An Act to amend the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs Act (The Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa)

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in May 2004.

Sponsor

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Patent ActPrivate Members' Business

November 21st, 2012 / 6:50 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the bill that my colleague has brought forth. I rise with a sense of regret and shame for a country that has failed to deliver on a promise that it made nearly 10 years ago. As a result of that failure and that promise that was never kept, we have witnessed children, men and women suffer and die because we did not get a chance to provide medications.

We built the system. This is important to recognize when we go back and look at the past. Bill C-56 was the original bill. It was nicknamed Jean Chrétien's aid to Africa act. We said at that time that we would put a system in place that would be the envy of the world. It would allow generic drugs to get to those who were suffering, whether it be from HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria. We promised.

When Parliament recessed Bill C-56 came back to the House as Bill C-9 in 2004. We made another promise. Experts appeared at committee a couple of times. We brought in witnesses. We had expert testimony from many people from around the world. People testified to make sure that we were WTO and TRIPS compliant, that we were within the mandate with regard to allowing the patented drugs to be generically created and distributed, and that we would follow certain rules. Basically, we wanted to create an open and accountable process. Instead we built a monster that really has only been exercised once in all of these years. It really is a monster, because it is preventing us from stopping death and suffering.

Why is it important? Lots of numbers get thrown out and there have been some improvements over the years. The reality is that many people are still suffering. I cannot understand it when I look at the problems being faced in sub-Saharan Africa. What are we doing when children are becoming the heads of households because their parents are dying? We are taking out the capacity for the family unit to be effective. These children are losing the knowledge of how to raise themselves, how to become successful, how to get an education and work co-operatively with others. We are undermining people because we are not providing the resources that are there.

There is a will out there. I want to read some comments from organizations that are in favour of the legislation, because it needs to be noted that they did their part. They did their part for many years on the Hill as we have moved this issue forward.

When we moved Bill C-393, the previous legislation, it ended up dying in the Senate. Unfortunately, we are back here today. It is important to move this legislation again to committee because it does have a few changes, some improvements and some compromise. It is not like we did not compromise along the way. At one point I submitted over 100 amendments to the original bill at industry committee because we knew the legislation was so badly constructed. The Canadian access to medicines regime was built to defeat itself.

The organizations that did their part include the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Grandmothers Advocacy Network, Results Canada, the Federation of Medical Women of Canada, the Canadian Federation of University Women, the Ontario Nurses' Association, UNICEF, Bracelet of Hope, World Vision, the United Church of Canada. A whole coalition, a rainbow of organizations have come together and worked together.

There have been some important changes and there is some hope. We were fighting with the brand name drug companies along the way. We have gone through a whole range of issues about certain countries being listed and certain drugs being listed, and fought back and forth on all of those things.

However, now there has been a shift in their position. In a letter dated November 19 from research-based pharmaceutical companies to my leader, the hon. member for Outremont, it says they are open to looking at a more constructive approach. They list a series of concerns. Some I do not think are as valid as others, but there are important ones to note. They talk about transparency, amount and term, anti-diversion, eligible countries, eligible medicines and safety appeal mechanisms.

The good news is that there is no reason for any member now to vote against the bill. If a member is voting against the bill, he or she is voting directly against the pharmaceutical companies, the generics, and all the organizations I mentioned, that want to see this move forward. I thank them for coming to the table this time. In the past, we have witnessed a relationship that has been rocky at best. However, at this moment in time there has been a change in position. We are going to hopefully see this legislation move to committee so we can start to deal with some of the issues they raised to improve the legislation.

It is important. We have set an example internationally with this legislation. If we can get the changes here, other countries can also get some changes. We have a situation where some of the global funds are diminishing, so we have an issue with supply and management right now, and the costs.

I will conclude that I have come here today speaking out of frustration and disappointment, but there is a glimmer of hope this time. I am hoping all the members understand that there is nobody else out there against moving forward, so let us do it together with all members' support.

Patent ActPrivate Members’ Business

October 16th, 2012 / 6:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie for bringing this matter before us again by introducing this bill.

I thank the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie for bringing forward Bill C-398, which would amend the Canadian access to medicines regime. It is my pleasure to speak today in support of the bill and to move it to committee stage by voting for it at second reading. It is time to move the bill to committee and move on the legislative process, which was interrupted in the last election after it passed this House with support from all parties.

We are very fortunate in Canada that we live in a country where we are able to benefit from medication and as a country we have the infrastructure and the know-how to produce medicines. As Canadians, we also feel that we have an obligation to help those around the planet who are less fortunate, who are sick or dying and could be helped if they had access to medicines that exist today.

That was the motivation for Bill C-9, the original Canada access to medicines regime, also known as the Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa Act.

Some medicines are expensive and the point of CAMR is to make available to developing countries safe, generic versions of medicines manufactured in Canada and to do it within international rules on trade and on intellectual property rights. It is intended to provide the competitive pressure to reduce the cost barrier to those countries that would never be able to afford the medicine but would greatly benefit from it and where people are in dire need of the medicine. We know that other countries can produce generic drugs but the Canadian product is produced with higher standards in quality control and it will provide competition on that basis.

CAMR came into force in 2005 but, as people have noticed, since that time this regime has only been used to provide one shipment of medicine to one country so far, which is why we believe there are barriers. One of the barriers that has been identified is the cumbersome licensing process.

The core of Bill C-398 is to provide the so-called one licence solution, which would remove the need for each individual country to make a request for a compulsory licence to produce generic drugs that are needed for serious health problems in these countries. It would remove the need for individual countries to apply and, instead, a Canadian generic pharmaceutical manufacturer would apply for the licence for all countries.

This reform has been sought for several years now, and in the previous Parliament, Bill C-393, upon which Bill C-398 is based, passed this House with support from all parties and probably would have come into force had the May 2011 election not been called.

I want to expand a little bit on the remarks that my colleague from Laurier—Sainte-Marie made and I want to talk a little bit about intellectual property issues, which were the subject of the speech by my hon. colleague from the Conservative benches.

Advocates for reforming CAMR do not wish to jeopardize pharmaceutical R and D in Canada. They have said that an I think they do believe in the importance of the knowledge economy , and one of its pillars, the value of intellectual property.

I think we all agree that Canada's future will depend very much on its participation in the knowledge economy and nobody wants our kids to be competing in the world on the basis of providing the lowest cost labour. I believe that the drafters of Bill C-398 recognize some of these concerns.

For example, Bill C-398 improves upon Bill C-393 in that respect by specifying that Canadian generic manufacturers must post online the quantities of medicine being exported to each country. They must also put online the notification that each WTO country gave to the WTO trade related aspects of intellectual property rights council, or, for a non-WTO country, the notice that country gave to the Government of Canada.

The old bill, Bill C-393 from the last Parliament, at first removed a two-year time limit on licences before a renewal was required. In the last Parliament this was amended in committee to restore that time limit. Bill C-398 keeps that two-year time limit in the current draft. Drafters of the bill have responded to concerns about an open-ended licence in time.

In the spirit of the changes that the drafters of Bill C-398 have made, compared to Bill C-393 that already passed the House in the last Parliament, we could make some amendments to emphasize that it is not the intent of the bill to negatively impact any R and D investment in Canada. It is not the intent of the bill to devalue intellectual property that is a pillar of a knowledge economy.

People have asked me, for example, why Qatar is on the list of countries in the bill. It is a country with a per capita income of $90,000 per annum. I believe that no one wants that distraction. It really is distracting from the fact that people are sick and dying and need medicines that they cannot afford. Therefore, this is something we could look at in committee, the list of countries in schedule 2 of the bill, to remove these distractions that may lead people to question some aspects of the bill.

My colleague from the Conservative Party is worrying about safety issues. Some critics have worried that the generic drugs would not be subjected to safety reviews. However, section 21.04(3)(b) in the current legislation remains unchanged under Bill C-398 and affirms that any generic product must meet the requirements of the Food and Drugs Act and its regulations. Therefore, my hon. colleague is incorrect when he makes that point. It is an old point that was made in the past but this bill is slightly different and that point is covered. In fact, the advantage of importing drugs from Canada is that products are manufactured with higher standards and with better quality control.

I will be voting in favour of the bill. It is time to move toward reforming Canada's access to medicines regime, a process that was accidentally interrupted at the last election, but which had already passed the House. We must not delay in sending the bill to the next stage of the legislative process, to committee where we can examine it and related issues in detail, as we should examine every bill. We must move this bill to committee and I urge my colleagues to vote for the bill at second reading.

Patent ActPrivate Members' Business

March 3rd, 2011 / 5:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House this evening to speak in support of Bill C-393, An Act to amend the Patent Act (drugs for international humanitarian purposes) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act.

I strongly urge all members to support the bill and the amendments put forward by my hon. colleagues from Halifax and from Windsor West, calling for a one license solution to cut the red tape currently preventing the sale of generic drugs overseas and to also restore the definition of pharmaceutical products to protect the knowledge developed by name brand drug manufacturers. Accepting these amendments will simultaneously help those in the developing world and will also protect the investment and the knowledge developed by pharmaceutical companies.

On May 14, 2004, the Martin Liberal government passed Bill C-9, An Act to amend the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs Act (The Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa). This act established the legal framework for Canada's Access to Medicine Regime, or CAMR, which sought to balance Canada's trade and intellectual property obligations with the humanitarian objectives set out in Bill C-9 and help us honour our commitment to realize the sixth millennium development goal to combat HIV and AIDS.

Despite this act's best intentions, CAMR was unsuccessful in its objective to facilitate timely access to generic versions of patented drugs for people in the least developed or developing countries to fight HIV-AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases. This act's complexities are blamed for the daunting inability and serious obstacles to the supply of generic drugs to fight HIV-AIDS in the developing world. As a result, drugs have only been delivered to one country on one single occasion, Rwanda.

Parliamentarians have made a number of attempts to fix the obstacles preventing the shipment of generic drugs to those who need it. Now we have another opportunity to meaningfully help those in need. The opportunity is right now. We have the chance to pass Bill C-393, which will help to clear these obstacles and reduce the complexity of the current CAMR regime, so we can begin to deliver on our pledge to improve the health of the world's poorest people. It is absolutely imperative that we do so, to stop people from dying when they could be living and to alleviate suffering when they could be blessed with an extension of their lives for their own well-being and the well-being of their entire family.

The statistics are alarming. There are more than 33 million people living with HIV-AIDS globally, 22.5 million of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa. Three-quarters of all AIDS related deaths since 2008 occurred in Africa. There are 2.3 million children infected with HIV. One in two children with HIV in the developing world dies before their second birthday. Less than 15% of the children who need treatment are getting it. More than half a million children die of AIDS every year. Every day 7,100 people become infected with AIDS.

Yet statistics themselves can be desensitizing, thrown around at random to make a point. I have a hard time conceptualizing what 2.3 million children infected with HIV really means, so I thought I would put this into perspective.

I recall a documentary called Paper Clips, where children in a middle school in Tennessee, attempting to grasp the enormity of just how big the number six million really was, gathered six million paper clips, one for each life. If we did the same and placed the clips in boxes of 100, just like the ones we have in our offices, the number of children with HIV in developing countries would equal the number of paper clips contained in 23,000 of these boxes.

Let me give the House another comparison. Thirty-three million people in the world are living with HIV-AIDS globally. That is the entire population of Canada. Imagine attempting to treat this many people in a meaningful way, with our hands tied because of ineffective and cumbersome legislation that we can now change.

Developing countries in Africa are already suffering from the government's withdrawal of foreign aid dollars, which in part resulted in our loss of a seat at the United Nations Security Council. We must not allow this ambivalence to prevail.

If we do not vote for this bill, we will wake tomorrow and we as a country will be no better able to help the 7,100 newly-infected people with HIV tomorrow. Nor will we be in a position to prevent another 7,100 people from becoming infected two days from now. Today we have to make a choice and there is only one right decision. I am voting for Bill C-393. I am voting for helping people in need and for doing what is right. I implore everyone in the House to do the same.

I am acutely aware of the way HIV-AIDS destroys the lives of people, having personally witnessed this epidemic while doing international aid work in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, the city with the highest incidents of AIDS in Central America at the time I was there. As part of my continuing international aid work in central and South America, I have helped build schools in the hope that knowledge and health education can keep children safe and help prevent the infection of HIV.

