House of Commons Hansard #50 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was forces.

Topics

National Defence—Main Estimates, 2010-11
Business of Supply
Government Orders

May 27th, 2010 / 9:10 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Chair, it is a real honour to be the member of Parliament for Newmarket—Aurora. Aurora is the home of one of Canada's oldest military organizations, the Queen's York Rangers.

The brave men and women of the Canadian Forces put themselves on the line every day to protect Canadians and their interests. We know all too well that the vital work carried out by our sailors, soldiers, airmen and airwomen is often very dangerous. Many times when we send members of the Canadian Forces into harm's way, they do not always come back unscathed.

The history of this issue has been long and difficult. During the 1990s, cuts to the Canadian Forces budget left many soldiers neglected and without care. As well, taboos surrounding the topic of mental health existed strongly, even only 10 years ago. However, we have clearly made strides.

The effects of trauma on the human mind are well documented and can be traced to such injuries as anxiety, major depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and even death. Yet despite the severity of these injuries, the stigma of mental illness is sometimes so strong that Canadian Forces members, like many Canadians, are often unwilling to admit that they are injured. This has increasingly led to unfortunate effects on members' lives. We owe it to our military personnel to ensure they get the care and support they need.

The government has done a great deal to improve the quality of care and support our men and women in uniform--

National Defence—Main Estimates, 2010-11
Business of Supply
Government Orders

9:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Andrew Scheer

I will have to stop the member there because the minister has to have a chance to respond. The hon. minister.

National Defence—Main Estimates, 2010-11
Business of Supply
Government Orders

9:10 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Chair, I wish to thank the member for Newmarket—Aurora and I share her pride in the local regiment.

We have outlined a number of the important investments that we have made with respect to mental health care providers. We have committed to double the number available through the joint personnel support units. We have talked about some of the programs that exist in terms of the difference made by the leadership of General Natynczyk and others who are spending a great deal of time dealing with the practical problems that are faced, but as well dealing with such things as the stigma that has to be overcome. Bringing all of those efforts together will certainly make a difference for those men and women.

There are specific pieces of equipment that we have purchased as well. In particular, I would reference the important investment that was made at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital as well as the hospital here in Ottawa to purchase the computer assisted rehabilitation environment system, known as the CAREN system. This $1.5 million investment was championed by the member for Edmonton Centre. It has--

National Defence—Main Estimates, 2010-11
Business of Supply
Government Orders

9:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Andrew Scheer

I have to stop the minister there. The hon. member for Barrie has about a minute and a half.

National Defence—Main Estimates, 2010-11
Business of Supply
Government Orders

9:10 p.m.

Conservative

Patrick Brown Barrie, ON

Mr. Chair, I will try to speak very quickly. I thank the member for Westlock—St. Paul, who is well known for his dedication to the Canadian Forces.

The government has done a great deal to improve the quality of care and support for our men and women in uniform, including the new mental health facilities at CFB Esquimalt and a series of new integrated personnel support centres, including the one recently opened here in Ottawa.

I also understand about the innovative partnership with Alberta Health Services, which the Minister of National Defence touched upon, to buy a new state of the art virtual reality rehabilitation system for the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton. I realize the minister was cut off, so maybe he could have an opportunity to expand on how this new project will benefit the Canadian Forces.

National Defence—Main Estimates, 2010-11
Business of Supply
Government Orders

9:10 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Mr. Chair, the member for Barrie and the previous speaker, as well as the member for Westlock—St. Paul have a real passion. The member from Edmonton as well offered great support in bringing about this important investment in this cutting-edge equipment that is used to help rehabilitate and reorient members who may be suffering as a result of their service.

The Canadian Forces health services are collaborating with the Alberta Health Service on this important issue, as is happening here in Ottawa as well. There is also an international component. We are working with the Netherlands and Israel to ensure that we have the right computer generated programs that are used in this CAREN system. We are pleased to provide the Canadian military personnel with access to this new technology that has tremendous application. The system will enhance rehabilitation treatment for a wide range of patients, including amputees, those with spinal cord injuries and those suffering from PTSD.

