House of Commons Hansard #252 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was sexual.

Topics

The House resumed from November 9, 2017, consideration of the motion.

Automated External DefibrillatorsPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to wish everyone in this place a happy new year. It is great to be back. I am happy to be here today to participate in the debate on the motion before us, introduced by the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska. It is important to begin our new year thinking about issues of health and how we can look out for one another.

The motion calls on us to do two things: equip all RCMP vehicles with automated external defibrillators, or as we call them, AEDs; and ask the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to conduct a study to determine the availability of AEDs in first responder vehicles across Canada and make recommendations to the House in that regard, while respecting the jurisdiction of other levels or orders of government.

Obviously, the intent of the motion is good. It seeks to make positive change to improve public health, and I intend to support it.

AEDs are a valuable public health tool. The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada estimates that 40,000 Canadians suffer from cardiac arrest each year, one person every 13 minutes. According to the City of Toronto's website, more than 2,500 people in the city suffer cardiac arrest in that city each year. In each of these instances, early access to a defibrillator can save a life.

Early exposure to cardiopulmonary resuscitation, which includes the use of AEDs, is critical for survival. Employing these actions one to three minutes after cardiac arrest can increase the chance of survival significantly. That is why their widespread public availability is so strongly advocated, and it is why it is important that front-line responders be authorized and trained to use them to help people in cardiac arrest.

There is no question that accessibility to and use of AEDs is an important public health issue. I am pleased that the motion calls for a study of this matter. I think that the study should come first so that we can ensure that we understand how to best deploy these devices, and in collaboration with provincial, territorial, and municipal partners, make sure that they are available in the best places so that we can save people's lives.

I would like to know, if we are going to buy a whole bunch of these defibrillators, whether police vehicles are the best place to put them, or would we save more lives by putting them in public places, such as malls, office buildings, and community centres?

In the community of Toronto--Danforth, which I represent, we have defibrillators in a wide range of places. We have them in all of our subway stations and at many of our parks, such as Dieppe Park, Monarch Park, Greenwood Park, Riverdale Park, and Withrow Park. We have them in community centres, such as S.H. Armstrong, Frankland, Matty Eckler, and Jimmie Simpson. We also have them in several schools.

An article published in the Toronto Star about a year ago referred to research done by two U of T researchers, Timothy Chan and Christopher Sun, that identified a top-ten list of prime locations for AEDs. It was interesting, because they are not the kinds of places one might normally think of top of mind. Their list included coffee shops, ATMs, and Green P parking lots in the city of Toronto. The research considered each of these locations, mainly because of the location of cardiac arrests but also because they needed to be somewhere people could locate them and access them quickly. Where would people know where to look quickly if they were trying to find one in an emergency? Just this morning I was searching on the website trying to locate where the AEDs are in my community, and they were not that easy to find if I were in an emergency situation.

While in my community of Toronto-Danforth we seem to have defibrillators in many public locations, I am asking people around the community if they know where they are and if they know how to use them. That is another piece we need to look at. We need to know not only that they are there but how to use them.

The motion refers to training. It is important to not only have defibrillators accessible but to ensure that people know how to find them quickly and use them so that they can save lives.

We should be open to the possibility that what the study called for in part b of the motion may change the way we approach part a. It is important to consider the study and to make sure we are making the right decisions as we go forward in making sure we buy defibrillators and put them in the right places.

Let me touch briefly on the existing use and availability of defibrillators within the RCMP, as that is something that is referred to specifically in the motion. The use of AEDs is approved in several operational policing areas, including by the emergency medical response team, in the divisional fitness and lifestyle programs, and where provincial policing standards require that one be available.

With respect to their availability in RCMP vehicles, that varies by division. A few regions have equipped some of their police vehicles with AEDs, but the number generally remains in the single digits. It is a very low number. At the same time, it is important to note that all RCMP members are trained in the use of AEDs found in public areas as part of their standard first aid training, and that is something they must retake every three years.

As the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska referenced in his motion, a study on the availability of AEDs in first responder vehicles across Canada would need to be mindful of the jurisdiction of other governments. As the police service provider for all provinces and territories, other than Ontario and Quebec, as well as some 150 municipalities, the vast majority of RCMP vehicles used for contract police services are paid for in large part by contract jurisdictions. Any equipment purchased by the RCMP for operational and officer safety requirements to deliver these services or as a result of police standards set by the contract jurisdictions are cost-shared under police service agreements. Given those facts, it stands to reason that provinces, territories, and municipalities would be front and centre in the discussion on whether to procure and deploy AEDs in RCMP vehicles within their jurisdictions.

