That, in the opinion of the House, the government should continue to: (a) recognize the long-term health risks and costs of obesity in Canada; (b) support, promote and fund organizations and individuals who are involved in the physical well-being of Canadians; and (c) make the reduction of obesity of Canadians a public health priority.
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure this evening to rise to speak to my motion, Motion No. 425, regarding obesity, and the issue that is facing this country.
I want to first thank the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country for his work on the issue of health and fitness, trying to make Canada the fittest country in the world, and on initiating a national fitness day, which I believe next year will be June 7. He is doing great work, and I really appreciate his support.
In this House we are usually talking about policy or legislation. Tonight I am going to take the opportunity to talk about something that has personally affected me and why I brought this motion forward--it is not a bill, but a motion--to bring light to the issue and to have some discussion among our colleagues about what could be happening with our health care in terms of the issue of obesity and looking after one's health.
I thought I would start by telling members a personal story.
I have known four great-grandparents. I have two grandmothers still alive; they are both 96. I have known my grandfathers; they lived into their late eighties. I have a picture of myself, my daughter, my father, his mother, and her mother. It is a five-generation picture.
I have very good genes for long life. We have no heart disease in the family. One grandmother, who is 96, did survive cancer at age 40, a long time ago. Other than that, we have been very lucky with our health.
A year and a half ago, I was having some difficulty, so I went to my doctor. I thought there was something wrong with my prostate; however, I found out that I had diabetes, which was a bit of a shock to me. I thought that I was virtually indestructible because of my genes.
However, my lifestyle included drinking five or six Coca-Colas a day, eating improperly, and not keeping proper hours, in the sense that these are long days. It is a really interesting career one chooses in federal politics, and travelling back and forth, not eating breakfast, and just not doing things correctly, I gained weight here, as I know some of us all have. I was about 225 pounds at one point. I hid it well with big suits.
Things changed for me. I went to the doctor; I was having some difficulty. Lo and behold, they claimed that I had diabetes. Of course, my first reaction was to say, “No way. That is not possible. How is that possible when I have no diabetes in my family, when I have no heart disease?” My blood pressure was excellent. It still is excellent. However, my sugar levels were through the roof.
The doctor indicated that if I continued, I had a chance of my pancreas getting worse. I would have to take insulin, and so on and so forth. The doctor diagnosed me with type 2 diabetes—not type 1, of course, which is juvenile diabetes—and put me on a pill, Metformin, which is the standard thing they start a diabetes patient on. I told the doctor I did not want to take pharmaceuticals if I did not have to and asked if there was a way for me to do something about it.
He indicated that it was possible—not likely, but possible—that if I lost weight and exercised regularly, I might be able to get off Metformin.
I took his advice. I started exercising again. I set a goal for myself to run a marathon in every province; I have run six. I just ran one this past weekend, in Victoria, British Columbia. I do not advise everyone that they have to run marathons to get healthy, but I have taken on that task. I eat better, I have lost weight, and I am not on Metformin anymore. It has been about a year.
What woke me up to this issue is that I really did not pay attention. I have two daughters who are athletes. One is on a sports scholarship at a university in the United States. The other plays competitive volleyball. They are both in very good shape. Obesity and diabetes were never an issue around our house. All of a sudden there was something there.
I started thinking that if it could happen to me, what about everybody else? I started looking around and talking to different individuals and organizations about what is happening. In that time frame, even the United States had announced that obesity was actually a disease and that if it did not get on top of it, it would become a real health care issue for them.
Based on the motion, I have broken it down into three pieces. This is just to get people to think about where we are going from a health perspective.
The first part of the motion is to recognize the long-term health risks and costs of obesity. I can put a lot of statistics out there and talk about the costs of obesity and the like. However, it is just common sense. If people are not healthy, they will be using the system. There is no magic to it or statistician's formula. I am always a little nervous about statisticians. If I give my friend a dollar today and a dollar tomorrow, there is a 100% increase yet it is still only a dollar, so one has to be careful with that.
The reality is that if we look around at what we are eating and what we are doing in terms of being healthy, there will be a long-term cost to our health care system. Members may not like the way I put this but at the federal level health care is writing cheques to the provinces that deliver the actual health care. That is a lot of pressure, not necessarily on the federal system but on the provincial system. In general, we need to worry about the costs with respect to health care.
We also need to worry about the health risks. It is claimed, and I hope it is not true, that we might be the last generation with the ability to outlive our children. Imagine a generation that is unable to outlive its children. That is just not right and not what I think should happen. However, if we do not do something in terms of looking after our health, that is an actual and real possibility. I do not think that is something we want.
