House of Commons Hansard #134 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.

Topics

Food and Drugs Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

West Nova
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Robert Thibault Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, following the report of the Standing Committee on Health on its review of Bill C-28, I am pleased to speak on the bill, which proposes two amendments to the Food and Drugs Act. The amendments would provide the Minister of Health with the authority to allow Canadians faster access to a wider variety of safe and nutritious food products.

I would like to take the opportunity to reiterate the reasons why this bill was introduced. The proposed amendments are in part in response to the concerns raised by the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations regarding an administrative process put in place by Health Canada to allow Canadians faster access to safe and nutritious food products in specific circumstances.

This administrative process permitted the issuance of notices of interim marketing authorizations under the Food and Drugs Act regulations. These notices allowed the director, defined as the assistant deputy minister of the Health Products and Food Branch of Health Canada, to exempt certain foods from application of the regulations after a thorough safety assessment had concluded their consumption would not harm human health. By doing so, the director was able to allow the sale of certain foods by manufacturers and producers while the regulations were amended to formalize the authorization.

Essentially, the Joint Standing Committee on the Scrutiny of Regulations maintains that the regulations authorizing the issuance of notices of interim marketing authorizations go beyond the scope of the Food and Drugs Act.

This bill ensures that the scope of these regulations authorizing the issuance of notices of interim marketing authorizations can continue to be used by Health Canada in order to allow Canadians faster access to a wider variety of safe and nutritious food products.

Since these regulations on interim marketing authorizations have been in place, consumers have had quicker access to new and safe food products. For example, foods to which vitamins or mineral nutrients were added to increase their nutritional value were offered more quickly on the market. Moreover, the notices of interim marketing authorizations allowed for the quicker sale of foods from cultures that were treated with agricultural chemicals, including safe and effective pest control products.

As I have noted, the bill addresses the concerns of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations, but it also ensures that we maintain this useful smart regulation approach.

The first proposed amendment would address the concerns of the standing joint committee by providing the Minister of Health with the authority to exempt some food products from the application, in whole or in part, of the Food and Drugs Act and the applicable requirements of the food and drug regulations.

The minister would do this by issuing an interim marketing authorization, which would allow the immediate sale of some food products for which scientific assessment has established that there is a reasonable certainty no harm would result from their consumption, pending completion of the full regulatory process to amend the regulations.

In other words, the products would not pose undue risks to human health. The science would have been completed, just not the lengthy regulatory amendment process, which would continue to be applied.

To underscore this latter point, I repeat that the issuance of the interim marketing authorization would not affect or circumvent the conduct of a thorough safety assessment prior to the availability of these food products on the market. Interim marketing authorizations could only be issued for food additives, veterinary drugs and agricultural chemicals that have already been subject to a thorough safety assessment before being listed in the regulations.

Health Canada would only give consideration to issuing an interim marketing authorization if it has concluded that the sale of the food products containing the substance in question would not pose a hazard to the health of the consumer.

This limited scope of application of the interim marketing authorization mechanism in the bill is exactly the same as the current regulatory mechanism that was reviewed by the standing joint committee. The only significant difference introduced by this bill is that it clearly specifies that the authority in the Food and Drugs Act is in the hands of the Minister of Health.

The second part of Bill C-28 deals with pest control products and their regulation pursuant to the provisions of the new Pest Control Products Act and the Food and Drug Regulations. The new Pest Control Products Act, which was given royal assent in December of 2002, empowers the minister to specify maximum residue limits for the product or for its components or derivatives in food. When specifying maximum residue limits, the minister must evaluate the health risks of the product or its components or derivatives and determine if they are acceptable.

To that end, he must determine with reasonable certainty that no harm to human health will result from consuming a food item containing a residue level of a specific pest control product no greater that the specified maximum limit.

However, the adulteration provisions in the Food and Drugs Act and its regulations state that foods are adulterated if they contain residues of pest control products above levels set out in the regulations. Therefore, foods containing residues of pest control products at or below the maximum residue limit specified by the minister under the Pest Control Products Act cannot be sold until the specified maximum residue limit is established in the food and drug regulations.

