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44th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 283

CONTENTS

Thursday, February 15, 2024




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 151
No. 283
1st SESSION
44th PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Speaker: The Honourable Greg Fergus

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer



Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1005)  

[Translation]

Privacy Commissioner

    It is my duty to lay upon the table, pursuant to subsection 40(1) of the Privacy Act, a report of the Privacy Commissioner entitled “Special Report to Parliament: Investigation of the RCMP's collection of open-source information under Project Wide Awake”.

[English]

    Pursuant to Standing order 108(3)(h), this report is deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee to Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.
    It is also my duty to lay upon the table, pursuant to subsection 40(1) of the Privacy Act, a report from the Privacy Commissioner, entitled “Special Report to Parliament: Investigation of unauthorized disclosures and modifications of personal information held by Canada Revenue Agency and Employment and Social Development Canada resulting from cyber attacks.”

[Translation]

    Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(h), this report is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

[English]

Supplementary Estimates (C), 2023-24

    A message from Her Excellency the Governor General transmitting supplementary estimates (C) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2024, was presented by the President of the Treasury Board and read by the Speaker of the House.
    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the supplementary estimates (C), 2023-24.

Accessibility in Canada

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the historic, first-ever annual report from Canada's chief accessibility officer. This report highlights the progress our government has made toward building a barrier-free Canada by passing the Accessible Canada Act. It highlights the important work we need to continue to do to make Canada more accessible for persons with disabilities.
    If allowed, I would like to take a moment to thank Stephanie Cadieux, our chief accessibility officer, for her insight and dedication as we continue to take a whole-of-government approach to building a barrier-free Canada for all.

Canadian Heritage

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), and consistent with the policy on the tabling of treaties in Parliament, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the treaty entitled, “Audiovisual Coproduction Treaty Between the Government of Canada and the Swiss Federal Council”, done at Montreal on November 3, 2023.

Situation in Ukraine

    Mr. Speaker, I believe if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion.
     I move:
    That this House:
(a) condemn the continuation of Russia's unjustified full-scale aggression against Ukraine;
(b) call on Russia to end hostilities against Ukraine and withdraw all its troops from the territory of Ukraine;
(c) call on the Government of Canada to continue to provide military and financial assistance to Ukraine, to conduct the security guarantee agreement with Ukraine in order to increase its capabilities to defend itself from Russian unprovoked aggression;
(d) support Ukraine's future membership in NATO;
(e) call on the Government of Canada to strengthen sanctions against Russia, confiscate the assets of Russian oligarchs and Russian sovereign assets for Ukraine's rebuilding;
(f) call on the Government of Canada to exert all possible efforts and provide necessary diplomatic and financial support to ensure the return of Ukrainian children forcibly deported to Russia; and
(g) call on the Government of Canada to support efforts to bring those responsible for violations of international law to justice.

  (1010)  

    All those opposed to the hon. member's moving the motion will please say nay.
    The House has heard the terms of this motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

    (Motion agreed to)

Petitions

Natural Health Products 

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by people in eastern Ontario, including Kingston. They are calling on the House of Commons to immediately repeal the new regulatory constraints on natural health products passed last year, so that many of the Canadians who rely upon them to stay healthy can do so. They ask that the Liberals stop just sucking up to the pharmaceutical companies.
    I remind members when we are presenting petitions, it is to provide a summary of what is on the petition. I am convinced that was not the wording used on the petition. I will ask all members to please exercise discretion in that regard.

Pornography  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions here. In the first petition, the petitioners would ask that the government follow recommendation no. 2 from the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics' 2021report on MindGeek, which recommends that all content-hosting platforms in Canada verify age and consent prior to uploading content. Bill C-270, the stopping internet sexual exploitation act, would add two offences to the Criminal Code. The first would require age verification and consent prior to distribution; the second would require removal of material if consent is withdrawn.
    As such, these petitioners call on the House of Commons to pass Bill C-270, the stopping internet sexual exploitation act.

Firearms  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is stating that the Trudeau government has attempted to ban and seize the hunting rifles and shotguns of millions of Canadians; that, the targeting of farmers and hunters does not fight crime; that, the Trudeau government has failed those who participate in the Canadian tradition of sport shooting—
    There is a point of order by the hon. member for Milton.
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is an experienced member, and he knows not to use the first or last names of members of Parliament.
    Although the hon. member is reading from the petition, we do have a firm rule in the House that we only refer to members by their riding names or the executive position they hold. Therefore, I will ask the hon. member to rephrase his presentation of the petition.
    Mr. Speaker, this is what the petitioners are saying: Whereas the member for Papineau's government has attempted to ban and seize the hunting rifles and shotguns of millions of Canadians, the targeting of farmers and hunters does not fight crime; and that, the Liberal government has failed those who participate in the Canadian tradition of sport shooting. Therefore, the petitioners are calling on the current government to stop any and all current and future bans on hunting and sport shooting firearms.
    This petition is signed by the residents of Bulkley Valley, whose member of Parliament would not present the petition.
    Now we are raising another issue. I am going to ask the hon. member to withdraw that point. The Chair had made it very clear that members cannot make a reference to other members of Parliament. It is a good tradition to have because any member could be a victim of that kind of statement and might not be in the position to defend themselves. Therefore, I ask the hon. member to please withdraw that last sentence.
    Mr. Speaker, I will withdraw the last sentence and leave it as this: This petition comes from residents of Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

  (1015)  

    I thank the hon. member.
    The hon. member for Abbotsford.
    Mr. Speaker, I, too, am here today to present a petition on behalf of the residents of Skeena—Bulkley Valley, dozens of whom have signed this petition. They draw the attention of the House to the fact that the Liberal government has attempted to ban and to seize the hunting rifles and shotguns of millions of Canadians. The targeting of farmers and hunters does not fight crime, and the very same Liberal government has failed those who participate in the Canadian tradition of sport shooting.
    Therefore, the petitioners are calling upon the government to stop any and all current and future bans on hunting and sport shooting firearms.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present two petitions.
    The first petition is on behalf of the good residents of Skeena—Bulkley Valley, the riding adjacent to my beautiful riding of Cariboo—Prince George.
     The petition states that the undersigned citizens and residents of Canada draw the attention of the House of Commons to the following: Whereas the current government has attempted to ban and seize the hunting rifles and shotguns of millions of Canadians, the targeting of law-abiding farmers and hunters does not fight crime and the government has failed those who participate in the Canadian tradition of sport shooting. Therefore, the undersigned call on the Government of Canada to stop any and all current and future bans on hunting and sport shooting firearms.

Correctional Services of Canada  

    Mr. Speaker, I also rise to speak regarding the thousands of correctional workers, guards, within our prison system. I ask this today, on behalf of the correctional officers in Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon and surrounding areas who are concerned about the prison needle exchange program currently being operated by Correctional Services Canada.
    I have met with these officers and those who are on the front line. They truly are frontline heroes. They say that drugs and drug paraphernalia are considered contraband in prisons, yet the Liberal government is forcing our correctional officers to simply turn a blind eye and to allow dangerous drugs to be used inside prisons. They also say that these drugs and contraband needles and syringes can be used as dangerous weapons against the officers and their members. These correctional officers are calling on the government to immediately cancel the prison needle exchange program, to stop permitting the use of illicit drugs in Canadian prisons and to focus efforts on helping inmates recover from their addictions.
    I will add, too, that I received an impassioned letter signed by members of a female prison in Alberta who called on us and said that when they are incarcerated, it is their time to get clean, and the prison needle exchange does nothing to facilitate recovery. They ask that the government end its prison needle exchange program.

[Translation]

Foreign Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present today.
    The first is signed by more than 70,000 citizens who say that blockades in Gaza have continued for two decades. Since October, air strikes have been carried out in densely populated areas in Lebanon and Gaza, which is a violation of international law. Journalists have been killed by Israeli forces, and thousands of children have died or have been killed in these strikes too.
    These 70,000 people are calling on the government to sanction the State of Israel for violating international law, to impose an arms embargo and stop selling arms to Israel and to condemn the war crimes committed against the Palestinian people.
    My second petition concerns the 2015 arrest of a child, Ahmad Manasra, who was convicted of attempted murder in 2016 in proceedings marred by allegations of torture, and despite the fact that he was below the minimum age of criminal responsibility at the time. This teenager is still detained and has been in solitary confinement since November 2021, which constitutes cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, according to Amnesty International. Hundreds of people have signed this petition and are calling on the government to demand that Israel release Ahmad Manasra.

Corporate Social Responsibility  

     Mr. Speaker, my third petition is from citizens who are concerned about human rights abuses and environmental damage caused by companies based here in Canada. They are calling on the Canadian government to require companies to prevent any negative impact on human and environmental rights throughout their global operations and supply chains. They are asking that these companies be required to exercise due diligence and that there be legal recourse to bring these companies to justice in the event of any human rights violations or environmental destruction.

  (1020)  

[English]

First Responders Tax Credit  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition that includes individuals from my riding, especially volunteer firefighters from Wawa. The petitioners indicate that 71% of Canada's total firefighting essential first responders are volunteer firefighters and that there are approximately an additional 8,000 essential search and rescue volunteers, who respond to thousands of incidents each year. They also indicate that the tax code only allows these volunteer first responders to claim a $3,000 tax credit if 200 hours of volunteer service are completed in the calendar year.
    That comes up to only about $450 a year, or $2.25 an hour, but if they volunteer more than the 200 hours, the tax credit becomes even less than that. They add that these essential volunteers not only put their lives on the line but also play an important role in keeping the property taxes low and ensuring that communities are safe. The petitioners are calling on the government to support Bill C-310, which would amend the Income Tax Act by increasing the volunteer firefighting and search and rescue volunteer service credit from $3,000 to $10,000.
    I am pleased to table this petition.

Human Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of British Columbians who are concerned about human trafficking in Canada.
    The U.S. Department of State's “2023 Trafficking in Persons Report”, or TIP, indicates that “Canada fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of [human] trafficking.” It also highlights that the range, quality and timely delivery of trafficking-specific services varies across Canada, including persistent funding shortages in certain jurisdictions.
    The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to strengthen the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act to address these shortcomings and to put an end to human trafficking in Canada.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Privilege

Alleged Misleading Comments by the Prime Minister—Speaker's Ruling  

[Speaker's Ruling]
    I am now ready to rule on the question of privilege raised on February 6 by the House leader of the official opposition concerning allegedly misleading statements made by the Prime Minister about invitations during the visit to Canada of the President of Ukraine.
    In his intervention, the House leader argued that the Prime Minister offered misleading responses to questions in the House about the invitation offered to Mr. Yaroslav Hunka for President Zelenskyy's joint address to Parliament. The member referred to several exchanges where the Prime Minister reiterated that neither he nor his government had any knowledge of the invitation that was made to Mr. Yaroslav Hunka.

[Translation]

     He pointed to recent media reports establishing that an invitation was sent under the Prime Minister's name to the same individual for a separate event to honour President Zelenskyy. This, according to the member, demonstrated the Prime Minister was, in fact, aware of this individual.

[English]

    The House leader of the official opposition claimed that this constituted contempt of Parliament, in the sense that the Prime Minister's statements were misleading, that he knew that they were misleading and that he delivered them with the intention to mislead the House. The House leader asked the Chair to find a prima facie case of privilege so that a motion could be moved to deal with this matter. His comments were later echoed by the member for La Prairie.

[Translation]

     The Government House Leader, for his part, disagreed with the premise of the question of privilege, arguing it was based on speculative assumptions. He argued that the House leader of the official opposition was conflating two separate events, leaving the impression that these events were planned together by the Prime Minister, his office, or both.
    The Government House Leader stressed that only the former Speaker had knowledge of the invitation to Yaroslav Hunka to Parliament, and that there were no facts presented that would suggest otherwise. In his view, this was a matter of debate and not a question of privilege. He also reminded the House that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs was currently examining the matter of the invitation of the individual by the former Speaker, and he suggested that the House should allow the committee to complete its work.

  (1025)  

[English]

    In the past, members have raised questions of privilege alleging that other members made misleading statements to the House. As was referenced in the various interventions pertaining to the present case, the Chair considers three essential conditions before making a positive determination that a member has deliberately misled the House: It must be proven that the statement was misleading; it must be established that, when making a statement, the member knew it to be incorrect; and finally, it must be demonstrated that the member intended to mislead the House.

[Translation]

    As one of my predecessors stated on February 26, 2015, at pages 11707 of the Debates, and I quote:
    The conditions are admittedly and deliberately not easily met. This is because, as Speaker, I must take all members at their word. This underscores the way we function every day in our proceedings; all members rely on this and draw advantage from it.

[English]

    I assessed the facts that were brought to this House through the lens of our stringent three-part test.
    The Chair is mindful of the recent media reports about another invitation sent to Yaroslav Hunka for a separate event, a government reception in Toronto. While that provides additional information to the general controversy from last September, it was not referenced during the exchanges in the House between different members and the Prime Minister last fall.
    On January 31, 2008, Speaker Milliken made a useful point about what the Chair can consider for such disputes. He said, at page 2435 of the Debates:
...any dispute regarding the accuracy or appropriateness of a minister’s response to an oral question is a matter of debate; it is not a matter for the Speaker to judge. The same holds true with respect to the breadth of a minister’s answer to a question in the House: this is not for the Speaker to determine.

[Translation]

     Based on the evidence that has been presented and my own review of the proceedings last fall, the Chair has not been able to establish that the statements made by the Prime Minister were in fact deliberately misleading. Accordingly, I do not find there to be a prima facie question of privilege.
    The Chair does note that the issue of the second invitation has surfaced in public debate, which offers members many opportunities to raise it in the House, in the context of debate, in any number of ways, including through additional questioning of the Prime Minister during question period.

[English]

    There is also an ongoing study of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to examine the issue surrounding Yaroslav Hunka's invitation to and recognition in Parliament on September 22, 2023. Both the House leader of the official opposition and the government House leader referred to this study in their interventions. It might also offer members an opportunity to raise these new issues that have recently come to light.
    I thank all members for their attention.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[Translation]

Criminal Code

    Pursuant to order made on Tuesday, February 13, 2024, the House will now proceed to the consideration of Bill C-62 at third reading stage.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak about Bill C-62 and the extremely important issue of medical assistance in dying, or MAID, and mental illness.
    I think all members can agree that this is a highly complex, quite sensitive and emotional issue, that raises divergent and deeply held views from the medical community, experts and the public at large. The questions of whether, how and when to expand eligibility for MAID to persons whose sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness are difficult; they do not have easy answers.
    The federal government believes that eligibility for MAID should be expanded to such persons. However, such an expansion should not be rushed and should not occur before the health care system is ready to safely provide MAID in all cases where it is requested on mental illness grounds. This is why we have introduced Bill C-62, which proposes to extend the temporary mental illness exclusion by three years, until March 17, 2027. The bill also includes a provision requiring a parliamentary review prior to that date.
    As members will recall, in 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada concluded in the Carter case that the Criminal Code’s absolute prohibition on physician-assisted death was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court held that physician-assisted dying must be permitted in some circumstances, namely, for competent adults who clearly consent to the termination of life and who have a grievous and irremediable medical condition. This decision led to the legalization of MAID in Canada one year later, in 2016, through Parliament’s enactment of former Bill C-14. Our original MAID law limited eligibility for MAID to competent adults with an eligible medical condition whose natural death was reasonably foreseeable. Our MAID framework was added to the Criminal Code and was made up of a stringent set of eligibility criteria, as well as procedural safeguards to prevent error and abuse in the provision of MAID.
    A few years later, the “reasonable foreseeability of natural death” eligibility criterion was challenged in Quebec; in 2019, it was declared to be unconstitutional by the Superior Court of Quebec in the Truchon decision. As this was a trial-level decision, it was only applicable in Quebec. Nevertheless, the Attorney General of Canada did not appeal the decision; instead, the federal government made the policy decision to expand eligibility for MAID. This led to Parliament’s enactment of former Bill C-7 in 2021, which expanded eligibility for MAID to persons whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable. This resulted in the removal of the eligibility criterion that a person’s death be reasonably foreseeable and the creation of two sets of procedural safeguards for the lawful provision of MAID.
    The first track of safeguards applies to persons whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable; the second, more robust, track applies to persons whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable. This second set of safeguards was created in recognition of the fact that requests for MAID by persons who are not at end of life are more complex. This is why a minimum of 90 days must be taken to assess a person for eligibility for MAID when their natural death is not reasonably foreseeable. This is not a reflection period; it is a minimum assessment period. This safeguard aims to respond to the additional challenges and concerns that may arise in the context of MAID assessments for persons whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable. This includes whether the person’s suffering is caused by factors other than their medical condition, as well as whether there are ways of addressing their suffering other than through MAID.

  (1030)  

    This second set of safeguards also requires that two practitioners be satisfied that the person meets all the eligibility criteria, and if neither of them has expertise in the medical condition causing the person suffering, one of them must consult with a practitioner who does. Involving a practitioner with the relevant expertise aims to ensure that all treatment options are identified and explored.
    Practitioners are also required to inform the person of available counselling services, mental health and disability support services, community services and palliative care; to offer them consultations with the relevant professionals; and to ensure that the person has given serious consideration to such alternative means to alleviate their suffering. Although this does not require a person to undertake treatments that may be unacceptable to them, it requires that they fully explore and weigh the risks and benefits of available treatment options.
    Former Bill C-7, as originally introduced, permanently excluded eligibility for MAID on the basis of a mental illness alone. This was not because of the incorrect and harmful assumption that individuals who have a mental illness lack decision-making capacity or because of a failure to appreciate the severity of the suffering a mental illness can cause. Rather, this was done because of concerns about the inherent risks and complexities of permitting MAID for individuals who suffer solely from mental illness.
    During its consideration of the bill, the Senate made an amendment that added a sunset provision that would repeal the mental illness exclusion 18 months later. The House of Commons accepted the amendment in principle, but changed the date of repeal to two years; in other words, the provision of MAID based on a mental illness alone was set to become lawful on March 17, 2023.
    The decision to temporarily maintain the exclusion of eligibility was based on the recognition that additional study would be required to address the risks and complexities of permitting MAID in these circumstances. This is why the former bill also included a requirement for an independent expert review respecting recommended protocols, guidance and safeguards to apply to such requests for MAID.
    Former Bill C-7 also required the creation of a joint parliamentary committee tasked with conducting a comprehensive review of the Criminal Code's MAID provisions and other MAID-related issues, including MAID and mental illness. The committee undertook this important work, and its interim report, which focused on MAID and mental illness, was tabled in June 2022. It urged the federal government to collaborate with regulators, professional associations, institutional committees and the provinces and territories to ensure that the recommendations of the expert panel were implemented in a timely manner.
    The committee's second report was tabled in February 2023. The majority view expressed was that eligibility for MAID on the basis of a mental illness alone should be permitted. However, the final report also raised a key concern that more time was needed for standards to be developed and training to be undertaken before the law should permit a mental illness to ground a request for MAID. The federal government recognized the significant progress that had been made by the provinces and territories, stakeholders and the medical community in preparing for the expansion. However, it ultimately concluded more time was needed.
    This is why we introduced Bill C-39, and Parliament enacted it. It extended the exclusion by one year, until March 17, 2024. This extension aimed to provide additional time for the dissemination and uptake of key resources by the medical and nursing communities. We thought it essential to prepare for the safe assessment and provision of MAID in all cases where a mental illness grounds a request for MAID. The committee expressed support for the extension in its second report.

  (1035)  

    I want to take a moment to recognize the work that the federal government has done during this extension to support the fulfillment of some of the expert panel’s recommendations. For instance, we amended the regulations for the monitoring of MAID last year to ensure comprehensive data collection and reporting. Such changes allow for data collection related to race, indigenous identity and disability of persons requesting MAID. These changes came into force in January 2023, and the first set of data will be captured in Health Canada’s 2024 annual report on MAID.
    Moreover, Health Canada convened an independent MAID practice standards task group to develop a practice standard for MAID. In March 2023, the model MAID practice standard and supporting documents that provide guidance to support complex MAID assessments were released. Finally, Health Canada supported the Canadian Association of MAiD Assessors and Providers in the development of a Canadian MAID curriculum, which was launched in September 2023.
    In Canada, certain aspects of MAID fall under federal jurisdiction and others fall under provincial and territorial jurisdiction. The federal government is responsible for the criminal law aspect, whereas the provinces and territories are responsible for the implementation of MAID within their health care delivery systems. Impressive progress has been made in preparing for the expansion by the March 2024 deadline. However, the provinces and territories have all expressed that they are not yet ready. For this reason, we are proposing to extend the temporary mental illness exclusion for another three years, until March 17, 2027.
    The extension would allow more time for the provinces and territories, and their partners, to prepare their health care systems by implementing regulatory guidance and developing additional resources for their medical and nurse practitioners. It would also provide more time for medical and nurse practitioners to become familiar with the available training and supports. Our ultimate goal is to help ensure that the necessary protections are in place to protect the interests of individuals who may seek MAID on the basis of a mental illness alone.
    We believe that this issue should not be rushed. Eligibility for MAID should not be expanded until the health care system is ready to safely provide MAID in these complex circumstances. I urge all members to support the bill so our partners can get this right.

  (1040)  

    Madam Speaker, I have sat through much of this debate, on the committee as well. The provinces and territories did not ask for a three-year pause; they asked for an indeterminate pause because they are not ready. Industry is not ready. The health care professionals cannot come to any conclusions.
    As a matter of fact, Dr. Gaind, a professor of psychiatry at U of T, summed it up best at the committee last night. He said, “once again, there is no evidence that shows we can predict irremediability in mental illness, and it is vastly different from other medical conditions and neurodegenerative diseases...but we have to remember what MAID is about. It is about us predicting who will never get better, and we can't do that. And if we can't do that with mental illness, we would be providing death under false pretenses.” He equated it to being much like flipping a coin to choose who could get better and who could not. MAID would simply be killing people who could possibly get better.
    What would my hon. colleague say to that?
    Madam Speaker, the hon. member and I were both at the committee last night, which heard from quite a few experts on MAID. I think it was fairly clear that there was a difference of opinion as to the readiness of the system. There were some experts who believe that MAID for people with mental illness could be provided as early as March 17, 2024.
    However, the member is right. There is a letter from seven provinces and three territories that have asked for an extension to the period. The government feels that a three-year period is the right amount of time for the medical profession and the provinces and territories to be ready to be able to provide MAID to people with mental illness, with appropriate safeguards.

  (1045)  

    Madam Speaker, the issue of what guidelines should be in place to allow someone to die is perhaps one of the most profound things we have to discuss. Parliament agreed to move forward with MAID, and we expected that we were going to get a review. Instead there was a Quebec provincial court decision, the Truchon case. The federal government did not appeal the decision; it just rewrote the law.
    Then the Senate, an absolutely unaccountable, dismal group as far as I am concerned, decided to just throw in an arbitrary date to allow people with mental illness to die, and the government accepted it. We are now scrambling, with a month left. The government is saying it is going to put some guardrails in place to punt it down the road.
    Why is the government not taking the issue seriously? The member for Abbotsford's bill would have dealt with this. The government has put us in this situation, and it is not credible.
    Madam Speaker, I will take exception to the member's comment because a tremendous amount of work has been done to create the appropriate safeguards. Not only are there legislative safeguards in place in the Criminal Code, which I alluded to in my remarks, but there are also safeguards being developed within the medical profession.
    We need to make sure we listen to our health care providers, those who deliver health care at the provincial and territorial level, and extend the date for the change in eligibility criteria for three years so MAID could be administered with all the appropriate safeguards in place.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, we just witnessed a great NDP-Conservative coalition.
    The member is reiterating the Conservatives' argument to the effect that the ruling in Gladu and Truchon was not challenged before the Supreme Court. However, the reason why it was not challenged before the Supreme Court is that people were suffering and Ms. Gladu and Mr. Truchon deserved to have relief. This was based on the Carter decision. However, the NDP voted against Bill C-14, which did not go far enough. I do not know why the member is being so inconsistent today.
    I would like to know whether the member is aware that, basically, his party is trying hard not to say that it lacks courage, that it is backing down when it comes to mental illness and that it is throwing the ball back into the court of the Conservatives who, as they announced, are going to do away with all of this.

[English]

     Madam Speaker, the government is taking the most prudent approach in making sure people get the care they need. This is a very sensitive issue that requires that we work closely with medical professionals to ensure that all the appropriate safeguards, training and associated curriculum are in place. If there is doubt, as we see by the request that we create an extension, it is only prudent for the government to do so. That is why we are encouraging all members to support Bill C-62 and extend the pause on eligibility for MAID on the sole basis of mental illness by three years.
    Madam Speaker, as the provinces and territories are not ready to implement medical assistance in dying for people with mental disorders, personally I am also not ready. I could not vote for something like it right now.
     I am taken by the case of a woman, E.F., who was granted the right to have her life taken with medical assistance in 2016, after reports that she suffered from severe conversion disorder. Nobody could read the media accounts of this and not understand that there are some people for whom life is clearly not worth living anymore.
    Would that provision, in the Court of Appeal decision in Alberta, still provide a way forward for the people who are in a terrible condition right now and who need relief?
    Madam Speaker, our number one job is to protect people's rights. Given that the various decisions of the courts have said that it is a person's right to determine their end of life, we need to make sure that right is protected.
    Of course we need to ensure that they get all of the care they need in order to be able to recover, but as the courts have said, if their suffering is irremediable, they should have that option available because it is a matter of their rights. That is why we are working so hard, along with our provincial and territorial partners, to ensure that all the right safeguards and all of the right training are in place before MAID is extended to people whose sole underlying condition is mental illness.

  (1050)  

    Madam Speaker, we know we are in this situation because a radical justice minister and a radical government have pushed this agenda.
    I want to get the member's thoughts on this quote from 32 law professors. They state:
    We disagree as law professors that providing access to MAiD for persons whose sole underlying medical condition is mental illness is constitutionally required...as Minister Lametti has repeatedly stated.
    I asked the minister, when he appeared at the justice committee, who was right, these 32 legal experts or him. He said, of course, that he was right.
    I want to ask the member this. Does he believe that these 32 legal experts are right or that the former minister of justice was right?
    Madam Speaker, this is a very sensitive issue. It is highly emotional and complex. I would urge all members that calling names and ascribing labels is not the responsible way forward. Canadians are looking to us to make responsible decisions. That is why it is incumbent upon us to work with everyone, including the legal community. The hon. member across the way knows that if we talk to 10 lawyers we will get 10 different legal opinions on any matter.
    Most importantly, we need to work with health care professionals and understand from them what is required with respect to all the appropriate safeguards.
    Last but not least are the provinces and territories, which are primarily responsible for delivering health care. We need to listen to them carefully, and they are asking for an extension. That is what Bill C-62 is doing.
    Madam Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to split my time with the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.
    Does the hon. member have unanimous consent to split his time?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Madam Speaker, it should have never come to this. Had the government properly consulted with Canadians, this expansion of MAID would never have seen the light of day. Instead, what we now have is MAID in Canada, a triumph of ideology over common sense.
    The Liberal government's recent decision to further delay, but not cancel, the expansion of MAID to the mentally ill reflects an unserious approach to this all-important life-and-death issue. MAID was originally designed for those whose physical illness was incurable and caused intolerable pain, and where death was reasonably foreseeable. However, the Liberals soon eliminated the requirement that death be reasonably foreseeable and then went far beyond that by quickly agreeing to a demand from the unelected Senate to expand assisted suicide to include those suffering from mental illness.
    The government has signalled a willingness to go even further by including children in its deadly scheme. As we predicted back in 2016, when the Prime Minister introduced medically assisted death to Canadians, our country is now hurtling down a steep and slippery slope. Despite the accusations of fearmongering and exaggerating that have been levelled at us, history has proven that Conservative MPs were right. Over eight short years, our country has moved from banning assisted suicide to having the most permissive and dangerous regime in the world. The statistics are staggering. Last year, over 13,000 Canadian deaths were attributable to MAID, a 31% increase over the year before. That is without MAID being made available for mental illness.
    MAID is now the fourth leading cause of death in the country. When compared to other jurisdictions where MAID is available, like California, Canada's assisted suicide deaths far exceed those of other jurisdictions. That should really concern us, as it reflects a reckless implementation of MAID. Imagine how many more thousands of deaths will be added every single year, should the Liberal plan to include the mentally disordered come into force.
    Of increasing concern are the growing number of cases in which MAID has been improperly approved and administered outside of what the criminal law currently allows. Here are just a few of them: There is a Hamilton man who would rather die than struggle with poverty, as reported in the Hamilton Spectator Reporter; the Cape Breton woman who sought MAID over lengthy workers' compensation delays; the Ontario quadriplegic mother who applied for MAID over a lack of access to disability supports; the former paralympian who told MPs that the veterans affairs department offered her assisted death instead of help; and the Winnipeg woman who chose to die through MAID because of her futile struggle for home care.
    There is the case of Donna Duncan from my own city of Abbotsford, who was euthanized because mental health support was not available when she needed it the most. Indeed, she received MAID without her daughters, Christie and Alicia, knowing about it until after the fact. They had no chance to say goodbye to their mother.
    Then there is Kathrin Mentler, who lives with chronic depression and suicidality. Feeling particularly vulnerable, she went to Vancouver General Hospital looking for psychiatric help for feelings of hopelessness she could not shake. Instead, a clinician told her there would be a long wait to see a psychiatrist and that the health care system is broken. That was followed by a jarring question: “Have you considered MAID?”
    There is the case of Sophia, who suffered from severe sensitivity to smoke and chemicals, triggering rashes, difficulty breathing and blinding headaches. She died by MAID after a frantic effort by friends, supporters and even her doctors to get her safe and affordable housing in Toronto. She begged officials for assistance in finding a home away from the smoke and chemicals wafting through her apartment. “The government sees me as expendable trash, a complainer, useless and a pain in the ass,” she said in a video filmed eight days before her death.

