Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-223 and to highlight our government's efforts to improve the organ and tissue donation and transplantation system in Canada. Let me begin by thanking the hon. member for Edmonton Manning for bringing this important topic to the attention of this House and for his advocacy on this important file. As a registered nurse, this issue is extremely important to me as well.
Our government recognizes that organ and tissue donation and transplantation saves lives and improves the health status of Canadians. Transplantation is a unique and complex service, for it depends on the donation of an altruistic gift from one person to another. It involves several hospital departments and medical disciplines. It crosses provincial and territorial boundaries, and it has a significant safety component.
Organs are our scarcest resource and are in high demand. According to the latest statistics released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, in 2014 there were 2,356 transplants performed. However, over 4,500 Canadians were waiting for an organ transplant. Of those, 3,400 Canadians were waiting for a new kidney. While the number of patients waiting for an organ varied by organ type, Canadians waiting for a new kidney accounted for more than 77% of those waiting.
The need for organs will continue to increase because the Canadian population is aging, and because of the persistent shortages of certain organs, especially kidneys. End-stage kidney disease is a primary cause of kidney failure. According to the latest statistics, there were more than 5,200 newly diagnosed cases in 2014, of which 36% had diabetes, a most preventable disease, as a main cause. These numbers suggest that we can do more, and our government is firmly committed to working closely with our provincial and territorial counterparts and key stakeholders in the health community to provide the very best results for Canadians as it relates to organ and tissue donation and transplantation in Canada.
In the area of health, it is important for the federal government to work together with the provinces and territories, and in accordance with the Constitution of Canada, which indicates our federal, provincial, and territorial governments' respective powers. Under the Canadian Constitution, the provinces and territories are responsible for delivering care services within their jurisdiction, including the donation and transplantation of organs and tissues. The federal government has a key role to play in improving the organ and tissue donation and transplantation system in Canada, and that is exactly what we are doing through strategic investments and overseeing the safety of the system.
Since 2008, the federal government, the provinces, and the territories have invested over $64 million to support the efforts of Canadian Blood Services to coordinate a nationally focused organ and tissue donation and transplantation system. The Canadian Blood Services is a national not-for-profit charitable organization that manages the blood supply in all provinces and territories, and works collaboratively with Héma-Québec for the Province of Quebec. Together, the Canadian Blood Services, in conjunction with the federal government and the provinces and territories, has been collaboratively making progress towards improvements in the organ and tissue donation and transplantation system in Canada.
One of the major improvements has been establishing the Canadian transplant registry, a national donor registry that has three interprovincial organ sharing programs. Two of these interprovincial programs relate specifically to kidney donation and transplantation. The first is the paired kidney donation program, which facilitates the matching of kidneys between living donors and recipients. The second is the highly sensitized patient program, which facilitates sharing of kidneys for hard-to-match patients. The third is an interprovincial program that is the national organ wait-list, which facilitates the sharing of organs among high-needs patients.
Currently work is under way to formalize existing guidelines for interprovincial sharing of high-status organs such as hearts and livers. The Canadian transplant registry is guided by interprovincial policy and informed by evidence-based leading practices. It is a single window that ensures that our organ donor list is comprehensive, timely, and readily accessible. In addition to investments in the Canadian Blood Services, the federal government is responsible for regulating the safety of the donation system and transplantation of organs and tissues by ensuring the safety of cells, tissues, and organs for transplantation.
Organ and tissue donation and transplantation is a complex health service that our government takes seriously. Improving the system requires federal, provincial, and territorial leadership, as well as key stakeholders support. This is not an easy task.
However, I am pleased to say that through this collaborative approach between federal-provincial-territorial, and stakeholder partners, we are making real progress to improve the system. Over the last decade, the number of deceased organ donors has gone up by 44%. Although more people are donating, there is still more to do to meet the need for more organs.
When looking at transplant trends in Canada, between 2005 and 2014, the number of lung transplants performed increased by 52% and the number of liver transplants performed increased by 27%. However, there is still more to do, and our government will continue to support this work to ensure that Canadians have access to a world-class system of donation and transplantation of organs and tissues.
Regarding Bill C-223, an act to establish the Canadian Organ Donor Registry and to coordinate and promote organ donation throughout Canada, the government agrees with the objective of improving the donation and transplantation of organs and tissues in Canada, but does not support this bill for a number of reasons.
First, the bill would duplicate existing initiatives between the federal government, provinces, territories, and the Canadian Blood Services. It would also duplicate provincial and territorial efforts. For example, provinces and territories already have legislation on organ donation and tissue transplantation, and many of them already have registries of organ donors that are linked to an already existing Canadian registry of organ donors.
Another reason why this bill will not be supported is because it would shift federal, provincial, territorial responsibilities. For example, the recommendations proposed with regard to the national strategy for consent, confidentiality, health policies, and procedures are all responsibilities of provincial and territorial jurisdiction.
Looking more closely at the issue of privacy, Bill C-223 would require that the federal government collect personal health information on organ and tissue donation and transplantation. This is already being done by the provinces, territories, and Canadian Blood Services, with appropriate data-sharing agreements to meet provincial and territorial privacy requirements.
Introducing new federal legislation at this time would raise provincial and territorial concerns about jurisdiction over the delivery of health care in the area of organ and tissue donation and transplantation. This could become an impediment to the work that is currently under way. Our government's approach is to build stronger partnerships with our provincial and territorial counterparts.
Bill C-223 anticipates an increase in organ donation rates. However, the evidence does not support registries as a way to improve donation rates. The evidence has found that there is no relationship between the number of registered donors and donor numbers. In fact, donor numbers tend to remain flat even when there is an increase in registries.
Recent provincial and territorial experience shows that registries alone do not impact donation rates without an optimal identification and referral process. Provinces and territories found that 85% to 90% of donors had not indicated a decision to donate unless they were approached. Bill C-223 would not lead to increased donation rates and would not provide further benefit to Canadians.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that our government recognizes the need for improvement in the organ and tissue donation and transplantation system in Canada. Collaboration, consultation and engagement with the provinces and territories as well as key stakeholders are necessary to address the complexity of the changes that are required in the system.
Our government will continue to support the organ and tissue donation and transplantation system improvements that are under way. We are committed to producing results for Canadians to ensure that Canada has an accessible, safe, and comprehensive world-class organ and tissue donation and transplantation system.
I look forward to working with my colleague, the member for Edmonton Manning on this file.