet of Vancouverites and British Columbians. For years, geological scientists have predicted the possibility of a large seismic event in the Pacific northwest. The “big one”, as it is commonly referred to, could strike here, at any time. We had recently a magnitude 4.1 earthquake on the west coast of Haida Gwaii. Earthquake preparedness is part of the way of life for Vancouverites. We need to make sure our first aid training, our seismic upgrading, and our preparation for our population, particularly on the west coast, is given a high priority by the Liberal government.

To conclude, I want to reiterate that the New Democratic Party's support for Bill C-240 is strong. We believe more needs to be done to promote first aid training among Canadians to make our communities safer. We look forward to a vibrant debate at committee stage and beyond as we work to improve and implement the provisions of this important bill.

Once again, I thank my hon. colleague for bringing this important issue to the attention of the House.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

June 2nd, 2016 / 5:50 p.m.
See context

Saint-Maurice—Champlain Québec

Liberal

François-Philippe Champagne LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the member for Cambridge is not only a great member, but he is also a friend.

The bill pursues a great goal. I think all members would agree to that. We all commend members who present private member's bills because we know how much work, time, and effort goes into them, and I know the member is genuine in trying to pursue a very important initiative in our country.

I took a course in first aid when I was an army cadet and it has served me well throughout my life, so I do understand what the member is trying to achieve, and I commend him for that because he has taken this issue very seriously. We had a number of consultations. We spoke together. We spoke with the minister, but as good as the policy objective is, the tax system is not the appropriate vehicle for action, and we believe it would be unlikely to increase participation.

Considering that 67% of Canadians have taken first aid courses, it is unlikely that a deduction of $15 claimed about 16 months afterwards would have a significant effect on increasing enrolment in our country.

In addition, the tax credit would be complicating our tax system and adding significant administration and compliance costs for the government.

I have the privilege once again to discuss an issue that is important to Canadians in the House, in their House of Commons. I thank my colleague for introducing Bill C-240, an act to amend the Income Tax Act.

Among other things, the bill seeks to provide a non-refundable tax credit to individuals who complete a first aid or other health and safety instructional program or course. I thank my colleague for his efforts, and he knows that. However, the Government of Canada is trying mainly to help the middle class and those working hard to join it. That is why in December, one of the first things our government did was to implement a tax cut for the middle class. In total, nearly nine million Canadians have been benefiting from this tax cut since January 1, 2016.

Next came budget 2016 and the new Canada child benefit. This benefit will provide additional support to Canadian families to help them deal with the high cost of raising children, and it will replace the current complicated child benefit system. The new benefit will also be better targeted to help those who need it most.

In the same vein, budget 2016 reflects our election commitment to eliminate poorly targeted and inefficient programs, wasteful spending, and ineffective and obsolete government initiatives.

As a first step towards meeting this commitment, budget 2016 announced annual reductions of $221 million in professional services, travel and government advertising, starting in 2016–17.

Going forward, under the leadership of the President of the Treasury Board, the government will identify other changes and better align government spending with priorities.

In addition, the government remains committed to ensuring federal tax expenditures are fair for Canadians, efficient and fiscally responsible.

Individuals and businesses have expressed concerns related to the efficiency and fairness of the tax system and how the increasing number of tax expenditures has made the federal tax system more complex.

In the coming year, the government will undertake a review of the Canadian tax system to determine whether it works well for Canadians, with a view to eliminating poorly targeted and inefficient tax measures. Consequently, introducing a new expenditures outside the budget process would run counter to the objectives of the comprehensive review of current spending that the Government of Canada is currently conducting.

Let us take a closer look at what the bill sets out to do. As I said earlier, my colleague from Cambridge has a worthwhile goal, but we need to examine the degree of complexity that this proposal would add to the tax system.

The bill seeks to provide a maximum tax credit of 15% of up to $200 for the cost of a first aid or other health and safety instructional program or course successfully completed by an individual or the individual's qualifying child. The bill would provide a limited incentive, as I said earlier.

Let us look at the facts: the number of Canadians who register for a first aid course is already quite high, and that is very good. According to a 2012 Ipsos Reid poll conducted for the Canadian Red Cross, we should be pleased that 67% of Canadians have taken a first aid course, of which roughly a fifth were taken in the past three years.

What is more, existing policies at various levels of government make it mandatory to know first aid at the workplace. Many employers help their employees take this type of training. At the federal level, the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations stipulate how many employees are required to receive first aid training at federally regulated workplaces.

Furthermore, all the provinces and territories have adopted legislative requirements for the workplace regarding employee training in first aid. Given that a typical first aid course costs around $100, it is unlikely, in our view, that a $15 refund received up to 16 months after the training cost was incurred would lead to a significant increase in the number of registrations for such programs. The credit would probably mainly constitute a subsidy for the many Canadians who are already taking such courses. It is estimated that this would cost the Canadian government approximately $17 million per year.

The average benefit of this measure, in terms of reduction of income tax payable, would be weak relative to its administrative costs and compliance costs. What is more, the bill establishes no criteria for the quality or legitimacy of programs eligible to the credit. It is for these reasons that the government is opposed to this bill.

I would now like to draw the attention of the House to certain measures that the government has taken in budget 2016 to strengthen Canada's financial sector to support economic growth in the country. Canada’s financial sector framework balances various objectives, namely those of stability, competition, and meeting the evolving needs of consumers and Canadian businesses.

The financial sector plays a vital role in allocating capital efficiently to businesses and households across the economy. It must continue to play this role effectively, to ensure that Canada’s economic growth will be long-lasting and inclusive. Canadians deserve financial consumer protection that keeps pace in meeting their needs. In addition, the financial consumer protection framework must provide clarity to guide the operations of federally regulated banks.

Amendments to the Bank Act will be proposed to modernize the protection framework for these consumers by clarifying and enhancing protection measures through a new chapter in the act. They will reaffirm the government’s intent to have a system of exclusive rules to ensure an efficient national banking system from coast to coast to coast.

The government will collaborate with provinces, territories, and stakeholders to support the implementation of the framework, as well as to enhance consumer education and financial literacy. Stable and secure housing markets protect the greatest investment of many middle-class Canadian families. This is why on December 11, 2015, the government announced coordinated actions to strengthen the resiliency of Canada’s housing finance system, increase market discipline in residential lending, and promote long-term stability and balanced economic growth.

In closing, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Cambridge once again for his motion. I thank him for having proposed an important bill, and as I was saying earlier, we will have to oppose that bill as it now stands, for even though its objective is laudable, we have to consider its important tax implications, the cost of this measure, and especially the fact that 67% of Canadians have already taken part in a first aid program or course, and in our view a new tax credit will have a limited impact on participation.

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

February 25th, 2016 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Bryan May Liberal Cambridge, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-240, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit — first aid).

Mr. Speaker, today I am excited to rise in this House to introduce my private member's bill, a bill that would save lives and improve the quality of life for all Canadians.

Students across this country benefit from a federal tuition tax credit, helping to make post-secondary education more affordable. The bill proposes a similar, non-refundable tax credit for anyone who takes life-saving first aid, CPR, or AED training.

Canadians with skills and knowledge in first aid and CPR are able to help others in emergency medical situations. The value of a life saved or injury prevented, and the knowledge of what to do in an emergency is a skill that we should all have.

The rate of survival for those suffering from cardiac arrest is increased by 50% to 500% if a bystander has CPR training. With the bill we can show that Parliament recognizes the life-saving power of first aid and CPR and show Canadians that we value that training.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)