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.