House of Commons Hansard #128 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was transportation.


Civilian War-Related Benefits Act
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10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members


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10:10 a.m.



Don Boudria for the Minister of Veterans Affairs

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

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10:10 a.m.

Sault Ste. Marie


Carmen Provenzano Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, there has been much commentary and some criticism of late about the speed with which legislation is moving through the House. However, I doubt that anyone could find fault with moving forward quickly a piece of legislation that has been crafted to help Canada's veterans in their remaining years. I will keep my comments brief today so that we can proceed rapidly to approval.

Bill C-41 extends veterans' benefits to a number of worthy civilian groups with wartime service overseas. It also helps to meet the government's commitment to the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs by helping improve the quality of life of serving members of the Canadian forces.

I want to thank the current members of the committee for allowing the bill to proceed so efficiently through committee stage so that we could debate today.

As I referred to earlier, this bill extends benefits to groups that served in wartime virtually alongside our armed forces and essentially under military type conditions of service. These groups are the Newfoundland foresters, the Canadian firefighters, the Red Cross and other nursing aides and staff as well as the Ferry Command.

Over the course of the second world war, 3,680 Newfoundlanders served in the Newfoundland Overseas Forestry Unit, although many later transferred to the British armed forces or served with the British home guard. There are approximately 1,000 surviving members today.

The Canadian firefighters were recruited to help in the blitz in Britain. Of the original 400, perhaps 150 survive today. The Red Cross and other nursing aides and staff performed a vital service, essentially as unpaid volunteers, as ancillary health care workers alongside medical units of the forces.

Finally there is the Ferry Command, a special organization formed to collect, test fly and deliver war planes primarily to the European theatre. This group suffered truly terrible casualties. Sadly, of the 200 Canadians perhaps only 50 survive today.

The legislation gives these individuals greater access to the income support programs and disability pensions administered by Veterans Affairs Canada. It also opens up opportunities for additional health care benefits including the veterans independence program.

The bill helps veterans, a worthy objective by itself, but it has also been designed to help current members of the forces. At the present time Canadian forces members can only receive a disability pension for a service related disability that occurred in or resulted from service in a special duty area such as a peacekeeping mission.

For those members who suffer a disability from fighting a flood in Canada, for example, their disability can be assessed and entitlement to a pension can be granted while they are still serving. However no Veterans Affairs Canada pension can begin to be paid until after they have left the Canadian forces.

The amendments in Bill C-41 remove this inequity and allow all Canadian forces personnel with service related disabilities to receive Veterans Affairs Canada pensions upon application regardless of where the injury occurred.

There are also amendments in the bill which include a number of minor improvements in wording and other legislative housekeeping. A few examples are clarifying regulation making authorities, correcting cross references, correcting the French name of the department, repealing obsolete legislation, and benefit improvements for couples who are both veterans.

Members of the House have an opportunity today to pass legislation which improves the lives of brave men and women who have served our country well in the past and those who continue to serve our country well today. I urge that we do the right thing and give unanimous consent to third reading of Bill C-41.

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10:15 a.m.


Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I imagine that the majority of Canadians watching this morning have been looking for the benefits of the bill from a period of time when many members of the House were not even born. On average they have been waiting up to 55 years, which I doubt is the average age of members of the House.

The audience out there who will be recipients of the benefits in the bill is very few in number, compared to the brave people who served on the frontlines during the war.

Younger Canadians and those looking at the bill in the House for the first time ask what the Newfoundland Overseas Forestry Unit has to do with the war. As a matter of fact those people had some tremendous skills not just in cutting trees, but skills in building beams so that coal, a badly needed war commodity, could be shipped. They were able to speed up the shipment of coal, which was very valuable to munitions plants and so on.

My hon. colleague mentioned the number 3,680. As one who is a bit older than the average member of the House I remember what little attention they received. I also remember a movie about those in the Ferry Command, but little attention was ever given to those brave people. Because Newfoundland was not part of Canada at the time, most of them joined the British army rather than joining the Canadian army.

I also have a comment about the Canadian firefighters. Somebody picking up the bill, or even students in school, would ask what firefighters have to do with veteran related bills. These were brave people who went overseas. Many lost their lives in the terrible blitzkrieg, particularly of the city of London. They have had basic access to income tested veterans programs but limited or no access to pensions for service related disabilities and no access to veterans independence program.

