House of Commons Hansard #160 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was parks.


The House resumed from September 26 consideration of the motion that Bill C-579, An Act to reduce the effects of urban heat islands on the health of Canadians, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Reducing the Effects of Urban Heat Islands ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is always a privilege and a pleasure to rise to address issues that come before the House. This is an interesting issue, I must say. I do not have very much background knowledge on it, but I have been able to look at it to try to get a better understanding. Bill C-579, known as the urban heat islands act, is something the Liberals support. We feel it would be good for it to move forward. Ultimately, as I say, we support it.

Perhaps I could illustrate what it really means by using a graph. If we were to look at a graph comparing hot air in city centres versus rural communities or suburban areas, we would find that where there are heavy concentrations of people or industry—huge industrial parks, for instance—the air temperature versus the surface temperature varies depending on where one is situated. People living in rural communities where there is very little or marginal development, such as on farms or in marshy areas or among the literally thousands of lakes, would find that the air temperature is not much different from the surface temperature.

However, in higher-density communities the gap starts to widen. In Canada, for example, if we were to compare a rural setting, where the air and surface temperatures are close together, to downtown Toronto on a summer day, we would find that it is considerably hotter on the surface than it is 1,000 feet up in the air. In other words, when we talk about urban heat islands, what we are really referring to is the difference between the surface temperature and the air temperature.

What can we do as a government to try to minimize the negative impacts of heat islands? There are negative impacts that we should be aware of, such as lower water quality, higher air pollution, increased heat stress that is very real, and improved conditions for the spreading of airborne diseases.

We have seen some extreme examples of this in the past in some of the cities. Again, if I look at Toronto, which is not alone, we have an extended number of days during the summertime when it will get quite hot. When we look at that heat around the downtown areas, highly industrialized areas, or very high density communities, we will find that it is significantly hotter. Those heat records, such as we experienced a few years ago, have a fairly profound impact on the living conditions of people. We have seen that in a number of examples that have occurred over the years.

One of the things that encourages me, personally, is that we have a generation of young people in our schools today or recently graduated, who place the environment as a very high priority. I remember, a couple of years back, walking into Sisler High School and a number of students took me to what was, in essence, the centre of the high school where they had opened up an outside patio door and were taking away bricks, which they were replacing with vegetation. That is one of the ways we can combat the heat island effect, if I can put it that way.

If we take a look at what we have in our urban centres, we see certain things that draw in the heat. Things we can do to marginalize that, or lessen the effect of it, are very strong positives.

As I said, walking through Sisler High School a few years ago, it was great to see students who were very aware of the positive impact. They had virtually dead ground that was in the centre of the school compound, if I can put it that way, with buildings all around it, and they had the wisdom and the vision through the support of some of the teaching staff to make a change. That change does have a very strong message.

Like all MPs, I am afforded the opportunity to fly considerably. When I fly into my home city of Winnipeg, I cannot help but notice the new subdivisions versus the areas that are more established. In the areas that are more established, the first thing I notice is the trees. There are a lot more trees in some of the older, more established communities. If we compare those types of communities to areas where there are no trees, or very little vegetation, we will find that there is an impact on the difference between the surface and air temperatures.

In the last decade or so, through city planners, we have often found that there are minimum standards right down to the footage of green space that has to be incorporated into the development of suburbs. That is a positive thing. Ponds are put in place. Mandated tree planting is something else that has a positive impact on the amount of separation between the air and ground temperatures.

If we look at some of the ideas that are out there and are prepared to act on them, we will in fact be able to make a difference.

There have been international conferences dealing with this particular issue. In some countries, the impact on communities is more profound. We need to recognize that Canada does have a role to play, not only locally but also internationally by playing a stronger leadership role and taking certain action. We could be more proactive.

What is also being suggested, and I would really encourage, is that we think outside of the national government. We do need to incorporate that into our thinking and planning and in coming up with a strategy. Hopefully, with the passing of the bill, there would be more of a strategy or plan and some sense of accountability that would come back to the House and demonstrate the degree to which we have moved forward as a nation.

Having said that, it is critically important that the Minister of Health and the Minister of Finance work with our partners at the provincial level and those ministries that are having an impact. Hopefully, we would be able to come together and develop some ideas to improve the conditions for generations after us, which ultimately will have to live in the environments we are creating.

I have found it amazing the degree to which some of our municipalities have grown over the last 20 years, whether Vancouver, Calgary, my own city, or other cities out east. We are still relatively young as a country. We have some highly intelligent individuals who can play a strong role in future urban planning.

