House of Commons Hansard #236 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was criminal.


(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #400

National Sickle Cell Awareness Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried.

National Sickle Cell Awareness Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before we begin tonight, the Chair would like to take a moment to provide some information to the House regarding the management of private members' business.

As members know, after the order of precedence is replenished, the Chair reviews the new items so as to alert the House to bills that, at first glance, appear to infringe on the financial prerogative of the crown. This allows members the opportunity to intervene in a timely fashion to present their views about the need for those bills to be accompanied by a royal recommendation.

Accordingly, following the October 23, 2017 replenishment of the order of precedence with 15 new items, I wish to inform the House that there are two bills that give the Chair some concern as to the spending provisions they contemplate. They are:

Bill C-364, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and to make a consequential amendment to another act (political financing) standing in the name of the member for Terrebonne.

Bill C-374, an act to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act (composition of the Board) standing in the name of the member for Cloverdale—Langley City.

I would encourage hon. members who would like to make arguments regarding the need for royal recommendations to accompany these bills or any of the other bills now on the order of precedence to do so at an early opportunity.

I thank all hon. members for their attention.

It being 6:14 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

British Home Child DayPrivate Members' Business

November 22nd, 2017 / 6:15 p.m.


Guy Lauzon Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON


That, in the opinion of the House, the government should recognize the contributions made by the over 100,000 British Home Children to Canadian society, their service to our armed forces throughout the twentieth century, the hardships and stigmas that many of them endured, and the importance of educating and reflecting upon the story of the British Home Children for future generations by declaring September 28 of every year, British Home Child Day in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely honoured today to rise to speak about my private member's motion, Motion No. 133, to establish a British home child day in Canada, which would be recognized on September 28 of every year. Despite writing a vital chapter in the story of Canada, many Canadians have never heard a whisper of these children's stories. It is my hope that with this motion, this can change.

Over 100,000 children, from infancy to 18 years of age, were sent to Canada from Great Britain, England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales between 1869 and 1948 as home children. Most of these children were needed as farm labourers and domestic workers in homes across Canada. They were part of the child emigration movement. A large majority of these children were from orphanages and institutions, while others were children from streets of the cities in Great Britain. They were the British home children.

Until recent years, very few Canadians knew about the British home children. Their stories of hardship, courage, determination, and perseverance were not part of Canadian history books, nor were they mentioned by most of Canada's home children. Of special note, the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies was established as a direct result of the British home child migration scheme.

While the industrial revolution created many positive outcomes for Great Britain, it did create massive pressure on the social networks of the larger cities. Many families found themselves destitute, with thousands of children falling through the cracks. Many children began living on the streets, while others were placed in orphanages. For every child, there was a different circumstance that put him or her in need of care and support.

With so many children living on the streets or in orphanages, a movement emerged in which individuals, philanthropists, faith-based groups, and charitable organizations sought to care for these unfortunate children. For the most part, these people and organizations, often referred to as “child savers”, felt they were doing a good and noble thing for the children. Maria Rye brought the first group of British children to Canada in 1869, housing the children in a refurbished jail in Niagara-on-the-Lake until she was able to find families that would take them in.

Following Maria Rye's lead, approximately 50 individuals or organizations over the next eight decades brought or sent children to Canada. They believed these children had a better chance for a healthy, moral life in the vastness of rural Canada, where food, fresh air, land, and opportunities flourished. It is also common knowledge that healthy, strong children could be of great benefit as labourers in a very young and expanding country.

With everything they owned packed in small boxes, trunks, or bags, these children started their new lives in Canada. Canada was seen as the country of milk and honey and a new life seemed like a huge adventure to many of these children. Upon arrival from Great Britain by ship, these children were then put on trains and sent to communities that had receiving and distribution homes. Children stayed in these homes until they were distributed out to families that had applied for them. A contract or indenture would be drawn up for a set number of years between the organization and the applicant.

Often the children went to rural areas, where they were seen by many as cheap labour, working from before sunrise to after sunset. Although many of the home children were treated very poorly, neglected, and mentally and physically abused, many others did experience better lives. Some were welcomed as one of the family, loved and nurtured. Most of these children drew on their outstanding courage, strength, and perseverance and went on to lead healthy and productive lives. They contributed to the growth and development of this wonderful country called Canada, with many British home children enlisting in World War I and World War II.

Why are we just learning about them now? Many British home children carried a stigma of neglect, abuse, torment, and isolation that endured until adulthood. This weighed heavy on their hearts and souls, and they did not wish to talk about their early lives and, therefore, a piece of our country's history was buried.

In recent years, many descendants believed that these children had nothing to be ashamed of and should not have to hide the truth about their childhoods. They also believed that the British home children deserved to have their stories collected, preserved, and told. One of these descendants is Dave Lorente, son of Joseph Arthur Lorente.

Following his father's death, he spent countless hours at the Library and Archives Canada searching through ships' records for his father's arrival in Canada. He discovered that he was an orphan and that he was a British home child. Dave and Kay Lorente founded Home Child Canada in 1991, assisting descendants with research and understanding their heritage. In 1998, the were invited by the British House of Commons to address its all-party committee looking into the welfare of former child migrants. In 2011, Jim Brownell, the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry in the legislature of Ontario, presented a private member's bill to have September 28 declared as British Home Child Day in Ontario, with the bill co-sponsored by MPP Cheri DiNovo and Steve Clark. It passed unanimously and received royal assent on June 1, 2011. Since 2010, the Year of the British Home Child in Canada, thousands of Canadians have discovered that they are among the estimated 12% to 14% of Canadians who are descendants of British home children.

I would like to share a few local stories that illustrate the rich history of this chapter of Canada's story that is currently missing from many history books. The first is a story by Ron Baker, a constituent of mine from Cornwall. He said:

For decades, I and my brothers and sisters believed that our father Edwin was an American born in Boston, USA....

That all changed on August 15, 2008, when I came across an old torn envelope addressed to my late father at the Gibbs Home in Sherbrooke, Que, sent from India. I googled 'Gibbs Home' and a couple of emails later, I discovered a whole new chapter of my father's life that was previously unknown to me and to the rest of my family.

