As the member referenced, the question is actually a bit outside the parameters of the question before the House. However, I do recognize the hon. member for Niagara West—Glanbrook did invoke some discussion around that line, so he may want to take that question.
The hon. member for Niagara West—Glanbrook.
Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate the speech from my colleague from Niagara West—Glanbrook. In fact, one of the things about this chamber that is regretful is that often we do not hear about the actual resumés, the curriculum vitae, of individual members, which sometimes are very robust. This particular member has one of those.
Rather than talk about the program at the level he was speaking of in regard to government, municipalities, and provinces, I wonder if he would share personally, because he was a very successful small-business owner prior to being elected, what it is like for an entrepreneur who has narrow margins, who is trying to find the right people to work for him to be effective, to deal with municipal, provincial, and federal regulations. How tough is it when there is an extra layer of burden on an entrepreneur? What does it mean to an entrepreneur who may or may not be able to balance his or her books at the end of the month, end of the quarter, and end of the year?
Mr. Speaker, I am certainly honoured to be here today to speak to a couple of the key features of the 2014 budget and economic action plan.
For Canadian families, this year's budget demonstrates the fulfillment of a promise made by this government to return the Canadian economy back to balanced books and surplus. Currently, this government is right on track to do so. In my limited time here today, I want to give an overview of how this year's budget would meet such a promise through creating jobs, investing in research and development, and supporting Canadian families.
Let us first talk about jobs.
Since taking office in 2006, this government has made it a central priority to address what has been on the minds of Canadians from coast to coast to coast: the creation of jobs. Since the economic recession, Canada has recovered more than all of the output and all of the jobs lost during the global recession. The Canadian economy has posted one of the strongest job creation records in the G7, with nearly 1.2 million jobs created since July 2009. Over 80% of the jobs created since that time are full-time positions, nearly 80% are in the private sector, and over 65% are in high-wage industries.
When I have a chance to travel on parliamentary business, I see that colleagues from all over the world are obviously impressed with the kind of record that we have and that we have created, and they want to know how we do it. If we just look at the numbers we heard last month, we see that in October we had an increase of almost 43,000 jobs, which dropped our unemployment rate to 6.5%, the lowest since 2008.
This government has created an environment in which businesses can flourish, and almost 182,000 jobs have been created in the past years. That is a pretty impressive record by any stretch of the imagination. When it comes to other G7 countries, most countries can only wish to have the kind of record that we have.
One way in which this government has been able to create this substantial accomplishment is through strengthening the investment, training, and employment opportunities available to our young people here in Canada. When it comes to training young people to develop the skills necessary for key growth industries in Canada, this government has taken seriously the demand put forth by employers to gain an increased role in training decisions and to gain the support needed to train new employees with minimal red tape.
Several programs supported within this budget, such as the Canada summer jobs program, the Canada job grant, and the Canada apprenticeship loan, have provided funding to not-for-profits, the public sector, and small-business employers to create a great number of job opportunities for young people.
I had a chance to meet a number of these individuals in my riding. It is always interesting to see them. For example, I think of the Jordan Historical Museum and having the chance to talk to the two young ladies who were there last year who were given an opportunity. The field that they would like to go into in some capacity is museums, whether as curators or being involved in exhibits, et cetera. Because of the money that the Canada summer jobs program provided, these two ladies had a chance to see first-hand what was going on, to experience this work in the field, whereas otherwise they might not have been able to have that opportunity. That is just one small example that I think has very practical applications.
By developing an accessible path for students to transition out of full-time studies into job sectors that they are passionate about—and I can assure members that these two ladies were very passionate about their jobs with the museum—this year's budget looks to continue the strong legacy established by these programs in helping move forward the aspirations of Canadian employers and students alike.
Since it began in 2007 and through to 2013, the Canada summer jobs program has helped over 260,000 students, while the Canada job grant and the apprentice program have allowed for an investment of over $50 million in up to 4,000 internships in both high-demand and small- and medium-sized business sectors. These initiatives all make Canada's labour force more competitive and shape a path toward enhanced national prosperity and growth.
As a member of the Red Tape Reduction Commission, I am pleased to say this government is now implementing another one of our recommendations. We are cutting the administrative burden on more than 50,000 employers by reducing the maximum number of required payments on account of source deductions.
The 2014 economic action plan proposes to continue supporting the elimination of unnecessary barriers for employers and the creation of important programs like these, which put more money back into the pockets of hard-working Canadians.
Youth employment strategy, or its short form, YES, is another program with strong results supported in this year's budget. YES provides skills development and work experience for youth at risk, summer students, and recent post-secondary graduates.
Economic action plan 2014 announces that our government will improve the youth employment strategy to align it with the evolving realities of the job market. This process would also ensure federal investments in youth employment provide young Canadians with real-life work experience in high-demand fields such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and skilled trades. Creating these jobs for students benefits not only youth and employers but local economies as well. That is why our government will continue to support programs in this year's budget that help connect young Canadians with available jobs.
Let me talk a little now about research and development and the Internet. Investing in employment opportunities is only one part of how the budget proposes to continue to move the Canadian economy forward. The other half of its strategy is that it is investing in the promise of new inventions, new ideas, and new minds. It is these important features that currently give Canada an economic edge over its international competitors.
Our government has helped foster these innovations and discoveries by funding research and development projects throughout the country. In 2014, we continue the trend of increasing annual research and development funding, with the total spending now at $1.6 billion over 5 years.
We have long recognized that the development of new ideas and new products is key to Canada's future prosperity. It fuels the growth of small and large businesses and drives productivity improvements that raise the standard of living of Canadians.
Improvements to technology and infrastructure, such as our connecting Canadians program, deliver on the government's commitment in economic action plan 2014 to invest in programs that benefit all Canadians. Bringing high-speed Internet to an additional 280,000 Canadian households in rural and remote regions of the country, this program is ensuring that Canadians are equipped with the skills, tools, and opportunities needed to be competitive and thrive in the 21st century.
