Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to support this legislation put forward by my colleague from Brossard—La Prairie. I want to thank him for his excellent work on cycling safety. This is an issue near and dear to my heart.
Bill C-603 would make side guards mandatory for heavy trucks manufactured in Canada or imported into Canada. As my colleague from Guelph has said, it is about encouraging people to cycle and about encouraging better cycling safety.
Canada should be looking at greater cycling infrastructure, so that we are encouraging people to cycle. I put forward a motion calling on the government to have a national strategy to encourage cycling infrastructure in communities across Canada.
People have to know that they can cycle safely, and installing side guards on heavy trucks would make cycling safer. It would save lives. Too many tragic accidents have taken place in communities across the country. In 2011, there was a tragic case in my own community. A mom was on her way to pick up her five-year old son from school. She was expecting a second child. She was making a right hand turn at a corner in our neighbourhood and a truck clipped her as it was turning that same corner. She fell under the back wheels of the truck as it turned right and suffered massive head injuries as a result. Whenever there is a collision between a truck and a cyclist, the cyclist will never win. Jenna Morrison was killed that day. Obviously, it was a terrible tragedy for Jenna's family and for our entire community.
We have been calling for mandatory side guards on heavy trucks for many years now. Our former colleague Olivia Chow from Trinity—Spadina worked tirelessly on this issue. There was a similar case in her riding involving a young cyclist who was making a right hand turn at Dundas and Spadina. She was clipped by a truck and suffered massive injuries as she fell under the rear wheels.
Side guards would push the cyclist away from the truck rather than allowing the individual to fall into the truck and be crushed by the rear wheels. A cyclist might be injured falling on the street, falling on a sidewalk, or falling into a parked car but would not be crushed to death by falling under the rear wheels of a truck.
For years, other countries have heeded the call for mandatory side guards because they have seen the totally unnecessary deaths of cyclists and pedestrians by heavy trucks. A study in the United Kingdom found that side guards reduced the number of deaths in accidents where cyclists were hit by the side of a truck by 61%. Two-thirds of the cycling deaths were reduced.
The Chief Coroner for Ontario has reaffirmed a 1998 recommendation to install side guards on trucks, believing it would have a positive effect on cycling safety. The coroner for Quebec published a report in 2014, which showed that cyclists would be prevented from being killed by rear truck tires. A 2010 report by the National Research Council of Canada called for side guards to be mandatory on trucks. They are already mandatory in the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Japan, and they have been adopted by several regions and municipalities throughout Canada.
The question is why this is not done nationally. Why not ensure that Canadians, cyclists and pedestrians right across Canada, are protected?
Why would the government not want to do the best for pedestrians and cyclists everywhere in our country? I have not heard a good argument from the other side.
A ministry of transport report said that it was inconclusive. Yet, surely, when so many jurisdictions have brought in this measure and are saying, demonstrably, that this has reduced cycling and pedestrian deaths, why we would not do that here is frankly unbelievable.
It is the government's responsibility to set safety standards for vehicles manufactured in Canada, but it should also bring in this measure for vehicles that are imported as well.
We know there are many validators of this position for mandatory truck side guards.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has said that FCM would like to reiterate its concern and stress the importance of countermeasures, such as side guards, to improve the safety of vulnerable road users; that would include pedestrians and cyclists.
As I said, the Chief Coroner for Ontario said that side guards should be made mandatory for heavy trucks in Canada. That is pretty clear-cut.
The Quebec coroner said that a lateral safety barrier would have prevented the head of Mathilde Blais, a young cyclist, from coming under the truck's internal tire. The conclusion was that it was a preventable accidental death.
The United States National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that both newly manufactured truck trailers and old trailers be equipped with side under ride protection systems to better protect people from fatalities and serious injuries.
Seriously, I do not understand why the government would not bring this in. It is no cost to the federal government. It is actually a low cost measure that trucking companies could bring in. It is a low cost measure that would practically save lives. It is a basic responsibility of government to ensure that it brings in protective measures to ensure the lives of Canadians are protected.