A 2008 UN report estimated that seven million cases of AIDS could be prevented in the next decade if every child received a primary education.

I am also aware of the impact that AIDS can have through my work with Anne-Marie Zajdlik and the Masai Centre for the treatment of AIDS in Guelph while on the Bracelets of Hope Campaign, where we raised over $1 million selling red and white beaded bracelets made by the women of Lesotho in southern Africa to fund AIDS treatment centres in that country.

In discussing this bill, Dr. Zajdlik said:

In the last 5 years I have treated hundreds of HIV positive children...Despite our best attempts, many, many of these children died.

In our world of unprecedented wealth, information and technology, no child should die of a preventable disease. The life saving miracle of medicine and medical technology is part of the intellectual property of the world and should be made available to all.

Prevention has to be taken seriously. This can be achieved in several ways. Building schools, improving educational programming, increasing HIV testing and treatment sites are but some. We must also facilitate the provision of antiretroviral drugs, or ARVs, that actually prevent the transmission of AIDS from a pregnant woman to her newborn. Providing these drugs will prevent infant deaths and will save hundreds of thousands of children from suffering from HIV-AIDS.

In 2009, 370,000 children were infected with HIV during the perinatal and breast-feeding period of growth. That is 370,000 children who could have been saved through the use of ARVs and other HIV-AIDS drugs that would have prevented the transmission of this virus. That is another 370,000 children who would not have grown into adulthood with the risk of passing HIV onto others.

While resources need to be devoted to preventing HIV-AIDS, we must also acknowledge that we need to do our part to help treat HIV-AIDS in the developing world until it is eradicated. That means developing the best legislation and regulatory system possible to ensure that generic and affordable medication is available for those who need it.

According to a 2010 UN report, access to antiretroviral drugs has resulted in a gain of 14.2 million life years worldwide. In Botswana, AIDS-related deaths fell from 18,000 deaths in 2002 to 9,100 deaths in 2009 as a result of antiretroviral drug use. Accordingly the rate of children orphaned by AIDS fell by 40%. This is not only a matter of life and death; it is also an enormous moral and social issue.

The House should be grateful for the efforts of the Guelph GoGo Grandmothers who have nobly and passionately worked towards the passage of this legislation. I can feel the impact that its members have had on the House. I sincerely hope its efforts have not been in vain.

If we pass this bill and embrace this noble strategy, we can prolong lives and prevent the transmission of this insidious disease. Imagine a world without AIDS, where people could live and thrive knowing that they would live to be able to provide for their loved ones and raise their children with the knowledge that they could have a child without transmitting HIV to them, a world where their energy could be spent productively contributing to their families, communities and economies.

Wishing this to be true will not make this happen. We must be intentional in our efforts to pass legislation so it will happen. I implore the members to vote with me in favour of Bill C-393 and make it happen.

October 28th, 2010 / 12:20 p.m.
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Senior Counsel, Legal Services, Justice Canada, Department of Industry

Rob Sutherland-Brown

Thank you, Chairman.

It's hard to know where to begin. As you have noted, this is very complex and very interrelated, and that's the way legislation is usually crafted, so that when it's presented in the House the interconnections between (a) and (b) and (c), etc., are clear.

But the question is, if you stay with the definition of “pharmaceutical product” that is in Bill C-393 now, that is defined by reference to the Food and Drugs Act, and the Food and Drugs Act definition of “drug” is everything in the world: any substance that can be used as a medicine, not only for humans but also for animals. It also includes disinfectants for cleaning kitchen surfaces and stuff like that.

So there is no need to amend if you stay with that. If you introduce the prospect of a Minister of Health or a Minister of Industry joint recommendation, they have to recommend to somebody. In the existing legislation--Bill C-9 or the Patent Act--it is the Governor in Council who makes amendments to the schedules that are in that act and does so on the recommendation of the appropriate ministers. In the case of a drug, that recommendation is given by both the Minister of Health and the Minister of Industry. Amendments to the other country schedules are done on the recommendation of the ministers for industry, international affairs, and CIDA, and I think for international trade as well.

The original legislation, the Patent Act, that purports to be amended by Bill C-393 has a mechanism that's built in for amendments to all those things and the circumstances that have to be met. If you use the definition that's proposed in amendment Lib-1, there is no mechanism left in the act, because Bill C-393 gets rid of all those mechanisms for amending. So it may say “on the recommendation of a minister”, but there is no mechanism in the legislation to permit it.

It's very intricate and very interrelated.

October 28th, 2010 / 11:35 a.m.
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Senior Counsel, Legal Services, Justice Canada, Department of Industry

Rob Sutherland-Brown

As I said, some of them are definitional and they make sense within Bill C-9 because the terms were used throughout the legislation. Those are just sort of drafting techniques, but there are others. “General Council Decision” is used throughout the legislation to describe specific criteria that are going to have to be met in an application for an authorization.

October 28th, 2010 / 11:35 a.m.
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Senior Counsel, Legal Services, Justice Canada, Department of Industry

Rob Sutherland-Brown

Some of them are just there for drafting convenience, but others do have an impact. For instance, where in Bill C-9 you see references to “in accordance with the General Council Decision”, that has substance to it. The circumstance of a manufacture and exportation and importation meets the restraints or the limitations that were imposed by the TRIPS agreement when it was initially negotiated.

October 28th, 2010 / 11:35 a.m.
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Rob Sutherland-Brown Senior Counsel, Legal Services, Justice Canada, Department of Industry

It's all very complex and interrelated, but essentially, the original CAMR legislation, Bill C-9, made reference to things like the WTO waiver decision. To do that, a number of the definitions were technical; WTO is used, so there's a definition of WTO to tell you what the World Trade Organization is.

For “General Council” and which General Council, it tells you that. But it also, importantly, tells you about the “Decision”, which is referred to throughout the legislation as somebody importing or exporting in conformity with the authorization.

For “patented product”, again, it's a technical definition to tell you what it means. It's defined in terms of infringement. That's what this is about. It's about authorizing otherwise unauthorized users to infringe.

So these play both a definitional and a drafting role throughout the original legislation. Those references have been removed in Bill C-393, so they may or may not have much impact on Bill C-393 itself, but they do have an impact on the overall schema, in the sense that it loses the tie to the WTO agreements, both the main agreement and the TRIPS, the trade-related aspects of intellectual property agreement.

October 26th, 2010 / 10:30 a.m.
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Grant Perry Vice-President, Public Affairs/Reimbursement, GlaxoSmithKline Canada

Thank you.

Honourable members, thank you for the opportunity to appear today to discuss GSK's experience with Canada's access to medicines regime and our company's extensive efforts, both globally and locally, to improve access to health care in the developing world.

There are three points I'd like to make. First, CAMR is efficient and effective at achieving its objectives. Second, the provision of medicines is only one essential element in addressing health care issues in the developing world. Third, GSK is committed through action to addressing access to medicines through frameworks like CAMR and other means. GSK's experience with CAMR has shown that it is an effective framework for Canada to meet its international obligations and for increasing developing world access to much needed medicines.

While 32 other countries in the EU and elsewhere have passed legislation similar to CAMR, to the best of our knowledge Canada is the only country from which a shipment has actually taken place. This first shipment of a triple combination HIV/AIDS drug to Rwanda from Apotex in Toronto took place in September of 2008.

First allow me to congratulate Apotex for stepping up to address the issue in Rwanda. The following chronology of events leading up to that shipment is important, because it demonstrates that only 68 days elapsed from the time Apotex made the request of GSK until they were granted authorization to begin exporting Zidovudine and Lamivudine to Rwanda. Please allow me to review this timeline with you.

You will recall that Bill C-9 came into effect in May of 2005, creating the Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa Act, now called CAMR. Almost a full year passed before GSK and two other patent donors were approached by Apotex requesting voluntary licences. GSK responded promptly, indicating a willingness to discuss the granting of a licence and seeking clarification on key questions relating to anti-diversion and patient safety, both very real issues to GSK. Apotex did not respond at that time to our request for further information. Fourteen months later, GSK received another request from Apotex for a voluntary licence, and within 26 days we provided our consent to the commissioner of patents to issue an authorization pursuant to CAMR. Ultimately, one more year passed before the first shipment of a triple combination product was shipped from Apotex, not because of red tape, not because of a complex and lengthy process, but for reasons outside the administrative and legal process and not within the control of GSK. Apotex took more than one year to start shipping their generic drug to Rwanda.

Our experience is that CAMR can and does work when put to the test. In October 2009, GSK announced that it remains ready and willing to do our part within the framework of CAMR to ensure that the objectives are being met. We must not lose sight of the needs of patients in the developing world. While CAMR includes important safeguards and transparency requirements that help encourage R and D investment and support new drug discoveries, we must refrain from using CAMR as a means to re-open the intellectual property debate in Canada. While Canada lags behind other countries in IP protection, the protection afforded by Canada's rules holds the key to developing new medications that can fight and eventually eradicate many diseases that ravage the developing world. We must not become embroiled in an IP debate that would create further instability and drive away crucial investments in our country.

This brings me to our second point. The provision of medicines is only one essential element of many needed to address health care. As you've already learned from Ms. Downie and others, simply delivering medicines, whether brand or generic, doesn't nearly address the challenges developing countries face, such as poor sanitation and education, as well as social barriers. There are significant infrastructure issues related to the availability of health care workers, distribution networks, and health care facilities.

Finally, corruption and criminal activity can lead to diversion of medicines from the intended patients, either within the country itself or even before the medicines reach the national authority. We need a broader approach, one that goes beyond CAMR, and this is our third point.

GSK has long taken an innovative, responsible, and sustainable approach to improving the health of patients in the developing world. Working in partnership with governments, NGOs, and the private sector, GSK has among other things deliberately focused our R and D efforts on diseases of the developing world, such as HIV, TB, and malaria. We have sought to eliminate many diseases, including lymphatic filariasis, one of the world's most debilitating diseases, and we have consistently offered preferential pricing on antiretrovirals and vaccines.

This legacy of commitment is not enough. We have stopped saying it is not our fault there is no infrastructure to deliver health care and have started asking ourselves what else we can do to ensure that infrastructure does exist. Consequently, we have established several new initiatives that continue to address these broader issues and specifically advance GSK's leadership role. Specifically, we have recently begun sharing our intellectual property on neglected tropical diseases by setting up a patent pool and inviting others to join us.

We have opened the doors of our research centre, dedicated to diseases of the developing world, to all other researchers. We have reduced the price of our patented medicines in the least developed countries to no higher than 25% of what it is in the developed world, and we have committed to reinvest 20% of the profits made on medicines in these countries in local health care infrastructure projects. Finally, we have expanded the donation of albendazole to treat children at risk of intestinal worms, a condition that the World Health Organization's first report on neglected tropical diseases confirms causes more ill health in school-aged children than any other infection.

I am very proud to be part of the renewed partnership agreement between Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies and Health Partners International of Canada to help speed the delivery of medicines and other supplies to people in need across the developing world.

In closing, we have illustrated that CAMR is only a piece of the larger puzzle, and that piece has proven to work effectively and efficiently when used. GSK's belief is that our collective efforts and intentions are best focused by serving the broader issue of improving health care in the developing world through leadership and action.

I thank you for your time, and I welcome any questions.

Patent ActPrivate Members' Business

June 12th, 2009 / 2:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity today to address Bill C-393, which seeks to make substantial operational changes to the legislative framework for Canada's access to medicines regime under the Patent Act and for the Food and Drugs Act.

While I and other hon. members of the House are committed to improving access to medicines in the developing world via Canada's access to medicines regime and other initiatives, I have some strong reservations about Bill C-393 and its proposed changes. However, let me begin with some background on Canada's access to medicines regime.

The stated purpose of the regime is to increase access to lower-cost, Canadian-made generic versions of patented pharmaceutical products needed to address public health problems in developing and least-developed countries.

The development of Canada's access to medicines regime was a landmark event, as there was no other international precedent at that particular time. Thus, in crafting the regime, the government focused on three important objectives: first, to increase access to patented drugs and medical devices in the developing world; second, to continue to respect Canada's international trade obligations; and third, to maintain the integrity of our domestic patent system for pharmaceuticals.

