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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

3rd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 147, Issue 44

Monday, June 28, 2010
The Honourable Donald H. Oliver, Speaker pro tempore


THE SENATE

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Senate met at 6 p.m., the Speaker pro tempore in the chair.

Prayers.

Afghanistan—Fallen Soldiers

Silent Tribute

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, before we proceed, I would ask senators to rise and observe one minute of silence in memory of Master Corporal Kristal Giesebrecht and Private Andrew Miller, whose tragic deaths occurred this past weekend while serving their country in Afghanistan.

Honourable senators then stood in silent tribute.


SENATORS' STATEMENTS

First Nations University of Canada

Hon. Sandra Lovelace Nicholas: Honourable senators, I will begin by saying I was not responsible for last week's earthquake. I will continue with the statement I started before the earth moved beneath our feet.

Before I begin my statement, honourable senators, I wish to thank Mother Earth for reminding us that we are here to protect her and not upset her with our lack of appreciation for her beautiful planet and the accord that has been shelved by our current government.

Honourable senators, woleadus yudaee, I attended an annual spring graduation ceremony of the First Nations University of Canada in Regina this month. It was a proud moment for the people of my community, the Tobique First Nation of New Brunswick. I was there to attend the graduation of a young woman and member of my community, Sabrina Bear. Sabrina, who is a single parent, turned her life around from drugs and alcohol to make a better life for her son and herself. Sabrina left the community to pursue a career in dental therapy at the First Nations University of Canada, and of the many graduates that day, she was the only graduate from New Brunswick. Sabrina is a clear example that determination and help from community members continue to be the backbone of success.

Congratulations, Sabrina. May you light the way for other young women from our community.

The Battle of the Somme

Ninety-fourth Anniversary

Hon. Nicole Eaton: Honourable senators, in three days it will be July 1, Canada Day.

Across this country, men, women and children will spend this wonderful day with family, friends and neighbours, celebrating the anniversary of Confederation and honouring Canadian values such as freedom, equality, equity, justice and democracy.

However, for generations of men and women from Newfoundland and Labrador, July 1 is not only a day of celebration; it also continues to be a day of sadness, sorrow and solemn remembrance.

It is a day of remembrance.

[English]

On that day, 94 years ago, one of the most deadly struggles in the history of human conflict began, the Battle of the Somme.

Advancing early on the morning of July 1 near a French village called Beaumont-Hamel were the men — the boys, really — of the Newfoundland Regiment.

The Newfoundlanders' battle plan was tragically simple. In the words of historian Tim Cook:

Lines of men — nearly standing shoulder to shoulder — would advance en masse to occupy the smoking remains of the enemy trenches after massive artillery bombardments first destroyed all resistance.

That was the plan. History produced a different outcome. Within 20 minutes of leaving the St. John's Road trench, nearly all of the regiment's men were dead, dying or wounded. Of the 780 men who advanced unprotected and unsupported across an open field into a blizzard of bullets, only 68 were available for roll call the next day.

[Translation]

The Battle of the Somme continued to rage on in futility for another five months, taking the lives of hundreds of thousands of young men.

Newfoundland will never recover from the morning of July 1, 1916.

The catastrophic loss of human life caused by this terrible battle and others that took place over the following two years forever altered the future of this proud colony.

[English]

More devastating was the personal loss. Scarcely an island family was untouched. In the words of writer David Macfarlane:

The greatest change the war brought was one that no one could measure. It was an absence. . . The best were gone. . . Their fiancées waited for them forever. Their mail went unanswered. Their deals never closed. Their plans were left in rough draft. Their sentences unfinished.

The Honourable Viola Léger, O.C.

Hon. Francis William Mahovlich: Honourable senators, I rise today to extend my congratulations to our former colleague, Viola Léger, upon receiving an Honorary Doctor of Laws from York University, under the auspices of Chancellor Roy McMurtry.

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Throughout her life, Viola has had many important roles, including teacher, senator, and actress in numerous stage, television and movie productions, but she may be best known for her role as La Saguine in the play of the same name by Antonine Maillet. The scrubwoman is a role she mastered over the last 40 years, and one for which she has received rave reviews around the globe. I had the extreme pleasure of seeing her perform the part in Toronto this past May. Part of the performance was on her knees.

Never forgetting her Acadian roots, Viola created the Fondation Viola Léger to encourage and help develop theatre in Acadia. She has received numerous awards and accolades over the years, including New Brunswick Francophone Teachers' Association Award of Merit, the Chevalier de l'Ordre de la Pléiade, the Dora Mavor Moore Award, the Médaille du Conseil de la Vie Française en Amérique, and the Award for Excellence in Theatre from the Government of New Brunswick. She is also an Officer in the Order of Canada and was appointed to the Order of New Brunswick two years after her retirement from this chamber.

As many honourable senators knew Viola personally, they know how deserving she is of all these accolades. The honorary doctorate of law she received on Sunday is another distinguished feather in her cap.

I am sure that all honourable senators will join me in congratulating Viola Léger for receiving this distinguished honour, and continue to wish her the very best in the future roles that life may have to offer her.

I wish to leave honourable senators with the same wise words that Viola Léger left the students during their convocation at York University this past weekend: "We can't always control our destiny, but we can control our attitude."

This is one more life lesson that we can all learn from the wise mind of La Saguine.

The Late Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Hon. Vim Kochhar: Honourable senators, on June 16, I had the opportunity and honour to speak at the installation of the life-sized bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the pathway to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.

It was time for me to reflect on the life of Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi was the greatest champion of human rights in the history of mankind. It was appropriate to have his statue at the first museum of human rights in the world. It is also the first national museum outside the capital region, and I have the honour to serve as a trustee and a board member.

Mahatma Gandhi was a king without a crown, a most powerful man without holding any office. He was a general without an army. He was a fighter — a fighter against injustice and oppression. He was always prepared to die for what he believed in, but never prepared to harm or kill anyone.

This little frail man wrapped in a loincloth challenged the mighty British Empire with his weapon of non-violence and his convictions as strong as steel. With the great admiration and surprise of the world, he won the independence of India and became the father of the Indian nation.

Mahatma Gandhi chose to live as the poorest Indian. His possessions were his eyeglasses, a pocket watch, sandals, and a few yards of cloth that he had woven himself wrapped around his body, and yet kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers came to him for his advice and to draw on his moral strength. The only devils you ever have to fight, he said, are within your own consciousness. He taught us that non-violence is the most powerful tool for the weak and forgiveness is the most powerful tool for the strong.

Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King drew strength from Mahatma Gandhi.

On January 30, 1948, I was 12 years old. I had gone to Gandhi's prayer meeting at Birla House in New Delhi with an autograph book in my hand to obtain his autograph. I had gone half an hour before the start of the prayer meeting so that I could be close to the platform where he was to sit.

Mahatma Gandhi came out towards the platform. He was less than 12 feet away when I saw a man bent over to touch Gandhi's feet to pay respect. Then the man pulled a gun and shot him three times. The last words from Gandhi's lips were "Hai Ram," meaning "O God."

I was an eyewitness to the most horrific historic event. That memory is still etched in my mind even after 62 years.

Senate Pages

Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Honourable senators, last Wednesday, June 23, while honourable senators were listening to what some may call an earth-shattering statement by Senator Lovelace Nicholas, an earthquake in fact hit Ottawa. At 1:41 p.m., a 5.0-magnitude quake with a depth of 18 kilometres rattled buildings from Sudbury to Quebec City and as far south as New York.

During the quake, near panic ensued in the chamber, with many senators diving under their desks for the cover of safety. However, the pages remained calm. In the face of adversity, these young people, along with our great Senate security and administration, took it upon themselves to organize an orderly evacuation. While holding the doors, the pages quickly shuttled the senators outside to safety.

Honourable senators, I commend the pages for their outstanding bravery. These young people showed great courage and did not leave before ensuring every senator left this chamber safely.

I would like all honourable senators to join me in thanking our wonderful pages.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Federal Courts Act

Bill to Amend—Ninth Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee Presented

Hon. Art Eggleton, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, presented the following report:

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has the honour to present its

NINTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Federal Courts Act, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Thursday, June 17, 2010, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Your committee has also made certain observations, which are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

ART EGGLETON,
Chair

(For text of observations, see today's Journals of the Senate, p. 688.)

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

Senator Eggleton: Honourable senators, I was within minutes of presenting this report on Wednesday when the earth shook; I was intending to say "at the next sitting of the Senate." In view of the passage of time, I am willing to say, with your concurrence, "later this day."

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(On motion of Senator Eggleton, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading later this day.)

Employment Insurance Act

Bill to Amend—Tenth Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee Presented

Hon. Art Eggleton, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, presented the following report:

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has the honour to present its

TENTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Monday, June 21, 2010, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Respectfully submitted,

ART EGGLETON,
Chair

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

Senator Eggleton: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(b), I move that the bill be read the third time later this day.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(On motion of Senator Eggleton, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading later this day.)

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Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—Seventh Report of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Presented

Hon. Joan Fraser, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, presented the following report:

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has the honour to present its

SEVENTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill S-6, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and another Act, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Wednesday, May 5, 2010, examined the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Respectfully submitted,

JOAN FRASER,
Chair

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

(On motion of Senator Carignan, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)

[Translation]

Criminal Records Act

Bill to Amend—Eighth Report of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Presented

Hon. Joan Fraser, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, presented the following report:

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has the honour to present its

EIGHTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-23A, An Act to amend the Criminal Records Act, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Monday, June 21, 2010, examined the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Respectfully submitted,

JOAN FRASER
Chair

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

(On motion of Senator Boisvenu, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading later this day.)

[English]

Study on Provisions and Operation of DNA Identification Act

Ninth Report of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Tabled

Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the ninth report, final, of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, entitled: Public Protection, Privacy and the Search for Balance: A Statutory Review of the DNA Identification Act.

(On motion of Senator Fraser, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)

[Translation]

The Senate

Notice of Motion to Extend Wednesday Sitting

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That, notwithstanding the Order adopted by the Senate on April 15, 2010, when the Senate sits on Wednesday, June 30, 2010, it continue its proceedings beyond 4 p.m. and follow the normal adjournment procedure according to Rule 6(1); and

That the application of rule 13(1) be suspended on Wednesday, June 30, 2010.

Honourable senators, we can discuss this motion further tomorrow. This is a precautionary notice of motion, in case we need additional time, but I hope we will not be here Wednesday afternoon.

[English]

Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group

Annual Conference of the Southeastern United-States Canadian Provinces Alliance, April 11-13, 2010—Report Tabled

Hon. Janis G. Johnson: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at the third annual conference of the Southeastern United States-Canadian Provinces Alliance, held in Biloxi, Mississippi, from April 11 to 13, 2010.

Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance Conference, May 2-4, 2010—Report Tabled

Hon. Janis G. Johnson: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at the Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance Conference held in Ottawa from May 2 to 4, 2010.

Annual Meeting, May 7-10, 2010—Report Tabled

Hon. Janis G. Johnson: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at the fifty-first annual meeting of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group held in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America, from May 7 to 10, 2010.


[Translation]

QUESTION PERIOD

Public Safety

Costs of Public Safety Legislation

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

We are currently studying a 900-page bill. Yet the government has introduced a number of bills to amend the Criminal Code. All the so-called law and order bills have certain consequences and carry huge costs.

Before Bill C-25 on truth in sentencing was passed, the Minister of Public Safety had estimated that the additional costs would be $90 million. Once the bill was passed by the House of Commons, the minister revised his prediction and said that the bill would cost $2 billion over the next five years.

This sort of mistaken estimate reminds us of a certain G8 and G20 summit, whose costs went up by 500 per cent. I am talking about the original costs compared to the bill we are going to get in the coming weeks.