In the interest of making a well-informed decision, it would also be wise to include other sectors in our study, namely health. Equipping first responder vehicles with AEDs is primarily a public health measure, so it is important to involve health as part of this discussion. We should do our due diligence in examining the worthy public health objective the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska has in mind through inclusive and comprehensive discussions with all stakeholders.

In my opening, when I was talking about what we have in Toronto and in Toronto—Danforth, I touched on the issue of the different needs that may exist and how they might actually vary from place to place. As it stands, there is a lack of empirical evidence about potential gaps in first responder needs as they relate to AED accessibility. We know that most RCMP vehicles do not have AEDs, but we do not know whether from a public health perspective it would be more effective to put a defibrillator in every police car or to increase the number of defibrillators in Canadian communities and continue to ensure that police know where they are and how to use them.

I wholeheartedly support the second part of the motion. A thorough study by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security would go a long way in informing the action proposed in Motion No. 124. It would give us a factual picture of the AED landscape in front-line vehicles across the country and their use and effectiveness, which would be a much-needed knowledge base. With that, the Government of Canada would be much better placed to develop new policies and standards and to understand the resource implications associated with the proposal to equip all RCMP vehicles with AEDs.

In summary, we strongly support the use of AEDs as an important life-saving tool. I am in favour of the proposal in the motion and the principles, and I look forward to the study it calls for. This is a wonderful way to start our session, thinking about how we can save lives and look out for one another across all of our communities.

Automated External DefibrillatorsPrivate Members' Business

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Richmond—Arthabaska, who was a fellow member of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security for a little while. It feels like he was first elected ages ago. We talked about the kind of public safety issue today's motion addresses. Of course I support the motion. We fully agree that RCMP vehicles need to be equipped with defibrillators. This is an important public health issue that comes up a lot.

One of the good things the previous government did was make defibrillators available in arenas across Canada. That made a big difference. People vastly underestimate the number of lives lost, the number of human beings who die of heart attacks for no good reason other than the lack of an AED. Without these life-saving devices, every passing minute reduces a heart attack victim's chance of survival by 6% to 10%. That is huge.

An hon. member talked about the importance of ensuring that these devices are available in public buildings. That is great, but the problem is that 85% of cardiac arrests happen in people's homes. I do not think anyone would suggest putting defibrillators in every home in Canada, but we can take a step in the right direction by ensuring that all first responders have them. Paramedics might be the first group that comes to mind, but according to Éric Turcotte, a paramedic from the Arthabaska RCM, the home region of the motion's sponsor, the police are usually the first to arrive on scene in an emergency, which is why it is so important that the police be equipped with these devices.

In Ontario and Quebec, which have provincial police forces, it may not be quite as important for all RCMP vehicles to be equipped with this device. In the other Canadian provinces, however, especially in rural areas where the RCMP is the only police force, this is critically important.

Although I support the substance of the motion, I am not sure what direction the study could take. I know the motion mentions respect for the jurisdiction of other levels of government, but I have some qualms about asking our committee to start evaluating the way other governments equip their police officers. For example, I do not think it is a good idea for a committee in Ottawa to look into what equipment the Sûreté du Québec, the Quebec government, or municipalities put in their vehicles.

I should make it clear that I do not mean to criticize the intent of the motion. I simply wonder how we will proceed and what kind of conclusion we will draw. This is a public safety file, and when it comes to ensuring Canadians' health and safety, it is vital to avoid disputes over jurisdiction. However, it is also important to move forward in an appropriate and intelligent manner. Again, I am not questioning the intent of the motion. I am simply wondering out loud how we will go about doing this. This is certainly something the committee can do.

However, even though the Liberals support the motion, I have some concerns about their take on it. I do not want to make this a partisan issue, but much attention has been given to the part of the motion concerning the study by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. Let us not overlook the first part of the motion, which would have the government equipping all RCMP vehicles with automated external defibrillators within 12 months of the adoption of this motion. I am trying to figure out why there seems to be a lack of willingness to move this process along more quickly, rather than having the committee study, mainly because the Minister of Public Safety himself moved a motion in 2013 that was all but identical to this one, with an even broader scope. The minister clearly recognizes the need. He himself moved a similar motion as a private member.

