An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act (mental health services)

Sponsor

Stephen Ellis  Conservative

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

Status

In committee (House), as of Sept. 27, 2023

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-323.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Excise Tax Act in order to exempt psychotherapy and mental health counselling services from the goods and services tax.

Elsewhere

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.

Votes

Sept. 27, 2023 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-323, An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act (mental health services)

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

February 7th, 2024 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Greg Fergus

It being 3:21 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the 15th report of the Standing Committee on Finance concerning the extension of time to consider Bill C-323, An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act (mental health services).

Call in the members.

FinanceRoutine Proceedings

February 5th, 2024 / 3:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Peter Fonseca Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 15th report of the Standing Committee on Finance in relation to Bill C-323, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act with respect to mental health services. The committee is requesting an extension of 30 days to consider Bill C-323.

Bill C-59—Proposal to Apply Standing Order 69.1—Speaker's RulingPoints of Order

January 30th, 2024 / 10 a.m.
See context

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Greg Fergus

I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on December 12, 2023, by the House leader of the official opposition, concerning the application of Standing Order 69.1 to Bill C-59, an act to implement certain provisions of the fall economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 21, 2023, and certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 28, 2023.

According to the House leader of the official opposition, Bill C‑59 is an omnibus bill and therefore he asked the Chair to apply Standing Order 69.1(1), which provides as follows:

In the case where a government bill seeks to repeal, amend or enact more than one act, and where there is not a common element connecting the various provisions or where unrelated matters are linked, the Speaker shall have the power to divide the questions, for the purposes of voting, on the motion for second reading and reference to a committee and the motion for third reading and passage of the bill. The Speaker shall have the power to combine clauses of the bill thematically and to put the aforementioned questions on each of these groups of clauses separately, provided that there will be a single debate at each stage.

The member relied on Speaker Regan's decision of November 8, 2017, to argue that Bill C-59 should not benefit from the exception provided by Standing Order 69.1(2). This exception stipulates that section 1 does not apply if a bill “has as its main purpose the implementation of a budget and contains only provisions that were announced in the budget presentation or in the documents tabled during the budget presentation.”

The House leader of the official opposition contended that the implementation of measures announced in the economic statement of November 21, 2023, is not enough of a common element to justify grouping them for voting purposes. He also asserted that an economic statement is not, properly speaking, a budget. The member said that Bill C-59 should be divided in 16 for the purpose of voting. He further stated that two of the 16 pieces, which are similar to bills C‑318 and C‑323, should simply not be put to a vote at all, given that the House has already passed those bills at second reading.

In response, the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader pointed out that Bill C-59 mainly contains provisions implementing measures announced in the 2023 budget, along with some measures announced in the fall economic statement, whose common theme is addressing the affordability challenges facing Canadians. Consequently, he concluded that the measures included in the budget and those announced in the fall economic statement should be voted on together.

The Chair must first determine whether the main purpose of Bill C-59 is to implement the budget and whether it therefore falls within the exception provided by Standing Order 69.1(2).

The Standing Orders place very specific conditions on the consideration of budgets. For instance, a particular order of the day must be designated. Debate lasts a certain number of days, and votes take place at certain points in time. From start to finish, budgets are an integral part of the business of ways and means.

House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, defines financial statements as follows on pages 901 and 902:

On occasion, the Minister of Finance makes an economic statement to the House, generally referred to as a ‘mini‑budget’, that provides basic economic and fiscal information that will be the subject of policy review and public debate leading up to the next budget. Unlike a budget presentation, these statements are delivered without notice and do not precipitate a budget debate. Notices of ways and means motions are also tabled on these occasions.

Budget presentations and economic statements are therefore related concepts, but each has its own unique characteristics.

Both the economic statement of fall 2023 and the budget of spring 2023 are very long and complex documents. As indicated in its title, “An Act to implement certain provisions of the fall economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 21, 2023 and certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 28, 2023”, Bill C-59 indeed contains many measures; some stem from the budget documents, others from the economic statement.

However, some measures are not to be found in either. The Chair takes the view that the main purpose of the bill is not the implementation of a budget, and the exception provided in Standing Order 69.1(2) does not apply in this case.

The Chair must now determine whether a common element connects the various provisions of Bill C-59 and, if not, to what extent all or some of the provisions are closely related. A broad common theme is not sufficient. As explained on November 7, 2017, at page 15095 of the Debates, the Chair must decide “whether the matters are so unrelated as to warrant a separate vote at second and third reading.”

In deciding whether a link exists, the Chair may consider several factors. Different measures may have a single objective or common elements, as the Chair found in its decision on Bill C‑4 on September 29, 2020, whose common element was a public health crisis. Cross-references between parts of a bill, or a lack thereof, may also be an indicator.

After completing this analysis, the Chair believes that Bill C‑59 should indeed be divided for the purpose of voting. As my predecessor noted on November 28, 2022, on page 10087 of the Debates, “[t]he objective here is not to divide the bill for consideration purposes, but to enable the House to decide questions that are not closely related separately.”

First, the measures in clauses 1 to 136, 138 to 143, 168 to 196, 209 to 216, and 278 to 317 appear in the 2023 budget. Since their purpose is to implement certain budget proposals, they would be grouped based on this unifying theme and voted on together.

Second, the measures that can be grouped under the theme of affordability, clauses 137, 144, and 231 to 272, will be subject to a different vote. Clauses 197 to 208 and 342 to 365 will also be grouped for voting because they amend the Canada Labour Code. Clauses 145 to 167, 217 and 218 will be subject to a separate vote because they relate to vaping products, cannabis and tobacco.

The remaining divisions of Bill C-59, consisting of clauses 219 to 230, 273 to 277, 318 and 319, 320 to 322, and 323 to 341, will each be voted on separately because they are not linked to any of the common themes mentioned earlier. In all, nine votes will be held. The Chair will remind members of this division when the bill comes to a vote at second reading.

Finally, I would like to remind members of the Chair's ruling on December 12, 2023, which also dealt with Bill C-59. The Chair found that Bill C-318 and Bill C-323 can continue through the legislative process.

I thank all members for their attention.

Ways and Means Motion No. 19—Speaker's RulingPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

December 12th, 2023 / 3:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Greg Fergus

I am now ready to provide the House with an explanatory ruling on the admissibility of Ways and Means Motion No. 19. On November 29, 2023, I ruled that the order for consideration of the motion, and the subsequent bill based thereon, be allowed to proceed further.

