House of Commons Hansard #82 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was children.

Topics

Foreign Affairs
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from November 24, 2011, consideration of the motion.

Multiple Sclerosis
Private Members' Business

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to Motion No. 274, which essentially calls for information. Quite unbelievably, this information will not even begin to be collected until September 2012. That is 33 months since Canadians began travelling offshore for treatment. Even more unbelievably, this information will not be available for several more years. This is unconscionable, given that thousands of Canadians have already travelled for CCSVI treatments.

The motion also calls for the concerns and views of patients to be well-represented and heard. It is in fact essential that the views of patients are heard. That is why my bill, Bill C-280, calls for an advisory panel of medical experts in CCSVI, with an individual who has been treated for CCSVI to, among other things, advise the Minister of Health. My bill calls for real representation.

The reality is the government failed to hear world leading CCSVI experts and failed to hear Canadians living with MS. During this time, 800 Canadians died of MS and MS patients worsened on average by one EDSS, or disability score. It is unconscionable. Simply calling for being heard is grossly inadequate.

The questions members of Parliament must think about regarding Motion No. 274 are the following. Does this motion further advance the science of CCSVI? Does this motion do anything to ensure that proper health care is not refused to a person following treatment for CCSVI? Does this motion ensure that the Minister of Health works with the provinces and territories to ensure a comprehensive strategy for CCSVI? The answer to all these questions is no. The reality of the motion is it does nothing for patients and maintains the status quo.

In January 2012, 13 CCSVI advocacy groups, representing over 14,000 members, wrote to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health and copied all members of Parliament, saying that Motion No. 274 “does nothing for science or for Canadians with MS and we oppose it”.

Those living with MS understand how the government has played politics with their lives. They understand that on May 2010, my colleague, the member of Parliament for St. Paul's and I were ignored when we wrote an open letter to the health minister asking for clinical trials for CCSVI and a registry. They understand that Dr. Zamboni, Dr. Simka and Dr. McDonald, the leading experts in the world on CCSVI, were ignored when they asked for clinical trials at the neurological subcommittee I founded.

Those living with MS understand that a top ranking CIHR official denied a registry in 2010 because it was outside the mandate. They understand that a top ranking CIHR official should have known what diagnosis and treatment was being undertaken in Poland in 2010, but did not because he had not done his homework, sadly, to the detriment of patients. They understand that the government failed to invite the leading international experts in CCSVI to the August 26, 2010, meeting. They understand that those who publicly criticized the validity of CCSVI were, however, allowed to participate in meetings, despite their bias. They understand that the government convened an expert group with no experts in the imaging and treatment of CCSVI and that the government failed to attend international scientific conferences, failed to undertake site visits to labs and operating theatres and blindly accepted a handful of studies.

Those living with MS understand that it was a cursory review at best by top researchers and that the government failed to review a large body of research, extending back to 1839. They understand that by the time of the August meeting, eight provinces and territories were pushing for action on CCSVI. Yet behind closed doors at the meeting there was a unanimous decision not to undertake clinical trials, despite the fact that both the presidents of the CIHR and MS Society were present and had previously been open to them and advocated for them respectively.

For over a year the process failed Canadians with MS and failed to meet the standards of the Canadian health system. It put in place a scientific expert working group with no scientific expertise or experience in CCSVI, which did not even declare conflict of interest until I pushed for it, which did not even undertake a comprehensive literature review until I pushed for it, and which analyzed interim and final results from seven studies funded by Canadian and U.S. MS societies for which we already had answers.

Finally in March 2011, 10 months after our initial request, the government reversed its position and announced a registry for MS. Collection of data will begin 33 months after Canadians began travelling overseas for treatment. Since when do scientists fail to collect data? As one Canadian neurologist who had the CCSVI procedure said to me, “If we had collected the evidence in a registry for the last many months, would we still be calling these anecdotal stories?”

