House of Commons Hansard #26 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was funding.

Topics

Africa
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to present two petitions signed by several thousand Canadians who support increasing Canada's foreign aid commitments to combat HIV-AIDs, tuberculosis and malaria, along with increasing the flow of affordable generic medicines.

These petitions stem from the heroic efforts of African grandmothers to raise children orphaned by AIDS. It is the result of the efforts of over 200 grandmother groups across Canada assisting their fellow African grandmothers.

Tabling these two petitions during International Women's Week symbolizes the important work that women perform for the common good and also the solidarity that exists among women from all parts of the world.

Africa
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Lee Richardson Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to present a petition of behalf of Canadian Grandmothers for Africa, a national advocacy network that has gathered thousands of signatures across the country in support of Canada's continuing efforts in foreign aid, particularly development assistance, our battle with global funding for TB and malaria particularly.

The petition contains thousands of signatures, mostly from western Canada on behalf of Grandmothers for Africa.

Revenue Canada Agency
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to present a petition on behalf of 850 fishers from Newfoundland and Labrador and from Quebec.

These fishers have been treated very unfairly by the government. They were taxed at a rate that was above what they should have been taxed when they retired their fishing licence. They did so voluntarily at the request of the Government of Canada at the time. Unfortunately, they were provided with wrong information from Revenue Canada to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans that their benefit would be taxed 100%. This should not have happened. They should have been taxed 25%.

We now know that another 150 fishers were only taxed 25% and they paid the right amount of taxes.

We have 850 fishers asking the government to return the money that is owed to them, no more, no less. They are not asking for something that is not theirs. They are asking for the government to acknowledge and respect their right to only pay tax on 25% of the retirement benefit and not 100%.

We ask the government today to acknowledge that this error was made and to return to the fishers the thousands of dollars they are owed, money they have done without, which has made it very difficult for the fishers and their families. We ask the government to acknowledge this error and to right the wrong.

Africa
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured to table just one small part of a very large petition, 32,000 names in total, organized by the Canadian Grandmothers for Africa. This grassroots movement advocates a need to help the grandmothers of Africa and the approximately 13 million children who they are raising, orphaned because of HIV and AIDS.

I want to thank the very hard work of people like Myrtle Blinn, Doreen Larouche, Barbara Nolen and Eva Dawson, who are all from Ottawa, as well as Linda Watson of Winnipeg, who have helped make this one of the most successful petitions in our nation's history.

I urge the government to follow their advice, which is to ensure that we finally reach that goal of 0.7% of our GNP for international development that we start to flow money for helping people with AIDS, TB and malaria, and that we start advancing drugs through legislation to ensure access to cheaper generic drugs to help people around the world in this situation.

Human Trafficking
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions on two different subjects. The first one is with regard to human trafficking, a most heinous crime. Millions of people are trafficked and used as human slaves throughout the world. Thousands of them are right here in Canada.

The students at McMaster University have collected hundreds of signatures to call on the government to make sure that it provides appropriate housing, access to counselling, legal advice, immigration status, access to medical care and employment, and education for those who are victims of human trafficking.

Africa
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, along with my NDP colleague, I wish to table a large petition in two parts from the Grandmothers for Africa. Millions die in sub-Saharan Africa each year from malaria, tuberculosis, AIDS and HIV. In many cases, this means that, due to the deaths of their parents, children are raised by their grandparents.

The Canadian Grandmothers for Africa lauded the efforts of the grandparents, primarily grandmothers, and ask the Government of Canada, through this petition, to accelerate the increase of its foreign aid and make the necessary legislative changes to Canada's access to medicines regime to establish a substantial flow of retroviral drugs and lower-cost generics.

Africa
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I too am pleased to stand today to present a number of petitions to the House of Commons from the Canadian Grandmothers for Africa. As the House has already heard, the grandmothers have obtained over 32,000 signatures from Canadians all over the country to raise attention to HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, the extreme poverty and drug shortages in sub-Saharan Africa.

The situation there is dire. The government must take note and must take action, as thousands of Canadians have indicated their concern. This is a worthwhile initiative and I feel privileged to have been able to work with Grands 'n' More in Winnipeg and to present part of this petition here today.

