Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-210, and I also want to commend the work of the member for Calgary Confederation on the bill. There is no doubt that it has been around several times. This most recent effort is commendable given the fact that this Parliament is on an extended tour at the moment, from just the week before when we had confidence votes. Hopefully we will see something take place this time.
I would disagree that this is not a political issue. If it were not a political issue, it would have been done ages ago. If it were not a political issue, it would have been completed in the Senate as opposed to the Senate finding other business to do when there was plenty of time to get it done. The former minister of health, Jane Philpott, and the cabinet voted against the bill saying it was provincial jurisdiction. That is where there needs to be some recognition.
I think the Bloc's intervention was very strong today on this matter, because this is about giving provinces some control and some capabilities and an enhancement of responsibilities. It allows them now, through the Canada Revenue Agency, to enter into an agreement to be responsible for their citizens. It does not make anything have to happen. It provides the course, the window, the opportunity and most importantly the hope for organ donation in this country to go up.
We have heard from a number of different members that we have a low rate. We have a low rate because there has not been enough education. I do not think it has been a normal custom in Canadian society and it has been a struggle for us to get this in hand.
In my municipality, there has been some really good work with the Windsor Regional Hospital and the “Be a Donor” campaign and the Trillium group, but at the same time, we rank very low. I come from an area that has high cancer rates. The high industrial contaminants related to pollution and the type of work we did creates sickness and illness that is beyond some of the norms across this country and North America. Therefore, we would be a recipient of this, but we still struggle to get that message out.
The member for Calgary Confederation deserves credit for bringing this back in a Parliament that might have a shortened life in general because of the conditions of a minority Parliament, but it does provide an opportunity for us to get work like this done. Let us not ignore that the bill did pass very recently in this chamber. It went to the health committee, where it had good support, and then it moved back to the chamber and ended up in the Senate again.
We need to find a way this time to be extra determined if there is going to be all-party support for this on the surface, because the surface does not always show the real thing. Behind the scenes, there could be other things taking place. Hence, that is why we saw the bill die in the Senate last time because it was not seen as a priority.
I know this because I have seen many private members' bills, some I have been the custodian of, that have gone to that place. It is not good enough for the government to blame, like the parliamentary secretary did, the Senate, when the fact is that their work moves further, quicker and faster. That is why we have an abysmal record in this chamber of private members' bills dying a death in the Senate because it did not get dealt with.
It is unfortunate because there are some very excellent senators. Regardless of my feelings with regard to the other chamber and whether it should be democratically elected or not, there are strong, capable individuals who have been appointed. There are strong, capable individuals who have won their election in the few cases there have been. There are strong, capable individuals in the most recent selection process who are working on behalf of Canadians. However, the reality is that there is still political partisanship and games with regard to the ordering and the system in the Senate, which has several layers of committees and groups breaking apart. We cannot ignore that.
How do we actually fix that situation?
We unify even stronger in the House, pass it quickly at committee and get it back here in the chamber, or we could move it through unanimous consent. I will leave that to the member for Calgary Confederation to decide if that would be the appropriate way to go. I would support that because it already had its due diligence and its day here very recently.
It has been well recognized. I will give the government credit for this. There is money sitting right now that could help people and it has been funded. Just as I am critical, I am also very encouraging and respectful of the fact that we have money that is available for a program. In my 18 years here, I do not know many programs like this that would come through as a private member's bill and already have funding sitting on a shelf somewhere. It just cannot be triggered by legislation. I do not think I have ever run across something like that before. It shows there is a sound support structure within our public institutions and bureaucracies to move this along, and that the way this has been done is well respected.
The real holdup at the end of the day is us. The real holdup is Parliament through process. The real holdup is the Senate. What is behind the times and lagging and failing people right now is us as an elected body and the other place, which have to deal with this to get royal assent to get this done.
Everything else has been done to save lives, and they count for anyone, the two-year-olds and 30- and 40-year-olds. I have seen these cases because I served them when I was formerly an employment specialist on behalf of persons with disabilities.
When somebody got an organ transplant, I saw what it did for their life. Not only did it give them hope and opportunity for themselves and the immediate circumference of their friends and family, but it also led to what I did as an employment specialist, which was help them find employment in the community. There needs to be some work on and recognition of that because it benefited not only the individuals, but also the people introduced to this person who had had this second chance at a full life. When employment was added to their curricula of activities, they become taxpayers and contributed back.
We see that these people have not only a recognition of what they have gotten from the community, but also a respect for the unconditional love that was provided when somebody filled out a form and gave them that gift. We see that not only through their emotions and their eyes, but also through their gestures.
Most recently, we had in this country the Kidney Walk. With COVID-19, we cannot do walkathons the way we would normally do them because of social distancing. The organizers of the Kidney Walk put a process in place where people got their shirt and a pin with their number on it, as I did. They then put them on and went out, wherever they wanted to, by themselves to find their walk. It was fun.
It was different because people reflected on it. I have done a lot of walkathons over the years, but this was really different. I was out by myself, just thinking about it. They said to pick the time, whenever, and just a few weeks ago, Canadians raised over $600,000 on that alone, despite everything. The people involved are often people who have had an organ transplant, or they are a family member or somebody else associated with them.
The legislation being presented here, as I noted earlier, has been around for many years. I noted the Liberal member who originally put forth a bill related to this was Mr. Lou Sekora in 1999 and 2000, just prior to my coming to this chamber. To suggest that we have unanimous support for this and that we actually have no politics behind it is not right, because it never got done.
I do not want to go back on a blame train with regard to why it did not take place with Judy Wasylycia-Leis, Malcolm Allen or, most recently, Liberal members, who introduced it and then saw cabinet vote against it. What I want to do is recognize that, because it is a potential pitfall we could face going forward to get this done. Let us not ignore that.
We can have these moments in this chamber when we feel good about coming together to speak about this, but if we do not get the job done, then we are part of the problem and not the solution. If we keep talking about this, with its real human existence connection among children, adolescents and seniors, then we have an obligation to follow through with those words to make sure the deed is actually done. We have to give the government credit for the fact that there is money on the shelf waiting for this, and it actually could help people right away.
If we look at Australia, Belgium and Spain, we see the results. When we move to a system like this with discussion about it and also inclusion, the numbers for organ donations go up because people feel better educated about it. They know that the process has been fully vetted through their parliamentary system and their democracy. They know there has been inclusion and consultation, such as what we had at the health committee before.
However, again, if we do not actually move on this, if we just give it lip service and do not have a plan to get it done, especially in a Parliament that potentially has a limited time, it could happen or maybe it could not. While maybe this Parliament will go on, as I have seen some minority governments go on for years, we all know the terms and conditions that we have right now.
As I conclude, I want to thank the member for Calgary Confederation and all the members who intervene here, but it is only worth something if we get it done. If we do not get it done this time, then we are just part of the problem that goes back to 1999.