House of Commons Hansard #219 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was including.



11 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

It is my duty to inform the House that a vacancy has occurred in the representation.

It is Mr. O'Toole, member for the electoral district of Durham, by resignation effective Wednesday, August 2, 2023. Pursuant to paragraph 25(1)(b) of the Parliament of Canada Act, I have addressed a warrant to the Chief Electoral Officer for the issue of a writ for the election of a member to fill this vacancy.

Message from the Senate

11 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing the House that the Senate has passed the following bill, to which the concurrence of the House is desired: Bill S-12, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Sex Offender Information Registration Act and the International Transfer of Offenders Act.

The House resumed from May 4 consideration of the motion that Bill C-318, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act and the Canada Labour Code (adoptive and intended parents), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, what a pleasure it is to rise and speak on what I would classify as very important legislation. We demonstrated very clearly how important that legislation was during the pandemic, a time when Canadians needed to feel that the government had their backs. Individuals understood that during the pandemic there was going to be a lot of pressure on the Canadian economy in different ways, and one of the programs that supported Canadians from coast to coast to coast in a very real and tangible way was the employment insurance program.

If we look at the origin of the program and its intent, it was there to provide an income supplement for when individuals were having a difficult time, primarily in the area of employment. What we have witnessed over the last number of years is a substantial growth in employment. Since 2015-16, somewhere in the neighbourhood of over two million jobs have been created. That is an incredible number of jobs in a relatively short period of time, but one has to put it in the context of what is happening in our environment today. Canadians are very much concerned about issues such as inflation and employment, and we need to continue what we started years ago, that is, to be there to support Canadians in every way that we can.

If there is a message I want to convey to people who might be following the debate, it is that they can rest assured that, as a government, we will continue to look at ways to improve conditions, whether it is battling inflation or housing issues.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.


Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to welcome everyone back. I can sense everyone's excitement. Let us hope that our parliamentary work will be very productive. I hope you had a good summer, Mr. Speaker. You are looking very well indeed.

In speaking to Bill C‑318, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act and the Canada Labour Code regarding adoptive and intended parents, which would introduce an attachment benefit, I recognize that this is a sensitive issue.

I would like to start by saying that the Bloc Québécois supports the principle of Bill C‑318. The arrival of a child is a complex and challenging time for the whole family, all the more so when the child is adopted or conceived through surrogacy.

I will talk about that very briefly in my speech while emphasizing the need for attachment. Then I will talk about the need for employment insurance reform and, lastly, I will talk about how the governments of Canada and Quebec need to be on the same page.

First, I would like to remind the House that the bond created with the child is an important part of parenthood. Again, in the case of adoption or the arrival of a child from a surrogate, this process can be a delicate step since the link with the parents is not biological. We know that international adoptions are becoming less frequent and that children adopted by Canadian or Quebec families are often older than in the past, or have special needs. As a result, we can be sympathetic to the desire of these new parents to receive a special benefit to foster attachment.

We also know that the attachment process is complex and time-consuming, particularly for adopted children, and that it is part of an equation that also involves the so-called normal needs of a baby or toddler. That is why it is a good idea to create this new benefit.

The bill also provides for an extension when the child is hospitalized. The extension would be equivalent to the number of weeks the child receives care in a health care facility. We know that hospitalizing a child is an emotionally difficult ordeal. This extension therefore seems necessary, especially if we take into account the emotional factors that are added when adopting or welcoming a child from a surrogate.

We should also bear in mind that this legislation will require royal recommendation. Adding this new benefit to the existing EI program would involve approximately $88 million in spending between 2023 and 2028.

Second, there is also the government's lack of leadership on employment insurance in general. In 2021, the Liberals had campaigned on the promise to modernize employment insurance and had committed to expanding the program to cover self-employed workers and address the gaps highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. There is still nothing in the latest budget, however. The Liberals say they are committed to modernizing the system, but we can see that their communication is lacking; they do not walk the talk.

The only changes announced by this government in the budget are two small reforms. The first is to extend a temporary change to employment insurance introduced in 2018 that increases the number of weeks of coverage available to seasonal workers. The second is to strengthen the prohibitions for misclassification of federally regulated gig workers. That is a far cry from the major structural changes that we, my colleague from Thérèse-de-Blainville in particular, have been seeking for so long.

The Bloc Québécois is calling for greater leadership on this issue. The government must review the current formula, the structure of the program, its eligibility requirements, its funding and its administrative technology.

This bill proposes to amend the Employment Insurance Act to add a new type of special benefit, namely a 15-week attachment benefit for adoptive parents and and parents of children conceived through surrogacy. It also amends the Canada Labour Code to extend parental leave accordingly.

In Canada, the EI program provides 17 weeks of maternity leave for pregnant women, which can begin at any time during the period that starts in the week before the expected date of delivery and ends 17 weeks after the actual date of delivery. The Canadian program also provides parental leave of up to 63 weeks for natural and adoptive parents. Parents who both work for federally regulated employers can share the parental leave, which entitles them to eight additional weeks of leave.

Parents who share parental leave are entitled to 71 weeks of leave. They can take the leave at any time during the 78-week period that starts on the day of the child's birth or on the day the child is entrusted to them. There is no provision in the Code for paid parental leave. Longer parental leave under an employer's policy, a collective agreement or an employment contract may also apply.

Third, let us compare this with what is currently being done in Quebec. In the case of a birth, parental leave can begin the week of the child's birth. It is in addition to the 18-week maternity leave or five-week paternity leave. In the case of an adoption, each adoptive parent is also entitled to 65 weeks of parental leave. The leave may begin no earlier than the week when the child is entrusted to his or her adoptive parents or when the parents leave their work to travel outside Quebec to receive their child. Leave ends a maximum of 78 weeks afterwards. In a same-sex couple, both parents are entitled to parental leave if the child's relationship to his or her mothers or fathers has been established in the birth certificate or adoption judgment. At the parent's request, parental leave is suspended, divided or extended if the parent's or child's health requires it. In other situations, at the parent's request and if the employer agrees to it, leave may be divided into weeks.