Currently it can take up to two years from the time that the regulatory evaluation has been completed to the time when the food potentially containing the residues is permitted for sale under the Food and Drugs Act.

The proposed amendment to the Food and Drugs Act to recognize maximum residue limits specified under the new Pest Control Products Act for Food and Drugs Act purposes would result in administrative efficiencies and would also benefit consumers, by providing timely access to safe foods, and the agricultural industry, by allowing faster access to improved pest control products for use on food crops.

Bill C-28 builds on the October 2004 Speech from the Throne objective of providing a “predictable regulatory system that accomplishes public policy objectives efficiently while eliminating unintended impacts”.

The proposed amendments are also in line with the ongoing intent of the Government of Canada's smart regulation initiative and the recommendations from the external advisory committee on smart regulation, which aim, in part, to provide access to safe products in a more timely fashion and remove possible restrictions on international trade.

In addition, the proposed amendments will support ongoing work under the North American Free Trade Agreement technical working group on pesticides, through which Health Canada and the United States Environmental Protection Agency have accelerated bilateral harmonization in the registration of pest control products in order to provide faster and simultaneous access to a wider range of newer, safer pest control tools in both countries.

In conclusion, I wish to express my gratitude for the hard work of the Standing Committee on Health in its consideration of this bill. Bill C-28 contributes to maintaining the safety of the food supply and offers advantages to the consumer and to the food and agricultural industries. I urge my colleagues to support the passage of this bill.

Food and Drugs Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Lanark, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-28, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act.

Regulations that have no basis in legislation are a constant problem that only recently have been addressed in any significant way. Often when legislation is made, the regulations that allow for the implementation and enforcement of the law are made after the fact by the relevant department or ministry.

Essentially, Parliament confers upon the minister the power to create regulations, provided they do not exceed the parameters of the legislation. What often happens, however, is that the lengthy and convoluted process required in creating regulations results in regulations that are technically not legal. Powers that have not been confirmed by law are given through regulation to the minister. Not only does this situation violate the supremacy of Parliament, it effectively allows law to be made without any accountability or oversight.

While some irregularities are due to simple mistakes, others are deliberate attempts to ignore the intent and alter the outcome of legislation. Thanks to the rare passage of a private member's bill, Bill C-205 in 2003, which I might add was the result of much hard work by its sponsor, the Conservative member for Newton—North Delta, Parliament now has greater powers to ensure that law by regulation is curtailed.

This bill is a direct result of five years of pressure by the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations on Health Canada. The irregularity of the regulation was first pointed out in 1999 and it is only now, after years of resistance, that the department has finally brought this bill forward.

The bill is an amendment to the Food and Drugs Act. Currently, a regulation allows the director, in this case the deputy minister of health responsible for health products, to issue notices of interim market authorizations. This regulation gives the director administrative discretion that exceeds the legislative authority granted by Parliament to the governor in council. In other words, the regulation contradicts the authority of the original legislation. This bill seeks to correct this discrepancy.

The regulation was created in 1997. Since that time, 82 interim market authorizations have been made, but because the regulation violates the legislation to which it applies, all of these authorizations have technically been illegal. The amendment seeks to fix this irregularity by giving the minister the authority to make interim market authorizations.

The bill also seeks to exempt any food that contains an agricultural chemical at or below a limit specified under the new Pest Control Products Act. Those foods containing these safe levels of substances can be sold because their sale poses no harm to consumers.

The bill applies to the immediate sale of food products that contain pesticides, veterinary pharmaceuticals, added vitamins, minerals and amino acids at or below the specified maximum limit. The bill is not creating from scratch a new practice, but simply is making legal or enshrining in law a practice that has been taking place for years.

The Conservative Party supports this amendment because regulations that violate the letter and/or intent of the law should not be tolerated. Any action that eliminates irregularities should be encouraged. We also support writing into law the interim market authorizations. As long as the safety of Canadians is accounted for, there is no reason that food and other products should not be allowed for sale if the substances they contain do not exceed a specified safe level.

