House of Commons Hansard #94 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was yazidis.


Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

5:15 p.m.


Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today on behalf of my constituents of Kingston and the Islands and perhaps on behalf of all Canadians. I rise on behalf of all Canadians because of the national impact that this private member's bill would have.

I want to commend the member for Cambridge for his excellent work on this legislation and the leadership he has demonstrated on this issue.

Bill C-240 recognizes that Canadians need to better prepare for emergencies and disasters. Now is the time to take action on this issue, and this legislation provides an excellent opportunity to do exactly that.

It is critical that we start a national conversation on how to better prepare for emergencies and equip our communities for the kind of everyday challenges that many Canadians face. This legislation, at its most basic level, is a means of encouraging all Canadians to be properly trained with first aid skills. These challenges come in many forms.

When I talk about first aid and emergency preparedness, I am talking about being better prepared for sprains and breaks, cuts and bruises, strokes and cardiac arrest, occasions when someone slips on ice in a parking lot or drops a glass and cuts a finger, or when a child chokes on food or falls at the playground. These are the types of accidents that can and do happen every day, and Canadians need to be prepared to effectively handle them when they arise. We have to be prepared for these, as well as natural disasters like floods or fires, or even the most basic recreational activities like hiking, playing hockey, or canoeing.

There is absolutely no question that a critical part of preparation will be first aid, CPR, and AED training. We need to create an environment with the proper initiatives so that Canadians can take advantage of these life-saving courses. That is exactly what my colleague's excellent bill aims to do.

In every type of emergency, from the commonplace to widespread disasters, all Canadians would benefit from an expanded appreciation and understanding of first aid, CPR and AED training. The reality is that we will never know when we will need to put these skills and abilities into practice, but we should all be prepared in case the need arises.

Accidents are by definition unpredictable, but that does not mean we cannot prepare ourselves and equip as many people as possible with these valuable skills. We need to start having a national conversation, in part because we have an aging population and we know this means there will be a greater need for first aid as we move into the future.

Any ordinary individuals could have the need for first aid or CPR at any point in their lives, and it is incumbent upon all of us to prepare for that possibility. To be honest, I consider it “Canadian” to help out our neighbours, and I am certain most would agree that having this preparedness is essential.

To get trained in first aid should be similar to shovelling people's driveways, or to taking them soup when they are sick. It is just something we should do when we see the need arise. That is why I am proud to support the private member's bill put forward by the member for Cambridge. It displays the need for the government to provide an incentive for something that we should all be doing.

When the member for Cambridge first approached me about this legislation, I admit I was surprised. I thought that something as commonplace or as common sense as a first aid training tax credit would already exist in the tax code, so I was quite surprised when I realized that it did not. What speaks to me and what is appealing about the bill is a sort of equality with which anyone can take first aid training to help others and benefit from the tax credit.

I am asking all members of the House to join me in voicing their support for Bill C-240, not only because it is the right thing to do but because it makes financial sense. It would provide a tax benefit that can yield big results. If this encourages only a handful of people to get training and that goes on to save one life, then I consider it a project well worth the time and effort.

It is easy in the House to see the work we do as having only a limited effect on some of the more pressing issues of our time. The member for Cambridge has created a bill that is clean and elegant and directly addresses the need I have heard spoken in the House on many occasions, that being better preparedness. That is why I consider it critical to give this private member's bill full consideration and why I am prepared to give full support and my voice today in support of it.

This is also a bill that does what we ask of all private member's bills: it is simple, it is focused, and it addresses a pressing societal need with precise action. Private members' bills are supposed to make a direct but small course adjustment, and I applaud the member for Cambridge who has clearly spent time creating a bill that seeks to fix a specific pressing problem in a manner that is just, measured, and targeted.

We are just about to enter the winter season, and that means Canadians will be spending a lot of time outdoors. Most people think about the winter as a time for fun, relaxation, and vacation. I think all Canadians want those memories to be present throughout the winter months.

However, the reality is that the increase in recreational activities means more Canadians will be exposing themselves to a lot of risks and potential emergency situations, whether they are camping, hiking, skating, playing hockey, tobogganing, or snowmobiling, to name a few. These are all situations where potential risk could occur, and first aid would be required to help somebody who needs it. We participate in each of those activities that I mentioned without a second's thought, and we should absolutely be encouraging Canadians to do this.

No matter what we will be doing this year, first aid training is just a good idea. As we spend time with our families and friends, loved ones and acquaintances, children and grandchildren, we should take a moment to consider how small the investment of time is for their lives to be saved.

I have spent a lot time talking about the benefits of this bill and why I think it is the right thing to do. However, I would also like to take a brief moment and thank all those who already have first aid training, and the millions of Canadians who are ready to step up on a moment's notice to help others.

This is not something we often think about as we go about our lives, but consider just how many of our fellow Canadians would come running if we were to fall down. Canadians instinctively want to help, and putting the right tools in their hands to do so is the difference between heart-wrenching tragedy and a heroic nightly news story.

I am proud to offer my support for Bill C-240, and I encourage all members of this House to do the right thing across all parties and vote for Bill C-240 next Wednesday evening. It is the right thing to do, and it would benefit many Canadians.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

5:20 p.m.


Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

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.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.


Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Madam Speaker, coastal communities, especially like the ones in my riding of North Island—Powell River, offer many opportunities to work and play in nature. Whether it is fishing, logging, hiking, skiing, or simply enjoying the outdoors, the general ruggedness presents many unique dangers. The advantage of knowing first aid can mean the difference between life and death.

I am glad to be speaking about the importance of first aid this afternoon. I wish to thank the member for Cambridge for tabling this private member's bill.

While nearly 80% of Canadians believe that first aid is a very important skill to have, only 18% of Canadians are actually certified. The bill we are debating aims to provide a financial incentive to encourage more Canadians to receive first aid and other emergency health and safety training courses. Taxpayers would be eligible for this credit, and so would their qualifying children.

Bill C-240 proposes to introduce a non-refundable tax credit of up to $200 for first aid courses, CPR training, and automated external defibrillator, or AED, training. According to the Red Cross, Canadians with first aid training and certification are considerably more confident in their skills and ability to help someone experiencing a medical emergency.

Life emergencies are generally unexpected and can be life changing. Having the know-how to prevent, manage, and respond is profound. Whether in the wilderness or at home or at a workplace, having someone with first aid creates a safer environment for everyone.

Agencies in Canada offer a wide variety of courses and are often accessible to smaller communities. This is important, because being trained in first aid techniques allows us to determine the immediate course of treatment required until advanced medical help arrives.

While I support this initiative at this current stage of debate, I would like to point out four concerns I have about the bill and its unintended consequences.

New Democrats are concerned about the excessive number of boutique, non-refundable tax credits that have been added to the Income Tax Act in recent years. The Conservative government was well known for introducing a myriad of these tax credits. The trouble is that often these tax credits make the tax system less transparent and they add to the complexity of the income tax system, yet once they are put in place, there is little public accountability with respect to their effectiveness or the amount of money spent on them.

According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, whether or not these measures are desirable and effective in achieving their objectives, they have distributional impacts in that they affect the taxes paid by different income and demographic groups, and indirectly, they reduce available revenues that could be used for income transfers or public services.

These kinds of tax credits are believed to primarily benefit middle- and upper-income families who would not face the same financial barriers as low-income Canadians in accessing this training.

If the goal of this bill is to increase the accessibility of first aid training by means of incentives, we must therefore look at the question of who could be left out. The cost of undergoing training is prohibitive for many large families or lower-income Canadians, meaning that they may not have enough income to benefit from a non-refundable tax credit. This is problematic. All Canadians deserve access to first aid training and the incentives that would go with it.

I hope the committee studying Bill C-240 will be able to broaden the reach of the bill.

According to a 2012 lpsos Reid survey undertaken for the Canadian Red Cross, first aid training for 53% of the respondents had been arranged by their employers, in which case the employers likely financed the cost of the course. The sponsor of the bill acknowledged this fact in his speech to this House.

This initiative may also have the unintended consequence of subsidizing the corporate sector by inadvertently encouraging employers to abandon their existing first aid training programs. This may be a second potential drawback of Bill C-240. I would be keen to hear stakeholders speak to this if the bill makes it to committee.

The third concern I hope the committee will commit to study is costing. Canadians have a right to know and as parliamentarians we have a responsibility to stay on top, and see how much this is going to cost.

I truly believe that all bills that amend the Income Tax Act should be properly and transparently costed for parliamentarians and the Canadian public. As of this moment, the Library of Parliament estimates there will be a potential cost of between $30 to $60 million a year. That is concerning for me.

I wish to highlight a possible omission in the bill. I regard first aid as help given to a person until treatment is available. The bill, as drafted, supports a limited vision of first aid: standard first aid, mariners first aid, CPR, etc., but what about mental health first aid? MHFA is excluded. I hope the sponsor of the bill will be able to explain this.

