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44th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 159

CONTENTS

Monday, February 13, 2023




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 151
No. 159
1st SESSION
44th PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Monday, February 13, 2023

Speaker: The Honourable Anthony Rota

    The House met at 11 a.m.

Prayer


  (1105)  

[English]

Business of the House

    Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and if you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:
    That, notwithstanding any standing order, special order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-39, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), be disposed as follows:
(a) the bill be ordered for consideration at the second reading stage later today and Wednesday, February 15, 2023;
(b) later today and Wednesday, the House shall continue to sit beyond the ordinary hour of daily adjournment for the purpose of considering the bill;
(c) after 6:30 p.m. today and Wednesday, February 15, 2023, no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent shall be received by the Chair;
(d) today, when no member rises to speak or at 11:59 p.m., whichever is earlier, the debate be deemed adjourned and the House deemed adjourned until the next sitting day, and that the debate pursuant to Standing Order 38 not take place; and
(e) on Wednesday, February 15, 2023, no later than 11:59 p.m., or when no member rises to speak, whichever is earlier, the bill be deemed read a second time and referred to a committee of the whole, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage and deemed read a third time and passed; after which the House be deemed adjourned until the next sitting day, and that the debate pursuant to Standing Order 38 not take place; and
that the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights be instructed to consider the subject matter of the bill on Tuesday, February 14, 2023 and shall have the first priority for the use of House resources for committee meetings.
    All those opposed to the hon. member's moving the motion will please say nay. It is agreed.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

    (Motion agreed to)


Private Members' Business

[Private Members' Business]

[English]

Income Tax Act

    The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-241, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (deduction of travel expenses for tradespersons), as reported (without amendment) from the committee.
    There being no motions at report stage, the House will now proceed, without debate, to the putting of the question of the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.
     moved that the bill be concurred in.
    If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes that the motion be carried or carried on division or wishes to request a recorded division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.
    An hon. member: On division.

     (Motion agreed to)

     moved that the bill be read a third time and passed.
     He said: Mr. Speaker, what a great way to start a Monday morning. The House has just allowed me to speak to something that is very near and dear to my heart. I spent a lot of time, blood, sweat and tears on this. It has been a journey. I think it was back in March when I first spoke to Bill C-241, my private member's bill.
     I want to thank the folks of Essex who have allowed me the opportunity to stand in the House and represent them—

[Translation]

    I must interrupt the hon. member. There are problems with the interpretation.
    I am told that it is now fixed.
    The hon. member for Essex may continue his speech.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, in all sincerity, every day when I step into the House, it is like stepping onto the ice in the seventh game of the Stanley Cup series. I just want to thank the folks of Essex. I want to, once again, thank Tomi Hulkkonnen from the Carpenters Union and Karl Lovett from IBEW for helping me script the bill and for giving me guidance and understanding of what it really means in support for our skilled trades folks.
    I also want to take the opportunity to thank the member for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, who seconded this bill and who will be speaking to it later on.
    Before I dive into the bill, my dearest condolences to the Gaffan family back in Kingsville. Jim Gaffan was the mayor of Kingsville for a long time. He passed away just a couple of weeks ago. He was a staple in the community as a local barber. If people needed to know something, they would go to Gaffan's Barber Shop. Mr. Gaffan was a man whom I very much looked up to. He was a man of the people, and I hope to at least bring some of his happiness forward. Again, my condolences to his family.
    Bill C-241 is an act to amend the Income Tax Act with respect to deduction of travel expenses for tradespersons. As I have said before, I like to call it the “fair travelling tradespersons bill”. It went to committee. I understand we did not break a record, but I believe it to be true that we were very close to breaking one. Today, I get 15 minutes to speak, but in committee it passed in 17 minutes. Therefore, if I draw this out for two more minutes, somehow we probably would have broken a record.
     The reason is that there were no amendments to the bill. This is such a simple bill. The only frustrating thing about this is that because it is so simple, because it is the right thing to do and because it has the support of the majority of the House, I am talking 15 more minutes, 15 more minutes that we are not looking out for our skilled tradespersons.
    I was caught at the Billy Bishop Airport for an extended four hours on Thursday night on the way home. I ran into a young man named Colin. He lives in the Windsor area and travels to southern Alberta for work because he can make a lot more money in the skilled trades to feed his family back in Windsor. I asked him how long he had been gone for. He said it had been 30 days and he was excited to get home to see his young daughter. I said, “Wow, you had to work for 30 days.” He said, no, that he worked for 10 days, then he was off for two, then he worked for 10 days and was off again for two days.
    I realized it is a long way to travel, but I asked him if he was able to get home to see his daughter. He would have loved to have gotten home to see his daughter, but he could not afford the cost of the flights. When he would go home after 30 days, the money for that flight was money that would pay for her diapers, her pablum, her medicines like Tylenol. He said that Facetime was as good as I got.
    If that real story does not tear at the heartstrings of each and every member of the House and to understand why Bill C-241 would be so impactful for our skilled tradespersons who travel across the country to build our infrastructure, quite frankly, I do not know what would.
    If that story does not get the House, maybe this one will. I was again at Billy Bishop Airport around October or November of last year. I ran into a gentleman named Andrew. He works in the mines in Timmins. He asked me for a picture with him. I do not know why. My wife does not even want pictures with me. I had a good conversation with this gentleman. He does not have a family but he has a girlfriend. He actually Facetimed his girlfriend while I was there and introduced me as her member of Parliament. I did not think too much about it. Shame on me

  (1110)  

    When I arrived at Billy Bishop Airport to fly back to the House for the first week, a young woman came up to me and said my name. I asked her how she was. She wanted to thank me for my private member's bill, which she hoped would go through. She then asked me if I knew who she was. I told her she looked familiar but I was not too sure. That is when she told me she was Andrew's girlfriend and that she was on her way to Timmins. I remembered that I had taken a picture with him. I asked her if Andrew could not get home and she said that it would cost him too much so she decided to go see him.
    These are the real stories of the ones who we expect to build our roads and energy system, to turn our economy and get that engine moving again to make our country green. They are the very ones who sacrifice so much, but we forget about their loved ones. If we want to really incentivize our skilled trades, it is as simple as giving them the opportunity to be back with their loved ones.
    We continue to talk about the lack of homes or the shortage of them across our country. We know that the cost of a house is out of this world, but that is purely because we do not have enough. I am quite sure that all 338 members of the House have heard this time and again from their business owners, that if we gave them more people, they would put out twice as much product. Quite frankly, they do not have the people.
    We are far past the stigma of being in the skilled trades. We now understand that it is not only okay to be a plumber, a boiler maker, an ironworker or an electrical worker but it is a fantastic living that brings home a lot of money for families and puts tons of food on the tables of Canadian families. Now that we are past that the next question is how we get those people to the jobs. How do we give the support to those folks to get them to those jobs?
    Right before Christmas, I travelled to Nova Scotia. I met with people from CANS, the Construction Association of Nova Scotia. They said to me that to build roads and hospitals, all these projects, they needed people. They said that for the first time Nova Scotia was not exporting its folks; it needed to import skilled trades. I hear this across the country. They said that my private member's bill, Bill C-241, which is not mine but the people's bill, would get people to the right place at the right time.
    I think about Windsor. I think about the Gordie Howe International Bridge and the amazing workforce that is building that bridge. At the same time, a $5-billion battery plant is being built in Windsor. As such, when I met with representatives of the IBEW in Windsor, they said that they would need thousands of people in Windsor to build this plant, let alone the bridge.
     The point is that this is as simple as doing what each and every one of us talks about all the time: building our economy, building our infrastructure and being fair.

  (1115)  

    Recently, I met with representatives from WEST, which I had never heard of before. It does some pretty unique and amazing work based in Windsor. It trains mostly young women, a lot of them immigrants, on skilled trades. By the way, it is the only organization of its kind in Canada. I asked where they go once they are trained, and they said that they try to find them a job locally. I said it cannot be hard to find them a job locally. They said it is certainly not hard to find them a job locally, but many of them have roots and family in other parts of Canada that they want to go to, so if the job is here, they cannot be with their family. Kudos to WEST for doing what it is doing and recognizing the potential of our immigrants, specifically women.
    I really want to stay bipartisan here, because I believe that through working together in the House we can do something really special and unique. I want to thank the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party at committee for supporting this bill going forward.
     I realize that there has been a tax deduction for mobility expenses by the Liberal Party for $4,000. I have heard that time and time again, and it is a great start. However, as I mentioned before, a businessperson can jump on a plane in Windsor and fly back and forth to Calgary, Vancouver or St. John's, Newfoundland as many times as they want and write off those expenses, such as hotels, meals and travel. To suggest that a skilled tradesperson can write off only $4,000 of travel expenses for maybe a couple of months' worth of work is putting a price on the heads of those in our skilled trades that is totally unacceptable and certainly does not go far enough.
    In closing, this is a common-sense bill for the hard-working, common people. It has been a year-long journey, as I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, and I now realize the number of people whose lives and families would be impacted by this bill. It is so far-reaching and so unique. Other parties have introduced very similar legislation in the past, and now is the time to finally get it done. Let us bring it home. Let us expedite this process so that we can get the proper folks at the proper place fairly.
    I will end this speech the way I ended my last one, because I truly believe it in my heart of hearts: If it is good enough for members of Parliament to write off their travel expenses, their apartments and their meals, then it better darn well be good enough for our skilled trades folks.

  (1120)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am sure the member knows that there was a very similar budget item in the budget implementation act of 2022, where measures very similar to what he is proposing in the bill were addressed. I am wondering if he can tell us how the bill differs from what was in the budget implementation act.
    Mr. Speaker, it differs in a couple of ways. If we look at the kilometres and the distance some have to travel, I believe that in the budget implementation act it is 150 kilometres, but in this bill it would be 120 kilometres. More than that, what I ended my speech with was quite simply that $4,000 puts a price on the heads of those in the skilled trades. This bill has no limit, so the more they work, the more money our skilled trades are putting back into our economy, and we are not handcuffing these same folks from going to work.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Essex for his work. He has introduced a really interesting bill, and, as he pointed out in his speech, the Bloc Québécois has decided to support it.
    I want to acknowledge his work in particular because it is not often that the Conservatives side with workers. I think it is important to highlight it when it does happen.
    Other than this idea of helping our tradespeople with their travel expenses, I would like to know whether the Conservatives have any other ideas to help workers. It is important that the legislation we pass help those who need defending in Parliament, the ordinary people. We need to help working people, not big business and those who are lining their pockets and are already privileged in our society.
    I would like to know what ideas the Conservatives are going to come up with next to support the people that we need to support, those who are not the privileged.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his support. I remember him speaking to this bill back in March.
    In terms of fresh ideas, if I was so lucky as to have another private member's bill, with the next one I would make darn sure that the folks coming in from overseas, like Finland, who have these skilled trades and who are literally stuck in our system, are allowed into Canada to join our skilled labour force. That is one idea. We have lots of folks from other countries who have been stuck in the system for years. Let us give the support to our immigration folks and get these skilled trades into Canada. That would be the next one.

  (1125)  

    Mr. Speaker, we are grateful to see this bill come forward. Of course, as the member knows, New Democrats have been fighting this injustice that targets tradespeople and apprentices on deducting their travel expenses for many years. In fact, we have tabled this bill five times. This is a no-brainer. I am surprised that the member did not tell Colin, whom he met at the airport, that the Conservatives actually voted against this bill when it came up for a vote in 2013.
    Why have the Conservatives suddenly had a change of heart? Now they support those in the trades and apprentices in ensuring that they get fair treatment when it comes to tax deductions when travelling over 120 kilometres. Why has it taken them so long and why did they not support the bill when Chris Charlton tabled it and it was voted on in 2013?
    Mr. Speaker, obviously I was not here in 2013, so I will not speak to that. What I will speak to is keeping my promise to Colin. I take no shame in not telling something to Colin. When this gets passed in this House, I will tell Colin that this House worked for him, to go home and hold his daughter.
    Mr. Speaker, I think this is such a great motion. There are so many times when we come to the House of Commons and listen to a lot of speeches that have zero impact for the people on the ground back in the riding. This is one example where it actually does have an impact back in the riding.
    Can the member tell me how tradespeople in Saskatchewan will benefit from this type of legislation?
    Mr. Speaker, it is not only in Saskatchewan that people will benefit. Ironically, I was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, so it is near and dear to my heart. Coal-fired plants are being shut down in the Regina area and these skilled labour folks are going to need a home. In the event they decide they cannot get to another job right in Saskatchewan, they can get across the country from coast to coast to coast with their travel expenses paid. It gives them another opportunity, a great opportunity.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this debate on Bill C‑241.
    As my hon. colleagues know, this bill would amend the Income Tax Act to allow tradespeople to deduct travel expenses if their job site is far from their place of residence.
    Our government is already well aware that the health of the Canadian economy depends on the ability of rapidly growing sectors and businesses to attract the workers they need to grow and succeed. That is why we have already created a new labour mobility deduction in budget 2022. Canadians will be able to file their income tax returns for 2022 starting next week.

[English]

    As of next week, when they do file their tax returns, Canadians will be eligible, for the first time, for a new deduction of up to $4,000 in eligible travel and temporary relocation expenses through our labour mobility tax deduction for tradespeople.
    Our government shares the very same goal as the member for Essex. The labour mobility deduction that is now in place by this government is carefully and effectively targeted at achieving its objective. It provides greater clarity than Bill C-241 on the definition of core concepts as well. For example, Bill C-241 does not define “travelling expenses” or “construction activity”. It also uses the term “tax credit”. I have looked, but I have not seen that as a defined term in our tax laws.
    The bill would also introduce fairness issues between tradespersons and indentured apprentices and other employees. That is because it would provide the former with tax recognition for long-distance commuting, while considering it a non-deductible, personal expense for the latter group of people.
    The bill also requires no minimum period for relocation, places no limit on the number of trips or the amount of expenses that could be deducted in a year, and makes no allowance for trips that might span multiple tax years. Unlike Bill C-241, the labour mobility tax deduction for tradespeople that our government put in place includes safeguards that contain its scope and cost and ensure that it provides fair and targeted support where it is needed most.
    The Parliamentary Budget Officer has estimated the incremental cost of Bill C-241, taking into account the fact that an existing deduction is already in place for the same purpose. The PBO's analysis reflects the fact that if Bill C-241 is passed, taxpayers will have to choose between the two options. This would result in substantially similar deductions being available to taxpayers for the same purpose and, in turn, would likely result in administrative challenges for the Canada Revenue Agency and confusion for tax filers, particularly given that the 2022 tax filing season will begin soon, as I mentioned at the outset.
    Bill C-241 has no cap and a slightly different threshold for distance, and the PBO estimated only a small incremental increase in support as a result of this new measure, but this would actually come at a prohibitive expense in terms of introducing ambiguity and confusion for tax filers and administrators.
    At the same time, by delivering targeted and effective support to help offset labour mobility expenses, our labour mobility tax credit is building on other important measures. Let me take everyone through them very quickly.
    The moving expenses deduction, for example, recognizes costs incurred by workers who permanently move their ordinary place of residence at least 40 kilometres closer to their place of business or employment. There is also the special and remote work sites tax exemption, which allows employers to provide board and lodging benefits to employees on a tax-free basis at these work sites. There is also the Canada employment credit, which recognizes work-related expenses in a general way. For the 2022 tax year, this employment credit provides a tax credit on employment income of up to $1,300.

  (1130)  

[Translation]

    In budget 2021, we also took targeted measures to support apprentices by allowing them to acquire work experience and to make sure that employers can choose from a pool of skilled workers.
    In the same budget, we allocated $470 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to Employment and Social Development Canada to establish a new apprenticeship service.
    This service helps 55,000 first-year apprentices in the red seal construction and manufacturing trades access opportunities for small and medium-size businesses. Employers can receive up to $5,000 for first-year apprenticeship opportunities to pay initial costs, including wages and training costs.
    Moreover, to promote diversity in construction and manufacturing trades, this incentive is doubled to $10,000 for employers who hire under-represented individuals, including women, racialized Canadians and persons living with disabilities.
    To prepare skilled workers to enter the job market, the Government of Canada spends approximately $90 million a year to provide 60,000 grants to support apprentices.

[English]

    In conclusion, the labour mobility tax deduction achieves the objectives of Bill C-241 without its risks or shortcomings, and there is really no need to take my word for it. One need only listen to Canada's Building Trades Unions, CBTU, which stated, “Budget 2022 included a historic win for Canada's skilled trades workers with the inclusion of the Labour Mobility Tax Deduction for Tradespeople.” It also said, “Canada's Building Trades Unions is proud of securing tax fairness for skilled trades workers through the Labour Mobility Tax Deduction for Tradespeople (LMD).”
    With that goal achieved, Bill C-241 is not only problematic but also redundant. I would therefore encourage the House to withhold its support for this bill in favour of allowing the labour mobility tax deduction to support Canadian tradespeople and apprentices as they begin to file their taxes in the coming weeks.

  (1135)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, although I had the opportunity to do so earlier, I would like to begin by once again congratulating the hon. member for Essex for Bill C-241. This bill was worth introducing and debating in the House, and I think it is important, since it will give us an opportunity to discuss the reality of tradespeople, a reality we do not discuss enough in the House.
    We address all sorts of theoretical questions in the House. We talk about families struggling to make ends meet, and it is important that we do. We also talk about the ultra-rich. However, we do not talk enough about tradespeople, the middle-class, the people who work so hard to build our country.
    I will therefore take this opportunity to speak in more detail about a tradesperson I know well and who was born on July 15, 1941, in Hochelaga, Montreal. He was one of seven children, so he had six brothers and sisters. He did not grow up in Hochelaga, but in Pont-Viau, Laval, because his father managed to get a job at Frito-Lay. Chips lovers will recognize the name.
    His father was a labourer and had seven mouths to feed in addition to his wife’s and his own. That requires a lot of work. At the time, working-class families were large, and this was a family of nine. Families lived in small apartments, with one, two or three bedrooms. Ultimately, they took what they could get. Children did not have their own room: there was a room for the girls and a room for the boys. There were a lot of people in each bedroom.
    This skilled tradesperson got married later on, on June 30, 1962. Let us get back to the issue before us, skilled trades. He began practising his trade in 1956 at the age of 15, and worked hard on construction sites. He and his wife had four children, only three of whom reached adulthood. He found time outside his work hours to take care of his children and to be a hockey and baseball coach. He worked for more than 40 years on construction sites as a skilled tradesperson before retiring in 1997. He then continued to work as a plumber for more than 10 years.
    The person I am talking about is my grandfather. I was well aware of his situation, since he was still a tradesperson when I was a child. When I went to his house, even if I was not supposed to, I would go into his garage, a real treasure trove. It was incredible to see all the tools and equipment he had. I also remember the smell of oil and iron. It was amazing.
    My grandfather worked on many large construction sites. The Conservatives are going to like this: He worked on the many gas pipelines built in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. He also worked in the petrochemical facilities in Montreal East. At the time, we needed advanced technology and facilities to be able to put gas in our cars. He worked on a number of hospital construction projects across Quebec, and built high-rise housing units on Île-des-Sœurs.
    He also worked on a major construction site that had an impact on Quebec, and many people remember it in both a positive and a negative way. It was Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, a huge project that cost a lot of money and took us a lot of years to pay for. However, it was a symbol of pride at the time, since we were hosting the Olympic Games in Quebec, in Montreal, which was an extraordinary feat. My grandfather worked on the Olympic Stadium as a skilled tradesperson.
    He also worked on the Port of Montreal facilities, which, with the growth of Montreal, always had to be expanded. Workers were needed to build the infrastructure and make sure it would withstand the passage of time. He also worked at the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu military base.
    I listed a few projects to show that tradespeople work all over the place on any number of projects. These are assets and infrastructures that will remain standing for a long time, and people will be able to use them and rely on them even after I am dead.
    Plumbers and other skilled tradespersons do not have it easy in their day-to-day work life. For instance, they have to move large and heavy pipes made of various materials such as concrete, steel, iron or copper. PVC pipe is more common these days, although that has not always been the case. It took strong arms to carry them. We are not talking about three-foot pipes, either. They were really something. Tradespersons have to move things like pipes, toilets and sinks. Anyone who has ever carried a toilet or sink knows how heavy they are.
    These people do physically hard work and they generally work outside. Think of the people who build high-rise apartments. Workers on construction sites sometimes work inside, but they often work outside, sometimes at -40°C. The work still has to be done, even if it is freezing cold. Workers get used to it, and they work hard.

  (1140)  

    They do not just work in winter. There is also summer. When it is 30°C or more and they are working indoors, in an enclosed space, with the boilers running, and they need to run pipes and the welding machine adds even more heat, that is even worse. The workers have to put up with that kind of heat while they work, and it is not easy.
    Welding in a heat wave is not the easiest thing to do. We do not say it often enough, but sometimes there are problems on the construction site. Maybe the engineer made a mistake with the blueprints, or some delinquent snuck overnight and had fun taking apart half of what was built. Then workers have to redo the work that took them weeks to do in the first place.
    Another aspect of the plumber's trade is that they bring their own tools to the site. Sometimes the tools are stolen, so they have to buy new ones. That is an expensive proposition. To do good work, they need high-quality specialized tools.
    Take, for example, replacing old pipes. The pipes in our houses transport water, and the pipes that run from our toilets and showers contain hair and feces. When a pipe is removed, what is inside may come out the ends. Sometimes, workers go home smelling bad, with traces of pee and poo on their clothes.
    The job is not always a pleasant one. Sometimes, workers need to work in four feet of water or in spaces so tight it is difficult to crawl through. Pipes need to be changed even if there are insects and rats down there.
    The working conditions are not always ideal, but the job is really important, and it makes a difference. It is work that needs to be done, and it is vital to every structure.
    Every time we turn on the tap, water comes out because a plumber was there before us. Every time we go to the bathroom, we can do so comfortably because a plumber was there before us.
    Sometimes there are time constraints, and workers have to work overtime. They do not necessarily work a 40-hour week. Sometimes they work 72 hours in a row because the work needs to be done. They work, they are tired, they do not see their children. They leave early in the morning when it is still dark out and the children are still in bed.
    That is the reality of tradespeople. They come home filthy in the evening, with dirt under their fingernails, and they still smell even after they have washed two or three times. They cut themselves, burn themselves and suffer workplace accidents, but they still have to work, so they get over it. Sometimes, they damage their health.
    My grandfather is a hero in my eyes. He is a tradesperson. He helped build Quebec. Now others are following in our forebears' footsteps. They are building the Quebec of tomorrow.
    Bill C-241 is for these people. I think that the people who built Quebec would have been happy to see such a bill. They would have felt valued. They would have felt that there are members of Parliament who are listening to them and asking what they can do to help them in their work and their lives, based on their reality, so that their difficult and demanding work might be better compensated, valued and recognized. Just talking about it in the House today is a major step, and for that, I would like to thank the hon. member for Essex.
    Obviously there are all sorts of considerations at play. Earlier I mentioned all of the construction sites my grandfather worked on. Most of them were in the greater Montreal area.
    I also have another grandfather who was a lineman and who worked on almost all the hydro dams in Quebec. He worked hard, in cold weather and sometimes difficult conditions, deep in the woods.
    These people built Quebec, and I am very proud of them. We need to talk about them and stand behind them.
     That is why the Bloc Québécois will support Bill C‑241. Business people taking the jet or driving a Mercedes or a Cadillac should not be the only ones entitled to deduct their travel expenses. I think that ordinary workers who commute far from home for work, who work hard and earn their paycheque, should also be eligible for and entitled to deductions.
    We stand behind our workers, and I thank the member for Essex again for his bill.

  (1145)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to join the House today from Hamilton Centre in support of this bill at third reading. I extend my sincere congratulations to the hon. member for Essex. We had quite some time joking around about the fact that he got to be an honorary New Democrat while presenting this private member's bill, Bill C-241. I think he even promised to wear an orange tie, although I am not quite sure that I have seen that in the House, but I have done my best today.
    I wanted to make sure that as New Democrats we get a chance to set the record straight today. This bill has been proposed five times since 2006. The then hon. member Chris Charlton for Hamilton Mountain introduced this bill in 2006, 2008 and 2013. In fact, she had introduced Bill C-201 in 2013, which was crushed by a Conservative majority. I will give the hon. member for Essex the benefit, because I know from his remarks that he was not elected in 2013. However, I will note that the Conservative leader, the hon. member for Carleton, voted against it.
     We, as New Democrats, continued to fight alongside the building trades, and in 2021 this was introduced by my dear friend, the always honourable Scott Duvall from Hamilton Mountain, and of course myself. In 2021, one of my first orders of business, and a promise I made to our Hamilton-Brantford Building Trades Council and all of its affiliates, was that I would pick it up and run with it in Bill C-222.
    As pointed out by the previous Liberal member, there is only a small difference between what the government has introduced and what this bill provides with respect to distance. Members may recall in the previous reading that this was an issue I brought up. It was clear that in our bill, Bill C-222, we had suggested that the 120-kilometre radius was too far. It would have excluded too many people, particularly those who had to commute through hours of traffic in the GTA. In our bill it was 80 kilometres. If the Parliamentary Budget Officer had run those numbers, he would have seen that more people could have taken advantage of the deduction in our proposal. One of my regrets is that it was not carried through during its time at committee.
    I acknowledge and give credit where it is due to the organized labour of Ontario. These are the Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, Canada's Building Trades Unions, the Hamilton—Brantford Building & Construction Trades Council, the people I worked with and the people we are all familiar with, such as the recently retired Pat Dillon here in Ontario. Throughout his entire 20-year career he worked on this. He was dogmatic across all parties that it was something that had to happen because of the general fairness imbued in the bill and the differences identified among the corporate, the Bay Street and the management classes of the country. They got to travel around the world and deduct all of that. That privilege is not extended by the CRA to those who actually build wealth and generate true value in this economy, which is the working class.
    I want to make a correction, and will do so even perhaps to my own embarrassment, but it certainly needs to be said in the House. It has been said many times that MPs get to write off their travel. That is not true. An MP's travel is covered by our members' budgets, so it is a very different scenario. I hope that we would ensure that what is good enough for us would be good enough for the working class.
    I call again for the same spirit from our new-found socialist Conservative friends who are looking to extend these rights and privileges to the working class. Keep that energy up when it comes to things like dental care and pharmacare. These are things that we, as members of Parliament, have the privilege of receiving and some of us for our entire lives. Let us be clear. There are members in the House who speak about work and working class issues in a completely abstract way, because they have never actually worked in the private sector. That is a fact.