In 2004, the then Liberal government introduced legislation to establish this regime by amending the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs Act. Shortly thereafter, Bill C-9 received royal assent with the unanimous support of all parties in both the House and the Senate.

I will now turn to discussing some of the problematic elements of Bill C-393 that propose to alter the scope of eligible drugs for export under the regime and the health and safety review of these pharmaceutical products.

First, I am concerned that Bill C-393 seeks to eliminate the list of pre-approved products for export in Canada's access to medicines regime. While some critics of the regime allege that the list makes Canada's access to medicines regime too rigid and inflexible, it does serve an important and practical purpose. Specifically, the list of pre-approved products for export minimizes the discretionary elements of the regime, and as a result, expedites the decision-making process. It also provides prospective users with the assurance that, assuming all other statutory requirements are met, an application for authorization under the regime will be issued by the Commissioner of Patents.

Second, I am concerned about the proposed changes to the drug review process in Bill C-393. If passed, these changes would significantly alter the level of domestic oversight regarding the safety, efficacy and quality of products exported under Canada's access to medicines regime. This is because Bill C-393 suggests, among other things, making the existing mandatory Health Canada review an option. Further, it suggests allowing the export of eligible products under Canada's access to medicines regime to be made on the basis of a review by a foreign regulatory authority.

Such an abeyance of Health Canada's review would not be permitted for drugs and medical devices destined for the Canadian domestic market. In addition, during the statutory review of the regime in 2007, developing countries and generic drug manufacturers expressed strong approval for the very drug review that Bill C-393 seeks to remove. These potential users of Canada's access to medicines regime went on the record as stating that Health Canada's review was a useful mechanism for ensuring that products sent to the developing world under the system are safe, efficacious and of high quality.

Some critics of Canada's access to medicines regime state that the Health Canada drug review is unnecessary and allege that it duplicates the World Health Organization's pre-qualification process for listing pharmaceutical products that are eventually purchased by international aid agencies in developing and least-developed countries without appropriate regulatory capacities.

However, I do not agree with them. Health Canada has a long-standing and excellent relationship with the World Health Organization in this regard, both in undertaking reviews for the international organization's pre-qualification program and in working with the World Health Organization on other initiatives to build regulatory health and safety capacity in the developing and least-developed countries.

Furthermore, since Health Canada's reviews are accepted by the World Health Organization for its alternate listings process, Canada's domestic drug reviews are not duplicative. The alternate listings process, which is an abbreviated process for listing drugs to the pre-qualified program, is available for drugs reviewed by Health Canada, the United States Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency.

I would like to conclude by reiterating that while the government remains committed to Canada's access to medicines regime and a broader long-term approach to fighting public health issues in the developing world, we simply oppose Bill C-393 and its proposed changes to the regime.

In my opinion, several of these changes to the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs Act raise concerns about their potential impact on the effective operation of Canada's Access to Medicines Regime. Many of these changes also do not support the humanitarian objective of improving access to safe and efficacious medicines in the developing world.

Finally, there is little evidence that the proposed amendments in Bill C-393 will make a meaningful difference in the volume and frequency of export under Canada's access to medicines regime. To date, Canada's compulsory licensing for export regime is the only one of its kind worldwide to have successfully authorized an exported drug to a country in need. This demonstrates that Canada's Access to Medicines Regime can and does, currently work.

For those reasons, I urge all hon. members in the House not to support Bill C-393 not because the intention is not good, but the bill is simply flawed.

Patent ActPrivate Members' Business

June 12th, 2009 / 1:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by saying that I truly believe that as a country, we must do everything we can to help people in developing countries get access to much-needed medicines. Such a humanitarian initiative must be supported, because we all know that many people are suffering in poorer parts of the world.

Having said that, I personally do not believe that we can achieve that goal by changing the law associated with Canada's Access to Medicines Regime. Allow me to explain.

Canada's Access to Medicines Regime, or CAMR, came into force in May 2005, following the adoption by Parliament of Bill C-9. CAMR's purpose was to put in place a low-cost generic drug-based mechanism to deliver lifesaving medications to countries which could not otherwise afford them. The purpose was laudable and remains laudable, and the bill passed with the consent of all parties.

As an amendment to the Patent Act, CAMR allows generic drug companies to obtain the compulsory licence to manufacture patented pharmaceutical products and to export those products to developing countries that do not have internal capacity to manufacture products required to address public health problems.

If one looks at the flow of generic medicines to developing countries since the implementation of CAMR, one can only cite one example of such a transfer from Canada, and that was to Rwanda.

Similar legislation to CAMR implemented in other countries has also not resulted in the flow of generic medicines to developing countries.

The reasons for this situation are complicated, but they have nothing to do with the difficulty of complying with the current legislation, as the bill before us today suggests. The amendments proposed in Bill C-393 will not make things better, because the main challenges involved in getting medicines to the people who need them have nothing to do with the flaws in the current legislation.

The balance that was established in the legislative process through amendments to the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs Act was deemed appropriate by the review conducted in 2007 by Industry Canada in collaboration with Health Canada, CIDA and DFAIT.

Although critics of CAMR have said that the law is too complicated, it is worth noting that Douglas Clark, the former director of Patent Policy at Industry Canada, has stated that this criticism is not credible.

In fact, the reasons why CAMR does not work as we had hoped have to do with real problems in the field, in the countries that need these medicines. They have to do with access to properly trained medical staff, whether they be doctors or nurses. They have to do with clean water supply, refrigeration facilities, accurate diagnosis, secure infrastructure for distributing the medicines and so on. In short, they have to do with poverty and the need to make developing countries aware of CAMR. Those are the real challenges.

It is not the process itself of requesting the medicine. That process is uncomplicated, even with its checks and balances that ensure compliance with international obligations under the WTO TRIPS agreement, the agreement on trade-related intellectual property rights.

Canada does have obligations related to TRIPS and it is important to respect them. The World Trade Organization's agreement on trade-related intellectual property rights, to which Canada is a signatory, generally prohibits countries from engaging in compulsory licensing for purposes of export.

Canada and other WTO member countries are authorized to adopt regimes like CAMR only as a result of an agreement reached between WTO member countries in August 2003, which waives the restriction that compulsory licensing can only be used for their domestic markets. This waiver sets out strict and limited conditions under which Canada and other exporting WTO members may grant compulsory licences to manufacture and export pharmaceutical products for humanitarian purposes.

It is important to remember that Canada is only one of many nations that have implemented the waiver as part of their domestic legal regimes. CAMR appropriately uses this waiver as the basic framework for Canada's regime. The waiver is also used by other nations as the basis for their domestic law equivalence of CAMR.

The changes to CAMR proposed by Bill C-393 would eliminate all references to the TRIPS agreement and waiver and would eliminate most of the elements of CAMR that help Canada to comply with the applicable conditions governing the issuance of compulsory licences.

The amendments proposed to CAMR in the bill would render the regime non-complied with Canada's WTO obligations as established in the TRIPS agreement and waiver.

Key deficiencies in the proposed amendments, from the standpoint of WTO compliance, include the fact that TRIPS requires the applicant for licence to seek a voluntary licence from the patent owner.

Bill C-393 would repeal the provision of CAMR that requires the prospective licensee to seek from the patentee a voluntary licence to manufacture and sell pharmaceutical products for export. This is inconsistent with the spirit of the waiver, which is intended, where feasible, to encourage voluntary agreements rather than impose compulsory licences.

TRIPS requires that the scope and duration of the licence must be limited to the purpose for which it is authorized. The bill would repeal all limitations on the scope and duration of the compulsory licence, theoretically granting a perpetual and unlimited legal right.

TRIPS requires that a licence should be terminated if and when the circumstances that lead to its issuance cease to exist or are unlikely to recur. Under Bill C-393, absent an application by a patent owner, a licence would only terminate if relinquished by the licensee.

TRIPS requires that the patent owner be paid adequate compensation in the circumstances of each case. Bill C-393 would repeal the CAMR provision that allows the patent owner to seek a higher royalty than the formula established by CAMR, if warranted.

The waiver applies only to pharmaceutical products needed to address public health problems. Bill C-393 would repeal schedule 1 of CAMR, which is the list of eligible products, and would not put in place any limitation on the patented pharmaceutical products for which a compulsory licence may be granted.

The waiver requires all importing WTO members to make a notification to the WTO, specifying the name and quantity of needed pharmaceutical products. Importing members, which are not least-developed countries, must also establish that they do not have the manufacturing capability to produce the pharmaceutical product. Bill C-393 would not require any notification or copy of the notification submitted by an importing country regarding its need for a pharmaceutical product or setting out the quantity required or speaking to manufacturing capacity.

The waiver states that exporting members, like Canada, can only authorize manufacture and export of that amount of product necessary to meet the needs of the importing member and states that all of the product must be exported to that importing member, as opposed to other members or countries. Bill C-393 places no limits on the amounts of product that may be manufactured under the compulsory licence and would permit unlimited quantities of the product to be exported to any eligible importing country regardless of their need.

The issues noted above are only the most obvious problems of Bill C-393 to comply with Canada's international obligations. It is clear that if this bill were to become law, Canada would be in default of its international trade treaty obligations under the TRIPS agreement.

Canada is a well-intentioned country that wishes to provide much needed assistance to countries in need of medicines to prevent or combat diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, HIV-AIDS and other epidemics. That is why Parliament voted for Bill C-9, the original CAMR legislation. In other words, our intentions were and remain honourable.

In the intervening years, however, we have come to the conclusion that what we had intended, a flow of generic drugs to countries in need, is not happening. We are all in agreement on this point, however, there is a different interpretation as to why CAMR is failing.

There are many things that Canada can and should do through CIDA, and that is where Canada should focus its efforts. That will enable Canada's Access to Medicines Regime, which is part of the solution, to do everything it is supposed to do.

Message from the SenateThe Royal Assent

May 14th, 2004 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

The Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall

Ottawa

May 13, 2004

Mr. Speaker:

I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 13th day of May, 2004 at 6:56 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Barbara Uteck,

Secretary to the Governor General

The schedule indicates that royal assent was given to Bill C-24, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act--Chapter No. 18; Bill C-20, an act to change the names of certain electoral districts--Chapter 19; Bill C-28, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act--Chapter 20; Bill C-15, an act to implement treaties and administrative arrangements on the international transfer of persons found guilty of criminal offences--Chapter 21; Bill C-30, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 23, 2004--Chapter 22; and Bill C-9, an act to amend the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs (The Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa)--Chapter 23.

I also have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall

Ottawa

May 13, 2004

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bill listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 13th day of May, 2004 at 9:10 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Barbara Uteck

The schedule indicates the bill assented to was Bill C-3, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act--Chapter 24.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004Government Orders

May 4th, 2004 / 4:45 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak for the second time to Bill C-30. I am speaking to the bill because it deals with a very important issue, the budget.

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Dauphin—Swan River.

When the Prime Minister took office after being elected as leader of the Liberal Party, he promised Canadians a new vision that would be different from the previous government. He promised in the throne speech that he would connect with Canadians and offer them an alternative.

We then moved from the throne speech into the budget speech, where, in all honesty, after taking everything into consideration, we saw it as band-aid solution budget. We all knew the Prime Minister wanted to call an election because he was riding high in the polls and he thought the steam engine of the Liberal Party could sweep the country.

Lo and behold, the record of the Liberal government smacked it right in the face, as the member of the NDP just pointed out. The scandal of the management of Canadian taxpayer dollars hit it right smack in the face. What happened? We are now in a holding pattern.

The Prime Minister wants to call an election but he does not know when to call it. The vision he talked about has disappeared. Where will this bill on the budget go? As we all know, we are waiting for the Prime Minister to call an election but he cannot even decide when to call it. Whether it will be on June 14, June 28 or July 5, nobody knows.

The country is now being run in a holding pattern while Canadians wait for important issues to be solved. The last thing on the minds of Canadians is an election. They expect the government to come up with a plan, the budget being one of those plans.

As the critic for international development, I see in the budget that $248 million will go into the international assistance development envelope, which would bring the CIDA budget to over $2.5 billion. People may not know this but CIDA has a budget of $2.5 billion, which is a lot of money, and yet CIDA operates without a legislative mandate. It is left to the mercy of the government or the Prime Minister and politics are being played.