Up until December 2020, Quebec's parental insurance plan, the QPIP, did not offer the same benefits to all workers. Adoptive parents had 18 weeks less to spend with their children. It was ultimately at the end of a battle by the Fédération des parents adoptants du Québec, or FPAQ, that the tide turned. Passed on October 27, 2020 and assented to on October 29, Bill 51 gave equitable treatment to adoptive parents as of December 1, 2020 through the creation of reception and support benefits, as well as adoption benefits for the second parent. In total, adoptive parents are entitled to the same durations and income replacement levels as biological parents. For the time being, both the Canadian and Quebec plans do not provide any attachment benefits such as those proposed in this bill.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer has studied the spending that Bill C‑318 would entail. The current proposal is that beneficiaries would receive a benefit equal to 55% of their average weekly insurable earnings for 15 weeks, up to an amount determined using the maximum annual insurable earnings received in the affected year. The maximum weekly benefit for 2023 is $650. For each child, those 15 weeks of benefits could be divided between the two parents. The cost of the program would be approximately $88 million over five years, from 2023 to 2028. However, it is important to keep in mind that the forecasts for the number of adoptions and births of children conceived through surrogacy are not robust and create some uncertainty as to the final real costs of implementing this new benefit.

To conclude, allow me to steer the discussion back to attachment theory, which is generally credited to John Bowlby. Bowlby drew attention to the fact that children turn to adults for protection from the time they are born. Stability, consistency and adequate basic care are key components of attachment theory. Depending on the child's disposition and the adult's approach to meeting the child's needs, the child-adult relationship develops into a mutual partnership.

A comforting, healthy attachment provides children with an important starting point for exploring the world, secure in the knowledge that safety is never far away. Attachment plays a critical role in teaching children to organize their feelings and behaviours, confident that they can rely on the person who cares for and comforts them. Forming attachments is also vital to a child's long-term psychological health. Attachments teach children to trust others, which makes it easier for them to form healthy relationships later in life. Most attachments, however, depend on two basic factors: proximity and time. The long-awaited arrival of a new child is an emotional time for parents, and this new benefit could help them adjust to their new parental role and give it their full attention.

As we know, EI is part of our social safety net. It is a proven fact that the pandemic has exacerbated the current problems with the EI system. We are asking for these changes to be made simply out of compassion and because EI is the tool we gave ourselves. It is our safety net to help people through hard times. We are asking for these specific benefits, but, as I heard a lot over the summer, especially from women's groups, and as we are resuming our work here in the House, I can tell members that a comprehensive reform of the whole EI system is badly needed to help people get through these challenging times.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11:10 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

Before we continue debate, I just want to remind folks that due to the Standing Order changes, we all have to be speaking from our seats.

We will resume debate with the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start out by congratulating Adopt4Life, the Child and Youth Permanency Council of Canada and the time to attach campaign for their tireless advocacy, which has led to Bill C-318 today.

I also congratulate my colleague from Battlefords—Lloydminster for putting this bill forward. It is an important first step in providing adoptive parents with the parental time they need to attach to adoptive children.

This is a critical first step in improving the outcomes for children being adopted, many of whom are over the age of 10 at the time of placement and have a history of trauma and loss. I, along with my NDP colleagues, support this change as we recognize that building relationships between children and adoptive families is vital for the success, not only of the child, but also for the adoptive family.

The first year that children are with their adoptive parents or caregivers is crucial for bonding and creating a foundation for strong relationships. The extension of this parental leave is crucial.

Unfortunately, one of the areas where this bill falls short is the recognition of kinship and customary care arrangements. This is strongly supported by Adopt4Life and Time to Attach campaign, which are also fighting for an additional 15-week leave for children who are receiving customary and kinship care.

The province of Manitoba defines “kinship care” as an arrangement in which the child is placed with extended family, such as a grandparent or someone with whom they have a significant relationship. Simcoe Muskoka Family Connexions defines “customary care” as care through an individual's lifespan in which the community takes care of its own members according to its customs, traditions and norms.

Both kinship and customary care arrangements are common within indigenous nations as we struggle to reclaim our families and children. This is a serious omission in the bill that needs to be addressed, especially because, in the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 90% of all children in care are indigenous. There are more children in the child welfare system today than at the height of the residential school system.

We know the harmful implications of separating children from their families and communities. One only has to look at the impacts of residential schools, where children were forcibly removed from their families and shipped off to residential schools, and at the sixties scoop, where indigenous children were removed from customary care structures and placed in non-indigenous foster homes, disconnecting them from their familial and community structures, to see the lasting damage that has caused.

In both instances, physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and spiritual abuse were rampant. This has resulted in lasting trauma and loss for individuals, families and communities. This was acknowledged in the 2015 report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Moreover, the omission of customary and kinship care is contrary to our international obligations, including UNDRIP and Bill C-15, which is now a law in Canada. It is also in violation of article II of the UN convention on genocide.

I want to share a story about my mother. My mother, Marjorie Gazan, was a street kid and a child welfare survivor who ended up in the system after my grandmother abandoned her and her younger brother in a hotel room in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, when she was five years old.

My grandmother had to leave them to earn money. There were no supports for indigenous women in the 1930s. There were no human rights. There was no one to turn to, especially for indigenous single mothers, and my grandmother was not an exception.

Since my mother was the eldest child, my grandmother left her in charge of her younger brother with specific instructions. She said, “Here is a loaf of bread, peanut butter and jam. It needs to last five days.” I remember my mother telling me how she, along with my uncle, gleefully ate the loaf of bread and ran out of their food ration in only one day. Hungry, scared and alone, my mother decided to call the Children's Aid Society.

