House of Commons Hansard #159 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was illness.

Topics

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to start by saying that before I dove into this subject, read the expert panel's report multiple times and asked endless questions, I was among the unconvinced.

Second, because we cannot cut corners on this issue, the entire community of professionals in mental health care, mental wellness and mental illness needs to be informed and trained. It will require an adequate number of service providers and assessors. It will require guidelines. Each of the regulatory bodies from coast to coast will need to establish standards of practice for their members, so as to ensure safe, effective and adequate implementation.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am really upset this morning. Let me explain. In 2017, my father passed away after a very difficult life. Many people here know his story. He struggled with ALS for 20 years. I was there with him during the five years he was in palliative care. At the time, he told me, “Don't worry. I have a respirator. I had an extra eight years of life and now I know that I can choose what to do with the rest of it. I have control over my life.”

My father had the right to medical assistance in dying before 2017, but he did not want it. He chose to refuse treatment. There were consultations and discussions and they gave him hope. Humans want to live. Perhaps some people in the House are lucky enough to have never experienced this type of situation.

My colleague mentioned all of the precautionary measures that are in place. He said that we need another year to make sure that we are doing things right. I would like him to tell us whether we can hope that, after this additional year, our Conservative colleagues will come to understand that humans are worthy of life and that, in the end, it should be their decision.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to get into petty politics. I am not saying that my colleague's question is at that level, but I do not want to get into that.

What I want to say, however, is that we can see the shortcut that my Conservative colleagues sometimes take when they speak. They act like MAID is the only choice, but that is not true. A person can die a natural death without any problems. MAID is only morally acceptable if, and only if, it is voluntary, period.

I want all my colleagues to feel well supported in dying, because that is what palliative care actually is: support for people who are dying. I hope that as each of them lies on their deathbed, they are able to wake up one morning and feel completely at peace and ready to go, rather than lingering in agony. I hope they will be able to benefit from MAID. That is the best we can hope for for any human being: to depart this life in peace.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, let me just say from the outset what a pleasure it was to serve on the special joint committee with the member for Montcalm, both in the last Parliament and in this one. I always appreciated his very thoughtful interventions and I could tell that he always came to committee quite well prepared.

The member and I have been here since 2015. He will remember that in the original bill, Bill C-14, there was a statutory requirement for a five-year review. We know that Bill C-7 was introduced before that review happened and that the government decided to accept a Senate amendment before it had a chance to establish a special joint committee. That process, that timeline, underlines why Bill C-39 is necessary now.

I wonder if my hon. colleague would just reflect on what has led us to this point and why Bill C-39 is necessary, and for this House to pass it quickly, because of the impending deadline and the fact that we do need to have some space to make sure we are getting these standards right. It is extremely important.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will have to say it: The government was not a good student. It dragged its feet for too long. It established the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying far too late.

When Bill C-7 was passed, the government committed to reviewing the act. We did more than review the act, because we looked at other facets. What the special joint committee did was review the existing act.

However, there was an unnecessary election in the meantime, and that caused delays. Our work was constantly disrupted by ultimatums from the court or by our own inability to meet the deadlines we ourselves had set. That is unfortunate.

I sincerely believe that, once the expert panel tabled its report, after doing the job properly, we needed to take the time to set up all the infrastructure necessary to get past the level of a house of horrors in terms of mental disorders and MAID.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think it is very important to have choice. However, without palliative care, there really is no choice. The government has not done its part to continue putting palliative care measures in place.

What is the situation in Quebec?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, all the data we have shows that people who are at the end of life have received palliative care. However, there are palliative care units that refuse to take someone into that unit because they allegedly requested medical assistance in dying. I find that unacceptable.

I feel that palliative care is a stepping stone to dying with dignity. As part of the process, someone may request medical assistance in dying. That must be respected. Not everyone can manage to endure their pain and live an existence that makes them suffer to the end.

I do not think the choice is ours; it belongs to the person. There is no reason why the government should not accept a patient's decision, their free choice. They must make an informed decision that is not subject to change, as we heard from some witnesses in committee. We were told that when some physicians had a patient before them requesting medical assistance in dying, they would force them to change their mind so that they would not ask for it and receive only palliative care.

Imagine the opposite scenario. That would make the news everywhere for months.

