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.