The Leader of the Government in the Senate will tell us that it is a matter of security, but the government has to be able to put a figure to the services it provides for the public.

In spite of the government's refusal to cooperate, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, redid the calculations using the data that were available to him. In his opinion, costs will go up by between $8 billion and $13 billion, an increase of 400 to 650 per cent.

Given that the government has once again shown a total lack of transparency toward Parliament and the Parliamentary Budget Officer, can the Leader of the Government in the Senate give this chamber a clear indication of how much the passage of Bill C-25 will cost?

[English]

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, in mentioning the summits, Senator Hervieux-Payette has obviously misstated the facts when talking about the amount of security costs for the event. They were not increased tenfold; they were costs put out transparently and openly, and the government was even congratulated by the Parliamentary Budget Officer for being transparent and open about the security costs. Once everyone has had a chance to assess the costs, they will be reported openly and transparently.

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With regard to the costs of the Correctional Service of Canada, there is no secret of the fact that the Minister of Public Safety differs significantly from the report of the Parliamentary Budget Officer. As the minister pointed out, the objective of this legislation is to protect Canadians. Our primary objective is to keep dangerous criminals in prison. It is rather interesting to note that crime across the board costs Canadians $70 billion. Minister Toews was referring to figures that were provided by the Correctional Service of Canada.

We have no reason to doubt the figures that were given to us by the Correctional Service of Canada. However, on this, I refer honourable senators to the views of the NDP Manitoba minister as published in The Globe and Mail on June 23. Here is what Public Safety Minister Toews said on this issue:

The cost of the crime to Canadians is approximately $70 billion a year and the cost of incarcerating dangerous repeat offenders is warranted in that context.

I could not agree with him more.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I hope I understood correctly that the leader will ensure she will reconcile the figures that she has given us and the ones Mr. Page was providing, because at this time there is confusion. We are accountable to the taxpayers and we need to know the exact cost. We need to know the cost for the federal government and the provincial government. As honourable senators know, prisoners with a sentence of less than two years are incarcerated under the auspices of the provinces. We need to know those costs because taxpayers are paying these bills.

Senator LeBreton: I could not agree more. That was one reason that all provincial and territorial attorneys general were supportive of the government's initiative on the two-for-one credit. Knowing that they will not get some special two-for-one deal through the courts, many people are now facing their trials and going into the federal system; whereas before they cost the provinces a considerable amount of money the longer they delayed their trial as they fought the system. Since these individuals were being compensated in their sentencing with the time they had served in advance of their trial, it has taken a considerable amount of pressure off the provinces. These people are no longer in their institutions and therefore this has created considerable savings for the provinces.

Absolutely, honourable senators, the government will be open and upfront about the cost. However, as I said before, the government and the minister rely on the figures provided to us by public servants at the Correctional Service of Canada, and we have no reason to doubt their estimates.

Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, following on that issue, has the government shared with the provinces the government's estimates as to the costs of implementation of these various bills that have been passed by Parliament and those that are before Parliament at present?

Senator LeBreton: I will be happy to ascertain the answer to that question, but I do know that the provinces have been very supportive of the federal government's initiatives for the reasons I stated in answer to Senator Hervieux-Payette's question.

It takes a significant load off the provinces' resources when these incarcerated people do not languish in provincial institutions, dragging out their trials. As a result of the law passed in this place, results have already been shown.

I know that both the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Justice have been working closely with their provincial counterparts. As I mentioned a moment ago, the minister in Manitoba is fully supportive of what the government is doing.

I will take Senator Cowan's question as notice and get a report on any consultations that have taken place with the provinces.

Senator Cowan: I think Senator LeBreton would understand that provinces are naturally concerned about the reports issued by Mr. Page and whether or not his figures are accurate or whether Mr. Toews' figures are accurate. There is clearly a wide divergence and, as Senator Hervieux-Payette said, at the end there is only one taxpayer but there will be an allocation of those expenses between levels of government. It would be fair to say that all provincial governments are concerned about what impact these costs might have on their budgets. The sooner the matter is clarified, the happier everyone will be.

Senator LeBreton: I completely agree, although I am sure all provinces and territorial governments that have to share the burden of $70 billion a year that criminal acts costs us all will be factored in as well.

[Translation]

Delayed Answers to Oral Questions

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to present three delayed answers to oral questions raised by the Honourable Senator Dyck on March 31, 2010, concerning Indian Affairs and Northern Development, funding for the First Nations University of Canada; the Honourable Senator Peterson on April 21, 2010, concerning Indian Affairs and Northern Development, funding for the First Nations University of Canada; and the Honourable Senator Callbeck on June 8, 2010, concerning the Canadian Human Rights Commission, closure of branch offices.

Indian Affairs and Northern Development

First Nations University of Canada—Aboriginal Education

(Response to question raised by Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck on March 31, 2010)

Since its inception, the First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) has received financial support from the federal and provincial governments allowing it to provide educational services to Aboriginal students. In 2009-10, the university received $7.2 million in core funding from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).

In February 2010, both the Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan ceased their financial support of FNUniv in the wake of a report by the university's Chief Financial Officer highlighting long-standing, systemic problems related to governance and financial management of the institution. The Government of Canada announced that no further federal funding would go to FNUniv until it was able to restructure its governance and become an accountable and financially stable institution in good standing. Since that time, the university has begun to take steps towards reform, including the development of a sustainable fiscal plan to address its debt, the leveraging of other sources of revenue such as the sale of assets, the reinstatement of its Chief Financial Officer, and the appointment of an interim President, Dr. Shauneen Pete.

Most significantly, FNUniv entered into a partnership with the University of Regina, the Province of Saskatchewan and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, signing a memorandum of understanding that describes the relationship between the parties for the period of April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2014. The Saskatchewan government subsequently announced that it was restoring $5.2 million in funding to the university.

With steps being taken towards reform, the Government of Canada announced on March 30, 2010, that it was prepared to invest up to $3 million through the Indian Studies Support Program (ISSP) to an eligible post-secondary institution in good standing, such as the University of Regina, for expenses related to programming for students attending the FNUniv. The proposal-driven program is designed to support the development and delivery of college-and university-level courses for First Nation and Inuit students.

This commitment was fulfilled on April 29, 2010, when INAC approved an ISSP proposal submitted by the University of Regina and announced that it would be providing $3 million to ensure that the students of FNUniv were able to complete their academic year, which ends on August 31, 2010.

The University of Regina also submitted a second proposal for ISSP funding for the period from September 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011. The proposal was accepted by INAC on June 1, 2010. The department committed up to a maximum of $4 million subject to the progress of FNUniv in reforming its governance and accountability.

With the approval of this second ISSP proposal, the Government of Canada will be providing up to a maximum of $7 million in funding to the University of Regina for the 2010-2011 fiscal year as it continues to support the students of FNUniv.

Funding for the First Nations University of Canada

(Response to question raised by Hon. Robert W. Peterson on April 21, 2010)

Since its inception, the First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) has received financial support from the federal and provincial governments allowing it to provide educational services to Aboriginal students. In 2009-2010, the university received $7.2 million in core funding from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).

In February 2010, both the Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan ceased their financial support of FNUniv in the wake of a report by the university's Chief Financial Officer highlighting long-standing, systemic problems related to governance and financial management of the institution. The Government of Canada announced that no further federal funding would go to FNUniv until it was able to restructure its governance and become an accountable and financially stable institution in good standing. Since that time, the university has begun to take steps towards reform, including the development of a sustainable fiscal plan to address its debt, the leveraging of other sources of revenue such as the sale of assets, the reinstatement of its Chief Financial Officer, and the appointment of an interim President, Dr. Shauneen Pete.

Most significantly, FNUniv entered into a partnership with the University of Regina, the Province of Saskatchewan and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, signing a memorandum of understanding that describes the relationship between the parties for the period of April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2014. The Saskatchewan government subsequently announced that it was restoring $5.2 million in funding to the university.

With steps being taken towards reform, the Government of Canada announced on March 30, 2010, that it was prepared to invest up to $3 million through the Indian Studies Support Program (ISSP) to an eligible post-secondary institution in good standing, such as the University of Regina, for expenses related to programming for students attending the FNUniv. The proposal-driven program is designed to support the development and delivery of college-and university-level courses for First Nation and Inuit students.

This commitment was fulfilled on April 29, 2010, when INAC approved an ISSP proposal submitted by the University of Regina and announced that it would be providing $3 million to ensure that the students of FNUniv were able to complete their academic year, which ends on August 31, 2010.

The University of Regina also submitted a second proposal for ISSP funding for the period from September 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011. The proposal was accepted by INAC on June 1, 2010. The department committed up to a maximum of $4 million subject to the progress of FNUniv in reforming its governance and accountability.

With the approval of this second ISSP proposal, the Government of Canada will be providing up to a maximum of $7 million in funding to the University of Regina for the 2010-2011 fiscal year as it continues to support the students of FNUniv.

INAC currently provides funding to more than 60 institutions through the ISSP.

Canadian Human Rights Commission

Closure of Branch Offices

(Response to question raised by Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck on June 8, 2010)

The Canadian Human Rights Commission is an independent agency that administers the Canadian Human Rights Act without interference from the Government.

This internal re-organization was a decision made by the Commission without direction or input from the Government.


ORDERS OF THE DAY

Business of the Senate

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 27(1), I wish to inform the Senate that when we proceed to Government Business, the Senate will address the items in the following order: third reading of Bill C-44; second reading of Bill C-45; third reading of Bill C-23A; third reading of Bill C-24; third reading of Bill C-34; third reading of Bill C-11; third reading of Bill C-13; second reading of Bill C-40; second reading of Bill S-8; second reading of Bill S-11; second reading of Bill S-10 and third reading of Bill S-4; followed by all the other items as they appear on the Order Paper.

[English]

Appropriation Bill No. 2, 2010-11

Second Reading

Hon. Irving Gerstein moved second reading of Bill C-44, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2011.

He said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to move second reading of Appropriation Bill No. 2, 2010-11. This bill provides for the release of main supply for the current fiscal year. In dollar terms, it is the largest appropriation bill of the year. It reflects the Main Estimates that were tabled in the Senate on March 4, 2010.

Before I go into the specifics in this bill, I believe, honourable senators, it was Voltaire who said, "If you wish to converse with me, first define your terms," so allow me to begin by defining some of the terms associated with the Main Estimates.

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Main Estimates include both budgetary and non-budgetary items. Budgetary items are those that affect the government's bottom line, whereas non-budgetary measures involve changes in the composition of the government's financial assets.

Each item in these Main Estimates can be categorized as either statutory or voted. Statutory expenditures are those the government is bound to make, according to existing statutes that have already been approved by Parliament. For example, Employment Insurance benefits are dispensed in accordance with the Employment Insurance Act, so we do not have to vote on them. By contrast, voted expenditures are those that Parliament must approve explicitly.

This appropriation bill will approve a total of $259 billion in net expenditures. It authorizes $261.2 billion in budgetary spending and a negative total of $2.2 billion in non-budgetary expenditures related to loans and investments. The budgetary spending in this bill includes the cost of servicing the public debt, operating and capital expenditures, transfers to the provinces and municipalities, as well as organizations and individuals, and payments to Crown corporations.

The greater part of the expenses described in Main Estimates, $165 billion, are statutory. These expenses include such crucial programs as Old Age Security, Employment Insurance and so forth.

The remaining $96.3 billion described in the Main Estimates must be voted by Parliament. Interim supply, in the amount of $27.3 billion, was provided through Appropriation Act No. 1, 2010-11, in March. That leaves a total balance of $69 billion to be approved by the passage of the bill presently before us, Appropriation Bill No. 2, 2010-11.

