House of Commons Hansard #179 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was injuries.


Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.


Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, there actually is a program. It is called circles of support and accountability. It has has a 70% to 80% success rate.

My question relates to a comment made early in the speech where the hon. member said that the measures in Bill C-26 build on those taken in Bill C-10. He is right. In Bill C-10 there were several instances where mandatory minimum penalties were increased, and they were increased again in Bill C-26. What happened between the introduction of the mandatory minimums in Bill C-10 and the increase in those mandatory minimums in Bill C-26 was that the rates of these types of crimes went up.

I believe it was Albert Einstein who said the “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. Could the member explain why we are re-increasing mandatory minimums when the ones that were increased in Bill C-10 did not work?

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.


Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a bizarre argument that an increase in mandatory minimum penalties could work to increase the amount of violence against children. That is ridiculous.

As I said at the beginning of my remarks, no pedophile can violate the rights of, or commit a sexual crime against, a child if they are incarcerated. We know that many of these criminals violate children over and over again. This is not something that is easily cured. Therefore, we need to make sure that the rights of the victim are protected here. We need to make sure that children are protected in Canada, and mandatory minimum sentences that are consecutively served will do just that.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.


Brad Butt Conservative Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-26, the tougher penalties for child predators act, now at third reading. This is a critical piece of legislation and we should all support its important objectives.

Bill C-26 would strengthen our existing approach to protecting children from sexual predators by building on numerous recent initiatives in that regard.

I am pleased that our government has implemented a number of important initiatives, including raising the age of consent to sexual activity, also known as the age of protection, from 14-years to 16-years; requiring those who provide Internet services to the public to report when they are advised of an Internet address where child pornography may be available to the public; requiring all of those convicted of sexual offences abroad to report to a police service within seven days of arriving in Canada; and creating two new offences prohibiting anyone from providing sexually explicit material to a child for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a sexual offence against the child, and prohibiting anyone from using any means of telecommunications, including the Internet, to agree or make arrangements with another person for the purpose of committing a sexual offence against a child. Those are just to name a few.

Unquestionably, our government has worked hard to protect children from sexual predators and it continues to do so, as is currently reflected in Bill C-26's proposed reforms. Our children deserve no less.

Available statistics paint a disturbing picture of sexual offences against children, both at home and abroad. Sadly, this type of offence has been facilitated by the Internet, which may play a role in the recent increases in police-reported child sexual offences.

The most recent statistics indicate a 6% increase in 2013 as compared to 2012. This includes a 30% increase in police-reported incidents of luring a child via a computer, an 11% increase in police-reported incidents of sexual exploitation, and a 21% increase in police-reported incidents of child pornography offences.

Furthermore, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, which operates, Canada's tip line for reporting online sexual exploitation of children, provided the committee on justice and human rights with data that also caused deep concern.

Specifically, it has received 125,000 reports from the public since 2004, when was launched. The majority of these reports related to images that are online and that depict children being sexually abused.

The centre noted that in the 2014-15 fiscal year alone, its child protection analysts assessed and categorized over 6,000 images of child pornography. Disturbingly, 69% of these images depicted children that were under the age of 12.

These numbers are telling us that more must be done. Bill C-26 would do just that.

First, it would increase penalties for certain child sexual offences, including child pornography, which has become a global scourge, as the statistics clearly show. Child pornography does not just harm the children who are abused in the images, it harms all children by sending the abhorrent message that it is acceptable for adults to use children for their own sexual gratification.

To better denounce and deter this crime, Bill C-26 would increase both mandatory minimum and maximum penalties for possessing and accessing child pornography. Moreover, Bill C-26 would make the most serious child pornography offences, making and distributing child pornography, strictly indictable with a mandatory minimum penalty of one year and a maximum penalty of 14 years. This is to reflect the severity of these crimes and the harmful impact they have on children.

The Supreme Court of Canada has commented on the pervasive nature of the harm caused by this type of offending in its 2008 L.M. decision. It said:

Finally, I note that L.M. disseminated his pornography around the world over the Internet. The use of this medium can have serious consequences for a victim. Once a photograph has been posted on the Web, it can be accessed indefinitely, from anywhere in the world. [The victim] will never know whether a pornographic photograph or video in which she appears might not resurface someday.

In addition to its proposed penalty increases, Bill C-26 would also require judges to impose consecutive sentences in cases where offenders are sentenced at the same time for contact child sexual offences and child pornography offences, and where offenders are sentenced at the same time for contact child sexual offences against multiple victims. No more sentence discounts for prolific child sex offenders. Every victim matters.

These are some of the bill's critical messages that serve the important objectives of denunciation and deterrence, which, as our Criminal Code apparently clarifies, are paramount in cases involving the abuse of a child.

That is not all. Bill C-26 also proposes to increase the maximum penalties for breaches of supervision orders, which impose conditions on suspected or convicted offenders, and are intended to prevent offending and protect children. We cannot ignore the fact that all breaches of such orders indicate a risk to children. That is why it is imperative that offenders are held accountable for breaching conditions imposed to protect children.

In a similar vein, Bill C-26 would also ensure that evidence of an offence committed while the offender was subject to a conditional sentence order, on parole, or on statutory release, would be considered an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.

Offenders who reoffend, while subject to conditions imposed to protect those they have harmed, should be held to account, not just for the new offence but also for their violation of the conditions themselves. This is the appropriate way to effectively denounce violations of such conditions.

I am the father of two daughters, 15 and 11 years old, and thank God this kind of thing has not ever happened to them. I could not even imagine going through that as a parent and I could not even imagine what that would do them.

I believe these measures, in addition to the proposed new high risk child sex offender database also proposed in Bill C-26, address the dangers and risks posed by child sexual offenders.

I trust that these reforms will get support from all members of this House. I know that all members of Parliament are committed to protecting children from harm. Toward that end, I urge all honourable members to join me in support of this important legislation.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is important to recognize that this is a serious issue and discussion we are having. I do not think, nor would I hope, that there is anybody in this House who does not support the fact that we need to ensure the safety of young children or any victim when it comes to sexual exploitation or sexual assaults. However, we need to ensure that we invest our money wisely. We can make all the laws we want and change all the legislation we want, but without the proper resources it would not amount to anything.

