House of Commons Hansard #123 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.

Topics

Health
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I beg the indulgence of my colleagues to briefly revert to reports from committees.

Health
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Does the hon. member have unanimous consent?

Health
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Finance
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 16th and 17th reports of the Standing Committee on Finance. The 16th report concerns Bill C-40. The 17th report is rather exciting and I urge the members to read it. It is the supplementary estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2007.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Health
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia
Manitoba

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the issue of fetal alcohol syndrome is very important. I was intrigued to hear the pseudo outrage of the member opposite. The reason I put it in that way is that he talked about a health committee of 1992. Since then we had 13 years of Liberal government and nothing, using the member's own logic, was done.

The member's criticism of the health report does not mention the fact that his solution of merely putting labels on alcohol was rejected by members of his own party in the last Parliament at the health committee because it was not effective and because a more thorough comprehensive program was needed. That is what the report reflects. Unfortunately, the member, in the 13 years of his government, had all that time to bring forth solutions, recommendations and legislation and yet nothing was done.

When the member talks about this issue he should acknowledge his own government's inaction and have some humility when he raises this important issue because the trail goes back to his government. It is a shameful record. I would encourage the member to apologize and then bring forward some constructive suggestions rather than just complain.

Health
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not know why the member would take me, a backbencher, and make me the Government of Canada and make me unilaterally responsible for all kinds of things that can happen in the world.

I am a backbencher. I bring forward my thoughts, views and my work for the last 10 years. I will never apologize for my work on fetal alcohol syndrome over the last 10 years.

Health
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, that pathetic input from the government shows why it is not doing anything about it.

This is a particularly important issue in my riding and I commend the member for Mississauga South for the work he has done over the years. We have a high incidence of FAS problems and we have a great organization called FASSY which does tremendous work on this with little resources. It works with the families to find assisted living and it provides programs with very little funding.

It would certainly be a great benefit shown by Parliament for some of the most needy in the country if we provided assistance for these people. As the member mentioned, it would also be a great economic boon because of the incredible cost to the country of perhaps a million dollars a victim. It is also a human tragedy. No reasonable thinking parliamentarian would not support initiatives to deal with this tragic problem.

Could the member outline some of the things that we as a Parliament could do to deal with the situation that is particularly tragic in the north but also in other parts of the country?

Health
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has always been very supportive and is very knowledgeable about this issue.

I would refer him to the January 2004 report, which I believe was done by Ipsos-Reid for Health Canada, that laid out in some very substantive detail an action plan to address fetal alcohol syndrome and alcohol related birth defects.

One of the most interesting and obvious ways in which it recommended we take action was to have literature with facts about this problem in every doctor's office right across the country and to ensure every woman entering the offices for check-ups, et cetera, particularly those who are in their birthing years, be given the information directly by their doctors.

Health
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member a couple of questions and make a comment. He talks about going back to 1992. I must admit I am quite proud to represent a riding where, in 1988, the member from Surrey North was I think one of the first to raise this in the legislature when he spoke of labelling bottles of alcohol for that very reason. I am very proud to carry on that tradition from the NDP in Surrey North.

I have held in my arms newborn babies going through withdrawal. Anybody who has ever seen that will take any action they can to make sure that never happens again to any infant.

There are three things that I would ask the member to comment on.

First, is the federal government providing through its health transfer enough programs for people who have alcohol addictions to get into treatment? In my province, I know there are women who have young children and are anxious to go into addiction treatment programs. They may become pregnant, but there is no place they can go, except for one place that has not opened yet; it is at risk of not opening as a result of the Conservatives' movement on child care. These women will not leave their young children behind and they cannot take them with them. I am interested in the member's comment on whether he thinks there are adequate health transfer payments for programs for potential moms or moms with their children to get treatment.

Second, I would ask if he thinks there should be mandatory reporting of FAS-FAE, not by name but so that we have a sense of trend across the country, because one of my concerns is that we do not have accurate information across the country. I was one of the members on the health committee who raised the issue. It was clear to me, anyway, that Health Canada had not been very interested in taking action since the former report.

Third, I would like to ask the member if he has any sense of the amount of dollars spent by the provinces on children. Many of these children are not raised by their birth parents. They are raised in foster care or adopted. I would ask the member whether he thinks there should be funding resources allocated to adoptive parents to support them in raising children.

Health
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Mississauga South has a minute and a half to answer all those questions.

Health
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to speak with the member about some of the more detailed ones. However, let me strike down a myth. The myth is that this somehow has to do only with heavy drinkers and people who are addicted. That is not the case.

I wrote a book called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Real Brain Drain in March of 2000. It is on my website. Let me quote a mother, who said:

My son has fetal alcohol syndrome. He was diagnosed at age 8. I got pregnant between high school and college. I was a social drinker and have never had a problem with alcohol. I did not know I was pregnant until three-and-a-half months along. I stopped drinking then, but it was too late. The damage was done. Though I did not set out to harm my child, I did, and now I need to do whatever I can to make things easier for him.

The reality is that even during casual drinking at a critical period during the early stages of pregnancy, the damage can be done. If a woman is sexually active in her birthing years and is not using protection, the best prevention for fetal alcohol syndrome is to abstain from consuming alcohol.

Health
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia
Manitoba

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to the government's response to the report of the Standing Committee on Health on the issue of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

I would like to take a moment to again reflect on some of the comments made by the previous speaker and say that when this issue came up in 1992, the previous government was obviously aware of the terrible nature of FASD. That member continues--

Health
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The hon. chief opposition whip on a point of order.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan and the Old Age Security Act, be read the third time and passed.