These measures allow Canadian food producers and manufacturers to quickly bring their products to market, increasing their availability to compete. Canadian consumers also benefit by gaining quicker access to new and modified products.

Like other smart regulations, interim market authorization creates a level playing field for Canadian businesses, especially within the U.S. market. Currently, the U.S. government allows food products in the approval stage to be marketed, given that they are not harmful or restricted by other laws.

That being said, caution is needed. Although interim market authorizations have been common practice since 1997 supposedly without incident, that is not to say that unsafe food products have not been prematurely authorized for sale. Not only might their sale pose a health risk, but the government may be liable for damages in the event of unsafe food, causing problems.

Interim marketing authorizations are necessary and welcome, but must be used only when it is known beyond doubt that whatever substance is in a food product is at or below the approved safe level.

In summary, Bill C-28 is a corrective measure to bring an existing regulation in line with the legislation to which it applies. We want to reduce the number of regulations that contradict the authority of legislation. This will take years, but it is a necessary undertaking and is worth the effort. We support this change as a small step toward making better law and law making.

Food and Drugs Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

West Nova
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Robert Thibault Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see the continued support of the member and his colleagues on this important matter. His colleagues who serve on the health committee have done great work on the bill, in advancing it and in making sure that it meets its intended purposes. Witnesses appeared before the committee and they were questioned thoroughly, I can assure the member and the House.

One of the things which I think is important, and perhaps the member recognizes this and could give us an example, is our competitiveness and competitors in the food industry, be they producers, transformers or manufacturers of final products. We have a joint process and work in harmony with the United States, which makes sense because, as the member mentioned, the U.S. is our primary trading partner. We do evaluation of new pest control products together. It makes sense rather than both countries doing it independently and going through our own processes. We have a harmonized process.

Under our current regulations after that process determines its safety, we go through the regulatory amendment process to get the maximum level residue in our regulations. Those regulations have to be gazetted. We have to hear from the public. We have to have the second round of consultations. Then there is approval at the end by Treasury Board. This process can take a couple of years.

These intramarketing agreements permit after the science has been done and after the harmonized evaluation process has determined that it is safe, that they can be put on the market, but the process still continues. They are still gazetted, the maximum levels. The public can have a second round of comments and there can be further considerations.

Would the member not agree that this is a better way for our industry to participate and compete with our American trading partners and make sure that the safety of Canadians continues to be protected in a very transparent fashion?

Food and Drugs Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Lanark, ON

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to food, we must always have safety as the first priority. We must always be assured that our consumers are not eating food that contains material that is harmful to their health.

Beyond that first priority, we have to think about our economy, business and assisting the various food manufacturers in retailing their product. That is why our party supports the move to have these interim authorizations, as long as there is no question of any health risk to citizens.

Food and Drugs Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Guy Côté Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat disappointed to hear our Conservative colleagues say that they will be supporting Bill C-28. There has been a lot of talk this morning about the importance of food safety.

Is there not some concern that, under pressure, the government may be tempted to expedite the process in some cases so that certain products can be marketed more quickly? I understand that the need to ensure the health and safety of consumers is mentioned in the bill, but scientific studies are sort of being put aside. Is that not cause for concern?

Food and Drugs Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Lanark, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I said before, the first priority is the safety of the consumer. We want to make sure that Canadians do not consume food products that endanger their lives.

However, if I understand the legislation, which is an amendment to current legislation, we are not authorizing government agencies to permit unsafe food to go on the market. Before they make this interim authorization, they will be checking the various levels of pesticides, herbicides or whatever they have to check before the food goes on the market. To my knowledge there have been very few incidents of food that is unsafe going on the market under the previous informal arrangement. We support the change to the regulations.

Food and Drugs Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Guy Côté Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise today to speak to Bill C-28. In doing so, I will try to warn members of this House, particularly those on the government side, about certain aspects of this bill which we think introduce some safety concerns in the Food and Drug Act.

