Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour, as always, to stand in the House to represent the people of Timmins and the James Bay region as we deal with this bill, Bill C-35, Quanto's law. The bill would bring in mandatory minimum sentences for people who are mean to police dogs.
We have spent a lot of time in this House talking about police dogs, and we have seen the government members sit together and get very teary-eyed when they talk about the treatment of police dogs.
It is seven years almost to day that we stood in this House on another motion, Jordan's principle, which passed on December 7, 2007. It was named after Jordan River Anderson from the Norway House Cree first nation, a young child who had never been able to go home because of his complex medical needs. The federal government refused to pay for his health coverage unless he was in a foster care situation.
Jordan's principle is that all children in Canada, regardless of their race, have a right to equitable health care. The House of Commons stood up, just as it will probably stand up on Quanto's law, and voted for Jordan's principle, and then nothing happened.
When I was thinking about the bill on police dogs, I thought of Sergeant John O'Donovan of the Winnipeg Police who, on August 17, 2014, found the body of Tina Fontaine in the Red River. He told the media, “She's a child. This is a child that's been murdered. Society would be horrified if we found a litter of kittens or pups in the river in this condition. This is a child.”.
It says something. This is nothing against dogs and cats; I have dogs and cats at home. However, when a police officer has to point out that a first nation child who was murdered and dumped in a river would have received more attention if she had been a litter of puppies, it says something.
I want to just compare the values that we are seeing in this House, in terms of mandatory minimum sentences.
I would like to read from draft No. 11, dated November 21, 2012. It is entitled “Jordan's Principle, Case Conferencing to Case Resolution, Federal/Provincial Intake Form”. It is tab 420 in the factum of evidence in the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal on first nation child services that are being denied by the federal government.
The quote is the following:
Previously healthy 4 year old First Nation Child suffered cardiac arrest and anoxic brain injury while undergoing routine dental extraction. The child is totally dependent for all activities of daily living and requires significant medical and equipment before she can be discharged from [health services].
The items that it said she needs are a Hill-Rom bed for a child, a specialized stroller, a mattress to prevent skin breakdown, a trapeze bar, a portable lift, a bath frame, a Hoyer lift. That is what is needed to look after this child and give her mother the support.
There were over a dozen child welfare agencies looking at what needed to be done to get this child back with her family.
When it came to the bed, the bed that would keep her from suffocating, the specialized bed she needed, the non-insured health benefits of Health Canada said absolutely not; they were not paying for a bed for a child who might suffocate otherwise.
We see in the notes that it was the director of the hospital who had to pay out of his pocket for this child to get a bed because the government had written into its policy that providing that child with a life-saving bed was not a priority.
Yet, here we are today talking about mandatory minimum sentences if we are mean to a police dog.
I would like to read from another report, entitled “Jordan's Principle, Dispute Resolution”, dated May 22, 2009. It is tab 320 in the factum of evidence that has been brought forward against the federal government:
A child with multiple disabilities and/or complex medical needs requires a wheelchair and stroller and requires that a lift and tracking device be installed in his/her family home. [Health Canada] will provide children with only one item every five years. If the item is a wheelchair, [non-insured health benefits] supports the provision of manual wheelchairs only, which must be fitted with special seating inserts in order to accommodate small children.
They would not even pay for an electric wheelchair for a completely incapacitated child. It is in the policy.
Yet, here we are talking about mandatory minimum sentences for people being mean to police dogs.
I will read from an internal government report from British Columbia, INAC and Health Canada, Gaps in Delivery Services to First Nation Children in B.C., dated November 6, 2009, which states:
More and more, dentists and other care providers refuse to deal with Health Canada directly because of very long delays in receiving payment....
There is no funding for basic dental care, even in emergency situations; no money for “basic equipment, e.g. hospital bed”. We have already talked about the fact that it will not pay for hospital beds for children: “too bad, so sad”.
There is no funding for special diets for children who cannot eat solid foods, and no funding so that the guardian can travel with a child to a special needs appointment.
I am not making this up. These are in the tabs. Costs for medications are not approved by the federal government, even though the pediatricians prescribe the medication for the child's condition.
Children in care are not accessing Mental Health services.... If these children cannot get necessary mental health service, [including assessment for fetal alcohol syndrome], they are unable to access [other education programs].
I will point out that in my region of Treaty 9, the issue of not being able to access mental health services has left us with horrific levels of suicide. If children or young people come forward to say that they are depressed or suicidal, the only option is to put them into foster care and take them away from their community. Any other community would provide counselling, but that is not allowed because it is not in the policy. Yet, we have mandatory minimum sentences being discussed today for being mean to police dogs.
I would like to talk about this idea of mandatory minimum sentences.
In the New Brunswick region, we have an internal document entitled “Education and Social Development Programs and Partnerships”, dated November 2012, tab 298.