House of Commons Hansard #115 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.

Topics

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

June 15th, 2000 / 9:35 a.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. members for their consent.

I would like to table two petitions. The first concerns rural mail couriers. The petitioners are asking parliament to repeal subsection 13(5) of the Canada Post Corporation Act.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

9:35 a.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition asks parliament to declare that Canada objects to the national missile defence program of the United States and to play a leadership role in banning nuclear weapons and missile flight tests.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

9:35 a.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, Question No. 86 will be answered today. .[Text]

Question No. 86—

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

9:35 a.m.

Reform

Ted White North Vancouver, BC

With respect to the RCMP ownership of 0.50 calibre Browning M2 machine guns under the armoured public and police safety vehicle program: ( a ) what are the circumstnaces under which this program might be deployed by the RCMP; and ( b ) would the RCMP, in such circumstances, be fulfilling a role which would normally be carried out by the military?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

9:35 a.m.

Cardigan
P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Solicitor General of Canada

Currently, the .50 calibre machine gun capability of the RCMP is restricted to the armoured public and police safety vehicle program and could be deployed when there is a requirement for the protection provide by such vehicles. Before any such deployment is authorized, very careful consideration is given to the situation. Restrictions on the deployment of the program's full capability could be imposed prior to any such authorization.

The RCMP cannot comment on the role of the military in Canada; however, there are provisions in the National Defence Act, for the military, upon request, to lend assistance to civilian authority, should the situation be beyond the capability of the police.

The RCMP is dedicated to the safety and protection of the Canadian public.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

9:35 a.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

I ask, Mr. Speaker, that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

9:35 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

9:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Supply
Government Orders

9:35 a.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

moved:

That this House recognize that the health care system in Canada is in crisis, the status quo is not an option, and the system that we have today is not sustainable; and, accordingly, that this House call upon the government to develop a plan to modernize the Canadian health care system, and to work with the provinces to encourage positive co-operative relations.

Supply
Government Orders

9:35 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Since today is the final allotted day for the supply period ending June 23, 2000, the House will go through the usual procedures to consider and dispose of the supply bill.

In view of recent practices, do hon. members agree that the bill be distributed now?

Supply
Government Orders

9:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Supply
Government Orders

9:35 a.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to have moved this motion today. I intend to try to share some of what Canadians have been saying about the health care system and to put forward some of the solutions we would like Canadians to look at.

We are opposed to a two tier, U.S. for profit health care system. Through the course of the day members of my party and I will demonstrate exactly what we see as the future for health care and the direction it might go.

It is fair to say that Canadians are extremely concerned about their health care system. I will quote from some recent articles that have appeared in newspapers right across the country. One headline read “Gloom deepens about health care, new polls show”. Some 78% of Canadians think the health care system in their province is in crisis and 75% believe the system currently is facing a major crisis around funding. So the headlines go: “Mediocre health care called brain drain factor”.

All kinds of other health care shocks are part of the system. We hear about over 1,000 people in Quebec on waiting lists for heart surgery. Cancer patients are waiting sometimes up to three months before they can get any treatment.

I will be sharing my time with the member for Fraser Valley. I will come back after that to carry on with some of the solutions I propose for the health care system.

What is wrong with this system? If we take a broad view we find there are many turf wars. There are turf wars between the federal and provincial governments. Things are happening within the system such as the so-called driveby smears that are occurring. There is a $1.8 million ad campaign against the Ontario government. There is a real ongoing battle between the federal and the provincial governments.

Canadians do not care who fixes the health system. They want Canadians to fix the health care system, both provincially and federally.

We also have system centred health care. We are always concerned about the system and seldom seem to talk about the patient. We do not talk about what is best for patients, be they senior citizens who are having difficulties finding a place to go for their declining years or people with impending heart surgery to save their lives. We do not talk about individual people. We always talk about the system and saving the system. That is wrong. We have to change that focus.

As well we have to take a look at a state run, socialized type of system. Maybe it works in North Korea and in Cuba, but I am not sure it works in modern Canada. We also have to look at doctor and nurse shortages. We have to look at all groups that are concerned about health care. We have to end the turf wars. We have to get down to a patient centred focus where health care should be.

We have to talk about funding. Obviously we can go back in history to the sixties when a 50:50 agreement was made by the provinces and the federal government. The federal government obviously has different responsibilities from those of the provinces but they agreed to a common funding. In 1977 it was agreed to change the way the funding occurred from strictly dollars to a dollar and tax points system. We could go into great depth and detail about how it works, but I do not think that is the point of today's debate.