Freedom from Obstruction: Technical Difficulties with Interpretation ServicesPrivilegeGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak to the question of privilege raised on Wednesday, February 8 by the hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle concerning freedom from obstruction and technical difficulties related to the interpretation service and to the comments made by the member for Mégantic—L'Érable, which dealt more specifically with technical difficulties in parliamentary committee work.

The Bloc Québécois agrees with the House leader of the Conservative caucus that the parliamentary privilege of his caucus was indeed breached because of the technical problems that occurred and that prevented the interpretation of members' remarks during the last caucus meeting of the official opposition.

We want to acknowledge the remarkable work that the interpreters do and the support they provide to members of Parliament during parliamentary proceedings. The interpretation service is essential to the proper functioning of Parliament.

As the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle pointed out, subsection 4(2) of the Official Languages Act requires that “Facilities shall be made available for the simultaneous interpretation of the debates and other proceedings of Parliament from one official language into the other.”

The Bloc Québécois would like to thank the interpreters who interpret every day. I would like to point out that most of the interpretation is done from English to French, so it is all the more important to ensure the right of francophone members to participate in parliamentary proceedings in their language, which is also the language of the majority of their constituents.

The second part of the intervention by the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle concerned the problems caused by the technical arrangements for caucus meetings. He rightly referred to pages 111 and 112 of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, which state, “A member may also be obstructed or interfered with in the performance of his or her parliamentary functions by non-physical means.”

A little later, he added:

It is impossible to codify all incidents which might be interpreted as matters of obstruction, interference, molestation or intimidation and, as such, constitute prima facie cases of privilege.

The member for Mégantic—L'Érable went further in his reply. He asserted the following about the technical problems:

We need to have a plan B. Meetings must take place at the scheduled time and proceed normally with the possibility of access to interpretation services and interpreters and, especially, to the equipment that makes those services possible.

On that particular issue, the Bloc Québécois wants to note that technical problems are unfortunately increasingly delaying the work of parliamentary committees and becoming a recurring obstacle to their operations. This poses a significant problem considering the scope and nature of the work done by the committees within the parliamentary apparatus. Parliamentary committees play a fundamental role, including in the legislative process, by conducting a comprehensive review of bills and improving them by adopting amendments, as well as in the oversight process when they conduct investigations into the government's activities, policies, expenses and programs.

As a whip, member of the Board of Internal Economy and a member of Parliament, I find the situation to be very alarming. Last week alone, we on this side related the following events. There were incidents: on February 6 at the environment and sustainable development, veterans affairs, and agriculture and agri-food committees; on February 7 at the health, human resources, skills and social development and the status of persons with disabilities, and national defence committees and at the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying; on February 8 at the industry and technology, and citizenship and immigration committees; on February 9 at the foreign affairs and international development, international trade and veterans affairs committees. There is more. On February 10, there were problems at the human resources, skills and social development and the status of persons with disabilities, and official languages committees and again at the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying. Just this morning, there were problems at the Canadian heritage committee.

We submit to your attention that technical difficulties affecting interpretation services, both during the Conservative caucus and during various committee meetings, may be considered obstruction, interference, molestation or intimidation, and as such constitute a prima facie breach of parliamentary privilege.

I thank you for taking these situations into consideration during your reflection, as I believe they are very serious.

Freedom from Obstruction: Technical Difficulties with Interpretation ServicesPrivilegeGovernment Orders

February 13th, 2023 / 1:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

I thank the hon. whip of the Bloc Québécois for his intervention. I believe the Speaker will rule on the matter shortly.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-39, An Act to amend An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand to give my thoughts on Bill C-39. For those who are watching the debate today, this is the bill to amend the Criminal Code to delay, until March 17 of next year, the repeal of the exclusion from eligibility for receiving medical assistance in dying in circumstances where the sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness.

It has to be stated very clearly, because of the timeline with which we are dealing, that if this bill is not passed, the original sunset clause that was put in place by the old Bill C-7 will come into effect on March 17, which is just over a month away. It is for that reason that I will support the bill and will work with all parties to get the bill passed quickly.

Today's conversation has to happen within the context of the mental health crisis in Canada. We know and have heard, and this is not just from members of Parliament, from many advocates and stakeholders that there is an extreme lack of funding and resources. Clearly, there absolutely must be parity between physical and mental health in funding.

