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Results: 1 - 15 of 47
View David Anderson Profile
CPC (SK)
View David Anderson Profile
2019-06-19 16:22 [p.29404]
Madam Speaker, I have a number of petitions on two subjects.
The first consists of eight petitions, including an electronic petition, with almost 4,000 signatures. The petitioners call on the government to ensure that conscience rights of medical personnel are protected by passing Bill C-418.
View David Anderson Profile
CPC (SK)
View David Anderson Profile
2019-06-12 15:32 [p.28999]
Mr. Speaker, I have 17 petitions to present from seven provinces, including my own province of Saskatchewan.
The petitions address the issue of Bill C-14, which prohibits compelling health care providers or institutions to provide medical assistance in dying but lacks clarity for effective enforcement.
Bill C-418 would provide that protection and make it an offence to intimidate a health care professional for the purpose of compelling him or her to take part in the provision of assisted suicide or to affect his or her employment.
The petitioners call on the Government of Canada to ensure that the conscience rights of medical personnel are protected by passing Bill C-418.
View David Anderson Profile
CPC (SK)
View David Anderson Profile
2019-06-05 16:57 [p.28597]
Mr. Speaker, I have four petitions on three subjects. The first two petitions deal with Bill C-418.
The petitioners ask Parliament to support the bill. It would amend the Criminal Code to make it an offence to intimidate a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or any other health care professional for the purpose of compelling them to take part in the provision of medical assistance in dying. It would also makes it an offence to dismiss from employment or to refuse to employ such practitioners for the reason only that they refuse to take part in that activity.
View David Anderson Profile
CPC (SK)
View David Anderson Profile
2019-05-29 17:33 [p.28240]
moved that Bill C-418, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Madam Speaker, the first thing I would like to do is to thank the many people across Canada who have shown up to work on this bill. It has caught on across the country. It has restored my faith in the good judgment of Canadians and, hopefully, we will see that same good sense shown in the House and we can have some restored faith here as well.
I am here today to speak to Bill C-418, which is the protection of freedom of conscience act. I need to point out again that I am surprised at the way this has caught on and caught the attention of the Canadian public. We should thank many Canadians and groups for whom this is an important issue for their work on publicizing and advancing conscience rights in Canada.
To begin to understand Bill C-418, we need to back up a bit. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms has a number of sections in it. Section 1, of course, guarantees our rights and freedoms. However, immediately following that is section 2, which declares the most fundamental rights, and that begins with freedom of conscience and religion. In 2015, the Carter decision in the Supreme Court said that although section 7 of the charter provides for the right to die, it also explicitly said that no one is required to participate in or be part of it.
We then came to Bill C-14, the government's assisted suicide bill. It is a bill that attracted much attention and controversy and laid out the groundwork for the first round of assisted suicide legislation in Canada. Whether they call it euthanasia, medically assisted dying or assisted suicide, they are all different names for the same thing. Medical practitioners were divided on the issue of participating in ending the lives of Canadians. Whether we supported Bill C-14 or not, it was clear that many within the medical community were very concerned. They did not and still do not want to participate in this activity.
When Bill C-14 was passed, it included subsection 241.2(9) which did say, “For greater certainty, nothing in this section compels an individual to provide or assist in providing medical assistance in dying.” That was not adequate because it did not lay out an offence, there was no framework for it and there was no penalty in Bill C-14 if someone violated that. It ended up being nothing more than a statement in Bill C-14.
While the Liberal talking points have repeated this, and the Liberals also claim that everyone has freedom of conscience and religion under section 2 of the charter, this is not the reality that medical personnel are facing across Canada. In spite of the fact that on the surface the charter, Carter and Bill C-14 supposedly agree, the reality is that physicians and medical personnel in this country are being pressured to participate in something with which they fundamentally disagree and there is no protection provided to them.
Conscience forms the basis of medical professionals' motivation to pursue their particular field. Doctors practise every day with the knowledge that it is their conscience that motivates them to test the limits of their knowledge and skill. Medical professionals know that patient care will suffer if they are deprived of the ability to live with integrity and to follow their consciences. They know the importance of these beliefs to them and their patients better than anyone else.
For a great many Canadian doctors, the core of their conscience prohibits their participation in taking a life. Indeed, many doctors remain devoted to the black and white of the ancient Hippocratic oath, a pledge that prohibits the administration of a poison to anyone. Through the availability of assisted suicide on demand across Canada, threats to conscience are no longer confined to the theoretical or to the rhetoric of the courtrooms. They are increasingly present in the examination room as well.
That is why I believe it is time to take action in defence of conscience rights that have stood the test of time for generations. Therefore, Bill C-418 seeks to amend the Criminal Code to do two things.
The first is to make it an offence to intimidate a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or any other health care professional for the purpose of compelling them to take part, directly or indirectly, in the provision of physician-assisted suicide.
