Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'm usually on that side of the table, in your seat, sir, and I assure you that it is significantly more intimidating in this seat.
I want to thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the finance committee. I really appreciate the welcome here today and the ability to speak to Bill C-240.
This bill was drafted more than a year ago, and it's amazing to finally be here to speak to it. I'm looking forward to answering your questions today, and to hearing from you and hearing about what you've also heard from stakeholders about Bill C-240.
I know I must sound like a broken record by now, emailing you and your offices with videos about the bill and encouraging your support in the House. It's an easily explainable bill, and it's an easy concept to explain: Canada needs more people trained in first aid.
That's why I think there has been so much support for this bill. Bill C-240 was supported in the House by members of all parties. It passed second reading by a vote of 227 to 81. Thank you to everyone in this room who supported it, and to all the members who saw the value of Bill C-240 and have been advocates from the very beginning.
I recognize well that my role is often to advocate for and represent my riding of Cambridge and North Dumfries. However, private members' bills provide a unique and valuable opportunity to represent all Canadians on a national stage. They represent perhaps the best efforts of individual members to address an area of concern across this country.
That's something that was foremost in my mind when I was designing Bill C-240. I wanted to ensure that Canadian values and interests were represented in the bill and that it would create a benefit that all Canadians could access equally.
This bill is easy to explain and was easy to conceive of because it's about something that's always present in Canadian lives: the possibility for an emergency situation to occur.
If someone cut their hand on a glass here in committee today, how many of you in this room would know how to respond? What first aid would you apply? Where is the nearest emergency kit located from this space? Every workplace has similar challenges, and most in fact have more serious emergencies than are possible here on the Hill. Factories, construction sites, and dangerous work environments are full of possible emergency situations, and we have millions of Canadians employed in these workplaces each and every day.
Of course, emergencies are not limited to a workplace. A weekend with your kids, an evening out with your colleagues, or a visit to a friend can easily become a dangerous situation calling for capable hands.
It's because of this and the approaching demographic shifts that we need to start a national conversation in this country about emergency preparedness and getting ready for the demographic changes 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 more ready for medical emergencies, more cardiac arrests and strokes, and more falls.
I want you to consider two staggering statistics that I think will illuminate the risk. One-third of Canadians have never taken first aid in their lives, and right now more than half of adult Canadians live in a household in which no members have up-to-date first aid or CPR certification.
The bill has the potential of making a lasting impact on those statistics, but it's not just about statistics. It's about people helped, injuries repaired, and lives saved. It's about families avoiding tragedy.
When someone undertakes first aid certification, what they're ultimately doing is gaining the skills and knowledge to serve their community, at a personal cost. This is a civic duty that many Canadians undertake, and it represents a public good. Increased education and training is something good governments want for their citizens and offer different incentives and support for.
Bill C-240 is applying that principle. It provides an incentive for individuals to acquire training that represents a public good. Unlike education, first aid training often doesn't directly benefit the person who got the training. It most benefits strangers—passersby and the people we encounter in our lives only briefly. There are thousands of stories of train passengers, bystanders, and shopkeepers leaping into action to save people they've never met. This is not only a public good; it's a Canadian good.
Mr. Chair, I'd like to cover some of the more specific details about Bill C-240. 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 set at 15%.
Bill C-240 is a measured response. It's designed to appeal broadly to those members of this House who consider themselves fiscally responsible, as its costs are reasonable. This tax credit would come at a relatively low cost to the government, but would make a difference to the affordability of life-saving training for individual Canadians.
I'd like to explain briefly how I determined the cost estimate for this bill. According to Ipsos Reid, only 18% of Canadians have an up-to-date certification, meaning they have passed a first aid course in the last three years. That means approximately 1.8 million Canadians have taken this kind of training this year. The average cost for these courses is around $100. Bill C-240 would provide for a tax credit of $15 per person. At the average cost, that means the cost in lost revenue is approximately $29.3 million per year.
However, compare that to the value of a life saved, reduced trips to the hospital, pain and suffering reduced. Compare that to faster recovery times, which keep Canadians on the job instead of at home recovering.
The $29.3 million estimate is wildly inflated because not all participants in these training courses will be eligible for the tax credit, nor will they owe taxes, and more than half of certified Canadians have their training financed by their workplace and therefore would not qualify for this tax credit. When these facts are considered, we can see that the cost to the government will be much lower, likely significantly less than $14 million.
I hope that you've had a chance to review all the details of Bill C-240.
I know that my time is limited here today, but I want to leave you with one final thought. When it comes to first aid, the confidence instilled with training is just as important as the knowledge. Training leads to confidence, and confidence leads to action in emergencies, and action leads to lives saved.
Protecting Canadians is something we can all support. In addition to answering your questions here today, I ask for your support for the sake of the well-being of all our communities.
I want to give a bit of background on why I brought this bill forward. I came by this honestly. I've taken this course, or courses like this, more times than I would like to admit. I worked most of my career with non-profits like the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club, which are some of the largest providers of this course.
When I was 30 years old, I was asked by my supervisor at the time to get my NLS certification and become a lifeguard. My first response was “Why?” Looking back, that allowed me to grow in my role. About a year after that, I became a general manager of one of the facilities and ended up going to another facility, running that facility, and building a new YMCA. The confidence that this training gives—I can speak first-hand—provides an ability to walk into so many different situations and recognize when things are safe and when they're not. It's incredibly simple training; it's incredibly valuable, and 18% is simply not good enough.
Right now, if the average Canadian were to require first aid because of a heart attack or a stroke, they'd have about a 4% chance that somebody within arm's reach would be able to help them. That's not good enough. We should not be okay with that, and we have an opportunity with Bill C-240 to send a message that this government considers that this type of training is important and that it needs to move forward.
I know my time is coming to an end. I thank you for your support on this issue and look forward to answering any questions you might have.