In a previous intervention, the member's colleague said that sex offenders cannot be rehabilitated. My question is geared toward the prevention and rehabilitation piece because on the government's website it states that research shows that treating sex offenders does make a difference.

Does the hon. member support his previous colleague's comments that a sex offender cannot be rehabilitated? Does he not believe that if we invest in prevention and rehabilitation, we would help build a safer society?

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


Brad Butt Conservative Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know my colleague from Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing has had a long history in the criminal justice system prior to being elected in this place. I respect the work that she and her colleagues have done, particularly within the prison system.

We know that quite a lot of resources are expended within our prison system on the rehabilitation of individuals who are in prison. For some offenders rehabilitation does work, but for many it does not. We do our best, we try, but there are some individuals who just cannot be rehabilitated.

The recidivism rate for these individuals is high once they are released. The whole idea is to ensure that the people who are committing this kind of serious, heinous crime on children spend a maximum amount of time in prison where they can certainly access to rehabilitation services.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would never, in any fashion, attempt to defend these types of hideous crimes that take place. They are abhorrent and we want to do what we can as a society to prevent them from taking place in the first place.

The question I have is not that far off in terms of the issue of resources. The government has come forward with legislation to show that it is getting tough on crime. However, I was just on a political CBC panel where we found out that the Conservatives have not been allowing a full expenditure by the RCMP to deal with cyberexploitation as there was $2 million that had not been spent.

The member himself has indicated that we need to do more. Yet, because the directive has gone out that the Conservatives need to save money wherever they can because of this $2 billion income splitting plan that they need to finance somehow, they are talking about $2 million annually coming out of fighting cyberbullying.

I wonder if the member could provide some comment on the importance of the RCMP using that budget in order to fight these important issues on which Canadians are demanding more action.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.


Brad Butt Conservative Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, to the best of my knowledge the Canadian Centre for Child Protection is located in Winnipeg. It is one of the strongest supporters of this government's allocation of resources and initiatives to fight child pornography, child exploitation, and ensure that we are standing up for victims of crime. I do not believe it is suggesting that this government has short-changed organizations with respect to resources to do this important work in any way.

What is important today is that we are debating a piece of legislation that will amend the Criminal Code of Canada. It is our job as parliamentarians to pass laws that protect Canadians. That is the focus tonight and that is what we should continue to do, do our job and pass legislation that protects children.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.


Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time.

This is an issue that affects all of us. I do not know that anybody in society, as I mentioned before, supports having offenders out there who prey on young people, but sexual offenders actually do not just prey on young people; they prey on all people.

We will support this particular bill at third reading. However, we remain concerned with the type of legislation that the government keeps putting forward without providing proper resources.

As I mentioned before, I worked at Probation and Parole Services in Ontario for 13 years. I must correct the record as well. I mentioned my daughter working at the Brampton youth correctional centre, but she is actually a correctional officer at the Roy McMurtry Youth Centre. I just clarify that for the record. She has been working there for quite some time. She works mostly with level 1 offenders.

People may wonder what a level 1 or a level 2 offender is. I think we have to look at whether or not an offender is high risk when we look at the prevention and rehabilitation aspect, but it is important that we actually do look at rehabilitation and prevention. Reintegration into society is also important, because at some point in time people do get released.

Our perspective is that we are not opposed to the legislation, but when we put legislation in place, we need to make sure that it is the right legislation and that we provide the tools required to make sure it will actually be effective. We need to make sure that the statistics at the end of the day will show that it was the right thing to do.

When we are look at the crime bills that the government has been putting forward, over and over again we see that the resources are just not there. On this particular bill, it is ironic that the government has tabled legislation dealing with an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and the Sex Offender Information Registration Act, to enact the high risk child sex offender database act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts when we have just been advised that over $10 million in funding that was allocated to the National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre went unused. The parliamentary secretary basically said that they did not spend all that money because there were human resource challenges stemming from the nature of the work.

If there were these types of challenges, should the government not have acted? Should it not have said, “Let us make sure we have proper staffing.”? It is telling us there is a big demand and that a lot of casework needs to be dealt with on this issue; it is true that we have seen an increase in people being charged, but imagine all the other people out there who are not being charged because the RCMP does not have the proper resources. The government decided to pay down the deficit instead of investing in the protection of Canadians, of our young people, of our children. That is the big problem we see with the government.

Earlier in the debate, Conservatives raised questions with respect to whether sentences should be consecutive and concurrent. As I indicated, the Conservatives can put all they want into the legislation, and I think that is what we need to do as legislators, but we also have to listen to what the judges have to say. We have to make sure that the people hearing the cases have legislation that actually works, but at the end of the day we have to allow them to do what they need to do in the judicial process.

Having worked in the field for quite some time, I know that when a serious crime has been committed, especially when it involves a sex offender, the judge will order a pre-sentence or pre-disposition report that will give the whole story of what actually happened, along with the person's history. Judges make their decisions on sentencing based on that report.

I want to go back to what was said in the House. One of the Conservative members tried to say that there was no rehabilitation for sex offenders, yet the ministry's website talks about rehabilitation for sex offenders. It states:

More than most crimes, sex crimes instill feelings of fear and anger in citizens. When a past sex offender is released from custody, fear and anger can consume a community.

It goes on to say:

Media stories about sex crimes often serve to inflame emotions and rarely tell the whole story about the treatment and rehabilitation of sex offenders.

It further states:

Research shows that treatment of sex offenders does make a difference. Sex offenders who receive treatment are less likely to re-offend. Offenders who don't receive treatment are likely to re-offend at a rate of 17% compared to 10% for offenders who have received treatment. Indeed, most sexual offenders do not re-offend after a certain age.

It is important that the conversation we are having is about the need to ensure that the proper resources are in place when we put this type of legislation in place.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The hon. member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing will have three minutes remaining when this matter returns before the House.

It being 5:39 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.


Manon Perreault Independent Montcalm, QC

moved that Bill C-643, An Act to establish National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to thank all the members of the House who have helped get this bill to this stage in the process. It is the product of our collective efforts and co-operation over the long haul. My esteemed colleagues are doing their part admirably.

