Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon—Grasswood)
2018-09-25 10:07 [p.21804]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to also present a petition on behalf of many Canadians who are increasingly concerned about the international trafficking in human organs removed from victims without consent. We are dealing with Bill C-350 and Bill S-240.
Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon—Grasswood)
2018-09-25 18:33 [p.21872]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise tonight to speak in support of the private member’s bill brought forth by the member for Calgary Confederation, Bill C-316.
This legislation would amend the Canada Revenue Agency Act to allow Canadians to use their annual income tax returns to register as organ and tissue donors. The agency would be able to enter into agreements with provincial and territorial governments to collect this valuable information, which would then be passed on to the provinces and the territories and be used for the purpose of establishing or even maintaining their organ donor registries.
No information would be passed along to an individual’s province or territory of residence unless that individual had authorized the Canada Revenue Agency to do so in the income tax return. As a result, respect for the privacy of Canadians would continue to be of the utmost importance under the bill.
Bill C-316 seeks to address a very serious problem within our health care system facing many Canadians.
Canadian Blood Services estimates 4,500 people across this country are on wait-lists every year to get critical organ transplants that have the potential to save lives. Unfortunately, these organ transplants are not always readily available and the consequences are devastating. To this effect, Canadian Blood Services also reports that on average, 250 Canadians die each year waiting for a transplant. It could be someone’s mom, dad, grandma or grandfather.
In 2016 alone, over 4,500 people were waiting for transplants but only 2,835 organs were transplanted. Two hundred and sixty people died that year while waiting for organ transplants. These tragic losses are totally unacceptable and Canadians recognize this major problem. However we can fix this problem and make change for the better. We need to take action to help as many Canadians as possible receive the potentially life-saving organ and tissue transplants that they desperately need.
One of the primary goals of the bill is to give Canadians an annual opportunity to register as organ and tissue donors in a way that is totally simple and cost effective. Provinces and territories would still have the constitutional authority over the establishment and the maintenance of these organ donor registries.
The bill would also allow provincial and territorial governments to use existing resources within the Canada Revenue Agency to assist in the collection of organ donor information in a way that respects the privacy of all Canadians.
The bill is so important because it would make it easier for all Canadians to register as organ donors by simply including the information on their income tax returns.
The Canadian Transplant Society states that while over 90% of Canadians support organ and tissue donation, fewer than 20% of Canadians have actually made plans to donate. For Canadians who wish to register as organ and tissue donors, the process should not be complicated. Canadians should be able to indicate their choice to be an organ or tissue donor in a way that is clear and accessible for all Canadians. Bill C-316 seeks to support this objective for the sake of both organ donors and the thousands of Canadians waiting for critical organ transplants each and every year.
Bill C-316 represents a sensible solution that has the potential to help thousands of Canadians in need and benefit the lives of many more.
Tonight I would like to share two stories with the House, one of an organ recipient and the other of an organ donor family.
Shammi Rathwell is a constituent of mine in Saskatoon—Grasswood. I have known Shammi and her husband, George, for many years. Shammi was 42 years old when her doctor detected a heart murmur. Medication did not fix the issue, and after open-heart surgery to repair a valve, it was determined that the only option to correct this issue was a heart transplant. Shammi, in September 1991, went on the list. She was fortunate. Two months later, she was called.
To quote Shammi, “From the beginning, my transplant went very well. I did have a brief rejection early, but once that was resolved, I have been able to live a full and productive life. It will be 17 years this coming November. I have watched my girls grow, become educated. In fact, one just got married, and I can’t wait someday to be a grandmother. I am so thankful to my donor for the gift of life. The family must have been in deep grief and yet made the decision to donate the organ which saved my life. I don’t know who my donor family is, but I think of them very often and thank them every day.”
Shammi Rathwell fully endorses Bill C-316.
The second story I want to share with members deals with the tragic accident of the Humboldt Bronco bus this past April that claimed the lives of 16 people.
Logan Boulet was one of the players who died in that accident on Friday night, but the story of this heroic 21-year-old certainly needs to be told. Just the summer before, in Lethbridge, a mentor of Logan’s, an athletic trainer named Rick, suddenly passed away. Logan found out that Rick had signed the donor registry earlier in Alberta. He decided then that when he turned 21, he too would respect Rick and follow him to sign the registry in Alberta.
When this tragic accident happened on April 6, his parents, Bernadine and Toby, who I spoke with at length last night in Lethbridge, knew to carry out the wishes of their only son, Logan. Saturday morning, in the hospital in Saskatoon, Bernadine had one simple request. Her request was to hear Logan’s heartbeat for the final time. She laid her head on his chest before the doctors proceeded with the successful organ recovery.
Even though Logan has passed, Bernadine and Toby know that their son’s heart is beating somewhere today in Canada. The Boulet story will be told many times, not only in this country but in the world, as both parents have agreed to speak about their ordeal to help others better understand the importance of organ and tissue donations. They, by the way, fully endorse Bill C-316.
Since Logan’s tragic passing, almost 100,000 Canadians have registered to become organ donors. It is clear that Logan’s selfless decision to become an organ donor has made a lasting impression in this country.
Let us spin ahead to next year, April 7, 2019, which is exactly one year after the passing of Logan Boulet in the RUH hospital in Saskatoon. The Canadian Transplant Society will proclaim “wear green shirt day” in Canada. Green, of course, is the colour of the Humboldt Broncos, the team he played for in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. “Wear green shirt day” will be in recognition of Logan, along with many other organ donors in this country.
It is clear that the benefits organ donors provide to people in need is invaluable, and this bill would offer a simple solution that would help provide these benefits to as many Canadians as possible.