House of Commons Hansard #40 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was jobs.


Air Canada Public Participation ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

London West Ontario


Kate Young LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Madam Speaker, would the hon. member agree that this issue should be debated at the committee level so we can hear from witnesses and hear more of the discussion we need to have on this issue?

Air Canada Public Participation ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


Dianne Lynn Watts Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Madam Speaker, I always believe open discussion is a good thing to have when we look to amend any bill. However, extracting fundamental components out of it prior to having those conversations is backward. We should maintain the fundamental components of the agreement and the deal that was put in place in 1988, but the committee can still come forward with additional amendments that look at other options, other than losing Canadian jobs.

Air Canada Public Participation ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to participate in the debate on Bill C-10, an act to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act and to provide for certain other measures.

So far, we have heard members on the government side and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport go on and on about the quality of the Bombardier C Series aircraft and about how happy they are that Air Canada has ordered so many aircraft.

Bombardier has been promoting its new aircraft for several years now, and what Bombardier needs is to get more orders. The government's platitudes here will unfortunately not help Bombardier sell a single aircraft.

That said, it does not matter that the minister is justifying Bill C-10 by saying that Air Canada's will purchase C Series aircraft and that the maintenance of these aircraft will be done in Quebec. None of this has anything to do with Bombardier or its new aircraft.

The text of the act to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act and to provide for certain other measures makes no reference to Bombardier or its C Series aircraft. The changes that the government is proposing in this bill make no reference to Bombardier or the C Series aircraft. Even if Air Canada purchases and takes possession of 45 of Bombardier's aircraft, that will represent only a small portion of its total fleet, about 15%.

We all know that most of Air Canada's fleet consists of Boeing, Airbus, and Embraer aircraft. This bill is only concerned with where Air Canada must do its maintenance. Talking about other things only diverts attention away from what is important. What is important is to strike a balance between keeping good jobs here in Canada and making it possible for Air Canada to continue becoming a more flexible and competitive private company.

Let us go back in time in order to understand why the federal government at that time included a provision on aircraft maintenance that read as follows:

The articles of continuance of the Corporation shall contain


(d) provisions requiring the Corporation to maintain operational and overhaul centres in the City of Winnipeg, the Montreal Urban Community and the City of Mississauga;

By passing legislation guaranteeing that operational and overhaul centres would be maintained, the then government ensured that Air Canada maintenance jobs would stay in Canada. This condition was deemed necessary because we, the taxpayers, had invested a lot of money and implemented policies that supported Air Canada. Accordingly, in 1988, when Air Canada was privatized, all parties felt that Air Canada's good maintenance jobs had to stay in Canada and, more specifically, near the cities of Montreal, Mississauga, and Winnipeg.

These policies and this financial support still exist today. That is why the government at the time ensured that this condition for privatization was included in the legislation. That way, only a change to that legislation made by the Parliament of Canada would allow Air Canada not to have its maintenance done in the three cities named in the legislation.

We all know that the airline industry has changed a great deal since Bill C-129 was introduced and debated in 1988. We all know that the Montreal Urban Community no longer exists, but we can all see that the law intended for the maintenance to be done in Montreal, Mississauga, and Winnipeg.

What has not changed is the need to have aircraft regularly maintained by reliable mechanics with the necessary experience and training to ensure passenger safety.

Canada has one of the best air safety regimes in the world, possibly even the best. We can be proud of that, and it is not something that should be changed overnight. We all recognize that aircraft maintenance is not the same now as it was in 1998. The technology and maintenance practices have changed a lot since then.

However, this bill does not propose modernizing the act to take into account the changes that have occurred in the airline industry with regard to aircraft maintenance. It proposes eliminating Air Canada's obligation to have its aircraft maintained in Canada. That is not modernization. Modernization would be an amendment that describes the type of maintenance that must be done in Canada, for example, with regard to airplane engines or flaps. My government colleagues are arguing that Air Canada is going to maintain the C Series in Quebec, that it is going to move jobs from Mississauga and Montreal to Winnipeg, and that that is enough.

Air Canada has a fleet of nearly 300 planes that need maintenance. Its Airbus and Boeing aircraft and even other planes that were built by Bombardier but are not part of the C Series could be maintained outside Canada. As a result, 85% of the fleet of Air Canada's largest planes, such as the Boeing 787, the Boeing 767, and the Airbus A330, could be maintained abroad.

Given the comments that the parliamentary secretary made in her speech and particularly outside the House, and given the content of the bill, it seems that the government intends to pass this legislative measure before Air Canada has even taken possession of a single C Series aircraft.

That is surprising because there are many measures that the government could introduce that would make Air Canada more competitive without affecting Canadian maintenance workers.

The government could link airport improvement fees to specific projects with clear end dates. It could do a complete overhaul of the airport security funding models. It could increase the number of trusted traveller programs, such as NEXUS and CANPASS. It could increase the ownership limits to at least 49% for commercial passenger carriers. It could also reduce or eliminate the aviation fuel tax, better align the regulations with those of the United States and Europe, and simplify customs and immigration processes.