It is because of programs like these that Canada remains the G7 leader in research and development expenditures in the higher education sector as a share of the economy. Our universities are recognized internationally for providing a world-class education. We must continue this legacy by investing in the intellectual and social capital that culminates in our places of post-secondary and higher learning.
Through our economic action plan 2014, we will continue this legacy through creating funds to support research, academic excellence, and higher learning. Prime examples of the investments the budget makes in the brightest minds of tomorrow are the Canada first research excellence fund and the venture capital action plan. These initiatives help Canadian post-secondary research institutions leverage their key strengths to the benefit of all Canadians. Within the next decade, the Canada first research excellence fund will provide an additional $1.5 billion to advance the global research leadership of Canadian institutions.
The venture capital action plan aims to make significant resources available to support Canada's booming venture capital industry, including the allocation of $400 million to help increase private sector investments in early stage risk capital.
Complementing the investment in research and innovation, I want to conclude my time today by focusing on what the budget aims to do for Canadian families.
In my riding of Niagara West—Glanbrook, families are very important. There is no higher calling for a government than ensuring that every Canadian family with children will have more money in their pockets to spend on their priorities. The family tax cut, a federal tax credit, will provide tax relief by allowing higher-income spouses to transfer up to $50,000 of taxable income to a spouse in a lower tax bracket.
Increasing the universal child care benefit for children under age six, doubling the children's fitness tax credit, and increasing the child care expense deduction dollar limits all represent measures that make important priorities, like child care and after-school sports, more affordable for parents.
Simply put, these measures put hard-working Canadian families and their children first. Whether it is creating jobs, investing in young people, research and development, or supporting Canadian families, our government is displaying strong leadership and taking important steps in moving this economy and nation forward. The budget benefits Canadians nationwide and puts in place initiatives that cultivate growth and prosperity.
Mr. Speaker, it is for this reason that I am honoured to stand before you today and put forward my support for the implementation of this year's budget.
Mr. Speaker, Statistics Canada has confirmed what we already knew: Middle-class families are better off under our Prime Minister than under previous governments.
The Liberal leader has promised to reverse benefits for middle-class families, as he believes that the government knows better than parents on how to spend their hard-earned tax dollars. Under our family tax cut, 100% of families with children will receive an average benefit of over $1,100. A single mother with two children earning $30,000 will benefit by $1,500 per year. We know that for the important decisions that affect the lives of children, the decision-making power should be with moms and dads, not with government.
We know that, as families, we are better off in my riding of Niagara West—Glanbrook under our Conservative government. We know that, as families, we are better off in my province of Ontario under our Conservative government. We know that, as families, we are better off as Canadians under our Conservative government.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak in support of Bill C-31, economic action plan 2014, no. 1.
I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Niagara West—Glanbrook.
As the bill's short title would indicate, this piece of legislation would implement some of the measures passed in economic action plan 2014.
I have noted through the years that my opposition colleagues take exception to the term “economic action plan”. They are welcome to. While they are concerned with titles and labels, we on this side of the House are concerned with action on jobs, long-term growth, and continued prosperity for all Canadians. We have focused on reducing taxes for all Canadians; lowering government debt; increasing competition in the Canadian marketplace; creating the best educated, most highly skilled, and flexible workforce in the world; and building the modern infrastructure that we need to compete abroad and enjoy living in livable communities at home.
These priorities were outlined in our first mandate in a document I would encourage all MPs to read. All Canadians would benefit from doing so. It is called “Advantage Canada”. It is available on the Department of Finance website. That document was written in better times, before the global recession. While times have changed, our priorities have not.
In the intervening years we have weathered the worst global economic downturn since the Great Depression, but we stuck to our priorities, the priorities that Canadians elected us to address. Our commitment to that course has paid dividends for Canada. In every way that Canadians pay taxes, whether sales tax, income tax, or customs and tariffs, this government has lowered them.
We are now poised to return to a surplus fiscal position. I cannot over-emphasize how important it is that we return to this balanced budget and reduce our long-term debt charges.
We have reduced unnecessary regulations. We have made progress in cutting red tape. We have concluded major free trade agreements. We have invested an unprecedented amount in our post-secondary institutions and the skilled trades. Right across this great country, Canadians have seen their local infrastructure renewed, from wastewater facilities to community centres. Locally, this has meant unprecedented investments in Wilfrid Laurier University, my alma mater, as well as the world-renowned University of Waterloo and Canada's top polytechnic institute, Conestoga College.
New computer science and engineering facilities provide students the best environment to learn. Many of these students will become graduates who want to start one of the high-tech businesses for which Waterloo region is so well known. When they do, they can take advantage of the federally supported new Communitech Hub, which offers the latest technologies for their use as experts in building high-tech businesses.
When we talk about high-tech businesses, what we will build is beyond our imagination. Quantum computing and nanotechnology are just two of the bleeding-edge fields now being pursued thanks to significant support from this government. When I say it is beyond our ability to imagine, I clearly remember, when I was a school board trustee back in 1978, that the computer housed in the school board offices was huge. It occupied almost a full room. Today we can compute far more than that on these little devices we hold in our hands, which each one of us in the House is privileged to use. Not only will those kinds of technology advancements from 1978 increase again, but they may also possibly double or triple in quantity.
Community centres from St. Clements to Kitchener have been built or renovated. Highway 8, our connection to Highway 401, has had its capacity increased to handle the increased volume that comes with our region's explosive growth.
We have done all of this during the worst times the world has seen since World War II, while reducing taxes for Canadians, and without cutting support for health care or education like the previous government did.
Canada has outperformed every other G7 country in job creation thanks to this government's commitment to long-term prosperity, as identified in the five priorities I listed earlier. Canadians have also experienced the strongest real per capita growth in the G7.
As chair of the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development, I am especially proud of the key investments our government has made to protect and preserve our natural habitats. This government has invested over $17 billion in clean transportation initiatives, renewable fuels, clean air, clean energy, energy efficiency, and green infrastructure. This bill would build on that legacy, making it easier and more affordable for Canadians to donate ecologically sensitive lands for preservation.