Yes, my father was born in Boston, but it was actually the Boston in Lincolnshire, on the east coast of England.

What I discovered was the quintessential story of the British home child. At the age of ten his mother, Rebecca, died in a Workhouse, probably of tuberculosis, according to a file sent to me from the Church of England Children's Society, formerly Waifs and Strays. My father was placed into care by his grandfather Charles, aged 60.

At the age of almost 15, my father was given the choice of coming to Canada or going to Australia. He chose Canada because some of his friends were going there. After farming training at Stoneygate Farm School he was sent to Canada on the SS DORIC along with 32 other boys. He arrived at Quebec City on July 7 1928 and from there went to the Gibbs Home in Sherbrooke, under the watchful eye of Thomas Keeley. He worked at several Quebec farms in Bulwer, Eaton, Ayerscliff ,Bromptonville and Lennoxville.

My father, like many of the Home Children, did everything they could to distance themselves from their past to eliminate the bullying. They disposed of their trunks and their English accents....

After marrying and serving in the military, my father worked at a munitions factory in Valleyfield before moving to Deep River to work at the newly established Atomic Energy plant, where he worked in the Chemical Extraction Division.

My father successfully shed his English accent and never spoke of his native country, even in spite of the fact that we had English neighbours in Deep River. It amazes me to this day that there were no slip-ups when speaking with the neighbours.

I would also like to share a few other brief stories from my riding that also highlight the story and accomplishments of British home children. There is the story of Charles Conroy, who was the grandfather of a local constituent and friend of mine, Carolyn Goddard. He was born in London, England in 1889 to Robert and Julia Conroy, who lived in St. George Hanover Square. After the death of his parents, he and his siblings lived in a workhouse. It was from there that Charles was sent to Canada by the Catholic Emigration Society in 1905, arriving in Quebec before being sent to St. George's Home in Ottawa, where he was indentured to a farmer near Stittsville, Ontario. He later worked as a chef at Boston Lunch in Ottawa and was conscripted during World War I. Conroy had three children, two of which, June and William, lived to adulthood.

Carol also shared with me another story, about Claude Nunney. Claude was born in Hastings, England, and came under the care of the Catholic emigration service, which sent him to Canada as a British home child in 1905. He spent some time at St. George's Home in Ottawa before being sent to Glengarry County, in Ontario, where he worked on farms before enlisting in World War I and serving with the 38th Battalion, CEF. Nunney died as a result of wounds on September 18, 1918. During his wartime service, he received the Victoria Cross, the Distinguished Conduct Medal, and the Military Medal. At the legion in Lancaster, Ontario, there is an Ontario historic sites plaque, and earlier in 2017, a blue plaque was unveiled at his childhood home in Hastings, U.K. I thank Carol for those two stories.

To help illustrate the passion and dedication many of my constituents have for the need to enshrine the stories of the British home children as part of the national story, I would like to speak a little about a brother and sister who have dedicated countless hours to this cause, Jim Brownell and Judy Neville. I mentioned earlier that Jim was a former MPP from my riding. His sister, Judy, shared the following story with me. In 2010, she found out that her grandmother was an orphan from Scotland who became a British home child. Her name was Mary Scott Pearson.

On May 19, 2011, I, along with many people from eastern Ontario, boarded chartered buses and travelled to Toronto to witness the second and third reading of Bill 185 in the legislature of Ontario and to see it sent to the Lieutenant-Governor's office for royal assent. This private member's bill was initiated by then MPP Jim Brownell, of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry. I would like to thank Judy and Jim.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the recent work of Eleanor McGrath, whose documentary focusing on the story of British home children, entitled Forgotten, has travelled worldwide to film festivals and has received several awards.

I would like to end with a personal connection to the British home children. Sophia Titterington came to Canada aboard the SS Corinthian in July 1905, when she was nine years old. I know this because she was a neighbour of mine when I was just a child. She came with her sister Sarah, who was only seven years old. The year before, her brother John had made the crossing and had been sent out to western Canada to work, and unfortunately, he was never seen again.

Upon arrival, they were sent to a receiving home, in Brockville, known as Fairknowe, where the sisters were split up. The younger Sarah was sent to the farming community of Finch, in my riding, where she worked as a domestic. Years later, she made her way to Trenton, where she died at the young age of 23.

Sophia was sent out as a domestic to Belleville and later married William Pelkey, at the age of 21. They relocated to Cornwall and had seven children. Sophia never revealed to her children or grandchildren her past as a home child. Sophia, like so many of the home children, was shamed into staying silent due to social stigma.

Sophia lived to be 74 years old, before passing in Cornwall. It was much later on, around 2001, when my sister Claire and her husband, Bill Pelkey, who was Sophia's grandson, began looking into the family history and the information emerged about her true past.

This story is similar to those of tens of thousands of other British home children, throughout the country, who kept their stories buried deep inside. That is the reason I urge each of my colleagues in this chamber, from both sides of the House, to lend their support to my motion to ensure that the stories and names of the British home children are forever ingrained in the history and story of Canada.

British Home Child DayPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.


Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry for allowing me to be the seconder of this motion, and I am looking forward to speaking more fully on it in a few minutes.

The motion specifically mentions the wartime contributions of the British home children. Information I have here, and again, I think this information changes as more information becomes available, is that 689 British home children died in 1917 at the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele,, and the Battle of Hill 70. Even though there was a stigma attached to these individuals who came here with nothing, and were often mistreated, they saw fit to support our country in World War I and World War II.

I wonder if the member can add to that.

British Home Child DayPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.


Guy Lauzon Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is right. I can only imagine how frightening it must have been for 12-year-olds, 11-year-olds, or even 15-year-olds to leave their homes, their country, to go to a completely new country. In some cases, they were mistreated on arrival and lived through that horror that sometimes happened, then they were called up to war.

The bravery of these men and women who came, and beyond that, went to war for this country they emigrated to, is beyond belief. I mentioned Claude Nunney, who received the Victoria Cross and died in 1918. This is the kind of people we got.

Between four million and five million Canadians are direct descendants of these wonderful people who came. That is why this country is such a wonderful country. That is why our military is so great even today.

British Home Child DayPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.


Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry for bringing this motion forward. I just want to ask the member what he thought of the unanimous consent motion here a few months ago, when the House of Commons apologized to the British home children and their descendants. It was a unanimous consent motion at the end of question period. A lot of people probably did not even know what was being put forward.

What does the member think of the idea of having a real, formal apology to the 100,000 Canadians who came here? Their childhoods were taken from them. What if we had a real, formal apology from the Prime Minister, with the families invited to attend? Does the member think that would be an appropriate action?

British Home Child DayPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.


Guy Lauzon Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want September 28 to be a special day. Once we accomplish that, we could go on and do other things, as appropriate.

The truth of the matter is that we have to somehow make sure that these people are forever respected and remembered. As I said, between four million and five million Canadians living in our country right now, between 12% and 14% of Canadians, are direct descendants of these wonderful people. We have to memorialize them on September 28, each and every year.

British Home Child DayPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.


Nick Whalen Liberal St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to thank the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry for giving us this opportunity to reflect on our history.

As I learn more and read more about the British home children, it comes to mind that many of them were also suffering in their home country. It certainly was not with malice that religious organizations and orphanages tried to help the children by sending them to Canada. Of course, the story is both inspirational and tragic. I understand that 10% of our population are descendants of the British home children.

Could the member speak a little more to the inspirational stories of the children who came over and maybe how Canada was the right or good fit for them?

British Home Child DayPrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.


Guy Lauzon Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is correct. These people are truly inspiring.

The organizations, up to 50 organizations and individuals, helped these people. That was their only hope for these poor children. They were derelict in their country. Canada was an opportunity, and in many cases, it worked out quite well. In the majority of cases, it did work well.

Some people suffered some hardships, but the truth of the matter is that they came here and gave their all. Is that not wonderful that 12-year-olds, 14-year-olds, and 16-year-olds led the way at that very trying time?

As the member said, the more I hear about the British home children, the more respect and admiration I have for these wonderful people.

British Home Child DayPrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.


Judy Sgro Liberal Humber River—Black Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, may I begin by complimenting my colleague from Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry and thanking him very sincerely for the time and effort he has put into his motion. I am very hopeful that we will have unanimous consent at some point in the future to be able to celebrate September 28 as a day of recognition.

I have spoken several times on this British home children issue. I have read several books on it, especially ones published recently. There is no way one can read about the lives of some of these children without being reduced to tears. They tell stories of so many children suffering. Although some were successful, and some placed in homes with people who treated them as an additional member of the family, some of the children were in homes where they were simply day labourers, abused, and not treated the way the program had intended. However, I will elaborate a bit further as I go forward.

I am honoured to be able to stand here today to acknowledge this little-known chapter in Canadian history and to recognize the contributions of the British home children and their descendants. I hope that this is the beginning of many debates and discussions that we will have in this House, as we move forward with this particular item that many of us care about.

Though the child migration scheme was touted as a golden opportunity for children facing extreme poverty in Great Britain, it has since become clear that many of the program's participants were subjected to great abuse and severe hardship. We can only imagine that when the scheme was thought up, the children were already suffering immensely and living on the streets. The idea was to find a home for them. I think the intentions were good, but the oversight and assistance that should have been there were lacking.

In Canada, children were rarely adopted in the modern sense. More often, they were taken on as indentured labourers and cheap domestic help.

Though each story we hear is different, whether of a male or female, the separation of so many families was predominant. We now know that the scheme regularly amounted to nothing short of a betrayal, such as when temporary dislocation for a child became permanent, when children were separated, and ultimately when families were tom apart.

More than 100,000 unaccompanied children made the journey to Canada in the hopes of a better life. Though it remains difficult to fathom the courage that the children must have had, today we can salute them for what they endured on our behalf, both as they grew in a strange new land, and later as they fought in the two world wars on our behalf.

As a former minister of immigration, I had the pleasure and challenge of overseeing the government department responsible not only for immigration, but also for refugees and citizenship. People from all over the world journey to our shores. It strikes me that the diverse stories of the British home children are as relevant today as they were then.

In a rapidly changing world, they remind us that we are all, in our own ways, newcomers. As such, we remained united by the Canadian promise of safety and prosperity, and mindful that the wealth of our country derives in part from the diversity and tenacity of the citizens, like the British home children who travelled from afar seeking home, a safe place to live, food every day, and most importantly, an opportunity to grow.

Today, we have a long overdue opportunity to acknowledge the critical role these children played in the early stage of Canada's development as a nation. We owe it to these children and their families to tell their stories.

When we look at the farm fields all across Canada, we need to think of those children that were paid next to nothing to till those farms, and how much they contributed to our economic growth and our prosperity.

Not only did they help to build this land, they helped defend our country's freedom. It is estimated that 10,000 of these children fought for Canada in the first world war. In reading some of the books that have been written and elaborated on, some of them made the decision to go to war, for it was a better alternative than the way they were living on farms, and how they were treated as nothing short of slave labourers. For some of them, going to war was a better option.

I ask members to think of that, and how those children must have suffered, but they put on the uniform, and fought for us. They defended our country, and for that we should always be grateful. Many also fought in the second world war, along with descendants of those who arrived in the early years of the immigration schemes, and yet, so many Canadians are unaware of this history.

One of my staff members is a descendant of the British home children. That is how I was introduced to this issue. I did not know about this. I did not learn about this in history class. It was here on Parliament Hill when one of my assistants talked about British home children, and she shared that story with me.

Once we learn about it, there is no way we cannot care about it, and deny it. I am very happy to see that we passed a motion some time last year, which did not get enough attention, as my colleague mentioned earlier. Today, trying to move my hon. colleague's motion forward is a fabulous move to name September 28 as a day that we would all get united, and a day of recognition. We need to learn from the mistakes of the past, because no one knows what is coming tomorrow. We should try our best to learn that.

Canada designated 2010 as the Year of the British Home Child in Canada to ensure Canadians would be better informed about this chapter in our history, and by commemorating a yearly day that our government would ensure it would continue to raise awareness of the history and experiences of British home children and their descendants.

Canada has supported a number of outreach commemorative and educational initiatives to recognize the experience of the home children, including the designation of a national historic event and the establishment of a commemorative plaque. We will continue to support former British home children and their descendants, and to raise awareness about their experience.

