An Act to amend the Criminal Code (neglect of vulnerable adults)


Hedy Fry  Liberal

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


Second reading (Senate), as of Dec. 7, 2023

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-295.


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

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to create an offence for long-term care facilities, their owners and their officers to fail to ensure necessaries of life are provided to residents of the facilities.
The enactment also allows the court to make an order prohibiting the owners and the officers of such facilities from being, through employment or volunteering, in charge of or in a position of trust or authority towards vulnerable adults and to consider as an aggravating factor for the purpose of sentencing the fact that an organization failed to perform the legal duty that it owed to a vulnerable adult.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


Dec. 6, 2023 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-295, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (neglect of vulnerable adults)
March 8, 2023 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-295, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (neglect of vulnerable adults)

The House resumed from December 4 consideration of the motion that Bill C‑295, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, be read the third time and passed.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

December 4th, 2023 / noon
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Philip Lawrence Conservative Northumberland—Peterborough South, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today. I very enjoyed my talks with the member for Vancouver Centre. We have had a number of great conversations about various issues, including seniors issues. I have found her to be an outspoken supporter and critic when it comes to seniors issues. It is an absolute privilege to be standing here on legislation she has no doubt proudly brought forward.

This is an act that would amend the Criminal Code to create an offence for long-term care facilities, their owners or their managers who fail to provide necessities of life to residents of the facilities.

I believe it was Rawls who said that if we could go back to what he called the “original position”, meaning if we knew we were entering society but did not know how we were going to enter society, it would make sense that, if we knew one of the outcomes was to be in one of the more difficult positions in our society, we would want to do everything we could for such individuals.

For example, one could be sitting outside the world, and one could come into this world not knowing where one was going to come in, whether one was going to come in as Bill Gates, a billionaire, or whether one was going to come in as someone at the other end of the economic spectrum. If coming in as Bill Gates, one would probably be fine. One's concern would probably be if one came into a more challenging place in our society. For example, on the challenges an individual who faces a disability may have, one would want to make sure society was innately fair to persons with disabilities.

I believe this is a little analogous here. If in fact we knew we might have the lottery and might end up as an individual without any sort of control over our life whatsoever, with perhaps reduced faculties going forward, we would want to make sure this society, this country, was fair to those individuals. Unfortunately, that is not always the case today.

I, of course, as everyone else in here, will be in that situation hopefully at some point in my life. That is a little different than the original position, in that most of us will be in the position where we will be coming toward the winter of life, and perhaps facing reduced faculties and having our complete life, from food to recreation or even just to seeing daylight, completely at the control of someone else. What a difficult position to be in.

I revel in the wisdom of folks who are a couple of years my senior, and so I have often had conversations with individuals. It can be a very challenging time for individuals who have had very high-functioning lives or have been in charge of the destiny of many others in life. These are people who have been surgeons and doctors, or people who have had other lives under their control and who had control over everything in their life and have been successful in life. They find themselves now in a state where they are completely reliant on others. What a sacrosanct responsibility for those individuals who are now in charge of these individuals who have given so much to society and who have built the greatest country in the world.

We have such an incredible responsibility to make sure those people who built our country are taken care of. Unfortunately, we heard through the pandemic and before the pandemic that oftentimes people just did not get fair treatment in their life. That is why this legislation is a step in the right direction. We, as a society, have to make sure those individuals who have given their entire lives to building this country, building the best country in the world, are protected. If others are in fact letting them down, there must be consequences for not providing these people the care when they need it most. Individuals in some cases are completely and utterly reliant on those individuals, so if there is neglect or, worse, willful neglect or even purposeful harm, these individuals must be held accountable.

That is why I will be proudly voting for Bill C-295. I thank the sponsors of this bill for bringing it forward.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

December 4th, 2023 / 11:50 a.m.
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Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-295, an act to amend the Criminal Code, to make sure it is a criminal offence when owners and managers of long-term care facilities fail to provide the necessities of life to residents within them.

We have an aging population. One is six in Canada will be one in four in just a couple of years. We all have members in our families, such as mothers and fathers, who are aging. I am aging. We are all going to need long-term care. The Conservative Party absolutely agrees that we have to protect the most vulnerable, and this bill is a good start. It would make sure the necessities of life are provided. However, the bill does not necessarily go far enough.

I am going to take up the theme of the pyramid of needs. We know that in the pyramid of needs, food, shelter, clothing and security are at the bottom, and this bill would address those necessities. We all heard stories of people who were left in their own excrement, did not have enough water or were dehydrated and of the lack of food during the pandemic, but what about their emotional and mental well-being? More needs to be done there.

My mother died in long-term care, and the children had to choose who would go in. That is not fair or compassionate, so there is more to be done with the bill. We also saw, even after science showed that those who were vaccinated could get and transmit COVID the same as the unvaccinated, that people were discriminated against and not allowed to visit their loved ones, even with reasonable accommodation.

Let us think about what happened during the pandemic. I received so many calls at my office from people who were trapped on one side of the border and could not visit their loved ones who were dying in long-term care facilities. There was no compassionate exemption made. I applied many times, but usually the length of time it took to get approval meant the person had already died. It is tragic when somebody is alone and vulnerable without even one family member there.

I can remember that when my mother died in long-term care, I had to hold up an iPad so that my brother, sister and all the people who were not able to see her could say goodbye. After 95 years of a well-lived life, it was very sad. Then there was the whole issue of funerals. The number of people was limited and people were not allowed to go to them. That was also very sad. The bill takes a good first step to address some of these things.

At committee, I was pleased to see that some amendments were accepted, one being that the definition of “managers” was not specific enough. We want to make sure that all facilities, whether private or public, have standards of care. That is another issue that was not addressed. There are differences in the standards of care across provinces and types of facilities. I was lucky that my mother was at Albany Retirement Village in Petrolia. It did a wonderful job of taking care of her, although many times I had to stand at the window to say hello to her during the pandemic.

The other thing this bill would allow is for judges to consider this an aggravating factor in offences involving volunteer activities or somebody in a position of trust or authority. That is a good thing.

I thank the member for Vancouver Centre, who is a doctor herself. We are all aging, and she has brought these concerns before the House. It sounds to me like this is the moment when all parties are agreeing that, yes, we need to do something and it needs to be an enforceable criminal offence. We have a lot of laws in the country, but we do not necessarily spend a lot of time enforcing those laws. In this case, it is so important. These are vulnerable people who, in many cases, like if they have dementia, do not have the acumen to fight for themselves. We need to be the ones to put measures in place so those looking out for them are dealt with.

I would say, as a woman, this is also a gendered issue. We know that 85% of the people who are in long-term care facilities are women. We also know that 86% of the workers and volunteers in these facilities are women. We need to provide protections for those who give care and for those who are being cared for. We need to make sure that we are not just meeting the base level of the pyramid when it comes to their emotional and mental health needs.

We know that isolation caused huge issues during the pandemic not just among people in long-term care facilities, but even in the general populace. One in five people ended up with mental health issues coming out of the pandemic. The suicide rate was up immensely. Violence was up immensely, at 32% for the people in this age demographic of long-term care. Of course, we have seen a huge rise in crime across the country, a 39% increase. Therefore, addressing all levels of people's well-being will be important and this bill does not go that far.

I would argue that, in the future, people need to remember the lessons learned from the pandemic. It did not really help when we kept individuals away from seeing their loved ones and let others in because, at the end of the day, we let 90% of the people do what they wanted and the 10% who were unvaccinated could not, yet the science showed that both could transmit COVID. I think the reasonable accommodations of masking and personal protective equipment would have really addressed a lot of the loneliness, the agony of watching loved ones die, or not being able to get to loved ones who were dying, which was very serious.

The other thing I would say is that long-term care facilities have been studied over and again. There was a report at the health committee in 2018, when I was there, that talked about standards of care and the number of individuals needed per resident, which is not the same for all residents, for example, those who have dementia compared to those who are at a high-functioning level. Therefore, we certainly need to look at best practices in the country and adopt some kind of minimum standard of care with respect to the number of caregivers and the amount of time provided. We hear a lot about how many minutes of care residents will get a day. Clearly, we cannot tell human beings that they have had their seven minutes for the day and that is it, that is all; we need to be more compassionate than that.