All of these measures could be introduced quickly, and they would stimulate Air Canada and the country's entire airline industry. All of these measures have Air Canada's support. Unfortunately, the government is ignoring all of these measures in this bill.

I hope that the government will explain why it is ignoring many measures that would support Air Canada without affecting nearly 3,000 maintenance jobs in Canada.

Air Canada Public Participation ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech.

I was wondering how much confidence my colleague has in the Air Canada executives. They are trying to reassure the government and tell it what it wants to hear. They also seem to want to charm us by saying that they are going to keep the jobs in question, there will be no outsourcing, and this will not change anything, when in fact they are lobbying the government for change.

Does my colleague trust Air Canada and its executives, even though they are calling for change while, at the same time, trying to reassure us that nothing is going to change, all the jobs will stay here, we should not worry, and there are going to be even more jobs created? Does he trust this company?

Air Canada Public Participation ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Sherbrooke for the question.

I would like to say that I do not trust this government to make changes to help Air Canada, or other Canadian airports and companies.

Our party thinks that the government should do whatever is necessary for every industry that might contribute to jobs in Canada. It has to be said that the Billy Bishop airport is a good example where we can help the airline industry. However, the Liberal government said that we cannot make any changes to the Billy Bishop airport. I therefore do not trust the Liberal government, but I am confident that the airline industry will survive.

Air Canada Public Participation ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Madam Speaker, the Conservative Party's position is not entirely clear.

Am I to understand that the bill does not go far enough, or does it go too far?

Air Canada Public Participation ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my Liberal colleague for his important question.

We think that Air Canada must respect certain obligations, since Canadians gave Air Canada certain benefits when it was privatized in 1998.

The Conservative Party believes that we must protect Canadian jobs, especially well-paid jobs. We think that the government can do many things, but it is not doing them, according to Air Canada.

Air Canada Public Participation ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, earlier, members on the Liberal side said that there were other ways to help Air Canada. The Conservatives said the same thing, claiming that we should not take it this far and that we should look for other solutions to help Air Canada.

Could my colleague elaborate on how these alternatives will help Air Canada stay competitive in this extremely competitive market, while requiring it to maintain these jobs in Canadian cities?

Air Canada Public Participation ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Sherbrooke.

The government could be doing many things, but it has done nothing.

For example, it could be tying airport improvement fees to certain set projects, with clear deadlines once these improvements have been made; changing the financing model for security; and replacing the one-size-fits-all screening approach to the airlines so we could tailor certain approaches—two different airlines, two different airports—for a more agile, more nimble response to the airline industry. It is something that is important, certainly to the Quebec industry, but to all provinces as well.

Air Canada Public Participation ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, who will deliver her speech when we come back next week.

On March 24, 2016, our government introduced Bill C-10, an act to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act and to provide for certain other measures in the House of Commons. The purpose of the bill, more specifically, is to amend the sections of the act that have to do with Air Canada's operational and overhaul centres.

It is important to point out that this bill is being introduced at a time that is quite historic for the Canadian aerospace industry. As members will recall, in February 2016, Air Canada announced that it planned to purchase up to 75 C Series aircraft from Bombardier, and that it would carry out the maintenance of those planes in Canada for at least 20 years, beginning with the first delivery.

Air Canada will also help establish a centre of excellence in Quebec for the C Series aircraft, as well as another centre in western Canada, to be located in Manitoba. These centres will be able to not only service Air Canada's planes but also to offer those services to other national and international airlines.

In other words, we have introduced a bill at a time that is pivotal for Canada's aerospace industry. Not only is Bombardier offering a product that is a game changer for the aerospace industry worldwide, due to its efficiency and environmental performance, but our most important Canadian airline, Air Canada, clearly intends to make massive investments in the renewal of its fleet of aircraft.

Investing in a cutting-edge product that was designed and manufactured mainly in Canada will improve Air Canada's ability to compete globally and to serve Canadians.

In this historical context, we propose to modernize the Air Canada Public Participation Act, which we find to be outdated in part.

More specifically, the bill amends paragraph 6(1)(d) in the provisions requiring Air Canada to maintain operational and overhaul centres in the City of Winnipeg, the Montreal Urban Community, and the City of Mississauga.

Air Canada Public Participation ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I know that the member would like to finish his speech, but it being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper. The member will have time to continue his speech the next time this bill is debated.

Canadian Organ Donor Registry ActPrivate Member'S Business

1:25 p.m.


Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

moved that Bill C-223, An Act to establish the Canadian Organ Donor Registry and to coordinate and promote organ donation throughout Canada, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, I wish to speak today in support of my Bill C-223, an act to establish the Canadian organ donor registry and to coordinate and promote organ donation throughout Canada, which I hope will receive support from all members of the House.

As you may be aware, I myself am an organ donor. In 2003, I made a living donation. I gave part of my liver to my son Tyler. This was not something I did lightly. It is a dangerous operation for both the donor and the recipient.

For Tyler, it was life or death. I love my son. The choice was easy.

