Criminal Code

Motion in Amendment Adopted

February 11, 2021


Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer
[15:21]

Therefore, honourable senators, in amendment, I move:

That Bill C-7, as amended, be not now read a third time, but that it be further amended in clause 3, on page 8, by replacing lines 28 to 38 with the following:

“(2) The portion of paragraph 241.31(3)(a) before subparagraph (ii) of the Act is replaced by the following:

(a) respecting the provision and collection of information relating to requests for and the provision of medical assistance in dying, including

(i) the information to be provided, at various stages, by medical practitioners, nurse practitioners, persons referred to in subsection (1.1) who have the responsibility to carry out preliminary assessments, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, or by a class of any of them, including

(A) the elements considered in the course of the assessments — preliminary or otherwise — of whether a person meets the criteria set out in subsection 241.2(1), and

(B) information respecting the race of a person who requests or receives medical assistance in dying, if the person consents to providing this information,

(2.1) Paragraph 241.31(3)(b) of the Act is replaced by the following:

(b) respecting the use, analysis and interpretation of that information, including for the purposes of identifying race-based inequities and how race intersects with other forms of systemic inequality in medical assistance in dying;

(b.1) respecting the protection, publication, and disclosure of that information;”.

Honourable senators, I remember when affirmative action was first introduced in Canada. People had many questions and concerns. They worried that this policy would not include everybody — just women. Some even called it reverse discrimination. At that time, Canadians stood up and said, “No, it is not reverse discrimination; it is equity.” So, too, is my amendment.

Today, I ask you to consider supporting this amendment for the future of our country, for harmony in our country, and for my grandson Ayaan, who is watching these proceedings and has encouraged me to put forward this amendment.

Thank you, senators.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore
[15:25]

Honourable senators, it was moved by the Honourable Senator Jaffer, seconded by the Honourable Senator Pate:

That Bill C-7, as amended, be not now read a third time, but that it be further amended in clause 3, on page 8, by replacing lines 28 to 38 with the following:

“(2) The portion of paragraph 241.31(3)(a) before subparagraph (ii) of the Act is replaced by the following:

(a) respecting the provision and collection of information relating to requests for and the provision of medical assistance in dying, including

(i) the information to be provided, at various stages, by medical practitioners, nurse practitioners, persons referred to in subsection (1.1) who have the responsibility to carry out preliminary assessments, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, or by a class of any of them, including

(A) the elements considered in the course of the assessments — preliminary or otherwise — of whether a person meets the criteria set out in subsection 241.2(1), and

(B) information respecting the race of a person who requests or receives medical assistance in dying, if the person consents to providing this information,

(2.1) Paragraph 241.31(3)(b) of the Act is replaced by the following:

(b) respecting the use, analysis and interpretation of that information, including for the purposes of identifying race-based inequities and how race intersects with other forms of systemic inequality in medical assistance in dying;

(b.1) respecting the protection, publication, and disclosure of that information;”.

Hon. Salma Ataullahjan
[15:28]

Honourable senators, I rise today to speak on Bill C-7 and to express my support for the amendment presented by Senator Jaffer, proposing that Health Canada collect information respecting the race of a person who requests or receives medical assistance in dying if the person consents to providing this information.

The gender-based analysis plus that aims to assess the potential impacts of law reform on diverse groups of women, men and people with other gender identities has identified a number of health issues that affect men and women differently. For example, women have higher rates of mood disorders and generalized anxiety disorders than men, while men have higher rates of substance-use disorders.

The number of issues highlighted in this analysis with a binary approach to gender shows the importance of intersectionality in creating legislation that is representative of the cultural diversity that shapes our country.

Nearly a quarter of the Canadian population is racialized. Honourable senators, that means that nearly 8 million Canadians are racialized. Yet, as I was researching for this speech, I realized how very little race-based health data is available.

As the Canadian Institute for Health Information recently stated:

The lack of race-based data in the health sector in Canada makes it difficult to measure health inequalities and to identify inequities that may stem from racism and discrimination.

In other words, we do not as yet have access to race-based data in regard to Canadians requesting or receiving medical assistance in dying. Simply put, nearly 8 million Canadians are not being considered as important or relevant in this legislation. As Senator Jaffer expressed earlier this week:

. . . We are going in blind on this bill to fight a battle for the lives of millions of people all over Canada.

