House of Commons Hansard #21 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was insite.

Topics

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, if I knew, I would make sure that the Conservatives could see all the shoddy work they have done over the years and all the work that still needs to be done and has needed to be done for a long time.

I would like to say that all the municipalities, such as Montreal and Vancouver, agree that this type of site will help people. Contrary to what my colleague might say, these people are not necessarily less fortunate; they likely have mental health problems. These people are suffering from depression and need help. The government's role is to help these people, not criminalize them. The government should not be saying that, unfortunately, it is people's own fault if they take drugs. As I was saying, according to a 2006 report, over 2,100 people sought help at InSite over the course of a year and managed to overcome their addiction. The government cannot divest itself of its responsibility to help people. We are here to save lives. Unfortunately, on the government side, no member has risen to defend his or her position. That is because it is indefensible.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say how shameful it is that the Conservatives are not standing up to take part in the debate on Bill C-2. As my colleague just pointed out, their position is indefensible.

This is an important debate about saving lives by giving people in need access to care and referrals to drug treatment options. This debate is about a very important public health and public safety issue: setting up supervised injection sites.

I would like to begin my speech with some quotes from a feasibility study for such a site in Montreal. The study was conducted in 2011 by the Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal. The tone and the word choices paint a very accurate picture of what supervised injection sites do:

Supervised injection services are medical and nursing services provided in response to addiction, which is a disease. In countries where these services are legal, they are offered in places where injection drug users can inject drugs they bring in themselves in a clean and safe environment, under the supervision of qualified medical, nursing and psychosocial staff.

What are the goals of these sites? I quote:

...to help prevent diseases and deaths among people who inject drugs, and to reduce social inequalities in health that affect one of society's most vulnerable groups.

Earlier, members talked about compassion and helping people who need resources and tools. That is what the government should be doing, but the Conservatives either do not understand or they have decided to wash their hands of the whole thing.

Anyone who wants to understand what supervised injection sites do has to understand what drug addiction is and what patients suffering from the disease go through. It just so happens that drug addicts consume substances deemed illegal, but they are still people with a disease. More than anything else, they need help.

Any government that cannot understand that basic need for care and help cannot create public health legislation. Unfortunately, that is what is happening now with Bill C-2.

This bill is the result of the Conservatives' ideological war against drug addicts. It is not based on science or facts, but rather on ignorance and fear. Earlier we were accused of being soft on crime and soft on heroin. On the contrary, supervised injection sites provide a safe, secure and supervised place for users, while the Conservatives would rather send all these people into the streets, with no resources and without any chance of being referred to health care professionals.

The New Democrats cannot help but be opposed to this witch hunt. This is not the Middle Ages. This is a modern, advanced society with experts who can help the people who need help.

The Conservatives' war on the InSite supervised injection site in Vancouver and others has been going on for years. In 2003 InSite received an exemption to operate for medical and scientific purposes under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. More than 30 scientific studies have confirmed that InSite has positive effects on patients and public health.

In Europe and Australia, 70 similar injection sites have seen the same positive results. I do not know what other evidence the Conservatives need. There have been 30 scientific studies on 70 sites around the world.

In 2008, when the site had been operating successfully for five years, the Conservative government set out on a crusade against InSite. It refused to renew the site's exemption and spent thousands of dollars in court, but every court ruled in favour of the medical centre.

The B.C. Supreme Court, the B.C. Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada all said that the centre should remain open. The Supreme Court was very clear: the minister's decision to close InSite violated the charter rights of the centre's clients. Here is what the court had to say about the decision:

It is arbitrary, undermining the very purposes of the CDSA, which include public health and safety.

Who is soft on crime? I do not think those of us on this side of the House are. This quote was from the Supreme Court of Canada.

With Bill C-2, the government sets out the new criteria to establish a supervised injection site. Some of these criteria are reasonable, but others seem to indicate that the government will use this legislation to close such sites. Moreover, the sheer number of criteria is enough to deter people from launching a project before they even begin. The number of criteria is really high.