The current year will be a transitional one. Even while the government is working hard to become more efficient and move toward a balanced budget, we remain committed to delivering the second and final year of Canada's Economic Action Plan. The Main Estimates reflect this.

Some of the major items these estimates describe include: $2.9 billion for the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund; $254 million for the Strategic Training and Transition Fund; $1.1 billion for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to support the construction and improvement of social housing and housing for low-income seniors and people with disabilities; $183 million for the Accelerated Infrastructure Program under Public Works and Government Services; and $289 million for First Nations' infrastructure, including school construction, water and wastewater projects and on-reserve housing.

Other major initiatives funded by the legislation before us today relate to the safety, effectiveness and well-being of our military men and women. The budget for National Defence is increasing by $1.9 billion this year.

Major military expenses reflected in the Main Estimates include: $822 million to ensure the safety and effectiveness of Canadian troops serving in Afghanistan; $298 million for medium-to heavy-lift helicopters; $247 million for the Tactical Airlift Capability Project; $200 million for the Maritime Helicopter Project; $128 million for the Tank Replacement Project; and $125 million for other land combat vehicles.

We are determined to do right by the Canadian men and women who put themselves in harm's way to defend democracy, security and human rights.

Of course, there are many items in the Main Estimates that I have not touched on, but since I began my remarks with Voltaire, it is fitting that I should end with Voltaire who observed:

The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out.

I assure you that the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance has examined these estimates in considerably more detail than I can describe in these few minutes.

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I thank the Honourable Senator Gerstein for his thorough report of the various expenditures that appear in this bill.

Honourable senators, the first thing that I typically do when I look at the main supply bill, which we have only received about a week ago, is look at the total amounts in Schedules 1 and 2 and compare them to the Main Estimates. In the Main Estimates, we are given two schedules. Because that is the basis for our study of the Main Estimates, it is very important that these two schedules appear to be and are identical.

I can confirm, honourable senators, that I have looked at the two schedules and they are identical to the schedules that appear in the Main Estimates.

Honourable senators will know that our committee studied the Main Estimates that have been the subject of two interim reports thus far. The first report, late in March, allowed for interim supply. The second report, which we have also debated in this chamber and you have adopted, forms basically the basis for this main supply, which must be done before June 30, which is Wednesday of this week.

Because we received the supply bill so late in time — that is tradition; that is not something new to this particular year — we have developed a process whereby your committee studies the estimates before the bill arrives. Then all we have to do is compare the schedule from the Main Estimates to the schedules that are in the bill. If they are the same, we have studied the material in the bill itself. Honourable senators, that study is reflected in our second interim and fourth report on the Main Estimates for this year.

I do not intend to go through each of the items that have been already referred to by my honourable colleague, Senator Gerstein. The committee had 12 meetings that formed the basis of this particular report. They dealt with transfers to provinces, Public Service Commission, Community Futures Program, the Auditor General's report, Canada Post, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Honourable senators who are interested in seeing our full analysis can see that in the fourth report of our committee, which is the second interim report on the Main Estimates.

There is one other point I want to make. Once passed, these are deemed to have been approved on April 1. We are backdating this approval to April 1 of this year, which is the beginning of the fiscal year. That is one of the clauses in the bill before you right now, Bill C-44. It is clause 3(2). That is important for honourable senators to have in mind.

Schedule 2 is for certain departments that are allowed to get supply over two years. There is $3.9 billion dollars going to those departments. These are departments that typically work over a longer extended period. The majority is $65 billion, which is in Schedule 1. Between the two of them, as Honourable Senator Gerstein pointed out, there is approximately $69 billion that you are being asked to vote on and approve at second reading in this matter.

Those are my comments with respect to this main supply for this fiscal year.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Some Hon. Senators: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

(Motion agreed to and bill read second time.)

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: When shall this bill be read the third time?

(On motion of Senator Gerstein, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)

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Appropriation Bill No. 3, 2010-11

Second Reading

Hon. Irving Gerstein moved second reading of Bill C-45, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2011.

He said: Honourable senators, it is my honour to move second reading of Appropriation Bill No. 3, 2010-11. This bill provides for the release of supply in relation to the Supplementary Estimates (A) 2010-11, which were tabled in the Senate on May 26 of this year. It authorizes $3.3 billion in voted expenditures that stem from Budget 2010.

As honourable senators know, supplementary estimates are used by the government to seek Parliament's approval for expenditures that were not identified or fully developed in time for the Main Estimates. Our government has taken a number of actions to strengthen the estimates review process and make the government more accountable.

We have added a spring supplementary estimates in order to bring forward appropriation requirements as early as possible in the supply calendar. We have also created new central votes that reduce the reliance on supplementary estimates for routine business.

The Supplementary Estimates (A) 2010-11 were studied during three meetings of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. These supplementary estimates reflect the net amount of $1.8 billion in budgetary spending, comprised of $3.3 billion in voted appropriations, less $1.5 billion in statutory spending. The $3.3 billion in voted appropriations include: $351 million to enhance aviation security; $339 million for vital capital projects for the Canadian Forces; $300 million for Atomic Energy of Canada to ensure continued isotope production, health and safety upgrades, and reactor refurbishment; $108 million to create the Canada Media Fund to ensure Canadian choices are available on TV and other digital media; and $62.8 million for the National Research Council to continue the technology cluster initiatives, which help communities and businesses build a competitive advantage in science and technology.

These estimates also describe big ticket items that are shared by multiple departments — horizontal initiatives in the bean-counting vernacular. These include: $654 million for security planning and operations for the G8 and G20 summits of last week; $162 million towards the implementation of the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan; $135 million to maintain and improve Aboriginal health programs; and $130 million for Canada's initial response to the earthquake in Haiti.

Speaking of the earthquake in Haiti, Canada's response to that awful calamity has been decisive and generous, and should make all Canadians proud. I am sure honourable senators will pardon a brief digression as I applaud the recent announcement that Michaëlle Jean will be appointed as United Nations' Special Envoy for Haiti. I am confident that she will build considerably upon Canada's already very strong reputation in that troubled part of the world.

This year's Supplementary Estimates (A) are also remarkable for what they do not contain. For example, there is no increase in departmental operating budgets to cover the annual wage increase of 1.5 per cent. In Budget 2010, the government has asked departments to honour that wage increase commitment within their existing budgets. This is just one way in which the appropriation bill before us demonstrates the government's commitment to sound and sustainable fiscal management.

I have spoken long enough on this bill, honourable senators. You will soon hear from me yet again, and I do not want to tax your indulgence. You know that the policy of the Conservative government is to tax less, not more.

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, this is the second supply bill at this time in the supply cycle. This bill, as well, must be passed by the government by June 30 in order for the government to proceed with its fiscal plan.

Honourable senators will know that Bill C-45 is for $3.3 billion of voted budgetary amounts, which you are being asked to vote on now at second reading.

Honourable senators, the process for this bill is the same as it is for the main supply bill, Bill C-44. We study the estimates before the bill arrives, because the bill arrives late by tradition. We study it by studying the estimates document, the bound document which is several centimetres thick. That document contains two schedules — schedules 1 and 2. It is important for us to compare the schedules we have studied with the schedules that appear in Bill C-45. Honourable senators, on your behalf, I have done that, and I find the schedules to conform to the schedules that we have studied.

Honourable senators, the report that flowed from the work we have done with respect to these Supplementary Estimates (A) is before you, but has not been adopted by this chamber and, in fact, has not been debated. We would have begun the debate last Wednesday, but other events intervened. Therefore, we will proceed to deal with the report, but it is important that it be debated. Some honourable senators believe the report should be adopted before we give the supply bill third reading.

Honourable senators, we are not at that stage yet. We are dealing with second reading, so the schedules, as I indicated, are schedules 1 and 2.

Honourable senators might be interested in knowing which departments are entitled to have supply for two years. They are the Canada Revenue Agency, Parks Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency. Those are schedule 2 agencies, and they are entitled to supply over a two-year period, whereas the majority of departments and agencies receive supply over a one-year period.

Honourable senators, these items appear in the bill and I agree with Senator Gerstein when he referred to a number of the specific items. I will wait to give you my comments with respect to the specific items until we get to the report, which I anticipate we will deal with later this day.

Hon. Jane Cordy: Will the senator accept a question?

Senator Day: I would be pleased to.

Senator Cordy: I know that when Senator Gerstein was speaking he said that some of the money is for security planning for the G8 and G20 summits. If Canadians read Bill C-45, will they be able to easily pick out what money was spent for security planning?

In addition to that, there was some confusion about some of the things done in the Huntsville area — there was the hockey rink, pavilions, sidewalks and the steamship refurbishing. I know that Minister Clement said initially, when he was announcing these, that this was G8 summit spending, but then later in the House of Commons during Question Period someone — I believe it was Minister Baird, but it was a minister — said indeed it was not G8 spending, but that it was infrastructure money.

Will this be clarified for Canadians when they look at Bill C-45?

Senator Day: That is a very good question. Like everything else in finance, it is not easy to follow all these items. To answer the honourable senator's question directly, it will not be easy. In fact, the senator is quite right that there is some infrastructure money, some stimulus money, for which we do not have a tie-in to the G8 and G20 summits. We do not have a breakdown of those items, although we asked questions in that regard.

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I can also tell honourable senators that part of the funding for the G8 and G20 summits was in Supplementary Estimates (C) of the last fiscal year. To arrive at the $1 billion, one must go back to last fiscal year to pick up some of the funds. There, two different items within these Main Estimates deal with the G8 and G20 summits.

We do not have a clear picture of the stimulus fund and infrastructure funding yet, but we continue to try to track all the funds in relation to this spending. It is similar to the Haiti Relief Fund; it is difficult to calculate because it is spread over so many different items.

We have asked the Treasury Board to provide us with a horizontal list of all the departments and all the money spent on a particular subject matter. However, if it was not listed as G8/G20, it will not be picked up. Stimulus funds in Huntsville for a rink will not be picked up in that manner.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is there further debate? Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

(Motion agreed to and bill read second time.)

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

(On motion of Senator Gerstein, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)

[Translation]

Criminal Records Act

Bill to Amend—Third Reading

Hon. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu moved that Bill C-23A, An Act to amend the Criminal Records Act, be read the third time.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

(Motion agreed to, on division, and bill read third time and passed.)

[English]

First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act

Bill to Amend—Third Reading

Hon. Rose-May Poirier moved third reading of Bill C-24, An Act to amend the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act and another Act in consequence thereof.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

(Bill read third time and passed.)

Museums Act

Bill to Amend—Third Reading

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino moved third reading of Bill C-34, An Act to amend the Museums Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

(Bill read third time and passed.)

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActFederal Courts Act

Bill to Amend—Third Reading

Hon. Judith Seidman moved third reading of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Federal Courts Act.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Is there further debate?

Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, I had expected a speech from the government side. However, we dealt with this bill in committee last Tuesday, and as chair of the committee, I want to note a few things. The whole premise of this bill is to deal with people who are into the refugee system in a fast and fair way.

We spent much of last Tuesday hearing from various witnesses about the bill. The first witness we heard from was Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney. I must give him a lot of credit. He appeared via video conference from London, England, because he especially wanted to be with us to introduce his bill to the committee and to talk about it. He knows the bill well. He knows his portfolio well and we were pleased to have him with us by video conference.

We heard from a number of witnesses throughout the day, most of whom were favourable towards the bill. Some of them had concerns or anxiety about this or that, and it is understandable; we are dealing with sensitive issues. However, they were also impressed with the fact that all parties have gotten together in the House of Commons to produce a bill that was much improved from the original and was something that all parties could support.

