House of Commons Hansard #78 of the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-210, An Act to amend the Canada Revenue Agency Act (organ and tissue donors), as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

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

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Len Webber Conservative Calgary Confederation, AB

moved that the bill be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to)

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

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

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Len Webber Conservative Calgary Confederation, AB

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to my private member's bill, Bill C-210, at third reading. For those who may not be familiar with Bill C-2l0, it is a proposal that would allow Canadians to indicate their interest in being an organ and tissue donor through their annual tax forms. Right now the tax forms can only be used for the collection of taxes. The bill would create a legal exemption, just like that made to Elections Canada, to allow for its important question of organ donation to be added to the tax form.

The bill was unanimously supported at both second reading and at committee. The bill was also my bill, Bill C-316, in the last Parliament where it was also unanimously supported, however unfortunately, it died in the Senate. It did get a second decent life in this Parliament when I won the PMB lotto. I was picked as number one, so I resurrected the bill.

It is very timely that we are speaking about the bill today as April is Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Month. It is also two weeks away from the tax filing deadline in Canada, so it is ironic to be speaking here today on this. If we have any hope of getting these changes to the tax form implemented in time for the next year, the 2021 tax year, we need to move the bill through both the House and the Senate before the summer. If we miss that deadline, the Canada Revenue Agency will not be able to implement the required changes for yet another year. We just cannot let that happen.

I want to convey my sincere thanks to all parties in the House for showing such strong support and offering genuine co-operation to move this proposal forward. Members' unanimous support and unwavering support at every stage has been heartwarming and shows we really can pull together for Canadians. I specifically want to thank all my colleagues from all parties on the health committee, both currently and in the past when I served on the health committee, who have been vocal, determined and dedicated supporters of the bill.

I also want to thank the government for the allocation of funding in the past fall economic statement to facilitate the implementation of this legislation. Governments do not often commit funding ahead of legislation passing, especially when it is for a private member's bill from an opposition member of Parliament. That funding is very much appreciated and it signifies a shared will to see the bill pass.

I want to bring out the matter that came up at committee. First of all, for this initiative to be most effective, the question on organ and tissue donation needs to be placed on the front page of the tax form. The committee members made this very clear to the CRA. In fact, they specifically voted down the idea of suggesting that the CRA had latitude to move it to some back page in oblivion. Parliament has spoken and it wants this on the front page along with the existing Elections Canada question.

I was pleased that individuals from the CRA have acknowledged that this is a priority of Parliament and committed to putting this on the front page. I implore the folks at the CRA to dig deep and push forward to make sure that we get this done as soon as possible. Their work will have life-changing consequences.

One other aspect I want to spend a few minutes on is something that the bill does not directly address, but is a significant problem here in Canada. This is the reason we have Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Month. Research has shown that as many as one in five potential organ and tissue donors have their final wish overturned by their family at the time of death. That is 20% of families overturning the wishes of their deceased loved ones. This decision by their families is robbing those in need of a life-saving transplant of a chance to live. It is robbing their loved one of their final wish. This is unconscionable and it has to change.

We can do better and we must do better, and that is why it is so important to talk to family members about final wishes when it comes to organ and tissue donation.

I have met with many people who have allowed the donation of organs and tissue of their deceased loved ones, and every single one of them without exception has said that it was an essential part of their grief and healing process. The ability to find some good in a time of utter grief is profound and everlasting. They want other families to know that sharing a loved one makes accepting the loss so much easier. Their loss has purpose, and their gift has brought unimaginable relief and joy to another family in need. That is the legacy to leave for a loved one.

We have our own reasons for supporting this legislation. Some of those reasons are closer to home for some members than others. Some members themselves or their family members have medical conditions, which means that they know one day they may require a life-saving transplant. Other members in the House are able to love, laugh and live with loved ones because they received a life-saving transplant and are still here with us today. No matter the reason for supporting this bill, it is very much appreciated.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his private member's bill. It is quite rewarding as a private member to have a bill go through this place to committee and then come back here with such support. Indeed, what the member has presented is something that will change lives.

For so long, we seem to have been stuck in this place of not taking initiatives like this. The member's idea of having this option on the tax form, which the vast majority of Canadians complete on an annual basis, would put it right in front of people's faces so that they can see it and make that decision. I think a lot of people retroactively would have wished that they had made that decision if they could have, and this gives them the opportunity to do that.

