Drug-Impaired Driving Detection Act

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (drug-impaired driving)

Status

Second reading (House), as of April 4, 2017

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill S-230.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to authorize the use of an approved screening device to detect the presence of drugs in the body of a person who was operating a vehicle or who had the care or control of a vehicle. It also authorizes the taking of samples of bodily substances to determine the concentration of drugs in a person’s body, based on physical coordination tests and the result of the analysis conducted using an approved screening device.

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.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 7:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Madam Speaker, I suggest that my colleague read the transcripts of the speeches. As we know, they are all translated.

He would see that I supplied sources for all my sources. If he needs the resources to find these quotes, study what has been done around the world and see for himself just how much of a hazard this is to road safety, he need only ask. I sincerely think that if the government was as serious and thorough as it claims to be, it would put a system in place, equip police cars, train police officers and set up a prevention, awareness and education program in every school in Canada to make sure everyone is very cognizant of what is going on before even thinking of legalizing marijuana.

After all that, if marijuana use does not decrease, then the government can consider legalization. The Liberals are putting the cart before the horse, as the saying goes. They refused to move forward with my colleague's Bill S-230, which aimed to get tough on impaired drivers. Even if the government follows the current schedule, it will not meet its July 1st, 2018 deadline, unfortunately. We are headed straight for a wall. It is time that the government realize how irresponsible this is. The government needs to get to work and give police officers the cars and equipment they require as soon as possible.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2017 / 7:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other acts. What we are talking about here is enabling police officers to detect impaired drivers.

Before I begin, I want to make one thing clear. I think we all want to support measures that protect Canadians on our roads no matter where they are. However, I am not convinced that the bill before us addresses all of our questions and concerns.

This is an issue that matters a lot to me and that I have done a lot of work on because it ties in with marijuana legalization, which the government wants to implement on July 1, 2018.

First, I want to point out that I supported the bill introduced by my colleague from Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other acts. This bill also amends the Criminal Records Act so that the offence of impaired driving and the offence of failing or refusing to comply with a demand are no longer exceptions to the offences, rendering null and void the record suspension. My colleague has done an excellent job. However, unfortunately, this was rejected by the government. This bill makes consequential amendments to these laws and others that are directly related to the bill we are debating today.

Second, I also sponsored Bill S-240, introduced by Senator Claude Carignan. This bill sought to implement measures to combat impaired driving. The bill amends the Criminal Code in order to authorize the use of a screening device approved by the government to detect the presence of drugs in the body of a person who was operating a vehicle or who had the care or control of a vehicle. It also authorizes the taking of samples of bodily substances to determine the concentration of drugs in a person's body based on physical coordination tests and the result of the analysis conducted using an approved screening device.

Once again, even though all senators, regardless of their political stripe, and all opposition parties unanimously agreed, the government nevertheless decided to reject all the Senate's hard work. The bill had passed all three stages of the legislative process, but now we have to start from scratch. It will be too late and no one will be ready if the bill to legalize marijuana is rushed through.

Third, I asked about 15 questions and I took part in many of the debates we have had here in the House of Commons.

Fourth, I met with representatives from various businesses that produce drug screening devices in order to learn more about these devices' ability to screen for faculties impaired by drugs.

Fifth, I met with senior officials responsible for training police officers at the École nationale de police du Québec. Unfortunately, I learned that they had not been consulted as part of this process and that they feel unprepared to deal with the consequences of this bill to legalize marijuana.

Sixth, I asked the citizens of my riding for their thoughts on this plan to legalize marijuana, and more specifically the consequences it will have on road safety.

Seventh, I studied the cases of Uruguay, Colorado, and Washington in particular, and I reviewed all of the legislation on the subject from other places in the world.

That is why I can talk about this issue today with a full knowledge of the facts and confirm that Canada is not ready to legalize marijuana, especially not by July 1, 2018. Before any bill to legalize cannabis is passed, the police must have the proper tools to prevent many lives being lost on our roads.

To be frank, I find it hard to understand why the Liberals dragged their feet for so long before introducing a draft bill that they are now saying must urgently be passed before the summer recess. Let us be serious. The legalization of marijuana has been part of the Liberal platform for years. To get elected, the Liberals even told Canadians that they had a plan.

Once elected, it took them two years to introduce a bill in the House because their legislative agenda has been flawed from the start. Ironically, the Senate is not working very hard compared to when other governments were in office. Now, all of a sudden, things have picked up and the Liberals are trying to quickly pass bills without allowing them to be thoroughly studied in committee.

Two bills need to be quickly passed so that everything is in place in time for the next election. That is simply irresponsible, and the Liberals are to blame. In short, this bill is critically important in protecting Canadians from the growing scourge of drug-impaired drivers who get behind the wheel. It becoming increasingly urgent to eradicate this scourge in light of the Liberals' bill to legalize marijuana.

Every jurisdiction that has legalized marijuana has experienced an increase in the number of accidents and impaired drivers. Here is what the Canadian Police Association told the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs:

Driving while intoxicated by drugs impairs judgment and motor coordination. In one study involving aircraft, ten licensed pilots were given one marijuana joint containing 19 mg of THC, a relatively small amount [for users, or so I am told]. Twenty-four hours after smoking the joint, they were tested in a flight simulator. All ten of the pilots made errors in landing, and one missed the runway completely.

The report also said that, according to a recent opinion poll about drug-impaired driving, 58% of Canadian drivers did not know if their province or territory had any administrative laws on drug-impaired driving. The clearly demonstrates the need to sort out the drug-impaired driving issue before cannabis is legalized. Unfortunately, I doubt that can happen given the Liberal government's unrealistic and irresponsible timelines. for things to happen that fast, the Liberals will have to rush the process, which will jeopardize Canadians' health and safety. That is extremely unfortunate.

I would like to share a few quotes that I compiled about impaired driving because I want to give everyone a real sense of just how big an issue this is even though the Liberals are trying to downplay it.

According to Washington State toxicology lab manager Brian Capron , since the state legalized marijuana, over a third of impaired drivers tested positive for the drug. They test over 13,000 drivers every year.

According to Dr. Chris Rumball of the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, the Prime Minister's plan to legalize marijuana should take into account sobering U.S. experiences. In Washington State, fatal crashes among drivers who tested positive for marijuana doubled from 8% in 2013, before legalization, to 17% in 2014 after legalization. In Colorado, the number tripled from 3.4% to 12.1%.

“The number of car accidents in Colorado increased because of marijuana usage,” said Kevin Sabet, former advisor to Barack Obama on drug policy.

According to the Quebec police, “Canadian police forces are worried about drug-impaired driving [in the wake of Ottawa's announcement that it intends to legalize marijuana]. Police are concerned about trivializing consumption [and] an increase in drivers under the influence of drugs.”