As I mentioned earlier, this budget would put us within a hair's breadth of a return to surplus. In our party, this is important. The leader of the third party claimed that budgets will simply balance themselves. While Canadians of a certain generation will remember that Pierre Trudeau had a similarly cavalier attitude toward budgets, many more Canadians will remember the painful actions it took to clean up the mess that Trudeau left. The truth is that it took decades for Canada to dig itself out of the hole that Trudeau left. If budgets balance themselves, why is the United States unable to do so; why is the Wynne government in my home province of Ontario unable to balance its books? Deficits and debts out of control, that is Pierre Trudeau's fiscal legacy.
Now, the leader of the third party wants to bring us back to that. We on this side of the House are preparing for a brighter future, not a return to the dark days of deficits and debts spiralling out of control. Not only were they spiralling out of control, but they were also followed by very drastic cuts to health care and education, which many people in this room and many, especially in Ontario, will still remember with a great deal of pain.
On this side of the House, and among a few members on that side—not today but usually—we believe in fiscal discipline. A balanced budget allows us to spend more of the tax dollars that we collect to serve Canadians, and means less for the bankers and bondholders who fund that debt. When the government borrows less, interest rates drop for Canadians who are seeking to borrow for a home or a car, and for provincial governments like my own that seem addicted to spending the money they do not have. That is our vision. Unlike the third party, we will not mortgage our children's and grandchildren's future in a vote-buying exercise.
We focus instead on the fundamentals. This act would make it easier for small businesses to grow and hire by reducing the amount of time and resources they must devote to administrivia, allowing them instead to focus on their business.
This act would make life a little easier for Canadians struggling with health issues, by making the Canada Labour Code and the Employment Insurance Act more flexible for employees, and allowing compassionate care leave for employees with critically ill children.
As well, this act addresses an issue that has so infuriated Canadians of late. We have seen senators accused of serious irregularities being suspended by their peers. They have no staff, no offices, no responsibility, but they are still accumulating pensionable service. To average Canadians, the middle-class Canadians the third party struggles so hard to define, this does not reflect any reality they have ever experienced.
In my home of Waterloo Region, business people tell me that they cannot access the talent they need. This act would make it easier for Canadians to pursue a skilled trade by offering financial assistance to apprentices. These business people also tell me that the current system of training is broken, focused on filling seats and not on producing results. I was especially pleased when members of the Ontario government finally agreed to participate in the Canada jobs grant program.
We are focused on jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity. The budget this act would implement will move us further toward those goals. By every measure, under this government Canada's economy has outperformed the world.
I know that the members opposite are screaming from the rooftops that this budget is the end of the world. They have been sticking to that Chicken Little routine every budget since Canadians first gave us the responsibility of governing, but they have been wrong every year and are wrong again. They are again wrong this time, and the evidence is that our approach is working. I ask the members opposite, especially those who have served more than one term, to listen to themselves, review what they predicted about previous budgets, and then review what happened, to see how wrong they have been year after year. I do not have time to go into all of the evidence, but maybe during the questions I will.
Under this government, Canada has led the world. That may be an uncomfortable fact for the opposition members, but it is a fact they cannot deny.
Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to rise today to celebrate the signing of the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement. I am pleased to say that this agreement will benefit Canadians across the country, and the residents of Niagara West—Glanbrook in particular.
Niagara is world famous for our wines and spirits and is home to many farms and orchards. Among its many other benefits, this deal eliminates the 15% tariff on ice wine, the 20% tariff on whiskey, and tariffs on other agricultural products. I am expecting good things for Niagara farmers, vintners, and growers in the years to come.
Speaking of Canadian whiskey, I would like to congratulate Forty Creek Distillery in Grimsby on its acquisition by Gruppo Campari earlier this year. Canadian whiskey is growing in foreign markets, and this sale goes to show international recognition of the quality and appeal of Niagara spirits.
I want to wish John Hall and all the others at Forty Creek all the best.
Mr. Speaker, it is a different question of privilege. Further to the brief verbal notice I gave you, Mr. Speaker, and the House yesterday, I rise at this time on a question of privilege flowing from the actions taken by the government of the Russian Federation.
In the course of its aggression against Ukraine, Russia has purported to impose personal sanctions directed against certain specific Canadian citizens, 13 in total so far. They include Mr. Paul Grod, the distinguished national president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress; Wayne Wouters, the Clerk of the Privy Council; Jean-Francois Tremblay, deputy secretary to the cabinet; Christine Hogan, an advisor to the Prime Minister; a cabinet minister; the government House leader; two Liberal members of Parliament, the members for Mount Royal and Toronto Centre; a New Democrat MP, the member for Ottawa Centre; three government members, the members for Niagara West—Glanbrook, Selkirk—Interlake, and Etobicoke Centre; a senator, Raynell Andreychuk from Saskatchewan; and the Speaker of the House of Commons.
These sanctions are obviously intended to be insulting and intimidating. They are designed to interfere with the normal and proper behaviour of the named individuals. Typically, those who have reacted, so far, to their being included on this Russian blacklist have worn their sanction status as a badge of honour for standing up for freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law for defending the independence, integrity, and sovereignty of Ukraine. I am sure that all of us in this House endorse that principled Canadian attitude and reject the notion of these Russian sanctions.
It is bad enough that such sanctions are directed against a prominent Canadian citizen like Mr. Grod. It is bad enough that they are directed against several professional public servants. It is bad enough that the Russians are purporting to sanction Canadian members of Parliament to punish them, to interfere with their public and parliamentary duties, and to seek to intimidate them in their defence of freedom and rights. All that is bad enough.
However, it is worse still that a foreign power has attempted to insult and demean the Parliament of Canada as a whole by purporting to sanction the Speaker of the House of Commons. The Speaker represents the rights and privileges of all MPs, regardless of partisanship or any other distinction, and through them, the Speaker represents the basic values of our democratic way of life. The Speaker reflects the fundamental dignity of the House of Commons.