At that time, I was becoming increasingly aware of the unmet need for organ donations in Canada. There are literally thousands of people waiting for that telephone call that will change their lives and the lives of their family members. Tragically, for more than 200 Canadians each year, the time runs out before the call comes.

More than 90% of Canadians support organ and tissue donation in theory, but less than 25% have made plans to donate. Canada's organ donation rate is among the world's worst, yet one donor can benefit more than 75 people and save up to 8 lives.

Sometimes, organ compatibility is not enough. Shortly after that transplant, the portion of my liver that Tyler received began to die. For me to donate again was not possible. Another donor was needed or my son would die.

On Christmas Eve 2003, it looked like Tyler's time had run out. His life expectancy was now days, perhaps hours. Almost miraculously, a liver became available from a Quebec man who had just died. We were told it was not a perfect solution. It would only buy time, but time was what we desperately needed.

My wife Liz and I were so thankful to the family of that anonymous donor. In their grief at the loss of a loved one, they cared enough to think of others. We will be forever in their debt. Their gift gave us our son when we thought we would lose him.

Having experienced the organ donation system first-hand, I became acutely aware of the need for a more coordinated effort in this area, both locally and nationally. I became an advocate for all those like Tyler, those in need of a life-saving transplant. All too often, it seems to me, the difference between life and death is one of simple awareness. People do not know the good they could do. Such awareness is key.

While some provinces have a large percentage of citizens who have indicated they wish to be organ donors, others have very few, far below the national average. As I stated earlier, Canada is far behind other countries in the percentage of citizens who have let authorities know of their willingness to be organ donors. I have been told by many of the people I have met who work in this area of medicine that there is a real need for a national registry, such as is proposed in this bill. Representatives of awareness groups, health care organizations working in the transplant field, and donor and recipient families have been overwhelmingly positive in responding to the bill. Everyone I have met with has had one simple question: how can we help?

To return to my story, with Tyler's second transplant, our journey was not yet over. We knew in 2003 that the liver he received was not a long-term solution. After a decade it too began to fail. Once more we entered the medical system, our emotions a mixture of hope and fear. There were no guarantees. We knew the statistics. We knew the odds. We prayed yet again for a miracle.

Once again a grieving family offered a loved one's organs for the good of the community, and a match was made. This time we hope Tyler has a liver that will be with him for the rest of his life. We are so grateful to have a healthy son, now a young man beginning to make his way in the world, someone of whom we are very proud.

Our good fortune brings with it a sense of not only gratitude but also responsibility. I firmly believe that it is incumbent on each of us to give back to our community, to work to make it a better place. Tyler's health problems have caused me to become an advocate for increased awareness of the need for organ donations in Canada. I promised myself and him that if the day should ever come when I would have the opportunity to make a positive difference on a national level, I would do so. The time to do that is now, and I hope I have members' support.

Why this bill at this time? What need would it serve?

This legislation would serve a huge need. In 2014, for example, 2,433 solid organs were transplanted in Canada. That is a 25% increase since 2009. These transplanted organs included 1,430 kidneys, 537 livers, 226 lungs, 161 hearts, and 79 pancreases.

One of the things a national registry would do is improve the wait times for Canadians who need a transplant. Right now that can vary considerably from province to province. If an individual needs a new kidney, for example, it can take more than four years to make it to the top of the list. If an individual needs a new lung, that could take 19 months.

Far too often people on the transplant list do not live to receive a donation. The number of patients on the waiting list for kidney transplants is approximately two and a half times higher than the number of transplants performed. More than 1,600 Canadians are added to wait-lists each year. The demand for organs is increasing, but the supply is not maintaining the pace. We are falling behind.

Transplantation is expensive, but there is a quality-of-life issue as well for those in need, and as it turns out, the cost to our health care system is actually lessened by transplantation. Once a patient receives a transplant, that patient can return to a relatively normal existence, their extreme medical difficulties behind them. For example, a kidney transplant candidate is very likely to be on dialysis, a procedure that will no longer be necessary after the patient receives a new kidney. That saving alone can be about $50,000 annually. Medical treatment should not be about dollars and cents, but it is good to know that we can do the right thing and save money for taxpayers at the same time.

An integrated system such as proposed by the bill would have a major impact on patient outcomes. This registry would facilitate organ donations in all of the provinces and territories and greatly assist medical professionals in providing timely aid for those in need, saving lives in the process.

A national organ registry has been discussed for years. Now is the time to do something about it. We have the opportunity to do something positive that will save Canadian lives. That, it seems to me, is what Parliament should be doing.

Without a national registry, it is all too easy to imagine someone not receiving the gift of life simply because the need was not known. When a kidney, lung, or heart becomes available on one side of the country, doctors should instantly be aware on the other side.

A national donor registry would give the gift of time to health care professionals. With many transplant opportunities being time-sensitive surgical procedures, anything that can save hours or minutes in uniting donors and recipients is going to be a literal lifesaver.

The time for talking about a national organ donor registry is over. It is time for action.

Canadian Organ Donor Registry ActPrivate Member'S Business

1:40 p.m.