Somehow no matter what we do, it never feels like it is enough. How do we say we are sorry? How do we say we had the best intentions as a country? We can never say sorry enough, and there are never enough ways to make up for the damage that was done to many of these children.

I salute my colleague and thank him for bringing this forward. I look forward to standing in the House to support the September 28 day. Again, I congratulate and thank him for the opportunity to speak to this motion.

British Home Child DayPrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.


Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Motion No. 133. I thank the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry for bringing it forward. I will be supporting the motion.

The motion asks the government to recognize the contributions of over 100,000 British home children to Canada, the hardships and stigmas that many endured, and the importance of reflecting on their stories, by declaring September 28 of every year British home child day in Canada.

I would like thank my friend Art Joyce, whose grandfather was a British home child, and who has written a book on these Canadians and their experiences. Much of the information and many of the words I used to prepare this speech came directly from Mr. Joyce.

My predecessor in this place, Alex Atamanenko, tabled a motion in the previous Parliament asking for an apology from the Canadian government to British home children and their descendants. I was happy to table the same motion in this Parliament.

On February 16, 2017, the House of Commons unanimously passed a very similar motion from the member for Montcalm asking that the House recognize the injustice, abuse, and suffering endured by the British home children, as well as the efforts, participation, and contribution of these children and their descendants within our communities, and to offer its sincere apology to the British home children and their descendants.

Who were the British home children? They were children from poor families in the United Kingdom who were taken from their families, orphanages, and state workhouses, and sent to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Canada received the vast majority of these children. Those countries assisted with transportation and immigration costs, because these children were seen as a virtually free source of labour on newly developing farms and homesteads.

British parish priests were given the authority to take children into care as wards of the state if it was determined that the family was too poor to support them, a practice called philanthropic abductions. Poor parents, unwilling to give up their children, had little choice. Once taken from their families, children were essentially branded orphans, regardless of whether their parents survived or not. Although parents could occasionally visit their children in the orphanages, some were shocked to discover that what they had considered a temporary placement had become permanent, or worse, that they had been shipped overseas. Most of these parents would never see their children again.

This practice began in 1869, and continued in Canada until the last shipment of boys and girls arrived on Vancouver Island at the Prince of Wales Fairbridge Farm School, near Duncan, in 1948. During its heyday, single shipments of children sent by steamboat across the Atlantic could reach as many as 200 boys and girls, some as young as five, during the earlier phase of the program.

There were more than 100,000 boys and girls sent to Canada during this time, and Statistics Canada has estimated that about four million Canadians are descendants of these children, about one in eight Canadians. If this is a truly representative chamber, that means that more than 40 of us here in the House of Commons are descended from one of the home children.

The organizations that sent the children to Canada said they would have better lives, but in fact, they were required to sign indenture contracts as labourers, and were only allowed to leave service upon reaching legal age. Although the contract stipulated a modest income, most were never paid. The contracts typically required that children be given food, shelter, adequate clothing, as well as regular access to school and church.

Often, many of these basic provisions were not met, with children being made to sleep in barns or unheated attics, or to endure Canadian winters without proper winter clothing. Contracts were seldom enforced, as neither the charities nor governments involved had enough staff assigned to do this. Most home children never finished school, as they were required for work. Beatings for the boys and sexual abuse for the girls was not uncommon, and very few were adopted by their host families. “We were here to work”, one adult home child recalled.

British home children made up a substantial portion of volunteers in both world wars, up to 10,000 serving in World War I alone.

Art Joyce's grandfather, Cyril William Joyce, was sent to Canada in 1926 as a boy of 16. His father George was a travelling salesman, and the family lived in the east end of London, the epicentre of poverty in that city. Cyril spent several years working as an indentured farm labourer in northern Alberta until reaching legal age.

He never spoke of it much with his wife and children, and spoke even less of his family in England. His mother had signed the emigration papers, and he never spoke of her again. Cyril was unable to loosen the bonds on these painful memories, and took his family secrets to the grave. That shame, that unwillingness to speak of his past, is a common theme with British home children.

Descendants of home children are left with a huge hole in their lives, not knowing their family history, not knowing the true experiences of their parents and grandparents.

Despite the fact that our governments paid to bring 100,000 of these boys and girls here, then abandoned them to their fates on isolated farms, most Canadians know nothing about this dark chapter in our history.

Art Joyce points out that, “not once in all my years of public schooling did I learn about Canada's home children.” I can say the same thing. He felt compelled to research his grandfather's history, and the stories of other British home children in a book called Laying the Children's Ghosts to Rest: Canada's Home Children in the West.

What have other countries done to recognize the British Home Children? Australia's former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd invited British home children and their descendants to Parliament House in Canberra for a public apology on November 16, 2009. Many of those in the crowd were in tears.

On February 24, 2010, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown publicly apologized to the families of the approximately 130,000 children who were sent away from Britain.

For the elderly survivors and their descendants, numbering now into the millions in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, it was a long-awaited moment, one some thought might never arrive.

As Art's uncle Rob Joyce wrote upon hearing of Brown's apology:

It is a great day, I wish we could be reading this with Dad now; that would have made it even better. I understand Dad better now than I ever did, and why he was sad at times for reasons I never knew. An understanding that, like the British Government’s apology, has come much too late.

On the subject of apologies, I would only add that while this House did issue a unanimous apology a few months ago, that apology was made unannounced. To my knowledge no one from the British home children community was present in the House to hear the member for Montcalm put forward his motion.

It would be very meaningful to these families if the government would issue a formal apology, given by the Prime Minister, with family members invited to be present, as we have done for so many other government apologies. The British home children who were taken from their families, lost their childhood to hard labour, and lived with the shame for the rest of their lives deserve no less.

Having a British home child day in Canada would be one more positive step on the road to healing those families. The day chosen, September 28, is coincidentally Art Joyce's birthday.

British Home Child DayPrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.


Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today on behalf of the people of Chilliwack—Hope.

Today, I am also rising on behalf of my grandmother, Carol Bateman, and my great-grandfather, Sheriff Atcheson Thompson, who was a British home child. Therefore, I am one of the four million to five million descendants of British home children, something I have only discovered thanks to the work of my grandmother in the last few years.

It was an honour to be part of the group of members of Parliament who sponsored the motion from the member for Montcalm on February 16, which states:

That the House recognize the injustice, abuse and suffering endured by the British Home Children as well as the efforts, participation and contribution of these children and their descendants within our communities; and offer its sincere apology to the former British Home Children who are still living and to the descendants of these 100,000 individuals who were shipped from Great Britain to Canada between 1869 and 1948, and torn from their families to serve mainly as cheap labour once they arrived in Canada.

Today, in honour of my great-grandfather, my grandmother has penned some words about her father, which I will try to get through.

She says:

I write today of my father who suffered the stigma that came with being a British Home Child in Canada. He lived his whole life with the torture of silence and shame forced on him by the very people who were to look out for him. A child of 12 when he came to Canada.

Dad, Sheriff Atcheson Thompson was one of 120,000 children shipped to Canada through a cleansing scheme developed in Britain and one which Canada signed onto in ridding England of her over abundance of children who were either living in the streets or in orphanages.

Homes for these children sprung up everywhere as there was money to be made by shipping this merchandise to the different British colonies.

Philanthropists opened Homes for these children giving them training in farming and as domestics. Bernardos was one of the largest homes, Fegans was a smaller home and this is where my Aunts placed my dad following the death of both his parents. His mother died in 1908 and his father in 1910 leaving three little boys. Henry 7, Sheriff 5 and Richard 3, and so began their journey as “home children”

My father Sheriff Atcheson Thompson was placed in Fegans by his Aunt and Uncle at the age of 7 to learn farming skills and be sent to Canada. He spent 5 years in Fegans 4 of those years he was with his brothers but when his brothers were sent to Canada in 1914 he was left behind as he had scarlet fever. He was sent with a group of boys in April 1915. Arrived in St. John New Brunswick and taken to 295 George St, in Toronto, a distributing home for Fegans. He was there for a few days before he was picked up by Mr. Kirby a farmer from Port Perry, Ontario. Dad was to spend the next 5 years as a farm hand. for Mr and Mrs. Kirby and their family. Shortly after dad arrived at Kirby's he took ill Mr. Kirby took him back to George St. and he was diagnosed with a burst appendix. Fegans distributing home offered Mr. Kirby another boy but Mr. Kirby said he liked this boy and would wait.

Part of the boys training in Fegans Ramsgate Orphanage was to be obedient and humble and to always appreciate the situation, never show a negative side or cry. Be Grateful. However, Mr. Kirby saying he wanted this boy did make dad feel wanted and the Kirby's were a good family. Dad was not included in the family but was treated well.

Part of the agreement Canada signed was to have agents check on these boys and to see they were fed, clothed and were given schooling until they were 14. Dad was fed and clothed and he was schooled in the evening after chores at the kitchen table where Mrs. Kirby would teach him the lessons her son had learned in school that day. Dad knew how to read and write and do basic math, but never attended school. If he talked about the Kirby years at all he said they did the best they could.

Dad told Mr. Kirby about his brothers and Mr Kirby found Richard living in Janetsville, just 18 miles away. Uncle Dick would cry when telling his daughter the story of how they had time off work every Sunday afternoons and would walk 9 miles and meet for a short visit and then walk back to their farm in time for the evening meal....

My Aunt...told me another story along this same line. Dad was at church with the Kirby's one Sunday morning when someone from the back started calling his name. dad turned to see...a friend from Fegans who had traveled to Canada on the same ship. The two boys climbed over the pews to reach each other....The loneliness was so profound.

I did ask dad about his mom and dad when I was about 12 years old. He was not open to talking about this part of his life and told me that he had letters in his bible that I could read. I tried reading these letter a few times but they were difficult to read and even more difficult to understand. I had a happy childhood and so did not pursue the issue. These letters it turns out were in answer to my dads request in 1935 for information on his family and life in England and how he ended up in Canada. I have read them now and find them very cold and unfeeling, all 6 foolscap...pages. However, they do give the details of his mother and fathers death and they try to justify why they put them into the orphanage.

Dad married in 1935 and that was part of the reason for wanting his family history. They planned a family in the future and it became more important....

Mom and Dad left Ontario in 1945, escaping the stigma that still remained there and moved West where the air was clear and there was never any talk of “home children”. They never mentioned going back East. They lived and died in BC Dad never mention his family or his time as a home child or the stigma and of course lived with the shame in silence.

My sister and I shared a happy home life with our parents. Our father was a warm and caring father who as you might guess was happy and proud to have a family of his own, a place where he belonged and was loved. His legacy is in his family, his descendants are five generations 60 strong and still growing. All proud Canadian citizens.

The scheme that he became part of was not in any way in support of these children. In some documentation they were referred to as merchandise. They were bought and aid for by Canada per head and were indentured for 5 years or until they were 18. The government agents who were to check on the children, often just had a visit with the farmer and left. My Uncle Henry was one of the children who was not placed on a good farm. He slept in the barn, ate in the barn, was beaten and whipped, but it took a year before the agent moved him to a better farm where he stayed until he was 18. I have seen the scars on my Uncles back when he came for a visit in 1958. I stared in disbelief that one human being could do this to another but the scars were there and that I could not ignore. He was not alone in this type of treatment and my heart goes out to others who suffered like him or worse. This in part is a reason these living children are silent today. They still live with the shame bestowed on them and the pain of remembering.

My issue today is the fact that they were totally left out of Canada's history. This part of our immigration history is not required teaching in the classrooms. They worked along side the pioneers of our country and yet are not included, the stigma exists today even though they loved Canada enough to fight and die in both world wars. Were decorated heroes, and still? Where are you Canada. Why are you hiding this part of our history? Step up do right by these children and their descendants. Let us show the pride we have in them and finally include them as the important part of Canada they are.

I think that this motion will go a long way to providing some of that for British home children, their descendants, and even my grandmother. This is not something that she has spent her whole life knowing. This is awareness that she has shared with our family just in the last number of years as she has traced back her family history. She is fiercely proud of her family, and fiercely proud of her father and all that he accomplished. He came from nothing, and was treated as worse than nothing when he arrived, just as an indentured farm servant. Now, 60 family members are his descendants. What a legacy.

