This page is in the midst of a redesign. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #186 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was research.

Topics

Question No. 981Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

With regard to contracts under $10 000 granted by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada since May 30, 2014: what are the (a) vendors' names; (b) contracts' reference numbers; (c) dates of the contracts; (d) descriptions of the services provided; (e) delivery dates; (f) original contracts' values; and (g) final contracts' values, if different from the original contracts' values?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 987Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

With regard to contracts under $10 000 granted by Employment and Social Development Canada since May 30, 2014: what are the (a) vendors' names; (b) contracts' reference numbers; (c) dates of the contracts; (d) descriptions of the services provided; (e) delivery dates; (f) original contracts' values; and (g) final contracts' values if different from the original contracts' values?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 988Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

With regard to contracts under $10 000 granted by the National Capital Commission since March 27, 2014: what are the (a) vendors' names; (b) contracts' reference numbers; (c) dates of the contracts; (d) descriptions of the services provided; (e) delivery dates; (f) original contracts' values; and (g) final contracts' values if different from the original contracts' values?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 990Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

With regard to contracts under $10 000 granted by the Privy Council Office since March 27, 2014: what are the (a) vendors' names; (b) contracts' reference numbers; (c) dates of the contracts; (d) descriptions of the services provided; (e) delivery dates; (f) original contracts' values; and (g) final contracts' values if different from the original contracts' values?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, be read the third time and passed.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, today we are debating Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, at third reading.

I have a couple of other suggestions for the name of this bill. It could be called “the refusal to honour the ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada bill”. How about “the pursuing ideology versus evidence act”, or “the refusal to save the lives of people with addictions act"?

This bill was introduced in response to the Supreme Court of Canada 2011 ruling that Insite, in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, had been proven to save lives and reduce harm, and that the government's efforts to close Insite would violate section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to life, liberty, and the security of the person. It is clear that the government did not like this ruling, and therefore has tried to go about refusing to honour the ruling by another route.

It is also clear that this bill will not fulfill the spirit of the court's ruling. Rather, it would make it cumbersome for a group or municipality to apply for a section 56 exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act which allows a facility to operate. However, the likelihood of any future sites opening in Canada would become slim to none. Making matters worse, Vancouver's Insite would have to apply for a renewal based on the same 26 different criteria as new applications, as well as two additional provisions.

Section 56 of the CDSA gives the Minister of Health discretionary powers to grant exemptions from the act under one of three categories. They are medical purposes, scientific purposes, or in the public interest. Of the exemptions that have been granted for activities with illicit substances, two types are for law enforcement purposes. These are to train sniffer dogs using seized drugs in the public interest and to allow the Vancouver Coastal Health authority to operate Insite. It was initially for scientific purposes, but since the Supreme Court's decision, it is considered a medical exemption.

The government's intentions have been clear from the beginning. It has always opposed Insite and has been trying to close it down since it formed government. Thankfully, the work of the community of Vancouver and the courts have stopped these attempts.

I would also like the opportunity to thank the member for Vancouver Centre and the Liberal Party of Canada health critic for her tireless efforts on this file to ensure that public policy is based on evidence and not ideology.

This is an ideological bill based on crass political motivation from a government that has always opposed evidence-based harm reduction measures such as safe injection sites. Only an hour after the legislation was introduced, Conservative campaign director Jenni Byrne issued a crass and misleading fundraising letter to supporters, stating that the Liberals and the NDP wanted addicts to shoot up heroin in the backyards of communities all across the country.

Despite this bill being tabled by the Minister of Health, it was given to an enforcement department, the committee of public safety and security. This is further evidence of the government's view of addiction as a criminal act. The public safety and security committee heard witnesses from three meetings, with many expressing concern that this bill would effectively shut down the current safe consumption site in Vancouver and deny the creation of further sites.

There were amendments suggested by the Province of British Columbia, the chief public health officer of British Columbia, and the City of Vancouver, which were consistent with the Supreme Court of Canada criteria. Even witnesses in favour of the legislation expressed concern that in some parts the legislation is too restrictive. Over 60 amendments were moved by the opposition parties to bring this legislation in line with the Supreme Court ruling. However, the legislation, as usual, was not amended.

The Liberals proposed amendments to the legislation at committee to amend clause 5, which outlines the criteria that new and existing applicants for exemptions must meet by deleting measures that were not outlined in the Supreme Court ruling. Due to a motion passed by the Conservative majority at the public safety committee, a party can only have five minutes to speak for each clause of the bill while moving amendments. Clause 5, which is the majority of the legislation, required several amendments.

