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House of Commons Hansard #128 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was police.

Topics

Nuclear Safety And Control ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Nuclear Safety And Control ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Nuclear Safety And Control ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Nuclear Safety And Control ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I declare the motion lost.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-60, an act to establish the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and to repeal and amend other acts as a consequence, be read the third time and passed.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 5.40 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill C-60.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed.)

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 5.45 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Public Safety Officers Compensation FundPrivate Members' Business

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should consider the advisability of establishing a public safety officers compensation fund to receive gifts and bequests for the benefit of spouses and children of police officers and firefighters who lose their lives in the line of duty.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the House today on Motion No. 306.

As members know, I have been quite active in the area of private members' bills and motions. In part of the activities that I have undertaken the issue of alcohol was one that caught my attention the most. As a result of some of the work I did on Bill C-222, which concerned putting health warning labels on the containers of alcoholic beverages, a personal initiative came out of this called Drink Smart Canada.

Drink Smart Canada is a public awareness and education campaign to make Canadians aware of the consequences of the misuse of alcohol. When I started this program and did the research and developed the statistics to deal with the consequences of alcohol misuse, I needed some help. I received a lot of support from my colleagues in the House, but I needed some external support.

I would like to read into the record the statistics dealing with alcohol misuse: 19,000 deaths each year, 45 per cent of all motor vehicle collisions, 30 per cent of fires, 30 per cent of all suicides, 60 per cent of all homicides, 50 per cent of incidents of family violence, 65 per cent of snowmobile collisions, one in six family breakdowns, 30 per cent of all drownings, 5 per cent of birth defects, 65 per cent of cases of child abuse, 40 per cent of all falls and 50 per cent of all hospital emergencies. The cost of this to Canadians in additional health care costs and social program costs is some $15 billion a year which is all directly or indirectly due to alcohol misuse.

When I look down the list at the tragedies associated with the misuse of alcohol, it became very clear to me that our police officers and firefighters are the ones who are acting on behalf of all Canadians to deal with the consequences of many of these tragedies. Whether they be fires, motor vehicle collisions, homicides or family violence, it is our police officers and firefighters who are there for Canadians during those times of emergency.

I needed that support and went outside and spoke with the police and firefighters. I am pleased to let everyone know that the

Association of Fire Chiefs representing the firefighters of Canada came forward and lent their support to Drink Smart Canada.

In its supporting statement on Drink Smart the The Canadian Police Association stated it was pleased to join the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs in supporting Drink Smart Canada.

The Canadian Police Association welcomes any initiative that will curb alcohol abuse and make our communities and roads safer for all Canadians. Police officers know too well the carnage and grief that is caused by alcohol abuse. We recognize that alcohol will not be eradicated from society but that it can be used responsibly and this type of program will be effective in reducing family violence and needless traffic deaths and injuries.

In its statement the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs said:

We are indeed honoured to be named as one of the honorary patrons of "Drink Smart Canada" and to work along with the Canadian Police Association and Members of Parliament on this educational project.

The fire departments across Canada are involved daily in incidents such as house fires and motor vehicle accidents whose cause can be attributed either directly or indirectly to alcohol abuse. The consumption of alcohol can impair judgment and cause drowsiness, which when combined with routine domestic activities, cigarette smoking or driving a motor vehicle can have serious if not tragic consequences.

Those are just two extracts from these two organizations.

When I needed help the police and firefighters of Canada came forward to offer their support and encouragement in an area that was important to me. As a consequence I have no hesitation whatsoever in bringing forward Motion No. 306 which proposes:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should consider the advisability of establishing a Public Safety Officers compensation fund to receive gifts and bequests for the benefit of spouses and children of police officers and firefighters who lose their lives in the line of duty.

I submitted that private member's motion. In addition, on June 17, 1996 I also submitted Bill C-314 which is a bill to bring to fruition the public safety officers compensation fund. That bill has not yet been chosen under the rules of the House but I am confident that today will start the debate on this issue and that with the support of all members of the House we will achieve the objectives of Bill C-314.

I want to say a couple of words about the memorial site on the Hill. The murder of a police officer triggered a nationally recognized ceremony. On July 11, 1977 a rookie constable, David Kirkwood, was killed in the line of duty. He had been with the force for some 11 months and was 21 years old. Following that senseless killing Ottawa police officers vowed to keep not only his memory alive but as well to ensure that the magnitude of his sacrifice and the sacrifice of others like him would never be forgotten by Canadians.

Accordingly, on September 24, 1978 a special service and tribute were held on Parliament Hill. The site selected was Parliament, the place where the laws are made that directly have an impact on police officer safety and on the quality of life of us all.

