Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure and an honour to participate in the debate on the motion presented by my colleague, the member for Burnaby—New Westminster.
The motion before us is a very constructive and important contribution to our work as members of Parliament in terms of recognizing the sacrifices that others make so we can live safely in our communities without fear of loss of life or physical harm because of the threat of fire or the presence of hazardous materials.
What my colleague is doing today is gathering us all together to say that we have an obligation to acknowledge the heroism of firefighters from one end of the country to the other and to pay tribute to the sacrifices they make every day in every community. My colleague has already spoken about the 800 or more who have lost their lives while putting out fires and saving communities from the loss of physical means, as well as the loss of human life.
Today we are trying to bring members of Parliament together to acknowledge the heroism, to remember the sacrifices, to leave a lasting legacy for future generations and to remind us all about our future responsibilities by agreeing to a monument that would become a gathering place for people to pay tribute to those individuals and to never forget their heroism and contributions to our society.
We all know from TV images what happens when firefighters respond to emergencies, such as the one on September 11. We know that firefighters sacrifice everything to help others. We watched firefighters enter the burning towers in New York City after the terrorist airplanes wreaked havoc on the city. We saw them walk up the stairs of those towers to save people knowing there was very little likelihood of saving themselves.
That is the kind of heroism we are talking about. Many firefighters do this day in and day out. These images are not always on TV for everyone to acknowledge and understand so it is up to us, as members of Parliament representing 308 communities, to acknowledge our firefighters who put their lives on the line to come to our rescue to ensure our safety and security.
We cannot leave this session of Parliament without having done something so important for a group in our society that has given so much and has received so little recognition.
In addition to my colleague's acknowledgement of the work of the International Association of Fire Fighters, the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation and, of course, the 180,000 firefighters from coast to coast to coast, I would like to acknowledge the work of the firefighters in my own community, the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg, who have been at the forefront of our community speaking up about the tragedies that many of their members have experienced in the pursuit of fulfilling their responsibilities to our community, firefighters who have done a great service in terms of public education and awareness to help us deal with burn victims and ensure they have proper services and treatments to recover from serious burns. What firefighters in Winnipeg have done to actually build up a capacity to treat burn victims is absolutely unbelievable and must be acknowledged.
Winnipeg's firefighters have played an incredible role in moving the legislative agenda forward in the province of Manitoba. They want to ensure there is recognition that when a firefighter goes into a dangerous lethal situation, not only are there immediate dangers in terms of smoke inhalation and burns, but there are also longer term impacts as a result of being at that scene of danger. There are effects in terms of cancer, heart attacks, colorectal disease, urethral cancer, and so on.
This is all part of our quest to recognize firefighters, to put in place a monument where we can pay homage to them. Not only is it to pay tribute to them, but also to remind us of the work that must be done legislatively to ensure that workers are protected. We need to ensure that firefighters are recognized in all shapes and forms of our legislative process. We need to take action to ensure there is compensation for families who have experienced the loss of a loved one because of a fire related death. We need to ensure that we have provided for the families in the event of such a terrible loss.
In Manitoba we recently lost a dear firefighter. Just this past week there was a service in Winnipeg to acknowledge the life of brother Bruce Kitching, who had suffered a heart injury within 24 hours of a fire shift. For the last year Bruce had fought a courageous battle. He spent the majority of the year trying to deal with the situation. Even with his battle, Bruce assisted us in Winnipeg, the firefighters of Winnipeg, Manitoba and Canada, by being a spokesperson to ensure that we expanded our presumptive legislation to include cancers related to fire and smoke, broadening it to include the incidence of a heart attack that would happen shortly after helping put out a fire. Winnipeg firefighters paid homage to his work. We will remember his contribution for generations to come.
Let us remember what firefighters give to all of us. Let us recognize the sacrifices they make for our whole country. Let us do whatever we can to ensure that the kind of courage demonstrated by Bruce Kitching and all the firefighters of Winnipeg is always appreciated and remembered forever.