House of Commons Hansard #183 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was opposition.


Resuming debateExtension of Sitting Hours and Conduct of Extended Proceedings

5:25 p.m.


Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would refer the member to my speech on the day we talked about changes to the Standing Orders. Personally, I think it is ridiculous that at any given time here in the House of Commons when debate is going on we have one-fifth of the members actually hearing the debate. Then things go to committee, and a lot of times committee members have not even heard the debate that is going on.

My suggestion was that all day on Tuesdays, all members should be sitting here listening to the discussion so that the committees can take advantage of that. Thursday would be a great day for opposition days and private members' bills. Wednesdays would be a great day for us to actually interface with the ministers and get the money and support we need for our ridings. That would allow travel opportunities for those people who have long distances to go. It would be much more family friendly. It would be much more efficient in terms of achieving Parliament. That is my two cents on that.

Resuming debateExtension of Sitting Hours and Conduct of Extended Proceedings

5:25 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

The House resumed from May 9 consideration of the motion that Bill C-277, An Act providing for the development of a framework on palliative care in Canada, be read the third time and passed.

Framework on Palliative Care in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.


Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-277, an act providing for the development of a framework on palliative care in Canada.

The legislation would require the Minister of Health to develop and implement a framework designed to give all Canadians access to palliative care provided through hospitals, home care, long-term care facilities, and residential hospices. The bill would also require the health minister to convene a conference within six months of the act coming into force, with provincial and territorial governments and palliative care providers, in order to develop a framework on palliative care in Canada. Finally, the bill would require the Minister of Health to table the framework in Parliament within a year and post the framework online within 10 days of tabling it.

New Democrats will be supporting the legislation because we believe that palliative care is a vital part of comprehensive health care provision, and we believe that every Canadian has a right to high-quality end-of-life care. New Democrats have a long history of strong advocacy for better palliative care services for Canadians. We are proud of the New Democrat motion adopted in the last Parliament with all-party support, which laid out a pan-Canadian strategy for palliative and end-of-life care. Launched October 31, 2013, my colleague the member for Timmins—James Bay's Motion No. 456 called for the establishment of a pan-Canadian palliative and end-of-life care strategy in conjunction with provinces and territories on a flexible and integrated model of palliative care. It passed with almost unanimous support on May 28, 2014.

At present, only 16% to 30% of Canadians have access to formalized palliative or end-of-life care services. Even fewer receive grief or bereavement services. With the subsequent legalization of physician-assisted dying, the provision of high-quality palliative care services has now become more important than ever, since it provides meaningful options for end-of-life decisions. It is well past time for the federal government to act.

Palliative care is the health discipline focused on improving the quality of life for people living with life-threatening illness. The World Health Organization defines it as follows:

Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual. Palliative care:

provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms;

affirms life and regards dying as a normal process;

intends neither to hasten or postpone death;

integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care;

offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death;

offers a support system to help the family cope during the patients illness and in their own bereavement;

uses a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families, including bereavement counselling, if indicated;

will enhance quality of life, and may also positively influence the course of illness;

is applicable early in the course of illness, in conjunction with other therapies that are intended to prolong life, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and includes those investigations needed to better understand and manage distressing clinical complications.

There is consensus among academics, health professionals, and the public that improvements in the palliative care system in Canada are desperately needed. Without clear national standards, individual jurisdictions are left to develop their own policies, programs, and approaches, resulting in inconsistent and inadequate access across the country. In Ontario, for instance, 40% of cancer patients do not receive a palliative assessment in their last year of life. In some regions of Atlantic and western Canada, data shows that less than half of people who die in a hospital receive palliative care.

The number of individuals actively caring for a friend or family member is expected to increase as Canada's population ages. On average, Canadians estimate that they would have to spend 54 hours per week to care for a dying loved one at home, and two-thirds say they could not devote the time needed for this care. Currently, family caregivers provide more than 80% of care needed by individuals with long-term conditions at home, in long-term care facilities, and in hospital. Replacing family caregivers with a paid workforce at current market rates and usual employee benefits has been estimated to cost about $25 billion.

Furthermore, according to a synthesis of the empirical literature, palliative family caregiving for older adults is gendered. When acting as caregivers, women experience a greater degree of mental and physical strain than their male counterparts. This is linked to the societal expectation that women should provide a greater degree of care at the end of life for family members.

Remarkably, there are many jurisdictions across the country where we do not even know how many Canadians receive quality palliative care. We lack consistent and ongoing data collection at a systemic level, which leaves us unable to effectively hold our health care systems accountable.

Indicators such as location of death, use of acute care before death, and referrals to formal palliative care show that there is significant room for improvement. Many Canadians who require palliative care receive it in acute and emergency care, if they receive it at all. Not only are acute care settings more costly than dedicated palliative care, but they are also not as well equipped to provide the most appropriate treatment and care for patients and their families.

It is vital that any national palliative care strategy take into account the geographic, regional, and cultural diversity of urban and rural Canada. It must also respect the cultural, spiritual, and familial needs of Canada's first nations, Inuit, and Métis people. According to Dr. Mary Lou Kelley, research chair in palliative care at Lakehead University, the federal health care dollars that would help indigenous people receive end-of-life care at home have not kept up with the increasing demand. Health care for first nations is the responsibility of the federal government, of course, and it does provide some home care services, but the system was never designed to provide complex health care to people with chronic or advanced terminal diseases.

Finally, I would be remiss if I failed to note that, although the bill is sponsored by a Conservative member, the previous government eliminated the federally funded national secretariat on palliative and end-of-life care when it first took office in 2006. If it had not been for this cut, we would have developed a palliative care framework a decade ago.

From 2001-06 the federal government funded the secretariat through Health Canada with an annual budget ranging from $1 million to $1.5 million, virtually nothing in terms of the federal budget. However, when the Conservative government disbanded the end-of-life care secretariat, it stopped working on a national palliative and end-of-life care strategy.

In 2011, the Conservative government made a one-time commitment of $3 million to fund the study and framework creation of community integrative models of hospice palliative care. This initiative was led by the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association, but according to Dr. Greg Marchildon, Ontario research chair in health policy and system design at the University of Toronto:

There is no national policy on palliative care in Canada. Instead, there are national guidelines developed by community-based palliative care organizations operating at arm's length from government.