  (1055)  

    Canadians are dying unnecessarily and under circumstances that scream out for reconsideration of how far Canadians are prepared to go in euthanizing their fellow citizens. It has become stunningly clear how little the government consulted on MAID expansion. Mental health professionals are only now becoming aware of the government's plans to euthanize persons suffering from mental disorders.
    Psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical counsellors and suicide prevention experts overwhelmingly oppose this expansion, and only recently has the government begun to consult with indigenous communities, our fellow Canadians who are at the greatest risk from an expansive application of MAID.
    The provinces and territories, as has already been mentioned, have sent a joint letter to the government, saying that they are not ready for MAID expansion. Indeed, they have called not just for a delay but for an indefinite suspension of the government's plans. Ordinary Canadians, of course, have repeatedly said they do not favour expanding assisted suicide to include the mentally ill.
    What is worse is that this expansion is taking place at a time when Canada faces compounding national crises in mental health, palliative care, opioid addiction, affordability and homelessness. The skyrocketing cost of living has only exacerbated these profound social challenges.
    The government's reckless approach to MAID also flies in the face of Parliament's stated commitment to suicide prevention, including the recently activated 988 suicide helpline, which is thanks to my colleague from Cariboo—Prince George.
    How can members claim to support suicide prevention efforts, when at the same time they are promoting state-facilitated suicide? Clearly, the government's contradictory approach has been one in which blind ideology has trumped common sense and reason. More troubling is that the message to our most vulnerable Canadians, the mentally disordered, the opioid addicted, the homeless and hungry, and the veterans, is that their government would rather euthanize them than provide them with the mental health and social supports they need to live productive, meaningful lives.
    The utilitarian implications of the government's approach are deeply disturbing and profoundly wrong on so many levels. By any other definition, expanding MAID to include the most vulnerable is nihilism hiding behind the fig leaf of compassion.
    In a briefing recently, Liberal government officials indicated that they are still hell-bent on expanding MAID to the mentally ill. It is just that their masters, namely the Prime Minister and his Liberal colleagues across the floor, do not want to face the voters' wrath for placing their corrosive ideology above the interests and welfare of the most vulnerable among us. That is why they, the Liberals, have kicked the ball down the road to avoid the political consequences.
    We can and should do better. What is really required and what Canadians are demanding of the Prime Minister and his justice minister is that they put a full stop to this madness now. There being no national consensus on MAID expansion, completely rescinding this policy is the only reasonable and responsible thing to do.

  (1100)  

    Madam Speaker, the member and I sat on the third edition of the special joint committee together. I know the member is a lawyer, and my question is really a legal one. I agree with the recommendation of the committee for an indefinite delay, but does he expect that this case will come up at the Supreme Court eventually? What does he think the reasoning of the court might be, given that the definition of irremediability in law is very different from irremediability in clinical medical practice, which requires a bit more certainty? There is a tension between the two, so I would be interested in his perspective on that.
    Madam Speaker, let me first of all thank that member for bringing such a thoughtful approach to our work at the committee and now here in the House.
    I agree with him that we should have an indefinite pause on this expansion, but with respect to the Supreme Court of Canada, I think it would be wrong to presume what the court might read into any additional changes that might happen. We do know that the federal government refused to appeal lower court decisions, like the EF decision in Alberta and the Truchon case in Quebec, to the Supreme Court of Canada, which is where this type of final decision should rest.
     I expect fully that eventually a case will make its way up to the Supreme Court of Canada, and the Supreme Court of Canada will opine whether the Carter decision should go beyond just the incurable, intolerable illnesses where death was reasonably foreseeable and should in fact include vulnerable populations like the mentally ill.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, my colleague complains that people are accusing him of fearmongering, but he is unable to use the right technical terms to debate this issue. The Council of Canadian Academies does not refer to children. Referring to children in general shows a lack of intellectual rigour in a debate like this. The right term is “mature minors”.
    For example, at the age of 15, Charles Gignac was diagnosed with a cancer that ate his bones. He was fit as a fiddle, an athlete with a very strong heart. He suffered for two years because he was not eligible for medical assistance in dying. He requested medical assistance in dying. He passed away at 17 years and 10 months, without MAID, in pain and anguish. What treatment did he receive? He was given palliative sedation because no one was able to relieve his suffering. After he received palliative sedation, his loved ones watched him spend 24 hours in an agitated, delirious state before he died. Is that what my colleague calls compassion?

  (1105)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I am deeply disturbed that individual would actually promote assisted death for children. Let us not forget this. The suggestion is not only that this would be assisted death for mature minors. There is the suggestion that parents would not have the final say over whether their children would be euthanized. This is appalling. Is this the state of our country, where we have parties in the House of Commons actually promoting the deaths of children when in fact they can be helped and treated? We can do better as a country; I know we can.
    Madam Speaker, I think my colleague shares my concern that we are now 30-some days away from an arbitrary deadline that was imposed. We passed a national palliative care motion that I brought in 2016, and nothing was done. In 2019, we brought forward the national suicide prevention strategy that was based on the work in Nunavut. Everybody signed off, and nothing was done.
    Now we are being told that we should be making it easier for people who are suffering with mental illness, people who are on the streets, people using opioids, people who are hopeless, and that we should be fast-tracking that rather than putting in place the protections needed to protect people.
    What are my hon. colleague's thoughts are on that?
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his work at the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying, where we did excellent work in coming up with a recommendation, which unfortunately the government did not choose to follow in its entirety. We had called for an indefinite pause. Unfortunately, the government felt an arbitrary three years was sufficient.
    To answer his question, I have great concern the government's promises to deliver improved palliative care supports to the provinces and to deliver improved mental health supports to them have not been fulfilled. Now people are asking for death because they are not getting those supports. That truly is sad.
    Madam Speaker, we come here to debate the most serious of issues, and we are faced with one of those issues today.
    I want to start by being very up front. I do not think that a pause is appropriate for the expansion of medical assistance in dying to those whose sole underlying medical condition is mental illness. There must be an abolition of the expansion to those who are most vulnerable and to those who are suffering.
     We have heard that the Liberal government is pushing this off to avoid political consequences in the next election, and it is shameful. However, it does present an opportunity, because a Conservative government would not allow the expansion of doctor-assisted death to people for whom our country should be offering hope and help.
    The concrete solutions that have been put forward by Conservative members have been heard in the House, including by my hon. colleague from Cariboo—Prince George with the 988 suicide prevention hotline, which he shamed the government into taking action on. While it took that shame for the Liberals to act, it does offer some help to those who desperately need it.
     The hon. member for Abbotsford spoke just before I did. His Bill C-314 would have scrapped doctor-assisted death for those whose sole underlying medical condition was mental illness, but the government rejected that. With respect to the provinces and territories, which are constitutionally obligated to deliver on health care, the majority of their heads of government have had to call for the government to stop this reckless march forward.
    While I will vote in favour of a pause, I cannot abide anyone believing that I am okay with this continuing three years from now.
    This debate is following the Liberals' pulling the emergency brake on the reckless expansion of MAID just a year ago. Given the chance, there would be a wide expansion of MAID, and not just to those who are suffering from mental illness and addiction. This expansion of doctor-assisted suicide cannot be carried out safely or justly. It is difficult, if not impossible, to determine the irremediability of a mental disorder in individual cases, meaning we cannot say, with the certainty that is required in a matter that truly is life or death, whether a person suffering from mental illness will get better.
    In appearing before the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying, on which I sat as a vice-chair, Dr. Jitender Sareen, a physician in the department of psychiatry at the University of Manitoba, testified, said:
     We strongly recommend an extended pause on expanding MAID to include mental disorders as the sole underlying medical condition in Canada, because we're simply not ready. In our experience, people recover from long periods—“long” meaning decades—of suffering with depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and addictions with appropriate evidence-based treatments. We strongly believe that making MAID available for mental disorders will facilitate unnecessary deaths in Canada and negatively impact suicide prevention efforts. The clinical role is to instill hope, not to lead patients toward death.
    Dr. Sareen went on to say:
    Unlike physical conditions that drive MAID requests, we do not understand the biological basis of mental disorders and addictions, but we know that they can resolve over time. The real discrimination and lack of equity is not providing care for people with mental disorders and addictions.
    I could not agree more with the doctor.

  (1110)  

    We have a moral obligation in our society to ensure that every person is treated with the inherent dignity and value with which they are created, everyone. They do not get that when we offer them death instead of help and hope, treatment and care.
    Psychiatrists and even the Prime Minister's so-called expert panel cannot know if someone is going to recover from mental illness, and this under a government where wait times for psychiatric treatment can be over half of a decade. If the government goes ahead with this, people who would have gotten better will not get the chance, because they will have been killed at the hand of the government.
    Further, it is difficult for a clinician to distinguish between a rational request for medical assistance in dying where mental illness is the sole underlying medical condition and one motivated by suicidal ideation. On the question of suicidality, Dr. Sareen said:
...there is no clear operational definition differentiating between when someone is asking for MAID and when someone is asking for suicide when they're not dying. Internationally, this is the differentiation. If somebody is dying, then it can be considered MAID. When they're not dying, it is considered suicide.
    On the same question, Dr. Tarek Rajji stated, “There is no clear way to separate suicidal ideation or a suicide plan from requests for MAID.”
    With the line being blurred between suicidal ideation and so-called rational requests for medical assistance in dying, evidence from jurisdictions that have assisted suicide for mental disorders, both suicides and medically facilitated death go up.
     We cannot move forward with this dangerous game that the government is playing, the plan of moving full steam ahead no matter what the cost. The minister said that the Liberals had the moral imperative to move ahead with an assisted suicide regime. Hopelessness and misery, that is their imperative. A moral imperative? It is immoral.
    This is the same government that has degraded life in the country to the point where an entire generation of people is giving up hope. Two million Canadians are lined up at food banks a month and once former middle-class families are living in their cars. People are being offered MAID instead of a wheelchair, after serving our country and going to veterans affairs for help. People are being offered MAID at routine doctor appointments. People are seeking MAID because they cannot afford housing. People are seeking MAID because they cannot get the psychiatric care they need. This is blind ideology ahead of evidence. It is death on demand for any reason.
    Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, personality disorders and addictions will all become justifications for death under the Liberal government if this plan is allowed to be carried forward. A new generation of addicts will have been created, by normalizing and legalizing opioids that are being peddled to our children. The MAID regime seems like it will become the government's plan for addictions. Rather than offering treatment and a chance to get better to people who are suffering, they are being offered death.
    There is hope yet, if we pass this bill, that we could stop the expansion of MAID to people who are suffering. We can make a commitment, as the representatives of Canadians, to deliver on the health, help, hope and treatment that Canadians deserve, that every human person deserves. Dignity, respect, hope and life, that is what we are going to have to vote to protect.
    I am proud to stand and vote in support of life.

  (1115)  

    Madam Speaker, as an advanced democratic country, Canada sometimes brings in legislation on issues that have never been dealt with before. Sometimes Canada is one of the first countries in the world to deal with these types of issues.
    When we bring in legislation that fundamentally affects every single Canadian, sometimes we have to look at it again to see how we can serve Canadians, whether we are stepping on the toes of the fundamental rights of Canadians.
    Earlier the hon. member for Abbotsford said that there was no national consensus. I would like to ask the member whether he agrees with me that due to the different religious beliefs, different religious faiths and philosophies, we cannot have national unanimity on issues like this.
    Madam Speaker, I do not believe that this is a question of religion. I think it is simply a question of humanity and how we care for the most vulnerable among us. This is an imperative that we have as parliamentarians. Ensuring that we care for the least of us, those who are most in need of our help, is the highest calling we can answer. To allow MAID for folks whose only medical condition is mental illness would be an abdication of that. Allowing state-sanctioned death, or doctor-assisted suicide in that case, is an abdication of our responsibilities to the most vulnerable, regardless of one's beliefs or creed.

[Translation]

     Madam Speaker, Voltaire said that fanaticism pretends to be the child of religion.
    I think we have proof of that again today, unfortunately. Our colleague stated the Conservatives' position on freedom of choice, on medical assistance in dying and on providing relief to people who are suffering. The Conservatives want to abolish medical assistance in dying. That is what we just heard.
    The Liberals claim their position is different, but I cannot tell the difference. They are going to put the decision off for three years, but by then, the Conservatives will be in power and can decide to abolish it. Then there is the NDP, which is applauding that.
    Is the real coalition basically just the Ottawa coalition?

  (1120)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, we have an epidemic in this country of people who are suffering from addiction. We have people who are suffering from mental illness. I am not going to be shamed by anyone who wants to call me a fanatic for saying that we need to protect the vulnerable.
    If there are members in this place, and I abhor the thought, who would rather have the government kill people than give them the treatment they deserve, have it abandon its responsibility, then I genuinely hope we do not elect anyone to this place who represents Canadians who believe that. I certainly do not. I believe in helping the most in need.

[Translation]

    The member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot on a point of order.
    Madam Speaker, I will not stand for anyone saying that I am telling the government to kill people. I demand an immediate apology.
    That is a point of debate.
    The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot on another point of order.
    Madam Speaker, it is not a point of debate. Words have meaning. Saying that I am encouraging the government to kill people has no place in a debate. The member can say he disagrees with me, but he cannot say that.
    I will check the record and get back to the House if necessary.
    The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I would challenge the member. The government is not killing people, but it is failing to put in place protections for people. There is a difference, and our language does matter, but we need to have a strong support for everyone. To simply say that people are being killed does not help our conversation. I would ask my colleague to reflect on that.
    Madam Speaker, through action or inaction, the result is the same. By failing to help the vulnerable, by failing to offer those supports, we are condemning those people. The government is condemning those people to death. To take a positive action and offer them suicide in place of help and treatment, well, we can take a look at a thesaurus and decide whether or not that is to be described as the government killing them, but it is not reaching out a hand in help, and that is exactly what government should do.
    I am still looking into what was said a while ago, but I do want to remind members to be very careful with some of the wording they are using because it is not quite proper to be using that type of language in the House.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Joliette has the floor.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would first like to ask for unanimous consent to share my time with my colleague and friend, the member for Montcalm, who is a leading expert on this subject.
    Does the hon. member have unanimous consent to share his time?
     Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Madam Speaker, medical assistance in dying is a topic as crucial as it is sensitive. By choosing to delay debate for three years, the Liberal government is aligning itself with the Conservatives, with the blessing of the NDP, to ensure this debate will never happen again. That is highly irresponsible.
     The Bloc Québécois was in favour of a one-year delay, but three years pushes it to after the next election. In other words, we will not be discussing this issue for a very long time. Meanwhile, Quebec has passed a law that allows advance requests. Specifically, it covers people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. However, Quebec’s law is blocked until the Criminal Code is amended by the House. The entire National Assembly of Quebec has asked Ottawa to amend the Criminal Code accordingly. Although the Quebec law allows advance requests, the Criminal Code does not. This leaves doctors open to prosecution.
     That is why we presented an amendment addressing this issue. Again, the Liberal government, the Conservatives and the New Democrats chose to oppose it. Again, Quebeckers are reminded that we cannot decide for ourselves, even when there is consensus, and that our neighbour will decide for us. Furthermore, the government did all this by imposing a super gag order, with the NDP's support. It wanted to muzzle the House and put off debate well into the future while rejecting Quebec’s unanimous request. So much for democracy here.
     Here we are reviewing a bill that seeks to delay choices involving mental disorders and that says nothing about neurodegenerative diseases and advance requests, unlike Quebec’s law. All this is happening three years after Bill C-7 was passed. Regardless of what other parties choose to do, we continue and will continue to ask that the Criminal Code be aligned with Quebec’s Act Respecting End-of-Life Care by allowing advance requests.
     Can I ask for a bit more compassion in the House? Is it so complicated to change the Criminal Code to give effect to the Quebec law with respect to advance requests for people suffering from serious and incurable neurocognitive disorders?
    In an attempt to convince my colleagues of the importance of Quebec's request and the urgency of the issue, I would like to read a very moving letter sent by one of my constituents. She talks about what her mom, Jacinthe Arnault, went through. Here is what the letter says:
    At age 56, my mother, Jacinthe Arnaud, a clinical nurse, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. Nothing in her family history could have predicted that this huge black cloud would darken the rest of her life. The second thing she told me in 2019 after being diagnosed was:
    “Promise me you won't let me die in a long-term care home. Promise me, Cath, that you'll let me go with dignity.” Back then, the MAID legislation did not allow for people with cognitive impairments to access this type of care.
    I scrambled to learn about the subject, to talk with MPs, to contribute to the improvement of the legislation at the National Assembly and to get informed about what was being done in other countries. What I found was that we were in a dead end—even if my mother repeated her request week after week, I could not see how I could grant her the end she was hoping for. In 2021, when the “imminent death” requirement was taken out of the legislation, there was a glimmer of hope. Fortunately—or unfortunately—my mother wasn't 100% aware of her condition and wasn't ready to let us go and choose to die, at the risk of losing her chance to die with dignity.
    The disease progressed very quickly, much faster than the legislative work to expand MAID. In early 2022, we had to watch over my mother almost constantly as her cognitive abilities, her memory and even her motor skills became more and more impaired. She still had enough clear-mindedness to ask her geriatrician for MAID. We started the procedure. It was very stressful not to know whether my mom would change her mind right until the very end, not because she didn't want MAID anymore, but because the disease would have made her unable to understand her condition and where she was headed.
    Do you know that the legislation imposes a 90-day waiting time before MAID can be granted to patients with cognitive impairments? As a nurse myself, and seeing my mother get worse and worse every day, I could not see how she would still have a clear mind after 90 days. After several discussions with the prescribing physician, we were able to move up the date.
    Why was my mother's credibility called into question? Why do patients with cognitive impairments have to wait before receiving MAID, but not patients with other incurable diseases? Requesting in advance to die with dignity is a very personal and legitimate choice, according to my mother and me. It is a decision that should, in a perfect world, be made quickly after diagnoses of this nature. Considering that neurodegenerative diseases evolve very differently from one patient to the next, wouldn't it be logical to allow these patients to request a dignified death in advance?

  (1125)  

    Not knowing if she would be allowed to die put my mother under incredible stress. And let me tell you, as a mother of two young children, I too was under a tremendous amount of stress, not knowing if my mother would pass away or if I would have to institutionalize her within a few months, which would have been a very difficult choice to make, considering the wishes she had so forcefully expressed.
    During the last years of her career, my mother worked in the hemodialysis department at the Joliette hospital. She wanted to keep helping others. On May 4, 2022, she died in an operating room at the Joliette hospital, with her by her loved ones at her side. She saved three people. Both of her kidneys and her lungs live on somewhere in Canada. We're extremely proud of that.
    I'm so proud of her and of us.
    I wish with all my heart that ADVANCE requests for MAID were allowed. All these people who are sick now and who would like to die with dignity are depending on the legislation to be changed quickly.
    Best wishes,
    Catherine Joly
     I thank Ms. Joly for her letter from the bottom of my heart. I agree with her, because I also hope with all my heart that advance requests for MAID will become an option. As she says, it is a matter of dignity. As she points out, everything depends on how quickly the legislation can be changed. Quebec has changed its legislation. The one step left is to harmonize it with the Criminal Code.
    I sincerely hope that Ms. Joly's words have helped convince my colleagues about how important it is to make this change and make it quickly. I thank her.

  (1130)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, Canada is one of the most advanced democracies in the world. That is why we bring in legislation, some of which is quite unique. In Canadian history, over all 155 years, this is the first time legislation like this has been brought forward.
    Whenever we bring forward legislation that fundamentally affects every single Canadian's life, is it not important that we relook at it, modify it if required, take a pause, check to make sure everything is okay and patiently advance it instead of rushing it through? I would like the hon. member's views on that.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to say two things. First, there is unanimous consensus in Quebec. All parties in the Quebec National Assembly voted to pass a law, but it has no force or effect because it is being blocked. Quebec is asking that its law be aligned with the Criminal Code so it can come into effect in Quebec alone. That is what we are asking. It is not complicated. The government tells us this is very important, but it chose to do nothing and kick it down the road, even though we need to act quickly.
     Second, the decision to delay all debate in the House for three years brings us to after the election. Projections indicate that the Liberals will not form a majority government. In all likelihood we will never discuss this again, we will never come back to this debate. I think that is irresponsible.
    We first dealt with Bill C-7 in 2021. That is already three years ago. What has the government done in three years? It came up with the current bill, which says they will ensure the debate will never be over. We think that is irresponsible. I beg the government to at least try to harmonize the Criminal Code with the unanimous will of Quebec. It is a matter of dignity. My society and my nation are ready. However, they are being blocked by their neighbour, who is choosing not to act. I am asking them to act.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the hon. member read a letter from a constituent. Conservatives also receive letters that speak in a different way about the dignity they look for and how they want their lives to be treated based on MAID and the new law that will be put in place.
    If the hon. member's emphasis is on the humanitarian and compassionate side of this, would it not apply to every Canadian rather than just narrowing it to Quebec? I understand and respect that he represents a Quebec riding, but we need to look at something that applies to all Canadians. I think that is the purpose behind what we are debating today.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, from my perspective and that of my party, the substance of Bill C-62 is to ensure that we never discuss this again. By choosing to extend the exclusion by three years, there could well be a Conservative government─possibly a majority government─in power. I would be amazed if that government chose to follow up and move in the same direction.
     Let me remind my hon. colleague that Canada is a federation that includes several nations. The Quebec nation has a unanimous position on advance requests but cannot implement it because the federal government refuses to amend the Criminal Code.
     We understand that the rest of Canada may have other debates. That is the idea of a federation, to bridge different cultures and perspectives. There is unanimity in Quebec. We are not asking for a unilateral approach or for the Quebec model to apply from coast to coast, but for Ottawa to stop blocking what Quebec has unanimously decided.
    Madam Speaker, I simply want to remind my colleague that, yesterday, I voted in favour of the amendment for advance requests because there is a political and social consensus in Quebec society. I think that the message for the federal government is to find a compromise and a solution so as not to prevent Quebec from moving forward.
    However, we must also not block the bill, because there is no medical or scientific consensus on the issue of mental health as the sole underlying condition. I think that it is important to meet the March 17 deadline and to ensure that we can reflect together on this issue because there is no medical or scientific consensus.

  (1135)  

    Madam Speaker, I recognize that the member voted with the Bloc Québécois for advance requests, but I deplore the fact that he was the only one from his party to do so. This demonstrates the rift that exists between Quebec and the rest of Canada on this issue. It is deplorable. I deplore the fact that the member could not convince his entire caucus to vote with us.
    I recognize the importance of taking the time to talk about such important issues. However, we have been at this for three years, and the government has not done anything.
    Extending the deadline by three years is a hypocritical way of ensuring that we never talk about it again, because that takes us past the next election. It is irresponsible.
    Madam Speaker, I will start with an assertion whose veracity will become clear. With Bill C-62, the cowardly Liberal government brought forth a mouse.
    If we are talking about Bill C‑62 today, it is because Bill C‑7 created the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying when it passed. The committee's mandate was to review the medical assistance in dying legislation, in particular as regards the issue of advance requests. Because we knew that the problem was more difficult in cases of mental illness, the government set up an expert panel to help MPs do their job. The panel was to issue a report to the special joint committee.
     The expert panel was indeed set up. The problem is that, instead of putting everything in place following the adoption of Bill C‑7, the government decided to call an election in 2021. That delayed the process.
     Immediately after the useless election, we would have expected the special joint committee to sit but, no, we had to wait. They took their sweet time. The committee was finally convened, but it had a huge mandate. Its mandate was so huge that Bill C‑39 on mental illness had to be introduced, delaying the committee's recommendation.
     Since February 2023, the committee has been very clear on the issue of advance requests. In fact, that was its most widely held recommendation. During the entire debate on Bill C‑62 in the House, the government said that we needed to be cautious and proceed slowly. That is fine, but when caution involves making patients suffer, I cannot agree. I think we need to be diligent.
     The government took its sweet time. Here we are in 2024, and it introduced legislation seeking to postpone the issue of mental illness. Fine, but what is happening with the main recommendation the committee made in February 2023? The government knew very well that Quebec was laying the groundwork on the issue of advance requests. It knew very well that Quebec would bring in its own law. Instead of taking inspiration from that and seeing what measures could be included in the regulation accompanying Canada's MAID legislation, it did nothing.
     I have stood in the House many times to ask the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Health why the government did nothing. Why does the bill not include a component on advance requests, which should have been prepared over the past year? After all, the government introduced legislation enacting the special joint committee's February 2023 recommendation on mental illness. On the issue of advance requests, however, it did nothing, despite the majority recommendation.
     Yesterday, I got my answer. The Minister of Health demonstrated in front of the whole committee that he was unfamiliar with the Quebec law, yet he rises in the House and says he has enormous respect for Quebec's process. The Liberals do not even know what they are talking about. The minister told me that the issue of advance requests is more difficult than the issue of mental illness because, for example, there might be family quarrels at the patient's bedside.

  (1140)  

     I realized that the minister had not read section 29.6 of the Quebec law, which stipulates that, as soon as patient is diagnosed, they can appoint a third party. The third party will not determine when the person can access medical assistance in dying, but will advocate for their wishes, which will be included in the advance request, or the person's criteria.
     People in my riding have told me that, when they become incontinent and can no longer control their bowels, when they have reached the point where they no longer have any appetite and it becomes a chore for their caregivers to feed them, although they are well compensated for their troubles, when they are no longer able to recognize their friends and family members and when they can no longer maintain relationships, they would like to have access to medical assistance in dying. The third party in whom they have placed their trust will then ask the care team—because patients are indeed cared for by entire teams—to evaluate whether they are meeting the criteria, if they are there yet.
     If people make advance requests, it is because they want to avoid shortening their life. They want to live as long as possible. We could be good to them and take care of them until they cross their tolerance threshold.
     The minister does not even know what I am talking about right now. Do members think it is normal that people say they respect Quebec, that they have great admiration for Quebec's progress on this issue, but that they do not even know what is in Quebec's law?
     It is no surprise that they come out with a bill like Bill C‑62, that does not address this at all. Then they have the gall to say that Quebec has made good progress, but that not all Canadians are ready for that, so they have to wait and watch their patients suffer. Quebec is not the only province that supports advance requests. According to an Ipsos survey, 85% of Canadians from coast to coast support advance requests.
     The Conservatives claim that they want to do good, they want to take care of Canada's most vulnerable. I, too, want to take care of the most vulnerable, but who is more vulnerable than a patient who is about to cross their tolerance threshold, who is suffering and who is being told no by the government?
    Some claim that there could be abuses, as if the Criminal Code did not provide for punishment of abuses. They seem to believe the medical system to be inherently evil. I heard my Conservative colleague earlier. Listening to the Conservatives, one would think everyone working in the health system wants vulnerable people euthanized. I heard another Conservative member say there is an opioid crisis, there are people in the streets, and we are going to euthanize them. That is absolutely false. It is really far-fetched. That kind of rhetoric is meant to scare people; it amounts to spreading misinformation on a crucial topic.
     When we care, we do not infringe on individual autonomy. The role of the state is not to decide matters so personal as how someone wishes to cross their threshold of tolerance. It is not to tell patients what is right for them. It is to provide the conditions so they can make a free and informed choice.