On November 28, 2023, the House leader of the official opposition challenged the admissibility of the motion. He pointed out that Bill C-318, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act and the Canada Labour Code (adoptive and intended parents), and Bill C-323, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act (mental health services), both currently in committee, were substantially the same as provisions covered in Ways and Means Motion No. 19, tabled earlier that day.

Concurrence in a ways and means motion constitutes an order to bring in a bill based on the provisions of the motion. This is indeed what happened with the subsequent introduction of Bill C-59, an act to implement certain provisions of the fall economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 21, 2023 and certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 28, 2023.

The House leader argued that the two private members’ bills had already been the subject of decisions of the House at second reading. The ways and means motion and Bill C-59 would violate a procedural concept, the rule of anticipation, which he described as the “same question rule”. Quoting from House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, at page 568, the member seemed to suggest that a ways and means motion could not anticipate a matter already standing on the Order Paper and which was contained in another form of proceeding. He asserted that Bill C-318 and Bill C-323 were more effective tools to accomplish the desired intent than Ways and Means Motion No. 19. As such, both these bills should have priority over the motion.

He also cited precedents in relation to bills that could or could not proceed further, based on the fundamental principle that the same question cannot be decided twice within a session.

The member further suggested that Ways and Means Motion No. 19 be put in abeyance pending the outcome of Bill C-318 and Bill C-323, based on the rule of anticipation.

For his part, the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader countered that further consideration of Ways and Means Motion No. 19, as well as subsequent proceedings on an associated bill, was in order. He referenced past precedents about similar bills. He made the point that the provisions in Ways and Means Motion No. 19 contained numerous elements that are not found in Bill C-318 and Bill C-323, which indicates that the principle and scope of the ways and means motion are broader than what is found in either of the bills. As such, Ways and Means Motion No. 19, and the bill based thereon, constituted different questions.

In his intervention, the House leader of the official opposition quoted from page 568 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, on the rule of anticipation. The Chair would like to read, from the same page, prior to the quoted passage. It states:

The moving of a motion was formerly subject to the ancient “rule of anticipation” which is no longer strictly observed.

Further down on the same page it says, “While the rule of anticipation is part of the Standing Orders in the British House of Commons, it has never been so in the Canadian House of Commons. Furthermore, references to past attempts to apply this British rule to Canadian practice are inconclusive.”

Even though the notion of anticipation is described in our procedural authorities, and the expression is sometimes colloquially used in points of order and even some past rulings dealing with similar items, it is indeed a very difficult concept to apply in our context.

Establishing a hierarchy between bills and motions, or between categories of bills, and giving precedence to some, may prove difficult, except in very specific cases, detailed in House of Commons Procedure and Practice. Bills and motions are different by nature and achieve different ends.

What the Chair is seized with in reviewing the current matter is the rule forbidding the same question from being decided twice in the same session. It is different from the concept of anticipation and, in the view of the Chair, the one that should apply.

In his submission, the House leader of the official opposition cited various recent precedents, and the Chair thinks it pertinent to describe some of their procedural subtleties.

The first example, from the last Parliament, pertained to two bills not identical, but substantially similar: Bill C-218, an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding sports betting, a private members' bill, and Bill C-13, an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding single event sport betting, a government bill. Both were at second reading and both were very short bills touching the same section of the Criminal Code.

By adopting Bill C‑218 at second reading, the House had agreed to the larger principle of repealing the very portion of the Criminal Code that Bill C‑13 also sought to amend. This sequencing left the House with a situation where Bill C‑13 could not move forward as long as Bill C‑218 continued its course.

The second example, from earlier this session, described a budget implementation bill, Bill C-19, and a votable private members’ bill amending the Criminal Code regarding the promotion of anti-Semitism, Bill C-250. The latter, introduced on February 9, 2022, contained provisions that were subsequently included in Bill C-19, introduced on April 28, 2022. However, of the two bills, the government bill was the first to be adopted at second reading and referred to committee. One of the key differences was that the two bills were not substantially identical. Bill C-19 was much broader in scope than Bill C-250. By agreeing to Bill C-19, the House de facto agreed with the principles presented in C-250. No decision having yet been made on Bill C-250, the Chair ordered that it be held as pending business until such time as royal assent be granted to Bill C-19.

Finally, the member referenced rulings dealing with two votable Private Members’ Business items, Bill C-243, an act respecting the elimination of the use of forced labour and child labour in supply chains, and Bill S-211, an act to enact the Fighting Against Forced Labour and Child Labour in Supply Chains Act and to amend the Customs Tariff. The two bills had the same objective and only one was allowed to proceed further. The Chair indicated at the time that the case involved an unusual set of circumstances, since normally one of them could have been designated as non-votable by the Subcommittee on Private Members’ Business had the sequence of events been different.

The House leader's main argument hinged on the question of whether provisions contained in Ways and Means Motion No. 19 and therefore Bill C-59 are similar or identical to Bills C-318 and C-323.

Bills C‑318 and C‑323 have been both read a second time and referred to committee, while no decision has yet been made on Bill C‑59. An exhaustive review of its provisions shows that it does contain some similar provisions found in the two aforementioned private members' bills. However, Bill C‑59 cannot be described as substantially similar or identical to them.

Its scope is vastly broader, containing many more elements than what is included in Bills C-318 and C-323, including taxation legislation and provisions requiring a royal recommendation

The bills are similar in part, but are not substantially the same. The principles of Bill C-318 and Bill C-323, as adopted at second reading, are indeed included in the broader Bill C-59, but the reverse is not true. Therefore, the decision the House will take on Bill C-59 will not be the same. Accordingly, there is no procedural reason to stop the bill from continuing its journey through the legislative process.

To be clear, when a government bill and a private member's bill or when two private members' bills are substantially similar, only one of them may proceed and be voted on. Once one of the two has passed second reading, a decision cannot be taken on the other within the same session. Where bills are only similar in part, the effect of adopting one might have a different impact on the other depending on their principle, scope and, of course, which bill is adopted first.

I note that the House leader of the official opposition rose earlier today on a different point of order considering the application of Standing Order 69.1 to Bill C-59. I wish to inform the member and the House that I am reviewing the matter closely and I do intend to come back with a ruling in a timely manner.

Nonetheless, for the time being, the Chair sees no reason to rule that Bill C-59 be put in abeyance. As for the two Private Members' Business items currently in committee, it seems premature for the Chair to intervene at this time.

I thank all members for their attention.