We attached two observations, which is essentially why I rose. I wanted to note them, as is customary for the chair to do. First:

The committee was pleased to learn of Citizenship and Immigration Canada's plan to conduct an internal evaluation of the immigration system as reformed by the bill three years after implementation and requests that the Minister make this report available to both Houses of Parliament for their consideration.

It is good that they will conduct this review. At that point in time, having further discussion as to how the system is working will be most helpful. We may have more suggestions at that point as to efficiency and effectiveness of the refugee determination process. The witnesses before the committee felt that this approach was a reasonable and laudatory one to take. Second:

The committee was pleased to hear from all officials that the quality of personnel will be critical to the success of the implementation of the bill and we urge every effort to secure appropriately qualified personnel for the Refugee Protection Division and the Refugee Appeal Division.

Those two divisions are involved here. Mitchell Goldberg, from the Canadian Bar Association, in his testimony said:

We all agree you cannot have an effective system . . . if you do not have merit-based appointments. . . .

. . . the Canadian people deserve to have a system that is 100-per-cent merit-based, and refugees desperately need it.

Lorne Waldman, also a witness, expressed the same sentiments, saying the Refugee Appeal Division needed the most experienced and senior members of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. Both in terms of the Governor-In-Council appointments to the appeal division and in terms of the employees hired under the public service act with respect to the processing division, it was felt that people of the highest quality were needed. We think that is the intention of the government, but we want to reiterate that we feel it is important.

Those two observations are with the report on the bill, which was unanimously approved, and is now submitted for third reading. I think Senator Jaffer wants to speak further about the matter.

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak on Bill C-11, which was passed by the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, chaired by Senator Eggleton, last Wednesday.

The committee heard from various witnesses, including Minister Kenney, alongside his officials. I once again commend Minister Kenney and the opposition critic, the Honourable Maurizio Bevilacqua, for their efforts.

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Lorne Waldman, a well-respected lawyer in refugee law and one of the witnesses from whom the committee heard, stated:

I have to say that I find myself in a strange position. Usually when I come to speak before parliamentary committees, I am here to urge the committees to make amendments to the legislation.

. . . due to the parliamentary process and the successful negotiation amongst all of the political parties, what is now before you in the Senate, which I think is a compromise, I am urging the Senate to pass this without amendment. It is the first time I can say this. I have appeared before parliamentary committees since 1976. . . .

The bill is not perfect. . . . However, on balance, I think it is a compromise.

Honourable senators, Canada has long strived to protect the rights and freedoms of those people who are the most vulnerable in this world, such as refugees. Mr. Hy Shelow, Senior Protection Officer from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, put into context for the committee how important it was for us to seriously consider Bill C-11. He said:

In view of the nature of risks involved and the grave consequences of an erroneous determination, it is essential that asylum seekers be afforded full procedural safeguards and guarantees at all stages of refugee status procedures. The necessity to provide fair and efficient refugee status determination procedures in the context of the individual asylum systems stems from the right to seek and enjoy asylum as guaranteed under article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. . . .

Bill C-11 is an attempt to improve our refugee system. The Senate Social Affairs Committee recommends that we pass this bill. I agree.

Honourable senators, there are some issues I wish to raise today to ensure that we continue to monitor the effectiveness of this bill, as we said in the observations, when this bill comes up for review.

The first issue is the humanitarian and compassionate application.

Currently, before removal, refused claimants have an opportunity to present new evidence of risk. Under Bill C-11, there is no mechanism to deal with individual changes to circumstances for 12 months after the claimant has been refused an appeal — for example, if a claimant, while in Canada, discovers that several members of her family have been arrested as political dissidents and that she, too, will face the same risk of imprisonment if she is removed from our country.

Bill C-11 does contain an exception where the minister exempts from the 12-month rule nationals of a specific country or a class of nationals. This could occur where the circumstances of the country have changed, such as when a coup d'état has taken place. However, Bill C-11 does not accommodate individuals whose circumstances may have changed throughout the duration of the 12-month period, such as in the example I described previously. Under this bill, the minister cannot exempt an individual from the 12-month ban.

The only recourse provided in the law would seem to be a humanitarian and compassionate application. Unfortunately, such an application will not be appropriate because Bill C-11 specifically states that factors related to the refugee definition may not be considered in the application. However, I wish to point out that hardships can be considered. Under the new law, a woman who can present new evidence that she is a refugee would not be able to do so as part of the humanitarian and compassionate application.

Janet Dench, Executive Director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, appeared at the committee alongside Elizabeth McWeeny, past president. The Canadian Council for Refugees is a non-profit umbrella organization committed to the rights and protection of refugees. Ms. Dench expressed concerns regarding the humanitarian and compassionate application. She said:

There is the option of making an application for humanitarian and compassionate; however, there is no stay of removal in the meantime, and the bill has also specifically said that humanitarian and compassionate decision makers should not consider section 96 or 97 factors, which are the refugee definition and the other risks if you are returned.

I understand you need to show further hardship and not refer to the original claim.

Ms. Jennifer Irish, Director of the Asylum Policy Program Development, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, clarified this. She said:

The rationale for separating risk considerations from the H and C is to make clear that there are two different streams. The refugee system will continue to be dedicated to assessing risk, which, in Canada, is embodied in sections 96 and 97 of the IRPA.

The second issue is the designated countries of origin list. Bill C-11 proposes a designated countries of origin list. The aim of this provision is to designate a list of countries whose application numbers are significant at 1 per cent of overall claims and whose rejection rate is greater than 85 per cent. Under the revised bill, individuals who come from countries on this list will have shorter timelines to become a refugee.

While this idea contains some useful steps, I wish to remind all honourable senators that this list should be mindful of gender-related claims and ensure that these claims are not fast-tracked. Women require special care due to their excessive hardships, and this fact should be respected in all the necessary steps in becoming a refugee. I was pleased to hear from Minister Kenney that special consideration would be given to vulnerable claimants. Ms. Janet Dench set out clearly to the committee when she said:

We are particularly concerned about the potential impacts on women, lesbian, gays, bisexual and transgender and transsexual persons, children and members of racial and ethnic minorities. These are all groups whose fundamental rights are most likely to be at risk in countries that otherwise may seem to be reasonably safe.

The third issue is gender guidelines. Honourable senators, any person who believes that they need to seek refuge can apply for refugee status. However, female refugee claimants have certain needs that differ from those of men. This is due to the different cultural and traditional roles that men and women play. For example, in many cultures, women are seen as the caretakers. Women are usually the victims of sexual abuse. Therefore, certain special precautions must be taken into consideration when speaking about their delicate situation.

Much of this is contained in our own document called "Gender Guidelines." These guidelines ensure that gender-related claims are taken into consideration.

They illustrate a number of key issues, including the grounds for which an application may be accepted as a gender-related claim and the special treatment of women in our refugee system. I encourage all departments to follow the rules and regulations found within these guidelines.

The fourth issue is the Refugee Appeal Division. I commend the minister for introducing the Refugee Appeal Division. At this time, I know we will want to thank Senator Goldstein, who worked hard in this chamber to implement the Refugee Appeal Division. I have concerns about the lengths of time of the submissions to the board to perfect the appeal. I was pleased to hear Mr. Linklater, Assistant Deputy Minister of Strategic and Program Policy, state that people will be able to give their comments when draft regulations are presented.

The fifth issue is the increase in the number of people being resettled from refugee camps. Having once been a refugee, I am pleased that the minister will increase his efforts and place more resources to bring more refugees directly from refugee camps to settle directly in Canada. That is to bring refugees to Canada with the help of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

Also of great importance is the current resettlement program. Canada is among the many signatories of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and has taken it upon itself to guarantee refugees seeking asylum with programs and services that will not only efficiently and effectively ensure their safety, but also empathetically take into consideration their dire circumstances.

It is of great fortune that a government body such as Citizenship and Immigration Canada accepts referrals for refugee resettlement from organizations such as the UNHCR. In fact, the UNHCR Country Operations Plan 2008-2009 acknowledged Canada as an important contributor in offering asylum and resettlement to refugees in need.

The representatives assured the Senate committee that 10 per cent of all referrals to the government and CIC officials were women at risk. If this is the case, the minister and the officials of the Immigration and Refugee Board should make large strides to ensure that referrals by the United Nations High Commission for women at risk be looked upon with the utmost diligence.

Honourable senators, our country is very blessed. We have many public servants who work very hard for us.

Our troops are doing a yeoman's job under very difficult circumstances, and they sacrifice their lives for us. Our foreign diplomats are doing back-breaking work on our behalf. I have worked with Robert Fowler, Alan Bones and various others, and I can attest to their continued service, even in retirement. Our immigration officials also need to be acknowledged for the work they do on our behalf. They often put themselves in harm's way just for the sake of humanity.

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In 1972, Canada was one of the first countries to heed the tears of Ugandan Asians. The immigration officials put themselves in harm's way to protect strangers. They went to Ugandan hospitals, to Ugandan mental homes and to Ugandan prisons where people were wrongly incarcerated. They negotiated with soldiers, and yes, at times went further. It was not an easy task to remove people from prisons in front of gun-toting soldiers. They took people from jails and put them on Canadian planes. They stopped the soldiers from boarding the planes, stating that the planes were Canadian territory and the soldiers could not board the planes.

It is almost 40 years since we left Uganda, but there are not many Ugandan Asians who do not know what Michael Molloy and Roger St. Vincent have done for us. Many of us are alive today because of these immigration officials and other immigration officials.

They have gone beyond the call of duty. When Canadian professional institutions have questioned our credentials in Canada, these immigration officials have helped us out in explaining the challenges we faced when leaving Uganda.

Today, I want to pay tribute specifically to our immigration officials for their contribution in implementing our refugee system. As we try to improve our refugee system, we must not forget immigration officials such as Mr. Molloy and Mr. St. Vincent and many hundreds of others who, on a regular basis, put their lives at risk for the sake of humanity.

I thank them because my family and I would not be together today without their efforts.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is there further debate? Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

(Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed.)

Distinguished Visitor in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Minister Jason Kenney.

On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Employment Insurance Act

Bill to Amend—Third Reading

Hon. Nicole Eaton moved third reading of Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act.

She said: Honourable senators, I am proud to rise to make a brief comment at third reading of Bill C-13, An Act to Amend the Employment Insurance Act.

This bill is especially distinctive because of the road it took to arrive on our Order Paper for third reading.

I want to thank Lieutenant-Colonel Duquette for speaking up when the opportunity arose. I want to commend the member of Parliament from Nepean-Carleton for listening and responding. I want to applaud the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development for acting quickly and decisively to correct an unforeseen anomaly. Finally, I want to remind all Canadians that one person can make a huge difference in the lives of many. This bill is evidence of the results of involvement and participation.

Honourable senators, I am proud of the members of Canada's Armed Forces. Bill C-13, when passed, will make a real and immediate difference in the lives of our military and their families. Thank you.

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, Senator Eaton referred to unforeseen anomalies. Unfortunately and tragically, there are many unforeseen anomalies in Employment Insurance legislation. We are nearly ready to make one small change that will make it possible for military families to collect parental benefits. That is a good thing.

Unfortunately, we are still unwilling to meet the needs of military families who require EI payments when they are serving, along with their family members, abroad and stay abroad for more than two years. Their service has not been recognized, and that is tragic.

We are not recognizing tonight the service of the RCMP and their families. We are not recognizing tonight the service of Foreign Affairs officers and their families.

We are not recognizing, honourable senators, families who have a child who is dying and who cannot collect compassionate leave benefits because of their refusal to sign a piece of paper stating that their child might die within six months. All we need to do is change the phrase, and those families could become eligible.

