Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to support the bill put forward by my colleague from Guelph.
I do not usually use the word brilliant, but in some sense I think this is a brilliant bill, brilliant in its simplicity. Simplicity is not a bad thing. Often the best things in life are simple and sometimes when somebody proposes a new idea that is simple, people will say that it is obvious, or they will ask why it was not done before. This legislation has those two characteristics. Why have we not had one-stop shopping of this kind for many years? Why did we not think of that before? Maybe someone has thought of it before, but it is new to me, and it would be an excellent addition to Canadian law.
The points have been made that the person whose loved one has just died is not in a happy state, to put it mildly, and the prospect of having to make a substantial number of calls to government bureaucracies to answer different questions about the death of one's wife, or husband or whomever is not a happy prospect. Given the cutbacks, the prospect of being on a 1-800 line and having to wait forever to even get any answer at all is not a happy thought. Therefore, the possibility of just going to one place and having experts there who know exactly how to do it would relieve a huge amount of stress and anxiety from those who are the least able to be in such positions of stress.
In my opinion, this is a great bill because when someone loses a family member, he or she is not prepared to telephone all the government bureaucracies to share the information with public servants.
If all of that can happen in one fell swoop, it is better for everyone.
As my colleague has suggested, there are subsidiary benefits, which are definitely secondary to the primary one of helping individual Canadians. However, it could save the government money. It could save lawyers and estates from money going down the wrong paths. It could make it less likely that there would be issues of overpayment, and so on.
I was pleased with the government's response. If we could work in such a collegial way on other things as the way we worked on this bill, this would be a better place. That would be perhaps hoping too much, but I think the parliamentary secretary's response in tone was excellent, co-operative, and collegial.
The devil is in the details and I will certainly defer to my colleague from Guelph as to whether what he is proposing is precisely right. As far as I know, everyone in the House is on the same page and in favour, and we should all work together to make this happen in the most efficient and effective manner.
Having blossomed forth on how collegial we are, let me turn to a slightly different issue, which is perhaps a little less collegial.
In an ideal world, we should have one-stop shopping for both federal and provincial government agencies because no doubt, when an individual dies, the successor has to contact provincial governments, even municipal governments, as well as the federal government. If we could have one-stop shopping for all three levels of government, what a wonderful world this would be.
I remember back in the late days of the Liberal government that I had some involvement with Service Canada, which we were promoting as a new agency. Our idea at the time was to begin at the federal level but then to work with provincial governments and try to do what I just described, which is one-stop shopping across levels of government.
Maybe if a Liberal government were still in power, we would be there today and were that the case, my colleague might have been able to introduce a bill that would go to all levels of government. I am not sure we would have reached municipalities even eight years later, but we might have at least incorporated provinces and then it would be even easier for the loved ones of someone who died.
Unfortunately, Service Canada has gone in the wrong direction. We hear all the time about people being stuck forever on 1-800 numbers wanting employment insurance and things of that nature. Therefore, the service has not blossomed forth to include at least two levels of government, but rather, seems to have become more and more difficult to administer for just this one level of government.
I suppose that is a challenge for the future, but I think in the longer term maybe the hon. member, in a few years time, perhaps after there is a government of a different stripe to put this thing in order, will be able to provide amendments to his bill that would extend it to include not just the federal government but provincial governments as well.
That is a longer term proposition. For the moment, we, of all parties, should be pleased at this very important and major first step toward one-stop shopping for the benefit of the loved ones of those who have died.
There is so much consensus on this that I need not take up my full 10 minutes. My colleague from Charlottetown has explained extremely clearly as to what the benefits are, so I do not want to belabour the point.
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals agree to apply the vote, but the member for Guelph was not here for the last vote and we want to include him in this vote.
The electoral district of Guelph (Ontario) has a population of 114,943 with 91,463 registered voters and 210 polling divisions.
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