As an international development critic for the last three years, I have seen four ministers at the head of that department and each minister has tried to pass on her or his own ideas and agenda. Why? The reason is that we now have legislation that directs where the money will go. It is left to the whim of the minister and the senior bureaucrats in CIDA. That is why questions keep being raised about where this money is being spent.

Canadians do not know what CIDA is doing. CIDA may have a good international name in countries where it does little patches of work but Canadians do not know where the tax dollars are going in international development. I keep asking that question in the House. Canadians are wondering why emerging economies in countries like China are receiving over $50 million.

Canadians shake their heads about why we are giving a country like China that aid. Every time I raise this question the answer is that there is poverty in China. Yes, we know there is poverty in China. We are very happy to see China as an emerging nation, but China is now in a situation where it has the resources to take care of its people.

Its leaders can take care of its people, but what do they do? They send people into space. They spend all that money for sending people into space. As well, there is an increase in their military expenditures of over 12%. They can do that, yet we stand here and use Canadian taxpayers' dollars and say there is poverty there that we need to address so we have to give them $50 million.

Would that money not be better spent in Africa or in Latin America, in the slums there? I do not understand why and how we can stand up and let the Chinese leaders off the hook. They should be responsible for their own people.

However, this highlights the problem, which I am trying to say is the way CIDA is structured, the way CIDA is operated and the way CIDA is giving out money. The question that comes up time after time is this one: What is happening and where is this money?

Sure, Canadians are very generous. They would like to assist the unfortunate around the world. I am very glad and very proud, and so are members of my party today, to stand up and vote for Bill C-9. I have to give credit to the government for introducing that legislation, but we were the party that was there right away supporting that bill, because we knew Canadians wanted that bill to be supported. That bill is going to give generic drugs to Africa to help in the fight against HIV, malaria and TB. Yes, based on that, we supported it.

However, we need to keep asking this question: Where does the money go?

It is very interesting that the Prime Minister just went down to Washington and made a speech there. He talked about international development assistance, but then what do we say? It is a simple answer: We are giving more money. We are giving more money so we are meeting our commitment to international assistance.

Really, giving more money and using money wisely and effectively is a challenge. It is a challenge unless and until there are structural reform changes that take place in CIDA. Most important, unless CIDA is legislated and is told that these are the areas in which we expect results--i.e., we expect to see money going to poverty reduction or education--only then can we say it is an effective use of dollars. Right now money is spread out as thinly as possible across 105 countries, with every kind of end use, some very good and some excellent, but the result is that nobody is happy.

Then we have CIDA-INC giving money for business ventures. It was proven by my colleague from Cypress Hill, at the time from the Reform Party, that the money was going to the companies with ties to the Liberal Party. The companies took advantage of that.

The bottom line is that while we speak about the budget, while we speak of giving money, it is critically important that the money be effectively spent. That is what Canadians are demanding from the budget.

Let me say very briefly that the budget does not address many of the issues that are most important to people in my riding. What are their issues? Of course one is health care and we are seeing the flip-flops coming out from the government on health care.

Also, I want to say to that New Democratic Party, once and for all, tell us, quote for us, give us the name of who has said for profit health care or private health care. Where did we say that? Tell the hon. member to tell us, Mr. Speaker. The hon. member stands up and blames the Conservative Party, but let her quote from where we have said that.

I also want to say that she knows what our most important issues are, and most important is tax reform, because unless and until Canadians have money in their pockets, only then will that be an effective use of money.

In conclusion, I say we are drifting. We are drifting because of this election and because this Prime Minister and this government have not been able to put forth the vision they promised to Canadians.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

May 4th, 2004 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

The Speaker

Order, please. It being 1:04 p.m., the House will now proceed to the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill C-9.

Call in the members.

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

April 29th, 2004 / 4 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Jacques Saada Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in view of the extreme popularity of Bill C-9, an act to amend the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs Act (The Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa), I have a request to make.

I would like to ask for the consent of the House to deem the motion for third reading of Bill C-9 carried.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

April 29th, 2004 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, in putting forward some thoughts on the discussion of Bill C-9, I would also like to put on the record an observation made yesterday in this chamber by the Minister for International Cooperation, because it seems to me that she made a very important point which ought to be repeated.

She said that the legislation before us in this chamber, namely Bill C-9, otherwise known as the Jean Chrétien pledge to Africa, is one that recognizes, on Canada's part, a “moral imperative”, that is, the imperative that we have to make available those medical treatments that are required, and in African countries in particular, to the millions of people who are suffering from these pandemics, in particular, of course, the pandemic of HIV-AIDS.

That point was elaborated on further by the Minister for International Cooperation with regard to voluntary licensing, when she said that “the amendments eliminate the requirement that patent holders be given the right of first refusal”. That was of course an amendment of considerable significance and importance during the deliberation at second reading.

In the discussion before question period, the member for Palliser made reference to Stephen Lewis, and quite rightly so, because this Canadian at the United Nations has been actively engaged in advancing the cause of helping African countries and the population there with respect to HIV-AIDS on that continent.

Mr. Stephen Lewis made a statement a few days ago which I would like to put on the record because it gives further background as to why we are engaged with this legislation and why we have developed such a unique parliamentary cohesion and unanimity behind it.

On April 6 of this year, in New York, Stephen Lewis, the United Nations special envoy on this matter, made the following statement:

I wish to join today with the legions of activists and advocates in Africa and worldwide who salute the quite remarkable collaboration on the provision of anti-retroviral drugs, jointly announced by The Clinton Foundation, The World Bank, UNICEF and the Global Fund. This initiative...could well spell the turnaround of the...pandemic in Africa.

Simply put, the Clinton Foundation will negotiate the drug prices, UNICEF will employ its procurement capacity, and the Global Fund and World Bank will provide the funding. There will be protocols and administrative requirements, of course, but nothing should now stand in the way of rolling out treatment to hundreds of thousands--soon to be millions--in the immediate future.

The best dimension of all of this is the price tag to be paid. We're talking of fixed-dose combinations of generic drugs, pre-qualified by the World Health Organization, to be purchased overwhelmingly from generic companies...at prices as low as $140 per person per year. It falls entirely within the World Trade Organization consensus agreement negotiated on August 30th, 2003. And it puts to rest the self-defeating jousting between generics and brand name pharmaceuticals. Clearly, when you have the power, the imprimatur and the dollars of the Clinton Foundation, World Bank, UNICEF and Global Fund weighing in behind generics, the debate is over. These four bodies make it clear in their statement that brand name companies are free--indeed, invited--to tender, and to meet the low prices. But it's equally clear that huge numbers of African lives will be prolonged and saved by generics...generic drugs at one-third to one-half the cost of the patent drugs. Just think of how much further the money will go.

Mr. Lewis concluded by saying:

This is all tremendously exciting, and it will be made even more so if WHO finally receives the seed money it needs--$200 million over two years--to help to coordinate the interventions at country level, to train the tens of thousands of additional people, to provide the emergency technical assistance, to keep the drug supplies flowing and to address the ongoing problems of infrastructure. In a phrase: to achieve 3 by 5.

Namely, that would be putting three million people into treatment by the end of 2005.

It seemed to me quite appropriate to put this statement by Stephen Lewis at the United Nations within the larger context of the Jean Chrétien pledge to Africa, namely Bill C-9, because it fits perfectly in it and it also gives us a broader picture as to why we are all engaged in this global effort, which is really bringing out the best in humanity and definitely appeals to the basic and most positive constructive sentiments that inspire the global community in every country.

I would like to congratulate the government for having persisted in bringing the bill to a happy conclusion despite all the technical difficulties. We look forward to third reading approval and to the speedy processing of it by the Senate so that it can be promulgated at a very early date.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

April 29th, 2004 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Brossard—La Prairie Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to reassure my colleague and Canadians that we are working on a number of bills.

We will proceed this afternoon with third reading of Bill C-9, an act to amend the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs Act (The Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa). This bill, which we introduced and which is now at third reading, makes it possible for us to send pharmaceutical products to help countries in Africa.

This will be followed by third reading stage of Bill C-12, an act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act.

Then we will move on to report stage of Bill C-23, an act to provide for real property taxation powers of first nations, to create a First Nations Tax Commission, First Nations Financial Management Board, First Nations Finance Authority and First Nations Statistical Institute and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

This will be followed by the debates on the motions for referral to committee before second reading of Bill C-29 and Bill C-32. I would like to point out that it is as part of our democratic reform that we are now regularly referring bills to committees before second reading, to allow them to review the legislation.

Therefore, before second reading, we will refer Bill C-29, an act to amend the Criminal Code (mental disorder) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, and Bill C-32, an act to amend the Criminal Code (drugs and impaired driving) and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts. We know that Canadians really want us to deal with the issue of impaired driving.

Of course, we will deal with third reading of Bill C-10, an act to amend the Contraventions Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

This is for today. We may not have time to finish everything, because there is a lot to do. In any case, tomorrow we will deal with report stage and, if possible, with third reading of Bill C-30, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 23, 2004.

Then, we will undertake our review of Bill C-28, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act.

Of course, next week we will continue with any unfinished business.

Incidentally, Thursday of next week, May 6, will be an allotted day. I would suggest that hon. members get a good rest, because there is still a lot of work to do.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

April 29th, 2004 / 1:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to thank the House for giving me this opportunity today to speak to Bill C-9.

The purpose of this bill is quite clear and simple; the bill amends the Patent Act to facilitate access to pharmaceutical products to address public health problems afflicting many developing and least-developed countries, especially those resulting from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other epidemics.

I would like also to indicate that it would be quite appropriate in this discussion to congratulate the member for Algoma—Manitoulin, the chair of the industry committee, for the outstanding work that he has performed in getting this bill through. There were, I am told, over 200 amendments and they were dealt with very thoroughly through hard work and extended hearings. Finally, the bill was reported back to the House for third reading yesterday. It recognizes the dedication of the chair and the members of the committee to this cause. It is only appropriate that we should recognize this because the working committee is seldom publicized and brought to the attention of constituents.

Next, it is desirable to indicate that while the title of the bill reads in a rather cut and dry manner, an amendment to the Patent Act and Food and Drugs Act, which would be very obscure unless it was explained at large, it also carries a subtitle to which other speakers in this debate have already made reference. The subtitle, which is in brackets, and I am very glad to see it, reads “The Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa”.

I find this most appropriate and desirable considering the tremendous effort that the former prime minister made in advancing the cause at international fora, particularly at the G-8 meetings, to the dramatic and tragic situation of the African continent. He did that on a number of occasions, particularly in Kananaskis in 2002, when the NEPAD policy was launched with the support of the G-7. Africa was put on the political map of those gathered at Kananaskis with complete support, by way of funding, by all the leaders who met on that occasion.

It seems to me, and I take into full account the comments just made by my colleague from the NDP, that perhaps there are many who have advanced the cause of dealing with pandemics in Africa. It is most appropriate that the leadership of the former prime minister be recognized and given appropriate exposure in this legislation and hopefully also beyond Canada's boundaries.

The purpose of the legislation is of course much larger than just the scope of the bill. The legislation intends to be part of a larger government effort intended to provide aid and medicinal assistance to countries in need. It is my understanding that Canada has already committed $100 million to the global fund to fight HIV and AIDS, and in addition to that some $62 million to the Canadian fund for Africa.

Therefore, we can see that the legislation is coming in as a reinforcing element within the framework of a broader policy effort, and it is most appropriate and timely. It is also a demonstration that the global community is taking on a responsibility for a problem that is hundreds of miles away, but nevertheless touches us all because we are all members of a human community that ties us together.

The situation in Africa is desperate. It is important to put on the record some data. It is a fact that there are some 36 million people apparently who are affected by AIDS at the present time. Two-thirds of these 36 million souls live in five countries: Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. In five other African countries, namely, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, one adult out of five who registers positively on tests for AIDS or has already incurred into the AIDS pandemic. This data is from the World Health Organization.

As a result, the average life expectancy in many African countries has been reduced by 23 years. When we are witnessing a trend in the opposite direction, namely longer and longer life expectancies, we have a continent where the life expectancy is going down and being reduced as a result of this pandemic. There are other countries which seem not to be completely exempt from this terrible disease. Reference has been made to the Bahamas, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, Guyana and to Haiti where it is expected that the average life expectancy is to be reduced by at least three years.

