House of Commons Hansard #85 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was justice.

Topics

The Atlantic Groundfish Strategy
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, today representatives from the Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters are meeting with all political parties to discuss the end of the Atlantic groundfish strategy in August.

Close to 25,000 people will be affected and the greatest impact will be on Newfoundland where two-thirds of the recipients reside.

The government refuses to say what will happen when the program ends in just four months.

With 3,000 people about to be taken off of TAGS in May and the rest in August these people need an answer now.

The government has two reports in front of it that emphasize support for early retirement and licence buy-out programs, self-employment assistance for younger fisher people, community economic development assistance and an extension of TAGS until at least the end of May 1999.

We need a financial commitment from the government today.

This is Newfoundland's ice storm. The lights are still off and the need is just as great.

World Health Day
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Augustine Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, next Tuesday, April 7, is World Health Day. It is a day that is observed by 191 member countries of the World Health Organization, including Canada.

World Health Day aims to encourage everyone to think globally and act locally on a specific issue of global importance for public health.

This year's theme is “Safe Motherhood”. Around the world every minute of every day a woman dies of pregnancy related complications, nearly 600,000 each year. Every year nearly 3.4 million babies die within the first week of life. These women and babies die for the same reasons, poor health and inadequate care during pregnancy and childbirth.

As part of the campaign to build greater public awareness of maternal mortality the Canadian Association of Parliamentarians on Population and Development along with the Canadian Society for International Health and CIDA will be commemorating World Health Day with a forum on “Safe Motherhood” on Parliament Hill.

The Economy
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, as we welcome in the spring season I think it is time we join the government in celebrating this golden economic age.

Our unemployment figures are half those of the United States. Our youth unemployment rate is at its lowest in years. Young Americans are lining up at our borders to seek greater opportunities in Canada. Our neighbours in other G-7 countries are paying higher taxes than we are in Canada. Our hospitals are being flooded by doctors who are coming here from the U.S. seeking greater opportunities. Our Canadian dollar is trading at record high levels. There are fewer people on welfare than ever before.

This government should be commended on its stalwart economic record. Never before have Canadians seen such a golden age.

Oh yes, happy April Fool's Day.

Bill C-28
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski—Mitis, QC

Mr. Speaker, since February 5, the Bloc Quebecois has been trying in every way possible to cast light on certain nebulous aspects of Bill C-28, and on an apparent conflict of interest involving its sponsor, the federal Minister of Finance.

As everyone knows, the Minister of Finance is actively involved in this field, and owns an international shipping company which could take advantage of certain tax advantages contained in this new legislation.

In order to eliminate any doubts concerning the integrity of the Minister of Finance, we are again asking the Prime Minister to defer passage of Bill C-28 at third reading and to strike the special board of inquiry all opposition parties have been calling for.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, tens of thousands of innocent Canadians contracted hepatitis C when they received transfusions from the government's blood system. Many are slowly dying.

The Prime Minister has authorized the health minister to compensate some of these victims but he has told the health minister to abandon the rest. He has created a two tier system for dealing with victims of government negligence.

Why will the Prime Minister not do the right thing and compensate all victims of poisoned blood?

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as we said in the House, there was a period where the responsibilities of the government were well established.

We have been dealing with the provincial governments. The provincial governments of all political stripes and the federal minister of health have agreed to a scheme to compensate the victims of that period, as it is our obligation to do so.

The decision represents $800 million from the federal government and $300 million from the provincial governments. I think it is a very generous program.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, this is not an administrative issue. This is a moral issue. It is morally wrong for the government to abandon these victims of its own negligence.

The Prime Minister is concerned about his place in history. He wants the millennium fund to be a monument to himself and to his administration, but if he allows this decision to stand he will have his monuments all right, 40,000 of them in the graveyards of the country.

I ask him again. Will the Prime Minister do the right thing and compensate all the victims of poisoned blood?

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, this terribly difficult decision was made by 13 governments in the country. All the provincial governments joined with the federal government in coming to the conclusion that for the period 1986 to 1990, when something could and should have been done, government should accept responsibility to compensate.

As a result, as the Prime Minister has said $1.1 billion is being offered as assistance to the victims who were infected during that period, as well as those who were infected by those people.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we have heard this cold-hearted rationalization before. It does not address the moral issue that is involved here.

There is no excuse for doing the wrong thing. There is no legal excuse. There is no administrative excuse. There is no accounting excuse. There is no political excuse.

I ask the Prime Minister again why he will not do the right thing and compensate all the victims of this tragedy.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition uses high sounding phrases but he does not come to grips with the dilemma facing governments in this situation, a very difficult dilemma.

We are dealing with a medical and health system in which there are sometimes risks. Before 1986 the risk of infections through the blood system was well known. After 1986 it was known and there was something that could have been done about it. That is the difference.

Where do governments compensate? Do they compensate women who have high risk deliveries and babies delivered with brain damage? Do they compensate the people who have anesthetics and suffer adverse reactions? Mr. Speaker, this is—

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Edmonton North.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government used to use a high sounding phrase, that is it talked about universality. The Prime Minister used to say that he did not think it was right to have a two tier system in the country, but it has all changed now.

He has told the health minister that there is just not enough room in the lifeboats for everybody with hepatitis C. Only some of those who were infected will get any sort of compensation. The rest of them will suffer with nothing.

Why does the Prime Minister think there should be a two tier system in this instance?

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, what all the governments of Canada have done, all governments of all political affiliation, is apply a single principle. That single principle is that public intervention to offer assistance is appropriate when it can be identified that at a point during the chronology something could have been done by those responsible to change the outcome.

The hon. member should think through the implications for the publicly funded health care system if we are to adopt the principle that everyone who is harmed, regardless of any circumstance, will be compensated.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think it might be wise for the health minister to think through the implications for the victims who are suffering today.

For those who were infected it does not matter whether they were infected in 1985 or 1986. All they know is that they have the disease and that they are suffering. What difference does that make? It is still wrong. These people are still suffering.

The Prime Minister is morally responsible because it was a government regulated blood system that wrongfully infected all these people, regardless of when it happened.

Why is the Prime Minister allowing his health minister to have a two tier system set up for this problem?

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member ignores distinctions that do not suit her purpose. She is slipping away from the difficult dilemma in confronting the difficult principle that has to be brought to bear in cases like this one.

For those before 1986 thank God we have a health system in the country that will care for them and a standard of excellence to look after them in their illness. Thank God they will be treated. Thank God they will be the beneficiaries of excellent research in the country.

For those before 1986 we have a medicare and a health care system to look after them in their illness. For those after 1986, in the period to 1990, we are acknowledging that—