Hon. Amina Gerba: Colleagues, before I begin, I would like to offer my condolences to the family of our late colleague.
I rise today to recognize that October 24 was World Polio Day. Polio is a very serious and highly infectious disease that can cause paralysis. Rotary International has been fighting polio through its PolioPlus program.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to co-sponsor a Rotary event dedicated to fighting this disease. I would like to thank my colleagues who participated in the event. It was an opportunity to celebrate how far we’ve come and to remind ourselves that the fight against this terrible disease must go on until it is eradicated for good.
As a former Rotarian, I’ve seen what a huge impact the organization’s work has had. Eradicating polio has been Rotary’s flagship effort since 1985, and the organization has contributed $2.6 billion to the cause. We should also be very proud of the role our country has played in ridding the world of polio.
For almost 40 years now, Canada has been a key partner in the fight, contributing a total of nearly $1 billion so far.
However, while global efforts have made it possible to vaccinate three billion children and prevent 20 million cases of paralysis, the fight is not over. That is why we must intensify our efforts and continue to work to put a definitive end to this scourge.
I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to a polio survivor, Ramesh Ferris, a well-known resident of Whitehorse, Yukon. A past president of the Rotary Club Whitehorse Rendezvous and a Paul Harris Fellow, in 2008, Mr. Ferris travelled over 7,000 kilometers on his hand-cycle, rallying Canadians from west to east and raising thousands of dollars to eradicate polio.
Mr. Ferris is an inspiration, and his example should motivate us to come together to finally defeat polio.
Hon. Senators: Hear! Hear!