House of Commons Hansard #133 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ceta.

Topics

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the hon. member for a reasoned speech. I do not agree with everything in his speech, but there were some excellent points.

I think he would agree with me that last November the world changed with the election of a new president of the United States who is wildly unpredictable, more protectionist, and wants to renegotiate NAFTA. I wonder if he could comment on the fact that given those realities of protectionism, unpredictability, and renegotiating of the North American Free Trade Agreement, it becomes more important than ever to actually finalize and approve CETA, and CETA becomes more important than ever for Canada to approve and implement.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think I did make it very clear that I was supportive of CETA, but I also mentioned that trade is a two-way street. Inevitably, if we make it more difficult here in Canada for Canadians to compete internationally, if we make it so that we either do not have proper access, or we have more red tape, or higher taxes, and all the things that go along with many of the policies of the government, we will inevitably see trade dry up on one side of that street. We will see Canadian businesses burdened and not able to employ people. We will continue to see those 600 jobs, and more, go from Canada south to Mexico. Why is that? It is because with those increased costs, we cannot compete successfully.

Those farmers I met with could compete because they needed the access, but we need to continue to make sure they can compete, or else we will end up subsidizing and exempting, all to make sure we do not lose the big picture.

I am just asking the current government to take these things to heart, and if it is ready to actually engage, to do the right things and not put us down a road that we are going to regret five, 10, or 20 years out.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Georgina Jolibois NDP Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is in line with world changes happening currently with the election of President Donald Trump and with the Brexit vote. If the U.K. triggers its exit from the EU and also leaves CETA, is the member comfortable with the concessions Canada has made in CETA, given that the U.K. represents nearly half of Canada's export market to the EU?

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, first, the United Kingdom cannot engage in any new trade deals until after it has formally triggered Brexit. Given our long-standing ties with the many Commonwealth countries, particularly the United Kingdom, it would be helpful, and I would hope other members would support this. My understanding is the United Kingdom was very key in the negotiations of CETA, and perhaps we could come to terms rather quickly and maintain that market access. Of course, that would take the government to engage with the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom has been talking to many other liberal western democracies, such as the United States, because it believes it is in its interest to keep trade lines open.

Therefore, I really hope the government will be quick on its feet and that it has pounded on the door to let the United Kingdom know that Canada wants to not only continue that relationship but increase it.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise to speak to Bill C-30 for the second time now. It is a great event when we can implement a progressive trade agenda between Canada and our second largest trading partner, the European Union.

It gives me great pleasure as the chair of the Canada-Italy Interparliamentary Group, as an Italian citizen, a European citizen, as well as a Canadian citizen to say that our two communities are working together. This is an unprecedented trade deal in the world we live in. It will bring great benefits to the Canadian economy as well as the European economy. It will open up new markets for our manufacturers and our service providers, firms looking to create personal wealth for their citizens. It will drive long-term economic growth.

When I look at the trade deal that we brought over the finish line, that we completed as a government, I must congratulate our current Minister of Foreign Affairs for her work on completing the agreement, and I congratulate the European Parliament for passing the agreement and now it will go to the individual European Union members.

When I look at what we are putting in place as a government, I say how are we growing the middle class, how are we strengthening the middle class, which is the backbone of our economy, the backbone of Canadian society for generations, and that is the way it will continue.

This morning we created a thing called Toronto Global, where we joined with our municipal partners and our provincial partners and we invested funds to help grow the Toronto economy, an investment hub in Toronto. Toronto as we know is an economic generator in Canada, along with the oil patch in Alberta, along with the manufacturing sector in the heartland of Ontario, and here we are investing.

A few months ago, the Minister of Foreign Affairs created this Investment Canada hub downtown, $218 million over five years, again, to attract investment to Canada. Why? To create good-paying, middle-class jobs for all Canadians, for the future of my daughters, and for folks here who may be grandparents or parents, so that they will have good jobs for their kids.

I look at our progressive trade agenda that has been implemented with the European Union. I look at some of the things we have done with this deal. There is a chapter on environmental protection, a chapter on sustainable development, and a chapter on labour. This is what I would call a trade deal that is win-win, fair, right, and progressive. We need to underscore it, because that is important for our relationship with all countries around the world, and specifically with the European Union.

I look at companies such as Fiat Chrysler Canada, which is part of FCA group headed out of Turin, Italy. I look at investments they have made in cities like Windsor and Brampton. I look at the jobs that they are creating, the good middle-class jobs that they are providing for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. It is very important.