On March 22, 1994 the Prime Minister gathered with more than 700 police officers and relatives of slain officers at the site behind the Parliament buildings. The Canadian Police Association and the CACP dedicated the new Canadian Police Memorial Pavilion and a granite stone at the base of the pavilion that contains the names of officers killed in the line of duty.

During the last 30 years some 96 Canadian police officers have been the victims of homicide while on duty. All but eight of these were shot. On duty homicide rates, however, have declined somewhat during this period but it still is a large number.

At the time of the writing of the article I am reading here, 14 officers had been killed during the 1990s. A research study has been done of four large police forces which represent one-third of all sworn officers in the country. It found that during the period 1970 through 1990 two-thirds of police officer homicides occurred after police were dispatched to incidents or responded to calls for assistance while the remaining homicides arose out of police initiated contact. The majority of these were in responding to emergent needs.

I have read many of the stories associated with the deaths of courageous firefighters. I will not repeat them on the record because I think it is important to remember the positives and not the tragic stories. We should not forget those stories but remember the positives.

Firefighters have made a significant contribution to public safety. Over the last 10 years approximately 40 firefighters have lost their lives in the line of duty on behalf of Canadians. These include not only the firefighters we are all familiar with but in many communities across Canada there is a volunteer firefighter base that is very important to the safety of all Canadians.

To give an idea of the magnitude of the contribution made there as well in terms of risk, over the same period some 12,500 firefighters have been injured. I have looked at the statistics and found that firefighters and police officers were four times more likely to be the victims of homicide and 11 times more likely to be the victims of violence. That tells us that our police officers, our public safety officers, prison guards, jail guards and firefighters are in a high risk, dangerous situation.

This motion asks parliamentarians to consider what they feel when they see incidents in our country when public safety officers lose their lives in the line of duty. I can recall many times seeing news stories of police officers or firefighters from right across the country, hundreds if not thousands, coming together to mourn a loss. It is a loss that Canadians feel as well.

Public safety officers are police officers, firefighters, peace officers. Under the Criminal Code peace officers include jail and prison guards. The intent here is to include those who are in the public service.

Motion No. 306 and Bill C-314 proposes that a registered charitable foundation be established with a board of directors appointed by the Government of Canada. The board would receive applications for assistance and would assess need on a case by case basis.

On September 29, 1976 a public safety officers benefit program was established in the United States. It is now under the auspices of the U.S. department of justice. It provides a substantial benefit to the survivors of firefighters and police officers killed in the line of duty. In fact, the amount currently paid is about $135,000 U.S. dollars. It is also an indexed fund. That gives an idea of the value and the level of concern that the United States has for those who provide these services to the citizens of the United States.

When a program begins it is not possible to fund it at that level. However, it is reflective of the level of concern.

A fund is being proposed which would be a registered charity to receive gifts and bequests from Canadians who want a tangible way to show their support for our police officers, firefighters and peace officers who lose their lives in the line of duty. The board of directors would assess each case on a case by case basis and would determine on the basis of need.

I found an interesting statistic. The average age of police officers killed in the line of duty is about 35. I do not have statistics on what their family composition was but I can reflect on what my family composition was some 14 years ago when I was 35 years of age.

I had an eight-year old, a six-year old and a one-year old. My wife was at home managing the family home and caring for our children and our family. We had a large mortgage. We had an old car. I had a job that offered group life insurance which would pay twice my salary if I should die. It was certainly not enough to discharge my debts. I had some additional insurance which was expensive but I carried it because of my family responsibilities.

If I am reflective of the kind of situations, and I am sure I am, that police officers and firefighters who are in the prime of their lives find themselves in, their families are probably filled but very young, their financial obligations are probably at their peak and they are probably getting into their highest income earning years when their lives come to an end.

The money would come from gifts or bequests from Canadians or from their estates in gratitude for the service provided, and that would be a major source of funds, and the unions and the associations of the police officers and firefighters across this country have let me know by literally hundreds of letters and petitions that they support this issue and that they are also prepared to support it financially.

The motion does not call for funding from other levels of government. However, as a registered charity it can receive any appropriations from any level of government should that happen, and I hope that would happen.

The last question I would rhetorically pose is why is the fund being proposed. Canadians are well aware of the daily risks that face our police and firefighters as they serve our needs. When one of them loses their life in the line of duty, we all mourn that loss. This fund would be a tangible way for Canadians to honour their courageous service and to assist their loved ones in their time of need.

