House of Commons Hansard #236 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was anaphylaxis.


Opposition Motion--First Nations, Métis and InuitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut


Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party had 13 years to apologize to individuals who went through the residential school system for the wrongdoing done to them. I was one of those students back in the day.

The Liberals had 13 years to settle and implement land claims agreements, which they failed to do. I can speak for Nunavut. The Mulroney government signed our land claims agreement. For 13 years, that party did absolutely nothing to implement the land claims agreement. Prior to our government coming to power, the NTI filed a lawsuit against that government at the time. Now we are back dealing with the implementation issue.

The Liberal Party had 13 years to invest in education, infrastructure and health. What did it do? It cut transfers to balance the books.

As a member of the first nations aboriginal community, as an aboriginal person, I am shocked that those two parties do not support first nations people having the same matrimonial rights the member for Vancouver Centre takes for granted. She wants first nations women to be below her when it comes to matrimonial rights so that first nations women can protect their children in areas of dispute. Why is that member opposing the matrimonial rights bill that would make first nations women equal to all Canadian women?

Opposition Motion--First Nations, Métis and InuitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.


Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, the rhetoric is great. I love it. It seems to be all that comes from that party.

The minister says that she is an aboriginal woman, an Inuit woman. She forgets that it was under the Liberal government that there was a Nunavut government. I was there at the launch of that government. It is treated as an equal.

The aboriginal healing fund was brought in by a Liberal government. The Conservative government cancelled it. That Minister of Health has presided over cuts to all of the health programs on suicide prevention and maternal and child health. Homelessness is a major issue in Nunavut, and the minister has done absolutely nothing about it.

S. O. 31PrivilegeGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.


Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise to add to the debate on the point of privilege of my colleague, the member for Langley.

Before I begin, I would like to say that I worked with the member for Langley when he was the chair of the environment committee, and I respect his work as a member of Parliament in the House.

Saying that, I categorically oppose the content of the motion he wishes to bring forward. The NDP has been very clear about its support for a woman's right to choose and when it comes to women's reproductive health. With that foundation, I would like to speak on the substance of the member's point of privilege and add to that debate with the perspective of an NDP member of the House.

The NDP does not vet its members' statements. Our statements are allotted and organized by our whip. It is done in a fair and equitable manner so that all MPs have the opportunity to highlight the important issues going on across the country as well as in their ridings. We have a roster system when it comes to our daily statements. We have had it for the last decade.

Previously, when we were a smaller party, we had one statement a day. We have always held some of those statements for different reasons. For example, on Wednesdays, we hold a statement to make a statement on women's issues. We hold back some other statements for specific days, such as for days of mourning for injured workers or Remembrance Day. We also hold back the occasional statement so that we can respond to issues arising that day, which are time specific, or to correct serious and deceitful accusations made by the government. We have that kind of system.

What we are seeing right now, what is happening within the Conservative caucus on this issue, is that a number of Conservatives have risen to speak and are speaking out against their own internal process. This speaks directly to the Prime Minister's misunderstanding of and disrespect for how Parliament needs to work for MPs and for Canadians.

First of all, the Conservatives ignore the voices of the opposition and their own MPs. Second, they stifle attempts by our officers of Parliament to hold them to account. Third, they shut down the ability of MPs to speak by shutting down debate. That is disrespectful of Parliament.

I do not believe that this is a question of left versus right. I believe that it is a question of right versus wrong.

The NDP respects Parliament and respects freedom of speech, and I think that can be seen even at our very roots when one looks at our party conventions, for example. This past weekend, we had a party convention, and we debated requiring a two-thirds majority of Parliament vote to consent to prorogation. We also debated and discussed having a two-thirds majority to move parliamentary committees in camera. These motions have not yet been adopted, and they are not yet our official policy, but it shows that there is a strong culture of respect for Parliament in our party and within our caucus.

We respect the right of members of Parliament to use their S. O. 31s, or their statements, to express views on the topics of their choosing. This is their right. We oppose the abuse of using normal parliamentary tools and procedures. We oppose the Conservatives writing the book on the lack of judgment and the disrespect toward this institution.

The NDP has long been a champion of the right to free speech in the House and fair debate on legislation. It is against, for example, the government's limiting of time for debate on important issues in the House, whether it is through time allocation or closure. New Democrats put forward an opposition day motion in November 2011 that would have required the government to justify its use of time allocation or closure--

S. O. 31PrivilegeGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

An hon. member

Stop politicizing it. Talk to the issue.

S. O. 31PrivilegeGovernment Orders

1 p.m.


Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is remarkable that I am being heckled on a point of privilege. It really is. The Conservatives know no bounds.

We actually put forward an opposition day motion in 2011 to require the government to justify its use of time allocation or closure before it could be put to the House. The Speaker would have criteria to follow to ensure that this stifling of debate could not become as routinized as it has become under the government.

Those are my perspectives as an NDP member on this side of the House. I hope that the Speaker takes those comments and considerations into account when he is making his decision.

S. O. 31PrivilegeGovernment Orders

1 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

I thank the member for Halifax for her intervention. I can assure her that the Speaker will take into consideration her comments and those of all the other members who have intervened on this issue.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—First Nations, Métis and InuitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1 p.m.


Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour, as always, to rise in the House to speak on behalf of the people of Timmins—James Bay, particularly on this important New Democrat motion about restoring the nation-to-nation relationship with first nation people. I will be sharing my time with the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent.

It is very important that the debate comes this week, when we have numerous issues showing us the fundamental failure of Canadians to live up to that relationship, such as at Neskantaga, where we have a horrific suicide crisis. I have seen the suicide crisis in James Bay and the damage that it does psychologically, physically and spiritually to people. I note that Neskantaga in English means Fort Hope. It seems so ironic that a community so devastated is a place called Fort Hope.

This week, nine premiers came forward and asked the Conservative government for an inquiry into the hundreds of murdered and missing women and the government continued to turn a deaf ear. In its eyes, perhaps there is one set of victims it will listen to, but it continues to stonewall the hundreds of missing first nations young women across the country.

This week the government continues its court case against Cindy Blackstock. It spied on a woman who was speaking out on the issue of education and child rights for first nation children. This is at a time when there are now more children being held in foster care and being taken away from their families than at the height of the residential schools. This shows us the broken relationship that we need to restore.