It is beyond most people's imagination, especially those who have been privileged with human rights, what a five-year-old girl would have to have endured to understand who to call and how to work with the bureaucratic child welfare system to relieve her and her brother's hunger. It was not that my grandmother did not love her, but she had grown up as a street kid, who later in life became a serious alcoholic to deal with the violent genocide she had experienced throughout her life. Dislocated from her family for reasons directly correlated to the Indian Act and other institutional and colonial disruptions, including residential schools, she did not have anyone or anywhere to turn to. In fact, under the former Indian Act, a “person” is defined as “any individual other than an Indian”. This made it impossible for my grandmother.

When my mother and uncle were apprehended into care, my late great auntie Stella Goodwill offered to take them into her house on Standing Buffalo reservation. However, this did not occur. As a result, my mother ended up being switched between 15 different placements between the ages of five and 18. It was not until I was 13 years old that my mother reconnected with her family and her community of Wood Mountain Lakota first nation. My mother had to endure a life alone in the world, and as a result, I was brought up almost completely devoid of extended family. I often envied my friends having big family dinners with their relatives. This was robbed from our family by the child welfare system and residential schools, as well as the intergenerational impacts of institutionalization, colonialism and systemic racism.

I sometimes wonder why I was brought to the House of Commons, an often racist, misogynistic, classist and neocolonial environment, where talk of reconciliation is cheap and the discomfort demonstrated when the residue of trauma caused by colonial violence rears its head is received with assumptions and judgments. Maybe that is why I am here, to tell these stories, to speak these truths so that they will forever be recorded in the Hansard, to fight for justice for families and communities, and to bring our children and women home.

Customary and kinship care is one way to achieve this. Although the NDP will be supporting this bill, it is my hope that extending the benefits to customary and kinship caregivers will be addressed at committee to truly reflect reconciliation.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.


Michelle Ferreri Conservative Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be back in the House of Commons to speak on behalf of my constituents of Peterborough—Kawartha. I am very honoured to be supporting my colleague and friend from Battlefords—Lloydminster and her Bill C-318, which I will be speaking to today.

I am the critic for families, children and social development. Since being elected, I have had the opportunity to speak to thousands of people across the country. There is something that I hope everyone in the House knows, and that is that our children are in a mental health crisis. There is no doubt about it and there is no denying it. It is everywhere we go. The increase of neurodivergence and the increase in the needs of our children are increasing as the cost of living is increasing and putting stress on parents.

There are huge issues across this country in affordability, housing and mental health. It is a spider web, and none of it can be separated. None of it can be treated without the other. As happens so often in government, at all levels, it is hard to start. How do we fix such significant, giant problems?

For people who do not know, a private member's bill is when a member of the House, in this case it is my colleague from Battlefords—Lloydminster, puts forward a bill to pass through the House. It is a tangible item that we can all work together on in the House, across all party lines, to approve and make sure it happens. It is something that starts the ball rolling. It is a tiny thing that would change the crisis we are in.

What is this? It is a bill that pushes for adoptive and intended parents to have extended EI benefits. Many people do not know this, but adoptive and intended parents do not get the same EI benefits that other parents do. Why is that? I do not know the answer. It seems pretty silly when we say it out loud. It seems like a very common sense thing.

One in six families in Canada is suffering from infertility. That number is going up. There are 20,000 children across this country who are members of the state, which means they are not with a family. The majority of those kids are over 10 years old. Those first years of life are when the brain is developing, and anybody who has any neuroscience background knows that the brain is a little playdough that gets mapped. If children are not loved or attached, or are in an environment that is not safe, that is going to cause long-term issues. There might be mental health issues, addiction issues or trouble forming healthy relationships. These are all things that we have studied in the FEWO committee.

We have an equity bill that offers that same amount of EI benefits for adoptive and intended parents. It is a compassionate, common sense bill that I think could get support throughout the entire House.

I am going to go into some of the details. Up to 15 weeks of additional leave allows a parent to stay home to care for their child, bond and form healthy attachments within the critical first year of their life or placement in a family. Bill C-318 also recognizes the unique needs and complexities of attachment for adoptive families by better supporting healthy attachments, and it will of course help improve long-term outcomes and strengthen families.

Carolyn McLeod, a professor and chair of the department of philosophy at Western University, did a survey of 974 adoptive parents and found that 94% of these parents would find additional benefits very beneficial and roughly 75% said that they did not have enough time to bond with their children. She stated that a significant portion of them said that the current benefit system was a barrier to them adopting a sibling group or children with complex needs. They did not feel that they would have enough time with a child in those circumstances, so they simply did not choose to adopt a child in those circumstances.

Every child and youth needs time to adapt and adjust to their new family. Trust is the foundation for attachment. Many of these kids, as we said earlier, are over 10 and are going to desperately need that time. Every person deserves to belong to a family, feel safe and know that they have somebody who has their back.

The Liberal government has long promised to deliver 15 additional weeks of parental leave for adoptive families, but it has repeatedly failed to deliver on that promise. Back in 2019, the Prime Minister campaigned on fixing this problem; yet another broken promise.

Despite overseeing the file and being mandated to fix this problem for four years, the former minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion would not commit to providing the necessary royal recommendation for this bill. It was within her mandate as minister to introduce a 15-week leave for adoptive parents. Most recently, the former minister publicly alluded to a benefit for adoptive parents included in the 2023 budget, yet when the budget was delivered it was not there.

I will give a call to action for everyone watching at home, because sometimes it just sounds like there is a lot of talk in the House. People can directly message the minister and say that they need the minister to approve the royal recommendation, because if it does not happen, this bill dies. That is what needs to happen; that is what we are calling on today.

We have heard from all parties and they have given great speeches. I thank my colleagues from the Bloc, the NDP and the Liberal Party. They see the value in this bill. How can they not? However, there has to be action attached to the words or they are just empty promises.

I want to read for members a lovely story from Kyla Beswarick, who has gone through the process herself. She stated:

35 weeks is simply not enough time for a youth like me to feel comfortable with an entirely different family, let alone build trust with these unknown parental figures. I believe, we, who through no fault of our own, have experienced significant losses, deserve equal if not more time to heal and attach to our new family.

