The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill , as reported (with amendments) from the committee.
moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
She said: Madam Speaker, for those who do not remember, I just want to quickly refresh them. This bill seeks to amend the Criminal Code under section 215, to ensure that there is a clear duty of the persons responsible for providing the necessaries of life to vulnerable adults to do so. It is very clear.
I want to thank the House. All of the parties have supported this bill because, I think, we saw what happened during COVID, the fact that many units and institutions responsible for caring for vulnerable adults did not follow protocol, did not do all of the things that they needed to do to ensure the safety of vulnerable adults. The bill is very clear, and I want to thank those who saw it and who spoke to it at the committee stage. There were some excellent amendments made that were accepted unanimously by the committee and are incorporated now into the bill.
I just want to remind everyone that it must be made clear that when we refer to people who are taking care of the necessaries of life for vulnerable adults, we do not include in that group people who are family or blood relatives who are looking after anyone. They are out of this equation. The ones we are talking about are people who are looking after three or more vulnerable adults and who are not actually bound by blood or family ties.
We have seen what happened. As a result, I brought this bill forward because, as we well know, the federal government has no responsibility, really, for long-term care facilities because they are actually under provincial jurisdiction. However, we do have some ability to look, as we did, at child abuse and to look at the fact that anyone who is not caring for and bringing the necessaries of life to vulnerable adults should be held responsible.
I must say that about four or five days ago, a report came out in my province of British Columbia that showed that, actually, for-profit agencies were not using all of the money they were given to care for vulnerable adults. They were not actually providing the hours of service. However, non-profit societies were providing more than the hours of service they were being paid for. Therefore, I think it is really important for us to recognize that this tells us that there need to be some regulations, some ability to enforce this ability to take care of vulnerable adults. By “vulnerable adults”, I want to remind the House, we do not just mean seniors. We mean any adult who is vulnerable because of age, disability, mental illness, or any other inability to take care of themselves personally. This is the definition of a vulnerable adult; it is not only our seniors.
I want to thank everybody in the House. I could speak and speak, but members have heard me speak about this. I know that most of us in the House actually support this bill, and I want to thank everyone for their support. I am hoping we can get this bill passed so we can protect the vulnerable adults in our society, especially now that we know there is evidence that COVID is on the rise again. The respiratory syncytial virus is on the rise again. Influenza is on the rise again this fall. I just want to let members know that we do not want a replication of what happened during COVID.
Madam Speaker, it is an honour, as always, to rise and contribute to the debate on Private Members' Business. Tonight we are debating Bill , moved by the member for , whose bill proposes an amendment to the Criminal Code to create a new offence for long-term care facilities, their owners and their managers who fail to provide the necessaries of life to the residents of their facilities.
The bill would also create a process by which courts could make prohibition orders against the owners and managers of such facilities, prevent them from being in charge of or in a position of authority over vulnerable adults, and to consider as an aggravating factor, for the purpose of sentencing, the fact that an organization failed to perform the legal duty it owed to a vulnerable adult.
Her concern for vulnerable adults is most certainly a credit to the member, and I share this concern for many reasons. Many of my constituents have shared with me, as a member of Parliament, personal stories about fraud, abuse and neglect of elderly or vulnerable family members. I share this concern because, like most Canadians, I have, and had, vulnerable adults in my family.
My own grandfather was defrauded by his caregiver in the final months of his life. I have spoken about it in this place before with respect to other bills designed to enhance protection for vulnerable adults, but I am going to do so again. My grandfather spent the final months of his life worrying about money and a possible financial burden on his companion because a caregiver defrauded him. This crime did not take place in an institutional setting. The perpetrator of the crime provided care to him in his home, preparing light meals and doing housekeeping. This was the level of care he needed to stay in his home with his companion comfortably, yet he was defrauded.
The local RCMP detachment had a poster in the police station imploring people to report fraud and to be aware of elder abuse, yet despite obvious and overwhelming evidence, it took months for charges to be laid. The police kept saying they were too busy to get around to arresting the suspect. This resulted in my grandfather's passing away before they eventually arrested and charged the caregiver who preyed upon an elderly couple in their own neighbourhood.