These statistics necessarily are cut and dry, but they hide another very important social reality. That is that as a result of the deaths within a population, there is a dramatic decrease in the number of teachers in the schools, workers in agriculture and in industry, clerical workers, people in the health care sectors, in hospitals, et cetera. Therefore, the fragile and limited structures in these countries are affected by this disease. In other words, there is an impact on numbers and social structures in the countries I mentioned earlier. These are poor countries which lack the resources to remedy the situation, in particular to provide, acquire and purchase the medicines and drugs necessary to stop the spread of this pandemic.

Therefore, we have these initiatives by Canada and other like-minded countries in trying to come to grips with getting to the root of the problem and to prevent the spread of this disease. In this respect we are all very proud of the fact that Canada is in the forefront of this initiative. This is why this bill is so important, why it has received the support of every party and why there is an element of urgency attached to the bill itself.

I would like to continue in my presentation by adding some words on the intervention yesterday by the Minister for International Cooperation. However, since you wish me to recognize the clock, Mr. Speaker, I will yield the floor and perhaps resume my comments after three o'clock.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

April 29th, 2004 / 1:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-9, the humanitarian bill. It is certainly important for all caucuses to support the legislation because the need for access to medicines has been recognized internationally. It is important that Canada participates and sets an example for the world, although it does remain to be seen whether we will have set a good example. I will have more on that later.

Every day a countless number of people die in the developing world of diseases for which there are cures, diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and pneumonia, simply because of a lack of access to medicines most often due to the high cost of pharmaceutical products.

Although there is yet no cure for the HIV-AIDS pandemic, there are drugs to ameliorate it. In Africa alone, every day 6,000 people die of AIDS, while 11,000 more contract the disease.

I think we would all agree that Stephen Lewis, the Canadian special envoy on this at the United Nations, has done more not only in Canada but around the world to raise this issue and to force us to realize it than any other human being alive.

On health, education and security, any initiative to improve in these areas will have many different components, and this bill seeks to address one of those core components, namely the access to medicines.

Improved health is linked to increased school attendance for children and their ability to do well while at school. As we all know, education is a lifelong process and has a lifelong impact on an individual's well-being and economic productivity.

We have heard lots of talk about security in recent days. In fact, the Prime Minister is talking about that very subject this afternoon in Washington. I firmly believe one of the most important ways that we can make our world more secure is through improving the health of the people in that world because it leads them to participate more fully in the social, economic and cultural events and aspects of their countries and their home communities.

Many studies show the devastating economic impact of infectious diseases such as malaria and the AIDS pandemic. The World Health Organization's recent commission on macroeconomics and health stated:

The evidence confirms that countries with the weakest conditions of health and education have a much harder time achieving sustained growth than do countries with better conditions of health and education.

There is no surprise there.

On the international process over the past several years, the background to this legislation is that when it is passed, Bill C-9 will be among the first pieces of legislation of its kind in the world, the end product of several years of negotiations on the international stage. It goes back to November 2001 at the WTO Doha round on intellectual property rights. The declaration affirmed that countries have the right to protect public health and improve access to affordable medicines, including through compulsory licensing of pharmaceutical products.

This international acknowledgement was incredibly important because, although many countries officially recognized the need for a better balance between intellectual property rights and human rights, the need for a north-south sharing of technologies and knowledge, the reality of intellectual property rights made the practicalities of that sharing difficult, which meant that little of substance was actually being done.

The WTO agreement last August is the practical solution to the principles agreed to at Doha and was historic in that it gave World Trade Organization members the right to export to developing countries those generic medicines still under patent without fear of trade retaliation and it acknowledged the importance and urgency of so doing.

On the competition aspects of the bill, because of intellectual property rights, patent holder or innovator companies have monopolies on their drug products in this country for a period of 20 years, which the health critic for the Bloc Québécois was explaining very well a few moments ago. That 20 year patent protection rule varies from country to country around the world.

In developing new drug products there is often many years of research and development and patent holders obviously must recoup their costs and these costs, particularly for new experimental drugs such as those used in HIV-AIDS, are often far too high for developing countries and NGOs delivering health services in those developing countries to meet the need and demand for the products.

As a result, many patent holders have entered into agreements with countries and specific programs to provide their drugs at lower prices or at no cost at all but those efforts have been insufficient to meet the demand.

Increasing competition, by allowing generic producers to enter the market earlier, is seen as crucial to ensuring that those needing treatment have access to those medicines as required. Increasing competition increases supply and decreases prices, and both of these are needed for developing countries in order for them to be able to meet the urgent health care needs of their people.

On the international obligation front, Canada has many international obligations in this area, including having recognized since 1945 the right to health as a fundamental right, the UN's special session on HIV-AIDS to make, in an urgent manner, every effort to increase the standard of treatment for people suffering from HIV-AIDS, including the prevention and treatment of opportunistic infections.

It is important to ensure that as parliamentarians we fully respect and reflect Canada's obligations to taking this important step toward the full realization of the human right to health, including the promotion of access to affordable medicines for all.

My colleague, the member for Windsor West, who has worked very hard and tirelessly on this legislation, presented both at committee and here at report stage several other pharmaceutical products that can be of use to developing countries. An amendment was made to include an important fixed dose drug for the treatment of tuberculosis and that was passed at report stage and, I am happy to say, is included in the bill.

Unfortunately, two other drug products that he had proposed were rejected at report stage. One of them is on the World Health Organization's pre-qualified list of drugs for HIV-AIDS and the other is currently indicated for pneumonia, which is the leading killer of children in the developing world under the age of five. This drug is also being studied for possible anti-tuberculosis use.

I sincerely hope that the Minister of Health and the Minister of Industry will together move quickly to receive advice on those two products and include them on a future schedule of drugs.

We first saw Bill C-9 as Bill C-56, which was introduced last November but died on the Order Paper when the House of Commons prorogued on December 12. It was reintroduced in its initial form on February 12 but the government proposed many changes following that.

Testimony was given at committee from a variety of groups, and while all witnesses appearing made it clear that they were supportive of the initiative, many problems with the bill that were identified by those expert witnesses. They included the first right of refusal, which would have allowed the patent holder, the pharmaceutical companies, to scoop a contract negotiated by a potential generic producer. This would drive up the cost of the eventual drug.

With regard to the schedule, testimony on this aspect was clear. It was felt that there should be no schedule of drugs. It was felt by the overwhelming majority of witnesses that this would be flawed at the outset and that having a schedule, regardless of how flexible it may be intended to be, would add another unnecessary step in the process of getting drugs to the developing world. The reason for that is that if the drug is not listed on the schedule there would have to be a process to first, get it on the schedule, and then get it to where it was needed.

Respected organizations, such as Doctors Without Borders, testified that the language did not allow for the participation of non-governmental organizations. It was felt that the wording would not allow them to participate because NGOs do not consider themselves as agents of any government and they play a crucial role in many developing countries in providing health care services, including access to medicines.

Many witnesses also presented testimony about the need to expand the schedules of eligible countries. In its original form only WTO member developing countries and least developed countries were eligible, while many witnesses testified that there was no requirement by international trade rules to exclude those several dozen other developing countries, such as Vietnam, Iran and Iraq, countries which also face substantial health issues that we see regularly on our television sets and that could be better addressed if they had access to medicines at affordable cost.

I want to turn now to the major problems that we see in the bill. Over 100 amendments that were submitted by my colleague, the member for Windsor West would have done several things, including eliminating the first right of refusal, extending the list of eligible countries and drug products and, lastly, clarifying the language around the participation of non-government organizations.

After the committee hearings, the government took more than a month to present its amendments to the bill. It made substantial amendments, including eliminating the first right of refusal, allowing for other developing countries to apply through diplomatic channels to be eligible to participate and to allow NGOs to participate. Although some of these changes presented further additional problems that may affect the workability of the bill, myself, the member for Windsor West and my colleagues in the New Democratic Party caucus are supportive of the majority of those proposed amendments.

We did raise at committee the new concerns around the increased opportunities for legal battles between patent and generic drug companies that could seriously impact how this bill will actually work in reality, the unnecessary requirement that developing countries wishing to be added to the list of eligible countries are required to be added specifically with reference to a particular drug product and it is unclear what process has to be followed after that.

My colleague from Windsor West was pleased to have the support of the committee and wanted it recognized on several amendments, including those to ensure that humanitarian concerns be considered the first determination if the Federal Court is required under the appropriate section as to whether a royalty rate has been established according to the formula that will be prescribed in the regulations.

The section on page 12 of the bill now reads:

The Federal Court may make an order...taking into account

(a) the humanitarian and non-commercial reasons underlying the issuance of the authorization;

(b) the economic value of the use of the invention or inventions to the country or WTO Member

We can see the importance of reversing those two clauses.

Another amendment ensures that there is a minimum of a 30 day waiting period that a potential generic producer must observe to apply for a voluntary licence from the patent holder before applying to the Commissioner of Patents for a compulsory licence.

The third amendment was a language change to ensure that the minister be required to establish an advisory committee to advise on the inclusion of further drug products in schedule 1.

There are some continuing problems that have been identified and the first that remains is on the scheduling. As the House has heard before, there is a consensus that the presence of a schedule at all provides further inflexibility in ensuring that countries have access to the drugs that they require.

A list by its nature is exclusionary because it does not include all possibilities and the negotiations that led to the historic WTO waiver last August examined and rejected the idea of creating a list.

Under Bill C-9, if a country wants a drug that is already approved for use and sale here in Canada, it will have to start a process to get that drug included before a generic producer could apply for a voluntary or compulsory licence to supply the country with that medication.

We presented at committee and in the House amendments to improve the schedule, and we will continue to monitor the impact of the existence of the schedule on the workability of the bill.

The second major problem that remains, in our opinion, is that NGOs in countries where they are legally entitled to purchase and distribute pharmaceutical products to contract directly with generic suppliers in Canada. Again, NGOs play a crucial role in many developing countries in their broader health care programs, including purchasing and distributing of essential medicines, and this barrier is a major cause of concern around the workability of this bill.

The third major problem stems from those amendments the government proposed at committee stage to replace the first right of refusal. The new legislation, as amended, now includes opportunities for patent holders to take generic products to the federal court about the royalty rate and the price of the product. Over the past decade there have been at least 300 cases brought against generic producers in federal court and court battles can be lengthy and costly, as we all know. Given that the price generic producers can charge is now to be regulated by a fixed and flexible cap, there is concern that they may not be able to participate to increase supply on the variety of products that might have been possible without these new sections and without the first right of refusal clauses. Generic producers will have significant outlay of cost to increase their own research and development and operational costs to get into this business of increasing supply, and with the price cap there may be a serious disincentive for generic producers to participate.

Problems, as I have tried to indicate, do remain with the bill, but it is in the best interests of the people who the bill is intended to assist for us to give the regime a try and to pass the legislation quickly.

Canada has made numerous international commitments, which I and my colleagues in the New Democratic Party caucus support, to help address the pandemic of HIV-AIDS and other diseases like tuberculosis and malaria. While we continue to be critical of some government action, or better said, inaction, in some of these areas, if Bill C-9 actually works to increase pharmaceutical products through competition, then it will be an important tool and broader strategies to improve health in countries across the world.

We have gone through the process of hearing expert witnesses, amending legislation and exchanging ideas on how we think the bill should work. However there was a definite mindset and will be in all parties, including my own, to ensure that we deal with the bill as quickly as possible to ensure that we at least try to get cheaper pharmaceutical drugs on the market.

We in the NDP will continue to watch and monitor how the bill works and whether it provides enough incentive for generic producers to actually get into the business of producing cheaper versions of drugs for export to developing countries, the role and efficacy of the advisory committee and the schedule of drugs.

Just before I take my seat, I was interested to hear that this bill has been named the Jean Chrétien bill. While I do not wish to take anything away from the former prime minister and I know his interest in Africa, there will be very few Canadians who will think that this should be related to Jean Chrétien. It should be known as the Stephen Lewis bill. It was Stephen Lewis who brought this to the attention of Canadians and, indeed, people around the world and it is important that it be recognized at this time.