We have been calling for this for over eight years. In that time, we have seen the lives of far too many cyclists and pedestrians taken. We think that should stop.
We have seen that the number of cyclists is rising across the country. I know in my city the expectation is that the number of people who will bike to work on a daily basis is likely to increase from 1.7% to 5% by 2016. It means a lot more cyclists will be on the roads. We need to have the safest measures possible to ensure they are protected.
When other jurisdictions have already taken this on, as it is a proven measure that saves lives, it frankly is unbelievable that we would not take action here. It is a no-cost measure for the government. We have seen a total of 19% of cycling fatalities across the country involving heavy trucks. We have also seen that a number of cycling deaths, probably 50% or 60%, would be prevented by heavy truck side guards.
I mentioned cost earlier. The cost would be between $1,500 and $3,000 per truck. If we look at the total cost of a truck, it is a pretty small amount of money that would save so many lives. We know that truck guards save lives. I call upon my colleagues to join with us and let us get the bill to committee.
I leave them with a question. How many cyclists and how many pedestrians have to lose their lives before the House is willing to take action?
I thank the hon. member for Guelph for bringing this matter to the Chair's attention. However, I do not feel it meets the tests in the Standing Orders at this time.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have a chance to rise and speak about a question that I asked last week but certainly did not get a very satisfactory answer to. It was about the Conservative government's lack of commitment to the health and welfare of our Canadian veterans. There is really only one word to describe it, and that is “shameful”, I am sad to say.
Too many veterans are too often denied benefits they are entitled to, while others are forced to fight their own government for years before they can get the help they need. In fact, this fall the Auditor General's report presented clear evidence that the government has failed to provide adequate access to mental health services, which are needed by many of our veterans. The report that noted that mental health support for veterans was very slow, complex, poorly communicated, not tracked, and not comprehensive enough. In fact, the Auditor General concluded that Veterans Affairs, believe it or not, was largely unconcerned with “...how well veterans are being served and whether programs are making a difference in their lives”.
The Conservative government has closed down regional support offices to save a few dollars. At the same time, it has allowed over $1 billion to lapse and go unspent in this department so that it can make claims about balancing the budget. It is a government that shamelessly fudged the numbers with regard to the recently announced programs to enhance mental health services. While the Conservative cabinet minister originally led us to believe that this funding would flow over 6 years, we then learned that it would in fact be stretched over 50 years.
Imagine being a government that presumes it can announce what is going to happen for the next 50 years. The gall and arrogance of that is appalling. Worse than that, to come across and pretend that the government is going to spend it over 6 years, when it is in fact over 50 years, is fundamentally dishonest. The government should be ashamed of that.
Not only has the government failed to deliver mental health services for Canadian veterans, but a new report reveals that after committing to hire more mental health personnel for our Canadian Armed Forces, the Conservative government also failed to deliver. It is no wonder that Canadians do not believe a word the government says when it comes to the treatment of our men and women who serve our country and have served it in the past. The government simply cannot be trusted to tell the truth.
Unfortunately, the lack of adequate and timely support for our veterans is clearly taking a toll. Over the last decade, 160 Canadian Forces members have died by suicide. Many more are struggling with mental health issues like PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. However, as the Auditor General pointed out, under the current system, one in five veterans is forced to wait up to eight months to get help from the government. The Conservatives talk a good game about supporting our veterans and armed forces, but they clearly fail to recognize that we have an obligation to those who serve our country and to their families.
This fall's report by the Auditor General is a reminder of the Conservatives' failed record on Canadian veterans. The Auditor General has found that Veterans Affairs needs to update its outreach strategy to include family physicians and that it needs to educate family members on how to spot possible signs of mental illness. Why on earth is it not doing this already? Why does the government not want this to happen? Is it because it does not want people who have PTSD to be found, recognized, and dealt with? Does it not want to know? What is wrong with the Conservative government?
When we ask why the government has failed to correct this problem, what do we get? We get PMO talking points. I hope that we will not get the same thing tonight when the government has a chance to respond.