I do not understand why we should delay the implementation of this measure. If this measure has the support of the House, I do not understand why we could not move forward according to the proposed timeline.

I will give a few examples pertaining to what I said about remote areas. The importance of providing this equipment to first responders in remote areas is pretty much self-evident. They are not close to major centres and public buildings that have such equipment.

Take, for example, a major centre like Ottawa. All police vehicles have been equipped with defibrillators since 2005. In Ontario, the heart attack survival rate is less than 6%. Since this equipment was installed in Ottawa, the survival rate has increased to 12%, or double the provincial average. Of course, we have to look at the other factors that also contributed to this telling statistic. However, we should not understate the impact this measure could have, especially if we consider the number of heart attacks that occur in people's homes and the importance of police responses.

I would also like to take this opportunity to commend the member for Richmond—Arthabaska for the work he accomplished when he was mayor of Victoriaville. I believe that is what primarily drove him to move his motion today. There was a significant increase in the availability of this equipment in the city and in the region. It became quite clear that it was important to set an example.

When we debate policies at the federal level, here in Ottawa, we often criticize how a policy may not have much of an impact. In the last election campaign, for example, the NDP proposed reinstating a federal minimum wage. Some said that it would not apply to all that many people. When the federal government establishes policies, it might set an example for other levels of government, once the effectiveness of certain measures is recognized. That is exactly what is at issue today.

As I said, the RCMP has a very broad scope of operations in the provinces, particularly in remote regions where it provides police services. However, municipal and provincial police forces do not yet have this sort of equipment. If we can prove that having this equipment has a significant impact on the survival rate in the event of cardiac arrest, then I think that we will have set an important example that could lead to positive and critical public policies. That is one reason why it is essential to put this measure in place. Let us not spend too much time studying the motion, even though that is also important.

I would like to talk about a less positive aspect of this issue, and that is the increase in the use of tasers by police officers. We know that the use of tasers is not always appropriate, that there is a lack of training, and that the use of tasers often raises public health and safety issues. There has been a lot of media coverage of various tragic incidents involving tasers that resulted in the death of certain individuals. The main cause of death in those cases was cardiac arrest.

We understand that the police are trying to find equipment that limits the use of firearms and other lethal weapons. The problem is that tasers can also be dangerous. That is just one more reason to equip police vehicles with defibrillators.

We could have a debate on the use of tasers, but that is not our goal here today. Since tasers are used, we think that equipping police vehicles with the device that could save the lives of those who go into cardiac arrest would reduce the number of tragic deaths.

In closing, I would like to commend my colleague. He did a tremendous amount of work on this issue in his previous political life, and he is continuing to build on that here in the House. I am pleased to support the motion. As I said, I have some questions regarding the implementation of the study. As a member of the committee in question, I am pleased to know that I will be actively involved in planning the study.

In the meantime, even though the motion mentions a study, it is important for everyone to recognize that we need to focus on the next 12 months and take concrete action.

Automated External DefibrillatorsPrivate Members' Business

January 29th, 2018 / 11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am here today to discuss a motion that asks the government to follow the example of other Canadian police services by equipping all RCMP vehicles with automated external defibrillators, and save hundreds of lives each year. As deputy shadow minister for health, I have a responsibility to ensure that the government is providing adequate health resources, and access to this medical device is imperative for the health and safety of Canadians. I would like to thank my colleague Alain Rayes for bringing this motion forward as a result of his moving incident where his friend was able to survive cardiac arrest due to an AED.

The automatic external defibrillator, also known as AED, is a device intended to restart an individual's heart in the event of cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is the abrupt loss of heart function due to the heart's electrical system not functioning properly. When the heart stops beating, the patient has no blood or oxygen circulating. In that instance, every second counts more than the last as the brain cannot survive long in those conditions. An AED works by sending an electrical shock to the heart in an attempt to reset it so that it will beat properly once again. They are small, portable devices that can not only provide the electric shock but analyze the person's heart rhythm, determine whether a shock is actually needed, and even provide directions to the individual administering the device on a person. These are life-saving devices.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, there are approximately 40,000 cardiac arrests in Canada each year. Eight in ten cardiac arrests occur in public places or at home, but only one in ten people survives a cardiac arrest that happens outside of a hospital. AEDs need to be easily accessible, because the chances of surviving a cardiac arrest double when early CPR is used in combination with an AED in the first few minutes.

