House of Commons Hansard #89 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was application.

Topics

Treatment of Rare Disorders
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Treatment of Rare Disorders
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Treatment of Rare Disorders
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Treatment of Rare Disorders
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

(Amendment agreed to)

There being no other speakers, I will give the hon. member for North Vancouver his five minutes right of reply.

Treatment of Rare Disorders
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

Don Bell North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking those members of the parties who have supported this motion. I need to give particular recognition to the Parliamentary Secretary for Health, the member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, for the support he has given in helping to craft the amendments and work this motion through the government.

The inspiration for Motion No. 426 is found in the Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders “Chance for Life Fund”. This is an action plan that CORD developed to address this issue and begin the process of establishing a made in Canada policy that will ensure patients with rare disorders have the exact same right and access to effective therapies or the same chance for life as all Canadians.

Durhane Wong-Rieger, president of CORD Canada, has been very helpful in drafting this motion also. I should mention that my son, Darren, is not associated directly with CORD but is in fact the president of Pulmonary Hypertension Association of Canada and has also been of assistance.

I am sure many Canadians can identify a family member or friend who suffers from a rare disorder. It affects one in eight Canadians as either a carrier or in fact a sufferer from a rare disease.

In my own riding, young Nicklas Harkins has MPS 1, an enzyme deficiency disease that is life-threatening. Eleven-year-old Szymon Cajmer from Toronto and young Trey Purcell from North Vancouver have MPS 2, otherwise known as Hunter syndrome.

Quite often, members are motivated by personal experience or tragedy to champion an issue. In my case, my grandson, Dylan Hunter Bell, was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension at the age of two. For the last 10 years, Dylan required continual drug treatment administered directly into his heart, delivered from an intravenous pump which he wore in a backpack on his back. He was able to lead an activity restricted but otherwise generally normal life. He attended public school, played with his dog Teddy, was a whiz with computers and enjoyed meeting people. He would visit and take plush animals, which he called “stuffies”, up to other children who were hospitalized in the Children's Hospital in Vancouver. He passed away July 14, 2007, the day after his 12th birthday.

I consider this motion to be a legacy to my grandson Dylan and to add meaning to his short life and the challenge he faced so bravely, as well as the many others, both patients and families, who continue to face personal health challenges in dealing with rare diseases.

I have heard it often said that a nation can be measured by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens, the elderly, the young and the sick. This is a way in which we can show that Canada is one of those nations that is to be recognized and honoured for the way it does treat its most vulnerable.

It is also often said that a long and difficult journey begins with a single step. I would suggest that this motion represents not only one but several steps in this journey for rare disease patients and their families.

I again thank the House for the support that is given for this and I look forward to the passage of this motion.

Treatment of Rare Disorders
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

The question is on the main motion as amended. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Treatment of Rare Disorders
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Treatment of Rare Disorders
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Treatment of Rare Disorders
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Treatment of Rare Disorders
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

All those opposed will please say nay.

Treatment of Rare Disorders
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Treatment of Rare Disorders
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93 the division stands deferred until Wednesday, May 7, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

7 p.m.

Independent

Louise Thibault Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, just before the budget was presented, I asked the Minister of Finance if he planned on putting in place measures that would really make a difference for seniors living in poverty.

Seniors whose only income consists of old age security combined with the guaranteed income supplement are living below the poverty line. All of us in this House and I believe the majority of Canadians and Quebeckers know that. In my region and elsewhere, these individuals barely manage to balance a modest budget that covers only necessities. The poor are becoming poorer and their sad plight will not improve on its own. Quite the contrary.

The Conservatives often respond with statistics—I imagine that is what they will do shortly—when confronted by human misery. However, statistics can be used to downplay the harsh realities. According to observers, although the poverty rate has fallen among seniors, the cost of basic needs is rising and is placing seniors in an increasingly critical situation.

Take, for example, the growing number of seniors who are forced to use food banks. This is not an urban legend. It is really happening. The price of basic goods is rising and the cost of getting from place to place is going up—think of the price of a litre of gas—as is the cost of housing, food, medications and other basic necessities.

The Conservative government is responsible for enabling seniors to meet their basic needs and to live with dignity. The government must honour that responsibility.

The budget did not really improve living conditions for the people I am talking about, except for those who continue to work after turning 65. These people will still be penalized, but a little less so than before. My motion, which was agreed to by a majority of the members of this House, would have improved things for seniors by 50% more than what the government did, but because I always applaud small steps in the right direction, I supported what the government did.

The budget failed to resolve the biggest problem with respect to seniors living in poverty. We know that there is a class—I hate using the word, but it is the one that fits—of seniors, those who are alone, who are having an even harder time than others, and who are mostly women.

Many groups and experts have asked the government to do something about this problem. We have a simple tool, the guaranteed income supplement. We know that this is a benefit for people who do not have private retirement fund income and for whom the government pension is not enough. The motion proposed raising the supplement for people who are single, widowed or divorced. We need to focus on helping our poorest seniors and women.

It met an urgent need, and I do not think that, as a society, we can allow ourselves to ignore these people who really need our help. The government did not help them in its budget. It still has a chance to help with the release of its next economic statement. I would like to remind the government that this is what a majority of members of the House want and that it should act now.

7:05 p.m.

Blackstrap
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for raising this issue in the House again. I know she cares deeply about seniors issues, as do all members of the government.

It must have been frustrating for the member during her three years with the Bloc Québécois when she had to sit idly by while it was completely incapable of accomplishing a single goal on the seniors file.

Thankfully, Canadians now have a government that not only takes seniors issues seriously, but a government that is actually getting things done. We have spoken about this important issue in the House several times and once again I would like to point out to my friend from Rimouski that income for Canadian seniors has risen dramatically over the past 25 years.

According to Statistics Canada, the income of Canadian seniors has more than doubled during that time and the rate of poverty among seniors has been cut from 21% in 1980 to less than 6% today. Although we must recognize these facts, it is imperative that we also recognize that we cannot stop working hard to further reduce these numbers. I state this because even one senior living in poverty is one too many.

That is why this government has acted, and acted quickly, to support seniors issues and that is why, within months of being elected, this government introduced Bill C-36 to strengthen the Canada pension plan and the old age security programs for all seniors.

We have simplified the application process. We changed the rules so that seniors do not have to apply year after year for the benefits that they deserve, changes that the previous Liberal government never made during the 13 years it was in power.

In an effort to further reduce the number of seniors living in poverty, this government has overseen two increases to the guaranteed income supplement. Effective January 2006, we raised the guaranteed income supplement by 3.5%. We did this again in January 2007.

These measures are providing all single recipients of the guaranteed income supplement with an additional $430 per year and $700 more per year for a couple. These increases will raise the total guaranteed income supplement benefit by more than $2.7 billion over the next five years. This will benefit more than 1.6 million GIS recipients and this will include more than 50,000 seniors who were not eligible for programs under the previous Liberal government.

Again, I want to thank the hon. member across the way for her question tonight. I want to assure her that Canadian seniors finally have a government that is interested in their issues and a government that will get real results.