Reducing the Effects of Urban Heat Islands ActPrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.


Isabelle Morin NDP Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to support the bill introduced by my colleague from Honoré-Mercier. This bill would mandate the Minister of Health to establish a national strategy to reduce the negative effects of heat islands.

In short, people noticed that the temperature difference from one neighbourhood to another can be as high as 12°C because of heat islands. This can increase smog and make air quality worse. For example, there is increased demand for air conditioning and for water, whether we are talking about potable water or water for swimming pools and water parks.

My colleague conducted public consultations in her riding and discovered that constituents in her neighbourhood were very concerned. I know that she is in an area on the Island of Montreal in which there are a number of heat islands. Since she is a good member of Parliament who listens to her constituents, she decided to come back to Ottawa and introduce a bill on this topic. I am very pleased to participate in this debate because I am very concerned about this issue. I really want to see this bill move through all stages in the House of Commons.

It is currently part of Health Canada's mandate to monitor heat islands and safeguard Canadians against the effects of heat waves. However, there is no national strategy for all of that. The bill is calling for collaboration between the federal, municipal and provincial governments in order to increase effectiveness and efficiency. There is no knowledge transfer. People are ill-informed and no one really knows who should be sharing information with the public. I think that this bill is a very good idea.

Many industrialized countries with heat islands have developed a national strategy in recent decades, including the United States, France, Portugal, Holland, Spain, Germany, England, Japan and Sweden. I think it would be good for us to follow suit.

During my speech, I will talk about the impact heat islands can have on health, what can be done, some solutions and the benefits of those solutions. We are talking about the health of Canadians, and a government must show great concern for the health of the people in its policies. That is very important.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said that on hot days mortality can rise by 20% in areas with heat islands. Heat islands can result in discomfort, weakness, loss of consciousness, cramps, fainting spells, heat stroke and breathing difficulties.

To relay my own story, I suffer from asthma. It did not start when I was young, but when I was 25. I started having respiratory problems when I moved to Montreal. I had never experienced that before. At first, I did not know what it was. I underwent some testing and I was told I had asthma. The surprising thing is that I have trouble breathing when I am in Montreal. When there is a heat wave, it is even worse. Nonetheless, in summer, when it is hot and I am camping or somewhere at a cottage, I do not have those same breathing problems. It is therefore one of the effects of the heat islands. This affects pretty much every big city in Canada. More and more major structures are being built, including seniors' residences, big condo towers and shopping centres, which all require paved parking lots. This is conducive to creating heat islands.

In fact, the Lachine industrial park is one of the biggest heat islands in Montreal. According to data from the Institut national de santé publique du Québec, Lachine's industrial sector is one of the hottest areas on the Island of Montreal. I will quote from a report:

The tree canopy coverage in the industrial sector is 4%, which is slightly above average. However, the industrial area is so large that it diminishes the effect of the tree canopy in the borough. Accordingly, the City of Montreal's department of large parks and green spaces recommends that the tree canopy coverage be increased to 15%.

In my riding, with the airport, this industrial park and the highway, heat islands are all around us.

Another report said that the temperature in a paved schoolyard could go as high as 52 degrees Celsius. I know that schools are usually closed in summer, but the playgrounds in schoolyards are being used then. When I was young, I would go to my elementary school's yard. I think that 52 degrees is very high, and even if you are well hydrated, it is still very high. The people most likely to be affected by heat islands are children, seniors, pregnant women, people with existing illnesses, and athletes. If they are in a place where there are a lot of heat islands, it could be very bad for them.

I found one striking statistic: between 1979 and 2003 about 8,000 deaths in Canada were caused by heat islands and heat waves. That is a lot.

As I said earlier, right now in Canada some provinces and municipalities have programs, but there is nothing to create a synergy among all provinces and municipalities in order to make progress, share ideas and improve the health of Canadians.

For example, Montreal now has maps to measure heat islands, and these are available to the public. In Montreal and Toronto there are municipal efforts and awareness programs. In some cities there are planning regulations encouraging white roofs and trees in parking lots, but it all happens piecemeal because the government is not taking the lead. That is what my colleague is trying to do with this bill.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the FCM, has a fund that supports efforts to reduce the effects of climate change. Some provinces also have large, well-targeted funds. However, we want a national strategy to put it all together and move forward.

