House of Commons Hansard #52 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was services.

Topics

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to the order of reference of Friday, May 7, 2004, your committee has considered Bill C-34, an act to amend the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, and agreed, on Monday, May 10, 2004, to report it without amendment.

I want to thank the hon. members who supported this bill and helped facilitate the completion of the work.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure for me to rise this morning to present to the House a petition signed by individuals from Braeside, Arnprior, Renfrew and Perth in Ontario, and from Lampman, Weyburn, Tribune, St. Walburg and Carnduff in Saskatchewan. The petitioners draw the attention of the House to the fact that adoptive parents make a significant social contribution to our society and often face significant adoption related costs, but out of pocket adoption expenses are not tax deductible.

Therefore, they are calling upon Parliament to pass legislation to provide an income tax deduction for expenses related to the adoption of a child, as contained in the private member's bill, Bill C-246.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Darrel Stinson Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my constituents of Okanagan—Shuswap, I am pleased to present a petition calling upon Parliament to pass legislation to recognize the institution of marriage in federal law as being the lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am going to be tabling a number of petitions. They call on Parliament to invoke the notwithstanding clause and pass a law so that only two persons of the opposite sex can be married. Approximately 100 people have signed the petitions.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, the first petition that I would like to present concerns my woman's right to know act. I am presenting petitions signed by 3,263 concerned Canadians from across Canada who support my woman's right to know act. These petitioners support my bill because it would guarantee that all expectant mothers considering an abortion would be given complete information by their physician about all the risks of the procedure before being referred for an abortion and would provide penalties for doctors who perform an abortion without the fully informed consent of the mother and penalties for doctors who perform a medically unnecessary abortion.

On Thursday of this week, thousands of people will gather on Parliament Hill for the annual March for Life. They march every year to mourn the death of more than 100,000 unborn children in Canada through medically unnecessary abortions. As you can see, Mr. Speaker, there is quite a number of petitioners.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, the second petition I would like to present is with regard to preserving the traditional definition of marriage. These petitioners point out that in 1999 Parliament voted to preserve the traditional definition of marriage, and a recent court decision has redefined marriage contrary to the wishes of Parliament. Now the government wants Parliament to vote on new legislation, but only after it has been approved by the Supreme Court. This is a dangerous new precedent for democracy in Canada. Elected members of Parliament should decide the marriage issue, not appointed judges. The petitioners are calling on Parliament to hold a renewed debate on the definition of marriage and to reaffirm, as it did in 1999, the traditional definition.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege of presenting four petitions.

The first petition pertains to Radio Canada International. The petitioners are concerned about the reduction in the number of hours of international broadcasting to Ukraine. They believe that RCI plays an important role in strengthening Ukraine's emerging civil society.

They call upon Parliament to indicate its support for the reinstatement of full Radio Canada International broadcasting to Ukraine.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the second petition pertains to immigration and the concern about a narrow and restricted definition for family class sponsorship. The petitioners are anxious to see this provision under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act changed.

They call upon Parliament to give full consideration to the addition of other relatives to this class so that family reunification can once again be a cornerstone of our immigration policy.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the third petition pertains to the issue of trans fats. The petitioners are concerned that trans fats raise levels of bad cholesterol in the body and prevent good cholesterol from clearing the circulatory system.

They call upon Parliament to eliminate trans fats from Canada's food supply.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the final petition, which is a matter very close to my own heart, pertains to fetal alcohol syndrome and the need to have warning labels on all alcohol beverage containers.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to remind the government of the motion that was passed in the House and to enact provisions to ensure that a warning is placed on all alcohol beverage containers stating that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause birth defects.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Sarnia—Lambton
Ontario

Liberal

Roger Gallaway Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

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

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Supply
Government Orders

May 11th, 2004 / 10:10 a.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais Churchill, MB

moved:

That this House condemn the private for-profit delivery of health care that this government has allowed to grow since 1993.

Supply
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the NDP is pleased today to provide the House with an opportunity to debate a motion having to do with the delivery of health care in the country. We think it is particularly appropriate given the confusion that seems to abound on the government side with respect to the Liberal position.

We hope that during the course of the debate today, assuming that Liberals wish to speak to the motion, that we might get some clarity with respect to the Liberal position, particularly when it comes to private for profit delivery of health care.

Therefore it is no coincidence that our motion reads:

That this House condemn the private for-profit delivery of health care that this government has allowed to grow since 1993.

In effect, what the motion addresses is the Liberal record, as much as any abstract or ideological debate about the merits of for profit delivery versus non-profit public delivery, although we stand firmly on the side of non-profit and-or public delivery of health care, as did Roy Romanow in his conclusions vis-à-vis the royal commission that was conducted by Mr. Romanow on health care.

However our concern today is what has happened under the Liberals over the last 10 years. Privatization of our health care has increased markedly in that last 10 years,as a result of changes that the Liberals made to the Canada Health Act, as a result of cuts that were made by the Liberals, particularly under the current Prime Minister when he was the minister of finance, and also just the way in which the Liberals have sort of turned a blind eye to the creeping privatization of our health care system. We see that blind eye continuing to operate in the kinds of things that have been said recently by the Minister of Health.