Again, why does the government take this approach? Is it because it really does not want to know? That is the question on my mind. Is it because the minister is more concerned with photo ops than being available to respond to the report of the Auditor General? Is it because he would rather try to bully and intimidate veterans instead of listening to their legitimate concerns?
Perhaps the parliamentary secretary, in the minister's place, could answer my colleague, the member for Guelph, who asked why the current funding for veterans' mental health is stretched over 50 years and wildly insufficient, especially when compared to the $1.13 billion that Veterans Affairs left unspent and the fact the Conservatives have squandered hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on partisan advertising campaigns.
moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour to rise in the House to speak to all kinds of issues, but particularly today to speak to the bill in regard to Lincoln Alexander day, January 21.
I would like to thank and acknowledge Senator Don Meredith for bringing Bill S-213, an act respecting Lincoln Alexander Day, before the other place and shepherding it through to passage here.
As we conclude the third reading of Bill S-213 in this chamber, I also want to thank all of my Conservative colleagues who showed an interest in the bill and spoke in its favour. As well I would like to thank the hon. NDP members from Hamilton.
We all take pride in the fact that Lincoln Alexander was a great Hamiltonian, as well as such a great Ontarian and Canadian, so much so that designating January 21 of each year as Lincoln M. Alexander day is the very least we can do to honour his legacy and his huge contributions. Once again, as all hon. members would know, January 21 was Lincoln Alexander's birthday.
As I have mentioned before in the House and at committee, I have the honour of being the member of Parliament for a constituency that includes much of Linc's former constituency when he was a member of the House, although I have to admit there is some debate with the member for Hamilton Centre on just how much of his constituency we each had, but we will forgo that aspect of the debate tonight.
When I appeared before committee, I read into the record the highlights of over 20 pages of awards, honours, titles, and accomplishments of Lincoln M. Alexander in his lifetime. I thank Marni Alexander for that list. The length of the list, let alone the calibre of achievements on the list, affirms the appropriateness of Lincoln Alexander day.
I will not repeat all the details, but in my summation of debate in the House, please allow me once again to highlight four important accomplishments, the first two with significance to this place.
Lincoln Alexander was the first black member of Parliament, rising above barriers that he had faced all of his life. He was also the first black cabinet minister, in this case minister of labour in the Joe Clark government of 1979-80. Linc pulled himself up from facing discrimination as a youth to sitting at the cabinet table of our great nation. It was a true testament to his grit and determination.
Lincoln Alexander was also a deeply loved chancellor emeritus of the University of Guelph. I remember hearing representatives from the University of Guelph speak at his funeral about just how important it was to have Lincoln Alexander as their chancellor.
Lincoln Alexander was one of the best loved lieutenant governors in Ontario history. This was his finest hour. He served from 1985 to 1990 and his legacy stands to this day. He was eloquent and he focused on youth and education, the very things that made a difference in his life as he blazed the trail and overcame discrimination.
Is it any wonder why so many schools in Ontario are named after him? Is it any wonder why thousands and thousands attended his funeral in Hamilton in October 2012 and lined the overpasses of the Lincoln Alexander Parkway as the procession entered Hamilton with the casket en route back from lying in state at Queen's Park?
Lincoln Alexander knew that if a society did not take care of its youth, then it would have no future. It is why he championed youth. He also knew that education and awareness were the essential tools for changing society's prejudices, and that's why he always championed education as well.
Let us recognize January 21 each year across this land to honour Lincoln Alexander, to celebrate youth, and to advocate for education and awareness. Colleagues, join me in passing Bill S-213 so that we can cement forever in Canadian history the great legacy of Lincoln MacCauley Alexander of Hamilton, the 24th lieutenant governor of Ontario, who is forever in our hearts.
Order, please. I must remind the hon. member for Westmount—Ville-Marie that it is unparliamentary to point out the presence or absence of colleagues. I know that he will keep that in mind going forward.
The hon. member for Guelph.
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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