  (1145)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I have to say that I find the position of the Bloc to be somewhat curious insofar as it is inconsistent with the position taken by the National Assembly, which rejected the policy of the government to expand MAID in cases where mental illness is the sole underlying condition.
    I understand that the position of the Bloc members to oppose Bill C-62 is on the basis they would like to see the policy implemented in one short year from now.
    Can the member explain why the Bloc is taking a position that is inconsistent with that of the National Assembly?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I have said it repeatedly, the Bloc Québécois wants Bill C‑62 to include a section on advance requests for MAID. This is our main objection.
     We tried to introduce amendments in step with Quebec's request and that of the whole National Assembly. Where mental disorders are concerned, we start from the premise that psychiatry is unable to ease the suffering of every patient stricken by a severe mental disorder.
     Psychiatrists told us that 50% of their diagnoses are wrong. It is a wonderfully precise science. However, one thing is true. Although there is no exact diagnosis and a diagnosis can change, what is clear, straightforward, specific and a constant in a patient's journey over the decades is that they suffer. Psychiatrists cannot deny that their patients suffer, and that all they can offer them is a path to palliative care. In fact, Dr. Gagnon told us we had to develop palliative care for people afflicted with mental disorders because that is all we can offer them.
    Quebec made its decision in 2021. It did not have the opportunity to work off the expert report that the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying had in 2022.
    Madam Speaker, this morning is my first opportunity to take part in this debate.
    I have heard a few comments from people who think the Government of Canada is going to have a hand in murdering Canadians.

[English]

    I know it has come up in a point of order. We are stuck, but it does not mean that anyone wants to murder any Canadians.
    I think we need to be concerned, with a choice and a debate this deeply personal and moral, and with such complicated questions. Given the constraints of Supreme Court decisions and the work of the Senate, how do we keep the focus here not on the partisanship of this place but on making and passing good laws?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I challenge anyone to find petty partisanship or political calculation in any of my speeches. I always focus on the issue at hand. Since 2015, what I have come to realize is that, unfortunately, parliamentarians here in the House are not on the same page as Quebec parliamentarians. Time for reflection is sorely lacking here.
    We could have had some time for reflection—since 2021, actually—but the government dragged its feet. That meant that we had less time and less of an opportunity to do thorough work.
    The issue of mental disorders is now being postponed until 2027, which basically amounts to choosing not to deal with this issue. I would like us to work on this issue immediately after royal assent, but that is not going to happen.

  (1150)  

    Madam Speaker, I congratulate my colleague for his responsible speech. Scaremongering is absolutely deplorable. That said, even though the Conservatives make a habit of scaremongering, I consider it our duty to address any reasonable apprehensions that the public may have.
    Obviously, MAID is a permanent and irreversible solution. Could my colleague briefly tell us how MAID precludes the possibility of rash decisions and how it will be implemented in a structured, responsible and reasonable way?
    Madam Speaker, first of all, we have to start from the premise that all health care workers are basically caring and compassionate people. The premise of MAID's opponents is based on their belief that certain fundamentally malevolent and evil people want to get rid of vulnerable members of our society.
    It seems rather surprising that the Conservatives, as economic libertarians, believe that the state should get mixed up in such a personal decision as an individual's death. The reason is that other determinants are at play. I have asked them repeatedly why they think that they are in a better position to make that decision than the person who is suffering. Today, I will say the thing they lack the courage to admit: it is because of religious beliefs.
    The member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot rose on a point of order earlier. I checked the record.
    The member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes' comment was not directed at the member. It was a general comment. When he repeated his remarks, I heard him clearly that time. I then mentioned that such comments should not be made in the House. It can cause disorder, but I am also certain that no member in the House wants to kill anyone.
    I checked the record. It was a general comment that went: “If there are members in this place...who would rather have the government kill people”.
    I just wanted to add that.
    The hon. member for Saint‑Jean is rising on a point of order.
    Madam Speaker, in response to the ruling you just made, I would invite the Chair to possibly consider the fact that using unparliamentary language about members in general is no less harmful than using it about one member in particular, in my opinion.
    I would like to hear the Chair on that because even if the comments were not directed at one specified member, they are no less harmful. I think that the ruling should be made regardless of who the comments are about, whether it is someone specific or members in general. It is the comment itself that is harmful.
    I appreciate the hon. member's comment, and I will discuss it with the other occupants of the chair. These sorts of comments have been a number of times, and we need to stand up and say whether that is acceptable or not. We also heard many such comments yesterday. This is not the first time. This sort of thing has been happening for years.
    We also need to ensure that the members who are rising to speak think about what they want to say or what they are going to say before they say it. It is not just the Speaker's responsibility to manage the House. It is the responsibility of all members to ensure respect for the House and how it works.

[English]

    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.

  (1155)  

    Madam Speaker, as always, it is a great honour to rise in this House, as I have done many times over the past 20 years. I mention the 20-year mark because I have always been a great political optimist, a great believer in Canada and a believer in our fundamental goodness when it comes to working things out.
    However, we are in a very dark time for democracy. We see the rise of disinformation and social conflicts in all aspects of life. On the international stage, we see the uncertainty coming out of Putin's aggression and the mass killing of innocent people in Palestine. I do not feel that the House of Commons is rising to what Canadians expect us to be. Too often, we are dealing with very profound issues through glib press releases or slogans and bumper sticker politics.
    Every now and then we are confronted with legislation that forces us to go deeper, and this is certainly such a moment. There is nothing more profound in the human community than birth and death. How we address the rights of people as they are dying, as well as the supports that need to be in place, not only defines who we are as a society but also goes right down to who we are as families, as neighbours, as spouses, as parents and as children.
    We are in a very unfortunate moment in terms of the failure to put the guardrails in place to protect people at this most profound moment. The issue of MAID is very personal, and it is of societal importance that we get this right.
    I have certainly struggled with this issue. I wanted to make sure that what we did was done for the benefit of all, in the best interest of the human community, considering the right not only of the individual but also of the people who love them to be part of something special.
    I am coming up on the anniversary of my sister Kathleen's passing. Nobody blew through our family more like a summer storm than Kathleen, and I have never seen anybody suffer greater pain. She was fearless right until the very end. Kathleen was always wanting one more gathering, song or story. She would never have accepted MAID, because her will to live was so powerful even as she knew she was not going to live.
    I am not saying that her death was any more profound than anyone else's. How she went was her choice, as well as our choice. My mother said the rosary; I sang Danny Boy. That is how we do things in our family. We had one of those great Celtic wakes afterward. There were people there who had never even met my sister, but they all told stories about her. That is the way we do things in the Celtic tradition.
    I have also had friends, who had cancers they could not beat, phone me to say goodbye. MAID allowed them the opportunity to choose, with their family and their community, a dignified way to go. I respect that. It is a very profound choice.
    When Parliament was confronted with the need, because of the Supreme Court ruling, to put a regime in place, we did so and then said that there would be a review. We needed a review because we were going to a place we had never been to as a society. The review would happen after we saw how MAID was working. Was it working as it was supposed to? Were there abuses? Were the rigours that Parliament said had to be put in place not paid attention to?
    Then we had the Quebec Superior Court decision, the Truchon decision. I felt at that time that it was the obligation of the federal government to appeal. I am not going to argue the merits of the Truchon decision, but the obligation of the federal government was to make sure that, if we were to apply this at the national level, we had really done all the due diligence. That was not done.
    The Liberals moved a change to MAID before the review that was supposed to happen. Suddenly, things were already changing from what we had agreed on. Then it went to our colleagues in the Senate. I will never say much that is positive about the Senate, but today I will certainly say how dismal and appalling the attitudes of the senators were.

  (1200)  

    Stan Kutcher, whom I had to sit with on the special committee, showed disrespect and arrogance. Senators, who are not elected, who have no accountability, who do not have to go back to their communities when they are dealing with a suicide crisis like I and other people have to, said that they wanted an arbitrary date to extend MAID to people suffering from mental illness and depression. That was an extraordinarily outrageous and poorly thought out overreach, and it was the job of the Parliament of Canada to simply say, no. All the other provisions of MAID would have stayed in place, but that did not happen. What happened was the Liberals agreed, and then it dawned on them that we were going down a very dangerous road and things had not been thought out.
    There is my colleague from Abbotsford, whom I have sat with on many committees. We probably disagree on a lot in politics, but we share the same integrity of coming to the House to do the right thing, bringing what we can bring to bear. He brought forward legislation to deal with this provision, and it was voted down. Therefore, we are now some 30 days from a profound change in legislation that would change Canada forever, and we are scrambling on a question of life, death and body autonomy. This is not how we should be dealing with these issues.
    I used the words “body autonomy”, because it is one of the profound human rights, the right to control one's body and the right to make a decision, but it is not an absolute right. There are societal factors that go into that right. When people are deeply depressed, when they are suffering mental illness and feel alone, their body autonomy has been compromised as has their ability to make decisions.
    It is really important for us to always remember that nobody dies alone. They may die in grief. They may die in isolation. They may die in the blackest hole of their personal pain, but the impacts of that death affect family, neighbours and people beyond what the poor person who suffered that dark moment could ever understand. If people have ever sat down and worked with people whose loved ones were lost to suicide, they want to say, again and again, “If only they had known how much they were loved.”
    In the northern communities I work in, children as young as 10 years old are giving up and killing themselves. What kind of nation sits back and lets children give up hope at age 10?
    I would have thought that when we had those kinds of suicide crises at Cross Lake, Attawapiskat, Pikangikum, and Wapekeka, and we cannot even mention how many of those communities have suffered, that there would have been a national consensus to look at what we needed to put in place, but that did not happen.
    When I sat on that special committee and heard some of the medical experts say that they were really pleased that the Liberal government had put in place all the steps necessary to help this through, it made me think that we were putting resources in place to push ahead the ability of people, who are severely depressed, to make a decision to die without getting a second opinion from their loved ones, their families or their spouses, even. The government would do that, but it would not put in place the broader supports we need for mental illness.
    This is not a whataboutism issue; this is about the crisis we are facing, with 4,000 suicide deaths a year. The mental health crisis is extreme. In 2016, I brought forward the national palliative care strategy, because it is not applied fairly across the country. When we cannot die in dignity, it is a terrible thing.
    We have talked with doctors and nurses across the country about the palliative care approach. The federal government agreed and said it would put a strategy in place, that it would work with the provinces and territories, yet nothing was done. In 2019, I brought Motion No. 174 on a national suicide prevention plan, which was based on the incredible work that was done in Nunavut. We know that Quebec put a suicide prevention plan in place and cut the suicide rate by 50%.

  (1205)  

    Once one starts to map it out, these factors are not difficult to find, the patterns of where those suicide clusters form, with respect to areas of age and economic crisis. That was part of what the suicide action plan would be. Parliament would provide the resources so we could to start to map out where these crises occurred and put the mental health services in place.
    We need to be doing that as a Parliament instead of scrambling at the eleventh hour to come up with a fix, a temporary fix, another temporary fix on a temporary fix, on a decision that was put forward by a non-elected, unaccountable Senate, which had no backing, no credibility and no support, other than the fact that a couple of arrogant senators, who have never been elected and have no accountability, decided that Parliament would go along with this, and the government put up with that.
    It was an absolute failure of public policy, to unelected senators like Pamela Wallin and Stan Kutcher dictate health policy for people in crisis. We would never allow that for anything else, yet here we are, 30 days from the deadline.
    We have had letters telling us not to do this. Seven out of 10 provinces say to not do this. We had the medical community saying that it had no way to even properly assess and not do this. We have had really profound, thoughtful witnesses come forward to talk about the complexities of the issues of mental illness. Who is one to say whether it is irredeemable? Who is one to say that this suffering is so bad that it warrants death, when there are options?
    We also have the issue of people in increasingly desperate situations, who feel alone. It tells us who we are as a society when we say that it is really too bad that one is homeless. It is really too bad that one is suffering the nightmare of addiction. It is really too bad that there are young people in a northern indigenous community and they have never, ever been able to get proper medical attention. However, if they want to die, we will set up a process.
    MAID was not meant for that. MAID was meant to deal with people who could make the choice, an informed adult choice as they suffered pain that would not go away, with their loved ones and their families.
    I remember when my good friend Liz from Vancouver Island called me. We were good friends. She used to drive me around Vancouver Island in this old Jaguar with wood panelling that she got for $4,000. I kept saying, “Liz, if this car breaks down on the mountains, I'm not going to have to get out to push it to the other side am I?”
     Liz played blues music for me in the car. She talked about the Catholic saints and about queer politics. She was her own person, and she smoked. As she was dying, she called me and said that this was the moment, that she was taking the moment because this was the last one she may have to make that decision. It was a very profound way to go. MAID is for that.
    MAID is not for people who feel they have no hope, without a back-up, without a robust, multidisciplinary team to walk the issues through with them. It is not something they can make a second choice.
    I think of Dr. Valorie Masuda, a palliative care physician, who said to the committee:
    If this special joint committee on MAID recommends proceeding with allowing access to MAID for chronic mental conditions, I would recommend that there be a robust, multidisciplinary review process involving physicians, psychiatrists, social workers and ethicists involved in a patient's MAID application, and that there be a transparent review of MAID cases shared between health authorities and provincial and federal oversight so that we ensure we are not treating social problems with euthanasia.
    Imagine if someone with mental illness and depression were able to get a multidisciplinary team of physicians, psychiatrists, social workers and ethicists, we would not have a mental health crisis. Those people are not there. Those teams are not there.
    The government made a commitment to transfer $4.5 billion for mental health to the provinces to deal with the crisis that is unfolding before us, but it has not done that.

  (1210)  

    Therefore, again, we are in a situation where we are being asked to vote. The bill that the Liberals have brought forward is gutless, because it will punt this down the road for three years, and we will be back at it in three years.
    We had punted it down the road for a year over the fundamental failure of the former attorney general who simply let it pass. However, the Senate made a completely unreasonable, undemocratic and unwise pronouncement that overrode the work of the democratically-elected House, a House whose members, as dismal as we are sometimes, dumbed-down, sloganeering and fighting over the stupidest things, have to go back to our constituents and talk to them. We have had to go the funerals of people who have died from suicide because of depression. We bring that experience into the House.
     We can disagree on the extent of MAID, we can disagree on many things, but we have a democratic right and a duty to do the right thing here. The Senate has no democratic accountability to anyone. Therefore, the fact that we are having to pick up the pieces from its arrogance and the failure of the Liberal government to hold it to account is concerning. We need to reflect on that. I would urge the members in the other chamber to not play games with this.
    On March 17, the deadline changes, the law of Canada changes, and the amount of people who could die without proper support would change. It would change forever the legal framework of Canada. My message to those unelected senators is not to play games with the work we are doing. We are picking up the pieces. We are trying to fix the damage they did, and we need to do so this, because a bigger principle is at stake, the stake of human dignity in a country.
     We have to also extend this conversation to our ongoing failure as a nation on mental health; our ongoing failure to offer young people a better future; and our ongoing failure to recognize that if the weakest people in our society are allowed to kill themselves because there is no hope, then we have failed, and we are failing.
    I would like to think that we can come together across party lines to say that there has to be guardrails that protect the autonomy of the individual, and also places individuals who are in mental crisis and depression within the context of their family, their loved ones and their society. When one dies alone and in darkness, the effects are felt for years and years after.
     Going into some communities after a suicide crisis is like walking into shockwaves of grief that play out for years and years to come, and it takes so much work to come back from that for a community, for a family. Here we are as a society making that decision. Therefore, let us do this right and let us do this with respect for the people who expect us to do the right thing.
    Madam Speaker, as always, I appreciate the member's interventions, his insights and all that he brings to the table. I would agree with the member in that one of the sticking points for me in this process is the fact that the agenda, and this is undeniable, has been driven by the Senate.
    There is a big difference between government legislation and Senate legislation, and we are talking about a Senate amendment. The government has all kinds of resources. It has access to all kinds of experts to consult. It has access to legal experts, it does charter analysis and everything else. However, the Senate side does not have those same resources.
    Therefore, how could the Senate approach this with such a degree of certainty and, in some cases, one might say, a sense of infallibility when it does not really have the resources that the government has? The government, with all those resources, never intended to go ahead. I would like the member's comment on that.
    Madam Speaker, if people are not elected and cannot be fired, it does not just give them a sense of infallibility; it gives them a sense of absolute arrogance, because they can do whatever they want, for better or worse for Canadians.
    I was certainly appalled. I had the honour to sit in for my colleague for Nanaimo—Ladysmith for one of the meetings, and I was super careful asking questions, even for the people with whom I did not agree. I wanted to get this right. However, I felt this sense of lazy arrogance. Senator Kutcher so much as said that they had already agreed they would not hear all the witnesses, that they had already agreed they would just push ahead. The Senate blew this. It did not do the due diligence. Senators were not even interested in hearing the witnesses. We should never have been put in a situation to let that lot make a decision as profound as this.

  (1215)  

    Madam Speaker, that was a passionate speech by the member. He spoke in particular about northern Canada, where maybe the resources are not the same as those Canadians enjoy in metro areas. He also brought up the Senate situation.
    I think we are seeing in the House of Commons these days that we are having issues with the Senate, in particular with Bill C-234, which we have brought back several times here, and the MAID legislation. This is a concern. As the member said, they are not elected. They are appointed. It has caused some strain on families, not only with the MAID legislation but also for the agriculture sectors with Bill C-234.
    I just wanted to point that out and have the member comment on the issues we are having with the Senate. It looks like we could have these issues for a number of years with the Senate, compared to the House of Commons.
    Madam Speaker, we certainly know that the Conservative record on the Senate is pretty dismal too. I mean, they put Mike Duffy, the Come-From-Away senator, in there. Why was that? Was it because he was a hack who raised money for Stephen Harper? Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau can be included in a rogue's gallery of people who are not accountable.
    The issue today is that we now have, as a Parliament, a democratic body, the obligation to fix something very profound. I would love to debate and talk about how we deal with that unelected, unaccountable lot where it seems that, if they flipped pancakes for the Liberal or Conservative parties, they get a job for life. There has to be a better way of running a democracy.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, a few weeks ago, I attended the funeral of a friend's mother who had decided to avail herself of MAID. In her farewell speech to her mother, my friend said the following: Mom, when you told us about your decision, I did not agree because it was going to deprive me of a mother, but I had no choice but to respect your decision, because it was yours to make.
    I thought it was a testament to her generosity of spirit.
    In his speech, the member for Timmins—James Bay talked about respect. Since he is so knowledgeable on the subject, I would like to ask him a question that I did not have the opportunity to ask earlier. Although it is not necessarily the subject we are debating today, I would like to know why he decided to vote against the amendment to allow Quebec to offer advance requests. The purpose of this amendment was to allow the Government of Quebec to proceed with the safeguards we have in place, and this request did not require a specific provision for Quebec in the Criminal Code. The purpose was to ensure that all provinces could use the program if they wanted to. I would like to hear why the member for Timmins—James Bay—
    The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her thoughtful question.
    Parliament needs to put a process in place to examine all these issues. Personally, I think it is an important issue, and members of Parliament need to work together to make the necessary changes to this bill.

[English]

     Uqaqtittiji, the member highlighted the ravages of what colonial systems continue to do to indigenous peoples, but I wanted to ask specifically about Bill C-62 and the amendment that has been inserted about the creation of a joint committee of both houses of Parliament designated for determining eligibility.
    What does the member think about that amendment, which would require discussions on ensuring the eligibility of a person whose sole underlying medical condition is mental illness? Does he think that is an urgent task that needs to happen after Bill C-62 is passed?

  (1220)  

    Madam Speaker, we know that a joint committee was struck, and we heard a lot of testimony, in particular, that the process in place to make this work is not there. We need the legislation to say that the right of someone to die because there are no other options out there for them is not good enough. We need to close this loophole.
    We need a committee to be struck, I think, to examine how MAID is rolling out to make sure that it protects rights. Also, I think we need a conversation about proper mental health services, which are being denied to people across the country.
    Madam Speaker, I acknowledge the member's work with his palliative care motion, which led to my bringing the palliative care bill to Parliament. He may be aware that the five-year review shows an increase in people who have accessed palliative care from 30% to 58%. There is still a long way to go.
    My question for the member has to do with the Truchon decision, which he talked about. I agree that it should have been appealed to the Supreme Court, but the government today can still ask the Supreme Court to weigh in on it. I think that is what the government should do. Does the member agree?
    Madam Speaker, the problem was that the government accepted the decision and changed the law. Now we are dealing with it.
    My message to government is that, from here on in, we cannot be cavalier about this. We cannot just allow unelected bodies, or even a superior court, to make a decision on something so profound. Our duty as parliamentarians is to test the law, check the law and make sure that any changes from here on in are done within a broader framework of rights, dignity and the protection of the vulnerable.
    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his advocacy on this issue.
    I have heard from constituents who have given up hope, who are struggling with the housing crisis and the high cost of living and feel like that they have been legislated into poverty. They are worried about the expansion of MAID and what that means for them and the people they love who are in the same situation.
    I am wondering if the member can talk about the responsibility of successive Liberal and Conservative governments in putting people in this dire situation.
    Madam Speaker, I have spent my career believing in the great hope of Canada and the fundamental goodness of Canada, but as a nation, we are failing people. We are failing people in a time of growing climate uncertainty and international uncertainty. People are afraid. They need to know that what we do in the House brings their concerns forward and tries to put reasonable solutions in place because people cannot be left feeling hopeless and uncertain at this time.
    Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Fundy Royal.
    I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak in the House today in support of Bill C-62, the bill that proposes to extend the temporary exclusion of mental illness as an eligible condition for medical assistance in dying by three years, until March 17, 2027. I will speak today about the importance of a delay before lifting this exclusion to provide more time for the provinces, territories and their health care partners to prepare for this critical juncture in the evolution of medical assistance in dying, which we refer to as MAID in Canada.
    The legal framework for MAID is set out in the federal Criminal Code. However, it is the provinces and territories who have the responsibility for health care delivery, including MAID implementation. We have been working in close collaboration with the provinces and territories to support the safe implementation of MAID since before the original legislation permitting MAID was enacted in the Criminal Code in 2016. This is an important relationship built on the mutual goal of ensuring quality health care for the people of Canada.
     Both the expert panel on MAID and mental illness and the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying emphasized the importance of clear practice standards and consistent implementation of guidelines across the country, training for physicians and nurse practitioners, and case review and oversight to support best practices and trust in the appropriate application of the law.
    Provincial and territorial governments and their stakeholders, such as health care professional organizations, regulatory bodies and practitioners, have been actively planning for eligibility for MAID for persons whose sole medical condition is a mental illness. As has been recognized across the board, critical progress has been made in this regard. However, the provinces and territories face different challenges within their jurisdictions and are at varying stages of work in implementing these key elements and consequently their readiness for the lifting of the exclusion.
    For example, a model practice standard for MAID was developed by an independent task force group made up of clinical, regulatory and legal experts as a resource for physician and nursing regulatory authorities to adopt or adapt in their development or ongoing revision of MAID standards. In addition to the model standard, the task group also released a companion document entitled “Advice to the Profession”.
    Practice standards are developed and adopted by regulatory bodies responsible for ensuring that specific groups of health professionals operate within the highest standard of clinical practice and medical ethics. While some provincial and territorial regulatory bodies have successfully implemented MAID practice standards into their guidance documents for clinicians, others are still in the process of reviewing and updating their existing standards. To support the safe implementation of the MAID framework, health Canada supported the development of a nationally accredited bilingual MAID curriculum to support a standardized approach to care across the country. The Canadian Association of MAiD Assessors and Providers has created and is now delivering a training program that has been recognized and accredited by the appropriate professional bodies.
    The MAID curriculum includes a series of training modules to advise and support clinicians in assessing persons who request MAID, including those with mental illness and complex chronic conditions, or who are impacted by structural vulnerability, as well as help with the practical application of the MAID legislative framework. The curriculum will help achieve a safe and consistent approach to care across Canada and ensure access to high-quality MAID training for health practitioners. So far, more than 1,100 clinicians have registered for the training, which is impressive given the curriculum was just launched in August 2023. This is only a portion of the workforce. More time would allow additional physicians and nurse practitioners to register and participate in the training, and to internalize these learnings and put them into professional practice.

  (1225)  

    Now let me turn to case review and oversight of MAID. In Canada there is a process of self-regulation within the medical and nursing professions. The provincial and territorial regulatory bodies, which I spoke of earlier, have a mandate to protect the public for all health care, and MAID is no exception. In addition to the presence of health professional regulatory bodies, several provinces have implemented formal oversight mechanisms specific to MAID. For example, in Ontario, the Chief Coroner reviews every MAID provision, as does Quebec’s end-of-life commission. Both of these bodies have strict policies regarding the timing and type of information to be reported by clinicians, and the Quebec commission issues annual reports.
     While the provinces with formal MAID oversight processes represent over 90% of all MAID provisions in Canada, other provinces do not have formal MAID quality assurance and oversight processes in place to complement existing complaint-based oversight processes undertaken by professional regulatory bodies. Work is being planned to explore case review and oversight models, and best practices, through a federal-provincial-territorial working group, with a view to supporting consistency across jurisdictions.
    All provinces and territories were united in their request to delay the lifting of the exclusion in order to have more time to prepare their clinicians and health care systems to manage requests where mental illness is the sole underlying condition, and to put the necessary supports in place. Provincial and territorial governments must ensure not only that practitioners are trained to provide MAID safely but also that the necessary supports are available to clinicians and their patients through the assessment process.
    Both the expert panel and the special joint committee on MAID emphasized the importance of interdisciplinary engagement and the knowledge of available resources and treatments. Experts and practitioner communities have also expressed the need for support mechanisms to be in place for providers undertaking assessments and persons who request MAID, irrespective of their eligibility.
    While some jurisdictions have robust coordination services to manage requests and provide ancillary services, other jurisdictions take a decentralized approach, which can result in less coordination across services and disciplines. The availability of necessary support services for both practitioners and patients is also variable, depending on the region. For example, we have heard about the challenges of accessing health care services generally in rural and remote areas of the country. Additional time would allow more work to be done to support patients and clinicians involved in MAID.
    The Liberal government is committed to supporting and protecting Canadians with a mental illness who may be vulnerable, while respecting personal autonomy and choice. The provinces and territories are ultimately responsible for the organization and delivery of MAID and supporting health services. Given their responsibility for how MAID is delivered, moving forward before provinces and territories are ready would not be the responsible course of action.
    We believe that the extension of three years proposed in Bill C-62 would provide the time necessary to work on these important elements for the safe and consistent application of MAID for persons suffering solely from a mental illness.