I look at my own personal background and what trade has done for me. I grew up in northern British Columbia. To pay for my university education, I worked at the Canadian grain elevator, which as we can imagine exported wheat, barley, and oats through Prince Rupert to countries all over the world. These were very good, and still are very good, above-average paying middle-class jobs.

It gives me great pride to acknowledge that trade grows our Canadian economy. Trade is good, and that is what this deal does. The European Union alone imports over $2 trillion worth of goods and services. That is larger than the Canadian economy. We think about the opportunities that Canadian companies will have to export their manufactured goods, but even above that, above the manufacturing sector, we think of the services, so we think of consultants, we think of organizations. We look at the opportunities for procurement, for transportation companies to not only bid on jobs in the European Union, but also to employ Canadians. The opportunities are tremendous.

We look at what we have done to strengthen the middle class in addition to CETA. We look at our plan for infrastructure in Canada. Obviously that will be a plan that will strengthen our ports, our airports, and our waterways, so goods and services can be exported expeditiously and efficiently to countries in Europe.

Another bonus is our plan for middle-class Canadians in terms of taxes. We lowered taxes last year. Nine million Canadians now pay lower taxes in Canada. Over $20 billion of tax relief is another measure to strengthen the middle class. The Canada child benefit is something to strengthen the middle class. CETA is something that will strengthen the middle class. I am very proud to speak to this measure today.

When I look at the country of Italy where my parents came from, the trade that goes back and forth and the strong cultural and historic ties, I can only say that CETA is a win-win for both where I came from and for the country we now call home and love. CETA provides us with a tremendous opportunity to strengthen ties, to invest in both countries, and to create those good-paying middle-class jobs.

I would say to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that if they look at the economic data on Canada, we have had very strong gross domestic product and employment numbers in the last two to three months. We have seen a pick-up in Canada. There is uncertainty, but the only thing we can do with uncertainty is to have a steady hand. That is why we have a foreign affairs minister doing what she is doing and a trade minister doing what he is doing, which is reaching out to our counterparts and allies. We will stand together with them, grow the economy through CETA, and continue to do that. I am proud to be a part of that.

On the infrastructure side, there is $181 billion over 12 years. As we know, infrastructure allows for the strengthening of economic growth, today and tomorrow. We will continue to implement that. In a few months, in the riding I am from, they will open a new subway, the York-Spadina subway extension from the city of Toronto. That is infrastructure that is being put to use. Approximately three or four weeks ago, I was proud to announce an investment by the Canadian government for a new inter-regional transit terminal in the city of Vaughan. That will again strengthen the local economy, move goods and services, move people, and strengthen the middle class.

CETA is a trade deal that will help us grow the economy, create good jobs, and at the same time strengthen the middle class. I have to underline that.

CETA's improvements for services, investments, labour mobility, and government procurement are groundbreaking. It will be a model for other trade deals that will occur throughout the world. For Canadian companies, 98% of Europe's tariff lines will be eliminated. Again, this is all great for the economy.

As I have heard this morning and in past days, we have been hit with uncertainty on the horizon. However, CETA provides an avenue of certainty for Canadian firms to know that they can trade and invest with the second-largest economy in the world and the second-largest trading partner for Canada. That will allow us to grow a stronger economy.

I will also look at the other measures we have implemented to strengthen the middle class, such as the CPP enhancement, which was groundbreaking for us. It will allow the next generation to know that they will have a strong and healthy retirement, and allow them to retire in dignity.

I think my time is almost up. However, I would like to say this with respect to the CETA deal. It demonstrates to us just how important relationships are in today's world. I believe that the majority of members in the House are in support of the deal. It demonstrates to all of us the path forward that we, as a government, must take with our international allies, a path forward where progressive trade deals and a progressive agenda win. That is the way we will grow our economy. That is the way we will strengthen our middle class. I continue to underline that.

In reading over CETA and the chapters on environmental protection, the innovative approach to investor protection and investment dispute resolution provisions, and the safeguards that are in place regarding our manufacturers—we have obviously excluded the social services aspect from the deal—this deal is groundbreaking. We have finished it, and I am proud of that fact.

To conclude, as someone who has worked internationally, both in New York City and for some time in London, England, and has travelled extensively in Europe and the United States, I look at this deal as almost guaranteeing for my children the opportunities that I have had. That is effectively what it does. It allows us to grow our economy and provide opportunities for individuals and businesses who want to trade, invest, create wealth, and create good-paying Canadian jobs.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the Liberal government on having successfully rebranded the trade deal that the Conservative government negotiated.