I mention this episode again in the House to be clear that I know first-hand how vulnerable adults can be prone to abuse, fraud and neglect. I also know first-hand how poorly the justice system reacts to such cases of abuse and fraud, so I can only image how slowly and reluctantly authorities react to cases of neglect. There is no doubt much more needs to be done to protect vulnerable adults. My family experience is enough to convince me of that even if I did not also have the weight of so many similar stories from the people I represent in Calgary.
I am also very concerned about the rise of incidents of violence against seniors. We know that under the current government's watch, crime has gone up significantly in every category, but according to Statistics Canada, the rate of violence against seniors has gone up faster than the increase in violence against all other age groups.
I too was appalled by the collapse of care in some seniors homes during the early weeks of the pandemic and that the military was called in to restore the most basic care and ensure that the necessities of life were delivered to helplessly vulnerable seniors.
However, this bill is not about establishing who cares the most about seniors. It is not about how to fix shortcomings in the seniors care system. It is not about how seniors care is funded or how it is delivered. It is not about regulating standards of care in long-term facilities. This bill proposes a Criminal Code amendment. This bill would amend the Criminal Code to create a new offence and give addition order-making power to courts. It was supported by parliamentarians at second reading and was referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. During the hearings, 15 provincial long-term care associations, organizations and businesses submitted briefs opposing this bill.
Six national organizations also opposed the bill, including the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Association for Long Term Care, the Canadian Medical Protective Association, the Canadian Association of Social Workers, the Canadian College of Health Leaders, and CanAge. These associations raised concerns about the unintended consequences of this bill. Some said that if passed, this bill will have a devastating impact on recruitment and retention by creating undue risk and hardship for frontline staff. They raised concerns at committee that this bill would exacerbate what is an already precarious situation with chronic labour shortages in the industry.
It was also remarked that this bill and the debate around it have had a tone of general opposition to privately owned long-term care facilities, in favour of publicly operated ones. To those who assert without evidence, mostly from philosophical conviction, that privately owned and operated long-term care facilities are more prone to instances of neglect than publicly owned ones, they could run for provincial office, which is where such facilities are regulated, and they could get involved in the regulation of health care facilities and the general regulation of commerce. They could also consider whether a new offence and new order-making provisions are the best way to protect vulnerable adults. Perhaps they could propose comprehensive anti-elder abuse legislation, something that the previous justice minister was tasked with in his mandate letter but failed to actually do before he was shuffled. During the 2021 election, the government promised a safe long-term care act, but it has not introduced one.
The Criminal Code really is a blunt instrument, and given the testimony at the justice committee, one really must reconsider whether this bill will help vulnerable adults or whether, through unintended consequences, it will make the highly stressed system of care for vulnerable adults worse rather than better. What good are new offences in the Criminal Code when existing offences are not enforced? Prohibitions against fraud, abuse, and failing to provide the necessities of life already exist in the Criminal Code, but we need better enforcement and prosecution of our laws. What good is a new offence if existing offences are not enforced?
We have seen this before with private members' bills, when a member proposes a change to the Criminal Code in order to draw attention to an issue and force a vote in the House of Commons to signal concern about an issue, but without actually creating a comprehensive solution. This is admittedly part of the limitations of private members' bills. In this case, the member for cannot propose changes that commit public money, and she cannot propose provincial regulations in the federal House of Commons. The Criminal Code is one of the things that a member can change but, again, it is a blunt policy instrument. It is a long and complex law already.
I do not like to have to criticize a bill for what it does not do, but if one just focuses on what this bill actually does, we have to consider the evidence that was presented at committee. We have to be concerned about the consequences and consider whether there are already provisions in the Criminal Code that can and should be applied to horrific cases of abuse and neglect when they arise. As I have said, when existing laws to protect the vulnerable are not a priority for law enforcement and for our courts, what is the point of passing new laws?
While I commend the member for trying to deter and punish future cases of neglect through the Criminal Code, I will not support this bill, given the evidence of harm that it will cause to the ability of existing facilities to retain workers and attract investment at a critical time, when facilities are struggling with acute labour shortages and rising costs.