I want to speak today about Treaty 9, because that is the region I represent, the height of land in Northern Ontario. I know in the media, when we had the Attiwapiskat housing crisis, there was the sense of “We won, they lost”. That seems to be the general public view of the treaty, that it was some kind of surrender, or giving up.

However, until we understand the story of the treaty, we do not really understand why the relationship with first nation people has gone so wrong. We would not understand why people like Grand Chief Stan Louttit and Chief Theresa Spence speak so much about Treaty 9. Their grandfathers signed that treaty. This is not ancient history. This is the beginning of what went wrong in the modern 20th century.

If we look at the Indian affairs website on Treaty 9, it is amazing. The very first line on the history of Treaty 9 begins with the opening statement, “We ask you to help us”, as though the first nations were hoping that the Indian affairs bureaucrats were going to come up and make everything right.

What was being spoken about in the late 1800s was the incursion by the white settlers into first nations lands, stripping the lands of their basic resources and the attempt by the people to define some rules on the ground. They were not calling on Indian affairs to come up and take their land and put them on a reserve. They were saying that their fundamental rights, which they never extinguished, were under attack. They were under attack by CP Rail. They were under attack by the white settlers who were trying to flood the communities with alcohol, while taking away the basic hunting rights.

What was interesting also was the issue of resource development. In December 1901, the Hudson Bay Company Osnaburgh House, forwarded a petition saying “For the past two or three years exploration for minerals has been carried on in the country contiguous to Lake St. Joseph”. They asked to meet with His Majesty's officials to discuss what was happening in terms of mineral exploration "as white men are already building upon land which we desire to retain".

In 1903, the Geological Survey of Canada was turned away by the chief of the Crane Band, who said it had no right to come and explore without the express consent of first nations.

Back in 1872, near Jackfish Lake, Chief Blackstone shut down gold development, saying they had no right to be there.

Fast forward to the 21st century when we saw KI, in northwestern Ontario, kick out a junior mining company that refused to consult the Wahgoshig First Nation in my area. The company said that it was not their job to look for Indian arrowheads, that is was a mining exploration company. The refusal to consult today has resulted in the first nations taking the same actions that their ancestors took over a hundred years ago.

When the treaty commissioners came forward, it was never about the surrender of land, it was about ensuring that the land was going to be used in a fair and equitable manner, which was not happening.

It is interesting that Indian Affairs, in its history, blames Ontario. It states:

It was Ontario which had licensed the surveyors and mining exploration parties the Indian people were complaining about to federal officials. And, as the Cree and Ojibwa were later to discover, it was Ontario which had already given out timber licenses to lands they wished to reserve for themselves. If the incursion of whites was the gun pointed at the head of the Indian people, Ontario's finger was on the trigger.

That is the official history from the Indian Affairs point of view.

Certainly we know that across the Prairies, Ontario and Quebec, the provinces treated the first nations people as non-existent. They were a federal responsibility. Hence, they did not exist, and the provinces could do whatever they wanted. However, in the case of Treaty No. 9, the issue was that they were trying to get some certainty with respect to the land. Ontario took the hard line. It said that it would not allow a reserve to have any kind of hydro development potential, period. The first nations were going to get the land that was absolutely worthless. The fact is, it did not tell the people in Treaty No. 9.

When the commissioners came forward in 1905-06 across the upper lakes, they made oral promises to the people, because this was not a written culture. Duncan Scott, the treaty commissioner, knew that no negotiation was going to take place, because Ontario said that if it did not get everything it wanted, it did not care what the first nations did. It was just going to apply. It was going in with a gun to the heads of the first nations.

It is interesting that when the people landed in Fort Hope, where today we have the huge suicide epidemic, Chief Moonias stood up and said to the people that the white guys were not giving them money for nothing. If they were offering money, they were taking something substantial away from them. That is what he was warning the people, and the commissioners had to give the people a story. They said that the people were going to get medical coverage and schools. The issue of schooling was very important to people on the James Bay coast. The Cree communities knew that they needed education as a way to address the fact that their communities were in crisis. They knew that the world was changing.

Daniel MacMartin's diary has only recently come to light. He was with the commissioners as they went across northern Ontario in 1905 and 1906. Daniel MacMartin said that the commissioners had to sweeten the deal verbally, but they did not put any of it in writing. What the people were told they were signing was completely different from what they actually signed onto. Later, of course, government leaders said that they had surrendered the land. It was all there on the page in black and white, but that was not the verbal commitment made.

That was the record of the so-called honour of the Crown for the following 100 years. I have seen it myself. I saw it in Barriere Lake, where the Liberal government signed an agreement with the community, and as soon as the agreement was signed, they walked away. I saw it in Kashechewan First Nation, where we sat down with the then Liberal government. We had an agreement to rebuild the community, and we sat down to look at the paper to have the whole commitment they had made verbally. I remember saying to the chief that none of the promises were on the paper, and we were told that they could trust the honour of the Crown. We know what happened to that. So much for the agreement with Kashechewan, but it took the present Conservative government to rip up that agreement. That was the so-called honour of the Crown.

Daniel MacMartin said that the people were misled. The commissioners had to mislead them to get them to sign off.

It is fascinating, and really deeply disturbing, that it was Duncan Scott who led the Treaty No. 9 negotiations. The people who were coming to him said that they understood that their way of life was under threat. They said that they would make an agreement if he promised that their children would get an education. Duncan Scott had a plan for their education all right; it was the residential schools. Duncan Scott said that the residential schools had to be mandatory, because it was to “get rid of the Indian problem... to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed”. This was about a genocidal policy. However it is said, it was about the destruction of the first nations people. They went into those communities, misrepresented themselves and punished those communities with the residential schools, which nearly broke them.

One hundred years later, history is calling on us. It is knocking on the door of this House of Commons saying that it is time to restore that broken relationship, show that there is honour in the Crown and ensure that the first nations people are treated with the rights and dignities they have as the original first nations people, who never extinguished their rights in this country.

Opposition Motion—First Nations, Métis and InuitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Timmins—James Bay for his work and for his dedication to our first nations.

We heard previous speakers from the Liberal Party, and since the member is talking history, I would like to ask him a question regarding the Kelowna accord. It is my understanding that once the Kelowna accord was signed, the next budget did not have any funding in it at all to back up the promises that were made. That is the first question.