  (1230)  

    Uqaqtittiji, I think that we all know that indigenous peoples have the fewest mental health resources. A huge part of that is because of Canada's colonial history.
    One of the efforts we have been making is trying to get more indigenous healers and indigenous care workers incorporated into the non-insured health benefit system so they can be paid similarly to professionally or academically certified educated mental health professionals. I wonder whether the member agrees that making sure these workers are being funded as well would be a way of alleviating some of the pressures, and one of the better ways to make sure indigenous peoples are getting the mental health services they need.
    Madam Speaker, I agree with the hon. member that rural and remote communities, including indigenous peoples, have difficulty accessing the quality health care that many of us in urban centres take for granted.
    I also agree with the member that we need to look beyond the formal structure that is currently available in identifying the people with knowledge who can provide health care services. We should see whether we can bring people with the knowledge and expertise in traditional medicine or the various other knowledge systems available around the world into the system, where their knowledge and experience would be available not only to indigenous peoples but to all Canadians.

  (1235)  

    Madam Speaker, I served on the special joint committee on MAID, and the overwhelming evidence from experts, including leading psychiatrists, is that there are fundamental political problems with MAID in cases where mental illness is the sole underlying condition. This includes the difficulty in predicting irremediability and in distinguishing a request that is rational from one motivated by suicidal ideation.
    What evidence can the member cite to indicate that these fundamental political problems will be resolved in three short years?
    Madam Speaker, especially on issues on which highly qualified experts and professionals are giving their opinions, sometimes it may not be possible for everyone in the room to agree on the right answer. That is why the government has invested in consultation. The bill did not come up on its own. It is not just an outcome of the thought process of some bureaucrats sitting in a government building here; it also includes a lot of consultations with Canadians, health care professionals and other experts. Their inputs have also been taken into consideration when formulating the legislation.
    Madam Speaker, a survey released two weeks ago from the Ontario Psychiatric Association indicates that 78% of Ontario's psychiatrists oppose the expansion and do not believe that there are sufficient safeguards.
    Can the hon. member speak to the government's decision not to add additional safeguards, and would he support additional legislative safeguards pursuant to the Criminal Code if in fact we move ahead with this in three years?
    Madam Speaker, the short answer would be what I always say, which is that whenever we bring in legislation that fundamentally affects all Canadians, especially the kind of legislation that has never been thought of during the last 155 years, we need to take a real look at it, modify it and change it if required. I am sure there will be a time in the future when we can have a real look at the whole MAID legislation to see whether we can tweak it to better serve Canadians.
    Madam Speaker, Canadians would be forgiven for thinking they have seen this movie before, because they have. It was only last year that we debated Bill C-39, which provided an extension of the coming into force of this dangerous legislation. Now we are debating Bill C-62, which was introduced two weeks ago thanks to consistent pressure from Conservatives, advocates, experts, organizations and individuals from across the country who want to help individuals live with mental illness, not help them end their lives.
    How did we get here? We got here because we have a justice minister, a Prime Minister and a government that have ignored the science, the legal experts, the courts and the pleas of the most vulnerable. They have ignored Canadians. They have plowed ahead with legislation to expand medical assistance in dying to Canadians who deserve help, Canadians who are suffering from mental illness.
    I do not need to tell the House about some of the shocking headlines we have seen over the last year. Veterans suffering with PTSD are being told by employees of Veterans Affairs that they could consider MAID. Individuals without housing are considering MAID for economic reasons. Individuals, as we heard at our justice committee when we studied Bill C-7, who did not wish to have MAID were consistently pressured to considered it.
    On this side of the aisle, Conservatives have chosen the path of hope rather than harm, and we will continue to do so, but across the way, just this week, we heard a government minister say it is not a matter of if this expansion takes place; it is a matter of when.
    I mentioned ignoring the law. When we were at the justice committee studying Bill C-7, we consistently heard the government say that we have to do this because the courts told us we have to. Nothing could be further from the truth. First of all, there was a court decision, which the government did not appeal. That decision in no way directed the full expansion of accessibility to MAID to those suffering from mental illness. In fact, it was not in the original legislation.
    What happened with Bill C-7, which we studied at justice committee, in no way, shape or form involved expansion of MAID to those suffering from mental illness. However, when the bill got to the unelected Senate, it was amended to include this provision, which we had not even studied. The minister at the time assured us his bill was charter-compliant. The previous justice minister was at committee.
    I am holding today a letter signed by 32 leading experts on the law, professors from faculties of law around the country. The letter says, “We disagree as law professors that providing access to MAID for persons whose sole underlying medical condition is mental illness,” which is what we are talking about today, “is constitutionally required, and that Carter...created or confirmed a constitutional right to suicide, as [the Minister of Justice] has repeatedly stated. Our Supreme Court has never confirmed that there is a broad constitutional right to obtain help with suicide via health-care provider ending-of-life.”
    Those are powerful words. If I had time, I would read the names of the 32 professors who signed the letter. People would recognize many of them. They would certainly recognize the different universities they represent.
    With the letter in hand, I said to the minister of justice, “Minister, you have come here saying that, constitutionally, you have to do this, but these 32 experts are saying you do not. Who is right, you or these experts?". The minister said, “I'm right.”

  (1240)  

    That is the attitude we have seen consistently with the government as it has plowed ahead in spite of the evidence, in spite of the concerns and in spite of the pleas from disability groups, mental health experts and psychiatrists.
    I have a brief from the Society of Canadian Psychiatry, which makes a number of conclusions. I do not have time to read them all, but I want to touch on a couple of the conclusions:
    At this time, it is impossible to predict in any legitimate way that mental illness in individual cases is irremediable. A significant number of individuals receiving MAID for sole mental illness would have improved and recovered.
     This is a finding of the Society of Canadian Psychiatry. I have already spoken about this a bit, but even they can see this. They go on to say:
    The political process leading to the planned expansion of MAID for mental illness has not followed a robust and fulsome process, has not reflected the range of opinions and evidence-based concerns on the issue, and has been selectively guided by expansion activists.
    If that does not send a shiver down one's spine, I do not know what would. When we are talking about Canadians at their most vulnerable place, they should be able to count on us. How many of us participate in, for example, Bell Let's Talk Day every year? We say to people, if they are suffering with mental illness, to reach out, that we are here to help and that they should talk to someone they trust and access mental health support. Now, in spite of all this, we have psychiatrists saying the government is moving in the wrong direction.
    I turn to their recommendations:
    The Board of the Society of Canadian Psychiatry recommends that the planned 2024 MAID for mental illness expansion be paused—
    It's not for a year, not for three years and not for five years, but:
—indefinitely, without qualification and presupposition that such implementation can safely be introduced at any arbitrary pre-determined date.
    What are we led to believe when a government will not listen to legal experts when it comes to the criminal law and will not listen to psychiatrists when it comes to mental illness? It begs the question of who it is listening to and why.
    This is the second time, and Conservatives have warned all along that there would be a dangerous, slippery slope. Canada has leapt ahead of all other nations. Some nations were ahead of the curve on this compared to Canada. Now they look at us and ask what happened that we would even be discussing providing assisted death to someone who comes to Veterans Affairs or to one of the number of hospitals across our country, looking for help, and instead is offered medical assistance in dying.
    I want to set the record straight that the Liberal government has not, in any way, been bound by the courts to expand MAID to those whose sole underlying condition is mental illness. This was a path it chose to take. We need to take this time to reflect on that path, to turn back and to give people hope.
    We all know individuals who have been touched by mental illness in the health care system. We know the wait times can be extraordinary for people to get help. We also know the government has contributed to those wait times. After eight years, people are suffering.
    I would urge members to support this bill and then to look at ways to provide support for those suffering with mental illness, not to offer them assistance in death.
    I move:
    That the question be now put.

  (1245)  

    The motion is in order.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.
    Madam Speaker, I want to follow up on something my colleague pointed out that people in Canada really need to understand.
    Because the federal government failed to challenge the Truchon decision, the legislation came back to the House. Parliament went through it, and it was to be approved in the Senate, yet unaccountable, unelected people in the Senate who did no due diligence decided arbitrarily that they would expand MAID to include people who were desperate, isolated and alone with mental illness. They threw it back to the House without any work being done, and the Liberals accepted it. Now we are scrambling, 30 days away from the deadline.
    I would ask my hon. colleague what it says about the fundamental failings of democracy that unelected, unaccountable people in the Senate, who cannot even be fired, could make such a profound change in legislation that would affect so many lives without any oversight, due to a failure of the government to say they are way over the line, this is not their purview and this is the work that Parliament does.

  (1250)  

    It has happened a couple of times today that members of the Senate have been mentioned or adjectives have been used regarding the Senate. I want to remind members that the House rules say that no member shall use offensive words against either House or any member thereof. Members should be careful with the words they are using and not mention members from the other House directly, because they are not here to defend themselves.
    Madam Speaker, I am very concerned that you are rewriting rules in Parliament. Is the issue that I used the word “unelected”? Is that not parliamentary? Is “unaccountable” not parliamentary? It has been used in the House.
    We need to be very careful with the words we use. We should ensure that we are not causing disorder. The comments being made are on both sides of the House, and I would ask members to please be careful with the words they use.
    The hon. member for Abbotsford.
    On the same point, Madam Speaker, I would ask that you get clarity on this and come back to the House. I do not believe the terms “unelected” and “unaccountable” are offensive. They are appropriate, because they reflect the fact that the Senate is not elected.
    If it is a matter of naming senators, that may be a different issue, but using terms that most of us would acknowledge accurately reflect what the Senate represents is fair, especially in this chamber, where we are supposed to be free to express our thoughts and feelings about the issues of the day.
    I will read part of the ruling that was given in the House not that long ago. House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, has the following, on page 620:
    Although the Chair has been known to show considerable leeway at times in recent years, it is generally understood that disrespectful reflections on Parliament as a whole, or on the House or the Senate individually, are not permitted...and it is out of order to question a Senator’s integrity
    I would again ask members to please be mindful of that.
    Madam Speaker, I would ask you to review the debates today, which I think have been very respectful. You mentioned disorder. Did anyone speaking about unelected or unaccountable senators cause disorder where it was raised?
    You are putting yourself in a discussion where I think there has been very respectful conversation. Talking about the fundamental problem with the other House is germane to the issue at hand. It is why we are here today. It is why this debate has to happen. If we cannot talk about that, then we are not doing our job for Canadians.
    I appreciate the additional input. I will certainly look further into this and get back to the House, if need be.
    Earlier today the hon. member used some adjectives that were not becoming of the language that should be used when it comes to specific senators, so I would ask him and all members to please refrain from doing so.
    Madam Speaker, I listened to our critic for justice. He has done yeoman service on committee and in this place on this subject, and I know it is very dear to him—
    The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay is rising on a point of order.
    Madam Speaker, I asked a question. I think I should be allowed to have an answer, even if I mentioned unelected and unaccountable senators. I should not be denied an answer from my colleague.

  (1255)  

    I apologize for that. I jumped one step there.
    Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague is quite right. The government and the minister have been all too eager to lose. When they had a constitutional responsibility to defend their laws, they did not appeal decisions that would protect vulnerable Canadians, and when the then minister appeared at the justice committee on Bill C-7, which expanded medical assistance in dying, he assured us it was quite constitutional. Then, the next day, he was back, assuring us that without the expansion to those suffering from mental illness, it would be unconstitutional, so this was a minister who was all too eager to lead his government, and the government members did not stand up and push back.
    Now we are in the situation we are in. We have already extended the coming into force for a year, and now we are debating a bill to extend it by three years. That is a clear indication that the government got it wrong, and we are going to do what needs to be done to protect Canadians.
    Madam Speaker, the member in his speech today questioned the government's judgment on a lot of these issues. As a long-standing member of this place, I was hoping he would comment a bit further, because it seems to me that the Liberal government in particular somehow believes that if we create a law that changes the way institutions such as our health care system work, and there are not sufficient practical resources or understanding of those changes in law, it has very real repercussions.
    I fully supported the bill from my colleague from Abbotsford, because I believe this is an issue that we need some finality on.
    Could the member maybe comment on those two items?
    Madam Speaker, my colleague is quite right. With Bill C-7, but for the passage of Bill C-62, the impact would be profound on our health care system, on individuals suffering with mental illness and on the message we send Canadians suffering with mental illness. I can say only that the government has moved forward in this dangerous direction while ignoring at every turn the advice of experts, including, as I quoted extensively, the Society of Canadian Psychiatry, medical experts and legal experts, about the merits of moving forward. It is our job to debate these things, to consider them and to hear from experts. Unfortunately, because the government dropped the ball, it is up to us to pass the legislation before us to protect Canadians suffering with mental illness.
    Madam Speaker, I am glad to be joining debate on Bill C-62. Off the top, I will mention that I will be voting for it. Like the shadow minister for justice on the Conservative side said, this is about protecting the vulnerable. Though the federal government has dropped the ball in this latest iteration of its legislation, these three years, I hope, will be taken to basically fix the mistakes that were made all the way back to Bill C-14. I want to talk a little about what brought us to this moment, and then refer to some constituents of mine who have emailed me over the last few months on the issue of assisted suicide.
    I will also mention that I am sharing my time with the member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon. I am sure he will add more to this debate.
    To go back to the beginning, not too far to the beginning because I could get into Genesis, the Carter decision is what kicked off multiple debates that I have now been a part of. I have now seen this debate go from Bill C-14 to Bill C-7 to Bill C-62, and the attempts by my hon. colleague from Abbotsford, who, I think, tried to do right by vulnerable Canadians all across Canada to make sure that we would not see an expansion of the MAID provisions to those who are still suffering with mental health conditions.
    The great thing about Hansard is that I was able to go all the way back and review what I had said on Bill C-14. I spent quite a bit of time complaining that the reasonably foreseeable clause would be knocked down by a court. It was knocked down by a court in the Truchon decision, because all our deaths are reasonably foreseeable; that is what living is all about. At the time, I had said that all of us who are born are born with one foot in our grave. One is assured one will die; one does not know just what it is, but it is reasonably foreseeable. I am just repeating it now. I know that it is morbid, but it is the truth. A lot of what we are dealing with here are issues of life and death and how one's death will happen. Therefore, at the time, this reasonably foreseeable clause would get knocked down, and it was knocked down in the Truchon decision.
    My issues, just generally, are that, in a perfect world, this would not be necessary because people would not suffer. However, because this world is not perfect, people do suffer. People suffer in deep and different ways. Members know that I had a disabled daughter who passed away a few years ago. Had she lived longer, and I know at least one little girl in Calgary who has lived much longer with the same conditions my daughter had, she would be one of those vulnerable Canadians who would be facing the possibility that her physician, her specialist, might push for and might offer MAID.
    I say “offer MAID”, but it seems so weird to say “offer MAID”, to offer something that I do not consider to be a medical service and to rush one's death sooner. Although we all die, as I said many Parliaments ago, the act of dying is not one that one does alone; it is done as a family, as a group of friends and with those loved ones around.
    It is not something that happens in solitude. There are others who will miss one when one is gone. I know that it is difficult in a moment of suffering and a moment of great pain, or chronic pain, to believe it, to know it. A lot of the emails, the correspondence and the meetings I have had were with people who are worried about the assisted suicide MAID provisions, which the government has ineffectually dealt with through successive pieces of legislation. I think it was a grave error not to appeal the Truchon decision. I really do. I think it was a mistake. I said it to constituents at the time.
    I have a Yiddish proverb, because I always do. They are great proverbs, and everybody should live by them and should know more of them. I just wish I could pronounce them in Yiddish: The truth never dies, but it is made to live as a beggar. This legislation is a beggar. This legislation should have been a permanent fix to the issues.
    I think that Conservatives have suggested, both in committee and outside of committee, what some of those fixes would be. Although I disagree with an acronym, I will use RFND, reasonably foreseeable natural death. It should be limited to those who are terminally ill, where their death is foreseeable within the next six months, where there is a prognosis from a medical professional saying that one will indeed pass away.
    For those most terrible conditions, I am thinking of a lot of cancers. My grandfather passed away from brain cancer in Canada, which brought my family to Canada. His death was very much reasonably foreseeable when it was terminal. There are others who have mental health conditions, which are caused by a physical condition. The mental health condition alone should not be the reason to seek assisted suicide.
    Different Conservatives have mentioned, and I very much agree with this, that patients should be the ones requesting it. These are all things the government could have legislated into law. These are things that experts have said, and I want to read some of what the experts said in different committees.

  (1300)  

    Professor Trudo Lemmens and Mary Shariff persuasively rebutted a bunch of arguments that were made in Truchon. They noted again that reasonably foreseeable natural death applied to “all” persons, “not only to persons with disabilities”. “The judge in Truchon failed to appreciate how such a restriction reflects a constitutional duty to protect the equal value of the lives of all Canadians.”
    I have read the Carter decision twice now. As many in the House know, this is something I take pride in saying that I am not a lawyer. I am not burdened with a legal education. I know the member for Fundy Royal is disappointed and that the member for St. Albert—Edmonton will be disappointed too, so I come to this as a layperson. Even the Carter decision did not say he had a right to die. It goes back to this idea, like I have said, that all of our deaths are reasonably foreseeable. It will happen; it is unavoidable in life.
    These two experts said that the judge in Truchon made a mistake. This concept, this expertise, was then repeated in observations made by 72 disability rights organizations that penned a letter to the then justice minister. They said that reasonably foreseeable natural deaths are the ones where there is terminal illness that is coming up very quickly, and that this idea is an equalizing effect, guaranteeing a common thread among persons accessing MAID, assisted suicide, namely that they are dying within a very short time window. That is how I think this legislation should work. I am not saying there should be no MAID.
    The Carter decision stands as a Supreme Court decision in Canada, so there has to be a provision of it in a method. It should be rare and should be restricted to the very few people for whom it was originally intended. I feel that Bill C-14 to Bill C-7 to the situation we are in today do not address that. That is why we have this legislation that is a beggar. It is not in the original form that it should be. The truth lies in abiding by what Carter decided.
    Another one reads, “From a disability rights perspective, there is a grave concern that, if assisted dying is made available...regardless of whether they are close to death, a social assumption might follow (or be subtly reinforced) that it is better to be dead than to live with a disability.” That is a terrible message to send to persons with disabilities. I am thinking of my daughter, had she lived. That would have been a terrible message to send to her.
    All three of my living kids have a chronic kidney condition. My boys will likely need a kidney transplants. What a terrible thing to tell them, that they are a burden on the medical situation and that maybe they should seek faster death. Is that what specialists are going to tell them when they are adults? I will not be in the room, but they will be in the room. Will that be pushed onto them? For those who are on dialysis, it is hard on their bodies to go three to four days a week to get dialysis in a hospital setting. I am not speaking of peritoneal dialysis that can be done in the home.
    There have been lots of experts. The member for Fundy Royal explained a lot of what has been said on the issue. The government keeps erring in the wrong direction with more expansive legislation to allow more people to access something that was not the original intention of Carter. We should abide by Carter, as I mentioned before.
    I have had constituents write to me. I just want to make sure that I read some of their thoughts into the record. Leanna wrote, “Please Halt the expansion of MAID to include those facing mental illness.” Catherine wrote, “As a parent who has seen my own children experience mental health challenges while in their teen years and early twenties, I am writing to express my deep concern about people with mental illness alone becoming eligible for medical assistance in dying. The move towards this will put countless vulnerable people at risk.”
    Joe, in my riding, is a regular writer. I respond to most of his emails. I will send this to Joe just to make sure he knows I read his emails. His second and third points read, “By offering MAID for mental illness governments may put less money into treating mental illness.... Canadians may wish for MAID because of despair. They have not have been offered treatment for their mental illness.”
    Cameron talked about a friend of his who is a nurse working in a mental health unit in Calgary. Mental health for him is all about seeing the intrinsic value of every human being, as celebrating the person not for what they contribute but for the beauty of their existence. He feels that once we stop seeing the dignity of one person, we will doubt our own worth and validity.
    I know my time is running short, so I will not belabour this. I have heard comments from some members of the House who have tried to impugn a person's faith, religion or philosophical affiliations with whatever beliefs; although, all of us come to the House with our different beliefs. Some of them are sacred. Some of them are secular. It really does not matter where they come from, but all of us try to ascribe value to life, what that life is and what autonomy should be like.
    To those members, I note that I did abstain from one vote that was specifically on advance directives because I have a constituent, Jim, who communicated with me over email that he and his spouse saw the experience of his mother, who passed away from Alzheimer's, and how terrible it was. In situations like that, it is incumbent upon the government to find a way to meet the requirements of the original Carter decision so that Jim and his spouse, when that time comes, can have their wishes met.

  (1305)  

    Mr. Speaker, in issues like this, there is always this tension between the right of the individual and the impacts that individual has on the “culture”, for lack of a better word, and on others in the society when exercising that right. This was brought up by one of the psychiatrists who appeared before the committee when he said that one of the concerns he has with MDSUMC is a possible contagion effect. I do not know if courts would actually consider this because it is so difficult to prove. Anyway, it is just something I think about a lot, and I wonder whether the member has any thoughts on that.
    Mr. Speaker, it is something that I also think about. The member mentioned courts, and sometimes, I feel that these court decisions should apply for six months to the judge who makes them before they apply to the rest of the public. I sometimes wonder, when they think these things through, that it goes back to too much legal information that clouds their judgment at times. This is where I worry that it is exactly that contagion effect. Does it then become permissible, broadly, that suicide and suicidal ideation are the go-to? Is that the type of society we want to, I do not think “encourage” is the right term, but do we want an acceptance of it? We have companies that promote things like Bell Let's Talk. What is the point of doing that when we have MAID provisions being expanded consistently through a series of legislation and court decisions?

  (1310)  

    Mr. Speaker, we have heard from a lot of people in the disability community, advocacy groups, who advocate for persons with disabilities. They have come out very strongly against expanding MAID for people where the sole underlying condition is mental illness. I wonder if the member can speak to that, if he has heard that as well, and also to the concept that it should not be easier to get MAID than it is to access mental health and addiction treatment.
    Mr. Speaker, the member raises a great point. There are a lot of vulnerable, disabled Canadians who have expressed themselves through not only their associations but also as individuals by communicating to their elected representatives that they do not want to see this expansion because they are worried. It comes from their experience when they go into a clinical setting or into a hospital setting, where the law says that because it does not have to be patient-initiated, medical professionals can give up on their patients.
     As someone who has been in a lot of hospitals with my children, both living and those who have passed, I can say that, sometimes, ER doctors and specialist nurses and physicians, who are at the end of their wits and are tired, take on a lot of patients. They have a lot going on and have complex patients with complex needs. It is easy to see how it could lead to a situation where they are maybe not giving the best advice and are looking for a path that requires less care in the long term. That is the worry that a person with a disability has.
     That is the worry every parent has when they have children with a disability. When they are adults, will they be able to advocate for themselves? How will the medical system stream them, and where will it stream them? As a parent, I worry about that.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for sharing his experiences. I am a big fan of the Yiddish proverbs that he says, so maybe he has one he can share in addition to the one he shared already.
    Getting back to the subject at hand, I worry most that there was an amendment put to the legislation that would basically allow for an expansion of medical assistance in dying to persons with mental disorders. The government had a choice where it could just simply say no to that amendment and just leave things as they are until, at the very least, the provinces which run the health care systems, and the mental health professionals could say “we are ready”. Does the member believe that the government really made a mistake and that this does have a bit of “the dog ate my homework” kind of approach to it? The government is simply relegislating over and over and making the same mistake.
    Mr. Speaker, I obviously agree with the member. The dog that ate the government's homework has been fattened up over the last nine years, because it had a lot of homework to eat that the government has not done or pretends not to have done.
    However, we had an opportunity to close the door completely with the bill from the member for Abbotsford, Bill C-314. I think it was a grave mistake of the House not to have voted in favour of it. There would have been no expansion of MAID to those with mental illnesses. The House and future Parliaments could have reviewed the situation and redecided on the matter in five, 10, 15 or 20 years. Then, there would be more data and more people looking at how the system had been used, what the demand was like, and whether there had been advances in the psychiatric and mental health services provided to Canadians. If we do not provide the service at the front end, so that a person could choose to get healing and have the ability to live a fulsome life the way they want to live it, then we cannot really be pushing MAID on the other side as the only path available to those who are vulnerable or suffering from mental illness.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-62 which seeks to delay the expansion of medically assisted death to individuals whose sole condition is a mental illness until March 2027.
    Yesterday, in anticipation of these remarks, I sent an email to about 10,000 constituents, and I heard back from 95 of them on the subject we are debating today, medical assistance in dying, or MAID. I heard from parents who have lost children, as well as those who have suffered from depression and were able to overcome their illness with treatment.
     The majority of respondents agreed with the position I am about to outline, but there were some who did not. Many of those who disagreed with my stance came from Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon's very large and diverse Dutch community. Given its history in, and our connections to, the Netherlands, people in the Dutch community have a deep understanding of this issue. I appreciated hearing their thoughtful comments.
    Among those who disagreed, the most common concerns raised were about access and advance requests for those suffering from dementia. Concerns were also raised about the challenges many Canadians face in accessing mental health supports and treatment, which can leave some feeling hopeless. In fact, it nearly brought me to tears, hearing from constituents who asked, “How dare you try to take away the right for me to access MAID when I am suffering from mental illness?” They did not see a pathway out for the circumstances in their life. That is a horrible position to be in.
    One thing, however, was unanimous: Our health care system is failing to meet the needs of Canadians suffering from mental health challenges. This must be addressed. I am grateful to everyone who took the time to share their thoughts and concerns in a compassionate and respectful way.
    Almost a year ago, I stood before my colleagues in this House and expressed my concerns about the Liberal government's decision to extend medically assisted death to individuals suffering solely from mental illness. I highlighted the stark contradiction between our efforts to promote mental health awareness and services and those to offer death as an option to those struggling with mental health challenges.
    Mental health affects every family in our country, and it pains me to see the government contemplating the provision of death as an option to individuals who are at their lowest point. I shared the heartbreaking story of a member of my community of Abbotsford, who received medically assisted death without her daughters being informed, despite her documented mental health condition. Regrettably, such stories are becoming too common under our existing MAID regime.
    Retired corporal Christine Gauthier, who represented Canada at the Paralympic Games, testified before the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying that she had tried for five years to get a wheelchair ramp installed in her home through Veterans Affairs Canada. Instead, she was offered MAID by a VAC caseworker. A week before her testimony, the Minister of Veterans Affairs confirmed that at least four other veterans had been offered MAID as well.
    Now, after eight years of the Liberal government and with the cost of living soaring, some Canadians are seeking MAID in fear of homelessness. Most recently, a member of my community from the Family Support Institute of BC raised deep concerns about the expansion of MAID. They stated that, even with the current restrictions, our most vulnerable populations are gaining access to MAID without adequate precautions, social services, expertise, professional supports and wraparound social networks to consistently represent their interests and voices.
    Despite our repeated calls to protect the most vulnerable, I believe the Liberal government has failed to act responsibly on this point.
    Around this time last year, instead of cancelling the expansion of MAID for mental illness, the Liberals introduced last-minute legislation to impose a temporary one-year pause. Now, a year later, I am here again to see that the government wants to add another pause of three years to the mental illness expansion, delaying it until March 2027.
    This past fall, the Liberals had an opportunity to get rid of this expansion altogether. In February, my colleague, the hon. member for Abbotsford tabled Bill C-314, which would have cancelled the expansion of MAID to those with mental illness as the sole condition. When the bill came up for a second reading vote in October, most Liberals, along with the Bloc Québécois, defeated it.
    The government is seemingly only choosing to delay the expansion again after the significant backlash it has received from mental health experts, doctors and advocates across Canada. It seems that the government wants to recklessly push aside this issue instead of listening to what Canadians and, indeed, our mental health professionals want.