Sanctions by a foreign power against the Speaker of the House of Commons are a fundamental affront to Canada. They are, in my view, an unmistakable contempt of Parliament, and they should not go without a response.
I will not belabour the point. I believe it speaks quite eloquently for itself. I would simply refer to one short paragraph on page 82 of the second edition of O'Brien and Bosc's House of Commons Procedure and Practice. It reads as follows:
Any disregard of or attacks on the rights, powers and immunities of the House and its Members, either by an outside person or body, or by a Member of the House, is referred to as a “breach of privilege” and is punishable by the House. There are, however, other affronts against the dignity and authority of Parliament which may not fall within one of the specifically defined privileges. Thus, the House also claims the right to punish, as a contempt, any action which, though not a breach of a specific privilege, tends to obstruct or impede the House in the performance of its functions; obstructs or impedes any Member or officer of the House in the discharge of their duties; or is an offence against the authority or dignity of the House....
I believe that a sufficient prima facie case of contempt exists in the circumstances of these Russian sanctions. If the Chair so finds, I would be prepared to present a motion, that, in summary, would first, reiterate the clear support of this House for freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in Ukraine and the independence, integrity, and sovereignty of Ukraine; second, express our united condemnation of the behaviour of the Russian Federation in relation to Ukraine and our rejection of Russian sanctions against Canadians; and, third, call upon the appropriate committee of this House to investigate the full meaning and consequences of a foreign power showing contempt against the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Parliament of Canada.
In the alternative, given what I think is a strong common view in the House around these points, I would be happy to see the House leaders convene to discuss an appropriate all-party motion on this matter of contempt to deal with what is an unprecedented situation, and to give some guidance as to how we can and should respond, as a Parliament, in cases of foreign contempt.
Mr. Speaker, one of the ways to elevate debate here is to ensure that any representation that is made is one that has some legitimacy.
A little while ago, the member for Winnipeg North posed a question regarding housing. The answer that came back was not one that was representative of what was in the budget. Therefore, I would like to ask my hon. colleague from Niagara West—Glanbrook about affordable housing and the landmark investments this government has made, which no other federal government made for almost the last three decades.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate the many Canadian vintners who are here today, and those across the country, on the recent results of the largest and most in-depth Canadian wine and grape economic impact study ever conducted.
This third party report found that the industry generates more than $6.8 billion annually for the Canadian economy, including $1.2 billion in government-related revenue.
With more than 500 wineries and 1,300 grape growers in Canada, this industry proudly supports 31,000 Canadian jobs in agriculture, processing and support services.
It is also important to note that more than three million tourists are welcomed to Canadian wineries each year, which is four times the number of visitors to the Vancouver Olympics.
I cannot overstate the importance of the Canadian wine industry to the people of my riding of Niagara West—Glanbrook and the greater Canadian economy.
Mr. Speaker, I invite you and all hon. members to the Government of Canada Conference Centre tonight for the Canadian wine reception to fully experience the excellence of Canadian wines and winemakers.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to stand before the House today to speak about anaphylaxis, which is a serious allergic reaction that can occur after exposure to an allergen, such as foods, medications, insect bites or stings, or even materials like latex. This is a very serious condition that affects the lives of hundreds of thousands of Canadians. I would like to personally commend the member for Niagara West—Glanbrook for once again bringing this important issue to the attention of members of Parliament.
There is a growing concern for a growing number of Canadians, and we can all agree that the government has a role to play in helping Canadians living with serious allergies maintain a high quality of life. I believe I can say with little doubt that a number of us here today either have allergies ourselves or have family members or friends who live with serious allergic conditions.
In 2003, Health Canada reported that an estimated 600,000 Canadians may have experienced life-threatening allergies. More recently, in 2012, it was recorded that more than two million Canadians, many of whom are children, identify having at least one food allergy. These numbers are significant. When someone who experiences allergic reactions is exposed to an allergen, a number of symptoms may develop. Some of these symptoms may be as mild as watery or itchy eyes or a rash. However, more severe symptoms can include difficulty breathing, light-headedness, feeling faint, and even losing consciousness. It may take only minutes for a mild reaction to quickly develop into a potentially dangerous, even life-threatening reaction. Many Canadians may not even be aware that they are allergic to something until they are exposed and experience a reaction.
As I mentioned a few moments ago, there are many common, everyday substances that can trigger an allergic reaction. Not all of these always cause an anaphylactic reaction, but many, including certain foods such as eggs, seafood and various nuts, are more likely to cause such a reaction. There is no guaranteed cure for allergies. It is possible that allergies may develop without warning, and it is also possible they may disappear without warning. There may be steps that individuals can take to help manage their allergies, but once someone develops an allergy, it may be something that individual will have to live with for his or her entire life.
One of the most effective means to combat allergic reactions is to avoid those allergens that trigger such reactions. That is why it is essential that people have information about what products contain. It is very important that the Government of Canada have the necessary measures in place to help minimize the risks associated with anaphylaxis, so that those Canadians who live with severe allergies are able to maintain a high quality of life.
I would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the actions taken by the Government of Canada to support Canadians who live with severe allergies. Our government has put in place regulations to enhance the information about allergens that must be included on product labels. This information helps Canadians make informed decisions about the products they purchase, which in turn will help to minimize the number of allergic reactions to health and food products.
In 2011, the Minister of Health announced new regulations to strengthen the labelling of food allergens so that Canadians with sensitivities and allergies could make better choices about the food products they purchase and consume. These new food allergen labelling regulations came into force in August 2012, following an 18-month transition period to allow industry sufficient time to come into compliance. Clear, plain-language labelling, a listing of priority allergens, and the identification of gluten sources and added sulphates in pre-packaged foods are among the enhanced requirements set out in these new regulations. If we go to the grocery store today and pick up a food product from the shelf and look at the label, we will see that the ingredient listing includes clear and understandable information about the potential allergens contained in the product.
Also in 2011, amended regulations came into force requiring the manufacturers of health products to list non-medicinal ingredients on the outer label of non-prescription drug products in Canada. This regulatory changed enhanced already existing labelling requirements for health products.