I also have this quote from Annie Gauthier, CAA Québec's spokesperson. “We must continue to collect data, put technology in place and establish guidelines that will enable police officers to properly control and deal with this new situation in order to prevent it from spiralling out of control.”

I have many more similar quotes and I could go on at length.

In closing, every effort to make our roads safer is critical. I sincerely hope that the Liberals will allow sufficient time for a thorough study of the bill in committee. The Liberals' irresponsible marijuana legalization proposal aside, there is still the issue of impaired driving that needs to be addressed as soon as possible, whether or not legalization is about to happen.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

April 4th, 2017 / 7:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure tonight to speak to Bill S-230.

There is a problem in Saskatchewan. The province of Saskatchewan has had the highest number of impaired driving charges in all of Canada. The problem has existed for decades, if not a century, and the people of Saskatchewan are very concerned.

A daughter of a former member of Parliament for Blackstrap, Allan Kerpan, was involved in an accident involving drunk driving. He is one of many who has taken to the stage in the last couple of years to deal with the effects of not only drinking but also drugs.

Impaired driving due to drugs is an interesting one, because we all believe devices should be in cars now so police have a way of testing people. We are concerned with the government legislation on marijuana. It has not thought it out.

Last week I had a chance to go to one of the high schools in Saskatoon, Walter Murray Collegiate. It is the biggest high school, with over 1,500 students. I had a chance to talk about the marijuana legislation. Much to my surprise, most kids in the assembly did not want the legalization of marijuana. That was kind of a surprise because the Liberals assumed everyone was in favour of marijuana, and that is not the case. The students have spoken out against it. They are concerned about it. They have seen what alcohol and now marijuana can do to families.

I mentioned Allan Kerpan, an MP who was in the House of Commons in the 1990s and 2000, and his family. We need a way of testing if this is to come about. As people know, the municipal and provincial police and the RCMP need devices in their cars right now. We know what is going on in the country, not only on the back roads of Saskatchewan but from coast to coast to coast. That is very important when we deal with this private bill, Bill S-230. We have to get out in front of this, and that is why my hon. colleague brought the bill forward now. This is an important part. Families in our country have been absolutely decimated due to the accidents and deaths that have occurred.

It is very important that the hon. member bring Bill S-230 forward at this time. Police officers need the devices now. We have heard from coast to coast. The University of B.C. may have a device ready for testing. We need it right now. UBC is one of many places in the country trying to get a device that could be put in every police car. That is where we need to go. We need to get out in front of the government legislation that will be brought forward later this year, and possibly will be in law by July 1, 2018.

When we look back through the years, we see how many families have been affected by alcohol. Could we have prevented it? We sure could have. Devices are needed in vehicles today that can read .08. We have brought that number down in almost every province and territory, because we know drinking and driving is a problem. We know drugs, like marijuana, will be a problem when the law is passed. That is why I am very pleased to speak to Bill S-230 and give it my support in the House of Commons tonight.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

April 4th, 2017 / 7 p.m.
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Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the House to speak to Bill S-230, which would authorize the use of approved screening devices to detect the presence of drugs in anyone operating a vehicle. I would like to thank the member for Richmond—Arthabaska for bringing this important issue onto the floor for debate.

The government has been clear on the matter of impaired driving and the hazardous effects on its victims. Canadians cannot tolerate this type of reckless and irresponsible action without consequences. Authorities must have the appropriate tools necessary to ensure the public's safety. That is why our Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness rose in the House on February 9 and reassured members that the RCMP and other police forces across the country, in co-operation with the Government of Canada, have been testing a number of scientific devices for roadside testing for drug-impaired driving. The minister also committed the government to having in place both the legal and scientific regime to deal with drug-impaired driving.

This legislation arrives at a critical time as the government prepares to fulfill an election promise to legalize, strictly regulate, and tax the production of cannabis. Bringing an end to this unsuccessful prohibition program is long overdue. New legislation would provide more protection for children who would no longer be able to purchase the drug from street dealers. Under the new regulations, the purchase of cannabis would take place in regulated businesses and require photo ID. This would protect our youth and remove control from the illicit market. Cannabis would no longer fund the activities of organized crime. Revenues from the sale of cannabis could then be taken back into the health care system, including counselling and education.

While this next step in progressive policy is welcomed by many Canadians, I acknowledge that this change will be cause for concern for some. This is why the government is proposing strict regulations on the production and sale of cannabis.

While regulation and legislation are necessary steps, they are not totally sufficient, and while I support the intent of the bill, what is more effective than punishing a driver who drives under the influence is educating people to prevent them from getting behind the wheel in the first place. Teaching youth about the effects of cannabis consumption is the best way to ensure they never get behind the wheel while impaired by drugs or alcohol.

The task force for legalization and regulation heard at length from Canadians on this very issue. That is why the members of the task force argued for a whole-of-government approach, specifically that Ottawa work with the provinces and territories to develop a national, comprehensive public education strategy to send a clear message to Canadians that cannabis causes impairment.

The good work of the task force fell on receptive ears, and the government included funds to accomplish this very goal in budget 2017. Health Canada will support marijuana public education programming and surveillance activities in advance of the government's plan to legalize cannabis. The government would accomplish this by directing existing funding of $9.6 million over five years, with $1 million per year ongoing.

It is this kind of common-sense policy-making that Canadians voted for in the 2015 election. We made a campaign promise. We announced consultations for Canadians to provide further input, and the government listened to those concerns and acted.

Canadians and their government understand that the purely punitive approach is a failed one. We currently have the highest use of marijuana by youth in developed countries around the world. Ottawa must work with the provinces and territories to adopt a plan of action that comprehensively deals with the issues of drug use, based upon science as opposed to ideology.

Currently, anyone, including minors, can access cannabis with greater ease than alcohol or tobacco. This is because minors do not have to go through a regulated business to get cannabis. As it stands, the dealers are the only suppliers, and they have only one motive: profit. They do not care about age, quality control, or the strength of cannabis. Prohibition, even decriminalization, will not change this attitude.

While the members of the official opposition may still look upon legalization with skepticism, those on this side of the House understand that it is long past time for change. A comprehensive policy will allow Canadians the freedom to choose but to also encourage responsible consumption. At the same time, we will protect Canadians from impaired drivers using the most up-to-date technology.

In conclusion, Canadians can be assured that their government and their representatives in Parliament will not compromise when it comes to their safety and the safety of their communities. An important step is providing law enforcement with the tools they need now and will need in the future to ensure that drivers operating vehicles are not under the influence of cannabis.

This is only one step toward effective public safety policy. All orders of government need to work on providing devices and training so police forces are able to ensure that citizens and communities are safe from impaired drivers.

Governments also need to provide effective legislation for distribution, control and testing, and even municipal zoning regulations. Our government is committed to an all-of-government approach to personal and public safety policy and legislation. We will work with our provincial, territorial, and municipal partners, as well as our police forces, to provide improved safety and security for communities and the people living in them. We have to do better in the future than we have done in the past to provide safety for our citizens, especially our youth, and for our communities.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

April 4th, 2017 / 6:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak in favour of Bill S-230, the drug-impaired driving detection act.