  (1315)  

    For many years we have heard about the fast expansion of assisted suicide in Europe. Now, Canada has infamously become a global leader with its progressive euthanasia policy. The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia, and it took the country over 14 years to reach 4% of the total population's death from assisted suicide. Other countries with similar policies, such as Switzerland and Belgium, have not even reached the 4% mark. Canada's MAID regime has only been around for six years and has outpaced these countries with euthanasia, accounting for 4% of total deaths in 2022. Health Canada reported that 13,241 Canadians received assisted suicide just in the past year. That is more than a 30% increase from 2021 deaths.
     Belgium allows euthanasia to children of any age. Most recently, the Netherlands expanded its euthanasia policies to include terminally ill children. The Liberals have met with the largest pro-MAID lobbying group, Dying with Dignity, many times. This group is advocating for assisted suicide to be expanded to mature minors. If the government continues to take us down this slippery slope, will it lead us to a path that expands euthanasia to all children? Youth in this country are already falling through the cracks, with suicide being the second leading cause of death for youth and young adults. How can youth struggling with mental illness even think of having a better future if they become eligible for MAID and it is normalized? The Liberals, in my opinion, are inadvertently creating a culture of death.
     Delaying the expansion of MAID for mental illness is not enough. The government must immediately and permanently halt the expansion of MAID to those with mental illness. The reports from the committee echo what Conservatives have been advocating for years, which is that expanding assisted suicide to those suffering from mental illness will lead to the premature death of individuals who could have recovered with proper support and treatment.
    The government is taking an ideological stance, and it is not listening to the experts working in the field. Last year, the country's largest psychiatric teaching hospital, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, said that it is not ready for this expansion and emphasized the need for more mental health resources.
    The chief of the psychiatry department at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, Dr. Sonu Gaind, has said that it is irresponsible for us to provide “death to someone who isn't dying before we ensure that they've had access and opportunity for standard and best care to try to help alleviate their suffering.”
    We cannot overlook the inherent dignity and value of human life, especially when individuals are at their most vulnerable. It is our duty as lawmakers to prioritize the well-being and protection of everyone in Canada, particularly those facing mental health challenges.
     As the member of Parliament for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, I believe in upholding the principles of compassion and support for those struggling with mental illness. Yes, I also acknowledge that we need to do a lot more; efforts to date have not been sufficient, whether in terms of the government response or the societal response.
    Delaying the expansion of MAID for mental illness is not the solution; it merely postpones the inevitable reckoning of the profound ethical and moral implications of such legislation and the broader implications we are faced with here today. Those struggling with their mental health deserve support and treatment, not death. We know that recovery is possible when treatments are more readily available.

  (1320)  

    Mr. Speaker, in his speech, the hon. member mentioned the 31% increase in the number of Canadians using the assistance of this MAID legislation.
    I know this number of a 31% jump, when seen in isolation, is big. However, does the member agree that, because the legislation is fairly new, all the people who had been waiting and suffering for such a long time started utilizing these MAID legislation provisions? Does he agree that, going forward, when these MAID provisions are normalized, the rate of growth he quoted will not be so huge in the future?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Nepean for a very fair question and for some of the points he made.
    Are we simply catching up in Canada as it relates to the availability of MAID? Perhaps in some cases, but under the current legislation, there has to be a foreseeable death.
    I believe that the way information is exchanged, access to MAID, and the access to information that people have, has led to a rapid increase, yes. However, I will also note that there was an individual in my community of Abbotsford who accessed MAID because she did not feel she had a place to live. That story was well documented in Canada. She did not believe that she had the support she needed to live a life that was respectable. I believe that with the normalization of MAID, for people who do not feel they have a lot of hope in life, it has become a more readily available option. My message today is that all people should have hope.

  (1325)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am a little thrown off by my colleague's comments.
    I have a friend who had a second kidney transplant, and complications ensued. She was told to go home, that her days were numbered. She was told that they could not give her any more anti-rejection drugs for her kidney and that her kidney would waste away, and so would she. At that point, in a panic, she asked if she could at least have access to MAID. She was told that she could access it in due course and was told to call to schedule an assessment.
    As if by some miracle, she got an unbelievable break: The transplanted kidney continued to thrive without the anti-rejection drugs, which she had stopped taking. She is still with us today, and she is listening. She did not need MAID. She always said that she was able to be at peace because she knew that she would always have that option, no matter what happened.
    I cannot understand why members are referring to all kinds of nonsense today, using big words like “assisted suicide” and “euthanasia”, when we are not the experts. We are here simply to lay the groundwork so that experts can have their say in due course. That is what happened to my friend.
    I would like to know where our colleague is going with his speeches on euthanizing children. That is horrifying, and I do not understand his point. Can he explain it to me?
    Mr. Speaker, I will try to answer the question in French.
    In this specific case, the person was eligible for MAID.

[English]

    More broadly, with respect to that question, I do not believe that the legislation before us today relates specifically to that issue. That was related to kidneys, and there was a foreseeable death, but, thankfully, that individual did not have to face that situation.
    The legislation we are debating here today relates solely to mental health and a government decision to expand MAID to those suffering from mental health illnesses for three years. The experts who appeared at the joint committee between the House and the other House outlined that we are not ready for that expansion. So, the Conservative Party is in fact listening to the experts and taking the position that we have today.
    The hon. member for Calgary Heritage is rising on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, yesterday was Valentine's Day. I misspoke in the House, and I retract my comment.
    I appreciate that.
    Continuing debate, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth.
    I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak in this House today in support of Bill C-62, particularly after listening to some of the debate this morning and hearing some of the language used in this House today.
    For example, the member for Abbotsford, throughout his speech today continually used the words “the mentally disorded” I believe in reference to people who are suffering from mental illness. A little later in the day, we then heard from the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, who continually referred to people as “addicts” throughout his speech.
    In this House, we are leaders. Our words are important and we should not be furthering the stigmatization of people who suffer mental illness. I would caution my colleagues across the way to be careful in their language and to please not further marginalize people who are already suffering.
    I will turn back to Bill C-62. As the Minister of Health and the Minister of Justice have emphasized, the government believes an extension of three years is necessary to provide individual clinicians as well as provinces and territories the time they need to prepare for this change.
    I also believe a three-year extension of the period of ineligibility to receive MAID on the basis of a mental illness alone is necessary. Although significant progress has been made, more time is needed to ensure the safe assessment and provision of MAID in these circumstances. I have heard from psychiatrists in my riding of Hamilton Mountain who have said these very things. They need more time to get the system ready.
    My remarks today will focus on the progress that has been made in preparing the health care system, and also what more needs to be done.
    In 2021, as required by former Bill C-7, an expert panel examined the issue of permitting MAID where the sole underlying condition is a mental illness. It concluded that the existing legal framework of eligibility criteria and safeguards is sufficient, providing that MAID assessors apply the existing framework appropriately with guidance, through the development of MAID practice standards and specialized training.
    Our government understood the importance of the panel's findings. To that end, we have been working in collaboration with the provinces and territories and other health care partners to implement consistent standards across the country and support a highly trained workforce to undertake these complex assessments.
    For example, we supported the development of a model practice standard for MAID by individuals with clinical, regulatory and legal expertise. A model practice standard for MAID was released in March 2023 and has been adopted, or is in the process of being adopted, by most regulators across the country as a basis for assessment for clinical decision-making. The standard also provides guidance for MAID clinicians as they navigate more complex MAID requests.
    We also supported the development of the first national, fully accredited bilingual MAID curriculum, which was launched in August 2023. The curriculum consists of seven training modules addressing various topics related to the assessment and provision of MAID, including how to do a MAID assessment, how to assess capacity and vulnerability, how to manage complex chronic situations and how to assess requests involving a mental illness. Over 1,100 clinicians have registered for the curriculum since August of last year.
    This progress is the result of leadership and collaboration among health system partners, including federal, provincial and territorial governments, health professional organizations, regulatory bodies, clinicians and organizations like the Canadian Association of MAID Assessors and Providers. This collaboration and progress will continue to make improvements in approaches to safety and quality in assessments and provisions of MAID.
    In terms of the future, I want to briefly speak to the Regulations for the Monitoring of Medical Assistance in Dying, which outline the reporting requirements relating to MAID requests. These regulations came into force in November 2018, but were recently revised to facilitate enhanced data collection and reporting on MAID activity. Most notably, the regulations now allow for the collection of data based on race, indigenous identity and the self-reported presence of a disability, where a person consents to provide this information.

  (1330)  

    The revised regulations came into force on January 1, 2023, and information on MAID activity in 2023 will be released in Health Canada’s annual MAID report this year, in 2024. This information will provide valuable insight into who is requesting and receiving MAID, including those under track 2, whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable.
    Despite all this work, we have heard that the provinces and territories are at various stages of readiness for the lifting of the exclusion of eligibility and that they need more time to prepare their health care systems.
    I know that the suffering caused by a mental illness can be just as severe as that caused by a physical illness, but I strongly believe that this extension is necessary to ensure that MAID can be safely assessed and provided on the basis of a mental illness alone. This extension does not question the capacity of people with mental illness to make health care decisions. It is about giving the health care system more time to adopt or implement some of these key resources to ensure that MAID practitioners are properly equipped to assess these complex requests, and that the provinces and territories have the necessary mechanisms in place to support them.
    For example, both the expert panel that I referred to earlier and the special joint committee on MAID have emphasized the importance of case review and oversight of MAID, both to educate practitioners and to support accountability and public trust in the law. While the majority of cases of MAID, 90%, take place in provinces with formal oversight processes, other provinces do not have formal MAID case review and oversight processes in place beyond those already undertaken by professional regulatory bodies.
    Work is being planned to explore best practices through a federal-provincial-territorial working group, with a view to encouraging more consistent and robust mechanisms across the country.
    The expert panel and the special joint committee also identified engagement with indigenous partners as a priority. The Government of Canada has launched a two-year engagement process on MAID to hear the perspectives of first nations, Inuit and Métis, including urban indigenous people, indigenous people living off-reserve with or without status, indigenous people living with disabilities, and two-spirit, LGBTQQIA+ and gender-diverse indigenous people.
    The proposed extension under Bill C-62 would provide the necessary time to have these discussions with indigenous partners. It is an essential process to appropriately inform implementation as well as guidance and training material for clinicians to support enhanced integration of cultural safety in MAID practices.
    Health Canada will provide its first official update to Parliament on this work in March 2024, just next month.
     In conclusion, the Government of Canada remains committed to ensuring that laws reflect the needs of people in Canada, protect those who may be vulnerable, and support autonomy and freedom of choice. While we have made significant progress in the study of MAID and mental illness, and in the development and dissemination of key resources, we are not yet ready. We need to act prudently and not rush this change without the necessary resources in place.
    This decision is not an easy one, but I want to assure the House that we will continue to work collaboratively with our partners to improve the mental health of Canadians.
    I thank all members for the opportunity to speak today as we debate this important bill.

  (1335)  

    Mr. Speaker, not every person who jumps off the Golden Gate Bridge actually dies, and in fact a study tracked down 29 individuals who survived. Some 98% of jumpers, by the way, do not survive the jump. A study of 29 individuals who survived their jump off the Golden Gate Bridge revealed that every single one of them regretted their decision to jump the moment they jumped.
    I was just wondering if my colleague could reflect on the fact that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to, first of all, say that we cannot equate suicide with medical assistance in dying. They are two completely different issues. Second, I would say that yes, we absolutely need to take the time to make sure we get this right. That is why this legislation is so important. We need these three years to get our medical system up to the level where we can make sure that everyone who is granted the MAID provision truly is someone who has gone through the medical system, has taken all of the medical treatments that are available and has still reached this conclusion.
    We need more time, and that is why we need this legislation.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure of working with the member at the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, and I thank her for the question.
    We have many values in common, but, in this case, she is talking about consultation with various communities. She mentioned continuing the consultation process, but what does she make of Quebec's clear request for legislation and action now?
    Does she realize that this delay and her party's lack of political will will cause women like Sandra Demontigny to continue suffering?

  (1340)  

    Mr. Speaker, I, too, enjoy working with my colleague at the Standing Committee on the Status of Women.
    To be clear, conversations with the Province of Quebec are very important. We need to pass Bill C‑62 now to ensure that we have a program in place. This is not the end. We will keep talking with the Government of Quebec. We will keep learning from the Government of Quebec.
    I very much appreciate my colleague's comments.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we are about 32 days away from a legal deadline that was arbitrarily thrown at us by the unelected, unaccountable Senate, forcing us to allow people who are depressed, people who are isolated and alone, to die through medical assistance in dying. Now my colleagues are saying to give them a couple of years and they will make it all work.
    What I found profoundly disturbing was that my colleague said they would support this. They figure that if they have another year or two, if they can meet just a few more people and just tick all the boxes at consultation, then people who are depressed and alone should be allowed to die. I find that an appalling position of the government. The government put us in this position through its cavalier approach to MAID, and its refusal to look at the issues and hear that this is really not a road we want to go down, that this is a line in the sand with respect to the human community.
    If the member thinks that in three years she will have consulted enough people, but, at the end of the day, she will support people dying because they have no support, then the government has very poor vision and it needs to explain that to the Canadian people.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not think consultation is simply checking boxes. It is extremely important, particularly when we are talking about our vulnerable and about our medical system.
    As I mentioned, I have personally consulted with psychiatrists in Hamilton. These people study and work at some of the best institutions in Canada. They are the experts. They have told me that, while the idea behind MAID for mental illness is a sound one, we are just not ready yet. We need to have all the proper safeguards in place before we move forward with this legislation. I think that is fair and I think it is reasonable.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am rising for the second time this week to speak to this issue. As I said at the beginning of my speech at second reading, I was so interested in this issue that I offered to sit on the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying when it dealt with the question of mental illness. I felt it was my duty to take part in a debate that is so important for our society. This is a crucial and extremely complex social debate. As a legislator, I wanted to learn more about this hot-button public policy issue that is so important to my constituents. Many of them have written to me about this.
     I attended much of the debate on the issue this week, and I was very impressed by the tone. It is true that emotions can sometimes get the better of us, but that is to be expected when we are debating such a crucial matter, a matter of life and death. I must say that I was impressed that the debate was conducted in a respectful manner. That is impressive, and we should adopt that same tone when we discuss the many other issues addressed here in the House.
     I heard arguments that I do not want to call fallacious, because that is a pejorative term and I do not want to criticize anyone, but let us just say that I heard a few contradictions during certain speeches.
     First, someone claimed that we could have simply amended Bill C-62 to include advance requests. I do not think we are ready to make a hasty amendment to open the door to something as complex—if not more—as medical assistance in dying, namely, medical assistance in dying for persons with a mental illness. It took much effort, much debate, much discussion and several committee meetings for us to be able to talk about medical assistance in dying for patients with a mental illness.
     Moreover, the idea that we can move an amendment in committee is wrong, because such an amendment would certainly be ruled out of order, since the scope of the bill is not that broad. The bill deals with a specific question, namely, medical assistance in dying for persons with a mental illness.
     People claim we are taking too much time to debate this issue, that it has already been three years and that we should end the debate. We are not talking about policies like affordability or the need to build housing as quickly as possible. We are talking about something very serious. We really are going beyond the more practical issues, and I think it will take the time it takes because there is no consensus among the experts. If there is no consensus, we cannot force the issue, suddenly demand consensus and insist we move forward because time is running out. The issue of how long it will take to reach a good conclusion is unfortunately not a problem for me.
     As I was saying, this is not simply a technical medical issue, it is a moral and ethical issue for society, certainly.

  (1345)  

     The matter of caution was also raised. Some claim that the government is too cautious, too timid, on this issue, that it is not acting as quickly as people would like, that it has not addressed the issue fast enough or lacks political will. It does in fact lack political will because there are too many uncertainties. In this case, it is not a bad thing to lack political will in order to forge ahead as soon as possible.
     However, on this idea of being too cautious, I would say that this is true even for the Bloc Québécois, because it has accepted the framework we have established. For the moment, we are not implementing this framework. Nevertheless, under the framework, not everyone who requests medical assistance in dying on the grounds of a mental illness will receive it. We are talking about a mere 5% acceptance rate. Even if we went ahead, we would do so with a lot of caution, given the 95% of people who would request medical assistance in dying on those grounds.
    We should then not talk as if caution were not an issue. Caution is an issue, even if we agree to move forward. I would like to ask my colleagues who keep disparaging the government for its caution whether it would be too cautious to require that, in these cases, a psychiatrist be involved in assessing the person's request. Right now, it is not necessary for a psychiatrist to be involved in the assessment. In the Netherlands, where medical assistance in dying is legal, a psychiatrist must give an opinion on the request. There is caution built into the process, but it is not unreasonable. I would say that my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois agree that some caution is required.
     There is also talk about freedom. Some say that this is a matter of freedom, as if they were talking about absolute freedom. It is not a matter of absolute freedom, because 95% of those requesting medical assistance in dying would not have access to it on the grounds of a mental illness. We need to make things clear and add nuance to this debate to avoid giving the impression we are talking about absolute concepts.
     Then they bring up the issue of the Quebec nation. I listened carefully to my friend, the hon. member from Joliette, with whom I enjoyed working on election reform. He is a seasoned parliamentarian who makes excellent speeches in the House. He said that there were many nations in Canada. Indeed, there is the Quebec nation, but there are also indigenous nations. There are indigenous nations within the Quebec nation as well. What I understand is that indigenous nations are not too keen to move this issue forward at this time. They say that they have not been consulted enough. They have concerns about the systemic racism that exists in health care systems across the country. Among other things, they are afraid that not enough thought will be put into processing the requests.
     We should not focus too much on the idea of community when it comes to medical assistance in dying. When people get to that point, when they are on their death bed, I do not think they dwell too much on the community. Each person is a soul facing infinity alone. That is why we should not talk too much about nations when we are discussing medical assistance in dying. It is not a matter of being part of a community. I agree that it is a matter of individual rights. That is where it gets complicated, because we do not want people to suffer.

  (1350)  

    However, we do not want people to do things that have not been assessed with the utmost caution, because it is a matter of life and death.
    I will stop here and await my colleagues' questions.
    Mr. Speaker, first of all, we are not talking about advance directives. That has already been settled. We are talking about advance requests.
    Second of all, in my speech this morning—because this is a reply to the speech I made this morning—I never said that not enough work had been done. The Bloc Québécois's position is that one year is enough and that we will see after one year, immediately after royal assent, whether we can start to work on the mental illness issue.
    The member should have sat on the committee from the get-go. He has been an MP from Quebec since 2015. It is a bit strange for him to be so uninformed on the issue of MAID.
    Since June 2023, the government could have included advance requests in the bill, taking into consideration any recommendation of the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying. We never said that not enough work had been done. We said that the government was dragging its feet when it comes to committee work. The Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying was always convened at the last minute.
    Does the member think that three meetings on an issue such as this were enough?

  (1355)  

    Mr. Speaker, indeed, I should have used the correct term, “advance requests”, instead of “advance directives”.
    It seems to me that, during question period, the leader of the Bloc Québécois was just asking for an amendment to allow advance requests all of a sudden. Regardless of the government's timeline, I do not think the House is really ready to vote on this. Some members of the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying may be.
    However, as I told him earlier, this is not something as straightforward as the Standing Committee on Finance studying a budget. In that case, the members of a given party recommend that all their fellow party members vote in favour of it because they have studied it and the party trusts them. Everyone wants to make the right decision, so this requires a much more thorough debate.
    As the member himself said, Quebec did not put medical assistance in dying due to mental disorders in its legislation. The member said it was because Quebec had not studied it at the time. If Quebec is so sure, it can amend its legislation to include it.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am struck with how, during this debate, we have heard so much technical and bureaucratic language from the government. It masks what is fundamentally an ethical and moral issue, that is, the just way to treat the most vulnerable within our society. This discourse about maybe we are not ready or maybe we will be ready masks the more important underlying question of whether we should ever have the state involved in facilitating the suicide of those with mental health challenges. On this side of the House, we say a firm no, not now, not ever.
    I want to ask the member if he is concerned about the dramatic growth in the rates of those opting for MAID in Canada, opting for it perhaps under pressure or in other circumstances. We have seen, since this practice started in Canada, dramatic increases every single year. Is the member concerned about that, or is he totally fine with this idea of exponential growth in the rates?
    Mr. Speaker, I am concerned about it. I do not know what it means and there is much disagreement as to what it means.
    I would ask a question of the member, which I know he will not have to answer under the rules. Is he okay with track one MAID? A lot of the psychiatrists who went before the committee who were not in favour of MAID for mental disorders were in favour of track one and track two. I would like to know if the member accepts MAID under any circumstance or not at all.
    It is an important ethical and moral decision, I agree, but no one in the House wants people to suffer needlessly, and I think we are all grappling with this on moral and technical grounds. It may not be possible, I cannot say, but we want to separate out suicidal ideation. We want to be able to separate out psychosocial factors as motivating factors for requesting MAID in cases of mental illness, and we are not there yet.
    We want to study treatment fatigue to see, if somebody says they are done and cannot take it anymore, whether we can guide them to another treatment. We have looked at treatment fatigue when it comes to HIV and type 1 diabetes patients, but we have not looked at treatment fatigue when we talk about psychiatric illnesses.
    Mr. Speaker, we know that medical assistance in dying is a deeply personal issue that is very difficult.
    I wonder if my hon. colleague could talk about the fact that we need to base this on principles of personal autonomy, dignity and choice.
    Mr. Speaker, that is a very difficult question.
    We all believe in personal autonomy and choice. However, as I said in my speech two days ago, sometimes I think that is becoming a bit of an ideology, where we do not recognize that, yes, we are individuals with free will and free choice, but we are born into families and communities. We are influenced not only by the opportunities that families and communities afford us, but also by the constraints they impose upon us. In some cases, society imposes more hardship on some than others.
     We do not seem to be able to separate out whether somebody is asking for medical assistance in dying because of the hardships that society has imposed on them, or whether it is really a clear-eyed decision. I am not a psychiatrist. I am not a doctor. I do not approach this with—

  (1400)  

    I hate to shut the hon. member down, but we are out of time.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

[English]

Northern Economic Development

    Mr. Speaker, this year, CanNor celebrates 15 years of supporting job creation and economic growth in the territories.

[Translation]

    Project by project, CanNor's support empowers innovators in our territories.

[English]

    Because of CanNor, 12 indigenous businesswomen in Yukon were able to kick-start or grow their businesses through a microloan program.

[Translation]

    Thanks to CanNor, the Sakku Investments Corporation, an Inuit business, can build homes throughout the year in Nunavut in its modular home plant.

[English]

    Thanks to CanNor, businesses such as ColdAcre Food Systems and Sarah's Harvest were able to expand their operations to improve northern food security.

[Translation]

    Thanks to CanNor, Makerspace YK was able to renovate a commercial space and turn it into a collaboration centre for Northwest Territories entrepreneurs.

[English]

    Thanks to CanNor, community spaces such as the Yukon Theatre, Heart of Riverdale Community Centre and the Pine Lake trail in Haines Junction will receive upgrades for all Yukoners to enjoy.
     The work of CanNor is leaving a lasting legacy in the north, but there is more to do and our government will continue to be there to support northern businesses and innovation.

Kosovo Independence Day

    Mr. Speaker, on February 17, the Republic of Kosovo celebrates its 16th year of independence.
    Kosovo's path to independence was not easy. During its fight for freedom in 1999, tens of thousands of Kosovar Albanians were killed, and tens of thousands more became refugees. Their stories of tragedy and suffering are really hard to hear. However, the Republic of Kosovo has always had a friend in Canada. Canada was one of the first nations to recognize Kosovo's independence in 2008, and Canada welcomed over 7,000 Kosovar refugees into Canada, including my fiancée and her entire family.
    Twenty-five years later, those former refugees have built lives here in Canada. They have enriched Canada with their culture, their hard work and their love of Canada. To all Kosovar Canadians, I say urime Dita e Pavarësisë.

Pacific Economic Development

    Mr. Speaker, PacifiCan plays a vital role in communities across British Columbia. It partnered with New Relationship Trust to work on the B.C. indigenous clean energy initiative and invest $4 million to support indigenous communities, create good and sustainable jobs, and move toward clean and reliable energy.
    This investment is also supporting over 100 projects by providing an additional $140 million in collaboration with various partners. These projects have created over 1,000 jobs and have reduced emissions by more than 400,000 times. This shows the important work that the federal government is doing in B.C. by working with people, indigenous communities and local businesses. Together, we are creating lasting economic benefits while advancing reconciliation and fighting climate change. The role that PacifiCan plays in the economy of British Columbia is important, and it must continue to have our support.

[Translation]

Hooked on School Days

    Mr. Speaker, from February 12 to 16, we celebrate Hooked on School Days. This year marks the event's 20th anniversary.
    As a former school principal, I greatly appreciate the continued efforts by teachers, support staff and everyone else who takes an active part in ensuring young people's academic success.
    I want to pay tribute to the great work done by everyone who is involved in this amazing adventure that we call school.
    I specifically want to highlight an initiative by the Centre de services scolaire des Mille-Îles, which is presenting the third annual Lumina awards. Fourteen members of the education community—teachers, employees, students, parent volunteers or partners—will be recognized through these awards.
    This recognition is one of the many small gestures that celebrate the school system and encourage young people to stay hooked on school.

[English]

Northern Ontario Economic Development

    Mr. Speaker, our government is investing in and strengthening the economic prosperity of today and tomorrow. As a proud northerner and a rural MP, I have travelled and experienced first hand the resilience, innovation and creativity of northern Ontario communities. I have seen innovation and new ways of exploring critical minerals extraction to help fuel our transition to a zero-carbon economy that respects the environment and includes indigenous communities in true partnership.
    Last week, I was in Cobalt with the member for Nipissing—Timiskaming to highlight a historic $5-million investment from FedNor to Electro Battery, a company that will support building over 1.5 million electric vehicles in Ontario.

  (1405)  

[Translation]

    I visited some businesses that we supported, like breweries, restaurants and tourism operators. Their important contribution is helping boost the economies of small towns in northern Ontario, a great place to call home. I want to thank them for sharing their success stories and for contributing to northern Ontario's prosperous future.

Mary Dawson

    Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, I rise today in tribute to former conflict of interest and ethics commissioner Mary Dawson, who passed away on December 24, 2023.

[English]

    Mary Dawson was not just the former ethics commissioner. Her fingerprints are all over very important parts of our history, including the drafting of the Access to Information Act, the Privacy Act, the Canada Health Act, the Official Languages Act, the Competition Act, the Customs Act and the Young Offenders Act.
     She was made a member of the Queen's Counsel in 1978 and became associate chief legislative counsel in the early 1980s. Aside from being the associate deputy minister of justice for nearly two decades, she was particularly proud of her constitutional work, including being the final drafter for the patriation package on the Constitution Act, 1982, and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

[Translation]

    The job of a good conflict of interest and ethics commissioner is to make members of all the parties equally uncomfortable. She did her job well.

[English]

    Mary Dawson was a remarkable person, and Canada has been well served by her contributions.
    Our condolences go out to her family on the passing of a remarkable Canadian, Mary Dawson.

[Translation]

My Main Street Program

    Mr. Speaker, small businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy. The government is committed to making strategic investments through the My Main Street program so that local businesses and communities can thrive.
    A concrete example of the success of this program can be found right here, in my riding of Ottawa—Vanier. The Vanier BIA, which represents 400 members, created the Vanier HUB by transforming a parking lot into a unique artistic space where the community can gather.

[English]

    The Vanier HUB focuses on inclusive and integrated programming that draws arts, culture, sports and community engagement for under-represented communities. The funds allowed the HUB to grow its resources and resulted in more than 10,000 event attendees, creating a significant impact on Vanier businesses.
    The good news is that the Vanier HUB received the Downtown Achievement Award from the International Downtown Association last fall in Chicago. I am proud to share that, very soon, businesses will be able to apply for funding through My Main Street 2.0.

[Translation]

Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions

    Mr. Speaker, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions is increasing the productivity and competitiveness of Quebec businesses.
    Although the Conservatives voted against funding for programs that support Quebec businesses, our government is helping to grow Biodextris, a Vimy-based company advancing innovative drug research; BOSK Bioproducts, a manufacturer of compostable bioproducts; and Cintech agroalimentaire, an accelerator of sustainable development.
    As we know, the future of our economy depends on the growth of our businesses.