The second provision makes it an offence to dismiss from employment or to refuse to employ a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or any other health care professional for the reason only that they refuse to take part, directly or indirectly, in the provision of physician-assisted suicide.
My bill would provide the teeth that Bill C-14 acutely lacks. The Liberals' attempt to provide protection for doctors consisted solely of a rudimentary clause, which stated, as I said earlier, that nothing compels someone to provide or assist. However, the provision lacked the teeth needed for its effective enforcement, as evidenced by the ongoing pressure that is being exerted on physicians, particularly by their regulating bodies.
I guess the question is whether these protections are really necessary, and I would say that they are. Throughout the legislative process, I have spoken to doctors who feel overt pressure to leave family medicine because of their conscientious beliefs. I have heard of palliative care doctors in Ontario who have stopped practising altogether. Nurses who feel increasingly bullied are choosing to shift their focus or retire early. I have had personal conversations with people who work in old folks' homes who explain they do not want to participate in this but are increasingly feeling pressured to do so. The pressure on these professionals exists and they are looking for relief.
What is more, regional associations such as the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario have introduced regulations compelling conscientiously objecting physicians to participate by providing what they call “effective referrals” for physician-assisted suicide. A recent court decision has upheld this directive, contravening the assurances provided in Carter v. Canada and creating an even more urgent need among physicians for protection. This is in spite of the fact that in this situation in Ontario I am told that the majority of physicians support an allowance for conscientious objections, but the college has not taken that position.
As strange as it sounds, the recent court decision refers to the college's suggestion that if physicians do not like to participate then they can find other areas of medicine to take up. This is unusual, particularly in a situation where we have such a shortage of physicians and medical services. The college suggests that if they do not like participating they can take up things like sleep medicine, hair restoration, sport and exercise medicine, skin disorders, obesity medicine, aviation examinations, travel medicine or perhaps become a medical health officer.
For many of us across this country, particularly those of us in rural areas, we know there is an increasing lack of physicians in an increasingly challenged medical system. I find it passing strange that the college would be the one suggesting such a thing for its physicians. The answer does not have to be to do it, find someone else to do it or get out of medicine. Medical personnel and resources are scarce. Why would one try to force people into doing what they believe to be wrong? The example of the province of Manitoba and its conscientious objection legislation shows there does not need to be compulsion in the medical system when it comes to this issue.
My bill does not address the social acceptability of euthanasia and assisted suicide; that is not the point of it. Protecting physicians' conscience rights is not at all a physicians versus patients scenario. By protecting physicians' conscience rights, patients' rights are enhanced. Bill C-418 is about protecting the fundamental freedom of conscience and religion guaranteed to all Canadians in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Parliamentarians from all parties cannot ignore the groundswell of support this bill has received from average Canadians who believe it is time to stand up for doctors and health care providers who are not willing to leave their core ethics behind when they are at a patient's bedside. This is not theoretical. I have had photos sent to me of the revolving TV screens that we see in hospital wards, with pictures of what seems to be a physician's hand gently resting on the arm of a senior citizen, touting assisted suicide as a medical service whereby physicians or nurse practitioners help patients fulfill their wish to end their suffering and a phone number is provided. Interestingly, it makes no mention of palliative care or other ways to reduce pain and suffering. It makes no mention of access to counselling.
With government, the courts and health care facilities promoting access as a right, should not those who object be allowed to have that fundamental freedom of conscience that is so important?
I want to close with a quote from “The Imperative of Conscience Rights” by the CRFI. They write:
The outcomes of the current controversies that engage freedom of conscience will not only signal the extent to which Canadians can conscientiously participate in public life—in other words, whether they can live in alignment with who they are and what they stand for in matters of morality. These outcomes will also speak volumes about who we are and what we stand for—as a society. Suppressing beliefs with which we disagree or that we find offensive in the name of tolerance and liberalism is a contradiction in terms. The fact that the state has deemed something legal does not remove a person’s freedom to express her moral opposition to it. This freedom is not absolute, but its roots—integrity, identity, and dignity—are necessary for human flourishing. These roots must therefore be top of mind whenever limitations on freedom of conscience are proposed. We believe that governments should only limit this human right if there is a compelling justification.
View David Anderson Profile
CPC (SK)
View David Anderson Profile
2019-05-29 17:45 [p.28241]
Madam Speaker, I can tell my colleague opposite that the OMA, as far as I know, has come out in favour of protecting the conscience rights for the doctors who are part of its association, so the college and the OMA are not on the same page on this one.
The college in Ontario has brought in a much stricter set of guidelines, if we want to call it that, than virtually anywhere else across Canada. Manitoba has brought in a conscientious objection law, which would allow physicians to opt out of this and make it much simpler for them to do that. In Ontario, the requirement is that they “must effectively refer”, which are the words that are used. Many people feel that they just do not want to participate at that level and in this day and age of electronics, there are many other ways that people can access the information. There are a number of other suggestions out there about how that might be done.