One in three Canadians will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life. Just as physical first aid is administered, MHFA is given until appropriate treatment is found or the crisis is resolved.

Whether we are talking about the skills taught by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, or different distress centres across Canada relying on applied suicide intervention skills training, let us not forget that these workshops do save lives.

In rural and remote communities like the ones that I serve, having people with all types of training in first aid is significant. The need to support people during times of distress, whether it be mental health issues or physical health issues, is key in the regions where the help that is required may take some time to access. Many service organizations in my riding work hard to provide these supports and benefit from MHFA training.

I would like to finish by commenting on the reasoning given by the member for Cambridge for tabling his bill. In his speech he talked about the approaching demographic shift, and the associated challenges with an aging population.

Emergency preparedness is indeed a crucial element to this, and I commend the member. Having performed numerous consultations in my riding, specifically, on seniors issues, I can share with full confidence that what is needed and what seniors want is home care.

The 2016 federal budget does not include any additional provisions for home care or palliative care, even after the Liberals promised $3 billion for home care during the campaign. It is time for the Liberal government to act.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.


Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Madam Speaker, I am proud of our government and all of my colleagues. I am kind of embarrassed by the efforts of the member opposite in trying to shame my colleague from Cambridge who is putting forward a good bill. We are a lot stronger on this side of the House, and comments like that will not divide us.

I appreciate the opportunity to rise in the House and speak today on this important piece of legislation. I am incredibly proud to represent my constituents of Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge, and today I rise to speak to Bill C-240, a bill that would serve the members of my community and all Canadians.

I want to thank the member for Cambridge for putting forward Bill C-240. It is a bill that fits the bill, something we can be proud has advanced in the House. It would use government and taxation as a positive incentive to encourage people to do the right thing, to be able to help their friends, families, co-workers, and neighbours when faced with emergencies, big or small.

I believe that, when we come to the House as representatives of the people who have elected us, we have a responsibility to get all of the big things right—foreign trade, defence, immigration—but we have just as much of a responsibility to get things right for the daily life situations in which our constituents find themselves. Those kinds of policies have the ability to reach into someone's life and make an actual difference.

Bill C-240 is that kind of bill. This legislation would give a tax incentive to those who take the initiative to get trained in basic first aid. It addresses a clear problem, which is that not enough Canadians are trained in first aid. We can lessen the financial burden of taking a first aid course by allowing Canadians to claim the cost of the training course on their taxes, a solution to the problem that can be applied within the existing tax code, so it would be seamless, easy to understand, and quick to administer.

I also believe that when we come to the House we have a duty to remember where we come from, the experiences in the past that have brought us to this place. First aid has always been a part of my life. I am proud to say that as a youth I was in the army cadets, in the Royal Montreal Regiment. At one point I was captain of the first aid team. As a young adult, I volunteered with St. John's Ambulance for all the special events, where I was able to put to use my first aid skills. I assure my friends in the chamber that they are in good hands. As a business owner and a restaurant operator who has opened more than 140 restaurants in my career, I can say that first aid skills are also important to have in the workplace. From a cut in the kitchen to a customer choking on food, first aid skills both reduce the extent of injury and have the potential to save lives.

One of the things that was so important to me as a young man was that part of first aid is helping us to develop our own self-esteem. I remember, as a 12- or 13-year-old, there was an emergency. I had just started my training, but I was too scared to actually get up and react to the situation. I looked around the room to see if someone else would do it. Eventually, an ambulance came and everything was good. However, that was a lesson I had to learn, and it gave me perspective on what is good and what needed to happen in my life.

Now, as a member of Parliament, I am working with the Katzie seniors network in my riding. It is one of the recent recipients of the new horizons for seniors grant in my riding. It is developing an emergency preparedness program for seniors across Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge. Think about that: we have an emergency preparedness guide for seniors, and if they were all able to have that first aid training, in an emergency they could rely on each other and actually help each other, rather than waiting for one of our three ambulances to come.

First aid plays a vital role in our communities. Whether hiking in the UBC forest, boating on Pitt Lake, or playing a Saturday morning football game at Albion Sports Complex, the residents of Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge would benefit if more members of our community were equipped with first aid training.

I know this is true of all communities across Canada, and I am sure that hon. members on all sides of the House would agree.

Bill C-240 is a little thank you that will reward Canadians for taking the time and money to get trained in first aid, because quite honestly the life a person saves with that training most likely would not be his or her own. It could be a neighbour, a child, a colleague, or a stranger at the hockey rink. There is no good reason why we should not be saying thank you. That is why I am supporting the bill, and everyone in the House should do the same.