I am wondering if the member could comment on why he thinks it has taken so long to get to this place, and how he sees people supporting it and actually using it on their tax form.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Len Webber Conservative Calgary Confederation, AB

Madam Speaker, I absolutely agree with the member that this is long overdue.

What initiated this bill is the fact that we could not get a bill passed here in the House on creating a Canadian-wide organ and tissue donation registry because it conflicted with provincial jurisdiction. I wondered how we could help the provinces and their registries as a federal government, and this bill came to mind. We could get this question on the tax form and then share that information with the provinces throughout the country.

I certainly hope that we can get this bill passed before the summer so that we can get it implemented in the next tax season.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, this bill hits close to home for me, since I have family members who needed an organ donation and some of them died before they were able to get one.

It is another step in the right direction, but my hon. colleague raised two equally important points. What can we do to improve education regarding organ donation so that the family does not go against the will of the person who chose to check off the box?

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Len Webber Conservative Calgary Confederation, AB

Madam Speaker, the intent of this bill is to have a tax filer indicate their willingness to donate their organs upon death. All it would be is a tick on the box on the form, and that information would then be shared with provincial registries throughout the country, depending on what province the tax filer is living in. A representative from the province would then contact the individual to ask the appropriate questions on what his or her wishes are, whether it is to donate any and all organs, specific organs or whatever, and so the detailed information would come from the provinces from asking those questions.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for bringing forward this important private member's bill.

The Liberals, the New Democrats and the Conservatives have all brought forth this bill at one time or another. I am so proud of the work this member has done to make this a reality and hope it gets through the Senate this time around.

Could the member talk to the House about how important it is that people access this? I am also wondering about his thoughts. Other countries have chosen an opt-out system, in which everybody is on the list and they have to opt out, and they have found a lot more participants and saved a lot more lives. I am wondering what his thoughts are on that.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Len Webber Conservative Calgary Confederation, AB

Madam Speaker, I want to correct a statement the member made with respect to others in the House trying to pass this particular bill in the past. That is not correct. I think the hon. member is talking about the attempt to have a national registry implemented in this country. It is something that was attempted in the past, but it was unsuccessful. This is why I have now brought forward this particular bill to help out these provincial registries.

With regard to the opt-out question, it is provincial jurisdiction to determine whether to implement an opt-out system, so I will leave it with the provinces.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Majid Jowhari Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Madam Speaker, first, my thanks to the member for Calgary Confederation for bringing this issue back to the attention of Canadians and the House. We will also be recognizing National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week, which will take place from April 18 to 24 this year.

This is a timely discussion, as this upcoming event raises awareness about the critical need for more donors across the country and encourages Canadians to register their decision and talk to their loved ones about organ donation. This topic hits close to home for me as my family and I are all registered organ and tissue donors. I believe more Canadians should at least consider this option as we see rising numbers of people added to wait lists each year.

According to the latest data from the Canadian Organ Replacement Register, in 2019 a total of 3,014 organ transplant procedures were performed in Canada, which is an increase of about 42% since 2010. Despite this good news, the national data shows that approximately 4,400 people in Canada are waiting for organ transplants, and more than 1,600 people are added to the list each year. Sadly, due to this, an estimated 250 people die each year while waiting for a transplant. As our population ages, the need for organ and tissue donations keeps increasing.

The Government of Canada recognizes the value of organ and tissue donation and transplantation. Since 2018, the government has supported an initiative called the organ donation and transplantation collaborative, led by Health Canada. The collaborative’s goal is to achieve organ donation improvements that result in better patient outcomes and increase the number and quality of successful transplantations.

The government recognizes that too many Canadians are on organ wait lists. We are committed to improving the organ and tissue donation and transplantation system. Alongside the provinces, territories and key stakeholders, we are establishing leading practices, strengthening professional education and raising awareness to improve organ and tissue donation. The Government of Canada continues to work collaboratively with organizations such as Canadian Blood Services, as well as with the provinces and territories, to encourage public participation and increase organ donation rates across Canada.

Additionally, I am proud to say that in the 2019 budget, the government allocated $36.5 million to develop a pan-Canadian data and performance system for organ donation and transplantation.