I will gladly support this correction of an anomaly tonight, but I wish we were going much further and recognizing finally all of the other unforeseen anomalies that exist in EI legislation.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is there further debate? Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

(Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed.)

National Seniors Day Bill

Second Reading Debate Adjourned

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator LeBreton, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Meighen, for the second reading of Bill C-40, An Act to establish National Seniors Day.

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, I rise to speak today on Bill C-40, which would seek to establish a national seniors day.

Honourable senators, seniors are not just seniors on October 1 of each year. They are seniors 365 days a year, and they deserve to be honoured on each and every one of those days for their lifelong contribution to this country and which, for the most part, they continue to serve each and every day.

Honourable senators, last April, I tabled in the Senate the report of the Special Senate Committee on Aging entitled Canada's Aging Population: Seizing the Opportunity. The report was the culmination of two and a half years of work.

Senator Chaput, Senator Cools, Senator Cordy, Senator Keon, Senator Mercer, Senator Stratton and I heard from 251 individuals in over 180 panels. We travelled across this country.

Honourable senators, not once did anyone, in any location, at any time, at any place recommend a national seniors day. Our witnesses were concerned with the genuine needs of seniors, and to that end, we made 32 recommendations, not a single one of which has been acted upon by this government. Instead, we are offered a day to celebrate seniors without in any way helping their human condition.

Honourable senators, we made five broad recommendations specific to the federal government, and it is these five recommendations that I want to address this evening.

We urged the government to act immediately to take steps to promote active aging and to combat agism. To fulfill this recommendation, we recommended a public relations campaign to portray healthy aging and to present the benefits of staying active at all ages in volunteer work, in continuous learning and in physical activity. We urged that monies be provided to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to fund research on mental competency, mental capability and mental capacity. They need those funds if they are to do this research, and this government has not provided those funds. We recommended that the government amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to ban mandatory retirement to bring it in line with every single province in this country, but we have not done that. We recommended that the government increase support for research into abuse and neglect issues facing seniors. I have congratulated the former minister responsible for seniors for the advertising campaign about the abuse of seniors. It is an excellent campaign. Unfortunately, without the research, it fails to get to the cause of abuse against seniors. We recommended the government address the sponsorship issue on immigrant seniors. If you are a spouse and an immigrant, you have to serve only three years of sponsorship, but if you are a senior, you have to serve 10 years of sponsorship. That, honourable senators, is not equitable.

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Our second recommendation referred to the need to integrate care because we learned from witness after witness that to continue to separate health and social services in the country means that Canadians, in particular senior Canadians, will fall through the cracks. To promote this recommendation, we recommended an initiative to provide funding to provinces to enable them to move to integrated care. They cannot do it without federal leadership, particularly the smaller have-not provinces.

We addressed the need for affordable housing. The minister made reference in her speech to Canada's Economic Action Plan and its funding of new housing, but to date we have seen no new seniors' houses built in Canada.

We urged the federal government to work with the provinces to establish an independence program for seniors modeled on the Veterans Independence Program. Veterans Affairs Canada has it right. We do not need to reinvent the wheel, but other seniors require these services as well.

We made recommendations on palliative care. Palliative care is not only a seniors' issue, but the reality is that 70 per cent of all deaths in Canada are in the population over age 65. Seniors therefore have a clear need for palliative care services. In this area, we are going backwards. We were moving, as a federal government, toward a Canadian strategy on palliative care, but this strategy has been abandoned by the government. We had an end-of-life directorate in Health Canada. This directorate, too, has been abandoned, together with $1 million of funding. Federal research dollars have dried up. The federal government is letting down the dying in this country and the government is letting down seniors.

Honourable senators, we urged that senior Canadians be treated equally, right across this country. To achieve this equal treatment, we recommended a supplementary transfer program to bolster per capita funding in those provinces that experience a higher rate of ailing than other provinces. We also recommended a national formulary of drugs, leading, we hope, to a national pharmacare program, which is necessary if seniors are to be treated equally from coast to coast to coast.

Several months ago, in a speech from Toronto, I heard from a woman from Ontario whose only living relative is in Prince Edward Island. She wanted to go to Prince Edward Island to live out her last days, but she could not because her drugs were covered in Ontario but they were not covered in Prince Edward Island. This is not equitable, colleagues. We have a Charter right that guarantees us mobility, but if we cannot afford to live in one province because that province cannot afford to be as generous as another province because their tax base is so much more limited, then we do not have equality across this country.

Honourable senators, seniors in this country should not be living in poverty — yet far too many of them do. In her speech, the minister made reference to the Old Age Security and the Canada Pension Plan. She is correct; that has brought most seniors to a level of security that they have never before experienced in the history of this country. However, she failed to mention the Guaranteed Income Supplement because it will be only with an increase to the Guaranteed Income Supplement that those seniors presently living in poverty — single women, immigrants and Aboriginal Canadians — will be able to live above the poverty line.

Honourable senators, simple changes can be made. For example, if a person is looking after a child and that person has withdrawn from the workforce, the person can continue to pay into CPP. However, a person who withdraws from the workforce to look after an aging parent or a chronically ill person within the family dynamic cannot opt into a CPP benefit.

There needs to be an aggressive federal program to identify those Canadians who are entitled to the Canada Pension Plan, to Old Age Security, and to the Guaranteed Income Supplement. They identify those people in Quebec very successfully, but we do not in the rest of Canada. As a result, people who are entitled to CPP are not collecting, people who are entitled to Old Age Security are not collecting, and people who are entitled to Guaranteed Income Supplement are not collecting.

We stated in our report that the forms should be available in more languages; not only in English and French. Why do we not make them available in Aboriginal languages so that Aboriginal Canadians can be ensured that they will collect their benefits?

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Carstairs: Colleagues, caregivers are the unsung heroes of Canada, whether they care for children or for seniors; or whether they care for the physically and mentally handicapped. Many of these caregivers are seniors. Yet, honourable senators, for these caring seniors we do little.

Our committee made a number of recommendations, none of which have been acted upon. We recommended that the Employment Insurance Act be amended to increase the compassionate care benefit from 6 weeks to 13 weeks; to eliminate the 2-week waiting period; and to increase the benefit to 75 per cent of the earnings of workers. We asked the federal government to work with the provinces and territories to establish a national caregiving strategy. To date, no meetings have been held and no initiative has been taken in this area.

The minister made reference in her speech to the wonderful and enormous contribution made by seniors who volunteer in hundreds of organizations right across this country. She is correct; they do volunteer in incredible numbers. Yet, our committee learned of the out-of-pocket expenses of these volunteers, and we heard that some have given up these activities because they can no longer afford them. We recommended that the federal government work with the voluntary sector to identify mechanisms by which they can reimburse these expenditures, and we recommended that the needs of volunteers be the subject of further study in this chamber and/or by an expert panel to examine emerging challenges of volunteerism and the concept of a tax credit for volunteering.

The minister mentioned the additional funding to the New Horizons for Seniors program. That funding is a good thing, but this government has failed to address the greatest need of the New Horizons for Seniors program by ensuring multi-year funding for established programs so that they can make appropriate plans.

Not only is Canada's population aging — 25 per cent by 2031 — but so, too, is the health and social care workforce. The average age of a nurse in this country is 50, and we are not attracting sufficient numbers of young men and women into this profession. Nowhere is this gap more evident than in the field of gerontology. At present, we have 1 370 pediatricians. By contrast, we have 250 geriatricians, of which only 150 are in practice.

This is why our committee recommended that the federal government support education programs within our medical schools and fund residency positions in our hospitals. Only two physicians presently are training to be geriatricians in Canada today. That number is clearly inadequate. Yet, this government has not acted. Nor have they worked with provinces and territories to address the training, recruitment and retention of home care and home support workers as part of the federal-provincial-territorial health human resource strategy.

Finally, honourable senators, the federal government needs to lead by example in those population groups for which it has direct responsibility. I specifically wish to address the needs of our Aboriginal people, for whom the federal government alone is responsible. Aboriginal seniors live on average 10 years less than other Canadians. They live in greater poverty, they live in poorer housing and they live in overcrowded conditions. They live with poor nutrition and with greater health conditions, tuberculosis and diabetes to mention only two. Yet, the federal government does little to meet these needs. The infrastructure of long-term care homes in the Aboriginal communities that I have visited fall well below the standards in non-Aboriginal communities. There are few home-care support programs in any of our Aboriginal communities. All too often, seniors are forced to leave family and community and go to cities to access the care they need. This care is not what they want and some return home knowing they jeopardize their lives to do so, but being with family is their primary desire.

Honourable senators, this situation is unacceptable. There are many things the federal government should and must do, but we receive none of the things I have highlighted today. We have a piece of feel-good legislation that will in no way improve the lives of seniors in Canada. It is woefully inadequate to celebrate seniors for one day. We should celebrate them each and every day by ensuring that services are available to them when and where they need them, 365 days a year. The federal government can do so much more, and it is deeply saddening that this legislation is all they have to offer.

(On motion of Senator Mercer, debate adjourned.)

(1940)

Study on Rise of China, India and Russia in the Global Economy and the Implications for Canadian Policy

Seventh Report of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee Tabled

Leave having been given to revert to Presentation of Reports from Standing or Special Committees:

Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the seventh report, interim, of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, entitled: A Workplan for Canada in the New Global Economy: Responding to the Rise of Russia, India and China.

(On motion of Senator Andreychuk, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)

Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Bill

Third Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Nancy Ruth, seconded by the Honourable Senator Nolin, for the third reading of Bill S-4, An Act respecting family homes situated on First Nation reserves and matrimonial interests or rights in or to structures and lands situated on those reserves, as amended.

Hon. Sandra Lovelace Nicholas: Honourable senators, I rise today to ask you not to vote for Bill S-4. The bill is terribly flawed. My honourable colleagues, Senator Jaffer and Senator Dyck, clearly outlined reasons why this bill does not meet the needs of those who will be most affected. I speak from experience as an Aboriginal woman from the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick. I was that woman that was beaten and kicked out of my house with my small children because I did not have resources or housing. I was forced to go back, only to have it happen time and time again. My own mother went through the same abuse, as did my daughter. There are thousands of stories that tell of experiences of abuse.

I cannot believe honourable senators would pass Bill S-4 without proper consultation with the very people it will impact, without knowing what it is like to feel helpless and without the proper resources, as do so many First Nations women and children.

As honourable senators know, any laws that were passed on our behalf failed, for example, the Indian Act, the residential schools and the reserve system. It is time for the government to step back so First Nations can determine what is best for them.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Hon. Elaine McCoy: Honourable senators, I move the adjournment of the debate.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

Senator Di Nino: On division.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Carried, on division.

(On motion of Senator McCoy, debate adjourned, on division.)

The Estimates, 2010-11

Supplementary Estimates (A)—Fifth Report of National Finance Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fifth report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance (supplementary estimates (A), 2010-2011), presented in the Senate on June 22, 2010.

Hon. Joseph A. Day moved the adoption of the report.

He said: Honourable senators, this report is the one that I referred to earlier this day, the report that forms the basis for our consideration of Bill C-45, the Supplementary Estimates (A). It is anticipated there will be three supplementary estimates throughout the year, and this bill is the first supplementary estimates for this fiscal year. Honourable senators will recall the comments of the deputy chair of the committee, the Honourable Senator Gerstein, with respect to the purpose of supplementary estimates. They are estimates of expenditure developed during the year. They are part of the fiscal plan from the beginning, part of the budget concept of the government, but they have not been developed to such an extent that the government can come to Parliament and ask for an expenditure of a certain amount, so we see those amounts in supplementary estimates.

