House of Commons Hansard #162 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was omnibus.

Topics

Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the NDP agrees to apply the vote and will vote yes.

Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals agree to apply the vote and will be voting no.

Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is in favour.

Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Independent

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be voting yes.

Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Green Party will be voting no.

Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Independent

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be voting yes.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #476

Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

It being 6:19 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Patent Act
Private Members’ Business

October 16th, 2012 / 6:20 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

moved that Bill C-398, An Act to amend the Patent Act (drugs for international humanitarian purposes), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is a somewhat emotional moment for me to see debate begin this evening on Bill C-398, the purpose of which is to reform Canada’s access to medicines regime. Essentially, this bill could save hundreds of thousands of lives. I am therefore really very honoured.

This is not the first time that the House has had the opportunity to discuss a bill of this type, that is, a bill relating to Canada’s access to medicines regime. It may therefore be worthwhile to review the history of that regime. In 2004, the House of Commons unanimously adopted Canada’s access to medicines regime, in response to World Trade Organization decisions designed to ensure that patent legislation did not prevent the developed countries from doing their basic humanitarian duty and providing medicines to people in the most disadvantaged countries, who are in desperate need of them.

Unfortunately, in the years that followed, we realized that the system approved in 2004 was not working, because there were all sorts of obstacles and problems with its basic model.

In fact, during the first attempt at using CAMR, Canada's access to medicines regime, people rapidly realized that there were too many roadblocks that were not foreseen when the original law was drafted. There was basically too much red tape preventing it from functioning.

And so it was decided that something had to be done to make sure that Canada’s access to medicines regime did what it was meant to do. Accordingly, in 2009, the first bill to reform Canada’s access to medicines regime was introduced. It is important to note that the bill had widespread support at the time.

Tens of thousands of citizens signed a petition supporting the bill. A poll revealed that 80% of Canadians approved of the bill. Civil society rose to the challenge and numerous organizations, some of which are here this evening, started speaking out and working very hard in support of the bill. Finally, MPs from all parties united in the House of Commons to approve the bill. Unfortunately, it died on the order paper.

As my mother would have said: “Measure twice, cut once.” That is why we have to get back to work on this today and put this bill back on the agenda. We have to do it because this is a necessary bill, one that so many people are hoping for.

In the last few months I have met numerous actors. I have talked to loads of people concerned with this issue. I have met with brand name and generic pharmaceutical companies. I have met with citizens; with civil society organizations; with people active in the field, working in Africa, for example; and with MPs and senators. I can say that I am really confident that together we can achieve this. We can reform CAMR and make it work.

The essential point is that reforming Canada’s access to medicines regime is a win-win situation. The pharmaceutical companies win, of course. They gain access to new markets—markets, it is important to note, that are of little or negligible importance to the biggest pharmaceutical companies. Africa, for example, represents only 2% of the big pharmaceutical companies’ sales. This is a win for generic drug companies.

The big pharmaceutical companies also win because they are making a social contribution. That is important. I know it is important to them and they are committed to this. They lose very little, because we are talking about markets that hold little value for them, as I said, and they receive royalties.

Canadian taxpayers also win. They win, first, because the bill will not cost them a single penny. As someone said, the only cost associated with the bill is the electricity for evenings when we sit like this and discuss the bill. However, they win at an even more basic level, because this bill will mean that more can be done with our very limited development assistance resources.

As has been said, it is very simple: the generic drug companies will allow medicines to be supplied that will be cheaper, much cheaper, because the competition the generic companies engage in, in the markets, is the biggest factor in reducing the cost of medicines; in fact, this factor can reduce costs by up to 95%. That amounts to an enormous figure. So we can do a lot more with the same amount of money, and this in turn will make our co-operation much more effective.

I have lived in Africa. I have seen the effect these diseases have on people. We are talking about AIDS, but also about tuberculosis and malaria. Those diseases do not just destroy lives; they destroy families and communities. They are often the main factor holding back development in these countries. If we want the money we invest in international aid to be effective, it is absolutely essential that we use this tool to help combat these public health crises.

The pharmaceutical companies and Canadian taxpayers win, but ultimately, and most importantly, let us not forget that people in the developing countries win, human beings who are in desperate need of these medicines.