While I am happy to see this bill and think it is a great first step, I would like to see us go further. I think the government has a huge opportunity, as it reflects on what happened during the pandemic with the violation of people's rights and freedoms, not just for those in long-term care facilities, but also the seven million Canadians who were prevented from leaving their country for three years, to do a thorough review and come back with policies that will address not only the basic needs of people, but their mental health needs and the emotional supports they need. Obviously, it is one step at a time.

I am happy to say that we will support this legislation and look forward to doing more things to protect our seniors, who are the most vulnerable in society.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

December 4th, 2023 / 11:40 a.m.
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Luc Desilets Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, speaking of Bill C-295, I assume I am not the only one here today to be overcome by sad memories of the COVID-19 pandemic.

My thoughts go out to everyone who lost friends and family during the pandemic, one of the most difficult times we ever experienced as a society. There were 14,000 deaths in Quebec. It would be an understatement to say that the pandemic has had a lasting impact.

On that note, I will now address Bill C-295 in greater detail and share what the Bloc Québécois thinks of it.

The Liberal Party of Canada is suffering from a worrying bout of amnesia, since, in March 2021, the NDP moved a motion to nationalize and impose standards on long-term care facilities. All of the other parties voted against the motion. Why then are the Liberals introducing this bill today? Have they forgotten that that is an NDP position and not a Liberal one? Who knows? I must say, since the emergence of the NDP-Liberal government, the two parties seem to share some of the same positions. At least the bill introduced today is slightly different from the motion moved by the NDP in March 2021.

The Bloc Québécois proposed two amendments to Bill C-295 that were accepted. The first aimed to replace the concept of manager with that of officer. In an earlier version of the bill, the concept of manager was far too broad. As my colleague from Shefford so eloquently put it, if the concept of manager had been retained, the bill could have applied to a public servant responsible for procurement or to a nurse team leader. This is absurd, considering that the bill seeks to amend the Criminal Code to make it an offence for long-term care facilities, their owners and their officers to fail to provide the necessaries of life to the residents of facilities. The concept of officer is well established, since, in the bill, it applies to directors and senior administrators, including the president, vice-president, and so on. In short, the amendment puts the responsibility squarely on the people who run the homes, and not the workers who are already doing all the work.

The second amendment proposed by the Bloc Québécois requires judges to take the laws of Quebec and the provinces into account. It seems to me that members here in the House of Commons often need to be reminded that health care falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of Quebec and the other provinces. While successive Liberal and Conservative governments have repeatedly tried to interfere in this provincial jurisdiction, nothing will magically change that fact.

Several provinces, including Quebec, already have legislation in place to tackle elder abuse and require care facilities to have policies and processes for handling complaints. It is therefore important that judges take these laws into account before imposing any prohibition orders.

Lucien Bouchard, one of the founders of the Bloc Québécois, said the following:

The government has neither the intent nor the mandate to abandon any part of Québec's constitutional jurisdictions...

Successive governments in Québec, regardless of their political option [as to the status of Quebec], have always worked to reaffirm its jurisdiction in order to foster its people's [Quebeckers'] control over its economic, social and cultural development....

This quotation is timeless, as enduring as Canada's resolve to make decisions for Quebec.

I campaigned for the “yes” side during the referendums of 1980 and 1995. I distinctly remember the federalists' fear campaign. They still make similar arguments today.

When Quebec stands up to Canada and stands up for its interests, threats to freeze funding that Quebec is entitled to usually follow. It is funny. Ottawa pulls out this argument as though it were pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Just two weeks ago, here in the House, Ottawa threatened Quebec with lower health transfers if we refused to exchange our francophone workers for unilingual anglophone doctors.

During the pandemic, in May 2020, the negotiations between the Premier of Quebec, François Legault, and the federal government were particularly tense, including about the need to call in the army to help with the long-term care facilities. In his Speech from the Throne, the Prime Minister of Canada used Quebec's need for military assistance to announce his intention to impose Canadian standards in long-term care facilities. It was also a Liberal campaign promise in 2021. The Liberals promised a hefty $6 billion for long-term care facilities provided their standards were imposed.

This bill raises a question. If the federal government is now going to be interfering in Quebec's long-term care facilities and private seniors' residences, will the government threaten to freeze or reduce Quebec's health transfers? That is an issue that needs to be considered. Do we also need to reiterate that, in December 2020, the Quebec National Assembly unanimously adopted a motion denouncing the implementation of pan-Canadians standards for long-term care and demanding an increase in health transfers?

This paternalism must stop. Not only does Quebec already have standards to prevent neglect and abuse, but it also has solutions on how it can improve in this area. Earlier, my colleague from Shefford listed a set of standards that Quebec is implementing to try to ensure that what happened during the pandemic never happens again. We are talking here about prevention, rather than criminalization, in order to protect the most vulnerable members of our society.

In closing, the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of Bill C‑295, so that it can be improved in committee. We need to ensure that, with this bill, we are actually helping the provinces and Quebec to protect their seniors, rather than just quickly adding criminal offences to the Criminal Code without thinking about the long-term consequences.

I will end my speech on a more personal note. My mother lived in a long-term care facility from January 2020 to November 2020 and passed away there. She did not die from COVID‑19 necessarily, but she did experience it. She received remarkable care. When talking about this bill, I want members to keep in mind that there are people in our health care system who do an amazing job. It is not the workers themselves who are targeted by this bill, but the officers.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

December 4th, 2023 / 11:35 a.m.
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Brad Vis Conservative Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to stand and to speak to Bill C-295, an act to amend the Criminal Code with respect to neglect of vulnerable adults.

The reason I want to speak to the bill is that my grandmother passed away in September. In fact, December 9, this Saturday, would have been her 96th birthday. I call my grandmother “Oma” because we are of Dutch heritage. In 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, I remember my oma being pretty lively. She still had her wits about her; she could sing songs in Dutch and English, and she really participated in our family life. We very much enjoyed and cherished her, like many other families do across Canada with their elders.

However, when the pandemic came, I, along with my cousins, aunts and uncles, had to make some hard decisions regarding the treatment of my grandmother in our family home, where she resided. For a period of time, to protect her, she was isolated from the broader community that had sustained her life in such a positive way since she immigrated to Canada in the 1950s. To make a long story short, like with members of many families across Canada, my grandmother's dementia accelerated at a very quick rate once she was isolated from those she loved. When I first got elected to Parliament, we heard at the HUMA committee from experts in geriatric care that one of the biggest mistakes we might have made during the pandemic was separating seniors from those they loved. My grandmother was isolated in her home, and her mental health deteriorated very quickly. My aunts and uncles and my mother, who was her primary caregiver, had to make the difficult choice to put her into an assisted living facility, one that would have been covered under Bill C-295.

I have to say that I was very pleased with the quality of care my grandmother received at the Chartwell facility in Mission. Staff were loving and conscientious, and they did everything to protect my grandmother. That was positive. However, while she was there, her dementia continued to accelerate; it got worse and worse, and she could no longer stay in an independent living facility with her meals provided. Family members had to make the very difficult decision to put her into a long-term care facility. What I am about to say now is a little brash, but it is a fact. When children make a decision to put their parents into a long-term care facility, it is almost like a death sentence. They know that it is the last place they are going to go. For children to make that decision for their parents is one of the hardest things they are going to have to do throughout their life.