These criteria are basically new ammunition for the Conservatives' ideological war against addicts. This is also a way to shape people's minds through fear. Bill C-2 requires proof of the project's acceptability to the community. That is fine. However, this will have to be done with all the necessary medical and psychosocial information. When people are well informed, they support such initiatives.

However, I suspect that the government will once again resort to ignorance and fear, rather than education and public health. How can we trust it when it has been fighting for years to close InSite, a decision that flies in the face of the Supreme Court's position? Did the government even read the scientific studies confirming the results achieved with these supervised injection sites? People who use these sites are almost twice as likely to enter a detox program.

There is a significant drop in the number of discarded needles on the streets. As I mentioned, there are fewer people shooting up on the streets. There is less crime and less violence. Consequently, there should be less fear about the Conservatives' claims whenever they talk about heroin on the streets.

The drop in needle sharing reduces the transmission of HIV-AIDS. More importantly, supervised injection sites help improve the health of people who use them and lower the number of overdose deaths. Even though people's lives are at stake and studies show that crime decreases, the Conservatives deny this and only talk about crime.

This approach is pragmatic and humane. It is based on compassion for people with addictions and respect for their rights, including their right to life and their right to be treated like any other citizen. This medical approach has proven effective, unlike the coercive and repressive approach proposed by the Conservative government.

Repression has only had negative and deplorable effects for decades. Criminalizing drug use gives power to the Mafia and street gangs. We must talk about both public health and public safety because they go hand in hand. By criminalizing substance abuse, we force people struggling with this problem to live on the margins of society. By contrast, if we treat them, we help them overcome their addictions. Fewer drug users also means less crime and less power for the underworld.

Would we rather focus on medical science or ignorance, on compassion or fear? What moral values do we want to teach our children? Do we want to teach them to pass judgment on a sick individual or to help that person? Do we want to base our judgments on facts or ideology?

Canada is held up as an example for its universal health care system. Our system is based on respect for universal rights, including the right to life, health and safety. By restricting access to supervised injection sites, the government is denying patients their right to be treated and receive care. This is contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Supervised injection sites that have done well work with the community. That is the case with Vancouver's InSite. Effective mechanisms are put in place to promote cohabitation, patients must comply with a code of conduct and the site co-operates with the police, the public and various community organizations.

The Conservatives should be ashamed of inciting public fear and making up information that is not based on scientific data or studies. Instead, they should look at the studies and the Supreme Court decision supporting an exemption for a facility such as InSite.

They should co-operate with the opposition parties, with the NDP, which feels that policies should be based on facts, not ideologies. Crime reduction programs, including supervised injection sites, should be evaluated based on their ability to improve public health and safety.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2013 / 1:05 p.m.

Cambridge Ontario

Conservative

Gary Goodyear ConservativeMinister of State (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

Mr. Speaker, the member is completely off base on some of her comments.

I appreciate the heckling from the opposite side. I participate in that myself, so I thank those members for balancing it out.

The bill would require organizations to submit the scientific evidence that would demonstrate the benefit of the site in their area. It would require that to happen, so the member is wrong on that.

However, the question ultimately comes down to why the member opposes parents in communities having a say on whether an injection site should be put up where their children play. That is a simple question. Would you not want to have your opinion heard for your children's safety?

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Before we go to the answer, I just remind all hon. members to direct their comments to the Chair.

The hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I always find it deplorable to see the Conservatives' patronizing attitude toward other MPs, considering we are here to advance the debate by relying on studies and scientific facts.

Here are some facts for the hon. member. Thirty peer-reviewed studies, published in journals like The New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet and the British Medical Journal, describe the positive impact of these sites. The member talked about people in the community having a say in the process. The fact is that 80% of respondents living or working in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, where InSite is located, support this initiative.

The legislation should be based on facts, and there are many. I am going to mention a few. The rate of overdose deaths in Vancouver East has fallen by 35% since InSite opened. In one year, 2,171 InSite users were referred to addiction counselling or other support services. The number of people enrolling in a detox program is 1.7 times higher.

Therefore, there are many benefits. Thanks to the expert staff supervising InSite users, there are even people who survive overdoses.

