House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was mentioned.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as Liberal MP for Mississauga—Streetsville (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2019, with 50% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Criminal Code October 28th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, I do not think this bill would create two classes of citizens. It would create two streams to make MAID available to them, as it should, because the circumstances are very different. I do not think it would create two classes of citizens, but would rightly create two different streams to make MAID available.

Criminal Code October 28th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, that is certainly something that could also be brought up during the parliamentary review. What I was really referring to for individuals who live in remote areas was the number of witnesses required before their consent, which would be reduced to one, because of perhaps a smaller social circle or just not having as many individuals there. What you brought up could certainly be reviewed, and it should be.

Criminal Code October 28th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, depending on the track provided, there have been safeguards put in place so that the proper assessment can be done. Based on our consultations and experts' advice, I do not think a same-day assessment would be adequate, but again, I leave that to those individuals best suited to provide that advice. I leave it with the medical practitioners to make that assessment.

Criminal Code October 28th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, physicians do have the ability to opt out. I believe that in a country like Canada, which is among the best in the world, it is imperative we provide individuals with the best health care Canadians deserve. I do not think we can provide that in good conscience without providing a system like MAID. I would even go as far as to say it is a moral imperative that Canadians have this kind of health care available to them.

Criminal Code October 28th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to outline the proposed amendments to the federal legislation on assisted dying. This bill responds to the Superior Court of Québec's ruling last year in Truchon by removing the requirement that a person's natural death be reasonably foreseeable in order to be eligible for medical assistance in dying. The proposed amendments were developed with the goal of supporting autonomy and choice for those Canadians with non-terminal conditions who are suffering intolerably, while addressing the potential risks of expanded eligibility for medically assisted death.

Our government consulted widely on this issue. We examined the evidence submitted before the court. We looked at domestic and international research. We compared our experience to other assisted dying regimes from around the world. We consulted with constituents, including 300,000 individuals who took part in our online public consultation, and we asked health care professionals about their practical experience with MAID over the past few years.

The bill reflects some important changes based on what we heard. In light of the need to respect the autonomy of Canadians seeking MAID, while providing protections for vulnerable people, the bill proposes the application of a two-track system of safeguards. While the bill no longer uses a reasonably foreseeable natural death as a basis for determining eligibility, it does use it as a basis for determining whether to apply a more rigorous set of safeguards. If a person's death is reasonably foreseeable, a set of safeguards akin to the existing regime would apply. However, some of the original safeguards have been eased in light of the feedback we received.

For example, there was overwhelming support for changing the witness requirement from two witnesses to one. Providers consistently reported that finding two independent witnesses posed a barrier to those seeking MAID, especially for anyone living in a care home with a limited social network. The sole purpose of the witness is to confirm that a person seeking MAID has signed the request themselves. To be clear, the witness has no role in confirming whether the request was made voluntarily, nor does the witness have any role in assessing whether the person's condition makes them eligible for MAID. Rather, it is the MAID provider who undertakes the eligibility assessment and ensures that the person requesting MAID is making the request freely and not in response to external pressures.

The proposed bill responds to these concerns and eases this requirement to one witness. It also allows for a witness to be someone who is paid to provide personal support or health care services. Anyone who is in a position to benefit in any way from the person's death, as a beneficiary to a will or in any other material way, would not qualify as an independent witness.

Health care providers and the families of people who receive MAID also told us that the mandatory 10-day wait period often results in prolonged suffering for individuals who had already put careful and extensive thought into their decision. As a result, the proposed bill would remove this requirement.

I would like to address how the bill would protect Canadians, while satisfying the requirement from the Truchon ruling to eliminate the reasonable foreseeability of natural death clause. On this issue, we received feedback from practitioners and stakeholders who expressed concerns that people who are suffering but not at the end of life could make decisions about MAID that are not fully informed with respect to all available treatments and supports.

