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Conservative MP for Mississauga East—Cooksville (Ontario)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 40.00% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Ebola Outbreak September 15th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, my colleague across the way and I have been working together for a few years now at the health committee. I do not know whether we will continue that work together.
However, I did provide some numbers of financial support provided by Canada to this effort to fight Ebola. If we add all those figures together, it is more than $5 million. Also, let us not forget that the experimental vaccines that were provided to this crisis did not come out of nowhere. This was developed because there were financial resources that we should add to this effort. These were the contributions of Canada. These were financial resources that were allocated to develop these experimental vaccines.
Therefore, if we add all the figures together, I do not think we are in the back of the till in international efforts. I think we are in the forefront.
Ebola Outbreak September 15th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, as I stated before, this is a problem that requires an international and coordinated effort. As we stated many times in the House, the World Health Organization is the one that is coordinating, and should be coordinating, all the efforts of the international community to deal with this terrible Ebola outbreak.
I truly hope that through research we will develop a vaccine that will prevent people from getting a disease, but where we are right now, we do not have the vaccine. It is still in clinical trials and we all hope that through coordinated efforts, through coordinated work, we will get there and will defeat this terrible disease, which is what Ebola is.
Ebola Outbreak September 15th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, as I already stated, financial support is required and Canada is taking its part and contributing to the effort.
I would mention a few numbers: $2.95 million to work sharing organizations to strengthen the full response to the outbreak; $1.7 million to support humanitarian interventions led by Doctors Without Borders to reduce and control the spread of the virus in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone; $160,000 to the International Federation of the Red Cross to support a response to the outbreak; $200,000 to the WHO through the international grants program to support a request for assistance toward operational costs in West Africa.
Therefore, there is a contribution and Canada is not on the sidelines. Canada is taking an active part in helping the affected regions to deal with the efforts, which have to involve both partners. We have to ensure that everybody contributes and eventually that we are successful in dealing with this deadly issue.
Ebola Outbreak September 15th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I spoke of the money because listening to speeches and comments from across the aisle, one would think that if we were able to raise x number of dollars the problem would be solved. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, money is needed. Financial resources are needed to contain the disease, to contain the problem, but money would not solve the problem we have. Research needs to be going on to make sure that we eventually find a treatment to prevent the disease.
I am not a medical doctor; therefore, I am not an expert in the field, but since the disease is not spread easily we have to make sure that those places where it occurs have the tools to deal with it. Improper hygiene is the core of the problem. Running water, proper hygiene and other things are necessary so the disease will not spread so easily.
Ebola Outbreak September 15th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to join the discussion on Canada's efforts to address the Ebola crisis in West Africa and to update the House of Commons on the government's actions to date.
I was listening to the speeches and questions. We should make it clear to all here in the House and to those who are listening to the debate that this crisis cannot be resolved by financial contributions alone. There have been numbers thrown out, such as contributions of x number of dollars and that it is only 30% of what is needed. This may give people a picture that if we raise $600 million, it would be fine, and the issue would be resolved. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is not the number of dollars. It is not only financial resources that can be put toward the efforts to deal with the issue. The issue is much deeper. It requires research, medications, and other things. It cannot be resolved by financial means alone.This is what I would like to make perfectly clear before I start talking.
We can throw numbers around. We can have a political debate. This is not a political issue. If we want to address the issue that exists in that part of the world, we should all work together and focus on what needs to be done, not on what we would like to gain on the political side.
This is a very serious situation. Our thoughts are with those affected by this outbreak. Although outbreaks have appeared since 1976, they have primarily occurred in remote villages in Central and West Africa, and they have been easily contained.
Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, has described this current outbreak as the largest, most complex, and most severe we have ever seen. It is out-pacing control efforts in West Africa and requires a coordinated global response.
We understand that this is a public health crisis with grave humanitarian, economic, and security implications. The health and safety of Canadians has always been, and continues to be, our top priority. We are monitoring the situation closely, sharing information directly with Canadians throughout the outbreak, and actively working with provincial, territorial, and other partners to maintain preparedness to detect, investigate, and manage people with the Ebola virus in the unlikely event that a case were to arrive in Canada.
We are also working with other national and international partners, including the World Health Organization, to assist in the overall international response. The reality is that there has never been a case of Ebola in Canada. The risk to Canadians remains very low.
The Ebola virus does not spread easily from person to person. It is not like a flu. It is spread through direct contact with infected body fluids, not through casual contact.
The Government of Canada has a number of systems in place to identify and prevent the spread of serious infectious diseases like Ebola. We have the capacity to manage ill travellers at their points of entry. The Quarantine Act, which was introduced to prevent the introduction of infectious and contagious diseases to Canada, is administered 24 hours a day, seven days a week at all international points of entry into Canada.
Government of Canada front-line staff at the Canada Border Services Agency, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and Transport Canada have been trained to identify ill travellers. In addition, Canada's health care system and front-line medical staff are well prepared to deal with the identification and treatment of Ebola cases. In Canada, hospitals have sophisticated infection control systems in place to limit the spread of infection, protect health care workers, and provide state-of-the-art care for Canadians.