Access to such rich data would allow us to better identify race-based inequities in medical assistance in dying, in particular, to account for how race intersects with other forms of systemic inequality.

Honourable senators, how can we make an informed decision or prevent harm to racialized people without knowing if the problem actually exists? A GBA+ analysis is meant to identify potential impacts of policies, programs and services on diverse groups of women, men and gender diverse people. The plus takes into account the fact that identities go beyond our gender and sex. Hence, a GBA+ is meant to include race, ethnicity, age and mental or physical disability. However, the report does not go beyond mental health issues and suicide rates among Indigenous people.

According to disability activist Sarah Jama, the voices of Canadians with disabilities living in poverty, many of whom are racialized, have been obscured from the conversation. According to the 2016 census, nearly 21% of racialized Canadians are low-income, compared to just over 12% of non-racialized Canadians.

I urge all senators to support this amendment to ensure that Health Canada collects information respecting the race of a person who requests or receives medical assistance in dying. Canadian multiculturalism is not only an ideology, it is a reality that must be integrated into Bill C-7. If the government intends to uphold its promise to end systemic racism, it must begin by gathering sufficient data.

I support Senator Jaffer’s amendment because without race-based analysis, nearly a quarter of Canadians will not be represented in Bill C-7. Thank you.

Hon. Ratna Omidvar
[15:33]

Honourable senators, I rise today to speak in favour of Senator Jaffer’s amendment to collect race-based data for MAID for Bill C-7.

This amendment brings me back to the days last June when we all rose in this chamber and took a stand against racism. I remind us of our precedent-setting emergency debate, our Committee of the Whole, and an ongoing inquiry. In other words, we put racism on notice in the Senate.

In the debates, Senator Moodie said, “. . . Racism is a threat to Canada and the stability of our society.” Senator Mégie reminded us that it is our duty to give a “. . . voice to those people who are demanding justice, and it is our duty as senators to take action.”

I agree with that sentiment, but now we need to go beyond words and aspirations, and reach for concrete, legislative action.

Action, we know, must be grounded in evidence. We know what gets measured, gets noted, gets done, gets acted on. We need data, and we need to look at it through a multidimensional lens by disaggregating it so that we can arrive at a fulsome picture of the truth and not just a half-truth.

Many senators articulated that point in June. Now Senator Jaffer’s motion is doing exactly what we called for— collecting race-based data. At committee, the government freely admitted that when they did a GBA+ analysis, they failed to conduct a full race-based analysis on the impacts of Bill C-7 on various communities. Why? I don’t know, but I can hazard a guess.

I have issues with the notion that race — a defining feature of Canada’s demography, with close to a quarter of our population today coming from a racial minority background, predicted to grow to more than 36% of our population in the next 15 years — merits a mere plus, an afterthought at best, behind the three letters GBA. No wonder, then, that the plus gets forgotten and becomes a footnote.

This is why this amendment focuses on race only, to make sure that race is not forgotten. When we continue to be forgotten, ignored, overlooked, it is no longer sufficient simply to tilt at the sails. We need to steer instead to a different destination. Senator Jaffer says, “No more.” I agree with her.

I want to be clear about what we know and don’t know. We know there is racism in Canada. We know that it exists in our health care system. We know that people from different backgrounds interact with the health care system and have completely different experiences based on their race.

But we know a little bit more as well. We know that the social determinants of health, such as poverty, housing and homelessness, are important contributing factors that make people sick. And we know that racialized people find themselves disproportionately living in poverty, lacking adequate housing, and therefore have worse health outcomes. Because they have worse health outcomes, they need to interact with the health care system, which we know is racist. Their need to interact is greater. So as you can see, this is a truly wicked problem.

But there is a lot we don’t know. We don’t know if vulnerable people will request MAID. We don’t know if they will get it. We don’t know if the race of an individual will throw up individual or systemic barriers. We don’t know if MAID will be applied equally and fairly across all demographics.

Canada is, admittedly, one of the more inclusive countries in the world, but we seem to have an aversion to collecting race-based data. Consider this: Both the U.K. and the U.S. were able to report fairly early in the pandemic on its disproportionate impact on Black people. In contrast, here in Canada, we had no clue because we did not have the data; not at the national level. I can give you the data from my city, but I’m not sure the data exists at a national level.