Until November 25, 2011, all we had was announcements for clinical trials and a registry. Canadians with MS across this country understand the brutal, cynical politics of that week. They understand that M-274 was moved up to be debated before my Bill C-280. They understand that the motion does nothing for patients and keeps the status quo. They also understand, and are deeply offended by, the government's announcement for phase I and II trials to pre-empt this bill. They understand that it will take roughly three years to proceed with a phase III trial or a multi-centre trial with large patient groups.

In stark contrast to Motion No. 274, which maintains the status quo, my bill would call for action and accountability. It would call on the Minister of Health to convene a conference with the provincial and territorial ministers responsible for health for the purpose of establishing a national strategy for CCSVI. The national strategy would ensure that proper health care is not refused to a person following treatment, identify the most appropriate level of clinical trials for the treatment of CCSVI to place Canada at the forefront of international research, and estimate the funding necessary for clinical trials and for tracking individuals who have been treated for CCSVI. It would establish an advisory panel of experts in diagnosis and treatment.

Finally, politics continues to be played with MS patients' lives. I had my Bill C-280 moved up to be debated before Motion No. 274, as it should have been if the government had not pushed through Motion No. 274 before my bill was read in the fall.

Because the 13 advocacy groups were so afraid the government would once again play politics, they wrote to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Health and issued a press release saying that if the government moved Motion No. 274 ahead of Bill C-280, it would be playing politics with their lives.

I then invited all MPs and senators from all parties to attend a breakfast on February 14 with leading doctors treating CCSVI. I did this because this is a non-partisan issue; it is a humanitarian issue.

Those living with MS waited on tenterhooks to see what politics would be played next. The answer came on Friday, February 10 at 3:23 p.m., following the airing of theMS Wars: Hope, Science and the Internet documentary on David Suzuki's The Nature of Things.

That fair and balanced documentary included an interview with Dr. Gianfranco Campalani, a vascular surgeon who has seen marked improvements in his MS symptoms since his CCSVI treatment in 2007. He considered it unethical for doctors to deny treatment to those with CCSVI. The day after the program aired, the Minister of Health announced a briefing on MS on February 13 at 5:30 p.m. to pre-empt my breakfast on February 14 by a mere 14 hours.

Those living with MS and their families understand that this debate was never based on the science, as it should have been, but rather wilful blindness, medical politics and collusion with special interest groups. As a scientist and professor of health studies, I treated the issue as I would any scientific question. I went to the experts. I went to seven of nine international conferences and presented at three. I learned the science. Why did the government not?

I therefore beseech all MPs to do the right thing, to vote for action. MS patients say that we know what the right thing is. Let us do the right thing. Canadians with MS are waiting, getting sicker and in some cases dying.

Multiple Sclerosis
Private Members' Business

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Djaouida Sellah Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise again in this House to address an issue that affects many people. I want to thank the hon. member for Vegreville—Wainwright for his motion. The motion essentially proposes that more information be provided to MS patients, both on the disease and on the treatments. As we know, these include the treatment for chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, or CCSVI, which has been making headlines in recent years.

As a doctor, I must admit that I am both intrigued with and skeptical of Dr. Zamboni's theory regarding CCSVI. I am intrigued because he seems to have achieved results and because, if his research turns out to be valid, it will be a major advance in medical research. However, I am skeptical not only because the research is not complete, but also because it is not the first time that a miracle cure for multiple sclerosis has been announced. I have in mind the 1988 announcement by a French physician, Dr. Le Gac, that the disease could be cured with high doses of antibiotics because it was caused by a virus.

It is my wish that the treatment will be available as soon as possible for all those who need it and that it will be proven effective. Patients and those close to them are putting a lot of hope into the procedure. They want to get well, and I can understand that. However, as a health care professional, I find it difficult to have someone undergo a procedure if a positive outcome has not been demonstrated and if the patient does not have all the information required to make an informed decision. I hope that the matter is cleared up as soon as possible.