At the same time as he acknowledged that there was room for the private delivery of insured services within the Canada Health Act, he did not express any concern about the tendency of that sector within our health care system to grow. We would have liked to have heard him say that the government was concerned about the growth of that kind of privatization and was determined to do something about it.

Instead, it was obvious that this was regarded as a neutral fact about the current health care system by the Minister of Health. It was only after alarm bells rang that the minister felt obliged to stand and say that the government was not encouraging the private delivery of publicly insured services. However it would have been much more authentic and convincing if this had been said right off the bat, which it was not.

It is also important that we get some clarity on this matter of health care because we are facing an election. In the election it is obvious that the Liberals want to create what we think is a false distinction between themselves and the official opposition when it comes to health care. It is no secret that part of the Liberal strategy is to demonize the official opposition when, in our view, there is very little daylight between the position of the Liberal government and the official opposition when it comes to health care, particularly when it comes to the role of private for profit delivery of health care in the country.

If the House will permit me a little bit of historical reflection, I think I am one of the few members of Parliament left in the Chamber who was here when the Canada Health Act was brought into being in the spring of 1984, 20 years ago. In fact, I was the NDP health critic at that time and sat on the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare that considered the Canada Health Act, amended it and heard the witnesses. Certainly it was one of my formative political experiences to be part of that process by which the Canada Health Act came into being. Therefore I know a little bit about it.

I find it curious that the Minister of Health, instead of answering the questions we ask him in the House of Commons, all he says is that the Liberal government will stand by the Canada Health Act, as if this tells us what we want to know. It is not enough to say that the government will stand by the Canada Health Act because the act, frankly, was not designed to deal with the problems that our health care system has today.

The Canada Health Act, which was the successor to the Medical Care Act which brought medicare into being in the first place, came as a result of advocating that the then Liberal government, under Pierre Trudeau and health minister Monique Bégin, do something about the proliferation of extra billing by physicians and user fees in the health care system.That is what the Canada Health Act, to the extent that it was different than the legislation that proceeded it, was designed to do.

The principles that are embedded in the Canada Health Act were also in the previous legislation. What is substantially new about the Canada Health Act is that it has given the federal government the ability to withhold from provinces, which allow the extra billing and user fees for medically necessary services, the equivalent amounts, so there would be no incentive, in fact there would be a punishment for allowing extra billing and user fees. This is what the Canada Health Act was about.

The Canada Health Act was not designed to punish, discourage or deal with the whole question of privatization. It is quite disingenuous, not to say intellectually dishonest, for the Minister of Health and the ministers of health before him, to get up, whenever they are asked a question about oranges, say privatization, and say that they are all for apples. As I said before, that is not what the Canada Health Act was designed to deal with.

It was very interesting that at that time, in 1983-84, after the second Hall commission report and the recommendations by Justice Emmett Hall, the government would do something like the Canada Health Act. The Conservatives of the day were led by Brian Mulroney after his entry into the House in August 1983 in a byelection in Central Nova. I remember going down to Central Nova to challenge him to a debate on health care, which, incidentally, he did not take up.

In any event, the Conservatives at that time moved to the left to adopt the emerging Liberal position. It was not easy to get the Liberals to move on and create the Canada Health Act. It took three or four years of persistent questioning in the House and agitation by the Canadian Health Coalition, the Canadian Nurses Association and all kinds of people who were concerned about what extra billing and user fees were doing at that time.

The principles are the same with respect to extra billing, user fees and privatization. What unites those issues is the concern that Canadians have to pay out of their own pockets, whether it is in the form of extra billing, user fees or privately run clinics, particularly those who are now making available diagnostic services so that people can actually pay for those services, and then even more unacceptable, jump the queue because they have their diagnosis before someone else who has to wait in the public system.

I want to get back to the politics of this. In 1983-84 Brian Mulroney decided that he would not stick to the usual historical Conservative position on health care, which was to be critical of medicare or at least not defend it. In fact, in all those years leading up to the Canada Health Act I do not think there was a single question asked in the House of Commons by the Conservative opposition at the time with respect to extra billing and user fees, just as, 20 years later, there has not been a single question asked by the Alliance and now Conservative Party in the House leading up to this current debate on health care with respect to privatization, with the exception of the official opposition raising the question of health now as a way of trying to get around the Liberals' strategy.

The difference now is that I think there was for a while, until Mulroney changed it, a genuine difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives at that time. I am not so sure that the Liberal government is anywhere near as progressive when it comes to health care as Monique Bégin and Pierre Trudeau were in the early 1980s and which culminated in the Canada Health Act.

Instead of the Conservative position moving over to adopt the Liberal position, we have a kind of meeting of the minds, and I use that word loosely, meeting somewhere in the middle of the aisle, with there being very little distinction between the Liberals and the Conservatives, when it comes to private delivery of health care.

The leader of the official opposition said--