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Results: 1 - 15 of 355
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Pitchers, Mr. McMillan and Mr. Amnotte, I thank you for being here.
Mr. Chair, I would like to take two seconds to salute the Mirabel airport firefighters, who have been through some very difficult times recently. I want them to know that we are with them, that I support them and that we love them very much.
The work of a firefighter involves many professional risks. Some of them are foreseeable. However, sometimes the irreparable can happen. The Memorial Grant Program for First Responders already in place provides, among other things, compensation to the families of deceased firefighters.
I will get straight to the heart of the bill. The Bloc Québécois has tabled an amendment to the bill that would give the federal government the opportunity to review its allocation criteria so that it could have a harmonized list of recognized cancers. It could then pay out compensation without having to wait for decisions to be made in the various provinces. This could facilitate and accelerate the payment of these compensations. Families would go through fewer administrative procedures and paperwork, and there would be greater respect for provincial and Quebec jurisdictions. Can you tell me off the top of your head what you think of such an amendment?
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
BQ (QC)
I find this part of the bill very important. It would enable Ottawa to pay compensation based on its own criteria, without having to wait for the provinces, if a firefighter dies in the line of duty. That could be part of the solution.
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
BQ (QC)
That point is not currently in the bill, but I would like to inform you that it is the subject of amendment BQ‑5 proposed by the Bloc Québécois, which will be discussed during the second hour today. That is why I wanted to know your opinion, as we are in the process of deliberating and reflecting on this. That is essentially why you are here.
It's also about the provinces and the regulatory authorities sharing information on prevention, recognition, and so on. I've talked to the Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité au travail. In addition, there appears to be a coordinated, structured and frequent exchange of information at the Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada.
Do you have any information about the conversations that take place in this association? Is the firefighters' issue dealt with on a routine basis? Have you heard anything about that?
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
BQ (QC)
Okay.
On October 6, 2021, the Act to modernize the occupational health and safety regime came into force in Quebec, and schedule 1 of the act was repealed and replaced by the Regulation respecting occupational diseases. The latter gives the Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité au travail the new power to amend the regulation in accordance with the evolution of science and scientific advice.
Montreal firefighters have recognized this as a step forward in the process leading to the recognition of work-related injuries. What is your view on this legislative change in Quebec?
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
BQ (QC)
I understand.
From what I understand—I may be wrong, but I'm doing my best—there are prevention measures that can be put in place. It may be showers or rooms with a separate ventilation system in the barracks, for example. There are important infrastructure issues in the municipalities. Funding is difficult to obtain.
Do you think that better funding for infrastructure, particularly municipal infrastructure, which would come through Quebec but from the federal government, would make it possible to improve prevention and decontamination, among other things?
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you.
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Amnotte, I understand from your last statement that everyone, that is to say doctors, colleges of doctors and governments, needs to be made aware of your particular situation. I understand that.
We looked into the matter and we realized that little research has been done on health prevention for firefighters. In fact, very little research and very few systematic research programs have been undertaken in Canada, except at the University of Ottawa and McGill University.
I feel that the federal government could, sooner or later, also be made aware of this situation and fund more research on occupational health and safety prevention and exposure.
We also talked about the flame retardants used in the production of all kinds of household goods.
I'd like to know if you have a position on that, on long-term investment in research, so that we know more about your situation.
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Amendment BQ‑1 is a minor change to add health care professionals to subsection 3(2).
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Amendment BQ‑2 relates to paragraph 3(3)(b) and simply suggests deleting the words “training, education and” in order to recognize that workforce training and on‑the‑job training are exclusively provincial responsibilities.
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
BQ (QC)
Obviously, the wording in English needs to be adjusted. Often, it is the French version that needs to be improved. I salute the excellent work of the translators, because their work is not easy.
It is a very minor amendment. For example, the paragraph speaks of targeting needs, but it continues to refer to health professionals. In addition, it recognizes the federal government's role in public health, particularly with regard to clinical guidelines. So this is not a partisan amendment to take everything out or to say that everything is under provincial jurisdiction. What we're saying is that once the broad outlines and principles have been laid out by the federal government and the research has been done, workplace training is a provincial responsibility.
I would like to see the bill passed unanimously. The changes proposed are minimal and ensure that we are not forcing the provinces. The issue of labour market training is particularly sensitive in Quebec because the province has special agreements with the federal government. This is the only thing we have taken out. The proposed changes are minimal and respect provincial jurisdictions.
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, I think I'm getting to the point where I need the French version.
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
BQ (QC)
No. It's okay.
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
BQ (QC)
I think we've already considered the issue from all angles, Mr. Chair. We've given it a lot of thought. I believe, as does the government, that the current wording of the provision allows for intrusions into provincial jurisdictions.
Nevertheless, we are very sympathetic to the cause of firefighters and the particular situations they face. In this context, we consider that some of the content may fall under public health, and therefore under federal jurisdiction.
This is obviously a compromise that aims to ensure that recommendations are made regarding screening. In any case, the federal government is not entitled to carry out screening.
Since Mr. van Koeverden is impatient, I suggest that we move on.
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
We would like to add the following paragraph 3(3)(g) after line 10 of the English version:(g) review the eligibility criteria of the Memorial Grant Program for First Responders to make applicants eligible for it even if the disease that caused the death is not recognized as an occupational disease following established provincial practices.
The bill seems to want some standardization in the way firefighters are treated across the country. However, some of its provisions encroach on provincial and Quebec jurisdictions, which is a problem for us.
There is already a federal program, the Memorial Grant Program for First Responders. When a firefighter or first responder dies, this program provides up to $300,000 to the family and survivors. However, a number of families are unable to take advantage of this program in its current form. In addition, the program requires that the firefighter's or first responder's provincial authority formally recognize as an occupational disease the illness from which he or she died. Given the significant disparities between some provinces, the family of a firefighter in Quebec could receive this federal grant, but not the family of a firefighter in Ontario, for instance.
This is an encroachment by the federal government on provincial jurisdictions. This puts undue pressure on the various provinces, but they hold their ground. For example, some processes are acceptable in Quebec. Also, the formal recognition of certain diseases by the provinces can have significant legal consequences for them.
We want the federal government to be able to pay families if it wishes. We want the federal government to establish its own list of recognized diseases and cancers rather than wait for a province to recognize or not recognize a particular occupational disease. This way of doing things does not require a royal recommendation. We are asking the government to review its eligibility criteria in order to eventually make these changes, which will require new money. The amendment suggests that the government review these rules.
I think that is what firefighters are asking for. Moreover, there is already a program. I struggle to see how we can deprive these families of benefits in one province and not in another. The current situation is hard to justify.
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
BQ (QC)
The idea is that the federal government should have the right to provide benefits to individuals based on a number of criteria.
We are told that national standards are only recommendations until measures are put in place that involve spending and conditions.
We want to eliminate the federal government's encroachment on provincial jurisdictions while leaving the federal government free to pay a certain number of benefits to individuals based on its own list of diseases, without this being binding on the authorities responsible for recognizing occupational diseases in each province.
That is our logic and it seems to me to be quite coherent.
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