These are the stories we need to hear, and this is all members need to know to support my colleague's, the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster, bill today.

Canada is an outlier in not providing equal leave for all families. If we look at comparator countries such as Australia, New Zealand and U.K., we see that they all provide equal leave to these families. Moreover, it would not be a huge cost burden.

According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer's estimate, the proposed new EI attachment benefit for adoptive and intended parents would cost $88 million over 2023-24 to 2027-28. When we look at fiscal responsibility, this is it. It is how money is spent. It is where it is directed. It is the return on investment. I would challenge anyone in the House to tell me what better return on investment there is than building healthy families, than teaching children that they are loved and supported, than helping parents not stress about being with their children when they need it most.

Again, I will leave with this. I call on the Minister of Employment and Workforce Development today to provide royal recommendation, because if he does not, the bill will die. I encourage every single member in the House to start off this session showing Canadians that we mean what we say and we say what mean, and that we care about children and families in our country.

I want to congratulate my colleague on Bill C-318. I thank everyone for supporting it.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario


Mark Gerretsen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (Senate)

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to this legislation, which is extremely well intentioned and certainly is in line with where our government wants to go with respect to employment insurance.

We understand that EI parental benefits need to be fair for all workers. That is why we are committed to adopting legislation that would provide adoptive parents with an additional 15 weeks of leave to ensure that they receive the same level of support to care for their children as other parents do.

When we look at the various different measures we have brought in, whether they are the Canada child benefit, affordable child care or incentivizing shared leave, our government has delivered in many regards with respect to providing for Canadian parents. We will continue to do that at every opportunity.

I do note that there are some flaws with the legislation, in particular, perhaps not a flaw but a major hurdle, the issue with respect to royal recommendation. My colleague who spoke before me certainly indicated that it was possible to contact the minister, but the minister does not have ultimate jurisdiction over what is awarded royal recommendation. It is an extremely difficult process to overcome that hurdle of a royal recommendation, and I would be more than interested to hear of examples that former Conservative governments did with respect to allowing for royal recommendation when similar legislation came forward.

I know of the issue of royal recommendation very well. Back in 2016. I brought forward a bill that I did not believe required a royal recommendation. However, after the bill had been tabled, the Speaker determined that it did. Needless to say, the government certainly did not support my request for royal recommendation. My bill was on the same topic of EI and maternity benefits for women who worked in hazardous conditions. The point is that this hurdle of royal recommendation is indeed an extremely tall one that requires an incredible amount of consideration, and it is very rare that royal recommendation is given by cabinet.

There are some other challenges with the bill that I would like to address.

Under the current EI regulation, adoptive parents and parents of children conceived by surrogacy are entitled to up to 40 shareable weeks of EI parental benefits to care for and bond with their children. Adoptive parents do not, however, as the bill tries to address, have access to EI maternity benefits of 15 weeks, which support the recovery of claimants who are pregnant or who have recently given birth.

Bill C-318 would create a new 15-week EI benefit for the attachment and caring for adoptive children or those conceived by surrogacy that is available from the week of placement up to 52 weeks. This is an attempt to mirror the 15 weeks of maternity benefit, which can start as early as 12 weeks before the expected date of birth and can end as late as 17 weeks after the actual date of birth. However, the proposed 15-week benefit would only commence at the time of “placement”. In other words, it would not support the individuals during the time they need to prepare for the arrival of a child, for example by preparing their home and other lifestyle changes that are required to take in a new addition to their family.

In addition, the bill would provide 17 weeks of leave; that is two additional weeks to the proposed benefit's 15 weeks of income support, which is an outdated practice from when the EI waiting period used to be two weeks rather than the current one week.

I absolutely applaud the member for bringing this forward. I think most members in the House agree, and I certainly do, that we need to move in the direction that would allow for this type of implementation, but there are some issues with it.

The problem the bill faces right now is whether it receives that royal recommendation, because it will not be able to proceed much further from this point until that occurs. As I indicated previously, it is very rare that this occurs.

Nonetheless, I applaud the member for the initiative. It is a very important one. I think there will be opportunities in the future, if not through this bill specifically, to continue to collaborate together in the House to ensure that maternity and parental benefits are widely available to all those who have children. We continue to see different forms of that happening throughout the country as families are growing.

I thank the member for bringing the bill forward. Unfortunately, because of the reasons I outlined, I will not be able to support it, but I look forward to seeing where the issue goes in the future.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.


Luc Desilets Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I first want to welcome you and all my colleagues from every party back to the House.

I rise today on Bill C-318, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act and the Canada Labour Code, regarding a very specific topic: adoptive and intended parents.

The Liberal government has demonstrated a severe lack of leadership on that file. As a quick explanation for those who might not be familiar with the bill on this first sitting day after the summer break, it introduces a new type of special EI benefits, specifically, an attachment benefit of 15 weeks for adoptive parents and parents of children conceived through surrogacy.

The bill would also amend the Canada Labour Code to extend parental leave accordingly. It would also extend the benefit period while the child is hospitalized. I do not think anyone here in this House is questioning the need for a parent to take time off work to properly welcome a new baby home.

Whether we have children of our own or not, we all know that the arrival of a new child in a home is an intense and challenging time: cries, tears, nightmares, anxiety, colic pain, possible health or feeding issues, and so on. I see members smiling. We have all been there. We have to remove from the house everything that can possibly be dangerous for the little one and arrange the space so as to maximize the baby's mental and physical development.

An important part of being a parent is creating that special bond with the child. Parents have to make sure that their kids are happy, that they have everything they need, and that they feel safe and can develop trusting relationships with their new family.

There is no question that all new parents go through a complex adjustment period that is full of challenges and is different for each child. Unfortunately, or fortunately, there is no manual or piece of legislation that can really prepare us for that. Believe me, I too have been through it.

However, there are measures the government can put in place to make things a little easier and give new parents the tools they need—and I do mean all new parents. As it is often said, adoptive parents do not have it any easier than biological parents.