Bill C-59—Proposal to Apply Standing Order 69.1Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

December 12th, 2023 / 10:30 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Conservative Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order pursuant to Standing Order 69.1, to ask that you treat Bill C-59, an act to implement certain provisions of the fall economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 21, 2023 and certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 28, 2023, as an omnibus bill, and divide it for voting purposes at the second and third reading stages.

This argument is, of course, without prejudice to the arguments which were made last week by me in respect of the rule against anticipation and Ways and Means Motion No. 19, which preceded the introduction of Bill C-59, for which the House is still awaiting a ruling from the Speaker.

Section (1) of Standing Order 69.1 provides that “In the case where a government bill seeks to repeal, amend or enact more than one act, and where there is not a common element connecting the various provisions or where unrelated matters are linked, the Speaker shall have the power to divide the questions, for the purposes of voting". Section (2) of the same standing order makes an exception for budget implementation bills, stating, “if the bill has as its main purpose the implementation of a budget and contains only provisions that were announced in the budget presentation”.

As Speaker Regan ruled on November 8, 2017, at page 15143 of the Debates, where a budget bill contains measures which were not part of the budget, this budget bill exemption applies only to those elements which were in the budget itself. The non-budget elements can be divided under the provisions of Standing Order 69.1(1).

In the case of Bill C-59, calling it a budget implementation bill would be exceedingly generous. While reference to the March budget can be found in the long title, the short title ignores this, calling the bill the “fall economic statement implementation act, 2023”. Not even the government House leader, the manager of the government's parliamentary program, used it as a budget implementation bill, judging by her remarks in the last two weekly business statements. On November 23, she told the House, “it is the intention of the government to commence debate next week concerning the bill relating to the fall economic statement”. This past Thursday, she said that priority will be given to the second reading of Bill C-59, an act to implement certain provisions of the fall economic statement. Therefore, I would argue that the evident treatment given to Bill C-59 by its own proponents, would mean that its main purpose is, indeed, not the implementation of a budget. Accordingly, it would follow that the exemption found in Standing Order 69.1(2) cannot apply here.

I would further argue that Speaker Regan's November 2017 ruling can be distinguished from the facts at hand today, namely that he dealt with a budget bill with a few extra add-ons. Here, we have a bill that is not even being treated, in the main, as a budget implementation bill and that, therefore, cannot even benefit from a partial exemption, since the main purpose of Bill C-59 is not to implement a budget.

Having addressed that matter, I now wish to turn to the matter of treating the bill as an omnibus one, “where there is not a common element connecting the various provisions or where unrelated matters are linked”. In my respectful view, the fact that a series of measures may have been previewed in a fall economic statement does not amount to a so-called common element. Given that fall economic statements are often popularly dubbed “mini-budgets” and that the House itself recognizes that budgets often string together otherwise unrelated things by creating the budget implementation bill exemption in Standing Order 69.1, it is my submission that the mere inclusion of an item in a fall economic statement cannot be sufficient to overcome the treatment required for an omnibus bill.

Even if the Chair might be persuaded that all of the measures are, in one form or another, a matter of broad economic policy, I would refer you to Speaker Regan's March 1, 2018, ruling at page 17551 of the Debates:

In presenting arguments relating to Bill C-63, the hon. member for Calgary Shepard raised an interesting concept from the practice in the Quebec National Assembly. Quoting from page 400 of Parliamentary Procedure in Québec, he stated:

“The principle or principles contained in a bill must not be confused with the field it concerns. To frame the concept of principle in that way would prevent the division of most bills, because they apply to a specific field.”

While their procedure for dividing bills is quite different from ours, the idea of distinguishing the principles of a bill from its field has stayed with me. While each bill is different and so too each case, I believe that Standing Order 69.1 can indeed be applied to a bill where all of the initiatives relate to a specific policy area, if those initiatives are sufficiently distinct to warrant a separate decision of the House.

In this particular instance, I have no trouble agreeing that all of the measures contained in Bill C-69 relate to environmental protection. However, I believe there are distinct initiatives that are sufficiently unrelated that they warrant multiple votes.

Deputy Speaker Bruce Stanton dealt with another similar situation when he ruled on June 18, 2018, at page 21163 of the Debates, in respect of a former Bill C-59, stating it:

...does clearly contain several different initiatives. It establishes new agencies and mechanisms for oversight of national security agencies and deals with information collection and sharing as well as criminal offences relating to terrorism. That said, one could argue, as the parliamentary secretary did, that since these are all matters related to national security, there is, indeed, a common thread between them. However, the question the Chair must ask itself is whether these specific measures should be subjected to separate votes.

He goes on to state, “In this particular case, while the Chair has no trouble agreeing that all of the measures contained in Bill C-59 relate to national security, it is the Chair's view that there are distinct initiatives that are sufficiently unrelated as to warrant dividing the question.”

Therefore, I would suggest that today's bill, Bill C-59, should also be divided for voting purposes at second reading and, if necessary, at third reading.

After a brief review and analysis of the bill's contents, it seems that it could actually be divided into several groupings: clauses 1 to 95, proposing amendments to the Income Tax Act and consequential amendments to other enactments, as well as the bill's short title; clauses 96 to 128, proposing the creation of a digital services tax; clauses 129 to 136, 138 to 143 and 145 to 167, proposing amendments concerning the excise tax, other than the exemption of GST for mental health services, which is also contained in Bill C-323, a matter to which I will return later; clauses 168 to 196, proposing amendments to the laws governing financial institutions; clauses 197 to 208, proposing to create a leave entitlement related to pregnancy loss and to amend the law concerning bereavement leave; clauses 209 to 216, proposing the creation of a Canada water agency; clauses 217 and 218, proposing amendments to the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act; clauses 219 to 230, proposing amendments to the Canadian Payments Act; clauses 231 to 272 proposing various amendments to competition law; clauses 273 to 277, proposing amendments exempting post-secondary schools from the laws concerning bankruptcy and insolvency; clauses 278 to 317, proposing various legislative amendments concerning money laundering, terrorist financing and sanctions evasions; clauses 318 and 319, concerning the information which is published by the government respecting certain transfer payments to the provinces; clauses 320 to 322, proposing amendments concerning the Public Sector Pension Investment Board; and clauses 323 to 341, proposing the creation of a department of housing, infrastructure and communities.