I would like to briefly note that my colleague, the member for Vaughan—Woodbridge, suggested certain amendments at the committee stage to make Bill C-210 easier for the CRA to implement. While these were not adopted, I believe it is important to review and discuss the intentions behind the amendments. I want to emphasize that we all want the objectives of Bill C-210 to become a reality sooner rather than later. At any moment anyone in this room or their loved one could be in need of an organ. I sincerely hope that it will be there when they need it. Therefore, I want to take a moment to address some concerns regarding the implementation of this bill.

The current legislation, which has the CRA directly collecting organ and donor consent on behalf of the provinces and territories, could potentially cause significant roadblocks and time-consuming delays. For the CRA to implement Bill C-210 in time for the tax filing season next year, we need the quick engagement and support of the provinces and territories.

We have spoken in the past about the need for efficient implementation of this bill. The member for Vaughan—Woodbridge proposed an amendment that would have the CRA collect and share the personal information of individuals wishing to become organ and tissue donors with their respective provinces and territories. The provinces and territories, in turn, would obtain consent from Canadians to share this information and store it in a database. Although this amendment was defeated, I still emphasize the critical role of the provinces and territories in the administration of this bill as the maintenance of donor information is legally within their jurisdiction.

Additionally, the legal requirements of donor eligibility and informed consent are very complex and vary greatly by jurisdiction in Canada, so the bill would have different applications for each province and territory. This is why my colleague, the member for Vaughan—Woodbridge, proposed a separate sheet for organ donation that could be inserted into T1 income tax packages. This sheet was modelled on the insert page for the Ontario Trillium benefit, which is inserted into the tax packages of Ontario residents and then provided directly to the Province of Ontario.

Despite these concerns, I want to reiterate that the CRA will continue to respect the role that the provinces and territories play in organ and tissue donation, ensuring that Canadians' personal information is handled securely. I believe strongly that this collaboration between the CRA and the provincial and territorial governments is essential to delivering real, positive change to Canadians. In fact, I believe that having a pan-Canadian data system in place would support decision-making and improve patient care. It would also help create better records, which could be used for both monitoring and forecasting purposes.

Despite the concerns about the manner of implementation, rest assured that the Government of Canada will fully support Bill C-210. The CRA will continue to work with all parties to make the member for Calgary Confederation's objective a reality, which would make the dream of saving the lives of thousands of Canadians a reality. It is only by working together that we will continue to improve organ and tissue donation progress, along with the transplantation system, and ensure that Canadians have timely and effective access to care.

I encourage all members in the House to vote in support of this bill once again.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Desilets Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to say hello to all of my colleagues. I am very pleased to see them again after the two weeks that we spent in our ridings.

The debate on Bill C-210 is timely because National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week is set to take place from April 18 to 24. This bill seeks to amend the Canada Revenue Agency Act.

First, the bill would authorize the Canada Revenue Agency, or CRA, to enter into agreements with the provinces and territories to collect, via the income tax return, the information required to establish or maintain an organ donor registry. Second, the bill would authorize the CRA to disclose that information to the provinces and territories that have entered into such an agreement.

Just as a reminder, this bill was first introduced in 2016 by our colleague from Calgary Confederation as Bill C-316. Unfortunately, it did not get past first reading in the Senate. This iteration of the bill has a new number, but the contents are the same. As such, the Bloc Québécois's position on this bill remains unchanged. Quebec is just fine with Bill C-210, and the Bloc Québécois fully supports it.

However, as I have already told my House colleagues, it is highly unlikely that Quebec would sign an agreement with the CRA because it already has its own tax return. It is also no secret that the Bloc Québécois is fighting for a single tax return managed solely by Revenu Québec, so why delegate to the CRA a health matter that Quebec is perfectly capable of handling and that is under its exclusive jurisdiction?

Basically, the Bloc Québécois supports this bill because we believe it will benefit the inhabitants of other provinces and territories where the CRA administers the tax system.

We have absolutely no issue with allowing the CRA to collect and share information related to organ and tissue donation. If the Quebec National Assembly were to sign an agreement with the CRA, we would fully respect that decision. Quebec is free to sign or not sign an agreement, and my tone would be completely different if we were to assume otherwise.

