Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to this debate and it is a good thing we are discussing the issue. I would like before we rise for the evening, however, to come up with some really concrete solutions to this problem.
I have heard people ask, first and foremost, how we get Canadians who have stated clearly that they want to donate, to donate. Ninety per cent say they want to donate, so the big question then is why are they not donating?
What are the things the federal government can do to help them to donate? We should have some concrete solution to that. I would like to suggest one.
Many people have touched on it, and it has to do with looking at some sort of public awareness and public education campaign, which could be done on a website, through articles in newspapers, sending out brochures to physicians or to the public in the way that Health Canada does when it wants to get some issue on board. That is one of the things we could do.
We could let people know that in fact transplants can be 90% successful. What are the ways in which they can offer their organs. Some of them can donate while they are living. Some of them can donate post-mortem. The disease has absolutely nothing to do with it. Their chronic illness has nothing to do with it. Their age has nothing to do with it. In fact, once the organ is set for donation, that is where the people, the physicians and donation and transplantation team, look at that tissue or organ and decide whether it is healthy, whether it is appropriate and whether it is a match or not.
Those are not things for the government to worry about. The government should just help to walk people through the ways in which they can donate and make it as easy as possible. That is just one thing.
We could dispel some of the myths that we know people have with regard to transplantation, religious reasons, et cetera. Transplantation is a big issue. Most people see their organs as a personal part of themselves. Interwoven within that sense of wanting to be able to give freely and generously to save someone else's life, there is that sense that we are removing a piece of ourselves. There are many cultures that associate that with being an important part of when we pass on and whether we want to be intact or not.
Dealing with some of those issues, dispelling some of those myths that most religions do not agree with organ transplantation when in fact they do, is another thing.
There has to be an easy way. There are ways in which the provinces have, as we well know, through transplantation documents or through a driver's licence that we can donate. Many people know about that, but they are also very concerned because again, most people do not like to think there will come a time when they have a traffic accident and have to donate their organs. We are asking people to think ahead.
The ability to help people understand that this is a life-saving thing they are doing, that this is one way of preventing death, is something that would make a lot of people think differently. Public education and public awareness is the first piece.
The second piece in any kind of strategy would be to have the infrastructure and to make it a one stop shopping area. Practically every country in the world has it, including countries that have federal systems like the United States. We have already seen that the council of the ministers of health met in 2001 and set this up. In 2008 it met again and put money into the whole blood system to deal with the issue. The will is there. Let us get it to become a structure that works.
The next thing we need to do is to find out how we match donors across our vast country and how we match people who are in intensive care units and in emergency departments so we have rapid matches, because time is of the essence in donation. That is a really concrete things we can do.
I heard people talking today about the safety of donations. There is enough information now and we have enough scientific evidence, and this should be done on a evidence-based basis and not on a moral, personal or subjective basis.
I heard the question about gay men who had been active sexually donating either blood or organs. The United Kingdom and all other countries have said that given the next tests we have that can predict HIV or hepatitis C very early and very accurately, that we do not need to look at this five year plan that had been set up. In fact one could look at very clear ways of finding out almost nominally in a very objective manner whether this was a piece of an organ or a tissue that could be donated safely.
This is something that scientists and physicians know how to do. They are doing it around the world. Canada just has to get in step and in line with that. We have had the Canadian Medical Association and other surgeons tell us the international criteria. Therefore, let us follow international criteria. Let us be clear that we are not lagging behind in terms of the decisions that we make because these things change regularly.
Safety of donations is another piece.
In the end, we have money within the system we have already, so let us look at a national registry. Let us also ensure that we have a third party that is set up to look at how we standardize procedures. We are not talking about making one province do what another province does. We are talking about clinical procedures, clear safety procedures and other scientific procedures. There should be standardized procedures for having a registry of donors and a registry of donees. There should be standardized procedures for matching. There should be standardized procedures for moving organs from one place to another rapidly. That is very simple thing to do. It is something we can get the third party to set up, talking to all of the transplantation teams and finding out what is the best way to get this to work. This is not rocket science. This is something that can be done.
Everyone has been very clear. We are on the same page and everyone wants this to happen. Everyone knows that if we can save a life, we should be able to do so as clearly as possible. Everyone understands what provincial jurisdictions are. However, everyone understands as well that there is a huge role here for the federal government.
Best practices is another item. If there is a place where provinces can go to check out what other provinces are doing things and what new things are they doing, we will not have to reinvent the wheel every time. Best practices is not an intrusive thing. It is an information database.
Let us get those things in place. Let us get this moving. Let us get people to understand that it is something they must do, that they need to do it and that it is not complicated. It does not cost them any money. It does not infringe on their religious and cultural beliefs. It is a very simple one-stop shopping thing to do.
Some countries have been doing some interesting things. Israel, for instance, has just started an offering incentive. Israel is suggesting that if people indicate they will donate their organs, then if they get sick and need care right away, they will be first in line in terms of getting care themselves when an organ is there. It is kind of an incentive. It is not buying an organ, which I think is very unethical to sell organs on the market.
We need to look at that. How does Canada play a role internationally in ensuring that organs are not for sale to the highest bidder and that kind of black market thing? We have a huge role to play, internationally, ensuring that this is so through the World Health Organization.
At the same time, there could be incentives. No one knows how the Israel incentive is going to work because it has just started, so let us look at this best practice and see if it works. This is something we should do.
We know that Denmark and other countries have different incentives, where if people do not say they do not want to donate their organs, then they are automatically donated. However, that does not seem to help the number of organs on the market, so I do not think that has been proven to be a best practice. The United States does not do that and it has a larger percentage per million of people who donate organs than in Denmark.
Let us not just pick everything. Let us just pick the things that work. Let us look at what other countries do. Let us emulate good practices. However, let us do something, please.