Additionally, I would propose that clauses 137 and 144, concerning the exemption of GST for mental health services, mirroring the provisions of Bill C-323, as well as clauses 342 to 365, creating employment insurance and job protection benefits for adoptive and surrogate parents, replicating the substance of Bill C-318, should also be separated out from Bill C-59. However, in this instance, I would suggest that, instead of a separate vote, these provisions would simply not proceed further given that the House has already taken a decision on the principle of those matters when it adopted the common-sense Conservative private members' bills at second reading.

Approaching it in this fashion might be an elegant solution to squaring the circle in the ruling that remains pending on Ways and Means Motion No. 19.

In short, Bill C-59, the fall economic statement implementation bill, is an omnibus bill under Standing Order 69.1. It qualifies in no way for the budget bill exemption in that rule. It can and should be divided into separate votes, about 14 or so based on the thematic groupings of the bill's clauses. It would, if so divided, offer an elegant solution for a pending Speaker's ruling to reconcile the long-standing rules and precedents of the House respecting multiple decisions on the same question that, for reasons we are awaiting, did not apply to Ways and Means Motion No. 19 and that saw the House vote, yet again, on the principles found in two Conservative private members' bills that had already been adopted at second reading.

Opposition Motion—Carbon Tax on Farmers, First Nations and FamiliesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

December 7th, 2023 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stephen Ellis Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, very clearly, there are two parts to the answer.

One is that, first and foremost, we need to make it more affordable for Canadians to live. There will not be a country if people cannot afford to eat, to heat their homes and to house themselves. We know that those are the three main requirements to having a life to live, so that is very important.

The second incredibly important point is that we know clearly on this side of the House that Conservatives continue to put forward great ideas. For example, the leader of His Majesty’s loyal opposition put forward a 15-minute video releasing his housing documentary. However, the Liberals, of course, did not even have the decency to watch it. If they did watch it, we know exactly what would happen, which is that they would abscond with those ideas. They took advantage of the credit for the great Bill C-323, which was released. It happened to be my bill. What did they do? They included it in their mini budget, because they are out of ideas, and, of course, we all know they are out of time.

Ways and Means Motion No. 19Points of OrderGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2023 / 4:20 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, the second point of order is a little more detailed.

I rise to respond to a point of order raised on Tuesday, November 28, by the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle respecting the inadmissibility of the notice of Ways and Means Motion No. 19 and two items of Private Members' Business.

The crux of the argument by the member opposite is on the principle of a bill at second reading stage. This is the heart of the argument. I would humbly point to the purpose of the second reading debate and the vote at that stage, which is on the principle of the bill.

Before I get into the specific matters involved in the member's argument, I would like to remind my colleagues across the aisle of what a debate and vote on the principle of a bill entails.

Members of the House know that our Standing Orders and practices derive from those of Westminster. If a member would like to look into how debates at Westminster are handled at the second reading stage, they might be surprised. The British House of Commons has 650 members, yet the debate on any government bill at the second reading stage very rarely exceeds one sitting day.

Now I will go to the specific argument raised by my colleague across the way. The two bills in question that are subject to certain provisions containing Ways and Means Motion No. 19 are Bill C-318, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act, and Bill C-323, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act (mental health services).

With respect to the first item, Bill C-318 requires a royal recommendation which would govern the entire scheme of a new employment insurance benefit for adoptive parents. As a result, the bill cannot come to a vote at third reading in the absence of a royal recommendation provided by a minister of the Crown.

The bill was drafted by employees of the law clerk's office who would have notified the sponsor of this requirement. While I would not want to speculate on the intentions of the member who sponsored this bill, there is little doubt that the member knew this bill would not pass without royal recommendation.

As a result of a ministerial mandate commitment to bring forward an employment insurance benefit for adoptive parents with an accompanying royal recommendation, the government has brought forward this measure for consideration of the House in a manner that raises no procedural obstacle to providing this important benefit for Canadians. It is the sole prerogative of the executive to authorize new and distinct spending from the consolidated revenue fund, and that is what is proposed in the bill that would implement the measures contained in Ways and Means Motion No. 19.

Now I will go to the point of a similar question. The example my colleague raised with respect to the Speaker's ruling on February 18, 2021, concerns Bill C-13 and Bill C-218 respecting single sports betting. Both bills contain the same principle, that being to allow certain forms of single sports betting. The approaches contained in Bill C-13 and Bill C-218 were slightly different, but achieved the same purpose. As a result, and rightly so, the Speaker ruled that the bills were substantially similar and ruled that Bill C-13 not be proceeded with.

The situation with Bill C-13 and Bill C-218 bears no resemblance to the situation currently before the House, and the member opposite has been again helpful in making my argument. The member cites the situation with Bill C-19 and Bill C-250 concerning Holocaust denial.

The case with this situation, and the case currently before the House, is instructional for the question faced by the Speaker, which is whether the principle of the questions on the second reading of Bill C-318 and Bill C-323, and the question on Ways and Means Motion No. 19, are the same.

The answer is categorically no. The question on both Ways and Means Motion No. 19 and the question should Ways and Means Motion No. 19 be adopted on the implementing of a bill are vastly different. The questions at second reading on Bill C-318 and Bill C-323 are specific questions on the principle of measures contained in those private members' bills.

The question on Ways and Means Motion No. 19 and the question at second reading on the bill to implement those measures is much broader. As the member stated in his intervention yesterday, Ways and Means Motion No. 19 contains many measures announced in the 2023 budget as well as in the fall economic statement. While the measures to implement the fall economic statement are thematically linked to the issue of affordability, they contain many measures to address the affordability challenges facing Canadians. As a result, the question at second reading on implementing legislation is a very different question for the House to consider.

In conclusion, while there have been precedents respecting similar questions on similar bills which propose a scheme for a specific issue, namely Bill C-13 and Bill C-218, this and other precedents do not in any way suggest that the questions at second reading on Bill C-323 and Bill C-318 in any way resemble the question on Ways and Means Motion No. 19 and the question at second reading on the implementing bill for the measures contained in the 2023 budget and the fall economic statement.

Ways and Means Motion No. 19Points of OrderGovernment Orders

November 28th, 2023 / 5:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Conservative Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Madam Speaker, I am rising on a point of order challenging the admissibility of Ways and Means Motion No. 19 concerning the fall economic statement implementation bill, which was tabled earlier today by the Deputy Prime Minister. It is my submission that the motion offends the rule against anticipation, sometimes also known as the “same question rule”. That rule is described on page 568 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, which reads as follows:

The rule is dependent on the principle which forbids the same question from being decided twice within the same session. It does not apply, however, to similar or identical motions or bills which appear on the Notice Paper prior to debate. The rule of anticipation becomes operative only when one of two similar motions on the Order Paper is actually proceeded with. For example, two bills similar in substance will be allowed to stand on the Order Paper but only one may be moved and disposed of. If a decision is taken on the first bill (for example, to defeat the bill or advance it through a stage in the legislative process), then the other may not be proceeded with...If the first bill is withdrawn (by unanimous consent, often after debate has started), then the second may be proceeded with.