Although Conservative support for palliative care had previously been absent, it is certainly better late than never. That is why New Democrats reached across the aisle at the health committee to successfully move an amendment to the bill requiring the federal government to evaluate the advisability of re-establishing Health Canada's secretariat on palliative and end-of-life care.

I will give credit where credit is due. The member for Sarnia—Lambton responded to our proposal thoughtfully, saying: “I'm a fan of doing that. As I said, I was not here during the Harper regime, so I can't fix the past. I can only improve the future.”

New Democrats, in keeping with that sentiment, will work together to improve the future. I will conclude my remarks by reiterating the NDP's support for this vital initiative and affirming that all Canadians deserve to live their final days in dignity and comfort. We look forward to contributing to the framework development process and sincerely hope that it will provide the strongest possible palliative care strategy for every Canadian from coast to coast to coast.

5:40 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario


Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Madam Speaker, an agreement could not be reached under the provisions of Standing Order 78(1) or 78(2), with respect to the second reading stage of Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings of the said stage.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-277, An Act providing for the development of a framework on palliative care in Canada, be read the third time and passed.

Framework on Palliative Care in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.


Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Madam Speaker, I am proud to rise today in support of Bill C-277, which calls for the development of a framework to increase access to palliative care. I would like to personally thank the member for Sarnia—Lambton for introducing this private member's bill.

Years ago, while I was living in Victoria, I had the honour of serving as the president of the Greater Victoria Eldercare Foundation, Vancouver Island's largest seniors foundation, supporting six extended care hospitals. The Greater Victoria Eldercare Foundation, under my good friend executive director Lori McLeod, has developed leading community programs to assist seniors, including the annual Embrace Aging month, with initiative raising awareness about the wealth of resources and opportunities available year-round to help seniors and their families navigate the journey of aging.

I was pleased to hear recently that it has added additional palliative care facilities at its Glengarry facility. It was through my involvement with the Eldercare Foundation that I encountered first-hand the many issues that seniors and their families face now: the difficulty of obtaining proper care for seniors, proper facilities, and proper understanding of the unique situations and issues they face. I owe a lot to the many volunteers and staff whom I worked with at the Greater Victoria Eldercare Foundation, and I know they too would be supporting this excellent bill.

Alleviating the suffering of Canadians is a collective duty of the House, regardless of political agenda or party affiliation. Whether in hospitals or at home, Canadians should not have to go without the care they need simply because there is not sufficient support. Our society is capable of providing the best care for our citizens, and Bill C-277 provides a framework to utilize and implement these resources. This bill helps to promote good health while preserving the independence of Canadians in need of health support. As a Conservative, I am a proud supporter of this bill, which will invest in long-term and palliative care, which the Liberals have failed to do despite their many promises.

In 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Carter v. Canada established that Canadians have a right to physician-assisted dying. We debated Bill C-14, and while I opposed the legislation, the House and Senate passed it and it received royal assent almost a year ago. One of the key aspects of the Carter decision, however, was its call for an advancement of palliative care as a means of increasing Canadians' access to compassionate health care. The Carter decision is intended to ensure that Canadians can make a legitimate choice regarding their own health care, and one of those options is to receive adequate palliative care, care that is focused on providing individuals who have a terminal illness with relief from pain, physical and mental stress, and the symptoms of their illness. It is intended to ensure that those who are at the end of their life can pass peacefully, with dignity and without pain.

The Carter decision enabled Canadians to pursue assisted dying, but it also established an obligation on the government to ensure all Canadians can access proper, adequate, and compassionate end-of-life care. Right now, we are not getting the job done. We are not in any imagination fulfilling our obligations as a society in caring for those in need of care. For example, a survey of pre-licensure pain curricula in the health science faculties of 10 Canadian universities shows many would-be doctors receive less training in pain management than their counterparts in veterinary medicine. I am sure my dog Hailey, who is no doubt at home on my couch right now as I speak, finds this reassuring, but as someone formerly involved in senior care, I find it quite distressing.

A survey of more than 1,100 doctors and nurses shows that those who treat fewer terminally ill patients, therefore knowing the least about symptom management, are most likely to be in favour of assisted suicide, while those with more experience in symptom management and end-of-life care tend to oppose it. Dr. Max Chochinov, a noted specialist on palliative care, explains that the will to live is directly inverse to the amount of pain, and that loss of dignity drives wanting to die and treatment of pain can improve sense of dignity.

We also have to remember the impact of terminal illness on a family: the emotional, physical, and financial struggle of caring for a loved one at the end of their life. Under the current regime, it is up to families to carry the overwhelming bulk of this burden. This system is not fair. People should not have to choose between paying bills and caring for their spouse, their parents, or their siblings.

We have heard horror stories time and time again from families who were completely ambushed by palliative and in-home care costs after their loved one got sick, and these instances are becoming more and more common. The health minister herself has acknowledged many times that Canada has a deficit in access to quality palliative care, yet despite her pledges to do more and provide more, she has neglected to take meaningful action to date. Canada's population as a whole is growing older, and seniors now outnumber children.

I said before in my speech to the RRIF financial security act—another bill that would have helped seniors, which the Liberals voted against—that we need to be ready to have the proper programs and mechanisms in place to adapt to our shifting demographics.

A recent Globe and Mail article states that, according to the 2016 census, we have seen “the largest increase in the share of seniors since the first census after Confederation”. Across Canada, the increase in the share of seniors since the 2011 census “was the largest observed since 1871—a clear sign that Canada’s population is aging at a faster pace”. That figure is projected to rise even more in the coming years. The proportion of those aged 65 and older climbed to 17% of Canada's population. This is not a new phenomenon obviously.

A September 2015 Statistics Canada report noted that, by 2024, 20% of our population will be over the age of 65, so we need action plans in place to address this shift, this massive wave that is going to be overtaking our health care systems. The provinces are going to be faced with an epidemic soon enough of people trying to access systems that are not capable of supporting the demand. Less than 30% of Canadians have access to this vital service, which allows them to choose to live as well as they can for as long as they can.

It is time for the government to fulfill its obligations to provide quality palliative care to all Canadians. This framework answers some of those calls, and it represents the needs of the aging population across Canada, including those in Edmonton West. The percentage of individuals in Edmonton aged 65 or older has risen to 14%, a significant figure representing thousands of individuals who will benefit from universal palliative care.

I know this bill will serve the aging population in my own riding, particularly those who find comfort in knowing that their family members and loved ones will receive the best care. No one should have to suffer through ailments alone, without the support of well-trained and compassionate health care practitioners.