AEDs are easy to use, not just for first responders, but for the general public as well. They come with voice prompts and a screen to help the user monitor and administer the electrical shock. They are safe, easy to use, and fast-acting. Installing AEDs in easily accessible locations in public places will save lives.

In some situations, police have a much faster response time than paramedics. Most homes and many public places do not have AEDs. That is why we depend on our emergency services to provide them. Ideally, there would be an AED in every police car, but we can start with RCMP cars. First responders play a vital role in our society, and this initiative is a great way to help them.

Imagine this: You are up at the cottage, and a loved one goes into cardiac arrest. You call 911 to get immediate medical assistance. The first person who arrives at the door is an RCMP officer, but you find out that the officer can only perform CPR and must wait for an ambulance or the fire department to arrive to provide an AED. While you endure the very long wait for either the fire department or an ambulance to arrive at your remote location, your loved one does not make it, because a small, simple device that anyone could use was not there. Fortunately, AEDs are placed in so many public areas, such as shopping malls, schools, and the workplace, but we also need them where it makes sense the most, in the hands of all first responders.

AEDs are normally quite small and compact. They weigh four to five pounds and are smaller than a shoebox. Fortunately, I do not know what the inside of a police car looks like, but I imagine they would be able to fit in numerous places, such as in the trunk, under the front seat, or maybe even in the glovebox or the middle console. They would essentially go unnoticed until an emergency that requires one comes up. They are purchased in bulk at approximately $1,000 apiece, and training costs are essentially zero because cops are already trained with this device.

Dozens of Canadian police forces, including the RCMP, already equip some of their patrol vehicles with AEDs, but this coverage is not complete. Based on the successes of municipal police departments that currently equip their patrol vehicles with AEDs, equipping all RCMP patrol vehicles with AEDs would save hundreds of lives every year.

The Ottawa Police Service equips all of its vehicles with AED devices and has a survival rate for sudden cardiac arrest double that of the provincial rate. Imagine the impact we could make by putting AEDs in RCMP vehicles across the country.

AED programs are important to Canadians and the Conservative Party of Canada, which is evident in the national automated external defibrillator, AED, initiative, which we implemented while we were in government. Promoting access to AEDs was a national initiative to install AEDs and provide training to those working in arenas across Canada. Our priority was to protect the health and safety of Canadians while encouraging active and healthy lifestyles. This program has installed 3,000 AEDs and trained 23,000 Canadians in their operation.

Putting AEDs in recreational facilities across the country just made sense, because individuals are at a higher risk for cardiac arrest during intense physical activity, such as playing hockey. This is especially so for people with unknown underlying cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure. Putting AEDs in RCMP vehicles is another initiative that just makes sense, because the RCMP is likely to have to respond to those emergencies and needs the right tools to best manage the situation.

We have a duty as parliamentarians to help protect Canadians and support our national police service. These devices are simple to use for almost all individuals, and the training is typically part of standard first aid training. They would be used to help save 40,000 Canadians who go into cardiac arrest each year. It is essential to have these as accessible as possible, as the chance of survival drastically decreases the longer it takes to administer that life-saving shock.

AEDs are especially important in the vehicles of rural RCMP officers as they are more likely to be the first people to respond to an emergency call, and treatment for cardiac arrest cannot always wait for an ambulance to arrive. The upfront costs are negligible, and training costs are virtually zero. It is astonishing, in fact, that this is not already in place. Other police forces across the country, including right here in Ottawa, have their vehicles equipped with AEDs. We have AEDs in recreational facilities across the country, but not with all first responders.

In conclusion, I am asking for the support of all parties to adopt this motion. We have a responsibility as federal parliamentarians, not just to RCMP officers but to the Canadian public, to keep Canadians safe and our first responders prepared.

Automated External DefibrillatorsPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Resuming debate.

There being no further debate, the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska has up to five minutes for his right of reply.

The hon. member for Richmond-Arthabaska.

Automated External DefibrillatorsPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are nearing the end of the discussion and debate on the motion I was privileged to move in the House. It is not every day that we, as members and legislators, have the opportunity to move a motion or introduce a bill in this magnificent nation-building place. Today, as I think of all the work that has been done in Canada's Parliament on this file since I was elected a year and a half ago, I feel deeply moved.