The point of this bill is, first of all, to give the conscience protection that people need if they want to be able to continue to do their work.
View David Anderson Profile
CPC (SK)
View David Anderson Profile
2019-05-29 17:46 [p.28242]
Madam Speaker, I actually believe that we can. It has been done in other places across the country, but there are numerous ways that people can come to information about assisted suicide or medical assistance in dying. There are certainly a number of options open as to how they might access that information. The question is whether physicians are obligated to refer that, to provide that, or if they can opt out and give them another way to find that information. We believe that is very possible.
View David Anderson Profile
CPC (SK)
View David Anderson Profile
2019-05-29 17:47 [p.28242]
Madam Speaker, the interest in this bill has been surprising to me. There are some bills that really catch people's imaginations across the country. There are other ones that we really have to work hard to try to get people to pay attention to. It has been surprising to me how people have taken this on. There is an onslaught of petitions coming into my office every day and I am passing them on to my colleagues as well so that they can understand the interest that people in their ridings have in this issue.
People generally want to be fair to other people and allow them to have the capacity to operate off of the things they believe in. Every single one of us has a set of beliefs. We have a right to operate under our set of beliefs as long as we are not destroying somebody else's life or are in other people's faces. In this situation, we should be giving medical professionals, who operate every day from a sense of conscience in what they do, the opportunity to do that.
View David Anderson Profile
CPC (SK)
View David Anderson Profile
2019-05-29 17:49 [p.28242]
Madam Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, there are a number of options for people to find the information they need. There are many doctors and facilities that will provide this service if they want it, but there are other doctors and medical personnel who do not feel that assisting in someone's premature death is a part of the mandate of what they have been called to as physicians or medical personnel.
There are enough choices out there that people can have and we can allow those who disagree with this procedure to have their freedom of conscience and be able to live their professional lives in that fashion.
View David Anderson Profile
CPC (SK)
View David Anderson Profile
2018-10-30 10:05 [p.22987]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-418, an act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying).
He said: Mr. Speaker, it is my honour today to table the protection of freedom of conscience act. The purpose of this is to protect the rights of health care professionals who conscientiously object to participation in medical assistance in dying, making it an offence to intimidate or try to force a health care professional to be involved in this activity. It also makes it an offence to fire or refuse to employ a health care professional for refusing to take part, either directly or indirectly, in the provision of medical assistance in dying.
I believe it is time to stand up for the doctors and health care providers who are not willing to leave their core ethics behind when they are at a patient's bedside. Access to medical assistance in dying and the right to conscientious objection are not mutually exclusive.
View Sheri Benson Profile
NDP (SK)
View Sheri Benson Profile
2018-10-25 17:03 [p.22851]
Madam Speaker, with pleasure I rise today in full support of the motion to designate June as Filipino heritage month in Canada. As the member for Saskatoon West, I am proud to represent many constituents of Filipino descent. The Filipino community in Saskatoon, indeed in Saskatchewan and all throughout Canada, has enriched our cultural diversity. Its members have worked and volunteered beside us, contributed to our joint community-building projects, generously offered their leadership in times of need, and have become our friends and neighbours.
In fact, the 2016 Canadian census tells us that Saskatchewan has over 20,000 Tagalog speakers, one of the official languages of the Philippines, an increase of over 123% since 2011. Specifically, in Saskatoon, of the residents who identified themselves as immigrants in that census, nearly one quarter hailed from the Philippines. That is 10,000 strong and growing.
The 2016 census shows the Tagalog language as the immigrant language most commonly spoken on the Prairies: 20,000-plus people list it as their mother tongue, 2% of the population, and over 11,000 people say it is the language they most commonly speak at home. In Saskatoon, Tagalog now ranks behind English as the second most common mother tongue.
According to the most recent annual report of the IRCC, the Philippines is Canada's top source country for new permanent residents with over 42,000, almost 14% of new permanent residents. This has been the case every year since 2013. I am extremely proud of the Filipino Canadian community in my riding. Its members have contributed so much to our shared economic prosperity in Saskatchewan while at the same time building a better life for themselves and their families.
I am proud to represent the residents of the Saskatoon Confederation Park neighbourhood, and it is with extra pride that I say this neighbourhood includes the largest population of Filipinos in my city. Of course, at one time, the community was much smaller, but that did not deter Rose Lacsamana and her family who, 10 years ago, opened a Filipino store targeted at the small but growing Filipino community. It is this type of leadership and forward thinking and risk taking, by Rose and many others, who built up a business and while doing so, built up our community. It is through these efforts of local Filipino Canadian business owners that Saskatoon was able to welcome newcomers from the Philippines with open arms. I thank Rose and her husband JR for their venture, the Global Pinoy Food Store, and for believing in our community to grow and prosper. I congratulate them for 10 years of service to our community.
