An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (trafficking in human organs)

This bill was previously introduced in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session.

Status

Second reading (House), as of June 18, 2021

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Summary

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

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to create new offences in relation to trafficking in human organs. It also amends the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to provide that a permanent resident or foreign national is inadmissible to Canada if the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is of the opinion that they have engaged in any activities relating to trafficking in human organs.

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 CodePrivate Members' Business

June 18th, 2021 / 1:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, Bill S-204 would make it a criminal offence for a person to go abroad and receive an organ without consent. It fights the horrific practice of forced organ harvesting and trafficking.

I am not going to speak much about the bill because everyone already knows this bill should pass. This bill has already passed the Senate twice and the House once, unanimously. This bill started out as a Liberal bill under Borys Wrzesnewskyj and Irwin Cotler.

The question today is not on the substance of the bill. The question is about whether the government is committed to doing what it knows to be the right thing and allowing this bill to pass, or whether it will prevent the bill from passing. If this bill passes now, then the House can immediately resume consideration of the government's budget, so the government can either support that to happen, or we can spend the hour talking, delaying both this bill and the budget bill.

Therefore, I would like to seek the consent of the House for the following motion. I move that notwithstanding any Standing Order, special order or usual practice of the House, at the conclusion of today's debate on Bill S-204, the bill be deemed to have been read a second time and referred to a committee of the whole, deemed considered in a committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage and deemed read a third time and passed.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 18th, 2021 / 1:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal Humber River—Black Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have been following the debates all week and many of my colleagues have used their time in their interventions to acknowledge the wonderful work that various people have done.

I very much support Bill S-204.

As members know, we had a late night last night. We were voting on the main estimates to approve the necessary programs that were going to make a difference in all Canadians' lives, programs that would help get people back on their feet after surviving this global pandemic. It has not been easy, but we have been there for Canadians.

It is my hope that in the coming days, when we deal with bills like Bill S-204, we will see the swift passage of bills like Bill C-30 and other important pieces of legislation, which still need to be addressed, so we can ensure that the supports needed to help Canadians through the final stages of this pandemic are in place. That is why we are all here in this place. We do not need to be told by other colleagues that if we want to get Bill C-30 passed, we have to turn around and get some other bill passed. That is not the way democracy works.

We are to represent our constituents and make a positive difference, and I believe Bill S-204 would make a big difference in the lives of many people.

Bill S-204, formally known as Bill S-240, passed both in the House and in the other place in 2019. I was very proud to be one of the persons, along with my colleagues, who passed this important bill. I appreciate the fact that my colleague has raised this issue, brought it back and continues to move it forward, because it is a very important bill.

Unfortunately, Bill S-240 never became law due to the dissolution of the House before the federal election. That happened to many good pieces of legislation. It is long overdue that this Parliament pass legislation like Bill S-204, dealing with a practice that we all are appalled to know continues in spite of many of us calling for the abolition of it. We know it continues on many days and in many countries.

Similar bills have been sitting in Parliament for over 12 years, during which time many innocent lives have perished due to the organ transplant trade, something we all find completely appalling. Two previous private members' bills were tabled by my former colleague, the former member for Etobicoke Centre, and my life-long friend, someone we all love and respect, the Hon. Irwin Cotler.

I am the chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Falun Gong and I am all too familiar with the issue of organ harvesting and how this bill could help put an end to this horrific practice. I have seen many pictures and talked to people who have had their family go through this terrible process.

Bill S-204 proposes to amend the Criminal Code to create new offences in relation to trafficking in human organs. The bill also would amend the Criminal Code to enable Canada to assume extraterritorial jurisdiction to prosecute, and that is very important. There is no sense having legislation if we do not put teeth in it. We need that ability to prosecute, in Canada, Canadian citizens or permanent residents who commit any of the proposed offences abroad.

I was recently told about number of Canadians who were going abroad, specifically to China, and getting kidney transplants and different things done. I would like to ask Canadians, before they do that, to think about where those organs come from. This would make it an offence for any Canadian to go abroad to take advantage of that.

It would also amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to provide that permanent residents or foreign nationals would be inadmissible to Canada if the responsible person were of the opinion that they have engaged in any of these activities relating to trafficking in human organs. Imagine that for $5,000, someone can get a transplant, never asking where that organ came from.