Both of these recent regulatory amendments have put in place measures that benefit Canadians who have allergies by providing them with information so they can identify potentially harmful ingredients and make informed choices about the products they use.
The Government of Canada has also put in place measures to monitor allergic reactions and to provide Canadians with reliable and trustworthy information so that they can make informed choices. For example, the Public Health Agency of Canada maintains the Canadian adverse events following immunization surveillance system. Health care professionals, consumers, provincial and territorial public health authorities and vaccine providers submit reports pertaining to adverse events following immunizations. This information facilitates the agency's work with the provinces and territories to monitor adverse events following immunization with disease preventing vaccines. In addition, the Public Health Agency has a number of documents on its website, including a guideline document relating to immunization and information on the management of anaphylaxis, that are readily available to Canadians.
We are all familiar with the Government of Canada's Healthy Canadians website, which provides Canadians with a one-stop shop for a wide range of health and safety information, including product recalls and safety alerts, information about food and health products and information concerning the health of our children. There is considerable information on the Healthy Canadians website concerning allergic reactions, anaphylaxis and how to minimize risks. This information is directed at Canadians and is a valuable resource for all of us.
In addition to the information on Healthy Canadians, many government departments also include information for Canadians on their websites. For example, Health Canada provides a food allergy e-notice, which is accessible to Canadian subscribers as a way to be better informed about food allergens and intolerance in Canada.
Health Canada is committed to promoting allergy awareness among Canadians. In the event a previously unknown allergen risk is identified, Health Canada works rapidly to promptly inform the Canadian public. Health Canada also produces annual reminders to Canadians relating to food allergies, outlining the risks to Canadians of all ages and explaining safe practices to help people reduce their risks from these allergens.
In May 2012, Health Canada published a reminder for Canadians stating that food allergies could be life-threatening to people of all ages, especially children. It highlighted the importance of reading product labels to assist in minimizing the risks of allergic reactions to food.
Health Canada also works in close collaboration with Canadian consumer associations. For example, the department participates in the annual conferences of Anaphylaxis Canada and the Association québécoise des allergies alimentaires, providing experts for “ask an allergist” training sessions.
Health Canada experts also give presentations in forums and conferences dedicated to education and awareness. Health Canada is committed to sharing resources with Canadians by including hyperlinks to these associations' websites on its website, thereby providing access to educational materials for consumers on anaphylaxis and allergies.
It is my recommendation that the House support the private member's motion from the member for Niagara West—Glanbrook. Anaphylaxis is a very serious concern for Canadians, and protecting the health and safety of Canadians is a priority. Supporting the motion will raise awareness on the challenges faced by those who suffer from anaphylactic reactions. For these reasons, I urge all hon. members to support Motion No. 230.
My hon. colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour has just promised to treat me much better now that he knows that I have this allergy to lobster. I look forward to that. I appreciate it. I cannot complain too much so far.
One can imagine that during the two years that I was minister of fisheries and oceans it was particularly frustrating to not be able to enjoy lobster. I remember in particular visiting Labrador and having a meeting with the Labrador shrimp co-operative, which invited us to stay for a lovely dinner. They brought out a plate of lobster and shrimp. At that point I had to explain to the guys from the lobster-shrimp co-operative who fished them that I could not enjoy these delicacies of the sea because of my allergy.
Although anaphylaxis can also be caused by insect bites, by some kinds of medicine or by a number of causes, food is the main one. One's throat can close up. There are other kinds of reactions, but it can be deadly.
I can recall very distinctly my experience on New Year's Eve 1997 when I was having dinner with some friends in Kentville, Nova Scotia. They happened to have a dog and a cat and I am allergic to dogs and cats. They do not cause anaphylaxis but of course what did we have for supper? We had lobster. At that point I had not come to the conclusion that my allergy to lobster was real or severe even though when I was about 17 the doctor pricked my arm with various needles to test for various allergens. The doctor told me that I was allergic to shellfish. I thought perhaps it was a mistake because I had eaten lobster at various times and did not think the result was that bad. The thing about crustaceans and other kinds of food is that each time the exposure is repeated, it can get worse, and the chance of an anaphylactic reaction becomes greater.
That is why I think this motion is important. That is why it is important for people to have access to information about what is in the food they are eating. It is particularly important to me when I am buying something at the grocery store, to know that it contains one of the things that can cause this kind of reaction.
Many of us are familiar with peanut allergies and how severe they can be. There has been tremendous success in labelling products that contain peanuts, so that people with those allergies can avoid them. My son's best friend has a serious peanut allergy. That has been an issue for a while. Both my son and his friend have been involved in Scouts and now Adventurers. When we go on excursions we make sure that we avoid anything with peanuts for those trips because we know this can be a life-and-death matter.
The government could produce stricter regulations about food labelling to make sure that people who have allergies that can be anaphylactic have access to the information about what is in the food.
I would like to speak about how to avoid anaphylactic allergic reactions. The only way is to completely avoid the food that causes the reaction. That means knowing what is in what you eat. When I go to a reception or an event where appetizers are being served, I often ask if they contain crab. It is easy to see if they contain shrimp or lobster, even though shrimp are more difficult to spot. We cannot necessarily see everything, like peanuts. Milk can also be an allergenic food for a lot of people. We need to read food labels carefully.
It is important for families to take precautions when preparing food. People have to wash their hands properly and use proper cleaning methods.
These are all important ways to avoid a potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction.
It is not true that individuals always will die of an anaphylactic reaction. On the evening that I spoke of, New Year's Eve 1997, as we were sitting in the living room having a nice conversation after the meal, I started to close up, and it seemed for about five minutes that I could barely breathe. I did not believe I was going to die, but then again I did not know anything about anaphylaxis at that point. I did not realize it was an anaphylactic reaction, so I did not realize the risk that I was at. I did not know how important it was for someone who has an allergy to foods such as crustaceans, for example, to have an EpiPen.