The benefits can be quantified. They are based on scientific facts. It is all there. Even the Supreme Court invalidated the decision by the Conservatives, who were opposed to supervised injection sites.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague, who gave a compelling, fact-based speech. The facts show that supervised injection sites save lives, help people, allow people to take care of themselves and get off drugs. These people are sick, suffering from addiction.

I can scarcely believe that the Conservatives have managed such a feat with Bill C-2. They have managed to challenge the Supreme Court, the scientific community, doctors and nurses and ignore international proof, all with a single bill. My hat goes off to them.

I would like my colleague to tell us how these sites protect the community. Thanks to centres such as InSite, fewer people will be shooting up in back alleys and parks. Our children will be less likely to come across dirty needles.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie. He has identified all of the Conservatives' contradictions and inconsistencies regarding this bill, which has not been researched at all. It is simply based on an ideology governed by fear and that neglects to inform people about the benefits of these sites.

The sites are supervised by experts, whether doctors, nurses or people who provide psychosocial support. They ensure that the people there receive care. These people often come looking for help, and a relationship of trust needs to be developed. That can sometimes be subtle. They need help.

It means that fewer needles are left on the streets and the fewer people are struggling with problems of violence. That has all been documented. We have numbers to back that up, and we have been referring to them all day. I do not know what it will take for the Conservatives to make an informed decision and consult people in the future.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to today's debate on Bill C-2, which I would have entitled the “not in my backyard” bill.

The Conservatives’ ideology is to always be sure to try and hide what they regard as neither fine nor good. It makes me think of those countries that are named hosts of the Olympic games and, at some point, decide that when the foreigners are about to arrive, it will be time to clear the area around the games site of the homeless and all those who, in the authorities’ opinion, would not reflect a good image of the country.

However we must not bury our heads in the sand, as a member of the Quebec National Assembly has said. It is a fact, however, that people do play the ostrich. In vain we put on rose-coloured glasses, in vain we try to build a wall of silence around problems of health, homelessness, substance abuse and so on: the fact remains that these things exist.

The InSite centre was created to help people who are dealing with substance abuse problems, not to be a place of debauchery. To listen to the Conservative members’ speeches since the start of this debate, one would think that the latter was true.

However, as my colleague just said, the courts that have considered this issue have been very clear.

First of all, the British Columbia Court of Appeal declared in 2010 that this was a medical centre falling under provincial jurisdiction. The matter should have been settled there: it had been put to rest. The province, the local authorities and the people familiar with the issue who work in the health field know what to do and what is good for their population. The City of Vancouver and the Government of British Columbia had decided that the supervised injection site had its place and its usefulness, as has since been demonstrated.

The Conservative government just cannot accept this. It is now bringing forward a bill that sets a whole pile of conditions. I think there are 26 in total. The purpose behind this, and it is certainly no secret, is to effectively shut down InSite and prevent other sites from opening.

I will talk a bit later about Montreal, for example, in Quebec. Indeed, the new mayor, Mr. Coderre, said during his campaign that this was a pressing public health and safety issue, and that he was considering at least creating an agency to discuss the issue more thoroughly and move forward with plans for a supervised injection site. I never thought I would be quoting him in a good way; no, I am just joking.

A Supreme Court decision followed in 2011, as the federal government had appealed the ruling of the B.C. Court of Appeal.

This was clear to the Supreme Court:

It is a strictly regulated health facility, and its personnel are guided by strict policies and procedures. It does not provide drugs to its clients, who must check in, sign a waiver, and are closely monitored during and after injection...The experiment has proven successful.

The Supreme Court also stated the following:

The Minister’s decision, but for the trial judge’s interim order, would have prevented injection drug users from accessing the health services offered by InSite, threatening their health and indeed their lives.

I think that this is very clear and very far from the horror stories we heard earlier from the Conservative minister. He would have us believe that supervised injection sites are located in residential neighbourhoods right next to daycares. According to him, these sites hold open houses every Sunday afternoon after church, so that small children can visit, play with needles and mingle with people who are, as they say, unsavoury. Obviously, this is not at all how these sites operate.