The invitation to tender for clinical trials has finally been issued by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. However, the minister had announced in June of last year that these trials would take place. Once again, they will not begin before May 2012, and the call for tenders provides that these trials will be conducted over a period of at least three years. This is a very long time for a person who is confined to a wheelchair and who thinks a cure is possible. I just wonder about the time that will have elapsed between Dr. Zamboni's announcement and the beginning of the clinical trials. This is a terribly long wait. The clinical trials that were announced are good news, but they come late for MS patients.

Living with MS is not easy. The symptoms are often unpredictable. When someone is suffering from a cyclical type of multiple sclerosis, which means about 85% of patients in Canada, that person is asymptomatic until there is a flare-up. Afterwards, the person either recovers completely or has lasting effects. When a person suffers from the progressive form of the disease, MS is synonymous with a slow loss of autonomy, without any hope of improvement.

What is dramatic is that the people who are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis are in their prime. They are usually between 15 and 40. So, these are young people who are active in the labour force and have a family, or people who are dreaming of changing the world and making a contribution to our society. Learning that our body is an obstacle to achieving our goals is a hard reality to accept.

In Saint-Hubert, there is the Association sclérose en plaques Rive-Sud. This organization, which could see its funding eliminated by the United Way of Greater Montreal, provides support to patients and to those close to them, so that they can learn to live with multiple sclerosis. The association has been providing these services since 1976.

The Association sclérose en plaques Rive-Sud supports people with multiple sclerosis and their families as they learn to live with and cope with the illness. The association responds to the needs of both the individual and the family, in person or by telephone, and helps to break down the isolation of people with MS by offering activities like coffee meetings, speakers and community dinners.

Living with multiple sclerosis is very difficult, and I want to congratulate them on the work they do, both employees and volunteers, and of course their board of directors. I would like to thank them for the work they do in our community and for supporting the cause of multiple sclerosis.

Like some of my colleagues, I had the pleasure of meeting some extraordinary people who suffer from multiple sclerosis last October. They came to meet with me on behalf of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. Personally, I had the pleasure of meeting with Denis Baribeau and Hana Salaheddine, who live in Trois-Rivières and Montreal, respectively. I was impressed by their will to live and by how active they are.

Denis and Hana made some recommendations that I think are important and useful. One of them is to amend the employment insurance system to make it possible to receive partial benefits. At present, 80% of people with MS are ultimately no longer able to work. As well, some people with MS have to be absent from work for treatment or when they have flare-ups. More flexible employment insurance benefits would be of enormous help to them.

They also proposed that more support be provided for family caregivers, in particular by making the tax credit for caregivers refundable, which is not the case at present, and implementing a national strategy for family caregivers. This is an avenue that should be explored, in my opinion.

It is important to provide support for people with multiple sclerosis. The illness is difficult enough, without even counting the financial complications, employment and mobility. We also need to provide the most accurate and detailed information possible about the treatments available. And we have to provide them with the best available treatments as soon as possible. I know the CCSVI phase I and II clinical trials should be starting soon, but we have to expedite the trials as much as possible so that people with MS and their families can know where they stand.

Multiple Sclerosis
Private Members' Business

5:35 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for her well-thought out speech and her position on this motion.

This is obviously a very contentious and emotional issue for a lot of people. We are here tonight to talk about Motion No. 274. I would encourage MS sufferers and their families to get involved in this debate, to get involved in the gathering of the information, to make sure they are out in the public telling their stories and that they are lobbying governments so their issues are treated very seriously.

My colleague across the way talked about the need for urgency and acceleration. We certainly believe that things need to be done as quickly as possible and at the same time safely in order to deal with these issues.

I am here tonight to speak in support of Motion No. 274.

I want to recognize a young lady in my riding who has been very courageous in this fight that has gone on in the last few years.

Her name is Michelle Walsh. She lives on a ranch in Beechy, Saskatchewan. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1991 when she was only 18 years old. She now has secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. She found herself in a situation where she was bedridden before she underwent this therapy in Bulgaria in July 2010 and then in California the following January. She has been a very outspoken supporter and advocate of CCSVI in Canada. She is one of the ladies who has kept my office very informed about the meetings and the new information regarding MS. I just want to recognize her and her persistence and the work and time that she has put into this issue.