The Minister of Mental Health and Addictions has stated in the House that Canadians should have access to timely evidence-based, culturally appropriate and trauma-informed mental health and substance use services to support their well-being. With that I agree wholeheartedly, but words are not enough. We need to see the requisite resources and funding to follow through those words.

We know that beyond the Canada mental health transfer many advocates have long been calling for legislation to enshrine in law parity between mental and physical health. I am very glad today that I am giving my speech beside the hon. member for Courtenay—Alberni, who is our mental health and addictions critic and who has himself tabled Motion No. 67, which calls on the government to develop that legislation and to urgently fulfill its promise to establish that Canada mental health transfer.

In my own riding of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, many of my fellow citizens are going through extreme struggles with the opioid crisis. They are dealing with trauma. They are dealing with underlying mental health challenges that are simply not being addressed. That is an extreme gap and the cause of an extreme amount of shame for a country as wealthy as Canada to be still having these conversations about the resources that need to be brought to bear in communities like mine.

I have been a member in the House since 2015, so this is now my third Parliament. I have been here for the entirety of the legislative journey of medical assistance in dying. I can remember Bill C-14 and the sometimes difficult debates we had in the House. That legislation was in response to the Carter decision in the Supreme Court, which basically said that to deny people this right was contrary to our charter. It therefore gave the government a timeline to address it with the appropriate legislation.

What is not often talked about with Bill C-14 is that there was a legislative requirement in that act when it received royal assent. There was a five-year statutory review of medical assistance in dying. Unfortunately, that never occurred before the government went ahead in the previous Parliament and introduced Bill C-7, which established a second track for people whose death was not reasonably foreseeable.

The context of today's speech and C-39 is the fact that we have a story here of the government in several instances putting the cart before the horse. It not only introduced Bill C-7 before a statutory review occurred, which was a requirement of Bill C-14, but it then went ahead and accepted a Senate amendment to the bill that ran contrary to its own charter statement. It did that pretty massive expansion to the law without establishing a special joint committee that was a requirement of Bill C-7.

I am intimately familiar with what this process has been because I have not only been a member of the House since 2015, I have not only participated in debate on Bill C-14 and on Bill C-7, but I have also been a member of the special joint committee, both in the previous Parliament and in this Parliament.

The message all along has been that this kind of a review should have occurred before we were dealing with a timeline crunch. It became quite obvious during the special joint committee that too many Canadians, too many professionals in our country had apprehension about mental disorders as the sole underlying medical condition for being able to access medical assistance in dying as early as next month. Hence, we have Bill C-39.

I want to go back to the original charter statement that the government released as a part of Bill C-7. That includes a number of important statements as to why the government felt, originally, that mental disorders should be excluded from accessing MAID. It did say in that charter statement that the exclusion was not based on the assumption that individuals who suffered from mental illness lacked decision-making capacity. It also said that the exclusion was also not based on a failure to appreciate the severity of the suffering that mental illness could produce. Rather, it was based on the inherent risks and complexity that the availability of MAID would present to those individuals.

First, that charter statement identified that the evidence suggested that screening for decision-making capacity was particularly difficult. It could be subject to a high degree of error. Second, the statement identified that mental illness was generally less predictable than physical illness with respect to the course that the illness may take over time. Finally, it highlighted the experience that a few of the countries that permitted MAID, namely Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, for the sole underlying medical condition of mental illness had and some of the concerns relating to the increasing number of these cases and the wide range of mental illnesses in respect to which MAID could be provided.

Again, it really highlighted the fact that precaution was the necessary mode that was required before we embarked on this path. However, the government in its wisdom decided to accept a late stage Senate amendment to the bill after the House, full of its duly elected members, had given a final vote on Bill C-7. As a member at that time, I could not bring myself to accept that Senate amendment. Therefore, I ended up voting against the final version of Bill C-7 because of that.

It also needs to be said, when we are going over the history, that the special joint committee that was a requirement of Bill C-7 got a very late start. It was first brought into being just before the summer recess in 2021. We only had a few meetings before the summer of 2021 and we had the unnecessary election, launched solely at the request of the Prime Minister, in August of that year. This completely wiped out anything that was happening during the 43rd Parliament. That Parliament ceased to exist, and all of the committees that were a part of it did as well.

The new Parliament, the 44th, reconvened later that year, but it was not until around April or May of 2022 that serious discussions started coming together and we could actually get the special joint committee reformed. Again, we have to put that in the context of the impending deadline of March 17, 2023.

