Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to rise here today to speak in support of the bill.
I am actually quite shocked that the government will not be supporting its own private member in this particular situation, given the nature of the bill to potentially save lives across this country.
Certainly on this side of the House, we value life, and we value the ability of individuals to help people in certain situations where this an emergency. I can speak to this on a first-hand basis, given that I spent 30 and a half years as a firefighter. I am trained in first aid. I am trained in CPR. I am trained in AED. I have seen first-hand the impact that training can have, not just with myself, but with my colleagues, and several thousands of colleagues across the country, who are trained to act, in particular those who are not paid professionals and are there when people need them.
Therefore, to spend 10 minutes of one's speech talking about the implementation of the budget, which I think we are dealing with tomorrow, I find a little disingenuous. I certainly understand my colleague for Cariboo—Prince George standing on a point of order, particularly when the parliamentary secretary was focused on his government's middle-class tax fraud. However, I will say that given the experience I have had, that is why I rise in support of this private member's bill.
I will give members an example of how helping people in an emergency situation is beneficial. Just after I was elected to Parliament, I think it was my second trip to Ottawa, I was heading home back to Barrie—Innisfil. When driving down Bank Street, there was someone who was hit by a car. My medical gloves are never too far away, and I stopped, as one would expect, to help this individual until the fire department and ambulance showed up. This is really what the bill is speaking to. I will also say that in Barrie—Innisfil, we have a tremendous amount of experience with respect to AEDs.
I want to spend a bit of time talking about Chase McEachern. For those in this country who do not know Chase, he was a hockey player from Barrie and a prolific goal scorer. At the age of five, he scored 130 goals while he played for the Vaughan Kings Minor Pewee AAA team in the Greater Toronto Hockey League.
In 2005, at the age of 11, after being injured while playing a pick-up football game at school, he went to the emergency room where doctors found that Chase's heart was beating up to 150 times a minute. He went by air ambulance to The Hospital for Sick Children and underwent a cardioversion, in which doctors returned his heart rhythm back to normal with a small electric pulse. Chase was able to return to school and continue playing hockey, but this time under doctor's orders while wearing a heart monitor.
It was at that time that Chase started a campaign to make AEDs mandatory at hockey arenas and schools everywhere, because he realized that heart problems did not just affect older people. Chase, in fact, wrote to Don Cherry. He got Don Cherry involved by writing the hockey commentator a letter asking for his support, and, in what has become legend, Don Cherry actually brought it up on Coach's Corner.
Sadly, before the campaign had a chance to fly, Chase collapsed during gym class and was rushed to hospital where it was discovered that he had suffered severe brain damage due to a lack of oxygen. After a heartbreaking six days on respirator, his parents made the decision to take him off of it.
As a result of that tragedy, the Chase McEachern Memorial Fund aims to have an automatic external defibrillator or AED in public places, such as community centres and arenas. It is a legacy from this tragedy that Chase's parents, his father John, have carried on in Chase's memory.
Since 2006, over 12,000 AEDs have been put in these places because of the Chase McEachern memorial fund. In fact, just two weeks ago, on May 16, I attended a CPR and AED training session in Barrie at Georgian Chevrolet that acted as not only a free training session that was put on by Mr. McEachern and others, but also to benefit the Chase McEachern memorial fund. This Sunday, there is golf tournament at Angus Glen to help support the fund.
Imagine an 11-year old boy having that great an impact on our country and having 12,000 AEDs in place.
I also want to highlight as well the significance of the Simcoe County public access defibrillator training. Since 2006, Simcoe County paramedics have trained 11,485 people in first aid, CPR, and the use of an AED since the start of our program, with 1,307 people trained in 2015. Fourteen public access defibrillator saves have been made since the program started. In 2015, the latest statistics show that three people have been saved by public access defibrillators.
To suggest that this is not a priority is misguided for the government. I heard the hon. parliamentary secretary speak about tax credits and the fact that the government would not support them. When we look at some of the impacts that tax credits have had, particularly on the issue of life safety like this, there should be no doubt that this is something the government should consider. We on this side of the House support it.
One of the things I want to focus on with respect to tax credits and the significance they have to people in our country is the fitness tax credit. I do not think any of us would be against this. The fact is that the health and fitness of our children is paramount to the future of our country.
From 2006 to 2015, $1.13 billion in tax credits have been claimed by Canadian families just with the fitness tax credit alone. That has meant that middle-class families have been able to put their kids into sports and receive tax credits. I have spoken about this before in the House, but in my situation, with four children, the tax credit has made it much easier for me to put my kids into fitness activities. On the arts side, between 2011 and 2015 tax years, Canadians have claimed $190 million in credits. These credits have been wiped out, yet they directly impacted Canadian families.
This private member's bill would not only impact Canadian families and potentially save some lives, but it would be an incentive for people to train in first aid, CPR, and the use of automatic external defibrillators.
In some of the talks we have had, it is my understanding that right now only 18% of Canadians are current in their first aid and CPR training. If there is any way at all that they can be given an incentive to continue on with that training, I do not see that as an issue.
The bottom line is that we want people to act in the event of an emergency. We want them to be able to render assistance until first responders are able to arrive. Oftentimes in first aid and CPR training we talk about the golden hour, the golden 15 minutes, where one can actually make a difference in somebody's life by starting CPR and first aid.
I am proud to say that just yesterday, the first outside automatic external defibrillator was delivered in Barrie, Ontario.
It is so important that people not only know first aid or CPR, but it is so important to give them the ability to train on AEDs. This private member's bill would do that. We on this side of the House are very supportive of the bill. I thank the member for Cambridge for bringing it forward.