David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Madam Speaker, the idea of having an organ donor registry is a pretty good idea. That is why several provinces already have them. Is the member not concerned about interfering with provincial jurisdictions on this file?

Canadian Organ Donor Registry ActPrivate Member'S Business

April 15th, 2016 / 1:40 p.m.


Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Madam Speaker, actually, there would be no interference. We have a national universal health care system, and each province has its own budget to run its own health care system.

What we are proposing is this. We are proposing that the Minister of Health needs to be able to bring all the provinces together, let them coordinate, and let the national registry be mostly utilized in the best interests of the people waiting for organs. If we did not need it, we would not see Canada ranked among the lowest in performance in that area.

The national registry would be run by professionals, NGOs, all third parties, and even individuals. I have heard from so many different areas across the country, and it is a must. We need a national registry. It is a must. It will never interfere.

It is up to the Minister of Health to put together the best mechanisms to coordinate the efforts of all provinces.

Canadian Organ Donor Registry ActPrivate Member'S Business

1:40 p.m.


Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, I congratulate the member for Edmonton Manning for bringing forward this legislation. It is a wonderful bill. However, I have a question for him.

In 2014, the NDP supported removing the ban on certain organ and tissue donations made by men who have sex with men. Efforts to create a national registry, we believe, should go hand in hand with efforts to remove this unscientific discrimination and replace it with a science-based behavioural screening process.

In 2014 also, the member of Parliament for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke moved a motion in the House of Commons calling for the government to do just that.

The goal is the same. We want to link donors with people who need the organs. If we get this bill to committee, would the member support bringing something like that forward?

Canadian Organ Donor Registry ActPrivate Member'S Business

1:40 p.m.


Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member on the NDP side for his support. It is great to hear.

What we were suggesting is that the minister should be able to find the proper mechanism to coordinate all the efforts. We want to make this bill as perfect as it can be, to serve every Canadian waiting in need and to save the 200-plus lives that we are losing every year because proper coordination is not in place.

With all respect to the efforts and activities happening right now in that area, they are not enough. We need a national eye on that, and only Health Canada is able to do that. I support every effort going into making this legislation as perfect as it can be.

Canadian Organ Donor Registry ActPrivate Member'S Business

1:40 p.m.


Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Madam Speaker, I congratulate the member. I have found in my short time here that quite often private member's bills really do reflect the spirit that this place should have, coming forward in the national good.

What I hear is the need for leadership, directed appropriately at the government side. Is the member aware of any impediments or opposition to the kind of national coordination which he has called for? Has he heard from any of the provinces that suggest there may be some barriers here?

Canadian Organ Donor Registry ActPrivate Member'S Business

1:45 p.m.


Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Madam Speaker, as far as reaching out to different areas, from coast to coast to coast, everything we have heard is extremely positive. Everyone said that it was time, that they needed a hero to carry this and take it through. We have been waiting a long time to have a blessing on the federal stage, or someone who will carry this torch through.

I do not necessarily want to be the hero, but I have a good cause. I am a donor, and my son was a recipient. I and my family have been faced with this since 2003. We got to know so many cases across the country.

We have spoken about the necessity of organ donations, and there has been nothing but positive feedback. With this historical opportunity, I hope the minister will get on it and the government will do the same.

Canadian Organ Donor Registry ActPrivate Member'S Business

1:45 p.m.

Brampton West Ontario


Kamal Khera LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

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.

Canadian Organ Donor Registry ActPrivate Member'S Business

1:55 p.m.


Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like again to offer my congratulations to the member for Edmonton Manning for bringing forward this legislation.

I am proud to be one in the long line of New Democratic Party members of Parliament to speak in favour of this issue over the years. It is absolutely crucial that we support the creation of a pan-Canadian registry for organ donations in collaboration with the provinces and territories.

This is the latest attempt of a parliamentary colleague taking up the NDP's torch from the 40th and 41st Parliaments where former MP Malcolm Allen tabled similar bills. In this Parliament, a Conservative colleague is sponsoring the bill and I truly hope that through debate we can come to an all-party consensus.

It is unfortunate to hear that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health has indicated that the government will not support the bill. I really thought this would be an easy bill for Parliament to pass, but unfortunately it is not.

Back in 2011, Canadian Blood Services and organ and tissue donation transplant communities produced a call to action. This call to action formally recommended the establishment of an integrated interprovincial organ donation and transplantation system by 2017. That is next year.

Every year that we do not act upon this, more Canadians will not get the help they need. According to the Canadian Transplant Society, 1,600 Canadians will be added to organ donor wait-lists every year. This means that at any given time there are approximately 5,000 Canadians who are in need and waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. This is no small matter. These Canadians waiting for transplants often live with severe medical conditions and they must also endure end-stage organ failure.

We know based on surveys that over 80% of the people in this country would donate their organs but fewer than 20% of us have actually made arrangements to do so. Our country's deceased donation rate is relatively low when we put it up against other comparable countries. This is in part due to there being a lack of a nationwide registry that would unify the provinces and other actors that are currently operating independently.