According to the most recent data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, in 2019, 3,084 whole organs were transplanted into 3,014 recipients. This includes 1,789 kidneys, 610 livers, 212 hearts, 404 lungs and 68 pancreases. This might seem like an odd list, but it demonstrates the magnitude of the situation. Furthermore, although the total number of transplants has risen quite dramatically compared to ten years ago, I would remind the House that there is still a significant gap between the number of transplants performed and the number of people on waiting lists. In 2019, of the 4,352 people waiting for a transplant, 249 unfortunately died before getting their surgery. This is appalling, and it could be described as a deadly wait. The governments of Canada, Quebec and the other provinces must do better, and everyone needs to do their part.

The COVID-19 pandemic certainly has not made things easier in that regard. In 2020, Transplant Quebec recorded a 20% drop in organ donation and transplantation activity, both in terms of referrals and actual donors and transplant recipients. Quebec is not alone. Other provinces and other countries have seen a similar decline. The pandemic is hitting us hard, but thanks to the tenacity and remarkable adaptability of our medical community in Quebec, things have returned to a semblance of normality in the past few months.

Before I go any further, I would like to take a minute to sincerely thank all the donors who have signed their card and consented to organ or tissue donation. I know that it is not an easy decision for everyone to make.

I also want to take this time to commend the work of doctors who specialize in organ procurement and those who perform the transplants. They do remarkable work. We can never say it enough. Thanks to them, 13,000 people in Quebec and Canada are living with a transplanted organ. It is amazing. However, we cannot rest on our laurels. We must do more, and Bill C-210 will help us do that.

As I mentioned before, this bill will probably not affect Quebec in any way because Quebeckers have their own tax return, and Quebec could collect the required information for its own registry if it wanted to. So much the better if Quebec does not have to do it and Ottawa manages this matter. However, the last time I checked, health is almost exclusively a provincial jurisdiction. In this great and beautiful Canada, geographical distance is a significant problem for the successful completion of transplants. In light of the fact that a transplant must be completed within 12 hours for a liver and eight hours for a lung, for example, it is obvious that the proper administration of registries is crucial. In my opinion, the provincial centralization of data collection and registry maintenance is a win-win proposition.

That said, I would like to share some more thoughts about this bill. This amendment to the Canada Revenue Agency Act is truly a step in the right direction, but there is no evidence to show that it will have a direct, noticeable impact on the number of deceased donors, so long as we do not do more to promote awareness and education of organ and tissue donation. I remind the House that there is still a significant gap between the number of people who say they are in favour of organ donation and those who explicitly consent to it. I signed these papers when I turned 18 because I had a teacher at the end of high school who told us about the importance of organ donation.

I do want to commend the Government of Nova Scotia, which officially adopted an opt-out system in January. This system is the complete opposite of the opt-in system that exists in the rest of North America. Quebec has been considering this issue for some time now. I would be interested in seeing how this system unfolds with our maritime neighbours. I think it could be very worthwhile. I remind members that there is no data to establish a clear link between the implementation of an opt-in system and an increase in the number of transplants.

That has been demonstrated by Spain, which is a leader in this medical field. The opt-in system expands the pool of deceased organ donors, but that is only useful if we have the appropriate and necessary infrastructure. One of the keys to reducing the gap is to increase investments in medical infrastructure related to organ donation and transplants. There is no point in having more donors if there is a lack of trained staff or if the registry is not administered properly.

Another key is awareness, and I have a special interest in that. In addition to family refusal, there is also a widespread belief that minimal effort will be made to save the lives of those who agree to be organ donors. We need to counter this type of misconception through education and awareness.

I want to take this opportunity to recognize the work of an organization in my riding in Quebec called Chaîne de vie. Chaîne de vie's team of health and education professionals have been visiting high schools across Quebec since 2007 to educate young people between the ages of 15 and 17 about organ and tissue donation. This tremendous work does not just raise awareness among youth. It also encourages family discussion—

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

Order. The member's time is up.

The hon. member for North Island—Powell River.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Madam Speaker, I am here today to speak to Bill C-210. This bill would change the Canada Revenue Agency Act to allow for people in Canada to sign up for organ donation on their income tax form.

I want to thank the member for Calgary Confederation for bringing forward this bill for a second time. As this is National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Month, it is important that this is the debate we are having at this time.

This is a hard one to talk about because of the emotional nature of this process. Currently, we know that there is a provincial and territorial jurisdiction. This means, sadly, that someone could be in desperate need in one province or territory and have no way to access organs that people have identified they want to donate. This means that people cannot get their second chance.