In fact, the opposite is often true, and this relates to the notion of attachment mentioned in the summary of Bill C-318. The literature indicates that the attachment theory referred to earlier by my colleague has emerged as a decisive factor in determining the best interests of the child.

John Bowlby's theory highlighted the fact that, from birth, children turn to adults for protection. The elements of attachment theory are based on the need for stability, consistency and adequate basic care in terms of both quantity and quality. Forming attachments is essential to children's long-term psychological health.

That said, in the case of adoption or surrogacy, the process of forming attachments can be tricky because there is no biological connection. The relationship needs to be developed, and that takes time.

It is worth noting that the meeting between parents and child often involves long-distance travel in different time zones, fatigue and changes of culture, language and climate. The children themselves obviously do not share the same excitement as their new parents. They have to say goodbye to the places they know and to everyone who has cared for them since they were born, people they have formed bonds with.

The impact of the overall decline in international adoption must also be factored in. I say this because it is increasingly difficult to adopt young children here in Canada. The process takes longer and is more complex than it used to be.

As for parents adopting a child conceived through surrogacy, certain factors may differ, but the challenges of creating a bond are quite similar. They need enough time with their child to foster attachment and create a strong, lasting parenting bond. I would also like to remind the House that, currently, neither the Canadian nor the Quebec maternity and parental leave plans contain an attachment benefit as proposed in the current bill.

Considering all this, the Bloc Québécois obviously and firmly supports creating a 15-week attachment benefit—yes, 15 weeks—for adoptive parents and parents of children conceived through surrogacy. This is not an onerous measure. I therefore invite my colleagues to vote with the Bloc Québécois in support of Bill C‑318.

However, what is somewhat disappointing to the Bloc Québécois right now is the Liberals' lack of leadership in the whole EI file overall. Need I remind the House that two years ago, in 2021, the Liberal Party campaigned on the promise to modernize employment insurance? It promised to extend the system to cover self-employed workers and to address the shortcomings brought to light by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here we are now in September 2023 and, based on the Liberals' last budget, we can see that there is still nothing. Nothing has been done except for two small reforms, if we can call them that. We are far from the major structural changes that were promised to Canadians and Quebeckers. What guarantee do we have that this bill, even if it is passed, will be implemented by the Liberals? As my colleague was saying, the Liberals need to walk the talk. The talk does not seem to be a problem, but the walk is not getting us very far.

In closing, I invite my colleagues yet again to vote with the Bloc, and me, of course, in favour of Bill C‑318. This could help many families in dire need.

I thank my colleagues for listening and I wish them a good return to Parliament.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

I recognize the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster for her right of reply.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.


Rosemarie Falk Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, as has been said today and throughout the course of this debate, the arrival of a new child is one of the most important times in a parent's life. It is a time of great joy and excitement; however, a growing family also presents added pressure on parents. Parenting demands time, energy and attention. It also adds financial costs to household budgets.

The employment insurance program provides important supports for new parents. Maternity and parental benefits help to offset some of the pressures they face. These benefits provide parents with critical financial support so that they can afford to take time off work to care for and bond with their child.

The leave entitlement provisions in the Canada Labour Code and provincial labour codes ensure that when parents take leave, their jobs are protected. Unfortunately, the current reality is that the employment insurance program does not treat all families equally. Those who grow their families through adoption and/or surrogacy are entitled to 15 fewer weeks of leave. These families are no less deserving of time with their new child, and that time is no less needed.

Bill C-318 is a common-sense piece of legislation that rectifies the existing gap in our system. It delivers parity for families formed through adoption and surrogacy. However, at its core, this legislation is about the welfare and well-being of our children. This is why the preamble of this bill intentionally acknowledges that families formed through adoption and surrogacy can face unique attachment challenges. Overcoming these challenges requires time, patience and dedicated effort.

The first year of a child's life in placement within a family is a critical time to form secure and healthy attachments. With the opportunity for families to have more time together, the proposed benefit in this bill would nurture healthy attachment and ultimately contribute positively to a child's social, emotional and cognitive development. The benefits of healthy attachment are lifelong, and they support the long-term outcomes within a family.

It has been encouraging to hear comments from all sides of the House in support of a parental leave system that treats all families fairly. Canadians across this country are now eagerly waiting for those supportive comments to translate into the passage of this bill.

I have heard directly from many parents. Some are hopeful that this bill will pass in time to deliver them the supports they need. So many more know first-hand how meaningful 15 more weeks of leave would have been for their own families, and they do not want other families to miss out on that precious time together. It is time that we support all families equally, honour the diversity of families in Canada and ensure that government policies and programs are inclusive.

Bill C-318 provides every member of this House the opportunity to support adoptive and intended parents. Together, we can take a meaningful step toward parity. With the stated support of my parliamentary colleagues from across partisan lines, it can now be anticipated that this bill will live or die based on the provision of a royal recommendation.

Just as his predecessor avoided taking a position on this bill, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages has not yet provided the royal recommendation needed or even acknowledged my correspondence to him. This issue is truly non-partisan. In fact, the Liberal government has been promising to deliver parity to adoptive parents since 2019, and it made the same promise to intended parents earlier this year. However, it has failed to act and deliver on these promises. These families are owed more than just broken promises from the Liberal government. Adoptive and intended parents should not have to keep waiting for parity in our benefit system.

I sincerely hope that a royal recommendation is forthcoming from the minister and the Liberal government, particularly from the cabinet. It is time that we give all parents the time with their children that they need and deserve.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

The question is on the motion.

If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes that the motion be carried or carried on division or wishes to request a recorded division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


Rosemarie Falk Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would request a recorded division.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, September 20, at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.

Sitting SuspendedEmployment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

The House will suspend until noon.

(The sitting of the House was suspended at 11:52 a.m.)

(The House resumed at 12 p.m.)