  (1150)  

    While I do not know the history of my friend from Essex, I am grateful that in his trips to the airport he was able to engage in a dialectical materialism with the working class. It identified that the real-world conditions of the working class and the contradictions of the class considerations provide a general unfairness in how we treat our blue-collar workers compared to the white-collar management class in this country. A person, such as a real estate lawyer or a developer, can fly across the country and write all of that off. However, the worker who actually builds that wealth and who constructs the actual material does not get the same consideration. It is indeed one of the inherent contradictions of our tax code and our general economy.
    To go further, to talk about the exploitation of the building trades workers, the hon. member for Essex brought up the notion of affordability in housing. This is an issue that comes up in my community when I am talking to folks about the issues of their housing costs and how far away their ability is, through their wages, to purchase the things they make. This is indeed a perversion of the capitalism and the impacts of capitalism in this country that divorces the working class from the end product of their labour. It is an alienation of the working class. It is an estrangement of labour.
    In the example I used, the building a house metaphor, while the cost of building the house varies between provinces and because of factors like materials, currently the housing construction costs range between $120 to $250 per square foot. If we were to average this out, it would be about $185 per square foot or approximately $370,000 to build a 2,000 square foot home in Canada. That is twice as much, and sometimes three times as much, as the average market cost. StatsCan listed the average Canadian house price in 2022 at approximately $704,000.
    The average salary I could find of a union carpenter is about $70,000. That means it is 10 times as much, or 10 years' worth of work, for the person who builds the house to be able to purchase the house. The surplus value of their labour goes to people who have never swung a hammer in their entire lives. It goes to the banking class, the Bay Street class, the developer class and those who go to Doug Ford's family weddings and pay to increase their access to construction within provinces like Ontario. The money and the obscene profits that are made never make their way to the working class of this country.
    It is the ultra-elite and the well-connected, those who have political ties, those who would seek to keep wages low and recall the Bank of Canada calling to keep the wages of workers low while the costs continue to run amok. It is shareholders, private investors in the investing class in this country, who are the ones taking the surplus value of workers' wages. It is not because workers are fighting for higher wages.
    Under this economic system of private ownership, society only has two classes. These are the property class, or those who have access to capital, and everybody else. The workers are suffering from not only impoverishment but also from exploitation and estrangement from their work. That is why this very meagre private member's bill, Bill C-241, is literally the least we can do in the House to acknowledge that there is a general unfairness in our tax system.
    I hope the hon. members from the Conservative Party, who crushed this bill some 10 years ago, who now have found their way in supporting this private member's bill, will keep that same energy up and understand it is the working class of this country who creates the value. That is who we should be prioritizing in the policies of the House.

  (1155)  

    The member for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex is rising on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, while I think my colleague from Hamilton Centre would like to admit he wants to say that the member for Essex is in the NDP, he is a proud Conservative. However, I believe he said he would wear an orange tie to the vote.
    That is not a point of order, but it is a point well taken.
    The hon. member for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex.
    Mr. Speaker, skilled trades are a key component of Canada’s workforce and are vital to the strength of Canada’s economy. Skilled tradespeople are critical in maintaining essential sectors, like our health, water, electrical and food systems. They literally build bridges and critical infrastructure.
    The demand for skilled tradespeople is high. It is expected to remain high over the next decade or more as Canada’s economy recovers from eight years of the Liberal government. For far too long, many blue-collar private sector workers have found themselves to be an afterthought of politicians in Ottawa.
    Our country is facing a shortage in over 300 skilled trades, and the numbers are showing that this will only get worse. Each job that is unfulfilled is an uncollected paycheque that could help a family get ahead.
    By 2028, Canada will need to have over 700,000 new tradespeople in place. Some of the challenges that we face today are very different from the challenges we will face in the future and are different from what our leaders faced decades ago. We will have new problems and we will need new solutions.
    Action must be taken to address the concerns regarding the shortage of skilled tradespeople, which is far beyond the scope of the bill that we are discussing here today, just as action must be taken to fix the concerns of those who proudly work in the trades today.
    That is why we are supporting Bill C-241. Every step to promote trades and make the environment less cumbersome and more appealing to new entrants is a step in the right direction. We must support Canada’s workers and the unions that represent them. The inability to do so would hold back local businesses from growing. It would delay roads, public transit and schools. It would make it harder to improve the health care system and would contribute even more to the rising cost of living that families are battling every day.
    After generations of being left behind by the government, it is time to earn trust and build the bridges that will get the bridges built.
    During the last election campaign, many residents in my riding spoke to me about the importance of supporting Canadian skilled tradespeople. One simple way that we can do that is by allowing travel expenses to be tax deductible.
    Why is this a good first step? The answer is very simple. Many of our skilled tradespeople live and work in rural and remote communities. One of my colleagues has made the suggestion of making the range 120 kilometres because, for some people in my riding, it can take them an hour and a half just to get from their home to the shop to get their trucks. Given that my riding is over 5,000 square kilometres, I can say it is actually a very conservative estimate of how long an individual may have to travel to get to work.
     In fact, I spoke with one person who worked as a welder in Arkona, which is a small town in a fairly central agricultural community. They told me it was routine for them to get up at 4 a.m., drive an hour from their home to the shop to load up their truck and prep their crew. They drive another hour and a half south to the morning job site, and then drive an hour northeast for the afternoon. After a long and tiring day, they would drive another hour back home to repeat a similar schedule six days a week.
    We are talking about support in this bill for those who work some of Canada’s toughest jobs and who are the most essential workers.
    Let me put this in perspective compared to other professions where people can receive tax deductions for travel for their jobs.
    The Dewalt or Milwaukee white-collar tool salesperson, who has to travel to remote areas to sell the tools to the building trades workers, will get a government-paid tax credit for their travel. However, the blue-collar IBEW electrician or the UA pipefitter, who has to travel to the same remote job site to put in long hours working and using those same tools, does not get any tax relief from the government for their travel.
    Tradespeople work very hard to support their families and have to put forward significant out-of-pocket expenses to be able to perform and remain competitive. The government needs to do more to support our nation’s working men and women. Those are the men and women whose jobs are making them have to shower at the end of the day, who are raising families and who are building the future of Canada.
    Inflation and the cost of living have taken their toll on tradespeople just as much as, if not more than, they have for nearly every Canadian. Let us take a quick look at the price of gas for someone, like that welder, who travels 400 kilometres in a day.
    The average price of gas is around $1.40 per litre right now. Like most tradespeople in rural Canada, they drive a truck. For those members across the floor who have urban ridings, driving a truck is absolutely necessary for rural tradespeople. It is actually an essential tool for the performance of jobs, especially in our rural areas, not something that can be easily phased out to suit the agenda of the finance minister’s friends in the WEF.

  (1200)  

    This person's truck has roughly a 700-kilometre range, so they need to buy gas twice a week or more. With a 120-litre tank, they are paying over $250 a week or more in gas, and about $16 of that is carbon tax. I think it quickly becomes clear to what a great extent a travel deduction will amount to large savings that will keep these tradespeople in business. If only we could remove some of the other non-essential impediments.
    A similar travel deduction is already available for corporations and self-employed workers in other industries. Passing Bill C-241 would equalize the playing field and incentivize tradespeople to take contracts farther from home, which would be beneficial for smaller communities that have trouble attracting skilled labour. More tradespeople travelling would help generate more spending, which is especially beneficial for smaller and remote communities.
    Many tradespeople travel long distances for work, and I am talking about leaving their homes and flying somewhere, sometimes even to another province, across the country or to northern areas to get to a job site. Often they are gone from their families for long periods of time, sometimes even months at a time. I cannot imagine being away for months at a time without being able to see loved ones.
    Those of us sitting in the chamber know what it is like to leave our families to come to work for just a week. Imagine leaving our families for weeks. I know I would miss my family if I were gone for weeks, and I know from talking to some of these workers over the last number of weeks that it is a hardship on them. It is a struggle for their families to be apart. Sacrificing time with their kids, spouses or partners in order to try to provide good incomes to support their families can be very difficult, but they make sacrifices every day.
    Imagine someone being responsible for paying their own transportation, accommodation and meals to get to a job site, while having to travel with their own tools. There is no other option to receive a tax credit to help offset any of these travel costs. Workers are more likely to take jobs closer to home, and not necessarily in their trades, when they are not compensated.
    Travelling as a tradesperson is extremely hard on families. A tradesperson would be able to use some of their tax credit to fly home to see their family, for instance for a long weekend, or even fly their spouse and family to be with them for a period of time in the town where their job site is. Imagine the economic spinoff of that in those small towns.
    This bill is not controversial. This bill would help keep families together. It is a pro-worker, pro-jobs, pro-paycheque and pro-worker-mobility bill, all of which is needed to keep Canada going. I am pleased to see that this drive is being acknowledged and even supported by other parties in the chamber.
    Despite our differences, I think we all want to keep Canada going and we all want to do what is best to support our Canadian workers. We want to encourage young people to follow their passions, enrol in skilled trades and move beyond the tired mentality that the only way to succeed in life is to acquire multiple degrees.
    Do members know that a Red Seal certified tradesperson makes over $68,000 a year? With years of experience, depending on available jobs, they can make well over $300,000 a year. That is comparable to or even exceeds what is expected from a university master's degree. Unfortunately, only one in 10 high school students is considering a career in trades. Something needs to change, and I look forward to a productive discussion about what can be done to make improvements.
    Starting with the bill we are debating today, Bill C-241, I have heard, from the NDP side, some suggestions that the travel distance be lowered to 80 kilometres. From the Liberal benches, the ask has been made to have the bill include greater deductions for tools and equipment. I have heard a number from the Bloc say they will take the bill as is and support it.
    All of this is fantastic, not only for workers but also for my colleague, who I know has been very open and transparent in his excitement. I will echo his excitement on behalf of my constituents. This bill would have a tremendous impact on tradespeople and their families. Let us roll up our sleeves, get it done and bring it home.

  (1205)  

     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.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Criminal Code

     He said: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-39, an act to amend an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding medical assistance in dying. This bill would extend the exclusion of eligibility for receiving medical assistance in dying, or MAID, in circumstances where the sole underlying medical condition for MAID is a mental illness. The main objective of this bill is to ensure the safe assessment and provision of MAID in all circumstances where a mental illness forms the basis for a request for MAID.
    An extension of the exclusion of MAID eligibility in these circumstances would help ensure health care system readiness by, among other things, allowing more time for the dissemination and uptake of key resources by the medical and nursing communities, including MAID assessors and providers. It would also give the federal government more time to meaningfully consider the report of the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying, or AMAD, which is expected this week.
    My remarks today will focus on the legislative history of MAID in this country. I want to be clear that medical assistance in dying is a right, as affirmed by the Supreme Court.

[Translation]

    In its 2015 Carter v. Canada decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the sections of the Criminal Code prohibiting physicians from assisting in the consensual death of another person were unconstitutional. In response, in 2016, our government tabled former Bill C-14, an act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other acts regarding medical assistance in dying.
    The basic purpose of the bill was to give Canadians nearing the end of life who are experiencing intolerable and unbearable suffering the option to obtain medical assistance in dying. The bill was passed two months later, when medical assistance in dying, or MAID, became legal in Canada for people whose natural death was reasonably foreseeable. It included procedural safeguards in order to ensure that the person’s request for medical assistance in dying was free and informed, and to protect the most vulnerable.
    In 2019, in Truchon v. the Attorney General of Canada, the Quebec Superior Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to restrict the availability of MAID to individuals whose natural death was reasonably foreseeable. One year later, in response, we introduced a second bill on medical assistance in dying, the former Bill C-7, an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding medical assistance in dying.

[English]

    Former Bill C-7 expanded eligibility to receive MAID to persons whose natural death was not reasonably foreseeable. It did so by creating a separate, more stringent set of procedural safeguards that must be satisfied before MAID can be provided. The government proposed, and Parliament supported, these stringent procedural safeguards in recognition of the increased complexities of making MAID available to people who are not otherwise in an end-of-life scenario.
    Some of these additional safeguards include a minimum 90-day period for assessing eligibility, during which careful consideration is given to the nature of the person's suffering and whether there is treatment or alternative means available to relieve that suffering. This safeguard effectively prohibits a practitioner from determining that a person is eligible to receive MAID in fewer than 90 days.
    Another additional safeguard is the requirement that one of the practitioners assessing eligibility for MAID has expertise in the underlying condition causing the person's suffering or that they must consult with a practitioner who does. The assessing practitioners must also ensure that the person be informed of the alternative means available to address their suffering, such as counselling services, mental health and disability support services, community services and palliative care. It is not enough just to discuss treatment alternatives. They must ensure the person has been offered consultations with relevant professionals who provide those services or care. In addition, both practitioners must agree that the person gave serious consideration to treatment options and alternatives.

  (1210)  

[Translation]

    The former Bill C-7 extended eligibility to medical assistance in dying to people whose death is not reasonably foreseeable. However, it temporarily excluded mental illness on its own as a ground for eligibility to MAID. In other words, the bill excluded from eligibility for medical assistance in dying cases where a person's sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness. That temporary exclusion from eligibility stems from the recognition that, in those cases, requests for medical assistance in dying were complex and required further review.
    In the meantime, the Expert Panel on MAID and Mental Illness conducted an independent review of the protocols, guidance and safeguards recommended in cases where a mental illness is the ground for a request for medical assistance in dying. The expert panel’s final report was tabled in Parliament on May 13, 2022.
    The Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying also completed its parliamentary review of the provisions of the Criminal Code relating to medical assistance in dying and their application, as well as other related issues, including mental health. We eagerly look forward to the special joint committee’s final report, expected on Friday, February 17.
    I would also like to highlight the excellent work of the expert panel, ably led by Dr. Mona Gupta.

[English]

    This temporary period of ineligibility was set in law to last two years. It will expire on March 17 unless this legal requirement is amended by law. This bill would do just that, and proposes to extend this period of ineligibility for one year, until March 17, 2024.
    As I stated at the outset of my remarks, this extension is needed to ensure the safe assessment and provision of MAID in circumstances where a mental illness forms the sole basis of a request for MAID. It is clear that the assessment and provision of MAID in circumstances where a mental illness is the sole ground for requesting MAID raises particular complexities, including difficulties with assessing whether the mental illness is in fact irremediable and the potential impact of suicidal ideation on such requests.
    That is why, when some Canadians, experts and members of the medical community called on the federal government to extend the temporary period of ineligibility to make sure the system was ready, we listened. We listened, we examined the situation carefully and we determined that more time was needed to get this right.

[Translation]

    As for the state of readiness of the health care system, I would like to take a moment to highlight the great progress that has been made toward the safe delivery of MAID in those circumstances. For example, standards of practice are being developed for the assessment of complex requests for medical assistance in dying, including requests where mental illness is the sole underlying medical condition. Those standards of practice will be adapted or adopted by clinical regulatory bodies and by clinicians in the provinces and territories. These standards are being developed and will be completed in March 2023.
    In addition, since October 2021, the Canadian Association of MAiD Assessors and Providers, or CAMAP, has been developing an accredited study program for health professionals. Once completed, that program will include seven training modules on various topics related to the assessment and delivery of medical assistance in dying, including on how to assess requests for medical assistance in dying, assess capacity and vulnerability, and manage complex and chronic situations. That program should be finalized and ready to be implemented next fall.
    This progress was achieved through our government's leadership and collaboration with the health system's partners, such as the provincial and territorial governments, professional health organizations, our government's regulatory agencies, clinicians and organizations such as CAMAP.
    The Regulations for the Monitoring of Medical Assistance in Dying, which set out the requirements for the presentation of reports on MAID, came into force in November 2018.

  (1215)  

    These regulations were recently revised to significantly improve the collection of data and reporting on MAID. More specifically, the regulations now provide for the collection of data on race, indigenous identity and any disability of the person. The revised regulations came into force in January 2023, and the information about activities related to medical assistance in dying in 2023 will be published in 2024 in Health Canada's annual MAID report.
    I think we can all agree that substantial progress has been made. However, in my opinion, a little more time is needed to ensure the safe assessment and provision of MAID in all cases where a mental illness is the sole basis for a request for MAID.

[English]

    I want to be clear that mental illness can cause the same level of suffering that physical illness can cause. We are aware that there are persons who are suffering intolerably as a result of their mental illnesses who were waiting to become eligible to receive MAID in March 2023. We recognize that these persons will be disappointed by an extension of ineligibility, and we sympathize with them. I want to emphasize that I believe this extension is necessary to ensure the safe provision of MAID in all cases where a mental illness forms the basis of the request for MAID. We need this extension to ensure that any changes we make are done in a prudent and measured way.
    I want to turn now to the more technical part of Bill C-39 and briefly explain how the bill proposes to extend the mental illness exclusion. As I stated earlier in my remarks, former Bill C-7 expanded MAID eligibility to persons whose natural death was not reasonably foreseeable. It also included a provision that temporarily excluded eligibility in circumstances where a mental illness formed the basis of the request for MAID. Bill C-39 would delay the repeal of the mental illness exclusion. This would mean that the period of ineligibility for receiving MAID, in circumstances where the only medical condition identified in support of the request for MAID is a mental illness, would remain in place for an extra year, until March 17, 2024.
    I want to reiterate that we need more time before eligibility is expanded in this matter. We need more time to ensure the readiness of the health care system, and more time to consider meaningfully and to potentially act on AMAD's recommendations. This is why I urge members to swiftly support the passage of this bill. It is imperative that it be enacted before March 17. If it is not, MAID will become lawful automatically in these circumstances. It is essential that this bill receive royal assent so that this does not happen before we are confident that MAID can be provided safely in these circumstances. I trust that all colleagues in this place will want to make that happen.
    The safety of Canadians must come first. That is why we are taking the additional time necessary to get this right. Protecting the safety and security of vulnerable people and supporting individual autonomy and freedom of choice are central to Canada's MAID regime. We all know that MAID is a very complex personal issue, so it is not surprising that there is a lot of debate. It should go without saying that seeking MAID is a decision that one does not make lightly. I know from speaking with members of the medical community that they take both their critical role in the process and their professional duties toward patients extremely seriously. I trust that medical professionals have their patients' interests at heart, and this sometimes involves supporting their patients' wishes for a planned, dignified ending that is free of suffering.
     Once again, I strongly believe that an extension of the exclusion of MAID eligibility in this circumstance is necessary to ensure the health care system's readiness and to give the government more time to meaningfully consider and to potentially implement the AMAD recommendations. I remind the House that those recommendations are expected just one month before the current mental illness exclusion is set to expire. Therefore, I implore all members to support this bill.

  (1220)  

    Mr. Speaker, today we are seeing an admission of a process that was far too rushed. Just two years ago, the Minister of Justice appeared at a justice committee one morning and said that there was not a consensus on how to move forward with expanding medical assistance in dying to those whose sole underlying condition is mental illness. However, later that day, after the Senate had amended the legislation to include mental illness, the minister suddenly said in the House that he was confident there was a consensus. The minister's own charter analysis of Bill C-7 said that those whose underlying condition is mental illness needed to be protected.
    Therefore, we see evidence now that 70% of Canadians are opposed to this expansion. We know that many Liberal members are voicing their concerns. Will the minister consider delaying this expansion indefinitely, so that those who are suffering with mental illness, such as our veterans with PTSD, are protected?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his work on this file.
    What is different now, two years later, is that we have done a great deal of work. The expert committee, led by Dr. Mona Gupta, thinks we are ready to move forward with the protocol it has developed, as do a number of professionals and professional bodies across Canada, but there is not unanimity. That is why we are proposing a one-year extension so we, along with medical professionals and Canadians, can internalize what the next step will be.
    Let me point out that we all have a duty as parliamentarians to not participate in exaggeration or misinformation. What this bill would not do would be to allow a person suffering from depression or anxiety to immediately get MAID. This is for a small fraction of individuals who are suffering intolerably from long-standing mental disorders under long-standing care of medical professionals and who want another option. That is what this is about. It is not about people who are contemplating suicide.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, in a debate as sensitive as this, we would expect every parliamentarian in the House of Commons to lend some dignity to this debate and demonstrate a strong sense of responsibility.
    Last week, in the middle of question period, on the topic of mental disorders being the sole underlying medical condition, the official leader of the opposition said to the Prime Minister something to the effect that there were people suffering who were destitute, living in poverty and struggling with depression, and that all this government had to offer them was medical assistance in dying.
    I would like my colleague to share his thoughts on these types of comments that, in my opinion, will prevent us from having a calm and productive debate not only from a theoretical perspective, but also with respect to the situation with the bill and what it really covers. In short, we are talking here about misinformation.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and comment.
    The criteria for receiving medical assistance in dying in situations where the person is not at the end of life are very strict and rigorous, particularly when it comes to the subject we are considering today and in cases where mental illness is the only factor.
    A person cannot automatically get medical assistance in dying just by requesting it. It is much more serious than that. Our practitioners, the medical community and those who provide medical assistance in dying take their responsibilities very seriously.
    With regard to the comment made by the leader of the official opposition, I completely agree with my colleague. That shows a rather jaded attitude toward a subject that is very complex and morally difficult for many people. We therefore have to be respectful about it, even in our discussions.

  (1225)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, like the minister, I have been here since 2015, so I have seen the entire legislative journey of medical assistance in dying, and I have also been the NDP's member on the special joint committee, both in the last Parliament and this one.
    Back when Bill C-14 was passed, there was a requirement in that act for a statutory review of the legislation. We did have Bill C-7, and the government did accept the Senate amendment, even though it was contrary to its own charter statement on the matter. It was only after that that we established the special joint committee, which was then delayed by the 2021 election and did not get up and going until May of last year.
    In the context of that, I think the Liberals have, in some instances, put the cart before the horse before we have had the appropriate review, but I would also like to hear his comments because there is a crisis in funding for mental health in this country. We have had the Canadian Mental Health Association talk about this. I would like to hear from the justice minister that his government can make a commitment to bring mental health care funding up on par with that of physical care. There is a real crisis, not only in my community, but also in communities from coast to coast to coast. I think that is going to be an important component of this conversation.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his work on the special committee, and we look forward to the recommendations of the special committee. One of the reasons to have a delay is precisely to take what that special committee might recommend better into account.
    Mental illness is an illness, and I strongly support initiatives to better resource the encadrement, the support we are giving to people suffering from mental illness. It is something that our government has recognized.
    We put $5 billion into the system a number of years ago. However, when we did that for mental illness, we found that we could not guarantee that the provinces would actually spent that money on mental illness. In the current set of negotiations between the Minister of Health and his counterparts, as well as the Prime Minister and his counterparts, we are trying to build some accountability into that system, but we definitely do agree with the need to invest in greater mental health resources, particularly in this case. We want people to be able to live a dignified life with the supports they need to accomplish that.
    Mr. Speaker, some have opined that the extension sought today is potentially for re-debating the issue of mental health as a sole and underlying condition for MAID. I am wondering if the minister could outline why that is not the case.
    Mr. Speaker, we passed the law in 2019. Part of the parliamentary process was the interactions between the House and the Senate. We came to a compromise at the end of that process with the Senate to include mental illness as a sole criterion with a two-year delay.
     We felt at the time that this could be done in two years. COVID intervened and an election intervened, but we do feel that a great deal of work has been done, in particular, by the expert committee. However, in order for everyone to internalize those recommendations, and for faculties of medicine, provincial and territorial bodies, and expert groups to build out the didactic materials, we need another year, but this is only a year extension. Of course, this would also give us time to look at what the special committee reports on this particular area, as well as evaluate other suggestions it makes.

