moved that the bill be read a third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to thank the hon. member for Lethbridge for agreeing to trade his scheduled private members' business time with me, so that I could rise before my scheduled surgery next week. It is greatly appreciated. I would also like to thank all members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for unanimously passing Bill C-590 at committee stage.
The committee amended Bill C-590 to address its concerns that the bill's very significant penalties, particularly for first offenders, could lead to many cases where the driver refuses to provide a breath sample because the penalty for refusal has only a mandatory minimum penalty of $1,000. The amendment passed by the committee classifies the offence of driving with a blood alcohol content of more than 0.16% as a hybrid offence. On indictment, the penalties would remain as proposed in the bill. On summary convictions, the mandatory minimum fine for the first offence would increase to $2,000, which is double the minimum fine for impaired driving. For a second and subsequent offence, the minimum penalty would be 30 days in prison.
The amendment would ensure in most cases where drivers have a blood alcohol concentration of over 0.16% but there is no injury or death that a $2,000 fine combined with a mandatory prohibition on driving for one year would be a sufficient deterrent. Further, very severe penalties on indictment would be reserved for the most serious cases where a motor vehicle operator's blood alcohol concentration is well above 0.16% or the driver caused significant property damage.
According to Stats Canada, almost half the fatally injured drivers in Canada had a blood alcohol content of more than twice the legal limit. This level of impairment has had a devastating impact on our youth as they make up 31% of the alcohol-related deaths.
A June 2009 report by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on alcohol use among fatally injured drivers also found that the bulk of the impaired driving problems lie with those drivers having a blood alcohol content over the current Criminal Code limit of 0.08%. Although the drivers with high blood alcohol content represent about 1% of the cars on the road at night and on weekends, they account for nearly 50% or half of all the drivers killed at those times.
My home community of Prince Albert, as most communities in our nation, has been scarred by the toll of this selfish but preventable crime.
In July 2013, Taylor Litwin and Brandi Lepine, who was pregnant at the time of the accident, were both killed when a 21-year-old drunk driver slammed into Taylor's vehicle. Brandi, who initially survived the crash, was able to give birth to her daughter Aurora before she succumbed to her injuries. The driver who took the life of these two ladies is to be sentenced this fall.
In May 2012, Prince Albert lost a strong community leader, Mr. Ben Darchuk. Ben was the owner of an auto glass business that is located next to my old constituency office location. The 22-year-old driver who pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing Ben's death received two years less a day at a provincial correctional centre for his sentence. He also received a three-year driving prohibition and was ordered to pay a $100 surcharge.
Bill C-590 would target these young drivers with high blood alcohol content by increasing specific penalties for their actions. The goal is to prevent these drivers from getting behind the wheel as they cause a greater number of fatalities and are more likely to be repeat offenders.
As time at the end of this Parliament session is quickly running out, I therefore ask that we pass Bill C-590 as quickly as we can to give the Senate enough time to deliberate and pass it before the fast-approaching summer is upon us.