First I would like to repeat the purpose of this bill to put this debate in the proper context. Bill C-28 is designed to provide the Minister of Health with the authority to issue interim marketing authorizations for foods that contain certain substances at specified levels, and to exempt the foods from the applicable requirements of the Food and Drug Act and its regulations relating to the sale of those foods.

That is already a problem for us. We are talking about exempting certain foods from the applicable requirements relating to the sale of those foods. The substances involved are agricultural chemicals or their components or derivatives, food additives, veterinary drugs, and pest control products. Our understanding is that, based on numerous scientific studies, these products are used on various crops and in the production of foods and drugs. As was mentioned earlier, we all overwhelmingly recognize that this is no problem. But it is important that these scientific studies exist, in order to ensure that there is no risk.

Admittedly, the proposed amendments, in part, are in response to concerns raised by the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations regarding an administrative process put in place by Health Canada, and I quote:

—to allow Canadians faster access to safe and nutritious food products in specific circumstances.

That has been a source of concern for the Bloc Québécois for quite some time. And one of the main questions we ask ourselves is: Why is it that, at times, Health Canada appears to be unable to resist the pressure from major pharmaceutical and food companies which are in hurry to have their new products approved? Far from alleviating this concern, Bill C-28 exacerbates it by effectively enabling the minister to issue interim authorizations.

What is worrisome to the public in this bill is that Health Canada is increasing the examples of negligence. For instance, in the late 1990s, Health Canada caused an outcry when it wanted to authorize a recombinant bovine growth hormone despite opposition from scientists. In the end, the product's use was not approved.

We could easily have been in the same situation this morning had Bill C-28 passed, which begs the question: if it had passed, would the minister have authorized this product or would he have waited? We do not have the answer to that question, but Bill C-28 would have allowed him to do so. Who knows what the consequences would have been?

Preferring to take risks rather than precautions, the government is agreeing to approve drugs or food products without obtaining all the scientific data required by law. As a result, it is running great risks to the public. This is very important. In order to ensure human food safety, all the scientific data must be obtained. We know that far too often, when it comes to food and drugs, there are unanticipated long-term effects. We have seen this happen. That is why it is important to conduct a thorough scientific assessment of the products put on the market.

Accordingly, the Bloc Québécois has long wanted Canada to follow the European example of taking precaution on food products, drugs and pesticides. If such a principle were in place, GMOs would be labelled and the use of products with unknown consequences would be eliminated.

In our opinion, this bill gives the minister a lot of power. It is as if we were playing Russian roulette with products that could have extremely harmful effects on human health not only in the short and medium terms, but also in the long term.

Understandably, we have two major objections with Bill C-28. As I mentioned a couple of times since the beginning of my presentation, our first objection relates to the power given to the minister which is, as I understand it, a discretionary power to some extent. While this legislation does indeed give to the minister the power to issue interim marketing authorizations, the minister must base his decisions on scientific criteria. He cannot make such a decision merely because of the pressure put on him by a given industry or marketing sector.

The criterion to the effect that the food must not be harmful to the health of the purchaser or consumer, as stated in clause 30.2(1) of the bill, leaves a lot of room for interpretation, and we feel it would be important to set limits in this regard.

Of course, we are talking here about public confidence, not only in the government's regulations on food and drugs, but also in the food that ends up on the table. Indeed, the public must have total confidence in the food that it consumes on a regular basis, but also in drugs and pharmaceutical products. The latter are supposed to be beneficial to people who need them for the relief of various symptoms, or to deal with various diseases. Should these products worsen these people's condition, this would result in a loss of confidence that would be very hard to regain.

This is why it is important to reassure Quebeckers and Canadians on the safety and quality of the food that they consume. The minister should be required to inform the public of the reasons why he agrees to issue an interim marketing authorization. As I mentioned earlier, Bill C-28 would allow the minister to issue such authorizations by relying on criteria that leave a lot of room for interpretation.

Not only would it be absolutely essential that the minister base his decision on sound scientific studies, as I was saying earlier, but should he not do so, he should be required to explain the reasons for issuing these interim marketing authorizations and to specify which lobbies approached him regarding a particular product. This is necessary to ensure public confidence in food safety. That is why it is so important.