We had several hearings with respect to Supplementary Estimates (A), and I thank Honourable Senator Gerstein, the deputy chair, and the other members of the committee for their work, again, on short notice, in dealing with what is clearly a government priority in terms of funding.

Honourable senators, we typically start with an explanation from Treasury Board Secretariat, and we did so with these supplementary estimates as well. On June 8, the committee heard two panels. One panel dealt with the federal government's response to the earthquake in Haiti, and we also heard from the Department of National Defence with respect to planned capital expenditures.

From the second panel, on June 8, we heard with respect to the Canada Media Fund, on which I will expand further; we also had a panel on government advertising and one on the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, CATSA.

The two schedules that appear in Bill C-45 are the same two schedules that appear in the Supplementary Estimates (A), which we studied and which form the basis for this report.

As a quick overview of what we found in these estimates, honourable senators will recall the explanation that Senator Gerstein gave with respect to budgetary versus non-budgetary items: budgetary are the funds the government needs to pay the public debt, to pay for operating and capital expenditures, generally; non-budgetary are items like loans where the money goes out but is anticipated to come back. If it turns out it does not come back, it must be transformed through an estimate into expenditure.

Then there are voted and statutory items, and the voted items are the ones we are looking at. Voted budgetary items are our primary focus; that is the majority of the funding. We deal with statutory items when funding is provided when the statute is passed.

(1950)

Honourable senators, in terms of voted budgetary for this Supplementary Estimates (A), we were dealing with $3.3 billion. That is the figure that we have seen during second reading with respect to Bill C-45, which is the appropriation bill that flows from this. Our typical manner of handling these reports is to deal with the report before the third reading of the bill to which this report refers.

Some of the items in the voted budgetary spending you should be aware of is funding to continue support for First Nations, $162 million for waste water and $135 million for other programs improving First Nations and Inuit health systems.

We also had, in these particular supplementary estimates, $653 million for the G8 and G20 summits and another amount of $101 million for the G20 summit by itself. As I mentioned earlier, there are other expenditures in addition to those.

Funding for government advertising programs is $65.4 million, which I will expand on further. Funding for the Canadian Aviation Authority, which is CATSA, is $350 million that they were seeking. AECL is seeking $300 million in these supplementary estimates for the alleged purpose of continuing isotope production, health and safety upgrades, et cetera. Honourable senators will know that that particular isotope production reactor is down at present, but we are hopeful it will be up and running soon. There is also funding for the Canadian Media Fund in the amount of $107 million.

Honourable senators, those are just some of the major items. Our Committee on National Finance is charged with studying these estimates throughout the year. One of the strengths of Senate committees is that, in the case of the Finance Committee, we can continue to study the Main Estimates throughout the year, not only year over year. Even within the year, we can follow up on items that need to be explained to us more fully.

In the examination of Supplementary Estimates (A), we dealt first with the issue of tagging expenditures related specifically to the budget. We started doing that with the stimulus package last year, so we could see what items in the supplementary estimates related to an item in the budget. So far, Treasury Board is not in a position to do that to the extent we would like. They do not have the equipment and so much of this is done manually and is quite time consuming. However, we have indicated an interest in Treasury Board pursuing that particular matter, much like we did a few years ago when we asked them to look at horizontal items between various departments. It makes our job a lot more meaningful and easier to perform if we can have that work done by those who compile these particular documents.

I will continue, honourable senators, with the security and planning for the 2010 G8 and G20 summits. The supplementary estimates include $654 million for policing and security and another $101 million for the organization for the G20 summit alone, so that is $755 million. We also were reminded that in Supplementary Estimates (C) last fiscal year, in fact in March of this year, we also approved and allocated $179 million. We asked the officials if they could tell us whether we have seen all the expenditures and they could not give us that assurance, although there may well be, in Supplementary Estimates (B) or (C), further funding. The government officials know that we are interested in that issue and that we will continue to follow its progress.

We asked for a comparison with other countries and in other summits and were told that such information is difficult to acquire and that indeed, it might be like comparing apples and oranges because of the change in security requirements, et cetera. That was an avenue we followed.

Honourable senators, I want to talk about government advertising because I believe it is important. We learned quite a bit about government advertising through this particular panel. Each year $65.4 million is allocated to support cabinet approved advertising. The approval process is that the lead is taken by Privy Council Office, the area that deals primarily from the Prime Minister's point of view. The Privy Council Office takes the lead with respect to developing where the $65.4 million will be spent, and it is the same amount each year, which we found interesting. It is a fixed amount and then the advertising is fit into it, as opposed to determining what advertising might be necessary and then determining how much that costs. That is the approach taken.

After Privy Council develops how they can spend their $65 million, they send the list to cabinet and cabinet says yes, then it comes back and is given to another government department to look at and then another government department to implement. In addition to the amount that they are spending outside, you can imagine how much government funds are being expended and how much civil servant funds are being expended developing a program for spending the money that has been allocated.

The procurement for advertising agencies is done — we are assured — on an open basis by Public Works and Government Services. We asked if that was the total amount being expended in a particular year. You are given this global budget and do you go out and fill it up? In addition to that, there can be approvals for special expenditures by cabinet in addition to the $65 million, and in addition to that, departments can spend on their own, through their own budgets, amounts for advertising.

We have learned all of that but we do not have all of the figures, and you would have to almost go to public accounts after the fact because there is nothing outlined in any of the documents that we get before the expenditures are made other than the $65 million.

Canada Media Fund is a rebranding of two different initiatives, which combines the Canadian Television Fund and the Canada New Media Fund. It is a yearly government expenditure of approximately $135 million and that is matched, in fact more than matched, by industry. Last year, industry put in $193 million. That full amount is administered by this Canada Media Fund Corporation, which was not created by statute. Our committee asked about its governance pattern and they were not able to tell us. However, we have been assured that we will be provided with further information in that regard and we will follow up on that. That is over $300 million being administered at this stage without many people knowing how this particular fund, and the members who are appointed to that fund, operate. We will, on your behalf, follow up on that.

(2000)

The Haiti earthquake relief is another area where it is difficult to trace the money. In addition to the $176 million provided to Haiti relief in Supplementary Estimates (C) of the last fiscal year, 2009-10, there is significant expenditure in this Supplementary Estimates (A) of $130 million.

We know that the government had pledged to match the $220 million that was donated by Canadians. We said that is easy: The amount will be $440 million. They said we cannot look at it directly that way but only at how much has been spent so far.

I see my honourable colleague is standing.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are you asking for further time?

Senator Day: Can I have five more minutes to finish up?

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Five more minutes.

Senator Day: It is difficult to explain all the money for the Haiti relief, other than complimenting Canadians for putting $220 million of their money into this project. Although the Prime Minister said the $400 million that was pledged in New York was new money, in fact, part of it is the $220 million that was given by the Canadian public.

Therefore, $175 million of the $220 million has been committed in various ways, but $50 million of the funds donated by Canadians has not been accounted for yet.

Canadian air transport security is important for honourable senators to understand. The government is asking for $350 million here. We asked what purpose that $350 million will be used for, and the President of CATSA said: I cannot tell you until Treasury Board tells me.

Honourable senators, I indicated earlier that supplementary estimates are for funds that have been developed and approved by Treasury Board; everyone knows how much the funds are and what they will be used for. In this particular instance, the government is saying, "Give us the $350 million and we will let you know later what it will be used for."

What they said, however, is that the $350 million forms part of the government's announcement of $1.5 billion over five years, all of which will be recouped by a tax on travellers, which will be increased by 52 per cent. That amount is in Bill C-9.

Honourable senators, we have a lot of figures floating around. Most of the amount will be paid for by travellers, but we are asked here to approve $350 million without any knowledge as to where it is going.

Typically, we ask for an explanation of what the funds are to be used for before the request is made. If there is anything in this particular supplementary estimates that we should not approve, it is this request, because they do not know what they want to use the money for yet.

Honourable senators, those are some of the highlights that came from our short study; it is part of a continuum of study. We assure honourable senators that your Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, with the able help of the deputy chair and the members of the committee, will continue to follow up on those items that remain unresolved.

Hon. Irving Gerstein: Honourable senators, those were great highlights.

Honourable senators, I thank Senator Day for presenting the fifth report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, concerning Supplementary Estimates (A) for the fiscal year 2010-11.

Senator Fox: Stop there.

Senator Gerstein: It gets better. It was Lady Bird Johnson who said: "Any committee is only as good as the most knowledgeable, determined and vigorous person on it. There must be someone who provides the flame."

I want honourable senators to know that although Senator Day faces stiff competition in the determined and vigorous categories, his knowledge, borne of his experience, often makes him the flame that illuminates the estimates for newer members of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance.

It is getting close to summer, as honourable senators can tell.

Having said that, the government has taken great strides toward making the process and contents of the estimates less arcane. We have made the national finances more transparent by making the estimates documents easier to understand.

Senator Mercer, you should read them.

The new format of the estimates documents, in my view, is more conducive to effective parliamentary oversight, which is what we want.

For example, horizontal summaries more clearly illustrate funding initiatives that implicate several organizations. In addition, the information in all the supply documents, including the Main Estimates, reports on plans and priorities and departmental performance reports in the public accounts have been standardized, making it easier to follow planned and actual spending throughout the supply cycle.

I have benefited, and I suspect other honourable senators have, too, from these improvements in my own review of the estimates.

I have already mentioned some of the salient initiatives contained in these supplementary estimates in my remarks on the associated appropriation bill. Senator Day has given an overview of the testimony the committee heard on the matter, and I will not belabour the matter further. However, a couple of points bear elaboration.

First, in relation to the amounts set aside for security of the G8 and G20 summits, the committee was told that different jurisdictions account for such costs differently. It is difficult to make meaningful comparisons between the cost of these summits and those of past summits.

To further complicate matters, these summits are the first time the G8 and G20 summits have been held back to back in the same jurisdiction. Recognizing the sensitivity of the information relating to the security measures planned for last week's summits, the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance decided not to call witnesses from the various agencies involved until after the summits are all over.

As Senator Day also indicated, the committee heard from witnesses on government advertising expenditures. It was noted that in the year 2008-09 the government spent a total of $79.5 million on advertising, which is far below the high-water mark of $111 million that was set by the previous government in 2002-03, during the now-infamous sponsorship program. This reduced spending is despite the fact that the current government has made a tremendous effort to inform Canadians about time-limited programs under Canada's Economic Action Plan, such as the Home Renovation Tax Credit, and about the H1N1 prevention measures that were available to Canadians.

An official from the Privy Council Office, Anne-Marie Smart, indicated two main reasons for the reduced spending on advertising under the current government. First, the system for proposing advertising campaigns is more focused on government priorities announced in the budget and Throne Speech; and second, the government no longer engages in what is called advocacy advertising. As a witness from Privy Council Office explained:

. . . there must be a component in it that is called a call for action. You are usually doing advertising to inform people so that they can go to a website and find further information about benefits and services that are available to them.

When I asked Ms. Smart if it was fair to say that the system for approving advertising expenditures had been tightened up in recent years, she responded with a single word: "considerably."

In closing, honourable senators, the expenditures described in Supplementary Estimates (A) clearly reflect the government's focus on responsible stewardship of taxpayers' money.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is there further debate?

Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Some Hon. Senators: Question.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

(2010)

Jobs and Economic Growth Bill

Declaration of Private Interest

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, I wish to draw to your attention that the Honourable Senator Segal has made a written declaration of private interest regarding Bill C-9, and in accordance with rule 32.1, the declaration shall be recorded in the Journals of the Senate.