I would also like to thank our partners who have supported us during this process and have assisted us in developing this bill, which aims to designate the third Friday of September as National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day. I would also like to point out that my bill is seconded by the member for Victoria.

With the co-operation of MEMO-Quebec, we concluded that this bill could be very useful, and that raising people's awareness would have a very positive impact for people living with spinal cord injuries. Many people with disabilities in my riding of Montcalm, across Quebec and indeed throughout Canada are listening to us today. They are following the progress of our debates very closely and now want to see this bill move forward. I hope we do not let them down.

This bill would make the third Friday of September National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day. Why the third Friday in September? Simply for two key reasons. The first is that accidents frequently occur during the summer. The third Friday of September is a time of year when rehabilitation centres in particular are flooded with spinal cord injuries.

The second reason is that the third Friday of September also has a symbolic meaning. It is the time of year when the days start getting darker. In the months following a spinal cord injury, the injured person will endure dark days that are akin to a difficult fall and a painful winter.

This is a simple and effective bill that will cost nothing and provides one more tool to those involved in helping people with spinal cord injuries and to agencies that work on prevention and raising public awareness. We do not want to ignore the many difficulties people with spinal cord injuries face, far from it. Nonetheless, we wanted to create this awareness day to get across to Canadians the terrible, irreversible consequences of certain accidents. I was never one to tempt fate and so I could not have anticipated that life would test me so harshly. Often, people with spinal cord injuries joke that we are like cats who land on their feet, that after our accidents we set the clock back to zero and started a new life with new obstacles, but also with new and very interesting challenges.

That said, I will respectfully present our bill, which we have put a lot of thought into. This bill has three components. The first objective is to raise public awareness. Spinal cord injury victims must have more encouragement to actively participate, without prejudice, in our society. The bill would also recognize the determination of those with spinal cord injuries to build a new life for themselves, as well as the dedication of the people who help them and the perseverance of the scientists whose research has improved the lives of thousands of people with spinal cord injuries. This day would also serve as a tool to help prevent such injuries, as I mentioned earlier. I will come back to this a little later.

It would be useful to look at the actual statistics. In Canada, there were approximately 86,000 people living with spinal cord injuries in 2013. There are the victims themselves but also their families and friends, who live with the disability affecting the person they love. I would like to take this opportunity to salute all caregivers who look after a person with a disability, and who live and work close to them. I recognize that the situation is often stressful or harrowing for those close to people with spinal cord injuries because they are not the ones living with this disability and do not really understand it. It is up to us, as the people with the injury, to reassure them and to shed a different light on the situation. I am not saying that this is simple and easy to do, but I believe that, in the end, we will find a certain serenity and, above all, a zest for life that is great to share. We must admit that they will perhaps provide invaluable assistance.

We now know that there are 86,000 people affected in Canada, but to that total we have to add the 4,300 people who are injured every year. We must remember that prevention really does work, and that every policy that can promote the production and dissemination of new awareness and prevention campaigns has a positive impact on the work of the people on the ground.

This bill is a step in that direction, and I sincerely hope that it will be passed.

In Quebec and in Canada, falls are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries, followed by motor vehicle accidents. That includes all-terrain vehicles. In the United States, many spinal cord injuries result from acts of violence, a cause that is almost non-existent in Quebec and Canada.

Let us look at the number of casualties based on the etiology of the trauma: 31% of injuries result from motor vehicle accidents, including all-terrain vehicles; 46% result from falls; 5% result from acts of violence; and 18% result from sports, recreational activities and other unknown causes.

In Quebec, people with spinal cord injuries are hospitalized for an average of 14 to 57 days, depending on the nature of the injury, namely whether the patient has complete or incomplete quadriplegia, or complete or incomplete paraplegia. The average hospital stay of these patients in Quebec is shorter than the national average, which is between 24 and 63 days, but longer than the American average, which is between 9 and 18 days.

Most people with spinal cord injuries are transferred to an in-patient rehabilitation centre once their condition has stabilized. In Quebec, they remain in that centre for an average of 58 to 202 days, depending on the nature of the injury. The length of stay in these centres in Quebec is comparable to or slightly lower than the national average, which is about 173 days, but much higher than in American centres, which are between 30 and 56 days.

Beyond the physical injury, people with spinal cord injuries often suffer from emotional distress. It is very common for these patients to feel hopeless at the thought of never being able to go back to the life they knew before and also feel discouraged by the many rehabilitation challenges they must face.

People with spinal cord injuries will often remember their stay in the rehabilitation centre. I thought that some of the people who worked in the centre took some kind of sick pleasure in forcing me to hear about their reality, which was not one I was ready to accept. What is more, I did not like the ironic demeanor that some of them had. Today, I understand that they were probably just trying to lighten the mood, but at the time, I found it rather unusual. After many years, I think I have heard all of the wheelchair jokes hundreds of times. I have not heard a new joke for at least the past 10 years.

Public awareness has a profound impact on how easily people with disabilities can return to the workforce. Indeed, how other people look at you is often the first change that people with spinal cord injuries have to get used to. When our neighbours, colleagues and community are ready to make a small effort to make our day-to-day lives a little easier, and when society is willing to accommodate its services to our specific needs, as modest as they may be, we will always want to return the favour. Usually everyone wins. I am not talking about charity here, although the economic factor definitely does enter the equation.

However, when an employer gives someone with a spinal cord injury a chance and agrees to a few small changes in their usual methods to accommodate a worker, that employer will have a motivated and productive worker who really wants to contribute to the success of the business that hired them and is providing support. Through such actions, people with spinal cord injuries gain the same dignity that is essential to everyone, and participate just as actively in creating our collective wealth.

Truth be told, the return to the workforce for people with disabilities can be challenging, and greater public awareness would make this process a little easier. We can improve the lives of thousands of people while also enhancing our social cohesion. That is what I call a win-win.

Coming back after a prolonged work stoppage is a huge step, and for someone with a spinal cord injury, it is an even bigger one. Someone who deliberately chooses to leave his or her job for a certain period probably has a stronger feeling of control over the situation than someone who is forced to quit because of an illness or accident. I think the reason for the work stoppage definitely has an impact on the return.