Talking about the benefits of having a registry, my colleague rightly pointed out some clear benefits to this registry, but I would like to highlight some of my own thoughts on this legislation.

The national registry would improve the availability of organs to patients in need of transplants. This is the most obvious benefit, but something else that should be brought up is that it is likely also to reduce provincial health care costs. The reduction in people waiting with severe medical conditions caused by easier access to organs for patients in need would allow costs to come down and also would reduce wait times for other health care needs.

While mentioning wait times, by increasing the efficiency in the supply of donor organs and tissues, a national registry would be fairer and more equitable when it comes to waiting for transplants as right now there are wild disparities in wait times across regions and provinces.

This gives the call to action a very clear context for why such a registry that is accessible, consistent, and allowed to legally authorize donations based on the wishes of the donor is so important.

With all of this in mind, New Democrats are supporting the bill to go to a parliamentary committee so that we can perform an in-depth study of this piece of legislation. The bill is potentially life-saving to many of our fellow Canadians and it is vitally important that we get the details right.

To make sure we get these details right, we should look at the experiences of other jurisdictions before we get rid of the bill wholeheartedly. We have to look at jurisdictions which have implemented presumptive organ and tissue donation as a means of dramatically increasing potential donors to save lives. Right now, we are unfortunately behind countries like Spain, Cuba, Uruguay, and even the United States on donation rates.

We should also, as I mentioned earlier in a question, be speaking about the current discriminatory practice in blood, tissue, and organ donations. New Democrats moved in 2014 that the Government of Canada take immediate measures to end the current discriminatory policy governing blood and organ donations from men who have sex with men. We believe that efforts to create a national registry should go hand-in-hand with efforts to remove this unscientific discrimination and replace it with a science-based, behavioural screening process. It is time for evidence-based decision-making. This would ensure that all potential donors are treated with equal dignity and respect.

The Liberal platform during the election also promised to end this discriminatory ban. Therefore, I think we can find common ground in the House on this issue.

Other reasons for bringing this bill to committee lie with some of the issues we believe need to be worked out. The bill would give substantial power and responsibility to the health minister, rather than delegating it to the administration of the registry, to a registrar, not to mention we would need to make clear the reporting mechanisms to Parliament. There should be a clear, detailed process for provincial affiliation to a national registry.

The parliamentary committee study would give members a chance to hear from witnesses on this bill, something which is incredibly important. These witnesses would inform our opinion on what the final outcome should be.

There are clear details that need to be worked out on this legislation, but we are also in need of it to pass as soon as possible.

This debate makes me remember the struggle of Hélène Campbell a few years ago to find organ donors. She was looking for a double-lung transplant. Instead of just waiting on the list, she was able to raise international awareness to her plight and to the lack of organs that were required for people to heal. She was featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in the United States, and also had a public exchange with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber over social media, which raised awareness and reportedly led to a surge in donor rates.

Personal stories like these enable people to make personal decisions to become organ donors. She was able to get the organs needed and was greeted by the then federal health minister upon her return home.

Hélène's personal story was subjected to media attention and led to some very positive results. However, there are still many more personal stories that are not told internationally but still require just as much immediate attention.

The statistics are clear, and they are dire. Over the past decade, more people have waited for a transplant than the number of operations actually performed in a given year.

With respect to seniors, which is something I take very seriously as the NDP's critic for seniors' issues, there is an increase in end-stage kidney disease linked to the growing aging population in our country. Over the next two decades, our senior population is expected to double. Therefore, this is a particularly strong issue among many and it will get out of hand even more if there is not swift and specific action on that front.

The New Democrats have been highlighting tragic stories in the House for many years. We asked the government to address the issues of desperate Canadians heading overseas to buy organs on the black market, only to see the origans fail when they got home. These Canadians ended up in hospital and, tragically, some died.

We should not be putting the citizens of our country in that kind of a situation.

The situation is currently unacceptable. I think we could move forward swiftly with this legislation if only we had the government's support. We really should be hearing witnesses and discuss the implementation of a national organ donor registry. At least give the committee time to hear from experts on this matter.

We owe it to the people of our country who are living with a stressful wait of organ and tissue donations. They need to see federal leadership on this issue to ensure Canadians get the health care they need.

I would like to again congratulate the member for Edmonton Manning. I know he is personally affected, with his son, and has gone through this. As members of Parliament, when we bring personal stories like his to the House, it brings the betterment out of us. We leave the partisanship behind the door when we bring forward an issue that we know will truly benefit Canada.

I am proud to stand as a member of the New Democratic caucus to lend my full support to getting this bill to committee.

Canadian Organ Donor Registry ActPrivate Member'S Business

2:05 p.m.


Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-223, an act to establish the Canadian Organ Donor Registry and to coordinate and promote organ donation throughout Canada.

This is monumental legislation and I am very proud of my colleague, the member for Edmonton Manning, for introducing it, as it will absolutely save lives.

My comments this afternoon will come from a different perspective than most of those who will have the opportunity to speak to the legislation. I do not presume to be an expert on organ transplant issues. Therefore, I ask the indulgence and patience of my colleagues as I share some of my personal journey over the past several years, some of whom may already know it.

On the May 2, 2011 election night, as my wife Betty and I were watching the early results of the election along with a campaign volunteer, Betty suddenly experienced a headache. Within seconds she collapsed to the floor. While she was breathing normally and had a strong pulse, there was no response. Minutes later, following a 911 call, local volunteer firefighters from the New Dundee detachment were on the scene to provide assistance. They were followed very closely by EMS personnel.

Betty was taken by ambulance to Grand River Hospital, placed on life support, and immediately transferred to a major health centre for more specialized care. ICU personnel and surgical specialists cared for her. They explained in some detail that Betty had experience a spontaneous intracranial hemorrhage and that in spite of surgical intervention attempting to stop the bleeding, their best efforts had been unsuccessful. The intense bleeding had applied extreme pressure to sensitive brain tissue and brain function had ceased.

After consultation with neurosurgeons and ICU doctors regarding Betty's neurological death, we now were faced with the question of the possibility of organ and tissue donation. We were then introduced to a team of very compassionate personnel representing the Trillium Gift of Life Network. They presented the options to us and provided the answers to all of the questions that were raised by me and my three adult children. There was no doubt in our mind as to what Betty would want to do. We knew that she would want to continue giving in the same spirit of generosity in her death as she had always done in her life.

Betty and I had also discussed this issue openly each time we renewed our driver's licence, and had always both agreed that should anything ever happen to either of us we would be open to the question of organ donation. We would want to help in that way.

As I reflect on the difficult journey of our grief during that difficult time, that journey of grief has been made less difficult by two key factors: first, our personal faith journey as followers of Jesus Christ, and our confidence in the resurrection and the certain hope that he gives us; and, second, our decision to follow through on Betty's wish that upon her death, if possible, her organs be donated.

Why not help out one of those thousands of people who are currently on the waiting list for a specific organ? Many of those who are waiting are still in the prime of life, and organ donation can make the difference between life and death. Our decision, while not easy, was made somewhat lighter knowing that someone else would possibly receive the gift of life, even as we journeyed into our own grief and loss.

As an aside, on a technical note, let me assure members of the House and Canadians that we can rely on the safety of organ transplants in our country. This is because of Canada's strong organ transplant community, and Health Canada's work in establishing rigorous safety standards and requirements through the implementation of the safety of human cells, tissue and organs for transplantation regulations.

In the years and months following Betty's death, the Trillium Gift of Life Network followed up regularly with letters of support, offering access to resources, and letting me know of the health status of the organ recipients. Five people had received the gift of life through organs that were transplanted: heart, liver, lungs, and two separate kidney recipients. In addition, others have benefited from the gift of her eyes, bone, and muscle tissue, which will aid in the transplant process. I know that because of our decision to donate, there are now at least five people enjoying fuller, richer lives, and even more who are benefiting from tissue transplants.

We are in a death-denying society. No one wants to think he or she will die before 80 or 90. Because of amazing medical advancements, many people will live to that age, and even beyond. However, we have no guarantee, as my family discovered so quickly, and with no advance warning of any kind. We know that 4,000 Canadians are waiting for organ donation at any given period.

In Ontario alone, more than 1,500 people are waiting for a life-giving transplant. More than 1,000 of those people are waiting for a kidney transplant.

It is easy to register one's intention to donate. In Ontario, one can simply go to the website Elsewhere in Canada, one can go to

Right now, only 20% of Ontario's residents have registered their intent to be an organ or tissue donor. Why not go online right now and register?

In addition to registering, it is important for individuals to discuss this matter with their families. They should let their families know their decision and then register at This decision could very well save a life and offer hope.

Thousands of adults and children are counting on us and our fellow Canadians to give the gift of life. It is time that we as a nation closed the gap between the need for life-saving and life-enhancing organs and the supply of organs that are available. Why not take steps now to make a difference? It could be anyone: a son, a daughter, or a granddaughter who will be the recipient of our or someone else's good decision to register to donate our organs.

I think all my colleagues will understand why I seconded this fantastic initiative by my colleague. It really is unacceptable that 200 Canadians die each year waiting for an organ transplant when only 20% of Canadians are registered.

Canada needs a national initiative that raises organ donation awareness and encourages people to register to be a donor.

As I said at the beginning of my talk, a Canadian organ donor registry would save lives, and I am hopeful that all parties in this House will unanimously support this extremely important legislation.

Let me just add that I ask the government not to hide behind potential jurisdictional challenges and to support Bill C-223.

Canadian Organ Donor Registry ActPrivate Member'S Business

2:10 p.m.


David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-223 and our government's efforts to improve the organ and tissue donation and transplantation system in Canada.

Indeed, the member for Edmonton—Manning has put an important issue before the House. Evidence demonstrates that organ and issue donation and transplantation saves lives, improves the health status of Canadians, and is cost effective for the health care system. It is, in a word, important.

For example, in 2014 2,356 Canadian lives were saved through organ transplants. Patient and family testimonials attest to the improvements in longevity and quality of life of patients receiving organ transplants.

