Madam Speaker, I would like to deeply thank my colleagues, the hon. members for Vancouver Kingsway, Calgary Confederation, Calgary Shepard, and Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, for their eloquent speeches, their efforts, and their support.
Before I begin my speech, I would like to comment on the parliamentary secretary's speech this morning in which he stated that this bill is unnecessary. Almost 300 Canadians are dying needlessly every year. This bill tries to do something about it by trying to put forward an act that would help reduce that number or perhaps wipe it out completely. It is unfortunate that the parliamentary secretary is taking such a political position on something that would be touching Canadian lives and Canadians' health and future every day.
We in this House have an opportunity to do good or ill for Canada. I am asking all honourable Members to make a choice to do good and support Bill C-223.
Health professionals and transplant advocacy organizations are calling for an improved organ donation system in Canada. Working together, we have the power to benefit all Canadians. We need a national organ donor registry.
We have also heard from some today who have concerns about the proposed registry. I appreciate their opinions. However, I urge all members to not allow the naysayers to influence their vote. I am asking members to carefully consider this issue and this bill and to do the right thing. If members feel that this bill has flaws, then they should make suggestions as to what needs to be done to improve it. It should be sent it to committee, as all of the members on this side and the NDP said earlier today. There, witnesses from across the country can talk about organ donation, transplantation, and the need for improvements in the system we now use.
This is not some abstract theory we are debating. For many Canadians, this literally is a matter of life and death. I have mentioned before that I am an organ donor and that my son is a three-time transplant recipient. Without those operations, he would have died.
In 2014, there were 2,356 organ transplant surgeries performed in Canada. At the end of the year, more than 4,500 Canadians were still waiting for the call that an organ was available for them. I deeply understand how they feel. In 2014, 278 Canadians died waiting for organ transplants, and 246 died the year before. In 2012, Canada ranked 20th out of 75 countries for deceased organ donor rates. Spain, the United States, and the United Kingdom are among the countries that are doing much better than we are.
This is not a partisan issue. This is not an area in which we should be playing politics. This is not something that should be subject to bureaucrats protecting their turf and saying that this bill should be rejected because it does not conform to their vision of the way things should work. The system needs to be improved, and this bill would do that.
When we first spoke about Bill C-223, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health told us “the bill would duplicate existing initiatives between the federal government, provinces, territories, and the Canadian Blood Services.” That is not the case. The bill gives the Minister of Health the legislative authority to determine how the registry is set up. It does not duplicate existing initiatives. However, it does provide a national vision.
Those in transplant advocacy groups are asking for this legislation. They say that what is in place is a good start but is not good enough.
Medical professionals and patient organizations have been telling me that Canada does not have a true organ donation registry and that we must have one.
The parliamentary secretary also said that another reason the bill will not be supported—