I am supporting Bill C-240 because I have to face my constituents and tell them that every day that I come here I am doing my best to make their community and this country a better place to live. Bill C-240, in its own little way, does just that. It meets the test. There is no good reason why the bill should not pass unanimously next Wednesday in the House.

There are those in the House who would say that the bill is based on compassion without heeding the costs. However, Bill C-240 takes into account both the costs and benefits of equipping more Canadians with first aid training. Every life saved, every wound healed, all add up. From the numbers that I have seen, Bill C-240 is estimated to cost taxpayers a maximum of approximately $29 million in lost revenue. The real costs would likely not be much lower than that.

When we account for the lives that would be saved and the injuries that would be limited, it would reduce preventable visits to the clinics or hospitals. We know that our hospitals and clinics are overwhelmed at times. All we need to do is go to any emergency room to see the lineups there. Being trained in first aid gives us the opportunity to take control of our own lives at that point.

The member for Cambridge has made a compelling argument why the bill is fiscally responsible, and it is why I am encouraging all of us to vote in favour.

Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to rise in the House and advocate today for Bill C-240. I look forward to having it brought forward for a vote next Wednesday, and I applaud my friend, the member for Cambridge, no matter what the outcome, for his dedication to this issue and his work on behalf of all Canadians.

The bill is not a band-aid solution to a real Canadian problem. I encourage all of our hon. colleagues in the House, whether former first-aid captains or not, to rise in the House and vote in favour of C-240. Safety first, my friends.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.


Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-240, which was introduced by the member for Cambridge. This is an extraordinary initiative. I look forward to seeing how much support this bill will get because it is absolutely essential and we have needed legislation like this for a long time.

I truly believe that one of the reasons why it is good to be in Parliament is to be able to come up with bills that could change people's lives. I therefore tip my hat to my colleague from Cambridge. When we vote on this bill either this week or next, I hope that all my other colleagues will join me in supporting it.

This bill seeks to provide a non-refundable tax credit to individuals who complete a first aid or other health and safety instructional program or course. In other words, it will ensure that care can be given as soon as possible when an incident occurs or someone feels unwell. It will save lives and protect the health of all our constituents.

Whether at work, at home, or taking part in recreational activities, we all run the risk of getting into a situation where we need other people's help because something has happened to us and we do not know what to do. As my colleagues are beginning to see, I really like to talk about my constituents and the things that happen in my riding in the House to show just how much the work we do here can affect the people in our ridings.

I have three stories to tell, which explain why I think that Bill C-240 is becoming increasingly important. First, I used to be the president of the gymnastics club where my two daughters had the honour of practising the sport. When I became president, I was surprised to learn that none of the coaches had any first aid training, even though gymnastics is a relatively dangerous sport and can inflict many injuries on the young girls who participate in it. Nevertheless, none of the coaches had the training to help someone while they wait for the ambulance to arrive, for example.

One of the first things I did as president, together with the Amigym gymnastics club's board of directors, was require all coaches, be they 14 years old or 30, to get first aid training. All of the coaches at the club now have first aid training.

My second story is about a specific incident. Soon after the hon. member for Cambridge introduced his bill, my daughter was in a gymnastics competition in Lévis near Quebec City. After warming up on the uneven bars, she decided to get up there one more time because she wanted to do well in her first competition of the year. Unfortunately, she had an accident. As she was dismounting, her foot hit the bar and she fell.

I was in the next room, and people rushed in to tell me that something had happened, but they did not tell me what. When I got there, my daughter was crying and surrounded by people. I had no idea what had happened. When I reached her side and saw her leg, I realized right away that it was serious. Unfortunately, I have no first aid training. Even if I did, seeing my daughter like that, I would have been in no position to administer first aid because I was so upset.

As I was trying to comfort my daughter, some people appeared out of nowhere wanting to move my daughter's foot. My first instinct as a father was to tell them not to touch it. Then I heard someone say she had training and could help my daughter through these difficult moments. It was such a relief to know that there was someone close at hand that was able to help. She was not a coach, but someone with more advanced medical training. However, before that person arrived at my daughter's side, things got quite intense.

Fortunately I can reassure my colleagues that my daughter is grown up and doing well. She started teaching gymnastics again and now she is a coach. She no longer does gymnastics, but she is still coaching. I am pretty sure that there will be some great gymnasts in Thetford Mines thanks to my daughter.