I want to ask the member about trade in the Asia-Pacific area. Of course, with the new President of the United States, there is some doubt about how that will proceed. Our view is that it is certainly important for us to continue to pursue trading arrangements, especially with like-minded democracies in the Asia-Pacific region. In that vein, it is very important for our Prime Minister to speak out about the importance of the open economy, which we have not seen a lot of.

Can the member reflect on the future of trade in the Asia-Pacific, and on what more the Prime Minister needs to be doing to communicate the value of trade in a clear way?

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member can look at our government's actions in terms of promoting trade and investment to Canada with the recent appointment of the new ambassador, our former hon. colleague. He can look at our government's commitment to grow trade, whether on a large multilateral basis or on a bilateral basis.

Our government, and even from our platform, emphasizes trade as a way of growing our economy and strengthening our middle class. The member has seen our recent actions with the appointment of the new ambassador, our discussions, and the Prime Minister's trip to China a few months ago.

We are committed to strengthening our trade ties with the vast majority of countries, and doing it smartly, with the appropriate and pertinent safeguards in place. We will continue on that path.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, one of the aspects that we seem to forget when we talk about international agreements is the impact that these agreements have on indigenous people, and the constitutional rights of indigenous people in this country. The government has committed to a renewed relationship, a nation-to-nation relationship, with indigenous peoples. Most importantly, in my view that nation-to-nation relationship needs some sort of true meaning.

As I said, these agreements have impacts on the rights of indigenous peoples. With that in mind, I have two simple questions for the member.

Will future bilateral or multilateral negotiations with Canada include the full participation of indigenous peoples because of those rights that are so important to them? When the national chief made his presentation last June to the Standing Committee on International Trade, I think he made that point very strongly. The sample principle applies in this case.

Second, there is a constitutional duty to consult and accommodate first nations whenever we affect their rights. Has this duty been carried out in this case with regard to the bill before us?

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I grew up on the northern coast. Approximately 50% of the population in the city I grew up in were indigenous. I know many of the issues that have affected the community, and I have many friends from that community.

When it comes to trade deals, in my personal opinion, it is very simple. We want the benefits of those trade deals to flow to all Canadians, including indigenous Canadians. We want to strengthen the middle class. We want to strengthen the opportunities that are available for the folks I went to high school with, and the folks that remain in the city I grew up in, Prince Rupert. That is the best answer I can provide on this issue. We need to make sure that trade benefits all Canadians, including indigenous people.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

An. hon. member

Oh, oh!

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Before resuming debate, I want to remind hon. members that there are protocols in the House, and yelling across the floor is not one of them.

The parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure and a privilege to rise to speak on what I believe are national issues of great importance. This is one of those issues, because it is all about trade.

For a number of years, the leader of the Liberal Party spoke quite well about the importance of Canada's middle class. He started talking about Canada's middle class prior to it becoming a popular topic of discussion or debate in the chamber, in fact, when he was the leader of the third party. Then, during the election campaign, he made it very clear that, from a party's perspective, priority one was Canada's middle class and those working hard to become a part of it.

I am very happy that Canadians recognized and supported that priority. Now the leader of the Liberal Party is, indeed, the Prime Minister of Canada and the government has been able to deliver in many different ways on something very tangible for Canada's middle class and those striving to become a part of it.

In the debate on CETA today, I agree with many of the comments put on the record by my colleague across the way. It is important. Trade really does matter. Canada is a trading nation and this file has been handled so well in the last 18 or 19 months. The former minister of international trade, now the Minister of Foreign Affairs, did a phenomenal job representing Canada's best interests and the Government of Canada.

We need to recognize that the Canada-European Union trade agreement was not a completed deal. The government spent numerous hours finalizing the agreement, and that is important to recognize. Many members opposite made accusations that we dropped the ball, that we were not successful at getting this agreement across the goal line. Not only did we get it across the goal line, but we accomplished many other things related to the trade file.

Whether it was the signing of the Ukraine trade agreement, the ratification of the World Organization Trade agreement legislation that dealt with numerous countries around the world, or some of the pet projects, such as the canola issue in the Prairies with respect to China, or beef and pork exports, we have been very proactive on this file. Why? The Prime Minister has it right when he says that trade does matter. It is through trade that we generate the opportunities for Canada's middle class to grow into the future, and Canada is that trading nation.