The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to provide relevant information to Canadians, including on travel to affected countries through its website, phac-aspc-gc.ca, as well as through social and other media platforms. The agency has developed, updated, and made available key technical guidance documents and protocols so that provinces and territories, physicians, hospital staff, conveyance operators, and airport authorities are well prepared. Internationally we are supportive of the leadership role being played by the World Health Organization, and we remain committed to working effectively with it and other key partners, including Médecins Sans Frontières and the Red Cross, to respond effectively to this public health emergency.
To date, the Government of Canada has provided over $5 million in support of humanitarian security and public health measures to address the spread of Ebola in West Africa. We continue to assess the needs identified in the World Health Organization road map and to explore what else Canada can do to support the global efforts in response to the outbreak.
Canada has also been on the front line of the response efforts. The Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory, which is an internationally recognized leader in infectious disease diagnostics and research, has sent Canadian experts, a mobile laboratory, and supplies to Kailahun, Sierra Leone, to conduct rapid diagnosis. Our experts are working alongside local health officials, Médecins Sans Frontières, and the World Health Organization. Early diagnosis helps to ensure that those infected with Ebola are isolated, to reduce the risk of transmission, and that they receive the supportive care they require.
In addition, the agency's National Microbiology Laboratory has provided laboratory diagnostic materials to support Ebola laboratory testing to other African countries, such as Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Liberia, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Algeria, and Uganda. It has also shared its expertise and materials with the Caribbean Public Health Agency in Trinidad and Chile as part of the worldwide effort. There are currently no specific licensed treatments or vaccines for Ebola, and patients are treated for their symptoms. The National Microbiology Laboratory research scientists have been at the forefront of research to address treatments and vaccines and are recognized as international experts.
Given the seriousness of the outbreak, the Government of Canada has offered a donation of 800 to 1,000 doses of the experimental vaccine developed at the National Microbiology Laboratory known as VSV-EBOV to the World Health Organization as part of the international response.
The World Health Organization, in its role as an international coordinating body responding to this outbreak, will help facilitate distribution and use of the vaccine.
Canada will also keep a small supply of the experimental vaccine in the unlikely event that it is needed for compassionate use in Canada, and a small supply of the experimental vaccine to conduct applied research in clinical trials, such as those related to toxicity and safety studies.
In support of international partners, in May 2014, the Public Health Agency of Canada also donated 10 doses of its Ebola vaccine for pre-positioning in the University Hospital, in Geneva, for evacuated health care workers if they had been exposed. In August 2014, a further 10 doses were pre-positioned at Emory University, in Atlanta, after the return of two infected Americans to the United States.
The decision on whether the experimental vaccine should be offered for compassionate use is not something that the Government of Canada or its partners are taking lightly. While the vaccine and treatment in which Canada has been involved has not been tested on humans yet, they have been effective on animals and are potentially life-saving options for people who have been exposed to the Ebola virus.
Significant legal and ethical questions exist around the use of experimental vaccines and therapies in humans. While the VSV-EBOV experimental vaccine is promising, this does not replace the need for rapid diagnosis, good infection control practices, and tight coordination among partners involved in the response.
Scientists with the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory have also contributed to the development of two or three elements of an experimental treatment called ZMapp, owned by the U.S. company Mapp Bio, which may be one of the most promising Ebola treatments to date. The treatments enable the immune system to fight an infection following an exposure to the virus. Mapp Bio has indicated that all ZMapp doses in its supply were exhausted after the company provided ZMapp to West Africa.
Another experimental treatment, called TKM-Ebola, was developed by Tekmira, a Canadian company, under a contract with the U.S. Department of Defence. The Tekmira therapeutic began phase 1 clinical trials with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, in March 2014, before being halted in July due to safety concerns. In early August, the FDA changed the status to allow emergency use on infected patients. The Government of Canada does not own any intellectual property in this product, but we are monitoring the company's progress in clinical trials and potential applicability of this therapy to the ongoing outbreak with great interest.
I would also like to focus my contribution to this evening's debate on the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory, which has been pivotal to Canadian efforts to address the Ebola outbreak. This lab, the NML for short, has been at the forefront of every infectious disease outbreak for many years, including West Nile virus, SARS, listeria, and the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic. Many colleagues will remember how Mexico called on the NML for assistance during H1N1, and how the lab was the first to sequence viruses from Mexico and Canada, proving that it was the same virus in both countries.
As Canada's leading public health infectious disease laboratory, the NML is responsible for the identification, control, and prevention of infectious diseases.
The NML is located at the Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health in Winnipeg, the first facility in the world to have high-containment laboratories for human and animal health in one building. It is recognized as a leader in an elite group of centres around the world. It is equipped with laboratories ranging from biosafety level 2 to level 4, designed to accommodate the most basic to the most deadly infectious organisms.
I would like to describe the five main roles that the NML fulfills on an ongoing basis.