Due to the time constraints, the Liberal Party was unable to speak to the majority of the amendments, as time had elapsed. This is undemocratic and restricted our right to speak and to explain our amendments at committee.

Liberals recognize the need for some form of legislation based on the Supreme Court of Canada ruling. However, this legislation does not reflect the spirit nor the intent of the court's decision.

As stated in the 2011 Supreme Court ruling:

The factors considered in making the decision on an exemption must include evidence, if any, on the impact of such a facility on crime rates, the local conditions, indicating a need for such a supervised injection site, the regulatory structure in place to support this facility, the resources available to support its maintenance, and expressions of community support or opposition.

Instead, of the five criteria listed in the Supreme Court of Canada ruling, Bill C-2 lists 26 different prescriptive criteria that must be met, including the areas that are intrusive into provincial and municipal jurisdiction. It also interferes with the jurisdiction of regulatory bodies on health care providers, as well as provincial and municipal police forces and provincial public health officers.

Liberals support the need for broad community consultation for the establishment of any safe consumption site, which is how the Liberal government established Canada's first safe consumption site in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. When the Liberal government gave the exemption to Vancouver's safe consumption site, we consulted broadly and worked in conjunction with provincial and municipal governments, public health authorities, business associations, and the public.

Insite was the product of co-operative federalism. Local, provincial, and federal authorities combined their efforts to create it. The Vancouver police support Insite, as well as the City of Vancouver and the British Columbia government.

It was initially launched as a scientifically based research project based on experience with SCS in Europe and Australia on very high, at-risk and resistant groups, which had proven to be successful. It has saved lives and improved health without increasing the incidence of drug use and crime in the surrounding area.

lnsite has an average of 700 to 800 visits a day, and over 275,000 visits annually. As of March 2010, there have been over 1.5 million visits, over 12,000 unique individuals registered, and an average of 11 visits per month, per person

It has been proven to reduce harm. There has been a total of 2,395 overdoses since the facility opened, with zero fatalities. There were 20,000 referrals to health services in 2008-09, and over 50% of those were to detox.

lnsite users are 30% more likely to engage in addiction treatment than non-lnsite users. It has also dramatically reduced the rate of new HIV infections in the Downtown Eastside. There are three in ten injection drug users in the Downtown Eastside who are HIV positive; 18% of lnsite clients are HIV positive. There were 30 new HIV cases in the Downtown Eastside in 2011, compared to 2,100 new cases in 1996.

I would like to highlight the four pillars of any effective drug strategy: harm reduction, prevention, treatment, and enforcement. The bill underlines the government's misguided decision to remove harm reduction from the equation and from an effective drug strategy.

As Liberals, we support evidence-based policies that reduce harm and protect public safety. Liberals established Vancouver's safe consumption site, which has proven to be effective in supporting those suffering with mental illness and addictions, reducing crime and protecting public safety.

Across Canada, medical officers of health, such as David McKeown, in my home community of Toronto, need this public health approach to get on with creating new life-saving facilities such as this.

Unfortunately, the bill raises the criteria to establish a safe injection site to such an extraordinary high level that it would be nearly impossible for any future site to be established in Canada.

Legislation proposed in this House must adhere to the rule of law. The ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada was clear. This legislation would put lives at risk and would likely be challenged in the courts again.

We cannot support the legislation. To put it bluntly, we cannot help people if they are dead.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo B.C.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my hon. colleague. I know she has a huge passion on the issue. However, to be quite honest, I have listened to the opposition for many hours now on this debate and I look at the framework we have provided. The framework is very practical and appropriate around community input. I have to liken it again to a zoning application that municipal councillors regularly hear when something is proposed, having some basic health and safety measures in place. This is very appropriate.

Does she not think that the community should be consulted, that there should be criminal record checks done and that there should be the powers of inspection? Again, these are concrete practical steps that look at the Supreme Court of Canada's ruling and ensure that the minister has appropriate information when she makes a decision around an exemption.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, the community consultation has always been part of, and was indeed essential to, the success of the Vancouver downtown east side site. It was done with consulting the community. It was done with the support and the efforts of all three levels of government and the local police.

What is more than irritating about the bill is that instead of using the five criteria that were listed in the Supreme Court ruling, these 26 new prescriptive criteria that must be met are actually intrusive into provincial and municipal jurisdiction. They interfere with the jurisdiction of the regulatory bodies on health care providers, and interfere with the choices of provincial and municipal police forces and provincial public health officers.

It is clear the government just does not want these things to happen. Communities want them to happen. The government should get out of the way.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I truly appreciate the comments from my colleague. I would like to know if she could perhaps expand on what I think is a very important issue during this debate and that is that we do have a very highly successful injection site that was built on consultation.