I am somewhat disappointed. The New Democrats are like a broken record on trade. Yet again we have an opportunity and it does not matter. There is no appeasing the New Democrats on this file. They oppose this agreement. I do not agree with the NDP. I really believe that it has, once again, lost sight of the end goal, which is to ensure there are good quality jobs into the future and protecting, where we can, the industries that are so critically important to our nation. The NDP is going in a totally different direction on such an important file, especially if we take into consideration what is happening south of us.

I listened to the questions being put forward by the New Democrats today, and previous days, and the only word that comes to mind is “hogwash”. At the end of the day, who are they trying to kid? No matter what agreement we come up with, it is in the DNA of the New Democrats, at the national level anyway, to oppose trade agreements. That is what we are hearing yet again.

The New Democrats are critical of us saying that we have taken different positions on trade agreements. The simple reason is that if there is a trade agreement that is in the best interests of the Canadian economy and Canada's middle class, Canadians will know that we as a party will support it.

We know what it is we speak of. In fact the last time we actually had a trade surplus, it was under a Liberal administration. We actually had a multi-billion dollar trade surplus. We understand the importance of trade. Whether it is the manufacturing industry in the province of Ontario, commodities in the province of Alberta, or my home province of Manitoba where there is a wonderful mixture, we are seeing more and more throughout Canada a diversity in manufacturing, commodities, and so forth. We recognize the actual value of trade.

I often make reference to the pork industry in Manitoba. It is an industry I am familiar with. The Maple Leaf plant is so dependent on being able to export its products. We can look at the Maple Leaf parking lot and see the cars of employees. There are over 1,400 employees working there. They are driving cars, renting and buying homes and furniture, and feeding their families. Manitoba has more pigs than people. The vast majority of that product goes outside of the province of Manitoba. That applies to so many industries.

Some of the very best buses, and I may be a little biased but I would argue that they are the very best buses, are manufactured in my home city of Winnipeg. I can talk about tractors. I can talk about pumps. All sorts of aerospace industry parts and products, from jets, to propellers, to rockets, are manufactured. All sorts of industries are so well developed not only in my home province but throughout this nation.

Canada does not have to take a second seat to any other nation when it comes to quality products. We can market to the world. This government, unlike the New Democrats, values the work and efforts of the industries we currently have. We believe that we can be a conduit that will allow for increased sales abroad, which will in fact create the jobs that Canadians really and truly want.

Jobs are important. We have talked a great deal about the middle class. We know that if there is a healthy middle class, we will have a healthier economy. That is something this government has taken very seriously and will continue to do so.

The Canada-European Union comprehensive economic and trade agreement that we are debating today allows Canada to go even further than one might think, given some of the things that are taking place in the U.S. today. We have an opportunity to be like a gateway into the United States, and to a certain degree a gateway going from the United States to the European Union.

We need to keep the trade file as a high priority. I know that the Prime Minister and the cabinet are committed to continuing to push on the trade file. We know that by doing so we are creating future opportunities. I am talking about those valuable jobs that Canada needs in the future in order to continue to prosper.

It is with pleasure that I was able to add a few thoughts about the importance of trade. I know I am quickly running out of time, but I hope to have the opportunity to answer questions and comments the next time we debate this bill. I know my colleague to my left is quite eager to ask some questions.

With those few words, I look forward to seeing the government continue to push the trade file, because it is important to all Canadians that we do just that.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The hon. member for Winnipeg North will have five minutes for questions and comments when we debate this bill again.

It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-233, an act respecting a national strategy for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

National Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias ActPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

There being no motions at report stage on this bill, the House will now proceed, without debate, to the putting of the question of the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.

National Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias ActPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

moved that the bill be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to)

National Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias ActPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

When shall the bill be read the third time? By leave, now?

National Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias ActPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

National Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias ActPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

moved that the bill be read a third time and passed.

It is a great honour to rise in this chamber to address my bill, Bill C-233, an act respecting a national strategy for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, on the occasion of its third and final reading. I am most gratified that, to date, this proposed legislation has had the support of the majority of the members of the House.

Alzheimer's disease currently affects three-quarters of a million Canadians and their families, and that figure is expected to double within a generation. In addition, three out of four Canadians know someone who is affected by Alzheimer's or dementia. That is 75% of all Canadians.