Solutions have been proposed. We should increase vegetation and green our cities. On that point, I would like to congratulate a group in my riding, GRAME de Lachine, a group that does applied research in macroecology. It is doing fantastic work on heat islands. It has conducted research through a provincial program, the climate change action plan. Once again, this is a good program from Quebec. Could it be exported to other provinces? Yes, we must talk about it.

This group has planted more than 200 trees. It has used high-albedo materials to completely revitalize the playground at one of the primary schools in my riding, Martin Bélanger School in Ville Saint-Pierre. The playground is extraordinary. There are not a lot of games or a lot of structures in the playground. The company planted trees and drew designs on the asphalt. This has reduced the heat and the result is really pretty.

The building where I have my office is called Regroupement de Lachine. It has been completely renovated. It is a former grocery store that has been transformed into an eco-building. It is a community centre with geothermal energy. It has one of the largest accessible green roofs on the island of Montreal. GRAME also distributed 350 large trees in 2014. I attended one of their distribution days. These are the kinds of projects that can really reduce urban heat islands.

In terms of cost-effectiveness for the government, a number of studies prove what we are saying. One study conducted in 2013 by Bélanger Michaud at the Université de Sherbrooke shows that the return on investment is 5.8 times higher than the cost of the trees that could be planted in parking lots or along roads. A study conducted at Ryerson University showed that green roofs have two positive effects. Energy costs are lower and energy consumption is reduced. Berkeley University conducted a study in 2001, which showed that a national strategy makes it possible to save 3% to 5% in energy. A study by the World Bank describes the direct impact on emergency systems, on health and on beds available in hospitals. In fact, the dog days of summer are precisely when we have heat islands, and that is when a number of people go to the hospital because they feel ill. Once again, this represents a reduction in costs.

It is time to stop dealing with problems once they have occurred. This bill will prevent problems from occurring in the first place. It will make it possible to save money in health care and it will enable people to feel better.

I would once again like to congratulate my colleague for tabling this bill. I think it is a winner for everyone. I am going to vote in favour of this bill. I hope that everyone will vote for it, because it is important for our country.

Reducing the Effects of Urban Heat Islands ActPrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.


Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to speak in support of Bill C-579, an act to reduce the effects of urban heat islands on the health of Canadians. I would like to congratulate my colleague for Honoré-Mercier for bringing this bill before us.

As the urban affairs critic for our NDP caucus and also the sponsor of Bill C-619, the climate change accountability act, I am very excited to have a discussion in this place about the impacts of climate change on cities, on the health of Canadians living in urban Canada and about the great opportunities that present themselves to us for mitigating climate change and improving the health of Canadians by focusing attention on Canada's cities.

The discussion is particularly timely as countries gather in Lima, Peru at the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change with the goal of putting in place, by next year in Paris, the agreement necessary to avoid dangerous levels of global warming. To succeed, that agreement needs to include the world's largest emitters.

While the Conservative government likes to point to the fact that Canada is responsible for only 2% of global emissions, that places us within the top 10 greenhouse gas emitters globally. Looking globally, there appears to be positive momentum in that direction. Specifically, the recent agreement between the world's largest emitters, China and the U.S., holds out promise that we have turned a corner on this issue.

Only five years ago, in Copenhagen, these two countries pointed fingers at each other, accusing each other of sinking global efforts at mitigation. However, with this agreement, things will change. China has agreed to slow and then halt greenhouse gas emission growth by 2030. The U.S. has agreed to reduce emissions by nearly 30% by the same date.

Therefore, things will change, but it is also worth noting that this agreement stands as a clear sign that things have already changed. The simplistic contradistinction between economic growth and emission reductions no longer stands. There are new energy economies that these countries are engaged in and can profit from.

Last week's report from Clean Energy Canada tells us that things have changed in Canada, too, and will continue to change. In that same five-year period since Copenhagen, Canada, in the absence of federal support I would note, has seen its capacity to produce electricity from renewable energy sources increase sufficiently to power 2.7 million Canadian homes, and the clean energy industry in Canada is still in its infancy.

Also relevant to today's discussion is the impact of the health effects of climate change. As reported recently in the The Guardian newspaper, in China:

Air quality is so far below World Health Organisation standards that a blue sky appears only after it rains, or when the government closes steel mills around Beijing and bans drivers from highways for major summits...

Of particular relevance to the bill before us, it is heartening to see that that U.S.-China agreement acknowledges the role of cities as final-energy users and, consequently, as significant greenhouse gas emitters. The Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities initiative that forms part of that agreement recognizes the great potential of cities as sites of climate change mitigation.