There were individuals who lived in the community. There were different levels of government, provincial and municipal. She made reference to the fact that it was put into place perhaps during the government of Paul Martin, or possibly Jean Chrétien. The point is, there was a great deal of consultation that ultimately made this happen.

At the end of the day, it would be ridiculous for anyone to believe that there would be an injection site placed anywhere in Canada without consultation done in the first place. The legislation is just not necessary to ensure that there is consultation, because we have seen that in Canada's one and only site.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is actually two things. One is, this is actually just tabled in order to get in the way of having any more sites. It is just obstruction and the government and all people watching this file know exactly what is going on here.

The second thing is, of course there has to be consultation anyway. The municipalities and the provinces know how to do this and they have always done it with the co-operation of the police.

This is an institution that has saved lives. When we think that 2,395 people overdosed at this site with zero fatalities, this is just mean and offensive to actually think that those 2,395 people could have died instead of being there where they were resuscitated. I just do not get it.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think my Liberal friend would agree that the Conservatives are taking Canada in the wrong direction with this bill. After 10 years in office, we know and we see that the Conservatives have done environmental, social and economic damage to Canada. This bill is just another good example of that happening.

Does the member agree?

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is again just purely ideologically driven instead of evidence-based, which is the way the government goes in all aspects, choosing ideology and pandering to its base rather than providing measures that save lives, save money and move in the right direction.

The government does not understand that so many people suffering from addictions are victims of child abuse and the kinds of things that cause people to end up going down this wrong and unhealthy path. They have not been able to trust people in authority, whether that be people in their homes, teachers and so forth. Insite has provided an opportunity for them to see a way through and develop a therapeutic relationship with a health care provider for probably the first time in their lives. It has allowed them to get into addiction treatment and safe housing. That is the way to create safer communities, and that is why the title of this bill is offensive.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, most Canadians understand the challenges of addiction, and most communities and the people who reside within them understand the value that some of these sites and services provide. However, they also understand that there is a need for criminal record checks, community consultation and a treatment service plan so that it is not just a place where people can safely do drugs but a place where they can effectively move toward getting off them. These parameters and the criteria that are outlined not only provide for the safety, health and security of the people who are going there for support and their health, but also provide safety and assurances to the community. That only emboldens and strengthens the integrity of sites like this and community support for sites like this.

It is not members of Parliament who are against these sites. They generate some level of anxiety concerning communities. We are responding to that with solid criteria that will only serve to strengthen the ability of these sites across the country and the confidence of Canadians with respect to their integrity wherever they exist in those communities. In cases where that integrity cannot be met, where that work is not done or where the quality of care is not there, those sites should not be made available because it is not ultimately good for the people who could use them.

Can the member not understand that integrity in these systems is critical for the benefit of the people who will use them?

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that the member opposite should understand that this bill gets in the way of providing respect for local authorities, the provinces, the medical officers of health and the local police, those authorities who make decisions based on evidence. Instead, the government is imposing 26 top-down prescriptive criteria that are almost impossible to meet. This is a very thinly veiled obstruction to getting on with what will save lives because of this ridiculous ideology that kills people.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

March 13th, 2015 / 12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to add my words of support for Bill C-2, the respect for communities act.

Before I go on, I would like to advise you and the House that I will be sharing my time with the distinguished member for Whitby—Oshawa.

I want to thank all colleagues for their participation in this debate, especially those who are doing it in a measured manner.

Also, I was very pleased that my friends on the committee for public safety and national security were able to conduct a thorough review of this legislation and to return it to this House without amendment.

The opposition’s constant delay tactics—including almost 18 hours of debate at second reading alone—will not stop your government—the government that I support in the House of Commons—from ensuring that Canadian communities get a say before supervised injection sites open in their communities.

Bill C-2 reflects the concern that the government has for Canadian families and communities, and our commitment to their protection. The rigorous criteria set out in the bill and the principles articulated within it are a reasonable and responsible approach.

This approach is based on the premise that any exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for activities with illicit substances at a supervised consumption site should only be granted after an applicant seeking an exemption has addressed rigorous criteria.

This is as much for the protection of our communities and the respect for residents as it is an assurance that the Minister of Health is provided with the information she needs to carry out her duties in considering the applications to open supervised injection sites.

Bill C-2, the respect for communities act, is an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The provisions would be incorporated into the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act known as the CDSA.

