Madam Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all parliamentarians who spoke in the House of Commons for their support of Bill C-313. I believe this legislation would strengthen consumer protection measures for Canadians and would serve to address the concerns raised with me by Canadian eye care professionals.
I also thank the House of Commons private members' business office and also legal services for their excellent work leading up to the introduction of Bill C-313. All of their work behind the scenes for MPs' legislative business is greatly appreciated.
In addition to my parliamentary colleagues, I thank the many professionals within the eye care community who have supported my private member's bill. In fact, members of the eye care community have been calling for the regulatory changes contained in my PMB for over a decade now. Bill C-313 has gained the support of three prominent national eye care organizations. The Canadian Association of Optometrists, the Opticians Association of Canada and the Canadian Ophthalmological Society are important stakeholders in any discussion on eye care.
Furthermore, my office has been contacted by numerous provincial bodies and even eye care organizations from across the United States and Europe, each of whom are extremely supportive of the work we are doing here today with regard to helping to make Bill C-313 law.
I believe the work of these professional eye care stakeholders in Bill C-313 would finally address the lack of regulatory oversight on what are called “non-corrective cosmetic contact lenses”.
Due to the importance of Bill C-313 toward consumer protection and the overall health and well-being of Canadians, I was able to obtain the full support of all the opposition parties and their health critics when my bill was first introduced. Today I thank them for that same support to send my bill to committee for further study.
I am also honoured to have the support of the Minister of Health and I thank her for her support on the bill.
Asked by constituents and others why I would bring Bill C-313 forward, I have explained that my objective was to fully address the concerns held by myself, other parliamentarians and thousands of eye care professionals across Canada about the impact that cosmetic contact lenses was having on the health of our youth and those unaware of the potential side effects of using such a consumer product.
For example, in the past few months, since Bill C-313 was introduced in the House, millions of cosmetic contact lenses have been recalled across North America. These lenses were sold by various companies over the Internet with little to no regard for the safety of the customer purchasing these products, which is exactly what this legislation intends to prevent.
Severe complications did occur for some of the consumers who purchased these tainted lenses, which led to the recent recall in question. Such complications are likely to occur due to unsafe handling and wearing an improperly fitted lens in one's eye. These issues are also known to increase with the lack of professional oversight when these products are initially obtained by the consumer. A list of complications would include the following: conjunctivitis, corneal abrasions, giant papillary conjunctivitis, microbial keratitis and other forms of bacterial, allergic and microbial infections as specified by the eye care industry.
Already we know that these complications all occur with prescribed corrective lenses, which is exactly why Health Canada regulates the use of those products through opticians and regulatory bodies.
Before I finish, I will share with members a quote from Dr. Lillian Linton, president of the Canadian Association of Optometrists. After Bill C-313 was introduced, she stated:
This is about people’s eyesight…. There are daily news stories from around the world about the complications that can arise due to ill-fitting cosmetic lenses or improper use and handling. It is an important vision health issue and the optometrists, opticians and ophthalmologists of Canada are asking for unanimous support from the House, Senate and Health Canada to adopt this amendment and enact it with haste.
The time has come for us as parliamentarians to join together to support Bill C-313 so we can ensure that the required regulatory changes are made. In doing so, we, as MPs, can ensure that the eye health of thousands of Canadians remains adequately protected.
With this in mind, I call on all parliamentarians in the House today to stand in support of Bill C-313.