My second question is this. In the winter the member and I met with Chief Theresa Spence. We talked with her about the nation-to-nation view of discussions and respect and the importance of that approach.

I would like to have him speak to both issues, if he would.

Opposition Motion—First Nations, Métis and InuitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, our fundamental relationship in this country, the relationship that goes back to the original agreement of 1763 to build the relationship together with first nations, has been a broken relationship. It needs to be repaired.

There have been numerous broken promises. Numerous treaties were not implemented or people had their land stolen or, when the Kelowna accord came at the 11th hour and 59th minute of the Liberal government, there was no money on the table to actually bring about change.

Unfortunately, this has left a sour taste in the mouths of people and a suspicion, a rightful suspicion. We see that in Attawapiskat, where the people are still living on a postage-stamp-sized reserve without access to their resources and their young people do not even have a school.

We need to do better, and it is upon us all. It is a historic problem, but this is the time to change it—today. All members of the House of Commons have that ability. We need to come together and do the right thing.

Opposition Motion—First Nations, Métis and InuitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

It being 1:15 p.m., pursuant to order made earlier today, all questions necessary to dispose of the opposition motion are deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Tuesday, April 23, at the expiry of the time provided for government orders.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario


Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I want to make a brief statement respecting business of the House for the next week.

As I said at the start of question period, leadership requires decisive and serious action in response to serious threats of terrorism. To give members of this House an opportunity to express their views on the appropriate way to respond to terrorist violence, on Monday and Tuesday the House will debate Bill S-7, the combating terrorism act.

This bill is at its final stage in Parliament, and I call upon all members of this place to pass this bill. We do not need further study. We need action.

As a result, the original government business that was scheduled for those days will be rescheduled to a later date.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Pursuant to order made earlier today, the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business, as listed on today's order paper.

AnaphylaxisPrivate Members' Business

1:15 p.m.


Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON


That, in the opinion of the House, anaphylaxis is a serious concern for an increasing number of Canadians and the government should take the appropriate measures necessary to ensure these Canadians are able to maintain a high quality of life.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand before the House today to discuss Motion No. 230.

To go over the background of my motion, I raised this issue in the previous Parliament, but as a result of an election, it did not get a chance to make it all the way through. Therefore, today I will talk about what anaphylaxis is, some of the challenges people have to deal with, what is being done by our government and what we can do to help address this issue.

I am grateful for the number of people who have helped me understand this issue in great detail, and I think it is important to explain to all Canadians exactly what that is.

Anaphylaxis is a severe medical condition and a serious public health issue. Unfortunately, there is no cure for anaphylaxis or food allergies in general, at least not yet. The only way to prevent an anaphylactic reaction is to avoid the allergen causing it. The best way to diminish the likelihood of a reaction is through greater public awareness of the condition and its triggers.

Anaphylactic reactions are caused by a negative response to an allergen. Allergens can be in the form of medications, insect bites, latex, certain foods, and in fact there are over 200 recognized allergens. The top 10 food allergens are eggs, seafood, milk, tree nuts, sesame, sulphites, wheat, mustard, soy, peanuts and other cereal grains containing gluten.

Adults are more prone to reactions from medications, insect bites and stings, while foods are the most common allergic trigger in children and in young people.

There are many symptoms that can occur as a result of an anaphylactic reaction. They generally happen within minutes of coming into contact with the allergen, although a reaction could also occur several hours after exposure. There are five areas where symptoms present themselves: the skin, the respiratory system, the gastrointestinal system, the cardiovascular system and mood.

When symptoms present themselves, usually two or more parts of the body are affected. Symptoms present themselves on the skin 80% to 90% of the time, while the respiratory system is affected in 70% of cases. The gastrointestinal system is affected in 30% to 45% of cases, while the cardiovascular system is affected 10% to 45% of the time. In addition, the central nervous system is affected in 10% to 15% of anaphylactic reactions.

Victims of anaphylaxis can exhibit symptoms such as hives, itching, swelling, rash, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, hay fever symptoms and chest pain. They could experience cramps and nausea, develop a weak pulse and light-headedness, and even go into shock. Mood and behaviour can also be affected, bringing on a feeling of anxiety and a sense of impending doom.

The most serious symptoms are breathing difficulties and a drop in blood pressure, both of which can be life-threatening. The throat constricts, oxygen is not delivered to the brain, and one could experience a panic attack and actually go into shock. When these signs or symptoms arise, patients must immediately receive medical attention, specifically a dose of epinephrine. Those with a serious allergy carry an epinephrine autoinjector, an EpiPen or Twinject, to prevent an anaphylactic reaction when exposed to the allergen. However, if left untreated, one could fall unconscious and possibly die.

Clearly, anaphylaxis is a serious and dangerous medical condition. It is estimated that 2.5 million Canadians live with anaphylaxis, and this number continues to rise every year. It is projected that 3,500 Canadians experience anaphylactic shock each year from eating the wrong foods. Of those 3,500, about a dozen die.

One in two Canadians knows someone with a serious food allergy. Alarmingly, it is most prevalent in young children, specifically those under the age of three. Close to 6% of children below the age of three and 300,000 youths under the age of 18 are affected by general food allergies.

Disturbingly, the frequency of food allergies has increased by 350% from 1996 to 2002. The prevalence of peanut and nut allergies has increased by over 250% over that time, and it should be noted that the majority allergic persons are under the age of 30, with an excess of those being born in 1992.

As such, it is no surprise that more than 40% of Canadians examine the ingredient information on food labels either for themselves or for someone living with anaphylaxis. The most recognized allergy is the one to peanuts. Peanuts and tree nuts are responsible for the majority of fatal anaphylactic reactions. A study examining 13 fatal and near-fatal cases in children concluded that 10 of the 13 incidents occurred as a result of reactions to peanuts or nuts.

Even with greater vigilance, someone with a peanut or nut allergy will have an accidental episode every three to five years. Accidental exposures occur as a result of not being able to see the residue of the food allergen that can be left on any appliance or piece of furniture. Airborne proteins can also cause serious issues as they can induce an asthmatic attack. These statistics emphasize the magnitude of the anaphylaxis and the importance of bringing it to national attention.