Our government is committed to ensuring our criminal justice system keeps communities safe, protects victims and holds offenders to account. We condemn the illegal and exploitative trade of human organs in the strongest of terms, and that was shown in the previous vote on Bill S-240, and will be on this one as well. We continue to have very strong feelings on things like this, as I believe all Canadians do.

Organ trafficking, the practice of extracting organs through coercive means to sell them for profit, is absolutely reprehensible and it is a global challenge, not just the challenge we are talking about today, which frequently involves the exploitation of vulnerable individuals. It is a complex issue that requires both legislative and policy responses. Our government is proud to support this important bill, with targeted amendments that would make it better to achieve its objectives.

I very much look forward to seeing its passage by Parliament contrary to what my colleagues seemed to indicate earlier. This a bill that we all want to pass and then have very strong enforcement to end human trafficking in organ transplants.

If I do not get another opportunity to do so, I wish everyone a blessed summer and I will see everyone in September.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 18th, 2021 / 1:55 p.m.
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NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise in support of Bill S-204. The bill would prevent the illegal harvesting and trafficking of human organs, penalize Canadians who participate in or facilitate the illegal black market for organ harvesting and deter people from getting involved in this immoral and unregulated industry that is loaded with illegal businesses. This illicit and illegal organ-harvesting industry is hurting vulnerable people across the world. A global shortage of organs has driven this illegal industry, which relies on low-income populations as donors and wealthy foreigners as recipients. It is illegal and immoral. It is an industry that preys on some of the most vulnerable people across the world. We have to recognize that this demand is fed by wealthier nations and individuals.

According to experts, the illicit trafficking of organs on the black market has grown exponentially as demand has grown and supply has become more limited. Who are the victims of this illicit trade? As is mostly the case with the trafficking of organs, they tend to be the poor, who are vulnerable and exposed to exploitation. They are commonly refugees living in terrible and unsafe conditions. They are often told they will get large sums of money or released from debt. Specifically in the case of kidneys, the most commonly harvested organ from living donors, recruiters will even tell victims that the kidneys will grow back. These victims are desperate and seen as easy prey for exploitation.

The perpetrators who are often implicit in the trafficking of organs include a wide array of people, from the recruiters who identify the vulnerable victims, the transporters, the staff working at the clinic or hospital, the medical professionals who carry out the surgery and the wealthy westerners who buy these organs. There is a whole chain of people who end up profiting from this horrific crime.

Just over the border in the United States, over 114,000 people are on the organ waiting list with a new person added every 10 minutes. The World Health Organization estimates that 10,000 kidneys are traded on the black market worldwide annually. That is more than one every hour. We just cannot go on like this. It is completely unacceptable and we as members of Parliament have to do something about it. This is the fourth—

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 18th, 2021 / 2:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise to speak to this bill today. Before I do that, I want to address some of the observations I have had from the debate so far today.

The member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan took the floor, introduced the subject, talked a little about it and then said he wanted to move that we vote on it. If a minister had brought forward a bill, even a bill that he or she knew the House would definitely support, can members imagine the outrage that would have come from the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, in particular? It has happened on a number of occasions.

That is what this is about. This is about letting all members have the opportunity to speak to these very important pieces of legislation.

To my colleague from the Bloc, I cannot remember his riding, but I am pretty sure that when he was speaking, his famous father was actually in the background of his shot at one point, which I thought was pretty cool by the way. I would say the same thing to him. The Bloc had an opportunity to speak to this. The member had an opportunity to speak to this. Then he tried to move the same motion again.

I am more concerned about why opposition parties seem not to want to allow Liberal government members to speak to this. The member for Courtenay—Alberni, with all due respect, spoke for almost a full 10 minutes, and then shamed other people for wanting to speak. His party has 24 seats in the House, and he occupied a full 10 minutes of the 60 minutes of debate.

I find it very troubling when, especially on the motion that we are talking about, someone could come forward and say, “Here are all my thoughts. Now let us vote.” To the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, the manner in which he clearly went about doing this and getting this legislation to be voted on very quickly, perhaps the opposition could have picked somebody to run that exercise who could have perhaps shown more diligence or respect for the process? They could work with parties, talk to the parties beforehand and say, “This is what we want to do. Would you consider asking your members to limit how much they speak so we could do this? Is that a possibility? If not, are there other concessions we could make?”