Africa
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise as well to present 700 of the more than 30,000 signatures gathered by the Canadian Grandmothers for Africa. I am well aware of this organization in my own constituency, the city of Edmonton, and the surrounding area. They are an incredible group of women. They travel to Africa and work with the grandmothers. They give them moral support but also take them resources and dollars.

I urge the House of Commons to support this initiative. At this time of recession, no one is suffering more than the women and children of developing nations who already cannot afford retroviral drugs, malarial drugs or the mosquito nets they badly need. I encourage the House to finally deliver on our undertaking to meet the 0.7% of our gross national product for development assistance, and to work strongly to get affordable medicines to the grandmothers who are working with their grandchildren in Africa.

Interprovincial Bridge
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, you might recall that almost every day since the beginning of the 40th legislature, I have presented a petition concerning heavy-truck traffic in the downtown core of the nation's capital. I did so until February 13, when the National Capital Commission made a decision that was in line with what the petitioners were asking for. They were calling upon the government to instruct the National Capital Commission to proceed with a detailed assessment of an interprovincial bridge linking the Canotek industrial park to the Gatineau airport, that is, one variation of option 7 of the first phase of the interprovincial crossings environmental assessment.

Today, I would like to present 20 or so petitions signed by hundreds of citizens from the national capital region. These are essentially the last of the petitions signed and collected on this topic. I am very pleased to see that the citizens from our region have been listened to and that the NCC will be doing what these citizens were asking the government for.

Africa
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I, too, rise to present the petitions from the Canadian Grandmothers for Africa. Of course, in my own riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan, the NanGo Grannies have been active in gathering signatures.

I am pleased today to present hundreds of signatures and to remind the House of Commons that this is something that is taking place from coast to coast to coast. There have been many grandmothers and other sisters who have tried to raise the profile of the women in sub-Saharan Africa.

We are asking Canada to immediately set a timetable to meet by 2015 its 40-year-old promise to contribute 0.7% of our gross national product to development assistance, to contribute its fair share to the global fund to fight AIDS, TB, malaria, for example, 5% of the funding needed for each of the next five years, and to make the legislative changes necessary for Canada's access to the medicines regime to facilitate the immediate and sustainable flow of lower cost generic medicines to developing countries.

Given the interest from Canadian citizens from coast to coast to coast, I am expecting that the government will act on this immediately.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

March 9th, 2009 / 3:20 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski 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

3:20 p.m.

Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion -- Science, Research and Innovation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, when I was first elected in 1997, it was a worrying time in the health research community in Canada.

That first year, researchers living in my riding, one by one made appointments to see me, from Alan Bernstein to Tim Murray,, to urge me to have the government intervene. We were losing our brightest and our best. We needed to understand that Canada was way behind in the amount of public dollars invested in research.

I remember the caucus meeting in Shawinigan. MP after MP went to the mike and repeated similar stories from the researchers in their ridings. Prime Minister Chrétien joked that he thought that while he had been out of the country, his brother Michel must have come and talked to every one of us. There was no question that the research community had mounted a campaign, but there was no question that its case was poignant, evidence-based, and we were impressed with the arguments. We had to do something urgently.

Alan Rock, as health minister, conspired with passionate scientists like Henry Friesen and I still remember sitting in the deli behind the university hospital in Winnipeg while Dr. Jon Gerrard, the former minister of science and technology, drew on a napkin the skeleton of what would end up being the CIHR, our NIH north. Learning from our neighbours to the south, it would be interdisciplinary and collaborative. It would cross institutions, cross disciplines, and it would collaborate around the world.

I remember the lobbying that went on for the institutes in terms of mental health and world science. I remember the appointment of Dr. Allen Bernstein as the first president, someone who was totally gifted in being able to put complex scientific concepts into language that Canadians could understand and support.

I remember the dinner that launched CIHR at the NAC, and the dream of building to $1 billion a year of annual funding. Year after year the confidence in the health research community climbed. Year after year the funding increased. Not only were Canadian researchers coming home but we were now able to attract some of the best and the brightest from around the world.

Then something happened. A Conservative government was elected. From the actions and the words of the Conservatives, the increase in support for science and research stopped. The Conservatives seemed to use research as a swear word, although their favourite target is liberally-funded social science research, usually said as though it were one word. All research seems to be in the cross-hairs of this government's obsession of ideology over science.

