House of Commons Hansard #90 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.

Topics

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Maurice Vellacott Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is some consolation to be in collaboration with others to deny justice to victims in our country.

The Canadian public happens to disagree with the Minister of Health, as do all the opposition parties and his Liberal colleagues, and he knows it.

Hepatitis C victims were protesting on the lawn of Parliament Hill on Monday. Thousands of Canadians will be on their phones over the weekend asking their members of parliament to do the right thing.

Why does the health minister not hustle back to his office, work the phones and come up with a plan to compensate all hepatitis C victims before the vote next Tuesday? Why wait for the vote?

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, in many ways the easiest thing to have done would have been to write a cheque and pay cash to everybody. In fact one of the reasons we get into public life is that we want to help others, particularly the sick and the vulnerable.

At the end of the day those who are in government, those who have positions of responsibility, must make tough decisions, must make responsible decisions about where cash payments should be made to those who are harmed through the public system.

On this issue and in this instance we see every government in the country in a remarkable display of unanimity coming down on one side—

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Wanuskewin.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Maurice Vellacott Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, I guess that is his choice if he wants to go down with a dozen other people on this issue, but the Canadian public and hepatitis C victims are watching and waiting for the Liberal government to come up with some different lines than should have, could have and would have. It sounds like a cracked record.

Speaking of cracked records, I appeal to the minister. Why create unnecessary cracks and division within his own caucus and his own cabinet? Why will the health minister not do the right thing and go back to the drawing board to figure out how he can compensate all victims of hepatitis C? Then he could enjoy a good weekend with a clear conscience. Why wait for a vote on this Tuesday?

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the member speaks as though this was the unilateral act of one government. All governments took part in this. In fact Progressive Conservative governments in Prince Edward Island, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta all took part in this agreement.

We are paying $1.1 billion to 22,000 victims of hepatitis C. Is the hon. member suggesting we pay cash to all those who are affected by adverse reactions to vaccines? Is he suggesting we pay cash compensation to all those who have outcomes in the health system which reflect the risks? I think not.

Budget Surplus
Oral Question Period

April 22nd, 1998 / 2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, during the first eleven months of fiscal year 1997-98, the government pocketed an extra $4.1 billion, having forecast a $17 billion deficit for that same period. This is a slight difference of $21 billion, which could rise even higher when the end-of-year corrections come out this fall.

Is the Prime Minister aware that his massive cuts in transfer payments have caused a major imbalance in the Canadian federation, that the provinces are short of funds, do not have the money to provide basic services, while the federal government has more than it needs to fulfill its own mandate?

Budget Surplus
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have succeeded in balancing the government's books and we are very proud to have done so.

As for provincial transfers, we have cut the provinces less than they have cut in services.

When account is taken of the increase in transfer payments, the increase in provincial revenues because of tax points, and the reduction in provincial interest payments because interest rates have gone down, the difference between what the Canadian government gave to the Province of Quebec and what the province is now receiving is less than the province cut municipalities.

Budget Surplus
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government saved money on the backs of the provinces, on the backs of the most disadvantaged, on the backs of the ill and the unemployed. That is how it saved money.

Is the fact that the federal government has much more money than it needs to carry out its own mandate not proof that it is interfering, and that this is the opportunity it was waiting for to interfere in areas of jurisdiction where it has no business, areas of jurisdiction belonging to Quebec and the provinces?

Budget Surplus
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear proof that we have provided the Canadian people with very good government.

Budget Surplus
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are headed from a $17 billion deficit to a $4 billion surplus.

This means that the government could have balanced the budget this year even if it had not cut transfers to the provinces by $3 billion in 1997-98.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Does he not understand that the only fair thing to do is to put the surplus back where it came from, in provincial coffers to be used for health, education and social services, and in the pockets of taxpayers, who are being taxed to death?

Budget Surplus
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, if the member had listened to my reply, instead of reading a prepared question, he would have understood that, when everything is factored in, the net cuts to provincial governments, Quebec in particular, total $500 million, which is less than what the province is cutting from municipalities.

I do not blame them. They were forced to make cuts. We were forced to make cuts. Today, however, the economy is in much better shape. We have the lowest interest rates in many years; we have a balanced budget, and today we heard that—

Budget Surplus
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.

Budget Surplus
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the Prime Minister, but he is not telling the whole truth. The Government of Quebec was robbed of $11 billion, which was needed for welfare and education, as well as health. That is the fact of the matter.

And is it not the government's responsibility to help with some of the damage by giving back what it lifted from the provinces?

Budget Surplus
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I do not think there was a question. But I can tell him that what he said is incorrect.

I have just said that the net difference is $500 million with respect to the level of contributions made by the federal government in 1993-94.

Fisheries
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, mismanagement has led to disaster in the east coast fishery, threatening to destroy an ecosystem, an economy and an entire culture. The human and financial costs are staggering.

Will the Prime Minister use the occasion of Earth Day to admit that federal mismanagement was the principal cause of this catastrophe? Will he finally respond to the December 12, 1997 pleadings of all five eastern premiers to immediately establish an Atlantic groundfish program successor to TAGS?