I would like to thank Senator Claude Carignan for his dedication to the bill and for guiding this piece of legislation through the Senate and I thank my colleague for bringing it to the House.

This bill seeks to authorize law enforcement officials to use roadside screening devices to detect the presence of drugs in the body of a driver suspected of being impaired.

The authority to use non-invasive drug screening devices similar to our current alcohol screening devices would allow law enforcement officers to immediately recognize a driver operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs. About 3,000 of 75,000 impaired driving incidents reported by police across Canada in 2015 involved drugs, seven of which were fatal.

To me, the bill is trying to make our roads and our communities significantly safer. Although there is a lack of statistics on the subject of drug-impaired driving, the information we do have is staggering. What is even more concerning is how the Liberal government is moving so quickly toward legalizing marijuana while not addressing one of the more dangerous effects of impaired driving. This bill is necessary and timely as we approach the deadlines the current government has set for itself regarding marijuana legalization.

I will mention a couple of statistics from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse regarding marijuana and road safety. Marijuana was the most common illicit drug present among drivers in fatal motor vehicle collisions. It is also the most common illegal drug among young drivers. More young drivers in Ontario drive after using marijuana than after drinking alcohol. In 2011, 13% of young Canadians aged 15 to 24 admitted to driving after taking marijuana, but only 11% reported driving after drinking.

Statistics show that there has been a rapid rise in the presence of drugs in fatal motor vehicle accidents. MADD Canada states that drug-impaired fatalities now exceed the number of alcohol fatalities by 25%. We invest a lot of effort and money in the prevention of drinking and driving and in support of groups working to prevent the same, yet we are beginning to learn that drug-impaired driving is statistically even more common.

Law enforcement officers currently have the tools they need to measure blood alcohol levels roadside, but the tools to measure drug impairment are still not available across Canada. As such, it is significantly harder to prosecute drug-impaired driving, which is a necessary first step in preventing further risk on our roads. Without the necessary tools, fatalities and crashes as a result of drug-impaired driving are on the rise, but arrests and charges are not. This is unacceptable and does nothing to prevent this dangerous habit.

This needs to become a priority for the federal government, especially before the legalization of marijuana. Other countries have already undertaken this challenge and are responding very well to legislation against drug-impaired driving. There are best practices that we could be using as models, or we could create an entirely Canadian system. Regardless, legislation on drug-impaired driving needs to be finalized as soon as possible.

I would like to outline exactly why I believe drug-impaired driving is dangerous and wrong. As a youth leader for over 32 years, I can explain first-hand some of the many consequences drugs can have on the human body. I will try to stick to drug-related side effects or consequences that would have an effect on driving.

Drug-impaired drivers may have a slower reaction time, be disoriented, or be overly tired. Drug-impaired drivers may have difficulty concentrating, staying in their own lane, judging distances, or judging or maintaining a constant speed. Drug-impaired drivers may be more easily distracted by their surroundings, both inside and outside the vehicle. These consequences are only magnified when alcohol is also present in their system. Drug-impaired drivers may show other signs of poor judgment, such as texting while driving or talking on a phone while driving, both of which are root causes of fatalities.

One's reaction to drugs can also evolve over time and can both escalate and de-escalate rapidly. Drugs can impact one's mood, vision, mental state, and even have physical effects on drivers.

Any of these factors can increase the number of accidents, injuries, or casualties on our roads. Legislated screening tools would allow our law enforcement officers to properly patrol our streets and allow them to remove dangerous drivers from the roads. The evidence from the screening devices would lead to higher conviction rates and would help raise awareness on this issue.

According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, just as many drivers die in road crashes while under the influence of drugs as those who are under the influence of alcohol. MADD has very similar statistics which demonstrate that, in 2016, there were 614 vehicle accident fatalities where drugs were present in the driver's system, compared to the 476 fatalities where alcohol was present in the driver's system. Looking at these numbers, drugs seem statistically more dangerous than alcohol.

Along the same lines as the MADD study, a roadside survey in British Columbia, conducted in 2012, collected voluntary saliva and breathalyzer samples from drivers. The final results indicated that 7.4% of the drivers were drug impaired and only 5.4% were alcohol impaired.

If we can agree that drug-impaired driving is more prevalent than alcohol-impaired driving and that drug-impaired driving causes a significant number of fatalities, should we not be legislating drug-impaired driving the same as or more severely than we legislate alcohol-impaired driving?

Logically, legislation preventing drug-impaired drivers from operating a vehicle would have a positive impact on our communities. As we near the date on which the Liberal government announces its marijuana legislation, we need to equip our law enforcement officers with the proper tools to keep us safe.

It is also important to remark that drug-impaired driving cases often take up to twice as long to be completed in court than their alcohol-impaired driving counterparts. Drug-impaired driving cases are also less likely to result in a guilty sentence.

The use of drugs while driving, or prior to driving, is on the rise and will only increase with the government's legislation. The statistics correlating drug-impaired driving with vehicle crashes are astounding. The crash rate of marijuana users is two to six times higher than it is for drivers who are not impaired. Drivers who test positive for the use of sedatives are two to eight times more likely to be involved in a fatal traffic crash. Drivers who test positive for the use of opioids are up to eight times more likely to be involved in a traffic accident, and drivers who are impaired by cocaine are two to 10 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash.

Legislation similar to Bill S-230 is already present across the globe. In the United States, several states that have legalized marijuana have also introduced legislation on its use while driving. Washington and Colorado have set their legal limit at five nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood, while Nevada and Ohio have a lower limit of two nanograms. Other states have declared zero-tolerance legislation. Determining what is safe will be difficult. I recommend leaving those measurements to the medical and law enforcement professionals.

Other countries with similar legislation include Australia, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, and the United Kingdom, and the list goes on. All of these countries have found value in legislation toward preventing drug-impaired driving. We are behind on this matter. As a country, we have an obligation to respond to this issue. I hope that a response is ready before we legalize the most commonly used illegal drug in our country.

To conclude, I am pleased to speak to this important and timely piece of legislation. As we move closer to the deadline, there are many issues that need to be addressed, including roadside testing of impaired drivers. I could list many others, and I am sure that when we come to debate, we will.

I am calling on the government to ensure the safety of our roads and of Canadians. We now have good tools available in the world to prove a level of impairment for alcohol. We could have the same for drugs. We need to equip our law enforcement officers with what they need to keep our roads safe.

The social movement against drinking and driving has been tremendous. I am hoping that a similar effort will be put into preventing drug-impaired driving in Canada.

