House of Commons Hansard #127 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.

Topics

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, that initiative was an initiative which has not only brought significant innovation to the development and discovery of new drugs in the country but consequently helped to address and cure diseases that would otherwise not have been addressed and cured.

It also provided tremendous economic momentum to many parts of the country. It helped Canada move into an era in which we could move, if we chose, to the frontlines in the new economy in research and development. It was precisely the kind of initiative that a government of a modern country has to take if it is to stay in the leadership of a rapidly changing world.

One of the things members of the New Democratic Party will have to learn some day is that we cannot run away from the world. There is no place to hide out. If we are to become leaders in the world then we have to engage the modern world on its terms. That is what that bill did. That is what this party intends to continue to do.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, one thing that concerns me about the health debate is that the Leader of the Opposition is now saying there should not be any national standards in which the federal government participates in setting, that the standards should be determined by the provinces.

If that kind of system were created, and he has said the standards should be determined by the provinces, we would end up with an end to national medical care. We would have a patchwork system that differs from province to province. We would have a system that is much better in wealthier provinces and poor in poorer provinces.

Would the leader of the federal Progressive Conservative Party disagree with the leader of the very conservative reform Canadian Alliance?

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I certainly disagree with the position of the leader of reform alliance party which would have the Government of Canada withdraw, not only in the field of health but in many other fields that are important to the Canadian public interest, from the role of leadership that has helped make us a country. This is not simply a division over policy. This is a division over views of the country. Are we a country or are we not?

The position of the reform alliance party has Canada becoming less and less important to its parts and to its people. I reject that absolutely. I believe that in the establishment of national standards there has to be a very active role by the provinces, but also there has to be a very active presence by the national government, which is the only government of all people of Canada. That is the way in which we would intend to proceed as a government of this country.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Turp Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address, on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois, the bill on fiscal arrangements for the health sector. Earlier, my colleague, the hon. member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, presented the Bloc Quebecois' views on this bill.

First, it is important to stress that the Bloc Quebecois endorses the criticisms that were just made by the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. The Bloc Quebecois agrees with a number of criticisms addressed to the government in view of the fact that this bill is being introduced on the eve of a general election, and in view of the incredible harm caused to the health system across the country, including in Quebec, by the government's cuts to transfer payments to the provinces.

It is surely because of the fight led by opposition parties in the House, including the Bloc Quebecois, that the federal government has finally heard the voice of reason. The Liberal Party finally realized what terrible consequences its cuts have had, not only on the health program, but on its users, on sick people in hospitals and other health care facilities. Indeed, their situation got worse because of the drastic cuts made by the Liberal government.

It is easy to show what impact these cuts have had on Quebec's health program. As members know, between 1994 and 2000, the government made cuts of $1 billion each year, that is, six years of cuts of $1 billion, $500 million of which could have been allocated to our health programs.

These cuts resulted in the elimination of more than one quarter of the budgets of Montreal's hospitals, more than one half of the budget of all the CLSCs in Quebec, almost the whole budget earmarked for home support, four times the annual budget of Ste-Justine hospital for children, more than three times the budget of the Royal Victoria Hospital, or over one quarter of the cost of the prescription drug insurance plan.

This is the real impact of the federal cuts to health, the cuts it had to re-examine. That re-examination was possible only because of an agreement and a coalition of the provincial premiers, and Quebec premier Lucien Bouchard played a pivotal role. He supported until the end the desire of the provinces to assume their responsibilities.

Unlike the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, the Bloc Quebecois and the government of Quebec have always insisted that the lead role in the health field be given back to the provinces, and thus to Quebec. The present constitution of Canada requires Quebec's jurisdiction over health to be respected.

Faced with this common front, these objections and this effective opposition from the parties in the House, the Bloc Quebecois in particular, the government was forced to enter into an agreement at the last minute. This would not have been the case, if there had not been a federal election looming. That same federal election also appears to have prompted the government to table a last-minute bill aimed at implementing that commitment.

We have examined the bill. We have studied it, although we did not have much time to do so, but the Bloc Quebecois finds that, even if its intention is to implement the agreement and the commitments arising out of the press releases issued in the aftermath of this agreement and the first ministers' meeting, there appear to have been a few little slips, a few little problems that the government ought to resolve itself by making some amendments. We are going to propose some amendments ourselves, if it does not listen to reason on this.