Bill C-2, with its 26 conditions, requires obtaining the approval of a city’s police service, first responders and mayor. There is nothing wrong about this on the surface, because we tend to think that nobody can be against social acceptance.

However, the InSite centre in British Columbia is socially acceptable because the provincial government, the municipal government, the police, first responders and doctors have decided that it is. Clearly, all these people are not imbeciles who suddenly decided that it would be fun to open such a site, and, why not, to open more sites just about everywhere else in the province; and to arrange, as I was saying, for sites like this to be located in residential areas, more or less haphazardly, with no framework.

On the contrary, when a decision is made to set up services like these, it is done with a sense of social acceptability. We do not need an ambulance attendant to suddenly exercise a veto right and to say that it cannot work, and that the site will not be opened. That is not how it works.

In any event, it is clear to the Bloc Québécois that medical treatment and the organization of health services are not Ottawa’s areas of jurisdiction. It is up to Quebec to evaluate and authorize treatment, together with Quebec's health institutions. Quebec has the power and the jurisdiction needed to open supervised injection sites as part of a solution to mental health and addiction issues. That, moreover, is a subject that was studied by Montreal's health and social services agency in 2011.

There is a very eloquent and interesting report entitled “Vers un service d'injection supervisée” that sets out succinctly what would justify the opening of a supervised injection site in Montreal. It is a matter of a higher mortality rate among injection drug users and infection epidemics caused by HIV and hepatitis C.

It says:

Cocaine use, the drug most often injected in Montréal, is a major determinant of HIV transmission, as is sharing used needles.

That is why, in one of the main recommendations in the conclusion of the report, the director of public health recommends fixed sites and a mobile unit staffed by nurses:

It is proposed that the fixed sites be located in RSSS [health and social services networks] institutions and community organizations that based on an agreement with the RSSS, would integrate medical supervision of injection and nursing care into the services they already offer.... The mobile unit would be more appropriate for priority sectors where a fixed service could not be offered....

According to this report, supervised injection sites are essential because even though they are geared toward only a small segment of Montreal's population, that segment of the population is affected by more than its share of health and social inequalities. Dr. Richard Lessard, Montreal's director of public health in 2011, stated that he felt it was a matter of social justice and equality.

I would like to give everyone a chance to have a look at this important report. As I was saying, this issue came up during the Montreal election campaign. It definitely has a lot of momentum. Neither Quebec, nor Montreal, nor public health and safety stakeholders will let the federal government create all kinds of obstacles and barriers to prevent this kind of service. That is what the Conservatives really want. They would rather not see and not know.

I am sure my government colleagues will be interested in the fact that the Montreal police has studied this issue. The Montreal police has said it will collaborate under certain conditions. That makes sense because the police force cares about public safety. It is in favour of a collaborative effort among partners to combine several approaches: prevention, treatment and care, law enforcement and harm reduction. To keep users from shooting up on the street, the Montreal police would encourage them to go to supervised injections sites.

Earlier, I was listening to the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, who is clearly from Montreal. In response to the Conservatives' rhetoric, he said that by not allowing drug addicts to use supervised sites, they will not just suddenly give up drugs. Unfortunately, these people will not stop using. That is what we would like to see, but they will not necessarily stop using drugs. They will keep using, in public washrooms, parks or places where a child's hand, foot or finger could come into contact with a used needle and he could get sick or hurt himself. That has already happened; it has been documented.

It is a myth to think that banning these types of sites will improve the safety of our children and families. It is quite the opposite.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Cambridge Ontario

Conservative

Gary Goodyear ConservativeMinister of State (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

Mr. Speaker, the bill actually states some facts the member has missed. The fact is that the bill simply requires organizations to submit scientific evidence demonstrating the need for an injection site in a particular area.

Also, the fact is that the Liberal leader has admitted to possessing and smoking illegal drugs. The fact is that the NDP consistently votes against our bills on crime. The fact is that this morning New Democrats admitted this is a health issue and should not be legislated, yet they present a bill to legislate salt.

