Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak on this debate tonight. I want the member for Elk Island to know that when it was mentioned today that private members' business was the issue of the dates, I automatically thought that it was his bill. I have seen it come by my desk each year as we come back from our summer recess and I automatically thought it was his. In heart and soul it is his, and he can take credit for that at least.
My colleague from the Bloc said that this is a logically rational standard. What is scary is we all agree it is a logically rational standard and we do not have it in legislation. Following the standard has been voluntary but putting it in place has taken some 31 years.
If I recall correctly, when I started my first full time job after high school in the early 1970s the whole metric issue was just coming out. People were cursing, screaming and complaining about the metric system, about having to change miles to kilometres and about having to buy new measuring cups. They were going to have to do all these horrible things, but they did them. They did it as far as kilometres and miles because they did not have any choice. Signs in one municipality could not be in kilometres per hour and the signs in another municipality in miles per hour. It had to be standardized. We recognized that and it was done.
After high school my first full time job was doing clerical work at a hospital. I was told that the date had to be written down by year, month and day. It seemed totally logical to me. Of course I was a young person getting out in the workforce and I was going to do everything I was told. I am actually recognized as being a bit of a goody two-shoes about following rules and regulations. I have faithfully done this year after year because I was told that was the way it had to be done, that it was the law. I thought it was all part of the same law on the metric system.
Imagine my surprise a few years ago when I saw the proposal by my hon. colleague from Elk Island that we put this date system in place with regard to evidence. I would go a step further and say we have to legislate it. It has been 27 years since I started doing it, and if it is still voluntary and a good part of the industry is not following it, then it is time to go that step further.
I have listened to my colleagues here who all recognize that this is a good thing. Canadians must be wondering, “Why the heck are they not legislating it? This is common sense”. Then they probably think, “That explains it. It is common sense. It is logical and rational. That is why the government is not doing it. It would make sense”. The entire parliament is agreeing on it, so the government is not going to do it. We should be standardizing the date to year, month and day.
My colleague from the Bloc mentioned the seriousness of it. He is quite right. I indicated that I did clerical work in a hospital. We can well imagine what would happen if each and every nurse, doctor and every other health care professional chose to write the date as they saw fit. If a case went before the courts, or if someone checked back on certain procedures, medications or other things on a patient's record, the dates would not be known. A number of patient records go beyond one month and the dates could be different within the files.
I would stand here and say no big deal within the hospital system if the rule were in place and everybody followed it. Quite frankly, as the years progressed, fewer people followed the standard. I was the kind of person who said that we have to follow it because people would stray from it. It did become an issue. Even though the hospital had it as a standard, over the years it sort of lost its clout and it faded away and there were differences.
It is crucially important that we do not leave those issues to chance. There is a safety concern.
As far as bank statements, pension accounts and those things are concerned, it is not okay to have a difference. A number of people out there may not recognize that the dates are written differently.
We need a standardized date. Quite frankly it needs to be legislated. Hopefully then in 27 years we will all be doing it properly because quite frankly the voluntary way has not worked. It is crucially important that it goes a step further and is legislated.
The bill by my colleague from Peterborough is not a votable item. I was going to stand and ask for unanimous consent to make the bill votable, however I agree that clause 6 just does not cut it. I think the bill has to go back to the drawing board. My colleague from Peterborough and possibly my colleague from Elk Island should throw it back in the bucket and by some logical chance, or maybe by some great chance the Minister of Industry could take the bull by the horns and put it in place without having to go through the whole process because it is the right thing to do.