Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-240, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit — first aid). I thank my colleague from Cambridge for bringing this important issue to the House.
I was excited to see my colleague opposite offering Canadians a tax credit rather than increasing their taxes. I hope it is the first of many.
This bill, as we all know, proposes amending the Income Tax Act to provide a non-refundable tax credit to individuals who complete a first aid or other health and safety instructional program or course. The proposed tax credit will be similar to the federal student tuition taxation credit for everyone who takes life-saving first aid, CPR or automated external defibrillator, AED, training.
This bill could mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation. Tax credits like the one proposed in this bill will encourage Canadians to get trained and certified in CPR, first aid, and AED use. During an emergency, having someone on site who is trained in first aid and CPR could make the difference as we all know.
In fact, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, there are 40,000 cardiac arrest incidents in Canada each year. That is one every thirteen minutes, and 85% of those incidents will take place outside of hospitals. After 12 minutes, the survival rate is just 5%. After four minutes, significant brain damage can occur. During an emergency situation, CPR plus an AED double the chance of survival.
These are our neighbours, our friends, and family. The importance of CPR, first aid, and AED training is clear just by looking at the number of people who spend their hard-earned money to be trained, groups like Scouts and Girl Guides, youth groups, babysitters, camp counsellors, first responders, just to name a few. That includes, of course, both adults and children.
St. John Ambulance alone, certifies more than 550,000 Canadians a year, with more than 100 locations across Canada, including a location in Lindsay in my riding.
The proposed bill will have a direct impact on Canadians who may be considering training, but are worried about the cost. However, for most people looking to take these types of courses, it really is not about the prices. It is about helping our fellow Canadians. Therefore, why not give them thanks from the Government of Canada, after all they are spending their own money.
Canadians coast to coast will see the direct benefits of this proposed change. This is not a new issue of importance for Canadians or for the government. It was our government that initiated the national AED program, which saw $10 million funded through the Public Health Agency of Canada, to install AEDs in rinks, arenas, and recreation centres all across Canada.
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, this initiative, recently concluded, was responsible for the installation of 3,234 AEDs and the training of 25,360 Canadians on how to respond to cardiac arrest situation.
In my riding this program allowed for 23 AEDs to be installed in public access areas like the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena in Minden, the A.J. LaRue Arena in Haliburton, and the Lindsay Recreation Complex.
This program has already been responsible for saving 10 lives across Canada.
I believe this bill represents a continuation of a number of tax credits initially started by our previous government, including the children's fitness and arts tax credits, both of which are now sadly gone, and the volunteer firefighters tax credit. The volunteer firefighters tax credit had the same effect I think this bill will have. It encouraged Canadians to be trained and to help each other. It allowed for Canadians to help themselves. Again, it is not about the cost, it is about helping our fellow citizens.
As such, we should let the measure we are discussing now, and the previously mentioned measures, act as a way of giving back to Canadians for trying to help and do the right thing. In many small communities, like those in my riding, many firefighting departments are completely run by volunteers. These Canadians sacrifice their time and safety, even time with family, to help protect others.
Increasing the number of Canadians who have the financial ability to be trained in CPR, first aid, and AED use will help Canadians coast to coast to coast, especially in remote and rural areas where medical assistance is not always around the corner.
A 2012 Ipsos Reid poll showed that 38% of Canadians said that they had provided first aid, and 78% believed it was important to know how to perform first aid. While the information is a few years old, it is still very relevant for the discussion on this bill. The results showed that two in three Canadians had taken a first aid course, with only 18% having taken it within three years of the poll, and 49% having taken it more than three years before that poll.
Canadians who have taken a first aid course are significantly more competent in their skills to help someone in a medical emergency.
The results of this poll help paint a very big picture. It paints a picture of the importance of first aid, CPR, and AED training. Similar information has been found by our neighbours south of the border. According to the American Heart Association, each year more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States. Almost 90% of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die.
CPR, especially if performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person's chance of survival. Seventy per cent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in homes. Unfortunately, only about 46% of people who experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest get the immediate help they need before professional help arrives.
Our Conservative Party highly values life and life-saving capabilities, and I support incentives and rewards to help save lives. If more medically trained personnel exist, financial burdens to emergency services may be reduced, resulting in greater efficiency and productivity.
While there is much to praise about the proposed bill, I look forward to seeing what the potential cost of these measures will be. We need to ensure that proper balance of tax credits and fiscal responsibility are there.
Canadians are kind and generous people, as we all know. I believe the bill would give Canadians an increased opportunity to be certified in first aid, CPR, and AED use, which of course, as I think we all agree in the House, is a benefit to all.
I would like to thank the Canadian Red Cross, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, St. John Ambulance, and all the organizations that have promoted, trained, and certified Canadians in first aid, CPR, and AED use. I would also like to thank the volunteers, because we cannot forget the volunteers who work so hard in our communities to make them safer.
People should remember that during CPR, we should push on the chest at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute, or to the beat of the Bee Gees song, Stayin' Alive.
I encourage all members to support the bill and to encourage all Canadians to get trained in first aid, CPR, and AED use. It could mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation.