Mr. Speaker, we have the opportunity to debate a great number of issues in this House on which there is some division, and occasionally some sparks, but this is an area where, particularly on the overarching principle, there really needs to be a consensus. I say this because the science is very clear that when we put AEDs in communities, when we ensure that people are CPR trained, and ensure that people know how to use AEDs, it saves lives.
Unfortunately, we also know that just calling paramedics alone is not enough. When we pick up the phone and call paramedics, they simply cannot get to the scene of a cardiac event fast enough to save a life, which means that we need this type of initiative that would ensure that all front-line individuals who keep our community safe are CPR trained, know where AEDs are, and perhaps, as the motion indicates, have access to AEDs within their vehicles. We need civilians, people who are not on the front lines, to be engaged in this battle as well, because when a family member goes down, people have to ask themselves if they know what to do. Do they know CPR, which is very simple but essential skill. Do they know where the nearest automated external defibrillator, AED, is? Too often the answer is no.
In workplaces and homes, folks do not know what to do, despite the fact that successive governments, both Conservative federally and the Liberal government in Ontario, have gone to great lengths to place AEDs throughout our communities. It certainly makes a great deal of sense from a public safety perspective to ensure that AEDs are in public places where cardiac arrests are mostly likely occur.
The rest of my comments concern some of the issues that relate specifically to the motion, issues that we can think about as the motion moves forward. Again, I speak from the lens of being generally supportive of it.
We certainly know that the motion calls for the committee to study the availability of AEDs. In this regard, there are certain important issues that the committee could look at, and that we encourage it to look at, when considering the proposal to equip RCMP vehicles with AEDs. For one thing, as with other medical equipment, provinces and territories are responsible for legislating and regulating public access programs to AEDs, including in public areas and workplaces. For example, some provinces such as British Columbia have guidelines recommending that public AED access programs should be overseen by physicians.
Further, there is no consistent legislative or regulatory framework governing access to or use of AEDs. It is very much viewed as a public or occupational health and safety issue left to local organizations, governments, and employers. It is also important to understand that this proposal would have important provincial, territorial, and municipal implications. As members will know, the RCMP is the police service provider for the territories and every province except Ontario and Quebec, and the vast majority of RCMP vehicles are used for contract policing services.
Under the police services agreements, policing services provided by the RCMP are cost shared with contract jurisdictions. This includes all operating and maintenance costs, such as salaries and equipment purchases. The up-front costs of buying AEDs, as well as the ongoing maintenance required to keep them in good working order, would therefore need to be supported by contract jurisdictions. Therefore, as members can see, there are jurisdictional issues that need to be looked at with respect to this proposal.
We are very supportive of the second part of the motion, which calls on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to examine the availability of AEDs in first-responder vehicles across Canada. Such a study would help us get a complete and up-to-date picture regarding the effectiveness of equipping police vehicles with AEDs. It could examine questions like how often AEDs installed in police cruisers have been used to respond to cardiac arrests. It would also help to ensure that any new policies, standards, or deployments of new equipment to front-line responder vehicles, including those of the RCMP, would be based on evidence about what works best from a health and public safety perspective. It would also be an opportunity to hear from provincial, territorial, and municipal partners to ensure that any new Canada-wide approach takes their needs and views into account.
In conclusion, we support Motion No. 124 in principle. We think the call for study is important, that the results should inform further measures, and that the policies and expenditures put forward do meet the public safety objectives we set forth. That is the point here.
We are all in agreement that any measure likely to help more Canadians survive cardiac arrest and save lives is very much worth pursuing. In that vein, I want to thank the hon. member opposite for bringing forward this motion. I think it is incredibly important, not only from my perspective in government but also personally. I look forward to working on it with him.