  (1230)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise on behalf of the people of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo.
    I wish to recognize the life of Danilo Covaceuszach. I just saw his obituary in the Kamloops This Week. May eternal light shine upon him.
    In reference to that last answer from the Minister of Justice, it really is incumbent, in my view, that the Minister of Justice listen to the people of Canada, and people in my riding have been asking that the minister reconsider this. His answer to the parliamentary secretary says to me that he is not prepared to do so. This is amidst the charter statement from his own department saying that this has inherent risks and complexity. Given that, is he saying unequivocally before the House that there is not going to be any reconsideration of this before the next year?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his work as a critic and his work on committee.
    We are in a far different place than we were two years ago. We have now done a great deal of the work, particularly at the federal level, on mental illness as the sole criterion for seeking MAID. As I said, a number of leading experts feel that we would have been ready next month to have moved forward. We are trying to be prudent and to allow others to internalize the learning that has been developed over the last two years.
    I mentioned before, and I will repeat it again, that this is a small fraction of people who are in the non-end-of-life scenario. Indeed, the people in the non-end-of-life scenario generally are a small fraction of those who seek MAID. It is not the case that somebody will simply be able to get MAID by going to their doctor and saying that they are contemplating suicide. That is not the case, and we are misleading Canadians if that is what we say.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on Bill C-39, a legislation that imposes a new arbitrary deadline of March 2024 in place of the Liberal government's arbitrary deadline of March 2023 whereby persons with a sole underlying mental health disorder would be eligible for MAID.
    I support Bill C-39 only because it is better than the alternative, namely that in one short month from now, on March 17, MAID would be available to persons with a sole underlying mental health disorder. This would be an absolute disaster and certainly result in vulnerable persons prematurely ending their lives, when otherwise, they could have gone on to recover and lead healthy and happy lives.
    Rather than imposing a new arbitrary deadline that is not grounded on science and evidence, what the Liberal government should be doing is abandoning this radical, reckless and dangerous expansion of MAID altogether. This is why I wholeheartedly support Bill C-314, which was introduced last Friday by my friend and colleague, the member for Abbotsford, and would do exactly that.
    One would expect that before deciding to expand MAID in cases of mental illness, a responsible government would take the time to study the issue thoroughly and consult widely with experts. After all, we are talking about life and death. We are talking about a significant expansion that would impact a vulnerable group of Canadians.
    However, the Liberal government is not responsible, and that is not what happened. This is why the government finds itself in the mess it is in today with this rushed, 11th-hour legislation to delay the expansion.
    Instead, the Minister of Justice accepted a radical Senate amendment to Bill C-7, which established an arbitrary sunset clause. That set in motion this expansion of MAID in cases of mental illness, effective in March of 2023. To provide some context, Bill C-7 was a response to the Truchon decision; its purpose was to remove a critical safeguard, namely that death be reasonably foreseeable before someone is eligible for MAID. It was a terrible piece of legislation that the government should have appealed but did not.
    As bad as the bill was, when it was studied at the justice committee, of which I was a member at the time, nowhere in the bill was there any mention of expanding MAID in cases of mental illness. The justice committee did not hear evidence on that point. Indeed, when the minister came to committee, he said that there were inherent risks and complexities with expanding MAID in cases of mental illness, and therefore, it would be inappropriate to do so.
    The bill went over to the Senate, and all of a sudden, the minister unilaterally accepted the amendment. Then what did the Liberals do? After little more than a day of debate, they shut down debate on a bill that had drastically changed in scope and rammed through the legislation for this expansion of MAID in cases of mental illness.

  (1235)  

    There was no meaningful study and absolutely no consultation with experts, including psychiatrists; persons struggling with mental illness; or these person's advocates. There was nothing. In short, the justice minister made the decision to go ahead with this significant expansion and then said the issue would be studied later. Hence, there was the establishment of an expert panel that was appointed after the government had already made the decision to go ahead. One would think that if an expert panel were going to be appointed, it would be appointed before deciding. However, that is not what happened with the justice minister and Liberal government.
    We saw a special joint committee established after the fact. Talk about getting it backward, putting blind ideology and hubris ahead of science and evidence, and showing a total disregard for the concerns and lives of Canadians struggling with mental illness. Had the Minister of Justice and the Liberal government done their homework at the outset, they would have learned very quickly that this expansion of MAID cannot be implemented safely.
    I serve as a co-vice-chair on the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying. As early as the spring, the committee heard from multiple witnesses, including representatives of the mental health community, and most importantly with respect to some of the clinical issues, leading psychiatrists. The body of evidence showing that this cannot proceed safely was overwhelming. One of the key reasons cited for this was that in the case of mental illness, it is difficult, if not impossible, to predict irremediability. In other words, in the case of mental illness, it is difficult or impossible to determine whether someone can recover and become healthy. This is a serious problem.
    Let us look at some of the evidence that was available to the minister in the spring. Dr. John Maher, a clinical psychiatrist and medical ethicist who appeared before the committee, said, “Psychiatrists don't know and can't know who will get better and live decades of good life. Brain diseases are not liver diseases.”
    Dr. Brian Mishara, a clinical psychiatrist and professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal, told the committee, “I'm a scientist. The latest Cochrane Review of research on the ability to find some indicator of the future course of a mental illness, either treated or untreated, concluded that we have no specific scientific ways of doing this.”
    Even the government's expert panel conceded the difficulty in predicting irremediability. At page 9 of the expert panel report, the panel observed, “The evolution of many mental disorders, like some other chronic conditions, is difficult to predict for a given individual. There is limited knowledge about the long-term prognosis for many conditions, and it is difficult, if not impossible, for clinicians to make accurate predictions about the future for an individual patient.” The government's own expert panel said that it is difficult, if not impossible, to predict irremediability.

  (1240)  

    If one cannot predict irremediability, persons who could go on to lead healthy and happy lives may have their lives prematurely ended. This is a problem that the government cannot avoid and that has not been resolved. Let me remind this House that, under the law, one must have an irremediable condition in order to be eligible for MAID. However, here we have leading experts and psychiatrists, including the government's expert panel, saying that it is difficult, if not impossible, to predict irremediability.
    According to the psychiatrists who appeared before the special joint committee, what that means is that medical assessments in cases of mental illness for MAID are going to be decided on the basis of “hunches and guesswork that could be wildly inaccurate.” Those are the words of Dr. Mark Sinyor, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, who appeared before the special joint committee. These words were echoed by other psychiatrists who appeared before our committee.
    The expert panel did not use such language, but it essentially conceded the point in its report because it was unable to come up with any objective standard by which to measure whether a patient's condition in the case of mental illness is irremediable. Instead, the expert panel ridiculously and recklessly said that it was going to wash its hands clean of this and that it was going to give a big green light and say it can all be done on a case-by-case basis. There would be no objective standard whatsoever; all would be guesswork and subjective assessment.
    At the special joint committee on the issue of predicting irremediability in the context of mental illness, Dr. Mark Sinyor said that physicians undertaking a patient assessment “could be making an error 2% of the time or 95% of the time.” A 95% error rate is the risk on a matter of life and death, on a procedure that is irreversible and results in the termination of someone's life. For persons who are struggling with mental illness, this is the government's solution. The minister just stood in this place and said, “Damn the evidence. Damn the facts. We are going full steam ahead”.
    I cannot think of a more reckless approach than the one the Liberal government has taken on an issue of profound importance to so many Canadians. It is not just the issue of irremediability, although given that this cannot be resolved, it should be the end of the matter. In addition, psychiatrists and other experts at the special joint committee emphasized that in the case of mental illness, it is very difficult to distinguish between a request motivated by suicidality versus one made rationally. In fact, suicidality is a symptom of mental illness, and indeed, 90% of persons who end their lives by suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder.

  (1245)  

    To illustrate how radical the government is, I note that when the Ontario Medical Association surveyed Ontario psychiatrists in 2021, 91% said they opposed the expansion of MAID for mental illness under Bill C-7. About 2% expressed support. Some 91% were against, 2% were in support and the reset were undecided. This speaks to how reckless, how radical, how extreme and how out of touch the government is on the question of expanding MAID in the case of mental illness.
    In the face of the overwhelming evidence that we heard at committee, we issued an interim dissenting report calling on the Liberals to put a halt to this radical and reckless expansion. The minister ignored our interim dissenting report. He ignored the experts. He ignored the evidence. It appears he is so blinded by ideology that it is impossible for him to see what is in plain sight: This cannot be done safely.
    In December, when it was evident that the minister was not listening, the Association of Chairs of Psychiatry in Canada, which includes the heads of psychiatry at all 17 medical schools, said to put a halt to this expansion. However, the minister still was not prepared to act. Indeed, it was not until the day after Parliament rose for Christmas that he had a late afternoon press conference where he made some vague commitment to introducing legislation in which there would be some type of extension. Then, with only 17 sitting days left before the expiration of the sunset clause, the minister finally saw fit to introduce this bill. I think this very clearly illustrates the shambolic approach with which the government has handled this issue.
    We now have legislation, but what does this legislation do? As I noted at the outset of my speech, it provides for a new arbitrary deadline, even though issues of irremediability, suicidality and capacity to consent have remained unresolved for the past two years. There is absolutely no evidence that those issues are going to be resolved a year from now.
    What we have is nothing more than an arbitrary deadline, and a year from now, we are going to find ourselves in exactly the same place. Let us be clear. When we speak about suicidality, irremediability and capacity to consent, these are not issues to be brushed under the rug. These are serious legal and clinical issues that are fundamental to determining whether this can go forward.
    In closing, whether this expansion takes place a month from now or a year from now, it will be an absolute disaster and will result in persons struggling with mental illness having their lives wrongfully terminated. It is time for the government to get its head out of the sand, stop being blinded by extreme ideology, follow the science, follow the evidence and scrap this ill-conceived expansion.

  (1250)  

    Mr. Speaker, at the outset, let me say how fundamentally different a view I have of the committee hearings and of the many experts who came forward and testified at the special joint committee, which is set to release its report on Friday.
    I note that the member mentioned the expert panel. On one side he says it is supporting his position, and on the other side he is saying it is proposing to go ahead with MAID for those with mental health issues as the sole underlying condition. I do not think he can have it both ways.
    Ultimately, the expert panel has recommended that we move forward. We have consulted with an enormous number of individuals and organizations. We have heard from them at committee, and I think it is very clear that we should be going forward. However, there is a need for prudence and a need to ensure there is a little more time available for experts to be ready with the right training.
    I ask the member why he is being misleading in his debate regarding the many people who came forward and gave us a different perspective than his at committee.
    Mr. Speaker, I am not misleading anyone. If anyone is misleading, it is the parliamentary secretary, with the greatest of respect to him.
    I am not having it both ways. He mis-characterized what I said with respect to the expert panel. I said that the expert panel acknowledged what other experts who appeared before the committee acknowledged, which is that irremediability is difficult if not impossible to determine. Then, the expert panel washed its hands of coming up with recommendations on how this could be implemented safely. It offered no objective criteria. It said it could be done on a case-by-case basis.
    My point with respect to the expert panel is how flawed of a report it was. The government's own expert panel said to go ahead with this, but if we read the fine print, it provided plenty of reasons why the government should not go ahead with it, not by not extending it, but by scrapping it altogether.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, as a Conservative, my colleague from St. Albert—Edmonton has never made so many references to science. I understand that he is passionate about this, but he is claiming that the report of the expert panel says things that it does not, particularly with regard to ending one's life prematurely in the case of mental illness.
    The only way for a person to end their life prematurely is by attempting or committing suicide. A person who is suicidal will never be given medical assistance in dying based on the assessment of one or even two experts. Feeling suicidal is a reversible condition. A suicidal state is reversible, and the condition for obtaining medical assistance in dying is the irreversibility of the mental disorder. The expert panel report states on page 13 that “the incurability of a mental disorder cannot be established in the absence of multiple attempts at interventions with therapeutic aims.”
    A person who attempts suicide and comes under pediatric care as a result will have to be monitored. They will probably never have access to medical assistance in dying on the grounds of a suicidal disorder. Eligibility must be established over a period of years, not in a crisis situation. The individual will also have to prove that they have tried every form of treatment and have never refused treatment that could have treated the condition.
    This is a sensitive subject, so people should be careful what they say. I hope my colleague will see reason. Those across the aisle are not the only ones vulnerable to blinding ideology

  (1255)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Montcalm, who serves on the special joint committee and is a very thoughtful member on it.
    At the end of the day, the member is arguing that somehow expanding MAID in cases of mental illness could be appropriate, but what he is demonstrating is exactly the opposite. He is highlighting why it would be inappropriate, given the fact that suicidality is a symptom of mental illness and given the fact that 90% of persons who commit suicide suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. I think that all underscores the fact that this is not acceptable.
    Expanding MAID for mental illness is not an appropriate treatment. It is not an appropriate solution for mental illness. What the government should be doing, instead of offering the mentally ill death, is offering the mentally ill hope, support and the care they deserve.
    Mr. Speaker, I have served on the special joint committee both in the previous Parliament and in this one. It was a lengthy amount of work, and certainly there was some very difficult testimony to go through.
    I do not want to cover the same ground that previous members have asked questions on, so maybe I will change tack.
    My friend, the member for Courtenay—Alberni, is our mental health and addictions critic, and he has constantly asked the government to bring mental health care funding up to parity with physical health care, understanding that there is in fact a real crisis. When I look at the conditions in ridings like mine, where we see the opioid crisis and the way it has been ravaging communities, there is so much underlying trauma and so many undiagnosed mental health disorders that are not being addressed.
    I would like to invite the member to comment on that. In the midst of this very difficult conversation, and I agree that Bill C-39 is a necessity, we have to take this opportunity in time to make sure that our system is appropriately resourced and funded so that we are getting to Canadians who are falling through the cracks.
    Mr. Speaker, the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford has contributed thoughtfully to the special joint committee.
    In answer to his question, I note that during the 2021 election campaign, the Prime Minister claimed that mental health was a priority of the government. He committed to a $4.5-billion mental health transfer, but none of that money has gone out the door. There is no mental health transfer.
    Instead of providing support and help, the government has been almost singularly focused on offering death, on offering MAID to persons who are struggling with mental health. It speaks to how misplaced the priorities of the government are. It also speaks to the fact that once again, like so much of what the Prime Minister says, his words are nothing more than empty words.

  (1300)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from St. Albert—Edmonton for the incredible work he did on the committee. I was able to sub in a couple of times and was certainly impressed with his advocacy.
    One thing that has arisen lately is the government's officials offering MAID to our veterans. I have a constituent who is one of those veterans and is an advocate. This was very upsetting.
    I want to get the member's opinion on the slippery slope this legislation is on and the message it is sending to vulnerable Canadians, like those who have mental health issues. What kind of message is this legislation sending to those vulnerable Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, the message it is sending to persons who are struggling with mental illness is that their life is not important and that we are going to offer them death instead of help and support.
    The member raises the issue of veterans who are offered MAID completely inappropriately and, frankly, in contravention of the Criminal Code. The Minister of Veterans Affairs, when he came to the veterans affairs committee, said that it had happened once or twice and that he had undertaken a thorough review. We now know that is not true and that it has happened multiple times. It speaks more broadly to how the government has mishandled MAID in so many different ways.

[Translation]

     Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 43(2)(a), I would like to inform the House that the remaining Conservative Party speaking slots will be divided in two.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by providing some background on Bill C-39, which is not rocket science, when it comes down to it. Then I would like to talk about the philosophical foundation for dying with dignity, as well as the context and whether or not medical assistance in dying should be extended to patients whose sole underlying medical condition is a mental disorder. I would also like to talk about mental illness generally in our societies and the experts' report before finally concluding my speech.
    The context is rather simple. This is not about rehashing the entire debate. We are studying Bill C-39, which simply defers the provision in Bill C-7 that would have ended the two-year exclusion for mental disorders on March 17, 2023.
    Following consultations, the government has decided to extend this exclusion clause for one year, which means that on March 17, 2024, mental disorders, or rather individuals whose sole underlying medical condition is a mental disorder, would be eligible for MAID, subject to the conditions, limits, guidelines, standards of practice, safeguards and precautionary principles outlined in the expert report.
    Before voting, I invite all parliamentarians in the House to read the report of the expert panel. It contains precautionary principles that do not lend credence to last week's comments by, for example, the leader of the official opposition. It really puts into perspective the ideology underlying the comments by my colleague from St. Albert—Edmonton. Let me dive right into this matter.
    Why is there such a delay? The reason is that we believe things should be done properly by the medical world. When a mental disorder is the sole basis for a request for MAID, how prepared are those working in this field across the country to ensure that MAID is adequately and safely delivered in light of the safeguards?
    More providers and seasoned assessors will be needed. I should note that the experts did say that assessing whether a person with a mental disorder has the capacity to choose MAID is something they are already doing. Often a person may have cancer and also suffer from a mental disorder. It is not the sole underlying medical condition, and they still need to establish the person's capacity to decide for themselves. Again, in response to the oversimplification by my colleague from St. Albert—Edmonton, first a person needs to want MAID, and then they need to meet the criteria.
    As far as mental disorders are concerned, to meet the criteria, this is not going to happen overnight or anytime soon. It is going to take decades before anyone can have access. It is going to take time for the whole range of necessary treatments and possible therapies to be tested without the condition that the person demonstrate that they cannot bear any more and that their pain cannot be relieved. That is a long way from people living in poverty, who are depressed and who might have access to medical assistance in dying. We are far from it.
    That being said, what are we talking about? When we talk about medical assistance in dying, I know that everyone in the House wants to do the right thing. Everyone has the best of intentions and wants to look after the best interests of patients and people who are suffering. However, being compassionate does not square with undermining human dignity. Human dignity is grounded in the capacity for self-determination.

  (1305)  

    Those are the philosophical premises. The law grants any individual with a biomedical condition the right to self-determination. Nothing can be done without the patient's free and informed consent. To that end, the role of the state is not to decide what that patient, who is the one suffering, needs. Rather, the state must ensure the conditions needed for them to exercise free will, so that patients can make a free and informed decision.
     Historically, it was difficult to fight medical paternalism. At one time, people who had reached the terminal phase of an incurable disease did not have the right to die. The right to die was acquired, and it was called palliative care. Life was artificially prolonged, and people died from clinical trials or new therapies rather than dying a peaceful death in palliative care. However, palliative care is not a substitute for medical assistance in dying.
    I find it strange that my colleague thinks it is unacceptable to grant access to medical assistance in dying to someone whose soul is suffering, and that he even opposes any form of medical assistance in dying, even when people are at the end of their life. He is opposed. At some point, if people are opposed, they need to explain why.
    Why does the law recognize people's right to bodily autonomy throughout their lifetime but take it away from them at the most intimate moment of their lives? The government or our neighbour is not the one dying, so on what basis is the government giving itself the authority to decide for us at the most intimate moment of our lives?
    These are the ethical and philosophical grounds and principles behind our position. Just because someone has a mental disorder does not mean that they should also be subject to social discrimination and stigma. Even though mental illness is now considered to be an actual illness, mental health is still not on the same footing as physical health. Mental illness results in discrimination and stigma.
    Should we be telling people who have to deal with such discrimination and stigma that they will also never be given the right to MAID, even if they have been suffering from a mental illness and have had schizophrenia, for example, for 25 or 30 years? On what grounds are we refusing them that right? That is the basis of the expert panel's report. Do we give that right to someone with a mental disorder who is suffering, who has tried everything, whose problems are far from over and who says that they cannot go on?
    There are people out there who have an ache in their soul, and unfortunately, we lose them when they attempt suicide. It is really no better. We absolutely must fight against suicide because it is one decision that cannot be undone.
    In the report, the experts set out several precautionary measures. They talk about structural vulnerabilities like poverty. On page 11 of the report, the experts state the following: “In the course of assessing a request for MAiD—regardless of the requester's diagnoses—a clinician must carefully consider whether the person's circumstances are a function of systemic inequality”, and, if so, this should be addressed.
    With respect to suicidal ideation, experts offer us another precautionary measure. It is not enough for a person to request MAID to have access to it.

  (1310)  

     The report states: “In any situation where suicidality is a concern, the clinician must adopt three complementary perspectives: consider a person's capacity to give informed consent or refusal of care, determine whether suicide prevention interventions—including involuntary ones—should be activated, and offer other types of interventions which may be helpful to the person”.
    What is this claim about people who are depressed being able to request MAID? Members need to stop talking nonsense. That is not what the expert panel's report says. It says that incurability can be established over the course of several years. The patient must have exhausted all available therapies and treatments. However, that does not include overly aggressive therapy.
    What does the member for St. Albert—Edmonton think should happen? When a person with a psychiatric disorder says that they reached their breaking point years ago, should psychiatric science insist that there is a treatment out there and that it is going to find it? That is what I mean by overly aggressive therapy.
    Overly aggressive treatment may exist for all types of illness. Who gets to decide when it is too much? The Supreme Court and the Superior Court of Quebec have told us that it is up to the patient to decide. That is important, because the member for St. Albert—Edmonton keeps saying that we are cutting lives short, ending lives prematurely.
    In reality, the opposite is true. Everyone wants to live as long as possible. People who are on what we call the second track, whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable, want to live as long as possible. What they do not want is to be denied help when they reach their breaking point. If we do not give them access to MAID, they will find their own way to avoid ending up in that situation, because it is currently illegal for them, and they will end their lives prematurely. They will commit suicide.
    The ruling that some contend should have been appealed to the Supreme Court states that there is an infringement on the right to life. The Conservatives' position infringes on the right to life because it forces people to end their lives prematurely rather than waiting for the moment of death, which sometimes is in one or two years. As proof, there is the case of Ms. Gladu. She did not go ahead with MAID, but she was relieved to know that she had that option. She did not commit suicide; she died naturally.
    However, if her suffering became intolerable, she knew that she could access MAID because our compassionate and empathetic society would take care of her and ensure that she had a peaceful and dignified death. This meant that she could have the death that she did. Many people say that they choose to end their lives because they are not certain that they will be taken care of.
    Is there anything more devastating than a suicide? That is a societal failure. We cannot be complacent about suicide attempts, about people feeling suicidal. In the health care system, mental illness, which is an illness like any other, absolutely must have all the necessary resources.

  (1315)  

     I just want to say a few words about the governments' ability to pay for the health care needs of the patients I am talking about, given the feds' post-pandemic offer. Governments have to deliver care to these people with irreversible illnesses, but they will not be getting money to do so. Over the next 10 years, they will barely be able to cover indexing on chronically insufficient funding. The federal government's share will go up from 22% to 24%. I hope government members are not too proud of that, especially considering that, during the third wave, people told us the system was in critical condition. The pandemic had destabilized it to the point that it would take 10 years to recover from the pandemic's side effects on patients without COVID. Right in the middle of the third wave, the Prime Minister said it would all be dealt with after the pandemic. We were told an agreement was imminent. I figured that they would come close to the $28 billion everyone expected, that they would give the governments of Quebec and the provinces the predictable funding they needed to rebuild their systems, take care of people over the next 10 years and finally recover from the pandemic.
    I have heard the Conservatives say they will honour that small percentage. Of all the G7 countries, Canada still has the best borrowing capacity. If debt is unavoidable, what better justification for it than taking care of our people and restoring and rebuilding our health care systems?
    I hear people say that individuals who have had an incurable mental disorder for years should not be given access to MAID on account of structural vulnerabilities. According to the expert report, however, two independent psychiatrists would have to be consulted. Not only would two independent psychiatrists be required, but we also have to consider recommendation 16. So far, I have been talking about recommendation 10, but my colleagues should hold on to their hats, because recommendation 16 states that, unlike for other kinds of MAID, when mental disorders are involved, there would be something called “prospective” oversight. This is different from retrospective oversight, as required by Quebec's commission on end-of-life care, which requires a justification every time MAID takes place. No, this does not happen after, but rather before, in real time.
    This prospective oversight needs to be established in each jurisdiction, which is precisely what the delay will be used for. This additional safeguard needs to be established in controversial cases. According to the expert report, when an individual's capacity cannot be properly assessed, MAID is not provided, period. It is not complicated. There will be no slippery slope.
    If there is a slippery slope, there is the Criminal Code, the courts, the police. Evil people do not belong in the health care system. They would be fired. If they do harm, they can be taken to court. To my knowledge, the provisions allow action to be taken.
    My esteemed colleague seems to assume that everyone in health care is necessarily evil, which is absurd. The slippery slope is based solely on health care workers having evil intentions. However, to work in that field, people have to demonstrate skills proving the opposite. Consequently, all the precautionary measures and principles in this report are sufficient, in my opinion.
    What needs to be done now is to ensure that people get training. Not all Quebec psychiatrists have read the report. If they listen to interviews given by the member for St. Albert—Edmonton, they will wonder what is happening with their profession.
    We must be able to see things realistically and proportionately, provide training, and ensure that we implement a law that will be both accessible and equitable throughout the country. We must avoid situations where an institution that does not want to provide MAID prevents someone from accessing it, if it is their choice and they meet all the criteria.

  (1320)  

    This is still a dangerous situation. It is happening in Quebec, and the college of physicians warned last week that, in a simple case of MAID for a terminal patient, some doctors did not want to refer the patient to another doctor who was willing to provide it.

[English]

    I have to say that it has been a pleasure working with him over the last several months at the AMAD committee. He is an exceptionally thoughtful individual and I have learned a great deal from him.
    Based on his numerous years of experience with MAID, and this particular issue of mental health as the sole underlying condition, could he outline for us, in a very short way, why he thinks there is a need to extend the deadline for the implementation of this provision?