It is important to have EpiPens. For instance, people who work, as I do, in two places—Nova Scotia and Ottawa—really ought to have one within 20 minutes of wherever they are, and in both places. That reminds me: I have to visit the doctor, not only to update the one I have at home, which is several years old, but also to get one for Ottawa as well. It would be a good idea. These are important precautions for anyone who has these kinds of allergies.
I am sure my hon. colleague from Niagara West—Glanbrook is aware of this and that this is one of the reasons he has brought forward this motion.
What does an EpiPen contain? Why is it that it works? In fact, it either contains epinephrine, which is why it is called an EpiPen, or it contains adrenalin. Both of those will prevent the kind of reaction to this allergen that can cause people to totally constrict and die.
One of the other things the Government of Canada ought to do to help people with this condition is raise awareness about it. As I said, when I had that reaction in 1997, I had no idea about anaphylaxis. It is important that people become more aware of it, not only people who might have it but others who might feed them. Parents who have children ought to understand what this is about so that they can recognize when it is happening and know what to do about it, although perhaps it might be a mild reaction at first.
I think it was 10 years ago that I finally stopped eating lobster when I realized it was the lobster that was having this effect. It was not necessarily immediate, but something of a delayed reaction. I remember having three lobsters one Christmas Eve; for the next two days I was sniffling and sneezing. I made the connection. A month later, I tried just one lobster and had exactly the same reaction for the following two days. I had a runny nose and I felt miserable.
It is important to raise awareness about these things, educate the public about what is involved and ensure that product labels are easy to read and understand. It would also be valuable to have an approach coordinated between the federal and provincial governments across jurisdictions to ensure public health and safety, to raise awareness and to support research to identify root causes and cures for severe allergies.
I want to again thank my hon. colleague from Niagara West—Glanbrook for raising what is, from my perspective, obviously a very important issue.
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise in the House today to speak to Motion No. 230, which has been put forward by the member for Niagara West—Glanbrook, and I thank him for that.
I know the member had a similar motion in the last Parliament, but it did not go further because of the federal election, and so we are debating the issue again. It is always good to see members continue to press on with their issues.
Unfortunately, the vote we just had on sodium reduction was lost, but I am very committed to working with the 50-plus organizations across the country that supported the bill. Even though the vote was lost, we will continue to press very hard because sodium reduction in our country is a major public health issue.
As the health critic for the NDP, I am pleased to speak in support of the motion before us.
The question of anaphylaxis is a very critical issue. It affects about 500,000 Canadians and 50% of Canadians know of someone who has at least one food allergy. In our own personal experiences we can all think of someone we know who has a serious allergy and who has to be very careful of where and what that person eats.
The motion before us begins to address the issue anaphylaxis, which affects a growing number of Canadians. The NDP is supportive of the motion, but we will demand an accounting from the Conservative government on its health care track record.
The motion asks the House to recognize the importance of taking steps to ensure that Canadians with anaphylaxis have a certain quality of life. However, as we have seen with a number of these motions, this motion is very general and does not go further into precise measures. Therefore, while we support the motion, in as far as it goes, this is an opportunity for us to debate the issue and to keep pressing the government for much better accountability on health care generally and on something like this that does affect so many people.
One of the issues with anaphylaxis is that even the purchasing of the auto-injectors is an added cost for many families, and there are families that cannot afford this kind of injector. However, I find it curious that in the budget bill, which was approved at second reading and which was rushed through the House under another time allocation motion, and will be rushed through the finance committee in five meetings, one of the provisions is taxing hospital parking lots.
I do not know if anybody listened to the CBC story recently. In fact a couple of stories have been done. One of the biggest responses is from people who feel outraged that when they go to a hospital to visit a friend or family member who is sick, they get hit with exorbitant parking fees. Now, to add insult to injury, this budget, the latest omnibus bill from the Conservative government, will add taxes on to hospital parking.
Why I am raising this issue now in this debate on the private member's motion? It is because, while on the one hand we see these sort of window-dressing kinds of motions coming through from the Conservatives, and I appreciate their intent, the fact is there are so many significant issues that are going unaddressed in our health care system. The government has fallen down on or simply retreated from its role on health care. I wanted to get that bit about the hospital parking tax in there because it is something that really grates. The Conservatives have the gall to talk about being the government of tax reduction and yet on something that is as basic as hospital parking, where people are basically a captive audience and have no choice but to pay these exorbitant cost, they will now be hit with a tax. Why would the Conservatives do that? It seems unconscionable.
While I am happy to be debating this motion, as far as it goes, I do want to shed light and illuminate the bigger picture around health care in our country.
Unfortunately, we have seen the federal government basically walk away from the table. The Conservatives made a unilateral decision about health care funding that has now left the provinces and territories about $36 billion short over the longer term. The government has failed to implement the health accords. Therefore, while we support the motion, we have to look at it in the context of the bigger picture. The government has a miserable failing record, an F, on health care.
As the health critic for the official opposition, the NDP, I do a lot of work with organizations across the country. People are just chomping at the bit. They want to see a stronger federal role or any federal role in health care.
In the House, we have had issues around drug safety and drug shortages. We have seen the abysmal health status of aboriginal people and cuts in Health Canada. The list is enormous. We need to put this on the record and hold the government to account. While I am sure the Conservative members in the House will support the member for Niagara West—Glanbrook, which is good, they need to question themselves on what is happening to our health care overall.
Why have not made any progress on a national pharmacare program? Why have not made any progress on a home care and long-term program?
All these issues were discussed in 2004 and supported by the federal government and the premiers across the country. We believed, and Canadians believed, that we would see some way forward and that we would see some progress on these issues. However, nothing has happened, and not only has the status quo remained, even worse, the government disbanded the Health Council of Canada, which was the body that monitored the progress and implementation of the health accord.
It is a pretty dismal picture, which I am sure we can all appreciate. I really want to draw it to the attention of members in the House.