One of my favourite things to do as an MP is to attend citizenship ceremonies in my riding. During my constituency week in October, I attended not one but two ceremonies. Both were, of course, very special, but one was extra special for a couple of reasons. First, it was Citizenship Week in Canada. Second, we were gathered at the wonderful Saskatoon Farmers Market and I want to thank Erika Quiring, operations manager at the Saskatoon Farmers Market, for hosting us. Third, the Institute for Canadian Citizenship organized an opportunity for me and other community leaders to host table conversations with our brand new citizens.
I met lvan and his family from Iran and Rachel who was there with her sister. Rachel was nervous and shy, but very happy to be getting her citizenship and happy to be together again with her sister and other extended family. Rachel came to Canada from the Philippines as a live-in caregiver. She had waited many years to get her citizenship. It was wonderful to share that day with her. It reminded me of the many women who come to my constituency office for help, who are raising other people's children, having come to Canada, many from the Philippines, as live-in caregivers, the women whose children are growing up without their mother, the women who are working hard to earn money so that one day they can be reunited with their own children, the women who, like Rachel, dream of one day attending their own citizenship ceremony.
The members of the NDP have long been champions for the Filipino community and my colleague from Vancouver East has continued those efforts. One of the most important yet invisible contributions of Filipino Canadians is the many ways in which Filipino caregivers help raise our children and run our households.
Since 1992, some 75,000 Filipinos have become permanent residents of Canada through the federal government's caregiver program. The sales pitch was hard to resist. They would help raise our children for two years, and we would reunite them with theirs and give everyone a shot at permanent residency. Last year alone, some 23,000 Filipinos came to Canada under the program, but it has become a victim of its own success.
In 2015, the backlog of applications for permanent residency was 17,600 names long. Citizenship and Immigration Canada promised swift action and announced plans to expedite the approval process, but for many, the wait, which now averages over 50 months, and that is after two years of employment, is torture. At home, their kids are growing up without them, and with rock-bottom wages in the Philippines, going back is not a viable option. With the recent announcement by the federal government that the program will end in 2019, these women are understandably very concerned.
It is not a secret that women who are employed through the caregiver program are vulnerable and sometimes face harsh working conditions for very little pay. At the same time, they are isolated and far away from their homes and families. Most of them do not get to see their children for many years. They come and work under conditions that most of us would find trying, all for a chance at a better life. The least we can do is offer them better workplace protections and a pathway to permanent residency in a process that is clear, stable and not fraught with delays or uncertainty.
Currently, the average application processing time for live-in caregivers is four and a half years. The NDP is calling on the government to take immediate action to end the backlog and processing delays that are keeping an estimated 40,000 live-in caregivers from reuniting with their families.
We have always believed that if one is good enough to work here, one is good enough to stay. I hope that in addition to celebrating Filipino heritage month next year, the federal government will also be modernizing our immigration policies and processes and giving priority to reuniting families.
All around my community I see the good work brought about by members of the Filipino community, and their efforts are supported by residents of all different backgrounds.
I was proud to participate in the Flores de Mayo Fiesta celebration, which last year raised funds for the Filipino Heritage School in Saskatoon, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2017. Founded in 1996, the Filipino Heritage School is dedicated to preserving the Filipino language and culture, strengthening unity within the community and promoting intercultural understanding. The school's success is the collaborative effort of parents, families and teachers collectively working together to teach the Filipino language and culture.
The Filipino-Canadian Association of Saskatoon, or FILCAS, is a vibrant community organization serving as sort of the mother of all Filipino organizations in the city. It is the leading organizer of major Filipino Canadian activities, such as Philippine Independence Day on June 12, the sports tournament and the Filipino Canadian annual Christmas party.
Since the inception of the Saskatoon Folkfest over 36 years ago, FILCAS has hosted the Filipino pavilion, showcasing Filipino arts and culture and promoting Filipino heritage for all of us to enjoy.
I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge this year's Filipino Folkfest pavilion ambassadors, Hilbert and Grace Macadaeg, and youth pavilion ambassadors, Julenne Florida and Jayda Ho, for their warm welcome on my visit to the pavilion this year.
It has been an honour for me, as the member of Parliament for Saskatoon West, to attend the ANCOP, or Answering the Cry of the Poor, fundraising walk for the past two years. This year it celebrated its fifth walk in Saskatoon and its 15th in Canada. The money raised in Saskatoon walks has supported 35 sponsored children in going to school and has built 30 houses in the Saskatchewan Village in the Philippines.
My community and I are proud to honour the many contributions of Filipino Canadians in Saskatoon.
In closing, I must continue the accolades for the Filipino community in Saskatoon. I only wish I had more time, as the list is longer than my time allows.