Until we get screening technology across this country, we are going to continue to do a poor job of detecting drug-impaired drivers on our roads. As we lower the age and legalize marijuana, these young boys, who are most prevalent in terms of drug-impaired driving, will only increase in number. We need stronger rules, and we need to equip our law enforcement officers with the tools to enforce those rules more effectively.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

April 4th, 2017 / 6:45 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate today on Bill S-230. I would like to thank the leader of the opposition in the Senate for crafting this bill and shepherding it through the Senate, and also the member for Richmond—Arthabaska for bringing it forward in this House.

As the NDP critic for justice and the Attorney General, I have recommended to my caucus that we support this bill so that it can get further study at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. I also appreciate the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice for his remarks tonight. It is indeed heartening to all members in this House to see that with the government's plans for legalization and regulation of marijuana, there is a comprehensive approach forthcoming.

When this bill was brought forward and introduced to members in this House, it was accompanied by an extensive handout. I have recommended that we support this bill because I believe that we need to do everything we can to ensure Canadians are safe on the road. The statistics that were provided in that handout are quite illuminating. Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada found that there were 614 road fatalities in 2012 in which drivers had drugs present in their body, compared to 476 fatalities in which alcohol was present. Therefore, there is an obvious need for this.

That said, there are stakeholders who have been consulted on this bill, and some of them do have issues with it. We have heard from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, who support the principle of the bill, but they have looked at all of the different pieces of legislation that deal with this subject matter and they would rather see it combined into a coherent government strategy.

It is quite a coincidence that for the second private member's bill that we are debating tonight, Bill C-247, which dealt with passive detection devices, one of the recommendations was that the government needs to take a leading role to make sure that the Department of Justice and its resources are fully involved. When we look at the various private member's bills that deal with these issues, sometimes I think they concentrate on fixing individual trees rather than looking at the whole forest. That is one issue to take note of.

Of course, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, as I referenced in my question for the hon. member, has stated that there are problems. The organization would like to come to the parliamentary committee, but it believes that a piecemeal approach to this issue is not the way to move forward.

One of the issues in the bill is with the fact that there is no mention of a per se limit on THC. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice made mention of that. It is unclear as to how much THC, or indeed any kind of drugs, in a person's blood would need to be found to fine for impairment.

As was mentioned, cocaine is of course illegal to possess. We still do not know what the amounts are of that drug or of THC that can cause legal impairment as per the Criminal Code. I can compare it to blood alcohol content, just to explain for members what the per se limit is. Blood alcohol content of 0.05% or 0.08%, depending on the jurisdiction, is enough to move to prohibitions and to punishment.

It is important to stop impaired driving, but we want to make sure that have a clear definition of the amounts that constitute impairment. Different people of different weights will synthesize drugs in a different way, so we need to really lock down what that basic amount is that causes impairment.

We have been talking about the need for a comprehensive strategy. I am sure we will get new news on that in the following week, but one thing that we can point to is the extensively quoted Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation and the report that it issued.

The task force recommended many of the steps that I feel this bill does not cover, among them investing immediately and working with the provinces and territories to develop a national comprehensive public education strategy to send a clear message to Canadians that cannabis causes impairment, and that the best way to avoid driving impaired is simply not to consume beforehand. It also recommended investing in research to better link THC levels with impairment and crash risk to support the development of a per se limit.

It recommended to determine whether to establish a per se limit as a part of a comprehensive approach to cannabis-impaired driving, acting on the findings of the DDC; re-examine per se limits should a reliable correlation between THC levels and impairment be established; support the development of appropriate roadside drug screening device for detecting THC levels and invest in these tools; and finally, invest in baseline data collection and ongoing surveillance in evaluation and collaboration with the provinces and territories.

We are happy the comprehensive strategy will be developed in conjunction with the rollout of regulation and legalization of cannabis. Ultimately what Canadians primarily think that their members of Parliament should be doing is looking at ensuring public safety is a big part of our regulations and the laws that we develop, especially when something as revolutionary as cannabis legalization in Canada has a long history of prohibition and punishment. This will be quite a change for Canadian society. We want to ensure that is rolled out in a responsible manner and that we also look at the dangers to drug-impaired driving.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse states in its 2016 report that we must implement per se drug laws for certain substances as a part of that comprehensive approach to drug impaired driving. As was made mention, this includes the enhanced training of all police officers in the recognition of the signs and symptoms of drug use, a strong drug evaluation and classification program, and the implementation of a roadside oral fluid drug screening.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse from the United States states “that drivers with THC in their blood were roughly twice as likely to be culpable for a fatal crash”. However, THC can be detected in body fluids for days or even weeks after intoxication.

We do not want to get into that situation where someone has consumed something on a Friday and by Monday, he or she is no longer impaired. However, if it is still detected in a person's body, that is why it is so important to establish what the exact limits are, the exact amounts that cause that impairment.

With these facts in mind, we are glad a comprehensive program and approach to this problem will be rolled out so we do not miss the mark.

I have encouraged my caucus to support the bill. I believe, in principle, that it does deserve further study at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, just simply for the fact that impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death in Canada. It causes the death of more than 1,200 Canadians per year.

When it comes to supporting a bill that has this in mind, the principle of the bill, I will lend my support behind that. I hope all members will do the same.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

April 4th, 2017 / 6:35 p.m.
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Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

Bill Blair LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill S-230.

I would like to begin by expressing my very sincere appreciation to the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska for sponsoring this bill in the House to bring impaired driving to the attention of members for this important discussion. I would also like to express my respect and gratitude to the senator for Mille Isles, who sponsored the bill in the other place.

We can all agree that drug impaired driving is a serious and growing problem. Like alcohol and driving, drug driving is present in all age groups and socio-economic groups. It is seen particularly, but not exclusively, in young males in their twenties who are driving after smoking cannabis. Frequently, they combine this activity with the consumption of alcohol. The scientific evidence indicates this to be significantly more dangerous than driving after consuming alcohol alone or cannabis alone.

Impaired driving, whether by drugs or alcohol, is a serious crime. We are all too aware of the cases of death, injury, and property damage resulting from people who make the decision to drive while impaired. This is not a victimless crime but a crime that can quickly victimize other drivers on the road and the innocent without warning. The difficulty is that too many people seem to think that this will not happen to them and they go ahead and drive while impaired by a drug, or alcohol, or both. We need to become a society in which the attitude is to never drive while impaired by a drug or alcohol.

On that note, I am pleased to advise that our government is firmly committed to strengthening appropriate laws and enforcement measures to deter and punish serious offenders on the road.

While we support the intentions behind the Senate public bill, I know my friend from Cowichan—Malahat—Langford will be pleased to hear that the government will be bringing forward its own comprehensive response to the issue of drug-impaired driving as part of its approach to the legalization and strict regulation of cannabis, which we will bring forward in the spring of 2017.

The issues to be resolved in developing a comprehensive strategy to combat drug-impaired driving are complex, and it is far too difficult to address through amendments to the non-government Senate public bill.