Transplantation is also cost effective for our health care system. For example, the most cost-effective treatment for end-stage kidney disease is transplantation. Dialysis costs between $40,000 and $60,000 a year. A kidney transplant costs approximately $40,000, followed by approximately $10,000 in transplant drug therapy. Over time, that would lead to over $100 million in cost savings for the health care system per year if all patients waiting at year end received a transplant.

Our government is committed to working closely with our provincial and territorial counterparts and key stakeholders to provide the best results for Canadians as it relates to organ and tissue donation and transplantation in Canada.

As my colleague, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health noted, the government of Canada is doing its part by recognizing that improvements are needed in the organ and tissue donation and transplantation system in Canada. Together with the provincial and territorial governments, we have invested over $64 million since 2008 to support the Canadian Blood Services' efforts to improve the system. This funding supports its work in establishing three vital interprovincial organ sharing programs under the Canadian transplant registry.

We know from recently published statistics from the Canadian Institute for Health Information that over the last decade the number of Canadians waiting for a new organ has been higher than the number of transplants performed within a given year. In fact, we know that more than 4,500 Canadians were waiting for a transplant in 2014.

With an aging Canadian population, we expect that there will be a higher demand for organs over time. This means we must collectively focus our efforts on increasing the number of organ donors across Canada. One donor alone can save up to eight lives and benefit more than 75 people.

We can all help. Organ and tissue donation is a unique opportunity to make a concrete difference in the life of someone else. Three ways that have been proven to increase the number of organ donors across Canada are strengthening public awareness, improving health professional education, and implementing leading practices.

Our government is committed to encouraging Canadians to become organ donors through active public awareness campaigns. Since December 2013, Health Canada has had a web page on the Healthy Canadians website to promote organ and tissue donation across Canada and assist Canadians with registering as donors with their provincial and territorial organizations through an interactive map. I would invite all my colleagues in the House to visit the website.

April17-23 is National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week , and our government, the provinces and territories, and Canadian Blood Services are sending messages to Canadians and promoting events to raise public awareness.

Our government is committed to encouraging all Canadians to consider becoming donors. It takes a few minutes to take the important step of registering to donate. Canadians are also being encouraged to discuss organ and tissue donation with their doctors and their families and friends. It is important that they know your wishes and you know theirs.

In addition to raising public awareness, the other proven methods of increasing the number of donors are through improving health professional education and implementing leading practices. Health care professionals are a critical factor in improving the number of donors. Opportunities may be missed if physicians are unaware of best practices, do not know the patient's wishes regarding donation, or do not ask families about donation.

Over the last decade, the skill level among clinicians in the organ and tissue donation and transplantation community has increased through professional education on leading practices. For example, through the Canadian Blood Services' initiative, new leading practices have been developed on topics such as donor management, death determination, and end-of-life family conversations and consent. These leading practices are being shared and implemented across the country through training health care professionals and changing health care policies or procedures for organ and tissue donation and transplantation.

Our government applauds these efforts and is committed to continuing to work with the provinces and territories, the Canadian Blood Services, and other key stakeholders to enhance the organ and tissue donation and transplantation system in Canada.

Our government strongly supports the objective of improving the organ and tissue donation and transplantation system but believes that Bill C-223 would not lead to improved donation rates. As my colleague the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health noted, the evidence does not support registries as a way to improve donation rates.

The other measures proposed in the bill would duplicate the collaborative initiatives already under way with the provinces and territories, and with Canadian Blood Services. The proposed measures would also infringe on provincial and territorial jurisdictions for the delivery of health care in the area of organ and tissue donation and transplantation.

Provinces and territories are already investing in strategies known to improve organ donation rates, such as professional education, implementation of leading and best practices, compilation of quality data to support performance management and public reporting, investments in research and innovation, and enhancements to health system capacity.

We believe that introducing national legislation without adequate consultation, engagement, and buy-in from the provinces and territories and other key stakeholders would be detrimental to the system improvement work that is already under way. It is an implementation, jurisdiction, and co-operation issue, not necessarily a philosophical one.

Our government is committed to improving the organ donation rates to ultimately improve the organ and tissue donation and transplantation system in Canada.

Our government commends every living and deceased donor and their families who have saved the lives of thousands of Canadians. We applaud every Canada who has registered to become a donor, every organization that is promoting organ donation awareness, all health care professionals who are enhancing their skills through training, and every health care institution that is implementing new policies and procedures to improve organ donation.

Together we can make a difference. Together we can produce results for Canadians. Together we can ensure that Canada has a world-class organ and tissue donation and transplantation system.

I would like to congratulate the member for Edmonton Manning for his hard work on this file, and I look forward to the debate continuing.

Canadian Organ Donor Registry ActPrivate Member'S Business

2:20 p.m.


Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Madam Speaker, first I want to thank the member for Edmonton Manning for bringing the bill forward and also sharing his very personal story.

I am so pleased to speak in support of Bill C-233 . Last week, my son Henry donated blood for the first time. His commitment came from having a cousin who battled leukemia and at this point is healthy, as his mother watches and waits.