Science rarely, if ever, proves the ideology, so why fund it? It follows very much the Bush administration approach that the NIH could not fund any HIV-AIDS research proposal that included the words “gay, homosexual, prostitute or condom”. As the government policy was abstinence, why would it fund research into things that were against government policy?

The recent budget announcement that the funding from the social science research council should be aimed at projects in the business sector is a case in point. This is the beginning of a slippery slope of governments deciding what is worth research dollars and what is not worth research dollars. We have money for this; we do not have money for that. It goes against everything that was in the dream of the CIHR and the purpose for having granting councils in the first place.

One would assume that elucidating best practices in mental health and support in these tough economic times is not important and therefore SSHRC should only be funding research into business.

I was shocked to see that the granting councils were not exempted from the program strategic review. The sole purpose of granting councils is to allocate funds for research. I am unclear how the government expects to find efficiencies there. The only answer that is very clear now from the performance report is that there will be less dollars for research.

When we compare the new approach south of the border, we are even more astounded. The U.S. is looking to the future, to the new jobs that will be created by investing in science and research.

In the budget for basic research in Barack Obama's stimulus package, we find $25 billion. In Canada, for science in the stimulus package, we find zero dollars and, if we look carefully, there are $148 million cut from the funding councils, and $27.6 million cut from the NRC.

A 1999 study estimated that, through its contribution to increase productivity, the benefits of university research and development were $15 billion or about 2% of Canada's annual GDP. The government has it wrong. Research and development is not a cost centre. It is truly an investment that pays off.

In this week's University of Toronto Bulletin there is a terrific article by Anjum Nayyar called “Innovation, not outsourcing, is real threat”. The premise is: Is Canada losing its technological edge? Professor Daniel Trefler says that in today's global economy he is very concerned that innovation itself is the risk that could shift to other countries.

We have good evidence in Canada that investments are truly investments and actually have a positive effect in the economy. Recently, CFIA, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, that was launched in 1997, completed a study to look at the number of spinoff companies that have been created as a result of CFI investments.

When the CFI was created in 1997 to fund research infrastructure at Canadian institutions, its mandate was to build the capacity for innovation, a mandate that remains to this day. For this study, CFI project report data for 2006, which is data submitted in 2006, were used as a baseline augmented by data submitted in 2007 to clarify, if possible, any uncertainties in the 2006 data.

For this sample, there were 155 positives for the question on spinoff companies and of these a total of 5 were approved by CFI in 1999, 35 in 2000 and the remaining 115 approved between 2001 and 2005. Most infrastructure awards approved in a given year take time to negotiate, procure and be developed and sometimes this can take well over a year. Thus, the great majority of projects had their start within the five year time period of 2000 to 2005.

To eliminate double entries, in which different researchers might cite the same spinoff project company if more than one research is involved and verify that these were actual spinoffs according to the definition above, the Cooper database was used and this cross-verification was completed as it was determined for the period of 1999 to 2005.

According to the report from CFI, 94 university spinoff companies were identified citing research infrastructure as significant. Of these, 57 companies were already documented in the Cooper database, 37 companies from the CFI data were independently verified and 89 researchers were involved. It is imperative that the government have a look at research and development as an investment.

In fact, the new report on the panel on return of investments in health research from the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences has a very strong recommendation that if the government does not believe this, it must at least invest in the panel recommendations, recommendation 4, for example, that says that Canada should immediately initiate a national collaborative effort to begin to measure the impacts of Canadian health research. If it is measured, it gets noticed and if it gets noticed, it gets done. This is a very good case but we need to start counting.

In the recent BIOTECanada parliamentary report, there was an increasingly worrying message that said that 50% of the biotech firms will be out of dollars by the end of the year because of the lack of venture capital. U.S. states are already prospecting here. These firms will ask the companies and the startups to move to them because these companies can re-emerge with new dollars elsewhere.

This weekend in the Toronto Star there was a totally wonderful celebration of the research champions in that city, people like Derek Van der Kooy, Tom Hudson, Janet Rossant, Gordon Keller, Jeff Wrana, Peter Zandstra, Bill Stanford and Freda Miller. These people are world champions. I do not want to put words in their mouths but we know that the community is worried.

In the recent report from MaRS, which is the research discovery district in Toronto, there is a wonderful report on the Ontario bio-pharma cluster report. Every day we ask ourselves what if. From insulin to pablum to Zlotkin sprinklers, Canada has been a leader in innovation--