We must remember that sub-Saharan Africa is the region most affected by the AIDS pandemic and more often than not does not have the resources to deal with it. Sub-Saharan Africa is where 90% of the children in the world who have AIDS live, and one child in two born with HIV will die before their second birthday.

We are talking about tens, hundreds of thousands of people who are waiting for this aid, people for whom it will make things enormously better.

This also highlights the fact that the functioning CAMR would contribute significantly to the government's child and maternal health initiative and would stretch our aid money by providing low-cost medicine to the people who need it most. I think it is really a win-win situation for everyone.

We can reform CAMR and make it work. If we can do it, then we should do it because it will save lives.

We can do it by working together and listening to all the Canadians who have already stood up, who have been standing up for years, to say this is the right thing to do, it is what they want their representatives to do.

In fact, on the question of the contributions by Canadians and Canadian organizations all across the country, I cannot fail to mention the extraordinary role played by so many individuals and organizations that have put all their energy into supporting this private member’s bill.

I am thinking in particular of Richard Elliott of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, and Pat Evans, Bonnie Johnson, Andrea Beal, Bev McGibbon and Norah Menzies of the Grandmothers Advocacy Network, also known as GRAN.

I am talking about Meg French and Carleen McGuinty of UNICEF.

I am talking about of Tara Fischer and Robin Jackson of the Canadian Federation of University Women.

I am talking about Anne Gardiner of Bracelet of Hope, and Pastor James Qhobela of the Apostolic Faith Mission Social Development Division of Lesotho and his wife, who I had the pleasure of meeting.

I am talking about Ariane Cartwright of Results Canada.

I also want to express special thanks to the Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale, or AQOCI, and its executive director, Gervais L'Heureux, for their support. Thanks to support like that from partners and from tens of thousands of Canadians who have stood up and called on their representatives to approve this bill, we can do it. We can reform Canada’s access to medicines regime and we can save lives, in the interests of us all.

Patent Act
Private Members’ Business

6:30 p.m.

NDP

Craig Scott Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Richard Elliott, the executive director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, who was mentioned by my hon. colleague in her speech but who is also a constituent in my riding of Toronto—Danforth, for his continuous dedication to this issue.

Richard, in a recent interview in Embassy magazine, had the following observation:

Overcoming the global gap in access to medicines requires multiple, complementary strategies. But ensuring more affordable medicines for low- and middle-income countries is a necessary part of the solution.... They need to harness the power of competition in the marketplace to make medicines affordable. This is why it's important to make the access to medicines regime work—even as it should be complemented by other efforts....

Would my colleague from Laurier—Sainte-Marie elaborate a bit further on the bill being a part of the solution but never something that we should expect to be the solution, in and of itself?

Patent Act
Private Members’ Business

6:30 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Toronto—Danforth. I absolutely agree that this is an essential part of the solution, but not the whole solution.

I was speaking just today with Pastor Qhobela. People tell him they need doctors, infrastructure and hospitals first, but he wondered what it would accomplish to have doctors and hospitals if they do not have medicines to treat the patients. He talked about meeting a nurse who had simply resigned from his position because he was discouraged. He would have liked to do things to help people, but he did not have the medicines he needed to do that.

There is another part of the solution to the problem. When people need to pay less for medicines and the price is affordable, that frees up resources for other activities that will contribute to solving the problem.

Patent Act
Private Members’ Business

6:35 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend my friend, the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, on this extraordinary initiative.

She just said—and that really intrigued me—that this frees up money for other things.

Is it reasonable to expect that the money that will be freed up by not having to buy drugs could be invested in building hospitals and hiring doctors?

Patent Act
Private Members’ Business

6:35 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us look at the global health fund, for example. There are fewer and fewer resources available to cope with the major challenges it must face.

When the global health fund is forced to invest what little it has in buying drugs, this does not leave room for other initiatives. I do not think that we can assume that the savings from drug purchases will automatically be allocated to other infrastructure. However, having access to more affordable drugs will certainly free up resources within the countries and among donors and multilateral organizations and allow them to continue working on other aspects.

Patent Act
Private Members’ Business

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like my colleague to say a few words about the difference in the quality of the drugs made in Canada and the role that this plays in the competition between drugs from Canada and drugs from other countries.