The second part of the motion is about supporting the promotion of health and healthy living, not just financially but in other ways. There are a number of great organizations. Some are not for profit and others are for profit. I have no issue with that. I just want to highlight a couple.
There are organizations that are oriented toward health issues. For me, the Diabetes Association has been fantastic. It provided me with a lot of information about what diabetes was, what I could do about it and the two different types. There is the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the lung associations. There are a number of organizations that do great work.
My motion asks that all levels of government, federal, provincial and municipal, continue to support those organizations in their efforts. That does not necessarily mean we have to write them a cheque. Rather, it means going to their events and supporting their efforts in the communities. If one has a neighbour or friend who is running in a marathon, which I do, in support of diabetes, support that individual. Those groups are doing great work in their areas of expertise and are important in terms of not only helping those with the disease or health issue they are dealing with but at promoting awareness and education and they need to do that.
Another organization, which I am very excited about and which the Government of Canada has supported, is ParticipACTION. I am a keen supporter of organizations that get people moving and healthy. It does not have to be running. It can be karate. It can be whatever activity one wants to do. I want to encourage people to take advantage of what these organizations do. We do not have to be experts at whatever we are doing.
I ran my marathon this weekend in four hours and 42 minutes. The gentleman sitting beside me in the plane coming back ran it in two hours and 19 minutes. I was exactly halfway when he was finished. We have to just get out there and get involved. If members could, I want them to encourage neighbours, friends and communities. Whatever is happening in a community, if members of Parliament could, they should help support those organizations.
There are for-profit organizations that are helpful, and I'll use the Weight Watchers organization as an example. I think it is an excellent organization. I have not personally used it. I lost my 25 or 30 pounds basically by eating less and not drinking Coke, which I miss. However, people do need help and there are organizations that will help and they are doing a great job.
Another organization in my community that has recognized this issue is Big Brothers Big Sisters. It has a program for the clients they serve, the young people, because youth is a big issue. If we do not convince youth to take care of themselves both by eating healthily and keeping physically fit, there will be a problem. Big Brothers Big Sisters has a program for those young people to make sure they understand what good health is, what good fitness is and what good eating is. I applaud its efforts.
As I mentioned before, one of my daughters goes to school in Indiana and she is in an education program. It was interesting to hear this past week that in one of the courses she takes, which talks about introducing healthy eating and activity into the classroom, it used Canada as an example of how it is done well. I am very supportive of our education system, and I think it does a good job, but we need to continue to support it to make sure physical activity does not leave the curriculum of our Canadian school children, particularly those at a young age, and ensure that other things do not ease it out, being more of a priority. Health is a priority and we need to teach young folks that piece.
The last piece I have to talk about is the public health priority. I think it is fair to say that the public health policy here at the federal level has been somewhat lacking in the obesity and fitness area over the last number of years. It just has not made it to the top as a priority piece. I am hopeful that will change under our government and with the support of all members.
If members look at the throne speech from yesterday, under safeguarding families and communities, they will see that the government will also work with provinces, territories and not-for-profit sectors to encourage young Canadians to be more physically active. I did not know that would be in the speech. I have had this motion in front of the House for a while, because it kept getting bumped for other private member's motions that I felt were of higher priority in terms of timing. So this was a very pleasant surprise for me, and as a member of Parliament, I am going to use it to encourage my government to be proactive in making sure we meet the mandate we have put in this throne speech over the next number of years.
I thank members for their attention and for their attention to their own health and their family's health. I would be happy to answer any questions.
Mr. Speaker, as a former president of Rowing Canada Aviron and a board member of the Canadian Olympic Committee, I rise today to speak to the importance of health and fitness.
Fitness and active choices can easily be integrated into our day. It is for this reason I am proud of organizations such as Sport Matters, which promote healthy living and the value of sport and physical activity. I am particularly pleased that Sport Matters supports all forms of athletics, from the playground to the podium. It values recreational activities just as much as the gruelling fitness regimens of elite athletes. Having seen young school children grow and develop into Olympians who represent Canada on the world stage, I know the importance of fitness at all levels.
I wish to also acknowledge my colleague, the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country and his Bill C-443, national health and fitness day act. His legislation will serve to ensure a day for all Canadians to be reminded of the importance of health and fitness.
Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to rise on behalf of hundreds of constituents in the riding of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country who condemn what they call a reprehensible practice, which targets baby girls for female gendercide.
It is particularly important, given that the motion introduced by the member for Langley may not be heard in the House, that their voices be heard on the matter.