The International Association of Firefighters comes annually to visit the Hill. I want to thank firefighter Marty Goodkey who came to my office last year to propose this public safety officers compensation fund on behalf of all public safety officers, including police, prison guards, firefighters and volunteers across this country. They made a tremendous impression on me. I was very grateful for the support they gave me when I asked them for support for Drink Smart Canada. It is the least I can do to rise in this House and to ask for the support of all colleagues to see if we can find a way to help establish a public safety officers compensation fund so that we can give all Canadians an opportunity to show how much we care and appreciate the contribution made by those public safety officers.

Public Safety Officers Compensation FundPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bloc Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Motion M-306, presented by the hon. member for Mississauga South.

Although the hon. member already mentioned the following, we must give credit where credit is due. As far as the business of Parliament is concerned, which includes bills and motions, the hon. member for Mississauga South has, in the course of this Parliament, introduced a number of bills. He has done an outstanding job, whether or not we agree with the motions and bills he drafted and so valiantly defended before the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

It is always reassuring to see a member who works so hard at the business of Parliament, something we were all elected to do.

The debate on the motion of the hon. member for Mississauga South is right on time, since next Monday in Ottawa there will be a meeting of the Canadian Police Association, whose members will take advantage of this opportunity next week to meet parliamentarians, make them aware of their problems and try to determine certain priorities for dealing with matters of public safety.

This contribution by the Canadian Police Association is much appreciated, for instance, by the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs on which I have had the honour to sit since the beginning of the 35th Parliament. Every time we had bills concerning the Criminal Code and public safety, the Canadian Police Association usually appeared with thorough and informed studies and shared its expertise acquired in the field.

For that reason alone, we as legislators owe a debt of gratitude to the Canadian Police Association. They helped us improve certain bills and in many cases prompted the tabling of bills aimed at increasing public safety.

As parliamentarians we are, of course, concerned about public safety, and we pass legislation accordingly. However, we too often forget those who are on the front line, and to take a leaf from the book of the hon. member for Mississauga South, I will talk about those who are on the firing line and mention a few figures. It is said dozens of police officers have been shot. These are not traffic accidents, this is murder, sordid crimes, in most cases.

It is always a shock to a community to see police officers die in the line of duty, specially when it is the result of a criminal act. Those who are supposed to protect us also deserve to be protected by a legislative framework that shows respect for the work done by the men and women who serve society and provides adequate compensation for their families in case of death.

The hon. member for Mississauga South was right when he said that when a person dies in the prime of life, that person is usually not in a position to provide his family with the same standard of living he was able to provide during his lifetime.

Motion M-306 suggests establishing a fund that would not be a government fund but would collect donations from all parts of Canada and even outside the country. When tragedies occur, or even when a police officer dies, some people want to make a contribution to charity. This would be an excellent way to encourage Canadians to make contributions in the name of police officers and, of course, firefighters. They could do so for peace officers in general, even for crossing guards, who often more anonymously put their lives on the line to protect society's youngest members, our children.

So, we will certainly not oppose a central fund such as this. I see it as a progressive measure that will make more money available for victims.

Our society too often tends to forget the victims, not only the murder victims, but the survivors who must mourn a loss and live with the financial consequences of a criminal act.

I think a central fund for contributions would be a modest gesture on our part. It would of course be given the tax protection afforded by the Income Tax Act for registered charities. We would have not only a basic instrument, but the means to provide economic security to the bereaved families of public safety officers, too many of whom lose their lives in the line of duty, because obviously we cannot bring back the person.

Finally, since it is a sort of collective bereavement, where society mourns the death of those representing public order, I think everyone would feel the better for it.

So, on behalf of the official opposition, I am pleased to support Motion No. 306 tabled by the hon. member for Mississauga South.

Public Safety Officers Compensation FundPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Liberal Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on Motion No. 306.

Prior to coming to this House I had the occasion to work closely with police officers in my work with Youth in Conflict with the Law. As well, when I was on Waterloo city council I had the occasion to work with firefighters in my community in Waterloo. Now, as a member of Parliament, I have in my constituency firefighters from the city of Kitchener as well as volunteer firefighters from Woolwich Township. They are one of the finest groups I have the honour and privilege of knowing.

As well, these people are on duty 24 hours a day. Be it Christmas, New Year or any other holiday, we know that firefighters, the police officers and other emergency workers are at work while the rest of us are enjoying festivities.

In many cases police officers are the only social workers, if you will, available after hours. It is quite humourous because the old line police officers did not see themselves as social workers. That is what they are and that is what they have done. These people represent a very real safety net in the case of emergency in our community.

When I was on city council I used to joke with the firefighters. I told them that they were one group of people who worked for the city whom I did not want to see work and I hoped they had no work to do. The fact is when that alarm bell rings and the call comes in,

firefighters are quickly on the move to make their way to a fire or to respond to a three tier response, where any emergency might take place where life is threatened. That might be at the scene of an accident where they will go with the jaws of life, saving lives.

