House of Commons Hansard #72 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was artists.

Topics

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Halton
Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, again, the facts are important in this situation. It is this Conservative government that has actually had its eye on the issue and has been working towards a solution since 2007. Indeed a difficult decision was taken to disband the MAPLEs project in 2008. However, we also sought to increase the licence extension to the NRU to deal with the issue.

Who did not deal with the issue? The Liberals did not deal with the issue, for 13 years.

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, what the minister said shocked patients and the health community in Quebec and Canada. Dr. François Lamoureux, president of the Association des médecins spécialistes en médecine nucléaire du Québec, stated:

The government does not seem to realize how catastrophic this is for patients. First, the government denied that there even was a crisis. Today, we learn that a minister thinks that this crisis is “sexy”.

Will the Prime Minister stop his partisanship and fire his minister, who does not have the judgment, the empathy or the credibility needed to manage this crisis?

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Nunavut
Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I believe the individual that the member made reference to sits on the expert panel that we established back in 2007. That ad hoc group of health experts prepared a report on lessons learned, which this government responded to and acted upon. The information related to alternative products was provided to Health Canada. We approved those products, and they are available right now to do the testing for Canadians who require it.

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Malo Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, experts including Dr. Jean-Luc Urbain, president of the Canadian Association of Nuclear Medicine, have condemned Canada's lack of leadership on the isotope issue and its lack of credibility in the eyes of the international community. Dr. François Lamoureux has even suggested setting up an independent international commission to get a clear picture of the situation.

Does the Prime Minister not understand that he must fire his minister and replace her so that the government can finally start again on a solid footing in order to manage the isotope crisis?

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Nunavut
Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, we are working very, very closely with all the provincial and territorial counterparts and, at the same time, the medical experts on isotopes with regard to identifying the options. In fact, I had a meeting with the individuals last week on continuing with the planning toward how we can mitigate situations like this when we deal with that. I will also continue to work with my colleague, the Minister of Natural Resources, as she deals with the supply issue from the international community.

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the infamous tape, the Minister of Natural Resources said, “This is an easy one. You know what solves this problem? Money. And if it’s just about money, we’ll figure it out”.

Well, five months later, it certainly is not figured out.

Would the minister tell this House today just how much money has been devoted to addressing this crisis that faces us?

Would she also explain why, if it is such an easy problem, she has not stepped in to fix the reactor and at the same time make sure that the patients get the isotopes they need?

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Halton
Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, obviously it goes without saying, if any of us had the technical capabilities to fix the issue, we would do so.

The reality is that AECL has indeed given the update with respect to where it is in the repairs to the reactor, and it is progressing.

In terms of the question of money, it is this government that actually has the eye on the ball: the importance of the nuclear industry and the importance of medical isotopes to this country. We are the ones who have been fully funding AECL for the last three years. It is the Liberal opposition that starved AECL and starved Chalk River in the 10 years--

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please.

The hon. member for Toronto—Danforth.

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives take the industry so seriously they want to sell it off. It is just not credible what the minister is saying. She said it is about money, but it is the patients who are paying the price. That is the truth of the matter. The cost of the isotopes has doubled and tripled since this crisis began.

The Hôtel-Dieu Grace, in Windsor, and the Ottawa Hospital are cancelling emergency scans right now.

Dr. O'Brien of the Ontario Association of Nuclear Medicine said that the minister, “diminished the seriousness that the medical isotope crisis is having on patient access for heart disease and cancer treatment”.

Does the minister realize that she no longer has the confidence of the medical experts or Canadians?

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Nunavut
Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say again that the recommendations made by the medical isotope experts have been implemented and we are working very closely with the medical isotope experts. We are using all the regulatory powers, such as the special access program and clinical trials, to ensure access to alternatives. There are alternatives available now, Tc99 isotopes, over 50% of which is used for heart testing. These are available now to provinces and territories.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, after being caught on tape calling the Minister of Health incompetent in the isotopes affair, the Minister of Natural Resources has also said that the Minister of the Environment is pandering to the oil sands. That explains the minister's failure to act in this file.

Can the Minister of Natural Resources confirm her statements? Is the Minister of the Environment in fact pandering to the oil sands?

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, these remarks are simply not true.

The government is committed to protecting the environment. In fact, I have just come from announcing the foundation for the development of the carbon market here in Canada, the rules and requirements to create the offset system and the verification process by which those credits will be verified. They are spelled out in a document that will be available for 60 days of public consultation, all to be finalized this fall.

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

June 10th, 2009 / 2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, François Lamoureux, president of the Association des médecins spécialistes en médecine nucléaire du Québec, said, and I quote, “This medical disaster was predictable. Everyone knew.”

What concrete solutions has the government put in place since these recurring problems first emerged?

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Halton
Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, in December of last year, we put out a five-point plan on how to deal with a shortage of medical isotopes.

In that plan are two key issues. One is dealing with contingencies, and the Minister of Health is ably dealing with that one. In the second case, it is increasing the global supply of medical isotopes.

Through our leadership, we have been able to have the Netherlands increase its production by 50%, have South Africa increase its production by 30%, and have Australia bring on its reactor earlier than anticipated.

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to again quote Mr. Lamoureux, who said, “The ill have been forsaken ... How devastating, how sad this is.”

In the meantime, in Trois-Rivières and Quebec City, appointments for testing have already been cancelled. In Joliette, they will have to be cancelled soon.

What concrete steps have been taken? What arrangements are in place and what guarantees can the government provide to patients who are suffering?