Bill C-277 is required to define the services covered, to bring standard training requirements for the various levels of care providers, to come up with a plan and a mechanism to ensure consistent access for all Canadians, and to collect the data to ensure success. Good palliative care can cover a wide range of services, such as acute care, hospice care, home care, crisis care, and spiritual and psychological counselling. The creation and implementation of a palliative care framework will give Canadians access to high-quality palliative care through hospitals, home care, long-term care facilities, and residential hospices.

We need to ensure that our communities support the aging population with respect and dignity. As parliamentarians elected by our respective communities, reacting to this shift should be a priority and cannot be ignored. When I introduced my private member's bill last fall, which sought to help seniors who were being disproportionately targeted by an outdated tax measure, I heard from countless seniors across Canada who felt they were being left behind. While it is important to ensure the provinces are not pigeonholed by federal legislation, we need to acknowledge a legislative gap when we see one. Seniors need help, and no amount of discussion papers, working groups, or committee meetings will make this issue go away. We know what the issue is and we need action.

Bill C-277 is a step toward providing the much-needed support for seniors today and seniors to be. Palliative care is good, compassionate, and meaningful. Providing access to quality and affordable palliative care can help make painful decisions a little more manageable for those suffering from a terminal illness. It can also significantly help the families of those suffering, who carry the disproportionate financial and emotional burden of end-of-life care. The government needs to pass this legislation to begin the development of a framework on increasing access to palliative care.

When the Supreme Court's decision in Carter v. Canada was delivered, it included a significant and serious obligation on the government to ensure that Canadians could make a real decision on their end-of-life care. The ability to make that decision requires that the options are actually available, and today's unfortunate reality is that our palliative care system is inadequate.

As I mentioned, I would like to thank the member for Sarnia—Lambton for bringing this fantastic private member's bill forward. I am very pleased to hear my colleagues in the NDP speak so favourably toward this, and to hear that they will be supporting it. I am extremely proud that I and other members of the Conservative caucus will be supporting this very important bill.

Framework on Palliative Care in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.


Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak about Bill C-277, an act providing for the development of a framework on palliative care in Canada.

I first want to congratulate my colleague, the member for Sarnia—Lambton, for bringing this forward. I also want to congratulate my fellow members on the health committee for working so collaboratively on this bill at committee stage. I think our work and amendments improved this legislation to become something positive for all Canadians.

It is essential for us to be talking about palliative care. It is something I heard about a lot during my election campaign and continue to hear about from community members. Palliative care and access to end-of-life care are important issues for all Canadians.

Brampton South is a riding with a significant population of seniors, who brought this forward as an issue of dignity and quality of life. A strategy to address this need is an important step. I want to thank them for raising their voices and for championing this in my community.

As members know, palliative care is for all, regardless of age, who are approaching the end if life. It is for all people who desire a compassionate and comfortable place to receive care. In our conversation about medical assistance in dying, I raised the need for palliative care and home care to be involved in that discussion. That is why I am extremely proud that our government responded to all aspects of this issue in our relatively short time, so far, in government.

As members know, we will be investing $6 billion in home care through the provinces and territories; $2.3 billion will be going to fill needs in Ontario, which I hope will serve to fill the gaps that exist in our rapidly growing Peel region. Home care is about responding to Canadians' overwhelming desire to be at home, to receive care at home, and, sadly, if needed, to live out their end-of-life stage at home when possible. Palliative care is the other option that serves to make life more dignified for our most in-need people.

I would like to mention that palliative care workers and PSWs deserve our utmost respect for the difficult but important job they do for people in our communities.

I strongly support Bill C-277's goals to make a strategy and to incorporate work governments have been doing on this already. A strong evidence-based approach will deliver real results. That is the approach our government ran on and the one Canadians endorsed when they elected us.

Please know as I give my comments today that we recognize and respect that the provinces play the principal role in the delivery of health services, including palliative care. This bill, with the proposed amendments, understands that the federal role in health lies in coordinating and ensuring that there are the same services available for all. I am very pleased that the government will support this bill, with amendments.

The proposed amendments respect the intent of the bill but seek to align it with the scope of federal roles and responsibilities in relation to palliative care. They also seek to build on existing palliative care frameworks, strategies, and best practices being undertaken by provinces, territories, and stakeholder groups.

To ensure that Canadians have access to the best quality of palliative care, it is important that we do not reinvent the wheel. In many provinces, there are existing frameworks and policies. As such, it was important to me and my colleagues on the health committee to ensure that any new work on this would build on what exists already.

We also know that when it comes to caring for Canada's seniors in need of palliative care, the job falls not only to health care professionals but to other caregivers, including family members. As such, our committee made changes to the bill to ensure that all who provide care at this stage are supported and have their needs considered in the establishment of a framework for palliative care.

With our government's focus on evidence-based policy, it was also very important to ensure that any new work on this issue include the promotion of research and data collection so that we can ensure that the care provided to Canadians is based on the most relevant research, best practices, and up-to-date evidence in this area.

This is a very important part of the picture, as we all know very well that the incredible ongoing research in the Canadian health care field is innovative, leading to new opportunities for greater care. It is essential that this new knowledge be considered as we develop and maintain a framework for palliative care across Canada.

Our proposed amendments would facilitate federal support for improved palliative care in relation to three pillars, which are aligned with the objectives of the bill: training for health care providers; consistent data collection, research, and innovation in palliative care; and support for caregivers.

We continue to support pan-Canadian initiatives that enhance Canada's capacity to provide quality palliative and end-of-life care as well as a range of programs and services, such as family caregiver benefits and resources, that address the actions proposed in the bill.

Our government's investments in the provinces to in turn deliver health services are outpacing inflation, ensuring that they can deliver better health outcomes. I want to commend the Minister of Health on the recent health accord agreements.

I am also very proud to say that we are also working with first nations and Inuit stakeholders to identify options for building on current resources and services to provide increased access to palliative care.

It is crucial that any work we do regarding the health of Canadians reflects the different realities of the many communities across the country. Specifically, we know that the health care needs of first nations and Inuit communities deserve special attention to respect the traditions and existing frameworks that have been developed from community to community.

Overall, I cannot say enough how pleased I am that this important discussion is happening in this place. I do not doubt that this conversation will and must continue. The health committee, on day one, agreed that this was something we should look at, because it is an important issue for seniors and for us, too.