So many British home children have that legacy, as has been said. It is a legacy that has helped build this country, and the least we can do is support this motion and remember them every September 28 so that more and more Canadians can learn about this, not a proud part of our history, but proud people who are still having an impact through their descendants on this great country.

British Home Child DayPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.


Nick Whalen Liberal St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have a chance to take part in this debate. The motion before us today calls on the government to pay tribute to the British home children and commemorate their story by creating a British home child day in Canada. I want to thank my colleague, the hon. member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, for bringing this motion forward.

Motion M-133 proposes that the government recognize the contributions made by the over 100,000 British home children to Canadian society, their service to our armed forces throughout the 20th century, the hardships and stigmas that many of them endured, and the importance of educating and reflecting upon the story of the British home children for future generations. The motion also proposes that we recognize their contributions by declaring September 28 of every year British home child day in Canada.

The story of the British home children is an important chapter in Canada's immigration history. Unfortunately, too many Canadians are ignorant of the tragic, yet inspiring, story of the British home children, even though over 10% of Canadians living today are descended from British home children.

Over the course of nearly eight decades, spanning the late 1860s to the end of the 1940s, roughly 100,000 British children, most of them under the age of 14, were sent to Canada by British philanthropic and religious organizations. Another 50,000 children were sent to other parts of the British empire.

Under this so-called “child migration scheme”, British boys came to Canada to work on farms, and British girls came to work as domestics. The children often worked without supervision and in execrable conditions, which left them vulnerable to neglect, exploitation, and mistreatment.

Immigration has made an immeasurable contribution to shaping Canada's economy, society, and history. Immigration has mainly been a positive force. It has helped make Canada more prosperous and diverse. Families have been reunited, and protection has been offered to generations of people from around the world fleeing persecution.

That being said, we must also recognize that there are some dark chapters in the history of immigration, and that some policies and practices caused a lot of pain and upheaval in the lives of many people. We must always remember those dark chapters in order to learn from our mistakes and collectively commit to never repeat them.

That is why the motion we are debating today is so important. Many British home children demonstrated great bravery and perseverance and went on to overcome the great adversity they faced to build productive lives for themselves and their descendants here in Canada. For example, 10,000 former British home children fought for Canada a century ago, during the First World War. These included Claude Joseph Patrick Nunney, who received the Distinguished Conduct Medal, the Military Medal, and the Victoria Cross for his service in battle. As I mentioned, millions of Canadians today can trace their ancestries back to the former home children, so their imprint on the history of our country and on Canada today is immense.

This government recognizes the great sacrifices that were made by the home children and the great courage that many of them displayed to overcome their horrific experiences. Some of the stories we heard today are incredibly moving.

As we should, Canadians have undertaken a number of initiatives in recent years to recognize the experiences of various groups, and we should do no less now with the home children, to help ensure their memory is kept alive for Canadians today and for the future. These initiatives include online history exhibitions and information at national historic sites across the country, as well as films, books, websites, and genealogical databases.

I think all of my hon. colleagues will agree that the motion we are debating today proposes another significant initiative that would be in the spirit of honouring this important part of Canadian history.

The contribution of the British home children deserves to be acknowledged and recognized by Canadians.

British Home Child DayPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before we resume debate, I will let the hon. member for Lethbridge know that there are approximately five minutes remaining in the time provided for private members' business this afternoon. I will let her get started at least, and of course, she will have the remaining time when the House next gets back to debate on the question.

The hon. member for Lethbridge.

British Home Child DayPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.


Rachael Thomas Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise in the House today, and to have the opportunity to speak to my colleague's private member's motion that was brought forward.

September 28 seems like a good day, and to now have the opportunity to further commemorate it sounds like a good opportunity for Canadians. I have a number of family members who have that as their birthday. The issue with regard to the British home children certainly does need to be in the forefront of the minds of Canadians.

It is something that needs to be brought into the classroom, so that children are made aware of what happened. It is certainly a very important part of our history here in Canada. With that, I will take a moment to discuss why I believe it is so important.

When we think about childhood, we often talk about the innocence of a child. We often talk about the innocence of a child in our western context. We talk about a child being able to grow up and play on a playground down the street, or being able to go to school and access an education from K to 12 and hopefully beyond. We talk about children being able to dream about their future, about their endeavours, about what they want to become when they grow up. That is a common question we ask children.

In our society here in Canada, it is a luxury to be able to ask those questions, and to have access to education and health care. It is a luxury to grow up in a home with heating, a bed, a dining room table, and food in the fridge. These are things that are a part of Canadian childhood today.

However, the reality is that these things were not the norm in the U.K. in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In fact, we are looking at a society where there was great depravity. There was great sickness that came out of that, and parents whose lives were taken. As a result, there was this cohort of children, approximately 100,000 of them, who were then brought over to Canada in order to escape their reality in the U.K., and to start a new life here in Canada. At least that is what was proposed to them in many cases. I am sure there were others who maybe did not fully understand what they were getting into, or the world that they were coming to, because they were too young.

Nevertheless, it held a promise of a different future. It held the promise of their hopes and dreams, and being able to go into a vibrant and prosperous future. More than that, to start off with, it was a form of care. It was making sure that the next meal was on the table in front of them, that there were shoes on their feet, and clothes on their back.

When these 100,000 children came to Canada, they were used as indentured farm workers for the most part. These farmers were told that the children were orphans. That was only true for about 2% of them. The remainder had a parent back in Europe, in the U.K., or a loved one who was looking after them, but perhaps could not because there was not the monetary amount there to do so adequately, or perhaps because of a sickness in the family.

These children then came here and worked on these farms. Many of them came, meaning for it to be a temporary solution only. It was not meant to be permanent. Of course, as we know, for the most part, it did end up being a permanent move for these individuals who came in this way.

For some of them, they had a very positive experience. They were taken into homes, into families on farms, and were given a positive experience or encounter with Canadian society. They were well looked after. They were given the food they needed, and the clothing they needed. They were given a bedroom with a bed, et cetera. They were given the necessities of life, and were treated very well.