When people are away from work following a spinal cord injury, it is not true that they return to work as though they left the night before. It is easy to understand since their colleagues will continue to carry out their professional activities, look for opportunities and manage workplace challenges. People with a spinal cord injury who were gone from work for a long time often doubt themselves and do not have the same priorities as their colleagues.

We become more aware of certain aspects of our personal life and also our professional life. We have time to figure out what we really want to improve and what we want to pursue and, conversely, what we want to distance ourselves from and what we no longer want to put up with, such as a heavy workload because we know our physical condition requires extra effort and we might tire more easily.

Nonetheless, there is also a sense of personal accomplishment and self-esteem, which help a person recognize what they are good at and feel like their knowledge is still in demand. I believe that developing a talent and using it to help others is a fundamental part of human endeavour and it is really quite nice.

By creating a national spinal cord injury awareness day, we can officially recognize the courage and determination of people with spinal cord injuries. These Canadians make gargantuan efforts to be independent and regain their quality of life, and the rehabilitation of newly injured people is a remarkable feat in itself.

Each of these individuals has invaluable potential and a lot to offer, and the rehabilitation of people with spinal cord injuries is undeniable proof of strength and determination.

Dear colleagues, that is a fundamental part of our bill, which I think will help improve our society as well as do a great service to our friends, family members, neighbours, colleagues, or anyone who suffered a serious traumatic injury and is working very hard to regain their dignity and quality of life.

Furthermore, we must use this day to highlight not only the dedication of caregivers, of course, but also the dedication and perseverance of the scientists and researchers who are focused on the cause and sacrifice a part of their life and energy to find medical breakthroughs and give hope to those with spinal cord injuries.

As we know, modern science is evolving very quickly and advances in medical research provide hope for new treatments and technologies in the near future that could affect the quality of life of people living with spinal cord injuries and even provide hope for recovery in some cases. In fact, 20 years ago, who could have imagined today's medical advances?

Whether in terms of treatments, technological innovations or therapeutic solutions, there are many fields of research. Advances are being made in tandem on many levels. The wonderful techniques of the present foreshadow those of the future and open the door to legitimate hope for many.

Before talking more about the current state of research in Quebec, I have to first acknowledge the progress and achievements that have been made. I must also acknowledge the work of the people who are invested in improving the quality of life of people with spinal cord injuries on a daily basis. We have to promote research and we have to promote hope.

When I hear that advances are being made in biomedical science, I know that the quality of life of many people has been improved. The assessment of injuries is more precise, the development of tools is increasingly effective and preventive measures, procedures and treatments are continually improving.

We must promote this field of research and stimulate investment in this area. A number of foundations across the country are constantly working on finding money for research and new sources of funding.

The national spinal cord injury awareness day can help in that regard by symbolically bringing together the different organizations and increasing the visibility of their various campaigns.

This is just one of many suggestions, and I am confident that the organizations concerned will be able to make good use of this day to maximize their efforts.

This bill and the establishment of a national spinal cord injury awareness day are far from being just symbolic. This has the potential to help save lives and to reduce the number of new spinal cord injuries in Canada.

Every year, let us not waste this opportunity, which benefits everyone, as I said. This issue should never be highly partisan. We should remember that anyone can sustain a spinal cord injury.

National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo B.C.


Cathy McLeod ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and for Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, I know we look at having many national days in our country and certainly the member has brought up a very important point. She has articulated very well some of the challenges and why she believes it is important.

Could she talk more about what she believes the day would actually accomplish and what this day, if it is proclaimed, would mean to the victims with spinal cord injuries?

National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.


Manon Perreault Independent Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, we want to establish this day in order to recognize these people's efforts. We also want to promote prevention since people often behave recklessly and some accidents can be avoided. People are often not aware of how their actions—whether it is playing sports, driving, horseback riding or diving—can affect their lives.

People need to know more about this and we need to recognize the importance of a day of awareness in this regard. Many organizations are doing good work in this area, but there is no day dedicated to this cause. They would appreciate a national day of awareness.

National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the introduction of the bill. When we look at these special designated days, it can have an impact. The member makes reference to education.

By designating days, members of all political stripes are afforded an opportunity to talk about that day, whether in householders, or different promotions, or bringing it to the attention of local schools or asking for special attention given to it. By educating, we can have an impact on the whole issue of spinal cord injuries, hopefully leading to prevention of this type of injury from occurring.

Would the member, from personal experience, share some of her thoughts on the types of special events she would encourage in her constituency, or what other members might want to consider in promoting the day at the local level?

National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.


Manon Perreault Independent Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, the organizations I contacted needed three days to provide workshops to people. I am asking for just one national day.

It is important to understand that spinal cord injuries are also associated with head and chest injuries. It is rare for someone to come into a hospital with just one spinal cord injury. I think that people realize that. They know that a national day would help raise awareness about the consequences of these injuries. They are with us every day, every time we wake up.

National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.


Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Montcalm for her very sensitive speech. She commented on the importance of this awareness day, to ensure that people understand what it means to have your life turned completely upside down after sustaining a spinal cord injury in an accident.

My colleague spoke about how there are consequences other than those directly associated with the spinal cord injury. What other physical or psychological effects could be caused by a spinal cord injury or that type of accident?

National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.


Manon Perreault Independent Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, a number of people who are in rehabilitation often end up having to return to the hospital with lung problems. That is one of the more serious problems. They also end up back in hospital because of problems associated with extreme fatigue or depression, naturally.

This really goes beyond the spinal cord injury, since the physical injury makes the individual vulnerable to other issues.

National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo B.C.


Cathy McLeod ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and for Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, it is a real honour to stand in the House today to speak about spinal cord injuries. This important issue deserves a discussion not only in Parliament but at the national level. I would like to take a moment to thank the hon. member for Montcalm for introducing this bill.

Bill C-643, an act to establish national spinal cord injury awareness day, proposes the designation of the third Friday of September each year as national spinal cord injury awareness day. At a fundamental level, this bill is about raising awareness of spinal cord injuries across Canada. It acknowledges the many challenges faced by Canadians living with spinal cord injuries as well as the critical role played by those who provide support and care for people with spinal cord injuries. It recognizes the important and significant contribution of the scientific community in improving the lives of thousands of people living with spinal cord injuries through research.