We have many important pieces of business before us at committee, but I imagine that a review of this strategy and of strategies stakeholders or provinces currently are using could be a full study in the future.

Palliative care and end-of-life options are the kind of hard but real topics that are our responsibility as leaders to address. These are the things that make us think of our loved ones and our own futures in personal ways. Regardless of our own views or choices, we are setting up a system that is fair, compassionate, and just. By taking a public health approach to issues like this, we are doing the responsible thing that serves as a framework for all Canadians.

I want to thank the parliamentarians in this House for supporting the bill and for all the contributions so far. It is something I have followed closely in the House. Today we continue to move this forward towards action.

Again, I congratulate the member for Sarnia—Lambton on Bill C-277 and her work to promote its aims. It is a noble quest that aligns with the priorities of this government to bring positive change to our health care system and with my own priorities to ensure that Canadians have access to the best possible health care services. I hope all members will join me in supporting the bill again at the next opportunity to vote for it.

Framework on Palliative Care in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.


Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to speak in favour of Bill C-277, an act providing for the development of a national framework for palliative care in Canada. This bill is important. It would benefit Canadians right across the country and also at home in Lakeland. I would like to congratulate the member for Sarnia-Lambton for her steadfast advocacy and for highlighting this priority need across the country. I know that this bill is the result of months and months of hard work and dedication by the member, and I congratulate her.

Canadians work hard, live busy lives, and expect one day to have the option of end-of-life care. The goal of this bill is to support improved access for Canadians to palliative care by creating a national framework, with the intent of expanding the availability and quality of front-line services in communities across Canada. That result would increase options and reduce the burden on family members by providing vital end-of-life care for their loved ones. This aim supports the dignity and comfort all Canadians deserve in the final stages of their lives.

This bill is also the distillation of the work of my colleagues on the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care. The committee published an excellent report, which outlined the current Canadian landscape with respect to palliative care. Through studies and assessments, the committee conducted a full review of current palliative care options in Canada while identifying specific areas that require improvement. All Canadians and all political parties can and should support this bill.

Right now there are only 200 hospices across Canada, so there is clearly a need for universal palliative care options. The framework provided in this bill would provide a definition of palliative care and identify the training needed for palliative care in Canada. It would also consider amending the Canada Health Act to include palliative care as a guaranteed health care option. Additionally, the act would outline periodic report releases from the Minister of Health highlighting gaps and recommendations for the framework of palliative care.

I am concerned about the Liberals' approach to palliative care in Canada so far. Although the Liberals are supportive of this initiative to date, they started their mandate by making a significant promise to Canadians: an immediate $3-billion investment for home care, including palliative care. However, the Liberals have changed course a bit. They are using the urgency of palliative care in communities as a bargaining tool, a stick, in negotiations with provinces. Those provinces that have agreed to the Liberals' terms when renegotiating the health accord were given funding for both mental health and home care, while others that had not yet agreed to those terms received nothing.

This priority is too important to use as political leverage like that, because the need for palliative care will never go away. In fact, 80% of Canadians receiving palliative care are cancer patients. Right now, two out of five Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetimes, and that statistic is expected to increase by 2030. These patients deserve a comfortable end-of-life option. The problem is that 30% of Canadians do not have access to palliative care services.

The Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians says that palliative care should be available in homes, hospices, hospitals, and long-term care centres throughout Canada, but it is not. Availability depends on where one lives, how old one is, and what one is dying from. This needs to change. The CSPCP goes on to say that strategic investments in palliative care have been shown to reduce the cost of delivering care by about 30%. Presently it costs about $1,200 a day to remain in the hospital, $400 a day to remain in hospice care, and $200 a day to receive home care. To reduce these costs by at least 30% would offer more opportunities for Canadians, free up scarce resources in health care facilities, and ultimately improve the quality of life and care for patients suffering from serious and terminal illnesses.

This is important, because Canadians are suffering from chronic and terminal conditions in growing numbers. Good palliative care covers a wide range of services, such as acute care, hospice care, home care, crisis care, and spiritual and psychological counselling.

Support from Canadians is evident across the country. There have been 83 petitions on palliative care presented in the House by members of Parliament in this session alone. Thousands of letters have been received by members of Parliament on all sides of the House. I personally have received dozens of letters from constituents across Lakeland outlining the need for palliative care options, particularly for seniors, who have limited options for end-of-life care. Right now, Statistics Canada confirms that there are more seniors in Canada than children. With an increased demand for health care, hospitals, and clinics, the option for hospice care has clearly never been more important.

Communities in Lakeland are fortunate to have access to health care and consultants in all regions of the riding, but more can be done and needs to be done to ensure greater access for everyone. Remote and rural regions of the country like Lakeland do not always offer the same robust services as urban centres and highly populated areas. Regional accessibility is an important consideration for a national strategy, and one we cannot ignore.

The current palliative care options in Canada are inadequate and do not meet the needs of Canadians. That is what this framework seeks to address.

In 2011, it is estimated that only 16% to 30% of those in need were receiving proper palliative and end-of-life care. The current health care system favours short-term acute care, which it does extremely well, but experts report that the system lacks the capacity and the funding to properly and consistently provide quality long-term palliative care. The cost of acute care is four times that of hospice palliative care, so clearly there is an opportunity to provide long-term, consistent care responsibly. It is a challenge that provincial governments and elected representatives at all levels face and must take on.

The proper training of medical practitioners and nurse practitioners is an important step in creating a comprehensive and well-equipped palliative care structure. On average, medical and nursing students spend as little as 20 hours of their four years of study learning about palliative and end-of-life care. In 2011, there were fewer than 200 geriatricians in Canada. Today, the estimated need is upwards of 600.

Bill C-277 would also have a positive impact on the lives of caregivers. In 2011, there were an estimated four million to five million family caregivers in Canada. They contribute $25 billion to the health care system. These same selfless caregivers often bear a heavier financial burden and have to miss one or more months of work because of their duties. Family caregivers provide 80% of all home care in Canada, and 77% of these caregivers are women.

These numbers are not to be taken lightly. Caregivers experience financial, social, and physical burdens that can have lasting effects on their lives. The Canadian Cancer Society says that Canadian caregivers are the invisible backbone of the health care system, providing $25 billion in unpaid care.