Madam Speaker, I am very proud to rise today to once again speak to this bill. I already spoke to it at second reading, and I want to reiterate what I said at that time: The Bloc Québécois intends to support Bill .
This bill warranted review in committee. It should be passed and brought into force as quickly as possible. Negligence toward anyone in our life is wrong. Negligence toward our seniors and most vulnerable is shameful.
Our seniors were the victims of terrible treatment during the 2020-22 lockdown. They were often abandoned in institutions with a lack of services, a lack of staff or staff who were ill equipped. They were shuffled from one institution to another. They were considered to be in the margins, people we did not need to take care of like they deserved. They were cut off from their loved ones. Many of them died without even having their close family, children or spouse with them. That is unacceptable. Often, they were not properly fed or fed at irregular hours. They were mistreated.
Collectively, our behaviour was unbecoming. We were like ungrateful children. This must never ever happen again. In Quebec, we have legislation to address this issue, an Act to combat maltreatment of seniors and other persons of full age in vulnerable situations. I mentioned earlier that I hoped that the federal government would model its legislation on the Quebec law, and I think it did so in some regards.
Bill , which has been moved for adoption, was amended in committee. That is why we wanted to study it in committee. There were things in the bill that bothered us. We worked hard in committee, and I thank my colleagues from the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for the work we did. Many, if not all, of the amendments proposed by the Bloc Québécois were adopted. Now we have a bill that seeks to improve living conditions for our seniors and the most vulnerable among us, whether by reason of age, illness, mental disorder or disability. I think that it does us credit to think of these people during our deliberations here in the House.
These people will now be protected when they live in long-term care facilities. Situations like the ones that occurred between 2020 and 2022 were already prohibited and liable to prosecution. Now, both the owners and the officers of long-term care facilities will be personally responsible for providing necessaries of life to residents of the facilities. Again, we are talking about seniors and people with disabilities or mental disorders, people who are sick. They need us. We needed them at one time. Now, they are the ones who need us. It is wrong not to take care of them.
I therefore welcome this bill with a certain amount of pride. I hope it is not used to prosecute people for contravening its provisions, but rather to encourage them to respect what is now enshrined in law and what should be the minimum we are required to do for some of our most vulnerable citizens. One of the main responsibilities of any government or society is to treat seniors with dignity, respect and fairness. Bill tells us that we must do just that. We cannot be negligent toward our seniors or toward people who need us without being subject to prosecution under the Criminal Code.
That is not all. Their economic well-being also deserves attention. The federal government must provide the transfers that the provinces have been demanding for far too long now. These transfers are necessary for Quebec and the other provinces to properly administer health care services. In response, the federal government tells us that it intends to set conditions on its transfers and dictate the way we care for the less fortunate. Where, when and how this should be done, the federal government has no idea. The federal government does not manage any hospitals, long-term care homes or health facilities, except those catering to veterans.
The expertise exists not in Ottawa, but in Quebec City. I think that setting conditions on health transfers is outrageous. It does not mean that seniors in long-term care are going without food or baths. It means that the people in charge of these health services are being deprived of the financial means they need to meet the needs of these citizens properly. That is also unacceptable. I think that if the federal government and Parliament want to look into the well-being of the less fortunate, economic aspects should not be overlooked. We have been talking about this for years, and I am fairly certain the talking is not over. I would be very surprised if cheques were sent out next week, but I can promise that we will be there keeping an eye on things. The health care system matters.
That is not all. There are health transfers, but there is also the economic well-being of seniors. As we saw recently, the federal government decided to make seniors aged 65 to 75 poorer. The government acknowledged that needs had increased. God knows they have, and quite a bit more than the government was willing to acknowledge. It gave a 10% increase to seniors aged 75 and over, while leaving retired seniors aged 65 to 75 to fend for themselves. However, all of our laws recognize that people in that age bracket are seniors. This is an unacceptable decision, one we have also frequently criticized in the House, and we will continue to do so.
We have an opportunity to fix this inequity. My colleague, the member for Shefford, is sponsoring Bill , which we will have to vote on in the near future, probably when we return from the parliamentary break week or before the holidays. We hope it will be as soon as possible.