National Defence—Main Estimates, 2010-11
Business of Supply
Government Orders

9:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Chair, I will be sharing my time with the member for Brossard—La Prairie, and I intend to ask the minister questions.

First of all, I want to make something clear. The Liberal Party of Canada and I, as the member for Hull—Aylmer, have a great deal of respect and love, if I can put it that way, for the members of our armed forces. I am very happy to see that Mr. Natynczyk and military experts are here with the minister and his parliamentary secretary this evening.

In answer to a question from my colleague from Vancouver South about Canada's mission in Afghanistan after 2011, the minister said that the short answer was “to be determined”. That is unacceptable.

And I do not want to hear him say that they will respect the 2008 motion.

Contrary to what he says, it is not clear to me. So I am going to ask him the question, and I expect a straight answer. Will there be Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan to help train Afghan military personnel after 2011?

National Defence—Main Estimates, 2010-11
Business of Supply
Government Orders

9:15 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Mr. Chair, we have been clear. I have been clear every time. I have been clear tonight. I have been clear on hundreds of answers I have given to this question. We will respect the motion put forward in this Parliament that will see the Canadian Forces finish the mission in 2011, end combat in July 2011 and the mission itself will be complete in December 2011.

National Defence—Main Estimates, 2010-11
Business of Supply
Government Orders

9:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Chair, I wanted a very clear answer and that has not been clear in this sense. Will there be military personnel left in Afghanistan after 2011 to train military Afghan personnel, yes, or no?

National Defence—Main Estimates, 2010-11
Business of Supply
Government Orders

9:15 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

We have been clear, Mr. Chair. I do not know what part of clear the hon. member does not understand. We will respect the mission. We have trainers there now. We have a full range mission taking place in Afghanistan from combat, to reconstruction and development. We are working with a number of other departments from foreign affairs to CIDA. With respect to the mission, as defined in the parliamentary motion, and I invite the member to take the time to read it again so that he does have it clear, we will respect the motion.

National Defence—Main Estimates, 2010-11
Business of Supply
Government Orders

9:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Chair, I would like to point out that we have not yet got a clear response, as he said.

The minister is aware that his government was very generous in its promises concerning the Quebec City armoury, but it has yet to do anything on the ground. The minister responsible for the Quebec City region even said that the work could begin in the fall of 2009, but we still do not know the Conservatives' plan.

Why is the government still giving us platitudes instead of giving us the numbers?

National Defence—Main Estimates, 2010-11
Business of Supply
Government Orders

9:15 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Mr. Chair, I would invite the hon. member to stay tuned, but I do want to come back to clarity. Just because the hon. member does not get it, or chooses not to get it, or calls it unclear, let me be clear. We will respect the motion with respect to the military mission in Afghanistan. That is crystal clear, as have been the Prime Minister, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence and those on this side of the House.

I would encourage the hon. member to spend time with his leader. If his leader or members of his party want to talk about the parliamentary motion, there is a perfect forum to do so. It is called the Afghanistan committee. We have repeatedly tried to have members from his party and members of the opposition engage in a discussion about the future of the mission and they have blocked—

National Defence—Main Estimates, 2010-11
Business of Supply
Government Orders

9:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Hull—Aylmer.

National Defence—Main Estimates, 2010-11
Business of Supply
Government Orders

9:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Chair, I will speak more simply. Can the minister inform us about the government's plans for the reconstruction of the Quebec City armoury? It cannot be any simpler than that, and it is my turn to say that I cannot be more clear.

National Defence—Main Estimates, 2010-11
Business of Supply
Government Orders

9:20 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Mr. Chair, to clarify, we have made a lot of progress. We have committed $2 million and we have made a plan for the future reconstruction of the armoury.

I would ask the member to hold on to his hat as there is more coming. In fact, the minister from Quebec for that region will have more to say in the coming days. I am not going to pre-empt that. However, I can assure everyone, as the Prime Minister has in this very chamber, we are committed to seeing that this historic armoury, which was built in 1884 I believe and has housed the Voltigeurs, the most senior French-speaking infantry unit in the country, is respected and that the building is restored.