I want to ask the member why he thinks, based on these facts, that the NDP and Liberals are so soft on crime, so soft on heroin, and so tough on potato chips.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member should talk to the NDP and Liberals themselves. As a Bloc Québécois member, I cannot answer for them.

The member talked about scientific evidence, but we all know what the Conservative government thinks about scientists. Whether environmental scientists or scientists in other fields, they are not popular with this government, and in particular that member, who is living in the dinosaur era when it comes to technology, health and the environment.

Speaking of scientific evidence, according to the Canadian Medical Association, 80% of its members support services like InSite, and their opinion is based on scientific evidence. What is more, they are far more informed than members of the Conservative Party, the NDP, the Liberal Party, the Bloc Québécois, the Green Party or independent members.

The 2011 Supreme Court ruling in this case was based on scientific evidence. The court ruled that such sites are not only useful, but are also very important, and that they should exist in Vancouver, where InSite is located, as well as in other places.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to ask a question of my colleague, whose riding is not far from mine.

What does he think of the fact that, just a few hours after introducing this bill, the Conservatives exploited the issue to launch a partisan fundraising campaign?

Is that a responsible way to act, as legislators—to draft legislation simply to raise funds for a political party?

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

I thank my hon. colleague from Sherbrooke for the question.

Quite frankly, I cannot say that I am surprised, because I am not. I have been a member here since 2004, and the Conservatives came to power in 2006. They are capable of anything. The member for Sherbrooke has surely seen this, too. He was elected here two years ago, but I am sure he is not surprised by anything the Conservatives do, either.

I would like to revisit a couple of issues. For instance, the Conservatives always attack the other parties and their positions in a demagogic way, particularly when it comes to justice and public safety. If we are not with the Conservatives, we are against them. A certain George Bush had the same attitude in the United States. There are no grey areas and there is no room for compromise; either you are right or you are wrong.

However, that is not how life works, and fortunately, Quebeckers and Canadians are not fools. If these sites are properly set up, located in the right place, properly supervised and monitored, with the approval of experts in health care and public safety, people can really get the help they need. They will stop injecting hard drugs in parks, near schools and near daycare centres. Basically, they will stop doing everything the Conservatives say is so dangerous when it comes to these centres.

The fact that the Conservatives would use this issue to raise money is ludicrous, but it does not surprise me.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Tremblay NDP Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are here to talk about Bill C-2, formerly Bill C-65. After prorogation, the bill was reintroduced with a different number.

This bill is a direct attack on supervised injection sites. Once again, we are faced with a government that uses every possible means to impose its political ideology at the expense of the broad social consensus and the positive effects of supervised injection sites.

We must remember that the Conservative government's bill challenges the Supreme Court decision and is just another way for the government to get what it wants and to put its moral values ahead of the lives of the most vulnerable Canadians.

We feel that all new legislation on supervised injection sites must respect the spirit of the Supreme Court decision. The 2011 decision reminds us, among other things, that Vancouver's InSite—the only safe injection site in Canada—has saved lives and improved health without increasing the incidence of drug use and crime in the surrounding area. It is also important to note that the police, local businesses and the chamber of commerce support those types of projects.

Evidence has shown that supervised injection sites effectively reduce the risk of contracting and spreading blood-borne infections, such as HIV and hepatitis C, and reduce deaths from overdoses. Evidence has also shown that these sites do not negatively affect public safety and that, in certain cases, they promote it by reducing the injection of drugs in public, the violence associated with such behaviour, and drug-related waste.

Supervised injection sites make it possible to strike the appropriate balance between public health and public safety. They also connect people in urgent need of health care with the services they need, such as primary health care and drug treatment services. Those are quantitative and qualitative facts that describe a reality, not an ideology.

We believe that harm reduction programs, including supervised injection sites, must be granted exemptions based on the evidence that they will improve public health and save lives, not based on ideology. Pragmatism and humanitarianism must be the two principles underlying the reality of drug use, a reality that goes against our moral values. It is unfortunate that the Conservatives do not feel that this debate in the House is useful and that they prefer to have the conversation by themselves.

