Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand in the House to highlight the launch of World Sight Day 2011 and notably visitors in Ottawa participating in this great occasion, including members of VISION 2020 Canada and Mark DeMontis, a blind hockey player currently en route in-line skating from Halifax to Toronto.
October 13 is World Sight Day, an international day of awareness to focus attention on the right to sight, recognizing the global issue of avoidable blindness and visual impairment, in anticipation of eliminating avoidable causes by the year 2020.
Worldwide, an estimated 39 million people are blind and each year more than 45,000 Canadians lose their vision at a cost of $15.8 billion to Canadian taxpayers, and yet 80% of blindness is avoidable. Positive progress is being made and infectious causes of blindness have greatly reduced over the past 20 years.
I am proud to say the launch of World Sight Day 2011 has members and senators from all parties supporting VISION 2020's goal. I hope both sides can continue this co-operation for Canadians.