Before I conclude the debate, I would like to thank each and every person who rose in the House to debate this issue, which I feel is of vital importance. The goal is to ensure that all emergency vehicles are equipped with defibrillators to save lives. I would like to thank the members of all political parties who took the time to participate. I would also like to thank all of the members and their staff who contributed to the debate by preparing notes and doing the necessary research. I know that everyone took this very seriously. I would also like to thank the members of all parties who offered me their support and told me they would support the bill when it comes to a vote, which I hope will be completely non-partisan.

I decided to introduce this bill in the House because before becoming an MP I was a mayor and I experienced firsthand how access to a defibrillator can make a difference. It helped save the life of one of my friends. He would not be alive today if some people had not bought this small device, which is worth about $1,000, and installed it in an arena. With this device, first aid was administered quickly and the shock revived my friend Stéphane Campagna.

After this incident, in my capacity as mayor, I decided to launch an initiative in my municipality. With the powers at my disposal and the help of council members and my staff, we equipped all the municipality's emergency vehicles. We worked with the Quebec provincial police, the municipal police, firefighters, paramedics, and volunteers who drive emergency vehicles in order to make defibrillators available at all times and as quickly as possible and to take them directly to peoples' homes.

It is important to note that 85% of cardiac arrests happen in people's homes. Once defibrillators are available in all vehicles, whoever arrives on scene first, be it the police, firefighters, or paramedics, can provide first aid as quickly as possible.

Let us keep up the momentum. Defibrillators have been placed in government buildings, sports centres, and offices in most municipalities. The next step is to put them in all vehicles so that people in the regions and people on vacation have the same chance of survival in the unfortunate event of cardiac arrest.

The motion proposes putting a defibrillator in all RCMP vehicles, the RCMP being the federal police force. Since the RCMP is not present in every region, I added item (b), which calls on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to undertake a study to determine the availability of AEDs in first responder vehicles across Canada and ensure that the necessary measures are taken following discussions with other levels of government, the municipalities, and the organizations in question, while respecting all jurisdictions.

Naturally, respecting jurisdictions at every level is something that is very important to me. I hope the committee will embrace that. I know that some people are concerned about that. However, I think the scope of the study called for in the motion needs to go beyond RCMP vehicles.

There are an estimated 40,000 heart attacks every year. The chances of surviving a heart attack diminish by 7% to 10% with each passing minute. In other words, there is a maximum window of 10 minutes for saving a person's life. Things only get worse with every minute and the chances of regaining a normal heartbeat and not having permanent damage from a heart attack and CPR diminish. I hope that, when it comes time to vote, members will think about all their constituents, a brother, sister, father, mother or friend who might end up in this situation. I hope that we can save lives through this motion. That is what I hope from the bottom of my heart.

Automated External DefibrillatorsPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

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

Automated External DefibrillatorsPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Automated External DefibrillatorsPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Automated External DefibrillatorsPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Automated External DefibrillatorsPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

All those opposed will please say nay.

Automated External DefibrillatorsPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Automated External DefibrillatorsPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, January 31, just before the time provided for private members' business.

Sitting SuspendedAutomated External DefibrillatorsPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Acting Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Now we will suspend the proceedings until noon.

(The sitting of the House was suspended at 11:39 a.m.)

(The House resumed at 12 p.m.)

Sitting ResumedAutomated External DefibrillatorsPrivate Members' Business

Noon

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

Noon

Thunder Bay—Superior North Ontario

Liberal

Patty Hajdu LiberalMinister of Employment

moved that Bill C-65, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today and speak to Bill C-65, introduced in November 2017. Bill C-65 demonstrates our government's commitment to eliminating harassment and violence in federal workplaces. We take this action because our government recognizes that safe workplaces, free of harassment and violence, are critical to the well-being of Canadian workers and critical to our agenda of a strong middle class. We have been powerfully reminded in Canada, and indeed around the world, that harassment and violence remain a common experience for people in the workplace; and Parliament Hill, our own workplace, is especially affected.