[Translation]

Study on Application of Official Languages Act and Relevant Regulations, Directives and Reports

Third Report of Official Languages Committee and Request for Government Response Adopted

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Chaput, seconded by the Honourable Senator Mercer, that the third report (interim) of the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages entitled Implementation of Part VII of the Official Languages Act: We can still do better, tabled in the Senate on June 17, 2010, be adopted and that, pursuant to rule 131(2), the Senate request a complete and detailed response from the government, with the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, the Minister of Justice and the President of Treasury Board being identified as ministers responsible for responding to the report.

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I wish to propose an amendment to this report. This amendment would add some clarification, making government responses to this type of report more coherent. It is not necessary for each department to respond to questions; rather, the government will respond after having consulted a number of departments. Discussions about this amendment have included the chair and vice-chair of the committee, and we came to an amicable agreement.

Motion in Amendment

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I therefore move:

that the motion be amended by replacing all the words following the words "the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages" with the following:

"being identified as Minister responsible for responding to the report, in consultation with the Minister of Justice and the President of the Treasury Board".

Hon. Andrée Champagne: Honourable senators, the amendment proposed by Senator Comeau does not change what is contained in the report. It simply changes the motion to adopt the report. I agree with the committee chair and Senator Fortin-Duplessis, who is also a member of the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure, and I ask honourable senators to adopt this report immediately.

Hon. Maria Chaput: Honourable senators, I would like to add that I agree with the committee vice-chair. Senator Comeau contacted me personally when it was determined that the content of the motion needed to be changed. I have no issues with this amendment and I would also like this report to be adopted.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion in amendment?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the report as amended?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted as amended.)

[English]

World Autism Awareness Day Bill

Sixth Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Ogilvie, seconded by the Honourable Senator Wallace, for the adoption of the sixth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (Bill S-211, An Act respecting World Autism Awareness Day, with amendments), presented in the Senate on June 8, 2010.

Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to my bill dealing with World Autism Awareness Day, and I rise with mixed emotions. I first want to say that I want this bill passed, but I have a few comments before it moves along in report stage to third reading. I believe these comments deserve to be put on the public record.

I have been at this for a number of years now, and I have looked at autism through the voices of the autistic community, voices that are crying out for much more to be done.

I thought from the beginning this was a bill that was simple in its format but powerful in recognizing what we must do collectively as a nation in rising to one of the great health challenges of the century.

To put this in context, this bill has already been before the Senate. It was passed in the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology on May 14, 2009. The next day, it had third reading. At that point last year, it went on to the House of Commons. The bill had first and second reading, and it was about to go before a House of Commons committee.

In the House of Commons at that time, members such as André Bellavance, Peter Stoffer, Sukh Dhaliwal, Lois Brown, Andrew Saxton, Gerard Kennedy, Scott Reid, Luc Malo, Glenn Thibeault, Kirsty Duncan, Mike Lake and Cathy McLeod spoke in favour of that bill. In the Senate, I received great support from former Senator Trenholme Counsell, Senator Oliver and, of course, Senator Keon.

I do not like to put it this way, but I guess something like politics got in the way. Prorogation. That is life. Therefore, I am back again with this same bill, but this time amended. In fact, there are four amendments.

For new senators here, it is important to recognize that when a bill is amended, it goes back to the beginning. In other words, when it goes back to the House of Commons, the bill will be at first reading.

With respect to the four amendments that were put to the bill, I think some were a little picky. For example, in my "whereas" clauses — "whereas autism spectrum disorders affect at least one in 165 families," which was a 2007 census figure — the word is taken out and replaced with "significant." I look at life in context; whether one is building a court case or building a news story, I think context is very important.

"Whereas the number of Canadians diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders has grown by 150 per cent in the last six years," — I have sourced all of this with some very good people in the autistic community. That is gone.

"Whereas autism affects more children worldwide than pediatric cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined," — that is gone.

I can understand those, but the toughest one for me, and I was sincerely looking for a collaborative effort all the way through on this, was: "Whereas Canada has no national strategy to address autism spectrum disorders." In our report, Pay Now or Pay Later, with Senator Keon in my corner, Senator Eggleton as the chair, and with senators of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, we all agreed with what the autistic community told us, that "whereas there is no national autism spectrum disorder strategy." It is simple.

The federal government has put some programs together, in the sense of paying for some programs, if I can put it that way. However, I find it passing strange that these amendments were put into the bill. I asked the question: What has changed? I do not know the answer to that question, but I wish to make my case again: There is no national autism strategy. Every autistic group in the country will tell us that. The same Senate committee told us that. The autistic people who came before us told us that, and we used it as the title of our report, Pay Now or Pay Later. They said: "You are on the right track." I have attended many meetings and at each meeting the message is the same; just keep pushing.

(2020)

I know the other side plays politics in a big way, but this is a collaborative chamber, and I just felt that for this one bill, in a simple bill, that we had an opportunity to do something that would add value to what we do as senators.

If you look across this country — and I will say it again; and I know that Senator Keon felt the same, and I certainly miss him — provincial governments are lacking in what they do, and as a result, inadequate patchwork programs are happening. It is just not working. The lineups are getting longer for diagnosis. I have said before that it is a crime. It is cruel that families have to go to Alberta not for oil but for better treatment. To me, that is not right.

In closing, when I was a reporter — and I am sure other former reporters in this chamber think the same way — context is important before writing anything. I was told these numbers do not matter because the numbers change. When time moves on, these numbers will matter even more because it will show that at a certain time in the history of this country those were the benchmarks of what was happening and then it got worse. They will see the numbers and see what we did and did not do.

To the members of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology and on the Conservative side, I know that you are generous in your spirit and I know that you really understand and care about this issue.

I feel, just for the record, that it was unnecessary to put these amendments. I do have other instances where I used the word "whereas" in my summation. This bill, from my perspective, represented a true opportunity to demonstrate generosity, and a generosity particularly for the good of the autistic community.

Hon. Jane Cordy: Would Senator Munson take a question?

Senator Munson: Yes.

Senator Cordy: I am a member of the Social Affairs Committee, and, like the honourable senator, I was disappointed that Conservatives brought these amendments to this bill and then voted unanimously in favour of them.

The honourable senator mentioned some of the amendments. I suppose senators can determine whether or not these amendments made the bill better or whether they were made to put the bill on the bottom of the pile on the House of Commons side rather than where the bill would have been if no amendments were made to it.

I am not certain if the honourable senator mentioned that all of the amendments were made strictly to the preamble. No amendments whatsoever were made to the body of the bill; is that correct?

Senator Munson: Yes, the amendments were made to the preamble only, the "whereas" items that were added to the bill. For the moment, I really would still like to have this bill. I fear what may happen in the fall; I do not know what to expect.

One of the reasons I am pushing for this bill is that this is not about a celebration or about recognizing the autistic community. It is about taking something and empowering a nation, ministers, health ministers, and the social affairs ministers in the provinces and territories to sit down and think outside the box. It is empowering them to walk into the room and say: Okay, let us see how we can go about finding a solution to this problem.

There is an idea behind this bill and other things we have been doing here. While I appreciate the ministerial declaration — it did show some awareness — I will quote, honourable senators, a note from the Library of Parliament:

The highest form of designation for a calendar year remains a law passed by Parliament to mark the event or occasion. A designation in the form of a law passed by Parliament, once in force, remains in force until such time it is repealed. In case of a ministerial declaration, unless authorized by legal statute, a declaration made by a Canadian cabinet minister has no official authority and is not legally competent or enforceable.

At the end of the day, I sincerely hope even with or without these amendments that we can move forward in the fall, and perhaps Parliament, in its wisdom, will pass this bill.

Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: I have a question for the honourable senator.

Senator Munson: Yes.

Senator Ringuette: I am very disappointed with the results from the committee. However, with regard to process and proper rethinking of issues and bills, is it possible at third reading that an amendment from this Senate could reverse the bill back to the original form adopted in the House of Commons and that the sober second thought that maybe was not necessarily exercised —

Senator Johnson: Question.

Senator Cowan: It is comments and questions.

Senator Ringuette: Is it possible for sober second thought with regard to this critical issue facing Canadian families to have this bill revert back to its original form and be adopted in its original form at third reading in this Senate?

Senator Munson: In six and a half years in the Senate, I recognize that everything is possible. I would think that would be up to the other side to consider. At this particular point, and this late in our sitting, I would prefer to have this bill passed out of the Senate and to the other side.

(On motion of Senator Ringuette, debate adjourned.)

2010 Olympic Winter Games

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Raine calling the attention of the Senate to the success of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games held in Vancouver, Richmond and Whistler from February 12 to 28 and, in particular, to how the performance of the Canadian athletes at the Olympic and Paralympic Games can inspire and motivate Canadians and especially children to become more fit and healthy.

Hon. Yonah Martin: Honourable senators, I rise today to add my voice to the most important issue facing all Canadians — our health and the health of our children.

[Translation]

As an ambassador for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver and a life-long athlete who practices healthy lifestyle habits, our esteemed colleague, Senator Nancy Greene Raine, has drawn this chamber's attention to the success of the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Richmond and Whistler from February 12 to 28, and especially to the fact that Canadian athletes' performances at the Olympic and Paralympic Games can inspire all Canadians, particularly youth, and motivate them to get in shape and choose healthy lifestyles.

(2030)

[English]

I believe that health is paramount over all other issues. It is an issue that demands and deserves our serious attention by all levels of government, media, schools and families. The issue of health is at the heart of our quality of life and the future of our existence on this planet. Without our health, we have nothing.

When I heard the shocking statistics and warnings of the potentially deadly future for my daughter and her digital generation, it grabbed my attention like no other. My contemporaries and I could be the first generation to outlive our children if the trend of growing childhood obesity, inactivity and declining health is not reversed soon. We are truly in a state of emergency.

As a working mother who lives thousands of miles away from her only child for more than half the year, and already burdened with the guilt of separation, I did not want to face the truth. What truth, you may ask? It is the fact that my daughter could be spending an average of seven hours a day in front of a screen. Is that seven hours, almost one third of the day? Not my child, not in my home.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, I will admit to you today that, despite the restrictions we have attempted to impose on the use of computers and electronic gadgets in our home, and despite my husband's watchful eye and my own, our daughter has become a statistic. She is a 14-year-old teen who studies online, lives her social life online, pursues her love of music and the arts online, plays games online, and expresses herself and explores the world online.

Technology is both a blessing and a curse. Computers stimulate our children's imaginations and enable them to engage in their wildest dreams online, with virtually no physical effort or energy required. No matter how deep the oceans or high the sky, geography is no longer an obstacle. For all intents and purposes, they have the whole world at their fingertips.

[English]

How did our daughter become another statistic? Where did we go wrong? My husband and I did our best to slow our daughter's entry into the supercharged digital world for as long as possible; but with the potential threat of social isolation and techno illiteracy, we eventually chose to equip her with the tools for social integration, academic success and global opportunities.

There is no shortage of online sites that keep her fully engaged for hours and hours, sometimes up to seven hours or more a day. In spite of our efforts to limit our daughter's electronic overload, I confess that it is an uphill battle to keep it from invading and dominating our home life.

My husband and I walk almost every night and try to encourage our daughter to go with us. However, when she earnestly explains that she is doing homework or a group project with her friends online, and shows us the pages and questions that she is working on, what is a parent to say: No, I do not care about your homework; you are going to walk now? Thank goodness on days when she has physical education and will be running. Though I wish it were every day, at least I know she will run every second day.

However, I still worry about the future, when she is in grade 11 and her timetable may not allow her to choose PE 11 as an elective. In British Columbia, physical education is a mandatory course up to grade 10. I believe it should be mandatory in every grade, but curriculum reform is a whole other issue.