[English]

Carbon Tax

    Mr. Speaker, after eight long years of the Liberal-NDP government, Canadians are tired, ticked and overtaxed. The Liberals continue to fight to keep this punitive and ineffective carbon tax, which goes up again on April 1. In reality, they are fighting to keep grocery prices high and biting the hands that feed us. When we tax the farmer who grows the food and we tax the trucker who ships the food, we tax all Canadians who buy the food.
    The cost-of-living crisis is fuelled by the government's overspending and its punitive taxes placed on Canadians, including our seniors who are struggling to make ends meet on their fixed incomes.
     These high grocery prices, taxes and inflation are driving Canadians to food banks in record numbers. The use of food banks in my area alone is up year over year, with one food bank reporting triple the demand since the same time last year.
    Enough is enough. Canadians need relief, and they need it now. Let the farmers farm, let the truckers truck, let the workers work and let Canadians get back on their feet again. It is time to axe the tax, and bring it home.

  (1410)  

[Translation]

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

    Mr. Speaker, did you know that through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, or ACOA, our government has invested more than $2.6 billion in 14,000 projects since 2015?
    Today I want to highlight the support to our francophone and Acadian communities. Over the past year, we have allocated more than $15 million to projects to strengthen the vitality of those communities. Our commitment goes beyond financial support; the ACOA actively participates in initiatives such as promoting francophone immigration, while continuing to promote our communities and helping them grow.
    I am proud of my government for its commitment to the region and its support to our linguistic communities in eastern Canada.

[English]

Liberal Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years, the NDP-Liberal government has lost touch with reality.
     It has an official policy to make energy more expensive. In 45 days, it will be increasing the carbon tax, again. It will keep increasing the carbon tax as long as it clings to power. People are hurting, but the socialist coalition just does not believe what Canadians are telling it. Instead, it lectures Canadians about their moral failings.
    Now those proud socialists have announced a new official policy of building no more roads. They think that Canadians will not need roads once their Soviet-style electric car mandate makes buying a car unaffordable. They think Canadians will not need cars to buy groceries once their plastic-packaging ban makes food unaffordable. They think Canadians will not need food when nobody can afford a home with a kitchen. They think all we need is a tent and a safe supply of heroin.
    The Prime Minister is not worth the cost.

[Translation]

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of this government, the cost of rent has doubled in Canada and tripled in Montreal, which means that Canada has the worst record in the G7. Meanwhile, we are the ones with the most land on which to build. This sad record shows that, in 2022, Canada built less housing than in 1972.
    It is time to implement incentives to increase the construction of housing across Canada. With a view to doing just that, my leader was in Montreal this morning to announce his common-sense housing plan. He is proposing to give federal bonuses to cities, such as Saguenay, Victoriaville or Trois‑Rivières, that are successfully accelerating housing construction and to exempt small municipalities from penalties, while giving them the right to bonuses if they exceed the 15% target.
    Things need to change. After eight years under this government, it is high time we put our common-sense plan into action.

[English]

High-Speed Internet

    Mr. Speaker, in Kitchener—Conestoga, the township of Wellesley ranks as one of the best places to live in Canada. There is a close-knit bond forged among neighbours and a sense of community and meaningful relationships in every aspect of daily life.
    Small and rural townships hold an undeniable charm, encapsulating the essence of tranquility and interconnectedness with nature. With living in a rural community comes the challenge of a different type of connectivity, Internet.
    I am proud of the investments made in Wellesley and throughout Kitchener—Conestoga through the universal broadband fund, delivering high-speed Internet to thousands of Canadians, households and businesses in Kitchener—Conestoga.
    We are on track to meet our goal to help connect 98% of Canadians to high-speed Internet by 2026. We will keep investing to ensure that Canadians have affordable, high-quality and high-speed Internet for work, school, health care and to stay connected with family and friends.
    By bridging this digital divide, we are enabling farmers, small businesses, artists and entrepreneurs to live in communities like Wellesley, with the world as their customers.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are horrified as they witness, in real time, the killing of over 28,000 Palestinians, 67,000 injured and millions displaced.
    This week's attack on Rafah, a refugee camp, is a clear sign that the far-right extremist government of Netanyahu will stop at nothing.
    President Biden, the Prime Minister and other leaders asking the government of Israel to protect civilian life in the face of genocide has become farcical. Canada's latest joint statement in favour of an immediate ceasefire means nothing without concrete action.
     It is time for Canada to cut off the supply of arms to Israel; stop the political legitimization of the Netanyahu government; reinstate funding for UNRWA, the only ones who can do the life-saving work needed; support the UN and UN agencies; and support the establishment of a Palestinian state.
    History will judge us not by our words but by our actions. The government is not on the side of peace and justice, but rather complicity and genocide. It is time to act.

  (1415)  

[Translation]

Inuit of Nunavik

    Mr. Speaker, last month I travelled to Nunavik to discuss the concerns of the people living in the northern part of Abitibi—Baie‑James—Nunavik—Eeyou.
    For a long time, the Inuit of Nunavik have been demanding an official apology from Ottawa. The federal government slaughtered sled dogs in the early 1950s and the community wants compensation. They reached an agreement with Quebec over 10 years ago, so why is it taking so long with the federal government?
    In 2019, the federal government apologized for the dog slaughter that occurred in a Nunavut community and offered them $20 million in compensation. Nunavut received compensation, but Nunavik did not. Why are the two being treated differently?
    The Inuit in Nunavik should, at the very least, be offered the same compensation. Like the residential schools and deportations, this is an event that has marked the lives of Inuit people for generations.
    I call on the government to make an official apology to the Inuit people of Nunavik as soon as possible and provide them with compensation.

[English]

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, the $60-million arrive scam app is just like the Prime Minister after eight years: not worth the cost, not worth the corruption.
    The Auditor General's report and its shocking findings are truly a metaphor for eight years of Liberal mismanagement, incompetence and utter disregard for hard-working Canadians.
    What did Canadians receive for their hard-earned tax dollars? A dysfunctional app that was 750 times over budget, required 177 updates, forced 10,000 people into quarantine by error, caused chaos at our borders and ruined any chance of a tourism recovery in 2022.
    We have now learned from the press that GC Strategies, one of the companies involved in this arrive scam, has received a quarter of a billion from the Liberal government since 2015.
    That is enough. Canadians deserve better. It is time for those scandalous Liberals to step aside and let a Conservative government restore the confidence of the public in its federal government.

Government Programs

    Mr. Speaker, a strong entrepreneurial spirit exists across the Prairies and, from small towns to big cities, there are ample opportunities to continue to grow and diversify our economy that leaves no one behind.
    Our government is making strategic investments to help businesses and communities get their projects off the ground, scale up and share with the world what the Prairies have to offer.
    Whether it is greening our economy by building zero-emission buses at New Flyer Industries in Winnipeg, diversifying the economy of my hometown of Calgary and training workers with the creation of the Aerospace Innovation Hub at the University of Calgary and the expansion of the pilot training program at Mount Royal University, or strengthening nuclear and clean mining supply chains in Saskatchewan, PrairiesCan is there to support the economic powerhouse of the Prairies.

Oral Questions

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party is focusing on its common-sense plan to axe the tax, build the homes, fix the budget and stop the crime. The Prime Minister is not worth the cost or the arrive scam corruption. The RCMP is conducting an investigation. The Auditor General met with the police and said that they will need a court order to obtain all the documents.
    Will the Prime Minister hand over the documents related to the arrive scam app and GC Strategies so that we can get to the truth?
    Mr. Speaker, our colleague is right to highlight the important work of the Auditor General, who tabled a scathing report on Monday. We are grateful for that. Many of her recommendations are already in place. Others will be carried out over the next few weeks.
    As she has said, all this information is transparent and has been shared, including with the RCMP.

  (1420)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, that is not what the Auditor General said. After she exposed the arrive scam with the $60 million in spending that she was able to find, she said that the RCMP, with which she just met about the scandal, will now have to go to court to get a production order to get all of the documents that the Prime Minister is covering up.
    If the Prime Minister really has nothing to hide in the arrive scam affair, then why will he not release the documents to both the police and the parliamentary committees investigating so we can get to the bottom of this scandal?
    Mr. Speaker, after having thanked and lauded the work of the Auditor General, our colleague would certainly not want to pretend that she is not able to do her job. Her integrity and independence are essential to the work of the government. We are grateful for what she does and for what she will be able to continue doing.
    Mr. Speaker, actually, she pointed out that she could not even total up the full cost of the arrive scam app because many of the documents were still hidden from her, either because they had been destroyed by corrupt Liberal government officials or because the Prime Minister is having them hidden. Now the RCMP will have to get a production order to get all of the documents, which the parliamentary committees investigating are being deprived of.
    Once again, I have a simple yes or no question: Will the Prime Minister hand over every single document that refers to the arrive scam or GC Strategies?
    Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition knows very well that the government is collaborating with parliamentary committees and the Office of the Auditor General. The Border Services Agency is doing an internal review, an investigation with respect to many of these matters, and officials have from the very beginning referred, to the RCMP, any and all information they think might be appropriate for the RCMP to investigate.
    The government will always cooperate with these lawful authorities to ensure that they can do the work that Canadians properly expect them to do.
    Mr. Speaker, the arrive scam scandal is so bad that even former NDP leader Tom Mulcair has taken note. He said that with the revelations of the past few days, he has to face the facts: This is the first major Canadian political scandal since the sponsorship scandal, and it is likely to be even bigger.
    Given that the NDP's own former leader is saying this, the Prime Minister is not worth the cost or corruption. Why is the NDP keeping him in power?
    Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House, we thought that this level of exaggeration would be exclusive to the Leader of the Opposition. I cannot speak for Mr. Mulcair.
    What I can tell Canadians is that the government takes these circumstances extraordinarily seriously. We accept the recommendations of the Auditor General. We have at all times worked with parliamentary committees and senior officials to ensure that they have the tools necessary to investigate these matters and, of course, to hold to account those who may have done something inappropriate.

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, speaking of partisanship, yesterday the Minister of Housing unleashed a vicious attack on himself. He said the Liberal government is presiding over what he called a “generational, moral failure”, because so many people cannot find a place to live. There are a record number of 30 different homeless encampments in Halifax alone, his home province, after his Prime Minister doubled housing costs.
    Given that they admit they have caused this moral failure, will they reverse the policies that caused it and start building homes instead of bureaucracy?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind my hon. colleague that on this side of the House we do not insult the mayors of cities in Quebec. We work with the municipalities.
    On this side of the House we actually get real deals done, unlike him, when he was housing minister. We build real housing. We are going to keep working with all Canadians to put a roof over their heads.

  (1425)  

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, the $60 million that was wasted on the ArriveCAN is just the tip of the iceberg.
    We now know that GC Strategies, a company of two guys in a cottage, snagged 140 contracts worth $258 million under the Liberals. Under the Conservatives, these same two crooks snagged nine contracts worth $3.6 million using the company name Coredal. Imagine. Twenty departments were involved and $260 million in IT contracts were awarded to guys who do not even do any IT work.
    Seriously, when will there be a thorough investigation into the awarding of all of these contracts since 2010?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank our colleague for reminding us, albeit rather discreetly, of the very difficult circumstances we experienced just a few years ago during the biggest pandemic since 1919, at a time when millions of jobs and billions of dollars in economic costs were at stake. We had to act quickly and decisively. Those were the operative words for the public service.
    That being said, that is not an excuse. It is unacceptable that public service employees did not do their jobs properly.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are still trying to find excuses when they should be trying to find who is responsible.
    All these contracts need to be investigated, but the CBSA also needs a major cleanup. It boggles the mind that an $80,000 app could turn into a $60-million scandal without anyone raising any flags.
    It boggles the mind that public servants went to dinners and whisky tastings with contractors without their supervisors blinking an eye. This looks like a systemic issue.
    Will the government put the CBSA under administrative supervision? It is long overdue.
    Mr. Speaker, our colleague is completely right. An investigation was and is necessary. That is exactly what the Auditor General has worked on over the last few months. She had access—and rightfully so—to all the necessary information to do her work.
    We are grateful to her for her report. Obviously, we are appalled by what the report says. That is all the more reason to continue to implement her important recommendations.

[English]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, for four months, innocent Palestinians have pleaded for help. Close to 30,000 people, including children, have been killed. In Rafah it is even worse.
    All we hear from the Prime Minister are empty words. He is concerned, but he will not stop arms sales to Israel. He will not help Canadians fleeing Gaza, and he will not reinstate funding to UNRWA. Maybe the minister's parliamentary secretary should say publicly what he has clearly been saying privately, that UNRWA is the only organization that can help people in Gaza.
    When will the Liberals finally act to save Palestinian lives?
    Mr. Speaker, only the NDP would consider that being the first western government to move on humanitarian aid is not enough. Only the NDP would think that adding an additional $40 million to get even more aid to the Palestinians is not enough. Only the NDP would think that our bringing like-minded countries to call for an immediate ceasefire is not enough. We have called for no military action in Rafah, in order to protect 1.8 million civilians. We will take no lessons from the NDP on this.

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, being a parent is hard work. It can be exhausting, and people should not be punished for having a family. However, new parents who are laid off through no fault of their own before, during or after parental leave are denied access to the regular employment insurance benefits they paid for.
    Women still do most of the unpaid caregiving work for Canadian families, so this disproportionately affects them. It is a clear case of gender discrimination. New moms should not have to cannibalize their EI benefits to get maternity leave, and the government should not have to wait for a court order to do the right thing.
    When are the Liberals going to get the job done and end this discrimination against women?
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's advocacy on this important issue. We have spoken about the ongoing work of modernizing our EI system, and the government continues to make progress on this. As my colleague is aware, this particular issue is before the courts, but make no mistake: We are supporting families, parents and women. Let us look at the child benefit, at $10-a-day child care and at all of the improvements we have made to the EI system, making sure that parents have more access to the system.
    We are going to deliver for families and for women. That is what we are here to do and it is exactly what we are going to do.

  (1430)  

[Translation]

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Housing, who was warned that his policies would cause a massive housing shortage, finds himself in hot water once again.
    At the Standing Committee on Finance, he admitted that his $4-billion program, the so-called housing accelerator, is not working. No houses have been built and no apartments have been completed. He says the program will not even lead to future construction.
    Will he follow my common-sense plan that will encourage municipalities to allow more housing?
    Mr. Speaker, I think the housing crisis calls for a co-operative approach. What is the Leader of the Opposition's approach? He insults the mayors of Quebec City, Montreal and throughout Canada.

[English]

    That is not how to engage in a serious housing policy. The accelerator fund that he points to is incenting change at the zoning level municipally. That is critical if we are going to see more supply. It is absolutely vital that we see more supply because that is what underpins the housing crisis in front of us. He is not serious.
    Mr. Speaker, they are working together with municipal politicians to block housing. In fact, the housing minister, when he was immigration minister, was warned his policies would lead to a massive shortage, yet he went ahead with them anyway. He made some incredible admissions yesterday at finance committee. He said, first, that his $4-billion accelerator fund has not completed any homes, and second, “It doesn't actually lead to the construction of specific homes.”
    Why does he not instead follow my common-sense plan to link municipal funding to housing construction so we can build homes and not bureaucracy?
    Mr. Speaker, it is shame; he should follow the proceedings of the finance committee more closely because just a few months ago, officials there testified that his private member's bill, supposedly meant to build more housing, would do exactly the opposite.
    He wants to tax home builders. He wants to cut infrastructure that communities require for housing purposes. His best idea, it would seem, to build more homes is to create some sort of 1-800 number where neighbours can rat on each other if they have concerns around NIMBY. It is not a serious approach. He has never been serious about housing. He is playing games.

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is not worth the cost or the corruption, and his arrive scam app is just like the Liberal government: costly and corrupt.
    Look at the facts: two buddies, a basement office and an IT company that does no IT work yet got a $20-million contract for IT. Now the Auditor General tells us that she cannot track all the costs, saying, “We didn't find records to accurately show how much was spent on what, who did the work, or how and why...decisions were made.”
    Will the Prime Minister order his officials to turn over all the documents, stop blocking this investigation and call for a full RCMP investigation?
    Mr. Speaker, it may surprise my hon. friend, but the government does not actually direct the national police in terms of investigations. We have confidence that the RCMP will take the important responsibility it has seriously and do all of the work that is required. We have complete faith in the RCMP's independence and in its ability to look into all these matters.
    More importantly, the government is also always available to work with parliamentary committees and the Auditor General's Office to ensure that every document is available so this important matter can be resolved.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals voted against calling in the Auditor General in the first place and blocked multiple attempts at committees to get to the truth. While the rest of the country viewed the pandemic as a difficult time full of hardship, the Liberals saw it as an opportunity to enrich their friends. They got caught funnelling a billion dollars to the WE organization. A former Liberal MP got a sole-source contract worth millions from the pandemic. Now we find out that the Liberals' app cost 750 times what it should have, did not work and was not needed.
    The Auditor General says the RCMP is going to have to get a court order to get the documents. Why should it take a warrant for Canadians to find out what the Liberals did with their money?
    Mr. Speaker, it does not take a warrant for Canadians to see that the government has been transparent, both with the Auditor General and with parliamentary committees.
    The facts may bother my friend, but he knows very well that the Auditor General is empowered to do all of this important work. We have accepted the report of the Auditor General. We acted on a number of recommendations before receiving the report because we asked the procurement ombudsperson to look into this matter. We value the importance of respecting taxpayers' money and will always do that.

  (1435)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, where was the minister on November 1, 2022? Here in the House, there was a vote on a request by the official opposition and the member for Carleton, the Conservative leader, for the Auditor General to analyze the arrive scam situation. What did the Liberals do? What did the minister do? They voted against that request.
    Today, we are asking for access to all the documents. Will the minister once again hide under a rug and vote against this, or will he, for once, step up with the dignity we expect from this government and allow the whole truth about the arrive scam scandal to come out?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague stressed the importance of the Auditor General's work, and rightly so.
    The good news is that she tabled a report on Monday with some troubling findings and solid recommendations that we are now implementing or continuing to implement.
    The member says she is hiding under a rug. That is not true. The Auditor General is in contact with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and all the other organizations, including internal ones, that will need the information she was able to gather.
    Mr. Speaker, the good news is that the Auditor General did her job.
    The bad news is that the government did not want her to do her job. Let us imagine what would have happened otherwise. People would just shrug off the fact that ArriveCAN turned out to be a washout, but it would be no big deal. In fact, ArriveCAN is the biggest scandal in Canadian history. That is the reality.
    The original $80,000 contract ultimately ballooned to at least $60 million. Today, the Liberals are feigning outrage and saying we need to launch an investigation. Where were the Liberals on November 1, 2022, when it should have been investigated?
    Mr. Speaker, not only did the Auditor General do her job, she did a very good job. We appreciate the work she did and will draw from it. It will help us continue implementing the measures we need, even in times of crisis when situations are extremely complicated for everyone, including Canadians, and when quick action is essential.
    In these times of crisis, like all other times of crisis, the basic rules of sound management of the public service still hold.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, Quebec's French language commissioner released a report that may shock the immigration minister, but does not surprise anyone in Quebec.
    Temporary immigration is setting French back in Quebec. According to the commissioner, it would cost between $10.5 billion and $13 billion to teach French to all newcomers. Needless to say, that is unsustainable.
    One of the commissioner's recommendations targets the federal government directly. Will the minister finally ensure that every province welcomes asylum seekers instead of contributing to the decline of French?
    Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to point out that we are already transferring $5.2 billion to the Quebec government, partly for French-language instruction.
    I hope the member opposite is not saying that he wants to deport people who do not speak French in Canada. That would be an illegal, immoral and inhumane thing to do.
    We are well aware that more work needs to be done to share the burden that is falling on Quebec. We will continue to do so with the province of Quebec.
    Mr. Speaker, these answers are no longer credible, but that is okay. I will continue.
    Quebec's French language commissioner goes further. He proposes that the federal government ensure that asylum seekers are spread out among the provinces, taking language into account. Ottawa could encourage people who have knowledge of French to stay in Quebec or, as the Bloc Québécois proposes, go to franco-Canadian communities. As far as anglophones are concerned, Ottawa could encourage them to go to an anglophone province. That would make it easier for them to access the labour market and it would reduce the cost of linguistic integration.
    Does the minister not think this is an excellent idea?
    Mr. Speaker, obviously all of our initiatives to send asylum seekers to other provinces need to be done humanely and consensually.
    The language criterion is one of many, but should not be the main criterion. We all need to make an extra effort. The federal government has a role to play; Ontario, Quebec and all the provinces do as well.

  (1440)  

Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, perhaps French is in decline at the federal level because never before have the Liberals appointed so few francophones to decision-making positions.
    Francophones were appointed to only 21% of the key departmental positions that are supposed to be bilingual. That is the worst record since 2015. When Liberal ministers make political appointments, they appoint only unilingual anglophones. No wonder French is disappearing at the federal level.
    Will the Liberal ministers stop setting the example that it is okay to undermine French?
    Mr. Speaker, defending and promoting French is a priority for all Liberal members from both inside and outside Quebec. When making appointments, we did a lot to ensure greater representation of women, under-represented communities and indigenous people, and we did even more to ensure French representation. We will do more to appoint francophones because that is important to us.
    While the Bloc Québécois is pouting, complaining and picking fights, we are doing what we need to do, and that is appointing more francophones.

[English]

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister stated that his arrive scam app would cost taxpayers $80,000, but in fact it is 750 times more, over $60 million and climbing.
    Now, the committee studying this scam has heard evidence of forgery, fraud, obstruction of justice and breach of trust by government officials. The arrive scam is just like the Prime Minister, not worth the cost, not worth the corruption.
    Will the Prime Minister finally stop the cover-up and join us to call on the RCMP to expand the investigation?
    Mr. Speaker, the member is correct to point to the important work of parliamentary committees, which are called to do valuable work to support that of the government in making sure that even in times of crisis, like the pandemic, proper rules are followed, known and monitored by all public servants, including those at the CBSA.
    Mr. Speaker, what a completely insincere answer. It is a fraud on Canadians.
    Since the Prime Minister took office, over $250 million has been given to GC Strategies, two guys working in their basement, $20 million alone for the arrive scam. Criminality is rampant with evidence the committee has recently heard.
    The arrive scam is just like the Prime Minister, not worth the cost, not worth the corruption. Fleeced taxpayers want an honest answer.
    Will the Prime Minister finally call on the RCMP to expand the investigation? Yes or no.
    Mr. Speaker, the member pointed out, again, correctly, the importance of investigations.
    The good news is that there was an investigation by the Auditor General just a few weeks and months ago. There was an important report tabled on Monday with findings that are totally unacceptable, even in the context of the worst pandemic that we have seen in over a century, the worst economic crisis that we have seen since the 1930s.
    The findings are unacceptable, and that is why we are going to keep implementing all the recommendations in the Auditor General's report.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years, this government is not worth the cost or the corruption. It awarded the ArriveCAN contract to GC Strategies, a four-employee company that does not even do IT work, for an app that was supposed to cost $80,000 but, according to the Auditor General, may have cost more than $60 million, or 750 times as much. That is what I call gross incompetence.
    Politically, who is going to take responsibility for this incompetence? Will we ever get back the money lost due to this incompetence?
    Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned the word responsibility. In times of crisis, a responsible government has two responsibilities. First, it must protect people's health and ensure their safety. That included the lives of tens of thousands of Quebeckers and Canadians during the pandemic. Second, it must ensure that transportation, in this case within Canada as well as across-the-border transportation, goes smoothly so that medication and personal protective equipment get through, and so that international trade, worth billions of dollars every week, can continue flowing in an efficient and useful manner.

  (1445)  

[English]

Infrastructure

    Uqaqtittiji, when the Minister of Environment and Climate Change said the government would stop investing in new road infrastructure, he made it very clear that he never considered northern communities.
    Many indigenous communities still lack all-weather roads. In fact, most of the communities in my riding are still using dust roads. For years, they have been calling on the government to invest in road infrastructure.
    I have a simple question. Why is the minister against Nunavut getting their roads paved?
    Mr. Speaker, first of all, I thank the member for what she brings to the House. I know her advocacy on a range of issues matters and does make a difference.
    On this side, Liberal MPs, since 2015, have ensured that this government invests in infrastructure and invests in roads and highways. I will give examples of northern infrastructure investments. We are talking about $10.5 million for the Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway rehabilitation in Northwest Territories, $10.5 million for active transportation projects in Whitehorse and Watson Lake in Yukon, and projects in Nunavut as well.
    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Environment's recent comments that the Liberals have stopped investing in new road infrastructure and that the current system is perfectly adequate to respond to Canadians' needs is anti-northern and anti-indigenous. It is a death knell to isolated communities like Wasagamack, St. Theresa Point and others that have been forced to call states of emergency because climate change has made their ice roads unreliable. Other Liberals have been actively engaged in finding solutions on this front.
    Will the Minister of Environment retract his comments, work with his colleagues and first nations to build the all-weather road access they desperately need?
    Mr. Speaker, we know that infrastructure investment is absolutely vital to economic growth. As part of our infrastructure policy, we are talking about almost 400 road and highway projects that have been invested in at the federal level. That is just one example of a fund that is at work. I have mentioned already northern examples.
    Let me give the example, of course, of the Gordie Howe Bridge, which that side, the Conservatives, opposed. There were $6 billion for Gordie Howe Bridge, and $153 million to enhance the Trans-Canada Highway in Newfoundland to make sure there are improvements there, the twinning of the highway to be specific, and we will continue.

[Translation]

Tourism Industry

    Mr. Speaker, for 70 years, since 1954, the Carnaval de Québec has been delighting thousands of people in the Quebec City region, from throughout Quebec and around the world. It is an opportunity for people of all ages to make new memories and experience a sense of wonder, from the kids who meet the living snowman for the first time and discover his majestic palace, to their grandparents who rediscover him through their eyes.
    It is an event that makes winter more enjoyable, or at least more tolerable, not to mention that it provides major economic benefits.
    Can the Minister of Tourism tell us what our government is doing to ensure the growth of the Carnaval de Québec?
    Mr. Speaker, like the member for Louis-Hébert, our government understands that the economic benefits from the Carnaval de Québec contribute directly to business growth in the region. Unlike the Conservatives, who want to cut programs that fund festivals and refuse to take action against climate change, we are investing $8 million for the tourism experience of the carnival and we are fighting climate change.
    On this side of the House, we want to ensure that the ice castle does not melt and that the Bonhomme Carnaval does not lose his job.

[English]

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's radical environment minister is launching a war on cars. He said that his government had decided to stop investing in new road infrastructure. The radical minister did not clarify his remarks. Rather, he went even further, adding that those Liberals planned to block big projects, for example, the Highway 6 south expansion, which is so critical to the safety of people in my community.
    Why are those Liberals attacking commuters in the GTHA, who are just trying to get to work?
    Mr. Speaker, it is a bit rich to continue to hear the Conservatives talk about road infrastructure in particular, but infrastructure in general, which they continued to cut in their time in office and would do the same if they were back in power.
    In the GTA, and I will give examples, there are $2.3 billion to build the Scarborough subway extension; $1.9 billion to build the Eglinton cross-town west extension; over $2 billion to build the Yonge north subway extension; $4 billion to build the Ontario Line; and there are other examples from the GTA.
     I thank the Liberal members of this caucus for advocating for all of this.