On that note, the Department of Justice has requested the drugs and driving committee of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science, which is its scientific advisor on drug-impaired driving, to assess the validity of oral fluid drug screening technology. The drugs and driving committee has reported that the technology reliably detects tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in cannabis, as well as for cocaine, methamphetamines, and several opioids. The DDC is in the process of establishing evaluation standards that would be used to evaluate drug screening equipment submitted by manufacturers for the approval of the Attorney General of Canada for use by police across the country. The DDC's research and advice will help guide the government in designing a system of regulation built upon evidence-based policies and science.

However, oral fluid drug screeners alone are not a sufficient response, and Bill S-230 is simply not sufficiently comprehensive to address the very complex drug driving problem in a significant way. The final report of the federal Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation indicated that drug-impaired driving was a major concern for witnesses who appeared before the task force and suggested that the government address the matter of a cannabis “legal limit” for driving.

The difficulty is that Bill S-230 only proposes authorization for police to use an oral fluid drug screener at the roadside as a tool to investigate the existing crime of driving while impaired by a drug or a drug-alcohol combination.

Currently, there is no legal limit in the Criminal Code for a drug other than alcohol, and Bill S-230 proposes no drug legal limit offence. If enacted, this bill would provide police with a new drug screening tool that would only be used to investigate the existing offence of driving while impaired by a drug.

It is quite understandable that this bill, in its limitations, does not propose any drug legal limits for driving. The Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation itself chose to defer to the work being done by the drugs and driving committee of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science.

Therefore, I respectfully question the sense of Bill S-230 proposing oral fluid drug screeners without proposing some mechanism to create legal limit offences for drugs, at least for the most prevalent drugs found in drivers, which of course includes THC, the psychoactive ingredient that is present in cannabis.

The drug screener has a disposable, oral fluid collection kit and an analyzer phase. It checks for the presence of particular drugs in the oral fluid and not for impairment. The oral fluid drug screener would be used by police at the roadside under Bill S-230 for the sole and limited purpose of investigating the current drug impaired driving offence.

By contrast, in 2016 the United Kingdom adopted legislation that created legal limits for drugs and introduced oral fluid drug screeners at the same time that would aid in the investigation of the THC and cocaine legal limit offences. The media have reported that drug driving charges in the U.K. have increased about tenfold in the year following the implementation of that far more comprehensive and effective legislation.

In the U.K., as implied earlier, only two drugs are in the panel of drugs searched for by the oral fluid drug screener. They are THC, which is the active chemical in cannabis, and cocaine. These are the two drugs most prevalent as impairing drugs found in drivers.

Even if THC or cocaine is detected by the oral fluid drug screen, there is no criminal charge based on that evidence alone. What happens is that the UK police will demand a blood sample from the driver and it will be analyzed in a laboratory for drug concentration levels, including some drugs that are not detected by the drug screener. Only if blood analysis shows that the driver exceeded a UK drug “legal limit” will there be a “legal limit” charge.

Now, we all know that there is a vast array of other impairing drugs besides tetrahydrocannabinol and cocaine. Therefore, other investigative methods are needed for the drugs that are not searched for by the drug screener.

In Canada, Parliament enacted its Criminal Code reforms in 2008, which gave police a roadside drug screening tool that was used to investigate the offence of driving while impaired by a drug. If police officers have a reasonable suspicion of a drug in a driver's body, they may demand that the driver participate in standardized field sobriety testing, or SFST. This is physical testing and includes, for example, walking a line, turning, and doing a one-leg stand at the roadside.

After the SFST, if the driver has performed poorly, the police have reasonable grounds to believe that the driver committed the offence of driving while impaired by a drug, or a drug-alcohol combination. The police can then demand that the driver participate in a drug recognition evaluation, or DRE as it is commonly referred to in our country, conducted by a specially trained evaluating officer.

This officer checks vital signs, performance of physical tests, observations of eye movement and pupil size, and an alcohol breath test on an approved instrument. When I say approved instrument, that is approved and listed in regulations approved by the drugs and driving committee. If the evaluating officer identifies a class of drug as causing impairment, the driver is then given a demand to provide a bodily substance to be analyzed in a laboratory for the presence of a drug, either blood or urine.

Bill S-230 has an aspect that parallels the SFST because a positive result on the drug screener could lead to a demand that the driver participate in DRE at the police station. However, I do not believe that enacting authority for police to use a drug screener is sufficient, by itself, to address adequately the very serious problem of drug-impaired driving. It would be far more effective if coupled with legal limits of drugs in the system.

Hence, the government is firmly committed to bringing forward a comprehensive response to drug-impaired driving. I think we can all agree that Canadians would be better protected from impaired drivers, including those impaired by drugs, by this more comprehensive approach.

Unfortunately, Bill S-230, though well-intentioned, does not provide a workable, new, legal framework to address drug-impaired driving. Therefore, l would encourage all members to await the introduction of that more comprehensive bill, so this Parliament can bring forward a more adequate response.

In my experience, and I have considerable experience in keeping our roadways safe in the policing community, what the police and our prosecutors need is the legislation, technology, training, and resources necessary to keep our roads safe. We need to invest as well in greater public education so all our citizens can make safer and more socially responsible choices not to drink or use drugs and drive.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

April 4th, 2017 / 6:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

moved that Bill S-230, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (drug-impaired driving) be read a second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise in the House today to debate Bill S-230, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (drug-impaired driving). This bill is critically important in the effort to protect Canadians from the growing scourge of drug-impaired drivers who get behind the wheel. It is a matter that is becoming more pressing given the Liberals' plan to legalize marijuana.

I want to begin by thanking Senator Claude Carignan and his entire team who worked extremely hard on drafting this bill and had the vision to get out ahead of the House of Commons by introducing this legislation in the Senate last year. I also want to take this opportunity to commend the work of all the senators who studied this bill and passed it unanimously. That is the collaborative, constructive, and non-partisan approach that I hope to see here in the House for this bill.

In fact, this bill seeks to amend the Criminal Code to authorize police officers to use a drug screening device, not unlike a breathalyser, which is not possible under current legislation.

To clearly explain the problem, I will talk about a study on drug-impaired driving conducted by the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse. The centre published a report indicating that the percentage of Canadian drivers fatally injured in vehicle crashes who had taken drugs is 40% and exceeds the percentage of drivers fatally injured who had consumed alcohol, which is 33%. Furthermore, this study indicated that a driver who has used marijuana is six times more likely to have a motor vehicle accident than a sober driver. After using opioids, a driver is eight times more likely to have an accident, and after using cocaine is 10 times more likely to have an accident.

Therefore, it is obvious today that drug-impaired driving is an issue that is just as important if not more so than drunk driving. It would be understandable to believe that the number of arrests of drug-impaired drivers is similar to the number of arrests of drunk drivers. That is not the case and that is where the real problem lies.