This added support would encourage palliative care in the home, which has been demonstrated to be beneficial for everyone involved. Allowing patients to stay in their homes for as long as possible is a compassionate choice that should be available to every Canadian. We have a duty to those Canadians.

Many Canadians who require palliative care are seniors or veterans. Seniors built our communities, founded our businesses, created opportunities for future generations, and supported our economy. Seniors built this great country, fought in wars, raised their kids, and laid the foundation for the free and prosperous Canada in which we are so fortunate to live.

It is our fundamental responsibility to ensure that the most vulnerable are taken care of, and when these individuals, who have done so much for us, need the most support, it is Canada's turn to give back to them. That is a core reason that I support this important bill. I encourage all members of the House to do the same.

I thank my colleague again for all of the good work she has done in bringing forward this pressing need.

Framework on Palliative Care in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


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

Madam Speaker, it is quite a privilege to speak to the important issue of palliative care. It is something I have dealt with in many different capacities, whether in the Manitoba legislature as a health care critic or here in Ottawa, both in opposition and now in government.

One of the most passionate collection of speeches that I have heard occurred when we had the debate on the medical assistance in dying legislation. I am sure you, Madam Speaker, and other colleagues on both sides of this House can recall the emotions that flowed in that particular debate as members stood in their place and articulated why it was so important that we move forward.

One of the greatest concerns that was expressed was that we needed to recognize that we can do so much more. It was not a partisan issue. It was not just Liberals, New Democrats, Conservatives—or the Green Party member, for that matter, or even quite possibly a Bloc member—who were saying it.

I applaud my colleague across the way for proposing her bill and for taking the initiative to continue the discussion that we had in the House on this very important issue. As an important issue, it goes far beyond the chamber or the House of Commons. I suspect that each and every one of us can relate to the importance of this issue. All we have to do is think about visits to our constituents. During elections and between elections there are some issues that gravitate to the top, and I suggest that this is one such issue.

The government is going to be supporting the bill—with amendments, as my colleague across the way has indicated—and I will pick up a bit on those amendments, but for now I want to talk about the principle.

As parliamentarians, we want to get a fairly good understanding of the needs of the constituents we represent, and this is definitely one of those needs. Every one of us can cite specific cases. I can tell of my own personal experience with my father.

My father was fortunate enough to have palliative care service provided to him, and what an incredible, loving, and caring environment he was able to be in for his dying days. I was so grateful that we had such quality health care providers and others who are associated with Riverview, who were there not only for him but for all individuals who were there. I can remember the very moment of his passing, which touched me personally.

However, it is not just because of my father. I go to many viewings or funerals. I knock on doors and I talk to many individuals. We often think that it is just seniors, but it is not, even though the vast majority would be of an older age. It provides a great deal of comfort, not only to the individual who is having to seek palliative care but also to family and friends. We all want to ensure that there is a sense of passing with dignity and we look at ways in which we can improve the system.

Through that debate that we had when we were talking about medical assistance in dying, numerous areas were advanced strongly by a number of members. We even saw petitions being introduced. When I talk about strong, I mean issues that we felt it was necessary to give more attention to. One was the issue that in the different regions from coast to coast to coast across the country, care experiences varied between urban centres and rural centres and in larger communities versus smaller ones.

It really varies in terms of the types of services available. When we think of end-of-life care, palliative care, hospice care, we like to think there is some sense of equity out there in the many different communities that make up our country, but what I learned and what was really hammered home during that debate was that there is a great deal of inequity and that there is a stronger role for us to play at the national level.

I suspect that the government is going to propose some amendments that would facilitate federal support for improved palliative care in relation to three pillars that are aligned with the objectives of this particular bill. Training for health care providers is of the utmost importance, as well as making sure that quality health care delivery is available in a tangible way.

That does not take away from the type of care that has been available over the years; the efforts that health care providers have been performing for many years are amazing.

We want to look at consistent data collection. Consistent data collection is critical, because it assists in research and innovation into palliative care. In other words, it is important that we do not stop here.

We need to continue to look at best practices. As an example, we need to look at where the demands are and how we can meet those demands going into the future, and of course provide support for caregivers.

When we look at making amendments, these are the areas we want to put some emphasis on. When the legislation goes to the standing committee, I suspect there will be a good opportunity to hear a number of ideas from other members that they believe might improve the legislation itself.

I appreciate the fact that the member who introduced the legislation has said that this is something that would in essence get the debate going. She is open to ways to improve the legislation. Our government, and even individual members, take the member at her word and look forward to the bill going to committee with the idea that some amendments will be brought to the table in anticipation of improving the issue.

I have often had the opportunity to talk about the importance of health care as a general topic of discussion. Home care is an important aspect of health care. When I think of issues that Canadians really identify with as part of our Canadian identity, I think they would identify our health care system and the services that we provide.

It is important that we respect jurisdictional responsibility. I recognize that Ottawa has a significant funding role, since we spend literally billions of dollars on health care every year.

It is with great pride that the current Minister of Health has gone out of her way, has worked overtime, trying to get all provinces and territories on side with the new health care accord. The last time we saw this was back in 2003 or 2004, when all provinces and territories signed up. That was a good initiative. We saw a commitment, a tangible commitment, to national funding of health care in return for other things. It was a commitment that saw federal funding for health care grow year after year, transferring a record amount of money to provincial and territorial jurisdictions to provide something Canadians feel passionately about, that being health care.

Let us fast-forward to today. There are a few things that come to my mind in regard to this issue.

The Minister of Health has been very aggressive and progressive in pushing several issues. One of those issues has the been palliative care. She has met with the provinces and has had that discussion. She also has met with individuals. Home care has been, and will continue to be, a priority for this government. Palliative care is really important, and we recognize that.

Framework on Palliative Care in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a honour to speak to Bill C-277. I want to congratulate the member for Sarnia—Lambton on her good work.

I was honoured to sit on the special legislative committee that dealt with assisted suicide and euthanasia in response to the Carter decision. From that came a number of witnesses who highlighted two prominent needs.

First, there has to be a national palliative care strategy in Canada to prepare for our aging population. People who need palliative care are primarily elderly, at end of life. People do not have to be old to die, though. Palliative care provides those basic, dignified needs of people at the end of their lives, whether they are young or old.

The second issue was that we needed to provide conscience protection for physicians and health care institutions.

