January 31, 2017

LIB

Larry Bagnell

Liberal

Hon. Larry Bagnell (Yukon, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Orders 104 and 114, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 18th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding membership of the committees of the House. If the House gives its consent, I intend to move concurrence in the 18th report later this day.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Procedure and House Affairs
Permalink
BQ

Rhéal Fortin

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Rhéal Fortin (Rivière-du-Nord, BQ)

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-334, An Act to amend the Canada Evidence Act and the Criminal Code (journalistic sources).

Mr. Speaker, when our media are under surveillance, when our journalists can no longer be sure that their sources will be confidential, when issuing a surveillance order becomes a simple, routine formality, democracy loses.

The Lagacé affair was a real shock for many. The truth is that a number of journalists can no longer guarantee that their dealings with their sources will be confidential, because they no longer know who is being spied on, why they are being spied on, who is spying on them, and for how long they have been spied on. That is why today we are introducing a bill that will considerably limit the ability to compel a journalist, knowingly or not, to communicate information that is likely to compromise the identity of a source.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Canada Evidence Act and the Criminal Code (journalistic sources)
Permalink
LIB

Larry Bagnell

Liberal

Hon. Larry Bagnell (Yukon, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I move that the 18th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House earlier this day, be concurred in.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Procedure and House Affairs
Permalink
LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

The Speaker

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Procedure and House Affairs
Permalink
?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Procedure and House Affairs
Permalink
LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

The Speaker

(Motion agreed to)

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Procedure and House Affairs
Permalink
LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among the parties and I believe you will find agreement for the following motion. I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, the Order for the consideration of report stage of Bill C-227, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (community benefit), standing in the Order of Precedence on the Order Paper, be discharged and the Bill be withdrawn; that Motion M-109, standing in the Order of Precedence on the Order Paper, be withdrawn; that the recorded division currently scheduled to be held immediately before the time provided for Private Members' Business on Wednesday, February 1, 2017, and any further recorded divisions deferred to that day pursuant to Standing Order 93 or 98, be held instead at an expiry of the time provided for the Government Orders that day; and that, immediately following the taking of any deferred recorded divisions that day, the House shall begin adjournment proceedings pursuant to Standing Order 38.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Business of the House
Permalink
LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

The Speaker

Does the hon. parliamentary secretary have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Business of the House
Permalink
LIB

(Bill C-227. On the Order: Private Members' Bills:) December 5, 2016—Bill C-227, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (community benefit) (Order discharged and bill withdrawn) (Motion No. 109. On the Order: Private Members' Business:) December 5, 2016—That the Standing Committee on Finance be instructed to undertake a study that would (a) examine the possibility and practicality of (i) building on the success of the Canadian Revenue Agency’s (CRA) auto-fill feature by further automating the tax filing process with the goal of achieving the ability of complete tax automation, (ii) offering to all Canadians the option of filing their taxes via a free, online T-1 tax form directly on the CRA “My Account” webpage or other secure format; (b) identify and examine the current cultural and institutional barriers that impede citizens from filing their taxes and thus from fully collecting their benefits; and that the Committee present its findings and recommendations to the House no later than one year from the adoption of this motion, provided that in its report, the Committee shall (i) explain the steps needed to implement these practices, as well as their advantages and disadvantages, (ii) highlight privacy, data security, and potential changes to the tax-code necessary to facilitate further automation, (iii) identify the prospective savings for Canadians in both time and money. (Motion withdrawn)


LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, if you were to canvass the House you will find that there would be unanimous agreement for the following motion. I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, during the debate tonight pursuant to Standing Order 52, no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent shall be received by the Chair.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Standing Committee on Finance
Permalink
LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

The Speaker

Does the hon. parliamentary secretary have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Standing Committee on Finance
Permalink
LIB
LIB

Judy Sgro

Liberal

Hon. Judy A. Sgro (Humber River—Black Creek, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition today.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to offer an unequivocal, sincere, and public apology to those home children, or children migrants, who died while being ashamed of their history and deprived of their family; to the living and elderly home children who continue to bear the weight of their past; and to the descendants of home children who continue to feel the void passed down through the generations while continuing to search out relatives lost as a result of a system that in many instances victimized them under the guise of protection.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Home Children
Permalink
CPC

Cheryl Gallant

Conservative

Mrs. Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by campers who stay at the Noelville Family Resort in Noelville, Ontario, which is located on the quiet shores of Bear Lake in the riding of Nickel Belt.