In order to clearly understand the purpose of supervised injection sites, one has to take an interest in the people who need the service and remember that they have rights and that we have responsibilities toward them. Drug consumption has significant effects on people's lives, including debt, a breakdown in communication with friends and family, isolation, crime, medical problems and stigmatization. We need to support these people, not send them to prison. We must support them, not exclude them. They need to be given an anchor so that they can regain control of their lives, not left adrift without a purpose while we turn a blind eye to their problems.

Supervised injection sites are an innovative response to the expectations of an advanced and enlightened society. The philosophy of harm reduction gives priority to the personal and social management of drugs and high-risk behaviours and their negative consequences.

It is therefore important to have a pragmatic dialogue and approach. In other words, we need to look at the situation with a critical eye and assess the social costs and benefits of our laws and practices for humanism, which places human development at the heart of economic, environmental, political and social decisions.

What is more, the Supreme Court's 2011 ruling warned the government against any law that would violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The discretion vested in the Minister of Health is not absolute: as with all exercises of discretion, the Minister’s decisions must conform to the Charter. If the Minister’s decision results in an application of the CDSA that limits the s. 7 rights of individuals in a manner that is not in accordance with the Charter, then the Minister’s discretion has been exercised unconstitutionally. In the special circumstances of this case, the Court should go on to consider whether the Minister’s decision violated the claimants’ Charter rights. The issue is properly before the Court and justice requires that it be considered.

What is more, in this decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the charter guarantees Canadians the right to access supervised injection sites and that such services should generally exist when the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

A 2004 study by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction indicated that supervised injection sites reach out to vulnerable groups and are accepted by communities. That is what social acceptance is. The study also showed that these sites improve the health of their users, reduce high-risk behaviour, and reduce fatal overdoses and the consumption of drugs in public places.

Canadians do not understand the Conservative government's lack of empathy towards citizens living with this difficult reality, and the dearth of recognition and support it shows towards organizations working day after day to improve the well-being of those citizens.

Canadians see a government that imposes a course opposite to that recommended by various qualified stakeholders working with safe injection sites.

Bill C-2 will establish a process that is so burdensome that it may well deter applicants from even trying to open a safe injection site.

What would happen if an applicant should accidentally forget to include something? Could the application be turned down automatically? Even if an applicant had all the required documents and the full support of the community, it would still be possible for the minister to deny the application.

It is important to remember that a number of projects are on hold in major Canadian cities and that Bill C-2 is an obstacle to their implementation.

Speaking about safe injection sites, on June 7, Dr. Richard Massé, the director of public health for Montreal, said in Le Devoir:

…These services save lives. It is too early to say what will happen, but… [this bill] appears to me to create significant barriers, even though the Supreme Court clearly said that not providing these services was a violation of human rights.

Also in Le Devoir, the Canadian Medical Association said it sees a bill that is built on ideology. As to the objection that establishing a place where drugs obtained from illegal sources are consumed could cause a lot of harm in the community, Quebec's health minister says that the studies that have been conducted on the subject do not bear that out. He said that the bill should be studied further, specifically with the justice minister of Quebec.

Many groups are concerned about this bill that challenges the Supreme Court decision. It is designed as a way to undermine the court's decision and to find another way to close safe injection sites because they go counter to this government's ideology.

Why do the Conservatives not simply admit what this bill is about? What are the real reasons behind the bill? How far are the Conservatives prepared to go to jeopardize health, safety and the dignity of human life and when are they going to admit that this bill really is based on ideology?

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Cambridge Ontario

Conservative

Gary Goodyear ConservativeMinister of State (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

Actually, Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the member opposite. He is absolutely correct that the stigma and the socio-economic and health implications of addiction are devastating. This is dead true, but it is not unique just to heroin, nor is it unique just to drug addictions, as I mentioned earlier.

I am somewhat curious as to what is next for the NDP. The NDP is on record, along with the Liberal health critic, as feeling we should, as a government paid for by the Canadian taxpayers, provide the heroin as well. I just want to know if that is the next step in the NDP's agenda.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Tremblay NDP Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should realize that injection sites reduce economic and social costs.