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders


Parkdale—High Park Ontario


Arif Virani LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that Bill C-48, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bail reform), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-48.

As this is my first time rising in this chamber as Minister of Justice and Attorney General, I want to first thank the Prime Minister for placing his confidence in me and appointing me to this position. I want to thank the constituents of Parkdale—High Park for their faith in me over the past three elections. I look forward to continuing to earn their support in this new role. I also want to thank my parents and my sister for always empowering me to dream, and I want to thank my wife and children for supporting me in realizing my dreams.

There is another person in this chamber without whose work I could not be engaging in this, and that is the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard—Verdun. The work he has done over the past four and a half years has made Canada a better place and the justice system more fair. His work will continue to inspire me in the work that I do in this role.

Lastly, I want to congratulate my parliamentary secretary, the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore. I have the pleasure of having him as a riding neighbour in Toronto, and I am very excited to work with this excellent lawyer and parliamentarian to improve Canada's justice system.

Bill C-48 will strengthen Canada's bail laws to address the public's concerns relating to repeat violent offending and offences involving firearms and other weapons. It is a response to direct requests we have received from provinces, territories and law enforcement.

I know that these issues are of top concern for all parties in this chamber and indeed all Canadians. I look forward to seeing everyone in this chamber, across party lines, help pass this bill quickly in order to make Canadians safer. We have heard support for this package from provincial and territorial counterparts across the country of all political stripes as well as municipal leaders, police and victim organizations.

I want to begin by expressing my sincere condolences to the families of those we have lost recently in senseless killings. My mind turns to the family of Gabriel Magalhaes who was fatally stabbed at a subway station in my very own riding of Parkdale—High Park. The country mourns with them. This violence is unacceptable and we cannot stand for it. Canadians deserve to be safe in their communities from coast to coast to coast.

As a father, I am personally concerned about crime and violence. I want to make sure that my two boys are protected, as are all Canadian families. That is one of my goals as justice minister. This bill will help advance that goal.

Our government is working to ensure that these crimes cannot be repeated, which means tackling crime as well as what causes crime. We are the party of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canadians expect laws that both keep them safe and respect the rights that are entrenched in the charter. In Bill C-48, we have struck that important balance. This legislation recognizes the harms posed by repeat violent offenders and would improve our bail system to better reflect this reality.

I will take a moment to remind my colleagues about the values we hold on this side of the House. Public safety is paramount for our Liberal government. This means ensuring that serious crimes will always have serious consequences. It also means improving mental health supports and social services that will prevent crime in the first place and help offenders to get the support or treatment they need to reintegrate safely into communities after they have served their sentence. We believe that investing in our communities ensures safety in the long term.

I was dismayed by the comments made by the Leader of the Opposition in the spring. He would rather engage in fearmongering for political gain instead of doing what is right: coming up with real solutions. He advocates for measures that would limit Canadians' charter rights. He points fingers instead of acknowledging the root causes of crime. The Leader of the Opposition has ignored evidence; he has voted against progress. I am dismayed, but I am not surprised. The Conservative approach to criminal justice has been short-sighted. We cannot return to Harper-era policies of clogged prisons, court delays, wasted resources and increased recidivism.

However, I was heartened to hear the Leader of the Opposition, on August 18, just about a month ago, say, “I am happy to bring back Parliament today and will pass bill reform by midnight” tonight. Well, Parliament is back. We are here. I am willing to put in the work to have this bill pass by midnight tonight. I hope the Leader of the Opposition will stay true to his word and is ready to do the same along with his caucus colleagues. Premiers around the country want this. Police around the country want this. Canadians around the country want this. Let us get this done; the clock is ticking.

What are the specific measures we are speaking about in Bill C-48? According to existing Canadian law, bail can be denied in three circumstances: to ensure the attendance of the accused in court, to protect the public and to maintain public confidence in the administration of justice.

Justice ministers across Canada agree that the bail system functions properly in most cases. However, at the same time, we heard there are challenges with the bail system when it comes to repeat violent offenders. Circumstances change and our justice system should reflect those changes. We are always open to making the system better. When we see a problem, we act. That is what Bill C-48 is about.

The targeted reforms in this bill would improve bail in five regards, as follows: first, by enacting a new reverse onus for repeat violent offending involving weapons; second, by adding certain firearms offences to the provisions that would trigger a reverse onus; third, by expanding the current intimate partner violence reverse onus, fourth, by clarifying the meaning of a prohibition order for the purpose of an existing reverse onus provision; and last, by adding new considerations and requirements for courts regarding the violent history of an accused and community safety.

Let me start, first of all, with the newly proposed reverse onus. A reverse onus at bail starts with a presumption that an accused person will be detained pending trial unless they can show why they should be released. The onus is on the accused. It sends a strong message to the courts that Parliament believes bail should be harder to get when there is an increased risk to public safety or because a release in these cases would undermine confidence in the system. Importantly, the decision and the discretion to deny bail rests with the courts, which are best placed to make such determinations.

This new reverse onus would apply in the following situations: when violence was used, threatened or attempted with the use of a weapon in the commission of the offence; when the offence is punishable by a sentence of 10 or more years in prison; and when the accused has been charged with another offence that meets these criteria in the past five years.

Bill C-48 targets repeat violent offending. My provincial and territorial counterparts and the police have told us this is what we need to address. We are delivering in terms of that specific request.

The new reverse onus targets the use of dangerous weapons. What am I speaking about? I am talking about firearms, knives and bear spray, which I know has been a particularly acute problem in the prairie provinces, thus the direct ask that was made of me and my predecessor.

In the second category, we are cracking down on firearms offences. Bill C-48 would create a reverse onus for additional indictable firearms offences. When the premiers of the country came together in January and wrote to the Prime Minister, they said a reverse onus was needed on unlawful possession of a loaded or easily loaded prohibited or restricted firearm. This bill would deliver that.