As the lead public health infectious disease laboratory in Canada, the NML provides diagnostic support to provincial and front-line laboratories. This primarily involves performing tests for rare and emerging diseases that other labs would not be able to provide, performing confirmatory tests and further characterizing viruses and bacteria. As an example, 10% of influenza samples received by provincial laboratories are forwarded to the NML to determine the exact strain. This information is used in the development of the seasonal vaccine every year. In the case of Ebola, the NML is well connected with its network of provincial labs to ensure that it is ready to respond quickly should symptoms associated with Ebola be suspected in a traveller to Canada.
The second role of the NML is surveillance of infectious disease. The NML plays a role in approximately 50 surveillance systems.
A third role is applied and discovery research. This work results in an increasing understanding of viruses and pathogens, but also includes the development of better diagnostic tests or vaccines and treatments.
As we have heard this evening, the leading scientists at the NML have developed an experimental vaccine for the Ebola virus. They also contributed to the development of two of the three elements contained in an experimental treatment that enables the immune system to fight an infection following an exposure to the virus.
The fourth role is leadership and training. This includes leading networks of other labs, transferring the technology for new diagnostic tests, and providing extensive training to people across the country and around the world. The NML hosts international high-containment laboratory workshops every year, bringing in people from as far away as Nepal and Morocco to learn about biosafety and safe lab operations. Along with this, there is considerable training for international scientists and technicians.
To conclude, we recognize that this international response will need to be sustained over the coming months. We will continue to work closely with our national and international partners to protect the health and safety of Canadians, to be prepared in Canada, and to continue to be an integral part of the coordinated international effort required to respond to this public health crisis.
School Graduations June 19th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, this time of year is a very special time for the young women and men graduating from secondary schools as well as grade schools.
Tomorrow morning I have the special privilege of participating in the commencement ceremony for T.L. Kennedy Secondary School in my riding of Mississauga East—Cooksville, which will be honouring 170 students who are graduating.
I would like to acknowledge T.L. Kennedy's principal, Mr. Paul Freier, and vice-principals, Rosemary Stiglic, Mark Botnick and Brent Serebrin, along with the entire staff for their roles in the lives of these young people. We should also congratulate the students' parents, grandparents, caregivers and relatives who all share in these special moments.
To all who will be graduating as part of the class of 2014, my very best wishes on this special occasion.
Finally, I would like to ask my colleagues in the House to join me in thanking and congratulating all teachers and faculty members across our country for their hard work and success this school year.
Health June 17th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, this week is Sarcoma Cancer Awareness Week. Sarcoma is a type of cancer that attacks connective tissue within the body, often causing tumours in muscles, bones, nerves, fat, and blood vessels. It is especially common in children and young adults. In fact, Terry Fox had a form of sarcoma cancer, leading to his death.
Close to 1,200 Canadians will be diagnosed with sarcoma each year. Tragically, approximately 500 will die from one of its 50 identified types.
Would the minister tell us what steps our government is taking to address this important health issue?
Petitions June 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition on behalf of Canadians residing in Ontario.
It was recognized by this House, by adopting Motion No. 230, that anaphylaxis is a serious concern for an increasing number of Canadians. Therefore, the petitioners request that Parliament enact a policy to reduce the risk for anaphylactic passengers, which would be applicable to all forms of passenger transportation falling within its jurisdiction.
Birthday Congratulations June 13th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to offer my heartfelt congratulations to a great Canadian World War II hero, my constituent, Mr. Anthony Bartoszewicz, who is celebrating a milestone on Sunday when he will become 100 years young.
Born in Siemiany, Poland, on June 15, 1914, he experienced the Bolshevik war as a young boy. As a young man, Tony served active duty during the Second World War and rose to the level of colonel. Coming to Canada in 1947, Tony worked hard in the prairies before moving his family to Ontario. He still cuts the grass and manages his own home.
This evening there is a special celebration at the Cooksville Legion where Mr. Bartoszewicz regularly attends the Friday evening dinners.
As Mr. Bartoszewicz shares this incredible milestone with his wife, Loretta, along with his three children, nine grandchildren, and fifteen great-grandchildren, may he find happiness in the many memories of these moments spent together.
Congratulations, Tony. Sto Lat.
Ratanak International Walkathon June 10th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to bring attention to a special event, the third Ratanak 5 km walkathon that took place in Mississauga this past weekend. Ratanak International's focus is to provide support and safety to benefit Cambodian children rescued from the sex trade and to help put their lives back together after facing horrible experiences. Ratanak has helped provide medicine and medical services, rescued and rehabilitated victims of sex slavery and has funded a variety of agricultural programs to help Cambodians rebuild their country.
I would like to congratulate and thank my constituent, Larry Dearlove and his organizing team, volunteers, and over 300 participants, who have raised over $35,000 for this important cause. What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning with uplifting people who were there to raise much needed funds, but also to raise the spirits of children so far away. It is a true privilege to support organizations like Ratanak whose work changes people's lives.