moved for leave to introduce Bill C-426, An Act to amend the National Defence Act (maiming or injuring self or another).
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce a bill that aims to remove a significant barrier to members of the Canadian Forces receiving the mental health assistance they need. It would do so by repealing subsection (c) of section 98 of the National Defence Act. This archaic section of the National Defence Act makes self-harm a disciplinary offence in the military code of conduct.
The Canadian Forces are still losing more than one member per month to death by suicide. We have lost over 195 serving members in the last 15 years. Removing this section would send a strong message that self-harm is a mental health issue and not something to be addressed by discipline.
This is a matter that I had hoped could have been fixed by a simple amendment to Bill C-77, the military justice reform bill, recently dealt with by the House. At that time, New Democrats and Conservatives supported my amendment, but the Liberals indicated they felt amending Bill C-77 was not the way to proceed. This private member's bill offers an alternative way of taking the actions necessary to send a positive message to Canadian Forces members struggling with mental health issues. I trust it will receive broad support in the House.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)