People's perceptions weigh very heavily in matters where safety and confidence are an issue. I would certainly not want to presume—and I certainly do not want to give that impression—that the minister would make decisions without proper consideration. I would never imply such a thing. We can only presume that an individual who is responsible for making such decisions will act in good faith.

However, we know full well that some people can be very convincing for all sorts of reasons. Before becoming a member of Parliament, I worked as a sales representative, as some of my colleagues may have done also. I would have never dared lie to one of my clients, but I certainly did my best to point out the positive aspects of the products I was selling.

This discretionary power granted to the minister needs to be properly framed. Unfortunately, Bill C-28 does not give any assurances in that regard.

While it is indeed unfortunate, it is also very typical of this government. It often offers us half-measures or expeditious measures. Surprisingly, on a certain number of issues, it does not seem to be able to take all the necessary precautions or make the necessary decisions, but in other cases, it is overzealous.

I must take a minute here to remind members briefly of a speech I made yesterday.

Yesterday, in my speech about tax havens, I clearly demonstrated how, over the years, the concerted action of the government has brought us to a point where a number of businesses are not paying their fair share of taxes. This situation was brought about by a number of very specific measures.

Unfortunately, in some ways, Bill C-28 is only a half measure and of no reassurance to the Canadian public. It opens the door to certain almost arbitrary decisions which might—though we hope not—endanger the health of our fellow citizens.

That is why, having analyzed the proposed mechanism and heard what civil society organizations have had to say, we will be opposing Bill C-28. We in the Bloc Québécois—and this is a deep-seated conviction—are of the opinion that consumer confidence is an essential component of food marketing. The advantages of an interim marketing authorization process like the one proposed in Bill C-28 are likely to be outweighed by the concerns it raises.

In an area like this one, where the safety of our fellow citizens is concerned, it seems to me that prudence must be the watchword, not speed. Any error could have very unfortunate consequences, and the health of those we purport to serve could suffer seriously as a result.

Extreme precaution is in order. Unfortunately, Health Canada has not addressed all the concerns relating to new product approvals. A mechanism such as this, which involves risk management rather than the principle of precaution, is liable to make consumers more wary. That is the situation. Instead of taking precautions to ensure all the necessary scientific studies have been done, it is a matter of risk management.

I will not, thank the Lord, ever be health minister. I would never want to have to manage that risk. As I said earlier, we can only assume the right decisions will be reached. What we need to do is to ensure they are, based on all necessary scientific studies. The opinion of one individual cannot be relied on, no matter how well-intentioned that individual may be.

The first objective of the Food and Drug Act is to ensure the quality of food and that it does not represent health risks. The health of Quebeckers and Canadians is paramount. Any authorization of new products should be done under the precautionary principle. Unfortunately, Bill C-28 does not include this principle.

This week, the government made a number of announcements. To be indulgent, I would say that these are an election ploy. Today, third reading of Bill C-28 raises deep concerns among us. Let us simply imagine what the reaction would be if the minister did not have all the data at his disposal and made a mistake that would put the health of our citizens at risk. I would not want to carry this burden on my shoulders. I would not want to have to make such a decision.

It is incredible—I was mentioning this earlier during question and comment period—to see that our colleagues from the Conservative Party support this bill, when they regularly defend good citizenship and safety. Yet, in Bill C-28, we find exactly the opposite of many principles that they normally support. I have to tell you that I was a little astounded earlier to hear them say they would support Bill C-28. I still have hope, since our NDP colleagues will certainly speak soon on this bill.

I hope that they will see the risks associated with the bill. If they do not, I invite them to talk to us. That goes for my Liberal and Conservative colleagues as well. I invite them to meet with me or with my colleague from Hochelaga who, I must say, knows the bill a lot better than I do, having spent many hours studying it in detail.

I was saying that the bill does not meet many of our concerns and that it seemed to be an amalgamation of half measures. That is unfortunate but not really surprising since the government is an expert in half measures. That is too often how it responds to situations.

