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

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the member should know that the governments of Canada are putting together $1.1 billion in compensation for 22,000 people infected between 1986 and 1990.

The member should also know that those who are responsible for the health care system both federally and provincially spent months considering this very difficult decision.

The conclusion to which we came was that we would not put the public health care system at risk by putting in place a system that compensates everyone for every harm regardless.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, the minister has the power to act unilaterally but he will not.

This question is for the Prime Minister. Last night the Liberal caucus exercised some power over the backbenchers when they voted on behalf of one of our motions. Now we are finding there are some cracks in the armour in the backbenches on this issue. Some of his own members are asking for a compensation package that includes all victims.

Will the Prime Minister now listen to his own caucus and do the right thing by exercising his moral leadership on this question? Would the Prime Minister please get up and explain?

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member should know is that this decision was a government decision. It was a decision made by 13 governments.

It is a very unusual situation in Canada when our bipartisan intergovernmental bases come to one conclusion, and it is the responsible one.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister keeps saying that this decision was made by 13 governments. It is still a wrong decision.

In 1977 Josephine Mahoney was infected with hepatitis C. Her life in tatters, just two years ago she received a fair and just compensation plan from her government. Luckily for her she does not live in Canada. She lives in Ireland.

Why has the Irish government looked after every single victim of hepatitis C when this Prime Minister is abandoning fully 50% of our victims?

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member as a physician should know that across this country every day in clinics, in hospitals and in offices medical procedures are undertaken that involve risk.

Is the hon. member suggesting that anyone who is harmed, regardless of fault, as a result of the health care system should be compensated? That is the principle at issue here. Thirteen governments have made their decision and I say it is the right one.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, this is not about every harmful procedure. This is about a public system failing and the victims getting hepatitis C.

New Zealand has a no fault compensation package. Italy has a compensation package for every single victim of hepatitis C. They know what is right. Why has this Prime Minister chosen to do what is frankly wrong to those victims?

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should take care with his examples. There is not another country in the world that has the public health care system of the quality—

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Bill C-28
Oral Question Period

April 1st, 1998 / 2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, on February 19, the Prime Minister said we could obtain all the answers to our questions on the appearance of a conflict of interest involving the Minister of Finance and Bill C-28 by raising the issue in the Standing Committee on Finance. So far, however, all our attempts to do so have not succeeded.

How can the Prime Minister explain the difference between his statements in the House and the action taken by the members of his party in committee? They have been doing everything, since then, to prevent us from getting to the bottom of this issue involving the shipowner-lawmaker.

Bill C-28
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has been making these insinuations for two months and he is getting nowhere, because the members of my party and I have full confidence in the integrity of the Minister of Finance.

Bill C-28
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, for the sake of consistency and especially of transparency, would the Prime Minister tell us if he intends to postpone passage of Bill C-28 at third reading, and to refer the bill back to the Standing Committee on Finance to have this matter cleared up? If he has nothing to hide, he should let the committee do its job.

Bill C-28
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have had the opportunity to study this issue and, in my opinion, the hon. member, as well as other members, have been given a fully satisfactory explanation.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Reed Elley Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the health minister keeps talking about the excellent research we have in this country. He should really acquaint himself with it.

I want to clear up a factual error the health minister keeps on repeating. He says there was no way to detect hepatitis C in the blood supply before 1986. So he will not compensate people who contracted the disease before then. That is not the truth.

Justice Krever noted that Dr. Moore of the Canadian Red Cross laboratory proposed a test as far back as May 1981. Shamefully, no tests would be implemented for nine more years.

Enough phoney excuses.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, in various places throughout the world various tests were proposed. Those who understand the history of this chronology recognize that it was in 1986 when Canada should have, indeed practically could have, put a test in place. That was the year when things changed internationally and the year accepted as the turning point.

That is why it was chosen as a turning point by ministers of health not just from this government but from provincial and territorial governments that all looked at these facts and came to the same conclusion.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Reed Elley Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is an unacceptable answer. It gives no help to all these victims and it is still morally wrong to abandon them.

What is particularly painful is how the Prime Minister is picking and choosing favourites. He will compensate only the top tier of victims. Everyone who contacted hepatitis C before 1986 is being abandoned. This is a national disgrace.

Will the Prime Minister stand up and tell us that this is not a two tier system of compensation?