Canadians believe in the health care workers at our long-term health care facilities. They believe that those people have the best interests of vulnerable Canadians at heart. They believe and trust that our systems are going to work, to make sure that the quality of life for those they are responsible for is upheld in a dignified way, one that respects the human dignity of the individual. Unfortunately, that is not the case at all long-term care facilities across Canada. All of us read, heard and experienced the horror stories that people talked about during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when loved ones were separated from their seniors. I will be very clear that this was not the case with my family, but like many other MPs across this country, I heard from families who had negative experiences. For that reason, I am supporting the intention of the bill before us because it gets to the essence of a very big fear that many children have for their parents: Will they be protected? Will their human dignity be upheld when they cannot be with them and they have to entrust the care of their parent to a stranger at a medical facility?

The amendment to the bill, made to paragraph 215(2)(b), reads, “with respect to a duty imposed by paragraph (1)(b.1) or (c), the failure to perform the duty endangers the life of the person to whom the duty is owed or causes or is likely to cause the health of that person to be injured permanently.” It goes on under the prohibition order to outline, as the member of Parliament referred to before, that an owner or officer would be responsible in those conditions. The bill would send out a signal to long-term care facilities that maybe have not got it right, that not getting it right is not good enough. We always need to ensure that our most vulnerable citizens, our seniors who have devoted their lives to this country, receive the type of care they need.

For me and my children, it was a daunting experience when we went into some of those facilities. Many seniors, unlike my grandmother, unfortunately, do not have a large support system to protect them. They do not come from a large family like mine, where there are 20 grandchildren, another 20 great-grandchildren and six siblings to spread out the work and make sure someone is there every day to watch out. Not every family has that. Not every senior is blessed with a large family like that. That is why the bill is important. Sometimes seniors may have only one advocate, and that person may still be working a full-time job or have other responsibilities and cannot be there every day. When they do show up and see that something is wrong, they would know that laws in Canada are there both federally and provincially, as outlined in the legislation, to ensure that, in the case of abuse or neglect, there would be a mechanism to protect the senior, and laws to safeguard them if a horrible situation does occur.

We have so much to do, mostly at the provincial level, in this country to uphold the dignity of seniors at the vulnerable stages of their life that they encounter upon entering an assisted-living facility or a long-term care facility that the bill before us would address. I do acknowledge certain apprehensions that came forward in witness testimony. I believe in the essence of the bill and its use of a collaborative approach, which I have heard about from my colleagues. The bill is worth supporting in order to send a signal that we need to do more to protect our vulnerable seniors to ensure their quality of life at the end.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

December 4th, 2023 / 11:25 a.m.
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Churence Rogers Liberal Bonavista—Burin—Trinity, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-295, an act to amend the Criminal Code on neglect of vulnerable adults.

COVID-19 brought to light issues in the long-term care industry. Canadians did not, and will not, accept the conditions that were on display during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in long-term care facilities. This bill was initiated in that global atmosphere, with the primary objective of better protecting vulnerable people living in these facilities. Seniors and persons with disabilities in long-term care deserve safe, quality health care.

Bill C-295 is one method of delivering this care. My colleague, the member for Vancouver Centre, who sponsored this bill, is proposing changes to the Criminal Code in three ways. First, this bill proposes to amend section 215 of the Criminal Code, which criminalizes the failure to provide the necessities of life for a dependent. The bill would give owners and officers of long-term care facilities a duty to residents that is similar to parents' duty to their children; it would criminalize failure to ensure that the necessities of life, such as food, lodging and care, are provided to residents.

Second, this amendment would be supplemented by a prohibition order against persons convicted of this new offence. This order is an accessory to the sentence that may be imposed. It is discretionary and would allow the court to prohibit, for a period of time that it determines, the convicted person from seeking, obtaining or continuing any employment, even voluntary employment, that would place that person in a position of authority towards a vulnerable adult.

The third and final change proposed by this bill is the addition of an aggravating factor at the sentencing stage, requiring the court to consider a heavier sentence for organizations that fail to meet their legal obligations to a vulnerable adult.

This bill was studied last spring by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. I would like to focus my remarks on the work done by this committee and the results obtained.

Various witnesses were heard, several briefs were submitted and the majority shared the same concern, that the term “manager”, which was initially proposed in the bill, could result in the inclusion of frontline workers in this new offence. Given the critical shortage of staff in care facilities, according to the Canadian Association for Long Term Care, the proposed measure could “have a devastating impact on recruitment and retention by unintentionally creating undue risk and hardship for front-line staff. This will exacerbate an already emergency situation in many [group] homes” and facilities. LTC providers across the country provide an invaluable service to seniors and persons with disabilities.

Justice committee members from all parties welcomed amendments to this bill to carefully identify owners and officers as the responsible decision-makers, who are accountable for mismanagement. They are the ones holding senior management positions, such as those of CEO or chairperson.

The objective of the bill is laudable, but it should not interfere with the already precarious operation of LTC facilities. Officers are the individuals who make the key decisions on the care offered, the staff in place and the budget allocated to equipment, to name a few examples.

For vulnerable persons, their inability to care for themselves makes them completely dependent on the care provided by these people, who have committed to helping them by making these decisions with their best interests in mind. However, neither owners nor officers provide direct care to their residents; rather, they oversee the facility's operations, make key management decisions and ensure that the staff under their direction have all the tools they need to carry out their duties. Owners and officers who take all reasonable precautions and care in the performance of their duties would not be affected by this change in federal law.

With this amendment, the bill would specifically place responsibility on owners and officers of long-term care facilities who fail to ensure the necessities of life are provided to residents of the facility they manage, if this would result in causing or risking permanent harm to the health of the residents in their care.

Vulnerable adults in long-term care facilities depend on the good care of frontline workers and also on the thoughtful decisions of the management team. Frontline workers such as personal support workers, who provide direct care to LTC residents, would not be affected by this change in federal law. Sufficient staffing levels and adequate functional equipment, to name a few examples, come down to management decisions that can have an impact on the health of long-term care facility residents. Owners and officers therefore have a central role to play in the health of the adults entrusted to their care.

I am grateful for the work of the committee members who adopted the amendment to make the maximum sentence four years in this case, similar to the offence under section 161 of the Criminal Code, which deals with orders prohibiting persons convicted of offences against minors from working around them. The committee worked collaboratively to advance the cause of vulnerable people in long-term care facilities, and I remain convinced that we can continue to work in the same direction. Our seniors deserve better.

The current state of the bill is, in my opinion, improved and more in line with the principles of criminal law. We have all heard the difficult stories of people trapped in long-term care facilities at the very start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in many cases without food or water. The individuals at the helm of these facilities must be dissuaded from making decisions that risk jeopardizing the health of their residents. The bill would send a clear message: Vulnerable adults in long-term care facilities can rely on third parties to provide them with a decent life, and there is no justification for compromising their health and dignity. We remain committed to working with the provinces, the territories and the long-term care sector to ensure that seniors and persons with disabilities live and thrive with the highest standard of care.

I would like to conclude by saying that I am confident that Bill C-295 will be passed quickly by this chamber so it can be studied by the other place. The revised version would more specifically place the responsibility on the people whom, as a society, we trust to make sound decisions with respect to the care of our seniors so they can live out their final years in peace. Canadians should have access to safe and quality health care at all stages of their life.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

December 4th, 2023 / 11:15 a.m.
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Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning, I am rising to speak to Bill C-295, an enactment that amends the Criminal Code to create an offence for long-term care facilities, their owners and their officers to fail to ensure necessaries of life are provided to residents of the facilities.

I have had a few opportunities to replace my colleague on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to study this bill a little more in my capacity as a former project manager responsible for raising awareness of elder abuse and intimidation.

To come back to the bill, it also “allows the court to make an order prohibiting the owners and the officers of such facilities from being, through employment or volunteering, in charge of or in a position of trust or authority towards vulnerable adults and to consider as an aggravating factor for the purpose of sentencing the fact that an organization failed to perform the legal duty that it owed to a vulnerable adult.”

The bill is perhaps a little opportunistic. It follows the abuse that occurred in seniors' residences during the pandemic. That is what it seeks to address, but the bill creates criminal offences in these cases. Liberal logic dictates that filling the Criminal Code with offences is a way of helping people.

I will explain the bill in a little more detail, along with progress made in Quebec and what remains to be done.

