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Albrecht’s suicide-prevention bill now in Senate

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The federal government has moved one step closer to making Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht’s strategy against suicide a reality. Formally known as Bill C-300, the private members bill is aimed at establishing a national strategy on suicide prevention. The House of Commons completed debate on the bill on Monday by passing the third reading, sending it to the Senate for further review.

Throughout the process of passing the bill – first introduced last September – Albrecht has been happy to see the debates free of partisanship by all parties.

“In the last reading it received some pretty strong support – there were only four members who voted against it – so I was pretty confident that it would proceed,” Albrecht said Tuesday afternoon.

Having already received the support necessary to appear before the Senate – Senator Salma Ataullahjan has agreed to be its sponsor – the bill must pass through a similar process as the House, meaning it will require another three readings before being sent to Governor General David Johnson to be made into law.

Albrecht hopes that the lack of opposition by all sides will mean it can be fast-tracked through the Senate before the Senate rises, which will likely be next week.

“It could be passed on to the governor general for royal ascent some time in early July. I’m very much hopeful that I will be present when the Governor General signs it into law,” the MP said.

Albrecht closed Monday’s debate by sharing the story of an 11-year-old who had been molested at the age of 7, and also experienced severe bullying.

“As a father of three children and the proud grandparent of nine, I was sick when I heard this story,” Albrecht said. “I am not trained in crisis intervention, but when this child’s mother sought help from my office, we were able to connect her with people who possess the skills, experience, understanding and training to offer help.”

It is these types of personal stories that have continued to motivate Albrecht to make this bill a reality. When 18-year-old Carleton University student Nadia Kajouji committed suicide in March of 2008 after she was encouraged to do so over the Internet, Albrecht penned bill M388 which sought to amend the criminal code to prevent predators from exploiting vulnerable Canadians online and encouraging suicide.

That bill was passed unanimously on Nov. 18, 2009 and the response that Albrecht received from the public encouraged him to pursue the issue further. The numbers of suicides are staggering, and according to the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council, nearly 4,000 Canadians commit suicide each year.

For more information on suicide and suicide prevention, visit the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council website, www.wrspc.ca or if you are having any suicidal feelings or know someone who is, call Crisis Services Waterloo Region, (519) 745-1166, or 9-1-1.

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