Now, of course, the times do not look particularly propitious for us in Canada in light of the revelation this week that the Conservative government, contrary to its commitment, has no intention of regulating emissions in the oil and gas industry.

However, it is the nature of government that it changes. Governments come and they go, but a government that breaks its commitment on such a significant, indeed, existential issue, one hopes will go quickly, and a government that calls regulating what it had once committed to regulate “crazy”, one hopes will fall harder and faster than most.

Now, as per the bill, we are talking specifically about urban heat islands. The call in the bill is for the Minister of Health to establish a national strategy to reduce the negative effects of heat islands.

Urban heat islands are understood to be urban environments in which the average air temperature is markedly greater as compared to the average or, in particular, that of the surrounding rural environment. The effect is well known and has been well studied, precisely because of the serious impacts of urban heat islands on human health. Annual average temperatures tend to be 3.5° to 4.5° higher in cities than in surrounding rural areas. According to the OECD, this difference—and note that it is in average annual temperature—is expected to increase by 1° per decade to a difference of about 10° in large cities. In other words, the heat island effect is significant presently and anticipated to get significantly worse over time.

It has been estimated, for example, that maximum average temperatures in my city of Toronto will rise by 7° by mid-century. That means that the extreme climate events, such as heat waves, which we are experiencing as a result of generalized global warming, will also become worse in urban areas as a result of the heat island effect, or more properly the conditions that give rise to the heat island effect. Those conditions relate, in the main, to the type of infrastructure we find in urban environments and the particular materials it is made of, as well as the colour of those materials. Surface materials such as concrete and asphalt, including asphalt roofing shingles, are particularly problematic. This kind of infrastructure tends to absorb large amounts of solar radiation and release it in the form of heat, thus creating heat islands. The increasing daytime temperature, in turn, tends to trigger a vicious circle as it interferes with natural nighttime cooling processes, but it also triggers artificial cooling efforts, such as air conditioning, that add to the heat island effect.

There are well-documented health implications of extreme heat and heat islands. It is fair to say that, around the world, the effects of urban heat islands on human health are being documented by health and environmental agencies. The health outcomes vary from simply heat fatigue to death.

According to studies conducted by the American Ernest O. Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, every 1°C increase in warm weather temperature increases the pollution caused by smog by some 5%. Smog generally forms above urban areas and heat islands, and adds to water pollution and air pollution. Smog is one of the main causes of the increase in the number of cases of asthma, throat irritation, and even premature death.

It is worth noting that not all are affected equally by heat island effects. Some people are more vulnerable to health impacts than others. Seniors and youth are particularly vulnerable, but so also are the poor, the disabled, shut-ins, the homeless, and those unable to afford or without access to air-conditioned shelter. There is clearly and notably a social equity issue. This is a matter of climate justice and not just a generalized matter of human health.

Let me end with what I think is some good news. About 80% of Canadians live in urban Canada. Urban Canada is responsible for a commensurate percentage of final energy use and consequently a commensurate percentage of greenhouse gas emissions. Not the current government, obviously, but people around the world who are concerned about the future of this planet, people committed to halting global warming so as to avoid dangerous levels, are alive to the issue of urban heat islands and their health impacts and dangers. They are also alive to the great climate change mitigation potential of cities. That is why this bill and its focus on urban Canada and urban Canadians, and the need to deal with these issues, holds out such great promise for us and should receive the support of all in this House.

I again thank my colleague for bringing it forward.

Reducing the Effects of Urban Heat Islands ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.


Paulina Ayala NDP Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, on March 24, I had the honour of introducing my bill on urban heat islands.

Before drafting the bill, we consulted scientific experts, government departments and municipal, provincial and federal representatives. This is what the Federation of Canadian Municipalities told us:

Our national programs unit focuses on developing and promoting best municipal practices in Canada. We do not currently have a program area specifically for heat islands. This issue is not well known or highly publicized outside Quebec.

Even so, in her speech on September 26, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health had this to say:

Since 2008, Health Canada has worked with federal, provincial, and municipal partners to enhance the resiliency of communities and individual Canadians to the health impacts of extreme heat.

The parliamentary secretary's statement conflicts with the answer I got from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Where does the truth lie?

Everyone agrees that there are many, many compelling initiatives in the municipalities and committees, and everyone also agrees that the Conservative government's lack of support is appalling. Everyone deplores how little support they are getting. Above all, they are criticizing the absence of a real national strategy, which would create a real space for dialogue regarding best practices, and not just through a website.

