That, in the opinion of the House, within twelve months of the adoption of this motion: (a) the government should follow the example of other Canadian police services and act to save hundreds of lives each year by equipping all RCMP vehicles with automated external defibrillators (AEDs); and (b) the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security should undertake a study to determine the availability of AEDs in first responder vehicles across Canada and make recommendations to the House in that regard while respecting the jurisdiction of other levels of government.
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues who are here in the House.
It may not be common practice, but I want to dedicate this speech to a friend of mine, Stéphane Campagna, who is alive today because three of his friends reacted quickly and used a cardiac defibrillator to save his life during a hockey game. It is not every day that we have the opportunity to move a motion in the House of Commons, let alone one that can save lives. It is therefore with heartfelt emotion and pride that I rise to speak today on this fundamental and vital issue.
Our job as parliamentarians and elected officials is vitally important at times like these. If the House votes in favour of this motion, all members will be able to proudly say that their work actually helped to save lives. It is very moving to think that we can have such a major impact on the lives of our constituents. It is inspiring to know that our political involvement can lead to such tangible achievements. With that in mind, I invite all my colleagues to set partisanship aside and vote in favour of this motion.
This is definitely something to think about. Unfortunately, many of us have a friend, colleague, or even family member who has gone into cardiac arrest. There are approximately 40,000 sudden cardiac arrests in Canada each year. That is one every 12 minutes. That means that, during my speech, two Canadians will go into cardiac arrest. It is at times like those that every second counts.
For every minute that goes by, the chances of survival for a person who is in cardiac arrest drop by 7% to 10%. The problem is that this sort of thing almost never happens in a hospital. Most often, it happens at home, far from a cardiac defibrillator.
Unfortunately, that is the case for Michel Picard, a resident of Victoriaville. On December 30, 2016, at his home on Allard Road, the street next to where I live, while celebrating the holidays with his family, he collapsed without warning. Michel Picard suffered a life-threatening arrhythmia and someone called 911 immediately. Before the paramedics arrived, Mr. Picard's son-in-law, Steve Houle, courageously administered first aid by starting CPR.
Six minutes later, two paramedics from the Bois-Francs emergency hospital arrived. Fortunately, they had a defibrillator in their vehicle. It took three shocks for Mr. Picard to regain consciousness. Today, he has no remaining effects from his accident, which is nothing short of miraculous. This story that occurred in my region is a testament to the courage of Mr. Picard's loved ones, who acted quickly and did exactly what needed to be done, but also illustrates how important it is for first responders to have a defibrillator in their vehicle.
When the heart stops beating, as the seconds and minutes tick by, the patient has no blood or oxygen circulating. Under such conditions, the brain cannot survive for long. As Alain Vadeboncoeur, chief of the emergency department at the Montreal Heart Institute, explains, the brain's very fragile cells need glucose and oxygen, without which brain death is irreversible. In most cases, within 10 minutes of sudden death by cardiac arrest, it is simply too late.
However, a rapidly administered defibrillator shock can stop the arrhythmia and get the heart pumping normally. That is what saved Mr. Picard and thousands of other Canadians. A defibrillator is the only way to get the heart going again. Unfortunately, chances of survival when someone arrives in the emergency room with no pulse are practically nil.
The survival rate of victims of cardiac arrest outside a hospital is under 5%. Defibrillators improve the patient's chance of survival by 75%. This is where we, as parliamentarians, can make a difference. This is where we have the power to take action, to prevent death, to heal people, and to save lives.
By investing in prevention, we could increase the chances of survival for victims of cardiac arrest who are not in a hospital or in a public place where a defibrillator is available.
With cardiac arrests, time is of the essence. Each minute, each second of unconsciousness impacts the chances of survival. In that context, if all emergency vehicles were equipped with a defibrillator, the response time would clearly be shorter, and lives would be saved.
We know that dozens of police departments in Canada already use defibrillators, but gaps remain in the coverage. If all patrol vehicles were equipped with defibrillators, hundreds of lives would be saved each year. This would represent a meaningful, long term investment, and it would cost a pittance given the lives we could save.
In that regard, there is much hope. Results reported by cities, regional county municipalities and provinces who are at the forefront in this domain are very encouraging. First responders who have access to a defibrillator say they observe remarkable results.
The problem is that if some regions are very much at the forefront, others have not yet passed legislation. The coverage is incomplete and yet, no matter where they decided to live and raise their families, every Canadian should have the comfort of knowing that first responders have access to a defibrillator in case of emergency.
This issue is quite important to me. In a previous life, I was the mayor of Victoriaville. My team and I equipped all the vehicles of first responders with defibrillators. We made sure that municipal buildings, arenas, or sports facilities, for example, were equipped with a defibrillator in order to respond quickly to an emergency.
Businesses and institutions also mobilized to equip their buildings. The Sûreté du Québec decided to launch a pilot project to put defibrillators in all its vehicles. Defibrillators are also found at firehalls and are used by our response system. That is what saved the life of Stéphane Campagna. While playing hockey with his friends in Victoriaville, he suffered cardiac arrest at the arena. The arena had a defibrillator, which was donated by business people who had been proactive even before the municipality had decided to take action. Thanks to this tool and the level-headedness of Marcel Duquette, Jean-François Gagné, and Francis Garneau, Mr. Campagna was revived. The three men who work at Urgence Bois-Francs quickly helped him and were able to save his life because there was a defibrillator on site.
This cannot be overemphasized. This example once again shows how vitally important this device is. It is simple to use. People do not need training to use it, and like Marcel Duquette said, the more defibrillators there are, the more people can work together to save lives. He was one of the three paramedics who saved Stéphane Campagna's life.
That is the mandate that I gave myself when I was mayor. Now Victoriaville and the Arthabaska RCM are among the most proactive municipalities in this regard. It is therefore only natural for me to continue with this personal commitment and share this initiative that I care about with my colleagues.
As a federal MP, I would like to pursue this mission to help Canadians across the country and create more opportunities to do good and save lives. I hope I can count on the support of MPs in meeting this challenge. I therefore propose that we give the government the mandate to look at what is being done elsewhere in the country. I also propose that we give the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security the responsibility of undertaking a study in order to make recommendations to the House on this issue. In short, I am proposing to my colleagues that we legislate so that millions of Canadians know that they have access to this potentially life-changing technology in case of an emergency, should misfortune strike in a place where such equipment is available.
In fact, I challenge my colleagues to act together to save hundreds of lives and make thousands of miracles. I urge the House to adopt the following important motion:
That, in the opinion of the House, within twelve months of the adoption of this motion: (a) the government should follow the example of other Canadian police services and act to save hundreds of lives each year by equipping all RCMP vehicles with automated external defibrillators (AEDs); and (b) the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security should undertake a study to determine the availability of AEDs in first responder vehicles across Canada and make recommendations to the House in that regard while respecting the jurisdiction of other levels of government [municipal, provincial, or federal].
If we all support this motion together, this would help save lives and give first responders the tools they need. All it takes is political courage.
In closing, I want to thank all the stakeholders and instigators who did not wait for legislation or even a budget before taking action. I hope that we can all work together, as members of the House of Commons, to ensure that every emergency vehicle is equipped with a defibrillator. Imagine the number of lives that could be saved if all our ambulances, all our fire trucks, all police cruisers, and all first responders in our municipalities were equipped with defibrillators, in addition to our arenas, athletic centres, schools, and commercial buildings. Businesses could also have them in their office buildings, stores, and retail spaces. Imagine the number of families that would be happier.
I sincerely hope that this motion is adopted. I will work very hard on it, in the hope of winning the support of my colleagues across party lines.