My third story makes me a little more emotional. Yesterday, during the lengthy votes, I got a call from my wife. She told me that our youngest daughter was taken to hospital by ambulance after a cheerleading practice. Again, who was there? No one around her was equipped to administer first aid. Someone managed to immobilize her and tell her to wait, but that was all. Someone phoned my wife, who was very far away. When things like that happen, Ottawa seems quite far from our riding. My daughter was immobilized. My wife arrived on the scene, but she was at a loss as to what to do. Someone decided to call an ambulance, which transported my daughter to the hospital. Fortunately, she is also doing well. Her arm is broken, but she is strong and will recover. She will be able to go back to cheerleading.

It is exactly at such times that it is reassuring for a parent to know that those nearby have first aid training and know what to do and when to do it. First aid training is needed not just because it might be useful, but because we never know when an incident will happen. It could happen at home or at school. It happened in a place where many accidents such as this one can happen. Even in these places, there are never enough people with first aid training.

That is why this bill hits home with me. I truly believe that we should provide more people with the opportunity to learn first aid and, above all, we need to know that they are well trained. It is worrisome to be approached by people intent on providing medical care without knowing if they really know what to do.

My colleague's bill will ensure that more people have the skills to intervene, more people will know what to do, more young women will be able to do gymnastics or be cheerleaders, more young people will be able to play hockey, and more people will ski because one day there will be no shortage of first responders.

Before arriving today, I wondered how many of my colleagues here have first aid training. How many of us have had a chance to take this training? Are there many? I know we have firefighters, nurses, doctors, and engineers in the House. However, we are not always with them. Sometimes there are committee meetings, and sometimes those members are not with us.

We are no longer kids here; we are all getting older. All kinds of things can happen after the age of 50. We need to know that people can help us. The moment that no one wants to happen can in fact happen to any one of us, or someone we love, our children or our parents. This moment eventually happens to everyone. To ensure that someone is there to help us right when we need it, incentives are needed. We need a bill like Bill C-240. It will give people the opportunity to take first aid training that may well one day save someone's arm or their leg, or possibly even their life.

I will therefore enthusiastically support the bill introduced by my colleague, the member for Cambridge. I also urge him to promote it amongst his colleagues, so that the bill can pass next week at second reading.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.


Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak today on this important piece of legislation, which I will be supporting.

The bill reflects the work of the hon. member for Cambridge, which he has done his whole life on behalf of his community. He has worked for the YMCA and YWCA, the organization in Canada whose new logo is “For a better us”.

I have been familiar with Bill C-240 since the member for Cambridge and I spoke in the early days of Parliament about good ideas to bring forward as private members' business. What we are looking at here is a topic that is positive. It reaches across partisan aisles and would accomplish something for our constituents and, indeed, all Canadians.

I spoke with the member for Cambridge soon after the election, who was excited to be bringing this forward in the PMB process. Indeed, he and I are in neighbouring ridings. He is excited about it because he will not table many private members' bills and wants to get it right. He is excited because he could see the possibilities that developing a PMB on this topic would bring, and for the opportunity to speak to everyone across the country about what kind of people we are and want to be.

I want to thank the member for Cambridge for bringing forward the bill, Bill C-240, which addresses a clear problem. Enough people are not training in first aid, something that we have heard from stories around the House this afternoon. This bill poses a clear, intuitive, and positive solution. Would it not be great to be able to provide a mild incentive to individuals to help them to be trained in first aid? What if we embedded that policy within the existing tax code so that it was seamless, easy to understand, and easy to administer? I really have to applaud the member for putting together a policy that not only makes sense, but also is clearly explainable and efficient.

When I was first out of school, I worked in some physically demanding jobs. I was going into factories and servicing equipment. I was working in environments where it was critical that everyone around me was trained in first aid. Fortunately, I was never hurt in a serious accident, but it was sure nice to know that the people around me would be able to step in if I had a problem. Indeed, at one point I had to save a person's finger. The person had an accident in one of the machines, and those around us knew how to do first aid. We were able to recover the finger, get him to the hospital, and get it re-attached.

For people in our communities who do not have the training to put to work or through their profession, the bill at the very least would help them get trained in first aid so they can help the people around them.

When I have spoken to others about Bill C-240, they are immediately supportive and see its value. People understand that our tax dollars go directly to things that benefit everyone in our society. They go to benefit the fabric of our society itself, and Bill C-240 is saying at its very core that whenever an individual gets trained in first aid to help fellow Canadians, they are doing something that benefits us all. The country has decided to thank them by helping to pay a little piece of their training.