I am thrilled the member for Sarnia—Lambton received a low number in the private members' business draw and was able to have this bill presented. I am also thrilled this basically has been unanimously supported in the House and will very soon go to the Senate, with some very constructive changes.

This is needed in Canada. Right now there are more seniors in Canada than there are youth. One in six Canadians is a senior. In 12 short years, and I have been here 13 years, one in four Canadians will be a senior. Right now, 70% of people who need palliative care do not have access to it; 30% do.

As a civilized democracy, a western democracy, we need to provide for the basic needs of dignity. In testimony we heard different terms. We heard “medical aid in dying”, which is not assisted suicide. It is helping somebody die by reducing the pain and making them comfortable. That can be through visitation, drugs, palliative sedation, or medical apparatus. There is a number of ways.

I was shocked that our medical professionals received very little training in palliative care or end-of-life care. There is a very large interest in taking care of babies, in pediatrics, but for geriatrics, not so much. Babies are very cute. We desperately need to train Canadians in geriatrics.

With the massive change in our demographics in Canada, the aging population, where one in four will be a senior, it is not possible to build enough care facilities. Therefore, we need to train people so we can provide that home care.

Palliative care includes all of that, medical care and required infrastructure. We need to create this national seniors strategy. Again, I thank every member in the House who supports Bill C-277.

Then we need the investments in the infrastructure and the training to see this happen. The aging population is coming. It will be here in 12 years. We are not ready for it. I encourage the government and I thank it for supporting the member for Sarnia—Lambton and for its commitment to this bill. We all look forward to the investments in the next budget. Next spring when the government introduces the budget, there have to be those investments.

Framework on Palliative Care in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, it has been heartwarming to see the way members of Parliament have worked together, from the beginning when the all parliamentary committee first studied palliative care, to the work of the Special Committee on Assisted Dying, to the discussions and the many heartfelt testimonies in the House from all parties as we studied this, to the amendments at committee and the collaborative way people worked together to bring improvements to the bill, to the Minister of Health who pledged $11 billion for home care, palliative care, and mental health care in the 2017 budget. This is how Parliament ought to be, addressing needs of Canadians and doing it in a way whereby we work together and come up with a better solution.

A growing number of individuals of all ages in Canada suffer from chronic pain or deadly diseases. Palliative care services can replace a wide ranges of services, such as short-term care, home care, crisis care, and psychological or spiritual assistance services.

Canadians need palliative care. It is hard to know how much palliative care is really available because the data is not that good. We have heard discussion tonight about the need to do more in collecting data on this situation. At least 70% of Canadians have no access to palliative care. We do not have enough palliative care physicians. Certainly from a cost perspective, palliative care done in different ways, by home care, by paramedics, can reduce the cost from $1,100 a day in a hospital down to $200 for hospice or $100 a day or less a day by paramedics. There is an opportunity to get more with our health dollars.

When the bill went to committee, the members were very happy about the language around the defining of service. We modified some language to clarify the federal and provincial jurisdictions. We had discussion around the collection of the research data and made a slight adjustment there. We had some great additions to restore the secretariat for palliative care to ensure that action was driven as we move forward into the future. I was very happy with the amendments that were brought because they made the bill stronger. I think this measure will be supported in the Senate.

Everyone has shared a personal story and throughout all the times I have been here, I have never shared any stories.

First, I thank the member for Langley—Aldergrove for being my seatmate when he was on the Special Committee of Assisted Dying and for giving me a book called It's Not That Simple, which talks about palliative care. It was made me interested in bringing this bill forward.

Within my riding of Sarnia—Lambton, we have a hospice called St. Joseph's. My father-in-law died of cancer, and he was in hospice. As I watched him wilt away like a sparrow, at least he was surrounded by a caring environment. He was pain free. He was surrounded by his family. I began to appreciate the services. We have 20 palliative care beds, a great hospice, and an integrated home care system. To find out that most Canadians did not have that was just a shock to me.

I am happy to see the bill move forward. This is the right direction.

I want to thank the many organizations that supported the bill throughout its journey. I want to read them because there are so many. It is just amazing. These organization include the Canadian Medical Association; the Canadian Cancer Society; the Canadian Nurses Association; the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians; Pallium Canada; ARPA; the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association; many member hospices like Bruyère Continuing Care, St. Joseph's Hospice, West Island Palliative Care Residence; the Heart and Stroke Association; the Kidney Foundation; the ALS Society of Canada; the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists; more than 50 organization members of the Coalition for Quality Care and the Interfaith Groups, including the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Canadian Council of Imams, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, the Armenian Prelacy of Canada, the Canadian Conference of Orthodox Bishops, and the Ottawa Muslim Association Ottawa Mosque. I thank them all for their ongoing promotion and support of the bill.

It is these kinds of organizations across our country that will help us to integrate palliative care and leverage our best practices.

I want to also thank all my colleagues for their support and encouragement. I want to encourage everyone to vote yes to Bill C-277.

Framework on Palliative Care in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

It being 6:30 p.m., the time provided for debate has expired.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Framework on Palliative Care in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members


Framework on Palliative Care in Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.

Extension of Sitting HoursGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Spadina—Fort York Ontario


Adam Vaughan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families

Madam Speaker, I am sad to see some people shifting seats now. I was hoping to get questions from them. We shall see where they sit up and take note.

I find this debate about extending the hours to finish the spring business and the concern that the opposition has expressed to be mind-boggling, quite frankly. I have been watching this particular session and I was here for the end of the previous one, and I have never seen this level of obstruction. It is the opposition's right to obstruct. It is its job to get in the way of government. I have no problem with that. However, the degree to which it has wasted time is quite remarkable. I am going to go through some of the examples that I think really show who is working hard and who is trying to work hard not to work hard.

The most popular form of obstruction right now is really ironic, considering the opposition members keep talking about how we want to take Fridays off. They have tried to effectively shut down debate more than a dozen times by moving motions of closure and by moving motions of adjournment. My favourite one was when the Conservatives could not decide which one of their backbenchers should talk, so they asked the rest of the House to come back from wherever they have been and make a decision for them, cancelling the important work that committees were doing. Sometimes up to five or six committees have had their work stopped for the entire afternoon while these games are played, yet what they want to talk about now is efficiency and working hard for Canadians inside Parliament.

The reality is that they have done everything they can to adjourn debate this session. Then the irony is that they complain about closure being moved. They move to adjourn debate and not have any debate, and then get mad when government says, “Okay, let's vote on the issue and put it to rest”. They say, “No, we wanted to debate. We were just moving motions of adjournment to show you we weren't happy.” Talk about sheer hypocrisy.