I want to thank my colleague from Vegreville—Wainwright for moving this important motion. It is focused on providing information to Canadians living with multiple sclerosis.

MS patients, their families and caregivers must be able to make informed decisions about the management and treatment of this disease.

MS is a devastating disease that impacts many Canadians, yet it is one that we are still trying to understand. Access to timely and accurate information is critical. Getting that information to MS patients, their families and caregivers requires effective collaboration by many different partners.

The provinces and territories are responsible for health care delivery. Scientific experts carry out the research and make new discoveries. Health care professional associations and national voluntary organizations such as the MS Society provide support and resources and so much more. The federal government also plays an important role in funding research and in helping to ensure that Canadians are informed and that all partners are on the same page for the benefit of MS patients nationwide.

I am proud to say that the Government of Canada has already launched important initiatives that support the motion before us. I will expand on these initiatives shortly, but first I will take a few moments to highlight why this is an important issue.

MS is a disabling chronic disease of the central nervous system. The effects of it are significant. It affects vision, hearing, memory, balance, mobility. It remains unknown what exactly causes MS to happen. It is commonly thought that environmental, viral and genetic factors may be involved in triggering MS.

Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world. As many as 75,000 Canadians are currently living with this disease. Every year millions of Canadians are affected by MS personally, through a family member, a friend or a neighbour. As my colleague pointed out, MS usually strikes young adults, with women three times more likely to be diagnosed than men.

Anyone close to a person with MS knows how difficult it can be to live with this condition. MS patients and their families show tremendous courage in the face of such an illness.

There is no known cure for MS at this time, but we do know there are treatments that can help slow down the progression of the disease, control symptoms and help maintain quality of life. We know that good information and support are essential for people living with MS.

Advances in science, new studies and new treatments offer hope for patients. Obviously the most public and controversial issue is also referred to in this motion, and that is CCSVI.

As members may know, in 2009, Dr. Paolo Zamboni proposed that vein blockage, a condition he labelled chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, or CCSVI, could be the cause of MS. He suggested that opening up the blocked veins in the necks of MS patients would relieve those symptoms. The liberation treatment, the Zamboni procedure, the CCSVI procedure are all terms used in the media to describe this medical procedure.

His procedure has had mixed results. Experts tell us that more research needs to be done on the safety and effectiveness of the Zamboni procedure, as well as to find out whether blocked veins are linked to MS at all.

This motion tries to bring together the information on this and other treatments and opinions in one place.

For people living with this crippling disease, new emerging information can be both confusing and exciting. Information about the Zamboni procedure is important to Canadians living with MS. This is in part why the motion is timely and significant.

Patients and their caregivers need to have the best information available. They need to understand what is known and what questions still need to be answered through scientific research. They need to know that their governments, MS organizations, researchers and doctors are working together to shed the most amount of light possible on treatment options. They need to be able to take comfort and security in the knowledge that they are not making decisions alone, that they are doing so with the best available evidence and information.

In collaboration with its many partners, the federal government is already helping Canadians living with MS to get that information through two key initiatives. First, the federal government is supporting the development of the Canadian MS monitoring system. Second, it has launched a clinical trial on the safety and efficacy of the CCSVI procedure. Both of these initiatives align with Motion No. 274.

I will speak first about the monitoring system. This system will help make available good information on the treatment of Canadians living with MS.

Canada's premier health information organization, the Canadian Institute for Health Information, is leading the monitoring system development in collaboration with the provinces and the territories, the Canadian Network of MS Clinics and the MS Society of Canada.

Some provinces have already moved on some of these issues. In mid-January the Government of Saskatchewan under Premier Brad Wall announced plans to spend over $2 million to cover costs for patients selected to participate in a two year clinical trial in Albany, New York. British Columbia has set up a B.C. CCSVI registry in the province. It is operated by the MS clinic at UBC Hospital at Vancouver Coastal Health. Alberta has set up what is called the Alberta Multiple Sclerosis Initiative, or TAMSI, in order to gather evidence to improve the understanding of CCSVI. Provinces are already beginning to move, and nationwide we are moving as well.