An incredible amount of time was wasted, not only from an unnecessary election but also from the delays of getting that committee up and running. We had to twice request an extension of our mandate from both houses of Parliament because the timelines we had been given were completely unrealistic, not only in hearing from as wide a range as possible of witnesses but also in producing a report that would reflect the gravity of the subject matter with which we were entrusted. That has to be highlighted in the debate today on Bill C-39.

I also think it is important because there have been a few narratives around this legislation. It is important to go back to understand what the Criminal Code actually says, and also to put that in the context of the definition of irremediability.

It is important that, in order to be eligible for medical assistance in dying, a person has to meet all of the following criteria: they have to make sure that they are in fact eligible for health services in the province they reside in, they have to be at least 18 years of age and capable of making decisions with respect to their own health, they have to have a grievous and irremediable medical condition, and they have to have made a voluntary request. All these conditions must be satisfied. A person must also give informed consent to receive medical assistance in dying, after having been informed of the means available to relieve their suffering, including palliative care.

Now we get to the definition of a grievous and irremediable medical condition as outlined in the Criminal Code. A person has to meet the following criteria for that definition: it has to be a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability; they have to be in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability; and that illness, disease or disability, or that state of decline, has to be causing them enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable to them and that cannot be relieved under conditions that they consider acceptable.

Those are the definitions in the Criminal Code, so despite the narratives we hear out there, those conditions must be met or the person administering MAID will have committed a crime. They will be in violation of the Criminal Code of Canada and will get the appropriate punishment as a result.

One of the difficulties is the fact that the term “irremediable” is not a medical or scientific term. It is a term that finds its definition within the Criminal Code. If we go to scientific or medical literature, it is a difficult term to define, and that, I think, is why we are seeing a lot of the apprehension around accessing MAID for mental disorders where the sole underlying medical condition is a mental disorder.

Some witnesses who appeared before our committee expressed the opinion that this should not be permitted, because there cannot be any certainty with respect to the incurability of a mental disorder. However, other witnesses told us that certainty is not required and that there are ways to consider irremediability, for example by looking at the years of treatment that people have had and whether any responses of the patient have actually been positive.

We also have to understand that the respect for personal autonomy in all of this is paramount, and it is has to be a treatment that is acceptable to the individual receiving it. They not only have to express informed consent, but it has to be something acceptable to them as a person.

I now want to talk a little about the special joint committee, which I have had the honour of being a member of, as I previously mentioned.

I think it is important to underline that our committee has struggled with the question of how to balance individual autonomy with protections for the vulnerable. We were tasked with looking at five themes through the passage of Bill C-7 and the motion that guided our work from both the House of Commons and the Senate: how we institute protections for persons with disabilities; the state of palliative care in Canada; advance requests; mature minors; and, of course, the subject of today, mental disorders as a sole underlying medical condition and their eligibility with respect to applying for medical assistance in dying.

Our final report is due to be tabled in the House this Friday, February 17. We wrapped up our committee meetings last week and finally approved a draft report. That draft report, as I speak, is going to translation services so that it can be ready for tabling here in the House, and so we will be able to meet the deadline that was given to us.

Before we did that work, we had others who did some important work ahead of us. We had the expert panel that was established. They also wrestled with major concerns, such as incurability, irreversibility, capacity and suicidality, and of course the intersection between structural vulnerability, mental disorder and medical assistance in dying.

That panel report, an important precursor to our work as a special joint committee, did state that assessors in medical assistance in dying should be able to establish incurability and irreversibility with reference to treatment attempts made; the impacts of those treatments; and the severity of the illness, disease or disability. The incurability of a mental disorder cannot be established in the absence of extensive attempts at interventions with therapeutic aims.

This means that someone who has not had access to adequate care would not be eligible for MAID. Therefore, MAID could never be used as a substitute for good psychiatric care. I think that is an important thing we have to realize. There will be safeguards in place, not only with the Criminal Code, but also, we hope, with the standards of practice.

For patients who are considering this, we want to make sure that there has been a long track record of attempts to deal with their illnesses. At the same time, we have heard very clearly that there are many Canadians and many professionals who feel that additional time is needed to make sure we get this right.