Many Canadians, including numerous families from my constituency, face a frequent and frightening threat of an anaphylactic reaction. Liam and Lucas, two young children from my riding, both live with a peanut and tree nut allergy. Liam has had three serious allergic reactions, one of which required immediate emergency medical assistance as he was transported to the hospital by ambulance. Thankfully, he was okay.

Similar to Liam, Lucas has to avoid many areas and events where he could come in contact with allergens that affect him. He avoids social gatherings, sporting events, and travelling on airplanes as the risk is just too great.

David, another young man in my riding, lives with a serious latex allergy. He has experienced several reactions while undergoing an operation. His condition was stabilized by the medical staff, but not before terrifying his family. This goes to show that even in Canada, with our most health-conscious environments, anaphylaxis demands more awareness and attention.

Another young man also named Lucas lives with a life-threatening dairy allergy. Lucas also has a serious heart condition, but the risk of anaphylactic reaction is what worries his mother most. Families dealing with anaphylaxis try to vet everything that goes into their households. However, those who live with anaphylaxis are most at risk outside of the house where one has little or no control over the surroundings. Parents try to teach their children the risks of the condition so that children can safely interact with friends and teachers.

Travelling by airplane is perhaps the best example of a high-risk environment where peanuts and mixed nuts are common snack foods. With airplanes being so enclosed, the risk of having an allergic reaction to a nearby allergen residue or airborne protein is very high. Air travel is unnerving for those living with anaphylaxis as flying at 35,000 feet leaves them highly vulnerable and far from medical facilities.

I have heard from many people struggling with anaphylaxis. I have also had many discussions with members of the Canadian Anaphylaxis Initiative, or CAI, and Niagara Anaphylaxis Support and Knowledge, or NASK. These two groups do great work spreading awareness of anaphylaxis. They improve the lives of Canadians living with the condition by promoting anaphylactic-safe environments, as well as educating governments, organizations, and businesses to do the same. CAI, NASK and those who live with anaphylaxis recognize the total elimination of various allergens is an unrealistic goal. Instead, their objective is to reduce accidental exposure to allergens as much as possible.

The ideal way to achieve this goal is to increase the awareness about the condition. That is what Motion No. 230 seeks to do. With more awareness, Canadians will become familiar with the risk of anaphylaxis and will hopefully take precautions to limit accidental exposure for those who may be vulnerable. This, in turn, will create a safer environment for everyone. There should be supportive and alert communities that ensure preventive measures are taken to avoid anaphylactic reactions.

It is important to mention that preliminary steps have been taken to spread awareness of anaphylaxis and to recognize its severity. Individuals, companies, and governments have acted appropriately in this regard. For instance, in 2005 the passing of Sabrina's Law by the Ontario government was a good step forward. In 2003, grade nine student Sabrina Shannon experienced an anaphylactic reaction to a dairy protein and, tragically, passed away. Her death led to an important piece of legislation, the very first of its kind in the world.

It guarantees that all Ontario school boards have policies and procedures in place to respond to the threat posed by anaphylaxis. Some of these policies are comprised of education and training for staff to administer treatment to students who suffer an anaphylactic reaction. The result of this new law is increased protection for the thousands of children who were at risk before its implementation.

In the private sector, the Toronto Blue Jays offered a peanut-controlled zone for three of their home games in the previous season. These zones ensured that fans at risk of a serious anaphylactic reaction were given a safer place to enjoy the game.

Similar to the Blue Jays organization, there are several practical steps that ordinary people could take to prevent anaphylactic reactions. People could find out if friends, neighbours or co-workers are anaphylactic. If hosting an event that includes a guest with a severe allergy, the host could look up recipes that do not contain products relating to the allergen. Furthermore, one could thoroughly clean food preparation surfaces before cooking, to ensure that no potential allergen residue is present.

It is my hope that we will see more individuals, organizations and businesses take similar precautions in the future. It must be mentioned that this government has recognized the importance of addressing anaphylaxis and has acted on previous recommendations by providing funding to allergy research.

In March 2012, my colleague, the hon. Minister of State for Science and Technology , announced $36.5 million to support AllerGen, the allergy, genes and environment network centres of excellence, for the next seven years. AllerGen does important work in researching allergies and reduces the risk of anaphylaxis.

Also, in August of 2012, new regulations came into effect that enhanced the labelling of priority food allergens on prepackaged retail foods. These regulations will help consumers distinguish which foods are safe and which products they should avoid.

Finally, I want to draw attention to this government's decision to designate May as national anaphylaxis month. It is evident that progress has been made in addressing anaphylaxis. However, as with other public health concerns in Canadian communities, more can be done. There is more awareness of the serious medical condition that is needed on a nationwide level.

That is why I urge the House to approve my motion and launch anaphylaxis onto the national stage. The motion will promote greater awareness, and since there is no cure, anaphylaxis awareness is the best way to mitigate the risk. By adopting this motion, the Canadian government will be taking another step forward to ensuring that Canadians living with anaphylaxis are able to maintain a higher quality of life. I am certain my colleague from St. Catharines shares my feelings on this issue. He first introduced the motion in the 39th Parliament, but unfortunately it expired when an election was called in 2008. I would also like to thank him for starting the process and for his continued support to see anaphylaxis recognized as a serious concern.

I would like to thank all the members of my community, and those across Canada, who have helped to bring this important issue forward. Special thanks go to Mindi Ferkul, Cindy Paskey, Chris George and Debbie Bruce for their tremendous help. I realize there are many others as well. However, these are the individuals I have had the pleasure and opportunity to work with on this issue on an ongoing basis. I appreciate their tremendous help for that. Their dedication to anaphylaxis awareness is inspiring, and their support for this motion from day one was greatly appreciated.

I would also like to thank my colleagues in the House, and from all parties, for their kind words of support. With so much encouragement from so many people I am determined to see this motion pass. We must recognize the seriousness of anaphylaxis at the federal level, as a critical problem affecting too many Canadians. This motion aims to make their lives easier and would contribute to much deserved peace of mind.

When voting for this motion, I would ask members to consider the story of Liam, Lucas and David, as well as the 2.5 million Canadians who live every day at risk of an anaphylactic reaction. With this motion, we will send a clear message to all those who live with the condition that the Canadian government and the Canadian people recognize their struggle and that we are taking action to improve their lives.

