Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for South Surrey—White Rock.
I have to admit that speaking to Bill C-37 is difficult. I want to try to clear the air. I remember listening to this debate initially when it first came up in the House and certainly sitting through much of the debate today, and one thing I want to address is the misperception that because we are speaking out on this issue as Conservative members, somehow we do not believe that the fentanyl crisis is a crisis and do not think it is an issue.
The numbers are staggering. We are looking at 340 accidental fentanyl overdoses in Alberta last year and 650 in B.C. We heard from the Minister of Health that it could very well be 1,400 in 2017. We are in a crisis when it comes to the opioid abuse that is happening, especially in western Canada, but it is definitely sweeping into other parts of the country as well.
We have spoken today about the numbers, but I think most of us in this House, or many of us, understand this is more than just numbers. My colleague from South Surrey—White Rock has obviously been fighting very hard on this issue.
This is something that has hit very close to my home. I have a rural Alberta riding. I know that many people do not assume that such an issue like this is a rural issue, that it is more an urban issue that is affecting our big cities, but that is simply not the case.
Unfortunately, I have attended a couple of funerals over the last few months of friends, acquaintances who have died of fentanyl overdoses, and these are in our small rural Alberta communities. Kainai First Nation in southern Alberta had 18 overdoses over a period of just a month last year. This has hit very close to my community. Unfortunately, my family and our friends have been impacted by the fentanyl crisis.
Unfortunately, some of the members opposite have put it out there that because we are speaking out about this issue and raising some concerns with Bill C-37, somehow we are cold-hearted and are not understanding the impact this fentanyl crisis is having on Canadians. That makes me extremely frustrated and angry, because all of us understand what is going on and how serious this issue is.
We are fighting as hard as we possibly can as parliamentarians, as we should, to make sure we are doing the best for Canadians. Our communities across Canada are looking toward us as parliamentarians to stand up and do something about this crisis. We are doing that, but we cannot just do that without also being the voice for our communities.
My rural communities understand that the fentanyl crisis is impacting all of us in southern Alberta, but my communities are also saying that they want us to ensure they have a voice at the table. When it comes to selecting safe injection sites, I have to admit I was really surprised when councils from communities as small as Stavely, Alberta, are writing me letters saying that it is not that they disagree with safe injection sites; their concern is they want to ensure that they have consultation on whether their community wants it or does not, and if it does, they want input on where it goes. I do not think that is out of line.
I think our municipalities and the governments that are closest to the issue understand what is going on in their communities much better than the Minister of Health in Ottawa, and I mean no offence to the health minister. I appreciate the Liberals' taking the effort to get Bill C-37 going, because we have to do something. As I said, Canadians are expecting us to do something. I think Canadians are frustrated because they do not think we have done enough, and I have to agree with them. This is not something that is going away.
Unfortunately, we are having this debate here today when in February, this could have been moved that much quicker. We put a motion on the floor to split this bill in half, to give the CBSA additional powers to address the trafficking into Canada—the bulk of fentanyl and carfentanil comes from China—and the tools to better enforce our borders, and also to give the Minister of Health additional tools to address new and dangerous drugs.
Those are the things that we wanted to move quickly. We wanted to try to start saving lives immediately. All we asked was that the portion of Bill C-37 that dealt with safe injection sites be split off so that we could have further discussions about that. I was extremely frustrated to see the Liberals and the NDP vote against that motion, not once but twice.
I am a father of three. I have seen what fentanyl does to the kids in my communities. My kids have come home and told me about the issues that they have at their schools and in their friendship groups. We need to do something now, not later.
I appreciate that Bill C-37 is a first step, but as parliamentarians, we had an opportunity to do the right thing in February and we failed. Today, when we have an opportunity to further discuss what our communities are asking us to discuss, which is safe injection sites, the Liberals, supported by the NDP, passed a time allocation motion to cut off debate on this issue. Debate has now been cut off in the House of Commons and at committee stage. They are the ones who are telling us, as Conservatives, that we do not care, but really the message is that the Liberals and the NDP do not care about what our communities think about this issue.
My communities have been especially vocal. It is not about whether they believe that fentanyl is an issue and it is not about whether they believe that safe injection sites are one tool to address this; they want to have a say. They want to have input on how this will look, and right now, no matter what the people opposite are saying, they do not feel that this is the case. They do not feel, with the way that Bill C-37 looks, that they would have genuine consultation in this process.
It is not just my town councils and village councils, but also my local RCMP members. They also feel that they need a say in how this would work. My feeling is that if we want safe injection sites to be successful, we must have community buy-in. If we do not have community buy-in, they are not going to be successful. They are not going to do what they potentially can do.
The other issue that is not included in Bill C-37, which I think is another area where we have fallen woefully short, is there is nothing in here that stipulates resources for mental health and addictions counselling. That is something that has come up extremely loud and clear in my communities. It is very difficult to access those services in southwest and rural Alberta. I do not want to speak for other urban centres, but people close to Calgary have those opportunities. They are much closer and more accessible. In rural communities, it is extremely difficult.
To me, Bill C-37 is a good first step, but the big focus of this bill is on dealing with the consequences of the fentanyl crisis. I think our focus has to be on the root cause of the fentanyl crisis, and that is the addiction to these opioids and the ability of traffickers to get easy access to these drugs. It is ridiculously easy to buy these drugs.
Some of my communities are not near any urban centre, but many of my rural communities in the southern most part of Alberta are feeling this the most. They are nowhere near Calgary. We cannot just assume that this is an urban Canada problem.
I am not saying that my colleagues are making that assumption, but this is something that we have to be extremely aware of.
That is the focus of my disappointment. We are arguing about something that we could have addressed months ago, but we did not. This is not partisanship. From my own personal experience, I can say that that this has nothing to do with political parties; it is about doing the right thing for Canadians. They are looking to us as parliamentarians to do the right thing, to step up and take action on a crisis that is killing our communities. I do not think we can understate that. They are looking to us, as their elected officials, to take action. I think we have failed them, and we need to take a more active approach in doing something about the fentanyl crisis.