Mr. Speaker, I am delighted and honoured to join in the debate this evening on this very important Motion No. 306, brought forward by my hon. colleague from Mississauga South. I want to congratulate the member for bringing this motion forward. As we heard from the parliamentary secretary, it is important to debate these issues, to discuss them, to bring them forward and to study if necessary but at the same time to take an action. That is what this motion is all about.
What does Motion No. 306 do and what would it accomplish? Those are important questions that we might all ask ourselves.
First of all, it is intended to set up a registered charitable foundation to be established with a board of directors, possibly appointed by the Government of Canada. Subsequently the board would receive applications for assistance and assess the need case by case.
Who would it involve? It would certainly involve the opportunity for various peace officers, those employed or involved in voluntary firefighting. Under the Criminal Code peace officer includes police officers and jail and prison guards.
Having been involved for over 15 years in municipal government, I had the occasion to work with the police and fire departments on an ongoing basis. In my constituency which is more rural with a number of municipalities, we have a number of volunteer fire departments. Fires occur in those smaller towns, villages, communities and rural areas.
Each time the firefighters are called out there is a risk to them. Does that stop them from volunteering their time, talent and energy? No, it does not. They are still prepared to be volunteers because they see the need in the community for helping their fellow human beings. Whether it be a life and death situation or property damage, they are prepared to go and do their part.
Anyone who has personally experienced a fire in their home will agree it is quite a scare to be called from a meeting to be told: "Your house is on fire. You had better follow the fire truck because it is going to your home". It is a terrible feeling. I experienced that once.
I was the mayor of my municipality at the time, which the parliamentary secretary can appreciate. I was chairing a meeting when I was called and told: "There is a fire at your home. We just got the call". The furnace had blown up. By the time I had arrived, the fire truck was there and the firemen were doing their jobs. It is scary to see a red hot furnace chimney with the sparks literally coming from it.
I have a great deal of respect for firemen, especially those who volunteer their time and energy. Just to finish the story so I will not leave members in suspense, my home was saved. There was a tremendous amount of smoke damage but there were no injuries. The point I am trying to make is that it was due to the prompt and efficient attention of those firefighters who were there and I will never forget it.
Most of us would be lost and would not know the right thing to do in those situations. We would not have the coolness under the stress of those situations. But those firefighters just took it in hand as if it were an ordinary everyday thing. Of course for them and with their training and dedication, it was.
I have a great deal of respect for Motion No. 306 which has been brought forward. What might it do for those who would have lost their lives or what might it do for their families that are left behind, their children and their spouses?
We all know that the cost of education has increased over the years. In those situations where the lives of firefighters, police officers, jail guards and prison guards have been snuffed out just like that, the intent is to have a fund set up to receive bequests and donations.
It is not something the taxpayer would be burdened with but would be a fund to receive donations from those who have received assistance, like myself. For example, because of the tremendous service I received, I might want to donate to such a fund, not as a taxpayer but as a person who would like to make a donation or bequest. After receiving applications the board would decide the needs and the merits on a case by case basis.
That is what the motion is about. There will be no cost to the taxpayers, but there will be an opportunity to make bequests, donations or gifts which could assist the families of those dedicated persons who put their lives on the line day in and day out, night in and night out for Canadians. For us. It is an opportunity for us to set up a fund and a foundation so that we in turn may assist them.
I congratulate my colleague from Mississauga South for bringing this motion forward. I hope in the future the studies mentioned by the parliamentary secretary will be carried out. Then we might one day see the fund set up so that we can provide assistance when it is needed.