Bill C‑295 adds two definitions to the Criminal Code, long-term care facility and officer, with the goal of building criminal offences around them. I could list them. We seriously examined the bill. In particular my colleague from Rivière-du-Nord studied it in depth in committee. Upon reflection, the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of the bill at third reading, because the Bloc proposed two amendments that were adopted.

The first sought to replace the definition of “manager” by that of “officer”. We discussed this a great deal in committee. The notion of “manager” that previously appeared in the bill was much too broad. In the previous definition, an official responsible for purchasing or a nursing team leader would have been affected by the bill. Many witnesses said this went much too far. As for the notion of “officer”, it is well defined in the bill. It covers directors and senior members of the board such as the president and the vice-president. In short, the amendment places the responsibility on people in charge of the centres and not on the workers, who are already struggling to keep the health care system going.

The other amendment ensures that the judge will take into consideration penalties under the legislation of Quebec and of the provinces. Some provinces, like Quebec, have laws against abuse that force health care facilities to have policies and a complaint process. The judge will take that into account in imposing a prohibition order.

The Bloc Québécois believes that it is relevant to determine whether including criminal negligence of seniors in long-term accommodation in the Criminal Code will help them get the care and services to which they are entitled.

Seniors have been the biggest victims of the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize that. They were overrepresented in the number of deaths. They are also the ones who suffered and continue to suffer the most from the aftershocks of the virus through isolation, anxiety and financial hardship.

I want to point out that Quebec already has legislation on elder abuse and the abuse of any vulnerable adult. This legislation provides for fines and protects informants who report mistreatment. That is what I was working on at the time. Community organizations and the health care network worked together on this new law.

The Bloc Québécois believes that the federal government is acting within its purview with this bill, which would add tools for investigators. We therefore took the time to study the bill in committee to assess its usefulness. Beyond prosecuting managers who commit crimes or who could do so, it is important to ensure that seniors receive services that improve their quality of life. In this regard, the Bloc Québécois would like to emphasize the other important role the federal government should play in health care, and that is to increase transfers so as to cover 35% of system costs. The Bloc Québécois also wishes to reiterate that the sad events that happened in residential and long-term care facilities, or CHSLDs, are no excuse for the federal government to impose national standards on these facilities.

Of course, we saw the critical situation in CHSLDs, which ultimately forced the government of Quebec to ask for military assistance on April 22, 2020, following a failed call to mobilize citizens to help with staff shortages in care facilities. In May 2020, negotiations between the Legault and Liberal governments were particularly tense because the federal government refused to extend the military assistance in Quebec. In a way, the federal government used Quebec’s need for military assistance in the throne speech to announce its intention to impose Canadian standards in CHSLDs.

This was a way for the federal government to impose its requirements when faced with the provinces and Quebec joining forces and calling for a 35% increase in health care transfers. Quebec reiterates that demand. The government is back on the attack, supported by the NDP, trying to impose its standards. The Liberals are still clinging to this idea. In the 2021 electoral campaign, they promised $6 billion for long-term care in exchange for imposing their standards.

I could list many events in Quebec politics that show how concerned Quebec is with what is happening in residential and long-term care facilities. I will remind members that sections 91 and 92 of the Constitutional Act, 1867, define the division of powers between the federal government and the provinces. They specify that health is the exclusive jurisdiction of Quebec, except when it comes to the health of indigenous peoples, military hospitals, drug certification and quarantine. Let us keep this in mind, because it is important.

The Liberal Party of Canada and the NDP keep stubbornly trying to interfere in areas of provincial jurisdiction, especially health care, because it is so obviously important to people. The federalism they stand for, however, requires each level of government to operate within its areas of exclusive jurisdiction. We had this debate before the election. In 2021, the NDP introduced a motion to impose national standards on long-term care facilities. We had already spoken out against that back then. What we want is for the federal government to do its part, because of the staff shortage and, obviously, because we have to find ways to work on solving the many problems facing the health care system.

Thirdly, the Quebec government had to answer to the opposition in regard to its ministers’ decisions. As we know, the Quebec minister who was responsible for seniors and caregivers at the time moved a motion on December 2, 2020 denouncing the Liberals’ desire to impose Canadian standards on long-term care facilities, or CHSLDs. It was adopted in Quebec’s National Assembly. The Bloc Québécois supports the National Assembly of Quebec’s unanimous position and denounces the Liberals’ centralizing vision.

Since then, the Quebec ombudsman has released a report making recommendations to the government. A provincial plan for deploying emergency personnel, a protocol for deploying extra staff in exceptional circumstances, and a Quebec strategy to combat staff shortages are also in place, and our computer systems have been updated. In addition, Quebec’s department of health and social services presented a Quebec action plan to recognize the complexity of care and service provision in long-term care facilities. We also adopted legislative measures to define the guiding principles that must be followed regarding living environment quality and organization and established the procedure for applying them through regulatory means. In short, Quebec is taking action and already has ideas for fixing the situation. The federal government will not be able to any better, since it knows nothing about the situation on the ground in these particular hospitals.

We know that the Quebec government has presented its plan to reform the health care system. This plan includes a range of measures, including large-scale recruitment of workers, better access to data, the construction of new hospitals and more accountability for executives. In addition, the coroner is still investigating, and some people are calling for a public inquiry. In short, in every case, it is up to Quebeckers to take stock of the situation and fix their system; the federal government cannot just jump in and start doing the work Quebec is already doing.

As we know, these regulations are part of the Quebec Act respecting health services and social services. Most long-term care facilities, some 86%, are public, compared with only 46% in the rest of Canada. We said all this before, when we were debating national standards for long-term care facilities. Let us be clear, Quebec and the provinces have the expertise and experience needed to manage long-term care facilities. The federal government does not. For all of these reasons, Quebec opposed every one of these national standards.

If the federal government truly wants to help the provinces and Quebec emerge from the pandemic and provide better care to our seniors, it should stop being so paternalistic. It should forget about imposing federal nationwide standards that are not a good fit for a range of different social and institutional contexts. It should actually increase health transfers, which would enable Quebec and the provinces to attract and retain more health care workers.

At least, there have been some amendments to this bill that the Bloc Québécois agreed with. We heard the testimony and followed the committee's work very closely and rigorously. That is why we will be voting in favour of the bill, with a view to focusing on the Criminal Code, which is under federal jurisdiction.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

December 4th, 2023 / 11:05 a.m.
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Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to give some of my thoughts on Bill C-295, which was introduced by the member for Vancouver Centre. It is an act that would amend the Criminal Code on the subject of neglect of vulnerable adults.

I am very pleased to be speaking to this subject, especially on behalf of all vulnerable seniors in my riding, but also their families. Families, as we have seen over the last three years, also suffered through the subject matter we will be discussing as part of the bill.

It is a fact the chronic neglect and abuse of older adults living in long-term care facilities is a long-standing problem. This is something that slipped under the radar for many years before COVID so frighteningly put it to light and exposed what was there all along.

Bill C-295 would specifically amend the Criminal Code to create a specific offence for long-term care facilities, their owners and officers when they fail to provide necessaries of life to residents of facilities. We would finally, this Parliament, be putting into the Criminal Code a specific offence when the people who run these facilities fail to uphold their part of the bargain.

It would also allow the court to make an order prohibiting any owner or officer of such a facility from being, through employment or volunteering, in charge or in a position of trust or authority toward vulnerable adults. Again, there will be consequences for people who are in those trust positions, but it will also allow courts to consider as an aggravating factor for the purpose of sentencing the fact that an organization failed to perform the legal duty it owed to a vulnerable adult.

We could rightly question why it has taken so long to even consider putting these things into the Criminal Code, but here we are, and it is about time we moved forward with the bill.

I want to also recognize that the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights did its due consideration of the bill. During its review of the bill, 15 witnesses appeared before the committee, including the research chair on the mistreatment of older adults, from the University of Sherbrooke, the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, Elder Abuse Prevention Ontario and the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions. There were 15 witnesses in total over four meetings at that committee. The committee also had 26 briefs submitted to it as a part of its study.

