Prime Minister Stephen Harper is going ahead with a plan to put heart defibrillators in recreational hockey arenas across the country.
Harper announced the details of the four-year initiative at a rink in Saskatoon on Thursday. The needs of about 3,000 arenas are to be assessed before the actual machines start rolling out this spring.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation says up to 40,000 Canadians experience sudden cardiac arrest each year and, on average, only about five per cent survive.
“This hit home to many of us in 2009 when distinguished photojournalist Tom Hanson suddenly collapsed while playing hockey with friends,” Harper said.
“Tom was someone who had travelled extensively with me over the years. He was in the prime of his life.”
Hanson was 41 and Harper said The Canadian Press photographer’s sad story “helped to spur us into action.”
“This hit home to many of us in 2009 when distinguished photojournalist Tom Hanson suddenly collapsed while playing hockey with friends,” - Prime Minister Stephen Harper
The Conservatives promised the $10-million defibrillator plan in the April 2011 election campaign.
The goal is to have 1,500 of the potentially life-saving machines in rinks that don’t already have them. The government will also support training on the devices.
“Let me be clear, that means a defibrillator in every recreational hockey rink from coast to coast to coast.”
The Heart and Stroke Foundation says defibrillators could potentially save the lives of thousands of adults and children.
“We have the technology and we know that it works,” Harper said. “We know that with minimal training defibrillators are easy to use.
“And we know that by making these devices more readily available, fast treatment will save lives.”