[Translation]

    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.

  (1325)  

    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.
    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.

[English]

    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.

[Translation]

    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.

  (1330)  

    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?
    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.

Privilege

Technical Difficulties with Interpretation Services 

[Privilege]
    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.

  (1335)  

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

[English]

Criminal Code

[Government Orders]
    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.
    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.

  (1340)  

    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.

  (1345)  

    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.

  (1350)  

    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.

  (1355)  

    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?
    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.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

[English]

Scarborough York Region Chinese Business Association

    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.

  (1400)  

Natural Resources

    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 Health

    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.

[Translation]

Francophone Culture and its Artists

    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.

[English]

Canadian Artists and Creators

    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.

  (1405)  

Medical Assistance in Dying

    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 Joe

    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 Degeneration

    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 Economy

    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 Health

    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.

  (1410)  

Carbon Tax

    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.

[Translation]

Carbon Tax

    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.

Canadian Ski Marathon

    Mr. Speaker, the 57th Canadian Ski Marathon, North America's longest and oldest cross-country ski tour, wrapped up yesterday.
     This year's edition marked a comeback to the traditional westward route. The 160-kilometre trail began in the Mont-Tremblant region and ended in Buckingham in the Outaouais, traversing much of my riding. The Canadian Ski Marathon is more than just an athletic competition. It is an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to athletic excellence and our desire to celebrate our athletes' achievements. The event brought together over 1,000 athletes from around the world and close to home, including my neighbour and friend, Josée, all of whom celebrated their love of cross-country skiing and their determination to achieve their goal.
    I want to thank the organizers and all our athletes for putting this sport in the spotlight, and putting my wonderful riding and our wonderful country on the map.

[English]

Syrian Refugees

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express solidarity with all those hard hit by the earthquakes in Syria and Turkey and to draw attention to the plight of Syrian refugees stuck in the region despite already approved sponsorship applications.
    Many Canadians, like my constituent Bishr Bakro, have worked hard to get friends and family to safety, and now their circumstances are even more dire. Bishr contacted me about Abdullah, his wife, and his daughter, who were in Turkey when the earthquake hit. They escaped the collapse of the building they were staying in but lost all of their possessions. This family has been approved as refugees, but they are awaiting approval of their permanent residence applications so they can travel to Canada.
    I salute the many refugee sponsorship groups working so hard to provide support to those at risk. We echo their concern that the earthquakes have made urgent action on these applications even more necessary. I know that the member for Vancouver East has raised these delays with the Minister of Immigration but, given this new humanitarian crisis, Canadians are calling on the government to take action now.

  (1415)  

[Translation]

International Epilepsy Day

    Mr. Speaker, today is International Epilepsy Day, which is observed by more than 140 nations around the world, including Quebec.
    I rise to speak to this issue as an MP, of course, but also because this day has special meaning for me, like others here, because my youngest son Ulysse was born with epilepsy. Although epilepsy affects 50 million people around the world and is one of the most widespread neurological diseases, people still do not know a lot about it. That is why it is important to talk about it and to raise awareness so that people with this disease can live better and live well.
    To all those with epilepsy, to all the parents and loved ones who take care of them day after day, and to all the caring professionals who support them, thank you. You can count on my support. I encourage all my colleagues to do the same. This international day is not just about raising awareness. It is about showing love and solidarity.

[English]

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years under the current Prime Minister, we live in a country where parents are actually watering down their baby formula in order to make ends meet and seniors are turning down their thermostats or choosing to skip meals in order to be able to pay their bills.
    The Liberals continue to shrug their shoulders and say they are not responsible. When asked about the carbon tax, a Liberal MP quipped, “There needs to be a bit of pain there. That's the point”. I guess the Liberals are achieving their goal.
    Canadians are definitely feeling the pain. A young mother recently came into my office and shared with me that when she opens her home heating bill, it feels like a gut punch. She has to choose between properly feeding her family and paying the bill.
    Canadians are out of money and cannot afford to eat, heat or house themselves. They are without hope and living in a broken Canada.
    Canadians deserve a brand new government that will put control back in their hands. Conservatives will keep the heat on and take the tax off.

Ukraine

    Mr. Speaker, February 24 will mark one year since Russia began its further invasion of Ukraine. The Ukrainian people have been outnumbered and severely outgunned, but they have shown tremendous courage in defending their homeland. I believe that courage has inspired Canadians and people around the world.
     Nevertheless, the situation is dire. Russia is committing genocide every day. There are millions of refugees. Hundreds of millions of people are facing food shortages and famine, primarily in the global south. This is the primary cause of food and energy inflation around the world; it is not only a threat to Ukraine’s security but also to global security and Canada’s security.
    Canada's support for Ukraine has been unwavering. However, if we want to stop genocide, inflation and starvation and secure our own sovereignty, then we must do everything we possibly can to ensure Ukraine achieves a decisive victory that includes all its territory.
    The Ukrainian people are fighting for us. We need to keep fighting for them, not for a day, a week or a year, but as long as it takes until they win, until we all win.
    Slava Ukraini.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[English]

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals keep saying everything is just fine and Canadians should be thankful. How out of touch could they be? A new report from Stats Canada says that over one-third of Canadians are experiencing financial difficulties, over a quarter could not cover an unexpected expense and nearly half are worried about their ability to pay rent. This is the Liberals' legacy after eight years, and there is no one left to blame. Canadians are struggling and the PMO is covering up the Prime Minister's charging $6,000 a night for a hotel room. Are they kidding?
    Mr. Speaker, we know that many Canadians are facing real challenges. This is why our government has a plan that is both compassionate and responsible. Here is what we are doing: We have doubled the GST credit; we have provided a $500 top-up to Canadian renters; we are providing dental care to Canadian children; and we are permanently eliminating the interest on student loans. Do you know what, Mr. Speaker? The Conservatives voted against each one of these compassionate and necessary measures.

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of this Liberal Prime Minister, Canada feels broken. It is not just because we say so; it is because Canadians know so. According to a Leger poll, two out of three Canadians say that. Eight years of this Prime Minister has given Canadians record prices for rent and housing, home heating, gas and groceries. These are not the right records to be breaking. Will the Liberals take some responsibility for the pain that they have caused millions of Canadians, or will they just keep pretending nothing is wrong?
    Mr. Speaker, it is the Conservatives who need to take responsibility for their reckless and irresponsible plan for the economy. They are saying to Canadians that crypto is a way to opt out of inflation. They want to eviscerate the EI system that so many Canadians depend on. They want to jeopardize seniors' pensions. They voted against early learning and child care for all Canadian children and families.
    Mr. Speaker, if the Liberals do not want to listen to Canadians whom they do not know, perhaps they will listen to Liberals they do know. Random Liberal Bill Morneau said the federal government lost the agenda; Mark Carney, who is about to be a random Liberal, called inflation homegrown. The call is coming from inside the House. Will the Prime Minister finally admit what everybody knows and take some responsibility for the affordability crisis that the Liberals have created, or will he get out of the way so we can fix what they broke?
    Mr. Speaker, our government absolutely understands that many Canadians today are struggling with the cost of living. We also know that the best way to pay the rent and put groceries on the table is by having a job. That is why our government has focused relentlessly on jobs and why the job data for January, when 150,000 jobs were added, is so important. It is important for all of us to recognize that we have recovered 126% of the jobs lost to COVID compared with just 112% in the United—
    The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of this Liberal Prime Minister, Canadians are worse off than ever. Food inflation is at a 40-year high. People are being forced to eat less meat and fewer vegetables, foods that are essential to our health. According to the major grocery chains, it is not over. Prices will continue to rise in 2023.
    Why is the Prime Minister looking down on the middle class and ignoring their pain and misery, rather than taking responsibility and helping them?
    Mr. Speaker, we understand that many Canadians are facing real challenges when it comes to affordability. That is why our government has an approach that is both compassionate and responsible.
    This is our plan: We have doubled the GST credit, we have provided a $500 top-up to renters, and we have provided dental care to Canadian children.
    The Conservatives voted against all of these measures.
    Mr. Speaker, after eight years, what the Conservatives voted against were the government's inflationary policies, which are making absolutely everything more expensive in this country, making things harder and harder for every family. That is the reality. Students have to cram into tiny apartments with many others because they cannot afford to pay rent. It takes some nerve to say that everything is fine in Canada. Canadians are paying the price for eight years of inflationary policies under this government.
    Will the government take responsibility once and for all so we can finally give Canadians some hope?
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives seem to need a lesson in economics. First of all, money does not grow on trees. It is not like cryptocurrency, which multiplies endlessly. If they believe we have spent too much, they need to say where they would make cuts. What are they going to cut? Will they cut assistance to students, to seniors or to families? Will it be in the child care program or the wage subsidy? Where will they cut?

  (1425)  

Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, according to what Chantal Hébert stated this morning, the anglophone Quebec wing of the Liberal government would rather see Parliament prorogued than pass Bill C‑13 as amended by the opposition, because, horror of horrors, it would recognize the Charter of the French Language. All House business would have to stop because a few West Island MPs do not want to protect the French language. Those members do not want to protect French on the West Island, in Quebec, in Acadia, or in the rest of Canada.
    Can the Prime Minister assure us that Bill C‑13 will not end up in the circular file?
    Mr. Speaker, it is quite the opposite. We look forward to seeing Bill C-13 passed, as do stakeholders across the country. That is why we have introduced an ambitious bill that that will make a real difference in the lives of Canadians. We are the first government to recognize the decline of French across the country, including in Quebec. I look forward to the passage of this bill. As I said, it is a bill that will make a real difference for all Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, she needs to convince her crew of that. In the same column, it was suggested that anglophone MPs from Quebec who are opposed to the Charter of the French Language might go so far as to quit the Liberal Party rather than vote for Bill C‑13. To hear them talk, life as an anglophone Quebecker in Montreal is really tough. They make Westmount and Mount Royal sound like the gulag.
    There are francophone and Acadian minority communities that are desperately waiting for Bill C‑13, but the Liberals might let it die in order to appease the West Island. Who is going to put these members in their place?
    Mr. Speaker, I advise my colleague to worry about his own caucus. He has enough to worry about. The Bloc Québécois is not the least bit interested in Bill C‑13. It has been stalling the bill from day one. It does not support the bill and will vote against it. I will say one thing: The members from Quebec will stand up and defend French in Quebec and across Canada, regardless what the Bloc does.

Telecommunications

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians already pay some of the highest prices in the world for telecom services. The Rogers-Shaw merger will lead to decreased competition, a greater monopoly, job losses and higher prices for everyone. It is not too late to stop this merger which will only hurt Canadian families whose budgets are already very tight.
    Will the minister side with major corporations or defend the interests of Canadians by blocking this merger immediately?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent question. We will always side with Canadians. That is exactly what I said, because the goal is to lower prices in Canada. The best way to do that is with competition and with a fourth major player across Canada. I have already rejected the transfer of licences from Shaw and Rogers. As I indicated, I will be looking at the ruling by the Federal Court of Appeal in the interest of Canadians.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, if the minister is ultimately going to say no to the merger, why does he not just come out and say it? We already know that Canadians pay among the highest prices for telecom services in the world, and we know that less competition in the market is not going to lead to lower prices. The answer is pretty clear; he is hinting at it. When is he going to reassure Canadians who are already struggling with their household budgets and cannot afford to give up their cellphones? When is he going to do the right thing and say no to the merger?
    Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, I will not take lessons from colleagues when it comes to fighting for Canadians. We do that every day on this side of the House. We understand that the best way we can do that is by making sure that we lower the price of cellphone bills in Canada, that we have more competition and that we have a fourth national player.
    It is Monday today. Canadians watching at home know we stand on their side and will do everything to protect their rights by making sure the cellphone bill prices come down in Canada.

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of Liberal failures, families cannot afford groceries. Eight years ago, $200 went a long way at the grocery store. Today, after Liberal inflation, $150 barely gets three bags.
    Not only are the Liberals going to take more in taxes, but they are going to drive up the cost of groceries when they triple their failed carbon tax. One in five Canadians is already skipping meals. Imagine how much worse things are going to get.
    Will the Liberal Prime Minister finally take some responsibility for causing this inflationary crisis, stop breaking Canada and axe his failed carbon tax?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, as everyone in this House knows, as of January, fees for child care have been reduced 50% across the country. I asked families to tell me what that means to them. Let me give some examples. “Just paid our January daycare fees. Under $500!!!!! This is a 55% reduction from last year. This is going to make such a huge difference for so many families.” Here is another quote: “We are finally FINALLY seeing real reductions in our daycare costs. It's genuinely life-changing to see fees reduced by just over 50%—this is how you support families, this is how you achieve real equity in the workforce.”
    Mr. Speaker, Dr. Seuss over there is living in fantasy world.
    What the Liberal government really should be focused on is the price of corruption, like $15 billion going to Liberal insiders for cushy contracts, thousands of dollars going to ministers' besties and thousands and thousands going to racists like Laith Marouf. Random Liberals, like Bill “no more” and Mark Carney, also agree the government overspent and pile-drove Canadians with inflation.
    Will the Liberals finally take some damn responsibility, rein in their spending and axe their failed carbon tax?
    Mr. Speaker, I actually read Dr. Seuss quite a bit with my son at night, and he has some pretty good lessons that I think the Conservatives could learn if they want to open up his books. In fact, one of those lessons is about protecting our environment. When he talks about the truffula trees, it is about protecting what we have, like the clean air and clean water, and making sure we protect that for generations to come.
    If my opposition colleague would like to learn more, I invite him to open the books. He might have more compassionate policies for Canadians.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, let us skip the fantasy.
    I am a numbers girl, so here are the numbers: eight long years under the Prime Minister, 40-year highs in inflation and food prices up 10%. Now the Liberals are going to triple the carbon tax. Do members know what that adds up to? It is 67. That is the percentage of people who think Canada is broken.
    Will the Prime Minister take responsibility for breaking the country, or will he get out of the way and let us fix it?
    Mr. Speaker, my son, like tens of thousands of kids in this country, is a huge fan of hockey. What he likes above all is to be able to play it outside. Unfortunately, because of climate change, he will no longer be able to do this. This year, for the first time in 51 years, the Rideau Canal will not be able to open—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    I will have to interrupt the hon. minister. I am having a hard time hearing. There is a very strong voice coming from one side that prevents me from hearing.
    I will ask the minister to start over again so that I can hear his full answer.
    Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, my son, like tens of thousands of kids across this country, loves to play hockey, and what he loves above all is to be able to play it outside. However, because of climate change in this hockey-playing country, it is becoming less and less possible to do so. This year, for the first time in 51 years, the Rideau Canal is still not open and probably will not be able to open.
    What is the response from the Conservative Party of Canada? It is to make pollution free again. There are no reckless policies from the party on this side of the House.

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, the reality is the Liberals have never met a single one of their emissions targets. They do not have an environmental plan; they have a tax plan.
    The minister's answer is no help at all to John in my riding. John is struggling with the rising cost of gas, groceries and home heating. At 74 years old, on a fixed income, he has had to go back to work.
    Will the Prime Minister axe the tax so John can keep the heat on?
    Mr. Speaker, less than two years ago, the Conservative Party took the position that climate change was not even real. Then last year, the leadership went through a process where it put together a climate plan, the centrepiece of which was a price on pollution. All of the Conservative members in this House were elected on a platform that included a price on pollution.
    Now, once again, under a new leader, the Conservatives have stopped talking about climate change and they attack the idea of pollution pricing. Given their history, how can Canadians believe anything they say?

  (1435)  

Seniors

    Mr. Speaker, there is a lot of hot air coming from that side.
    After eight years of the Liberal government, local animal shelters are filling up because their owners cannot afford to keep their pets. In the last two months, the Central Okanagan Food Bank has added 350 seniors who need their help. Governor Macklem said, “high inflation is making life more difficult for Canadians, especially those with low or fixed incomes”. He also said, “inflation in Canada increasingly reflects what's happening in Canada.”
    When will the Liberal government finally raise its deficit spending blinders and see that its out-of-control spending is making life harder for seniors?
    Mr. Speaker, for the last eight years, we have been there supporting Canadians, including seniors, by restoring the age of eligibility for retirement back to 65, by increasing the guaranteed income supplement that has helped over 900,000 seniors and lifted 45,000 seniors out of poverty, by enhancing the Canada pension plan and by making sure we are increasing the old age security pension. These are all measures the party opposite opposed. Unlike them, we will continue to make sure we have the backs of all Canadians, including seniors.

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, John in Sarnia and seniors in my riding cannot eat those talking points. Even Liberal wannabe leader Mark Carney, who moonlights as an adviser to the Prime Minister, knows that the Liberal government has it wrong. He knows its runaway deficit spending is inflationary. He said, “it's not all imported inflation. In fact, most of it is now domestically generated inflation.”
    After eight years of the government, residents in my riding are facing sky-high gas and propane bills and now must choose between heat, food and their pets. If the Liberal government will not stop its spend, spend, spend deficits, can it at least cancel the triple, triple, triple tax?
    Mr. Speaker, our government will take no lessons from the Conservatives when it comes to protecting Canada's most vulnerable. Thanks to measures put in place by our government, hundreds of thousands of seniors have been lifted out of poverty, as have hundreds of thousands of Canadian children. We have done that while maintaining Canada's AAA credit rating and having the lowest debt and the lowest deficit in the G7.
    We can be compassionate and fiscally responsible at the same time. That is what we are doing.

[Translation]

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, right now at Roxham Road, there are smugglers who are peddling illusions to migrants to exploit them. There are unaccompanied children in the woods in the middle of winter, and there are people being detained indefinitely.
    That is what is happening at Roxham Road. That is what the federal government is condoning. Refugee rights groups themselves are calling for the suspension of the safe third country agreement. They are the ones the government needs to listen to.
    Why is the federal government refusing to listen to what they have to say?
    Mr. Speaker, before I answer the question, I would first like to say a few words about the incident that occurred in my community of Orléans this morning.
    My thoughts and prayers are with all those who are affected, and I want to sincerely thank the first responders and simply tell them that I am here and that I can help them.
    To answer the question, the closure of Roxham Road is not a short-term solution because it does not solve the main problem. As the member opposite was saying, Canada shares the longest demilitarized border in the world. We need to modernize the agreement, and that is what we are going to do.
    Mr. Speaker, let us hear what the people who advocate on behalf of asylum seekers have to say. Frantz André of the Non-Status Action Committee said that the government must begin by suspending the safe third country agreement if it wants to demonstrate that Canada is not the 51st state of the United States when it comes to accepting refugees.
    He is right. The United States is part of the problem at Roxham Road. Their customs officials have even become smugglers. The federal government needs to suspend the agreement in order to force Washington to act.
    Will it do that?
    Mr. Speaker, I am going to be very candid this morning, because in my opinion, the Bloc Québécois has lost all credibility if it believes that asylum seekers are crossing the border for an all-inclusive vacation package or feels that the situation asylum seekers are facing is a joke.
    This is not a joke to us. We take this situation very seriously. On this side of the House, we continue to protect the world's most vulnerable people by working with our provinces and territories to find lasting solutions.

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, the government is making up scandals when it comes to Roxham Road, but the real scandal is that Roxham Road has become a network for the exploitation of asylum seekers, in cahoots with the American authorities. The real scandal is that U.S. customs officers have become smugglers, right under the government's nose. The real scandal is that Ottawa knows about this and accepts it.
    The safe third country agreement must be suspended. That is the only way to stop the exploitation of migrants and to command respect from the Americans.
    When will the federal government take action?
     Mr. Speaker, the real scandal is the Bloc Québécois ad comparing the migrants' journey to an all-inclusive vacation. It is truly sad. These folks are fleeing countries under extremely difficult situations, with their children, and trying to rebuild their lives to the best of their ability. The least we can do is to welcome them with dignity, not with insults.

[English]

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of the Liberal government, violent attacks on public transit are becoming the norm. Just in the past few days, a woman had her face slashed with a knife on the TTC, and a Winnipeg transit passenger was attacked by a man with a machete.
    Canadians deserve to feel safe when they ride public transit. When will the Liberals take responsibility for these violent crime incidents and do the work to keep our communities safe?
    Mr. Speaker, I share my colleague's concern, which is precisely why a number of my colleagues and I have been in direct contact with the City of Toronto to make sure it is getting the support it needs when it comes to mental health, homelessness, poverty and other social determinants that lead to crime. We are also providing additional supports for law enforcement.
    At each and every critical juncture when the Conservatives have had an opportunity to support these measures, what have they done? They have voted against. If they are serious about protecting our communities, they should support the policies of this government, because that is how we are going to better do that.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have had eight years to deal with violent crime, and it has gone up 32% in that time. In fact, gang murders are up 92%. Everything the Liberals have said they are doing for public safety has resoundingly failed Canadians. Maybe if the minister would stop going after the tools used by sport shooters, hunters and farmers, and instead focused his attention on going after repeat violent offenders getting out on bail in our communities, we would see a decrease in crime; we would see results in our communities.
    When is the Liberal government going to wake up and do the work to keep our communities safe?
    Mr. Speaker, we are doing that work. We are doing that work by introducing a national ban on assault-style rifles, which have been used in some of the worst mass killing shootings in this country's history. We are doing that work with Bill C-21, which would raise maximum sentences for hardened gun traffickers.
    What is my colleague doing with regard to that bill? Her and her party have been filibustering it. They should stop doing that. They should study the bill. They should support our policies. They should also support the investments we have provided for law enforcement and for addressing the root causes of crime when it comes to the building safer communities fund. They voted against each and every one of those things. They should reverse course.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, when people think of Canada, they think of a prosperous, peaceful and safe country. Unfortunately, the situation has been deteriorating for the past eight years. The Prime Minister has been in power for eight years and violent crimes have increased by 32%. In major cities, people, and women in particular, are afraid to walk alone. That is not Canada.
    When will this government protect victims instead of criminals?
    Mr. Speaker, we are strengthening the system to support victims. We have made significant investments to protect victims in many cases. What is the best thing for victims? It is a judicial system that works, does not have backlogs and is more efficient.
    We are in the process of allocating resources for the most serious crimes to eliminate backlogs in the system and help victims. We will continue in that vein while the opposition continues to pick fights.

[English]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are doing everything right, but they are still having to stretch their budgets to keep up with rising food costs. All the while, grocery companies are making billions. The math is not adding up. All parties agreed with the NDP to initiate a greedflation study, but the Liberals have continued to stand by while CEOs are raking in record profits.
    People want the government to hold grocery chains accountable for their role in food prices. Why do the Liberals let grocery CEOs off the hook, letting them wriggle out of their responsibilities and refusing to charge a windfall profits tax?

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, our government absolutely believes that, in Canada, everyone should pay their fair share. That is why we introduced a 2% tax on share buybacks. In the United States, the tax it introduced was a 1% tax on share buybacks. We have also introduced a tax on luxury yachts, cars and planes and a 15% COVID recovery dividend tax on banks and insurance companies.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, with everything from illegal police stations to election fraud and attempts to spy in our airspace, Canadians are rightly concerned about foreign interference by the Chinese government and others. It is up to the government to defend Canadians from threats to our democracy. Right now, they are letting Canadians down by not following the lead of other nations. We need better contact points for Canadians being threatened and intimidated, more support for our institutions and greater protections from foreign spies.
    When will the government stop dragging its feet and take action to protect Canadians from foreign interference and spying?
    Mr. Speaker, foreign interference is a persistent, ongoing threat that we take extremely seriously. Since day one of being elected, we have implemented several measures to help national security and protect our institutions through things such as creating the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, the critical election task force, and the SITE committee, which provided national security training for campaigns.
    There is more to do, but on this side of the House, we have always taken national security seriously and we have implemented measures to strengthen our democracy.

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

    Mr. Speaker, over the past 20 years, Prince Edward Island has become an important hub in the bioscience sector with 60 companies and more than 2,300 skilled workers now calling our province home. With leadership from the P.E.I. BioAlliance, and investments from the province and the Government of Canada, the sector has enjoyed dynamic growth, which has diversified the economy of P.E.I.
    Last week, the Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency made a major announcement in Charlottetown to build on this success. Could she update the House on this fantastic news?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his tireless advocacy for the bioscience sector. I was pleased to be in Charlottetown last Friday to announce an investment of more than $25 million toward the design and construction a BioAccelerator, a new biomanufacturing facility in Prince Edward Island. This new 75,000-square-foot facility will help spur new product development, increase skills and training, and support bioscience companies in that area. This is just one example of how ACOA continues to help communities and the economic situation in Atlantic Canada.

[Translation]

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, this weekend's military incidents in the skies over the Canadian Arctic concern us all as Canadians.
    We know two things for sure. First, for eight years, this government has shown zero interest in asserting Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.
    Second, for eight years, this government has been playing a petty little partisan political game to delay buying F‑35s, which are essential to our national defence.
    Will the Prime Minister own the sad fact that he has been playing political games for eight years instead of adequately funding our military equipment?
     Mr. Speaker, no matter the threat, we have acted and will continue to act swiftly to protect Canada's safety and sovereignty.
    Over the past week, we have seen NORAD doing what it does best, our two countries working together seamlessly and transparently to ensure continental security.
    We are continuing to monitor the situation, conduct recovery operations and take whatever action is necessary.
    I want to take a moment to thank the women and men who serve within NORAD for their service.