On top of what they asked us for in January, we added additional provisions. Those are if one is charged with breaking and entering to steal a firearm, if one is involved in a robbery to steal a firearm and if one is charged with making an automatic firearm. In all those additional instances, the onus would be reversed, which would make bail much more difficult to receive.

Gun crime is a serious threat to public safety. We heard this from coast to coast to coast in this country. We heard about this in this chamber. We have seen too many lives lost and innocent people hurt because of guns. Our government knows when a gun is involved the risk is so much greater. That is why we are expanding the reverse onus provisions to make it harder to get bail in those circumstances.

These reforms respond directly to the calls of the 13 premiers across this country, some who share my political party stripe, many who share the Speaker's and Conservative Party's political stripe, and some who share the NPD's political stripe. What is important is it is a multipartisan approach. The reforms also reflect the perspectives of law enforcement partners to make bail more onerous for accused persons charged with serious firearms offences.

My third category is that this bill would strengthen the existing reverse onus that applies to accused persons charged with an offence involving intimate partner violence where they have a previous conviction for this type of offence. As members may recall, this particular reverse onus was enacted through former Bill C-75, which received royal assent in June 2019. It makes it more difficult for an accused person to get bail where a pattern of violence against an intimate partner is being alleged. The goal is to provide further protection to victims from the escalating nature of this type of violence. Our Liberal government, under the direct leadership of the Prime Minister, has always taken the issue of intimate partner violence seriously and will continue to protect victims of such violence.

The fourth key element of this bill is that it clarifies the meaning of a prohibition order at the bail stage.

Right now, the reverse onus applies at the bail stage when a person has allegedly committed a firearm-related offence while subject to a firearms prohibition order.

The bill clearly states that the reverse onus will also apply in cases of bail orders that carry a condition prohibiting the accused from being in possession of firearms or other weapons. This amendment serves to strengthen the existing reverse onus provision by making it clearer and easier to apply.

The final key proposal among the group of five that I mentioned at the outset relates to what considerations a court must make and take when deciding whether to release someone on bail. In 2019, the former Bill C-75 amended the Criminal Code to provide that before making a bail order, courts must consider any relevant factor, including the criminal record of the accused or whether the charges involved intimate partner violence. That very provision would now be expanded to expressly require courts to consider whether the accused's criminal record includes a history of convictions involving violence. This would help strengthen public confidence and public safety, because bail courts would now be specifically directed to consider whether the accused has any previous violent convictions and whether they represent an increased risk of reoffending even when the proposed reverse onuses do not apply.

The bail provisions would be further amended to require a court to state on the record that it considered the safety and security of the community in relation to the alleged offence. Let me repeat that: This bill, once it passes, and indeed I hope it passes today, would require a court to state on the record that it considered the safety and security of the community in relation to the alleged offence when making a bail order. That is listening to communities and responding to their needs directly through parliamentary action. It would complement the current requirement that the court consider the safety and security of any victim.

This amendment would address specific concerns I have heard from municipalities, indigenous communities, racialized communities and marginalized communities. Our collective safety matters critically in bail decisions. This is an important change. Members of small rural communities have told us that the release of an accused on bail can have significant implications for their residents. This change would require the courts to explicitly consider the wishes of those very communities.

It is our government's responsibility to ensure that legislative measures are consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I am confident that the proposed measures are compliant. More information is provided in the charter statement for this bill, which is available on the Justice Canada website.

I am deeply committed to ensuring that any measures taken in the chamber by this Parliament would not exacerbate the overrepresentation of indigenous, Black and racialized persons in our criminal justice system. We must not further marginalize and disadvantage vulnerable people, including those struggling with poverty, homelessness and mental health and substance use issues.

The government is committed to addressing systemic discrimination in Canada's criminal justice system. I believe that the approach taken in this bill, which makes narrow but important changes, is evidence of that.

The measures proposed in the bill are the result of extensive collaboration among federal, provincial and territorial governments. Members may be aware that the previous ministers of justice and of public safety convened an urgent meeting on March 10 of this year with their provincial and territorial counterparts to discuss ways to strengthen the bail system. This was a productive meeting. The ministers agreed that law reform was necessary but was only part of the solution. The provinces and territories expressed willingness to take action in various areas themselves, including improved data collection, policies, practices, training and programs in the area of bail support and bail enforcement.

I am very encouraged by the efforts by these provincial and territorial partners that are already taking place to improve the bail system in Canada. They are our partners in this issue. They will be our partners in rendering Canada more safe. For example, Ontario and Manitoba have announced commitments to enhance bail compliance measures, among other things, to increase public safety and to address concerns posed by those engaged in repeat violent offending. In British Columbia, the premier has also stepped up and made significant investments to strengthen enforcement and improve interventions in relation to repeat violent offending. I believe that any criminal law reform enacted by Parliament will be even more effective because of such actions taken by the provinces I have just listed, and I am hoping that every province follows suit.

The position I am taking and pronouncing here in the chamber, which is entrenched in Bill C-48, is backed up by law enforcement. Brian Sauvé, president of the National Police Federation, said this on this very issue:

We also see the federal government's tabling of Bill C-48 in June as a good first step, but this cannot be the only solution. Provincial and territorial governments must now look at their own justice systems and make needed improvements. Our justice system is complex with many interrelated challenges and flaws that cannot be addressed through legislation alone.

Apart from the Criminal Code reform, our government is also fighting crime through non-legislative means. For example, the Minister of Public Safety announced $390 million in funding to help fight gangs and gun crime. This kind of funding will support provincial government initiatives related to the bail system and will complement our efforts to crack down on firearms through Bill C‑21.

Ultimately, we all have a role to play in keeping our communities safe. I would be remiss not to acknowledge the dedication and service of law enforcement personnel across our country in doing exactly that: protecting the safety of our communities, sometimes jeopardizing their own personal safety in doing so.

We are pleased that the police associations across the country have come out in support of Bill C-48. This past weekend, in my very own riding of Parkdale—High Park, I hosted the Toronto chief of police, Myron Demkiw, for a festival. He personally expressed to me his hope that Bill C-48 would become law as soon as possible. When I told him it would be debated first thing on Monday, he said, “Dyakuyu”, which means “thank you” in Ukrainian.