What impresses me about them is every time they go on one of those calls they put their life at risk. It was about four years ago that Captain Kieswetter went to a house fire in Kitchener and lost his life when he was overcome by smoke. He gave his life in terms of service to his community.

Back in the mid-eighties there was a fire at Horticultural Technologies. Many dangerous chemicals were part of the fire. The final decision has not yet come down, since it is before the courts, as to why six firefighters a few years later died of cancer or why the first police officer at the scene died of cancer. There is an inquiry investigating the circumstances of that fire.

We know that when those individuals respond they respond to very dangerous situations.

Oftentimes I walk to the back of the Parliament Buildings to look over the Ottawa River and Hull. Sometimes I stop by the monument which is dedicated to police officers and peace officers. There are hundreds of names of individuals on the monument who gave their lives in the line of duty, serving their fellow citizens and their communities.

What this motion addresses is the need for financial compensation to take care of the families and loved ones of the people who are on the front lines and who in the line of duty give their lives.

I applaud my colleague for introducing this motion. It is something which Canadians will support from coast to coast to coast.

I would like to read something into the record which I hear every time I attend a professional firefighters function in my community. This is the firefighters' prayer all across Canada:

When I am called to duty God, Whenever flames may rage, Give me the strength to save some life, Whatever be its age.

Help me embrace a little child, Before it is too late, Or to save an older person from The horror of that fate.

Enable me to be alert, And hear the weakest shout, And quickly and efficiently To put the fire out.

I want to fill my calling and To give the best in me, To guard my every neighbour and Protect his property.

And if according to Your will, It is time to end my life, Please bless with Your protecting hand My children and my wife.

In a very real way that is what this motion is meant to accomplish. I strongly endorse it and urge that we work toward making it a reality.

Public Safety Officers Compensation FundPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Vaudreuil Québec

Liberal

Nick Discepola LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I too would like to speak this afternoon to the motion by the member for Mississauga South and state the official position of the government.

The member is proposing, as has been done before, that the government consider the advisability of establishing a compensation fund to receive gifts and bequests for the benefit of spouses and children of police officers and firefighters who lose their lives in the line of duty.

I have no doubt that the member moved the motion out of concern for the welfare of men and women who, as he said, protect and ensure the safety of all Canadians every day. I can ensure him that the government shares his concerns.

We are very aware of the vital role played by public safety officers in Canada as the first line of support and protection in crisis situations, such as fires, accidents and crimes. They perform these remarkable duties on behalf of each one of us, leaving Canadians with the calm certainty that there will always be assistance in case of difficulty.

At the federal level, as you are probably aware, we have recognized the importance of this issue within our federal police force, the RCMP, which reports to the federal government. As the member has also pointed out, the RCMP has a death benefit plan for the survivors of RCMP officers who lose their lives in the line of duty.

This is an example of the sort of concrete and relevant action this government has taken on behalf of the men and women in the RCMP.

In addition, the collective agreement of federal correctional services officers, who are also peace officers and who come under federal jurisdiction, provides a death benefit.

As well, there is a pension paid to the families of correctional officers who lose their lives in the line of duty, as there is for the RCMP. This also applies to customs officers, game wardens, and all other public servants who are federal peace officers.

What is more, every year, the government supports and contributes to the memorial service, organized by police officers for the most part and held on Parliament Hill, in honour of peace officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Last year was the 19th such commemoration. This shows, I feel, the importance Canadians attach to this annual event and their recognition of those who have served them as peace officers and have lost their lives while doing so. Initially organized in memory of police officers who lost their lives while on duty, this service, held every September, is

now intended to honour the memory of all peace officers who have lost their lives in this way.

A memorial book containing the names of the deceased peace officers is generally on display in the East Block, but it is placed in the rotunda of the Centre Block on the day of the service.

Also in this regard, the government supported the construction of a memorial pavilion on Parliament Hill which symbolizes the appreciation of all Canadians for the sacrifices made by our peace officers from all jurisdictions who have been killed in the line of duty.

The Police Memorial Pavilion was dedicated by the Prime Minister on January 22, 1994, as was already stated, and is a permanent recognition of all police, corrections officers and peace officers in Canada who died, unfortunately, in the line of duty.

This commemoration in our capital city, next to one of our country's greatest symbols, is further testimony of the importance Canadians place on their safety and those who protect it.

At the heart of this issue is a matter of compensation for provincial and municipal police officers and for firefighters, which I understand varies greatly throughout the country.

Some jurisdictions have assistance for survivors but many do not. Public safety officers are high risk potential liabilities for insurance companies and affordable policies are often hard to find.