On this very sensitive subject, I consulted with my own constituents in Mississauga—Streetsville. I found one of the strongest proponents of these MAID reforms in Mr. Paul Irwin, who suffers from Parkinson's disease. Although this horrible affliction is slowly robbing Mr. Irwin of his neurological functions, I can assure the House that his mind remains razor sharp. Mr. Irwin has explored all available treatments and supports, and he has consulted a wide range of medical professionals. There is no doubt in Mr. Irwin's mind that he would like to control when and how he passes as a recipient of MAID. It is not a decision that individuals in Mr. Irwin's circumstances take lightly or without having weighed all alternatives. I applaud Mr. Irwin's courage.

In order to afford individuals like Mr. Irwin the dignity they deserve, we have added safeguards in lieu of foreseeable natural death that would apply only to requests where a person's death is not reasonably foreseeable. These strengthened safeguards are designed to support informed decision-making and the consistent application of good medical practice. For example, the bill proposes a 90-day minimum assessment period to offer an exploration of all relevant aspects of the person's situation.

We heard very clearly through the consultation process that Canadians are concerned about implementing a requirement for specialist consultations in assessments of MAID. We know that in some parts of the country, such as rural and remote communities, a consultation with a specialist can be harder to arrange. We do not want to create unnecessary barriers. This is why the bill proposes that, for people whose death is not reasonably foreseeable, one of the assessments will be done by a provider with expertise in the person's medical condition but not necessarily a specialist. We recognize that many health care providers have special training and certifications that qualify them to assess a person's particular medical circumstances, even if they are not specialists.

The bill also proposes that the practitioners and the patient would need to agree that reasonable options to relieve the patient's suffering had been seriously considered. This safeguard respects an individual's autonomy, while at the same time underscoring the importance of a fully informed, decision-making process.

In addition, following the Truchon decision, some have expressed concerns that individuals suffering solely from a mental illness could receive MAID. For example, many clinicians argue that the trajectory of mental illness is harder to predict than that of physical diseases, rendering it impossible to determine when or if a mental illness can be considered irremediable as required by MAID legislation. Another concern is the challenge of conducting capacity assessments, given that the symptoms of mental illnesses can affect a person's ability to understand and appreciate the nature and consequences of treatment decisions.

In light of these important concerns, the wording of the bill would preclude individuals suffering solely from a mental illness from accessing MAID. The decision to include this wording reflects the complexity of this problem and the need to fully consider the potential consequences of permitting MAID for individuals with a mental illness to make sure that vulnerable persons are not put at risk. We anticipate that this issue will be further explored as part of the parliamentary review.

I would now like to turn my attention to the waiver of final consent.

The current law includes a procedural safeguard that requires the practitioner to ensure that the person gives their express consent immediately before providing MAID. This is often referred to as “final consent” and is significant for health care providers as it provides a final confirmation of the person's desire to proceed with MAID. This safeguard also prohibits MAID for individuals who have lost the capacity to provide final consent, regardless of how definitive they were about their intention when they had capacity, made the request and were deemed eligible.

Unfortunately, the requirement for final consent had the unintended consequence of encouraging some individuals to receive MAID earlier than they would have liked out of fear of losing capacity to consent prior to their preferred date. This was the situation faced by Audrey Parker. Ms. Parker was very clear about her desire to share one last Christmas with her family, but felt compelled to receive MAID almost two months earlier than anticipated in order to ensure that she was still capable of providing final consent for the procedure.

In a similar example that is a bit closer to home, my friend and legislative assistant recently lost his father. A MAID recipient, Wah-Lit “Edward” Lui passed away peacefully at home on September 23, 2020. Once doctors had diagnosed Edward with a rare complication of terminal cancer, he had little choice but to immediately initiate the MAID process, which had long been his expressed desire, for fear of losing the ability to final consent over the next few days. Thus, Andrew and his family had a mere 24 hours to say their final goodbyes.

Under the proposed amendments, individuals who have been found eligible to receive MAID and whose death is reasonably foreseeable, but who may be at risk of losing decision-making capacity, could waive the requirement to provide final consent before the procedure. For families like the Parkers and the Luis all across Canada, allowing MAID to proceed in the absence of the ability to provide final consent is simply the right thing to do.