I encourage Conservative members that when they bring forward a private member's motion, such as the one we are debating today, they need to link it to the broader health issue. They need to think about what about the public health interest. It is very disappointing that they chose to defeat the bill on sodium reduction, which had incredible support across the country, yet I am sure this motion will go through.
At the health committee, we have had a number of these such bills and I have supported them. That is fine, but we in the NDP do have a plan for health care. We want to see our health care system improve its accessibility. We want to see the kinds of things that people need, like pharmacare, home care and long-term care. We want to see progress made on those very critical health issues.
We are very determined, as we move toward 2015, that there is an alternative on health care that we can present to the Canadian people. If the people want medicare 2.0, we know what that is. We are actually out there, consulting with Canadians on that on a daily basis.
I know many of my colleagues get emails and work with local constituents. We know health care is really the number one issue about which Canadians are concerned. On any poll that is done, health care is always at the top of the list.
I thank the member for presenting the motion. It is very important to draw awareness to this issue, which affects about 500,000 Canadians, and what it means to face a severe allergy.
Let us recognize that we need a federal government that will be responsive to the health care needs of Canadians and willing to be at the table with the provinces, territories and first nations. We need a federal government that is committed to implementing the accords that were signed in 2004 and to bringing in new accords and a new vision for medicare that is based on the Canada Health Act, accessibility, portability, public administration and universality.
We in the NDP are committed to that. We stand for that. We are the party of medicare. We are proud of the work that we have done and the work we continue to do.
While we support the motion, we know that it is just a bit of the big job that needs to be taken on. We are taking on that job.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity today to speak about Motion No. 230, which calls on the House to recognize anaphylaxis as a serious concern for an increasing number of Canadians.
This motion was previously introduced by the member for Niagara West—Glanbrook as Motion No. 546 in the last Parliament. It received unanimous support during the first hour of debate in March 2011, shortly before the last election call. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the member for St. Catharines for his action and support with regard to this potentially life-threatening condition.
Anaphylaxis is the most serious type of allergic reaction and can be life-threatening. When a person comes in contact with an allergen, symptoms may develop quickly. Within minutes, a mild reaction can become a severe one. The most dangerous symptoms include trouble breathing; a drop in blood pressure, causing dizziness; light-headedness; feeling faint or weak; and losing consciousness.
Food is one of the most common allergens. It is estimated that more than two million Canadians suffer from food allergies. There is also evidence suggesting that the numbers are increasing, especially among young children. Allergic reactions can also be caused by other products, such as medications and latex, or by environmental factors such as insect stings, plants and animals.
The Government of Canada is committed to safeguarding the health of Canadians living with allergies. Health Canada treats allergies to foods and health products as a priority and has put in place a broad range of initiatives and measures to reduce health risks associated with severe allergic reactions. These include regulatory measures for food and health product safety labelling, educational material and advisories for the public, and investments in research in the areas of anaphylaxis and food allergies. Let me address each of these in a bit more detail, if I have the time.
Mr. Speaker, the purpose of motions and being here at this time on a Friday is the opportunity for us to discuss and move forward not legislation, but concepts and ideas that need to be turned into either government legislation or concepts. I find it interesting that the member for Vancouver would actually use this time to accuse the government of not taking action when the individual who actually moved this motion is a member of the government and is on this side of the House.
So much for trying to work together, because I do not think that this issue crosses any type of partisan lines whatsoever. It is an issue that all Canadians are interested in, particularly the more than two million Canadians who are impacted by anaphylaxis.
I am pleased to be able to take this opportunity and speak today about Motion No. 230, tabled by our colleague, the member for Niagara West—Glanbrook. This motion states that anaphylaxis is a serious concern for an increasing number of Canadians, and calls for the government to take appropriate measures to ensure these Canadians are able to maintain a high quality of life.
When allergens come into contact with the skin, are inhaled into the lungs, or are swallowed or injected, a person can develop allergic symptoms almost immediately. These symptoms can develop quickly. Within minutes, a mild allergic reaction can potentially progress to a severe one. Anaphylaxis is the most serious type of allergic reaction.
Mild allergic symptoms may include itchy skin or watery eyes. However, the most dangerous of symptoms can include trouble breathing, a drop in blood pressure causing dizziness, light-headedness, feeling faint or weak, or losing consciousness. In the most severe cases, these symptoms can be life-threatening.
There are a number of research studies which suggest that the number of people who live with allergies is increasing, and that many of those living with the most severe allergies are our youth and our children. However, the impact of allergies, especially anaphylaxis, on Canadian individuals and on Canadian society as a whole, remains largely unknown.
The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians living with allergies. There has been significant scientific progress made in this area, but there is still a great deal more to learn about allergens, anaphylaxis, and allergies. This is why the government has invested in a broad range of research studies that are not only helping us to better understand the prevalence and impacts of food allergies in Canada, but are also serving to inform policies and regulations which will help to minimize health risks caused by severe allergic reactions.
The Government of Canada is supporting research in the area of anaphylaxis and food allergies through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Since its inception in 2000, CIHR has funded a number of projects to better understand the fundamental causes of different allergies, such as food allergies, which in turn can cause anaphylaxis. These investments are also contributing to developing new treatments, therapeutics, and guidelines for better prevention and treatment.
For example, the CIHR is funding the allergy, genes, and environment network centre of excellence, which brings together more than 170 researchers and 200 partners from the industry, the public service, and academia. The network aims at catalyzing and supporting the work necessary to reduce the burden of allergy, asthma, and anaphylaxis. We are investing more than $60 million in this work between our coming to government in 2006 and the year 2019.
Health Canada is also supporting a variety of research projects in the field of food allergies. These projects are of critical importance to help fill the knowledge gaps and to support policy development.
Between the years 2007 and 2009, a study surveying Canadians to assess the prevalence of common food allergies and attitudes towards food labelling and risk was undertaken and was the first nationwide Canadian examination of the prevalence of common food allergies. It was carried out under the leadership of some of Canada's top academics and supported by the allergy, genes, and environment network, funded through the federal networks of centres of excellence program, which I just mentioned.