Parliament Hill features distinct power imbalances, which perpetuates a culture where people with a lot of power and prestige can use and have used that power to victimize the people who work so hard for us. It is a culture where people who are victims of harassment or sexual violence do not feel safe to bring those complaints forward. It is a place where these types of behaviours, abusive and harmful, are accepted and minimized and ignored. In fact, it is a place where often the victimized individual is blamed for the harassment that she herself has experienced. We are all familiar with this phrase: She brought it on herself. It is like many other workplaces across Canada, especially those that have distinct power imbalances and a lack of strong policy that protects employees from harm. As it stands right now, people who have been victims of harassment or violence do not have suitable options for having their complaints heard, nor do they have options for resolving these very serious and often traumatic events. If they do come forward, they are often unsupported to manage the complex or difficult situations that they face as a result of the harassment that they have experienced.

Time is up. Things need to change. It starts with saying emphatically that it is never okay. It is never okay for someone to take advantage of a position of power to victimize another person. It is never okay that victims—far too often women, or young workers, or people of colour, or people from the LGBTQ2 community—have been forced to stay silent and keep their trauma to themselves. This has to stop.

I have heard heart-breaking experiences from staff members in this workplace and across the federal sector who do not know where to go when they have been victimized; who, after having followed a process, have felt that they were not taken seriously; who were asked to try again with their abuser and to avoid being in a room alone with the offender. I have spoken with many who have said that, after complaining, they were shunned, that they did not feel safe setting boundaries for themselves, and that their job and their reputation were threatened by their abuser, often much older and certainly more powerful than they. I have, sadly, heard stories of significant trauma and anxiety and of people who have left workplaces—ours, in particular—because they were certain they would not have a resolution for the abuse they were experiencing.

In our workplace here on Parliament Hill, it is no coincidence that we have so many of these stories of harassment and violence. In fact, the volume of these stories is directly tied to the distinct power imbalances in our workplace, which I spoke of earlier. Therefore, it is clear that we need to create safe workplaces, including right here, so that everyone can thrive; and the first and most critical step we as a government and society must take is to support survivors. We need to believe the people who are coming forward. We need to demonstrate that we hear them, that we take them seriously, that we are their allies, and that we are committed to ending this behaviour.

The #MeToo and Time's Up movements have helped women and other survivors from around the world to bring their stories forward and shine a spotlight on harassment and sexual violence. It is our responsibility to ensure that the light does not fade. We have an opportunity to act and to end the need for women to say “me too” in the future. No woman or any person in Canada should ever have to say “me too” again. That is why we are taking action with legislation.

However, we also know that this problem is too large to solve with legislation alone. Creating safe workplaces, free of violence and harassment, will take all Canadians working together to ensure that we change a culture that does indeed tolerate this behaviour. To change an abusive culture, good leadership is critical. I am very proud to be part of a government that has been very clear that harassment and sexual violence will not be tolerated.

The Prime Minister has shown time and again that he is not afraid to take action when needed, and has clearly demonstrated that he is an ally to survivors. It is this kind of courageous leadership that sets expectations in workplaces and begins to shift power and balances. When leaders set the tone and the expectation that people are safe in their workplace, it empowers people to stand up and say that harassment and sexual violence is not okay. It empowers people to take action.

It is this kind of leadership that will break down the patriarchal culture in which we live; designed by men, for men. If we want more women to lead, to build, and to create in Canada, we have to ensure they are respected and safe. It is our job as a government to stand up for the rights of all Canadians, especially women, people of colour, and the LGBTQ2 community, often those people with the least power, so they can live and work free of harassment and violence.

It is for this reason that we introduced Bill C-65 last year, after consulting with Canadians from across the country. Canadians have told us that incidents are still vastly under-reported. They have told us that when incidents are reported, and if there is even a follow up, it is unacceptable, ineffective, and flawed. In fact, 41% of the respondents told us that no attempt was made to resolve an incident they reported.

We also consulted with members of Parliament and senators. They made it clear that we all wanted to stop harassment and sexual violence, and support survivors.

Therefore, I am hopeful we will have the support of the other parties on this very important bill.

After our consultations, it became very clear that what was in place right now to protect Canadians in federally regulated workplaces from harassment and violence and to deal with it when it did happen was simply not enough and that we needed to do better.

Parts II and III of the Canada Labour Code deal with occupational safety and health and employment standards within the federal jurisdiction. Currently no comprehensive system is in place for preventing and dealing with incidents of harassment and sexual violence. What we have instead is a patchwork of laws and policies that address these issues within the federal jurisdiction.

For example, violence is dealt with in part II of the code, which covers occupational health and safety, and applies to all federally regulated workplaces, including the public service. However, sexual harassment is dealt with in part III, or the labour standard section, of the code, which does not cover public servants, only the federally regulated private sector. On top of that, our parliamentary workplaces are not covered at all.