In 1995 the government again changed the system and the method of funding to the CHST grants involving a block of money. We really lost control of what was happening and how the system was being monitored. The auditing of the system is just not there. This block of money is transferred. We do not know how provinces are using it or what they are using it for. No one seems to know what anything costs.

We should address the fact that in 1993 the amount of money being transferred by the federal government was $18.8 billion. By 1998 it had declined to $12.5 billion or close to a 40% cut in funding by the federal government. Since then it has increased to $14.5 billion this year and $15.5 billion next year. If we add each year's cut in funding from the 1993 levels, the bottom line is that today's total would be a cut of about $24 billion in federal funding. That is the point that the Ontario government is trying to make to the health minister and which the health minister seems to fail to understand.

Instead we enter into a kind of shell game with the Prime Minister saying that he is transferring more money than ever before. Even in Las Vegas this sort of shell game would not be accepted by the players in that city. What is happening with the funding? The federal government has definitely cut the funding and the provinces are saying it must at least return it to 1993 levels. To this point we have no response. Nothing has happened.

We need to look at the rating of our health care system. We need to look at a study done by the OECD on the 29 industrialized countries of the world. We find that we spend somewhere between the fourth and fifth most on health care of those industrialized countries. We spend 9.2% to 9.8% of our GDP on health care. That is similar to most of those other top industrialized countries.

The problem is that in many other areas we are in the bottom third of the rating of those countries in terms of the delivery of service. If we spend the fourth most and we are the 23rd best, there is obviously something wrong. It is not to point fingers or to blame anyone; it is a matter of looking at what is wrong and why it is happening.

As well, the World Health Organization is coming out with a report, which we have seen parts of already. On June 21 that report will be made public. Again, there will be an evaluation of the 181 countries in the World Health Organization. In the report, on the area of life expectancy, it indicates that we have dropped from second to twelfth.

The decline of Canada and Canada's health care system is of major concern to Canadians. That is why 78% of Canadians say that their health care system is in crisis. That is why they are asking and demanding that Canadian politicians, provincial and federal, look at health care, identify what is wrong and fix the system.

We have heard a lot of talk in the House about how the government cares about health care. However, we really have not seen very much. We pretty much have a white page of solutions coming from the government. It is not a white paper; it is just a white blank page as far as the solutions that the government is putting forward.

I could go on and talk about education, the brain drain, the lack of technology and the huge problems we have. I had the occasion to tour a Swiss hospital recently. I could not believe the difference between the Swiss hospital and some of the hospitals I have toured in Canada. The emergency room crisis, the aging population and the rising drug costs are all things that Canadians expect us to deal with.

I want to tempt you, Mr. Speaker, to be here a little later in the day when I will talk about the solutions to health care. I will also tempt the health minister to be here as well to hear the proposals from the Canadian Alliance as to what we should do with the provinces to fix the health care system.

Because my time is up, I will turn it over to the House leader for the official opposition.

Supply
Government Orders

9:45 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Before we hear from the House leader for the official opposition, there are five minutes for questions and comments.

Supply
Government Orders

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about a blank page. Yesterday, I had an opportunity to visit the Canadian Alliance website to look at the proposed solutions to the challenges of health care and I found that there was a blank white page.

There is a common discussion going on among all people interested in health care in Canada about the need for additional injections of money, but also money where it is targeted to areas in which there will be meaningful change and improvement in the delivery of health care to Canadians.

It does not take a lot of detail to answer. I simply ask the member whether the Alliance believes that the government needs to transfer more money to the provinces for health care, or whether moneys should be put in with the understanding that there be conditions on measurable standards so that Canadians fully believe and understand that they are getting quality health care.

Supply
Government Orders

9:50 a.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I became the critic on January 1. We are in the middle of a leadership race. I can assure the House that our web page will be full of health care solutions as we proceed in this process.

The hon. member's question is whether we should put more money in. The point is that we spend about the fourth most of the industrialized countries on health care and we are in the bottom third in terms of our ratings. We are 23rd in the area of technology and so on. If we are in the bottom third with the fourth best investment, money is obviously not the only answer.

It is an answer to return some of the funding to go to the table with the provinces so they will negotiate. We need that money on the table, but that is not the key to solving this problem of health care. I think Canadians know that. I think people in the health industry know that. I think the provincial health ministers know that.

It is a matter of co-operation with them, and coming to the table with an open slate. That is the point that has to be made and that is the point we will continue to make. We are in the process of consulting with Canadians. We intend to do that extensively through the fall. At that point, if the government is not asking the necessary questions of Canadians, we will do that for the government.