The government has just introduced a federal assistance plan to alleviate the effects of high oil prices. We were very happy since it borrowed large parts of the package we proposed only a few weeks ago when the Minister of Transport was saying the government could not do anything. Only two weeks later, we see him using major parts of what we proposed. Unfortunately, the plan is full of half measures because it does not reach the right persons. There is nothing in it for taxi drivers, farmers and truckers. I know that this is not the object of our debate, but I thought it was important to give it as an example of half measures too often introduced by this government.

So Bill C-28, far from improving our fellow citizens' security, gives rise to concerns. How can we guarantee that a new product is perfectly safe for consumers? In the end, people will have to trust the good judgment of the Minister of Health. But I do not think that that is enough even though that minister does his best and acts in good faith. We think that Bill C-28 should be defeated. Let us say that the status quo would be better than the new regime proposed in Bill C-28.

Food and Drugs Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

West Nova
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Robert Thibault Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I would be able to support all the points raised by the hon. member if they were backed by facts. However, he is mistaken. It is important that I make some clarifications.

The security of the public, the security of food and the wholesomeness of our products are very important things for the health minister; they are his responsibility and they are sacred for him.

First, it is important to recognize that, in the case of food, these authorizations can only be given for products that already exist. We are not talking here of new products, of new chemical products created in a laboratory for consumption and for which political pressure is put on the minister. We are talking about products that are already being used. The case that we are interested in concerns the new uses of different products under different forms, such as, for example, the addition of a vitamin or a grain that we already know to existing products.

Instead of waiting for products to go through the few required years of the regulatory cycle, the minister can, after scientific assessments, authorize that they be put on the market. By doing that, we are not bypassing the scientific assessment process. Once these assessments are completed, we can ask for a temporary authorization. That is already done.

This does not change anything for the Canadian public. It is a response to the House committee's valid requirement that our regulations comply with the legislation. We would not want public servants to take it upon themselves to implement measures under the minister's responsibility. Unless the regulations and the act allow it, that is how we will proceed.

As for the pesticides and control products that farmers want to use, the hon. member's statements suggest that major pharmaceutical companies are putting a great deal of pressure on the minister. That is not so. The request is coming from farmers and manufacturers. The latter want us to be competitive. It is not a question of bypassing scientific assessments. Authorization can only be granted once assessments have been made. It is important to realize that. The safety of food, the public and consumers is at stake.

These assessments are done both here and in the U.S. and yield the same results. In both countries, the process indicates to the government whether it should authorize the use of the products in question and determines the residue limits of certain products. The industries in direct competition south of the border take less time than we do to release products on the market. Our regulatory control cycle usually takes two years. Once scientific assessments are done, the minister will have the power, as he does now, to issue a provisional market release authorization notice. Even if scientific assessments have been done, the process goes forward and we continue to hold consultations and make the prescribed amendments. No shortcuts are taken in the process whatsoever.

We have to realize that this does not concern pharmaceutical products, nor drugs for humans, but in many cases it concerns veterinary products. Again, these are not new products, but existing ones. Their use is assessed, or their residue limits are determined, in the case of pesticides. Public safety is guaranteed and protected.

What we are trying to do is to help our farmers and our industries become competitive on a global scale. To do so, we must provide a smart and effective regulatory control that satisfies consumers and farmers alike.

Food and Drugs Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Bloc

Guy Côté Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat disappointed. The overwhelming majority of reasons expressed by the hon. member opposite have to do with market pressures relating to waiting times for regulations or existing before scientific studies are completed. I am sorry, but it seems to me he should know that those regulations are not identical in Canada and in the United States.

Here is a good example: the TCE issue in Shannon. That was something that directly concerned my riding. This bill does not tackle that issue, I realize. Nonetheless, regulations in force in Canada and in various American states are not adequate. In some American states, they were much more rigorous than in Canada.

We must ensure that standards, particularly those in the U.S., which would be more permissive, are not accepted in Canada following a decision by the minister. That is a good example. Market pressures should not override consumer safety.