The petitioners call on the government to ensure that campgrounds with fewer than five full-time, year-round employees be continued to be recognized as small businesses and taxed as small businesses.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Small Business
Permalink
LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
Permalink
LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

The Speaker

On November 30, 2016, the hon. House Leader of the Official Opposition raised a point of order concerning the use of the motion to proceed to orders of the day during routine proceedings on that day. At the time, I ruled the motion in order and proceeded to put the question and committed to return to the House with a more substantive ruling, which I am now prepared to do.

I would like to thank the hon. House Leader of the Official Opposition for having raised this matter, as well as the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the hon. member for Victoria, and the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for their comments.

The House Leader of the Official Opposition objected to this motion being moved during routine proceedings since it had the effect of superseding the remaining rubrics in routine proceedings, a proceeding which she characterized as an essential part of House business that needs to be protected. In doing so, she decried what she called the government's misuse of this procedure.

Citing two rulings by Speaker Fraser on November 24, 1986, and April 14, 1987, she asked the Chair to intervene to find the motion out of order until such time as the government could demonstrate that unreasonable obstruction by the opposition necessitated its use.

In response, the hon. parliamentary secretary countered that the motion to proceed to orders of the day was, in fact, in order and consistent with the rules of the House. The motion, “That the House do now proceed to the Orders of the Day”, is what is defined as, quote, “A superseding motion designed to dispose of the original question before the House, either for the time being or permanently.”

Such motions have been moved in recent years with some frequency by both the government and the opposition. In fact, as was the case on November 30, examples can be found of such motions being moved during routine proceedings and on a Wednesday, as well as prior to the moving of a motion for time allocation or the consideration of a bill subject to time allocation.

The issue then is whether its use on November 30 was procedurally appropriate; that is, was it used within the strict confines of the rules and practices of the House. The opposition House leader suggested that it was not. She cited rulings by Speaker Fraser from 1986 and 1987 in support of her contention.

While all Speaker's Rulings constitute an important point of reference in the adjudication of matters before the House, they must always be examined in the context of their era. Routine proceedings in 1986 and 1987 was conducted in a completely different order of rubrics and the circumstances of the time were vastly different. Even so, it is notable that a motion moved on November 24, 1986 to proceed to the orders of the day during routine proceedings was found to be in order by the Chair.

As House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, states on page 541:

The motion “That the House do now proceed to the Orders of the Day” may be moved by any Member prior to the calling of Orders of the Day…. The Chair has ruled that a motion to proceed to the Orders of the Day is in order during Routine Proceedings which, in recent practice, is the only time that it has been proposed.

I have also considered whether, as the opposition House leader contends, such situations require the intervention of the Speaker to determine if a bill or motion has received sufficient debate. My predecessor clearly indicated in a ruling on November 26, 2014, at page 9830 of Debates that “it is not for the Speaker to judge whether an issue has been sufficiently debated”. I share that view. It is not within the purview of the Speaker to express a view on whether the duration of debate has been appropriate on a measure before the House. Accordingly, it is clear to the Chair that the procedural exigencies were met when the government moved a motion to proceed to the orders of the day during routine proceedings. I can therefore confirm that the motion was in order.

I thank all members for their attention.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Points of Order
Sub-subtopic:   Business of the House--Speaker's Ruling
Permalink
LIB

Jane Philpott

Liberal

Hon. Jane Philpott (Minister of Health, Lib.)

moved that Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to begin debate today on Bill C-37 to address a serious and pressing public health matter, to improve public safety, and to protect the health of Canadians.