Two of the provisions in the bill present a serious problem and need to be brought to the attention of all hon. members, because they do not appear to properly implement the agreement reached between the first ministers a few weeks ago.

First, there is the very basic question of the amount of the funds that will be paid to each province under the commitment made by the Prime Minister of Canada and the provincial premiers. Subclause 2(2) of this bill indicates that the amounts will be determined in accordance with the terms of the trust indenture establishing the trust into which will be deposited the amount of $1 billion for medical equipment.

This is not very clear for a government that calls for clarity in other matters. This provision is silent on the amounts that were agreed upon during the first ministers' meeting. We have cause to be concerned about the fact that the government could use the establishment of the trust and use the discretion given it by this bill to change the amounts if that were its intention. This is why we in the Bloc Quebecois will insist that the bill mention the amounts agreed upon by the first ministers and that they be clearly established within the text of the bill.

There is a limit to the trust that may be put in the Liberal Party of Canada in these matters. It cut its health care transfers without consulting the provinces. It might want to use this bill and its subclause 2(2) in order to change the rules of the game as set by the first ministers.

There is one serious objection the government absolutely must take into account if it wants our party's support: if it introduces no amendments, we ourselves will move, at the appropriate stage, an amendment to correct a very significant failing of this bill.

Our party is also very concerned about certain words used in the bill, which are not at all consistent with the agreement reached by the first ministers. I am referring to clause 3 of the bill in which the Minister of Finance is invited to make a payment for health information and communications technologies and to allocate, as agreed by the first ministers, the sum of $500 million. But this amount will go to a corporation to be named by order of the governor in council for the purpose of developing and supporting the adoption of Canada-wide standards.

We had thought that this idea of Canada-wide or national standards had been sorted out during the discussions at the first ministers meeting. Participants had said that the bill should talk about common standards, which was much less at odds with federal principles. Once again, we must remind the government that health is a provincial jurisdiction. It is the provinces who must assume leadership and jurisdiction in the matter of health care.

Here again, we see the federal government's intention to interfere in this jurisdiction by pushing for Canada-wide standards. Perhaps it is just a translation error, and if so, we would hope that the government would make the necessary correction. Canada-wide information standards has been rendered in French by normes pancanadiennes. If this is not an error of translation and the intention is that national Canada-wide standards must be adopted, we cannot agree. The Bloc Quebecois has always fought the idea that there ought to be national standards across Canada in an area that falls exclusively under provincial jurisdiction.

If this wording is maintained, it will be in violation of the agreement to which Premier Bouchard gave his approval at the first minister's meeting. Let them not try to do in an underhanded way what they did not succeed in doing openly. The provinces managed at the conference to impose the point that health is a provincial jurisdiction in which the federal government ought not to interfere, as it always seems to have the intention of doing.

The Bloc Quebecois position is that this bill needs corrections to two of its fundamental provisions, because these are incompatible with the agreement on which a consensus was reached, an agreement between the provincial premiers and the Prime Minister of Canada.

If these amendments are not adopted, the Bloc Quebecois reserves its position, when the time comes to vote on this bill. It will always be mistrustful of a government which has shamelessly slashed transfer programs in the health field. The government has caused suffering to Quebecers and to many other Canadians, and sought to stifle the provinces at the very time that health care costs were increasing exponentially.

With these remarks I shall conclude my speech, trusting that the government will understand that this bill needs amending before it can earn Bloc Quebecois approval or assent.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There have been consultations and I believe you would find consent to revert to routine proceedings for the purpose of tabling reports from the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the parliamentary secretary have permission to put the motion?

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

George Proud Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs on Bill C-41, an act to amend the statute law in relation to veterans benefits.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

1:55 p.m.

Reform

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present in both official languages the 15th, 16th and 17th reports of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

The 15th report deals with the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency and the Department of Finance handling tax credit claims for scientific research and experimental development. The 16th report deals with Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the economic component of the Canadian immigration program. The 17th report deals with Royal Canadian Mounted Police services for Canada's law enforcement agencies. All of these reports come from the April 2000 report of the Auditor General of Canada.

International Plowing Match And Farm Machinery Show
Statements By Members

October 5th, 2000 / 1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Lynn Myers Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Wellington county on hosting the International Plowing Match and Farm Machinery Show 2000. People from around the world attend this annual event which this year was held in my riding of Waterloo—Wellington.