On the one hand, the bill proposes to increase pensions by 10% for all seniors aged 65 and over, across the board, regardless of their age, sex or race. Everyone who is 65 or over and living in Canada should be entitled to the 10% increase. People know very well, as I do, that the 10% increase does not even come close to covering the added economic burden resting on our seniors' shoulders. Groceries cost nearly twice as much and rents are skyrocketing. We are having to strike committees to look into the issue. We are out of ideas for how to stem these increases. Seniors are getting a 10% increase, which is not much at all, so the least we can do is give it to all seniors.
On the other hand, Bill also proposes to increase from $5,000 to $6,500 the maximum income a retiree can earn with no penalty clawed back from their pension. That, too, seems reasonable to me. It is the least we can do. We want to tell people that they have a right to their pension, but should they decide to work a little to make ends meet, we will not penalize them for it. I think it would be shameful to penalize them when the pension we are giving them amounts to crumbs.
We can talk about Bill and the need for us to properly take care of the most vulnerable, seniors, people with intellectual deficiencies, the sick and persons with disabilities in our long-term care facilities. We can talk about transferring money to the provinces and Quebec that is needed to provide adequate health care services in our hospitals and we can talk about the need to provide equitable and basic economic conditions to seniors. In any case, we are talking about taking care of the least fortunate among us. It does not seem right to have to talk about it here. This is something we should be doing, no questions asked, without even having to vote. This should already be in effect. Let us hope this gets done.
In closing, I would remind the House that a society is judged on how it treats its most vulnerable members.
Let us prove ourselves worthy of our seniors. Let us prove ourselves worthy of the benefits of the society in which we live.
Madam Speaker, I am honoured to stand here to day to represent my communities of Port Moody, Coquitlam, Anmore and Belcarra.
New Democrats support this bill, which would amend the Criminal Code to protect vulnerable adults. The bill would create a new offence for the owners and managers of long-term care facilities that fail to provide the necessities of life for their residents. The bill would allow the courts to make an order prohibiting the owners and managers of these facilities from working with, volunteering with, being in charge of, being in a position of trust with or being in a position of authority over vulnerable adults.
The bill is the start a conversation about the conditions of care in this country and the dignity that seniors and other vulnerable adults deserve. There is still more work to do. Today, I spoke with the Canadian Federation of Pensioners. The organization has been meeting this week in Ottawa to address the ongoing crisis of the care economy, health care and access to aging with dignity.
They sent me here today with this message. They have highlighted the following four actions that need to be addressed, even more so than the bill: ensure that funding for care is spent on care; improve the accuracy and transparency of monitoring and reporting because we need data; define profit because we need to talk about what it means to have profit in long-term care; and make revenues and expenditures for publicly funded care homes available.
We have seen that, through the global pandemic, long-term care facilities were hit incredibly hard, exacerbated by the appalling conditions in some facilities that led to the deaths of more than 14,000 residents and staff. The pandemic has shown that facilities that are for-profit do not put the needs of their residents first in every case. Reports prove that for-profit long-term care facilities have worse client outcomes than the not-for-profit facilities. Without checks and balances, corporate greed can lead organizations to prioritize their profits before the health and safety of their residents.
This month, the Office of the Seniors Advocate in British Columbia published a report that reviewed for-profit and not-for-profit long-term care facilities and their patient care. They examined how money directly impacted the quality of life for people living in long-term care. Its report found that not-for-profit facilities spent 25% more on residents in direct care than for-profit facilities. An even more unacceptable fact found in the report is that for-profit facilities delivered 500,000 fewer hours of care than they were funded to deliver. Those are hours stolen from seniors and put into the pockets of private corporations and their CEOs.
In contrast, not-for-profit facilities delivered 93,000 more care hours than they were funded to deliver. They gave more care, and that highlights not only why public long-term care facilities are more compassionate, but also that the workers in long-term care deserve to be paid for those compassion hours.