Mr. Speaker, yesterday's budget was a triumph for small businesses, for workers and for Canadians, including those in the beautiful riding of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.
The minister announced a Canada job grant that will better align skills with that which employers need and with the jobs that are readily available. Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of HRSDC give us some indication of what responses the minister has had to the Canada job grant?
Order, please. The hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.
Mr. Speaker, parliamentarians from all corners of the House have recently eclipsed the sometimes adversarial nature of the House by supporting the parliamentary fitness initiative.
Today we witnessed the first ever National Life Jacket and Swim Day on the Hill and the members for Etobicoke North and Sackville—Eastern Shore and others joined me in trying to bring about national health and fitness day, involving local governments across Canada.
To that end, I seek the unanimous support of the House for a motion to enable a fellow Conservative and I to swap positions in the order of precedence, specifically: That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, the hon. member for Fundy Royal exchange positions in the list for the consideration of private members' bills with the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.
Mr. Chair, I want to thank the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country for his very well thought out presentation and intervention tonight on this, the fourth anniversary of the wrongful imprisonment of several Baha'i leaders in Iran.
This week we are seeing not only this take note debate on the human rights failures of Iran, but also the Subcommittee on International Human Rights is having its hearings this week, talking about the violations of what is happening in Iran.
I am proud to be part of an organization called the Canadian Parliamentarians for Human Rights and Democracy, which is meeting on Wednesday night to again look at what is happening, why the regime, led by President Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs, and how the ayatollah and President Ahmadinejad are working to continue to erode stability in the Middle East, to take away the individual rights and freedoms of people of Iran and to ensure they are a continued irritant to what happens on the world stage from the standpoint of peace, democracy and human rights.
We always hear about the nuclear ambitions. Today there is again more reports on the ambitions of Iranians to expand their nuclear arsenal, that it is beyond just ballistic missiles now, that they have enrichment of nuclear energy that can be used in smaller bombs and can be transported by all sorts of different methods around the world.
The member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country talked about the sanctions and how important it was that Canada had been on the leading front of bringing about sanctions. Could he talk about those sanctions, especially on the issue of oil and energy which is 85% of the Iranian government's revenue, and how important it is to shut down that capability which feeds its nuclear ambitions.
I am going to stop the hon. member there as he has gone over his time. At this time we will open up the floor for questions and comments.
The hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.
Order, please. I must give the hon. member time to respond.
The hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.
Order, please. The hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country for his accolades.
I have done business both in Canada and internationally. From the employer's standpoint, in order to provide working income for staff and to expand the company's market and to make sure that the business is a going concern, there are a number of factors contributing to that. First is a stable environment, and second a low cost tax regime, and third the ability to access capital. From that base the employer then builds a business.
Employees are key to any corporation. Money is easy to borrow. Employers never exploit their employees, at least not in the five or seven companies that I have built, so it is key that we ensure that we retain those employees. To retain those employees we need to offer them the employment security they need in order to work for a long time in our corporations.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the constituents of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country for sending someone, for whom I have a very high regard, to this House. I cannot think of any better member, more hard-working, more intelligent or more serious.
My colleague gave us a very good description of a lot of the infrastructure investments that were made in phase one and, indeed, those have been made in my riding of Kitchener Centre with aquatic facilities and so on.
In Kitchener Centre, my constituents are very much aware that we now have to put the brakes on. We cannot go on with big spending policies. We need to pay down the deficit. I wonder if my colleague has had similar discussions with the people of his riding.
Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured to rise today to speak to the budget, which is currently being discussed by my colleagues on both sides of the House.
I would like to take the liberty of putting this new budget into context, so that its vision of where we are heading becomes clearer.
Many members of the House have spoken in the chamber about the budget. One unique perspective I would like to add is how the budget reflects the specific needs of communities, such as the one I have the honour to represent.
On that note, I would like to thank the constituents of West Vancouver--Sunshine Coast--Sea to Sky Country, commonly known as the most beautiful place on earth, for honouring me with the privilege of serving them a second time.
I also want to thank local leaders, including the mayors, the MLAs, the first nations chiefs and others who have worked so closely with me to generate the results achieved under the first phase of the economic action plan, which concentrated on economic stimulus and prepared the groundwork for the phase we are now debating in the House, the low tax plan for jobs and growth.
Together, we showed in the first phase of the economic action plan that we can achieve anything as a community. We Canadians are diverse, industrious and entrepreneurial, and the people I represent showed skills of communication and collaboration that allowed us together to initiate and complete over 120 projects under the first phase of the economic action plan.