Over the past 15 years, a new generation of digitally savvy children has evolved. As this new digital generation has developed, the prevalence of overweight boys and girls in Canada has increased by 92 per cent and 57 per cent respectively.

[Translation]

Childhood obesity is a problem for several reasons: not only does it almost always lead to obesity in adulthood, it can also contribute to the early onset of serious illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Unfortunately, only 87 per cent of Canada's children and youth get the recommended 90 minutes of physical activity daily, so they miss out on all kinds of physical and academic benefits.

How can we encourage our children to be more active? As children's social and academic lives migrate ever more to the digital world, parents wage a constant battle to get their kids to shut off their laptops and go play outside.

Many parents are unaware of their children's physical activity needs. Only 27 per cent of parents report that they know the physical activity guidelines.

[English]

As parents struggle to set healthy guidelines at home, perhaps children and youth stand the best chance of learning about health and physical fitness from the classroom. However, only 57 per cent of Canadian schools are meeting the provincial requirement for time devoted to physical education; 10 per cent of Canadian children receive no physical education at all. These percentages worsen as students advance through the secondary grades, as previously stated.

Literacy and numeracy have long been articulated school-wide goals for K-to-12 education. As a former English teacher of 21 years, I devoted countless hours to develop and deliver programs that improve literacy among my students. There is not a teacher or parent who would not agree that these goals are essential for the future of Canada.

Honourable senators, as we hear the startling facts regarding the heart-stopping fate of our children, and hear the plea of parents across this country who struggle to keep their children active at home, I propose today that we must add a third goal — the goal of physical literacy.

[Translation]

The goal of physical literacy is to help children develop the abilities and tools to take advantage of the benefits offered by physical activity and sport so that they can enjoy them for their whole lives.

It is well known that any physical activity, even moderate, as well as sports and physical education make for better learning and academic performance, increase memory, concentration and attention span, improve academic results and boost self-esteem, self-confidence and self-image.

[English]

Physical literacy will improve health by educating our youth about health and healthy living. As a person who had prided myself in being an athlete and had never suffered from any major health issues, I was shocked and humbled in my first year as a senator when I suffered two debilitating health problems due to my lack of physical literacy. I learned that there is a clear difference between physical activity and physical literacy, and that physical literacy is necessary to be healthy over a lifetime.

Honourable senators, it is my firm belief that in every school across Canada, physical literacy must be the number one educational goal. Beyond school, we need a national vision and a coordinated effort to make physical literacy the goal for all Canadians now and especially for a healthier future.

[Translation]

Our quality of life depends on it.

(On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.)

(2040)

[English]

World Economic Crisis

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Di Nino calling the attention of the Senate to the impact of the recent global economic crisis on Society.

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I want to prepare my notes and I do have some legal arguments that I am still working on, so I propose the adjournment of the debate.

(On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.)

Erosion of Freedom of Speech

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Finley calling the attention of the Senate to the issue of the erosion of Freedom of Speech in our country.

Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I do wish to speak to this matter. Some senators have spoken on the legal aspects of this issue of freedom of speech, some from a press perspective and some from a political perspective. I want to take them all into account, and at a more appropriate moment I would like to continue the speech. Therefore, I move the adjournment of the debate.

(On motion of Senator Andreychuk, debate adjourned.)

Impact of Dementia on Society

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Carstairs, P.C., calling the attention of the Senate to the Impact of Dementia on the Canadian Society.

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I wish to thank Senator Carstairs for her inquiry calling the attention of the Senate to the impact of dementia on Canadian society.

As Senator Carstairs stated in her speech to this chamber, within a generation the numbers of Canadians suffering from Alzheimer's disease or dementia will increase from 500,000 to 1.1 million people. The costs of care for dementia-related diseases will rise from $15 billion to $150 billion, and the number of hours provided by informal caregivers will increase from 231 million hours a year to more than 756 million hours a year.

Honourable senators, today in Canada someone will develop, dementia every five minutes. If things do not change, in 30 years time there will be one new case every two minutes. These are huge numbers and we, as Canadians and as parliamentarians, should be concerned.

Canadians often believe that dementia happens naturally as one ages, but we now know that lifestyle plays an important role in who may get dementia. Indeed, experts are calling for an increased emphasis on health promotion as studies are showing the correlation between lifestyles and dementia.

It has been shown that diet also plays a large role in the prevention of dementia. For example, not smoking, not drinking too much and having proper nutrition are factors that help to prevent this degenerative disease. As well, a healthy diet is seen as a good way to keep the mind healthy and to avoid dementia. We can diminish the risks by eating proper diets, maintaining good health and generally living healthier lifestyles. We must urge Canadians to get their vitamins and minerals from the nutrition in their diets to protect against dementia. Experts recommend eating foods that are high in fibre, omega 3s as well as eating vegetables and fish. Studies show that the same eating patterns that protect the heart also reduce the risk of dementia.

Exercise has been shown to promote brain health and optimal brain performance. We know that physical activity helps to oxygenate the brain and therefore reduces the risk of getting dementia. Dr. Sandra Black from Sunnybrook Health Science Centre's Brain Science Program explains that people are beginning to understand the need to exercise the brain with mental activity and social engagement to guard against the risks of dementia. A variety of exercise several times a week will increase circulation of blood and nutrients to the brain. Simply changing your walking route can help you to exercise not only your body but your brain, which will help prevent dementia.

We also know that challenging your mind with exercise helps strengthen the brain's abilities and prevents symptoms, reduces the risks of dementia and improves the overall quality of life.

Alzheimer's disease is one cause of dementia and the most prevalent, accounting for 64 per cent of all cases of dementia. The other major cause for this degenerative condition is vascular dementia. This is where a person loses brain function due to a series of strokes, often relatively minor. This can cause progressive changes in personality, mood and cognition.

By taking care of yourself early in life, you can reduce the risk of strokes and therefore the risks of dementia. Studies have shown that there should be increased emphasis on health promotion. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are risk factors for developing dementia. If hypertension is detected early and controlled, the onset of dementia can be prevented.

According to the annual report of the Heart & Stroke Foundation, rates of high blood pressure among all Canadians rose 77 per cent between 1994 and 2005. By taking steps to reduce hypertension, the risk of developing dementia will be reduced. Simply having a sense of purpose in life can also reduce these risks. A study from Duke University showed that having intellectually stimulating work in adult life can reduce the risk even further than a good education alone can do. A new report in The Journal of the American Medical Association complements these findings. Therefore, knowing that your life means something and that you have a sense of control of it also helps to avoid dementia.

Activities such as face-to-face conversations, socialization and staying socially active help to prevent dementia. There is also some evidence that people with more social connections and who participate more in intellectual activities seem to have reduced risk. We know that staying socially active in mid-life can also help to reduce the risks of getting dementia in later life.

The final report of the Special Senate Committee on Aging from June 2009 states that the federal government must reach seniors in seniors' centres and clubs, but also must reach out to those seniors who may be socially isolated. In fact, the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study stated that maintaining friendships later in life significantly improves the likelihood of avoiding dementia. The authors of the same study show that depression, education and the number of friends one has can also affect one's risk of developing dementia.

Kieran Cooley, Associate Director of Research at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, suggests that being socially active by connecting with family and friends, joining a club or performing activities with other people stimulates the brain and reduces stress.

Other countries have already taken the initiative to reduce the impacts of dementia. In countries such as Britain, France, Norway and the Netherlands there are developed national plans that focus on early diagnosis, specialized home care, research and prevention on the national level.

There are many reasons for the federal government to create a national strategy to combat dementia. There is a definite need to coordinate health care activities in the provinces and to increase the awareness of risk factors among all Canadians. Canada should create a national plan.

The study Rising Tide: the Impact of Dementia on Canadian Society demonstrates this need for all Canadians and the 500,000 of those Canadians now living with dementia. The Rising Tide study recommends a national strategy, including new investment in research, education and support for family caregivers, more focus on prevention, as well as initiatives to increase the number of geriatricians, neurologists, psychiatrists and advanced practice nurses in Canada. The study suggests that assigning case managers to coordinate home-based care of dementia patients would significantly reduce the strain on individual caregivers.

(2050)

Honourable senators, it is time to return to simple but effective methods to reduce the enormous financial and emotional burdens on Canadian families caring for their loved ones. Families often struggle to find any way of coping that they can. People with dementia need support and so do their caregivers.

Debbie Benczkowski, interim CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Canada, stated that if the increase of dementia cases remains unchecked, dementia will impose enormous burdens on individuals, families, health care infrastructures and the global economy. Furthermore, the information in the 2009 World Alzheimer Report makes it clear that the crisis of dementia cannot be ignored. Unpaid caregivers provide 70 per cent of care and seniors themselves are often caregivers to other family members.

Jack Diamond, Scientific Director of the Alzheimer Society of Canada, says that caregivers often suffer unnecessarily from uncertainty about what is happening. David Harvey, an Alzheimer Society executive, says that caregivers need education and support, including the ability to drop out of the Canada Pension Plan for several years without financial penalty. Further to this, improved services related to care, available treatments and proper coordination of services can help everyone in the treatment of dementia.

There has been some compelling evidence that we can escape or at least postpone or diminish the severity of dementia. The better we understand it, the more equipped we are to delay or prevent it. It has become necessary to provide services and supports that will allow citizens their dignity and well-being.

Honourable senators, many governments have recognized the importance of focusing on the issue of dementia. Australia, Norway, the United Kingdom, France, United States, Scotland and the European Parliament have developed specific plans or frameworks to deal with dementia. Canada should also develop policies to address the looming crisis. We must act now.

We should each take a personal responsibility for our own health to reduce our risk of dementia. These are lifestyle issues and choices we make. Honourable senators, as parliamentarians, we should also take steps to ensure that Canada develops the strategy to deal with the increased levels of dementia in our country.

(On motion of Senator Mercer, debate adjourned.)

Environment and Human Rights

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Mitchell calling the attention of the Senate to the relationship between the environment and human rights.

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I wish to follow the example of my honourable colleagues, Senators Andreychuk and Comeau, who have requested additional time to do their research and prepare their notes. I want to follow in the same vein, as this particular topic is of vital importance to our society.

Therefore, I wish to adjourn the debate for the remainder of my time.

(On motion of Senator Tardif, debate adjourned.)

Social Affairs, Science and Technology

Committee Authorized to Study Pandemic Preparedness

Hon. Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie, pursuant to notice of June 17, 2010, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology be authorized to examine and report on Canada's pandemic preparedness;

That in particular the Committee be authorized to examine issues concerning Canada's past pandemic preparedness, lessons learned from the response to the 2009 pandemic virus (H1N1), the roles of all levels of government in pandemic preparedness, and Canada's future pandemic preparedness;

That the Committee's examination include processes and ethical issues related to pandemic preparedness;

That the Committee submit its final report no later than October 31, 2010, and that the Committee retain all powers necessary to publicize findings of the Committee until January 31, 2011.

He said: Honourable senators, this is an item that was referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology by the Minister of Health. We looked at the subject carefully and believe that this area is something the committee can help with. Perhaps, as a Senate, we can make a real contribution to Canadians on this important matter. I urge the adoption of this motion.

Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, I am in agreement with the honourable senator. Both Senator Ogilvie and I received a letter from the minister asking our committee to undertake this study. It is a tribute to the thoroughness of Senate committee studies that we be asked by the minister to give advice on this subject.

Pandemic preparedness is a key item before us in this country. We have had two experiences with H1N1, most recently, and SARS before that. This is a suitable time to have this kind of examination and be able to advise the minister accordingly on what we think is necessary to go forward. I am happy to second the motion to carry on with this study first thing in the fall.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

(Motion agreed to.)

(The Senate adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m.)