It is imperative as we prepare to cross the finish line with this legislation that we complete this task together. Canadians are counting on it. It is most heartening to know that in matters of great concern to the citizens of our country and their families that we, as members of Parliament, can work together across party lines to unite and advocate for research, collaboration, and partnerships to find cures, provide timely diagnosis, and offer support for treatment. This co-operation will lead to positive health outcomes for Canadians who suffer from Alzheimer's and dementia, and will reassure their loved ones who provide care. Canadians expect that parliamentarians will work on their behalf to resolve these critical issues.

Members from across the aisle have demonstrated their willingness to work together to ensure that a national coordinated strategy is put in place to alleviate the suffering of Alzheimer's victims and their families. They have brought the very best of Canadian principles to the floor of the House of Commons to ensure that Bill C-233 will be passed for the greater good of Canadians.

I reiterate that no one should have to witness the slow and painful deterioration of a loved one or a family member suffering from this cruel illness. Far too many Canadians endure the long goodbye.

I know that I do not stand alone, as I am joined by many of my colleagues in this House who have dealt with, or are dealing with, a family member, a friend, or a loved one who is suffering from various forms of dementia.

Alzheimer's is no respecter of persons. From former President Ronald Regan to our next-door neighbour, this terrible disease knows no bounds. It takes a terrible toll among its victims and their families.

It is important for me to once again acknowledge and express my gratitude to the member for Don Valley West for seconding this legislation when it was introduced in Parliament. The member has shared heart-wrenching stories of parishioners he dealt with in his work as a United Church minister, and I know he shares my desire to see this bill become a reality. I thank him for his support. I want to acknowledge as well the work of former member Claude Gravelle on this important issue. It once again demonstrates that we can work together in a non-partisan manner. When we do that, we can accomplish much for Canadians.

It is in this vein that I once again ask my colleagues in the House to walk shoulder to shoulder with us to ensure that Bill C-233 is passed into law for the millions of Canadians who will depend on it. We have come too far to let them down now. By acting now, we are remembering those who cannot.

National Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias ActPrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the work he has done on this extremely important file, which was also very dear to the heart of one of our former colleagues, Claude Gravelle.

Claude introduced a similar bill in 2012, Bill C-356, which sought to create a national strategy for dementia. Unfortunately, the bill was defeated by a single vote in 2015. Those who opposed it were mainly Conservative and Bloc Québécois members. In the end, because one Liberal member forgot to stand up and vote, the bill that Claude had been working on for a long time was defeated.

I would like the Liberal member to tell me why he wanted to introduce this bill. What is the difference between this bill and the bill that our colleague introduced a few years ago?

National Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias ActPrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are a couple of changes in this. I was very careful to make sure that the bill did not require a royal recommendation, which in effect would kill the bill here in the House of Commons. As well, I wanted to ensure that it did not in any way restrict the jurisdiction that applies to health care issues. There are provincial jurisdiction issues here, and we wanted to be very careful.

That is why I sat down with my colleague across the aisle. I let him have a look at it and told him the reasons there were some challenges with the previous bill, which was well intentioned. He had a chance to look at that. He spent a couple of days with it. He agreed with me that with the new wording, we would not have the worry about a royal recommendation. We would also make sure that there was nothing too restrictive with respect to the health ministers across the country.

National Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias ActPrivate Members' Business

February 3rd, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is great that we have wonderful support from the House, but I am sure the member would agree that it is also great to recognize that there are many organizations, non-profit groups, and individuals that have put an incredible effort into supporting this legislative initiative and providing advice on an important issue that affects so many Canadians.

As the member has pointed out, over a quarter of a million Canadians are affected, and that number is going to continue to grow. We know that in excess of $250 million has been invested in research on dementia over the last decade. These are all positive things. There are a lot of people we should be recognizing who poured their hearts and souls into such an important issue, which I believe all Canadians recognize. Would he not concur?

National Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias ActPrivate Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is actually a very good point. I will start off with the Alzheimer Society. It has been very supportive and encouraging. I recognize the effort it has made to get information out about this particular piece of legislation. It has acknowledged, as well, how important it is that we move forward on this. It is important for individuals and groups to make sure that these issues are not buried or lost here in Ottawa. I, for one, have been very appreciative of groups like the Alzheimer Society and others.

I am quite appreciative as well of the many people who have contacted me, or even stopped me on the street, to raise this issue with me. As I indicated in my opening remarks, three-quarters of Canadians know or have a family member, a neighbour, or someone they know who has suffered from Alzheimer's or other types of dementia. They know what a toll it can take.

I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, and the House how appreciative I have been that so many people have reached out and supported what we are doing here today. I particularly wanted to mention the Alzheimer Society and other groups for their support on this.

National Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias ActPrivate Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Alaina Lockhart Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-233 and to have the opportunity to speak about dementia.

I want to praise the hon. member for Niagara Falls and heartily agree with his sentiment that this issue does transcend partisanship.

Dementia is a syndrome caused by a variety of brain diseases, the most common of which is Alzheimer's, which is characterized by slow and progressive deterioration of cognitive function. It affects memory, thinking, language, and judgment, along with mood and personality. This is a most curious and mysterious disease.

As our population ages, dementia is of growing concern in Canada and internationally. From 2011 to 2030, the number of Canadians with dementia will double. Right now, more than 7% of Canadians over the age of 65 are affected by dementia. Over 35% to 40% will be affected by the time they reach 85.

My home province of New Brunswick is particularly sensitive to this issue. As it stands, New Brunswick has the highest proportion of population over the age of 65 compared with other provinces. Dementia is on the rise in New Brunswick with over 16,000 people diagnosed and another 3,000 diagnoses expected this year. The impact is compounded by the fact that many seniors are also dealing with additional chronic diseases.

Keeping seniors in their homes helps them to thrive. Knowing this, I am reassured that the provincial and federal governments have made home care a priority when addressing health care in New Brunswick. The Government of Canada has committed over $125.1 million over the next 10 years for home care in New Brunswick.

The fact that there is no current treatment to cure dementia can be devastating to people with dementia and their loved ones. However, we know that research can help find a cure or a way of altering the course of dementia.

I cannot emphasize enough that our government believes in the power of research evidence, which is what we have signalled strongly in the last months. The Government of Canada will undertake and use research evidence to make informed decisions concerning health care. Investing in health research is an investment in a healthier Canada and healthier Canadians.

Research drives the way we diagnose, treat, and care for those with dementia and their caregivers. It has not only helped improve our understanding of dementia and the neurodegenerative diseases causing it, but it created new possibilities for better diagnosis, treatment, and quality of life for patients and their families.

The Alzheimer's Society continues to promote the benefits of early diagnosis. As a 2011 study revealed, 50% of Canadians live for more than a year with their symptoms before seeking diagnosis. We need to do better.

Canadian research has highlighted a link between dementia and stroke. Dr. Sandra Black of the University of Toronto has been collecting brain scans of patients with dementia since 1995. These scans uncovered the prevalence of silent strokes, or strokes that leave small holes in the brain without any obvious symptoms. This research has opened the door to the possibility for earlier diagnosis for Canadians using brain scans. It suggests that reducing the risk of stroke may help prevent dementia. Continued research like this is vital. Our investments in this area are essential to changing the course of dementia and unlocking a cure.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research, or CIHR, is the Government of Canada's primary vehicle through which we support research and move results into practice. In the last five years, CIHR has invested more than $193 million in dementia-related research. This funding supports the best, most intriguing research questions that Canada's brightest and most promising scientists have to offer. This is research that has the potential for big impacts for Canadians and the Canadian health care system.

For example, Halifax researcher Dr. Janice Keefe has spent 20 years focusing on at-home, family caregivers who she calls "the backbone of our current health system". As Canada's aging baby boomers increasingly care for a spouse or parent with dementia, these family caregivers need support to avoid becoming patients, and not necessarily for dementia. Dr. Keefe co-developed a ground-breaking, evidence-based questionnaire that captures the diverse and complex needs of family caregivers.

The C.A.R.E. tool is influencing policy development and support programs for this often overlooked but vital population. First piloted in Quebec and Nova Scotia, practitioners are now using C.A.R.E. in Ontario and Alberta and it has been culturally adapted for use in France and New Jersey. As the prevalence of dementia increases in Canada, so will the number of caregivers. A tool like this, which helps identify needs and therefore support programs for those who are dedicating themselves to others, is invaluable.

I am pleased to say that by leading its dementia research strategy, CIHR is acting strategically to focus research efforts not only in Canada but internationally. This approach brings together partners from different sectors to support the latest dementia research related to three specific themes: prevention, treatment, and quality of life for those affected by the disease and their caregivers.

The domestic component of the strategy, the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging, is known as Canada's premier research hub on neurodegenerative diseases affecting cognition, including dementia. The number of funding partners CCNA has brought together is now up to 15.