I want to congratulate the University of Saskatchewan Filipino Student Association, which was honoured this year with the prestigious University of Saskatchewan Vera Pezer Award for Student Enhancement as the campus group of the year.
Last, but certainly not least, I want to send a special shout-out to the many Filipino Canadians working, and caring, as health care workers in my community, many of whom are proud members of the Service Employees International Union, SEIU-West. President Barb Cape and the members of SEIU-West are not only members of a great union but are also outstanding community partners, supporting many local Filipino events and cultural celebrations.
I look forward--
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2018-09-20 10:30 [p.21573]
Madam Speaker, the practice was changed by the previous Conservative government in 2012. Actually the law was changed so that this became a voluntary provision. The law now says the vendor simply has to have “no reason to believe that the transferee is not authorized to acquire and possess that kind of firearm.” In other words, they do not have to ask. They can ask, but they do not have to ask.
Of course, vendors have that option, and all the reputable ones that I know actually ask the question to determine that the licence is still valid. Most businesses probably behave in that way. It is just common sense. However, if someone without a PAL is looking to get a shotgun, for example, that person is more likely to try to buy it from a vendor known not to run the licence check.
Bill C-71 would make it an offence not to verify the licence. This is not only important to stop those who have never had a licence from acquiring a non-restricted firearm. If a gun shop is dealing with a regular customer, the sales clerk might be tempted not to check the licence that he or she has probably seen many times before on previous transactions. However, if that customer had recently lost their PAL due to a court order, the sales clerk would have no way to know that unless he or she actually checked its validity with the registrar. Customer service will be important so that verification can be done in a quick and efficient manner.
On firearms record-keeping, Bill C-71 proposes to make record-keeping of non-restricted firearms a requirement for all businesses. With proper authorization, police will then be able to better trace the origins of firearms found at crime scenes. This was a requirement for businesses from 1979 until 2005. It is also a standard requirement across virtually all of the United States. It is simply a good business practice commonly applied already by major retailers like Cabela's, Canadian Tire and many others.
Some people have suggested that this will amount to a new long-gun registry. Of course, for such an argument to be logical, it would also mean that Canada first had a long-gun registry back in 1979. Obviously, that would be nonsense. To make this point crystal clear, the Conservatives moved an amendment in the committee, which reads as follows: “For greater certainty, nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to permit or require the registration of non-restricted firearms.” That amendment was supported unanimously by all members of the public safety committee, who were in total agreement that nothing in Bill C-71 remotely resembles a long-gun registry. That point is now beyond all doubt.
In addition to meeting our platform commitments, we are currently reviewing other options to ensure that firearms do not fall into the wrong hands. For example, we are examining the regulations relating to the safe storage of firearms, especially after hours on commercial premises. Firearms theft from such premises have been steadily rising, and we should try to prevent that trend from getting worse.
We are examining firearms advertising regulations to see if they are appropriate to prohibit the glorification of violence and anti-personnel kinds of paramilitary conduct. We are examining the issue of whether there should be some flagging system with respect to large transactions or bolt sales that may trigger questions on the part of police forces. We are also examining the possibility of enabling medical professionals to flag when they feel a patient may pose a significant risk to the safety of themselves or others.
I would point out that in 2012, Quebec passed what is known as Anastasia's law, which banned firearms in places like schools and relieved physicians of their usual obligations with respect to doctor-patient confidentiality when they felt that someone under their care who owned a firearm might be a danger to themselves or to others. It is a concept that other provinces may wish to examine, and it will be discussed at federal, provincial and territorial meetings this fall.
I will be working with the new Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction on these supplementary measures as well. As members know, the new minister has also been mandated to lead an examination of a ban on handguns and assault weapons in Canada, while not impeding the lawful use of firearms by Canadians. That consultation will be going forward this fall.
When taken together, this strategy represents a responsible firearms package that will help make our communities safer. It will help police forces investigate the illegal use of firearms. At the same time, these measures taken together will not overburden legitimate firearms owners in exercising their legitimate rights.
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
View Robert Kitchen Profile
2017-11-20 11:34 [p.15263]
Madam Speaker, I am grateful to have this opportunity to speak to Bill C-348, an act to amend the Department of Employment and Social Development Act, persons with disabilities. The bill, put forward by my NDP colleague, the member for Windsor—Tecumseh, would help to simplify the challenges persons with disabilities face when looking to apply for programs administered through the federal government. It is a good idea based on my personal experiences and from what I have heard from Canadians during my time as a member of Parliament.
Persons with disabilities have to overcome many obstacles in order to build a dignified life. It seems logical to me that the federal government should be doing everything in its power to assist with this. However, instead of getting that help, disabled persons are instead facing large amounts of red tape and bureaucracy. They must scour through computer and paper descriptions and directions in department after department, asking “Where do we start?”