It is a simple thing we can do that would have a big ripple effect in our communities. I am not alone in thinking this either. Bill C-240 has been endorsed by non-profits, including the Heart and Stroke Foundation and DeafBlind Ontario. I would like to cite a brief quote from DeafBlind, that their “interveners”, the name of the direct service employees who work for them, “are required to maintain up-to-date first aid and CPR certification at their own cost. Bill C-240 will make that training more accessible to them, and more accessible to the broader public.” It is so important for those working in the not-for-profit sector especially.

I want to take a moment to speak about an incident in my riding and one of the reasons I am supporting the bill today. This summer I was knocking on doors in Guelph. On Saturday morning I was invited into a home. There was a gathering of people around the kitchen table. There were a lot of people at 10 o'clock on a Saturday morning. What was going on? They were there because of a young boy, 12 years old, who in the last week of school had heart failure at his school. The people around the kitchen table that day were the people who had saved his life, the people who had provided CPR while he was on the floor at school, the people who had connections to the first aid from the emergency services, the people who brought him to the hospital, the people in the hospital who had saved his life, and then the people who had helped with his recovery process.

Today that person is alive. He is now 13 years old, because of the first aid that was administered at his school on the last week of class.

Stories like this sound like a once-in-a-lifetime or freak accident of nature, but really they are happening behind the doors of houses and businesses, and within schools across our country. They are happening every day in every riding. In each and every case, there is a real world difference that can make an outcome positive or negative, and that difference can be the difference in whether a person survives or not.

I am thankful for the opportunity today to advocate for the bill, and I look forward to voting in favour of it next Wednesday. I applaud the member for Cambridge for his work on the bill and for making our neighbourhoods safer.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.


Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, I want to briefly put on the record my strong support for the bill. I think it is an excellent bill and I appreciate the work of the member for Cambridge in bringing it forward.

At the same time, I understand that some members of the government oppose it, so I expect we will have an interesting vote next week. I would encourage all members to take the time to read the details of the bill and appreciate its importance.

Briefly in my comments I want to say that there are some who question and dispute the value of what they call “boutique” tax credits, or specific tax credits aimed at specific things. I think that is really the heart of the debate. I do not think any member here is opposed to first aid or opposed to encouraging more first aid, but it is this question of whether we should have specific tax credits to help encourage people in a positive direction.

I would defend the value of certain specific tax credits that provide an effective incentive to encourage people to take advantage of opportunities that they might not otherwise and to make it easier for people to afford things that we regard as socially positive. I think there is good economic as well as social logic to these kinds of things.

From an economic perspective, economists identify something called “positive externalities”. In other words, if in an economic interaction there is a positive social effect, then it is in society's interest to create additional incentives to encourage people to make those kinds of interactions. Then there is a corresponding analysis for negative externalities, where if there is an economic interaction between two parties that has a negative effect on a third party, it is in society's interest to try to discourage it.

Therefore, when we have something like people taking first aid training, which generates positive external social benefits beyond the individual receiving the training and the individual providing the training, then there is a social interest in providing that additional incentive, and that is what the bill would do. It would provide that extra economic incentive in that direction in terms of a positive externality.

This tax credit would also make the thing for which the tax credit exists, in this case first aid, more accessible to individuals who might not be able to access it. Therefore, that is obviously a positive.

I want to say as well that when it comes to the question of tax cuts and how we cut taxes, we should not just be looking for a smaller government but we should be looking for a stronger society as well. The bill would achieve both of those objectives. It would provide a tax reduction and would give money back to ordinary Canadians, but in the process, it would create a stronger society, a society with people with the capacity to help each other within their own communities.

This is what we should be looking for. It is not more government, not simply less government for its own sake, but a reduced role for government and a corresponding strengthening of society. That is why I like these kinds of tax credits, because they provide that additional incentive for people to build up and be active within their communities at the same time as they provide a tax reduction.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


Bryan May Liberal Cambridge, ON

Madam Speaker, first of all, I thank my opposition colleague for his kind words.

I am very proud and blessed to represent the fantastic people of Cambridge, North Dumfries, and North Brant.

I would like to take a moment to thank all the speakers here today and all those who spoke in the first hour of this debate.

Today it is my pleasure to rise and speak to my private member's bill, an act to amend the Income Tax Act, to provide a non-refundable tax credit for those who take first aid courses.