With these funding partners from across Canada, CCNA helps accelerate the development of dementia treatments and care for Canadians. To do this, it involves over 350 researchers, who are examining issues important to all Canadians, including specific vulnerable groups, such as indigenous people and those living in rural communities. In this regard, dementia rates in Canada's indigenous communities have been steadily increasing for the last seven to 10 years. Alarmingly, the onset of dementia is now occurring an average of 10 years earlier than in non-indigenous communities.

Drs. Kristen Jacklin and Carrie Bourassa are leading research into how indigenous culture and community affect how people experience dementia. Their team is working with indigenous communities to develop culturally grounded approaches to dementia diagnosis, care, and health education. This research will produce a range of results to help clinicians. It will help them adapt their approach to ensure that indigenous people feel more comfortable and safe when meeting with health professionals. It will also help build appropriate community and cultural strengths into existing programming for people with dementia and their partners.

The dementia research strategy developed by CIHR also has an international component, which has enabled Canadian researchers to participate in key international partnerships across its three themes. Through this component, Canadian researchers have been able to collaborate with colleagues from across the globe.

Canada is recognized as a leader in this domain. For example, Canada was the first country outside of Europe to join the joint program on neurodegenerative disease, the largest global research initiative tackling the challenge of neurodegenerative diseases. Let me give members concrete examples of the research funded through the international collaboration.

This program funds the work of Drs. Jörg Gsponer and Paul Pavlidis from the University of British Columbia. They are working on an international team with researchers from Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands to shed light on the genetic risk factors of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. This fundamental research will help us find new biomarkers as ways to measure deviations from healthy aging, along with novel treatments and diagnostic tools.

Together the scientific efforts through the strategy's domestic and international components have defined Canada as a leader in dementia research. We are proud to support world-class researchers as they participate in the global pursuit of finding a disease-modifying treatment for dementia by 2025.

Dr. Alex Mihailidis, from the University of Toronto, has developed a mobile robot to help people living with dementia. Sometimes people with Alzheimer's disease have a hard time remembering the sequence of steps required for everyday tasks. Dr. Mihailidis has created an automated prompting system, called the COACH, which helps them remember the steps required in basic tasks like handwashing. Already working well in long-term care facilities, his team is now adapting the COACH to help those living at home.

As members can see, the results of research provide hope that new tools, services, and treatments will soon be available to better prevent dementia and improve the outcomes for Canadians living with this terrible disease.

I am pleased to say that through CIHR, the Government of Canada has established a clear research strategy on dementia. This government will continue to invest in dementia research. We know that our investments in research will go a long way to improving the lives of Canadians living with dementia, their families, and caregivers.

It was an honour to participate in today's debate, which highlights the challenges and growing concerns surrounding dementia. My father, and by extension, my mother and my entire family, is currently struggling with the impact of this terrible disease. Knowing that such amazing research is happening right here in Canada is not only comforting but provides hope for all of us that we may someday find a cure that will allow more Canadians to live a longer, healthier, and happier life.

National Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias ActPrivate Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Nanaimo Alzheimer's walk raised $18,000 last year to promote critical research to reduce the effects of Alzheimer's, to provide services for those living with or assisting those with Alzheimer's, and to ease the personal consequences that exist for people and their families every day. I hope people in my region will come to the fundraising walk in Nanaimo on May 7.

It is in that spirit that I speak today on Canada's responsibility to improve care for the hundreds and thousands of Canadians suffering from dementia and to better support their families and caregivers. I support Bill C-233, which calls for the development and implementation of a national and comprehensive strategy to improve health care delivered to persons suffering from Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

Here is a call from Susan Barr, who wrote to me from the riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith. She wrote, “I am a senior with Alzheimer's on my father's and mother's line, and am now starting down that dark path of dementia myself.... Unless a dementia patient has sufficient means they have to share rooms with others who often are difficult to live with and/or are violent. I urge you to go and spend two or three hours in a government funded senior's care home with a closed dementia ward and ask yourself — do you want to be treated like this?”

She also describes her brother-in-law, who used to be the gentlest, kindest soul. He has been held in hospital with Alzheimer's for long periods of time because there is no space for him in a care unit elsewhere on Vancouver Island. He has been tied on stretchers and denied showers because of fears about his aggressive behaviour. This is bad for caregivers, for families, and, of course, for the patients.

The need is great. Three-quarters of a million Canadians lived with dementia in 2011, which is 15% of seniors, and this costs our economy $30 billion each year in medical bills and lost productivity. Left unchecked, that number could skyrocket to $300 billion within 25 years.