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April 29th, 2004 / 1 p.m.
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Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to take part in this debate on Bill C-9. As I was saying yesterday, I do so with the belief that, to some extent, we are contributing not only to the north-south dialogue, but we are clearly making history, since this bill was passed unanimously and therefore received extremely strong and continuous support from all parties.

As members know, all the parties committed to working together to ensure speedy passage of the bill, in hopes that the other place will do likewise. However, we know this is another matter entirely.

Bill C-9 addresses the important issue of the contribution of companies manufacturing pharmaceutical products. My caucus colleagues know that, for about ten years now, I have taken an interest in the actions of drug companies, both the generic products industry and the innovative drug industry. I am extremely proud to say that I do not think I have ever been too critical, as the member for Verchères—Les-Patriotes knows.

Today, I would be remiss if I did not pay tribute to the innovative drug industry, which has assumed its responsibilities. Let us take a closer look at this issue.

In 1989, the Conservatives, under Brian Mulroney, ended the compulsory licensing program. In other words, it was possible, before Bill C-22, which became Bill C-91 under the Conservatives, to obtain a licence from a company with a monopoly. This licence was granted to a generic drug company, which had to pay royalties to be able to produce and reproduce the drug.

We must not forget that, back then, the term of a patent was ten years. What is a patent? I think that the President of the Privy Council has doubtless thought about this. A patent is important because it is a social contract. The President of the Privy Council will agree with me that it is a social contract by which society gives exclusive right to the protection and production of an invention or pharmaceutical product.

Furthermore, 18 months after the patent is filed, a full description of the invention is made public. There are, however, three criteria that must also be met. There are three criteria for patentability, at least in Canada.

First, the invention must be new. A search is conducted worldwide, not just in North America. The Commissioner of Patents conducts an international search to ensure that it is a new invention.

Second, the invention must show ingenuity.

Third, the invention should be useful.

If these three conditions are met, a patent is granted, and it provides trade exclusivity and complete protection. Copying the invention or chemical process is against the law, and there can be counterfeit charges. This is an extremely strict system.

In matters of copyright, we have case law and judicial mechanisms, since extremely important trade issues underlie the whole concept of copyright.

In 1989, the Conservatives did away with compulsory licensing. From then on, Canada was in line with what was being done in other countries. That was very important for Montreal, since the biotechnology industry is concentrated there. The Conservatives set the patent protection at 20 years, once the patent has been granted by the commissioner and the three conditions—new, useful and not obvious—have been met. Patent protection is then provided.

However, when Bills C-22 and C-91 were enacted, they also had provisions forbidding the export of drugs. It was illegal to export drugs, and sanctions could be imposed.

Since 1989, another factor has been added, and this is intellectual property rights. Governments signed what has been called the TRIPS agreement.

Moreover, two years ago a bill was passed to harmonize all Canadian patents. Some were still in the 10-year system, others 20. There was a challenge by the U.S. under the TRIPS agreement, and the mandatory arbitration went against Canada.

A noteworthy point about the WTO is that the relative clout of the countries has no importance. There are dispute settlement mechanisms in place that allow a country like Costa Rica to win out over the United States. Canada lost and so it has to harmonize all of its patents to the 20-year period.

Today we have a bill before us that will make it possible to export drugs, but not to export them just anywhere, just to designated importing countries listed in the schedule to the bill. Basically, these are the developing countries.

The list was incomplete in the first version of the bill, and the Minister of Industry has revised it. To all intents and purposes, the countries able to import drugs fall into the category classified as developing countries.

How will this be possible? Countries wishing to obtain drugs issue a call for tenders on a web site, so the competition is international, of course. Canadian companies will be competing with others in the U.S. and Europe.

When a company wants to compete in order to supply drugs to a third world country, there are two things in the bill that govern this. First, generic companies will be able to obtain the contract. Initially the bill contained what was termed the right of first refusal. This meant that companies holding a patent could, even if the contract had been negotiated by the generic companies, be the first supplier because they were the patent holders.

All of the international cooperative bodies criticized this bill, from Development and Peace to Doctors without Borders. All those involved in delivering humanitarian aid said that this was impossible, that if this right of first refusal were maintained there would be a dissuasive effect on the generic companies which might want to negotiate contracts.

At least in this one instance, though far from a regular occurrence, the government did heed the stakeholders in committee, and the right of first refusal was done away with.

The supply of drugs is not a trivial issue. Just think that, every year, 10 million children die from diseases relating to malnutrition which could have been avoided. Every year, one million people, most of them children under the age of five, die of malaria. Every day, over 8,000 people in the world die of AIDS. We know that the HIV-AIDS epidemic is concentrated in certain parts of the world, particularly in African countries.

Why are these figures important? Because, for each of the diseases that I mentioned, there is a drug available. However, if this drug is not accessible at a lower cost to countries that are facing these epidemics, we will not be able to fight these epidemics.

Even if Canada, through cooperation agencies such as CIDA, allocated $100 million per year for the development of third world countries, if the nationals of these countries are not themselves active, productive and healthy citizens who can make a commitment to help build and improve their country and their economy, these developing countries have a major problem on their hands.

We need legislation that will allow third world countries to have access to drugs at a lower cost. The way drugs are being produced—and that includes the factory price and the distribution to retailers—it is clear that the system is not competitive.

Of course, in Canada, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board was established when the Conservatives passed Bill C-91. The board is a quasi-judicial tribunal. Let me give an example. When Merck Frosst produces a drug, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board monitors the situation to ensure that, once the drug leaves the factory and is distributed to wholesalers and retailers, the price charged is not prohibitive or exorbitant. We have a price index to determine if prices are excessive. If they are, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board may ask the company to refund the overcharged amount. Such a measure has been taken in a number of cases.

When it comes to exporting drugs from Canada, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board has no jurisdiction. It was up to the international community to amend agreements on intellectual property rights and trade in order to make these drugs accessible at a better price, a cheaper price. This raised a number of issues.

I think that everyone in this House understands how this works. A voluntary licence is issued by the patent holder. If the latter refuses to issue the licence, the patent commissioner may issue an order. The agreement amended in August 2003 does not require the patent holder to transfer their drug.

A royalty of roughly 2% of the commercial value of the product has to be paid out. This is not a donation. Companies that hold the patents will receive royalties for the person or company that obtained this voluntary licence. If there is disagreement on the royalty or the terms of the licence transfer—which initially has to be voluntary—the patent commissioner can be asked to rule and the licence, which was to be voluntary, will become mandatory.

Concerns were raised during the work at committee on how NGOs fit into this. For example, there is Doctors Without Borders, and Development and Peace, which are Canadian NGOs working in third world countries. Some NGOs, if not all, would have liked to be able to negotiate directly with the manufacturer. Obviously, thought needed to be given to this. There was a risk of interfering in national sovereignty.

Governments are subject to international law. In major international conventions, government means something. One of the first conventions provided a definition of sovereignty. That word simply rolls off my tongue. Sovereignty was defined in 1934 at Montevideo. It was said that a government has five characteristics: a functioning government; a permanent population, of course; control over a territory, which is increasingly being described as a defined territory; the capacity to recognize citizenship; and, of course, international relations.

Once a government or administration is in office, it is responsible for the delivery of health care. I understand the industry minister has amended the bill to ensure not that NGOs can directly negotiate with the manufacturers but that they can be involved in the negotiations since they have the ultimate responsibility for service delivery. That is one of the responsibilities governments have.

Parliamentarians also wanted to ensure that the additional pharmaceuticals needed to supply third world countries are manufactured in a manner that distinguishes them from the products sold on the domestic market. Under the bill, pharmaceuticals for export would be differentiated through different colours and different labels.

This is an extremely humane and responsible piece of legislation. I want to say a few words about the companies grouped under Rx&D. I remember having breakfast at the parliamentary restaurant with representatives of that organization, along with our industry critic, the hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, and also, of course, our international trade critic, the hon. member for Verchères—Les-Patriotes. The hon. member for Trois-Rivières, who has a long-standing interest in the third world, also joined us. I even recall that he asked very relevant questions. He was most interested in Africa.

We understand, of course, that pharmaceuticals would not only be exported to Africa. They could also be exported to Central and South America. However, I remember how much emphasis the member for Trois-Rivières put on Africa.

We wanted to ensure that the member companies of Rx&D would co-operate. It is clear that if the companies had not been interested in issuing voluntary licences, we would have found ourselves in a very embarrassing situation. Various arbitration mechanisms would have led to compulsory licensing. The commissioner of patents would have had to intervene and it is clear that it would have caused undue delay.

I must say that the innovative companies have behaved very responsibly in this matter. I hope that this sense of responsibility is reflected in the various domestic debates we shall have.

Perhaps I could take a few moments to talk about what is going on in Canada with respect to the price of pharmaceuticals, even though I know this is about the international level. Members are aware that it is the largest expense in all health care systems. In fact, each year in Canada, a total of $120 billion is spent on health. The fastest growing budgetary item in that area is the cost of drugs; the hon. member Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik knows this because he has sat on various regional health boards.

I had proposed a number of solutions to my caucus, in order to fight the rising cost of pharmaceuticals. In fact, the cost of medicine is rising at a faster rate than costs in the health care system in general. On average, health care costs in Canada, in each province, are rising by 5% per year, but the cost of medicine is rising more than that.

I shall conclude by saying that we are going to support the speedy passage of Bill C-9, because it is a good bill for third world countries, for our international obligations, and for the north-south dialogue.

I salute the innovative companies that have shouldered their responsibilities. I congratulate all members of this House—in particular, the hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques—who have worked very hard in committee. I hope the other place will enjoy the same kind of energy that has characterized this House's work on Bill C-9.

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April 29th, 2004 / 12:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Aileen Carroll Liberal Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

More? In that case, I will add just a few more remarks as I know there are other colleagues who wish to speak. I do not want to in any way preclude that, but I do think it is important, speaking for a moment as one the five ministers on Bill C-9, to reflect a bit of our perspective in the Canadian International Development Agency. We see, as do our other department colleagues, that this is just one part of Canada's contribution to the global effort to combat disease in developing countries.

Canada's efforts also focus on preventing the spread of disease and helping people with disease live fulfilling and productive lives. As I mentioned yesterday in a response to a question here in the House, it is part of the very holistic approach CIDA takes to development because it works.

I used the example of what we are attempting to do in building the capacity of countries in the developing world to provide the kinds of health services so desperately needed, and of course to have the structures and systems in place to dovetail with the present and future availability of less expensive drug products. Indeed, improving access to those medications is essential, but as I say, in order to maximize their benefits, the health systems must be improved and we are actively involved in doing so.

This means, then, ensuring that there are enough doctors, nurses, hospitals and clinics to administer the medicine and to ensure the follow-up, so different from here in Canada. The care prior to the ravages of disease and the post-hospital or post-clinic care are imperative to treating the diseases that we are aiming to treat.

It also means ensuring that there is adequate access to clean water and sanitation, which curtails the spread of the disease. Some 60% of the diseases so rampant in developing countries are caused by a lack of clean water, so CIDA has many programs dedicated to the provision of clean water and to dealing with all the causes of contamination. In that regard, we partner with many very effective NGOs to accomplish that objective.

In addition to all of what we do to build up the health care systems, we of course have committed very serious and large amounts of our budget to address the HIV-AIDS pandemic generally. In the years from 2000 to 2005, our investment is in the area of $270 million. When we add to that an additional $1.2 billion allocated for health and nutrition initiatives, all a part of what we are attempting to achieve, it shows the very serious priority that we assign to health care and to the prevention and treatment of diseases in developing countries.

I have made reference to my efforts as minister for international development in international venues where I find myself. It is a great opportunity, as a member of group of six like-minded donors called the Utstein group, including Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, England and Canada, that I am able to convey to them what we have done, being the first out of the gate with Bill C-9, and the first one to come into compliance with the TRIPS agreement, which we all signed as members of the WTO. Let me say that quite frankly I put an onus on them. They are very ready to bear that onus and very keen to receive all the details of this legislation, which has been the result of an excellent partnership of five departments of government, stakeholders in the community and in Canada, and a great willingness to come together to make sure that not only will we pass that legislation but that it will be an excellent piece of legislation.