New Democrats have said many times that we will end for-profit and private long-term care. It is public health care, and it needs to stay public. The recent pandemic has shown us that for-profit companies cannot be relied upon to protect our loved ones and keep workers safe. By continuing to have for-profit long-term care with little oversight, those private investors will continue to cut corners on care and increase pressures on the health care system, putting more Canadians at risk.
Here, I need to mention the abysmal record of the Conservative government in Ontario. It continues to advance a privatization agenda for health care, which is dangerous and irresponsible.
Therefore, I want to take a moment to go back and recognize the incredible staff who work in long-term care. They face unrealistic demands and step up every day, often suffering physical and mental injury. We must do more to support staff, who continue to be pushed to the limits as they feed, bathe and care for loved ones in long-term care. Here in Canada and around the world, women, and disproportionately immigrant women, continue to do most of the care work in institutions and facilities. Pay is low and working conditions are harsh. Many of these care workers are seniors themselves.
Translating Research in Elder Care collected data for over a decade about care aides from more than 90 nursing homes in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The researchers learned that 67% of care aides are over the age of 40 and that 61% speak English as a second language. A third of them work at more than one nursing home, often because their work does not offer full-time hours or a living wage and benefits. This is the lived experience of care workers in Canada.
The government needs to stop the gender discrimination experienced by care workers and pay them appropriately. It must recognize their skills and experience. When immigrant care workers come to work in Canada, their credentials need to be recognized and they need to be compensated equally. When staff continue to be undervalued and underpaid, they suffer moral injury while trying to administer care. The government must do more to change this reality in health care and in long-term care.
Bill is a step in the right direction for protecting care and care workers, but, yes, as I have said, there is more to do. That is why Canada's New Democrats have included a safe long-term care act in the confidence and supply agreement. A safe long-term care act would address the needs and dignity of vulnerable adults, including those with disabilities, who have been let down by the current government over and over again. They have not been provided adequate housing or community supports. This reality is unacceptable.
In closing, the government should move immediately on tabling a safe long-term care act. The NDP is ready to make that a reality.
Madam Speaker, I am honoured to represent Scarborough—Agincourt and delighted to speak today about the progress of Bill , an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding neglect of vulnerable adults.
Bill , introduced by my colleague, the member of Parliament for , seeks to criminalize owners and officers of long-term care facilities who neglect the residents in their care. We all remember the circumstances that led to the introduction of this bill, and it is hard to forget the headlines in recent years about the chaotic situations within the walls of long-term care homes. Available information shows that charges are rarely brought for negligence in caring for vulnerable people, and none were brought in connection with the recent cases of abuse denounced by the media at the height of the COVID–19 pandemic.
The Criminal Code currently addresses elder abuse through offences of general application. This means there is no specific protection, so neglect or abuse must be prosecuted under existing laws, such as laws regarding all forms of violence, abuse, fraud, and failure to provide the necessaries of life to a dependant who is unable to withdraw from a person's charge due to age or other circumstances. It is also possible for a person to be held criminally liable for aiding, abetting or conspiring with a third party to injure or harm the physical and psychological integrity of a vulnerable adult. These general offences do not necessarily target the right people.
The bill, as drafted, would target those in senior management positions and clarify consequences for their operational decisions. I will speak today about a few statistics that justify our support for the amendments proposed by the justice and human rights committee, and about some of the measures taken by our government to support the efforts of the provinces and territories in their fight against elder abuse.
According to the Royal Society of Canada's June 2020 report “Restoring Trust: COVID-19 and The Future of Long-Term Care”, home support workers provide up to 90% of direct resident care. It is not surprising to see a higher percentage of home support workers compared to nurses or other professionals working in long-term care facilities.
Another study, released in 2020 by Statistics Canada, entitled “The contribution of immigrants and population groups designated as visible minorities to nurse aide, orderly and patient service associate occupations”, informs us that Black and Filipino women are significantly overrepresented in this sector.
Thanks to the amendment adopted by the committee, this bill targets owners and officers of long-term care facilities, not frontline workers. In the legislation, “officer” will be defined as “the chairperson of the board of directors, the president, a vice-president, the secretary, the treasurer, the comptroller, the general counsel, the general manager or a managing director of a long-term care facility, any other person who performs functions for a long-term care facility similar to those normally performed by a person occupying any of those offices, or any other person designated as an officer of a long-term care facility.”