During our consultations, Canadians told us that we needed to treat incidents of harassment and violence as a continuum of inappropriate behaviour. This continuum should span all the way from teasing to physical abuse. Right now too many people are falling through the cracks. Too often, when they report harassment and sexual violence, nothing happens. These experiences end up serving as a deterrent for others who are considering whether they should come forward and report an incident. All employees need to be protected and every incident needs to be dealt with quickly and effectively and seen through to resolution.

Legislation will not solve this problem alone. We need a culture shift, and government plays a critical role in shifting culture. It starts with a comprehensive approach that focuses on preventing these behaviours before they happen, responding effectively when they do occur, and supporting survivors after the fact. We need a new approach to dealing with harassment and violence that will better protect employees at all federally regulated workplaces from these unacceptable behaviours.

Therefore, Bill C-65 proposes amending existing provisions in the Canada Labour Code by replacing the patchwork of law and policies that address these issues within the federal jurisdiction and putting into place one comprehensive approach that takes the full spectrum of harassment and violence into consideration. The legislation would expand these policies to cover parliamentary workplaces, such as the Senate, the Library of Parliament, the House of Commons, and political staff on Parliament Hill.

There are three main pillars of the legislation: first, to prevent incidents of harassment and violence from occurring; second, to respond effectively to these incidents when they do occur; and, third, to support victims, survivors, and employers through the process.

Protecting employees by preventing these incidents from occurring in the first place is the foundation of this bill. The amendments we are proposing will explicitly require employers to prevent incidents of harassment and violence, and protect employees from these behaviours. It is time to treat harassment and sexual violence in the workplace the same way we treat other occupational health and safety hazards.

On this subject, I would like to note that we are also strengthening compliance and enforcement mechanisms under the Canada Labour Code, as announced in budget 2017.

The use of monetary penalties, the authority to publicly name violators, strengthened powers for inspectors, new recourse against reprisals, and improvements to the wage recovery process are just some of the changes announced to increase workplace health and safety and better protect workers' rights.

Our second pillar is focused on effectively responding to incidents if they do occur. With these proposed amendments, employers will be required to investigate, record, and report occurrences of harassment and violence.

Employees who believe they have been victims of harassment or violence or have witnessed these behaviours would be able to report the incidents to their employers and try to resolve the matters through informal means. However, if the complaint could not be resolved, the employer would be obligated to appoint a competent person to undertake an investigation. Once the competent person concluded his or her investigation and issued a report, the employer would be obligated to implement any recommendations or corrective measures set out in that report.

At any point in this process, if the employee believes that the employer has contravened any parts of the code or the regulations, he or she could file a complaint with the labour program and then labour program officials would investigate and take enforcement action if they found a contravention of the code or the regulations did occur. Details regarding the investigation would be fine tuned and set out in the regulations.

These proposed amendments will also protect the privacy of employees, encouraging those who are victimized to come forward. This is vital to the success of this bill. We know that incidents are being under-reported due to fear of reprisal and the unfair but very real stigma associated with being a victim of harassment and sexual violence.

Our third pillar would require employers to support victims who would be affected by these incidents. We would also require employers to assist those who would need help to understand the new approach. The labour program would assist with education and support for complainants.

It should be noted that the proposed legislation in no way replaces or takes precedence over the Criminal Code of Canada. Some actions and offences require law enforcement intervention, and complainants always have the right to go to the police to report incidents.

Time is up. The time for inaction is indeed over. Bill C-65 would ensure that workers in federally regulated sectors, including right here on Parliament Hill, finally have the protections they need. It would ensure that those who are in vulnerable positions have a voice. It would ensure that those who still think harassment and sexual violence are acceptable in 2018 would be held accountable.

All people deserve to work in a safe workplace and they deserve to live free from harassment or violence. I ask that all my colleagues from both sides of the aisle show their support for the bill.

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12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I applaud the minister for trying to make our workplaces free from harassment. I would also like to tell her that we will support this bill at second reading so that it can be improved in committee.

The minister talked a lot about victims in her speech. According to this bill, victims must first go to their employer, but victims are sometimes afraid of going to their employer, since the employer may be involved in the harassment.

Can the minister assure me that she will allow these victims to go directly to the Department of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour investigator? Will she allocate the financial resources needed to ensure that victims can go to the department when they do not want to go to their employer, who may be the perpetrator?