Many families of public safety officers suffer hardship when their family member dies doing his or her job. This is obviously a concern to these families, to our communities and to our government.

This motion is a laudable attempt to provide fair redress to families of public safety officers who died while attempting to keep Canada safe and secure. However, a review of the issue surrounding the motion indicates that there are several considerations that would have to be taken into account.

The basic premise on which the hon. member's motion is founded is a sound one. It appeals directly to our sense of wanting to do what is right and just in such circumstances for the families of those men and women who have dedicated their lives.

There are important questions surrounding the issues that must be asked and fully explored. While we all nod our heads in agreement about the worthiness of the hon. member's intentions, we need to address some fundamental issues that have a direct impact on this motion.

I would like to address the question of jurisdiction. In this connection, members of police forces other than the RCMP, and firefighters covered by the definition "public safety officer" also come under the jurisdiction of the provinces or municipalities. Consequently, the federal government cannot assume all responsibilities toward these officers on its own.

As I have said, the federal government already provides survivors benefits to the families of RCMP staff members who have lost their lives in the line of duty. We fully realize we have a moral obligation to ensure that all those who put their lives on the line, as well as their families, are not penalized as a result.

However, as we all know, in Canada there is a division of jurisdictions and responsibilities between municipalities, the provinces and the federal government. Many of the jurisdictions and responsibilities covered by the definition "public safety officer" are either provincial or municipal.

It is reasonable to expect the fund to be used to compensate the spouses and families of the deceased, and it is also very important to ensure that fair compensation is given where compensation is due. I would also like to say that the way the proposed fund is managed is something that would require further study.

As far as these questions are concerned: jurisdiction, management, financing and the advisability of establishing a public safety officers compensation fund, I would like to stress the need for prior consultations with firefighters, police officers and their local and provincial administrations. This would not only be prudent but also essential in determining the best way to deal with this question.

As these issues are discussed, perhaps other options could be considered as well. Here are a few examples: Is there a way to give peace officers better insurance coverage by going to the private sector? Should we take this opportunity to ask a private foundation to sponsor the fund or establish a new fund for this purpose? These are questions that could be further discussed with the private sector.

I repeat that the motion before the House today is a very praiseworthy attempt to make just amends. I know you will agree when I say that all of us, in fact all Canadians, are grateful to public safety officers for the services they provide every day in so many communities across the country.

However, the motion raises a number of questions that merit further study. In my capacity of Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General, I recommend that the motion not be adopted until there has been further discussion, especially at the provincial level.

Public Safety Officers Compensation FundPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Harold Culbert Liberal Carleton—Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted and honoured to join in the debate this evening on this very important Motion No. 306, brought forward by my hon. colleague from Mississauga South. I want to congratulate the member for bringing this motion forward. As we heard from the parliamentary secretary, it is important to debate these issues, to discuss them, to bring them forward and to study if necessary but at the same time to take an action. That is what this motion is all about.

What does Motion No. 306 do and what would it accomplish? Those are important questions that we might all ask ourselves.

First of all, it is intended to set up a registered charitable foundation to be established with a board of directors, possibly appointed by the Government of Canada. Subsequently the board would receive applications for assistance and assess the need case by case.

Who would it involve? It would certainly involve the opportunity for various peace officers, those employed or involved in voluntary firefighting. Under the Criminal Code peace officer includes police officers and jail and prison guards.

Having been involved for over 15 years in municipal government, I had the occasion to work with the police and fire departments on an ongoing basis. In my constituency which is more rural with a number of municipalities, we have a number of volunteer fire departments. Fires occur in those smaller towns, villages, communities and rural areas.

Each time the firefighters are called out there is a risk to them. Does that stop them from volunteering their time, talent and energy? No, it does not. They are still prepared to be volunteers because they see the need in the community for helping their fellow human beings. Whether it be a life and death situation or property damage, they are prepared to go and do their part.

Anyone who has personally experienced a fire in their home will agree it is quite a scare to be called from a meeting to be told: "Your house is on fire. You had better follow the fire truck because it is going to your home". It is a terrible feeling. I experienced that once.

I was the mayor of my municipality at the time, which the parliamentary secretary can appreciate. I was chairing a meeting when I was called and told: "There is a fire at your home. We just got the call". The furnace had blown up. By the time I had arrived, the fire truck was there and the firemen were doing their jobs. It is scary to see a red hot furnace chimney with the sparks literally coming from it.

I have a great deal of respect for firemen, especially those who volunteer their time and energy. Just to finish the story so I will not leave members in suspense, my home was saved. There was a tremendous amount of smoke damage but there were no injuries. The point I am trying to make is that it was due to the prompt and efficient attention of those firefighters who were there and I will never forget it.