I am delighted that we will have accomplished this today. It is a very exciting day. I think it is a wonderful news story. I hope that the media, who are very quick to note areas that they determine to be newsworthy, will make a major news story out of the passage of Bill C-9 in this House on this date, because it is a day that we all should mark.

Finally, let me say that yesterday I spoke briefly to the bill, along with other colleagues, and I made sure I stayed in the House to listen to the remarks of the hon. member for Calgary East, who spoke of his support for the bill and the work that he too brought to the process. He originally came from Tanzania and I had the opportunity to be in that country with him, long before I was given this position, to meet members of his family and to observe first-hand the experiences he has shared with the House. He has told us of the situation in that country as it faces the ravages of diseases and of the commitment it instilled in him to be a very supportive part of the team that brought this bill forward. I thank him for his remarks. I think Canadians should know that it is the Liberal government bringing in this bill but with tremendous support from all around this House.

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April 29th, 2004 / 12:40 p.m.
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Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll LiberalMinister for International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today in support of Bill C-9. This is groundbreaking legislation that clearly demonstrates what can be accomplished when we focus on what truly matters: humanity and compassion.

Today with the Canada and Jean Chrétien pledge to Africa act, we are sending a message to the community of nations. When confronted with misery and tragedy, Canadians do not look away.

We do not close our eyes to the sufferings of others and we do not throw up our hands in despair, we act. Diseases such as HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria are taking a terrible toll on the developing world. They accounted for almost a quarter of the global death toll last year.

However, numbers alone cannot begin to convey the full impact of these diseases on the political, economic and social structures in developing countries. Eighty percent of those dying from AIDS are between the ages of 20 and 50. It is anticipated that by the end of this decade, there could be more than 44 million AIDS orphans.

As a result, we face a potential demographic crisis where the most productive members of society can no longer raise their families and contribute to their communities.

The world's poorest countries cannot effectively fight poverty if their teachers, students, health care workers and business people are debilitated by disease. Simply put, we face the breakdown of families, community life and ultimately societies at large. Yet many of the diseases plaguing poverty stricken countries are largely treatable.

In the developed world, for example, the use of combination chemotherapy with anti-retroviral agents makes HIV-AIDS a chronic but a manageable disease. In the developing world, however, these drugs are largely unavailable. Only about 5% of those who require anti-retroviral agents are getting them and the same is true for other essential drugs. This is a great injustice and one that must be addressed.

As Canadians, we need to get involved. We need to work hand in hand with other nations to help lift the death sentence that HIV-AIDS and other diseases have literally imposed on millions of men, women and children across the planet. Fortunately, the situation, while dire, is not without hope.

After many years of sounding the alarm, the tireless efforts of a committed few are awaking the rest of the world to this grim reality. As Stephen Lewis, the United Nations Secretary General's Special Envoy on HIV-AIDS in Africa has noted, “there is a new momentum”. We are seeing a renewed commitment and engagement by those in the developed world.

I believe that Bill C-9 is a big step toward strengthening Canada's commitment on this issue.

This legislation responds to a decision by the World Trade Organization to override certain provisions of the agreement on the aspects of intellectual property rights as they relate to trade.

The decision is intended to permit the export, under certain conditions, of licensed versions of patented pharmaceutical products to countries that cannot manufacture their own.

I should point out that the WTO does not require its members to enact any particular measures. No one has ever said that Canada must get involved. Nevertheless, our collective conscience says we must do so. This is a moral imperative and a pressing need to act, and to act quickly.

We sincerely hope that our leadership on this issue will encourage other countries to follow our example.

Bill C-9 is based on a balance of interests. On one side, there are the great humanitarian objectives, to send vital pharmaceuticals to developing countries. On the other side, we must protect the integrity of our intellectual property system and ensure that we respect our international obligations in this matter.

We must not forget the importance of intellectual property rights, such as those protected by patents. After all, such protection stimulates continued progress in medicine, progress for the good of every one of us.

The government is persuaded that this bill reconciles these two imperatives and establishes a practical system to permit appropriate medicines to reach the people who need them.

At the same time, we recognize that access to less expensive generic versions of medications alone is not enough. Without well trained health care workers and adequate infrastructure, developing countries will unable to reverse the spread of these diseases.

That is why in addition to moving forward on Bill C-9, Canada continues to help developing nations build their capacity in their health care systems. By moving on these two fronts at once, increasing access to drugs and strengthening health care systems, Canada is working very hard to enable poor countries to scale up the treatments.

Canada is the first country to adopt this kind of legislation. Other countries are sure to follow our lead.

When I was in Washington last weekend for the spring meetings of the World Bank and the IMF, ministers from other countries commended Canada for the bill. They asked me for details so they could replicate it in their own countries. By having been the first country to come out of the gate and by having been the first country to bring forward this very important legislation, indeed we are imposing a certain onus, and it is an onus I intend to speak of in whatever international venue I find myself.

Because the world is watching, we have to get this right.

Thanks to a wide range of contributors, I believe we have achieved this.

I will take this opportunity to thank the members of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology and the many people who took the time to send in their comments and to appear before the committee.

The list of such intervenors is quite long and includes representatives of the patent medicine sector, the generic drug sector, and many non-governmental organizations, such as Doctors without Borders and Oxfam.

I applaud the commitment each one of them has made to this humanitarian initiative. Because of their efforts, in large part, the bill has been amended and very much improved.

Let me outline very briefly how the new regime proposed by Bill C-9 will work. The regime proposes a number of schedules that set out the pharmaceutical products and the countries to which the bill applies. Where any such country identifies a need for one of these products in order to respond to a public health problem, the country may approach a Canadian generic drug manufacturer to negotiate a supply agreement. I should add that these schedules are very inclusive and can be speedily amended to add countries or to add pharmaceutical products to respond to changing demands.

A supply agreement can be concluded at any time. The only obligation on the generic drug company is that before applying to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office for an export licence, it must first approach the brand name company holding the patents for that product to see whether the latter is willing to accord a voluntary licence on reasonable terms and conditions. If the brand name company is unwilling to do so, the generic company is free to proceed with its application for a licence and, assuming the requisite health, safety and administrative conditions are met, a licence will be issued and the product can be exported.

Finally, the regime also includes a number of safeguards to ensure the export of high quality products that will be provided directly to the people who need them.

Bill C-9 is good legislation. It proposes a fair and workable regime. This speaks volumes for Canada and Canadians and reflects a compassion that will soon benefit those in need of our help. I encourage the members of this House from all parties to lend their support to Bill C-9. Together, we can send a clear message to the millions of men, women and children in the developing world. It is a message of hope and compassion. It is a message that says Canada cares.

Mr. Speaker, I am noting your body language and I am wondering if I have run out of time. If I have, in that case I will conclude my remarks.

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April 29th, 2004 / 12:40 p.m.
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York West Ontario

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberalfor the Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

moved that Bill C-9, an act to amend the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs Act (The Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa), be read the third time and passed.

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April 28th, 2004 / 5:30 p.m.
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division at the report stage of Bill C-9.

Call in the members.

And the bells having run:

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April 28th, 2004 / 5:15 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

James Rajotte Canadian Alliance Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Conservative Party, I want to add a few words to this discussion on the second group of motions to Bill C-9, which deal mainly with adding medicines.

In particular, I want to address the issue of why we will not be supporting the motions put forward by my hon. friend from the NDP. I will reiterate what the government member said. The member for Windsor West did an excellent job at committee, a real tribute to his constituents.

However, there is something we should keep in mind. Many people before us at committee expressed concern about adding medicines. Let us look at the bill. Proposed section 21.03 of the bill reads:

The Governor in Council may, by order,

(a) on the recommendation of the Minister [of Industry] and the Minister of Health, amend Schedule 1

(i) by adding the name of any patented product that may be used to address public health problems afflicting many developing and least-developed countries, especially those resulting from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other epidemics and, if the Governor in Council considers it appropriate to do so, by adding one or more of the following in respect of the patented product, namely, a dosage form, a strength and a route of administration--

This section really addresses the concern about whether we can add medicines. Perhaps in the future these two medicines may be added, but we do not know at this time. Our party feels that the people who make these decisions should make them within the parameters of this act itself, looking at the massive public health problems afflicting certain nations specifically with regard to HIV-AIDS, TB and malaria. We have to look at it within that umbrella and I really do think that we need to rely on our Department of Health here in Canada to guide us in these matters; that is certainly why we are making the decision we are. Obviously we are open to amending the schedule and adding other medications if that is the desire in the future.

In terms of the advisory council, our party made the motion to ensure that there is parliamentary input into the formation of this council, so that is a welcome addition as well.

I just wanted to add those few explanatory words for my hon. friend. This is why we in the Conservative Party will not be supporting Motions Nos. 14 and 18. We will support the addition to the list of all the other medicines that the government and the Department of Health have okayed and recommended.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

April 28th, 2004 / 4:55 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, I sometimes stumble through some of the medicine names which can be tongue twisters and very difficult to pronounce.

I am pleased to have a second opportunity to speak to the bill, in particular to the motions in Group No. 2 that we are referencing here, a specific series of drugs that have been introduced.

I want to first and foremost commend the committee work, as we have heard from several members. The fact that it is coming forward this way is because the committee agreed at that time to review things and make sure that Health Canada could review some of my amendments which could then be introduced at report stage. That is to the credit of the committee, the flexibility that evolved out of that, to ensure that we were doing the right thing.

Hopefully this group of amendments will provide additional resources to assist people around the world who are suffering with different types of conditions. The premise of the bill is to ensure that a distribution of generic drugs at a lower cost can get out to people who really need them. This is why we are doing this at this particular time.

These amendments are representative of a series of amendments that I proposed at the clause by clause stage. These are drugs to which Health Canada raised no objection. I thank those officials for their advice and assistance in my preparation of the list of motions on drug products. They were very professional and courteous, and made sure they were open for questions, especially given the tight timeframes under which we were working. They were very good in terms of getting back to me and my staff. It is important to recognize the work of the Health Canada officials.

Those officials have also circulated a copy of their recommendations to me, which I hope has been of use. Because of the way schedule 1 is worded, members will note that for some of the amendments, like that of amprenavir, it is simply the addition of a capsule formula but the amendment had to read to replace the whole line. It was a procedural issue but I hope the clarification is useful and once again provides for no other obstructions in getting those types of medicines to people who really need them.

This series of drugs presented here are indicated for a variety of different illnesses that affect the developing world, quite tragically. There are solutions and that is what some of these drugs can do, providing the right infrastructures for not only the countries themselves but also the humanitarian groups that are assisting them.

The amendment for amprenavir, Motion No. 12; delavirdine, Motion No. 15; lamivudine, Motion No. 17; and zalcitabine, Motion No. 19, are simple technical additions to include either the capsule or tablet formulation that is not currently in Bill C-9. All of these drugs are indicated for use in the treatment of HIV. We know from a number of speakers how many individuals across the developing worlds are suffering from HIV, and these drugs will provide some additional opportunities for them.

The amendment on ceftriaxone, Motion No. 13, simply adds the 500 milligram dosage to what already exists in schedule 1. It provides another opportunity for a specific case, if it is deemed necessary, for those wishing to assist.

The first of the new drug products which I propose to include is clarithromycin, Motion No.. 14. It is used to treat an AIDS-related infection called mycobacterium avium complex and also has other more general anti-infection uses.

As members of the House may be aware, the World Health Organization, in its attempts to facilitate quality, effective and safe HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria drugs, regularly updates what are referred to as “pre-qualified” drugs. Essentially it means that international experts appointed by the World Health Organization examine products submitted by companies around the world and assess whether they meet World Health Organization standards of quality, safety and efficacy.

Clarithromycin is on the WHO's pre-qualified list of HIV-AIDS drugs. Therefore it is one that has been vetted through the international process and we feel that that is a good reason to support it. It also apparently is a very expensive drug and, therefore, including it in the bill, which has the ultimate aim of providing access to medicines through cheaper generic versions, especially for the treatment of HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, would make the bill even more able to achieve its aims. That is a benefit and a credit to the bill.

The second new drug that I have proposed is the fixed dose combination drug of isoniazid, pyrazinamide and rifampin, Motion No. 16. This combination of the three drugs is an anti-tuberculosis agent that is used for short course treatments of pulmonary tuberculosis in the initial phase.