What will this data get us? It will be critical in creating and developing proper evidence-based policy decisions and interventions for MAID. It will guide government responses to providing resources in a strategic and effective way. It will identify gaps and barriers to MAID. It will lead to the development of culturally sensitive services and programs. It will ensure that all groups are getting equal and fair access. It will get us equity.

Clearly, we know that the government will have to work with provincial and territorial governments in coordinating this data. But that is what governments do. We should not let implementation difficulties get in the way of doing what we think is right.

I will quote Senator Moodie from our emergency debate on racism where she said:

I want history to look back and see that in this moment we did everything we could to ensure meaningful and sustainable change, that we collaborated, we set aside our agendas and we listened to Canadians.

Senator Jaffer’s amendment is not merely aspirational. It is practical, pragmatic, doable, necessary and timely. All we need now to do is to exercise our collective senatorial, political will. I urge you to do this by voting for this amendment. Thank you.

Hon. Wanda Elaine Thomas Bernard
[15:39]

Honourable senators, I rise today to speak in support of Senator Jaffer’s crucial amendment to Bill C-7, to include the collection of data disaggregated by race.

I want to thank you, Senator Jaffer, for deliberately advocating for race-based analysis in your committee work and for bringing this amendment forward. We have here an opportunity to set the precedent of collecting data disaggregated by race to interrupt the pattern we find ourselves in now, frozen in a state of non-action when it comes to addressing systemic racism head-on.

During the reintroduction of this bill, which would expand access to MAID, Minister Qualtrough reaffirmed that:

Medical assistance in dying is a human rights issue. The proposed legislation recognizes the equality rights of personal autonomy as well as the inherent and equal value of every life.

Clearly, every life matters. We must ensure that this legislation protects those most vulnerable in Canada. Systemic anti-Black racism has created such health disparities for Black Canadians that we must consider the vulnerability of diverse Black communities in any and all health legislation. Senator Jaffer’s amendment would ensure that we have the information to understand the long-term impact of MAID legislation on Black lives, on Indigenous lives, and on the lives of other racialized Canadians. I am deeply concerned that, without careful consideration, we are at risk of passing legislation that will allow Black lives and racialized lives to remain invisible in conversations about health, about disability, about aging and about poverty.

Minister Lametti said that this is “. . . a deeply personal issue that touches real people and real families.” For Black Canadians, this is also a community issue.

In committee, Senator Jaffer established that a race analysis was not completed on this topic. The reason given by Minister Lametti was that a Gender-based Analysis Plus was done, but that race-based data was not available. The next day, the Senior Executive Advisor to the Deputy Minister clarified that:

. . . as far as the federal monitoring regime is concerned, we are not collecting race-based data or other information with respect to ethnicity.

As was implied by Minister Lametti yesterday, we need to do better in that area and we will. We heard your comments yesterday and took them to heart and to mind very seriously.

In the recent Speech from the Throne, amongst many plans to address systemic inequalities, the government promised to build “. . . a whole-of-federal-government approach around better collection of disaggregated data . . . .” Unfortunately, we are hearing that a race-based analysis was not conducted for Bill C-7 because we do not have this data. Gender-based Analysis Plus is not simply a gender analysis. The “plus” is typically forgotten. So we must emphasize the “plus” in order to fully analyze information and properly inform our decisions which impact vulnerable Canadians affected by intersecting marginalization.

As my previous colleagues have said, it’s a quarter of our population in this country.

A race-based analysis is not only about statistics. What about community consultation? What about projections or expected outcomes given by expert witnesses? Last spring, before we even had numbers about COVID-19, even though there was no race-based disaggregated data available, we were able to predict the potential disparities due to current health and employment disparities already present in Black communities across this country.

A primary theme throughout discussions on MAID is that it offers freedom of choice. As we have heard Senator Pate mention several times during debates, some of the most marginalized Canadians who do not have access to adequate care do not have a choice. A choice between living without adequate care and MAID is no choice at all. I think of the many people in African Nova Scotian communities for example, who are living at the intersection of race and disability, often with concurrent illnesses, not having access to —

The Hon. the Acting Speaker
[15:45]

Your time has expired.

Hon. Kim Pate
[15:45]

Thank you, Your Honour. I join my voice with those of my esteemed colleagues.

The narrow scope of Bill C-7, focused on the suicide provisions of the Criminal Code, means that any proposed amendment will fall short of the systemic changes needed to ensure that no one experiences intolerable suffering or considers death as a result of inadequate and unequal access to health, social, housing and income supports.