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12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Patty Hajdu Liberal Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member very much for his support of the proposed legislation. It is important that we work together. It is reassuring to hear that we indeed have parliamentarians broadly in support of legislation that would protect the most vulnerable in our workplaces.

On the member's question, absolutely. First, victims always have the right to go to law enforcement should they have a serious incident from which they feel they need protection. Second, more than that, employers would also be required, with employees, to select a list of alternative people who employees can turn to if in fact the victimizer is their employer. Third, if the resolution cannot happen through the employer, the employer and employee would have a list of competent people they could choose as a third party to investigate should that employee not get a resolution in the first attempt. Finally, at any point in the process, the victim of violence or harassment can come directly to the Labour Department, and we have sufficient resources to manage those complaints.

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12:15 p.m.

NDP

Karine Trudel NDP Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her very insightful speech.

We have been discussing this topic here in the House for several months, and I know that many will be listening closely to our discussions today.

I would like to ask my colleague whether workplaces will have access to new funds for training. Training is essential to changing a culture and creating a healthy workplace for all those who work in telecommunications, airports, and federally regulated workplaces. Will there be financial assistance set aside for training?

I think that training is the key to change. As I mentioned, it will support investigations into allegations of sexual harassment.

I would also like to know where this money will be coming from.

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12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Patty Hajdu Liberal Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her support. It is reassuring to hear that all parties recognize we need to deal with this in a more comprehensive way.

We already are working on materials for employers to help them begin the work of training, prevention, and awareness. We have resources in place to cover the costs of doing so.

As I mentioned in my speech, through budget 2017, we have significantly added to our ability to investigate and follow up on complaints made to my department. We are very confident we have the resources we need to move forward on the legislation.

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12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Vandenbeld Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, we know every person deserves to be in a workplace where he or she is free from harassment and sexual violence. As leaders and a federal government, we need to be the ones who lead the way and take the first steps.

As we know, every woman who comes forward is displaying tremendous courage. It is not an easy thing to do. For that woman, perhaps a young woman at the beginning of her career, how will the legislation make it easier for her to come forward, then actually see action from the fact she has had the tremendous courage to speak up?

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12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Patty Hajdu Liberal Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague raises a very important point. Oftentimes those who are victimized are the ones who have the least experience, are the most vulnerable in a workplace, and who have the least security and power. That is exactly what the legislation is meant to address.

First, it sets a framework that focuses on prevention so all people know what their rights are in a workplace and that there is a strong policy in every federally regulated workplace that gives a clear framework for employees and employers about what the code of conduct is and how to prevent this.

Second, it would ensure there would be alternative mechanisms for a person to come forward with his or her complaint, maybe not the employer if the employer is the perpetrator. We have thoughtfully included that. We know that oftentimes, especially in small workplaces, it very well might be the employer who is the perpetrator. Building the obligation of the employer to have a list of alternate people is a critical component in ensuring people come forward.

Finally, the attention we have paid to ensuring privacy is protected is another really important piece of the legislation, one that is worthy of a mention. Many times we have heard that people come forward and they are shamed and stigmatized for their experiences. They are discouraged from moving forward in their career, or may be held back or there may be significant financial consequences. Having a process that ensures privacy of the victim is critically important.

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12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, like many in the House, I have been very concerned and upset by a number of the issues that have happened over the last number of months and, to be quite frank, over the last number of years.

I listened to the minister's speech, and she was right. Both systemic and cultural change will be important. I look forward to the bill going to committee to see how we can even make it better.

One thing concerns me, because we are looking at a continuum. We know the RCMP is available, but we have legislation by our former interim leader, which has sat in the Senate for months, on judges and their training. Ultimately, people who go through the process need to have confidence they will be heard through the justice system.

Would the member offer any encouragement for the Senate to move forward on that legislation? This is another piece of this important issue.

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12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Patty Hajdu Liberal Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague raises an important point. People have to have confidence in the system that is put in place to protect them, and of course, the Senate has its own process and its own timelines.

We believe that education and awareness is a critical component of that, and that includes the people who are doing the investigating and the deciding on cases of harassment and sexual violence. That is why we have focused so much in our legislation on education, on ensuring that there is strong policy, that employers know their obligations, and that employees know their rights.

We look forward to working with the member and hearing her thoughts through the committee process.