We could have had a discussion and tried to negotiate. I had my speech ready to go here when I found out I might not have the opportunity to speak to this. I just think that if the opposition was genuine in really wanting this to pass, and we have seen it before, it would have used resources differently. It is almost as though they wanted this reaction from the government, so that it could say, “See? This is such a great bill and nobody else wants it to pass.”

I am very happy with the work that this bill has gone through, both in this House and in the other place, and that it is back before the House. If we do not specifically wrap it up now, we will have an opportunity to continue it in the fall. It is important. Now I want to turn to my prepared notes because I know I will run out of time if I do not.

Bill S-204 proposes a number of reforms that would target trafficking in human organs. We know that trafficking in human organs is a transnational, global challenge. This heinous crime involves the exploitation of the poor and vulnerable living in under-resourced developing countries. International estimates indicate that organ trafficking nets between $600 million and $1.2 billion U.S. annually in illegal profits.

Generally, wealthier individuals, often from developed countries, drive demand for organs, and the supply of organs usually comes from developing regions of South America, Asia, Africa, India and China. Bill S-204 seeks to end organ trafficking by creating organ trafficking-specific indictable Criminal Code offences. The bill's proposed offences would prohibit obtaining an organ or otherwise taking part in the removal of an organ without the informed consent of the person from whom it was being removed. These offences criminalize organ trafficking-related conduct when there is evidence that organs were extracted through this coercive process.

The bill would also create an indictable Criminal Code offence that would prohibit obtaining an organ, or otherwise taking part in the removal of an organ that is obtained for financial consideration. This transactional offence would criminalize organ trafficking-related conduct where there is evidence that organs were purchased.

Furthermore, the bill would ensure that Canadians and permanent residents of Canada were not able to escape criminal liability by going abroad to commit these offences. We have heard why it is so important that it be part of this. I listened to what the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan said at the beginning. Based on his comments, this is why that is so important.

The bill would achieve this goal by enabling Canadian prosecution of Canadians and permanent residents of Canada who commit any of the proposed offences abroad. This reform, together with the bill's financial transaction offences, criminalizes transplant tourism, which involves buying organs abroad.

The bill would also create a new category of inadmissibility to Canada for foreign nationals and permanent residents who engage in organ trafficking conduct. Specifically, it would amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to make those who engage in the conduct prohibited by this bill inadmissible under the provisions that apply when foreign nationals and permanent residents have violated human or international rights, for example by committing war crimes or crimes against humanity.

Vulnerable people who have organs extracted coercively or who sell their organs out of financial desperation deserve the protection of criminal law. As I have explained, these are reforms that would achieve that goal by creating specific organ trafficking Criminal Code offences that apply extraterritorially.

Currently, the Criminal Code prohibits conduct related to coercive organ removal through its human trafficking offences, which apply extraterritorially, and its assault offences, which do not. However, this can be difficult to prove, particularly when a person is coerced into doing this overseas or is led overseas to do it.

The bill's financial transaction offence would provide extra protection for the vulnerable by criminalizing anyone engaged in conduct that involves the commercialization of organs. This includes those who extract organs for profit, those who facilitate the extraction of organs for profit and those who buy organs for their own use regardless of evidence of these practices taking place. The offence would address the demand that fuels organ trafficking. There is no doubt that organ trafficking is a serious global problem that harms the most vulnerable. It is a problem that requires a comprehensive and effective response.

In Canada, organ transplantation is governed by a legislative framework that encompasses both health and criminal law. Provincial and territorial human tissue gift statutes regulate organ donation. They contain regulatory offences that prohibit the sale, purchase or dealing in any human tissues or organs outside the applicable regulated framework. The applicable provincial and territorial legal framework has never allowed for the commercialization of organs, but these regulatory measures do not apply extraterritorially.