As a New Democrat, I fundamentally believe that we must make every possible effort to ensure that every Canadian who needs an organ or tissue transplant receives it. This is so important, and I support this because it allows people, while they are doing their taxes, to check another box, to show that this is something, if they were in the saddest circumstances, they would be able to provide.

We know that one donor could save up to eight lives and benefit more than 75 people. That is a tremendous generosity. Yet, at 18 donors per million people, Canada's current donation rate puts us at the lower third of developed countries.

Allowing Canadians to register to donate their organs and tissues through their tax return would help increase registration rates. This would improve consent rates and also help to build a donation culture in Canada. If we think about this being something that we do once a year to review, it would give that opportunity for us to have conversations with our loved ones about the decisions we have made.

We know that across Canada people are dying on wait-lists because our organ donation rate is so low. At present, only 20% of Canadians have joined their province's organ and tissue registry.

This is such an important bill because it allows the federal government to coordinate with provinces and territories to allow Canadians to register as an organ and tissue donor through their taxes.

There is a lot of concern here, sometimes, about the bill with its unauthorized sharing of personal information. This would allow for individuals to be required to give consent.

In my riding, I have read multiple articles about constituents, or have talked to constituents themselves, who have talked to me about the gift that it is when they receive a transplant. What I hear from people, again and again, is how they do not take a moment of their life for granted, as a donor. The gratitude they have for the person who gave them their second chance is incredibly powerful.

Not too long ago, I read about a constituent named Darvy Culleton, who received a double lung transplant. He was born with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that affects the lungs and other major organs, and was told from a very early age that he would potentially only live until around the age of 29. When he was 29, he got his transplant, and now has married his wife, Megan, and they have a baby. Although he did not know much about his donor, he said that every day he lives with a deep and profound gratitude, one that is shared by his family.

In the last Parliament, the same legislation, then Bill C-316, was passed unanimously by the House of Commons. Unfortunately, it did not get passed through the second House, the Senate. In 2016, we know there was some concern that the Liberals brought forward about this bill, and it did not move forward in the way that it should have, because it was under provincial jurisdiction. I am very happy to see that people are coming together, understanding that this is the way we could make this work through the system.

I know that for New Democrats in this House, the opt-out system is something we are very supportive of. We know that countries that have an opt-out system, which means people are automatically put into the list unless they take themselves out of it, see record-high donation rates. This is part of the approach that has made Spain a world leader in organ donation over the past 25 years. We know that in Australia the donor rate grew tremendously through the opt-out legislation that was put forward.

This is always a hard thing to talk about, because it is really about a sad situation that leads to somebody else having an opportunity. I want to thank the member for bringing it forward. I want to thank all the people across Canada who put their names forward to be organ or tissue donors. I want to stand in solidarity with the people who live life because somebody else was generous with theirs.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to be able to address the chamber on such an important issue. I have been listening to members speak on this legislation, and I would like to start by complimenting the member for Calgary Confederation for a job well done in bringing forward and encapsulating what I believe Canadians and parliamentarians want to see take place.

For example, the member for Oakville North—Burlington talked to me on a couple of occasions about wanting to see the bill pass, as I know Liberal members from all over the country want to see it pass. I suspect it will be passing, because that seems to be the desire and will of the House, which we have seen in previous votes and in the dialogue we are hearing during debate.

It is interesting that we are having this debate today, when only a few days from now we will be starting the April 18 to April 24 National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week. In good part, the purpose of that is to raise awareness of the issue across Canada so all Canadians can get directly involved, if they choose to do so, in promoting the importance of organ donation and raising general awareness.

In listening to the debate, I could not help but think of why it is so important that we recognize that we need to respect provincial jurisdiction in the area of health care. I have talked at great length in the past about health care and have often cited examples of why the federal government should be involved, at times directly through cash transfers, but also indirectly. We need to respond to our constituents and listen to what they are telling us.

In listening to members, I detected a great deal of respect for provincial responsibilities and jurisdiction, while at the same time reflecting on the importance of the issue at hand today. This bill would authorize the Canada Revenue Agency, in essence, to enter into agreements with territories and provinces with respect to the collection and disclosure of information required, which would enable the establishment of an organ and tissue donor registry in that province or territory.