Just think of a homeless person who wants to shoot up heroin. He must dissolve it in water, which he will find somewhere if he is lucky. It might be in a toilet or a puddle that might contain oil or animal urine. As a result, that individual might inject urine into his blood, which could lead to infections and diseases.

In addition, he might leave the needle anywhere and other individuals might come into contact with it and become infected, because there are no safe places for people in that situation. Those people end up in our social service centres and hospitals, which results in additional costs.

The hon. member should realize that safe injection sites reduce social costs and help those dealing with that reality. Experts can supervise them and help them find a way out. That is an important aspect the Conservatives seem to forget.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend the hon. member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord on his outstanding work in the House of Commons.

I have personally seen him on the ground in Charlevoix. He is doing a great job with his constituents. He is in touch with them and he is also very active in the House. I wanted to pay tribute to him and talk about my community, because I know that he is very present in his.

In the lower mainland of British Columbia, in the greater Vancouver area, support for a more sensitive approach to safe injection sites is roughly 80%. However, the Conservatives want to go against that support and pass a bill to close those centres.

In my colleague's view, when a cause has this much support from a community, whether his or mine, should the federal government listen to the local people who understand the situation?

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Tremblay NDP Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, basically, the Conservatives want public support for a project. However, InSite in Vancouver has that support. People want it. They see the benefits of a supervised site.

All the analyses, statistics and studies conducted by experts, not just by the government, clearly show that these sites improve public safety and health and promote the reintegration of the people who use them.

When such projects have the people's support and proven benefits, all the government needs to do is approve them and let them become a reality.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am a bit saddened to have to speak to Bill C-2, which is an attempt by the government to change the channel after all the months of crime and corruption among Conservatives. Every night that Canadians turn on the television, they see police investigations into the Prime Minister's Office or into prominent Conservatives such as Mike Duffy, Nigel Wright, Pamela Wallin, Patrick Brazeau, and Rob Ford. Every night—

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The hon. minister of state is rising on a point of order.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I read the orders for this morning and I do not think the member is debating the correct issue. I wonder if you could remind the member of the bill that he should be speaking to. It would help those of us who are here to—

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order. The member is correct that there is a rule of relevance. However, the member for Burnaby—New Westminster has just begun. I am confident that he will be speaking to the matter before the House at this time, which is Bill C-2.

The hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, as you know, I absolutely always respect what we are debating on the floor of the House of Commons, but the debate on why Bill C-2, which is deeply flawed legislation, has been brought forward is very much related to the circumstance in which the government finds itself right now. Criminal inquiries into Conservative activities are taking place.

Even though the government knows this bill is bad, even though the bill certainly does not have the support of the population of my area and is primarily concerned with a 15-page document that wants to shut down InSite, and even though the government is attempting to change the channel, the reality is that this bill is on the floor of the House of Commons as a result of the criminal inquiries into Conservatives and the corruption we are seeing in the Conservative Party.

In my area, in Burnaby—New Westminster, I get half the vote. The other half of the population, which I support, have their rights, and many of them chose to vote Conservative in the last election, but I meet Conservatives every day who say that they did not vote for the criminal activities that we are seeing in the Conservative Party with the police inquiries. They did not vote for the corruption that they are seeing.

Rather than putting forward flawed legislation like Bill C-2, it would be much better for the government to work to lower the crime level in its caucus and in its party. I think that would be a very positive step.

When we look at the overall criminal justice system, what we see is mistake after mistake by the government. With all the police inquiries taking place right now, a limited number of police officers across the country are spending their time inquiring into criminal activity in the Conservative Party. That is worsened by the fact that the Conservatives never kept their key commitment in the last election and previous elections to actually put more police officers on the line.

We see the corruption and the criminal activity, and we see police officers having to spend their time inquiring into criminal activities of Conservatives rather than doing what they should do, which is protecting our communities. One would argue that they are protecting their communities from Conservatives, and perhaps that is a valid point, but I can say that the NDP will be protecting Canadians from Conservatives by booting them out of office in the 2015 election. That will be our objective.