I am eager to work with all the MPs to help advance this important bill, in particular with my new parliamentary secretary, the hon. member for Louis-Hébert.

This legislation is introduced in the context where Canada is facing a national public health crisis related to opioids, characterized by ever-increasing rates of harm, overdose, and death.

The opioid crisis raises many concerns, and the one we hear about perhaps most often is the rapid rise in the numbers of deaths from accidental overdose. Last year, in British Columbia alone, more than 900 people died from overdose. That is an 80% increase from 2015. The majority were linked to the swift spread of powerful drugs like fentanyl. Alas, the situation is getting worse. Last week it was reported that there were 20,000 overdoses in British Columbia alone. At a national level, deaths from overdoses are now more numerous than deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents.

Before I continue, I would like to extend my condolences to the families and friends who have lost a loved one. We share their grief. We are aware of the pressing need to turn the tide of this crisis as quickly as possible.

I would also comment at the outset that while the focus of the legislation is on immediate action to address the opioid crisis, we must bear in mind that lasting solutions require an understanding of the roots of the opioid crisis, which are messy, but not mysterious. It should be acknowledged, for example, that pain is a central theme at the heart of the drug crisis. Sometimes, problematic drug use begins with physical pain, but we must also admit that emotional pain is a factor in substance use. To fully resolve the opioid crisis we must address the multiple social drivers, including poverty, social isolation, childhood trauma, sexual abuse, and mental illness.

Addressing the roots of the crisis demands a whole of society response. It means calling out stigma and discrimination as barriers to accessing care. It means building a society where children receive tender attention and adults are not isolated and lonely. It means an international search for effective answers and being willing to discuss bold policy alternatives and the evidence associated with them. We must deal with this crisis comprehensively, collaboratively, and compassionately. We must assess what works and what does not work, and then we must do what works.

The crisis is moving eastward in Canada, with more drug seizures of fentanyl and carfentanil.

Canadians are increasingly aware that problematic substance abuse spares no one—people of all ages and from all socio-economic groups—and that it has devastating consequences on individuals, families, and communities.

In the past year, I have met with bereaved parents, people who use drugs, first responders, addiction specialists, mental health experts, indigenous leaders, health educators, and others to learn their perspective on the challenges we face. A complex, multi-dimensional social challenge of this nature demands timely, coordinated, and effective action.

Before I discuss the details of this proposed legislation, I would like to thank many members of this House who have been outspoken on the urgent need to respond together. I thank the member for Vancouver Kingsway for his support and advocacy on the issue, and especially for his calls to pass this legislation by unanimous consent.

I would also like to thank the Standing Committee on Health. Its members are actively working on this issue, and they made a series of recommendations that we reviewed carefully. We have acted on that. I look forward to responding formally to the committee report in due course.

There are many important components of this proposed legislation that would support communities and enhance public health and public safety when it comes to the use of drugs and substances. Bill C-37 would save lives. It needs to be passed without delay.

At this point, please permit me to outline some of the federal actions to date on the matter.

Early last year we made naloxone, the antidote to overdose, available without prescription. We arranged an expedited review of naloxone nasal spray and ensured an emergency supply for Canadians.

We granted an exemption to the Dr. Peter Centre in Vancouver to operate Canada's second supervised consumption site, along with an unprecedented four-year renewal of the exemption for Insite in Vancouver.

Last summer, we announced Health Canada's opioid action plan to improve education for the public and prescribers, to expand access to treatment, and to build the database.

In September, we overturned a ban on the use of prescription heroin, so that it is available to treat the most severe cases of addiction.

Our government has supported the good Samaritan overdose act to remove the fear of drug possession charges for individuals who call 911 when they witness an overdose.

We added regulations to schedule fentanyl precursors as controlled substances, making it harder for illicit substances to be manufactured in Canada.