There were others who were actually not treated with the necessary care, love, and concern that they should have been given. Unfortunately, they were exploited, taken advantage of, used as nothing more than cheap labour, which is unfortunate, and a very sad part of our country's history.

That said, all of the children who came over to Canada as British home children came with determination and tenacity. All of them overcame adversity, whether that adversity was simply overcoming loneliness, being away from friends, family and familiarity, or if that adversity was overcoming sickness, or if that adversity was overcoming a vision and a hope that had to be put on hold for awhile, or perhaps even altogether.

Another form of adversity was for those who went into a place where they needed to perform hard labour or where they were maybe taken advantage of in some cases.

British Home Child DayPrivate Members' Business

7:15 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Lethbridge will have five minutes remaining in the time for her comments on the motion when the House next resumes debate on this question.

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.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

7:15 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Pursuant to Standing Order 97.1(2), the motion to concur in the 13th report of the Standing Committee on Finance, recommendation not to proceed further with Bill C-240, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit — first aid), presented on Thursday, February 23, 2017, is deemed moved.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

7:15 p.m.


Bryan May Liberal Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, today it is my pleasure to rise and speak to my private member's bill, an act to amend the Income Tax Act to provide a non-refundable tax credit for those who take a first aid course, Bill C-240. The bill has been returned from the finance committee to the House with the recommendation that it proceed no further.

I am thankful for the review by and insight of the finance committee of Bill C-240. The expertise the witnesses provided helps to clarify what the bill means. There is a growing need for basic preparedness in Canada. In Canada, there is a heart attack every 12 minutes, but people have a dramatically better chance of survival if a trained bystander is present. Unfortunately, in far too many cases, no one with this lifesaving knowledge is nearby. Right now, more than half of adult Canadians live in a household in which no one has up-to-date first aid or CPR certification. It is this issue that motivated my tabling of Bill C-240.

When someone undertakes first aid training, what they are ultimately doing is gaining skills and knowledge to serve their community. Perhaps even more important than the skills they are learning is the confidence they are gaining. In a situation where every second counts, that confidence can be the difference between life and death.

I am pleased that Bill C-240 was well received. I had letters of support from diverse groups, far too many to list here, but they include organizations as diverse as Heart and Stroke Canada and the Manitoba Association of Fire Chiefs. I am glad that so many came together to discuss this issue to create awareness and to improve emergency preparedness and public safety for all Canadians.

I have also had conversations with individual supporters, including local organizations that provide this key training, like the Canadian Red Cross and St. John Ambulance, which are always working to reduce barriers to getting first aid training in the hands of all Canadians.

I want to recognize that Bill C-240, like all private members' bills, has limitations. The major concern raised by the finance committee was this: Does Bill C-240 achieve its objectives inexpensively compared to the alternatives? This question is essentially the cost of forgone revenue versus the advantages of having additional people with first aid training. It is about the efficiency of the lost revenue.

The discussion at the finance committee presented evidence that there may be more efficient ways of accomplishing Bill C-240's goals. There may be additional options to explore for public safety education and for the health minister's involvement in encouraging more Canadians to seek out this training.

I have been clear about my goal from the very beginning. It is to make people in this country safer by better preparing Canadians to take action in emergencies. I believe that strong work is happening in this area and a promising dialogue on what we can do for emergency preparedness.

I am pleased with the conversations I have had with each of my colleagues, the finance minister, the Minister of Health, and the Minister of Public Safety, and I am confident that these conversations will continue after my advocacy in the House.

I am aware of how strong an incentive it takes to create a widespread behavioural change and of the inherent limits of a relatively small tax credit. The NDP members, in particular, spoke to another limitation of the bill in their remarks at second reading and it is worth noting here. Because of the limitations on private members' bills that prevent them from calling for direct expenditures, there is an equity issue with a non-refundable tax credit. For those Canadians whose income may be low enough, they do not pay income tax and would not be eligible for a tax credit under Bill C-240. I regret that private members' business cannot address this issue. There are options available outside the PMB process for good ideas like Bill C-240, and I would be pleased to work with this government to pursue avenues for change.

I have acknowledged these limitations, both of Bill C-240, and in fact, of all private members' bills. Given that understanding, I have continued to advocate for other ways in which to improve the adoption of first aid training for Canadians.

The purpose of this PMB for me is about protecting more Canadians, not about the specifics of the bill. That is why I am happy to be working with the ministers involved with this portfolio in introducing innovative ways to move forward.

The PMB was drafted in the early days of Parliament, around two years ago. I was getting my office set up, hiring staff, and we were already putting together the pieces of Bill C-240. One of the things I realized at that time was that no particular department actually owns the topic of first aid exclusively. It is a topic that stretches across emergency preparedness, health, finance, and public service and labour. I would argue, in fact, that no ministry is completely untouched by the need for first aid training.

I want to talk about the things the government is doing in response to my advocacy on this issue. The number of votes in the House from all sides really helped to paint a picture of how important this issue is to Canadians. I have had substantive conversations with the public safety minister about the need for first aid to play a bigger role in Canadians' understanding of emergency preparedness. I am proud to say that changes are being made with a number of different projects to help promote first aid in response to Bill C-240 and my advocacy on this issue.

Everyone in the House, and many Canadians, are familiar with the get prepared campaign and its approach to emergency preparedness. Public safety, currently, has a get prepared campaign that consists of three parts: know the risks, make a plan, and get a kit.

I am pleased to say that a fourth element to this campaign will be added with the focus on getting Canadians first aid training. I will be working with the ministry on building resources like videos and information to help support this fourth area of focus. This represents a significant update to the get prepared campaign that helps drive home the point that preparations must be taken early and proactively, including first aid training.

I am also pleased to be working with the ministers involved with this topic on public safety week, which brings awareness to public safety in Canada. I will keep working on these projects, and others, to ensure Canadians are better protected and better prepared.

I have been asking for support for increased awareness around first aid training for the last two years, and today, I ask for support to continue the research and the conversation.

I would like to thank all of my colleagues, and all of the stakeholders across the country for their support on Bill C-240. The House has the opportunity to safeguard the lives of Canadians, and I am proud of the actions our government is taking to more directly address this issue. I want to thank all members who supported me in bringing this bill to the forefront.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

7:25 p.m.