It is important to note that the annual International Plowing Match and Farm Machinery Show is Canada's largest outdoor farm machinery show and the premier showcase for plowing in our country. The famous tent city on over 100 acres featured lifestyles exhibits and vendors from across Canada. Held every year in a different county or region within Ontario, the match of 2000 was proudly scheduled for historic Wellington county. This year over 150 competitors from across Canada competed in this event with $35,000 in prize money.

Plowing matches give us an opportunity to celebrate Canada's agricultural heritage and educate Canadians, both urban and rural, on the history and the future of agriculture. This year's event was a great success.

A big thank you to George Robinson and all his committee members and volunteers for a great job well done. Congratulations.

Health
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health likes to talk about supporting Canadians' access to timely, high quality health care. Let us talk about what is really going on in the trenches.

In Prince George the waiting time to see an orthopedic surgeon is three years. In Victoria the waiting time this year has doubled. Why? No beds, no money, no nurses. The result is that people are going down to the United States to get essential health care. The government's response is to bring back the funding to the 1993 level. In the words of Dr. Ralph Lapp, an orthopedic surgeon in Victoria, “Things are getting worse at a time when people are thinking that they are getting better”.

The Minister of Health said that the status quo is not an option, that medicare will soon be unable to provide Canadians with timely access to health care until major reforms are taken. The Minister of Health said that one year ago. Where are those reforms?

The Late Right Hon. Pierre Elliott Trudeau
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Rey D. Pagtakhan Winnipeg North—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, last Tuesday Canadians bid farewell to the Right Hon. Pierre Elliott Trudeau. “Before we go our separate ways,” said Cardinal Turcotte, “let us reflect on what he means to us”. From the lips of Justin, his dad reflects tolerance and respect, kindness and sharing, sanctity of the individual and pride in country. Never have I felt so proud as a Canadian.

As new immigrants, my wife and I were not eligible to vote when Mr. Trudeau first became prime minister in 1968, but our minds and hearts voted for him. He opened Canada's doors to immigrants from all over the world, championed diversity through our multiculturalism policy and enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms the balance of rights between citizenry and state.

He lived the noble purpose of politics: serve the people and challenge them to greater heights. In life he inspired a nation. In death he inspires us to keep on. To him, a true scholar of humanity and social justice, Canada says thank you.

Breast Feeding
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the healthy outcomes of children is an important priority for all Canadians and Health Canada advises that breast feeding plays a very important part in that regard.

For the growing child breast feeding reduces infectious diseases during childhood, promotes optimal brain development and provides protection for premature infants against life threatening illnesses.

For the mother breast feeding reduces the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer and enhances the bonding process and decreases the risk of osteoporosis.

For the family and community breast feeding reduces the cost to families, protects the environment, improves the health of our population and decreases our health care costs.

Clearly, the benefits of breast feeding are very substantial. Therefore, I am very pleased that effective January 1, 2001 maternity and parental leave benefits will be extended to one full year so that more mothers will have the opportunity to breast feed their children during infancy.

Stratford Festival
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

John Richardson Perth—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today to announce that the Stratford Festival Theatre has been a recent beneficiary of a $5 million donation to its For All Time Endowment Campaign from Senator Michael Meighen and his wife Kelly. This donation was not only the largest ever received by a festival but also the largest ever made to a not for profit theatrical organization in Canada.

The Meighen family's donation will help the festival enrich two of its major programs, one being the Stratford Festival Conservatory for Classical Theatre Training and the other to support the commissioning and development of new Canadian plays.

At this time I would like to thank Senator Meighen and Kelly for their truly wonderful gift. They have been heavily involved with the festival for well over 15 years. This gesture illustrates again the level of effort they have made to improve and promote Canada's theatrical arts.

World March Of Women
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Guy St-Julien Abitibi, QC

Mr. Speaker, on October 17, the efforts of the Comité des femmes en Abitibi pour la marche mondiale des femmes will focus on the world rally converging on the United Nations building, in New York City, as part of solidarity events taking place all over the world.

“It's Time for Change” is the policy statement of the Canadian and Abitibi committee, which seeks a comprehensive reform of the fundamental laws by eliminating poverty and violence against women in Canada and in Quebec; increasing by 1% the portion of the global budget earmarked for social housing; improving old age security benefits to allow older women to have a decent standard of living; and supporting women who organize themselves so as to achieve equity in a democratic society.

I strongly support the 13 pressing claims that require a positive response from the governments, including the Quebec government.