The rule against anticipation has been building a significant number of precedents in the past few years in light of the NDP-Liberal government's growing pattern of stealing common-sense Conservative private members' bills to add to their own legislative agenda. While our authorities suggest that such points of order should be raised only when the second question is actually proposed from the Chair, I recognize that in light of Ways and Means Motion No. 19 being an omnibus proposal, exceeding 500 pages in length, you, Madam Speaker, might appreciate having the evening to reflect on the issues I am about to discuss before the government intends to call it for consideration tomorrow.

In the present case, Ways and Means Motion No. 19 includes provisions that the House has already adopted in principle at second reading through two private members' bills.

On September 20, the House passed second reading Bill C-318, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act and the Canada Labour Code, sponsored by the Conservative hon. member for Battlefords—Lloydminster. The summary printed on the inside cover of the bill reads:

This enactment amends the Employment Insurance Act to introduce a new type of special benefits: an attachment benefit of 15 weeks for adoptive parents and parents of children conceived through surrogacy. It also amends the Canada Labour Code to extend parental leave accordingly.

Last week's fall economic statement on pages 43 and 42 states that:

The 2023 Fall Economic Statement proposes to introduce a new 15-week shareable EI adoption...Surrogate parents will also be eligible for this benefit.

The 2023 Fall Economic Statement also proposes to make amendments to the Employment Insurance Act, as well as corresponding changes to the Canada Labour Code, to ensure that workers in federally regulated industries have the job protection they need while receiving the EI adoption benefit.

Those provisions appear as clauses 342 to 365 of Ways and Means Motion No. 19. While the legislative language used varies, the ultimate policy objective and therefore the principle of the matter remains the same as a close examination of the two passages I quoted reveals.

The second private member's bill stolen by the government this week is Bill C-323, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act, mental health services, sponsored by the Conservative member for Cumberland—Colchester, which the House passed at second reading on September 27. My colleague's bill would amend sections 1 and 7 of part II of schedule V of the Excise Tax Act to exempt psychotherapy and mental health counselling from GST. Clause 137 of Ways and Means Motion No. 19 would do the exact same thing, except that the government refers to “counselling therapy” instead of Bill C-323's “mental health counselling”. That is, I would submit, a distinction without a difference.

Indeed, I would draw the Chair's attention to clause 144 of Ways and Means Motion No. 19 that makes coordinating provisions if each is enacted, which demonstrates the government also sees these as identical measures, but what is especially galling is subclause 144(5), “For greater certainty, if this Act receives royal asset then the other Act [Bill C-323] is deemed never to have produced its effects.” The government would prefer to toss my colleague's important bill down the memory hole. That is just shameful.

Your predecessor, on February 18, 2021, at page 4256 of the Debates, ruled that government Bill C-13 could not be proceeded with further following the House's adoption of Bill C-218, citing the rule against anticipation. In so ruling, the Chair said:

The House is now placed in an unusual situation where a decision was made on one of two very similar bills standing on the Order Paper.

The Chair recognizes that both bills are not identical; they are, however, substantially similar as they both amend the exact same provision of the Criminal Code for similar purposes....

Consequently, as long as Bill C-218 follows its course through the legislative process during this session, Bill C-13 may not be proceeded with.

As for the technical differences between those two bills, the Speaker offered a common-sense solution to reconcile them: “the Chair notes that other avenues would be open to the House to achieve those same ends, such as through amendments proposed to Bill C-218 during the committee's study.”

I would respectfully submit that if the government has any concerns about the drafting of Bill C-318 or Bill C-323, the solution is to bring amendments to committee, not to bigfoot them by throwing them into an omnibus budget bill, but that is exactly what happened here. It is what happened last year when Bill C-250, sponsored by the hon. member for Saskatoon—Grasswood, was scooped up by the government and placed in Bill C-19, a budget implementation bill.

In a May 11, 2022, ruling at page 5123 of the Debates, the Deputy Speaker held:

Bill C-19 was adopted at second reading and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance yesterday. The House is now placed in a situation where a decision was made on one of the two bills that contain very similar provisions....

The Chair recognizes that these bills are not identical, as Bill C-19 is much broader in scope and contains other provisions related to the implementation of the budget.

However, in adopting Bill C-19 at second reading, the House has also agreed to the principle of that bill, and consequently, has agreed, among other things, to amend section 319 of the Criminal Code dealing with hate propaganda. As I explained a few moments ago, these are provisions substantially similar to the ones contained in Bill C-250.

Therefore, the question for the Chair is, should Bill C-250 be allowed to proceed further in the legislative process at this time? In the Chair's opinion, it should not be allowed. The House should not face a situation where the same question can be cited twice within the same session, unless the House's intention is to rescind or revoke the decision.

In the case of Bill C-250, the Deputy Speaker directed that it be held as pending business until the final fate of Bill C-19 could be determined. On September 20, 2022, your predecessor ordered Bill C-250 to be discharged and dropped from the Order Paper, given that Bill C-19 had by then received royal assent. A similar pair of rulings occurred on June 6, 2022, and May 11, 2023, in respect of Bill C-243 in light of its overlap with Senate Bill S-211.

While these rulings are all quite recent, they were not novel. Speaker Michener, on March 13, 1959, at page 238 of the Journals, reached the same conclusion for managing this sort of legislative traffic jam:

Thus I have come to the conclusion that this bill must stand, as well as the other bill in the same terms, or at least in terms for exactly the same purpose, until the bill which was first moved has been disposed of either by being withdrawn, which would open the door for one of these other bills to proceed, or by way of being approved, which would automatically dispose of these bills because the House would not vote twice on the same subject matter any more than it would debate the same subject matter twice.

Standing Order 94(1) empowers and directs the Speaker to, “make all arrangements necessary to ensure the orderly conduct of Private Members’ Business”. That standing order, I would submit, behooves you to safeguard the process of Private Members' Business as much as possible by drawing a firm and bright line for the government to stop poaching common-sense Conservative bills and claiming them as their own.