Bill C-348 seeks to address this issue by requiring the minister for Employment and Social Development Canada to provide information and guidance on all applications for grants, benefits, compensation, and any other programs and services for which persons with a disability may be eligible, under one roof and within one document.
The bill would also have two other requirements: first, the department maintain a single comprehensive application that accesses all programs for persons with a disability across the federal government; and second, to report back to Parliament in 18 months on the effectiveness of the application process. This would provide an assessment of the value of the changes and allow for it to be a living document that would continue to evolve.
All the points I just mentioned seem like common sense measures to me. Why would we ask those who already face so many challenges to spend countless hours scouring various government websites to find all the programs and services for which they are eligible, and then having to fill out an application form for each individual program to which they would like to apply? Having to fill out each program application individually does not help anyone. It is frustrating for all Canadians to have to do this, let alone those with disabilities who are already facing huge issues such as chronic underemployment, difficulty accessing public spaces, a lack of accessible housing, and much more.
Computer literacy is a challenge to many of us. Navigating these forms, whether old or young, is even more difficult with a disability. The federal government's role is to help Canadians, and the bill would be a great start to do that. However, as it stands, and if left unchecked, it is just more red tape resulting in more frustration.
I would like to take a moment to speak about my experience as a former member of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, and to give everyone an idea of how all this bureaucracy affects our disabled veterans. I know that part of the bill includes veterans disability pensions, which I am pleased to see. During my time on the committee, I heard first-hand testimony about how difficult it was to apply for the benefits to which our veterans were entitled. To search and navigate the multiple sites was a frustrating challenge.
Many of these men and women suffer from mental health issues as well as physical disabilities. This means they are not always able to devote hours and hours to find available programs, fill out applications, and then have to do the same over again for each program for which they are eligible. In some cases, we heard from veterans who simply decided to throw in the towel and forgo the services they were entitled to because the process of applying for these services was far too strenuous and compounding for those struggling with a disability, whether it be mental or physical.
These veterans are the people who gave up the life they knew in order to protect Canada and all Canadians. It was absolutely heartbreaking to hear some of the testimony at the veterans affairs committee, as these individuals deserve so much more than a cacophony of programs, spread across the federal government's websites, requiring hours of digging to find and more hours of filling out multiple applications in order to apply. It is unnecessary and it does a disservice not just to our veterans, but to everyone living with a disability, as well as their caretakers and family members.
That in itself is another point I would like to raise. It is not just disabled persons who deal with this issue, but often their families as well. Many times caretakers come from the family of a disabled person, and many times they are not talked about or given recognition.
Being a caretaker is not an easy job, and I commend all those who undertake the role. The bill would make it easier for caregivers and families to ensure they would be taking advantage of all programs available to them without having to comb through various websites to find that information. It would avoid hours of searching, determining if a service or program would be applicable, disseminating this to their family member, and then completing the multitude of applications.
Furthermore, Bill C-348 would provide for a single, comprehensive application that would access all programs across the federal government for persons with disabilities. This seems so logical that I am surprised it has not yet been done.
While I understand these programs involve a number of government departments, centralizing the application process through the Department of Employment and Social Development would be a huge benefit to persons with disabilities and their families. It would save much time, effort, and frustration. It is also a real and achievable goal. I call on the government to recognize the need for this measure. With the technology available today, we know this is possible to do, and further technological advances would ensure this would be generationally enduring.
Under the previous Conservative government, we initiated the centralization of information across government based on the user group. The bill would continue that work, specifically for persons with disabilities, who are the demographic that would most benefit from this initiative.
Other examples of a few programs that have to be navigated through include helping persons with disabilities prepare for and obtain employment through the annual $30 million opportunities fund, and funds like the $218 million per year labour market agreement for persons with disabilities to assist provinces and territories to improve the employment situation. Again, these are just two programs of many.
I see no reason not to support the legislation, especially given that the Liberal government is making life more difficult for Canadians living with disabilities by increasing their cost of living through tax changes and removing benefits. Persons with type 1 diabetes and persons with autism spectrum disorders come quickly to mind. As I stated previously, it is the federal government's job to improve life for all Canadians, including for disabled persons. The way to do this is not by taking away benefits or adding more layers of red tape to the process of obtaining said benefits. It is by simplifying and centralizing, which is exactly what the bill seeks to do.
I commend the member for Windsor—Tecumseh for her efforts on the bill.
As the deputy shadow minister for youth, sport and persons with disabilities, I call on the government to support the bill and the measures contained in it, as we on this side of the House plan to do. It is good sense and it would make life significantly easier for those facing the challenge of living with disabilities, something I know we can all get behind.
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
View Robert Kitchen Profile
2017-03-23 18:06 [p.9973]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to the motion put forward by the member for Humber River—Black Creek regarding amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.