Most of us would be lost and would not know the right thing to do in those situations. We would not have the coolness under the stress of those situations. But those firefighters just took it in hand as if it were an ordinary everyday thing. Of course for them and with their training and dedication, it was.

I have a great deal of respect for Motion No. 306 which has been brought forward. What might it do for those who would have lost their lives or what might it do for their families that are left behind, their children and their spouses?

We all know that the cost of education has increased over the years. In those situations where the lives of firefighters, police officers, jail guards and prison guards have been snuffed out just like that, the intent is to have a fund set up to receive bequests and donations.

It is not something the taxpayer would be burdened with but would be a fund to receive donations from those who have received assistance, like myself. For example, because of the tremendous service I received, I might want to donate to such a fund, not as a taxpayer but as a person who would like to make a donation or bequest. After receiving applications the board would decide the needs and the merits on a case by case basis.

That is what the motion is about. There will be no cost to the taxpayers, but there will be an opportunity to make bequests, donations or gifts which could assist the families of those dedicated persons who put their lives on the line day in and day out, night in and night out for Canadians. For us. It is an opportunity for us to set up a fund and a foundation so that we in turn may assist them.

I congratulate my colleague from Mississauga South for bringing this motion forward. I hope in the future the studies mentioned by the parliamentary secretary will be carried out. Then we might one day see the fund set up so that we can provide assistance when it is needed.

Public Safety Officers Compensation FundPrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say a few words in support of MotionNo. 306 from the member for Mississauga South. The motion calls upon the government to participate in establishing a foundation which would be self-funded, not funded by government, in a way that would provide some compensation at the time of death of a peace officer or firefighter.

The concept is one whose time has come. Beyond all doubt, Canadians realize that we have a moral obligation to recognize the extremely valuable and sometimes very risky work done by police officers and firefighters on our behalf 24 hours a day. It is beyond debate. All parties have recognized that adequately in the House.

Some places in the country do have adequate compensation for widows and orphans, the survivors of the deceased, but some places do not. We have a spotty non-comprehensive system to provide this type of compensation.

The proposal would create a vehicle which would be the trustee of funds provided by gifts or legacies whereby compensation would be made. It does not require government management. The fund will be managed with its own resources by people selected by the foundation.

Is there a jurisdiction problem? Some members seem to think so, but I do not think so. I think jurisdiction is being used as a reason for further study. I do not think jurisdiction is a problem here any more than it was a problem when Parliament set up the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. In that case an arms length foundation was set up. We gave it $10 million of taxpayers' money and said: "Here. You are on your own. Go do your job. Here is what you do. Report to us annually. Do a good job for Canadians".

In this case there will not be a nickel of taxpayers' money. We are simply providing the vehicle. I do not quite understand how this could be a jurisdictional problem. Maybe someday we will see through the fog.

This particular initiative signals a need for leadership to put in place a vehicle which is necessary. It is a need which has been recognized by groups and organizations that represent our peace officers and firefighters. For those who choose to serve the public in the way that peace officers and firefighters do in accepting the risks that are there, we can do no less than to encourage and participate in the effort.

Although something concrete may not follow from this particular effort in the House this evening and the valuable contribution by the member for Mississauga South, I am hopeful that creative ways can be found, that the leadership can be found in and around this capital. I am sure there are ways to do this with or without the participation of the government.

I am fairly certain that no matter what happens, any initiative that evolves will have the support and encouragement of the government. I intend to work with those who will continue to look to find a way to make this happen.

Public Safety Officers Compensation FundPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Restigouche—Chaleur New Brunswick

Liberal

Guy Arseneault LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I know that time is running out but I would like to also lend my support to the motion of the hon. member today.

To all of the firefighters, police officers and peace officers who have active duty in my region of Restigouche-Chaleur and the region of the Madawaska, I would like to lend my support. I would like to reiterate why the fund is being proposed.

Canadians are well aware of the daily risks that face our police and firefighters as they serve our emergency needs. When one of them loses their life in the line of duty, all of us mourn their loss. This fund will be a tangible way for Canadians and parliamentarians to honour their courageous service and assist their love ones in their time of need.

Likewise, like other members, I do not foresee that this would be a burden on the taxpayer. This would be a voluntary fund that would be set up and administered outside of government. It would be voluntary and it would not be a cost to the taxpayer.

I would also like to lend my support to this motion. The time has come.

Public Safety Officers Compensation FundPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The proposer of the motion is entitled to sum up. He has two minutes.