We have some current problems with the VI program, but this is not the bill or the time to be discussing them. I certainly will be discussing the problems with the veterans independence program in committee. Hopefully we can resolve some of the current problems, particularly as they relate to veterans widows trying to live alone in their own homes. If any of them are listening, or members of the press, let me assure them that I would bet money the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs will deal with those issues and look after them pronto. At least that is the feeling I have from the committee. Certainly that is my aim as an official opposition member of that committee.

I want to say a word about another group my hon. colleague mentioned, the Ferry Command personnel. These people got some recognition during this time, but they flew unarmed planes. They flew sometimes in the worst of conditions, delivering the planes across the Atlantic Ocean to Africa and Britain. Many times the equipment and fuel supply were very limited and as a result many lost their lives. There are not many of these honourable and heroic people left in Canada. As a matter of fact, later on this month there is a commemoration service to honour a few more than 50 of these great people.

It is a shame that Canada has taken 55 years to honour people whose fatality record equalled that of the air force. It is not a very bright chapter in Canadian history. Although many of them may be listening this morning, they are probably feeling more gratitude about the fact they are being recognized in the few short years they have left to live rather than any remuneration they may receive.

It has been 55 years. Many of these people are up to 90th birthdays. It has been many years and some of them have missed many opportunities. In spite of the benefits coming to these deserving groups so late in their lives, at least the official opposition, and I understand all opposition parties in the House, will be supporting Bill C-41.

It is not a perfect bill. Whenever we deal with the recognition of people, pension funding or liabilities, we almost have to make a bill to fit every individual person. It is like providing some aid to farms in western Canada, which I might point out is virtually nil. It is very difficult to get a bill that will suit everyone's needs.

I draw attention to the statement allegedly made by the Minister of Veterans Affairs to the Atlantic media, which I found to be very misleading. It bothers me somewhat, simply because he suggested the opposition delayed the passage of the bill. I hope it was a media error. I am proud to stand in the House today and say no one, particularly in the official opposition, delayed the passage of the bill. He claimed that we did not let the bill go through all stages after second reading.

If the bill had gone through at that time the significant amendment the minister announced today regarding the RCMP would probably not have been picked up. That is what all parties on this side of the House wanted. This was accomplished, but I do not think it was the result of the opposition in any way delaying passage of the bill. I hope in due course the minister will make the necessary corrections.

While I am on this point I would like to clear up another matter which may mislead people. The bill, when passed, would give pension benefits to certain civilian groups for overseas service during the war. We all have to agree today that this is very laudable. It is really not what these groups have asked for year in, year out.

I am sure every member of the opposition and the minister know full well these civilian groups were asking for the same benefits the merchant navy vets were receiving, as was announced recently. I am not opposed in any way to the merchant navy vets getting benefits, but it is very difficult to draw a line between the merchant navy and the Ferry Command, to draw a line between the brave nurses who served at the front, or to draw a line between those who went into the pits of the coal mines in Newfoundland. It is a pretty small line to draw, and they did not get anything.

The minister singled out merchant navy vets for ex gratia payments for this injustice but completely ignored these groups in the process. I do not know why. I have some ideas why they were ignored, but I suggest this should be the subject of another bill which I recommend the minister introduce into the House as soon as possible.

I have received piles of submissions and letters. As soon as I was appointed by the official opposition as the member in charge of veterans affairs, the letters came in from all over Canada.

I understand the concerns on both sides of the issue. A person who has lived for many years with a disability, which we might say was a frontline disability, is only now receiving compensation. Those few hundred out there are asking the same question. The precedent has been set.

The bill was rushed quickly through the House. We will not block the bill, as we have said from the very beginning, but there are some individuals out there who I hope are considered on an individual basis. There are so few of them left there is no reason why they should not be included.

Let me give an example. A retired sergeant named Michael Schlueter contacted my office hoping to have some input in the bill. The retired sergeant thought it would be possible for him to appear as a witness before the standing committee, but I told him that would not take place simply because we were not hearing any witnesses. Let me speak about this chap. While on duty in Canada he had part of his right arm blown off. It was not in a war zone but it was related to a war effort. Because he was injured in Canada and not in what we would call a special duty area, he was not eligible for a disability pension until he was discharged from the forces. Thank God we have corrected that.