  (1450)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the violations of our airspace and sovereignty over the past couple weeks should be a wake-up call. Over the last eight years, the government has had ample warning from our intelligence agencies and our military, and despite these warnings, Canada is vulnerable. It is vulnerable because the government has failed to counter foreign interference, stop funding of Beijing's military research, upgrade NORAD's early warning system and acquire modern fighter jets.
    Does the government now understand how vulnerable this country is?
    Mr. Speaker, I will begin by assuring my colleague and all members in the chamber that Canada has acted and will continue to act swiftly and decisively to protect our safety and our sovereignty. Over the past week, we have seen NORAD doing what it does best, with our two countries working seamlessly together to ensure continental security. We are continuing to monitor the situation. We are conducting recovery operations, and we will take whatever action is necessary.
    I do want to take a moment to thank the women and men who serve NORAD to protect Canadians and our sovereignty every day.

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are struggling to afford to feed themselves, and all the while, the Prime Minister is treating himself to $6000-per-night luxury hotel rooms and having Canadians pick up the tab. Now we know that he had his officials cover it up.
    After eight years of the Prime Minister, Liberals are out of touch, and Canadians are out of money. Will the Prime Minister repay Canadians the $6,000-per-night he spent on the luxury suite that Canadians had to pay for?
    Mr. Speaker, the government, as in all things that it does, ensures that we are present at international events, that we are there for Canadians domestically and internationally. That will continue to be the case.
    I appreciate the member's interest in this item, but I would say that there is an opportunity right now to discuss many issues that are in front of the nation. I know they have a particular preoccupation with the Prime Minister, with him personally, for their own reasons, but there are major issues facing the nation right now, and I look forward to those questions.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the media reports have told us that a former Liberal minister, Michael Chan, is on a CSIS watch-list due to his ties to the Chinese communist regime and suspected spies. Chan was hired by the Liberal trade minister to work on her campaign. This is the same trade minister who was just found guilty of breaking ethics laws.
    After eight years of this Prime Minister, Canadians have come to expect that the Liberals will, of course, break ethics rules, but why is the trade minister ignoring the advice of Canada's intelligence services?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member would of course know that all members, every single one of us, are committed to the national security of this country. Every single member in the House is concerned with the issue of foreign interference, and every single member of the House comports themself that way.
    I am sure that the member would be making no assertion to the contrary.

[Translation]

Agriculture and Agri-Food

    Mr. Speaker, the next generation of farmers is under threat at a time when the price of land has spiked by 248% in 10 years. The House passed Bill C‑208 some time ago to make it easier to transfer a farm between members of the same family, but no one is benefiting from that because Ottawa keeps promising to amend the legislation without ever actually doing it.
    If they sell their farm to their family, as permitted under law, farmers are afraid they will be hit with a tax bill if the federal government changes the rules mid-year.
    Can the minister confirm that they will not be retroactively penalized?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. We understand the importance of intergenerational transfers, especially for farmers. We truly want to help families transfer their farms from one generation to the next and that is precisely what we are doing.
    Mr. Speaker, this needs to be clarified. The La Presse article reports that farmers are no longer able to own farmland and that the seigneurial system is coming back. That is a huge step backwards.
    Meanwhile, the federal government is still impeding the intergenerational transfer of farm businesses by maintaining tax uncertainty.
    Can the Minister of Finance once and for all clarify her position, reassure farmers and allow the next generation to exist?

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague is very familiar with this file. Obviously, the law is the law, and it is the current law that applies. Existing tax law is being enforced across Canada.
    Obviously, the transfer of farmland is a concern for our government. It is important for the next generation of farmers across Quebec and Canada.

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, we know this government's relationship with McKinsey is unclear, so it came as no surprise when we learned that Roch Huppé, the Comptroller General of Canada, instructed his subordinates to be careful what they write about McKinsey.
    The Prime Minister is still refusing to disclose the substance of the McKinsey contracts. His ministers apparently have no idea what is going on. Now the Comptroller General seems to be nervous about information that could be made public.
    What does the PM have to hide?
    Mr. Speaker, it is clear that, when the government awards contracts, the process is independent. Decisions are made by the public service. This is done to the highest standards in the world every time. That is how it is now and how it will continue to be.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of the Liberal Prime Minister, Canadians are struggling, but their Liberal friends at McKinsey have never had it so good.
    McKinsey worked for ICE in the United States, where it advised the Trump administration to cut food and medical supplies for immigrant detainees. These are the same people that the Liberals then turned to for advice on immigration, even when the public service said that it could do the work itself.
    Will the Prime Minister take responsibility for bringing McKinsey into our immigration system, or will he step aside so we can fix what he broke?
    Mr. Speaker, the member across is an hon. member, and he has been in the House for some period of time. He would know that the contracts engaged in by the public service are not to have political interference, and his suggestion just a moment ago that his government would influence the decision of that contract is extremely concerning.
    The reality is that, as has been clearly identified at committee, this process is independent. The contracts are used to expand the ability of the public service to do its job so that it does not permanently increase staffing, which allows flexibility in the system.
    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of the Liberal government, it has spent over $100 million on McKinsey & Company, and that includes $24.5 million from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to create policy, which public servants should have created. Civil servants have even said that McKinsey & Company created the immigration targets.
    Why does the minister not just take responsibility for the mess that he created and stop giving pricey contracts to McKinsey & Company?
    Mr. Speaker, as I already indicated, the contracts that are engaged in are done so at arm's length. They are conducted by the federal public service. I am sure the opposition is not inferring that, if it were in government, it would politically interfere, because that would be entirely inappropriate.
    What we can say is the contracts are engaged by the federal public service to expand its ability to give services to Canadians.
    Conservatives have tried many times to raise nefarious conspiracies at committee. I am sorry to say they have not been successful. They will not be successful there, and they will not be successful here.

[Translation]

Innovation, Science and Industry

    Mr. Speaker, artificial intelligence plays a key role in the future of manufacturing, agriculture and business. Can the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry inform the House of the measures that have been taken by our government to finance important projects and support the AI ecosystem in Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Alfred-Pellan for his excellent work and especially for his leadership. As per this morning's important announcement, we are going to invest $40 million in artificial intelligence projects that will generate 117 million projects across the country.
    Canada's global leadership is behind AI. That will help to create high quality jobs, set up more resilient supply chains and improve efficiency and productivity.
    Canada is a world leader in the field of artificial intelligence and we will continue to be with investments like the one announced this morning.

  (1500)  

[English]

Veterans Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of the Liberal government, everything is broken. Canadian veterans need help. Wait times are skyrocketing. Veterans are homeless. Funds for veterans in need are being withheld.
    Veterans took an oath to serve their country. They were ready to die for their country. Veterans with PTSD need help from their country. They are not ready to be eliminated by the government.
    Will the Prime Minister take responsibility for failing our heroes, or just get out of the way so we can fix what he broke?
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my hon. colleague's question, but when his party was in power, it fired a thousand employees and cut investments to Veterans Affairs. We have invested over $340 million to make sure we address the backlog. We have made sure and will continue to make sure that veterans receive appropriate remuneration for the great service they provide to this country.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of the Liberal Prime Minister, legal firearms owners want the government to stop harassing them and target the criminals who are the real problem. Crime is up 32%, and violent gang murders are up 92% after eight years of Liberal government. The Liberal Prime Minister is responsible for the Criminal Code and for securing the very borders that illegal guns are smuggled through.
    Will the Prime Minister fix what he broke, reinforce border security and keep the smuggled guns out of the hands of criminals?
    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague will have seen that we are consulting with legal firearms owners. In fact, that is precisely what we have been doing throughout the course of Bill C-21 and will continue to do so, because we know that hunters, trappers and first nations are part of the Canadian social fabric.
    More to the point, what we are targeting are those AR-15 style guns that have been used in some of the worst mass-shooting tragedies in this country's history. That is what we are after. We are also going to support the CBSA, which is stopping an increasing number of illegal firearms at our border. That is something that I hope my colleague would support. However, in order to do that, he actually has to vote for those appropriations, and the next time we do that, I hope he will.

[Translation]

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of Liberal incompetence, Canadians are desperate to buy an affordable home. Housing prices are at an all-time high, forcing young Canadians to keep living with their parents.
    When will the Liberal government make life affordable for the younger generation of Canadians, who have lost hope in our future because our country, Canada, is completely broken?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, unlike the party opposite, we are focused on making sure that we provide supports to first-time homebuyers, encouraging the dream of Canadian home ownership: $40,000 in a first-time homebuyer tax-free savings account; doubling of the first-time homebuyer tax credit; introducing a $200-million rent-to-own program; and banning foreign ownership of Canadian residential real estate. Those are real, tangible measures to help first-time homebuyers. Those are not fear and gimmicks.

Regional Economic Development

    Mr. Speaker, this morning, our government made a significant announcement regarding our commitment to investing in rural communities across southern Ontario, including in my riding of Kitchener—Conestoga. Our government announced an investment of $39.6 million for the Community Futures Development Corporation across southern Ontario through the community futures program.
    Can the minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario please inform the House about the important investments our government is making in small towns and rural communities?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Kitchener—Conestoga for his tireless advocacy. Rural businesses, organizations and communities contribute significantly to strengthening the Canadian economy. Community Futures Development Corporations offer on-the-ground support that enables rural businesses to thrive. Our government is investing nearly $40 million, as the member has acknowledged, in Community Futures Development Corporations to enable them to provide the support necessary to grow regional economies. Our government is going to continue to make investments in people, which leads to strong economic growth and creates an economy that works for all Canadians.

  (1505)  

Veterans Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Veterans Affairs gave $560 million to a company owned by Loblaws to deliver services for veterans. Now the contract rollout is paused for the second time. Why? It is because the company was not ready. Veterans who gave everything to this country see their treatments on hold, their services delayed and providers confused.
    Will the minister admit that outsourcing to a greedy for-profit company is not working for veterans and their families, and cancel the contract?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her concern, but this new contract will provide 14,000 veterans with over 9,000 health professionals in 600 places across this country. Absolutely no veteran will fall through the cracks. It will be completely seamless for veterans. I can assure my colleague that the case managers, veterans and everyone involved are completely informed all the way along on these contracts. They are a great asset to veterans, and the government will continue to support veterans.

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, in his state of the union address, President Joe Biden called out big oil for its excess profits, which he called “outrageous”, and he pledged to quadruple the tax on corporate stock buybacks. Frankly, that is not enough. The Secretary-General of the United Nations has called such profits “immoral”. In Canada, the 10 biggest oil and gas companies amassed more than $66 billion in profits in one year, and that is more than double what they had in the previous decade.
    Can the hon. minister tell us when Canada will tax back the excess profits of these war profiteers?
    Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to work with the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands. I am very glad to hear her talking about President Biden's comments on the share buyback tax and his view that he would like to see that tax, which is currently at 1% in the United States, quadrupled. The fact is that in Canada we introduced that tax at 2%, which is double the current U.S. level, because we absolutely believe it is appropriate for our tax system to encourage Canadian companies to invest in workers and to invest in the economy.

Government Orders

[Business of Supply]

[English]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Use of the Notwithstanding Clause  

    The House resumed from February 9 consideration of the motion.
    It being 3:07, pursuant to the order made on Thursday, June 23, 2022, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion of the member for Beloeil—Chambly relating to the business of supply.

[Translation]

    Call in the members.
    Before the Clerk announced the results of the vote:

  (1520)  

[English]

Sitting Suspended  

    Order, please. We seem to have a small technical glitch in the lobbies. We are going to suspend for about two minutes while they run to the lobbies and check it out to make sure everything is okay there. They should be back shortly.
    Members can leave their seats, but please come back right away.

    (The sitting of the House was suspended at 3:24 p.m.)

  (1525)  

[Translation]

Sitting Resumed  

    (The House resumed at 3:26 p.m.)

    Order. We have checked and everything seems to be in order. To make sure everyone is back in the House, we will ring the bells for a few minutes and then announce the result.
    And the bells having rung:
    (The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 257)

YEAS

Members

Aboultaif
Aitchison
Albas
Allison
Arnold
Baldinelli
Barlow
Barrett
Barsalou-Duval
Beaulieu
Bergeron
Berthold
Bérubé
Bezan
Blanchet
Blanchette-Joncas
Block
Bragdon
Brassard
Brock
Brunelle-Duceppe
Calkins
Caputo
Carrie
Chabot
Chambers
Champoux
Chong
Cooper
Dalton
Dancho
Davidson
DeBellefeuille
Deltell
d'Entremont
Desilets
Doherty
Dowdall
Dreeshen
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Ellis
Epp
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Fast
Ferreri
Findlay
Fortin
Gallant
Garon
Gaudreau
Généreux
Genuis
Gill
Gladu
Godin
Goodridge
Gourde
Gray
Hallan
Hoback
Jeneroux
Kelly
Kitchen
Kmiec
Kram
Kramp-Neuman
Kurek
Kusie
Lake
Lantsman
Lawrence
Lehoux
Lemire
Lewis (Essex)
Lewis (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Liepert
Lloyd
Lobb
Maguire
Martel
Mazier
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McLean
Melillo
Michaud
Moore
Morantz
Morrison
Motz
Muys
Nater
Normandin
O'Toole
Patzer
Paul-Hus
Pauzé
Perron
Plamondon
Poilievre
Rayes
Redekopp
Reid
Rempel Garner
Richards
Roberts
Rood
Scheer
Schmale
Seeback
Shields
Shipley
Simard
Sinclair-Desgagné
Small
Soroka
Steinley
Ste-Marie
Stewart
Strahl
Stubbs
Thériault
Therrien
Thomas
Tochor
Tolmie
Trudel
Uppal
Van Popta
Vecchio
Vidal
Vien
Viersen
Villemure
Vis
Wagantall
Warkentin
Waugh
Webber
Williams
Williamson
Zimmer

Total: -- 142


NAYS

Members

Aldag
Alghabra
Ali
Anandasangaree
Angus
Arseneault
Arya
Ashton
Atwin
Bachrach
Badawey
Bains
Baker
Barron
Battiste
Beech
Bendayan
Bennett
Bibeau
Bittle
Blaikie
Blair
Blaney
Blois
Boissonnault
Boulerice
Bradford
Brière
Cannings
Casey
Chagger
Chahal
Champagne
Chatel
Chen
Chiang
Collins (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek)
Collins (Victoria)
Cormier
Coteau
Dabrusin
Damoff
Desjarlais
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Diab
Dong
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Dzerowicz
El-Khoury
Erskine-Smith
Fergus
Fillmore
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fragiskatos
Fraser
Freeland
Fry
Gaheer
Garneau
Garrison
Gazan
Gerretsen
Gould
Green
Guilbeault
Hajdu
Hanley
Hardie
Hepfner
Holland
Housefather
Hughes
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Idlout
Ien
Jaczek
Johns
Jowhari
Julian
Kayabaga
Kelloway
Khalid
Khera
Koutrakis
Kusmierczyk
Kwan
Lalonde
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Lattanzio
Lauzon
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lightbound
Long
Longfield
Louis (Kitchener—Conestoga)
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacDonald (Malpeque)
MacGregor
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maloney
Martinez Ferrada
Masse
May (Cambridge)
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
McDonald (Avalon)
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod
McPherson
Mendès
Mendicino
Miao
Miller
Morrice
Morrissey
Murray
Naqvi
Ng
Noormohamed
O'Connell
Oliphant
O'Regan
Petitpas Taylor
Powlowski
Qualtrough
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Sahota
Sajjan
Saks
Samson
Sarai
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Singh
Sorbara
Sousa
St-Onge
Sudds
Tassi
Thompson
Turnbull
Valdez
Van Bynen
van Koeverden
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vuong
Weiler
Wilkinson
Yip
Zahid
Zarrillo
Zuberi

Total: -- 174


PAIRED

Members

Joly
Larouche
McGuinty
Ruff
Savard-Tremblay
Taylor Roy
Vignola
Virani

Total: -- 8


    I declare the motion lost.

  (1530)  

[English]

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

[Government Orders]
    The House resumed from February 10 consideration of the motion that Bill S-8, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, to make consequential amendments to other Acts and to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Pursuant to an order made on Thursday, June 23, 2022, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at the second reading stage of Bill S-8.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I believe that if you seek it, you will find consent to apply the previous vote to this vote, with Liberals members voting yea.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we agree to proceed in this fashion, with Conservatives voting in favour.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois agrees to apply the previous vote, and we will vote in favour of the motion.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the NDP agree to apply and will be voting in favour.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Green Party agrees to apply the previous vote and will vote yes.

[English]

    (The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 258)

YEAS

Members

Aboultaif
Aitchison
Albas
Aldag
Alghabra
Ali
Allison
Anandasangaree
Angus
Arnold
Arseneault
Arya
Ashton
Atwin
Bachrach
Badawey
Bains
Baker
Baldinelli
Barlow
Barrett
Barron
Barsalou-Duval
Battiste
Beaulieu
Beech
Bendayan
Bennett
Bergeron
Berthold
Bérubé
Bezan
Bibeau
Bittle
Blaikie
Blair
Blanchet
Blanchette-Joncas
Blaney
Block
Blois
Boissonnault
Boulerice
Bradford
Bragdon
Brassard
Brière
Brock
Brunelle-Duceppe
Calkins
Cannings
Caputo
Carrie
Casey
Chabot
Chagger
Chahal
Chambers
Champagne
Champoux
Chatel
Chen
Chiang
Chong
Collins (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek)
Collins (Victoria)
Cooper
Cormier
Coteau
Dabrusin
Dalton
Damoff
Dancho
Davidson
DeBellefeuille
Deltell
d'Entremont
Desilets
Desjarlais
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Diab
Doherty
Dong
Dowdall
Dreeshen
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Dzerowicz
El-Khoury
Ellis
Epp
Erskine-Smith
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Fast
Fergus
Ferreri
Fillmore
Findlay
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fortin
Fragiskatos
Fraser
Freeland
Fry
Gaheer
Gallant
Garneau
Garon
Garrison
Gaudreau
Gazan
Généreux
Genuis
Gerretsen
Gill
Gladu
Godin
Goodridge
Gould
Gourde
Gray
Green
Guilbeault
Hajdu
Hallan
Hanley
Hardie
Hepfner
Hoback
Holland
Housefather
Hughes
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Idlout
Ien
Jaczek
Jeneroux
Johns
Jowhari
Julian
Kayabaga
Kelloway
Kelly
Khalid
Khera
Kitchen
Kmiec
Koutrakis
Kram
Kramp-Neuman
Kurek
Kusie
Kusmierczyk
Kwan
Lake
Lalonde
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lantsman
Lapointe
Lattanzio
Lauzon
Lawrence
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lehoux
Lemire
Lewis (Essex)
Lewis (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Liepert
Lightbound
Lloyd
Lobb
Long
Longfield
Louis (Kitchener—Conestoga)
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacDonald (Malpeque)
MacGregor
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maguire
Maloney
Martel
Martinez Ferrada
Masse
May (Cambridge)
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
Mazier
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McDonald (Avalon)
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLean
McLeod
McPherson
Melillo
Mendès
Mendicino
Miao
Michaud
Miller
Moore
Morantz
Morrice
Morrison
Morrissey
Motz
Murray
Muys
Naqvi
Nater
Ng
Noormohamed
Normandin
O'Connell
Oliphant
O'Regan
O'Toole
Patzer
Paul-Hus
Pauzé
Perron
Petitpas Taylor
Plamondon
Poilievre
Powlowski
Qualtrough
Redekopp
Reid
Rempel Garner
Richards
Roberts
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Rood
Sahota
Sajjan
Saks
Samson
Sarai
Scarpaleggia
Scheer
Schiefke
Schmale
Seeback
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Shields
Shipley
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Simard
Sinclair-Desgagné
Singh
Small
Sorbara
Soroka
Sousa
Steinley
Ste-Marie
Stewart
St-Onge
Strahl
Stubbs
Sudds
Tassi
Thériault
Therrien
Thomas
Thompson
Tochor
Tolmie
Trudel
Turnbull
Uppal
Valdez
Van Bynen
van Koeverden
Van Popta
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vecchio
Vidal
Vien
Viersen
Villemure
Vis
Wagantall
Warkentin
Waugh
Webber
Weiler
Wilkinson
Williams
Williamson
Yip
Zahid
Zarrillo
Zimmer
Zuberi

Total: -- 314


NAYS

Nil

PAIRED

Members

Joly
Larouche
McGuinty
Ruff
Savard-Tremblay
Taylor Roy
Vignola
Virani

Total: -- 8


    I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.

    (Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)


Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Order in Council Appointments

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, an order in council for the interim appointment of Mr. Eric Janse as Clerk of the House of Commons.

Committees of the House

International Trade  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on International Trade, entitled “Transporting Goods in Rail Containers: Some Trade Implications for Canada”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Petitions

Firearms  

    Mr. Speaker, these petitioners have requested that Bill C-21, as it is an affront to the private property rights of Canadians, not go forward and that it be recalled.

Animal Welfare  

    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to present e-petition 4190, which was actively promoted by singer Jann Arden and signed by more than 36,000 people across Canada, making it the third-highest petition of this Parliament. The petition is to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
     The petitioners recognize that banning the export of live horses for slaughter is in the Minister of Minister of Agriculture's mandate letter from the Prime Minister and in the Liberals' 2021 election campaign commitment. They recognize that horses are flown from Canada to Japan in cramped wooden crates in journeys that can commonly take more than 24 hours. They recognize that horses panic easily, have strong flight or fight instincts and have extremely sensitive hearing. They also recognize that since 2010, the NDP has introduced three private members' bills to ban the export of live horses for slaughter.
    Therefore, the petitioners call on the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to halt the export of live horses for slaughter.

  (1535)  

Water Laws  

    Mr. Speaker, the petitioners are looking at the current situation of Canada's water laws and the threat to Canada's waterways. It is an astonishing reality that no bureau, department or sub-department in the Government of Canada has the word “water” in its title.
    The petitioners call for the Government of Canada to update Canada's water laws to ensure that no industry or corporation takes precedence over the health of Canada's waterways and watersheds, and to ensure that Canada's water laws are updated under the guidance of professionals and specialists in the field of water conservation.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Privilege

Technical Difficulties with Interpretation Services—Speaker's Ruling 

[Speaker's Ruling]
    I am now ready to rule on the question of privilege raised on February 8 by the House Leader of the official opposition concerning technical difficulties affecting interpretation services.
     In his intervention, the House Leader alleged that a breach of his privileges and those of his colleagues occurred because simultaneous interpretation services were not available during a caucus meeting held earlier that day.
    Citing past examples, the member noted that technical issues at caucus meetings had resulted in findings of prima facie cases of privilege. While the member conceded that these examples concerned the unauthorized recording of caucus meetings, he argued that the technical issues preventing simultaneous interpretation had the same effect of impeding members in the discharge of their parliamentary duties.

[Translation]

     The member for Mégantic—L'Érable noted that, as a francophone, he felt particularly impacted by the failure of the interpretation system, since the majority of the discussions were in English. While grateful for the attempts made by the interpreters to provide service, he expressed concern that francophones are disadvantaged in such situations and that English would come to predominate.
     The member for Salaberry—Suroît agreed with the member for Mégantic-L’Érable’s contentions. After having praised the remarkable work done by interpreters, she added that technical difficulties are also regularly encountered in committee meetings. In her opinion, technical issues affecting interpretation in caucus meetings and committee meetings both infringe on the rights of members.
    Being able to participate in parliamentary proceedings and other activities in the official language of their choice is critical to members, committee witnesses and all who interact with Parliament. It is an obligation the Chair takes very seriously. While some have expressed concern about a possible decline, recent statistics compiled by House administration show that the use of each official language by members and by witnesses has been at roughly the same percentage over the past three years.

  (1540)  

[English]

    Our mutual understanding is only possible with the work of our interpreters and the reliability of our audio system. While our audio system that supports simultaneous interpretation generally works very well, issues do, on rare occasions, occur.

[Translation]

     In a ruling on a similar matter, one of my predecessors stated on March 3, 2014, at page 3429 of the Debates:
    In the case of official languages, the House has a long-standing practice of ensuring the availability of professional interpreters during House and committee proceedings. Indeed, this practice extends to many other activities, such as caucus meetings, briefings or any number of parliamentary activities and events. […] if a technical problem arises with the equipment, proceedings are suspended until the issue is resolved. Members will be familiar with this as it has sometimes happened here in the House.

[English]

    In this case, when the matter was first raised, I asked for a report from the House administration on the circumstances surrounding the technical difficulties that were encountered. As is the standard practice, technical staff conducted tests of the room early in the morning. However, immediately prior to the start of the caucus meeting, an additional pre-meeting test was conducted and an issue was identified with the audio system. Some mitigating measures were put in place, but the problem nonetheless persisted. The caucus meeting proceeded without interpretation and, unfortunately, the issue was resolved only towards the end of the meeting.

[Translation]

    The Chair wants to reassure members that this matter is being taken very seriously by myself and the entire House administration. Technical teams are continuing their tests and troubleshooting to prevent issues like this from occurring again.