The member for Calgary Confederation rightfully pointed out that it is somewhat different from previous legislation, but it is very important legislation. It is not the first time there has been the principle of recognizing organ donations as something needing some involvement from the national government. It has been there now in different forms from different political entities inside the chamber. There are members of Parliament who have been touched in one way or another by this issue, either directly or indirectly.

I think of a gentleman by the name of Hank Horner, who passed away. He was a huge advocate, and when I was an MLA it seemed like virtually every week he would talk to me about why it was so important for politicians to do more. At that time, I was a member of the provincial legislative assembly. He had ideas about MPI and how it could be mandated to have a reverse option, meaning that it is assumed that people are prepared to donate their organs unless they tell the government or MPI otherwise.

There was a bit of debate and discussion on that, and a bit of resistance. However, one of our provinces in Atlantic Canada has adopted that policy. I do not know all the details, but I do recognize that because there is provincial responsibility or jurisdiction over health care, we could see different systems across Canada.

I come from a national perspective as to how we can best serve our constituents when they feel passionate about the national government doing things. A good example of that would be long-term care. We have this idea that has been talked about, voted on and passed through the House of Commons about the importance of the federal government playing some role in ensuring that we have donors from coast to coast to coast being more engaged and proactive on such an important issue.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, there were some interesting numbers that had come from that. It cites, in particular, the year 2018. To give people who might be following the debate a sense of what those numbers are, in 2018 there were 2,782 transplants performed in Canada. We are very much dependent and reliant on those numbers being collected and provided to the agency, and we feel confident in knowing that this number is fairly accurate. That is 2,782.

We can take a look at the number of people who are on the wait-list, the individuals who are in need. I made reference to Hank Horner as an individual who inspired me on this particular issue. He was on a waiting list for many years, as many organ recipients are. At the end of the day, he was successful in getting his transplant, but he had to wait a considerable amount of time.

We can think of the waiting list and how many people are on it, waiting. Back in 2018, the number that was provided through the Canadian Institute for Health Information was 4,351 people who were on the waiting list. If we contrast that number to the number of people who received a transplant, which was 2,782, we can get a sense of the numbers that carry over into the next year, and then new ones are added on. Hank Horner goes all the way back to the mid-1990s, if my memory serves me correctly, and every year there have been significant waiting lists. I do believe there is a need.

It was reported back in 2018 that there were 223 patients who died while on an organ wait-list or waiting for a transplant. I am not a physician by training, but I suspect the correlation would be very high as to why they passed away. The question is, had they received the transplant, would they have survived? I believe the overwhelming response to that question would be yes.

The very legislation we are talking about today matters. It saves lives. That is why I look at the member for Calgary Confederation and I say to my friend that I applaud his efforts in bringing this forward and look forward to its ultimate passage.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, it is also an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-210, introduced by the member for Calgary Confederation. I understand, based on some of the discussion today, that he had also introduced a similar bill to this one in the last session of Parliament.

I know from my own experiences how challenging it can be to work and navigate through the system and to hit those pitfalls and challenges along the way when trying to introduce a private member's business. However, to have the opportunity to come back and do it again, I really admire the passion the member has shown in his determination to get this issue on the table and in the centre of the public's attention.

When it comes to a tissue and donor registry, as I indicated in the question I had asked earlier, I often wonder why it has taken so long just to get to this stage in having this discussion. I will focus on that for a bit and then I want to talk about the significance of putting this on the tax form and the intuitive way the member has gone about doing this, which I think is really going to highlight the need for this for so many Canadians.

First, I will talk briefly about an experience I had as it relates to organ and tissue donation.

I am not familiar nor do I know of anybody who has received an organ or has had his or her life significantly altered as a result of receiving an organ. However, when I was mayor of Kingston, going back seven or eight years, I was invited to a ceremony at the Providence Motherhouse in Kingston. As politicians, we are invited to so many of these various events and after a while they all start to appear to be the same. However, this one really sticks out in my memory. This was an opportunity for people who had received organs from other people to celebrate that they had those organs.

Different speakers spoke about the way that getting the organ had changed their lives and how their lives had been impacted by the new opportunities they had. They talked about their lives before versus after. It truly, for me, was an eye-opener to what it meant to somebody. Sometimes, with the scientific talk and everything that goes on in the medical field, when we learn about these things, we quite often think it is pretty neat and interesting stuff. However, until we start to really hear the stories from the people who are impacted by these changes in medicine and these ways we can now save lives where we never were able to before, until we have the opportunity to experience that, I do not know if we really can appreciate the contribution that something like this has to somebody's life.