What is more, the parliamentary secretary said the goal is to help communities and Canadians “adapt” to the effect of extreme heat on their health. Did I understand the word “adapt” correctly? The government wants Canadians to adapt to the harmful effects that heat islands are having on their health.

We already thought the Conservative government's inaction was deplorable. Now we learn that the government has simply abandoned Canadians altogether

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health was so proud to announce that a key component of the government's initiative was the development of heat alert and response systems. That is an excellent example of a confession of failure on the part of this government, which, instead of addressing the causes of heat islands, proposes that we simply adapt to them and, at best, predict when an an asthma sufferer should stay indoors.

Once again, it is not enough to help communities adjust to the effects of heat islands on health. Instead we must tackle the phenomenon and act before the situation is critical because Canadians' health could already be at risk.

What is most serious is the parliamentary secretary's statement that the Conservative government, which refuses to adopt a real strategy, is nevertheless spending billions of dollars. She even said that, since 2007, the government has spent more than $2 billion on 1,400 green infrastructure projects across Canada. Did I hear correctly? The government has no strategy, but is spending billions of dollars. The government definitely does not want a framework for action and support, but it is nevertheless funding more than 1,400 projects.

In the same breath, the government is criticizing the NDP's approach of openly working with communities and having clear objectives and measurable results. The government is telling us that a coherent approach will cost too much. It claims that it does not have a strategy, but that is obviously false. It does have one, but it refuses to reveal it. It lists the good things it does, but is incapable of explaining the consequences.

All this bill asks of the government is that it support communities and stop backing away from its responsibilities with respect to Canadians' health, as it is currently doing.

If the government wants to talk about savings, bring it on. Not only is the government throwing billions of dollars out the window, but it also refuses to take any responsibility for the real impact of this spending. Furthermore, it is disregarding the positive economic benefits of combatting heat islands.

If the government truly listened to the experts, it would have heard Mr. Hashem, a university professor who has dedicated much of his scientific research to this topic. He estimates that we could save at least $100 million a year in health care costs alone by reducing the effects of heat islands. This represents about 4,000 new jobs. This is not a trivial number for the Canadian economy.

The government claims that my bill would create jurisdictional overlaps with provinces. Then the government admitted that a national strategy would make the government accountable for activities over which it has no control. Clearly the government is afraid of being responsible for anything.

A New Democrat government would not be afraid of setting objectives with its partners and assuming its responsibilities to meet those objectives. We will tackle the heat islands problem, and together we will change Canada.

Reducing the Effects of Urban Heat Islands ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Reducing the Effects of Urban Heat Islands ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members



Reducing the Effects of Urban Heat Islands ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Reducing the Effects of Urban Heat Islands ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members


Reducing the Effects of Urban Heat Islands ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those opposed will please say nay.

Reducing the Effects of Urban Heat Islands ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members


Reducing the Effects of Urban Heat Islands ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, January 28, 2015, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

VeteransAdjournment Proceedings

6:05 p.m.


Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, on November 28, 2014, I asked the Minister of Veterans Affairs about an announcement he had made in Halifax regarding a $200 million mental health care program for veterans.

I would like to remind the House that this announcement was made because of pressure from the NDP. The parliamentary secretary, at the time, gave his usual response:

...there were only four operational stress injury clinics when our government took office. We have already put in place 13 operational stress injury clinics across the country.

The government says that it has increased services, but the numbers say the exact opposite. I will share a few examples. Last spring, I asked the minister a question about homelessness and, in particular, the fact that in Montreal there are no fewer than 50 veterans who are homeless.

Why was it difficult to help homeless veterans? It is because the Department of Veterans Affairs does not have the resources to do it. The week of November 20 we learned that the department had failed to spend more than $1 billion since 2006. On December 3, 2014, we learned from the Treasury Board's 2013-14 departmental performance report that the number of full-time equivalent employees had fallen from 4,039 in 2008-09 to 3,050 in 2013-14, which is even lower than the forecast 3,115.

Just this morning, December 12, 2014, we learned that a group of veterans known as The Canadian Veterans Advocacy were condemning the Conservative government for balancing its budget on the backs of veterans by closing at least nine Veterans Affairs Canada offices.

I will not add my voice to the chorus asking for the resignation of the Minister of Veterans Affairs. Although we can criticize him because he is overseeing the cuts to services, the person actually responsible for the current situation is the Prime Minister and the disconnect between his combative ideology and his obligation to deal with the effects of war on the soldiers who return home.