Motion No. 105 proposes two things. It calls on the government to reiterate its commitment to combat ALS through research and awareness. It also calls on the government to increase funding for research and create a strategy to assist in the eradication of ALS as soon as possible. Both parts of this motion are necessary steps that need to be taken and will serve to help those currently suffering with ALS as well as those who will be diagnosed in the future.
As all of us know in the House too well, ALS is an aggressive disease. We saw first-hand how it quickly and drastically affected our colleague, the Hon. Mauril Bélanger, just last year. Today, approximately 3,000 Canadians live with ALS, and each year roughly 1,000 more are diagnosed. There is no cure for this, and about 1,000 Canadians die from ALS each year. This equals to two to three people every day who are dying from this incurable disease.
The average onset occurs between the ages of 40 and 60, and is more common among men than women. Currently, there is no known cause for ALS, which is exactly why this motion, and in turn more research, needs to be done. Of all those diagnosed with ALS, only 5% to 10% will have a familial or hereditary type of the disease.
There is also no established, concrete way to detect the disease early. Even once symptoms begin to appear, it can be difficult to diagnose as the symptoms tend to mimic typical signs of aging, such as lack of coordination, muscle weakness, and cramping. Once diagnosed, 80% of people with ALS have a life expectancy of two to five years. As I stated previously, this is a very aggressive disease, and more research needs to be done so it can be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible once symptoms begin to occur.
In my previous life as a chiropractor, I was fortunate not to come across any patients who ended up being diagnosed with ALS. However, while I was doing my fellowship, working and studying at Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon, I experienced a patient with ALS. As a diagnostician, this is not a condition one readily forgets.
Given that ALS is relatively uncommon and that the symptoms can easily mimic those of other less serious medical conditions, I encourage all primary health care practitioners to ensure they get the full picture with respect to a patient's history, complete orthopedic and neurologic exams, and to use all the diagnostic tools and information available to them. If there is any doubt or concern, I would encourage health care practitioners to refer their patient to the appropriate specialist, and where deemed necessary, to an ALS specialist. While there may not be a cure, it is worthwhile to do everything possible to try to extend the lifespan of that patient should he or she eventually be diagnosed with this disease.
One aspect of living with and fighting ALS that many do not tend to think about is the financial cost. It is common that those with ALS and their families will end up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to manage this disease. These expenses come in many forms.
Most people with ALS prefer to live at home with their loved ones, while they battle their disease. This means that homes need to be retrofitted to allow for greater accessibility, as those afflicted with the disease often end up wheelchair-bound due to the muscle degeneration. Ramps may need to be installed, doorways may need to be widened, and these things come at a cost.
There is also an expense of medical equipment that is often needed when people with ALS choose to live at home. If they have issues with swallowing, they might need to purchase a suction unit to ensure the saliva does not built up and flow into their lungs. As the disease progresses, it might be necessary to purchase or rent a special bed to ensure that people ALS is as comfortable as possible. Other costs associated with ALS include medication, which can sometimes be extremely expensive.
There is also the aspect of travel costs. I live in a rural riding and in order for one of my constituents to see an ALS specialist, he or she would have to drive for hours to get there. This means paying for fuel, food, and potentially accommodation in places like Regina or Saskatoon, which are two to five hours away.
All this is to say that ALS a challenging disease to manage just on the financial side of things, and anything that can done to find a cure should be done.
There is also an emotional cost to ALS, which is impossible to quantify. The people who are diagnosed have to cope with the knowledge that their condition is incurable and that they will soon lose the level of physical independence they are accustomed to. They also feel pressure to get their affairs in order, as ALS can progress rapidly once it is diagnosed. These are just a couple of the issues that people with ALS need to confront while dealing with the disease.
Families and friends are also affected when a loved one is diagnosed with ALS. As many people with ALS wish to stay at home, family members will often take on the role of caregivers. Being a caregiver is not easy. It is physically and emotionally exhausting, and it only becomes more difficult as the disease progresses and the person with ALS begins to rely on more help more often. Caregivers sacrifice a lot when they assume that role, and I commend them for all they do in that regard.
Respite care beds cost $32.94 per day, based on income, in Saskatchewan. This service is provided to give relief to the family and other primary caregivers of a dependant person living at home. Caregivers may also need to quit their jobs or take a leave of absence to assist a loved one who has ALS. This adds to the financial burden that many families face after receiving a diagnosis, and it can be emotionally taxing as well, given that both the caregiver and the person with ALS will now need to adjust to the new reality.
There are support systems out there, however, and I encourage anyone dealing with this disease to seek those out, even if it is just talking to someone who has had, or is going through, a similar experience.
The first part of the motion calls for increased research and awareness, and this is integral to finding a cure for ALS. I am sure that all of us here recall the ice bucket challenge that went viral in 2014 and is still going today. This challenge ended up raising more than $19 million dollars for ALS research and brought more attention to the disease than had ever been paid before. Suddenly people all over the world were talking about ALS. In fact, due in part to campaigns such as this one, more has been done in the field of ALS research in the last five years than in the entire century before it. That is remarkable, and I truly hope that this momentum can continue in the quest to find a cure for the disease.