[English]

    While the Chair empathizes with members' frustrations over technical issues that sometimes disrupt our work, in a ruling such as this, the Chair must arrive at a decision within the confines of parliamentary privilege. In other words, the Chair must determine if the technical issues at a caucus meeting impeded members in performing their parliamentary duties and whether the matter should be given priority consideration by the House, but first the Chair must determine if a caucus meeting is, indeed, considered a parliamentary proceeding.
    In the same ruling cited earlier, it is stated at page 3430 of the Debates:
    Whether a member who is preparing to participate in proceedings—whether through a technical briefing or some other means—is not participating in the proceedings themselves. While such preparation is no doubt important, it remains ancillary to, rather than part of, Parliament's proceedings.
    In the case before us, it is the view of the Chair that a caucus meeting is ancillary to proceedings. The member for Salaberry—Suroît also raised concerns relating to committee meetings, which undoubtedly constitute parliamentary proceedings.
    That said, it is a well-established practice that the Chair does not intervene in committee matters in the absence of a report from the committee. While the Chair appreciates that there have been interruptions in a variety of committees, none of these has reported it to the House as a potential breach of privilege.

[Translation]

    For the issue raised by the House Leader of the official opposition as well as technical issues in committees, there exist other administrative recourses to address them. To this end, the Board of Internal Economy appears to be the appropriate forum.

[English]

    In light of this, the Chair does not find a prima facie question of privilege.
    I thank members for their attention.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

  (1545)  

[English]

Criminal Code

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that 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.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the House that I will be sharing my time with the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River.
    I am pleased to rise today to speak to the government's proposed Bill C-39, which seeks to extend the exclusion clause for those requesting MAID and whose sole underlying medical condition is mental illness.
    I would like to take a few moments to draw our attention to the MAID monitoring regime and what we know about MAID cases to this point.
    Canadians hold personal and very strong views on medical assistance in dying. They deserve accurate and reliable information to inform their decisions and their opinions. This is why we are working to ensure that our public communications are clear and comprehensive through our annual reports.
    We know that a lack of accessible information opens the door to misinformation about evolving MAID systems. To be clear, while the proposed legislation would not impact the monitoring regime directly, a year's delay could bring the added benefit of more time to collect and the ability to report on important data regarding those complex cases where death is not reasonably foreseeable.
    Putting this into perspective and context, our government acknowledges the importance of the data and reporting in relation to MAID, so much so that the original 2016 legislation obligated the minister of health to collect the necessary information and report annually on MAID activity.
    This formal monitoring system is important to informing our understanding in three ways: who applies for MAID in Canada, medical conditions prompting requests and trends in MAID cases since the 2016 legislation.
    As such, we have been working in collaboration with provinces and territories, as well as other health care partners, to ensure a robust monitoring system. It is important to understand that this is a significant, collaborative commitment.
    Let us begin with a glimpse into what we know right now. As of December 31, 2021, there had been a total of 31,664 MAID deaths in Canada. This is the total number of MAID deaths since the law permitting medical assistance in dying passed in 2016.
    MAID deaths represent 3.3% of all deaths in Canada as of 2021. This is very much in line with jurisdictions that have MAID regimes similar to Canada's.
    The proportion of all deaths attributed to MAID varies across the country, with the highest rates reported in Quebec and British Columbia, and lower rates in the remaining provinces and territories.
    Conditions include multiple comorbidities, cardiovascular disease, organ failure and respiratory illnesses.
    Although the current sample is small, 2021 data also shows that, where death was not reasonably foreseeable, 50% of individuals were approved for MAID, compared to 81% of cases where death was foreseeable.
    Each MAID request where the person's natural death is not reasonably foreseeable is complex and unique, and early indicators show that approvals for MAID in this stream are much lower than when the person's death is reasonably foreseeable, 50% versus 81%.
    The assessment process for a person whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable is often much more challenging due to the nature and complexity associated with medical conditions of this population. These assessments require detailed clinical analysis of each one of the elements of the eligibility criteria, which define a grievous and irremediable medical condition.

  (1550)  

    Let us spend a little bit of time talking about the human aspect of this data collection.
    We should acknowledge that behind every data element in our annual report is, indeed, a human story. Implicated in each case is a group of people, their families, MAID assessors and providers, health care teams, and most importantly, the person making the request for MAID. The data we collect comes from thoughtful and compassionate conversations involving people who are making the most important decision of their lives and the MAID practitioners. The practitioners are responsible for assessing the requester in accordance with the person's wishes and the law. Through these discussions and the recording of information arising from them, we have a robust monitoring and reporting system for MAID in Canada.
    MAID practitioners must ensure that every requester is aware of the services available that might relieve their suffering. This includes exploring treatment options, facilitating referrals and following up on the outcomes. When faced with a MAID request where death is not reasonably foreseeable, assessors spend much more time gathering the necessary information about the person and their condition. The process often involves a review of many years of treatments, surgeries and/or medications, as well as consultation with one or more experts in order to exercise due diligence in making a decision regarding eligibility.
    New regulations for the monitoring of medical assistance in dying came into force on January 1 of this year. The MAID monitoring system will report on an expanded set of MAID data points that are collected according to these new regulations. The additional information should provide a greater understanding of persons applying for MAID whose natural deaths are not reasonably foreseeable, as well as their associated circumstances.
    In conclusion, we are committed to transparency and accountability across all levels of government to ensure public confidence in the MAID regime. We are honouring this commitment by providing Canadians with accurate and reliable information on MAID as it continues to evolve in this country.
    Madam Speaker, I was very surprised listening to my colleague talking about the numbers they have. In 2016 there were 1,200 cases of MAID. That doubled in 2017 and doubled again in 2018. It was over 10,000 in 2021. That is nearly 30 people dying in this country every single day. That is more than double all the deaths from breast cancer or all the suicides in this country. We were promised a process to make sure we were not implementing a regime that was doing this without really strong checks and balances.
    I find it staggering that the member could say this thing is working when we see such massive increases, much higher than in Europe or anywhere else, in medically assisted death in this country.
    Madam Speaker, let me clarify and reiterate what I said in my intervention. I talked about the total number of MAID-related deaths in 2021 being 10,950, of which 2% related to MAID for individuals whose deaths were not reasonably foreseeable. The numbers the member is quoting might be accurate, but that was not the point I was trying to make. As I also indicated, the total was nearly 30,000 since 2016, when the legislation came into force.

  (1555)  

    Madam Speaker, I just want to follow up on the statistics my hon. colleague from Timmins—James Bay pointed out from across the way. They are staggering. When we begin to consider them, it should cause all Canadians to pause, reflect and say that the legitimate concerns many of us raised in this House when this was first proposed continue to this day. There are inadequate safeguards in place to protect those who are struggling with mental illness and have other ailments in their lives that have challenged them for a particular season. MAID opens the door to a decision of such finality that it can cause grave consequences for many Canadians and their families.
    What safeguards are going to be put in place to stop this from being abused any further?
    Madam Speaker, first of all, I do not think that MAID has been abused, especially as it relates to mental health. As I intervened, I lost my father to cancer back in 2016. At that time I wished the MAID option were available to us. Having said that, we have felt in our government that the base of 219 cases is not representative enough of the data that we want. We want to ensure that the safeguards we should have are in place and strengthened. This is the fundamental reason that we are extending the timeline by a year and introducing this bill. If this bill is to protect those individuals who are dealing with mental illness, then they need all the supports to be able to make that decision.
    Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to the member about what further things we need to be considering and thinking about. Could he elaborate a bit more on what he thinks are the most important factors that we need to be thinking about in this place as we consider this legislation?
    Madam Speaker, aside from the timeline that we have set to make sure that we have more data to be able to analyze the situation, it is also important to work with the provinces and territories to ensure that they have the processes, guidelines and support system they need. Then they can help those individuals who are in the process of making that decision to receive the support they need to come to the right decision.
    Madam Speaker, I support this legislation putting a one-year hold on allowing MAID for mental illness.
    We need to hold off on this until we have a broader consensus as to if and how we are going to do this. We need more safeguards in place. If we are going to do this, we need to make sure that we do it right. I do not think that we ought to have an automatic start date in one year as is planned.
    To be clear, yes, I support this legislation in that MAID for mental illness will not be allowed beginning in March. However, from my perspective, we ought to make this hold indefinite. I know there are a lot of people out there who are really worried about this legislation because they have loved ones who are going through a hard time and they think, probably rightly, that some of those people will want to access MAID.
    There are parents, siblings, partners, spouses and friends who are worried. Parents touch my heart the most because they are worried that the lives of their children could be affected. I can certainly sympathize with this because I have six children of my own. One does not have to be a parent to realize that almost everyone goes through a difficult time at some point in their life, hence our concern.
    I know there are also a lot of psychiatrists out there who are really worried about this. There are psychiatrists who know that if their patients were to have more treatment, they would probably get better, but they are requesting MAID at this time.
    Both these groups have legitimate concerns about this legislation. At the moment, I do not think the safeguards are in place, and if implemented now, the law would end up affecting a lot of people in a way that was not intended.
    What is the intention of the law? I would submit that the intention of MAID for mental illness is that it should only apply to a very small group of hard-core cases. This seems to be the case in Holland, where only one in a thousand people, I am told, who apply for MAID for mental illness are actually granted it.
    It is not intended for a 25-year-old who was abused as a child and has had intermittent depression ever since. It is not intended for the 30-something-year-old who remains depressed a couple years after the breakup of a marriage. It is not intended for somebody who is schizophrenic and is fine on their medication, but having stopped their medication, now wants to access MAID.
    Some out there may say, “Why not? It should be the individual's choice”. As a teenager, I read Jean-Paul Sartre, and at the time, I agreed with him that the ultimate choice in life is being over nothingness. Perhaps I still agree with this. However, neither suicide nor attempted suicide is illegal in Canada. The question today is what role, if any, the state has in assisting suicide.
    I worked a lot of years as an emergency room doctor, and I saw many people who were suicidal. My job was to assess whether people were suicidal, and if they were, to bring them into the hospital even if it was against their will. The law gave me the power to do so.
    Many people would ask what right I have to tell someone what to do with their body and say that it should be their own choice. My response to them is that I think there are two legitimate reasons for the state intervening to prevent suicide.
    One is in order to protect people from themselves. When someone is in the depths of depression, they do not see a light at the end of the tunnel. They cannot contemplate the possibility, let alone the probability, that they are going to get better. That is the nature of depression. That is what makes someone suicidal. Most of us know that, eventually, with a change of circumstances and enough time, people actually do get better.
    The other legitimate reason for the state to interfere is to protect loved ones. A person who commits suicide is dead; they feel no pain. However, the loved ones continue to live the rest of their lives with the anguish of losing someone, often haunted by feelings that perhaps it was because of something they did or did not do.
    The suicidal individual's inability to appreciate the possibility that they might get better should certainly make us reluctant to allow MAID for people with mental illnesses. Some people would ask whether there are people who really will not get better and who are irremediable. That is the requirement of law: The illness has to be irremediable.

  (1600)  

    The problem with that is that doctors are not really good at determining who is irremediable. Doctors do not have a crystal ball that can predict the future. In fact, studies show that doctors are not good at determining who is irremediable.
    A recently published study by Nicolini et al. looked at clinicians' ability to determine irremediability for treatment-resistant depression. It reviewed 14 different studies. I will cite its conclusion: “Our findings support the claim that, as per available evidence, clinicians cannot accurately predict long-term chances of recovery in a particular patient with [treatment-resistant depression]. This means that the objective standard for irremediability cannot be met”. Furthermore, there are no current evidence-based or established standards of care for determining irremediability of mental illness for the purpose of MAID assessments.
    As a long-time doctor, I find it absolutely mind-boggling that there are practitioners out there who are willing to administer MAID to someone knowing that perhaps with a bit of extra time the person would have gotten better. Good doctors worry about making mistakes. Good doctors do not want to kill off their patients. It seems to me that if there is even one person who is administered MAID and who, if they had not been given MAID, would have gone on to a happy life, that is a horrific tragedy. I would say it is something akin to capital punishment when it turns out the person was actually not guilty of the crime. If this happens, it is certainly on the conscience of every one of us in this place.
    The number of people we can confidently say are irremediable is probably small. Some would say no, but I would offer a few comments. One is that anyone under 40 should never be considered irremediable, and in fact anyone under 60, unless they have had ongoing years of illness. I would also suggest that somebody who has not tried every kind of treatment and has not seen a lot of doctors and therapists should not be considered irremediable. Who is left? Perhaps if there is some 75-year-old who has no family and who has undergone many years of illnesses, tried every sort of treatment available and seen numerous doctors and no one can help, then maybe, and I emphasize the “maybe”, they should be considered for this.
    Do I believe that the law, as implemented now, would really be confined to that small number of cases? No, absolutely not. Like a lot of members, I have been paying attention to the media and have heard of the many cases where we are just left shaking our heads that somebody would allow MAID for that. The reality is that there are a lot of practitioners out there with a very liberal approach to allowing medical assistance in dying, who seem to be willing to base it on perhaps just a phone call, practitioners who do not think it is necessary to talk to the family, to get to know the patient, or to consult someone who knows the patient.
    Some people will say that the decision about standards of care and safeguards should be left to the colleges of physicians and surgeons. As a 35-year member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, I totally disagree with that. This is not the kind of decision that is normally left to the colleges, nor should it be; this is the kind of decision that should be left to the elected representatives, who in turn are accountable to the people.
    In summary, if we are going to allow medical assistance in dying for mental illness, it should be to an exceedingly limited number of people. If we were to implement the law as it is now, I think a lot of people would be getting it whom the law was not really intended for, nor do I think we are that close, so I think there should be no fixed date on which this law comes into effect. When are we going to know we are ready to do this? I would suggest it would be when there is some consensus from the psychiatric community. From all the surveys I have seen, the majority of psychiatrists are against this, which is certainly one indicator.
    We need to take however much time is necessary to do this right. This is not like other decisions made by the House of Commons. If we mistakenly take a life, all of the politicians in this room, all of the bureaucrats in Ottawa and all of the Supreme Court justices cannot bring that life back.

  (1605)  

    Madam Speaker, I really appreciate my hon. colleague's perspective. I heard a lot about the intention, and sometimes we have intention versus impact, so I am curious what he thinks the impact would be of just extending the deadline, as opposed to actually throwing out the legislation or supporting Bill C-314.
    Madam Speaker, the question before us now is really the coming date for implementation, which is mid-March. The intention of the legislation right now is to give us more time, and that is entirely appropriate.
    We pride ourselves on making our decisions based on evidence. If we are going to make decisions based on evidence, then this certainly has to be given more time, which means that there has to be a delay on this so that it does not come into effect in March. What comes after is for us to determine. I personally think there ought to be indefinite time until we get this right.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, my colleague from Thunder Bay—Rainy River is well aware of my great respect for him. However, in listening to his speech, I found it riddled with confusion.
     I wondered whether he read the expert panel's report on mental illness as the sole underlying medical condition. I believe that our thinking may not be quite so different. I think that his practice has shown him the need to take care in adopting such an approach. However, in reading the report, he will see that there are many precautions in place and very specific guidelines.
    Indeed, just because there are not very many mentally ill people experiencing tremendous suffering does not mean we must not move forward. One person experiencing unimaginable and intolerable suffering is, in my opinion, one too many.
    I would like to know my colleague's thoughts on this.

  (1610)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I have not in fact read the report. At the moment, the problem is that we have 10 provinces and three territories that are all expected to come up with the appropriate safeguards, and I do not think any of them have actually publicly come forward with those safeguards.
    I would further suggest that it ought not be the colleges of physicians and surgeons that are put in the position to have to put those safeguards in. It is up to us, the elected representatives who are accountable to the people, who ought to be the ones making those decisions, not the colleges of physicians and surgeons.
    I would agree with the member that one person who stays in suffering is too many; however, I would also suggest that one person whose life is taken prematurely because of an overly liberal approach to MAID and the pain that that causes, particularly to the family, ought to be something we consider before making any decision that would allow that to happen.
    Madam Speaker, when we voted on this legislation, we were told that Parliament would be able to review so we could tell whether or not we had overstepped and whether or not it had worked. We were never given that right. Instead, this was handed over to the unelected senators, who got it into their head that people who are depressed or who have a few problems should be able to die. We have to fix that. We never got to address whether or not these provisions were working, whether or not there need to be proper guardrails in place.
    Would it not be better if this bill would just park this, stop it dead, until we can actually find out how this process is working for the people of Canada?
    Madam Speaker, my guess is that if this were to go to the Supreme Court, it might well say that this kind of difficult decision, which involves balancing competing ethical values, is best left to the elected representatives, who are accountable to the people. We are the elected representatives, not the Senate. I have a lot of sympathy with what my colleague has to say.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-39, an act to amend an act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), introduced by the Liberal Minister of Justice. This is obviously a particularly delicate subject.
    The bill corrects a mistake made by the Liberal government. Another mistake, some will say. This government makes hasty, last-minute decisions and, as usual, has to backtrack. It is correcting one of its mistakes, but in doing so it will make another.
    Let us look back to fully understand where we are today. When the government was preparing to amend the medical assistance in dying legislation in accordance with the most recent directives of the Superior Court of Quebec in 2021, the Senate made an unexpected amendment that would allow, starting on March 17, 2023, the provision of medical assistance in dying to individuals whose sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness. The Liberals then said, yes, why not. the Liberal government accepted the amendment, which is now part of the legislation.
    The amendment was accepted without study, reflection or any serious consultation. The date set, March 17, 2023, is completely arbitrary. What was the Liberal government's reasoning at the time for accepting this amendment? How did it come up with the date of March 17, 2023? It obviously relied on its political guesswork, and God knows just how much the Liberals govern haphazardly, without a compass, and by improvising in an indecent and dangerous manner. This decision is just one of many very bad decisions made by the Liberals since taking office.
    There are two problems with this measure. The first is expanding medical assistance in dying to people whose only underlying medical condition is a mental disorder. The second is setting the date of March 17, 2023, an arbitrary date that was selected without argument or justification.
    Let us look at what is being done elsewhere, and not just anywhere. Let us look at Quebec, where the subject of MAID and dying with dignity has seized Quebec parliamentarians for many years. I know, because I was there as an MNA and minister and I voted in favour of MAID. In my soul, my heart and my conscience, I believe that that was the right decision.
    With a view to now expanding medical assistance in dying, in its great wisdom, the Parliament of Quebec is taking its time, thinking and studying. The Quebec National Assembly set up a multi-party Select Committee on the Evolution of the Act respecting end-of-life care. It closely examined whether the scope of medical assistance in dying could be broadened. It tabled its report, which was unanimously adopted by the National Assembly in December 2021. This is recent.
    Imagine. The Select Committee on the Evolution of the Act respecting end-of-life care does not recommend that medical assistance in dying be made available when a mental disorder is the sole underlying medical condition. It was obvious to the MNAs who sat on the committee that Quebeckers are not there and that there is no social acceptance of this issue.
    However, the Quebec committee did not stop there. It went even further. In order to eliminate any possible grey areas, the committee recommended that the Government of Quebec amend its act to specify that medical assistance in dying is not available in instances where a mental disorder is the sole underlying medical condition.
    On page 58 of the committee's report, it states, and I quote:
    The Committee recommends that access to medical aid in dying not be extended to persons whose only medical condition is a mental disorder; that, to this end, section 26 of the Act respecting end-of-life care be amended.
    The committee added:
    This recommendation is in line with the precautionary principle that Québec has upheld since the beginning of work on medical aid in dying. We believe that the risks associated with extending access to medical aid in dying to persons whose only medical condition is a mental disorder would entail too many variations and could therefore not be closely monitored.
    It goes on to say:
    In order to implement this recommendation, we believe that section 26 of the Act respecting end-of-life care should be amended to avoid the possibility that a mental disorder as the only medical condition give access to medical aid in dying.

  (1615)  

    The committee refused to extend access because of problems relating to incurability, social acceptability, diagnosis and lack of consensus among members of the public and within medical professional organizations.
    The committee therefore opted to follow the precautionary principle. As I said before, this is the element that was so regrettably lacking from the Liberal government's decision-making process. Once the Quebec committee completed its work and submitted its unanimous report, the Government of Quebec introduced its Bill 38 in May 2022, which was less than a year ago. The Government of Quebec endorsed the committee's recommendation. To be clear, Bill 38 was never passed because there was an election, so it died on the order paper.
    The bill would have amended section 26 of the act by adding a prohibition on administering medical aid in dying to a person whose only health condition is a mental disorder. I will quote clause 13 of the Government of Quebec's Bill 38:
    A patient who meets the following criteria may make a contemporaneous request:
    (1) be of full age and capable of giving consent to care;
    (2) be an insured person within the meaning of the Health Insurance Act...
    (3) suffer from a serious and incurable illness or a serious and incurable neuromotor disability;
    (4) be in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability;
    (5) experience constant and unbearable physical or psychological suffering which cannot be relieved under conditions that the patient considers tolerable.
    What I am about to say is important:
    For the purposes of subparagraph 3 of the first paragraph, a mental disorder is not considered to be a serious and incurable illness.
    Canada does not exist in a vacuum, and it is not disconnected from what is happening in Quebec. The difficulties experienced by Quebec exist across the country as well. We are not prepared for this expansion. If we do not take action now, if we do not pass this bill, in less than one month, people living with a mental illness could have access to medical assistance in dying. We do not want that, Quebeckers do not want that, and Canadians do not want that. Canadians would not understand our lack of action. That is why we need to vote in favour of this bill.
    However, we will vote for it reluctantly and with heavy hearts. We do not want the change to take effect on March 17, 2023, but there is another catch in this bill.
    Bill C-39, introduced by the Minister of Justice, extends the deadline by one year. The bill extends the March 17, 2023, date to March 17, 2024. Why is it one year? Why not push it back two years? Why not suspend or abolish this section altogether? Why rush the expansion of MAID to people living with mental illness when the country does not want it and when doctors themselves are divided on the issue?
    I would like to close by saying that medical assistance in dying is a sensitive issue that speaks to our values and our history, too. What we are asking of the Canadian government is not to simply postpone the date. We are asking the government to give us time, as parliamentarians and as Canadian citizens, to take the time needed. I believe that rushing such matters is always ill-advised.

  (1620)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I have read the recommendations of the committee of the Quebec National Assembly. I am interested in this, as the member is a Quebecker who seems to be opposed to it. The perception of a lot of us outside of Quebec is that the greatest support for more liberal approaches to medical assistance in dying is from Quebec. Is this not the case? Would she like to comment on that?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I think Canadians are on the same page as Quebeckers. I think it would be in our best interest to take all the time we need to really think through this very sensitive and delicate issue, which involves very personal and deeply held values, so that we can properly assess all the consequences.
    To be honest, I am concerned that the one-year delay will not change anything, let alone address the issues that are already being raised about expanding medical assistance in dying to people living with a mental health condition. Quite frankly, I do not think we are there at all. We would be rushing things if we move forward, and that would be dangerous for our society.
    Madam Speaker, I commend my colleague who is a member of the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying.
    I would just like to provide her with a bit of context. Bill C‑7, which is the fruit of a compromise with the Senate, was meant to respond to a requirement in a court ruling to allow Ms. Gladu and Mr. Truchon to have access to medical assistance in dying.
    No one in Quebec considered the passage of Bill C‑7, which allowed Ms. Gladu and Mr. Truchon to have access to medical assistance in dying, to be reckless. There was a consensus on it. It needed to be passed. We passed it while creating a special panel of experts that was meant to table a report within two years to inform a joint committee, which was tasked with reviewing the report and making recommendations that would come later.
    We have to be careful when we talk about rushing things. Let us take our foot off the gas. By March 2024, we will have been thinking about this for three years.
    What is more, when my colleague says that the public is not on board, I would like her to show me some polls to support that claim. In any event, the current problem is that her party wanted the committee to table a report in June because the Conservatives were against giving the joint committee any extensions on its deadlines so that it could do a good job. Each time, we fought for an acceptable deadline to do decent work. I think they are being a bit hypocritical.