Often when we know what we can do to help, we do it. For many years I was a volunteer with a hospice. Every Saturday evening, I would sit with the palliative patients and their families. Some of these families were still holding out for an organ donation to save their family members. It was incredibly hard to sit with these families who could do nothing but hold onto hope.

We know that every year 1,600 Canadians will be added to the organ donor list, while 5,000 Canadians are still waiting. These numbers tell us a story. They tell us the story that we need to do better.

A national registry would make a significant difference. It would help people across this country. It would increase access, address disparities, and increase efficiency. It would be a national program that could bring all the provinces and territories together to make a difference, to give people a second chance in this life.

In my riding of North Island—Powell River, I have a constituent named Debbie Hooper, who is a 56-year-old grandmother. She has been waiting three years by her phone, waking every morning hoping the call will come that means her lung disease will be fixed by this amazing gift of an organ transplant.

Across this country, people are facing challenges that many of us have never experienced. We have to do our due diligence as people who have been elected to sit in this place to make sure we are helping save the lives of people in this country, and that we are creating accessibility.

I have heard from the other side, and I am so sad to see that the bill will not be passed by the other side.

We need to send the bill to committee. We need to be hearing those witnesses from across this country. We need to hear how it is going to work. We are asking that the bill be before committee so that we can see potential solutions that would make a difference and give people their lives.

Brenda Small is another constituent who received a transplant, and she said something extremely poignant. “It’s the worst day of somebody’s life and the best day of yours. I cry every time I think about it.”

If we are not doing our work, bringing forward this issue to committee, having the discussions we need to have so that we can make the best decisions, bringing together the provinces and territories to see how we can do this more effectively, then we are not doing our jobs.

I ask, please, for people to take this into their hearts, to think as we are supposed to in the House of Commons, and to make a decision that looks after the people of Canada.

I thank the member for his hard work. I am thankful for the history that we have in this place of multiple members bringing forward private member's bills in this same theme of creating a united country, acknowledging that we have a universal health care system, and making a change that will save lives.

Canadian Organ Donor Registry ActPrivate Member'S Business

2:20 p.m.


Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Madam Speaker, I have to admit that I was not anticipating getting to speak today, until a couple of minutes ago, but I appreciate the opportunity to stand in the House on this private member's legislation. One thing I would like to do is explain to new members in the House why, even if they are not at this point convinced of the legislation, the bill needs to go to committee.

I heard the parliamentary secretary's arguments earlier today about jurisdictional issues, and the various problems that this bill may have, but I will remind hon. members, particularly government members, who, of course, will naturally have a certain degree of deference for the parliamentary secretary, which no one is disputing, that this is a bill that seeks to solve a real problem. It is helping to save people's lives. The principles underlying this I am sure every single member of the House agrees with. The parliamentary secretary and members of all parties have said that.

I ask hon. members on the other side to think about this and vote for the bill at least at second reading. Why? We are voting for the principle of the bill. The underlying principle, is to save lives. This is what the hon. member was trying to point out with his very compelling personal story of his great courage with his son and so forth.

Yes, the details of every piece of legislation sometimes are not perfect and sometimes they need to be worked out. However, this is what we need to think about and why this legislation needs to go to committee, so that we can make a better and more perfect piece of legislation to advance this cause.

No one in the House disputes that more lives could be saved if more Canadians were interested in signing up and supporting organ donation to save lives. However, if we end this piece of legislation before it gets to committee, we won't have the ability to understand, argue in a positive sense, and figure out ways to improve the system that we have in Canada.

I have been in the House for a few years, on both sides of the aisle, previously in government and this is the second time in opposition. I realize governments tend to be a little hesitant in supporting private members' legislation that the government is not deeply invested in, but in the previous session, I was the second most likely Conservative member in the House to break party ranks, often because I believe things should be voted on and sent to committee to be discussed and thought about. I was sometimes the only Conservative to back NDP or Liberal legislation. When speaking with voters after having voted for legislation that was not perfect, I never found that people told me it was not a perfect bill and that I had made a mistake by voting for it. That is why I am making the case for what we are doing today.

I will admit that I do not completely understand the differences and the jurisdictional issues between the provincial system and the federal system. I do not totally understand what all may be involved, but I do understand this absolute one simple fact, that this is an attempt to make a system better, a system that is not world class, that is not first, that is not the best. On something this serious and substantive, human life, we should absolutely give our all.

That is why I am asking all members, even if they are unsure of the legislation, to give this piece of legislation a chance. Organ donation saves lives. It is one of the most noble causes we will ever be able to support around here, because there is nothing more precious than human life.

I encourage all hon. members to think about this. Even if they are not completely convinced of the merits of the legislation, they should remember to vote for it in principle at second reading so that we can make it better.

I am happy to have had the time to share my words with the House.

Canadian Organ Donor Registry ActPrivate Member'S Business

2:25 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The member will have another five minutes for debate, should he so choose, the next time the matter is before the House.

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

It being 2:30 p.m., this House stands adjourned until Monday at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2:30 p.m.)