One of the witnesses before our special joint committee was the chair of the Government of Quebec's Select Committee on the Evolution of the Act respecting end-of-life care. She explained that Quebec had decided that MAID for mental disorders as a sole underlying medical condition should not be permitted at this time because of the challenges of determining irremediability, as well as the lack of social consensus. Another level of government, this time the Province of Quebec, is also underlining the concerns that many members of Parliament are expressing here today.

I mentioned the final report that will be tabled in the House, but our committee did release an interim report. That interim report was specifically on this subject matter. I will read from our conclusion. It states:

We must have standards of practice, clear guidelines, adequate training for practitioners, comprehensive patient assessments and meaningful oversight in place for the case of [medical assistance in dying for mental disorders as the sole underlying medical condition]. This task will require the efforts and collaboration of regulators, professional associations, institutional committees and all levels of governments and these actors need to be engaged and supported in this important work.

Although some work is already underway to implement the recommendations of the Expert panel, there is concern that more remains to be done to ensure that all necessary steps have been taken to be ready by the March 2023 deadline...

Again, in our interim report, our special joint committee was already, at that time, expressing concern with the upcoming deadline, and I think it is a smart move that we are moving ahead with Bill C-39. If we back that up with the testimony we heard at committee, we had a number of different witnesses who clearly expressed that they had troubles with this deadline and that those standards of practice were not yet ready.

It needs to be underlined again that, if Bill C-39 is not passed, the original sunset clause of March 17 will come into effect. My vote for this bill is occurring because of that very fact. This is aside from the broader conversation we need to have about medical assistance in dying in general. It is support for a bill that is going to extend the deadline by one year so we can make sure that we get these standards of practice right, so we have the necessary time to engage with the broader community.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (Senate)

Mr. Speaker, we have heard some pretty wild accusations in the House today. The member for St. Albert—Edmonton suggested that it would be possible for anybody who is looking to commit suicide to be able to access medical assistance in dying. We then heard, through an exchange between him and a member from the Bloc, a completely opposite point of view on whether or not that was something that could be done.

Would the member like to weigh in on where he thinks the reality is? Is it with the member for St. Albert—Edmonton or the member for Montcalm?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I clearly outlined in my speech, the safeguards are very clearly laid out, not only in the Criminal Code, but also in what we believe the standards of practice should be, and that is going to apply to the medical community. That being said, the medical community has indicated it does need more time, hence the need for Bill C-39. I would just remind the hon. member that many stakeholders in the field of mental health have underlined the fact that the Liberal government needs to step up to the plate and increase the funding and the resources to appropriately address this major crisis happening from coast to coast to coast.

Scarborough York Region Chinese Business AssociationStatements by Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Shaun Chen Liberal Scarborough North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Scarborough York Region Chinese Business Association, which serves the needs of Chinese businesses in Scarborough and York Region. For four decades, the organization has advocated on behalf of local small and medium enterprises to various levels of government, as well as supported their growth and development.

My riding of Scarborough North is home to a thriving immigrant community whose roots and people-to-people ties have enabled our diverse economy to flourish. The association has been instrumental in this success by hosting receptions and seminars and by organizing business forums and round tables. It has also fundraised for student scholarships, supporting the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs, and donated PPE to local hospitals during the pandemic.

I congratulate president Tony Luk, past presidents Grace Yu and Carson Ho, and the directors, members and volunteers who have contributed to the association’s accomplishments over the last 40 years. I wish them many more decades of prosperity and success.

Natural ResourcesStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Clifford Small Conservative Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame, NL

Mr. Speaker, after eight long years, Liberal government members could not recognize a strong business case if it smacked them in the face. In August of last year, the German chancellor, badly hit by retaliation from Russia for supporting Ukraine, came to Canada looking for a supply of natural gas. The Prime Minister's response was that there was not a “strong business case” to export liquefied natural gas from Canada to Europe.

Therefore, I asked the government on what specific evidence or analysis, if any, the Prime Minister based his claim. The response I received was that it did not fit within Canada's plan. However, according to Canadian Gas Association CEO Timothy Egan, “if you revisit the regulatory framework, those business cases become stronger fast.”

A Conservative government will support businesses that meet the strongest environmental standards instead of getting in their way. To our G7 partners, a Conservative government is coming and we will deliver.