One final consideration I want to place before the Chair is one that did not arise in the context of the pairs of bills and the precedents I have cited. We are dealing here with a ways and means motion, not a bill. Bosc and Gagnon, at page 568, explain the relevance of this distinction in the role against anticipation:

According to this rule, which applied to other proceedings as well as to motions, a motion could not anticipate a matter which was standing on the Order Paper for further discussion, whether as a bill or a motion, and which was contained in a more effective form of proceeding.

The associated footnote points readers to other authorities for a fuller explanation, such as the U.K.'s Erskine May. That book's 25th edition, at paragraph 20.13, explains:

...a matter must not be anticipated if contained in a more effective form of proceeding than the proceeding by which it was sought to be anticipated, but it might be anticipated if contained in an equally or less effective form. A bill or other order of the day is more effective than a motion....

This principle was explained matter-of-factly by Speaker Casgrain on February 24, 1936, at page 68 of the Journals: “A Bill has the right-of-way and cannot be sidetracked by a Motion.”

In the circumstances, if the precedents and procedural authorities of this House are to be applied consistently, Ways and Means Motion No. 19 must be put into abeyance pending the outcome of Bill C-318 and Bill C-323. I would urge you, Madam Speaker, to so rule.

November 27th, 2023 / 11:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Rosemarie Falk Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

That's a really great question.

Thank you very much, MP Long. I really appreciate your support on this. I am glad that you are seeing that this is a common-sense piece of legislation that really is for the betterment of Canadians and Canadian families.

There are a couple of things I want to touch on.

Attachment is so important. We know that in the first year of life, generally speaking, attachment is very important for parents and baby. Also, adoption and surrogacy don't make it any less important just because it's come about in a different way. Attachment is so important for kids to feel safe, to feel secure, to grow and to have healthy coping mechanisms, especially within mental health. It's all these things. It helps with resilience. Attachment is so very important.

One thing I would like to say is with regard to negativity. I'm not being negative; I'm just being honest and stating the facts of what happened. I don't see this as a win, because it's not completed. I haven't seen any enacting legislation and I don't know if your government has the same intent with this. I don't know if things will be amended. It's been very difficult for me to have two-way communication with ministers and your government on this issue. I've been ignored. I don't want this to be perceived as me being negative; I'm just stating facts.

Also, this kind of proves the point that the Liberals are out of ideas. Numerous private members' bills have been taken from your government. We have bereavement leave; that was actually taken from the previous Parliament by your government. In this current fall economic statement, we've seen a couple of bills—namely Bill C-323 and Bill C-339—including mine, and more, that were taken from your government. I think this proves that the Liberals are out of fresh ideas and are grasping at straws.

Regarding your question about Canadians who have been through adoption and surrogacy, I absolutely think it will be powerful and impactful to hear what those Canadians have to say. I'm sure they're appearing as witnesses here.

I was surprised to find out that members of my own caucus had been adopted. I've heard their stories about how that changed the trajectory of their lives and that they were so grateful for that.

That's just to name a few. I also have adoption in my own family that has been completed and has gone through the process.

Consideration of Government Business No. 30Government Business No. 30—Proceedings on Bill C-56Government Orders

November 23rd, 2023 / 12:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Madam Speaker, it is always an honour to rise in this place and represent the amazing people of Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, as well as all Canadians.

It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it is breathtaking just how desperate the Liberals have become. In the House of Commons, we are witnessing a curious trend: imitation disguised as Liberal innovation.

The recent flurry of activity from our Liberal counterparts presents a spectacle. It is desperation masquerading as originality.

It is really fascinating. The Liberals have hastily adopted common-sense Conservative strategies to cloak their actions as a remedy for affordability, all the while seeking recognition for ideas that were not theirs to begin with.

Unfortunately, their replica has flaws, and the Liberals know that they need to ram this legislation through before Canadians realize that it is nothing more than a cheap knock-off.

If the government is looking for another idea to steal from Conservatives, maybe it could finally decide to repeal the carbon taxes, which are the real reason Canadians are facing the soaring cost of living.

First, let us dissect the fabric of the Liberals' imitation. The Liberals’ newfound fascination with affordable living appears more as a last-ditch effort to mirror our common-sense Conservative initiatives, although it lacks the authenticity and the understanding required to genuinely address the woes of everyday Canadians.

This sudden adoption reeks of desperation. Maybe they have seen the polls. Maybe they are hearing in their ridings that the Conservatives are the only party putting forward common-sense ideas.

Maybe the Conservative message of common sense sounds good to them too, but their leadership comes down heavy-handedly when they vote in favour of our legislation, like the Liberal member for Avalon, who tried to do the right thing for his constituents initially, although he eventually betrayed them and caved to his master like a typical Liberal always does.

The government's thievery of Conservative ideas seems relentless. Were members aware that the fall economic statement contained no less than four Conservative private members’ bills?

For example, there is Bill C-323, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act with respect to mental health services, from the good doctor from Cumberland—Colchester. There is Bill C-318, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act and the Canada Labour Code for adoptive and intended parents, from my friend, the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster. There is Bill C-294, an act to amend the Copyright Act, on interoperability, from my riding neighbour to the east, the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands. There is Bill C-365, an act respecting the implementation of a consumer-led banking system for Canadians by the amazing member for Bay of Quinte.

While the Liberals eagerly snatch concepts from our playbook, they turn a blind eye to the actual root cause of the economic pains faced by Canadians: their out-of-control debt and deficits, out-of-control spending, a carbon tax that does not do anything for the environment, a rapid housing initiative that cannot build homes and inflation that results from all of their financial mismanagement.

These are the real culprits behind the soaring cost of living, behind escalating interest rates and the burdensome grocery store bills and fuel prices that burden the citizens of this country every day. Our Conservative blueprint for affordable living, particularly our Conservative leader’s building homes not bureaucracy act, stands as a testament to our commitment to the welfare of Canadians.

Our messaging, like the “bring it home” initiative, encapsulates not just slogans but a genuine drive to resolve the housing crisis plaguing our nation.

In contrast, the Liberals’ response to this crisis they partly crafted lacks the depth and innovation required for a lasting solution. Their plan, often confined within the boundaries of existing programs and reannouncements, fails to project a path forward. It is a patchwork of recycled notions rather than a blueprint for real, sustainable change, and they have no problem announcing the same promises over and over again with the same pompous Liberal attitude that most Canadians have grown tired of.