  (1450)  

    Mr. Speaker, the previous Conservative government invested significantly in roads and highways in the GTA, Ontario and Canada, so that non-answer does not cut it.
     Canadians already pay plenty of taxes, sending their money to Ottawa and expecting the government to build roads and infrastructure, yet the Prime Minister and his radical minister would endanger the lives of Hamiltonians by not supporting projects like the Highway 6 south expansion.
    Will the Prime Minister stand up for Canadians and reject his radical environment minister?
    Mr. Speaker, there are almost 3,000 road and bridge projects in Ontario. That is just one example.
    I remember when, in this House of Commons, the government moved forward on talking with Windsor and engaging with Governor Rick Snyder in the state of Michigan. This was done years ago to make sure the Gordie Howe bridge would be a reality, and they were against it. We have put in $6 billion to make sure it is a reality. It is happening, and this government stands by that decision. The Conservatives have let down the people of Windsor.
    I thank the member for Windsor—Tecumseh for being there for his constituents.
    Mr. Speaker, when the Prime Minister appointed a radical activist to be the environment minister, we knew that the Liberal government would be implementing extreme and divisive policies, but this latest Liberal announcement takes the cake. This may be the first time that any government anywhere, at any time, has promised to stop building roads. However, that is exactly what the Liberals have done. This extreme new policy means that the Liberals are against adding more lanes to the Trans-Canada Highway between Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.
    Why do the Liberals want to kill these projects, which will help end gridlock and get people to work?
    Mr. Speaker, that is very interesting. The member should have checked the record. It is stunning. As a B.C. MP, he voted against over $1 million for the 100 Mile House Horse Lake Road Bridge replacement in that province. It is an example of Conservative hypocrisy on the other side. On the one hand, they want to stand for infrastructure investment and support roads. On the other, any time the current government attempts to do that, they vote against it.
    We will continue to work with provinces and municipalities to make that a reality.
    Mr. Speaker, the radical minister made it very clear that the Liberal government will no longer allow funding to go toward building roads, and it is no surprise that a guy who scaled the CN Tower or climbed on top of a premier's roof would come up with an extreme policy such as building no more roads in this country. We need a strong road network to move our goods, to get our kids to school and to get our workers to their jobs.
    When will the Prime Minister condemn this radical policy from his extremist environment minister and stop punishing Canadians, who need to drive their cars to live their lives?
    Mr. Speaker, there are more slogans from the other side. Why is it a slogan? It is because there is no sincerity, and there is no sincerity because Conservatives want to cut funding to cities. They want to cut funding to towns. Every time we put measures on the table to make sure that municipalities are better supported and provinces are there with us, they stand in the way of that.
    I have given examples here today, such as the Gordie Howe bridge in my province. I just gave an example from his province. He has let down his constituents in the approach that he has taken. It is not a serious approach, and it never was.

[Translation]

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, the proposed nuclear waste disposal site at Chalk River is an environmental travesty and a social injustice.
    The Anishinabe communities that are affected by this project are opposed to it, and I am proud that the Bloc Québécois was able to help Chief Lance Haymond express that opposition yesterday. I am proud that we added our voice as representatives of 4.5 million concerned Quebeckers.
    Will the government finally say no to the Chalk River project and ensure that any nuclear waste burial project does not unnecessarily threaten indigenous communities and the people of Quebec?
    Mr. Speaker, the independent Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission approves projects only if they are safe for Canadians and the environment.
    After conducting consultations with indigenous communities and others concerned, Natural Resources Canada plays no role in the commission's decisions. As this matter is subject to judicial review, we are awaiting the outcome of the decision for the process.

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, they would have us believe that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is independent. That is funny, since it is the Governor in Council that appoints the president. That is just an example.
    Burying nuclear waste one kilometre from the Ottawa River is an unnecessary risk to the drinking water of the Anishinabe people and half of Quebeckers. We are talking about one million cubic metres of radioactive waste here. That is not a little compost bin.
    The Montreal metropolitan area is against the Chalk River project. The City of Gatineau is against it. The indigenous communities affected are against it. Environmental groups are against it.
    When will the minister say no to this project that is threatening our health and the environment?
    Mr. Speaker, it is incredible that the Bloc Québécois does not want to recognize the independence of a nuclear safety commission that approves only projects that have been subject to consultation with indigenous communities. Let us be clear, Natural Resources Canada does not have a role in this. Consultations were held.
    The file is subject to judicial review and we are awaiting the results of that decision. In the meantime, we will continue to work together with the community and the indigenous peoples to ensure that the project is viable.

[English]

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, a few months ago, I asked the Minister of Environment why, after three years, Parks Canada has not replaced the federal bridge in Bolsover. The minister, of course, answered in typical Liberal fashion; he promised to get back to the House but never actually did. Now we know why.
    News broke earlier this week that the Liberals have decided to stop funding new roads and bridges. Just like that, Parks Canada quietly confirms that the bridge will not be replaced.
    Leaving this village permanently cut in half is absolutely unacceptable. When will the minister get his head out of the clouds, do his job and get the bridge fixed?
    Mr. Speaker, I know that member, and I have known him for many years, to be someone who brings a non-partisan approach. However, such is the approach of the Leader of the Opposition that even someone like him has taken a decidedly partisan approach to such critical issues.
    What do we see? Nearly 3,000 road and bridge projects, at $2.1 billion, have been funded by the current government, but the Conservatives have supported none of it. I just mentioned the Ontario example of the Gordie Howe International Bridge, since they are talking about building bridges. We will continue to do whatever we can to support communities, large and small, throughout this province and the country.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, this Prime Minister's radical Minister of Environment has declared open war on vehicles. He said that their government decided to no longer invest in new highway infrastructure. He did not clarify that statement. He went even further by adding that the Liberal government is going to block big projects. The radical environment minister is going to block big projects like the third link between Quebec City and Lévis.
    Why is the Liberal government attacking workers in Quebec City and Lévis who are trying to go to work?
    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows very well that, since the beginning of its mandate, our government has invested billions of dollars in highway infrastructure projects across Quebec and Canada.
    We will continue to do so, as we did in Kamouraska, for example, with Highway 185 and as we will surely do with other projects in his riding that he will surely vote against.
    Mr. Speaker, when was the last time that the muzzled radical minister travelled through the Lévis-Quebec City area without his limousine? Building a third link is a necessity, not a luxury.
    Quebeckers in remote areas pay taxes and send their money to Ottawa, which is supposed to build roads and reliable infrastructure for them too.
    Will the Prime Minister stand up for the interests of Quebeckers and remote regions, instead of going along with the foolishness of his radical environment minister, who is anti-third link ?
     Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    I would ask all members to keep quiet when it is not their turn to speak. I am referring specifically to the member for Alfred-Pellan.
    The hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, that member knows full well that our government has invested billions of dollars in infrastructure and highway projects in Quebec, as it has elsewhere in Canada.
    We are the second-largest country in the world. It comes as no surprise to us that we need to invest in building better roads for the public, for trade and for everyone.
    However, that member consistently votes against our highway investments. He systematically votes against everything the government does for Quebec. He should stand up and admit it.

[English]

Small Business

    Mr. Speaker, I wish a happy Black History Month to residents in my riding of Vancouver Centre. I want to highlight their contributions to economic development and job creation in B.C. I also want to give a shout-out to the Black Business Association of BC, an umbrella organization for small businesses that works to help Black entrepreneurs thrive and expand despite the systemic barriers they still face.
    Can the Minister of Small Business tell us how our government helps Black entrepreneurs to overcome these barriers and succeed in Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, we know that building a more inclusive economy means building a stronger economy. That is why our government has created the first-ever Black entrepreneurship program. This historic $265-million investment has supported over 9,000 Black entrepreneurs across this country and strengthens the ecosystem that supports them. It is disappointing that the Leader of the Opposition and the Conservatives have voted against the support and turned their backs on Black small business entrepreneurs.
    On this side of the House, we will keep being there for Black entrepreneurs, as the member for Vancouver Centre is.
    Happy Black History Month.

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister easily found $60 million for his ArriveCAN app, but he still wants to quadruple the carbon tax on gas, groceries and home heating. While the typical Canadian family will pay $700 more to put food on the table this year, the Prime Minister is raising the carbon tax by 23% on April 1.
    After eight years of the Liberal-NDP government, more and more Canadians are struggling to make ends meet and pay for food, heat and housing. The Prime Minister is not worth the tax or the cost.
    Will the Prime Minister give Canadians some relief and axe the tax?
    Mr. Speaker, unlike the Conservatives, who want to take money away from Canadians, we are putting money back in the pockets of Canadians through rebates.
    I have a question for my hon. friend: Will he cut the $1,100 for Ontario families? How about the $1,800 for Alberta families? How about the $1,200 that Manitoba families are going to get back?
    He wants to deny climate change. He wants to cut rebates for Canadians. That does not sound like common sense to me.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's NDP-Liberal friends got rich turning the arrive scam app into a $60-million grift for an $80,000 app. If hurting taxpayers for the personal gain of Liberals was not enough, now the Prime Minister is going to increase the cost of everything on April 1 when he increases the carbon tax by 23%.
    Nova Scotians will pay $2,100 more than they get back for this carbon tax. After eight years, the Prime Minister is not worth the cost.
    When will the Liberals stop hurting Canadians and axe the carbon tax?
    Mr. Speaker, let us focus on what Canadians are actually getting back. In 2023-24, Ontario received $976; Alberta, $1,500; Saskatchewan, $1,300; Manitoba, $1,000; Newfoundland, $900; Nova Scotia, $700; P.E.I., $700; and New Brunswick, $500.
    These are rebates and the Conservatives want—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order.
    The hon. President of the Treasury Board.
    Mr. Speaker, it does not make sense. It is not common sense to deny climate change and to cut money from Canadian families.

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years under the Liberal Prime Minister, costs are up. Already, a typical family of four will pay $700 more in groceries in 2024 compared with last year. I have talked to moms who are skipping meals, simply so they can feed their children; however, for this extremist NDP-Liberal coalition, this is not enough. It is going to continue punishing Canadians, raising the carbon tax on April 1.
    The question is simple: Will it do the right thing and axe the tax?
    Mr. Speaker, we will do the right thing. We will continue to fight climate change and make sure that Albertans have more money in their pockets than they are paying in the carbon pricing, with $1,800 to a family of four and, if one gets the 20% rural top-up, $2,160.
    Let us dial that back. It will be $450 every three months into the—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order.
    I stood up a couple of times because I had difficulty hearing the answers from the hon. members. I am going to ask hon. members to hold their comments back until they are asking a question.
    The hon. minister has 12 seconds, if he chooses.
    Mr. Speaker, I choose to use the 12 seconds, because Albertans need to know that falsehoods from the Conservatives do not pay the bills. The Canada carbon rebate helps. That is why we put it in place.

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, strong, vibrant communities are good for everyone. In my riding, Maxxmar Window Fashions, led by Norbert Marocco, has been operating since 2007 and continues to help make ridings like mine and Canada a better place to live, work and raise a family.
    A key ingredient for any successful business, of course, is drive and a determination to grow and keep building on past successes. Anyone who has met Norbert knows that his business has that in spades.
    Can the Minister of International Trade share with the House how our government is supporting businesses that want to grow and expand their businesses to new markets?
    Mr. Speaker, Canada is a trading nation, and our businesses create great jobs for our workers. While the Conservatives voted against the trade agreement with Ukraine, we will keep helping businesses grow with confidence.
    What a success story this is of a Canadian company selling internationally. Our government is making those investments to open doors and, in this case, open blinds.
    On this side of the House, I am proud to work with the member for Humber River—Black Creek. I want to thank her for her incredible leadership as the chair of the trade committee, and I hope this business is going to consider exporting to Ukraine.

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, a new report on rent prices across Canada confirms what Canadians already know: Rent prices are skyrocketing while real estate CEOs are making record profits.
    Which city had rental prices go up the fastest? It is my home city of Edmonton. That is because the Liberals are leaving it up to Danielle Smith and corporate developers, who are failing to build homes that people can actually afford.
    When will the government act to lower rents so people in Edmonton have a place to call home?
    Mr. Speaker, $470 million is the amount the federal government has allocated through, among other things, the Canada housing benefit, which was recently topped up.
    We will continue to support Canadians going through a difficult time and make sure that we are working with different orders of government to ensure that the outcome is a real, lasting and meaningful one for Canadians who are challenged right now.
    I would also point to other measures that we are taking to ensure more homes are being built, for example, lifting the GST off purpose-built rentals and making sure low-interest loans are available to builders. That is how we get more supply in the market.

Climate Change

    Mr. Speaker, on Monday, February 26, the 13th ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization will open in Abu Dhabi. Amazingly, just eight weeks ago, that same country closed on an ambitious climate agenda from COP28, referred to as the United Arab Emirates consensus.
    Will the government use that synchronicity, get in there and make sure that the 13th trade ministerial is a climate ministerial that makes the WTO back off from the climate deals and let us do the work to deliver on our Paris commitments?

  (1510)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for her advocacy, particularly on the environment.
    Canada is a trading nation and later this month I will be representing Canada at the World Trade Organization ministerial. As a trading nation, our businesses, investors and workers depend on a rules-based trading system with the World Trade Organization at its core. While there I will continue to always fight for climate change while we grow the economy and create great green jobs.
    I look forward to making sure that Canada continues to do the work of fighting climate change.

[Translation]

    The hon. member for La Prairie on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, in response to a question from my colleague from Lac-Saint-Jean, the Minister of Immigration said that the Bloc Québécois wanted to deport immigrants in Canada.
    We are all parliamentarians. We know that words have meaning. When we talk about deportation, we are talking about crimes against humanity. When we talk about deportation in Canada, we always think of the deportation of the Acadians.
     Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
     Mr. Alain Therrien: I am sorry, but this is important. People need to understand that the person who has the floor must be respected.
    I call on the minister to withdraw his comments and apologize.
    I listened carefully to the point of order raised by the hon. member for La Prairie. It seems to me that this is more a matter of debate, which is acceptable here in the House.
    The hon. member for La Prairie.
    Mr. Speaker, the member for Salaberry—Suroît raised a point of order on February 1 regarding the fact that the Minister of Immigration had accused the leader of the Bloc Québécois of comparing immigrants to heat pumps.
    We asked the Speaker to insist that he apologize. We have heard nothing since. I would like to know when the Minister of Immigration will be called to order and asked to apologize for all the nonsense he says in Parliament.
    The request was made to the Chair, and the person who was in the chair at the time said that they would come back to the House if necessary.
    The Chair has looked into the issue, and it is also a matter of debate.
    The hon. member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup is rising on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, earlier the government House leader said in his answer that Highway 185 was in Kamouraska. Let me correct him: It is in Témiscouata. The project was approved by the former Conservative government.
    I appreciate the clarification, but it is a matter of debate.

Business of the House

[Business of the House]
    Mr. Speaker, after what was undoubtedly a difficult week for the government, one could say that the upcoming one is very timely for government members.
    In the meantime, however, we still have one sitting of the House to go. I would like to ask the government House leader to tell us what business is planned for tomorrow and for when we return from what I hope will be a relaxing break week for the government.
    Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that nothing is scarier than driving down Conservative highways, whether it is in Kamouraska or Témiscouata. Conservatives vote against highway infrastructure and refuse to fund them.

[English]

    Later today, we will be voting on third reading of Bill C-62, medical assistance in dying.
    Tomorrow, we will resume debate on the motion respecting the Senate amendment to Bill C-35, the early learning and child care legislation.

[Translation]

    Next week is a constituency week during which the House is adjourned. We will, of course, be in our ridings to serve our constituents.
    Upon our return, the agenda will include Bill C‑58, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code and the Canada Industrial Relations Board regulations, 2012, which deals with replacement workers. On Wednesday, we will continue debate on Bill C‑61, an act respecting water, source water, drinking water, wastewater and related infrastructure on first nation lands. Finally, Tuesday and Thursday will be allotted days.
    I thank the members for their attention and wish them a good week in their ridings.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

  (1515)  

[English]

Criminal Code

     The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-62, An Act to amend An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), No. 2, be read the third time and passed, and of the motion that the question be now put.
    Mr. Speaker, I note that I will be splitting my time with my friend and colleague from Langley—Aldergrove.
    It is the responsibility of parliamentarians, in certain circumstances, to make decisions that have to do with life or death, and that is where we find ourselves today. In the context of most of parliamentary history, not only here in Canada but in other parliaments around the world, it has to do with times of war and conflict, but today it is unique as we discuss the context of determining the status of what has come to be referred to as medical assistance in dying. It is an incredibly delicate issue that has brought forward a huge range of emotions and opinions from across the country and from across the political spectrum. Certainly, it is something that requires thoughtfulness when being addressed.
    However, I do want very specifically to address something that has been very concerning to me in this discussion, and I will get to the substance of Bill C-62 in a moment. It has been brought forward and demanded by other political parties in this place that members' faiths and the values on which we build our moral system should not be included in this discussion, that somehow as parliamentarians we should separate those things from the discussion.
    I would assert to members today, on behalf of many of my constituents who have reached out to me on this matter, many of whom agree with me and some of whom do not, that the basis of our moral system, whether that be mine as a Christian or other people's of Muslim, Jewish or other faiths or no faith at all, or whether it be the experience that one lives, plays a role in our ability as parliamentarians and as a society to make decisions.
    As such, my message to this House and all Canadians watching is that we should never try to remove our faiths and our value systems from the conversation. Rather, they should be a part of it, thoughtfully, of course, and that certainly is the case when we are discussing something as important as medical assistance in dying.
    Let us take a step back. What does Bill C-62 mean? It is a delay on the coming into force of an aspect of the medical assistance in dying regime. All parties, at different points in time, although that is certainly not the status of this debate today, have said there is tremendous concern about the widespread expansion of a system that could put Canada's most vulnerable at risk, and certainly that is something that should force all of us to take pause.
    It has been asserted very clearly by me and many of my colleagues that this has simply gone too far when the regime that we are talking about is truly putting Canada's most vulnerable at risk, but the specifics of the bill today would bring a needed pause. My assertion, as when I voted in favour of the bill from my colleague from Abbotsford, would be that we should remove the provisions of medical assistance in dying that could very well lead to what we hear examples of. This is not simply an allegation. We hear very clear examples of that, and I will get into some local examples in a moment, but we have to ensure that we protect the most vulnerable.
    That is why I will be supporting putting a pause on this expansion of MAID, but I believe we need to go much further than that, and I will get into a few of my reasons in a moment.
    It was brought to my attention, and as a Christian taking seriously God's word, the Bible, I would reference a Bible verse in my debate here today. It is 1 Peter 4:10. It says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s...grace”. The reason I bring that forward today is that I think it provides important context for something that is truly foundational in how we look at the world, and that is the idea of the value and dignity of life and one's life.

  (1520)  

     I heard recently from a constituent, a woman, who shared a heartbreaking story about her son. He was in a mental health hospital after being found inches away from taking his own life. He reached out at the last moment, asked his parents for help and expressed that while the different things he was facing were incredibly complex, he did not want to die. As a result, the family was able to advocate for him, to work diligently to help support this young man and to ensure that he could get the help he required.
    We were told in the beginning that there was no such thing as a “slippery slope”, but we have seen it, over the last eight years, since the Liberals first brought it forward, when Jody Wilson-Raybould was the then minister of justice and attorney general. There were warnings at committee and warnings in the various court decisions that led us to this point that we had to be very aware of the slippery slope. We are seeing that here today.
    What I find very tragic, as in a story that I referenced from a constituent, and I will not get into the specifics to ensure that their identity is protected, is that we hear this tragic story where intervention was at least possible. This constituent reached out and said that had there been mechanisms in place that would have even suggested that it was possible, they feared what the outcome would have been and that they would have lost their son. We also hear numerous examples of how addiction is stealing life away from individuals. Instead of ensuring that there is hope and opportunity, they are not given the dignity of getting better. The potential of getting better is so very important in this discussion.
    I compliment my colleague, the member for Cariboo—Prince George on the 988 number. It was a tragic irony that it took longer for the government to set up the 988 Suicide Crisis Helpline than it did for the government to bring forward what was the first one-year extension in the expansion of the medical assistance in dying regime.
    Before us, we have a delay. When it comes to the heart of the matter, we need to stand up for the life and the dignity of all Canadians. I understand how we need to be thoughtful in how we engage in this subject, because it is deeply personal, and everybody can point to different stories. However, we have to protect life, to offer life, to not lose hope and to ensure that death does not become a part of health care.
    We have heard tragic examples of veterans being offered medical assistance in dying instead of mental health supports and of Canadians who are hungry, having to battle through difficult economic times, and having to pursue some of these things. I referenced the committee a number of times. To those who might be watching and listening, some of the stories are of those who shared, very honestly, how their lives would have been put at risk had there been mechanisms in place that did not have safeguards and that did not prioritize the need for life and offer that hope.
    I started my speech by talking about how, as parliamentarians, we are sometimes tasked with making decisions that are literally life and death, and this is one of them. My submission to this place, and to all members, is that we need to ensure we always prioritize life.
    If we fail in that duty, I shudder to think what the long-term implications of that would be for our society. That would be absolutely devastating for lives that could be lost through a regime that does not prioritize dignity and ensure, whether it is for mental health, for disability or for others who are facing vulnerabilities in moments or longer stages of their life, that Canadians are given every opportunity to choose life and that the government does not facilitate death.

  (1525)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague's tone was measured. I think there is space to reflect. People can start from a premise, any premise he wants.
    However, when I listen to him, it is as though he is saying that all mental disorders are reversible and remediable, whereas all the experts, whether they are for or against MAID, are of the opinion that irremediability is a sticking point. However, they do not dispute that there are people who will suffer for decades.
    I have the same priorities as my colleague, namely doing good, showing compassion and honouring the importance of life and quality of life. The question I have for my colleague is what is his solution?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, certainly, there is a wide range of what could be considered mental illness, or psychological disorders or neurological disorders that, in some cases, are terminal.
    We need to be so very careful. I am concerned about the direction the government has pursued and I am concerned about some of the other conversations that have taken place in relation to this, because we are not prioritizing the ability and the hope in so many circumstances. There is the opportunity to get better and to provide a dignified quality of life that would allow people to truly live their best life no matter what the circumstance. We need to prioritize life, as opposed to a circumstance where those who could get better are not given that opportunity.
    Mr. Speaker, it is very clear that there is a class, racial and geographic aspect to being able to access mental health services. We have a problem for people in rural and remote communities. We have a problem in indigenous communities. We also have a problem for those who cannot pay for their services.
    As a way of also attacking this problem, would the member support making mental health services fully a part of the Canada health care plan?
    Mr. Speaker, as a rural member of Parliament, I have long fought for, and will continue to fight for, ensuring that rural Canada has access to the mental health services that it needs, whether that is east central Alberta, which I am proud to represent, or rural and remote communities across Canada or in our north.
    From my early days in the nomination to become the Conservative candidate prior to the 2019 election, I have long said that mental health is, in fact, health. That is why I was so proud to stand in support of, and continued to call for, the 988 suicide help line. That is why, in the last election, I was proud to support a platform that had significant mental health investments.
    The idea that mental health is health is that basis of ensuring that every Canadian has dignity and every opportunity to succeed, and the chance to get better. We cannot forget that there is always hope.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the shout-out. I will remind the House that it was not just me who did this; it was a team effort. We all chipped in to bring 988 to Canada.
    Throughout our committee work on MAID, we found that countries that offered psychiatric medical assistance in dying had an almost a 2:1, where women applied for MAID more than men. More women are seeking MAID than men. That is troubling. I wonder if my colleague thinks this as well.
    Should we not be looking at a national strategy for suicide prevention, rather than going down this road of offering medical assistance in death, medical assistance in suicide? We should be doing everything possible to help those rather than help them end their lives.

  (1530)  

    Mr. Speaker, there is a lot to unpack there. I appreciate the question. Certainly, it speaks to how, in so many circumstances, whether it be women, people of colour or those who are in a lower socio-economic bracket, they are often the ones who end up being, in some cases, encouraged to pursue things like medical assistance in dying. There needs to be dignity given to the value of their lives just as much as any other Canadian. I find it so troubling that we seem to not be acknowledging those facts and that we are putting the most vulnerable in our country at risk of the most final decision that could possibly be imagined, and that is death. We need to always prioritize life and treatment above that of death.
    Mr. Speaker, today we are talking about Bill C-62, a bill necessitated by the Liberal government's total mismanagement of the medical assistance in dying, or MAID, regime.
    The first example of the mismanagement is the government's failure to appeal a lower court decision that mandated Parliament to expand MAID beyond what it was initially intended to be. This lower trial court ordered that Parliament delete the reasonable foreseeability of natural death requirement for applicants of MAID. The Supreme Court of Canada should have been asked to weigh in on this very important topic, particularly since the law that was being challenged had, just a few years ago, been written by this Parliament in response to a Supreme Court of Canada decision, the Carter decision, which started this whole conversation.
    The second example of Liberal incompetence was that they accepted the reckless addition by the Senate of mental illness as a sole underlying condition for MAID qualification. It is clear from expert testimony that there is no consensus in the medical or the psychiatric fields of what “irremediable” means when it comes to mental illness. However, it was certainly clear a year ago when a similar bill, Bill C-39, was before the House for debate to extend the deadline for one year. Here we are at the end of that one-year period seeking another extension, and it is even truer today that there is no consensus, which is why we are here today debating what is now going to be a three-year extension.
    Bill C-62would extend, by three years, the deadline for expanding MAID to include people whose only underlying health condition is a mental illness. Now, just like we supported the one-year extension a year ago, we will support this three-year extension, because it is better than the alternative, which would be a disaster for Canada.
    I would note that this three-year extension brings us beyond the next election, which must happen within a year and a half. We are feeling pretty confident on this side of the House, as are many Canadians across the country, that the next government will be a Conservative government led by our current leader, the member for Carleton, and he is on record as saying that this three-year extension will become a forever extension. In the meantime, until that happy day arrives, Canadians are going to have to continue living with the uncertainty around the Liberal government's mismanagement of the file.
    The uncertainty and confusion around our current MAID regime is exemplified in this example, which is a story coming out of St. Catharines about 15 months ago. A reporter interviewed a middle-aged man who was in the process of applying for MAID. The reporter quoted this man as saying “I don't want to die but I don't want to be homeless more than I don't want to die.”
     Here is the backstory. This man had already qualified for MAID by the first assessor, and he was waiting for a second one. Why was he applying for MAID? It was not because he wanted to die, but because in addition to his chronic back pain, which I acknowledge was probably intolerable for him, he had just gotten news that he was soon to homeless because the boarding house in which he was living was up for redevelopment due to plans in the neighbourhood. He was pretty certain that in his current health condition, he would not survive long on the streets. Therefore, even though it was not his first choice, he thought it would be better to die in a dignified manner, dignified by a government seal of approval with medical assistance in dying, or MAID. However, when he was asked by the reporter that if his housing was stable would he still consider MAID, his answer was “absolutely not”, which was when he said, “I don't want to die but I don't want to be homeless more than I don't want to die.”
    I believe this story is a commentary on the state of our nation today with the MAID regime under this current government, and there are two problems. First of all, why was this man not given the medical treatment he needed and why, in a wealthy nation like Canada, did he not have stable housing? After eight years of this government, it is clear that many people are being left behind, and we have failed this man.

  (1535)  

    What is more relevant to the discussion today is the question of where this man got the idea that the government might step up to relieve him of his pain and discomfort by helping him to commit suicide. Proponents of expanding MAID to include more people in more circumstances will object to me using this as an example of what is wrong with our MAID regime. They will point out that this man was misinformed about MAID availability and that it was never intended to alleviate problems associated with poverty.
    I agree, but I would note, parenthetically, that the first assessor had approved him for MAID. Did the first assessor ask him the same question that the reporter asked him? If he or she had, I am assuming that this man would have given the same answer: “I don’t want to die but I don’t want to be homeless more than I don’t want to die”.
    No wonder people are confused. At the centre of this confusion is an incompetent Prime Minister and an equally incompetent attorney general, now former attorney general, who failed to appeal a lower court decision, failed to stop a reckless amendment coming from the Senate and gave confusing signals about the state of the law in Canada.
    A year ago, a group of 32 constitutional law professors from law schools across the country wrote a letter to the Prime Minister and the then attorney general pointing out that, despite what they had been saying, the Supreme Court of Canada has never said that MAID should be expanded to include mental illness. In the Carter decision, the nine justices of the Supreme Court of Canada had this to say: “euthanasia for minors or persons with psychiatric disorders or minor medical conditions” were cases that “would not fall within the parameters suggested in these reasons”. That is pretty clear.
    It is a shame that our now former attorney general, the top lawyer of the land, muddied the waters on this very difficult topic. A year ago, Mr. Lametti appeared before the justice committee when we were debating the first one-year extension. He asked who was right, the 32 law professors or him. He arrogantly said, “I'm right, quite frankly.” Mr. Lametti was wrong then and he is wrong today. This clouding of what the courts have said has led to confusion for Canadians.
    The story about the man from St. Catharines has a happy ending. Some community leaders reading the story about him in the news were heartbroken by his story and started a GoFundMe campaign that raised more than enough money to stabilize his living conditions. This is what he said just a couple of months later: “I still continue to get many offers of help, but as my situation is now stabilized, I have asked that the fundraising pages stop accepting new donations.” In another later interview, he told the reporter, “I'm a different person. The first time we spoke, you know, I'd wake up every morning and I had nothing but darkness, misery, stress and hopelessness. Now I've got all the opposites of those things.”
    That was a happy ending. I like happy endings. Another suggestion for a happy ending would be to not delay this just for three years but to delay it forever. We need to stop the expansion of MAID altogether and, instead, build on the hope that this ordinary, common-sense person expressed so clearly.
    Conservatives want to turn hurt into hope. We are going to hold the government accountable to deliver on its promise to fund Canada mental health transfers. Let us give hope for a better tomorrow and the support needed to live through today.