According to the final report of the national population health study of neurological conditions, entitled “Mapping Connections: An understanding of neurological conditions in Canada”, there are approximately 120,000 Canadians living with neurological conditions caused by spinal cord injuries. From this report, we also know that the incidence of spinal cord injuries is likely to be anywhere in the range of 1,400 to 1,700 a year over the next 20 years. These are alarming statistics. However, for Canadians living with spinal cord injuries, they are not just numbers.

Our Conservative government recognizes the significant impact spinal cord injuries have on the individuals affected, their families and friends, their community, and society at large. Spinal cord injuries entail enormous human, social, and economic burdens. There are staggering personal costs, including the cost of care and support over a lifetime. That is why raising awareness of injury prevention initiatives is critical. This includes the important initiatives our government has undertaken as well as those undertaken by national and regional non-governmental organizations. Reducing injuries among all Canadians, including spinal cord injuries, is important and achievable by increasing awareness of spinal cord injuries and by reducing the risks.

Who of us, in our younger days, did not dive into a body of water not knowing what the depth was? There are many risks we take, and awareness is certainly important.

Through the Public Health Agency of Canada, our government is involved in enhancing efforts to increase awareness of sports-related injuries among children and youth, which in turn will help to reduce many different preventable injuries, including spinal cord injuries.

I will give the House some examples over the next few minutes of some of the interventions that are happening.

In 2011, our government provided $5 million over two years to support injury prevention initiatives that reached Canadian children and youth in the communities where they live and play. The overall goal of the active and safe initiative was to reduce sports and recreation-related injuries sustained by children and youth, up to the age of 19, who participate in hockey, snow sports, cycling, and swimming. Through community-based activities, this investment increases injury awareness in sports and recreational activities by empowering Canadians to make safe choices for their children to reduce the risk of serious injuries, such as brain and spinal injuries.

We have recently gained a better understanding of the impact of falls on older Canadians with the release of the Public Health Agency of Canada's “Seniors' Falls in Canada: Second Report”, which was released in May, 2014. This report confirms that falls are the leading cause of injury among Canadians over the age of 65, with approximately 20% to 30% of seniors experiencing one or more falls per year. Of those seniors who experienced injuries due to falls, 8% involved injuries to the back or spine. That is a statistic I was completely unaware of.

In addition to supporting injury prevention initiatives, our government continues to support spinal cord injury research through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The work of its top researchers contributes to understanding the changes in neurons and support cells that could prevent and alleviate chronic neuropathic pain syndrome and could improve the recovery of limb function following spinal cord trauma or neurotrauma.

There are number other world-renowned organizations that work tirelessly toward reducing spinal cord injuries and disabilities. They advocate for improved quality of life for Canadians with spinal cord injury and continue to raise awareness of this issue. One of these organizations, which is a name familiar to many of us in this chamber and to Canadians across the country, is the Rick Hansen Foundation.

Before I speak specifically about the foundation, I would like to take a few moments to acknowledge the truly inspirational Canadian that Rick Hansen is. Although Rick suffered a life-changing spinal cord injury as a teenager, losing the use of his legs due to an automobile accident, he maintained a positive outlook. Through rehabilitation and steadfast determination, he continued to keep moving forward. Rick was involved in sports and eventually became a highly respected advocate for people living with a disability. At the 1982 Pan Am Games, held in Halifax, Rick took home nine gold medals. He was also hugely successful at both the 1980 and 1984 Paralympic Summer Games, winning gold, silver and bronze medals.

In 1985, Rick set out on a two-year journey known as the “Man in Motion World Tour”. This was a visionary quest to demonstrate to the world that people living with a disability had huge potential and could contribute to society if communities were more accessible and inclusive. This was the raison d'être for raising awareness of spinal cord injuries and disabilities in Canada and around the world.

Shortly after completing this tour, the Rick Hansen Foundation was established in 1988. In addition to finding a cure, the foundation endeavours to accelerate the progress in prevention and care of spinal cord injury as well as raising both awareness and funds to support people with disabilities.

On the 20th anniversary of the Man in Motion World Tour in 2007, our government announced funding for the foundation in support of its search for a cure for spinal cord injuries.

From 2007 to 2013, we have provided $30 million to the foundation to implement a spinal cord injury data system across the country and to support spinal cord injury research and the promotion of best practices in spinal cord injury care so Canadians affected by spinal cord injury can benefit from an improved quality of life.

The spinal cord injury registry started in Vancouver in 2003 and has since expanded across Canada. As of 2013, the registry was operational in 31 facilities in 15 cities. It is a huge accomplishment for the foundation, and our government is proud that we have played a role in its success.

Some of this funding also supported the creation of the Rick Hansen Institute in 2007, which is focused on research and care management. This institute is an independent not-for-profit organization committed to accelerating the translation of discoveries and best practices into improved treatments for people with spinal cord injury. This means that the institute leads a network of people with spinal cord injuries, researchers, service providers and other stakeholders that facilitate greater collaboration within the care and cure communities nationally and around the world. It is truly commendable work and it showcases the steadfast pursuit to achieve a world without paralysis after a spinal cord injury.

To keep the momentum going, the government announced $35 million to support some additional work of the Rick Hansen Foundation in spinal cord research.

Many other activities are currently happening, but certainly the designation of the third Friday in September as a national spinal cord awareness day would highlight these and other related commemorative events throughout the year.

Raising awareness about an issue such as spinal cord injury is a positive action. It is a simple action that can have profound effects on those living with a spinal cord injury. Most important, if we can prevent future injuries so we can turn the tide on the troubling statistics, it will be time and effort well spent.

National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and a privilege to speak on this important initiative introduced by my colleague, the member for Montcalm. I am grateful to her for raising the awareness of the House and grateful that I could second the bill.

I am also grateful to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo for her remarks just now. I am very hopeful that the bill will pass the House for the very reasons she suggested so persuasively a moment ago.

The bill would designate the third Friday in September as a day to remember those who have been struggling with spinal cord injuries. What it would not do is create a legal holiday, but rather, just a day for awareness, as the title of the bill suggests. That is a very simple and important thing to do without the economic consequences of another day off. Therefore, it need not be of any concern to employers or others who might be worried about that.