Frontline workers devote themselves to the task of care, often in difficult working conditions. With the amendments that have been adopted, committee members carefully took into account the very real difficulty in attracting and retaining workers in the care sector. This bill targets the correct decision-makers. This was the issue most often raised by groups representing long-term care facilities across the country, and it was recently raised in the ombudsman's report in Ontario entitled “Lessons for the Long Term”, published at the beginning of this month.
The data speak for themselves. Our population is aging, and these percentages will undoubtedly rise over the years.
The segment of the population most at risk of institutional abuse is made up of women aged 85 and over. In Canada, more than one-third of these women live in institutions, as they tend to outlive their male partners and may not have the health or support to age at home.
Forms of institutional abuse include physical abuse, neglect, emotional and verbal abuse, financial abuse and sexual abuse. Individuals in institutions may also experience systemic abuse, which is defined as systemic practices that result in neglect, substandard care, overcrowding and violation of dignity.
Some research suggests that up to 1% of Canadian seniors are victims of violent crime or physical abuse, and approximately 45% of seniors report having experienced some form of abuse by age 65. In addition, recent provincial and territorial reports, as well as reports from organizations serving seniors, have revealed significant systemic problems within long-term care facilities.
There are other adults who are also in long-term care facilities. Indeed, people with a disability or permanent incapacity often end up in these facilities because it is the only institution capable of providing them with the necessary care.
In my riding of Scarborough—Agincourt, we have three long-term care homes, one transitional care home and many senior housing facilities. In fact, 27% of the riding population of Scarborough—Agincourt is made up of seniors. It is so important that we provide competent care for all seniors across Canada.
Some seniors will have exhausted their own financial resources. Others will be placed by relatives, who are themselves aging or unable to provide the necessary care. To the same extent as seniors, these adults are vulnerable to neglect by those who have an obligation to care for them.
With a rapidly growing aging population in Canada, it is expected that companies specializing in this field will also experience some form of expansion. Currently, there are 2,039 long-term care homes in Canada; of these, 46% are public and 54% are private. The percentage of facilities varies considerably from province to province. For example, 86% of long-term care facilities in Quebec are public, compared with only 16% in Ontario.
This government is working on a number of measures to enhance protection for seniors, including a federal policy definition of senior abuse to better guide our policies, working in partnership with stakeholders and other levels of government to improve data collection, education and programs tailored to helping seniors and elders. It is also putting in place more measures to prevent senior abuse before it happens. Several commitments have been made in this regard, including the 's mandate letter commitment to work with the Minister of Labour and Seniors to strengthen Canada's approach to elder abuse.
Initiatives have been put in place to address identified gaps in our long-term care facilities. Moreover, $740 million in funding has been invested to support our most vulnerable populations through infection prevention and control measures to protect those in long-term care and those receiving home care and palliative care. Several bilateral agreements have been signed, for example, to increase the number of beds in Nova Scotia or to establish screening protocols in Saskatchewan.
Most recently, the government provided $3 billion over five years to support provinces and territories in their efforts to improve long-term care in their jurisdictions. This is in addition to the $1 billion provided for the creation of the safe long-term care fund. This money will be used to protect people living and working in long-term care, and all provinces and territories have signed a bilateral agreement for this fund.
The work continues to evolve; despite our best efforts, we are not immune to another pandemic. We need to put elements in place to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
I am confident that the members of this House will recognize the importance of moving this legislative reform forward so that it can be quickly considered by the other chamber. The path ahead of us in long-term care facilities is one of collaboration as we continue to work with our provincial and territorial counterparts to improve outcomes for seniors.
We must recognize that for many, illness strikes without warning. We cannot control its speed or its effects, however we can ensure that those in need of long-term care receive the best possible care in well-maintained facilities that afford them the dignity and respect all Canadians deserve.
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to engage in this debate on Bill , and I want to commend the member for for bringing forward this bill. I am not sure we will be supporting it, and I will explain why in a moment, but she has brought forward a bill that addresses what is perhaps one of the most existential challenges facing not only Canada but western developed societies, which is the aging of our population.