I applaud Senator Jaffer for these efforts to ensure that the government must at least provide some answers about who makes use of Bill C-7 and under what circumstances.

As Justice Smith and the Supreme Court of Canada pointed out in the Carter case:

. . . the risks associated with physician-assisted death can be limited through a carefully designed and monitored system of safeguards.

At Legal Committee, we heard from people with disabilities, as well as those who are poor or racialized, about doctors and other medical staff offering the option of do-not-resuscitate orders and medical assistance in dying before they offer them treatment.

Black and Indigenous witnesses told us about anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism in the health care system that results in people’s suffering being dismissed or ignored or, worse yet, taunted and mocked. We also heard about people being unable to access adequate medical care and needlessly suffering and dying in the same system that has helped to perpetuate forced sterilization and, indeed, genocide.

This amendment will help us to understand some of the effects of this bill. Unfortunately, it will only highlight, not remedy, the injustices revealed.

Of course I support the collection of data disaggregated by race. We also need data regarding the social determinants of health of those seeking non-end-of-life medical assistance in dying, including whether they are persons with disabilities and whether they are institutionalized.

Similarly, we need to know more about the nature and availability of alternatives for relieving suffering that were or, even more significantly, were not offered.

We have heard from the government that most of those who have accessed end-of-life medical assistance in dying have been well-off and that most, some 80% or so, have at least some access to palliative care, although none of this speaks to the circumstances in which care was received or the nature or quality of the home care, nor the social and economic supports crucial to creating equitable access to such supports.

We need clear data about who is offered and who receives health, social, economic and housing supports. Where these alternatives to medical assistance in dying were unavailable, we also need to know why, whether due to cost, wait times or location.

In the absence of federal government action to ensure adequate and equitable access to these supports, Canadians most certainly deserve to know how Bill C-7 will operate. Meegwetch. Thank you.

Hon. Rosemary Moodie
[15:49]

Thank you, Your Honour. I stand today to strongly support Senator Jaffer’s amendment to Bill C-7. I want to begin by thanking Senator Jaffer for her strong advocacy on issues facing racialized Canadians. Notably, she has championed the issue of race-based data throughout this debate and on this bill and has helped move this conversation forward.

I welcome this amendment because it is a sensible response to the request of Black Canadians. You will recall that in June of last year, the Parliamentary Black Caucus published a statement in which the collection and appropriate use of disaggregated data was the first request made to the government. This statement was endorsed by a number of parliamentarians, and many of you, colleagues, endorsed and supported this document on the floor of the Senate.

I also participated in the Parliamentary Black Caucus’ budget consultation last December. During these meetings, we heard from dozens of individuals and organizations representing Black Canadians that data collection is a central and key concern.

I want to take a moment and be very clear about why data collection is important. We know that racialized Canadians suffer severe adverse outcomes due to systemic racism. We know this based on evidence that is available, but also due to the litany of anecdotal evidence available. We do not know how severe these negative outcomes really are, nor do we know how race intersects with many other factors.

We need reliable and sound data to allow governments and parliamentarians to understand the issues and design policies that are well informed. Without this information, government policies will always be insufficient and poorly targeted. We are essentially operating blind. I also believe that data is power and can be used to guide and to generate pressure.

As Dr. Kathy Hogarth from Waterloo University stated in an interview with Global News last spring:

Without data, it’s all speculation, and as long as it remains in speculation, we can dismiss it. What we need is a very rigorous way of collecting our data that looks at inequalities. I guarantee you there are inequalities; we are not all impacted in the same way.

Colleagues, I think we would have appreciated having more data during this debate on Bill C-7. In fact, I know this because many of you have raised this yourselves throughout these debates. I think we would have appreciated being better informed about the way racialized Canadians have been impacted since Bill C-14 came into force.

Further, it is very likely that we will have to debate or study some aspects of medical assistance in dying once more in the coming years. This amendment would help us avoid what many of us have lamented by providing us with further data so our debates and proposals can be measured and effective.

Lastly, this amendment respects the rights of individuals to share their data, and would allow all of those who would like to keep their data to themselves to do so.

In too many aspects of our policy making we are data blind. We need to continue to unlock access to reliable and sound data in every system. This is a huge issue, and though we need major changes, I welcome small but meaningful steps forward such as this one.