On March 21, there was a motion to have the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands now be heard. Even though he had spoken just moments before and spoke moments afterward, he needed to speak one more time in between. It was urgent, urgent enough to stop the work of 338 members of Parliament so that he could get a third shot at saying the same thing three times.

On March 22, there was a motion to return to orders of the day, again, to upend the government process and to stop the process moving through. I get it. Their job is to not let us do anything. However, the reality is that we have a responsibility to deliver government processes and deliver on the budget and deliver on a whole series of things, including sending critical legislation, sometimes even private members' legislation, to the committee so that the committee can deal with it.

We just had unanimous consent to pass a private member's motion, something which I did not see once in the previous Parliament for an opposition motion. The Conservative government voted against every single private member's motion, regardless of what it was. The Conservatives were militant about it and proud about it. We have seen unprecedented co-operation in this House, yet somehow we are labelled with this notion that Parliament is not working. I did not see a single private member's bill, save for the one on feminine hygiene products, pass in the last session of Parliament.

When opposition members bring forward legitimate motions trying to accomplish things where there is consensus, we have seen parliamentary secretaries like myself, backbenchers from across the country, given total freedom to support them, even when cabinet stands in opposition. This is parliamentary form at its finest, yet the opposition continues to see a problem in this kind of dialogue and, quite frankly, productivity.

On March 22, we had to return to orders of the day. Then, on March 23, we had a number of different motions where nine different committee meetings were interrupted by procedural shenanigans. There was a motion that was moved that yet another Conservative member be heard again.

For folks who are listening in the larger part of this country who are wondering what all the procedural ringing of bells and votes are all about, it is really about shutting down debate, slowing down Parliament. It is the opposition members' right to oppose what the government is proposing, but they do not even want Parliament to consider it, as a way of thwarting the changes we are trying to make. Again, I respect their opposition. I understand it comes from a position of ideological, parliamentary, or even electoral promises they have made, but the reality is that this is what has slowed Parliament down, not the government's ambition to get more pieces of legislation through.

Then after they move to adjourn the debate, when we move closure, they get upset that somehow we are truncating the parliamentary process and we are the ones abridging parliamentary rights. What do they think a motion to adjourn would accomplish? It would do exactly the same thing, but with no result at the end. That, to me is sheer hypocrisy.

Then, on March 23, we had another motion moved to adjourn the debate. There was a 40-minute debate after each one of these motions. They had a 40-minute motion to adjourn debate and then when we moved closure, they get upset that they wasted their 40 minutes and did not get a chance to debate the issue properly. In fact in total, I added it up and there have been almost 24 hours of debate on adjournment. Instead of debating legislation, instead of putting the views of their constituents forward for us to consider as a government, what they have been debating is their right to end debate so that they could protest the fact that the debate is ending. It is absurd.

The next thing that happened was the concurrence motions. These have enormous length of debate. There is sometimes up to three hours of debate when a concurrence motion is moved, and it is moved, as I said, not to actually deal with the legislation but to try to not deal with the legislation. Again, that is the opposition stalling tactic.

On April 5, we did not sit. On April 6, we came back and what happened? Another motion to adjourn, another 40-minute debate about the value of not talking about things as the opposition pretends to defend the value of talking about things. Again, a lot of these had to do with and circulated around the point of privilege that was raised around the budget process. One went for about 36 hours. That is almost two weeks of debate. We debated whether somebody was on a bus or not on a bus, capable of walking or not walking to vote, in comfortable shoes or not in comfortable shoes. We debated effectively a red herring. Instead of dealing with the opioid crisis, instead of talking about transit, instead of dealing with the fisheries, instead of dealing with softwood lumber, all these lofty goals that this government is hard at work trying to achieve, what we had was effectively a unanimous vote on a question of privilege.

We all understand the critical importance of getting to the House, being allowed to vote, representing the views of our constituents. None of us disagree with the elevated point of privilege that was raised. We all agreed that if anything impeded a member, they had the solemn right, a fundamental duty and privilege, to be in the House. We all agreed with that, but we debated it for 36 hours anyway. Then it turned out that the story that was delivered to the House about the interrupted vote was not necessarily the way it was initially presented. There was no motorcade blocking somebody on a bus to get here. The facts of the matter were completely different.

What we had was a filibuster, and I get it. It was a filibuster because we were trying to change the rules to make this place more efficient. The opposition thinks there should be unanimous consent to that. We disagree, and we will try to find a way to get forward on that issue and find ways to modernize this Parliament.

I understand that the opposition has a fundamental duty and rights and privileges in that conversation, and we will get to some point of future amendments to the House procedures that modernize this place, but the processes and the delays and the tactics and the sanctimony in which the opposition often wraps itself is just not founded.

What do we end up with? A wasted number of days, hours, and weeks debating something that actually did not happen, all over some fantasy of a point of principle that quite frankly is about whether or not the government has the right to limit debate, and the government does have the right to limit debate in order to make its presentation of legislation and its passage of legislation more efficient. We have a majority rule Parliament, and Parliament's will sometimes is to move on to the conclusion of the debate rather than to sustain debate until all 338 members are heard. That is part of our tradition here, and the previous government was criticized for it, by myself sometimes on critical issues where quite clearly there was a need for more debate, but on other issues, we understood the efficiency and we went along.

In this Parliament it has been different, but let us get back again to what happens when the party opposite pretends it wants to have a debate. In fact, again, on April 10, because one of our members wanted to speak and a Conservative stood up and said that they should have the chance to speak, we had to vote on that issue. There was a 40-minute debate on April 10 as to which MP should be allowed to speak, even though it was a Liberal turn.

That was the priority for the Conservative Party, which one of its MPs got to interrupt a Liberal. The fundamental priority was not softwood lumber, not what would happen on international trade deals, not the situation in the Middle East with Daesh, not the issue of the opioid crisis and safe injection sites and how we protect the lives of Canadians who have that medical condition, not the provision of more affordable housing, not the establishment of the infrastructure bank to deliver the infrastructure this country needs for the next century. None of those things were priorities, but what had to be sorted out was which Conservative got to speak next.