Sexual and Reproductive HealthStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Jenica Atwin Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, in recognition of Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Week, I want to acknowledge that in 2023 too many Canadians are still unable to make an informed decision about their contraceptive health. Access to contraceptives should not depend on their bank account, where they live or who they are. Everyone should have access to the information to choose what method works best for them and be confident in the quality of care they will receive when they seek reproductive health care.

Unfortunately, we know that a key issue is the pervasiveness of systemic racism in our institutions, creating disproportionately negative experiences and outcomes for Black and indigenous people. This is why it is essential to include all forms of contraceptives in the national formulary for pharmacare, as called for by Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights.

Moreover, as called upon within Joyce's principle, we must adopt a framework of reproductive justice in patient care and address the gender inequalities, discriminatory social norms and institutional structures to advance health, gender equality and human rights.

As a member of the Canadian Association of Parliamentarians on Population and Development, I invite all members of this House to join the effort and implement a comprehensive approach to advancing sexual and reproductive health, and support the empowerment of all Canadians.

Francophone Culture and its ArtistsStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, we know the films and TV shows we produce are the best. They tell our stories and represent every aspect of who we are. They put our homegrown talent in the spotlight both here and abroad. We know all this, but sometimes it bears repeating.

That is why the Canada Media Fund and Telefilm Canada launched the MADE Better campaign, which will air on television in Quebec and Canada. Even people in Hollywood will be talking about it.

Our talent shines. From Villeneuve and Dolan to Chokri and Deraspe, we have so much to be proud of. Louis Cyr and Maurice Richard? They never feared the Americans. Maria Chapdelaine and La Bolduc? Those women are cowed by no one.

We want our culture to carry on shining and contributing billions to our economy, so we have to help it out. Everyone agrees that the amount available for francophone productions is insufficient. It should be raised to 40% of the total, but for that to happen, the government would have to increase the Canada Media Fund's budget as it has done for other organizations.

Our culture and our industry are alive and well. Let us give them the means to continue celebrating our culture and its artists for a long time to come.

Canadian Artists and CreatorsStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, earlier this month, Made Nous launched its new campaign, Made Better, designed to show Canadians how much they have to celebrate when it comes to the entertainment industry. Made Better includes a series of 30-second montages that highlight Canadians in film, television, video games and digital entertainment. Presented by the Canada Media Fund and Telefilm Canada, the spots will air on major broadcast networks from February to April, with shorter digital spots running online and billboards in Hollywood.

Canadian talent is behind some of the most diverse and impactful storytelling at home and around the world. Indigenous, Black, other racialized and LGBTQ+ talent are racking up a long list of industry firsts, and the Made Better campaign shows how Canadian creators are leading the way.

Let us not stop here. We can do more. Tech giants should pay their fair share toward our fantastic artists and creators. They should showcase them. That is exactly what Bill C-11, the online streaming act, is about. Together, let us support this new campaign and Bill C-11, because Canadian artists and creators expect it.

Medical Assistance in DyingStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, when the Liberals brought in their medical aid in dying regime, they promised to protect vulnerable people. They failed to do so.

Veterans who called Veterans Affairs to ask for help have been offered assisted suicide instead. Persons with disabilities unable to find supportive housing have been offered assisted suicide instead. In too many cases, vulnerable Canadians are being offered assisted suicide instead of the support they need and want from the system. Now the Liberals want to add those suffering from mental illness to their assisted suicide regime as well.

After months of dragging their feet, Liberals belatedly brought forward a delay to this reckless idea. However, we do not just need to delay this dangerous expansion of assisted suicide; we need to reject it entirely. Conservatives will never give up on those experiencing mental illness. We believe that recovery is possible and that we should focus on offering treatment and help, not assisted death, to those who are suffering.

This is a matter of life and death, and we must act to protect vulnerable people once and for all.

Poet Laureate Rita JoeStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Jaime Battiste Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to celebrate Heritage Day in Nova Scotia, where next week we will honour the beautiful words and life of the late Mi’kmaq Poet Laureate Rita Joe.

Rita Joe’s work narrated the challenges of indigeneity through her lived experience told through magnificent and heartfelt poetry. A survivor of the Indian residential school, Rita Joe began writing in the mid-1970s and is well known for her poem I Lost My Talk, where she asked readers, “Let me find my talk / So I can teach you about me.” She wrote seven books, including Poems of Rita Joe and The Mi'kmaq Anthology.