A huge demographic challenge facing our country of course is the aging of our population. There are more and more Canadians who are becoming seniors. There are more and more Canadians who are moving out of the workforce, which is creating significant workforce shortages, and we are experiencing those today. At the same time, these seniors are requiring more and more care, which of course imposes a burden on taxpayers.
I would not for a moment suggest we should not be providing for the seniors who built our country. We owe it to them to do that.
However, the COVID pandemic, the first pandemic of its kind in over 100 years, left virtually every government around the world unprepared to meet that challenge. Here in Canada, that challenge manifested itself, among other things, by creating significant shortages of competent workforce members within our hospitals to address the increasing numbers of patients coming in suffering from the COVID virus. This became an acute problem for hospitals across our country.
There was not a province or territory that was not impacted by the fact that our hospitals could not provide the care needed. Beyond that, our long-term care facilities suddenly found themselves faced with this incredible challenge of having vulnerable seniors they were in charge of who had now contracted the COVID virus and trying to put into place protocols that were going to protect those vulnerable residents of those homes.
This bill seeks to address that by criminalizing the failure to provide the necessary care in those homes. More specifically, this enactment, Bill , would amend the Criminal Code to create an offence for long-term care facilities, their owners and their managers who fail to provide the necessities of life to residents of their facilities.
I think all of us can agree that is a worthy undertaking to make sure our long-term care facilities have the kinds of services and protective protocols that would protect the residents of those facilities. The problem is we have significant labour shortages in our country. Until we have actually addressed those labour challenges, it would be imprudent to impose on these facilities criminal sanctions that effectively mean these homes could not provide the kind of care the Criminal Code would require but that our labour challenges cannot address adequately.
My challenge with this legislation is we are trying to do two things. We are trying to provide those facilities with the labour force they need to adequately protect residents and patients, but at the same time we are trying to criminalize the activities of these facilities when in fact they are in no position to comply with the law.
I would raise one other point. The proponent of this bill, the member for , has said that this is all about protecting the most vulnerable within our society. I commend her for standing up and defending the rights and the welfare of our seniors, the ones who find themselves in extremely vulnerable positions.
However, there are other seniors and other Canadians who are also in vulnerable positions who call out for protection and those are our mentally ill, the mentally disordered in our society, who are now finding themselves caught under Canada's medical assistance in dying regime, Canada's assisted suicide regime, which is being extended by this government to the mentally disordered within our society, including those suffering from depression.
I do not know how we square that, on the one hand, advocating for the protection and welfare of seniors in our homes, but, at the same time, saying that we are going to also advocate for assisted suicide to be extended and expanded to include the mentally ill.
There is something wrong with that picture. It troubles me deeply that we have found ourselves in this place where competing ideologies are taking place right here in the House of Commons.
I earlier asked the proponent of this bill if she would support Bill , which seeks to extract and remove the mentally ill from Canada's MAID regime. She hummed and she hawed and she explained this way and that way.
At the end, all we could conclude was that, no, she was not prepared to protect the mentally ill against medically assisted dying but, at the same time, would be advocating for the seniors in our homes and the residents of our long-term care homes who find themselves vulnerable and could see their lives and their health impaired by another pandemic.
We can see that I am quite frustrated to be placed in the position of having to judge the member for 's bill based on her inability to understand that there has to be consistency when we bring forward legislation.
When we promote an ideology that is supposed to protect the most vulnerable in our society, that does not mean we can pick and choose between different vulnerable groups. We need to address their needs in a wholesome way, in a holistic way, and we have to be consistent in how we apply our ideology.
Unfortunately, that is not taking place here. Quite frankly, I lament that our country is moving down this road, where some of our most vulnerable are going to find themselves at great risk because of the life and death policies that this government is adopting, which have not been properly thought out.
I am going to ask the member for to reconsider her position on Bill , as I will reconsider my position on her bill, Bill . We both have objectives to protect and defend the rights of the vulnerable.
I call for one thing: consistency. All those who are vulnerable in our society are worthy of our protection.