As a further safeguard, in order to waive this requirement, an individual would need to have been assessed and approved for MAID, and be at or very close to the end of life. As proposed in the bill, the individual would provide written consent for the practitioner to administer MAID on a specified date.

In conclusion, the proposed amendments in the bill take into account the lessons we have learned through consultations and respond to the immediate task of following up on the Truchon decision. With this revised legislative package, our government has gone a very long way to respect and support the autonomy of Canadians who wish to consider a medically assisted death, while taking seriously our responsibility to protect vulnerable people.

Opposition Motion—Pharmacare March 12th, 2020

Madam Speaker, earlier today I was speaking on behalf of my riding. As I mentioned, I have an area colloquially known as Pill Hill. That area was established in 1995 after the referendum. Many companies from Quebec came to our riding.

Since then, they re-established counterparts, probably even a larger footprint back in Quebec. From what I have heard from my riding, they want to strike a balance as we go forward. I was just wondering if my hon. colleague could speak to the counterparts in Quebec, the business case and perhaps what they want going forward.

Opposition Motion—Pharmacare March 12th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, historically our Liberal government did implement universal health care, with input through provincial NDP, and it is one of the cornerstones of our country. However, I would be remiss if I did not ask this question on behalf of my riding.

I represent a high concentration of pharmaceutical companies, colloquially known as Pill Hill, and they want us to strike a balance as we move forward. Their concern is that if we move too quickly, we are going to end up with a subpar health care system, because we are going to stymie innovation.

My position is, of course, that we want full pharmacare, but we want to strike that balance. I would like to know if my colleague could speak to that.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act March 10th, 2020

Madam Speaker, we have made a marked improvement in our existing laws. Look at Mexico, for example, whose measure was 100 years. The fact that we have gone from 50 to 70 years is quite an improvement. I wanted to highlight that.

In terms of those who have to acquire the IP afterward, I am sure there is room to renegotiate this in the future when this trade agreement comes up for renewal. If colleagues look at what we have done, it is quite significant to move from 50 to 70 when our member partners were already at 100. It is quite a movement in the right direction.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act March 10th, 2020

Madam Speaker, I can assure my hon. colleague that the rights of indigenous individuals and the environment are always top of mind when we are negotiating our free trade agreements.

Having said that, I do want to reiterate that the United States is our largest trading partner and how vital this ratification was, so for us to get this done was of utmost importance. However, we do definitely keep those issues in consideration.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act March 10th, 2020

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Yukon.

I am pleased to speak in the House today in support of Bill C-4, an act to implement the new NAFTA and, in particular, the agreement's intellectual property provisions. Canadian creators and innovators make an important contribution to the North American knowledge economy. For instance, in 2017, 68% of the patents filed by Canadians internationally were filed in the United States, more than at any foreign patent office. The new NAFTA would allow Canadian creators and innovators to continue to conduct business with our U.S. and Mexican partners, ensuring that they would continue to receive a clear, predictable and transparent framework for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property, or IP, rights in all three markets.

IP rights provide Canadian innovators and creators with a period of time during which they can expect to hold exclusive rights and be entitled to receive compensation, such as royalties for the use of their creations and innovations. With the new NAFTA, Canadians can be confident that their IP rights will receive a minimum standard of protection and enforcement across the entire North American marketplace.

Since the original NAFTA was negotiated, a number of key technological and multilateral developments have taken place that have presented novel challenges, such as with respect to the protection and enforcement of copyright in the digital environment. These include significant advances in the digital economy, including the further development of modern digital technologies that, since NAFTA, have been addressed in multilateral frameworks like the World Intellectual Property Organization.

The updated IP chapter builds upon those international IP treaties, like the WTO agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, as well as the multilateral treaties administered by the WIPO with a view to establishing minimum standards on IP rights protection and enforcement for the North American marketplace.