I look forward to seeing this motion receive the support of all parties in the House.

AnaphylaxisPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.


Djaouida Sellah NDP Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Niagara West—Glanbrook for bringing this issue up for debate in the House.

I know that 500,000 Canadians suffer from anaphylaxis and that they all live with that stress. However, I also know that this is not the first time that the member has brought this motion before the House for a vote.

Does the hon. member still think that we need the motion—especially in its current form—when his government has been in power since 2006? Could it be that the hon. member wishes his government to pay closer attention to this issue?

AnaphylaxisPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.


Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, I did not think an issue like this would be politicized. That was an interesting comment, but I guess some people cannot help themselves.

This issue has been brought forward a couple of times, but it has not made its way through the House. My concern is about awareness. Our job as members of Parliament will never be completed when it comes to bringing awareness to certain issues. As I mentioned, my colleague from St. Catharines brought this forward in the House, but then we had an election. I also brought it forward in a previous Parliament and we had an election.

We will need to continue to talk about anaphylaxis as we move forward, whether it is additional money for research or coordinating strategies for education. There are a number of things we could do, and we need to move forward on them. We will continue to push this issue and continue to talk about it every chance we get.

AnaphylaxisPrivate Members' Business

April 19th, 2013 / 1:30 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut


Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Niagara West—Glanbrook for his hard work on this important file. I am proud to lend my support to this important motion. This is an important issue to many Canadians. I want to congratulate him for his hard work on this file. It is long overdue.

Could the member elaborate on how important it is to use plain language about allergens on food products?

AnaphylaxisPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.


Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Minister of Health for her leadership with respect to labelling, research dollars and so on.

The use of plain language is one of the challenges we have. A label that says “may contain” is not very reassuring for those who are trying to drill down to what exactly is in a product.

Under the leadership of the minister and this government, we have moved to make labelling more concise and understandable. We sometimes forget that people who suffer from allergic reactions are never sure whether a product may contain small amounts of an allergen. This is a challenge for them. That is why labelling and education and additional research are so important. Individuals must be given a choice as to whether they should avoid a product.

Once again, I thank the Minister of Health for her leadership on this file with respect to the labelling issue.

AnaphylaxisPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario


Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, many of us in the House have experienced a friend or loved one dying because of an allergic reaction. A good friend of mine in university was attending a wedding and she ate a piece of the cake which contained peanut oil. Nobody was aware of the situation.

My colleague brought up the importance of making May national anaphylaxis month and of raising awareness of this condition. We can have labels and we can put information out, but people have to be aware of the dangers of this condition.

I wonder if my colleague could take a few moments to comment about his initiative to raise awareness of the importance of this.

AnaphylaxisPrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.


Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think it is fair to say that unless we have to live with the condition we have no understanding of its danger. It is important that government, businesses and individuals let people know about the dangers. A lot of people have not heard of anaphylactic shock. Awareness is key.

We need to take a multi-pronged approach. We will look at education and research and figure out a way to continue to raise this issue so that people have the tools they need.

AnaphylaxisPrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.


Djaouida Sellah NDP Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to this motion on anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that occurs very quickly and can be fatal. It typically involves a number of signs and symptoms, affecting one or more systems of the body. It can be brought on by food, medication, insect bites, contact with latex or exercise. The most common cause is food. Eight food items are responsible for 93% of anaphylaxis cases in children, and these products are very commonly used in processed foods. These food allergens include eggs, peanuts, milk, soy, tree nuts, fish, seafood and wheat.

Anaphylactic shock can occur without any forewarning. Any direct or indirect contact with an allergen, usually involuntary, is all it takes. In addition, the reaction does not always occur upon first contact with the substance. It may not happen until the second or third exposure.

I spoke with many people in my riding who are affected by this problem. I am certainly not the only member in this House who knows someone, since 50% of Canadians know at least one person who has a food allergy.

Living with the risk of anaphylactic shock or, even worse, having a child at risk of experiencing anaphylactic shock is an ongoing concern. A number of parents have told me they have a hard time finding daycare for their children because of the risk involved. For people in my riding, this has meant using private, non-subsidized daycare and having to pay more than $7 a day.

Those same people often have to cook meals from scratch to ensure that they do not affect their children's health or their own by doing something as simple as eating.

The new food labelling rules implemented in 2012 were very welcome. It is finally easy for people to know what is in the products they buy. The labels now indicate the content in simple terms. The list of ingredients must include commonly used words. In the case of kamut, for example, the label must now indicate “wheat”. That is much better than listing dozens of names.

However, the fact remains that for people at risk, anaphylaxis is a threat that hangs over their heads. The statement “may contain” is not mandatory, and many companies include it as a preventive measure. The rules and procedures in cases of anaphylactic shock also differ from province to province and even from one establishment to another.

Many provinces have already passed laws or adopted rules to keep children with allergies safe. In Ontario, Sabrina's law requires all school boards in the province and child care providers to meet certain standards in staff training and emergency procedures. Sabrina's law seems to be a benchmark, since a number of groups in Quebec have said to me that they are trying to have similar legislation passed in Quebec, which would be called Megan's law. Other provinces such as Manitoba and British Columbia have already dealt with the matter.

The motion before us speaks for itself. Anaphylaxis is a growing problem, and according to the Allergy, Genes and Environment Network, the true extent of the problem and the number of people affected are probably underestimated. Measures must be taken to ensure that people at risk of anaphylaxis have a good quality of life.

I find this motion disappointing because it does not contain any specific measures.

The member for Niagara West—Glanbrook made some suggestions in his speech, and I would like to thank him for that.

The groups and associations we spoke with support this motion first and foremost because the debate will raise awareness and increase dialogue about anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis Canada definitely supports it. I am not going to argue that.

However, what are the “appropriate measures necessary” that this motion refers to? I have a few suggestions. First, we need drug coverage in Canada.

Every affected person should have an auto-injector. It must be replaced once a year, even if it has not been used. Auto-injectors are not free and are not always covered by insurance, public or private. Each one costs more than $100. Families affected by the economic crisis, who are often part of the middle class and are suffering the consequences of the Conservative budget, must pay at least $100 out of their pockets each year for medication that could save a life. That is a problem. Many families cannot afford it, but they still need to have one. If we had a universal drug plan, the problem would be solved.