There are also many walks for ALS that happen across the country, with the goal of raising awareness and funds to be put toward research. In my home province of Saskatchewan, there is Kim's Walk, scheduled for June 3, the Saskatoon Walk on June 25, and the Regina Walk on September 23. These are a great way to not only increase awareness and raise money but also to encourage people to get outside and be active while also building relationships in the community. I sincerely hope that everyone listening today will participate in one of these walks this summer and in any other fundraising effort for ALS research and awareness. There is a list of scheduled walks on the ALS Society of Canada's website. I encourage everyone to check that out.
We need to find a cure for this disease, and we need to do it at the earliest possible opportunity. In 2011, Brain Canada was created. It is the only national non-profit organization devoted to supporting all neuroscience research. The previous Conservative government invested $100 million dollars over seven years in Brain Canada, funding that expires in 2017. The ALS Society of Canada received $10 million dollars through Brain Canada to stimulate research relevant to ALS, and I call on the Liberals to do everything in their power to maintain or increase that level of funding. Clearly, it is needed, and I trust that the government recognizes that, just as the previous government did.
ALS is currently incurable, but there is always hope. Technology has advanced quickly in the last few decades, and there have been many advances in the field of medicine because of this. I believe that with the use of technology and the continued support for ALS research and awareness, a cure will be found.
I would like to thank the member for Humber River—Black Creek for her work on this issue. I encourage all members of the House to support the motion, as I will be doing.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2016-06-16 11:05 [p.4605]
Mr. Speaker, I suppose I caught your eye first. That is the way it normally works.
Before I begin my remarks, under the parameters of the debate, I have an unlimited time slot. I wonder if I could get the unanimous consent of the House to be deemed to have a normal 20-minute speaking slot and I would share that time with another colleague.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2016-06-16 11:06 [p.4606]
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
I will be brief. I want to speak to a few of the amendments the government has chosen to accept and also express a few words of caution.
I want to thank the minister for keeping the language as tight as possible. “Reasonably foreseeable” is a much better situation than “grievous and irremediable”. As this is such a fundamental change to our society, we do not want to open the door to assisted suicide in such a manner that a large number of people who may be suffering from physical or mental ailments would have access it.
I understand the slight wording change on the palliative care amendment. It is important that any patient make an informed decision, whether it is about something as simple as a normal medical procedure, but certainly in a situation like this of such a grave and serious matter. In essence, as this may be the last decision some people make, making an informed decision is critically important. Knowing what other options there might to alleviate of pain as well as palliative care are also so important.
I hope the government will work with the provinces in the coming months and years to establish a robust palliative care regime so this type of decision is not made without having real and practical options to extend life in as comfortable a manner as possible, while understanding the significant challenges that are often placed on family members.
I wish the government had included the amendment that dealt with beneficiaries of estates or insurance policies not being able to participate directly in the act of assisted suicide. That is an important amendment to keep. This is going to be a new thing in Canada and we do not know how it will unfold, so having some kind of safeguard in place to avoid pressure being put on people to make this decision is important.
Many members may be familiar with the Terri Schiavo case in Florida. It was a bitter dispute with a lot of allegations all around. One of the facts that came out was that one of the family members pushing for end of life care to be withdrawn from Terri Schiavo was a beneficiary of an insurance policy. That conjures up gloomy images of what might happen to people who do not wish to end their life and are not able to either grant consent or put up opposition to it and have those decisions made for them.
I want to touch on a few comments that are troubling to me. I have heard comments made by government members and the minister about how this is a first step and that this could be expanded in the future. Those types of things very much concern me. The House is taking this decision because of a court decision. The Supreme Court of Canada reversed its original decision that upheld the laws against assisted suicide and has thrown this on to Parliament.
I understand the need that the government had to fill in this legal vacuum, and I commend it for using the language “reasonably foreseeable” and not “grievous and irremediable”. However, I am wary about what might be coming down the pike. It really worries me when people talk about this being a first step. I shudder to think where this might go. If this type of regime is opened up more, people who may be going through difficult times in their life, maybe temporary difficulties, both physical and mental, will access it.
I hope we have created a tight box that will not be expanded. I will be watching in the future and will do everything I can to ensure that this is not expanded, and I hope many of my colleagues will do the same. I do not want to go down the road of what has transpired in some European countries where this is used in a much more aggressive and expanded way. Many times it involves vulnerable people or people with severe disabilities who are not able to communicate their desires and other family members or other caregivers make that decision for them.
Canada could be going to a very dark place if this is a first step. If it is filling in that legal void and we have created a strict enough and a tight enough box around it, then I hope this is as far as it goes. I will be doing everything I can to ensure that is the case.
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