For that 40 minutes, the time of 338 parliamentarians was held up while we waited for everyone to come in and cast their ballots. People who travelled across the country to present their views to parliamentarians in committee were told to go home and not even talk to parliamentarians about it. That money was completely wasted, and what happened? The Liberal whose right it was to speak was allowed to continue to speak.

Members may think that is protective. They may think it is good politics. They may think it is good opposition. I understand that from the opposition's perspective, anything they can do to stop things is good politics, but it is bad parliamentary procedure and it needs to be fixed and modernized.

We have to get to that question and deal with those issues, but at the same time we have to get to that other list I just referenced. We have to deal with this budget. We have to deal with the delivery of infrastructure dollars to the cities. We have to deal with a move to legalize marijuana so that we can start to regulate this country's situation with good, strong legislation, and not simply talk about it in Parliament forever. It is time to move on some of these issues.

The Canadian system we work within has delivered us a majority to allow us to do that as an elected body. We have to do it with Parliament and we have to do it with the opposition in as respectful a way as possible, but at the end of the day, our responsibility is not just to make Parliament work but to make the country move forward as we make decisions here in Parliament. That is a responsibility that we take just as seriously as the opposition's opportunity to obstruct us.

On April 10, immediately following the 40-minute debate over who should talk next, even though the Conservatives wanted to talk, apparently, they brought a motion for adjournment. Therefore, we had a Liberal member standing up who wanted to talk, and the Conservatives said that they wanted to talk, and as soon as the Liberal member had the floor, someone stood up and said, “Let's adjourn the whole debate because we're really upset about closure and the fact that we don't have a chance to talk. If we can't talk, nobody should talk. Let's shut the whole thing down.”

Again, that had nothing to do with the issue on the floor. It had nothing to do with the serious issues confronting us on an economic, international, or domestic level. It had nothing to do about the quality of life in any one of their constituencies. It was simply a move to stop the process of Parliament moving forward. I think that most Canadians watching this, and looking at it on a point-by-point factual basis, will understand that this is obstruction and complaint for the sake of complaint, and though it is opposition that may be loyal, at the end of the day it is not really accomplishing anything.

Later that day, as soon as we got back from that debate and as soon as five committees were once again disrupted, what did we do? We had another 40-minute debate on adjournment. As if the decision of the House a half an hour earlier was not good enough, the Liberals had to go back and reprosecute the question of adjournment. That was two adjournment motions in one day debating whether or not Parliament should be allowed to close quickly when we had legislation to pass. Therefore, the party that claims it wants to work hard keeps trying to go home continuously, almost on a daily basis, while the party that is trying to govern is sitting here methodically, carefully, moving forward with its agenda.

I understand that the opposition will criticize it. I understand they will vote against it. It is the opposition's prerogative to play politics the way they are playing politics, but in reality, what they are accomplishing is simply delay and more delay. That is fine. If that is what they want to be defined by, if that is their contribution to this Parliament, that is fine. It is motions of adjournment, and that is that.

On April 11, we again get into a very important debate on the status of women. We have great work being done by this committee, an all-parliamentary committee, with some extraordinary work coming out from the NDP around pay equity, and pushing us to make sure that gender-based analysis actually changes the outcomes of women's lives in this country and moves us forward toward a more equitable society.

We are engaged in that debate, the NDP is engaged in that debate, but there is one party that is absolutely upset that anything like that might happen, so what happens? A motion for adjournment of the debate is once again introduced by the Conservatives, not because they are trying to force a decision on the issues raised by the member of the NDP, not because they are actually trying to change the lives and the yardsticks on this issue, but because they want to go home again. They need to leave. They need to protest the lack of debate by having no debate.

My mother used to say to me at times that lots of people are accused of cutting their noses off to spite their faces, but we rarely see someone without a nose. In this case, I am beginning to think that the nose may be coming off the bloom.

This is another fascinating one. After we get through that 40-minute debate, a motion is moved to tell the human resources committee effectively how to do its work on a maternity benefits bill, a bill that will allow women in dangerous occupations to get support so that they can continue to earn income while they deliver their child and start their family, a bill that has unanimous consent in committee. What happens? They move to stop all of the debate, and move a motion to instruct the committee to do something the committee is already doing and that the members at the committee had already consented to do. In other words, it was a redundant motion, but it was felt that it had to happen.

That was another 50 minutes of debating something the committee had already agreed to do. The person who moved this was a member of that committee, so they knew that the committee had already said yes. Then they came back here to say, “Could you make sure the committee says yes? We would like to debate telling the committee to say yes, even thought the committee has already agreed to say yes. This is our idea of efficiency and progress.” That is the party opposite.

It is their prerogative to try to oppose us. They sit here and say that they did not get time to debate the budget bill or did not get time to debate the important legislation in this House and represent the views of their constituents. If they had not wasted 15 minutes at a time day by day, week by week, trying to help us help them decide which one of them should talk next, they could have actually debated the issues of the day that have been tabled as legislation in this House. Instead, they chose not to do that, and that, to me, is the fallacy of the whole argument they present to us. They want to talk about the issues—

Extension of Sitting HoursGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Extension of Sitting HoursGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Order. I just want to remind members that they will have a chance to ask questions and make comments. I would say to please refrain for now. The parliamentary secretary has the floor, and we owe him that respect to listen to what he has to say, and I am sure he is looking forward to hearing members' questions and comments.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Extension of Sitting HoursGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.


Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Madam Speaker, on April 13, we got yet another amendment to debate the question of privilege, which was about not whether someone actually was blocked, because we now find out that this might not have been the case, but whether walking or taking the bus is a choice that should be available to a member of Parliament and whether a privilege was apprehended, even though there was no motorcade involved in any of the situations. What we got then, again, was another three hours and 15 minutes of talking about absolutely nothing, with the complaints being that if we do not get to the more important issues of the day, we do not get to represent our constituents and all our work here will be for naught.

The reality is that all the members are talking about is talking about what they are talking about, which in the end is just about adjourning the debate and moving on to absolutely nothing. They are not representing anyone's views but their own selfish approach in wanting to tell each other how to talk.

Figure that out in your caucus room. Get your House leader to make a decision. You have a new leader now. I hope it ends. I hope the new leader can now decide which order you—

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6:45 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I want to remind the parliamentary secretary to address his comments to the Chair and not to the opposition members.

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6:45 p.m.


Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Madam Speaker, we take a break—

Extension of Sitting HoursGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.


Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS


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Some hon. members


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Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

You wanted a different MP, you have one.