House of Commons Hansard #51 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was children.

Topics

Health
Oral Question Period

February 3rd, 2003 / 2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the first ministers conference on health care begins. Canadians have been clear they want the federal government to work with the provinces, not to bicker with the provinces. Instead, the Prime Minister fired off a take it or leave it letter to the premiers in which he said most federal money would only be available for new health care initiatives.

I ask the Prime Minister this. When Canadians and the provinces are saying that the existing system needs more money, why is the government focused on spending money on new health care programs?

Health
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity to pay my respects to the seven young Canadians who lost their lives in an avalanche over the weekend and to the seven astronauts who lost their lives in a tragic way in Texas last weekend.

On behalf of Canadians, I talked with the President of United States and offered our condolences.

On the question, I think the Canadian people want us to put more money on the table, but they want to have a real change to ensure the Canadian health service is better for every Canadian in every part of the country. That is exactly what I want to do and what most of the premiers want to do too.

Health
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, one of the federal proposals, when it comes to accountability and transparency, is apparently to create a new council to monitor health care.

To put this in perspective, we have the federal Department of Health, the provincial health departments and, in most provinces, we have regional health authorities, hospital boards and independent health research institutes.

Why does the government propose to spend money on yet another new expensive bureaucracy?

Health
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the intention is not to have an new, expensive bureaucracy. It is a council that would monitor the situation to ensure that the accountability and the transparency are acceptable to the Canadian people. It would be made up of officials of different levels of governments, stakeholders and people who would report to the Canadian people in a very objective way.

Health
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, Health Canada already has been hiring recently at record rates. Surely we do not need yet another bureaucracy to get some accountability.

Canadians want transparency in the health care system, but they do not want the federal government to impose its will on the provinces.

Will the Prime Minister promise to respect the priorities of each province and reach bilateral funding and accountability agreements with each one?

Health
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, all Canadians, regardless of which province they come from, and those responsible for health at the provincial and federal levels, have only one goal and that is to ensure that the health care system works much better and that we are able to provide all citizens with modern care at an affordable cost.

Health
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, two of the three priorities in the Prime Minister's health reform fund miss the target of fixing the existing health care system. The provinces have laid out eight priorities that address the core problems in health care. By the way, it is the provinces that deliver the frontline health care services.

Will the Prime Minister assure Canadians that the bulk of the new funds will go to the priorities that have been identified by the provinces?

Health
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and I have been absolutely clear over and over again that we understand the provinces are on the frontline of delivery of health care.

I had the opportunity to meet with my provincial and territorial colleagues in December, where we identified a list of shared priorities. Those priorities include primary health care, home care, pharmaceuticals, diagnostic medical equipment, human health resources and information technology, all things that are highlighted in our draft accord.

Health
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, unless there is an actual dollar figure to go with these so-called priorities, there is no commitment at all. The Prime Minister has not been bargaining in good faith when it comes to health care. In fact the Prime Minister has leaked the accord and the priorities, without any dollar commitment.

The provinces were upfront with their priorities and, as well, the amount of money they needed to fix the system.

Canadians want to have governments that are upfront. How much money is the Prime Minister putting on the table?

Health
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and I, and the Minister of Finance, have been absolutely clear that new money is required. The federal government will be there to do its fair share. We all know that new money alone will not bring about the important structural and systemic changes that we all agree are necessary in the system.

I can reassure the hon. member that the Prime Minister and his first minister colleagues, beginning tomorrow evening, will be discussing, among other things, the money required to ensure we have a renewed, sustainable health care system.

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois is trying to convince the government of the need for a second Security Council resolution to legitimize any action by the international community against Iraq, but to no avail. The Prime Minister claims that if Iraq does not disarm, resolution 1441 would authorize action. Yet, Tony Blair is in favour of a second resolution and George Bush says it would be welcome.

If he truly wants to give peace every chance, will the Prime Minister finally recognize that there must not be any military intervention in Iraq without a second resolution?

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have always spoken in terms of legality and of what is desirable. Right now, clearly a second resolution would be desirable.

I had the opportunity to discuss the matter this weekend with the President of the United States and the leaders of several other governments. We hope that Mr. Blix's report and Mr. Powell's presentation this week will bring clarity to the situation.

If a decision on the matter is needed, the Security Council will review the situation. If there must be action, I, like everyone, think that a second resolution would be desirable. However, I must point out that it is not legally necessary.

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, with 90% of Canadians—and even more Quebeckers—against any intervention in Iraq without the approval of the UN Security Council, how is it that the Prime Minister continues to say that resolution 1441 gives him this authority, when the final paragraph of the resolution states clearly that the Security Council remains seized of the matter? That means that if the Security Council says no, then it is no. If there is a veto, then there is a veto. Are we going to follow the United States or the United Nations?

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, since last summer, we have been very clear in our support for the United Nations option, while the United States and Great Britain were leaning toward a unilateral intervention. We were saying, “We must act through the UN, no matter what”.

This is still our position. The matter must be taken back to the Security Council, and decided on as required by Security Council regulations.

Iraq
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am just back from the Council of Europe, where the parliamentary assembly is calling upon all countries, including those with observer status, to reject any recourse to force without an explicit decision by the Security Council.

Does the Prime Minister not realize that, if his objective is to defend the authority of the United States, he needs to listen to the Council of Europe, and call for a second UN resolution before there is any intervention whatsoever in Iraq? Even Prime Minister Blair has adopted that position. What justification is there for Canada's still having an ambiguous position on this?