Access to our health care system and to primary care services also needs to be improved. Early diagnosis would prevent severe reactions. During an anaphylactic reaction, each minute, even each second, counts. However, that cannot happen because hundreds of thousands of Canadians, including thousands in my riding of Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, do not have access to a family doctor. The same is true for emergency services.

Despite the inadequacies in our health care system, this government has decided to pull out of this sector. Instead of negotiating with the provinces and territories in order to determine how to make a drug plan work, this government has decided to unilaterally impose a funding formula on the provinces and territories and deprive them of $36 billion in federal health transfers. That was a Conservative promise.

Anaphylaxis is a very serious public health issue. I would like to thank the member for Niagara West—Glanbrook for having brought this debate forward. I hope that it will result in tangible help for Canadian families that have a member living with anaphylaxis.

AnaphylaxisPrivate Members' Business

1:40 p.m.


Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, as everyone knows, anaphylaxis is a very serious issue. It is a serious allergic reaction. It can actually present itself in many different ways, but it can have very rapid onset sometimes and it can result in death, so it is serious. What happens with anaphylaxis is that the immune system rejects the allergen as something not to be tolerated and reacts in every way with all of the systems within the body.

It is a serious health issue affecting millions of Canadians. Right now, there are about one in 13 Canadians, 2.5 million Canadians who are affected by anaphylaxis or by life-threatening allergies, but what is most disconcerting is that there is an increasing number of children affected as well. About 6% of children are affected by anaphylaxis, and this number seems to be increasing.

Anaphylaxis has no cure. Avoidance, of course, understanding the issue, and learning how to act promptly are important things for people to know. Preventive measures such as this and early action are the only things we can do.

Even a small, tiny, hidden trace or amount of an allergen can trigger the attack if a person is allergic to that particular thing. Food, of course, is one of the most common ways in which people can get an anaphylactic reaction, but things that are almost known as injections, like insect bites, can cause the same reaction, can act quicker and can prompt anaphylactic shock sooner.

Medicines, certain types of material that come in contact with the skin, and exercise can also cause an anaphylactic reaction. Avoiding allergic reactions can be achieved through something most important, which is effective labelling.

As we heard from my colleague, the parliamentary secretary, he had a friend who had a tiny trace of peanut oil in a cake and had a severe anaphylactic shock as a result of it. Sometimes we buy foods in the shops and there are trace ingredients. Even though the ingredient is not listed, when the product was being processed, it could have been that there was cross-contamination with the product being processed before that, which had the allergen in it.

The most common cause, of course, is peanuts and peanut oil, so labelling is key. Taking precautionary measures when preparing food, washing one's hands, even in the home, between handling one product and handling another can prevent cross-transference, which is really the major problem.

People need awareness of the early signs of symptoms, and this can take many forms. It can start with a skin reaction, hives, which can balloon up. People get itchiness, swelling, and redness of the skin. People can also get respiratory problems, tightening of the chest, an inability to breathe, triggering asthmatic attacks in people who are similarly prone. Those are some of the signs.

However, the most important one is the cardio-vascular one, which obviously creates a thready pulse, pallor, a rapid heart rate, and of course this precludes anaphylactic shock.

These are important things for people to know. Sometimes some people remember those things with a feeling of anxiety, a feeling of impending doom, a feeling of something going on in their body and they do not why and panic results.

There are many forms of anaphylaxis and the public needs to know what those are. If we can raise awareness, when symptoms and signs come very early, an individual can then take whatever medication they have, whether it is an oral one that can act quickly if they have a slow anaphylaxis, or an EpiPen. The public needs to know all of these things through education.

Ensuring that the labelling is easy to read and easily understood by the public is a big part. Knowing about anaphylaxis is important, which is what this particular bill tells us, but it is not the only thing. We need a coordinated approach and an action plan from government.

Just being aware and saying that this House is aware and the government should take action for me is a particularly vague thing. Obviously, we are supporting the motion. Not supporting the motion would be ridiculous. We are supporting it because it is important. What I would have liked to have seen in this particular bill is that sense that a plan of action will follow, and specifically asking the government, not saying it should, but asking it to do so because of the urgent nature and the ability of this particular problem to cause death.

I think we need to look at the whole issue of public health and safety. This comes under the aegis of public health and safety, which is public awareness, public education, teaching and identifying root causes. A big piece of that is research. There needs to be money put into research on allergens so that we cannot only prevent them from being in food but can know what we can do if someone accidently ingests them. There may be some way of looking for a cure. I think it is important to identify the root causes.

One thing that concerns me is that there are motions and bills from the government side that are all very nice. The government makes a statement and asks the House to agree with the statement. I would like to see some bills for which there is an action plan that must put the government's feet to the fire to make sure that things are actually done. Knowing is not enough. We have to now do. I would prefer to see some teeth in some of these types of bills.

Organizations such as the Canadian Anaphylaxis Initiative and Anaphylaxis Canada obviously support the bill, as do we. However, we would like to see a greater commitment from the government that action will be taken. It would have been nice if the bill had a demand for action from the government.

I can tell members what the Canadian Anaphylaxis Initiative would have liked to have seen in the bill. It would liked to have seen the federal government coordinating programs and services dealing with anaphylaxis and food allergy information. It would have liked to have seen coordinated awareness campaigns, especially with regard to baby food and how it is labelled and processed and whether there is cross-contamination. Very small children cannot, in many instances, withstand anaphylaxis in the way many adults can, and this could result in an abrupt and sudden cessation of life.

They are suggesting a commitment to research, a commitment to clear food labelling, and transportation safeguards for airlines and public transportation, such that EpiPen kits would be on board, because without them, people could die very quickly.

Anaphylaxis Canada has advocated for stricter regulations on food labelling. I must say that I am quite sad to say that the government and the Minister of Health have been loath to do anything about labelling or bringing down levels of certain things, such as sodium and trans fats, and dealing with things that are dangerous.

I think there needs to be a move by the government to safeguard Canadians by actually dealing with industry if industry does not want to do this on its own volition. Giving industry an opportunity to do so is fine, but give them a deadline. After that deadline, legislate and regulate. It is important, because no one can stand by and watch people die or be subject to illness because of a reluctance to tamper with industry.