Ron Liepert Conservative Calgary Signal Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, sadly, I am standing here tonight to speak to this motion. I would have been much more pleased to be standing to speak to third reading of this particular piece of legislation. This is a motion I am going to dub “the Liberal government's cowardly motion”.

A hard-working member of Parliament did a lot of work and research putting together the bill, and he showed that emotion here tonight in his speech. He was almost apologetic, because he almost felt like he did not do enough work on this particular legislation.

This is not a case of a member of Parliament not doing his homework. This is a case of the Liberal government, the front bench, stabbing a member of its own caucus in the back and not having the courage to tell that particular member, when we had the discussion at second reading, that those members would not support the bill. They did not do that. Instead, they went ahead and allowed a so-called free vote. We in the opposition supported the bill. A number of Liberal members supported the bill, but the front bench did not.

The bill went to second reading. Let me give the House the dates. The bill was introduced by the member for Cambridge on February 25, 2016. It finally passed second reading on October 26, 2016. There were 227 votes in favour and 81 votes against. If we count the number of cabinet ministers, and those hoping to join cabinet, that is the 81.

Let me read the Standing Order in respect of when a bill is referred to committee:

A standing...committee to which a Private Member's...bill has been referred shall in every case, within sixty sitting days from the date of the bill's reference to the committee, either report the bill to the House with or without amendment or present to the House a report containing a recommendation not to proceed further with the bill and giving the reasons therefor....

I happened to be on the finance committee, and so was the member in the House tonight from Vaughan—Woodbridge. There were days when the finance committee did not sit, because we had no business to deal with. We in the opposition tried to bring the member's bill forward to be studied at committee and were consistently refused by the Liberal members on that committee. Shame on them.

After 48 sitting days, the bill finally came forward to committee. We spent two hours. We had some finance officials telling us why it could not be done, and we had the member for Cambridge come forward, make a very passionate plea, similar to what he has done in the House tonight, to have the bill go back to the House for third reading and approval. Let me give members the circumstances that happened.

At about the end of the two-hour period at finance committee, the member for Vaughan—Woodbridge was handed a piece of paper from behind, which we could see across the room had PMO written across it. Let me read what it said. If the member for Vaughan--Woodbridge wants to disagree with me, he should get in his seat and stand up and deny that this is what happened in that committee, but he is not--

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

7:25 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order. I would just remind the hon. member for Calgary Signal Hill that there was an earlier reference to this, and I let that pass, but members are really prohibited from making reference to either the presence or absence of members in the House. I would remind him of that.

I invite him to carry on with his remarks.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

7:25 p.m.


Ron Liepert Conservative Calgary Signal Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would challenge the member for Vaughan—Woodbridge, who may or may not be in the House, to stand in his place after I am done, to justify why this bill is not coming back for third reading.

Let me read the motion from the member for Vaughan—Woodbridge, written on a piece of paper that had PMO written right across it:

WHEREAS the Committee is generally supportive of the intent of Bill C-240 there are questions that arise: which Canadians would receive the benefit of the measures, as the tax credit is non-refundable and this can only be claimed if you have income;

We could probably get some witnesses before the standing committee that could answer that question.

the cost to federal, provincial and territorial governments to administer the proposed changes to the Income Tax Act;

We could probably get some answers to that question as well.

the extent to which federal, provincial and territorial tax revenues would be affected by the proposed measure;

I will not read the entire motion because it is before the House. The motion from the member for Vaughan—Woodbridge then said:

Therefore, in light of the above noted details of the proposal in Bill C-240, be it resolved that this Committee...recommends that the House of Commons do not proceed further with Bill C-240.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

An hon. member

Sunny ways.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

7:25 p.m.


Ron Liepert Conservative Calgary Signal Hill, AB

Yes, sunny ways.

I looked up the meaning of the word “coward”. It says it is the lack of courage to do unpleasant things. The PMO did not have the courage to tell the member for Cambridge that we are not going to support his bill. Despite all of the support of government members, it did not have the courage. The PMO is a coward by not telling him to his face. It made that member go to committee, waste everybody's time, and then handed the member for Vaughan—Woodbridge this piece of paper. The member for Vaughan—Woodbridge dutifully did his job by reading the motion, and here we have it before us tonight.

Because the member for Vaughan—Woodbridge, on behalf of the PMO, would like a number of these questions answered, and so do we, I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after “that” and substituting the following:

That the 13th Report of the Standing Committee on Finance (recommendation not to proceed further with Bill C-240, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit — first aid)), presented to the House on Thursday, February 23, 2017, be not now concurred in but that it be referred back to the Standing Committee on Finance with the instruction to hear from further witnesses on the Bill.

I would encourage all members on that side of the House to support the amendment.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

7:30 p.m.


Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from across the floor for caring about Canadians and encouraging first aid. I put a motion forward about a year ago on behalf of a grade 11 student from my riding, from Mount Baker Secondary School in Cranbrook, looking to have first aid become part of the grade 11 curriculum in all schools across Canada as one of the ways of dealing with first aid. Education being provincial of course, I just left it as a motion.

However, I would like to read this concerning Bill C-240. In accordance with its order of reference on Wednesday, October 26, 2016, the Standing Committee on Finance considered BillC-240, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit — first aid), and agreed on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 to report the following:

Whereas the Committee is generally supportive of the intent of Bill C-240 and feels that efforts to encourage individuals to complete first aid courses should be commended there are questions that arise about which Canadians would receive the benefit of the measures, as the tax credit is non-refundable and this can only be claimed if you have income; the cost to federal, provincial and territorial governments to administer the proposed changes to the Income Tax Act; the extent to which federal, provincial and territorial tax revenues would be affected by the proposed measure; the extent to which this type of measure should be designed only following extensive consultation with tax experts, first aid providers as well as federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments; whether these measures would realize the proposed aim of increasing first aid training participation when 67% of Canadians have already taken a first aid course (Red Cross, Ipsos Reid, 2012); the fact that existing policies mandate knowledge of first aid in the workforce, and all provinces and territories have legislated workplace requirements for employee training in first aid;

Therefore...this Committee, pursuant to Standing Order 97.1 recommends that the House of Commons do not proceed further with Bill C-240, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit — first aid).