From the very beginning, I have said that it is key to starting a national conversation in this country about emergency preparedness. I have tried to prepare a PMB to go beyond partisan goals and achieve something that will work for all Canadians. I am proud to say that I have received support from all sides. People in this House and across the country realize that we must work to develop our human infrastructure.

The financial benefit of the bill would include faster recovery times, lower health care expenditures, and more lives saved.

More than half of adult Canadians live in a household in which no members have up-to-date first aid or CPR training. According to Ipsos Reid, only 18% of those who have ever taken first aid courses are current. In fact, one-third of Canadians have never taken a first aid course. Those statistics are shocking.

There is a solution, which is fiscally responsible, immediate, and well-targeted, and that is Bill C-240.

Bill C-240 is a bill that is moderate in scope, low in cost, and potentially massive in outcome. The bill is designed to provide a modest change, innovate within a sector, and improve lives in a measured and specific way. The bill has the potential to make a lasting impact on the lives of Canadians without making a lasting impact on their wallets.

I hope that my attempt to create this bill, however humble, will save lives and achieve far grander benefits than might otherwise be apparent.

When people undertake first aid training, what they are ultimately doing is gaining skills and knowledge to serve their communities, but they are also developing the confidence to act in an emergency situation, when literally every second counts.

This House has the opportunity to recognize, incentivize, and facilitate, these selfless acts by reducing the costs incurred by these civic-minded individuals.

The bill proposes a non-refundable tax credit of 15% to anyone who takes an accredited first aid, CPR, or AED training course. This tax credit would come at a relatively low cost to the government but would make a difference in the affordability of lifesaving training for individual Canadians.

Approximately 1.8 million Canadians will take lifesaving training this year. At $15 per person, the bill would cost the government a maximum of $26.5 million this year. Compared with the value of lives saved and injuries healed, this is miniscule.

Of course, not all course participants would be eligible, nor would all owe taxes. The most significant fact is that over half of all of those who take this training have it paid for by their employers and therefore would not be eligible for this credit.

When these facts are considered, we can see that the cost to the government would actually be much lower, likely less than $13 million.

This House has an opportunity to safeguard the lives of Canadians and display our commitment to emergency preparedness. Training leads to confidence. Confidence leads to action in an emergency. Action leads to lives saved, people healed, and more Canadians looking after others, which is something we can all support.

I thank members for their support on this issue. I look forward to the vote on Wednesday and to speaking with all members of this House.

I want to take the last few seconds I have to recognize a group of people who often do not get recognized, and that is my staff. They have put a lot of work into this, and I would like to thank them.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

It being 6:15 p.m., the time provided for debate has expired.

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

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members



Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

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

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members


Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

All those opposed will please say nay.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members


Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, October 26, 2016, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

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

HealthAdjournment Proceedings

October 20th, 2016 / 6:15 p.m.


Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, my question is about health.

I think it is particularly important to talk about health, even though the Government of Quebec dealt with the matter of ancillary fees on its own. The fact remains that access to free health care is constantly threatened.

Unfortunately, the position that the Minister of Health is currently taking is not helping because she is refusing to provide the provinces with financial assistance, she is trying to impose conditions on them, and she does not want to commit to covering 25% of the cost of the health care system, as recommended by the Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada, led by Roy J. Romanow in 2002.

In practical terms, when the provinces are strapped for cash, they have to make difficult decisions and try to make budget cuts and reorganize everything without affecting public services. This has an impact on wait times and the proximity of services.

For example, services are being consolidated in health care centres that are farther away. In Abitibi—Témiscamingue, all of the health care centres have now been grouped under one banner. We have heard rumours that services are going to be consolidated. That means that people may have to travel 100 kilometres to have access to care that they used to be able to get in their own town.

In theory, health care is still free, but in practice it costs money to get health care. For example, psychologist positions are being cut. It is still possible to get treated by a psychologist for free at a hospital, but the wait times are often so long that people end up turning to the private sector. This happens all the time because of the government's bad decisions and lack of commitment. Free health care is on the line and patients are increasingly driven to pay for care that they should be able to get for free.

As I said, it is even harder in rural areas. Service managers are no longer being asked to be managers. They are being asked to be magicians, to find solutions so that they can provide the same services to the public, the same access, and all for free, when their budget is constantly being cut. They have to do more with less.

Unfortunately, the turmoil in the health care system is causing more and more workers to go on sick leave. They need to be replaced but there are no replacements, putting hospitals in the position of paying overtime hours and forcing people to work those hours. In the end, more people are getting sick and costs are increasing. This is an extremely difficult situation.