The question remains: Are the Liberals truly addressing the housing crisis or merely engaging in performative arts to mitigate the damage that their policies have caused and the fact that the vast majority of Canadians desire to see them removed from office? Their sudden attempt to provide solutions and then force them on Canadians seems more reactive than proactive, a calculated response to evade accountability rather than an earnest effort to rectify the havoc they created. I can only hope it means they are getting ready for an election.

Liberals may tout their actions as responsive and comprehensive, but in reality, they bear the marks of limited vision and failure of leadership.

The building homes not bureaucracy act, as presented by our Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre, is not just a set of words—

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

September 27th, 2023 / 3:30 p.m.
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Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-323.

The House resumed from September 25 consideration of the motion that Bill C-323, An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act (mental health services), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

September 25th, 2023 / 12:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Stephen Ellis Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand here and represent the folks in our country who suffer from mental health issues. Bill C-323 is a common-sense initiative. We know very clearly that the Liberal government has failed to support the mental health of Canadians, even though we know this is a burgeoning issue.

We know very clearly, from statistics, that more than 6.7 million Canadians are affected by mental health issues. By age 40, which we have heard before, almost one in two Canadians will have suffered with a mental health diagnosis. Sadly, the Liberal government, in its multiple failures, has failed to honour the $4.5-billion Canada mental health transfer that it announced in platform 2021. It has never been allocated.

The difficulty with that is it was a much-lauded announcement about how the Liberals were going to look after the mental health of Canadians. It was very sanctimonious with much pomp and circumstance. Of course, Canadians were, once again, left disappointed with the Liberal government's lack of action. It is very good at making announcements and very poor at doing things.

We know very clearly that there is a significant cost to the economy when we speak about the effects of mental health. We know, from The Centre of Addiction and Mental Health, that nearly 500,000 Canadians are prevented each week from attending work due to mental health issues. It also notes on its website that the cost of leave due to mental health is nearly double the cost of physical health problems.

Finally, I would point out that the cost to the Canadian economy is almost $51 billion per year when direct health care costs, lost productivity, and reductions in mental health and quality of life are taken into consideration.

The other thing, which is a very sad issue, is that nearly 4,000 Canadians die by suicide every year. On average, that is 11 Canadians every day. The other thing we know is that people with mental illness are more than twice as likely to have a substance use problem than those who do not. We know clearly, as these are things we have heard in this House many times, that almost 20 Canadians are dying every day due to overdose.

A third of Canadians over the age of 15 report having unmet mental health needs. We know, from the report that Statistics Canada released September 22 about mental disorders and access to mental health care, that this is clearly an issue for Canadians and it is something that needs to be addressed.

We already know that 6.7 million people have difficulties with their mental health. This report states that nearly five million people meet the diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, alcohol use disorder, cannabis use disorder and other substance use disorders.

More Canadians met the criteria for a mood or anxiety disorder in 2022 than in 2012. The prevalence has basically doubled. I sense a theme here. Perhaps there is a connection to mortgage costs, rental costs, food costs and heating costs, all of which have doubled under the Liberal government.

Sadly, only half of those with a mood, anxiety or substance use disorder have spoken to a health care professional. In the words of this report, disparities in coverage for counselling services will need to be addressed.

This bill may need minor additions, and certainly I am open to having those amendments made at committee. I urge members to support Bill C-323 for the sake of the 20% of Canadians struggling with mental health issues at this current time.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

September 25th, 2023 / 12:25 p.m.
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Bloc

Xavier Barsalou-Duval Bloc Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by acknowledging the position taken by the member who just spoke. I assume he was speaking on behalf of the Liberal government. I must commend his stance, because all too often we see governments, whether Liberal or sometimes Conservative, oppose bills simply for the sake of opposing them. Obviously, it is currently a Liberal government.

The Bloc Québécois has introduced many bills, and we have often been disappointed to see the Liberals oppose certain ones for no good reason. Basically, they want to prevent their opponents from building a track record. Even if the bill is a good one, the Liberals will oppose it.

In this case, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. I hope this will not be the only time. The Liberals are saying that even though Bill C-323 is not one of their own bills, it may have enough merit to be considered. That is a good start.

My colleagues will have guessed that there is a good chance that the Bloc Québécois will support Bill C‑323, based on what I have been saying. We are not supporting it because it is a Bloc bill, because it is not a Bloc bill. It is not an NDP bill either. It is a Conservative bill.

This is worth noting because I often feel disappointed by the kinds of questions the Conservatives ask in the House and their priorities, like oil and gas, abortion and firearms. There comes a point where there are other things to talk about. When their attention shifts to other topics, the results are sometimes positive. Bill C‑323 is a good example. I congratulate the Conservatives for tabling this bill. It shows a different side of them. Even if it never happens again, we are glad of it now.

I am going to say a few words about Bill C‑323, a bill to amend the excise tax. Whenever we make a transaction, we pay a 5% federal excise tax. The bill's goal is to amend a specific section of the act to exempt psychotherapy and mental health counselling services from this tax.

We know that some services are considered essential, and we want to make it so that taxpayers do not have to pay extra for them. When these services are taxed, they become even more expensive for taxpayers. Therefore, eliminating the tax is a way to lower their cost for the people who use them.

We know that there is a dearth of mental health services. Often, when people start getting therapy it takes a bit of time. Problems are rarely solved in one counselling session. This gets expensive very fast.

Unfortunately, this 5% tax, or the federal portion, is added to the 10% tax, which is the Quebec portion. On a $100-per-hour fee, the client pays an additional $15. Eventually that really hurts the budget. Sometimes a person who needs mental health services has money, but sometimes they do not. It is good for people to get help. We welcome this kind of support.

I can share a story. I know that I am running out of time, unfortunately. My constituency office is above a centre called the Centre des Ils et des Elles, a multidisciplinary professional centre for childhood and early childhood. It offers all sort of services, such as speech language pathology, psychoeducation, occupational therapy, psychology, special education, and even sexology.

One of the centre's co-founders is himself a psychoeducator. I met him because my office is upstairs from his, and also because I used some of his services to help my son on his personal journey. This well-known psychoeducator told me that the situation is not normal. He says that he is providing essential mental health services, yet patients do not pay taxes when they go to an optometrist, chiropractor, hearing aid specialist or doctor.

Why should people have to pay taxes for mental health services when they do not pay taxes for any other recognized services? There is an inequity there, and we need to put an end to it.