Going to the committee report, I will direct members of the House to the fact that one of the big changes that was made was replacing the word “manager” with the word “officer” and specifically putting a new definition, so now the people who are covered by the word “officer” include the chair person of the board of directors, the president, vice-president, the secretary, the treasury, the comptroller, the general counsel and the general manager or managing director of a long-term care facility. Again, it goes after that top echelon of people who are responsible not only for the overall budget of a place but for how it directs its care levels, its staffing standards and the level of service that residents can expect at those facilities.

It is no secret that there has been a long history of neglect, and what the pandemic did was shine a very important light on that. However, it has often been called “hidden neglect” because many people who worked in the industry, worked at long-term care homes or even those who were responsible for reviewing their actions have known that unfortunately this has existed for quite some time.

It is also a fact that during the pandemic especially, there was a huge difference between the for-profit long-term care homes and the public or non-profit facilities. The for-profit facilities had a much worse patient outcome overall than not-for-profit homes in general.

In my home province of British Columbia, the Seniors Advocate recently reviewed the situation with for-profit long-term care homes. It has been noted that in British Columbia the cost of a publicly subsidized long-term care bed through a private operator has jumped 35% in the last five years. The Seniors Advocate found that not-for-profit facilities spent about 25% more per resident on direct care when compared with for-profit care.

When a review was conducted on the financial records from 2021 and 2022, it showed that long-term care facilities operated by for-profit companies delivered 500,000 fewer care hours than they were funded for by the province.

Again, it speaks to the larger theme, that when profit is introduced into the health care system, other considerations seem to make their way to the forefront rather than looking after the people for which the facility was designed.

I also want to point out that we are all very familiar with the time when the Canadian Armed Forces were deployed to some of the hardest hit long-term care homes, where they documented horrific accounts of inhumane treatment, abuse and substandard care.

According to the Canadian Armed Forces' reports, dozens of residents in two Ontario nursing homes died, not from COVID-19 but from dehydration and neglect.

I have looked at some of the short Coles Notes from those reports. I will read them out for the record: “conditions in two of the seniors homes...appeared to be nothing short of horrid and inhumane as ill-trained, burned-out and, in some cases, neglectful staff coped with the growing care needs of elderly residents”, residents faced “inadequate nutrition” because most of them were not getting three meals a day — and when they did, “underfeeding was reported.”; “Respecting the dignity of patients is not always a priority.”; Other patients were “left in beds soiled, in diapers, rather than being ambulated to the toilets.”; and “troops had to send a senior to hospital after the resident fractured a hip and was not cared for by staff.”

These are just some of the alarming things that came out from the Canadian Armed Forces that were deployed to those homes. Again, for the people who are familiar with long-term care homes in Canada, this was nothing new. All COVID-19 did was to serve to shed a light on that.

On October 23, 2020, CBC posted a story to its website. I will quote from a part of its investigation:

CBC Marketplace reviewed 10,000 inspection reports and found over 30,000 "written notices," or violations of the Long-Term Care Homes Act and Regulations (LTCHA), between 2015 and 2019 inclusive. The LTCHA sets out minimum safety standards that every care home in Ontario must meet.

Marketplace isolated 21 violation codes for some of the most serious or dangerous offences, including abuse, inadequate infection control, unsafe medication storage, inadequate hydration, and poor skin and wound care, among others. The analysis found that of the 632 homes in the Ontario database, 538 — or 85 per cent — were repeat offenders.

I also want to recognize that women represent 65% of patients in Canadian residential continuing care facilities. This is absolutely a gendered issue to which we need to pay close attention.

In addition, the vast majority of care providers in supportive care are women, with a significant portion of these individuals being newcomers or immigrants, especially among personal support workers. Women account for the majority of the workers among both immigrants, which was 86%, and non-immigrants, 87%.

My NDP caucus believes that the victims of negligence in Canada's long-term care facilities deserve justice. Part of the confidence and supply agreement that we have with the Liberal government is the tabling of a safe long-term care act to ensure that seniors are guaranteed the care they deserve, no matter where they live.

Although Bill C-295 is a step in the right direction, I do not believe it goes far enough in this regard. Rather than addressing this issue solely through a private members' bill, we expect that the government will follow through on this requirement and table legislation that puts these standards into more encompassing law, so that all Canadians, from coast to coast to coast, can not only ensure that their loved ones are getting the care that they deserve, but that our vulnerable seniors have the full force of law to ensure they are living with the dignity they deserve.

The House resumed from September 27 consideration of the motion that Bill C-295, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (neglect of vulnerable adults), be read the third time and passed.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

September 27th, 2023 / 6:55 p.m.
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Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to engage in this debate on Bill C-295, and I want to commend the member for Vancouver Centre for bringing forward this bill. I am not sure we will be supporting it, and I will explain why in a moment, but she has brought forward a bill that addresses what is perhaps one of the most existential challenges facing not only Canada but western developed societies, which is the aging of our population.

A huge demographic challenge facing our country of course is the aging of our population. There are more and more Canadians who are becoming seniors. There are more and more Canadians who are moving out of the workforce, which is creating significant workforce shortages, and we are experiencing those today. At the same time, these seniors are requiring more and more care, which of course imposes a burden on taxpayers.

I would not for a moment suggest we should not be providing for the seniors who built our country. We owe it to them to do that.

However, the COVID pandemic, the first pandemic of its kind in over 100 years, left virtually every government around the world unprepared to meet that challenge. Here in Canada, that challenge manifested itself, among other things, by creating significant shortages of competent workforce members within our hospitals to address the increasing numbers of patients coming in suffering from the COVID virus. This became an acute problem for hospitals across our country.

There was not a province or territory that was not impacted by the fact that our hospitals could not provide the care needed. Beyond that, our long-term care facilities suddenly found themselves faced with this incredible challenge of having vulnerable seniors they were in charge of who had now contracted the COVID virus and trying to put into place protocols that were going to protect those vulnerable residents of those homes.

This bill seeks to address that by criminalizing the failure to provide the necessary care in those homes. More specifically, this enactment, Bill C-295, would amend the Criminal Code to create an offence for long-term care facilities, their owners and their managers who fail to provide the necessities of life to residents of their facilities.

I think all of us can agree that is a worthy undertaking to make sure our long-term care facilities have the kinds of services and protective protocols that would protect the residents of those facilities. The problem is we have significant labour shortages in our country. Until we have actually addressed those labour challenges, it would be imprudent to impose on these facilities criminal sanctions that effectively mean these homes could not provide the kind of care the Criminal Code would require but that our labour challenges cannot address adequately.

My challenge with this legislation is we are trying to do two things. We are trying to provide those facilities with the labour force they need to adequately protect residents and patients, but at the same time we are trying to criminalize the activities of these facilities when in fact they are in no position to comply with the law.

I would raise one other point. The proponent of this bill, the member for Vancouver Centre, has said that this is all about protecting the most vulnerable within our society. I commend her for standing up and defending the rights and the welfare of our seniors, the ones who find themselves in extremely vulnerable positions.

However, there are other seniors and other Canadians who are also in vulnerable positions who call out for protection and those are our mentally ill, the mentally disordered in our society, who are now finding themselves caught under Canada's medical assistance in dying regime, Canada's assisted suicide regime, which is being extended by this government to the mentally disordered within our society, including those suffering from depression.

I do not know how we square that, on the one hand, advocating for the protection and welfare of seniors in our homes, but, at the same time, saying that we are going to also advocate for assisted suicide to be extended and expanded to include the mentally ill.

There is something wrong with that picture. It troubles me deeply that we have found ourselves in this place where competing ideologies are taking place right here in the House of Commons.

I earlier asked the proponent of this bill if she would support Bill C-314, which seeks to extract and remove the mentally ill from Canada's MAID regime. She hummed and she hawed and she explained this way and that way.