The goal is to measure and monitor the evolution and treatment of MS in Canada, including patients who have undergone CCSVI. Over the long term, this system will monitor patients' outcomes and help identify the most effective therapies in the treatment of MS. It will give Canadians living with MS, health care professionals, researchers and policy-makers better access to information on disease patterns and the use of treatments across Canada.

Specifically, CIHI is working with partners to put in place a national system that will collect patients' clinical and demographic information from participating MS clinics, including information on the CCSVI procedure. The monitoring system will operate according to CIHI's stringent privacy protection policies. Participation is voluntary. Information from this system will be available to patients through regular reports.

For the first time Canada will have a truly national source of data on MS that will support those living with MS as they work with their doctors to consider management and treatment options.

As the only voluntary organization in Canada that supports both MS research and services for people with MS and their families, the MS Society will play an important role in bringing patients' views to the table.

The other key federal initiative that will provide information on MS is a national clinical trial on the CCSVI procedure. There have been, and I think we all acknowledge this, mixed results from this process. The number of complications reported by Canadian MS patients who have undergone the CCSVI procedure abroad reinforces the importance of further research on this procedure. The procedure is not a simple one. We must ensure that it is safe and that it does and can work.

For this reason the federal government asked the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to put the clinical trial in place. The launch of a national clinical trial was based on scientific evidence and recommendation from CIHR's scientific expert working group on CCSVI, made up of domestic and international MS experts. The clinical trial is looking at the scientific evidence on the safety and efficacy of the CCSVI procedure. To this end, CIHR is putting the necessary measures in place to advance the clinical trial.

A competitive and rigorous peer review process to select the research team will be completed by the end of March 2012. There is a sense of urgency but we want to make sure that we protect Canadians as we move ahead.

Provinces and territories, along with U.S. and Canadian MS societies, have shown interest in conducting this important research.

The results of the clinical trial will provide information concerning the risks and benefits of CCSVI.

It will also provide Canadians, health professionals, caregivers and patients living with MS with new research evidence to better understand the condition, including this treatment option as well as other possible treatments.

Like many diseases, we cannot prevent MS and we do not yet know what causes it. Yet a significant percentage of Canadians must cope with its unpredictable, lifelong impact.

Canadians need to know there is help available for them to make informed decisions. That is the spirit of the motion. Consistent with Motion No. 274, both initiatives I have discussed are helping to fill information gaps related to multiple sclerosis.

Multiple Sclerosis
Private Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, I am very honoured to stand in support of Motion No. 274 to enable multiple sclerosis patients and their families to have access to information to make informed decisions. I want to thank the member for Vegreville—Wainwright for bringing forward this very important issue.

The reason I am in support of the motion and eager to speak to it tonight is that in Burlington, my home is located on a small block with maybe 25 or 30 houses, and three women on the block have MS. It is vitally important that we make sure we have the appropriate information for them on all the treatments, particularly the Zamboni treatment that has been well promoted over the last number of years, so that they can make the right decisions based on the actual science that is available. That is what this motion is talking about and that is what this government is doing.

The motion asks that we ensure that Canadians living with MS, along with their families and caregivers, have access to the information they need to make informed decisions in the management of their condition. I would like to thank the member for bringing this motion forward. MS touches the lives of friends and family of each and every one of us and we need to move on this issue.

MS is a neurological disease that can affect vision, hearing, memory, balance and mobility. Unfortunately, there is no known cure. The current treatment is geared toward managing symptoms and slowing down the progression of the disease.

An estimated 55,000 to 75,000 Canadians currently live with MS. Women are more than three times likely to develop the disease. Canada is faced with one of the highest rates of MS in the world. By understanding more about the disease, its progression and the use of treatments in Canada, we can more effectively plan care and identify best practices for MS treatment.