We have also discussed bail in meetings with representatives from national indigenous organizations. Their views were and continue to be welcomed. This helps us to better understand what is needed in relation to criminal justice system reform and keeping all communities safe.

Our government takes cases of repeat violent offending and offences involving firearms or other weapons very seriously. Our goal of protecting public safety and victims plays a major role in our analysis of how the bail system operates and whether it is performing as planned.

Bill C-48 demonstrates our commitment to taking action at the federal level to strengthen the bail system in response to the challenges raised over the past several months. Provinces, territories and law enforcement have all lauded this legislation. They come from political parties of varying stripes. This is not a partisan issue. It is about safety, and it is now our turn to pass this bill swiftly.

I started off by acknowledging some people who have been important in my life, and I want to return to that message right now. I talked about my parents and my sister. When those three people and I came here from Uganda as refugees in 1952, we were fleeing the persecution of General Idi Amin. We came here for one thing above all else: safety. We came here because Canada offered that safety and the prospect of a better life. That concern remains alive and well 51 years later for me and everyone who has the ability, honour and privilege of calling this country home. We have the ability today to do something that promotes and advances safety. I hope we can all do it co-operatively and collegially, and can get this done today.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.


Raquel Dancho Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I wish to offer a very sincere congratulations to the new Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. I know he worked very hard for his appointment and certainly broke a number of glass ceilings with his historic appointment, so we offer our very sincere congratulations in that regard. I wish him the best of luck, because the country is facing some serious public safety issues that I hope he addresses.

The minister recently gave an interview to Reuters and mentioned that he believed that “empirically” it is unlikely that Canadians are becoming less safe. That was his position a few weeks ago when he was first appointed. Unfortunately, we are seeing violent crime statistics up about 39% since the Liberals formed government in 2015. Murders are up 43%, gang-related homicides are up 108%, violent gun crime is up 101% and sexual assaults are up 71%. I could go on.

I wonder how he squares that circle. Does he believe violent crime is up, yes or no?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


Arif Virani Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for her comments and her kind words.

I would say to her point-blank that the answer to her question is yes. What I know, as a representative of a community, one of 338 communities represented in the House, is that people are feeling that crime is a problem. Crime is up. I have seen that in my own riding with respect to violence on transit systems. I have heard that from parents like me who are concerned about the welfare of their children. It is what I have seen over the past month looking at the anecdotal evidence. I have also seen it married with statistics that demonstrate that exact fact.

Crime is up. We are looking to address the fact that people are feeling these concerns. That is why this bill is needed now more than ever, not just to be debated in the House but also to be passed. That is fundamentally why I pushed for it to be prioritized on the legislative calendar.

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12:20 p.m.


René Villemure Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, let me congratulate you on the success of this return to Parliament.

I also wish to congratulate the minister on his promotion. I am sure we will have ample opportunities to work together in the future.

I have a question for the minister. I am concerned that any tampering with the presumption of innocence or the right to remain silent could set dangerous precedents.

My question is simple. In its current form, is Bill C‑48 fair?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


Arif Virani Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question and kind words.

I am perfectly comfortable with this bill. I think it is fair and absolutely necessary. It is also fully compliant with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

We always need to strike a balance between the need to protect communities and keep them safe and the need to always comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I believe that Bill C‑48 strikes that balance.

I hope the hon. member opposite and all his colleagues in the Bloc Québécois will help us move this important legislation forward.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to add my personal congratulations to the new Minister of Justice. I have worked with him in a number of capacities in Parliament and have always found him to be reasonable and a hard-working member of Parliament. I am sure he will bring the same to his new job.

I would also like to congratulate the new parliamentary secretary, who is sitting next to him, with whom I have also had a good relationship in the past. I look forward to our making progress on issues important to Canadians with these two new people in place in justice.

The minister said today a lot about getting this done today. I am going to express my hope that there is actually a plan rather than rhetoric involved with the idea that we pass this today. Certainly, New Democrats understand the urgency of tackling bail reform, both in the violent crime area and also in assisting those who get trapped in the justice system because they cannot get bail.

Does the minister actually have a plan for advancing this today?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

September 18th, 2023 / 12:20 p.m.


Arif Virani Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would say that I have tremendously appreciated working with the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke in different capacities in this Parliament and in previous Parliaments.

In terms of the plan to advance this legislation, I will say quite openly and candidly that the plan has been worked on for some months. What I mean by that is that we had incidents of violence that were occurring at the end of last year. We had a call-out from premiers around the country. That was in January. In March, we convened an ad hoc meeting of FPT officials, and we developed an idea and a consensus around what could be done. Within about eight weeks, we had legislation tabled in Parliament. That is a lightning-fast pace of proceedings in terms of the development of legislation. I do believe the important work has been done.

I would point out to the member opposite that the premier in his province of British Columbia, Premier David Eby, has been one of the most vocal proponents of this. In terms of addressing the needs expressed by Premier Eby and his government, as well as the needs expressed by so many other premiers, I think it is incumbent upon us to do this as quickly as possible. That is not a desire to short-circuit any sort of parliamentary oversight; it is far from it. I think a lot of that work has already been done in the co-development of this legislation with legal actors, law enforcement actors and other intergovernmental colleagues. I think that work has been done, and we owe it to Canadians to be promoting this as quickly as possible.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario


Mark Gerretsen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (Senate)

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the minister on his new role. He referenced the fact that this bill is widely supported throughout the country. I believe that all premiers are on board. I believe that most, if not all, associations of police are on board. I note that, in particular, the premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, said, “I’m urging the federal government to use this time to quickly pass their bail reform bill.”

I am curious whether the minister can expand on the widespread support for this and how important it is, given not just what we have hearing across the country but also what we have been hearing in the House, in particular from Conservatives, over the last number of years, to move very quickly with this.