The allergy, genes, and environment network, also called AllerGen NCE Inc., worked in partnership on this study with Health Canada, McMaster Institute of Environment and Health, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal Children's Hospital, Anaphylaxis Canada and the Allergy/Asthma Information Association.
This important research provided a better estimate of the prevalence of people with common food allergies in Canada, which as I mentioned earlier is approximately 2.5 million Canadians. The study also found that over 15 million Canadians, or 50.6%, reported being directly or indirectly affected by food allergies. Over six million Canadians reported having someone in their household who is allergic to food.
Further, this study has provided a better understanding of the attitudes and behaviours of those living with these medical conditions, including the attitudes of the general public towards food allergies and the effectiveness of food labelling that alerts consumers to the presence of allergens in products. The findings of this study have been key to informing the government's position on food allergen labelling and the development of the new food allergen labelling regulations which were brought into force last year. The information gathered from the study is of great value to the government and stakeholders in the development of policy, health, and educational resources. It is needed to support prevention, and to help with the diagnosis and management of food allergies in Canada.
As a follow-up to this study, the Government of Canada supported a survey of the prevalence of food allergies in all Canadian environments. This comprehensive study, which took place between 2009 and 2011, included the development of a full picture of the health, social, and economic impacts of food allergies in our country.
It examined the prevalence of food allergies in vulnerable populations across Canada, including among people of lower socio-economic status, new Canadians, and first nations and Inuit populations. The study also explored the role of contributing factors, such as environmental influences as they related to the potential cause of food allergies.
Building upon the findings of these two studies, the Cross-Canada Anaphylaxis Registry, or C-CARE, is a study currently under way. It will develop a registry of anaphylaxis cases throughout our country. Preliminary work, as part of this registry, revealed that among young children visiting emergency departments, the rate of anaphylaxis diagnosed is comparable to that found in studies conducted in the U.S. and that food is the main trigger. The objective of the study is to contribute to reducing the incidence of anaphylaxis which will help minimize the burdens of anaphylaxis, including associated health care costs.
I would like to commend the member for Niagara West—Glanbrook for his efforts to bring this important issue forward. I recommend that my colleagues from all parties support Motion No. 230.
Our government acknowledges that anaphylaxis is a serious health concern to Canadians living with allergies. The government has put in place a range of measures necessary to help Canadians who live with allergies maintain a high quality of life.
Motion No. 230 reflects the concerns of Canadians affected by life-threatening allergies. Supporting this motion reaffirms our commitment to protecting the health and safety of Canadians with serious allergies. In conclusion, whether it be the community of Niagara West—Glanbrook, the city of St. Catharines, or anywhere in our country, we have those who are impacted by this issue. We need to take action in terms of moving this forward.
I want to commend my colleague from Niagara West—Glanbrook who has been persistent with this motion. He had it up in the last Parliament. He had it up again here today. We are seeing this motion move forward. Moving forward means concrete action, and that is what the member's intention has always been.
I would also like to thank a good friend of mine, a fellow by the name of Chris George whose son is threatened by anaphylaxis. In fact he pulled me into this. At first I was not sure how far-reaching or how significant this issue was in our country. He convinced me by showing the impact it has across the country and in each one of our communities.
I say to him, his son, and his family, this is our step forward in terms of making sure that regardless of how difficult it is, we are taking action. We will continue to act on behalf of those who are impacted by anaphylaxis.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Niagara West—Glanbrook for his hard work on this important file. I am proud to lend my support to this important motion. This is an important issue to many Canadians. I want to congratulate him for his hard work on this file. It is long overdue.
Could the member elaborate on how important it is to use plain language about allergens on food products?
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition signed by residents of my Niagara West—Glanbrook riding, as well as citizens across Ontario. The petition calls upon the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada to amend the Criminal Code to recognize the growing incidents of violent assaults against public transit, school bus, para transit and inner city bus workers across Canada in the same fashion as peace officers are recognized in the code.
Order, please. Before we resume debate, just a reminder to hon. members that throughout the debate on report stage, we have a 10-minute time period for the speech presentation and five minutes for questions and comments.
I do note that many members would wish, as one would expect, to get up on questions and comments. However, to accommodate as many members as possible, we do need some co-operation from hon. members to think about a one-minute question and a one-minute response so that other members, or their own colleagues, quite often, will have the opportunity to question the member who just spoke.
Resuming debate, the hon. member for Niagara West—Glanbrook.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the engagement of my colleague from Niagara West—Glanbrook on this important issue.
Our thoughts are with those who have had a child abducted by the other parent. It is truly a heartbreaking experience. To help, today we launched a new publication entitled, “International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents”. I encourage all members of the House to visit travel.gc.ca to read this manual and to order copies for their riding offices.
Children are our most important resource and this government is doing its utmost to protect and defend them.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his intervention. He quoted statistics from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, saying we cannot afford even a 1% increase in the Canada pension plan. However, part of the spin that the Conservative government has given us around pooled registered pension plans is this whole idea that employers welcome it with open arms, as if somehow the employers would actually, perhaps, contribute something. However, he just articulated that small and medium-sized businesses are saying, “Wait a minute; we can't afford even 1% in CPP”.
I wonder where indeed this idea comes from, from the government, that somehow small and medium-sized enterprises, if we had this plan, would contribute to this one versus the Canada pension plan. If they cannot afford that one, how could they afford the other? It seems quite an articulate balancing act, almost the equivalent of Mr. Wallenda walking on that tightrope across Niagara Falls, as to how exactly he is going to do that.
I know the member for Niagara West—Glanbrook and I will probably be in attendance when that happens, Niagara being such a great place.
Clearly, employees can actually have a savings plan through an RRSP through their employer if their employer wants to do that. This is nothing more than a glorified registered pension plan with another name, with this whole idea of “You're in, unless you want out”.
It reminds me of the negative billing we did away with when it came to cable TV; we would now take that option and put it back in.
The electoral district of Niagara West--Glanbrook (Ontario) has a population of 111,024 with 85,132 registered voters and 235 polling divisions.
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