In November, along with the Ontario Minister of Health, Eric Hoskins, I hosted a national conference and summit on opioids, which led to a joint statement of action to address the opioid crisis. That statement includes 128 separate commitments made by Health Canada, nine provincial or territorial health departments, and over 30 other organizations. In February we will provide Canadians with an update on the progress made so far regarding those commitments.

In work led by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the RCMP now has an agreement with China to combat the flow of illicit fentanyl.

Because this is a national crisis, we activated additional supports. In collaboration with the provinces and territories, we have established a special advisory committee on illicit opioids that includes the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health to advance information among jurisdictions related to the opioid crisis.

We have built a task force within the federal health portfolio to work with other federal departments in a comprehensive response to the crisis. We funded McMaster University to produce new evidence-based guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain. They are now available for consultation.

We funded the Canadian research initiative in substance misuse to provide evidence-based guidelines for medication-assisted treatment; and with the support of the Prime Minister, we identified new federal funding of $5 billion over the next 10 years to address mental health and addictions. We know that untreated mental illness is a common cause of addiction, and early intervention is key.

We introduced the new Canadian drugs and substances strategy, to reinstate harm reduction as a pillar in Canadian drug policy and return the lead for drug policy to the Minister of Health.

In December, I introduced Bill C-37, which proposes to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and other acts. This legislative framework is an important part of our comprehensive approach to drug policy. It aims to accomplish three important goals: one, to provide support for harm reduction, in particular the establishment of supervised consumption sites; two, to reduce the supply of illicit substances; and three, to reduce the risk of diversion of other legitimate controlled substances.

Evidence shows that, when properly established and maintained, supervised consumption sites in communities that want and need them will save lives and improve health without increasing drug use or crime rates.

Last year, I visited Insite in Vancouver to witness the important work it does to help vulnerable people and communities. I was moved by what I saw. Facilities like Insite promote health-seeking behaviour by introducing people who use drugs to the health system in a non-judgmental and non-stigmatizing manner. They have hygienic facilities and sterile equipment, and are supervised by qualified health professionals who provide advice on harm reduction and treatment options as well as prevention of overdose.

Under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Minister of Health has the ability to provide exemptions to allow supervised consumption sites, but the Respect for Communities Act from the previous government introduced unnecessarily onerous requirements that must be met by communities before the Minister of Health could even respond to the request for an exemption.

We have heard desperate cries for help from communities most affected by the opioid crisis. They have indicated that the current requirements are burdensome and hinder their ability to offer services needed to reduce harm and to save lives. Currently there are applications being reviewed by Health Canada from across the country from communities such as Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal.

Proposed legislation would simplify and streamline the application process for communities that want and need to establish supervised consumption sites. It would replace the current 26 application criteria with the five factors outlined in the Supreme Court of Canada 2011 decision regarding Insite. In fact, the criteria in the proposed legislation are exactly those written in paragraph 153 of the Supreme Court decision.

A vital criterion that Bill C-37 retains is the requirement for community consultation. It would improve transparency by adding a requirement for decisions on applications to be made public, including reasons for denial.

To support these proposed changes, Health Canada would post new information online about what is required in applications, how to process works, and the status of applications.

To help keep opioids and other illicit substances off the street in Canada, we need to make sure that they are not easy to produce. To that end, the bill proposes to prohibit the unregistered importation of pill presses and encapsulators. This measure has been included in part because certain jurisdictions, such as British Columbia, have asked for it. While it is true that those devices do have legitimate uses, they can also be used to manufacture counterfeit drugs that contain dangerous substances, including fentanyl.

This legislation would also give Canada Border Services officers greater flexibility to inspect suspicious mail, no matter the size, that may contain goods that are prohibited, controlled, or regulated. Protecting the privacy of Canadians is of the utmost importance. The measure would only be for incoming international mail where the prevalence of illicit drugs is greater. In fact, just one standard size mail envelope can contain 30 grams of fentanyl, enough to cause 15,000 overdoses.