Many industries will not do it on their own. On the issue of salt, Campbell's Foods decreased the amount of salt. Nobody else did, so they put salt back up. These are some of the things we need to think about.

We support the motion, but there has to be action and a true commitment by the government to protect Canadians.

AnaphylaxisPrivate Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

St. Catharines Ontario


Rick Dykstra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of motions and being here at this time on a Friday is the opportunity for us to discuss and move forward not legislation, but concepts and ideas that need to be turned into either government legislation or concepts. I find it interesting that the member for Vancouver would actually use this time to accuse the government of not taking action when the individual who actually moved this motion is a member of the government and is on this side of the House.

So much for trying to work together, because I do not think that this issue crosses any type of partisan lines whatsoever. It is an issue that all Canadians are interested in, particularly the more than two million Canadians who are impacted by anaphylaxis.

I am pleased to be able to take this opportunity and speak today about Motion No. 230, tabled by our colleague, the member for Niagara West—Glanbrook. This motion states that anaphylaxis is a serious concern for an increasing number of Canadians, and calls for the government to take appropriate measures to ensure these Canadians are able to maintain a high quality of life.

When allergens come into contact with the skin, are inhaled into the lungs, or are swallowed or injected, a person can develop allergic symptoms almost immediately. These symptoms can develop quickly. Within minutes, a mild allergic reaction can potentially progress to a severe one. Anaphylaxis is the most serious type of allergic reaction.

Mild allergic symptoms may include itchy skin or watery eyes. However, the most dangerous of symptoms can include trouble breathing, a drop in blood pressure causing dizziness, light-headedness, feeling faint or weak, or losing consciousness. In the most severe cases, these symptoms can be life-threatening.

There are a number of research studies which suggest that the number of people who live with allergies is increasing, and that many of those living with the most severe allergies are our youth and our children. However, the impact of allergies, especially anaphylaxis, on Canadian individuals and on Canadian society as a whole, remains largely unknown.

The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians living with allergies. There has been significant scientific progress made in this area, but there is still a great deal more to learn about allergens, anaphylaxis, and allergies. This is why the government has invested in a broad range of research studies that are not only helping us to better understand the prevalence and impacts of food allergies in Canada, but are also serving to inform policies and regulations which will help to minimize health risks caused by severe allergic reactions.

The Government of Canada is supporting research in the area of anaphylaxis and food allergies through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Since its inception in 2000, CIHR has funded a number of projects to better understand the fundamental causes of different allergies, such as food allergies, which in turn can cause anaphylaxis. These investments are also contributing to developing new treatments, therapeutics, and guidelines for better prevention and treatment.

For example, the CIHR is funding the allergy, genes, and environment network centre of excellence, which brings together more than 170 researchers and 200 partners from the industry, the public service, and academia. The network aims at catalyzing and supporting the work necessary to reduce the burden of allergy, asthma, and anaphylaxis. We are investing more than $60 million in this work between our coming to government in 2006 and the year 2019.

Health Canada is also supporting a variety of research projects in the field of food allergies. These projects are of critical importance to help fill the knowledge gaps and to support policy development.

Between the years 2007 and 2009, a study surveying Canadians to assess the prevalence of common food allergies and attitudes towards food labelling and risk was undertaken and was the first nationwide Canadian examination of the prevalence of common food allergies. It was carried out under the leadership of some of Canada's top academics and supported by the allergy, genes, and environment network, funded through the federal networks of centres of excellence program, which I just mentioned.

The allergy, genes, and environment network, also called AllerGen NCE Inc., worked in partnership on this study with Health Canada, McMaster Institute of Environment and Health, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal Children's Hospital, Anaphylaxis Canada and the Allergy/Asthma Information Association.

This important research provided a better estimate of the prevalence of people with common food allergies in Canada, which as I mentioned earlier is approximately 2.5 million Canadians. The study also found that over 15 million Canadians, or 50.6%, reported being directly or indirectly affected by food allergies. Over six million Canadians reported having someone in their household who is allergic to food.

Further, this study has provided a better understanding of the attitudes and behaviours of those living with these medical conditions, including the attitudes of the general public towards food allergies and the effectiveness of food labelling that alerts consumers to the presence of allergens in products. The findings of this study have been key to informing the government's position on food allergen labelling and the development of the new food allergen labelling regulations which were brought into force last year. The information gathered from the study is of great value to the government and stakeholders in the development of policy, health, and educational resources. It is needed to support prevention, and to help with the diagnosis and management of food allergies in Canada.

As a follow-up to this study, the Government of Canada supported a survey of the prevalence of food allergies in all Canadian environments. This comprehensive study, which took place between 2009 and 2011, included the development of a full picture of the health, social, and economic impacts of food allergies in our country.

It examined the prevalence of food allergies in vulnerable populations across Canada, including among people of lower socio-economic status, new Canadians, and first nations and Inuit populations. The study also explored the role of contributing factors, such as environmental influences as they related to the potential cause of food allergies.

Building upon the findings of these two studies, the Cross-Canada Anaphylaxis Registry, or C-CARE, is a study currently under way. It will develop a registry of anaphylaxis cases throughout our country. Preliminary work, as part of this registry, revealed that among young children visiting emergency departments, the rate of anaphylaxis diagnosed is comparable to that found in studies conducted in the U.S. and that food is the main trigger. The objective of the study is to contribute to reducing the incidence of anaphylaxis which will help minimize the burdens of anaphylaxis, including associated health care costs.

I would like to commend the member for Niagara West—Glanbrook for his efforts to bring this important issue forward. I recommend that my colleagues from all parties support Motion No. 230.

Our government acknowledges that anaphylaxis is a serious health concern to Canadians living with allergies. The government has put in place a range of measures necessary to help Canadians who live with allergies maintain a high quality of life.

Motion No. 230 reflects the concerns of Canadians affected by life-threatening allergies. Supporting this motion reaffirms our commitment to protecting the health and safety of Canadians with serious allergies. In conclusion, whether it be the community of Niagara West—Glanbrook, the city of St. Catharines, or anywhere in our country, we have those who are impacted by this issue. We need to take action in terms of moving this forward.