Many members have heard about the chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, CCSVI, procedure, which is more commonly known as the Zamboni procedure. It is named after the Italian surgeon who proposed that blocked veins in the neck may cause MS. The procedure is a surgical technique to open those blocked veins with the objective of relieving MS symptoms. It is not a cure, but the objective is to relieve the symptoms.

It has raised significant interest from MS patients and patient associations, but it has also raised calls for better understanding of the safety and efficacy through scientific research. Through information sharing and research, our knowledge and understanding of MS, its progression and possible treatments can evolve.

Good information is essential when weighing the benefits and risks of treatment options. Patients, through discussions with their physicians and their families, must have the ability to make informed decisions on the management of their condition. However, information is still missing. There is much we do not know about this procedure and so much we could collectively share and learn by taking advantage of the information that currently is collected in MS clinics and creating a nationwide resource.

Motion No. 274 encourages governments, patient groups and medical associations to address these gaps. The motion before us today supports the need for Canadians living with MS, along with their families and caregivers, to have access to up-to-date information necessary to make informed decisions in the management of their condition.

I am pleased to say that working with our partners, the Government of Canada has announced two key national initiatives that will help Canadians get the information they need about MS and its treatment: the Canadian MS monitoring system and the clinical trial on the CCSVI procedure. Both are addressed in the motion before the House and both will arm MS patients with the information they need about the issues of utmost importance to them: their care and treatment.

Today I would like to take the opportunity to discuss in detail the new initiative, the Canadian MS monitoring system, which is being driven by a strong collaborative effort. The goals of the monitoring system are consistent with Motion No. 274, to obtain better information about MS in Canada, including those who have undergone the CCSVI procedure.

With support from the Government of Canada, the Canadian Institute for Health Information, or CIHI, is developing the system. CIHI is working in close collaboration with the Canadian Network of MS Clinics, the MS Society of Canada and provincial and territorial governments. This unique collaboration is bringing together political and technical experts from across Canada, as well as patient input for the benefit of those coping with this disease.

CIHI is an independent, not for profit corporation that provides essential and relevant information on Canada's health system and the health of Canadians. The Canadian Network of MS Clinics was established about a decade ago by health professionals to advance collaboration and information sharing on MS across the country. We are fortunate in Canada to have such dedicated and highly trained doctors and nurses working together to support people living with MS and to help them achieve the maximum quality of life possible.

The MS Society of Canada is also a key partner in this initiative as it is the only national voluntary organization in Canada that supports both MS research and services for patients and families. The MS Society is focusing on the priorities and interests of patients and the development of the system and will ensure that the information that is collected is shared with patients, families and their caregivers. The provinces and territories are also engaged in working with the federal government in developing the system and participating in its design.

The vision driving this collaboration is of a longitudinal, observational monitoring system for all of Canada. By working in partnership, we are building on the strength of multiple perspectives in developing this comprehensive national information system with the best interests of patients top of mind.

Consistent with Motion No. 274, advisory and technical committees have been established to guide the development of the system. Through these committees, provinces and territories, as well as people living with MS, provide valuable input and advice on the development of the system. This ensures its relevance to the needs of those who are intended to benefit from its use.

Overall, the system will collect clinical, demographic and health status information of patients from participating in MS clinics on a voluntary basis. It will operate according to stringent privacy protection policies.

Why is this important to patients? To begin with, we do not have the adequate pan-Canadian information on MS rates. We do not have any coherent way of sharing how patients cope with their disabilities, what works and what does not work for their quality of life. More important, we are not taking full advantage of what is being learned in MS clinics across the country about the care and treatment for MS.

This system helps fill the gaps. It will also collect information on patients who have undergone the CCSVI procedure abroad.

This information will help us to better understand trends in MS and the use of treatments, support the delivery of care, monitor patient outcomes over the long term and identify future needs and resources. As a national data centre, the monitoring system will offer a broader view of MS in Canada.