However, we have to look at this because those people are wondering, if the navy vets are eligible for retroactive payments, what about the other people? Therein lies a very significant problem. If we were confronted with the sergeant, how would anyone in the House answer that? I do not need to single him out. There are probably hundreds of them. Any other Canadian can receive a disability pension while they are employed. The bill corrects that injustice so that from now on anyone in the Canadian forces or the RCMP can collect a disability pension if they are injured on the job.

The sergeant, who has only one arm now, told me that the bill creates two classes of disabled ex-armed forces personnel: first, those who will collect a disability pension if they are injured after the bill is passed; and second, the others who are ineligible for a disability pension because they were injured before the bill was passed.

That is a pretty sobering thought, is it not? I hope the committee will work on that and really think about it. We just cannot leave out those individual Canadians because of some magic deadline. There are only a few hundred of them left and we need to recognize them.

In conclusion, the minister and the committee have to consider ex gratia payments for those deserving individuals I have just mentioned. I do not think we can run away or hide from that. I really do not think Canadians would want the House to do so.

I applaud the minister for working with the opposition and taking seriously our concerns about the RCMP. I fully endorse the amendment. I could not care less whether the amendment came from this side of the House or even from another party. The fact is that it is there and it needs to be there.

I give my consent to the bill because of the humanitarian treatment accorded to the widows of vets receiving compassionate awards. There are some issues still to mention but we will deal with them later.

I give credit to the department for recognizing its accountability when mistakes are made in calculating payments but not burdening vets or their widows with having to repay overpayments. I have been through some of that and it is generally wee sums of money. People at that age, some of them now living alone, get flustered when they see a bill coming in that they do not understand. I commend the government for making that movement.

I am pleased that the provisions governing the amount of income support is calculated in such a way that it benefits the veterans more than it does the department.

I am pleased to support the bill but I want to caution members and those listening in who may benefit in some small way. I hope this is not the end of our responsibility on the committee. I think we have a lot of study to do yet. There are people out there from Prince Rupert to St. John's who are striving to live alone in their own homes. We have to go back and make sure we find a way to recognize them more completely.

Civilian War-Related Benefits Act
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10:35 a.m.


Paul Mercier Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, better late than never. Our government has just realized, a half-century after the fact, that various categories of Canadian civilians, including firefighters and members of the Red Cross, shared the same merits and the same hazards during the second world war and the Korean war as uniformed personnel. Yet they not been entitled before now to the pensions and other benefits that are a concrete indication of the national gratitude enjoyed by war veterans.

Bill C-41, which we are considering at the moment, is intended, and I congratulate myself on this, to correct this injustice, but it achieves this end only partially, as I will soon show.

Another category of deserving civilian fighters has waited 55 years for recognition. I am speaking of the sailors of the merchant marine. The injustice they suffered has now been corrected.

The bill before us today concerns other categories of civilians serving abroad. They are primarily the members of the Corps of Canadian Fire Fighters for Service in the United Kingdom. These men helped fight the fires ignited nightly by the German bombardment of London, in particular, during the first two years of the war.

Others benefiting from the bill are the Canadian members of the voluntary aid detachment of the British Red Cross during the first world war. It took 82 years to remember them.

Welfare workers and voluntary aid workers in the second world war and the Korean war are also finally being recognized.

Not forgotten either are the civilian pilots in the Ferry Command, who often at the risk of their lives convoyed aircraft built here and destined for the European front between Canada and Great Britain.

The members of these various categories of civilians deserving of recognition by their country are, under this bill, being accorded the same treatment as military veterans and therefore are entitled to a pension. As many of them are dead, their widows will benefit. And if the widow is dead, no one will benefit.

The problem is that this good legislation will not be retroactive. It does not provide any compensation for the 55 years during which all these brave people were forgotten by their government.

This is an injustice. From the moment we recognize that these people are entitled to national recognition just like military personnel, who have been getting pensions since the end of the war, it is totally unfair to make them pay for the fact that the government waited for over half a century before acknowledging their contribution and thus their rights to national recognition.

