Bill that would let Canadians sign up to be organ donors on tax forms faces crucial vote

A Calgary MP's private member's bill that would make it easier for people to sign up to be organ donors will face a critical test in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

In 2016, Conservative MP Len Webber introduced Bill C-316, which would allow people to use their tax forms to sign up to donate their organs. That information would then be passed on to provincial donor programs.

On Wednesday, MPs will vote on whether the bill should be studied by a parliamentary committee.

'This will save lives'

"I really believe that this will save lives. It will increase our registries significantly. I have full confidence it will. I just know that we need to up those numbers," Webber said.

Unlike the U.S., Canada doesn't have a central list of people waiting for organ donations.

In 2016, the Liberal government voted against a bill that would have created a national registry.

Webber said MPs from both parties have spoken in favour of the bill, but he's anxiously awaiting the vote to see if it will proceed to committee.

Donor registration varies greatly from province to province, with some interprovincial communication in place for living donor registries, but much less in place for deceased donors.

4,500 people waiting for organ donations

There are more than 4,500 people waiting for an organ donation in Canada and about 260 of those people will die every year — one death every 30 hours could have been prevented if there were more donors, according to non-profit organization The Organ Project.

One deceased organ donor can save up to eight lives.

Only 20 per cent of Albertans have registered to donate, Webber said.

"There are too many Canadians saying no to organ donation … Canadians need to talk to their families to make their wishes known, talk around the dinner table, be clear on what you wish you'd like to do with your organs upon death," he said.

He said he also has a personal connection to organ donation — his wife had hoped to be an organ donor, but when she passed away from cancer she wasn't able to donate. So he hopes to support others to do what she had hoped to.

Canada's largest organ donor agencies have urged the federal government to take action to promote and manage organ donor registration at the national level.

With files from Brooks DeCillia.

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