Ongoing efforts to increase legitimate organ donation in Canada complement these reforms. Since 2018, Health Canada has been leading an initiative called the organ donation and transplantation collaborative with provinces and territories, Canadian Blood Services, patients, families, clinical and administrative stakeholders, and researchers. The collaborative's goal is to achieve organ donation improvements that result in better patient outcomes and increase the number and quality of successful transplantations.

As I have indicated, we need to protect the vulnerable against those who are engaging in criminal activity, particularly those who are subject to that criminal activity. We need to protect those who might be interested in selling an organ out of financial hardship. A motion such as this that comes through both Houses, here and the other place, will truly assist in making this activity much more challenging for those who want to do it illegally.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 18th, 2021 / 2:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

I would like to seek the consent of the House for a motion that would allow every member, who so wishes, to speak and still expedite passage of this bill.

I would like to seek the consent of the House for the following motion.

I move that, notwithstanding any Standing Order, special order or usual practice of the House, the House shall sit beyond the ordinary hour of daily adjournment to consider and dispose of Bill S-204 as follows: the member currently speaking, as well as all members of the government caucus may speak for not more than 10 minutes on the second reading motion; and when every member of the government has spoken or when no member rises to speak, whichever is earlier, Bill S-204 shall be deemed to have been read a second time and referred to a committee of the whole, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage and deemed read a third time and passed. When Bill S-204 has been read a third time and passed, the House shall adjourn to the next sitting day.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 18th, 2021 / 2:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Randeep Sarai Liberal Surrey Centre, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to join the second reading debate on Bill S-204, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (trafficking in human organs), which came to us on May 10, after having passed in the other place.

This important bill proposes to protect vulnerable persons who have organs extracted through exploitation of their vulnerabilities by creating new Criminal Code offences targeting organ trafficking-related conduct that would apply extra-territorially, including a financial transaction offence that would criminalize transplant tourism, a practice that involves purchasing organs abroad, usually in under-resourced countries; and amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to make foreign nationals or permanent residents of Canada who engage in conduct that would constitute an offence under one of the bill's proposed organ trafficking offences be inadmissible to Canada for having violated human or international rights.

International research indicates that traffickers may coerce vulnerable victims into giving up an organ and that organ donors often come from less wealthy nations. That is why organ trafficking affects certain populations disproportionately. Patients from wealthy countries travel abroad to obtain organs from donors in impoverished countries who may suffer from desperate poverty and may feel the need to sell their organs out of financial desperation.

Donors may also be deceived by traffickers into trading their organs for money that may not be paid at the end of the surgery. This exploitation of extreme poverty in certain parts of the world, for example in North Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and Central America, drives organ trafficking.

In addition to the abuses I have just noted, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reports that “In cases of trafficking in persons for organ removal, victims may be recruited through deception, [and may not be] fully informed as to the nature of the procedure, the recovery and the impact—”

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

May 10th, 2021 / 3:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

moved that Bill S-204, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (trafficking in human organs), be read the first time.

Mr. Speaker, Bill S-204 would make it a criminal offence for a person to go abroad to receive an organ taken without consent. The bill would fight organ harvesting and trafficking by reducing demand, and it would save lives.

I want to salute the work of Senator Salma Ataullahjan, as well as former MPs Borys Wrzesnewskyj and Irwin Cotler, who have put forward versions of this bill in the past. It has been close to 15 years since Mr. Wrzesnewskyj first put this concept on the table. This bill passed in both Houses unanimously in the last Parliament, although we ran out of time to complete the reconciliation process. As of this point, the Senate has unanimously adopted the same version of the bill that was adopted in the last Parliament, so an identical version of the bill has been adopted unanimously by both chambers, though in different Parliaments.

Clearly, everyone agrees that this is important and that lives hang in the balance. Let us do all we can to clear the barriers and get this done this Parliament.

(Motion agreed to and bill read the first time)

Human Organ TraffickingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 10th, 2021 / 6:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to present three petitions to the House today. The first petition is in support of Bill S-204, a bill that I tabled for first reading in the House earlier today. The bill seeks to make it a criminal offence for a person to go abroad to receive an organ without consent. It also creates provisions by which a person could be deemed inadmissible to Canada if they are involved in forced organ harvesting and trafficking. The petitioners are hopeful that the bill will be able to pass in Parliament. It has passed the Senate and is now back in the House of Commons.