19 March 2008
Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. Good morning to all of you and thank you for coming out today. Thank you, Joe, for that introduction. I appreciate the fine work you're doing not just as Member of Parliament for Elgin-Middlesex-London, but also on the House of Commons Board of Internal Economy, as well as Procedure and House Affairs, which we won't get into today.
Also, greetings today to Dave MacKenzie, Member of Parliament for Oxford, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Security. Greetings to Director of Education, Bill Tucker, and to all members of the board who are here today. And also, thank you, Principal Mann, for that introduction, and for hosting us today at Cleardale.
And I understand Cleardale is the first school in the country to actually be embarking on the program we're talking about today. So congratulations to everybody here for that.
Greetings as well to CEO Dr. Martin Cabot and to Chairman Howard Burger and your colleagues, all your colleagues from the Canadian MedicAlert Foundation, as well as to representatives of the Lion's Club of Canada who are here today with us.
It is always a pleasure to be in London, a pleasure to be back and a pleasure to be in this classroom with all these bright youngsters—the boys and girls who represent the future of this community and also part of the future of our great country.
Today's announcement is about our children. It's specifically about the one in ten Canadian children who have severe allergies, asthma, diabetes, epilepsy or other conditions, conditions that can be life threatening if they are not treated promptly and properly.
As parents, we do everything we can to ensure our children's safety but we can't be with them 24 hours a day. We need to know that when we trust them to the care of others like schools or teachers, they will be as safe as possible. For parents of kids with medical conditions that are potentially dangerous, this is a constant worry. That's what prompted the creation of the MedicAlert program, which came to Canada 45 years ago.
Today, MedicAlert has over a million registered members and is the largest member-based charity in Canada. Countless children and adults have received life-saving emergency treatment, thanks to their membership in the program.
In November 2006, MedicAlert launched an ambitious and exciting plan: to make the program available for free to every elementary school student in Canada. Over the next five years, the "No Child Without Campaign" will be taken to every one of Canada's 12,000-plus elementary schools. I want to congratulate MedicAlert for this tremendous initiative. I also want to applaud their new partner in the "No Child Without" campaign, the Lion's Club of Canada, which is providing funding and community-based support as the program expands across the country. And on behalf of the Government of Canada, I want to announce that we have followed up our Budget 2007 contribution to the "No Child Without Campaign" with a new and larger commitment in Budget 2008.
It's hard to imagine a better, more cost-effective way of providing improved health protection for tens of thousands of at-risk children than by enrolling them in the MedicAlert program.
This is a truly tremendous example of what makes our Canada such a great place to live in, such a great society to be a part of. Here, we have community-based groups built on volunteer and donor support, working together with families, schools and governments to make life safer and better for the children who will carry our country forward into the future.
It's the Canadian way and I salute all of the partners, everyone who is contributing.
Thank you very much.