My colleague, the member for Montcalm, suggested very persuasively that this is not just important for the victims of spinal cord injuries, which I certainly understand, but also for the caregivers and their families. She saluted the critical role of caregivers in her remarks, which is something that ought to be remembered by all members as we debate the bill.

People ask what this would be for. It would be a tool for awareness, and also for fundraising. It could be a focal point for those who are trying to raise awareness of spinal cord injuries. That in and of itself would be a good enough reason for us to support the initiative.

I want to give a shout out to Spinal Cord Injury Canada. I did a little research. The organization, which used to be called the Canadian Paraplegic Association, has been around for 70 years. It has been making an enormous contribution, not just to victims but also to their families in so many ways. I am hoping that it will support this initiative.

One of the things that Spinal Cord Injury Canada does is to sponsor an event on the Hill every year. Mr. Speaker, you will be aware that on May of last year, six members of Parliament and one senator got into wheelchairs, even though they were not disabled, to gain a better understanding of what the reality is for people suffering from this disability. My colleague, the member for York South—Weston, and my colleague, the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore, spearheaded that and participated in it.

I want to acknowledge that the government has pledged over $30 million in funding over five years for spinal cord injury research, which I think has been very well received by stakeholders and the medical community. That needs to be acknowledged as an important contribution.

The cause of spinal cord injury, as my colleague from Montcalm noted, is most frequently injury or trauma of some sort, but it also has to be remembered that sometimes these injuries result from acquired diseases that cause, for example, tumours on the spine or viral, and bacterial infections like polio. It is not just those caused by trauma, although I am sure those are majority of situations the bill would address.

My colleague, the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, made reference to one of my heroes, and I am sure a hero for many Canadians, Rick Hansen. How many of us would ever forget his Man in Motion Tour? I can still hear the Bryan Adams song in my head as I mention it. I remember driving into Vancouver one day when he was coming in after his national tour across the country in his wheelchair. I will never forget the emotion of people listening to the CBC that day and phoning in to try to make a pledge. No one could get through because the lines were absolutely jammed. In my part of the world, he is one of our true heroes.

I am sure I speak for all Canadians when I acknowledge that he has given back in so many important ways since then. Not only has he raised awareness, as my colleague pointed out, but has also, through his Rick Hansen Institute, done a number of important things, like coordinating a national strategy called the access to care and timing project, which involved multiple research centres across Canada, with the goal of scaling up effective clinical practices and providing more timely access to care for patients in this area.

I thought it was important that my colleague from Montcalm noted the reason for the proposed day being the third Friday in September. She said that it was because it was after the summer when so many people are affected by this terrible trauma due to injuries occurring during the summer. It occurs more frequently, it must be said, in the demographic of risky behaviour primarily by younger men.

However, the point of getting this initiative out at that time would serve as a message during the summer for people to remember to take greater care: do not speed while driving, be careful when playing sports, do not dive into shallow water, and these sorts of things.

The number of people afflicted with spinal cord injury is quite staggering and the costs, both human and economic, are immeasurable. There are 86,000 people in Canada living with spinal cord injuries and that is expected to grow to 121,000 by 2030. There are 4,300 new cases a year in this country and the majority are as a result of injuries to young males between 20 and 29 years of age. However, as we have an aging population, as others have acknowledged, there will be more affected because of falls among the elderly population.

The economic cost is $2.7 billion every year. Of course, the use of the medical system by those with spinal cord injuries is obviously enormous as well. In comparison, they are re-hospitalized 2.6 times more often than the general population. They require contact with a physician 2.7 times more often. They require home care services 30 times more than others.

These are important statistics, but they do not tell the whole story. They do not tell the story about the tragic changes in people's lives who are affected by spinal cord injury. The bill before us would bring awareness to that.

My colleague spoke eloquently about the importance of prevention, but also about the impact on families, caregivers and individuals who are affected by spinal cord injuries.

I pay tribute to the government for its funding efforts in this regard, but many people continue to live in real poverty as a consequence of these spinal cord injuries and we need to address that. We must do more with workplace accommodation for those people with disabilities trying to find work and keep work with mobility, access and accommodation issues.

We must do better with the caregiver tax credit, which is a non-refundable tax credit. It does not cover many disabled people who are affected or the spouses who take care of disabled partners and the like. These issues, among others, must be addressed.

Nevertheless, this is not the time, as colleagues have pointed out, for partisan commentary. It is to work together across the aisle to see if we can agree on this. It sounds like we will be able to achieve a bill in this regard. I am so grateful to my colleague from Montcalm for bringing forward what appears to be an initiative that will be successful in this House.

National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to support Bill C-643, an act respecting a national spinal cord injury awareness day.

I would like to congratulate my colleague, the member for Montcalm, for bringing the bill forward and for being an advocate for those living with disabilities.

Establishing a day to recognize the impact spinal cord injuries have on Canadians, the health care system, and the economy would bring awareness to this debilitating and serious condition.

Up until 2010, health officials, shockingly, had no idea how many Canadians were living with a spinal cord injury or the economic cost of the condition.

However, there was a report commissioned by the Rick Hansen Institute that revealed some startling data. I know this House will all want to, and we have heard it already tonight, recognize Rick Hansen, who became a world-class wheelchair athlete before undertaking the Man in Motion World Tour in 1985, during which he rolled more than 40,000 kilometres in 34 countries in two years raising $26 million for spinal cord research.

The report indicated that there were over 86,000 people living with a spinal cord injury in Canada, or about the same number as the population of Red Deer, Alberta. About 4,300 new cases are identified in our country each year. After speaking with Spinal Cord Injury Canada yesterday, I am informed that the number is now 96,000 Canadians. Approximately 51% of spinal cord injury cases are the result of traumatic injury and 49% are the result of non-traumatic injury or, rather, diseases such as ALS and cancer.

The report laid out, for the first time, the scale, magnitude, and cost of a spinal cord injury in human and economic terms. This was an important milestone because measuring the extent of the problem is the first step in developing strategies for preventing, mitigating, treating and, hopefully one day, curing spinal cord injuries.