If we want to condemn the government and its inability to address these effects, we must have the courage to explain what causes them. Irresponsible military action is the cause of our veterans' health needs, especially the mental health needs that the government can no longer handle.

In 2006, the Prime Minister said, “You won't recognize Canada when I'm through with it”.

Indeed, sometimes I feel like I hardly recognize the Canada I moved to 13 years ago. It is this Prime Minister who is always trying to lead Canada away from the group of countries that work for international peace and co-operation, and towards the group of countries that are looking for provocation, confrontation and war.

There is another mind-boggling aspect of this debate. Not only are the Conservatives indifferent towards our veterans, but they also have such contempt for the public servants who work on the front lines providing services, who, according to the Prime Minister, are merely bureaucrats and pencil pushers. It is really insulting.

VeteransAdjournment Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Brampton—Springdale Ontario


Parm Gill ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for giving me an opportunity to expand on the question, because it will allow me to correct a great deal of misinformation in the public domain about this particular issue.

The Minister of Veterans Affairs announced these extraordinary improvements to mental health support for active serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces, Canadian veterans, and their families. He said it was an investment that would significantly improve mental health support for veterans and still-serving members, including their family members.

The member opposite has fallen for the misinformation propagated by members of his own party, and partisan critics of the government have lost sight of what truly is good news. The measures announced by the minister will allow for earlier intervention for veterans living with mental health conditions. This means more support and assistance and a better chance of achieving successful outcomes.

The network of operational stress injury clinics is expanding. By fall 2015, a new clinic will open in Halifax, Nova Scotia; a regional clinic will be set up in Montreal; while the existing clinic in the greater Toronto area will also be expanded. We will also expand services in six other locations throughout the country. Over the six-year period, more than 1,200 veterans in the Halifax area could receive specialized care closer to home, allowing better access to specialized assessment, diagnosis, and treatment services. Additionally, the regional clinics could help 1,300 veterans.

Fifteen new peer support coordinators are being hired to enhance the operational stress injury clinic and social support program. The peer support program is in high demand. By employing 15 new peers, another 2,200 veterans and their families could be helped by trained peer support coordinators who have already experienced the same challenges. These coordinators listen, support, and encourage veterans to access needed treatment.

Access to seven military family resource centres will be expanded on a pilot project basis to include medically releasing Canadian Armed Forces personnel and their families. Traditionally, the services and programs offered through these centres have been available only to still-serving members of the military. This change alone will allow up to 1,200 medically releasing veterans and their families to take part in this pilot project. This is a tremendous resource, giving them access to a wide range of services to help address their needs as they transition to civilian life.

A veteran-specific mental health first aid training course will help increase awareness of the various kinds of mental health conditions. This means that a veteran or his or her family member may be able to respond or intervene earlier if someone he or she cares about is in crisis. This training course could benefit up to 3,000 veterans and their families. Imagine what that would mean to someone who may go from day to day in fear of a mental health crisis.

These are valuable programs and service improvements.

I encourage that member to stop with the partisan games and help us to eliminate the misinformation that continues to cause confusion in the veterans community.

VeteransAdjournment Proceedings

6:15 p.m.


Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, this warmongering Conservative government has led Canada into some irresponsible military action, and now it refuses to accept the consequences of its decisions with respect to the Canadian soldiers that it sent to war.

It refuses to pay for treatment for the mental health problems that its dangerous ideology created. Whether we are talking about the war in Afghanistan, the air strikes in Iraq or the police officers we are sending to Ukraine, Canada is slowly becoming an aggressive country on the international scene.

The only hope I have is that, in 2015, Canadians will replace this aggressive Conservative government with the first social democratic government in Canada.

VeteransAdjournment Proceedings

6:15 p.m.


Parm Gill Conservative Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is extremely wishful thinking. I do not necessarily know if Canadians would agree with that assessment by the member opposite.

However, let me respond by saying that our government's cutting-edge mental health strategy offers more points of service for veterans and their families, more timely access to important and lifesaving support, and will go a long way toward helping to reduce the barriers that veterans face in getting the help they so urgently need.

It completely mystifies me as to how anyone could possibly criticize what are clearly steps in the right direction by this government toward giving Canada's veterans and their families the tools they need to successfully transition to civilian life. This government remains committed to responding to the needs of veterans, not only today but also in the future.

VeteransAdjournment Proceedings

6:15 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:17 p.m.)