What I propose to add to the dialogue today is a glimpse into what would be next for Bill C-2, and to reflect upon how provisions of Bill C-2 would be implemented when they are incorporated into the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Anyone wishing to undertake activities with illicit substances at a supervised consumption site must apply for an exemption from the CDSA. Under this legislation, a new regime will be established for such applications. Under this new regime, the criteria that would need to be addressed before the Minister of Health could consider such an application would be set out.

These changes are in line with a Supreme Court of Canada decision handed down in 2011, and codify the court’s ruling that community opinions must be considered by the Minister of Health with regard to supervised injection sites.

Indeed, the court stated that its decision is:

—not a licence for injection drug users to possess drugs wherever and whenever they wish. Nor is it an invitation for anyone who so chooses to open a facility for drug use under the banner of a “safe injection facility”.

The bill's changes would provide any potential applicant seeking an exemption for activities with illicit substances at a supervised consumption site with greater clarity concerning the application process.

In exercising her discretion, the minister would have to balance public health and public safety considerations.

All members of the House can agree that our communities deserve to have a say if someone would like to build a drug injection site, where illegal drugs are used, in their own neighbourhood.

All we have been getting from the opposition are delay tactics every step of the way.

What members of the opposition fail to realize is that this legislation is a necessary follow-up to the ruling made by the Supreme Court as well as a method for the Minister of Health to receive the information she needs to make an informed decision on supervised injection sites.

This is an important point to note for anyone who might argue that the criteria in Bill C-2 are onerous. The Supreme Court was quite clear that the Minister of Health must consider certain criteria when judging applications. It is only reasonable that applicants provide her with that information.

The applicant would compile the letters, reports, studies and other information set out in the legislation.

Health Canada would review the information provided in the application package to verify that all the criteria had been addressed.

Once a complete application package has been received, the Minister of Health would also have an option to post a notice of application. If a notice of application is posted, it would invite comments from the public on the activities being proposed in the application. The consultation period would be 90 days.

This option is another element provided for in Bill C-2 and would put in place a mechanism for the general public to have its say regarding the establishment of a supervised injection site as also mandated by the Supreme Court.

In considering an application, the Minister of Health would be informed by the information provided by the applicant in their application, and by the public during the public consultation period.

The minister also has the authority to request additional relevant information from the applicant if further detail is needed. With the amendments to the inspection authority specified in Bill C-2, Health Canada would also have the authority to conduct a pre-inspection of the proposed site to verify any of the information provided in the application. In making a decision to grant or not grant an exemption, the minister would balance public health and public safety considerations.

These are very dangerous substances that we are talking about here. The dangerous and addictive drugs that are used at supervised injection sites tear families apart, foster addictions and destroy lives.

It is only prudent that the Minister of Health take very seriously her duties when evaluating the individual merits of each application that comes across her desk for such sites.

In the event that an exemption is granted, the exempted party must adhere to the terms and conditions set out in the exemption. If the terms and conditions are not adhered to, or if there is a risk that controlled substances might be trafficked or diverted for illicit purposes, an exemption can be suspended or revoked in order to protect public health and public safety.

Safeguards for preserving public health and safety are also built into the process for seeking a subsequent exemption. Under the new legislation, when seeking a subsequent exemption, the applicant would be required to address all of the criteria in the proposed legislation as well two additional criteria. Specifically, they would have to provide information on changes in crime rates in the vicinity of the site and evidence of the impact of the site activities on individuals or public health during the period of the previous exemption.

As I have previously stated, this comprehensive legislation reflects the government's commitment to protecting Canadian families and communities.

Even more than that, Canadian families expect safe and healthy communities in which to raise their children.

My speech is not finished, and I am not a fast talker, but I will respect the restrictions imposed by the Speaker, and look forward to questions.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my learned colleague's remarks. He asked a lot of reasonable questions. However, all of those conditions combined make it impossible for people to obtain these services.

It is the same thing we are always criticizing the government for: having a double standard. Canada Post did away with home mail delivery. Did the Conservatives ask seniors, health care providers and the municipalities whether this was a good idea or not? No. They made the decision for them.

Now, you are imposing conditions on people who want to provide services. Why are you always around when it comes to cutting services, but when it comes to providing them, you are always coming up with bogus conditions?

Why do the Conservatives have such a double standard?

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

I remind all hon. members to direct their comments to the Chair.

The hon. member for Ottawa—Orléans.

Respect for Communities ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, you saw that the member just ascribed all sorts of motives to you. I did not know that you had such intentions.

To come back to the subject at hand, the hon. member seems to believe that the conditions set out in this bill are too onerous. Since we are trying to introduce a balanced bill that will protect public health and safety, I would like to know which of these measures my colleague would like to remove from the bill.