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

CBC/Radio-Canada
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, “I am, we are for quality public broadcasting”.

Today I wish to join with the many public figures who have launched an awareness campaign with that slogan to denounce the Conservatives' efforts to undermine CBC/Radio-Canada.

People from every walk of life are raising their voices to denounce the ideological opportunism shown by the Conservatives in this file. Since the time of the Lincoln report, when they were still showing their true colours as Reform demagogues, we have all known how the Conservatives feel about CBC/Radio-Canada. We also know their negative intentions for the corporation.

CBC/Radio-Canada should be a reflection of who we are as a society, as Canadians.

To carry out this mission, CBC/Radio-Canada must have the necessary resources, if we want to see it survive. Unfortunately, that is not the direction taken by the Conservative government, which saw the economic crisis as an opportunity to gradually stifle CBC/Radio-Canada.

They will not succeed, however, because we will be standing in their way, side by side with Canadians.

Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Liberal Party is out of touch with Canadians. His understanding of Canadians and their needs is questionable at best.

Through our economic action plan, our Conservative government has been providing tax relief to Canadian families, creating jobs and helping those most in need.

In response to our strong leadership, the Liberal leader has promised to raise taxes. He wants to increase the GST, impose a job-killing carbon tax, and eliminate the universal child care benefit.

He has been away from Canada for 34 years. He called himself an American. He called our Canadian flag a pale imitation of a beer label. The Liberal leader thinks Canada is the laughingstock of the world.

Yet, the Secretary General of the OECD said that Canada will be one of the first to come out of the recession. That is a record that we on this side of the House are very proud of.

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

June 10th, 2009 / 2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the long predicted crisis is now upon us. Hospitals in smaller communities will run out of isotopes in the next 48 hours. The chief of nuclear medicine in Hamilton says “that deaths could occur” if supplies fall much further.

The Prime Minister claims that the government has acted on this issue since the last shutdown on its watch in November 2007.

After 18 months of this, is this all the Conservatives have to offer, a national health care crisis?

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Halton
Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, what I can indicate to the House today is the following. We have been in contact with industry with respect to the supply of medical isotopes.

I can tell the House that it has been indicated that hospitals will receive next week over 50% of their orders which is markedly up from what they had anticipated. As well, we have been working with the global network of nuclear reactors with respect to supplying even more.

OPAL has also indicated that it will be able to come on line sooner, as long as we continue to help it, which we have been doing.

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, with respect, there is a dispute over the facts here.

The Conservatives keep pretending that there is an alternative supply of isotopes, but we have spoken to the Dutch and the Australians. They say yes, they can ramp up production, but they cannot make up the shortfall. They cannot say how many isotopes will actually end up in Canadian hospitals.

So where is the credibility in the minister's assurances to those Canadians whose tests are currently being cancelled?

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Halton
Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, as I just indicated to the House, indeed we do have an indication of what amount of isotopes will be available next week to the Canadian public. That is what is important to get into the hands of the medical establishment, so that it can utilize the contingency plans that have been worked on with the Minister of Health.

Indeed, we continue to work with the reactors and, in fact, upon Canada's leadership there is a high level meeting of nuclear energy agencies. That is exactly what is going to be discussed in terms of scheduling.

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, this public health care crisis is getting worse, and we cannot count on the minister's assurances.

Yesterday, François Lamoureux, the president of Quebec's association of nuclear medicine specialists, said, “The government does not seem to realize how catastrophic this is for patients...Patients are being held hostage”.

When will Canadians be able to get their diagnostic tests done?

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Nunavut
Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I share the concerns of Canadians regarding this shortage. That is why we have taken swift action. It is a stressful time for many Canadians, but I can reassure the House and members that we are taking all steps necessary to address this shortage.

We have identified alternatives to the medical community while we are dealing with the shortage of medical isotopes. That list of alternatives was provided by the medical experts on medical isotopes which we acted on. Those alternatives are available right now to the provinces and territories.

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, in January, questions about heavy water leaks and effects on isotope production at Chalk River were dismissed by the minister as fearmongering. Then, she repeatedly claimed that isotope production was reliable.

At the Ottawa Hospital, 180 patients, 60% of whom have cancer, are now being told that their scheduled diagnostic treatments over the next few days are at serious risk.

Would the minister now explain to those patients and their families why she refused to take this crisis seriously, and can she now advise them exactly what it is they should do?

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Halton
Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the reliability of the NRU in terms of producing medical isotopes, I can inform the House that the facts are that it has had over 90% reliability for a 50-year old reactor to produce the medical isotopes in the last year. It had been doing so at an increasingly larger rate last fall when we were supplying the world.

Now it is time for the world to help us. It is doing so. Australia is shortening its time for commissioning from approximately five months down to a few weeks, and indeed contrary to what has been said by the hon. member opposite, Australia's reactor can provide 20% of the global supply.

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government has never taken this crisis seriously.

Specialists told the minister that there was no alternative to using isotopes to perform bone scans on children with cancer. According to Dr. Urbain, nuclear medicine specialists are having nightmares about those children because of the isotope shortage.

Seven months on, how can she have let the crisis get so bad that children are now in serious danger and have no other treatment options?

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Nunavut
Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, for the last 18 months my department has been working with the medical experts in identifying alternatives that can be used by the provinces and territories in the hospitals. Some of the recommendations that came from the medical experts on isotopes are initiatives such as triaging patients to ensure when alternatives are not available that they can receive the TC99 isotopes and working flexible hours when they do have the TC99 isotopes. This way they can maximize the use and minimize the delay.

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to a number of experts in nuclear medicine, the isotope crisis was predictable, the Minister of Natural Resources has shown negligence in managing this crisis and, as a result, they no longer have confidence in her.

How can the Prime Minister justify keeping his Minister of Natural Resources on when all the experts consider her incompetent?

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Halton
Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear that we cannot control when the NRU goes down. What we can do, though, is work the best we can to both increase medical supplies around the world and to mitigate the shortage in supplies.

However, I think it is really important to notice that Canada did lead the field in the 1990s with respect to developing the MAPLEs project. In 2000, the Liberal opposition was informed that the MAPLEs could not be commissioned and indeed, in 2003, the problem that caused us to agree to shutting it down was brought to the attention of the member for Wascana.

Medical Isotopes
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, Jean-Luc Urbain of the Canadian Association of Nuclear Medicine accuses the Minister of Natural Resources of not taking the warnings seriously. François Lamoureux of the Association des médecins spécialistes en médecine nucléaire du Québec has described the minister's handling of this crisis as disastrous. In spite of this, the Prime Minister persists in defending the indefensible.

Will he finally listen to reason and fire his minister in order to start again on a more solid footing?