Spinal cord injuries require substantial medical care. Canadians with a spinal cord injury who are admitted to intensive care units have reduced mortality and morbidity, as well as improved neurologic recovery. The average length of a hospital stay after the initial injury is 140 days, or almost five months, including critical care, acute care, and in-patient rehabilitation.

New methods for treating spinal cord injury are being studied, including surgical decompression, therapeutic hypothermia, and neuroprotective agents.

The economic cost of traumatic spinal cord injury is $3.6 billion a year, including $1.8 billion in direct medical costs. The lifetime medical costs, in the words of a recent study, for a quadriplegic exceed $3 million and for a paraplegic, $1.6 million. For Canadian families, the average cost of a manual wheelchair is $4,000 to $5,000 and the average cost of a power wheelchair is $10,000 to $15,000.

The long-term health care costs are not due to paralysis but, rather, to medical complications. Severe depression is also common among people with a spinal cord injury. Treatment for depression accounts for almost half of physician visits.

These are just numbers and do not speak to the impacts on the person affected and on the families. I cannot begin to imagine how frightening and overwhelming are the days, weeks, and months following a spinal cord injury. Everything changes in an instant and people will have many questions.

Canadians with a spinal cord injury need to know that they are not alone and that there are people and organizations that will help them through acute care, rehabilitation, and a return to the community. Canadians with a spinal cord injury need to know there are resources available to help them find the latest information on research, clinical trials, and rehabilitation techniques that may have an impact upon improved function and recovery. They need to know that there are financial resources, peer support, and organizations that can help renovate their home to make it accessible, get assistive devices to help with everyday tasks, and help them return to the community.

As a country, we can and must do more to support Canadians living with spinal cord injury and their families. All levels of government must work together to put in place essential measures to secure the right to education and economic participation. We need policies and programs that promote physically accessible homes, hospitals, schools, transportation and workplaces, inclusive education, elimination of discrimination in educational and employment settings, vocational rehabilitation to optimize the chance of employment, micro finance and other forms of self-employment, benefits to support alternative forms of economic self-sufficiency, access to social support payments that do not act as a disincentive to return to work, and correct understanding of spinal cord injury and positive attitudes toward people living with it. The member for Montcalm's bill would help to raise awareness, and this is positive.

The Urban Futures institute predicts that the number of people living with spinal cord injury will increase sharply in the coming years, reaching 121,000 in 2030. The expected increase is largely due to the aging population. Older people have more falls and suffer disproportionately from illnesses such as cancer.

I have had the honour and privilege of working with Canadians with physical and mental health challenges my whole life, and everyday I learn from them and am inspired by them. I also want to recognize the work of all health practitioners and organizations which work hard to improve the quality of life of Canadians living with a spinal cord injury and their families.

I know many of us have taken part in Spinal Cord Injury Canada's chair-leader event, during which we spend the day in a wheelchair and live first hand what accessibility really means. We learn very quickly the obstacles Canadians in chairs face. Everything is harder. It is hard to manage the chair. It does not always turn well. Getting into an elevator is hard, managing in the washroom is hard, reaching counters is hard, getting up and down Parliament Hill is really hard, and cars do not always see the chair.

The chair-leaders event is extremely important to get exposure for people in chairs, to raise awareness, to see the obstacles people face, to understand that there are financial hurdles and that we as a society must do more to help. The member for Montcalm's bill would ensure that, annually, there would be a day devoted to raising awareness about spinal cord injury.

In closing, spinal cord injuries have severe, long-term impacts. They affect almost 100,000 Canadians and their families, have far-reaching consequences, including financial hardship and caregiving needs, and the number of Canadians suffering is increasing as the population ages. The costs for people suffering from spinal cord injuries number in the billions. Spinal cord awareness would foster an environment for greater research into new treatment options. Awareness would help provide doctors with improved options for treatment.

Let me once again congratulate the member on her bill and let us all remember there is life after injury. Canadians with spinal cord injuries are active, social, and vibrant members of our communities. Let us all celebrate ability and fight for more help for Canadians with spinal cord injury and their families.

National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day ActPrivate Members' Business

February 25th, 2015 / 6:25 p.m.


Steven Fletcher Conservative Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Montcalm for bringing forward this motion to declare a national day of recognition of spinal cord injuries. The member for Montcalm and I have become good friends, as far as we can become friends across the aisle, ever since we had that first race down Parliament Hill, which she won. Then, in my power wheelchair, I think I won the race going up Parliament Hill.

There are now two people in Parliament with spinal cord injuries. I think it is indicative of how Canada is progressing when it deals with persons with disabilities, but we have a long way to go. Disability crosses a large spectrum, and spinal cord injury is a sliver of that spectrum, but it has a lot of neat characteristics. I would like to share some of those with the House.

When it comes to acquired spinal cord injuries, the categories are generally quadriplegic and paraplegic, quadra meaning four limbs impaired, and para two limbs.

In my case, as many people may know, though I do not believe I have ever spoken about it in the House, I hit a moose in 1996 when I was 23. At the beginning of my life, I had a lot of things going for me at the time, and the moose went through the windshield and landed on the back seat. My car went into the ditch and the moose went over me again.

It was in a part of Manitoba that was remote. There were no cellphones in those olden days. Someone had to find me. Then they had to drive down to the nearest town. Then they had to drive up with the ambulance, then drive me back to Winnipeg. There were no helicopters or anything else to help. It was a tough rescue, and for whatever reason, somehow I survived.

The reason I raise that is that if my accident had happened 10 years earlier, I would not have survived. People are now surviving injuries that historically were not survivable. That is from the advancement of medicine, and Canada should be proud of that.

However, on the one hand, we often save people from catastrophes, then on the other hand, not provide the resources or the opportunities to allow those same people to live meaningful and dignified lives.

Let me explain. I will use my injury as an example, but whatever I am about to say could be transferred to anyone with a spinal cord injury. My injury is what they call a C4 cord injury. If those at home feel behind their necks and count four vertebrae down, that is where my neck is broken. That is a cervical spine, and it was a complete injury that has paralyzed me completely from the neck down, so I do not feel anything. It is just pins and needles.

One does not feel touch, heat, cold, pain, pleasure, hunger, or temperature. Body temperature regulation is messed up. Many people have problems with blood pressure, strange or unusual bone growth at joints, if they are not taken care of, and a whole host of other issues.