I will always remember this, because part of the push at this event was to celebrate the lives saved and to hear the stories, but also to bring about awareness as to why it was so important to ensure that registries existed and that people got on the registries. As we know, it is an opt-in system in most parts, if not all, of Canada, and previous people talk about this, and that is one of the struggles. A lot of people do not want to think about this kind of thing. I will be totally honest with everyone that before I had been to this event, I had never wanted to actually think about dying and what would happen to my organs. It is something I think that, very innately, people do not want to think about, and so people try to push it off and say they will maybe think about it another day.

However, when we consider the impact that we could have in saving lives and the impact it has on the families, as the member for Calgary Confederation mentioned in his speech, of the individuals who have passed on, knowing that they have contributed to another life that has been saved truly, is remarkable.

Going back to this event, I will never forget talking to some people there and thanking them for having invited me. I remember going straight home and telling my wife about this. Because people in Ontario can indicate it on a driver's licence or health card, I immediately signed up as a donor. I knew that if anything was going to happen to me, being totally honest about it and thinking clearly about it, there was nothing I could do to prevent or stop it, but what I could do was improve somebody else's life. Why would we not want to do that? Why would people not have that desire, knowing that if they were in a fatal accident, unfortunately ending their lives, why not use that as a way to improve somebody else's life moving forward?

I really commend this. I had always wondered why we did not have an opt-in system. My NDP colleague from North Island—Powell River brought the point up about why we did not have a default system where everybody would be in and people could opt out based on personal, religious or any reasons individuals might have. They should have the right to make that choice, but by default, that would put so many more people into the system, people like me who did not want to think about it but when I did, recognized I did not have an issue with this, that it was really a good thing.

What the member for Calgary Confederation has proposed recognizes that we might not be able to have that system given the complexities of the way our provinces work together and with the federal government in whose jurisdiction this might be under. However, it would put this right on the front of a form that Canadians are responsible to fill out every year. If accountants fill this out every year, they will ask their clients how they would like them to check the box off. It would force people to make that decision on an annual basis.

I know that by default, this would generate so much more interest in it and would force people to have to think about it. As I said earlier, I did not want to think about this until I was confronted with the realities of about it. Knowing people will have to think about it and make that decision is important. It puts the onus on individuals to make a decision and this way their families do not have to be put in that position later on. People can declare early on whether they would like their tissue and organs to be donated.

The government spent just under $37 million in budget 2019 specifically to work on collecting data and putting it together in a more cohesive way so it could be shared throughout the country. Various territories and provinces have been working on this information. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe Quebec is an observer to that and might not be in this group.

All of that aside, this takes on a whole new dynamic, a dynamic that would put this in front of people when they do their tax returns. It is a form that every Canadian has to fill out. Therefore, it is a great opportunity to push this issue and put it at the centre of people's attention.

I want to thank the member for Calgary Confederation for bringing this forward. In minority Parliaments like this, it is very easy to bring other ideas forward, some that might be a lot more partisan and political in nature, but the member has truly hit the nail on the head in finding something that appears to have bipartisan support throughout the House. I applaud him for that.

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

April 12th, 2021 / noon

Liberal

Churence Rogers Liberal Bonavista—Burin—Trinity, NL

Madam Speaker, I would also like to speak briefly on this with the few seconds I have. I certainly am a supporter of an opt-out system.

In a recent conversation, a good friend of mine told me about his heart transplant and the challenges with respect to the waiting period to become a recipient, the disruption to his family life, the financial challenges and so on. It is really challenging for people who depend on someone donating an organ to them. I understand where the member for Calgary Confederation is coming from and I speak in favour of his bill, because it is truly a great gift to receive that kind of—

Canada Revenue Agency ActPrivate Members' Business

Noon

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

I have to interrupt the hon. member and advise him that he will have nine minutes the next time the House debates the bill.

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-14, An Act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020 and other measures, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

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

If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes to request a recorded division or that the motion be adopted on division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Steven Guilbeault Liberal Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

moved that the bill be concurred in.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, I believe if you seek it, you would find unanimous consent to adopt the motion.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

Is it agreed?