In Canada, despite the fact that the number of drug-impaired drivers is about the same as the number of drunk drivers, the number of arrests is not. According to the Government of Canada, in 2013, 97% of prosecutions for impaired driving were alcohol related, while only 3% were drug related. This is completely out of line with the real statistics. Why?

Simply because there is currently no roadside screening device to detect drug-impaired driving. For example, as we all know, police officers who suspect a driver of being under the influence of alcohol can easily ask that person to take a blood alcohol test to check his or her level of intoxication. However, a police officer who believes that a driver is on drugs cannot use such a device because current legislation just does not allow it.

Here is how Canada's Criminal Code works now. If a police officer suspects a driver is impaired, he or she administers an initial blood alcohol test. If the individual's test result is negative, but the police officer has reason to believe that the driver is under the influence of a drug, the officer can ask the suspect to take the standardized field sobriety test. In other words, the person is simply instructed to walk, turn around, and balance on one foot.

Based on the results of the roadside test, the officer decides whether to take the suspect to the police station for evaluation by a drug recognition expert. If the driver is taken to the police station, he or she will undergo a series of 12 clinical indicator tests including blood pressure, pulse, and pupil dilation, as well as other tests related to behaviour and divided attention, such as standing up straight, feet together, arms extended, eyes closed, balancing, and so on. The tests take 45 minutes.

After these tests, if a drug recognition expert detects the presence of a drug, he or she will require a urine or blood sample. If the tests confirm the presence of the drug in question after a lab analysis, the driver could be charged with impaired driving under the Criminal Code and will stand trial.

That being said, in the absence of a device similar to a breathalyzer that would allow police officers to easily determine at the side of the road whether or not a driver is impaired by marijuana, the process is far too complex, not to mention the cumbersome administrative procedure that follows. More worrisome yet is that not every police station in Canada has a drug recognition expert. We hope to have one, or two at most, per police station in Canada.

Without a screening device to help easily and quickly detect errant drivers, the problem of drug-impaired driving will persist and continue to be the cause of countless deaths in Canada. That is why Bill S-230 is timely because it addresses this problem directly by making the necessary amendments to the Criminal Code.

First of all, Bill S-230 will give the Attorney General of Canada, and not the government or any political parties, the power to authorize the use of certain roadside screening devices to detect the presence of drugs in the body. The device would be approved by the Attorney General of Canada based on consultations with forensic science experts. The same process is already used to approve alcohol detection devices.

Furthermore, under this bill, a police officer who has reasonable ground to suspect drug-impaired driving can ask the driver to submit to a test using a drug screening device. The device would not be used without reasonable grounds. This approach is similar to the one used when impaired driving is suspected. This is no different than what police officers already do in the case of alcohol.

Lastly, in obvious cases of drug-impaired driving, a police officer could ask for a urine or blood sample at the police station without having to go through the 12 stages, since the evaluating officer will have already done the test with the screening device. This last part of the bill means that the physical coordination test, observations, and results from the screening device would give the police officer reasonable grounds to suspect impaired driving.

I was lucky enough to speak with a senior official at the school that trains police officers in Quebec. I can assure the House that the current approach is very complex and that there are not enough evaluation officers to meet the demand. The screening device would be welcomed with open arms and would be an additional tool that would allow officers to save precious time. These changes would essentially help make drug detection closer to how alcohol is detected, thanks to the use of a screening device. This process would allow police officers to detect impaired driving more quickly.

Time is an important factor when drugs are involved. The more quickly a driver is stopped, the more quickly we can determine his exact state of intoxication because drugs are quickly absorbed by the body.

It is also worth noting that Canada is not the first country to adopt this approach. In fact, Australia, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, France, Finland, Germany and several other western countries that are not even considering legalizing marijuana have been using this tool for about ten years. In these countries, this device allows police officers to better do their jobs and to prevent many accidents and deaths. Ultimately, public safety is improved and lives are saved.

Even more important, the use of this kind of drug detection device by police would deter drivers who are thinking of driving their vehicle after using drugs. At present, many people use drugs instead of alcohol because they believe their chances of being caught are lower.

That being said, if the introduction of a drug screening device increases the chances that users will be caught, it will likely have a deterrent effect and reduce the number of drug-impaired drivers. That is what happened when breathalysers were introduced to test alcohol levels. Although awareness campaigns and education are important, the risk of being arrested and charged with a criminal offence for endangering the safety of the public is certainly more convincing than an ad on television.

This evening, I invite those who are watching to talk to their teenagers and ask them what their friends think about drug-impaired driving. Surveys of teenagers and marijuana users show that many people do not believe that they are a threat on the road if they drive after taking drugs. The various studies that have been done show that over 50% of people who admit to using marijuana or other drugs say that they do not consider themselves to be a risk or danger to the public on the road.

This bill is necessary and will address a very real problem. I hardly need to point out that the Liberal government's bill to legalize marijuana by July 1, 2018, makes this issue and the need for this law all the more pressing. As alarming as the numbers are now, we can imagine how much more so they will be once Canadians can legally buy, grow, and use marijuana. It is not a stretch to suppose that the number of people using it and the number of drug-impaired drivers will go up. That is what happened in places that legalized marijuana. I would like to share some examples.

According to Washington State toxicology lab manager Brian Capron, since the state legalized marijuana, over a third of impaired drivers tested positive for the drug. They test over 13,000 drivers every year.

According to Dr. Chris Rumball of the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, the Prime Minister's plan to legalize marijuana should take into account sobering U.S. experiences. In Washington State, fatal crashes among drivers who tested positive for marijuana doubled from 8% in 2013 to 17% in 2014 after legalization. In Colorado, the number tripled from 3.4% to 12.1%

Kevin Sabet, a former drug policy advisor to Barack Obama, was very clear. He said that Colorado experienced an increase in road accidents directly related to marijuana use.

Even a Department of Justice Canada document obtained through access to information, even though it is hard to access certain documents, reveals some troubling facts. Here is what the minister's briefing notes say: “On Colorado highways, for instance, in the year following the legalization of marijuana, road fatalities linked to drug-impaired driving increased by 32%.” We do not make things up on this side of the House.

Colorado police officers have also issued a warning. They have said that law enforcement officials should be prepared for an increase in drug-impaired driving if the government legalizes cannabis. When Colorado legalized marijuana in 2014, police forces were not prepared for the challenges they faced.

A lieutenant colonel of the Colorado state police hit the nail on the head. After legalizing marijuana, Colorado was not prepared to deal with the sharp rise in drug-impaired driving, and this led to a 32% increase in fatalities in that state due to road accidents.

The bill has already been passed in the Senate and it could become law in a few months, perhaps in a few weeks, if the government so desires. If we wait for another bill to make the same changes, we will delay the implementation of these measures that will prevent fatalities.

Police forces are asking for detection devices. They do not want these devices on July 1, 2018, they want them this year before the government legalizes marijuana.