  (1540)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I have two comments.
    First, my colleague says that we could have contested Justice Baudoin's ruling. However, Justice Beaudoin was referring to the Carter decision, which demonstrated in a way that people with a degenerative disease, like Ms. Gladu and Mr. Truchon, should have ended their lives. The right to life is certainly not about allowing people to commit suicide before reaching the tolerance threshold. That is the issue.
    How can the Conservatives denounce suicide on one hand and say that we must be careful when it comes to suicide and all that, which I agree with, and on the other hand not understand that the only alternative for these people is to end their life? The Baudoin decision was relevant in that regard, because Bill C‑7 allowed these people to not end their life.
    Second, as for the example that the member gave, I would like to say to him that the conclusion he came to himself is found in the expert panel on MAID and mental illness' sixth recommendation. I will read an excerpt:
...the Panel recommends that ‘community services’ in Track 2 Safeguard 241.2(3.1)(g) should be interpreted as including housing and income supports as means available to relieve suffering and should be offered to MAiD requesters...
    If his party ever comes to power, will his government increase health transfers? We did not hear a peep from that side when the stingy Liberal government did not put anything on the table that could help us take care of the people he is talking about today.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, there were a couple of good questions in that. I would point out that the Carter decision was about medical assistance for people who were dying. The condition had to be irremediable. The suffering had to be intolerable, and natural death had to be reasonably foreseeable. That was the law that Canadians thought was going to be our law going forward. It was not long before that was overturned by a lower court decision, which should have been appealed.
    As for the transfer of funding, I would just underline that the federal government promised health transfers to aid those suffering from mental health, and it has not delivered on that. We are holding the government to account for that.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest, and a lot of the member's speech was about housing. It is false to describe the housing crisis we are in now as starting only a year ago, eight years ago or the length of the government. I would argue that it has been caused by consecutive governments, both Liberal and Conservative, ignoring the investments that needed to be made into housing over the last 30 years. I would like to hear the member's explanation for that.
    We are now at this arbitrary 30-day deadline, and there are other things that governments were apparently totally in support of but did not do. I think of my colleague from Timmins—James Bay bringing forward a national palliative care motion. Everybody supported it, but nothing was done. In 2019 in this place, we brought forward the national suicide prevention strategy. Everybody believed in it, but nothing has been done.
    Now that we have these 30 days, we are again in a crisis. What does the member have to say about the other protections we need to bring forward that have been presented in this place?

  (1545)  

    Mr. Speaker, first of all, about housing, I would point out that, under a Conservative government, housing was difficult, but it was not the crisis that it is today. That is the point that we have been making, and that the leader of the Conservative Party has been making, time and time again. The crisis has been brought on by the mismanagement of the Liberal government.
    I would also say, about housing for the most vulnerable, that provincial governments around the country have cut back on psychiatric hospitals and put people into the community, which sounds like a great idea, except that the community supports are not there. That is what is fundamentally missing here. The man whom I gave as an example fits right into that. His concern was the lack of stable housing. If he had had housing, he would not have asked for MAID. That is the point I am trying to make.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague from Thunder Bay—Rainy River.
    Here we are down to the last minute. Liberals will be supporting this bill, not because we think it is a great bill, but because it postpones this decision for three years. It puts it down the road to another Parliament. I am not quite as confident as the previous speaker, my honourable friend, that there will be a government of his persuasion at that time, but, nevertheless, it is a decision that will have to be dealt with by another Parliament, which is quite regrettable under the circumstances.
    The ostensible reason we are supporting the bill is because the medical system is not ready. The hospitals are not ready, and the health care systems are not ready. My view is that they will never be ready, that no one can be ready for this kind of thing. I take the view that doctors have misplaced faith in the ability of politicians and legislators to achieve a state of readiness and legislative harmony. I also take the view that legislators and politicians have an elevated view of doctors' ability to manage the requests in this kind of system. The reason for that is, basically, 25 years of walking a path with one of my sons.
    I am blessed to have five children and five grandchildren, which are the reward for the five children in the first place. They are delightful to both Carolyn and me. One of the boys has schizophrenia. We started on that journey when he was about 14 or 15. He was, shall we say, acting out. It took us three years to get a diagnosis, which was pretty tough on the family. It was not optimal to go home from this place and there would be a police car parked in the driveway. We had quite a number of incidents. It took us about three or four years to get a proper diagnosis.
    I want to emphasize that we live in the greater Toronto area, one of the most, if not the most, prosperous areas in the country. We have access to the best doctors and are a well-resourced family, but we were flummoxed as to what to do. Nathan had a psychotic break. He is a bright lad and was in university, but, consistent with the literature, he had a psychotic break in his first year. Then we went into this deep, dark hole of the mental health system in the best-resourced area in all of the country.
    Nathan spent time at CAMH and quickly figured out how to scam the system and how get out onto Spadina Avenue to get what he thought he needed. He also figured out how to play the emergency system. All anyone has to say is that they are thinking about suicide. “Suicidal ideation” is the phrase. That gets people into the system. When they think they need access to medications and cannot get them, particularly street medications or drugs, that is a good way to get in. They can get meals and people caring for them, a clean bed, all that sort of stuff, and the family starts to walk this journey.
    It is not a pretty journey because the nurses are harassed, overworked and exhausted, and the doctors are not too far behind. There are medications that kind of calm people down, but, frankly, do not actually deal with the problem. It takes people a while for their bodies to adjust to the medications. Nathan had some resistance to finally being in that agreed upon regime. Then there was a period of time when he was fine, or as fine as he could be, given he had voices in his head all the time.

  (1550)  

    We went from CAMH to Whitby Psych. Again, great people and a great facility, with overworked people who are trying their best but, frankly, have limited tools. We went from there to Scarborough Health Network, the third-largest medical facility in Ontario. Again really good people, but the system and the state of medication has limited ability to deal with a person like Nathan, who kind of goes in and goes out.
    Nathan has been irremediable four or five times in the past 25 years, and at any one time, he frankly would have figured out how to shop the doctor. That is what we fear based on our experience.
    I perfectly understand when medical systems say they are not ready, they have to write their protocols. Protocols are subject to interpretation, and the interpretations by physicians can be pretty extensive in their variations. Nathan, being a bright lad, he would figure that out pretty quickly. Then some doctors are more enthusiastic about this procedure than are others, and he would have that figured out pretty quickly. If he was determined, and he is irremediable and this is a condition that causes a lot of suffering, he would have figured it out. That would have left us pretty bereft as a family, with a lot of guilt.
    At this point, I have to say there are two saints in our family: Nathan's mother, my wife; and his stepmother. But for them, I do not think he would be here today. I want to go back to the point that we are a well-resourced family. We live in one of the most affluent areas of Canada. We have access to the best and we have two saints in the family, one of whom is a physician, and that is probably why he is still with us.
    My concern is that, whether it is this bill, whether it is three years from now or whenever it is, the protocols may be be written and the protocols may or may not be subject to interpretation that would allow some people who have irremediable conditions to leave.
    I am sorry we are here. This is one of the more critical decisions of legislators. It is one of the more critical decisions of the health care system writ large. The problem is that the consequences are irreversible. Within our family experience, there are several points along the way where that kind of irreversible decision could have been made, it is entirely plausible, and we would be in an entirely different situation than we are today as a family.
    I am thankful for the House's time and attention. I regret to be in the situation where we are dealing with this legislation, which I think is just a postponement, but I will support the legislation because that is what is on the table.

  (1555)  

    Mr. Speaker, I have spoken and shared, probably a little too much at times, in this House, regarding my own family's struggles and my own struggle with suicide, and why I fight so passionately on this issue and others. I want to say a heartfelt “thank you” to my colleague across the way. I have only known him for eight and a half years, but for me that is perhaps the most profound speech or intervention that he has made.
    I do want to offer this. From the testimony we have heard from the medical community, we know that seven provinces and three territories have asked the Liberal government, not for a three-year pause but, for an indefinite pause.
    How does our colleague feel about that? Is that something we should look at?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for sharing. Really, only families who have gone through this actually understand the reality of the situation.
    One of the frustrations we run into is that Nathan is an adult. The family is cut out. Family cannot tell the physician, if the physician does not want to listen, about what they are observing. They are only getting one side of the story, which is another problem.
    If it was up to me, we would not be dealing with this three-year postponement. It would be otherwise. My view is that we can never write a protocol that covers all contingencies. We can never assure ourselves that a physician could not be persuaded to do whatever needs to be done. It is a decision that people will never recover from.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank my colleague for his very touching testimony.
    Quebec currently approves MAID for certain conditions, notably those for which death is foreseeable. There are certain circumstances in which, we know, it is acceptable.
    In this case, we are talking about mental disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. I understand that, because of his family situation, this is a very sensitive topic for my colleague.
    When it comes to mental disorders, there is no consensus among experts, and we have obviously agreed to push back the deadline for including the issue of mental disorders.
    However, when it comes to neurodegenerative diseases, which are diseases of the central nervous system, which are incurable and some of which, like Alzheimer's, lead to certain death, is it not possible that these illnesses are similar to situations in which MAID is already acceptable? Quebec is working on this and, I should point out, there is a consensus within Quebec society.
    Have we not correctly distinguished the question of mental disorders, which are not subject to consensus, from that of neurodegenerative diseases, which are currently being studied by Parliament?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I do not live in a world of expertise. I live in a world of family experience.
    The distinction between a mental illness and neurodegenerative disease is one that my colleague, who will be speaking next, would probably be able to answer much better than me.
    I do think that members need to be cognizant of the transference from physical infirmities, pathologies and access to medical assistance in dying, to a diagnosed mental illness, pure and simple. There is a red line there. That is what we are dealing with today: what is on the other side of that red line.
    I take his question as a good question. My colleague from Thunder Bay—Rainy River could maybe answer it much better than I.

  (1600)  

    Mr. Speaker, I also want to thank the member for sharing his personal family story with us. It takes a lot of courage to do that, and I really do appreciate it.
    In part of his speech he also noted that his family is well resourced, with heroes in his family as well as with financial resources. It is fantastic, to be able to support a family member in this way. With that said, in my community of Vancouver East we have many family members who do not have those kinds of resources, so what I fear is that people might look at MAID as an option, and of course it is not an option. When we need to do is ensure that the proper resources are in place to support people through difficult times.
    To that end, my question is this: For the government to consider all of these issues, how important is it to ensure that all families have access to resources to properly support them through difficult times?
    Mr. Speaker, I was trying to make the point that we are a well-resourced family living in an affluent community with access to the best, and I am perfectly cognizant that thousands, and literally millions, of Canadians are not. In that case, they would not be able to explore all of the other options that well-resourced families can. I take the member's point entirely, and arguably, again, that is a good reason this should not be accessible for people with mental illness under the present circumstances.
    Mr. Speaker, let me start by apologizing to the four or five people who might have listened to my last speech and who are here listening again today, because this is going to sound a little repetitive.
    I certainly support the legislation, and I know there are a lot of people out there who are really worried about allowing MAID for mental illness. There are people who are worried about their friends. There are people who are worried about their parents. I am most sympathetic to people who are worried about their children. I have six children, and I know that they are going to, at some point in their life, go through difficult times. I would certainly be a little worried for them if we were to allow MAID for mental illness to be implemented with the current safeguards.
    I know that there are also many psychiatrists who are worried about and/or oppose the legislation. In fact, the latest statistic I heard was from a survey that showed that about 75% of psychiatrists were against it. They are worried that their patients who would otherwise get better would instead resort to MAID.
    Let me take a step back and look at the arguments coming from the other side. People are going to say, “Why not? Is it not a matter of personal autonomy? Is it not my body and my choice?”. This is not about the state's dictating to the individual what they can do with their own body. It does not criminalize trying to commit suicide or committing suicide. This is about what role, if any, the state should have in assisting people to commit suicide.
    I am going to come back to the issue of whether MAID for mental illness is the same as assisting suicide.
    The question of whether the state ought to take a role in assisting people in ending their lives is, I think, a little like the question of whether the state should try to prevent people from killing themselves. This is a topic I know something about, having worked a lot of years as an emergency room physician. In that role, my job, if somebody came before me and was suicidal, was to keep them in the hospital, even against their will, to prevent their suicide from happening.
    Occasionally people would ask why I should I have that power, saying, “ Is it not my body, and my decision to make?” I think that there are two legitimate reasons for the state to try to prevent people from killing themselves. One is to protect someone from themself. When one is in the depths of depression, they cannot realize that things will get better; that is partly why someone is so depressed and wants to kill themself. The reality for most people is that they do in fact get better.
    The other legitimate reason for the state's intervention is to protect the family. The person who commits suicide is dead. The rest of the family lives on and lives with the pain, but it is not only that; they are constantly haunted by whether the death was because of something they did or did not do.
    Some people are going to say that, no, MAID for mental illness is not the same as assisted suicide, that we are talking about a small group of people who have intense, prolonged suffering and have tried every form of treatment but nothing has worked, and that it is cruel and unconstitutional to not allow those people access to MAID. I disagree. The Canadian law is far more permissive than, for example, the Dutch law. There is absolutely no requirement that all forms of treatment have been tried and been unsuccessful. Our law does not even require patients to have tried any treatment at all; it requires only that the patient have no other treatment that is acceptable to them. There are going to be people who refuse all forms of treatment altogether.
    I know that there are people who support MAID for mental illness who will say that the safeguards are going to come from the medical profession, that they are going to require someone to have tried all forms of treatment beforehand. Unfortunately, I do not have the same sort of faith in the medical profession's doing that. Why do I not? If we look at what has happened with the MAID regime for people with physical illnesses, we see that there are a lot of MAID practitioners who are very zealous about its being all about one's personal autonomy and saying it is not for them to question someone's suffering, and who are quick to approve people.
    Let me give some examples from the media. The Fifth Estate aired a program that said that a 23-year-old diabetic going blind in one eye was granted MAID. Another person, a 54-year-old man, had back problems, but his main problem seemed to be that he was worried about losing his housing and ending up on the street. He too was granted MAID.
    CTV published a couple of relevant articles. A 51-year-old woman was actually granted and got MAID for multiple chemical sensitivities. Again, from CTV, a 31-year-old woman who seemed to use a wheelchair from time to time and had multiple environmental allergies, applied and was approved for MAID; again, however, her main problem seemed to be that she could not find suitable housing.

  (1605)  

    There are those who have such faith in my fellow doctors to come up with the system and all the safeguards, but I do not share the same sort of faith. I, as someone with a lot of children, realize it is inevitable that at times in their life they are going to go through a hard time, the breakup of a relationship or financial hard times. I am really worried that they would walk through the door of a zealous practitioner who will tell them it is all about personal autonomy and is their decision to make, because who is the doctor to question their suffering. There is not any requirement in the current legislation that the MAID practitioner talk to the family or the previous treating practitioner to find out whether in fact the depression was motivated by, for example, the breakup of a relationship.
    I also want to talk about what I think is a really fundamental and perhaps fatal flaw in the current regime with allowing MAID for mental illness, which is the problem, the impossibility, of determining irremediability: Who is not actually going to get better? I have spoken previously about the inability of suicidal individuals to appreciate the fact that they are going to get better. Some people would ask whether there are people who are not going to get better, who are irremediable. That is in fact the requirement of the legislation. The problem is that doctors do not have a crystal ball. They are not really good at being able to determine who really is irremediable.
    In fact, a recently published study looking at the ability of clinicians to determine irremediability for treatment-resistant depression concluded:
    Our findings support the claim that, as per available evidence, clinicians cannot accurately predict long-term chances of recovery in a particular patient with [treatment-resistant depression]. This means that the objective standard of irremediability cannot be met....
    Furthermore, there are no current evidence-based or established standards of care for determining irremediability of mental illness for the purpose of [MAID] assessments.
    For me, as a long-time medical doctor, it is absolutely mind-boggling that there are medical practitioners and psychiatrists who are not particularly bothered by the fact that they really cannot say whether the illness is irremediable, and would grant MAID. If we allow MAID for one such person who would actually get better, to me it would seem tantamount to the same sort of tragedy as the state's hanging someone who later turned out to be innocent. We in this place cannot let that happen.
    Last, let me address the assertion of proponents of MAID who say that it is inevitable that the Supreme Court would find not allowing MAID for mental illness unconstitutional because it is allowed for physical illness. I think that, yes, there would be a finding that such a provision would violate section 15 or section 7, but as always, the question comes down to the section 1 analysis and whether the state's actions constitute a reasonable limitation as prescribed by law that “can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” I do not think the answer to that is clear. It is not just me; there was a letter written by 32 law professors who came to the same conclusion: it was not clear whether it would be found unconstitutional.
    I am not going to say that we should never allow MAID for mental illness; in fact, I know personally of a case where this might have been the ethical thing to do, but I think we are a long way now from being in a situation where we should start to allow it. I would prefer the pause be indefinite, but so be it. We have what we have. Let us look at it in two years and see what has changed. I doubt very much will have changed.

  (1610)  

    Mr. Speaker, as we debate here and keep hearing the words, which we are now getting used to, “medical assistance in dying”, in the context of Bill C-62, I wonder whether we can create something different, like “societal assistance in living”.
    We desperately need things like a guaranteed livable income. We need better access to social supports, mental health provisions, addictions counselling and a panoply of things that would make us feel more confident that no one would opt for medical assistance in dying. If Canada, if we as neighbours and friends to the family of all Canadians, said that we are there for them and that they can count on something, a guarantee, social assistance in living, would the hon. member think that is a good idea?
    Mr. Speaker, I absolutely support that. What a humane society does when someone who is suffering comes before it is that it tries to help them. Maybe that means better psychiatric care, but maybe it means addressing their socio-economic problems. Certainly I do not think that a humane society's first response to that person ought to be to offer them death. That is an absolute failure and a solution of an inhumane society. We ought to be helping people who are suffering, not ending their lives.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, we have heard that a lot in this debate. We all want to be on the side of the angels. We all want to improve socio-economic conditions. The expert report does take structural vulnerabilities into account, and no assessor is authorized to grant a request for medical assistance in dying if there is any possibility that the request came about because of a structural vulnerability.
    I paid close attention to my colleague's speech. Judging from the examples he gave, I gather he was in favour of Bill C‑14 for cases involving reasonably foreseeable death, but that he is against Bill C‑7 for people suffering from an incurable degenerative disease who are forced to cut their life short by suicide because their suffering has become intolerable. If Bill C‑7 is implemented, those people will be able to live until they reach the threshold of what they feel is tolerable.
    Did I understand correctly that my colleague is against Bill C‑7 as it relates to degenerative diseases? I am curious, and I would like him to answer this question. He talked about it in his speech.

  (1615)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am not against MAID for physical illnesses. That is a totally different situation. The problem with MAID for mental illness is the inability to determine who is not going to get better. The unfortunate reality is that there are a lot of doctors who have a very cavalier attitude toward taking someone's life, and that there are people who could or would get better with a little time and with better treatment who would otherwise have their lives foreshortened by one of these zealous practitioners.
     Certainly it is very different from, for example, the Carter situation, or someone who has ALS and is terminally ill with a neurodegenerative disease. That is a totally different story, and in those cases I certainly approve of MAID if that is what the person wants.
    Mr. Speaker, I will pick up on the comment that my colleague just made, that essentially there are instances of zealous practitioners who may be going very far in terms of determining that someone is eligible when they should not be. Part of the problem with the euthanasia regime we have is that it allows doctor shopping. It allows somebody to find two doctors who may not be representative at all and may not be the attending physician, and asking them, “Would you sign this, please?” They may get approved even if they should not meet the criteria.
    Conservatives proposed in the last election platform that we should require MAID assessors to complete MAID assessor training to ensure full awareness of and compliance with the laws and best practices around MAID. Would the member be supportive of the proposal that we put forward to have specific MAID assessor training to try to have more consistency and less arbitrariness and fewer instances of people shopping around?
    Mr. Speaker, I would approve of that. However, as a medical practitioner, I would not volunteer to become a MAID practitioner. If this position is going to be created, the only people who are going to take on the job are people who believe in MAID, believe that it is all about personal autonomy and believe that it is not for others to question a person's suffering. Whatever they are going to be taught, a lot of them are going to be the kind of people who do have a cavalier attitude toward taking life. Those of us who disagree with it are not going to accept the position to begin with.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge.
    Bill C-62, no. 2, suggests that we pause the expansion of medical assistance in dying, known as MAID, to people suffering from mental illness. The Liberals have shown time and again that they consistently pass legislation without the careful consideration needed for such significant changes to our society. This discussion is not just legislative; it is about how we value human life and the impact of the government's choices on all Canadians. In thinking about extending MAID to include mental illness, there is a need for a deep understanding of the complexities and uncertainties in diagnosing and predicting mental health outcomes.
    Evidence to the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying showed a worrying truth: Clinicians often struggle to predict whether mental health conditions are irremediable, and they have a 50% chance of being wrong. This alarming fact points to a big problem with the proposed expansion; this is the chance of making permanent choices based on uncertain medical opinions. Mental health involves biological, psychological and social elements. Recovery is not always straightforward, and what seems irremediable at one point may improve with treatment.
    Basing MAID on the idea that a mental illness cannot be cured shows a misunderstanding of the changing nature of mental health recovery. As the member for St. Albert—Edmonton put it, it is like flipping a coin on matters of life and death, a practice that is ethically troubling and goes against the idea of patient-focused care. Moreover, we cannot discuss MAID and mental illness without considering the wider issues of access to quality mental health care in Canada.
     When people such as Canadian Paralympian and veteran Christine Gauthier are offered MAID from the government when simply requesting help with a wheelchair lift, it shows a worrying trend of suggesting MAID as a fix for systemic failures to providing proper care and support for those with disabilities and chronic conditions. This is not just one case. It reflects a larger problem, wherein essential services and supports are lacking; this drives people to consider MAID not because they want to but because they feel neglected by the Liberal government.
    The risks of broadening MAID to include mental illness alone are complex, going beyond clinical doubts to wider social and ethical issues. It makes us question our dedication to mental health care, the value we place on lives touched by mental illness, and the kind of society we want to have. Do we face challenges with empathy, support and a commitment to better care, or do we settle for solutions that ignore the struggles Canadians face?
    The Liberal government's approach to expanding MAID shows a wider trend of hasty law-making that leads to policies being introduced, then pulled back or changed after facing reality and public criticism. From errors in firearms legislation to heated debates on the carbon tax, the government often acts first and thinks later. This not only damages our law-making process but also lowers public trust in our ability to govern wisely and carefully.
    The rush to include mental illness in MAID, without proper evidence or full discussions with mental health experts, ethicists and affected groups, shows a lack of regard for the careful and expert-led discussions that such a major policy change requires. The need to pause and rethink this expansion, via the bill, is an admission that the government's actions have been rash and poorly thought out.
    This legislative step back, marked by two delays in implementation, is not just a minor issue; it is a clear sign of the dangers of choosing political speed over solid, evidence-based policy-making. It raises serious doubts about the government's commitment to responsible governance, which includes the need to fully explore, understand and foresee the effects of laws before they are passed. In this critical discussion on MAID, we must also consider the perspective of those directly affected by such policies. The voices of individuals and families living with mental illness must be central to our legislative process.

  (1620)  

    Their experiences and insights can provide invaluable guidance as we navigate the complexities of this issue. By engaging with these communities, we can ensure that our laws reflect the realities of those they impact most and uphold the principles of empathy and inclusion. Furthermore, the debate on MAID expansion underscores the need for comprehensive mental health services.
    The government must prioritize the enhancement of mental health care infrastructure, ensuring that all Canadians have access to the support and treatment they require. By strengthening our mental health care system, we can address the root causes of despair and hopelessness that lead individuals to consider MAID, thereby affirming our commitment to life and well-being.
    This moment also calls for a re-evaluation of our societal values and the role of government in safeguarding the dignity of every citizen. As policymakers, we have a duty to foster a culture that values every life, provides hope through support and resources, and respects the autonomy of individuals while carefully considering the ethical implications of life-ending interventions. This approach would not only address the immediate concerns surrounding MAID but would also contribute to a more compassionate and just society.
    As we think about what this pause means, we must consider the lessons learned and push for a more thoughtful, consultative and evidence-based approach to making laws. The stakes are too high, and the chance for unintended harm too great, to accept anything less. In MAID's case, where ethics, law and personal choice intersect delicately, our responsibility to be extremely careful and considerate cannot be overstated.
    The proposal for a pause on MAID's expansion clearly shows that the Liberal government's policy-making has been quick and poorly thought out. While this pause is needed, it points to a bigger issue of governance, where major legislative changes are made without enough foresight, discussion or understanding of the deep ethical implications. This pause reminds us of the dangers of enacting laws that deeply affect Canadians' lives and well-being, especially the most vulnerable. It shows the current Liberal government's failure to engage in a careful, evidence-based legislative process, preferring instead policies that match ideological aims rather than the complex realities of issues such as MAID and mental health.
    This should be more than a brief stop; it should be a crucial time to rethink how policies, especially those about life and death, are made and applied. It questions the government's commitment to maintaining the highest standards of care, empathy and respect for all Canadians' dignity. We must demand greater legislative care and ethical responsibility from the government.
    The discussion on MAID and mental illness needs a comprehensive approach that puts individuals' well-being and rights ahead of quick political gains.
    It is time for a move towards more responsible governance, where policies are made with great care, are based on wide consultation, and reflect our collective values and ethical standards. Sadly, the current Liberal government seems to lack concern for any of these values.
    The way forward should be marked by a dedication to thorough research, wide involvement and a deep respect for life's sanctity. Only by such a comprehensive approach can we ensure our legislative actions truly serve all Canadians, embodying the justice, empathy and respect that define our nation.

  (1625)  

[Translation]

    The member for Mirabel on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, we are debating an extremely important issue and it does not seem as though we have quorum.
    I would like to request a count, please.
    Okay. We will count the members.
    And the count having been taken:
    The Deputy Speaker: It is okay. We have quorum.
    The hon. member for London—Fanshawe.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I have to admit that this has been one of my big things. Even when I was a mayor, I talked about the mental health of Canadians.
    We can solve a lot of societal problems if we have a better handle on mental health. In order to do that, we have to fund appropriately and properly. One of the big challenges, when we start looking at mental health, is that it is probably going to take at least a 20-year period before we start seeing some real benefits to society. Unfortunately, governments are only elected every four years; therefore, they are not willing to put in the real money that is needed. They often use a band-aid approach.
    We need to start looking at a long-range plan to enhance and assist our mental health in Canada.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, we often hear the argument that investments must be made in mental health to prevent mental illness and severe mental disorders.
    I did not hear his leader say that he was going to put more on the table in terms of health transfers. Will the Conservatives propose a substantial increase in health transfers?

  (1630)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, there is a big misconception in this House about the opposition. We are not going to come forward and start laying out our plan for the next election, as to everything we are going to do.