Public Safety Officers Compensation FundPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is not a votable motion. I want the police officers, firefighters, the police association and fire chiefs to know that in talking to my colleagues in the House I would say there is virtually unanimous support for pursuing this concept of a fund to assist the families of those public safety officers who lose their lives in the line of duty. It is going to take a bit of work but I think very slowly and even tonight I have heard of some opportunities and we may be able to move this forward even further.

Members here have been very kind. I know they are sincere in the gratitude on behalf of their constituents and indeed on behalf of all Canadians that we extend not only to those police officers, firefighters and peace officers, but also to their families. I am sure it is very difficult for all of us to appreciate what it must mean to a family knowing that their loved one is out there at a high risk scenario and that one day tragedy may occur because it is part of the job.

It is a unique situation. We know tragic circumstances occur. We want to say now to all of them, thank you for your courageous service. We will not forget those who have lost their lives in the line of duty on behalf of the Canadian people. Thank you very much.

I hope that one day soon this matter will come back before the House with the specifics and we can have that public safety officers compensation fund established in Canada by the Parliament of Canada for the people of Canada on behalf of public safety officers.

Public Safety Officers Compensation FundPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired, and this item is dropped from the Order Paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Public Safety Officers Compensation FundAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Mitchell Liberal Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Mr. Speaker, further to my question, the issue of nuclear safety in Canada comes up again and again.

In her response, the Minister of Natural Resources reminded us that Canada has a lengthy history in terms of advocating the destruction of nuclear weapons and that all nuclear activity in Canada is conducted only after the most stringent safety and security measures are put into place.

As Chair of the natural resources committee, I studied clause by clause the nuclear legislation that is currently before the House. As a result, I have a true appreciation for the complex issues that surround nuclear safety in this country.

Moreover, I have a true appreciation for the concerns of my constituents and other Canadians who, while acknowledging the contribution of nuclear power to meet our energy needs, insist, and rightly so, that nuclear activity in Canada be undertaken only while adhering to the strictest environmental standards.

I recently met with several concerned individuals in my riding who were members of an organization devoted to maintaining high standards in nuclear safety.

Like these individuals and others like them, I am committed to protecting Canada's environment and natural resources. Our federal government has an ongoing commitment to environmental protection in Canada and has advanced this cause considerably since the original Canadian Environmental Protection Act took effect in 1988.

We know that some toxic substances do not break down naturally but stay in our food, water and soil and accumulate over time. To better protect the environment and the health of Canadians from these toxins, we introduced a new act in December 1996 to manage toxic substances more effectively, improve the application of regulation and encourage public participation and co-operation between governments.

The bottom line is that it is better to prevent pollution than to try to manage it after it has been created. It is this same principle that guides the nuclear safety legislation which establishes the Canadian nuclear safety commission and contains measures that protect the environment.

This nuclear safety legislation replaces the Atomic Energy Control Act with a modern statute to provide for more explicit and effective regulations of nuclear energy.

Formulation of the Canadian nuclear safety commission underlies its separate role from research, development and marketing, and recognizes that since the original act was first adopted in 1946 the mandate of the regulatory agency has evolved from one of primarily national security to one primarily focused on the control of health, safety and environmental consequences of nuclear activities.

This legislation provides the Canadian nuclear safety commission with a mandate to establish and enforce national standards in these areas. It also establishes a basis for implementing Canadian policy and fulfilling Canada's obligation with respect to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The legislation brings the enforcement powers of compliance and penalties for infractions into line with current legislative practices. The commission is empowered to require financial guarantees to order remedial action in hazardous situations and to require responsible parties to bear the cost of decontamination, all measures that will help protect the environment.

The constituents in my riding care about their environment. Canadians care and so does this Liberal government. On behalf of my constituents, I would appreciate that the parliamentary secretary further address these issues.

Public Safety Officers Compensation FundAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Dauphin—Swan River Manitoba

Liberal

Marlene Cowling LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I want to reassure the hon. member and all Canadians that before any full scale project involving the Bruce reactors could proceed, it would be subject to a full assessment and licensing approval of relevant federal and provincial safety, health and environmental regulatory authorities.

The approval process would include provisions for public input. If the requirements for public health and safety could not be met a MOX fuel project involving Canadian based CANDU reactors would not proceed.

Let me emphasize why Canada supports in principle the MOX fuel initiative. Weapons usable plutonium in Russia and the United States could present a clear danger because it can be remade into nuclear weapons.

The use of MOX fuel in power reactors for the generation of electricity would represent a tangible contribution to world peace and security.

Some may ask why the U.S. does not use MOX fuel in its own reactors. The U.S. has included its own light water reactors as well as Canadian based CANDU reactors in its final list of options. It has included CANDU reactors in its final list because it offers the

possibility of the disposing of both Russian and U.S. plutonium in symmetry in a trusted third country.