For that reason we need this bill now. That is why I am asking my colleagues opposite to put aside partisanship and support this bill, which will save lives.

March 20th, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

I'll move a motion that both of these items, Bill C-338 and Bill S-230, are constitutional and votable.

March 20th, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

I'll just quickly comment and thank the analyst for his comments.

On Mr. Saroya's bill, the government would agree that there are no constitutional or jurisdictional issues. It's very similar to his previous Bill C-324 in the sense that it's an act that proposes to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, but it deals with different sections than Bill C-37, which is currently before the House. We would agree that there are no constitutional or jurisdictional issues.

On the Senate bill sponsored by Mr. Carignan, Bill S-230, an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding drug-impaired driving, I believe there is a similar bill before the House, Bill C-226, but the bills deal with substantively different frameworks and issues. Therefore, from the perspective of the government, it does not meet the criterion regarding a similar piece of legislation before the House, which was set out by a ruling from Speaker Fraser. From our perspective, the bills are not substantively the same; therefore, the matter is constitutional and votable.

March 20th, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
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Alexandre Lavoie Committee Researcher

Thank you.

Today you have two bills to look at. First is Bill S-230, which is a Senate bill. For the Senate bill, I want to remind the committee that the only criterion that applies is that no similar bills have been voted on by the House during the current session. I've looked at the bill and there doesn't seem to be an issue with it.

The second bill is Bill C-338, which is Mr. Saroya's bill. Following our last meeting, I looked at his bill and I didn't see anything that should be an issue with regard to the criterion.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

February 9th, 2017 / 10 a.m.
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Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill S-230, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (drug-impaired driving).

Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to rise in the House today to introduce my first bill as the member for Richmond—Arthabaska, Bill S-230, an act to amend the Criminal Code (drug-impaired driving), which was first introduced by Senator Claude Carignan.

This bill authorizing police officers to use a screening device to detect drug-impaired driving will save many lives. I am asking all of my colleagues to set partisanship aside and support this bill as it moves through the legislative process in the House of Commons.

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

October 18th, 2016 / 11:10 a.m.
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Markita Kaulius President, Families For Justice

Dear honourable members of the justice and human rights committee, thank you for inviting me here today.

My name is Markita Kaulius, and I am the president of the Families for Justice society. Families for Justice is a non-profit organization made up of parents, family members, and supporters who have all had a child or loved one killed by an impaired driver in Canada.

My 22-year-old daughter, Kassandra Kaulius, was killed by an impaired driver on May 3, 2011. She was killed in a catastrophic collision, and was T-boned and crushed to death. She was struck on the driver's side door at 103 kilometres per hour by an impaired driver speeding through a red light at an intersection. My daughter was driving home after coaching a softball game and had the right-of-way to make a left turn. Kassandra lost her life because an impaired driver made the choice to drink and drive while being impaired. My world and that of my family was changed forever.

Impaired driving is the number one criminal cause of death in Canada, and every year impaired drivers leave a terrible trail of death, destruction, heartbreak, and injury. From the point of view of numbers alone, it has a far greater impact on Canadian society than any other crime. When it comes to the deaths and serious injuries resulting in hospitalization, impaired driving is clearly the crime that causes the most significant social loss to our country.

Research shows that drinking alcohol is the third highest factor for global disease in 2010, moving up from being ranked sixth in 1990.

When health and social costs for deaths, injuries, and damage are totalled, the costs related to impaired driving, including with alcohol and drugs, were estimated at over $20.6 billion a year in 2010 alone.

Among psychoactive drugs, alcohol-related disorders were the top cause of hospitalization in 2011. Globally, alcohol was linked to over three million deaths in 2012, slightly more than lung cancer and HIV combined.

The numbers of impaired driving incidents have fluctuated over many years, reaching a low of more than 76,000 incidents in 2006, before increasing again to a high of more than 86,000 in 2009. More recently, the number of reported impaired driving incidents was more than 72,000 in 2014.

Over the last 30 years, we have had education and awareness campaigns through advertising to educate the public, yet we still continue to see impaired driving as the number one criminal cause of death in Canada. On average, we're losing the lives of 1,250 to 1,500 people per year in Canada. On average, over 60,000 people are injured in a crime that is 100% preventable.

These figures work out to the deaths of four to six people a day, and 175 people injured each day. The destruction to families is life changing and permanent. Many families never recover from the loss of their child or loved one.

The proposed legislation responds to serious consequences expressed by various law enforcement agencies, experts, and victims organizations, including Families for Justice, who have been urging the government to improve law enforcement's capacity to detect drug- and alcohol-impaired driving.

While this legislation is important for the passive detection device, there is compelling evidence that illegal drug use and impaired driving results in impaired cognitive function, slower reaction times, difficulty concentrating, drowsiness, disoriented feelings, difficulty judging distances and making decisions, problems staying in one lane, greater difficulty maintaining a constant speed, and in having an increased collision risk. Under the current legislation, the Criminal Code does not grant the police the authority to obtain bodily samples from drivers, unless a police officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that a driver has consumed alcohol.

A passive detection device could detect alcohol in the ambient air, which would allow officers to use a non-invasive procedure to test for the presence of alcohol by simply placing the device near the driver's face when he or she is speaking. This new method would not only empower police officers to better identify impaired drivers, but it would also have a deterrent effect and play a major role in reducing the number of impaired drivers who are choosing to get behind the wheel after drinking, despite the laws and deterrents that are already in place.

Drug-impaired driving is also a growing problem that largely goes unreported because of the lack of roadside measurement devices. Of all impaired driving charges, 97% are for alcohol and only 3% are for drugs. The situation will become more catastrophic if and when marijuana is legalized.

There need to be limits set on intoxication similar to those with alcohol. A 0.08 blood limit in alcohol is well known and is recognized in science-based evidence. This does not exist for marijuana. Alcohol and drugs can affect drivers' safety by impairing vehicle control and judgment. The police need consistent, strong, and fair enforcement measures to ensure that the increased use of alcohol and drugs does not impact road safety. Drivers who get behind the wheel while being impaired put themselves and everyone else at risk.

According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, in 2010, nearly as many drivers died in road crashes using drugs, at 34.2%, as those who had been drinking, at 39.1% .

In Canada, in 2012, there were 614 road fatalities where drivers had drugs present in their system, compared to 476 fatalities where alcohol was present. A change to the Criminal Code would allow the use of approved roadside screening devices to ascertain the presence of alcohol in the body of a person operating a vehicle. Currently, there are devices used in Australia and the European Union countries where police use roadside oral drug screening tests to detect the presence of drugs.

Drug-impaired numbers are under-reported because of the limited tools available for law enforcement to quickly detect the presence of drugs in the body. This leads to drug-impaired drivers often bypassing tests due to the inability of drug recognition experts, time restrictions on the tests, and second-guessing the presence of drugs in a driver, all leading to under-reporting of drug-impaired driving.