I was honoured and inspired to live close by Rita Joe, a treasured elder from the Eskasoni, who showed that it was possible for a Mi’kmaq speaker to soar to great heights. In 1989, Rita Joe was inducted into the Order of Canada, and next week her resilience will be celebrated as part of Heritage Day.

Wela’liek Rita. Mekitelmulnek lapju.

Macular DegenerationStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal Humber River—Black Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge February as Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month.

Macular degeneration is among the top five eye conditions leading to serious vision loss. It affects individuals' ability to read, to drive, to socialize, to recognize people. It largely impacts individuals’ independence and quality of life. In fact, many of us in this room may also develop age-related macular degeneration. There are over eight million Canadians, one in every five, living with a blinding eye disease that could be prevented. Research has shown that if it is diagnosed early and people have access to treatment, blindness truly can be prevented.

In June 2022, I introduced Bill C-284, establishing a national eye strategy to help stop blindness. I would like to thank my colleagues for supporting the bill and I cannot wait to work with all of them to help move the bill forward. Together, we can deliver long-awaited eye health care solutions for all Canadians.

The EconomyStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, after eight years of the Liberal Prime Minister, the Central Okanagan Food Bank has had 350 more seniors seeking help in the last 60 days. After eight years of the Liberal Prime Minister, local animal shelters are so full as people can no longer afford to care for their pets.

After eight years of the Liberal Prime Minister, many of my residents can no longer afford their mortgage payments. After eight years of the Liberal Prime Minister, citizens in my riding can no longer afford their monthly gas and propane heating bills. After eight years of the Liberal Prime Minister, my constituents can no longer afford his runaway deficits and inflation, and most certainly we cannot afford for them to lose hope.

After eight years of the Liberal Prime Minister, more and more Canadians are lining up to hear the Conservative leader's message for turning all this hurt into hope. Under his leadership, Canadians will have a prime minister who will put their paycheques, their savings, their homes and their country first.

Women's Heart HealthStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Yasir Naqvi Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is Wear Red Day, an annual reminder of the persistent challenges that one in three women across our country faces when it comes to cardiovascular health. I am wearing red today because it is critical that we as Canadians raise awareness of the risk factors that disproportionately affect women.

Women are often under-studied, under-diagnosed and under-treated for heart disease. To help combat negative health outcomes for women, I was thrilled to visit the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre in my community of Ottawa Centre to announce $568,000 in federal funding, matched by the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, for the creation of a cardiovascular prevention and care network. This network will further prevent, screen and treat heart disease in women.

I am grateful for the passion and care that the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre and the University of Ottawa Heart Institute have shown to improve heart health in women. That is why I am pleased, on this year’s Wear Red Day, to see our federal government investing in better health funding for women across our community and country.

Carbon TaxStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jeremy Patzer Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, after eight years, Canadians are out of money and struggling to eat or to heat and house themselves. After eight years, we see a record of environmental failure. After eight years, we see our national unity crumbling. After eight years, we see discrimination against seniors and single mothers. After eight years, we see farmers struggling to stay in business and keep working to produce the food that feeds the world. After eight years, we see rural communities losing their industry and their way of life because it is now nearly impossible to develop our natural resources.

One might think that I am just talking about the Prime Minister generally, but I am not. These are the results from only one of his signature policies: the carbon tax.

Canadians know that it does not have to be like this. Hope is on the horizon and help is on the way. Conservatives will keep the heat on and take the tax off. If the Prime Minister will not do what is right, then I suggest he step aside, because Conservatives will focus on the priorities of Canadians and make sure that we have a country that everyone can succeed in.

Carbon TaxStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are in a most fragile economic situation.

All indicators confirm that the next few months will be very difficult financially. In this economic context, after eight years of poor environmental results, the Prime Minister and his Liberal government want to increase the carbon tax next April. I would like to remind my colleagues that this government's use of its magic bullet, the carbon tax, has given us the poorest record on greenhouse gas reduction. In the past eight years, this government has never managed to reduce GHGs. This government should follow the lead of many countries and give Canadians some breathing room.

If he were responsible, he would cancel the planned increase and work on new ways to really tackle climate change. We have talent and know-how that could develop green technologies and make our country an environmental leader. It is time for a Conservative government that will develop concrete environmental measures and stop pitting the environment against economic development.