This is what many communities have been asking for, especially the Black community. This is how to make good policy — by having good data. This is progress. I hope you will join in voting for this important amendment. Thank you.

Hon. Mary Jane McCallum
[15:53]

Honourable senators, I rise to speak in support of Senator Jaffer’s amendment to Bill C-7. Much like Senator Jaffer, I have serious concerns and misgivings about how such a critical life-and-death piece of government-driven legislation could be lacking in such a fundamental way with regard to the analysis undertaken at the outset of the drafting process, as well as its shortcomings in protecting vulnerable and minority groups.

In a letter sent to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on January 18, Minister Lametti gave a very brief overview of the Gender-based Analysis Plus that was undertaken with regard to Bill C-7. This GBA+ would be considered completely underwhelming and insufficient on a lesser piece of legislation, yet for a bill of this sensitive and important a nature, the analysis done was completely unacceptable in providing insight into how this bill would and could impact racialized and other minorities.

On the government’s own Status of Women Canada website, GBA+ is described, in part, as such:

The “plus” in GBA+ is not just about differences between biological (sexes) and socio-cultural (genders). We all have multiple characteristics that intersect and contribute to who we are. GBA+ considers many other identity factors such as race, ethnicity, religion, age, and mental or physical disability and how the interaction between these factors influences the way we might experience government policies and initiatives.

Colleagues, GBA+ is a tool that is supposed to have been in use in Canada since our country ratified the United Nations Beijing Declaration on the rights of women as well as its accompanying platform for action in 1995. Despite this, and the fact that we are now 25 years removed from signing that declaration, Canada still does not have a uniform GBA+ that is held up to every piece of legislation. Instead, it is evident that it is used piecemeal and ad hoc, never fully ensuring the issues of equality and protection are fully considered and guaranteed as they should be.

Colleagues, it is also worth mentioning the mandate letter for all of the ministers, which includes the following statement:

We remain committed to evidence-based decision-making that takes into consideration the impacts of policies on all Canadians and fully defends the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You will apply Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) in the decisions that you make and consider public policies through an intersectional lens in order to address systemic inequities including: systemic racism; unconscious bias; gender-based discrimination; barriers for persons with disabilities; discrimination against LGBTQ2 communities; and inequities faced by all vulnerable populations. Whenever possible, you will work to improve the quality and availability of disaggregated data to ensure that policy decisions benefit all communities.

Honourable senators, all ministers are to apply GBA+ as well as work to improve the quality and availability of data, but it is clear that the government has fallen short of this mark when it comes to Bill C-7. I am thankful to Senator Jaffer that she has put forward this amendment so as to prompt the government to do the fulsome job that they are tasked to do.

In all the mandate letters to the ministers, the following directive is given:

There remains no more important relationship to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples. With respect and dignity, we remain committed to moving forward along the shared path of reconciliation. You, and indeed all ministers, must continue to play a role in helping to advance self-determination, close socio-economic gaps and eliminate systemic barriers facing First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples. As Minister, I expect you to work in full partnership with Indigenous Peoples and communities to advance meaningful reconciliation.

Colleagues, although these are nice sentiments, at the end of the day words are wind. Without concrete action behind these words, First Nations people in Canada and the disability community will continue to be left behind and made vulnerable. The government has not done due diligence in consultation with First Nations and the disability community. One round table is not adequate. The government has not adequately applied a GBA+ to this critical bill. Therefore, the government has fallen short in their duty to work in full partnership with Indigenous peoples and to eliminate the systemic barriers they face.

Although I have serious concerns with Bill C-7 and the lack of fulsome consultation, I applaud Senator Jaffer in bringing forward this important issue. I urge all senators to lend your support in passing this amendment. Thank you.

Hon. Marilou McPhedran
[15:59]

Thank you, Your Honour. I very much appreciate this opportunity to speak. I will be brief because I’m so impressed by the speeches that have gone before me and commend every one of my sister senators who have spoken thus far. Women’s leadership on this issue is wonderful to see.

In addition to thanking Senator Jaffer for her initiative and indicating my support for it, I want to underscore that there is choice here; that if we were forcing anyone to identify their racial characteristics as part of the data gathering we are seeing with this amendment potentially being brought into force, then we would have a serious human rights problem. But, in fact, it is completely built upon the option of disclosing.