It is not just the fact that what we are seeing is a lack of commitment to add more front-line police officers. It is not just the fact that police officers are now having to spend all of their time inquiring into the criminal activity of Conservatives. It is the disrespect with which police officers are being treated by the Conservative government that also concerns me.

That is why, rather than presenting Bill C-2, it would have been good for the government to actually put into place the NDP motion that was adopted just before the government came into power back in 2005. It was for a public safety officer compensation fund, and it was an NDP initiative. The Conservative MPs actually voted for it. That was back in 2005.

Every year since then, police officers and firefighters from across the country have come to Parliament Hill on an annual basis to ask one thing. They want to know when the government is going to put into place a public safety officer compensation fund so that when they die in the line of duty, their families will actually be taken care of.

I have spoken to police officers' families. I have spoken to firefighters' families. I have seen the devastation that happens when a member of their family who was a police officer or firefighter died in the line of duty. There is no compensation in so many cases. I have heard of families having to sell their homes. I have heard of families giving up thoughts of their children going off to school. That is all because Conservatives steadfastly and stubbornly refuse to bring in the public safety officer compensation fund.

We are not talking about a lot of money. It is a small payout for families who have lost a loved one, someone who has given their life for the country. Conservatives have really slapped the faces of police officers and firefighters by refusing to bring that in.

The NDP has always supported a public safety officer compensation fund similar to the one in the United States. In 2015, when we replace the government, we will be bringing in a public safety officer compensation fund so that those families will be taken care of. Canadians can be sure of that.

At the same time, there are crime prevention programs. That is another bill that we could have seen instead of Bill C-2. No government has cut back as much on crime prevention as the Conservative government.

We have seen the closure of crime prevention programs across the country because the government has refused to adequately fund crime prevention. It is a no-brainer. The reality is that for every $1 we put into crime prevention programs, we save $6 in policing costs, court costs and prison costs later on, yet the government has cut back on crime prevention programs. It is absurd.

Here are three of the things we could have seen instead of Bill C-2.

We could have seen actual enhancement of the number of front-line officers--

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

That is okay, Mr. Speaker. I do not mind Conservatives heckling. It just shows how sensitive they are to the corruption and the criminal activity that the public is denouncing across the country.

The Conservatives could have put in place a public safety officer compensation fund. That would have been a good bill to see. As well, they could have restored the cuts they made on the crime prevention program. Instead of that, what they did was present this flawed bill. This, as well, flies in the face of the legal system. The Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that programs like InSite should exist.

Why was InSite put into place in the first place? It was put into place because of the escalating number of overdose deaths in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, skyrocketing up to several hundreds. The community responded by putting in place InSite, with the support of the city, the province, the health authority and the community. I mentioned earlier in speaking to my colleague from Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord that it was with the support of over 80% of the public in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.

The Supreme Court, tested by this, as the government wanted to shut the thing down, said yes, that there was definitely a place for this, not only because it was good for crime reduction, not only because it had reduced overdose deaths by 35%, but because it made good policy sense. That is what the Supreme Court ruled.

Again, we have a government that likes to slap the law in the face. It is not just police officers who receive its bad treatment, and not just Parliament, where we see regularly the disrespect for democratic institutions, but it is also a Supreme Court judgment that clearly stated that a program like InSite was beneficial for the community.

Instead of responding to that, the government brought forward Bill C-2. It would allow the minister to shut the whole thing down. Does that make sense when there has been a 35% reduction in overdose deaths? Does that make sense when we have actually seen an overall reduction in crime? Does that make sense when we talk about thousands of referrals to the whole issue around addiction programs?

This has also not been treated well by the government, but when thousands of people have been referred to addiction program to be weaned off drugs, how the government has approached this issue does not make sense, not at all. Here we have a community that is in support of a program, that has reduced the crime rate and reduced overdose deaths and increased referrals to addiction treatment programs, but the government says that it will shut the damned thing down. It does not make sense from our point of view. It does not make sense from the public's point of view.

We are debating this bad bill now, but I, like so many others across the country, can hardly wait for 2015 when we finally get the chance to throw this corrupt, tired, criminal government out of office and put in place an NDP government in Ottawa.