  (1625)  

    Madam Speaker, I think it would be better for my colleague to choose his words more carefully.
    Unless I am mistaken, last week we heard him say in an interview that there was no agreement on the issue of MAID for those with a mental illness. My colleague also went to the trouble of stating that one in two experts did not agree.
    I will close by citing the panel he spoke about.
     The evolution of many mental disorders, like some other chronic conditions, is difficult to predict for a given individual. There is limited knowledge about the long-term prognosis for many conditions, and it is difficult, if not impossible, for clinicians to make accurate predictions about the future for an individual patient.
     I will stop there.
    Madam Speaker, there is another crisis underlying the discussion we are having right now, and that is the mental health crisis in this country. The government promised to put funding in place for Canadians to get help, but the Liberals have really been dragging their feet on that.
    I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on the current situation. Does she think the government should provide more resources and make sure that mental health issues really are recognized as a serious problem?
    Madam Speaker, the member is absolutely right. Mental health is a very serious issue in our society. Rather than talking about medical assistance in dying for people with mental health disorders, the government should make funding available, and quickly, so that everyone in this country living with mental health challenges, whether in rural or urban areas, has access to care.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-39, an act to amend the Criminal Code with regard to medical assistance in dying. It is a bill I will be supporting to protect the most vulnerable Canadians from the Liberal government's reckless expansion of medical assistance in dying to Canadians who are suffering solely from a mental illness.
    Unbelievably, if Bill C-39 does not pass, Canadians struggling with a mental disorder or illness will be able to access MAID as early as next month. As the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention said, “Just as life is getting harder in Canada, it is getting easier to die.”
    It is important to be perfectly clear that when considering MAID in the context of someone who is not dying as a result of their condition, such as a mental disorder alone, we are talking about suicide. It is almost as if the Liberals have given up. Instead of protecting the most vulnerable in society, they have opted for the easy way out. They have chosen a dangerous path, a slippery slope. They have opened medical assistance in dying to the most vulnerable in our society, and now they want to stop the clock, buy more time and find another politically expedient reprieve without doing anything to help.
    I listened intently to the debate today, and honestly, it almost makes me ashamed to be a politician. Earlier today, the minister said that we need more time. Yes, we do. I have said this since the very first debate we had on MAID in 2016. During my intervention back then, I said as a new member of Parliament that nothing prepares one to adequately debate or intervene on such a weighty issue. We need to ensure we get this right, yet the Liberals rushed it through.
    We have all heard very real stories: an Ontario man requesting MAID because it was more preferable than being homeless, the woman who has applied for MAID after seven years of not finding affordable housing and Canadians accessing food banks and asking for help with MAID. More and more Canadians are struggling, and we should be doing everything to support them, not giving up on them. We have also heard the unbelievable stories of Veterans Affairs employees suggesting MAID to veterans who are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. These are real stories; they are not sensationalism.
    As the Canadian Mental Health Association has said, “Canada is failing to meet its human rights obligations when [Canadians] with a mental illness cannot receive the programs, supports and resources they need to be well and live with dignity.” The government is failing to provide even the most basic programs and supports.
    This is a topic that my constituents feel very strongly about. It is a divisive topic, to say the least, and I respect people's decisions, but one thing is clear: A majority of my constituents, and indeed Canadians all across our beautiful country, are against the expansion of MAID for Canadians solely dealing with mental illness or disorders.
    Canadians need to know what we are fighting for today. We need to look beyond what we are debating. The simplicity of Bill C-39 is a contradiction to the complexity of the issue. What we are really talking about is the ability for those suffering with mental illness to end their lives. Instead, we should be here today talking about what we can do to help those in need and what we can do to provide the services that will save lives.
    Earlier today and throughout the debate, the Liberals have tried to explain away the provisions that included mental illness in MAID. They have attempted to shift the focus from what is actually happening to what is politically expedient, with the exception of our hon. colleague from Thunder Bay—Rainy River, whose speech I truly appreciated. Instead of addressing the issue head-on, they are looking for us as parliamentarians to buy more time to find a soft landing.
    I will be voting in favour of Bill C-39, but I cannot support the addition of suicide to MAID ever. Let us be honest that this is exactly what we are talking about. There are times when partisan politics are called for and this not one of those times. We can disagree on tax hikes, we can disagree on gun legislation and we can disagree on who is best prepared to move our country forward. However, we cannot disagree on the importance of life and the importance of fighting for those who are struggling and who believe their only way out of the hardship they are experiencing is death. Is that not what we are here for? Is that not what all of us, all 338 members of Parliament, ran on? Was it not to stand up for those who are struggling, Canadians from coast to coast?
    We need to be doing everything we can to make sure we are helping those who are struggling and who are the most vulnerable. We should be focused on offering help and treatment rather than assisted death.

  (1630)  

     Just two short years ago, all members of the House stood and voted in favour of creating an easy to remember three-digit suicide prevention hotline. It has been a long road forward, but this fall, Canadians who find themselves in trouble will have a chance to get the help they need. When seconds matter, they will not be forced to google a 10-digit number. They will simply pick up their phone to dial or text 988, and they will be able to talk to a person to start the process to get help.
    The 988 hotline will not be the end point. It will be the beginning. It will provide one more tool with which those who are suffering can reach out for help.
    As many of my colleagues know, I have dedicated my life to fighting for those who suffer silently or struggle with mental illness. I have sat with so many families devastated by suicide whose only hope is that we do everything in the House to ensure other families never experience what their families have. There is so much pain and so much guilt. Through my work, I have met many who have struggled with mental illness or mental injury due to their service.
    I think about my friends. Jason is a giant of a man who was a firefighter. He was gripped with PTSD and wanted to die by suicide, but instead, he chose life. Now he helps others on their journey to beat PTSD and OSI. My friend Kent continues to serve our community each and every day. I think about their families every day and how I am so thankful my friends chose life.
     I think about my own life and how at one point, I was struggling. It was one intervention, one by chance intervention that made me chose life. When someone is struggling with a mental injury, it is sometimes tough to see the forest through the trees. Sometimes people cannot see the light through the darkness. Sometimes people just need someone to tell them they are fighting for them and to help them get the assistance they need.
    I live every day to fight for those who are struggling. We need to be doing everything we possibly can to make lives easier for Canadians, to give hope when it seems there is none. We need the government to be working with stakeholders to find the means to support those with mental illness. We have spent far too long talking about it. We have spent far too much time on studies that sit on shelves somewhere and gather dust. We have spent far too long doing nothing.
     I will be supporting this legislation, but I will never support the inclusion of mental illness in MAID. It is a slippery slope. We need to take the next year or longer, find out how we can provide real support and figure out where we can actually make a difference. We need to spend the next year at least working on solutions that will keep Canadians alive.
    A few weeks ago, I had a meeting with a man whose young daughter had ended her life by suicide. We spoke over Zoom for almost an hour, and I listened to his story. I heard the grief. I heard the despair, and I heard the regret.
    Those who have children know what I am talking about. We live our lives to make our children’s lives better. We want the world for them. We want to give our kids everything we never had. We want this place to be better for them, and we want them to know we care.
    What I heard in that man’s voice was utterly devastating. It was heart-wrenching. He said to me, “Todd, I can live with the death of my daughter, but thinking of what she had to go through, how many hoops she had to jump through just to access help, and how she had to navigate her crisis all alone is unbearable.” He said that he can live with the death of his daughter.
     I honestly do not know how someone can listen to those words and think that what we are doing here is totally acceptable. I do not mean the year-long reprieve the government wants us to support. I mean the fact that we are even at this point, having this discussion. Until we have provided every support, exhausted every means, done everything we possibly can to help someone through their pain and suffering, my God, how can we even be here talking about this? The impact of that meeting will live on with me forever: the pain in his voice, the hurt, and the image of his daughter reaching out for help that was not available.
     Conservatives do not believe that medical assistance in death is an acceptable solution to mental illness and psychological suffering. Our health care system should help people find the hope that they need to live, not assist in their deaths.

  (1635)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his touching testimony.
    I want to tell him that, in a debate like this, it is important to be able to distinguish between various realities. This report is not about mental health. A debate about mental health means talking about prevention. This debate is not about all mental disorders but rather incurable mental disorders. We must accept that there are people with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia which is incurable and irreversible.
    The suicidal state to which he refers, as he demonstrated both through his own testimony and that of other friends, is reversible. If he reads the expert panel's report, he will understand that this is not what is being discussed here and not what we will legislate. A suicidal state is reversible. No effort should be spared to provide the resources needed to reverse that state.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the intervention of our hon. colleague across the way and others from the Bloc today have absolutely frustrated me to no end, but I appreciate their points of view. I believe recovery is always possible.
    As our colleague from Thunder Bay—Rainy River has said, even the experts do not agree with what our Bloc colleague is saying. There are some who can recover and lead healthy and viable lives. Those are the people we should be fighting for all the time, making sure that they know we are there putting in the supports so they do not have to jump through a million hoops just to get the help they need.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for what I believe is an important intervention and intersection between health care, mental health and this bill. Of course, it is no secret that Canadians from coast to coast to coast are enduring an incredible level of poverty. Poverty is one of the driving forces that contribute to folks' mental health and the fact that they cannot see a light at the end of that tunnel when they fall behind.
    Does the member support the New Democratic Party's call for a guaranteed livable basic income, which would raise folks out of this kind of poverty? I hear the Conservatives laughing right now about this, but a guaranteed livable basic income would ensure that folks actually have a chance to get out of poverty to begin a path of recovery. The member just stated that he believes everyone deserves a chance at recovery and that everyone can. Does he support this bill, which would ensure everyone has the resources to survive?

  (1640)  

    Madam Speaker, I believe that we should be viewing mental health in parity with physical health. Yes, there are a lot of different things that contribute to one's mental health, such as affordability, access to food and homelessness. We should be making sure that we are doing everything to raise people up and offer the supports that they need. First and foremost, the government needs to follow up and actually follow through with its mental health act promise that it made during the previous election.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank our hon. colleague from Cariboo—Prince George from the bottom of my heart for the work he has done in this place for people who are suffering from mental illness and who are feeling suicidal ideation, and on the need for the ability to get that 988 number. I know how heartfelt his engagement is on this.
    I will also be voting to see Bill C-39 through, but I probably differ from my colleague on the question of at what point do we say there has to be, with proper protocols and rules, access for people to medical assistance in dying. Is the member open to considering at some point, if there were a medical consensus on this, that we should proceed to extend to mental health issues as well?
    Madam Speaker, that is a tough one for me. I would have to actually work with the experts who are out there. Right now, as it sits, I could never support medical assistance in death for those who are struggling with mental illness because I believe recovery is always possible.
    Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in the House. Of course, speaking on issues as weighty as medical assistance in dying, these are perhaps some of the most difficult things we will speak of in the House. I note that this is going to be an issue I am sure we will face in the chamber over the next several months, and perhaps again, as the bill comes to pass.
    Today we are talking about mental disorder as the sole underlying medical condition for Canadians to access medical assistance in dying. The bill is presenting legislation for a one-year delay. Why is the government asking for a one-year delay? Certainly, this is about the concerns Canadians have across this great country with respect to the presentation of the government.
    Perhaps, it will be similar to Bill C-21, when the issues Canadians had were brought forward by the Conservatives, and the Liberals had to change position on that bill. We know that there are mental health advocates who have significant concerns about the bill, such as the Association of Chairs of Psychiatry, which brought forth issues related to mental disorder as the sole underlying medical condition.
    One of the things that is germane is to help people understand what it is we were studying at the joint committee on medical assistance in dying. We were talking about mature minors. We were talking about advance requests. We were talking about Canadians with disabilities. We were talking about the state of palliative care in Canada, and we were talking about Canadians who suffer with a mental disorder. When we looked at these particular topics, there were many contentious issues, and it became heated and personal at times, which was perhaps as it should be.
    For comparison, I think we need to understand that, when we look at Canada and its perhaps 38 million people, we know that in the last year, 10,000 people died from medical assistance in dying. In California, which has a very similar population and perhaps similar rules, there were only 400 deaths due to medical assistance in dying.
    People might ask why we would not compare with the Netherlands. It has been at this for a while, and maybe it is a better representation. They have a population of 17 million people and about 5,000 people died to medical assistance in dying.
    They already have statutes that include depression, dementia and all the other things I have mentioned previously, so if we wanted to compare that directly to Canada, including depression and perhaps advance requests, they would have about 10,000 deaths at the current time. We know that in Canada, without mental disorder and without advance requests, there are already 10,000 people who have died between 2020 and 2021 due to MAID. That is a year over year increase of 32%.
    That, to me, is concerning, and I think that anybody in this chamber would also know that on the world stage, sadly, in my mind anyway, Canada has been a world leader in medical assistance in dying, and many countries around the world have brought forward concerns of the slippery slope that Canada is now going down.
    One of the things the government has promised to Canadians, which they have not delivered upon, is the Canada mental health transfer, and I am sure that my hon. colleague just before me spoke about this, so I am sad to have missed it. That was a $4.5 billion transfer that was promised by the government in its platform in the last election. I read a new article about this, and it says, “in August 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this brand new transfer was needed”—

  (1645)  

    Madam Speaker, on a point of order, in his speech, the member called the Prime Minister by his first name.
    I think the hon. member may have just caught himself as well. Although the hon. member may be reading a quote, he can just mention “Prime Minister” instead of mentioning the name.
    The hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester.
    Madam Speaker, I thank you for that astute advice. I really appreciate it.
    This article said, “because mental health should be a priority.” That is the article I am quoting, which has the Prime Minister's name. It is important that Canadians understand that.
    “But despite the sense of urgency in [the Prime Minister's] remarks last year,” and I have changed that word to satisfy the chamber, because we all know who the Liberal Prime Minister is, “no money has yet materialized for this new Canada mental health transfer”.
    I am going to say that again, just to make sure that everybody has heard it. No money has yet materialized, “including an initial $875 million that was supposed to have been spent or budgeted by now, according to the Liberal party’s 2021 election platform.”
    “The Liberal platform document included a line-by-line costing of all its election promises, and it outlined a promise to spend $250 million in 2021-22 on the new mental health transfer, and then $625 million in the current 2022-23 fiscal year, with additional amounts over the next three years adding up to $4.5 billion total.”
    “None of the promised spending over the last two fiscal years has yet been allocated or spent.”
    To me, that is important. Again, I will quote from the Liberal Prime Minister, “because mental health should be a priority.”
    Where is the priority of mental health, and why is it not materializing?
    We know that my hon. colleague, who spoke just before me, talked incessantly about a three-digit suicide prevention hotline, which was harder than giving birth to a baby elephant to make it happen. It is absolutely shocking to think about how the government wants to talk about being helpful to Canadians and how it has their proverbial backs, etc. I just do not see that. That is absolutely atrocious.
    This article goes on to talk about the national director of public policy for the Canadian Mental Health Association, and they pointed out that the “April budget contained no money earmarked for this new transfer.”
    “Let’s be clear, for it not to be in Budget 2022, at least with a timeline of ramp up to the $4.5 (billion), you know, it was really concerning to us.” That was stated by the Canadian Mental Health Association.
    After eight years, why does the government continue to fail Canadians? That would be a great question to know the answer to.
    We also heard in the health committee last week that counsellors and psychotherapists are required to charge GST on their services. We know that, sadly, many Canadians do not have private coverage for those services, but to add insult to injury, to pour salt in a wound, what we are now requiring is for Canadians to pay GST on those services. How does that make any sense?
    It goes on to say that, “psychiatrists across the country [are] 'incredibly concerned' about patients needing better access to care, including addiction services”. These are addiction services that the government would tout are a whole other kettle of fish and are quite shocking.
    There is still controversy around providing medical assistance in dying for people with mental disorders among providers. Obviously, one of the other things that I think is very important is the fact that the government has not transferred any, zero, nada, zilch, of the $4.5 billion. Think of my riding of Cumberland—Colchester and the difficulties that rural Canadians are suffering.
    Because of their geography, rural Canadians are struggling not only to get access to mental health, but also to put gas in their cars to get them to the actual appointments. The punishing carbon tax that the government wants to put on everything in this country is really affecting their ability to have the money to pay the extra GST required for counselling and psychotherapy.
    We all know that if people are struggling to put food on the table, and if Canadians have to choose between eating and looking after their mental health, they are likely going to choose eating. This is a sad commentary on life in Canada where it appears that everything is broken. The sad commentary will continue in this country because of the punishing taxes the government wants to continue levying on Canadians, which is making life unaffordable.

  (1650)  

    We know the crisis in mental health is going to continue. It would appear that approximately one in three Canadians is struggling with their mental health. We know that the government has put out its own projections to say, if we read the report on departmental results, it would expect that 22% of Canadians would not be able to access mental health care, and the actual result is 25% of Canadians cannot access mental health care. This is unacceptable. Zero percent of Canadians should have this issue, and we have a government that thinks 25% is acceptable.
    Madam Speaker, we have been hearing a lot of very disturbing news items about people who are living in poverty. A lot of them are people with disabilities. A lot of those people have mental health issues, and they are considering MAID because they cannot afford to live in dignity.
    I am wondering if the member would join the NDP in saying that those people should have the resources to live in dignity, whether they are living with disabilities or not. They would need the resources to buy food. They would need affordable housing.
    Would the hon. member comment on that side of the problem?
    Madam Speaker, first and foremost, I will not join the NDP. That certainly is something I would not entertain.
    What we do know is that Canadians are suffering significantly in this country. How we go about solving that problem is certainly an issue that would be a matter of debate for many years here in the chamber.
    We know that Canadians around the country are looking at the Conservatives and saying they need a change in the government. They know that the Conservatives have ideas that are going to allow Canadians to make their own money, to spend their own money in the way Canadians think is desirable and to be a part of the greatest country in the world. That is how Conservatives would do that.

  (1655)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I listened to three or four speeches, and members seem to be talking a lot about the idea that we need good mental health care, that we need psychologists and psychiatrists, that we need to help people before considering the option of medical assistance in dying for people with mental illness. For all that to happen, we need more money in the health care system. There was a meeting about improving health care last week, but the offer that the federal government put on the table was shameful. The leader of the official opposition said that he would honour that offer. It seems to me that everyone agrees that better mental health care is needed, but that means that the government needs to increase funding for the health care system.
    I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on that. I think his party should be calling for more health care funding.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for that great question.

[English]

    We know, very clearly, there are multiple ways to fix the health care system. Certainly those would be rolled out, as we come closer to election time, in the platform of the Conservative Party. What we also know is that people who want to immigrate to this country to be a part of the health care system are being disrespected in terms of how their credentials may or may not be recognized in this country.
    As everybody in the chamber knows, if we were going to create another psychiatrist from inception, at the time of going to university, there is a four-year undergraduate degree, four years of medical school and at least four years of residency. We cannot wait for that.
    On this side of the House, when the Conservatives form the government, we would be very respectful of immigrants and the talents they bring to this country, and how they could help the ailing health care system.
    Madam Speaker, I have been sitting on the special MAID committee with the member for some time, and I appreciate his contribution.
    I take issue when he said that the conversations have been heated and personal. I do not remember it being that way. There were passionate discussions, but it was certainly never personal. I hope he did not find that I ever contributed to that impression.
    We can disagree all day long on whether the government has been making mental health funding a priority. He has made a point of talking about the mental health transfer. If the mental health transfer had happened yesterday, is there any scenario in which the member would agree that mental health is appropriate grounds for MAID, or is it just full stop for him?
    Madam Speaker, I do not recall my hon. colleague making anything personal in the MAID committee, so I am thankful for that.
    There is one thing that is very important. We can talk about scenarios, what-ifs, therefores and plausibility, but let us be clear. What we know is that the Liberal government committed $4.5 billion to fund the Canada mental health transfer, and it sent none of it, zero, zilch, nada.
    Madam Speaker, it is important to outline what we are talking about here today: Bill C-39. Currently, due to Bill C-7, the Criminal Code explicitly states that, when it comes to MAID, mental illness is not to be considered an illness, disease or disability. However, when Liberals passed Bill C-7 two years ago, it had a sunset clause, and this is an important clarification. That means an important guardrail protecting those with mental illness from being eligible to seek MAID during times of depression or other crisis would expire two years after that bill passed, which means it is set to expire next month.
    Now the Liberals, having heard the outcry from across the country, from the medical community and those serving the folks with mental illness, have introduced Bill C-39. This is a last-minute attempt to save face by extending the prohibition on MAID for mental illness for one more year. That is not good enough.
    Conservatives have been united in our opposition to expanding the Liberal government’s medical assistance in dying regime to Canadians with the sole underlying condition of mental illness. We do not believe that medical assistance in dying is an acceptable solution to mental illness and psychological suffering. Our health care system should help people find hope when they need to live and not assist in their deaths.
    Allowing MAID for people with mental illnesses such as depression blurs the line between suicide assistance and suicide prevention. Experts have been clear that expanding eligibility for medical assistance in dying to Canadians living with mental illness cannot be done safely. It is impossible to determine the irremediability of an individual case of mental illness.
    For example, Dr. Sonu Gaind, who is the physician chair of the MAID team at the Humber River Hospital in Toronto, where he is chief of psychiatry, states, “I know that some assessors think they can make those predictions of irremediability in mental illness, and some assessors think they can separate what we consider traditional suicidality from what’s fuelling psychiatric MAID requests. And on both counts they’re wrong. The evidence shows that.”
    Andrew Lawton, Canadian columnist and journalist, wrote a harrowing personal article two years ago, stating:
    If Bill C-7 were the law of the land a decade ago, I’d probably be dead....
    In 2010, I nearly succeeded in committing suicide. My battle with depression was worsening, and I was losing. Miraculously, I pulled through: I count my lack of success in that attempt as my happiest failure, for which I’m grateful to God’s intervention and a team of dedicated healthcare practitioners.
    It’s saddening to think that under different circumstances, these practitioners could have been the ones killing me rather than saving me....
    Bill C-7 undermines years of attention and billions of dollars of funding to bolster mental illness treatments and supports, including, ironically, suicide prevention and awareness campaigns and programs.
    This bill kills hope and reinforces the flawed belief afflicting those with mental illness, that life is not worth living and that one’s circumstances cannot improve.
    Every time I have risen to speak on these bills, that has been my emphasis as well: Life is worth living. Every life has dignity and value. We need to be far better as a nation at communicating that to those who need to hear it the most.
    Two years ago my friend Lia shared her story with Canadians. She said, “I was 15 when I first tried to kill myself and I attempted suicide seven times in the years that followed...I’m speaking about my mental health struggles because I’m scared that doctors could soon be able to end the lives of people suffering with mental illness - people like me. To be honest, if medically assisted suicide had been available when I was in university, I would have used it to end my suffering as soon as I could.”
    This is Lia's call to parliamentarians: “I don’t need someone to tell me how to die, I need someone to tell me to stay.”
    The House should be writing laws that instill the value of life and that there is no question this is what we value. Laws need to encourage people to stay rather than seek to end their lives.
    Dr. John Maher is an Ontario psychiatrist and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Ethics in Mental Health. Dr. Maher has highlighted that the wait times for mental health treatment in Ontario programs are up to five years long, and that one of his patients recently told him that he would like assisted suicide because he believed that nobody loved him.

  (1700)  

     Dr. Maher also rejects assisted suicide as a solution for mental illness by stating the following:
    You're assisting someone in the completion of their suicide. The doctor is the sanitized gun...I'm not at all disagreeing that there are people who have an irremediable illness. What I defy you or any other person in the universe to prove to me is that it's this person in front of you.
    The suicide prevention community has also pointed out the harsh reality for costs. Shawn Krausert, the executive director of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, testified at committee and said the following:
    Ending the life of someone with complex mental health problems is simpler and likely much less expensive than offering outstanding ongoing care. This creates a perverse incentive for the health system to encourage the use of MAID at the expense of providing adequate resources to patients, and that outcome is unacceptable.
    Most Canadians do not support expanding MAID to those with mental illness as the only underlying condition. Today, a survey was published in which a mere 30% of Canadians support MAID for those who have a mental illness.
    I can assure members that, among my constituents, that number is far lower. The vast majority of my constituents want the federal government to focus on helping people live well and to invest in palliative care and suicide prevention instead of assisted suicide.
    Some of the petitions I have tabled here over the years were sent to me by constituents who have recognized that suicide is the leading cause of death for Canadians between the ages of 10 and 19. They are specifically calling on the government to protect Canadians struggling with mental illness by facilitating treatment and recovery, not death.
    I agree with my constituents, and the majority of Canadians, that the government should withdraw this bill entirely and table a bill that permanently removes the extension and expansion of assisted suicide for mental illness when it is an underlying condition.
    I want to end with some words from my friend Lia. She says:
    I want to say right now, to whoever might need to hear this: death doesn’t have to be the answer. It takes work. It takes time. It takes others. And it's complicated. But there is hope...I’m sharing my story because I’m not the only one who has more to live for. There are people in your life who do too. As someone who struggles with mental illness, I don’t need someone to tell me how to die. I need someone to tell me to stay.

  (1705)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his effort.
    That said, if Bill C-39 were withdrawn, on March 17, mental disorders would not be excluded from medical assistance in dying. It is important to know what we are talking about.
    Also, I do not know on what authority my colleague can claim that he would have had access to medical assistance in dying, given that the expert report clearly states that no expert on the planet considers suicidal ideation to be irreversible. Therefore, even if he was thinking about suicide, he would not have had access to medical assistance in dying.
    What makes him say that he would have had access to MAID?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I think that is what the article by my friend Mr. Lawton was talking about. It was the very fact that, under this new regime that comes into place a year from now, he would be eligible for assisted suicide. He is quite convinced of that. It is not clear to him in the law, and it is not clear to me in the law, that, if he were seeking help in 2023 rather than in 2010, there would be any obligation for the health care system to promote life rather than to fulfill his wishes to die. These were, in fact, his wishes at the time when he attempted suicide. That is the way I read the law. That is the way Andrew Lawton reads the law, and I have no evidence to support the opposite of that.
    Madam Speaker, as members know, more and more Canadians are speaking about the concerns that have been raised across the country about the lack of supports for mental health. We are in the midst of a mental health crisis. We are not seeing adequate resources, by any means, being applied to help address the needs that so many Canadians have. It is very relevant to the debate we are having tonight.
    Does my honourable colleague feel we need to be putting those supports in place immediately so that Canadians who are experiencing challenges around mental health get the support they need and deserve?
    Madam Speaker, yes, I agree that we need to ensure we have the supports in place to support those who are going through mental health challenges, but I also think we need to address some of the underlying causes.
     Why is there a mental health crisis in this country? After eight years of the Liberal government, out-of-control inflation, cost of living going up dramatically and a general sense of the country not progressing and not flourishing have led to a significant increase in the mental health crisis across this country. We have to ensure we bring hope to the country and to Canadians, and work to improve the general mental health of Canadians across the board.
    Madam Speaker, my concern is that I have many constituents in my riding with disabilities, and some of them have no voice. The people who are caring for the individuals with disabilities also have mental health issues, but they also have POAs for the individuals. How is that going to impact their decisions if they are not in their right minds to make those decisions for their disabled children?