At the end, all we could conclude was that, no, she was not prepared to protect the mentally ill against medically assisted dying but, at the same time, would be advocating for the seniors in our homes and the residents of our long-term care homes who find themselves vulnerable and could see their lives and their health impaired by another pandemic.

We can see that I am quite frustrated to be placed in the position of having to judge the member for Vancouver Centre's bill based on her inability to understand that there has to be consistency when we bring forward legislation.

When we promote an ideology that is supposed to protect the most vulnerable in our society, that does not mean we can pick and choose between different vulnerable groups. We need to address their needs in a wholesome way, in a holistic way, and we have to be consistent in how we apply our ideology.

Unfortunately, that is not taking place here. Quite frankly, I lament that our country is moving down this road, where some of our most vulnerable are going to find themselves at great risk because of the life and death policies that this government is adopting, which have not been properly thought out.

I am going to ask the member for Vancouver Centre to reconsider her position on Bill C-314, as I will reconsider my position on her bill, Bill C-295. We both have objectives to protect and defend the rights of the vulnerable.

I call for one thing: consistency. All those who are vulnerable in our society are worthy of our protection.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

September 27th, 2023 / 6:45 p.m.
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Jean Yip Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to represent Scarborough—Agincourt and delighted to speak today about the progress of Bill C-295, an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding neglect of vulnerable adults.

Bill C-295, introduced by my colleague, the member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre, seeks to criminalize owners and officers of long-term care facilities who neglect the residents in their care. We all remember the circumstances that led to the introduction of this bill, and it is hard to forget the headlines in recent years about the chaotic situations within the walls of long-term care homes. Available information shows that charges are rarely brought for negligence in caring for vulnerable people, and none were brought in connection with the recent cases of abuse denounced by the media at the height of the COVID–19 pandemic.

The Criminal Code currently addresses elder abuse through offences of general application. This means there is no specific protection, so neglect or abuse must be prosecuted under existing laws, such as laws regarding all forms of violence, abuse, fraud, and failure to provide the necessaries of life to a dependant who is unable to withdraw from a person's charge due to age or other circumstances. It is also possible for a person to be held criminally liable for aiding, abetting or conspiring with a third party to injure or harm the physical and psychological integrity of a vulnerable adult. These general offences do not necessarily target the right people.

The bill, as drafted, would target those in senior management positions and clarify consequences for their operational decisions. I will speak today about a few statistics that justify our support for the amendments proposed by the justice and human rights committee, and about some of the measures taken by our government to support the efforts of the provinces and territories in their fight against elder abuse.

According to the Royal Society of Canada's June 2020 report “Restoring Trust: COVID-19 and The Future of Long-Term Care”, home support workers provide up to 90% of direct resident care. It is not surprising to see a higher percentage of home support workers compared to nurses or other professionals working in long-term care facilities.

Another study, released in 2020 by Statistics Canada, entitled “The contribution of immigrants and population groups designated as visible minorities to nurse aide, orderly and patient service associate occupations”, informs us that Black and Filipino women are significantly overrepresented in this sector.

Thanks to the amendment adopted by the committee, this bill targets owners and officers of long-term care facilities, not frontline workers. In the legislation, “officer” will be defined as “the chairperson of the board of directors, the president, a vice-president, the secretary, the treasurer, the comptroller, the general counsel, the general manager or a managing director of a long-term care facility, any other person who performs functions for a long-term care facility similar to those normally performed by a person occupying any of those offices, or any other person designated as an officer of a long-term care facility.”

Frontline workers devote themselves to the task of care, often in difficult working conditions. With the amendments that have been adopted, committee members carefully took into account the very real difficulty in attracting and retaining workers in the care sector. This bill targets the correct decision-makers. This was the issue most often raised by groups representing long-term care facilities across the country, and it was recently raised in the ombudsman's report in Ontario entitled “Lessons for the Long Term”, published at the beginning of this month.

The data speak for themselves. Our population is aging, and these percentages will undoubtedly rise over the years.

The segment of the population most at risk of institutional abuse is made up of women aged 85 and over. In Canada, more than one-third of these women live in institutions, as they tend to outlive their male partners and may not have the health or support to age at home.

Forms of institutional abuse include physical abuse, neglect, emotional and verbal abuse, financial abuse and sexual abuse. Individuals in institutions may also experience systemic abuse, which is defined as systemic practices that result in neglect, substandard care, overcrowding and violation of dignity.

Some research suggests that up to 1% of Canadian seniors are victims of violent crime or physical abuse, and approximately 45% of seniors report having experienced some form of abuse by age 65. In addition, recent provincial and territorial reports, as well as reports from organizations serving seniors, have revealed significant systemic problems within long-term care facilities.

There are other adults who are also in long-term care facilities. Indeed, people with a disability or permanent incapacity often end up in these facilities because it is the only institution capable of providing them with the necessary care.

In my riding of Scarborough—Agincourt, we have three long-term care homes, one transitional care home and many senior housing facilities. In fact, 27% of the riding population of Scarborough—Agincourt is made up of seniors. It is so important that we provide competent care for all seniors across Canada.

Some seniors will have exhausted their own financial resources. Others will be placed by relatives, who are themselves aging or unable to provide the necessary care. To the same extent as seniors, these adults are vulnerable to neglect by those who have an obligation to care for them.

With a rapidly growing aging population in Canada, it is expected that companies specializing in this field will also experience some form of expansion. Currently, there are 2,039 long-term care homes in Canada; of these, 46% are public and 54% are private. The percentage of facilities varies considerably from province to province. For example, 86% of long-term care facilities in Quebec are public, compared with only 16% in Ontario.

This government is working on a number of measures to enhance protection for seniors, including a federal policy definition of senior abuse to better guide our policies, working in partnership with stakeholders and other levels of government to improve data collection, education and programs tailored to helping seniors and elders. It is also putting in place more measures to prevent senior abuse before it happens. Several commitments have been made in this regard, including the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada's mandate letter commitment to work with the Minister of Labour and Seniors to strengthen Canada's approach to elder abuse.

Initiatives have been put in place to address identified gaps in our long-term care facilities. Moreover, $740 million in funding has been invested to support our most vulnerable populations through infection prevention and control measures to protect those in long-term care and those receiving home care and palliative care. Several bilateral agreements have been signed, for example, to increase the number of beds in Nova Scotia or to establish screening protocols in Saskatchewan.

Most recently, the government provided $3 billion over five years to support provinces and territories in their efforts to improve long-term care in their jurisdictions. This is in addition to the $1 billion provided for the creation of the safe long-term care fund. This money will be used to protect people living and working in long-term care, and all provinces and territories have signed a bilateral agreement for this fund.

The work continues to evolve; despite our best efforts, we are not immune to another pandemic. We need to put elements in place to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

I am confident that the members of this House will recognize the importance of moving this legislative reform forward so that it can be quickly considered by the other chamber. The path ahead of us in long-term care facilities is one of collaboration as we continue to work with our provincial and territorial counterparts to improve outcomes for seniors.

We must recognize that for many, illness strikes without warning. We cannot control its speed or its effects, however we can ensure that those in need of long-term care receive the best possible care in well-maintained facilities that afford them the dignity and respect all Canadians deserve.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

September 27th, 2023 / 6:40 p.m.
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Bonita Zarrillo NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to stand here to day to represent my communities of Port Moody, Coquitlam, Anmore and Belcarra.

New Democrats support this bill, which would amend the Criminal Code to protect vulnerable adults. The bill would create a new offence for the owners and managers of long-term care facilities that fail to provide the necessities of life for their residents. The bill would allow the courts to make an order prohibiting the owners and managers of these facilities from working with, volunteering with, being in charge of, being in a position of trust with or being in a position of authority over vulnerable adults.

The bill is the start a conversation about the conditions of care in this country and the dignity that seniors and other vulnerable adults deserve. There is still more work to do. Today, I spoke with the Canadian Federation of Pensioners. The organization has been meeting this week in Ottawa to address the ongoing crisis of the care economy, health care and access to aging with dignity.

