Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the people of the great riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke in the heart of the Ottawa Valley, I am pleased to participate in this debate on a private member's bill that would provide for a more educated populace, in this case in the area of first aid.
I am pleased to acknowledge the great work of the previous member of Parliament for Cambridge, Gary Goodyear. It is a cruel irony of this place that a fine MP like Gary has been given a brief time out until the next election. There should be no doubt in the minds of the good people of Cambridge. Having served with Gary for a number of years in the Parliament of Canada, I know that the current MP for Cambridge has big shoes to fill. It is truly unfortunate that his shoes have been filled with sand, after the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, a member of his own party, publicly rebuked him in this place. I was shocked when I heard the member's own party tell Canadians it has no intention of supporting him.
I cannot wait to see the video, as we have seen from the member for the Toronto riding of Beaches—East York, telling Canadians to vote against Liberal MPs who do not support their party's private members' bills, to vote against them, starting with the Prime Minister and his cabinet who led the chorus of nos. After such a public putdown from the member's own party, I am surprised this debate is even going forward. If the rebuked member for Cambridge believes in Bill C-240 and he has brought it forward with his name on it, it is clear that the only honourable thing to do, given what his party has done, is to resign.
I can tell the member that, unlike his fair-weather friends on the government benches, I will support this bill at second reading.
So what is it that the member's own party finds so objectionable in this proposed private member's bill? This bill proposes to amend the Income Tax Act to provide a non-refundable tax credit to individuals who complete a first aid or other health and safety instructional program or course. St. John's Ambulance alone certifies more than 550,000 Canadians a year in more than 100 locations across Canada, including locations in Pembroke and Renfrew in my riding. The proposed tax credit would be similar to the federal student tuition tax credit. Anyone who takes a lifesaving, first aid, CPR, or automated external defibrillator, AED, training would be able to apply.
I am pleased to observe that this legislation builds on the good work of the previous Conservative government, a government that was committed to the health and safety of Canadians. It was our government that initiated the national automated external defibrillator, or AED, program that saw $10 million funded through the Public Health Agency of Canada in partnership with the Heart and Stroke Foundation to install AEDs in rinks, arenas, and recreation centres all across Canada. In my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, I participated in assisting a number of municipalities to acquire automated external defibrillators.
Defibrillators are electronic devices used to restart a person's heart that has stopped beating. They are safe, easy to use, and while they can be safely operated by the public, training equips people with the knowledge and the skills to confidently use these devices and to deliver quick CPR. With Bill C-240, individuals who are trained to operate an AED would be able to apply for a tax credit. Unlike in urban ridings, where medical facilities are close by, in a rural riding like Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, precious minutes are lost driving to a hospital when every minute counts. The Heart and Stroke Foundation tells us that each year up to 40,000 Canadians experience sudden cardiac arrest. Without rapid and appropriate treatment, most cardiac arrests will result in death.
Access to early CPR and defibrillation, preferably in the first one to three minutes after cardiac arrest, increases the chances of survival by as much as 75%. Although AEDs are easy to use, training on how to use these devices is important, so that bystanders have the knowledge and skills to confidently step up during emergency situations. Just one second can make all the difference in a person's life.
This Conservative program was responsible for the installation of 3,234 AEDs and the training of 25,360 Canadians on how to respond to a cardiac arrest situation. In my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, the automated external defibrillator program allowed for over 54 AEDs to be installed in public areas. These locations include the Round Lake Recreation Park; the Chalk River outdoor rink; the Eagle's Nest Hall in Eganville; the Forester's Falls arena; the Westmeath Recreation Centre; the Horton Outdoor Arena; the community resource centre in Killaloe; the Combermere and Area Community Centre; the Rankin Culture and Recreation Centre; the Paul J. Yakabuski Community Centre in Barry's Bay; the Greater Madawaska Public Library; the Town of Petawawa Municipal Hall; St. George's Anglican Church; the Ma-Te-Way Activity Center in Renfrew; the Alice and Fraser Recreation Centre; the Shady Nook Recreation Centre; the Cobden Arena; the Nick Smith Centre in Arnprior; the Palmer Rapids Community Centre, Rink and Hall; and the Kinsman Pool in Pembroke, to name just a few of the locations. I had the privilege of assisting to receive an automated external defibrillator.
The AED program has already been responsible for saving lives across Canada. Thanks to Robert Blackwell, public access defibrillator program coordinator and trainer in the County of Renfrew Paramedic Service, for his role in contributing to the local success of this program.
It is also my privilege to recognize three Renfrew county paramedics who were honoured recently at the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs' fall meeting with exemplary service awards for 2016. Paramedics Gary Sutton, a primary care paramedic with 20 years' experience; Mr. Andy Brown, an advanced care paramedic with 26 years' experience; and Mr. David Ostroski, a district manager with 30 years' experience, each received the Governor General of Canada Exemplary Service Medal at the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs Ceremony.
If I understand the intent behind this legislation, it is to encourage Canadians to be trained in first aid, so that we can help each other in emergency situations that require some first aid knowledge. While the parliamentary secretary has reduced the intentions of the member for Cambridge to one of cost only, it is really about helping our fellow citizens.
The government is happy sending billions of taxpayer dollars to other countries to fight climate change, yet it thinks that a tax credit for first aid training is a frivolous expenditure. In some of the small, particularly rural, communities found in my riding of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, many firefighting departments are completely run by volunteers. These Canadians sacrifice their time and safety to help protect others. Training gives people the confidence to volunteer in their area.
This past Saturday was Scouts Canada Apple Day in Cobden in my riding. The challenge that too many youth programs have in Canada today is not a shortage of youth who wish to participate, but a shortage of leaders. Scouts Canada asks that leaders be trained in first aid, as do many other programs that work with young people. A tax credit is a small recognition for community-minded individuals who step up to the challenge to be positive role models for our future citizens.
Increasing the number of Canadians who have the financial ability to be trained in CPR, first aid, and AED use will help Canadians, especially in remote and rural areas where medical assistance is not always around the corner. The Conservative Party highly values life and life-saving capabilities. If this proposed legislation gives Canadians an increased opportunity to be certified in first aid, CPR, and AED use, and reduces a barrier to their volunteering in their home communities, it deserves support.
I thank the Red Cross, St. John Ambulance, and all the organizations that promoted this program.