  (1710)  

    Madam Speaker, the disability community has reached out to me repeatedly over the last number of years, given the regime on euthanasia and how there are two classes of citizens in this country when it comes to the eligibility for MAID. There are those who will be offered help and those who will not be offered help. That is a troubling thing.
     I believe that the health care system in this country should be out of the business of MAID and should be in the business of helping to cure people. I understand the Supreme Court rulings, but the Supreme Court never said anything about having to have the health care system assist suicide or euthanizing people in this country. I think we can bring forward a system that works to ensure that life is valued in this country and that folks with disabilities feel that they are not being burdens on our society.
    Madam Speaker, I have decided to share today for the first time the story of my young cousin Gabriel, who died by suicide on March 25, 2021. I hope his story provides some comfort to others and sharpens our understanding about the impact of the government’s proposal to legalize suicide for those with mental health challenges.
    Gabriel was born here in Ontario, but spent most of his life in the United States. He had a loving and supportive family, which included three siblings, but he struggled throughout his life as a result of personal health circumstances that were generally hard to classify. He had Asperger’s syndrome and other things that affected the way he experienced the world. These health challenges made it difficult for him to form relationships with his peers and contributed to a sense of rejection and loneliness, but his family was always there for him, helping him work through the challenges and helping him to see his God-given dignity and purpose.
    In conversations, my uncle has reflected on the contrast between Gabriel’s experience and that of his younger sister, Anastasia. Anastasia has Down syndrome. Society perceives her as having a disability. In fact, babies with Down syndrome face an extremely high abortion rate because our society fails to value people with Down syndrome, and also because it is poorly understood. Though perceived as having a visible disability, Anastasia is full of life, joy and happiness, which she effortlessly shares with all she encounters, especially those who are suffering. Gabriel, by contrast, did not look any different. He did not have an easily recognizable disability, but had immense pain that was largely invisible to the world around him.
    I last saw Gabriel during a family road trip in 2019. At the time, he was working as an independent construction contractor and doing very well. However, as happened with many young small business owners, his business was hit hard by the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, even though he himself was not at great risk from the virus. In March of 2020, a lot of North America and the world shut down as a result of fears about this novel coronavirus. People died from the virus, but many also lost livelihoods and communities, as well as opportunities to engage in meaningful work, so many died by suicide, in proportions that we will never know precisely.
    The current government chose these unusual circumstances as the time to push forward its radical agenda of legalization of medically facilitated suicide for those facing mental health challenges. It brought its new euthanasia law into force on March 17, 2021. This bill made changes to the euthanasia regime in Canada that were universally decried by the disability community.
    As it relates to mental health, the bill contained a mechanism by which the prohibition on legalized medically facilitated suicide would automatically expire two years later, on March 17, 2023. Thus, the government legalized suicide for those with mental health challenges, but delayed the coming into force of that legalization until this year. Meanwhile, my cousin died by suicide eight days after the passage of the legislation, on March 25, 2021, just shy of his 26th birthday.
    These events were not connected. My cousin was not following Canadian politics at the time and would not have seen our deliberations as being relevant to him where he lived. Nonetheless, as I got the call from my father in the lobby of this very chamber, I thought about the many people like Gabriel who will be affected by our work, the many people like Gabriel who live with unseen pain, have highs and lows, and are deeply loved by family and friends.
    Until now, the message we have all sought to deliver to people like Gabriel is that they are loved and valued and that their lives are worth living. It has been famously said, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” This insight was explored in depth by the great psychiatrist and concentration camp survivor Dr. Viktor Frankl. Frankl observed and reflected on the circumstances of his fellow prisoners and came to realize how important meaning is to human life.
    Human beings are highly adaptable to circumstances, even when those circumstances involve extreme pain. Their ability to endure that pain hinges on their sense of meaning and purpose. I say it again, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” Frankl developed a psychological method called “logotherapy” out of this insight, meaning that, in a therapeutic context, helping people develop an understanding of their purpose and their meaning provides the critical ingredient for happiness, even happiness in spite of pain.
    For someone suffering from physical or mental health challenges, there is the immediate treatment or therapy they receive, but there is also the larger social context that shapes their ability to see meaning and value in their life in the midst of suffering. I think colleagues here will identify with the fact that, when someone in our family is suffering from mental health challenges, we seek to help them reduce or eliminate their pain, but we also seek to show them that their life has value and meaning in the midst of that pain.
    The problem is that we now live in a society that increasingly misidentifies the meaning of life as being the avoidance of pain. We follow Bentham in thinking that happiness is simply the maximization of pleasure over pain, instead of appreciating the historically much more common insight that happiness consists in the life well lived and the life lived in accordance with meaning and purpose.

  (1715)  

    Today, many people think that there is no point in living if one suffers, whereas in the past it would have been universally accepted that a person can live a good, meaningful and even happy life that includes a measure of suffering and pain. If we, as a people, come to define meaning and happiness as the avoidance of pain, then we contribute to a loss of hope for people like my cousin. He can live a good life if he is able to believe that his life has value and meaning in spite of his pain. However, if he is made to believe that the good life consists solely in the avoidance of pain, then he must endure both the pain of the moment and the loss of perceived purpose and value. The combination of pain with a loss of purpose is likely always a cross too heavy to bear.
    My uncle told me that his message to Gabriel was always “We'll get through this; we'll figure this out.” Gabriel's family sought to push back against the idea that an early death was inevitable for someone like Gabriel, showing him that a good life was possible and that obstacles could be overcome.
    However, when legislators endorse medically facilitated suicide for those who are grappling with questions of purpose and meaning in the midst of great pain and suffering, we send them the message that their life is not worth living and we undermine their pursuit of meaning in the midst of that suffering. When doctors or when employees at Veterans Affairs Canada put suicide on the table as a way out, then they sharply send the message to the sufferer that maybe their life is not worth living or that early death is inevitable because of what they're going through.
    Today, I would like to send a different message. I would like to say to the Gabriels of the world that they are loved, they are valued and their suffering and pain do not rob them of their essential human dignity or their ability to live out a noble purpose in the world. I want to send that message because it is true, but also because it is therapeutically useful, so that all those who are looking for meaning in their life can know that such meaning can be found even in the midst of pain. Notwithstanding the government's position, I hope that my statement today does send that message.
    I know that the government's response to this is to suggest that there is some sharp moral and legal line between suicide on one hand and MAID on the other, with MAID or “medical assistance in dying” being the uniquely Canadian and politically manufactured term for when a medical professional intentionally kills a patient. Is MAID for a person with mental health challenges the same thing as suicide? Of course it is. The only difference is that the actual pulling of the trigger is done by someone else. It is suicide with an accomplice. Is MAID available to the suicidal? Either MAID is for those who want it or it is for those who do not want it. Assuming that MAID is still supposed to be only for those who request it, and since the term “suicidal” literally means “desiring suicide”, then MAID is for, and only for, those who are suicidal, by definition.
    The minister responsible for mental health recently told the House, “All of the assessors and providers of MAID are purposely trained to eliminate people who are suicidal.” Perhaps her use of the term “eliminate” was a Freudian slip, but if she means that those who are suicidal are not eligible for MAID, then who in the world is eligible for MAID? Is it the non-suicidal? It becomes evident, when one provides simple definitions for the words being used, that so-called MAID is the same as medically facilitated suicide, and therefore that the policy of the government is to have the medical system offer to facilitate the suicide of those who are experiencing suicidality as a result of mental health challenges. Such an offer fundamentally changes the message that those suffering will receive from society about the meaning and value of their lives.
    Specifically, the House is today debating Bill C-39, a bill that would extend the coming into force of this heinous reality for another year. I support Bill C-39, because I will support any measure that further delays the coming into force of this horror. Conservatives believe that this should be delayed indefinitely. In the meantime, we will vote for the legislation in front of us. Who knows? Perhaps the extra year will mean an election and a chance to euthanize this grievous and irremediable proposal once and for all.
    Finally, I know that many members of the government share my opposition to the proposal, at least privately. I spoke earlier about the work of Viktor Frankl. In his work on logotherapy, he outlined how moral distress can be detrimental to a person's mental health. He tells the story of one patient who experienced great moral distress because of things he was asked to do at his job. His psychiatrist had for years been working with him on a complicated regimen that involved the re-evaluation of events in his childhood. Frankl himself told his patient to just get a new job, which solved the problem entirely.
    To those experiencing moral distress, they should not over-complicate a simple matter. They will lose their sense of self and their own sense of meaning in life if they sacrifice their moral judgment to a fanatical justice minister. Please stand for what is right. For the Gabriels of the world, there is too much at stake.

  (1720)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for sharing the experience of his cousin. That took a lot of courage to do and I appreciate that.
    The underlying concern that I have here is this. I know that this member and most Conservative members have been against any form of MAID legislation. They have voted against it every step of the way. I heard the member, a few seconds ago, talk about turning back the legislation on MAID if there is an election. Is he referring to just what we are talking about now, in terms of the mental health aspect of it, or is he talking about MAID in its entirety? It was something that was created out of a ruling of the Supreme Court.
    Madam Speaker, our party has a diversity of views on many aspects of the euthanasia regime in this country. At various stages along the way, there have been Conservatives who have expressed different points of views and voted different ways. My past interventions are well on the record, and I think they have actually been borne out by the experience of this.
    When we first debated Bill C-14, I said there was a slippery slope here and the so-called restrictions were not going to work and were not going to remain in place. We have slid quite far down that slippery slope, so I can certainly defend the positions I have taken historically.
    I think the diversity of views within our party is often a source of strength, but our caucus is united in saying that this expansion of euthanasia to those with mental health challenges is not acceptable and is not justified. It is something we are united in opposing.
    Madam Speaker, I may have asked the member this same question in a previous debate on this subject, so forgive me if I am repeating myself, but it revolves around this issue. One of the real concerns we all had with MAID, especially when it comes to people living with disabilities, is the fact that a lot of those people are not able to live in dignity right now. They do not have the resources or the funds to find affordable housing. They often do not have the funds to eat well. They cannot go out and get a job because of their disabilities. We, as Canadians, have a responsibility to provide that dignity.
    I am just wondering if the member would say that this is a problem we should tackle right away, to make sure these people do not have that horrible decision in front of them.
    Madam Speaker, I agree that we need to provide support to Canadians in all circumstances and that we need to do better to support Canadians living with disabilities. I would make one point in response to the member's question, which is that I believe human dignity is inherent. Dignity is not given by government; it is not given by circumstances. Dignity is inherent in the individual. It is incumbent upon us, at the core level, to recognize that inherent human dignity, that meaning that exists for all of us in spite of whatever challenging circumstances we may be experiencing, and for us as a society to treat people in a way that accords with and recognizes their inherent human dignity and allows them to live in ways that are fulfilling and meaningful in terms of their full potential.

  (1725)  

    Madam Speaker, I guess I am troubled by the trajectory of the MAID discussion and MAID legislation. I am glad Bill C-39 is here to delay this a bit more. The member talked about how he predicted the slippery slope. Where else could this go?
    Madam Speaker, there was a proposal from the Quebec medical association to allow children to be euthanized. In particular, that proposal was for infants born with disabilities. It is horrifying to see that somebody, purportedly a doctor, would come before a parliamentary committee and actually advocate the killing of children on the basis of their having a disability, and that the same association would double down on it. If someone had told me 10 years ago that this would actually be happening in the Canadian Parliament, of all places, it is unbelievable just how far we have slid so quickly.
    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be able to join this debate.
    The underlying legislation of Bill C-39 is very simple. The government is simply asking that it be given more time to introduce safeguards, guidelines and professional practices that would allow assisted deaths to be administered in such a way that mistakes are not made. However, we already know that mistakes are being made under the current regime, so that should not give Canadians any confidence. In fact, Bill C-7, which is the bill that has given rise to this request for an extension, is just another case of the Liberal government getting it so wrong by failing to consult in advance and then, after the fact, trying to fix all the mistakes and fill in all the gaps.
    This is another story of failure, and what I would like to do is explain a bit of the context. Members may recall that back in 2015 the Supreme Court of Canada, for the first time, opened up the door to legalized assisted suicide, and the Liberal government then responded with Bill C-14, which restricted MAID, or medical assistance in dying, to those who were at the end of their lives and living in intolerable, grievous pain. We were assured this was not a slippery slope that was intended to include other vulnerable Canadians in Canada's assisted death regime. That is what we were told. Many of us did not take the government at its word. We did push back, but the government passed the legislation anyway.
    Sure enough, here we are, some eight years down the road, and our fears were confirmed when the Quebec court, in the Truchon case, ruled that limiting MAID to those whose natural death was reasonably foreseeable was unconstitutional. The government did not appeal that case, a seminal case because it is opening up a life-and-death piece of legislation and expanding it without a reference to the Supreme Court of Canada. I believe that was an abdication of responsibility in itself. Instead, the government chose to accept the ruling and move forward with Bill C-7, which ended up extending MAID to include, among others, the mentally ill.
    I want to be clear here. I do note that the original Bill C-7, which was introduced by the justice minister, did not include the mentally ill in Canada's assisted suicide regime. However, when that piece of legislation, Bill C-7, went to the Senate, the other place, the senators inserted a provision expanding and extending assisted suicide to the mentally ill in Canada. When it came back to this House, the government, instead of pushing back, the way one would expect a government to do, simply rolled over and said it would accept it the way it was, and that is now becoming the law of the land.
    Bill C-7 also provided that the mentally ill provisions of Bill C-7 would come into force in two years. That is the sunset clause some people talk about. During that period of time, proper safeguards and practice standards were to be put in place to ensure that mistakes were not made. Not surprisingly, as it is a Liberal government, it got to the end of the two years, and virtually nothing has been done. The government actually struck an expert panel to review this, but it did not give that panel the right to review the merits of the underlying assisted suicide regime in Canada.

  (1730)  

    There is also a joint parliamentary committee between the Senate and the House that is still reviewing these provisions, and I am looking forward to that report. However, again, the mandate of the committee did not include any real, substantive review and investigation into the substance of medically assisted suicide. All it was allowed to do was tinker around the edges to implement a policy that has life-and-death implications for many Canadians.
    Here we are. We have no safeguards and there are no guidelines for our practitioners, but we support the bill because we are trying to push this down the road as far we can. I will mention why in a moment.
    The woefully inadequate rollout of the government's MAID regime is a manifestation of a Liberal government that appears to be in disarray and whose ideology is moving Canada from a culture of life to a culture of death rather than providing the necessary resources to our most vulnerable. Many in the House have raised that issue and have asked this: Why is it even necessary to apply assisted suicide to the marginalized in Canada, the vulnerable? They ask because right now we are not providing them with the resources and supports they need to live a satisfying and joy-filled life.
    What is really of concern is that numerous stakeholders have said they oppose Bill C-7. By the way, there is no broad consensus in Canada that we move forward with assisted suicide for the mentally ill. There is some consensus for MAID to be in place for other cases where there is extreme pain involved, but Canadians do not support extending it to the mentally ill.
    What is also of concern is that the government has now signalled that it will go beyond the mentally ill and would like to include mature minor children in this regime. The government is charging ahead with a life-and-death policy that has increased Canada's momentum down the slippery slope that we had warned of.
    Is death now seen as a more cost-effective way of managing the most vulnerable in our society? Many have posited that this is the case now. Canadians have a right to question whether their government can be trusted on issues of life and death. If this is being extended to the mentally ill and to mature minors, what about the indigent? What about the homeless? What about the drug addicted? What about veterans? We know that veterans have already been counselled by the government to consider MAID as an option to serve their needs and provide them with support. We know that people who are arriving at the food banks are asking where they can access MAID, because they do not want to live in poverty anymore. That is a reflection on us as parliamentarians. It is a reflection on our country, and we can do better.
    There is, however, some good news, and I will end with it.
    I recently tabled a private member's bill in the House, Bill C-314, the mental health protection act. It would reverse the Liberal government's reckless acceptance of the unelected Senate's assisted death amendments. It would arrest the dangerous momentum that the expansion of medically assisted death has triggered on the slippery slope. Under my bill, Canadians whose sole underlying medical condition is a mental disorder would not qualify for MAID. At the same time, the preamble to my bill calls upon the government to finally deliver the mental health supports that have repeatedly been promised in federal budget after federal budget but have never been delivered. This is the least we owe to those who struggle with mental illnesses such as depression.
    In closing, to ensure that we do not implement the mental health provisions of Bill C-7 before the House has an opportunity to revisit my piece of legislation, we on this side are very supportive of moving forward and passing the bill expeditiously. It will buy another year and push the whole issue of the mentally ill down the road, and we will make sure that we implement private member's legislation that actually protects the most vulnerable.

  (1735)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I do not know how many times I have to rise to say the same thing, but my Conservative colleagues are oversimplifying. That is okay. They are entitled to do that, what with free speech and all. However, among the experts who drafted the expert report and who addressed the issue of mental health care, none of them supports the idea of giving access to medical assistance in dying to someone who is depressed. It is quite the contrary. The expert report includes all the necessary safeguards to exclude those people.
    It is true that socio-economic determinants can lead to depression and suicidal ideation, but those people would not be granted medical assistance in dying. I invite my colleagues to read the report because I have noticed that there is a lack of understanding of the safeguards and precautionary principles underlying each of the recommendations. There are 16 very important recommendations in the expert report, and I invite my colleagues to read it.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, this is humorous because of the expert panel my colleague referenced. When it had finished all of its work and finished hearing from all of the witnesses, what did it actually say? It did not come up with one safeguard. The panel said to do this on a case-by-case basis, that we do need safeguards and to just go ahead with the legislation as it is. That was the expert panel.
    There are no safeguards in place in Canada right now, none. That is why the government is asking for an extension of another year. However, even if there were safeguards in place, we have never had a debate in this House on the merits of including the mentally ill and mentally disordered within Canada's assisted suicide regime.
    Madam Speaker, I remember being involved in the very first debates, and serious concerns were raised. What kinds of safeguards? What kinds of protections? We were told to pass it and then we would get a review. We never got that review.
     What we got was the unelected, unaccountable Senate, whose members are responsible to nobody but themselves, deciding that what we needed to do was rewrite the law so that anyone who was depressed or had any kind of mental depression could be allowed to die. The government accepted that. It did not even throw it back. It accepted it, and we are one week away from this outrageous extension of MAID becoming law because it sat on the Liberals' desks.
    Now we have to bring in a law that does not actually deal with that. We are just putting it off. We have never had a discussion as the elected representatives of the Canadian people to decide what is fair, what is right, how we do this and how we ensure safeguards. I would like to ask my hon. colleague about his position on this.

  (1740)  

    Madam Speaker, not surprisingly, I totally agree with the member and his analysis of what has gone on. We have had the unelected, unaccountable senators plugging in a provision that has life-and-death consequences, and the government just rolled over when it came back to this place. That is an abdication.
    The fact that there are no safeguards in place is of grave concern. However, once those safeguards are in place, we should fully expect that over time the government is going to chip away at them so that it can expand the scope of this legislation even more.
    Madam Speaker, I want to compliment the member for Abbotsford for going forward with his private member's bill, Bill C-314. I have a question for him on veterans.
    When veterans were phoning in for help on the helpline, MAID was called a benefit. Several veterans phoned our office in Saskatoon asking what the benefit of MAID was. They said when they phoned looking for assistance, they were told to go to the website; it's right on there that MAID is a benefit.
    I would like the member for Abbotsford to talk about this, because at no time has it ever been a benefit for a veteran to accept MAID.
    Madam Speaker, when I look at the plight of our veterans, I know many of them suffer from PTSD. Can anyone imagine a veteran walking into an office and asking for help? They say they need mental health supports and are asking for help. They are begging the government and the response is, “I am sorry. Why not consider medically assisted dying?” That is not acceptable.
    Madam Speaker, it gives me mixed emotions to rise today in the House on this subject. Our hearts are full of stories. I do not think there is a family that has not been touched by those who have battled with mental illness in some form at some period in their lives. The mere thought that MAID could be extended to those battling mental illness is beyond disturbing.
    I believe Canadians from coast to coast are in agreement that this is an extension that goes way too far. I rise today in this House as someone who will definitely support Bill C-39 to delay the extension of MAID to those with mental illness. With that pause and delay, I hope the government will take advantage of that time to finally put in place adequate safeguards to protect our most vulnerable.
    It has been said that the character of a nation is revealed in how it treats its most vulnerable. Right now, the character of our nation is being tested. How will we respond to this time of testing? Will we rise to the occasion to help our fellow man, our fellow humans and our fellow neighbours and friends, who are battling and struggling? Will we respond to their anguish? Will we respond to their pain? Will we respond to the cries from many across this country right now who are under increased strain mentally?
    Many are coping and trying to self-medicate. It has led to addictions in their lives and further mental health struggles. We are seeing a rise in depression, anxiety and other types of mental illnesses. It is moving across the country at a very rapid rate and to younger and younger Canadians. Our hearts are moved by this.
    The importance of this delay cannot be overstated. Let us not just delay this for another year and then have to revisit it again and have this debate again. Let us move with urgency toward putting in the necessary safeguards to protect our most vulnerable. Canadians are demanding that we respond.
    We have had many examples of the overreach and overextension of this. Veterans have been offered and advised to utilize medical assistance in dying. This is something that should never happen to those who are heroes and have served, and at a time of post-traumatic stress or in a season of anxiety and depression. We know that with adequate supports and proper care, they can traverse to the other side of the deep valley they may be in temporarily.
    I have family and friends who have had these bouts. I have seen the effects of mental illness in very deep and profound ways. In my previous vocation, I rushed to a bridge where someone was on the edge considering taking the step of ending their life. I have been called to a dam in my area in the dead of winter to respond to someone who had reached their end.
    This was some time ago, but I am very thankful to report to this House that both those individuals have moved on with their lives. They are living. They are enjoying their lives and have made some very positive changes. I am so thankful that in that moment they chose life. I am also very thankful that at that time, medical assistance in dying was not extended to those who were battling mental illness alone.
    This House must put in the adequate safeguards that are needed. Experts are telling us very clearly that this should not be extended to those solely battling mental illness, because there is no way they can adequately determine if the mental illness is irremediable.

  (1745)  

    With that uncertainty, with those legitimate concerns coming from health professionals and the majority of doctors and physicians across the country, it would behoove this House not only to pass this bill and give the delay but also to take immediate steps to implement adequate safeguards that would protect our most vulnerable.
    I pause for just a moment upon probably one of the most famous passages that has ever been quoted in times of stress and duress for many people. It is oftentimes featured in movies and at most funerals that we attend; it is a verse of great comfort:
    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.
    Death casts a very big shadow, and those of us who have lost loved ones know that pain and grief very well. Those who have lost family members and loved ones to suicide know how dark and deep that shadow is.
    However, there is hope that when we are traversing the very valley of the shadow of death, we can pass through and come out on the other side. There is hope for those who are battling mental illness, depression and anxiety; though it may feel permanent in the moment, there are many people who have traversed that valley and come out with hope and light again in their hearts and souls.
     Primarily, it is because they came to the realization that they were not alone. They had loved ones who were with them, family who cared for them, neighbours who extended a hand and those who would run in when everyone else ran out of their lives. When it looked darkest, someone lit a candle in their night that brought hope.
    I am thankful for those who brought light to me in the darkened times of my soul. I hope that everyone in this room will take the pause that this bill would grant the House, be a light in a darkened place for those who are hurting and extend the hope that is in the valley of the shadow of death. We do not have to fear, but we can walk with people through the most difficult of seasons in their lives.
    Let us bring hope and life. Let us not encourage death or a culture of death but foster a culture of hope and life for those who most desperately need it.

  (1750)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, in his speech, my colleague quoted one of his favourite sentences, and I would like to hear his comments on the following sentence: Perfection is the enemy of the good.
    Are we not letting people suffer as a result of the constant desire to set limits and constraints? Is the Conservative Party not falling into a trap? Instead of protecting life, they are protecting suffering.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I believe that we are doing something very positive when we take the time to reflect on what has been brought into place through Bill C-7 and MAID and adequately address the ever-growing concerns of this legislation being abused or overextended to those dealing with mental illness alone.
    We need to take this time, pass this bill and make sure that in the time it allots us, we put in place the safeguards that Canadians are demanding. These safeguards will make sure that veterans who are vulnerable and people with mental illness are protected and that those who are passing through a temporary season in life do not make a decision with such finality. We need to make sure we put