I do not find it acceptable for the government to permit itself what would be considered a reprehensible abuse of power, had it been an individual's treatment of his employees. Can anyone imagine the head of a firm admitting that some of his staff had been unfairly treated for years and agreeing to remedy the situation only if the remedy were not retroactive?

But this principle of obvious equity does not seem popular with the government, if we are to judge by its reaction to the Canadian Human Rights Commission ruling ordering it to compensate those of its employees who, because they were women, had for years been paid less than their male counterparts. It will be recalled that Ottawa held out against making these retroactive payments for a long time. It only did so because it was forced to by the tribunal.

The purpose of Bill C-41 is to correct another anomaly and this is a good thing. This one involves members of the Canadian Armed Forces who are still serving but are suffering from service related disabilities. These men and women are not currently entitled to disability pension before their release. This situation is going to be corrected. We need hardly say that we are in favour of this provision of the bill.

However, we could not understand why clause 46 excluded the RCMP from this measure. I called on the government to withdraw this provision from the bill. We are pleased to hear that it just amended the act accordingly.

Another anomaly was also corrected. As the result of an error for which the recipient is in no way responsible, a veteran might receive a higher amount of pension than his entitlement for a certain period of time. Until now, when the error was detected, the person concerned was required to pay back the overpayment under conditions and a deadline that might be prejudicial to his quality of life. From now on, the victims of these administrative errors will be treated more humanely. We approve of this provision, while once again regretting that it has been so long in coming.

To summarize and to conclude, we support this piece of legislation, but we regret that it comes some 50 years too late and that it does not provide for the payment of an indemnity to recipients for this delay. However, as I said at the start, better late than never, and we will support this bill.

Civilian War-Related Benefits Act
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10:40 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from the NDP for switching with me. I will be short so that she will have time. I hope everyone has a chance to say a few words with regard to Bill C-41.

I am so pleased that I have been part and parcel of the committee that unanimously agreed to Bill C-41. When I was five years old, two of my brothers served overseas during the conflict, so I know there is a need for this bill. During that time the Red Cross, the Ferry Command, the Newfoundland Overseas Forestry Unit and all the civilian forces made sure that the needs of my brothers and all the others in the military were met. They did their job in order to bring peace around the world.

I am also pleased to see that the bill deals with disability. We must never forget that most of our veterans are now seniors who are aging every day. I hope and pray that the bill will be expanded a bit to include veterans' hospital care because these people need to be taken care of as well. Many of our veterans' hospitals have been closed down and replaced with tiny units. We need to look at that because it is not enough for these people.

I also want to make sure that the rest of the compensation package is in place for the merchant navy men and their widows. I have been assured by the minister that he will work tooth and nail to make sure that happens. The government is still processing some of the applications that have been put forward for the compensation packages. We need to expedite that as quickly as possible.

Many more applications were received than had been anticipated. We thought there would be around 4,500, but my understanding is that about 14,000 have been filed and it has not been easy. It has been a lot of work. However, when it comes to the merchant navy men and their widows I will never stop speaking out for them. They are very dear to my heart. Even this morning I had calls from merchant navy men asking me about their compensation packages.

When it comes to the civilian war-related benefits act we must always remember that it was brought in by the PC government and Gerry Merrithew, who was the minister of veterans affairs at that time. He is from Saint John, New Brunswick. That act is now being amended to include more. I congratulate the minister for expanding upon the act, but he should remember that it was brought in by the PC government. We saw that there were people who had been terribly neglected and that there was a need for change.

I want everyone to remember that everyone on the committee, our friends from the Bloc, our friends from the NDP, our friends from the Canadian Alliance and the PC Party, agreed with the minister on the bill and unanimously agreed to bring the amendments to the civilian war related benefits act before the House of Commons. All of us know there are those who are suffering today and those who are in need.

I agree with my hon. friend from the Bloc that indeed the RCMP must be included. We cannot just eliminate those RCMP officers. They put their lives on the line for all of us who sit in the House of Commons. They put their lives on the line so that we could have the peace which we we have around the country. The Red Cross, the Ferry Command, the firefighters and all of them put their lives on the line as well.

I trust that there will be no opposition whatsoever to Bill C-41. I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank my colleague from the NDP for allowing me to speak now because I have another commitment later in the day.