While I might wish that it would be inclusive of all people with disabilities, nevertheless, it seems to me that the racialization of poverty and disability means that as a crucial, practical, strategic starting point, this is the amendment we need. It leads to action. It leads to making a difference in terms of the allocation of resources that historically have always been fewer for people living with disabilities and, arguably, where inadequate conditions have been exacerbated by race.

Thank you, Senator Jaffer. I’m honoured to lend my support to this amendment. Meegwetch.

Hon. Donna Dasko
[16:01]

Honourable senators, as a professional researcher, I know that good decision making in every sector relies on timely, accurate and appropriate data. Since my appointment to the Senate in 2018, I’ve often called for better data collection in government, particularly in areas related to health, the COVID pandemic and gender issues. Last spring, during our examination in the chamber of systemic racism, I joined the call with my colleagues for more extensive disaggregated race data and analysis.

Today I wish to speak to Senator Jaffer’s amendment to Bill C-7, with respect to data collection. I strongly support this amendment, which sets out in legislation a requirement that medical practitioners, nurse practitioners and pharmacists collect information respecting the race of a person who requests or receives medical assistance in dying, if the person consents to providing this information, for the stated purpose of identifying race-based inequities in medical assistance in dying, to account for how race intersects with other forms of systemic inequality.

I strongly support the collection of race-based data in this amendment as it pertains to MAID, but I do have some concerns that I would like to express here.

I wish that this amendment had included a requirement to collect other demographic data as well, including information that is necessary for our understanding of race-based and other inequities. In fact, we cannot examine intersectionality — that is, how race intersects with other forms of inequality, as called for in the amendment — unless we measure these other forms of inequality.

I note that this amendment does not require the collection of gender information, but we do need to know whether MAID is gendered in its application. We also very much need to know about the age, disability status and socio-economic status of those who apply for and receive MAID. We need to know the Indigenous status of those who apply for and receive MAID, and we must collect and use this data in partnership and consultation with Indigenous leaders. Normally, race data is collected differently and separately from Indigenous status data, according to federal protocols. That is another issue I’d like to put on the table.

Senators, many grave and important issues have been raised in our debate about Bill C-7. We have to understand whether disadvantaged and vulnerable Canadians and those with disabilities are more likely to access MAID. As the critics of this legislation have so eloquently argued over these many weeks, we owe it to Canadians to understand this, and we can only address those concerns if we have fulsome data.

We have learned from documentation that age, gender and postal code data are currently collected as required by Health Canada regulation. However, the fact that these measures are collected now with respect to MAID does not guarantee that they will be collected in the future, after the regulatory review of Bill C-7, which will start after this legislation is adopted. These existing measures can be changed or dropped any day, by any government, for any reason.

Plus, as I said earlier, we need to measure more than age, gender and postal code. We need to collect race-based data, which will be guaranteed by this amendment, but we also need to collect socio-economic status and disability data, and more. So we need to guarantee that we are collecting more data.

I regret that there was not enough time or opportunity to develop an amendment or subamendment to address these issues and to create a more fulsome data collection regime.

Senators, these are my concerns. I very much want to thank Senator Jaffer for taking the time to discuss these concerns with me over recent days, with great sensitivity. I know that she shares my concerns and interests. I want to thank her as well for taking this important step to enshrine the collection of race-based data in this legislation, and for her dedication to improving the collection and analysis of race-based data wherever we can.

I will support this amendment today. We need race data to be guaranteed, and I look to the promised parliamentary review of medical assistance in dying to continue my push for broad-based data collection around MAID. I hope the review will take this into account, along with all of the other vital topics the review will examine.

Senators, thank you very much for your interest.

Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson
[16:07]

Honourable senators, in speaking to this amendment, I wish to draw your attention to a serious deficiency in the process of developing this bill and its predecessor. I’ve spoken about this before in the chamber on behalf of the Inuit of Nunavut, who comprise 85% of our population.

To be clear, Canada has a solemn obligation under the constitutionally entrenched and protected Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, which requires, in Article 35, as a specific obligation of the Government of Canada:

a. providing Inuit with an opportunity to participate in the development of social and cultural policies, and in the design of social and cultural programs and services, including their method of delivery, in the Nunavut Settlement Area; and

b. endeavouring to reflect Inuit goals and objectives where it puts in place such social and cultural policies, programs and services in the Nunavut Settlement Area.

This required consultation on the part of Canada absolutely and clearly did not take place in Nunavut, according to Nunavut Tunngavik and its Nunavut Social Development Council, the body with which this consultation should have taken place.