Canada has fallen behind countries such as the U.S., the U.K., Norway, France, the Netherlands, and Australia, all of which have coordinated national dementia plans in place. Canada is one of the few G8 countries without one. As our population ages, we must prepare our health care system and communities for the increasing number of Canadians suffering from dementia. It is expected to double by 2031. To paraphrase Tommy Douglas, the father of medicare and a New Democrat, “Only through the practice of preventive medicine will we keep the [health care] costs from becoming...excessive...”

In talking last night with the Canadian Association for Long Term Care, I was reminded that Canada has had 40 years to get ready for this wave of aging baby boomers and yet our country had no strategy and failed to plan. The Canadian Association for Long Term Care notes that the proportion of long-term care residents with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia has grown steadily, with 87% of residents affected by the disease since 2010. It also notes that modern home designs and increased privacy are increasingly important for residents with dementia, who could become upset and aggressive when they are unable to get the personal space they need.

Canadians have lost precious time on this, something that is especially important to those suffering from a degenerative and progressive illness. This has had real human impact. I have heard countless heartbreaking stories about the impacts of Alzheimer's disease and dementia on my constituents.

Lynn Myette gave me permission to read this note. She said:

Our Grandfather suffered from Alzheimer' an now our Mom is in a secure unit with Alzheimer's, too. We know what it is like to watch a loved one decline and loose all of their dignity to the point that they are no longer their former being. To be tied into a wheelchair and left to fall asleep sitting there, to loose all their appetite and not eat, to wear diapers and lose control of bodily functions, to no longer recognize close family members, to develop anger, these things along with drugs to numb their being to the point of comatose, happen.

Many cannot afford quality home care for their parents. I talk to so many people in my riding who are trying their very best to look after their aging parents at home. They are not getting the support they need. The smallest amount of support would make a big difference to them. They know they are saving the health care system money, and yet it is shameful that the Liberal government abandoned its election promise to invest $3 billion in home care.

The Liberals promised $3 billion over the next four years during the 2015 campaign. They separated this from the health accord. That means the money should have flowed in 2016, but it has not been delivered almost two years into their mandate. Instead, the Liberals are using home care dollars to try to lever agreement around the health accord. Provinces representing 90% of Canadians still have not received a nickel of this promised home care support. The need is pressing. The burden of caring for patients with dementia and Alzheimer's falls heavily on family members.

In Canada, family caregivers give millions of unpaid hours each year, caring for dementia patients. That represents $11 billion in lost income, and one-quarter of a million lost full-time equivalent employees in the workplace. If nothing changes by 2040, it is estimated that family caregivers in Canada will spend 1.2 billion unpaid hours per year caring for their loved ones. A quarter of family caregivers are seniors themselves.

Long-standing under-investment in care homes means that the alternatives can be dire. Lori Amdam from my riding writes the following:

Why does Canada need a national dementia strategy? We need one because the baby boomers I know are scared to death of developing dementia—they believe that life in a Canadian nursing home would be a fate far worth than death.

When I teach dementia care to students, I often ask them to bring to mind the worst care facility they have seen. They describe an old, hospital-like unit with narrow corridors, paint chipping off the walls and no access to the outside. Then I ask “What if we exchanged the twenty people with dementia who live on this unit with twenty children dying of cancer? Would this place be an acceptable environment for them to live out their last months?” Of course the answer is a resounding no. Why, then, is it an acceptable place for persons with dementia, who have no voice and no power, to live their last years?

...I see more and more incidences of unsafe and unethical practices in acute care. Recently, I had to intervene on behalf of a 90 year old woman with dementia when the hospital tried to admit a young man into the other bed in her double room. She was terrified, yelling “Get that man out of my house! Get him out!”

Creating the framework which would mandate provision of dignified and respectful care for this population of vulnerable people is simply the right thing to do. It is no less than they deserve—they deserve to live in comfort and safety—they built this country.

I can think of no better testimonial for the need for Canada to have a national strategy on Alzheimer's care. Canadians deserve no less. The New Democrats have a long and proud history of advocating for federal leadership on health care issues. We stood unanimously in the House supporting an NDP bill on a national dementia strategy in 2015.

We stood in the House in 2016 and will stand in 2017, despite the fact it was voted down by the previous Conservative government. We are very much encouraged that the member is bringing this bill forward today, even though he voted against our version of it.

We will stand in the House this year and we will vote in favour, and we will work so that every Canadian, every Canadian family, and every caregiver can have a world-class dementia strategy. All parliamentarians should continue to fight for this good cause.