I want to commend my colleague from Niagara West—Glanbrook who has been persistent with this motion. He had it up in the last Parliament. He had it up again here today. We are seeing this motion move forward. Moving forward means concrete action, and that is what the member's intention has always been.

I would also like to thank a good friend of mine, a fellow by the name of Chris George whose son is threatened by anaphylaxis. In fact he pulled me into this. At first I was not sure how far-reaching or how significant this issue was in our country. He convinced me by showing the impact it has across the country and in each one of our communities.

I say to him, his son, and his family, this is our step forward in terms of making sure that regardless of how difficult it is, we are taking action. We will continue to act on behalf of those who are impacted by anaphylaxis.

AnaphylaxisPrivate Members' Business

2 p.m.


Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by saying that I am very honoured to rise today to speak to Motion No. 230, which calls on the government to take the appropriate measures necessary to ensure that Canadians living with anaphylaxis are able to maintain a high quality of life.

Nearly 500,000 Canadians live with this medical condition. Approximately 50% of Canadians know someone who suffers from at least one food allergy, which goes to show that this issue affects a huge part of the population.

There are treatments available for this serious medical condition, which affects many Canadians and their families, and we know what causes these serious reactions. However, the federal government's efforts so far, while laudable, are not enough.

The NDP obviously supports this motion. However, I have some reservations about its scope and I lament the fact that there are no specific measures.

We have to keep in mind that anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction. It has rapid onset and can be fatal. It typically involves a number of signs and symptoms, affecting one or more systems of the body. The most common cause is food. In fact very common foods that are widely used in processed products account for 93% of anaphylaxis cases in children. That is why proper labelling is one of the most important actions to take.

There is the need to raise awareness among Canadians who are at risk, especially parents whose children might experience anaphylactic shock. Also, there is the need to improve primary care, community care, access to medication insurance, education, literacy and the need to review the exemption provided to brewers under the new labelling regulations.

Unfortunately, the current government has given priority to its irresponsible budget cuts and has cut $36 billion from health transfers to the provinces. That is a huge amount of money, and the cuts are having terrible consequences for Canadian families.

What we keep seeing is that this Conservative government wants to try to balance the budget, but it wants to do so at the provinces' expense. There has been one reform after another, and the provincial governments are being inundated with new expenses as the federal government keeps taking a step back.

Since the Conservative government came to power, it has not been able to balance its budget without creating a deficit. When it comes to good governance, we have done and seen better. Instead of conducting economic experiments that are bad for the public, the government should adjust its priorities and make decisions based on what Canadians need, especially in terms of health care.

Let us talk about cost. The overall cost associated with anaphylaxis in Canada is estimated to be $15 billion. This includes both health care costs and costs associated with lost productivity. This is another measure that taxpayers have to pay for from their own pockets. Rather than granting useless tax relief to banking institutions and giving subsidies to oil companies, could this government, from time to time, also take care of ordinary citizens who are only asking to pay their fair share and benefit from the services that they are entitled to receive?

It is too bad that the government nurtures a political culture that benefits the corporate world and harms Canadians. The way people who have serious allergies and who are at risk of anaphylactic reaction are treated is, unfortunately, yet another example of this.

Once again, in this specific case, the Conservative government, guided by its ideology that always seeks to boost the profits of large corporations, chose to put the interests of industry above those of the Canadian families affected by this serious health problem.

Let us talk about labelling. Food products containing allergens should be labelled as such without exception; however, unfortunately, the Conservatives decided that this was not necessary.

The same thing happened with sodium, trans-fats and energy drinks. The Conservatives are once again showing us that they are clearly biased toward the business world to the detriment of consumer protection.

The new regulation on labelling that has been in effect since August 2012 was well received by the various stakeholders involved; however, there has been criticism of some of the exceptions. I am convinced that people living under the threat of anaphylactic shock and the parents of children with this condition are under enough stress. They deserve better than to be the victims of the Conservatives' political gifts.

Anaphylaxis Canada and my NDP colleagues spoke out against the exception made for beer companies, which are not required to indicate the presence of allergens in their products, and for producers of deli meats, baked goods and other bulk products. The shortcomings of this regulation mitigate the strength of the motion before us, which therefore does not properly serve its function of protecting Canadians who are at risk.

It is important to remember that the most vulnerable people are young children. We need to help parents at home, staff in schools and daycare providers find ways to reduce exposure to potentially fatal allergens. The most effective measure remains clear, specific identification.

There are other measures that could also be taken. First and foremost, we have a duty to educate people, whether they are at risk or not. Being prepared to act quickly is also crucial. We also need to improve primary care as well as community care and, above all, access to health services.

Anyone with allergies who could suffer anaphylactic shock should always carry an epinephrine autoinjector, which can only be obtained with a doctor's prescription and must be renewed every year. In our deficient medical system, what should be merely a formality can easily become a real nightmare. An autoinjector costs over $100 a year, which many families who do not have access to medical insurance cannot afford without making other sacrifices.

This was confirmed by a Léger Marketing poll conducted in 2012, which revealed that over half of all Canadians who live with anaphylaxis do not always carry an epinephrine autoinjector or have quick access to one.

Furthermore, the survey reveals that a majority of them do not know how to use the device properly. Instead of taxing hospital parking, which is stupid, the Conservative government should instead work on providing Canadians with access to the treatments they really need.

It is obvious that much remains to be done in terms of public education and awareness. The government must stop delegating this responsibility to the industry and must take the lead in implementing a coherent strategy in keeping with the demands of organizations that support the people affected.

A great deal of research is still needed with respect to identifying the pathogenesis, the triggers, and the prevalence of risk factors, as well as managing anaphylaxis. These must be the priorities.

The federal government has a duty to encourage research, especially by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. However, one of the most discouraging items in the main estimates tabled in the House in March is the envelope for the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, which was reduced by $36 million, including $33 million in grants.

In closing, for all the reasons I mentioned earlier, I will support Motion No. 230. The main reason is that I believe that we can improve the life of people who suffer from anaphylaxis. However, this motion will not be truly effective unless the government puts in place practical measures to deal with this condition.

It is obvious that the next government—and I am convinced it will be an NDP government—will have to address this matter again in order to find real solutions.

AnaphylaxisPrivate Members' Business

2:10 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Resuming debate, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health. The parliamentary secretary will only have about two minutes.