This is not the first time Canada has ignored its solemn obligation to consult on new social programs and services and their delivery under the modern treaty of the Nunavut Agreement. Had the Crown respected its duty, cross-cultural and language issues around the challenge we are now experiencing — communicating in the first language of the vast majority of Nunavut residents, and the need to understand and respect their traditional values and practices of Inuit — would have been evident and might have been addressed.

In this connection, I should also mention Call to Action 22 in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report:

We call upon those who can effect change within the Canadian health-care system to recognize the value of Aboriginal healing practices and use them in the treatment of Aboriginal patients in collaboration with Aboriginal healers and Elders where requested by Aboriginal patients. This Call to Action, though adopted by the Government of Canada, has also apparently not happened and is not reflected or even addressed in this bill.

Since the Inuktitut language is the carrier of these cultural values and practices, it is critical that Inuit be consulted in the development and review of programs like this, which I expect would likely identify what has emerged as the need for a glossary in Inuktut to be developed through the employment of experienced interpreter translators, as has been done in other fields like justice and other areas of health care.

So I see this amendment, which reflects the neglected situation of minorities, including the Inuit of Nunavut whom I represent in this chamber, as helping to shine a light on the importance of conducting respectful consultations and gathering data and considering the very different situations of Aboriginal people in a cross-cultural environment and in a sometimes insensitive health care system. These consultations have been promised in the modern treaty of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and have consistently not taken place. This should happen in conjunction with the promised review of the original MAID legislation, which has yet to take place.

I’m not a sister senator. I guess I don’t fall in that category, but I do want to speak in support of this amendment and thank Senator Jaffer for bringing it forth.

Qujannamiik.

Hon. Denise Batters
[16:11]

Honourable senators, I just have a few words to say on this. Thank you very much to Senator Jaffer for bringing this amendment. I will be supporting this amendment because I agree that this information is needed here.

However, I wanted to pose this question: In the last few years, why does the Senate keep passing these kinds of amendments to collect data and do studies about how many times vulnerable people are potentially discriminated against or hurt by state actions or new government legislation? This happened on the random alcohol testing amendment issue, the carding issue a few years ago and now on this.

As many senators who participated in the dozens of hours of our Legal Committee’s meetings on Bill C-7 know, our committee recently heard from many witnesses from the Indigenous community and others who experienced race-based inequities who voiced major disapproval of Bill C-7.

So, honourable senators, instead of just collecting data about these things once they’re already in place, why instead don’t senators vote against discriminatory and hurtful government legislation for vulnerable Canadians, like Bill C-7, as those witnesses from vulnerable populations we heard from pleaded with us to do? After all this data, that would be collected in this particular case to detail how many of these vulnerable people have died by MAID, why don’t we instead focus on helping and supporting these vulnerable Canadians and try to save their lives instead of only counting their deaths?

[16:13]

Honourable senators, I rise on debate to speak on Senator Jaffer’s amendment. Honourable colleagues, I entirely support this amendment, but, like Senator Dasko, I hope that its implementation, if adopted, will expand disaggregated data collection well beyond race to include not just vulnerable Canadians but those living in rural and remote communities, including, as Senator Patterson pointed out, Indigenous Canadians, Inuit and others, who so often have limited and difficult access to health care that’s far away from their homes.

As Senator Moodie pointed out, too often we are data blind in our decision making. We have to be unrelenting in our efforts to change this reality for our collective social and economic benefit. Let’s make sure our new standard practice, starting today with this amendment, is to ensure that every piece of legislation has better data collection.

The vast majority of Canadians support Bill C-7, but some — particularly vulnerable Canadians — remain fearful of its effects. Disaggregated data collection is essential to accurately and precisely evaluate the implementation of Bill C-7 over time and in every corner of our country. Data is essential to monitoring the appropriate implementation of this legislation and to guiding effective reviews in the future based on facts, not fears. Thank you very much, colleagues.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore
[16:14]

Are honourable senators ready for the question?

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore
[16:15]

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion in amendment?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

An Hon. Senator: On division.

(Motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Jaffer agreed to, on division.)

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate)
[16:15]

Can an abstention be noted, since I’m unable to vote for the motion?

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore
[16:15]

Senator Gold, we will say that it was carried, on division. The blues will include your comments.

Senator Gold
[16:16]

Thank you.