They sent me here today with this message. They have highlighted the following four actions that need to be addressed, even more so than the bill: ensure that funding for care is spent on care; improve the accuracy and transparency of monitoring and reporting because we need data; define profit because we need to talk about what it means to have profit in long-term care; and make revenues and expenditures for publicly funded care homes available.

We have seen that, through the global pandemic, long-term care facilities were hit incredibly hard, exacerbated by the appalling conditions in some facilities that led to the deaths of more than 14,000 residents and staff. The pandemic has shown that facilities that are for-profit do not put the needs of their residents first in every case. Reports prove that for-profit long-term care facilities have worse client outcomes than the not-for-profit facilities. Without checks and balances, corporate greed can lead organizations to prioritize their profits before the health and safety of their residents.

This month, the Office of the Seniors Advocate in British Columbia published a report that reviewed for-profit and not-for-profit long-term care facilities and their patient care. They examined how money directly impacted the quality of life for people living in long-term care. Its report found that not-for-profit facilities spent 25% more on residents in direct care than for-profit facilities. An even more unacceptable fact found in the report is that for-profit facilities delivered 500,000 fewer hours of care than they were funded to deliver. Those are hours stolen from seniors and put into the pockets of private corporations and their CEOs.

In contrast, not-for-profit facilities delivered 93,000 more care hours than they were funded to deliver. They gave more care, and that highlights not only why public long-term care facilities are more compassionate, but also that the workers in long-term care deserve to be paid for those compassion hours.

New Democrats have said many times that we will end for-profit and private long-term care. It is public health care, and it needs to stay public. The recent pandemic has shown us that for-profit companies cannot be relied upon to protect our loved ones and keep workers safe. By continuing to have for-profit long-term care with little oversight, those private investors will continue to cut corners on care and increase pressures on the health care system, putting more Canadians at risk.

Here, I need to mention the abysmal record of the Conservative government in Ontario. It continues to advance a privatization agenda for health care, which is dangerous and irresponsible.

Therefore, I want to take a moment to go back and recognize the incredible staff who work in long-term care. They face unrealistic demands and step up every day, often suffering physical and mental injury. We must do more to support staff, who continue to be pushed to the limits as they feed, bathe and care for loved ones in long-term care. Here in Canada and around the world, women, and disproportionately immigrant women, continue to do most of the care work in institutions and facilities. Pay is low and working conditions are harsh. Many of these care workers are seniors themselves.

Translating Research in Elder Care collected data for over a decade about care aides from more than 90 nursing homes in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The researchers learned that 67% of care aides are over the age of 40 and that 61% speak English as a second language. A third of them work at more than one nursing home, often because their work does not offer full-time hours or a living wage and benefits. This is the lived experience of care workers in Canada.

The government needs to stop the gender discrimination experienced by care workers and pay them appropriately. It must recognize their skills and experience. When immigrant care workers come to work in Canada, their credentials need to be recognized and they need to be compensated equally. When staff continue to be undervalued and underpaid, they suffer moral injury while trying to administer care. The government must do more to change this reality in health care and in long-term care.

Bill C-295 is a step in the right direction for protecting care and care workers, but, yes, as I have said, there is more to do. That is why Canada's New Democrats have included a safe long-term care act in the confidence and supply agreement. A safe long-term care act would address the needs and dignity of vulnerable adults, including those with disabilities, who have been let down by the current government over and over again. They have not been provided adequate housing or community supports. This reality is unacceptable.

In closing, the government should move immediately on tabling a safe long-term care act. The NDP is ready to make that a reality.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

September 27th, 2023 / 6:30 p.m.
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Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very proud to rise today to once again speak to this bill. I already spoke to it at second reading, and I want to reiterate what I said at that time: The Bloc Québécois intends to support Bill C‑295.

This bill warranted review in committee. It should be passed and brought into force as quickly as possible. Negligence toward anyone in our life is wrong. Negligence toward our seniors and most vulnerable is shameful.

Our seniors were the victims of terrible treatment during the 2020-22 lockdown. They were often abandoned in institutions with a lack of services, a lack of staff or staff who were ill equipped. They were shuffled from one institution to another. They were considered to be in the margins, people we did not need to take care of like they deserved. They were cut off from their loved ones. Many of them died without even having their close family, children or spouse with them. That is unacceptable. Often, they were not properly fed or fed at irregular hours. They were mistreated.

Collectively, our behaviour was unbecoming. We were like ungrateful children. This must never ever happen again. In Quebec, we have legislation to address this issue, an Act to combat maltreatment of seniors and other persons of full age in vulnerable situations. I mentioned earlier that I hoped that the federal government would model its legislation on the Quebec law, and I think it did so in some regards.

Bill C‑295, which has been moved for adoption, was amended in committee. That is why we wanted to study it in committee. There were things in the bill that bothered us. We worked hard in committee, and I thank my colleagues from the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for the work we did. Many, if not all, of the amendments proposed by the Bloc Québécois were adopted. Now we have a bill that seeks to improve living conditions for our seniors and the most vulnerable among us, whether by reason of age, illness, mental disorder or disability. I think that it does us credit to think of these people during our deliberations here in the House.

These people will now be protected when they live in long-term care facilities. Situations like the ones that occurred between 2020 and 2022 were already prohibited and liable to prosecution. Now, both the owners and the officers of long-term care facilities will be personally responsible for providing necessaries of life to residents of the facilities. Again, we are talking about seniors and people with disabilities or mental disorders, people who are sick. They need us. We needed them at one time. Now, they are the ones who need us. It is wrong not to take care of them.

I therefore welcome this bill with a certain amount of pride. I hope it is not used to prosecute people for contravening its provisions, but rather to encourage them to respect what is now enshrined in law and what should be the minimum we are required to do for some of our most vulnerable citizens. One of the main responsibilities of any government or society is to treat seniors with dignity, respect and fairness. Bill C-295 tells us that we must do just that. We cannot be negligent toward our seniors or toward people who need us without being subject to prosecution under the Criminal Code.

That is not all. Their economic well-being also deserves attention. The federal government must provide the transfers that the provinces have been demanding for far too long now. These transfers are necessary for Quebec and the other provinces to properly administer health care services. In response, the federal government tells us that it intends to set conditions on its transfers and dictate the way we care for the less fortunate. Where, when and how this should be done, the federal government has no idea. The federal government does not manage any hospitals, long-term care homes or health facilities, except those catering to veterans.

The expertise exists not in Ottawa, but in Quebec City. I think that setting conditions on health transfers is outrageous. It does not mean that seniors in long-term care are going without food or baths. It means that the people in charge of these health services are being deprived of the financial means they need to meet the needs of these citizens properly. That is also unacceptable. I think that if the federal government and Parliament want to look into the well-being of the less fortunate, economic aspects should not be overlooked. We have been talking about this for years, and I am fairly certain the talking is not over. I would be very surprised if cheques were sent out next week, but I can promise that we will be there keeping an eye on things. The health care system matters.

That is not all. There are health transfers, but there is also the economic well-being of seniors. As we saw recently, the federal government decided to make seniors aged 65 to 75 poorer. The government acknowledged that needs had increased. God knows they have, and quite a bit more than the government was willing to acknowledge. It gave a 10% increase to seniors aged 75 and over, while leaving retired seniors aged 65 to 75 to fend for themselves. However, all of our laws recognize that people in that age bracket are seniors. This is an unacceptable decision, one we have also frequently criticized in the House, and we will continue to do so.

We have an opportunity to fix this inequity. My colleague, the member for Shefford, is sponsoring Bill C-319, which we will have to vote on in the near future, probably when we return from the parliamentary break week or before the holidays. We hope it will be as soon as possible.

On the one hand, the bill proposes to increase pensions by 10% for all seniors aged 65 and over, across the board, regardless of their age, sex or race. Everyone who is 65 or over and living in Canada should be entitled to the 10% increase. People know very well, as I do, that the 10% increase does not even come close to covering the added economic burden resting on our seniors' shoulders. Groceries cost nearly twice as much and rents are skyrocketing. We are having to strike committees to look into the issue. We are out of ideas for how to stem these increases. Seniors are getting a 10% increase, which is not much at all, so the least we can do is give it to all seniors.