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10:45 a.m.


Wendy Lill Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to speak today to Bill C-41, an act to improve the veterans' benefits for our veterans. I would like to say that the NDP will be supporting this bill.

I would also like to say that over the last three and a half years I have been very honoured to work with the legions in my riding. Those are the Somme legion, the centennial branch and also the army, navy, air force club. They have been able to deepen my understanding of the issues facing veterans in our communities.

I would also like to thank the wonderful people at the family resources centre at both Shannon Park and Shearwater. They also have helped me to understand the problems facing people who are in the armed forces and their families. It is because of these people that I am able to work at the level I do.

In addressing the context of Bill C-41, first I should express some scepticism about the government's intent on following through with its commitments to Canada's vets. I must say that over half of the claims received from the merchant mariners are still waiting to be processed and we are all very concerned about that. These Canadians have risked life and limb. During the war they worked to deliver food, fuel, goods and people who were under attack from German submarines, facing casualties and, all too often, death.

Every month more of these brave members of our community succumb to illness and old age. It has been estimated that merchant mariners are dying at the rate of 12 per month. Veterans affairs reportedly has 45 people working on these claims but that is clearly not enough. Staffing levels should be increased to meet the demand created by the merchant mariners' claims.

If the government wishes Bill C-41 to be taken seriously by the people who would be affected by it, it should state here and now that it is committed to ensuring that all merchant mariners who are entitled to compensation receive their full benefits and that it will not to turn its back on them after the first payments have been made.

This legislation sets out to extend veterans' benefits to a number of civilian groups with overseas service and would allow serving members of the Canadian armed forces to receive disability pensions while still serving. I am pleased to see this. I believe that the government is responding to issues raised by SCONDVA. Allowing serving members of the Canadian armed forces to receive disability pensions while still serving is indeed a step forward.

New Democrats feel that the government should be doing much more to address broader issues relating to working and living conditions for our troops.

We know that the military personnel who live on bases in various parts of the country are contending with old and deteriorating accommodations which are among some of the worst found in the country. From leaky roofs to cramped, old and deteriorating spaces, Canadian forces personnel deserve much better from the country which they have admirably served, and in particular from the Liberal government responsible for these decisions.

We are very interested to see that the Liberal government has cash on hand to spend $15 million on a brand spanking new armoury in Shawinigan which, by great coincidence, is in the riding of the Prime Minister.

Bill C-41 sets out to ensure serving forces personnel may receive disability pensions while still serving. New Democrats agree that troops serving Canadians by assisting with crises, such as the great ice storm of 1998, or fighting the floods on the Red River or working as peacekeepers in Bosnia, would be able to collect a veterans affairs disability pension while continuing to serve their country. Bill C-41 would ensure equality with members whose disabilities arose in special duty areas and reserves.

We support the legislation as it would extend veterans benefits to certain civilian groups who served overseas in close support of the war effort. This includes such groups as the Canadian Red Cross, St. John Ambulance, Newfoundland overseas foresters, Canadian firefighters and pilots who ferried over the Atlantic, and other groups who assisted the military overseas.

The legislation will provide these individuals with greater access to veterans affairs Canada income support and disability pensions and additional health care benefits including the veterans independence program.

The overseas crew of the Ferry Command assisted the war effort by ferrying military aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean from North America. The Newfoundland Overseas Forestry Unit assisted the war effort by cutting timber in Scotland which was then predominantly needed in British coal mining operations to fuel the war effort.

While Canadians were negotiating the terms of union several years after the war, it was agreed that Newfoundland air force members would be eligible for veterans benefits from Canada but members of the forestry unit were not included in the arrangement.

During the second world war the corps of civilian Canadian firefighters for service in the United Kingdom assisted the war effort by fighting fires in Britain that were created by the dreaded blitz. Also during the war overseas welfare workers, which included members of the Canadian Red Cross and St. John Ambulance, served as welfare workers overseas in support of the injured.

One of the most important aspects of the bill is working to ensure equity of access to services and benefits to all Canadian forces members regardless of whether the injuries occurred in Canada or on a foreign deployment. At the present time Canadian forces members can only receive a Veterans Affairs Canada disability pension for a service related disability if it occurred in or resulted from service in a special duty area such as a peacekeeping mission.