Food and Drugs Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

When debate resumes later today on this bill, there will be four minutes left for questions and comments that may be addressed to the hon. member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier.

We now move on to statements by members. The hon. member for Mississauga South.

Seniors
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, seniors are among the most vulnerable in our society. They are often victims of abuse or fraud. Many require home care or long term care which may not be available or affordable. Most are on a fixed income, often without inflation protection. Many are in fear of losing their homes due to the depletion of their retirement savings, and many experience depression or despair. Despite that vulnerability, seniors deserve to live in dignity and with respect.

The National Advisory Council on Aging estimates that as many as 300,000 seniors who are entitled to old age security or the guaranteed income supplement do not receive these benefits because they have not applied for them. I therefore encourage all hon. members to include in their next householder an appeal to all their constituents to ensure that their families and friends who are entitled to these benefits are in fact receiving them.

As parliamentarians, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to help seniors who are among the most vulnerable in our society.

Selkirk—Interlake
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, my riding of Selkirk—Interlake has had a very challenging year. We have had the threat of water contamination from Devils Lake. As well, spring flooding and the record precipitation levels have left fields flooded and created the worst crop year on record. The excess moisture also has created major damage along riverbanks and shorelines. All of this has caused concern and great hardship for many people in my riding.

The communities along Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba are now facing the threat of flooding from the high water levels on the lake due to fall storms and gusty winds. The residents of Selkirk—Interlake have responded to these challenges. With cooperation of property owners, residents and municipalities, we have been able to secure dikes and protect our communities.

I want to thank all who helped sandbag and build dikes. I also want to thank all the municipal officials for their hard work protecting our communities and establishing emergency plans to deal with this latest flood threat.

Terry Fox Run
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the more than 14,000 people who participated in the 25th anniversary Terry Fox Run between P.E.I. and New Brunswick, I want to express our appreciation to Strait Crossing Bridge Limited, the operators of the Confederation Bridge.

The Terry Fox Run is the result of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers who inspire the thousands to walk, run or wheel their way in assisting this worthy cause. We must also pay tribute to those in the business community as well.

Strait Crossing generously made available one of Canada's most impressive engineering structures for the 25th anniversary run. In doing so, it and numerous other commercial operators requiring the use of the bridge set aside profits for people and deserve our recognition and have earned our thanks. They made it possible, along with the Terry Fox family, to make the P.E.I.-New Brunswick run the single largest Terry Fox event held in Canada.

Our thanks.

Jean-Philippe Paiement and Anouk Charbonneau
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

Johanne Deschamps Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, the future of Quebec rests on its youth and, in Laurentides—Labelle, I can certainly say that we have much to be proud of.

Last summer, Jean-Philippe Paiement, a 16-year old golfer from Mont-Laurier, was crowned juvenile champion and junior champion for Quebec. This proud representative of the Nominingue Golf Club has become a model of pride and determination for young Quebeckers.

Young women were not outdone, as their proud representative, Anouk Charbonneau, who is only 14 years old, from the Vallée de la Lièvre golf club in Beaux-Rivages, came first overall at the Quebec final at the Lachute MAXIgolf.

The Bloc Québécois wishes you every success in your present and future endeavours. May each victory and each upset be a rewarding experience for you.

Relief Aid International
Statements By Members

October 7th, 2005 / 11 a.m.

Liberal

Russ Powers Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to recognize the efforts of the students and faculty of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario for their hard work in creating a lasting response to the plight of the tsunami devastated people in the village of Kinniya, Sri Lanka.

Led by Professor Alison Miculan and Sri Lankan born Noor Nizam, the group has developed Relief Aid International, a voluntary NGO within the McMaster University community and the community of Hamilton at large, in response to last year's disaster. Almost $600,000 has been raised to date and contractors have started work on the project that will see the establishment of a vocational training centre, a manufacturing warehouse, a boat building facility and a school renovated and expanded to accommodate the village children.

I ask my fellow members to join me in congratulating the McMaster community on their tsunami relief efforts.