The member for Burnaby—New Westminster said earlier today in question period that he yearned for open, transparent and honest public consultation. That is what we saw in the first phase of the economic action plan.
Time after time, we saw the magic of priorities driven by each local community in the riding I represent, including Squamish, Whistler, the Sunshine Coast, Powell River, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Bowen Island and Lions Bay. The steps to strengthen cultural identity, develop critical infrastructure and invest in the health and safety of all of our communities were steps that we saw adroitly taken. Most important, we created jobs, including many of the 560,000 new jobs created under Canada's economic action plan since July 2009.
This is a plan that has put our country atop the world for our economic recovery. Why? Because our government worked closely with each local community.
What did we achieve in Squamish? We achieved support for the West Coast Railway Museum, for small craft harbours, for sewer and water main upgrades, for biking and hiking trails and for seniors' housing units.
What did we achieve in Whistler? We achieved support for the World Ski and Snowboard Festival and for Whistler Crankworx, the great biking festival; for the Whistler Public Library; for the arts council; for the Whistler Centre for Sustainability and for upgrades to Highway 99.
What did we achieve on the Sunshine Coast? Support for the pulp and paper industry, for public transit lines, for an improved Pender Harbour authority, for fitness centres, aquatic centres and highway improvements.
What did we achieve in Powell River? Support for the pulp and paper industry yet again, green energy hydro projects, harbour upgrades, water system upgrades and for sports facilities.
What did we achieve for the North Shore, for West and North Vancouver? We achieved a replacement of the ageing Blue Bridge; the provision of new bus lanes, which we commissioned only last weekend; upgrades to water and sewage facilities; a new artificial turf field, a spirit trail and other community amenities.
The magic that applies to all of these projects is not only that they generated jobs and stimulated the economy, but even more important that they came about as priorities generated by each community, borne of close communication and collaboration among all levels of government.
As we contemplate the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, the budget before us, Canadians are pleased to see once again their priorities reflected in the budget.
Uniformly, during the election campaign and throughout my first term in office, I heard members of my communities articulate three economic priorities for our government: first, to increase jobs; second, to support those in our communities who needed it most; and third, to respect our environment and, in doing so, drive the economy. I am proud to say that the low tax plan for jobs and growth embraces all of these priorities.
First, the budget before us will create more jobs. Notable is the hiring credit, which this year will encourage our riding's many small business owners to hire new employees and small business people across the country to do the same. On the international scene, our government continues to invest in the most successful Asia-Pacific Gateway project.
Second, our government is committed to supporting those in our communities who need it most. For our ridings' eligible seniors, starting in 2012 the low tax plan for jobs and growth will offer an annual benefit of $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples above what is currently offered.
For families with disabled family members, our government introduced and strengthened the registered disability savings plan. For our ridings' many students, our government plans this year to strengthen RESPs. We also plan to improve the Canada student grants program and the textbook tax credit. Our government will furthermore exempt scholarship and bursary income from students' taxable incomes, saving students thousands of dollars each year.
For families with children, programs, such as the universal child care benefit introduced in 2006, continue to offer greater choice in care by providing $100 per month for each child under six years old. I am particularly proud that our government has established a 15% volunteer firefighter tax credit, a measure for which I advocated on behalf of firefighters in our ridings. This credit will support the heroic men and women who voluntarily put themselves in harm's way to save the lives of friends and neighbours.
Third, our government is paving the way in making environmental sustainability a hallmark of our economic growth. The 2009 economic action plan provided $1 billion through the pulp and paper green transformation program, which assisted local employers in the riding I represent, such as those in Powell River and on the Sunshine Coast.
This year our government will build on that investment in our low tax plan for jobs and growth by contributing a further $97 million over two years for research and development of cleaner energy technologies. Such initiatives promise to help the people of our riding responsibly to enjoy the abundance for which we Canadians are famous.
These are concrete plans every Canadian can understand. We are on track, reflecting their priorities using taxpayers' dollars responsibly, creating jobs, helping people who most need the help and ensuring we act as efficient stewards of our most wonderful environment.
We are doing all of this without increasing taxes or cutting social services. We are doing all of this while wrestling the deficit to zero by 2014. We are doing all of this as a community. We, in West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, join together with all Canadians proving time and again that no good thing is impossible. We are doing all of these things together. Our government is serving Canadians for today, for tomorrow and for future generations.
The electoral district of West Vancouver--Sunshine Coast--Sea to Sky Country (British Columbia) has a population of 129,241 with 95,764 registered voters and 245 polling divisions.
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