I would like to congratulate the sponsor of this bill. Above all, I want to say that psychoeducation is one way of lightening the load on psychologists and enabling qualified people to meet the high demand for mental health care.

I would like to comment on another aspect of the bill, namely the issue of mental health counselling, which is not regulated in Quebec. We may want to raise questions about this in committee to determine the impact of recognizing this practice from a tax standpoint when it is not regulated.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

September 25th, 2023 / 12:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Tracy Gray Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House today on behalf of the residents of Kelowna—Lake Country. I would like to thank my Conservative colleague, the member for Cumberland—Colchester, for introducing private member's bill, Bill C-323. It is my privilege to second this bill and speak to it today.

Canadians are facing a mental health crisis. The statistics are alarming. Nearly 200 people attempt suicide daily. One in four Canadians is experiencing anxiety, and 56% of the people who are struggling are not receiving the care they need and deserve. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, the CMHA, in any given year, one in five people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness. By age 40, about 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness. This continues to be a significant issue in my community and home province of British Columbia.

Back in 2010, the Government of B.C. estimated that mental health problems cost our economy an estimated $6.6 billion annually. When looking at increasing statistics of people struggling, we can only assume this would be much higher now. The CMHA reports that about 17% of British Columbians, somewhere around 800,000 people, are experiencing a mental illness or substance use issue today. The limitation of accessing mental health services already poses a barrier to many in accessing health care and tackling our nationwide health crisis.

In addition to the ongoing addiction health crisis, Canada is faced with a crisis in mental health. An estimated 84,000 children and youth in B.C. have a diagnosed mental disorder, yet fewer than one-third of those children seeking help are receiving mental health services. That means as many as 58,000 children in B.C. are not receiving the treatment they need.

I know that I have just given a lot of statistics about unmet mental health needs. However, behind each of these statistics is a person, a family affected and a community affected. Recently, a mom from Kelowna—Lake Country reached out to let me know about a situation her child was going through where she has a physical health condition that she is attempting to get resolved. The mom says her child is dealing with mental health issues of depression and suicidal thoughts because of bullying due to her physical conditions. This is just one of many situations people have brought to my attention, and we need to do everything possible to ensure that people and families have access, in a variety of ways, to mental health services.

Right now, looking at attempted suicide rates and deaths, societally we are paying for mental anguish in the most extreme way possible. It is clear from the numbers that many people are waiting until the point of crisis. That can mean too many hospital stays and perhaps cycling through our criminal justice system instead of receiving treatment, or worse. As we heard recently, a woman came forth publicly in August to explain how she was having a mental health crisis and a clinician at Vancouver General Hospital shockingly suggested medical assistance in dying, MAID, as an option.

Bill C-323, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act, works to put health service providers on equal footing when people come to them for mental health assistance. I am proud to second this bill and speak to it today. This legislation sets to end the charging of GST or HST upon the services of psychotherapists and mental health counsellors. For context, psychotherapists and mental health counsellors are currently the only regulated mental health service providers who must remit GST or HST tax on their services. This would put them on equal footing with other health professionals.

Psychotherapy and mental health counsellors often are also not covered by many insurance providers, and the additional cost of the GST or HST on their services limits their capacity to serve many Canadians in the time of need, especially at this time of high cost of living, when paycheques are so stressed. It makes no sense for fully regulated psychotherapists and mental health counsellors to be subjected to this type of taxation when physicians, psychiatrists, registered nurses, registered psychiatric nurses, psychologists, occupational therapists and social workers are all exempt.

Health Canada has reported that 24.7% of Canadians over the age of 15 report having unmet mental health needs. We need to do everything possible to get help to people so they are not living in mental anguish and so families are not heartbroken when getting devastating phone calls no one ever wants to get, like 12 families a day do in Canada, who hear loved ones died of suicide.

The Conservatives are offering tangible solutions within federal jurisdiction to help people. This is a compassionate common sense bill.

Not only are there costs to the federal government associated with this legislation by it not happening, but any loss in tax revenue resulting from the tax exemption would likely be inconsequential in the greater scope of federal budgets. Many organizations and stakeholders, like the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association, have spoken in favour of removing the GST or HST taxes from the services of psychotherapists and mental health counsellors.

The Standing Committee on Health heard extensive testimony from Dr. Carrie Foster, president-elect of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association at the time, and Lindsey Thomson, director of public affairs for Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association earlier this year. Both witnesses expressed that this policy would help to alleviate Canada's mental health crisis.

The Liberal government has failed Canadians when it comes to supporting their mental health. As of last fall, the $4.5 billion in Canadian mental health transfer funds promised by the Liberal government in its 2021 campaign platform had yet to be fully committed. The Conservatives have taken action and continue to fight for the mental health of Canadians.

In 2020, the Conservatives successfully passed a motion to create a national three-digit suicide prevention hotline, which was put forth by our Conservative colleague, the member for Cariboo—Prince George. The 988 hotline will apparently finally be launched in November of 2023 by those slow-to-do-anything-in-government Liberals.

I recently put forth a private member's bill, Bill C-283, the end the revolving door act, which sought to get mental health assessments and addiction treatment and recovery in federal penitentiaries, as determined and offered by a judge at the time of sentencing. It would have expanded and focused the mental health and addiction recovery services available to those who found themselves repeatedly entering and exiting our criminal justice system.

It is well known that mental health and addiction issues are leading causes of recidivism in Canada. Better provision of mental health assessment and curative treatment while inside a federal penitentiary is a common sense approach to tackling this issue, helping not only those who are incarcerated but also to help the communities they go back into after their release. I was proud to have a wide base of support for this, including those confronting our mental health crisis on the front lines and who work in criminal justice.

Unfortunately, though this was a non-partisan common sense bill, the end the revolving door act was voted down by the Liberals and their NDP partner, as well as half the Green MPs, and it did not proceed. I hope the members in those parties will not waste this new opportunity we have before us today to take action for those in need of mental health services.

I was happy to see this legislation to amend the federal taxation regime on mental health professional services from my Conservative colleague as another tool to help people. The Conservatives are the ones bringing practical mental health initiatives forward with compassion and common sense. On this side of the House, the Conservatives will continue to advocate for people to fight Canada's mental health crisis.

In summary, the bill is an important step in tackling Canada's mental health crisis by removing barriers to mental health services, putting psychotherapists and mental health counsellors on equal footing with other regulated health professionals and helping to alleviate financial burdens by those struggling. That is why I am proud to support the bill, and I call on all members of the House to support this compassionate common sense legislation.