House of Commons Hansard #89 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was standing.

Topics

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. leader of the Bloc Quebecois.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I asked the Minister of Health to show greater compassion and to compensate all individuals infected with hepatitis C, and not just those infected between 1986 and 1990. Unfortunately, the minister did not follow up on my request. Therefore, my question today is for the Prime Minister.

Since the government is looking at a surplus of several billions of dollars for 1997-98, does the Prime Minister not think that it gives him more flexibility to show compassion and to compensate all victims infected with hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that we have been discussing for a long time in this House. The federal government and all the provincial health ministers, including the one from Quebec, came to the conclusion that, in terms of public interest, the period selected was the one for which the public sector had a responsibility. All the governments in Canada collectively decided to compensate victims, as advocated in the proposal that was approved by all health ministers.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are not criticizing the agreement reached with the provincial governments. Provincial governments will be responsible for health care services to these victims, and they have done more than their fair share, given the cuts made to transfer payments by the federal government.

A while ago, the government did not hesitate to compensate all those infected with the HIV virus as a result of blood transfusions. Now, it refuses to do the same for those infected with hepatitis C. Is it not eminently unfair and arbitrary to act like this? Is it because the number of HIV victims is much lower than the number of people infected with hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health has fully explained this matter on a number of occasions.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

This government obviously has a problem. It cannot get its priorities straight and is short on compassion.

How can the Prime Minister justify his government's decision to hand out millennium scholarships that nobody wants, and to buy used submarines, just to keep the military happy, but not to compensate all hepatitis C victims? What sort of priorities are these, Prime Minister?

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the 100,000 Canadians who, starting in the year 2000, will receive millennium scholarships to pursue their education and attend university will know that the Canadian government has very good priorities.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

My dear colleagues, I would remind you that you must always address the chair.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, will the Prime Minister admit that he has the means to compensate all hepatitis C victims, since the billions he has cut the provinces are now in his pockets?

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, our priorities in this matter are shared by Quebec's Minister of Health and the Government of Quebec. We shared the position expressed in the agreement. We agreed with all ministers, all provincial, territorial and federal governments that, for us, the priority is to maintain the public health system in Canada, and therefore to compensate only those who contracted the illness during the period between 1986 and 1990, during which time the governments were responsible.

Banking
Oral Question Period

April 21st, 1998 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister talked tough yesterday about bank mergers. “Just watch us” sounded like the minister might even consider for once putting public interests ahead of corporate interests.

But Liberal commitments are a bit like a mirage in the desert. As you get closer they vanish. Commitments to revisit NAFTA, vanished; to abolish the GST, vanished; to introduce national child care, vanished; to repeal drug patent legislation, vanished.

Why should we believe this finance minister when he says he is tough enough to take on the megabanks?

Banking
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, commitments to invest in research and development, done; commitments to reduce unemployment, done; commitments to increase the child tax benefit, done; commitments to eliminate the deficit, done; commitments to put this country on the path to fiscal and human prosperity, done.

Banking
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the nature of the debate has to understood.

The Minister of Finance says that he does not intend to be told what to do by the banks. He says: “Just watch us”. Canadians have just watched this government once already, with the GST. And what happened? The GST is still with us, and one minister had to resign.

Does the Minister of Finance intend to resign if the mergers go ahead the way the banks want them to?

Banking
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is pretty clear that the leader of the NDP does not like Canadian banks. That is very clear.

I would like to ask a question. It occurred to me the other day, when the NDP government in British Columbia was the only government, either provincial or federal, to reduce the taxes imposed on the banks in its last budget, the question which crossed my mind was, is the NDP government in British Columbia of the same party that the one the leader heads?

Banking
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance said “the decision on the bank mergers will be made by this government, by this Parliament and by the Canadian people”. It seems to the Canadian people that the Liberal lobbyists and the Liberal sheep over there will decide this issue.

If the minister is truly sincere, will he ask the finance committee to begin immediate hearings right now to give Canadians the access they deserve?