Roadside oral screening detection devices offer objective and time-efficient alternatives for the most commonly used illicit drugs.

Senator Claude Carignan has recently brought forward Bill S-230 for the addition of a drug detection device to aid the police in their duties in detecting drug-impaired drivers. This bill amends the Criminal Code to authorize the use of approved screening devices, as well, to detect the presence of drugs in the body of a person who is operating a vehicle or who had care and control of a vehicle. It also authorizes the taking of samples of bodily substances to determine the concentration of drugs in a person's body based on physical coordination tests and the results of analysis conducted using an approved screening device.

Adding a drug recognition device would also allow samples of bodily substances, be it oral fluid, blood, or urine, as required, to be taken to determine the amount of a drug in a driver's system based on the analysis with an approved screening device.

I wanted to mention that recently there were two very high-profile cases in the news where four members from two separate families were killed by impaired drivers.

On September 27, 2015, the Neville-Lake family from Vaughan, Ontario, lost their three children, Daniel, age 9, Harrison, age 5, and Milly, age 2, along with their grandfather Gary Neville. His wife and mother-in-law were seriously injured.

On January 2, 2016, the Van de Vorst family from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, lost their son, Jordan, and his wife Chanda, and their two grandchildren, Kamryn, age 5, and Miguire, age 2.

Both families were wiped out by impaired drivers who were twice over the legal limit to drive.

Sadly, many impaired drivers know there is still a chance they will not get caught when driving impaired and they continue to take a chance, get behind the wheel, and risk their own safety, and the safety of other drivers and pedestrians. The deterrent effect of the passive detection devise, as proposed in Bill C-247, would possibly prevent these types of collisions.

The impaired drivers in each of those collisions received a sentence of 10 years, which sounds like a long time, but that equates to about two and a half years per person's death. Take time off for good behaviour and early parole, and out of that 10-year sentence they will actually serve about two years or less for killing four people in each family. That works out to about six months in jail served per death.

On average, convicted impaired drivers are being given a two- to three-year sentence for causing a death in Canada, but the reality is the actual amount of time being served is a mere five to nine months out of a two- to three-year sentence. These types of sentences let Canadians know that they can drink and they can drive while being impaired, and if they kill someone in Canada they'll only receive a minimal sentence for taking an innocent life.

Admissions to provincial sentenced custody for impaired driving are more likely to be intermittent sentences than admissions for other offences. The most common sentence was the payment of a fine. About one in 10 received a prison sentence with a median of 33 days. That's all. Of all admissions to provincial sentenced custody for impaired driving, about four in 10 were sentences to be served intermittently. An intermittent sentence allows the person sentenced to custody to serve their sentences in separate time periods, usually on weekends. About four in 10, roughly 41% of admissions to provincial sentenced custody for impaired driving in 2010-11 were intermittent sentences, compared to 15% for all other offences.

Correctional Service Canada, which is responsible for inmates sentenced to two or more years of custody, reported just 70 admissions for impaired driving for 2010-11. This represented about 1% of all the admissions to sentenced custody to Correctional Service Canada.

Over the last five years we have seen sentences of anywhere between one day in jail, a $1,500 fine, to seven weekends in jail, to 90 days to be served on weekends only. All of these sentences were given out to people who were convicted of impaired driving causing a death. With criminal sentences like these, they sadly have become case-setting precedents for future court cases. These are absolutely no deterrent.

We believe that if a death is involved, there should be a minimum mandatory sentence of six years for causing a vehicular homicide. Those who lost their loved ones were given a lifetime sentence of being without their children and loved ones. The people who died were given a death sentence. The impaired drivers who caused these deaths are only serving a few months in jail for taking the lives of innocent people and changing the lives of families forever.

Currently in Canada, if you're convicted of causing the death of another person by using a gun or a knife, you will receive a jail sentence of seven to 10 years. Why are people who are killing someone by impaired driving serving sentences of so much less? Many vehicles in the hands of an impaired driver become a lethal weapon. A speeding vehicle in the hands of an impaired driver is like holding a 2,000-pound to 3,000-pound weapon between their hands, and a vehicle driven by an impaired driver does far more damage than a knife or a gun ever would.

These are no accidents. There are no accidents. These are collisions. Accidents happen due to mechanical failure or weather conditions. Impaired driving is a choice made by reckless individuals who make the decision to put others at risk on our roadways. What is required now is the modernization of our existing impaired driving laws, where those who commit these crimes of impaired driving causing collisions which result in injuries or deaths of innocent people will be held accountable for their actions.

Families For Justice have submitted over 117,000 names on a petition to the federal government of Canada. The petition is signed by Canadian citizens who are asking the government to implement tougher new impaired driving laws. In speaking with thousands of Canadians over the last five years, they also want to see longer prison sentences given out, based on the severity of the crime. We hope through tougher impaired driving laws this will be an added deterrent for the public. It will let Canadians know that if they choose to drink and drive and they cause a collision while being impaired, they will be held accountable for their actions and there will be serious consequences.

Bill C-247 also renames the offence of impaired driving causing death as “vehicular homicide as a result of impairment”. This bill calls the crimes what they truly are, vehicular homicides. A conviction should reflect the seriousness and the risks that accompany the decision to get behind the wheel, while preserving judicial discretion for judges.

There have been various transportation-related provisions to the Criminal Code that have been developed over many decades in response to specific incidents, scientific advances, and court decisions particularly relating to impaired driving. This approach has resulted in some of the inconsistencies, such as how offenders are sentenced following the conviction for impaired driving.

While some reforms have strengthened measures to combat impaired driving, they have also added to the complexity of the Criminal Code, which has affected the efficiency of investigations, prosecutions, and sentencing.

The proposed legislation would amend the Criminal Code to resolve inconsistencies and increase certain penalties to reflect the seriousness of the conduct.

Families for Justice supports the passing of Bill C-247. I hope everyone will support this bill. I recognize the need for the committee to assess the practical implications of this change to the law to ensure that the bill achieves its policy goals and ensures clarity in the Criminal Code.

We believe that police officers need to be given added tools to do their job and assist them in being able to keep Canadians safer and impaired drivers off the road. We believe that the initiative, which would increase the safety of our roads through a non-invasive procedure, should move forward.

Bill C-247, an act to amend the Criminal Code of Canada, stands before you. It is an extremely important bill and you have the opportunity to make one of the most important decisions on the future laws of Canada. Bill C-247 will address the scope of the law and ensure that you not only have concrete laws against impaired driving, but also practical and effective ways of implementing those laws.

Today I urge each of you to look at what you can do to make communities in Canada safer. People deserve the right to their life and to get home safely at the end of the day without the worry of being hit by an impaired driver or killed.

In the interest of public safety for all Canadians, I ask that you support Bill C-247 and implement the passive detection device, as statistics show that we need tougher impaired driving laws in Canada.

Thank you.