In my case, I need help with all the activities of daily living. I cannot move, so I have someone with me 24 hours a day. It is sad to say that not everyone is as fortunate as I have been in acquiring that level of care. In my case, I have had a lot of fights with insurance companies and other funding partners and over the years have been able to lay the foundation for a reasonable quality of life.

However, it was not always that way. After leaving the hospital, I refused to go into an institution, though that was what was offered. I ended up in a one-bedroom apartment with no wheelchair accessible washroom or shower or anything, so it was a tough time. Many people are still experiencing that tough time. In fact, I would say it is the vast majority.

With quadriplegia, there are some estimates of costs. A quadriplegic in his or her early twenties will cost society tens of millions of dollars if he or she lives a normal life expectancy. A paraplegic costs less than that, but it is still substantial.

The Government of Canada has provided monies for the Rick Hansen Institute and Brain Canada Foundation and has invested in stem cell research. These are all fantastic investments, and there is great promise in stem cell research. However, we have a lot to do to improve the day-to-day lives of people with spinal cord injuries. When we do that, we also improve the lives of everyone, everyone with an illness, and the elderly. We are creating an accessible society so that people, like the member for Montcalm, can be seen in Parliament, as CEOs of companies, on top of glaciers or mountains, scuba diving, and living life.

There is a difference between existing and living. As Canadians, if we are going to save people, we need to make sure that they have the option to live meaningful and dignified lives. We need to step up and make sure that the systemic barriers in society are removed. Spinal cord injury awareness day will help us in recognizing the necessity of making society inclusive for everyone, regardless of what type of disability one may have.

National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

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

Natural ResourcesAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.


Bruce Hyer Green Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, In 1973 an oil pricing crisis broke out. OPEC forced the price of oil to skyrocket. The price of oil quadrupled. That was over 40 years ago, yet we do not seem to learn here in Canada.

Eastern Canada imports 80% of its oil from the same countries that caused the 1973 oil crisis, places like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, which are no more stable today than they were 40 years ago. While this week's oil prices are low, tomorrow a crisis in one of these states will raise the price.

The U.S.A. learned from the oil crisis of the 1970s. In 1975, the U.S. set up the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to prevent future disruptions in their supply of oil.

Every country in the G20 has created some kind of national strategy to deal with fluctuations in the supply and the pricing of oil, except for Canada. We also produce enough oil every year to fulfill all of our domestic needs first and then continue to be a major exporter. Instead, we are currently importing Brent crude oil to eastern Canada, which is a risk-prone process. That oil is also the most expensive oil in the world. Under the current government, we are selling off our oil as raw crude in the west at a 30% discount while paying much more for expensive imports in eastern Canada.

My father was an investment banker. He taught me from an early age that to buy high and sell low is an incredibly dumb economic strategy. It is costing the Canadian economy at least $18 billion a year in foreign trade deficits.

The Minister of Natural Resources retorts that the solution will come in the form of pipelines. Therefore, let us talk about pipelines. Specifically, let us talk about the northern gateway and Keystone XL, which are being built to export even more low-value crude oil out of the country without any plan to relieve eastern Canada from our dependence on foreign oil.

The Conservatives seem quite focused on the short term. The northern gateway is expected to create perhaps a few hundred permanent jobs in Canada at best. The Conservative plan is to export Canadian crude and Canadian jobs to Communist China and the U.S. instead of using the resources we already have in abundance to create jobs here at home for Canadians.

Pipelines can have serious negative, social, and environmental effects. Not only do the pipelines bulldoze through the treaty rights of many first nations, but the inevitable spills will represent serious environmental risks. For example, the northern gateway would go through the Great Bear Rainforest, where a spill would not only threaten a priceless ecosystem but also threaten and perhaps kill a large portion of the B.C. economy that depends on fishing and tourism. Then it will be ferried away through the dangerous waters of B.C.'s north coast, where repeated studies have shown a high risk of a supertanker spills. Diluted bitumen is heavier than water and virtually impossible to clean up.

The debate on oil sands shipments is polarized between those who say that all pipelines are bad and those who say that all pipelines are good. Canada needs a balanced approach to energy and the environment—

Natural ResourcesAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order, please. The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Natural ResourcesAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar Saskatchewan


Kelly Block ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, Canada is focused on expanding our energy export markets so we can benefit from the world price of oil. Due to the difference between Canadian and world prices for oil, Canadian oil producers lost over $13 billion in revenue in 2012. That differential also meant lower revenue for governments that could have gone into housing and hospitals, health care and other vital infrastructure.

The solution, of course, is to expand Canada's energy infrastructure, including through the construction of pipelines: pipelines to relieve the bottlenecks in the U.S. that cause those price differentials; pipelines to bring oil from western Canada to eastern Canada; and pipelines to deliver our energy to tidewater where it can reach new markets abroad.

Our government's responsible resource development plan is aimed squarely at addressing these issues, developing Canada's resources, creating jobs and growing our economy. Global energy demand is expected to increase by 37% from 2012 to 2040, and Canada is well positioned to support that demand. However, without the infrastructure to move the product to offshore markets, our oil will be stranded in North America.

Getting access to these markets means building new infrastructure. Through the plan for responsible resource development, the Government of Canada is taking key steps to diversify Canada's energy export markets east and west, while improving the efficiency of regulatory processes, strengthening environmental protection and aboriginal engagement and participation in resource development.

Every day, energy products travel safely through 72,000 kilometres of federally regulated pipelines. In fact, our world-class safety system boasts a safety record of 99.999%. However, we will not be satisfied until that number is 100%, which is why we have put forward new legislation to strengthen our safety system in areas of prevention, preparedness and response, and liability and compensation.

This government understands the importance of developing our pipeline capacity in Canada for Canadians. We want to see our producers get a competitive price for their product and have a safe means of transporting it to markets, both here in North America and around the world.

While we continue to monitor closely the recent decline in oil prices, we are also keeping our eye on the bigger picture and the longer view. We have been clear that projects will only be approved if they are proven safe for Canadians and for the environment. I look forward to the member's support for our pipeline safety legislation.