AECL has tested fuel at its labs over the last 30 years. The MOX fuel performance test at Chalk River laboratories' NRU reactor is required in order to ensure that the MOX fuel is suitable for use in CANDU reactors.

The AECB will be assessing the details of the test program and it will proceed only if the AECB confirms that plutonium will remain secure and that there will be no health risks to the workers at the Chalk River laboratories, to the public or to the environment.

In conclusion, I reiterate that Canada has a role to play in enhancing world peace and security. This could include playing a role, as a trusted third party, in helping to ensure that weapons usable plutonium in Russia and the U.S.-

Public Safety Officers Compensation FundAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry, the hon. parliamentary secretary's time has expired.

Public Safety Officers Compensation FundAdjournment Proceedings

February 12th, 1997 / 6:50 p.m.

NDP

Vic Althouse NDP Mackenzie, SK

Mr. Speaker, last Friday I rose in my place to ask a question concerning the results of the labour force statistics which showed that there was an appalling lack of employment opportunities for the youth of this country and that the appalling situation has existed throughout the mandate of this government.

The data were quite clear. The participation rate for most Canadians runs between 63 per cent and 64.8 per cent, but for young people the participation rate dropped from 62.7 per cent back in 1989, which made it fairly close to the average for all Canadians, to an abysmal 48.8 per cent at the end of 1996.

It seemed to me that the loss of these 25,000 or 30,000 jobs among the youth group alone last year was reason enough for Canadians to begin to ask their government why this situation has resulted.

I know that in the answer the government is going to talk about the youth employment strategy which it unveiled today, but I would remind it that when the electors made it government they were assured in the red book that there would be apprenticeship training programs and programs where the government and employers would join together to provide the experience needed for young people to become acceptable full time workers. None of that has happened.

What is being proposed is basically a subsidy for private business and government departments to hire university students. The strategy is almost exclusively in that direction.

The opportunities for young people under 25 and even under 30 are so abysmal in this country that we are beginning to look like some of the less developed countries across the world.

Young people are not lazy. They are not stupid. They are well educated. They just have not had the chance to work in a job.

In the less developed countries young people have begun to invent jobs for themselves. They are street musicians. They are buskers. They are entertainers on the streets. They are squeegee kids who dart in and out at stoplights to clean windshields. That is the kind of stuff which ten years ago we saw only in less developed countries. Now we are seeing it in Canada. Right here, close to Parliament Hill in Ottawa, at the corner of Colonel By and Wellington we see it every day.

This is the only way these people have of making any kind of a living. It is time the government took more responsibility and lived up to the promises it made to the people when it took over the responsibility of running the federal government. It should be more attuned to the special needs of the very young, to make certain that the jobs program as promised is worked on.

After three and a half years all we have is program that is basically a repeat of most of the old programs that were tried years ago before expenditure became something government was extremely worried about and so those programs were cut.

There should be programs that encourage or force large employers to take on young people as apprentices. Instead what we have is a non-policy, and what has resulted is young people are volunteering for jobs, working in restaurants as waiters and waitresses for nothing hoping to get some tips. They are volunteering in offices for nothing-

Public Safety Officers Compensation FundAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member's time has expired.

Public Safety Officers Compensation FundAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Restigouche—Chaleur New Brunswick

Liberal

Guy Arseneault LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, investing in our young people is an investment in Canada's future. The youth employment strategy announced today by the Minister of Human Resources Development provides us with the tools we need to help thousands of young Canadians enter today's complex and demanding labour market.

The strategy aims to reach more young Canadians and give them better access to the information services and resources they need to acquire the skills and experience for today's workforce. The strategy builds on what works, strengthening existing programs that help young Canadians bridge the gap between school and work.

For example, Youth Service Canada and Youth Internship Canada will focus on the needs of youth who face serious disadvantages entering the job market. Student Summer Job Action will receive increased funding in 1997 to help more than 60,000 young people get career related summer jobs.

The strategy will also give participants work experience in sectors that could provide long term employment. In partnership with the private sector, non profit agencies and community organizations, new internships will be created for the more than 110,000 young people in sectors like science and technology, the environment, international trade and international development.

Internship programs for the first nations and for the Inuit will be given new resources to enable young native people living on the reserve and in northern communities to acquire skills and work experience.

Young people must have access to the information they need to find job opportunities. We have set up centralized services available on the Internet and by calling 1-800-935-5555, in publications and at youth information fairs.

The youth employment strategy consolidates and builds-

Public Safety Officers Compensation FundAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry, the hon. parliamentary secretary's time has expired.

A motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m.

(The House adjourned at 6.58 p.m.)