For Canadian forces members hurt while fighting a flood in Canada, their disability can be assessed and they can be entitled to a disability pension only if they are still serving. However, no Veterans Affairs Canada disability pension can begin to be paid until after they have left the Canadian forces.

These amendments would remove this inequity and allow all Canadian forces members with a service related disability to receive a Veterans Affairs Canada disability pension upon application regardless of where the injury occurred.

I have a couple of concerns that I would like to raise about Bill C-41. One of them was raised yesterday in the House by my colleague from Regina—Qu'Appelle. That is the issue of the treatment of first nations veterans who were discriminated against during the first world war, the second world war and the Korean War in comparison to non-first nations veterans. My colleague has also put forward a private member's bill in order to try to receive appropriate compensation and recognition of these very important veterans. This is one area that is not dealt with in Bill C-41 and we would like to see much more attention given to this issue.

Bill C-41, the veterans benefits legislation, takes some important steps to support the veterans in this country. It takes some steps in recognizing the contributions and the great sacrifices that our fighting forces have given to this country.

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10:50 a.m.

Gander—Grand Falls
Newfoundland & Labrador


George Baker Minister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency)

Mr. Speaker, I think we have an understanding in the House with all the political parties that this bill should pass. The official opposition and the official opposition critic agrees with this bill. The Bloc, the NDP, the Progressive Conservative Party and the hon. member for Saint John and the government all agree with what is in this bill.

I want to thank the political parties. This is the third reading. These are the final moments. When this is proclaimed, a great many people in Canada will be able to receive the full benefits of our veterans pensions and disability pensions that we have in Canada, and a great many Canadians are awaiting the passage of the bill.

In conclusion, I want to thank publicly the Royal Canadian Legion for the effort that it has put into this; the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans In Canada; Mr. Cliff Chadderton of the National Council of Veterans Organizations who spent so much time on this and other legislation on behalf of all veterans; Mr. Lloyd Thompson of Botwood, Newfoundland, who represented the Newfoundland Foresters; Mr. Lang of the Ferry Command of Montreal; and everybody else who spent a lot of time and who have been at this now for years.

Finally, I want to thank the House of Commons which is about to pass the legislation with unanimous consent. On behalf of all veterans we say thank you.

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10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

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10:55 a.m.

Some hon. members


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10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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10:55 a.m.

Some hon. members


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

Message From The Senate
Government Orders

October 6th, 2000 / 10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed certain bills, to which the concurrence of the House is desired.

Sids Awareness Month
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, sudden infant death syndrome takes the lives of three children under the age of one in Canada every week of the year. I can imagine no worse tragedy for a parent than to put an apparently healthy baby to bed in his or her crib and never to have the baby wake up.

SIDS is the leading cause of death of babies between the ages of one month and one year.

October is SIDS Awareness Month and a perfect time to acknowledge the extra work done by the Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant Death working in collaboration with Health Canada, the Canadian Paediatric Society and the Canadian Institute for Child Health. They provide education, awareness and support to parents who have been through this terrible tragedy. Thanks largely to their efforts the incidence of infant deaths due to SIDS has declined significantly in the past few years.

I know all members of the House will want to congratulate the Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant Death on the success of their work to date and to wish them all the best in their future efforts.

Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Chuck Cadman Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians will be much safer under the justice platform released by the leader of the Canadian Alliance yesterday. We have seen far too many broken promises and too many failures of the present Liberal government to adequately address the concerns of our citizens toward providing safer communities and stronger communities.

The Liberals have it all wrong. Instead of being overly concerned with offenders of our laws, we must take a tougher approach to crime in order to provide a safer environment for our families.

A Canadian Alliance government will bring forth truth in sentencing. It will actually do something about youth justice. It will change our prison system so that release is earned and so that drugs are removed. It will repeal the costly firearm law and replace it with a practical firearms control system. We will work in harmony with the provinces and territories to address smuggling, drugs and border control.

It is long past time that Canada regained control over crime. It is long past time we had a government that will actually do something about criminal justice rather than just talk about it. Under the new leader of the Canadian Alliance, we will be offering a clear alternative on justice issues.