This motion is very important in terms of gathering the information and using information that exists but is not attached to anything so that we are able to give proper information to patients, caregivers and families. MS is important, not only on my street but in my community. I have been active with the MS Society of Canada for a number of years. April 22 is the walk for MS in my community which raises a little over $86,000 every year. I am the MC for the day at the event.

I encourage everyone watching today to get involved with the MS Society, help those in need, join in the walk and do whatever they can to improve people's quality of life. The MS Society does great work in this country. The Canadian Institutes for Health Research is doing great work in this area. I want everyone to get behind this cause. I thank the member for moving the motion.

Multiple Sclerosis
Private Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have this last five minutes of the second hour of debate to make a few closing comments.

My motion is meant to ensure that patients suffering with multiple sclerosis, their families and caregivers have access to good information to help them make the decision on the management of their condition.

I want to be clear that the motion is meant to fill a desperate need for information over the next few months and couple of years until the process that is being gone through now by Health Canada and others is complete. It is also meant to bring attention to the issue so that the process that is taking place now is sped up so that we can lessen the burden of cost and effort on MS patients and others who now travel outside of Canada because they cannot have the liberation therapy procedure completed in Canada.

Motion M-274 would establish an information portal that allows MS sufferers who are considering undergoing liberation therapy treatment outside of Canada to gain anecdotal information from patients who have already had this procedure done. This would allow people who have had the treatment to provide information about the process and the results in various clinics outside of Canada, because the procedure is not available in Canada.

I have had many meetings with constituents throughout my riding of Vegreville—Wainwright, individuals across the country, groups in my constituency, various other players in this whole process, as well as the Minister of Health, representatives from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, doctors researching MS, doctors who work with MS patients, representatives of the MS Society and many others. I certainly learned a lot about this terrible disease and about this procedure, which really does offer hope.

From these discussions, it has been clear that the CCSVI treatment does work for some people and that it offers hope for many more people. I also want to say that our Conservative government has implemented a comprehensive strategy that is being applied on an accelerated timeline to determine the potential of this procedure.

Our government remains committed to working on clinical trials in Canada and continues to operate at an unprecedented rate in studying the liberation therapy treatment. An action plan was developed in 2010 in order to pinpoint areas for federal action and to ensure questions and concerns raised by Canadian MS patients are addressed. This strategy includes three main actions carried out over the course of the past year and a half: first, supporting research led by CIHR; second, developing a Canadian MS monitoring system; and third, facilitating and sharing research evidence to ensure that individuals living with MS have access to up-to-date information.

What else can we do? First, as members of Parliament, we should be encouraging constituents with MS to participate in the studies on liberation therapy treatment, such as the B.C. CCSVI registry and the Alberta multiple sclerosis initiative. If more patients participate in these programs, it may provide better treatment for patients with MS in the future. This could help provide a stop-gap benefit and the information gleaned could help speed up the approval process at the same time.

Second, it seems very unfortunate that the CCSVI treatment, the treatment using angioplasty or venoplasty to open the veins, or stents in some cases, has actually been attached only to MS because that process is used to open veins for other conditions as well. I believe having it attached to MS has actually slowed the whole process down. It is unfortunate that was not realized before but maybe things still can be sped up if that connection is removed.

Third, we can encourage the College of Physicians and Surgeons to take another look at this procedure to be absolutely certain that this long drawn out process cannot be sped up. I encourage it to have another look at that.

I thank all of my colleagues for speaking to this motion. I want my constituents to know that I will not stop here.

Multiple Sclerosis
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Multiple Sclerosis
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Multiple Sclerosis
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Multiple Sclerosis
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Multiple Sclerosis
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

All those opposed will please say nay.

Multiple Sclerosis
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Multiple Sclerosis
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Multiple Sclerosis
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Pursuant to Standing Order 93 a recorded division on the motion stands deferred until Wednesday, February 29, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

Pursuant to Standing Order 37 the House will now proceed to consideration of Bill C-350 under private members' business.