Under the new agreement, all three parties agreed to an updated comprehensive chapter on IP rights protection and enforcement. This chapter includes obligations on copyright-related rights, trademarks, geographical indications, industrial designs, patents and pharmaceutical IP; data protection for agricultural chemical products and trade secrets; and IP rights enforcement in the civil, criminal and border contexts.

The modernized agreement also reflects several recent reforms to Canada's IP regime, such as those under the Combating Counterfeit Products Act and the Copyright Modernization Act, Canada's recent accession to several multilateral treaties under the WIPO, and initiatives undertaken through the government's recent intellectual property strategy.

For instance, further to reforms to Canada's copyright regime under the Copyright Modernization Act, the new NAFTA contains rules with respect to Internet service providers' liability that recognize Canada's notice and notice framework in this area as an effective approach to addressing online copyright infringement. The new agreement contains rules concerning legal protections for technological protection measures, or the digital locks on copyrighted works, which align with Canada's existing law and policy.

Regarding geographical indications, or Gls, the signs used on products to show that they come from a particular place with distinctive characteristics or qualities related to that place, the new NAFTA outcome is in line with Canada's open and transparent system for the protection of Gls. This means wines, spirits, agricultural products and foodstuffs remain eligible for GI protection in the Canadian marketplace, in line with Canada's current framework.

The agreement also contains provisions that require the parties to provide that judicial authorities can, where appropriate, order the award of attorney's fees to the prevailing party in civil proceedings. This is a valuable tool that often serves as a disincentive against bad actors who pursue bad faith litigation tactics, which can otherwise stifle innovation.

The agreement is not the end of the conversation among the three partners. It also includes a commitment from all three parties to co-operate in discussions on a range of IP issues of interest, such as on enhancing procedural fairness in IP litigation, including choice of venue, an issue of particular concern for some Canadian business owners operating abroad.

Building upon Canada's already strong IP regime, the new agreement would require changes in certain areas of Canada's existing IP legal and policy framework. For example, on border measures, Canada already provides officials at the border with the authority to act on their own initiative, as appropriate, to detain suspected counterfeit trademark or pirated counterfeit goods on import and export. The new agreement would require Canada to extend this authority to such goods transiting through Canada destined for another marketplace.

Regarding copyright, the new agreement requires a change in the general term of copyright protection from “life of the author plus 50 years”, to “life of the author plus 70 years”. With respect to patents, Canada would be required to provide for a patent term adjustment in respect of unreasonable delays in the issuance of a patent.

To implement these two obligations, Canada has transition periods of two and a half years for the general term of protection for copyright and four and a half years for patent term adjustment. These transition periods would commence following the entry into force of the agreement and would enable the government to thoroughly consider and consult on how best to implement these new commitments.

On December 10, 2019, Canada, the United States and Mexico agreed to update certain elements of the new NAFTA to improve the final outcome and clear the path toward ratification and implementation. With respect to IP, agreement was reached to delete or amend certain provisions dealing with patent and pharmaceutical IP. Most notably, the parties agreed to delete the commitment on data protection for biologics, which means that Canada would no longer need to amend its domestic regime to provide 10 years of data protection in this area.

The parties also agreed to remove a provision on the availability of patents for new uses, new methods or new processes of using a known product, as well as provisions on data protection for new indications of existing drugs. Last, language was also added on an exception related to regulatory reviews on how the three countries may meet obligations dealing with patent term restoration, patent linkage and data protection for small-molecule drugs.

These amendments clarify that Canada, the United States and Mexico would remain flexible under the new agreement to pursue domestic policy priorities in these areas. Notably, Canada would be required to make changes to domestic patent or pharmaceutical IP regimes in order to implement the amended provisions. For many Canadian creators and innovators, one of the key barriers to exporting abroad is uncertainty over IP rights and whether they will be protected and enforced when operating in foreign markets. That is why Canada worked tirelessly to ensure that the new agreement establishes clear standards on IP rights and is enforced across North America.

Ratifying the new NAFTA is not just about securing economic benefits for Canada today, but also ensuring our continued prosperity in the future. The agreement would ensure that Canada continues to have a strong and vital relationship with our closest neighbours.