Considering what is happening right now with health transfers, I think it is high time for us to stand up and say that we are here to protect Canada's free public health care system, and for the federal government to do its part, while allowing provincial administrations to do their work as they see fit.

HealthAdjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Charlottetown P.E.I.


Sean Casey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Madam Speaker, this government has been very clear in our support for the principles of the Canada Health Act and the values that they reflect. These values of accessibility, equity, and solidarity form the foundation for both our publicly insured health care system and for the nation as a whole. They are the values that reflect the belief that, regardless of how much money they make or where they live, health care should be available for all Canadians when they need it.

Our commitment to the publicly insured health care system is reflected in our actions. This means restoring leadership at the federal level by revitalizing and setting solidly in place strong collaborative working relationships with our provincial and territorial counterparts to realize the aims of the Canada Health Act.

The Canada Health Act continues to be the cornerstone of the Canadian health care system. The aim of the act is to ensure that all eligible residents of Canada have reasonable access to medically necessary insured services without direct charges. The act is very clear: any charges to patients for publicly insured services are considered extra billing or user charges and are prohibited under the act. Our government wants to see all such charges eliminated.

Canadians depend on and expect all governments to work together to ensure that citizens across this country can readily access and rely on a health care system that ultimately supports them in leading fulfilling and productive lives. When Canadians are in good physical and mental health, they are able to work better, be more productive, and contribute more fully to our economy while living healthier, happier lives.

Our health care system is one that Canadians across the country continue to take pride in and to cherish. Statistics Canada confirms this point in its 2015 report on Canadian identity, which states that close to 80% of Canadians have pride in our health care system.

Respecting the value that Canadians place on our health care system, this government's commitment to Canadians is having a federal government that is fully engaged with provinces and territories on matters related to the Canada Health Act. Our approach to the administration of the act emphasizes transparency, consultation, and dialogue with provincial and territorial health care ministries to resolve potential issues.

As I mentioned earlier, extra billing and user charges are prohibited under the act, as these fees create barriers to accessing health care. Part of the reason Canadians take pride in our health care system is that they know the system will provide them with the care they need regardless of their ability or willingness to pay.

This government is committed to ensuring that Canadians across this country continue to have access to the health care they need, when they need it. That is why the Minister of Health wrote to the Quebec health minister in September, underscoring her commitment to publicly funded health care without charges to patients for insured services.

Proactively holding such discussions with provinces and territories on compliance issues provides real opportunity to resolve potential problems before they become more fully developed. It should also be noted that independent action on the part of provinces and territories can also lead to good outcomes. This government was pleased that the Quebec minister of health recently announced concrete action toward removing barriers to access, by eliminating fees charged to patients for insured services at the point of delivery.

It is important to remember that the ultimate goal of enforcement is not to levy penalties but to ensure compliance with the principles of the Canada Health Act, so that Canadians can have access to the health care they need when they need it. The Minister of Health did not levy penalties in her letter to the Quebec government.

HealthAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.


Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, here is another reason why the federal government is off base.

Several provinces decided to give more authority to other health professionals such as pharmacists and nurses, for example. Recently, thanks to the efforts of the Ordre des infirmières et des infirmiers du Québec, graduate nurses won the right to write prescriptions for such items as contraceptives and prenatal vitamins. However, clients under federal jurisdiction, such as first nations, cannot be reimbursed for these medications unless they are prescribed by a doctor.

Once again, patients are required to pay for these medications out of pocket because the wrong professional prescribed them, and that professional is more expensive. There are problems with the fact that the system is free, and the federal government lags behind when it comes to making it fully accessible to patients.

We must protect our public health care system. However, that requires a certain degree of autonomy. We have to understand the incredible work done by the provinces to expand the scope of practice of other professionals. Unfortunately, the federal government lags behind by several years in many cases.

HealthAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.


Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Madam Speaker, I want to reiterate that the Government of Canada is unwavering in its support of the Canada Health Act.

We are committed to defending our publicly funded health care system. In our work, we are striving to eliminate extra billing and user fees, which create barriers for Canadians in accessing health care. We are actively re-engaging with the provinces and territories. Our government knows that this approach is the best way to resolve potential compliance problems.

We strongly believe that all Canadians deserve access to timely, quality, universal health care and to receive health care services based on an individual's need and not the ability or willingness to pay.

Finally, I want to thank my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue for raising this question. There is no doubt that it is an important issue and we are fully committed to upholding the principles of the Canada Health Act.

HealthAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

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

(The House adjourned at 6:27 p.m.)