On the other hand, Bill C‑319 also proposes to increase from $5,000 to $6,500 the maximum income a retiree can earn with no penalty clawed back from their pension. That, too, seems reasonable to me. It is the least we can do. We want to tell people that they have a right to their pension, but should they decide to work a little to make ends meet, we will not penalize them for it. I think it would be shameful to penalize them when the pension we are giving them amounts to crumbs.

We can talk about Bill C‑295 and the need for us to properly take care of the most vulnerable, seniors, people with intellectual deficiencies, the sick and persons with disabilities in our long-term care facilities. We can talk about transferring money to the provinces and Quebec that is needed to provide adequate health care services in our hospitals and we can talk about the need to provide equitable and basic economic conditions to seniors. In any case, we are talking about taking care of the least fortunate among us. It does not seem right to have to talk about it here. This is something we should be doing, no questions asked, without even having to vote. This should already be in effect. Let us hope this gets done.

In closing, I would remind the House that a society is judged on how it treats its most vulnerable members.

Let us prove ourselves worthy of our seniors. Let us prove ourselves worthy of the benefits of the society in which we live.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

September 27th, 2023 / 6:20 p.m.
See context


Pat Kelly Conservative Calgary Rocky Ridge, AB

Madam Speaker, it is an honour, as always, to rise and contribute to the debate on Private Members' Business. Tonight we are debating Bill C-295, moved by the member for Vancouver Centre, whose bill proposes an amendment to the Criminal Code to create a new offence for long-term care facilities, their owners and their managers who fail to provide the necessaries of life to the residents of their facilities.

The bill would also create a process by which courts could make prohibition orders against the owners and managers of such facilities, prevent them from being in charge of or in a position of authority over vulnerable adults, and to consider as an aggravating factor, for the purpose of sentencing, the fact that an organization failed to perform the legal duty it owed to a vulnerable adult.

Her concern for vulnerable adults is most certainly a credit to the member, and I share this concern for many reasons. Many of my constituents have shared with me, as a member of Parliament, personal stories about fraud, abuse and neglect of elderly or vulnerable family members. I share this concern because, like most Canadians, I have, and had, vulnerable adults in my family.

My own grandfather was defrauded by his caregiver in the final months of his life. I have spoken about it in this place before with respect to other bills designed to enhance protection for vulnerable adults, but I am going to do so again. My grandfather spent the final months of his life worrying about money and a possible financial burden on his companion because a caregiver defrauded him. This crime did not take place in an institutional setting. The perpetrator of the crime provided care to him in his home, preparing light meals and doing housekeeping. This was the level of care he needed to stay in his home with his companion comfortably, yet he was defrauded.

The local RCMP detachment had a poster in the police station imploring people to report fraud and to be aware of elder abuse, yet despite obvious and overwhelming evidence, it took months for charges to be laid. The police kept saying they were too busy to get around to arresting the suspect. This resulted in my grandfather's passing away before they eventually arrested and charged the caregiver who preyed upon an elderly couple in their own neighbourhood.

I mention this episode again in the House to be clear that I know first-hand how vulnerable adults can be prone to abuse, fraud and neglect. I also know first-hand how poorly the justice system reacts to such cases of abuse and fraud, so I can only image how slowly and reluctantly authorities react to cases of neglect. There is no doubt much more needs to be done to protect vulnerable adults. My family experience is enough to convince me of that even if I did not also have the weight of so many similar stories from the people I represent in Calgary.

I am also very concerned about the rise of incidents of violence against seniors. We know that under the current government's watch, crime has gone up significantly in every category, but according to Statistics Canada, the rate of violence against seniors has gone up faster than the increase in violence against all other age groups.

I too was appalled by the collapse of care in some seniors homes during the early weeks of the pandemic and that the military was called in to restore the most basic care and ensure that the necessities of life were delivered to helplessly vulnerable seniors.

However, this bill is not about establishing who cares the most about seniors. It is not about how to fix shortcomings in the seniors care system. It is not about how seniors care is funded or how it is delivered. It is not about regulating standards of care in long-term facilities. This bill proposes a Criminal Code amendment. This bill would amend the Criminal Code to create a new offence and give addition order-making power to courts. It was supported by parliamentarians at second reading and was referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. During the hearings, 15 provincial long-term care associations, organizations and businesses submitted briefs opposing this bill.

Six national organizations also opposed the bill, including the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Association for Long Term Care, the Canadian Medical Protective Association, the Canadian Association of Social Workers, the Canadian College of Health Leaders, and CanAge. These associations raised concerns about the unintended consequences of this bill. Some said that if passed, this bill will have a devastating impact on recruitment and retention by creating undue risk and hardship for frontline staff. They raised concerns at committee that this bill would exacerbate what is an already precarious situation with chronic labour shortages in the industry.

It was also remarked that this bill and the debate around it have had a tone of general opposition to privately owned long-term care facilities, in favour of publicly operated ones. To those who assert without evidence, mostly from philosophical conviction, that privately owned and operated long-term care facilities are more prone to instances of neglect than publicly owned ones, they could run for provincial office, which is where such facilities are regulated, and they could get involved in the regulation of health care facilities and the general regulation of commerce. They could also consider whether a new offence and new order-making provisions are the best way to protect vulnerable adults. Perhaps they could propose comprehensive anti-elder abuse legislation, something that the previous justice minister was tasked with in his mandate letter but failed to actually do before he was shuffled. During the 2021 election, the government promised a safe long-term care act, but it has not introduced one.

The Criminal Code really is a blunt instrument, and given the testimony at the justice committee, one really must reconsider whether this bill will help vulnerable adults or whether, through unintended consequences, it will make the highly stressed system of care for vulnerable adults worse rather than better. What good are new offences in the Criminal Code when existing offences are not enforced? Prohibitions against fraud, abuse, and failing to provide the necessities of life already exist in the Criminal Code, but we need better enforcement and prosecution of our laws. What good is a new offence if existing offences are not enforced?

We have seen this before with private members' bills, when a member proposes a change to the Criminal Code in order to draw attention to an issue and force a vote in the House of Commons to signal concern about an issue, but without actually creating a comprehensive solution. This is admittedly part of the limitations of private members' bills. In this case, the member for Vancouver Centre cannot propose changes that commit public money, and she cannot propose provincial regulations in the federal House of Commons. The Criminal Code is one of the things that a member can change but, again, it is a blunt policy instrument. It is a long and complex law already.

I do not like to have to criticize a bill for what it does not do, but if one just focuses on what this bill actually does, we have to consider the evidence that was presented at committee. We have to be concerned about the consequences and consider whether there are already provisions in the Criminal Code that can and should be applied to horrific cases of abuse and neglect when they arise. As I have said, when existing laws to protect the vulnerable are not a priority for law enforcement and for our courts, what is the point of passing new laws?

While I commend the member for trying to deter and punish future cases of neglect through the Criminal Code, I will not support this bill, given the evidence of harm that it will cause to the ability of existing facilities to retain workers and attract investment at a critical time, when facilities are struggling with acute labour shortages and rising costs.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

September 27th, 2023 / 6:10 p.m.
See context


Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, I was a bit worried about Bill C‑295 at first. I was afraid it would encroach on provincial jurisdiction, but in the end, that is not the case at all. I am quite happy about that.

The bill specifies that if an owner or officer of a long-term care facility is convicted of failing to ensure necessaries of life, that owner or officer will be prohibited from doing paid or volunteer work in the presence of elderly or vulnerable persons. However, the bill does not specify how, after the prohibition period, we can ensure that the owner or officer is no longer a threat to people in vulnerable situations.

Does my colleague think that a risk assessment should be carried out before the end of the prohibition period in order to allow paid or volunteer work with people in vulnerable situations?