Lastly, the bill updates a number of provisions regarding compliance and enforcement of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in order to modernize that piece of legislation. These legislative measures allow over 600 licensed dealers to manufacture, purchase, sell, distribute, import, export, and transport controlled substances for legitimate purposes.

The proposed amendments will allow Health Canada inspectors to conduct inspections in a variety of situations, especially in any location where it is suspected that any activities involving controlled substances are taking place. These amendments will help prevent the diversion of controlled substances to the illegal market.

Bill C-37 supports our government's new Canadian drugs and substances strategy, which the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and I announced on December 12. In the past, federal drug strategies aimed to balance public health and public safety objectives through key pillars of prevention, treatment, enforcement, and at times, harm reduction; but in 2006, under the national anti-drug strategy of the previous government, the harm reduction pillar was removed. Our government will pursue an evidence-based approach to drug policy. Accordingly, this new strategy would formally reinstate harm reduction as a key pillar, in addition to prevention, treatment, and enforcement.

It should be noted that the reintroduction of harm reduction does not diminish the importance of the other pillars. In particular, we must not let up on our efforts for prevention and treatment. I will continue to encourage the expansion of access to a broad range of treatment options, which are essential to reducing the number of overdose deaths. In reframing problematic substance use as the public health issue that it is, it returns the lead to the Minister of Health from the Minister of Justice.

In conclusion, the opioid crisis has taken a toll on many communities across Canada. It requires swift action, as well as a more balanced approach to deal with problematic substance use. Our renewed evidence-based approach would allow the government to better protect Canadians, save lives, and address the root causes of this crisis. Canada needs this action now.

While our focus must be on the current crisis, we must also pursue a balanced approach over the long term to address the upstream causes of problematic substance use.

We will continue to work with our partners, including the provinces, territories, municipalities, and indigenous communities.

While we cannot end this crisis immediately, we can markedly reduce its impact and set ourselves on a path to health for all. Measures proposed in Bill C-37 aim to take swift action to address the opioid crisis. I call on hon. members of the House to support the passage of Bill C-37 without delay.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Permalink
CPC

Colin Carrie

Conservative

Mr. Colin Carrie (Oshawa, CPC)

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the minister about the current injection site application requirements versus the proposed requirements. For example, the current requirements explicitly state, as far as consultation is concerned, that there needs to be the provincial health minister's opinion, the provincial public safety minister's opinion, the local government's opinion, letters from the head of the police force in the area, letters from health professionals in relation to public health, and consultations with professional licensing authorities for physicians and nurses.

In addition, they require that the public have 90 days after the day on which notice is given to provide the minister with comments. The current bill states that there is only a need to have an expression of community support or opposition, and that is about it.

It further states that the minister may give notice, and it indicates a period of time not to exceed 90 days in which members of the public may provide the minister with comments. Therefore, under the new regulations, theoretically, a one-day consultation would suffice, and as long as one advocacy group was in favour, the minister would approve the site.

I am wondering if the minister could clarify what she means by community and community consultation.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Permalink
LIB

Jane Philpott

Liberal

Hon. Jane Philpott

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question and for his acknowledgement of the seriousness of this crisis.

When it comes to making decisions about supervised consumption sites, consultation with communities is absolutely essential. I hear from communities almost every day, people who are living in places like the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver and communities like Victoria. The member for Victoria is here today.

If members speak to people who go into these communities and speak to business owners, first responders, and law enforcement officials, they will hear their cries of desperation. These communities are saying that people are dying in their streets and that they need to find a way to save people's lives.

Of course the community has to be consulted. There will always be questions, and they are absolutely legitimate. What Bill C-37 allows is for the Minister of Health to be able to make a reasonable decision and to make sure that all the appropriate people are consulted. Communities are desperately crying out for these kinds of facilities to be available. We have deep, abundant scientific evidence that they save lives, and we have seen that in communities where they have been introduced, the public has in fact come to see that they are highly effective in allowing public safety and making sure that people are safely introduced to the public health system.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Permalink

January 31, 2017