According to Stop TB, tuberculosis infects one in three people worldwide. Between two million and three million die each year of this curable disease. This combination drug, also known as rifater, is also an expensive drug and could be very advantageous and important in the treatment of tuberculosis, which would, like clarithromycin, meet the aims of the bill.

The third of the new drug products I propose to introduce is moxifloxacin hydrochloride, Motion No. 18. Moxifloxacin is officially indicated for the treatment of what is called community acquired pneumonia, which simply means pneumonia acquired through regular contact as opposed to the complications from HIV-AIDS or a disease like that.

According to the Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta, approximately 5% to 10% of all children under five years old in developing countries develop pneumonia each year and acute respiratory infections like pneumonia cause approximately two million deaths among children under five each year and are the leading cause of death in that age group. In addition to children, approximately 100 of every 100,000 adults are affected yearly and the elderly are at particular risk according to WHO information. I feel the moxifloxacin should be included because of its potential to help treat people affected with pneumonia.

I believe that all these drugs are useful to have available as options to countries wishing to participate. My intent here, of course, is not to indicate that they should be used by anybody but I believe they should be available as options. However those people will decide.

As I mentioned and as the committee heard, there is consensus that the presence of a schedule at all provides further inflexibility in ensuring that countries have access to the drugs that they need. A list by its nature is exclusionary because it does not include all possibilities. If a country wants a drug that is already approved for use and sale here in Canada on the patent register, et cetera, it will still have to start a process for the drug to be included before a generic producer could apply for a voluntary or compulsory licence to supply the country with that drug. It is a bit of a barrier and it is one of the concerns we have with the bill.

I will quote from the testimony of our committee hearings by the representative of Médecins sans frontières about schedule 1:

So our proposal for that is simply to remove the schedule. Neither TRIPS nor the Doha declaration saw any list of medicines, and in fact developing countries fought very hard that there was no such list. It was a big point of discussion during those negotiations.

That is why we believe the list is something that the bill would be better without.

The government representatives have repeatedly testified that the presence of the schedule is intended as a guide and that it is meant to be flexible. I hope the members will consider supporting these amendments, particularly those that would introduce new eligible drugs important for the treatment of HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis and pneumonia to show that schedule 1 of this bill will be flexible as the government has claimed it will be. I am sure that they will be because there has been a lot of goodwill about the bill.

I commend all the parties that were a part of it. In fact, people across Canada are probably wondering why for the first time in a long time members are not shouting back and forth at different points but the fact is that we actually are talking about something that is very beneficial. We may still have differences of opinion about the bill but there is a great consensus for moving it forward rather quickly and also improving it where there are items of consensus. I think that is important to recognize.

These groups of amendments are intended to improve the bill and I hope they will receive the support they merit because they are important for many people throughout the world.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

April 28th, 2004 / 4:55 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

moved:

Motion No. 12

That Bill C-9, in Schedule 1, be amended by replacing “amprenavir” and the dosage forms, the strengths and the routes of administration specified in that Schedule in relation to the product with the following:

“amprenavir tablet, 150 mg; capsule, 50 mg or 150 mg; oral solution, 15 mg/mL”

Motion No. 13

That Bill C-9, in Schedule 1, be amended by replacing “ceftriaxone” and the dosage forms, the strengths and the routes of administration specified in that Schedule in relation to the product with the following:

“ceftriaxone injection, 500 mg (as sodium); powder for injection, 250 mg (as sodium salt) in vial”

Motion No. 14

That Bill C-9, in Schedule 1, be amended by adding the following in alphbetical order:

“clarithromycin tablet, 500 mg; tablet extended release, 500 mg; powder for oral solution, 125 mg or 250 mg”

Motion No. 15

That Bill C-9, in Schedule 1, be amended by replacing “delavirdine” and the dosage forms, the strengths and the routes of administration specified in that Schedule in relation to the product with the following:

“delavirdine capsule or tablet, 100 mg (as mesylate)”

Motion No. 16

That Bill C-9, in Schedule 1, be amended by adding the following in alphabetical order:

“isoniazid + pyrazinamide + rifampin tablet, 50 mg + 300 mg + 120 mg”

Motion No. 17

That Bill C-9, in Schedule 1, be amended by replacing “lamivudine (3TC)” and the dosage forms, the strengths and the routes of administration specified in that Schedule in relation to the product with the following:

“lamivudine (3TC) capsule or tablet, 150 mg; oral solution 50 mg/5 mL”

Motion No. 18

That Bill C-9, in Schedule 1, be amended by adding the following in alphabetical order:

“moxifloxacin hydrochloride tablet, 400 mg; intravenous solution, 400 mg/250 mL”

Motion No. 19

That Bill C-9, in Schedule 1, be amended by replacing “zalcitabine” and the dosage forms, the strengths and the routes of administration specified in that Schedule in relation to the product with the following:

“zalcitabine capsule or tablet, 0.375 mg or 0.750 mg”

Motion No. 20

That Bill C-9, in Schedule 2, be amended by adding the following, in alphabetical order:

“Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste”

Patent ActGovernment Orders

April 28th, 2004 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in the debate on Bill C-9 at report stage.

As my colleagues from the opposition and the government have already mentioned repeatedly, this bill stems from a historic act. In fact, it is becoming a model for the rest of the world, should they be interested in adopting similar legislation.

I am very proud of the work done by all the members of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology during the hearings that allowed us to hear evidence from all interested parties, including experts and NGOs that work in developing countries.

We heard a large range of views, but everyone agreed that, first, we need this legislation and, second, the act should be strengthened to ensure that all interested parties that have a work expertise and a desire to work in developing countries can do so and have access to affordable drugs.

Although I am chair of the committee, I was unable to participate actively during many of its hearings because at the same time I am vice-chair of the public accounts committee. As everyone knows, the public accounts committee has been sitting three to four times more than a committee normally sits per week. We were sitting on this whole sponsorship issue, scandal, whatever one wants to call it, when the House was adjourned.

I can assure everyone in the House, and every Canadian, that each night I received the blues, the transcripts of everything that the committee heard. I went through them so I was very aware of what the committee members who were at the sessions were hearing.

I read the briefs that were tabled before the committee by all the different groups. I received a lot of correspondence from ordinary Canadians, pharmaceutical companies, the innovative Rx companies and generic companies. Members can name it, and I heard from them and I took notice of what they had to say.

I want to speak specifically to Motion No. 2 which was presented at report stage by my colleague from Windsor West who is with the NDP. The aim of the motion is to overturn a decision of the committee on a subamendment that I had brought to committee. What was the subamendment? I would like to read out the entire proposed paragraph and then show what Motion No. 2 would do, and explain why I do not support Motion No. 2. Proposed paragraph 21.04(2)(f) currently reads:

the name of the governmental person or entity, or the person or entity permitted by the government of the importing country, to which the product is to be sold, and prescribed information, if any, concerning that person or entity; and

It then goes on to other proposed paragraphs.

With Motion No. 2 that the member from Windsor West would hope that the House adopt, and which I hope the House does not adopt, it would remove all the section that says, “permitted by the government of the importing country”. To remove that would mean that the persons or entities could contract with generic companies in Canada who would receive licences in order to buy medication and bring it into a developing country, or a least developed country, without the knowledge of that government.

I think that the Canadian government, with the active assistance of all members on that committee, and all parties, worked hard to ensure that NGOs would have a strong role to play in ensuring that this legislation is effective when it rolls out and begins to work, and that it will actually assist the work that NGOs do in the developing world, and in the least developed countries.

I think that the legislation is fantastic. It is historic and it does not require Motion No. 2 because at its core, and I am sure that if the member had thought about it, if one were to remove that link between the government of the importing country, it would basically become Eurocentric.

It would mean that the government did not know what was best. The government of the importing country is not responsible for having policies or an infrastructure in place for public health or at least a policy to ensure that public health and infrastructure are in place.

We must work with the NGO community, governmental agencies of other countries, and multilateral agencies that we have put in place. When I say we, I mean the world. However, to remove that link, in my view, is to say that the governments of the importing countries do not have a role to play in elaborating and implementing their own public health policies and their own public health infrastructure, and that we in the developed world and industrialized world know what is best for them. We would therefore not need to treat directly with them; we could simply bypass them. I cannot agree with that and I am sure the member for Windsor West, if he thought about it, would rethink his motion.

I wish to conclude by saying that this is a wonderful bill, notwithstanding Motion No. 2, and Motions Nos. 14 and 18, which the parliamentary secretary addressed most ably by explaining that there were technical problems with those two.

Each member of the industry committee and all of the support staff from the House of Commons who assisted this committee in doing its work deserve a real applause from all Canadians because it was Parliament, the House of Commons, at its best. We were at our best during the work of that committee. I hope that when we vote on these motions and when we vote on the bill at report stage that we will again show our best to Canadians and the world.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

April 28th, 2004 / 4:30 p.m.
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Yukon Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There have been consultations and if you were to seek it you would find unanimous consent to modify the English version of Motion No. 7 so that it reads as follows. I move:

That Bill C-9, in Clause 1, be amended by replacing line 29 on page 11 with the following:

“(3) The commissioner shall post

Patent ActGovernment Orders

April 28th, 2004 / 4:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-9, particularly because I feel this is a historic moment. In fact, it is not every day that parliamentarians agree to act with diligence and speed. It is a historic moment because the members of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology have worked very hard, entirely without partisanship, and also because it is an important contribution to the north-south dialogue.

The bill before us at report stage is a legacy from the previous prime minister, who must be recognized. It is first and foremost an extremely significant contribution to the advancement of the north-south dialogue.

What will happen if the bill is passed? Canada had rejected the compulsory licensing program. Before the Conservative government amended the Patent Act, it was possible, indeed compulsory, to obtain a licence, not only for the approval of a drug but also for its sale and marketing. In 1989, the licence system was terminated. Once a patent holder has been recognized by the commissioner, there is a 20-year period of exclusivity. Nevertheless, this period did not permit the export of pharmaceuticals to the third world.

The bill before us suspends this process. It proposes that we re-establish—and I think it is important to say this—the licensing system, for exports to a specific list of countries. What is the situation now? It means that it will be possible for generic companies to negotiate contracts to supply designated developing or third-world countries.

I understand that in its original form Bill C-9 contained a much more restrictive list. The government, responding to the arguments of various NGOs, decided to expand the list. That deserves to be recognized.

This, then, is the situation. A generic company will be able to satisfy or fill an order from a government on the list of eligible countries. What is known as the right of first refusal has been set aside. This right applied to situations in which a generic company could have negotiated a supply contract with a third-world country, but would have had to give up the contract to the initial patent holder. The NGOs were worried, saying that this would be dissuasive, that it was not the kind of practice or legislation that would encourage generic companies to negotiate to supply the designated countries.

Under the amendments introduced by the government, the right of first refusal will not only no longer exist, but the innovative companies will not be required to reveal their contracts before they are signed, even when there is still a patent holder.

Second, generic drug companies must still obtain a licence, at first on a voluntary basis. If a licence is denied, the Commissioner of Patents will decide and it will become a compulsory licence.

So clearly, the fundamental mechanism underlying the bill is a schedule designating countries eligible to import pharmaceutical products. Generic drug companies will be able to ensure adequate supply, but they will first have to obtain a compulsory licence. It must be noted that, out of respect for our international obligations, companies granting the licence, initially voluntary, will receive royalties. There is a formula for calculating these royalties. They should be the equivalent of 2% of the product's commercial value.

But an index has been provided that takes into consideration the United Nations' human poverty index, so that the allowable royalties for the patent holder could be less than 2%, which is also an extremely positive amendment for third world countries.

Some witnesses and some NGOs, as the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine knows, asked for the right to contract directly with the manufacturer and the importing country. I believe that it would be a mistake for the government to give in to this demand.

I understand that some amendments to the legislation ensure that the identified entity can be an NGO, but the government, at all times, must be involved in the negotiations. This is normal, first because the subjects of international law, the ones with international sovereignty, are naturally governments. Second, those who will dispense and organize care, ultimately, are still governments. They are the ones responsible for this plan to provide public health.

I am pleased with what we have accomplished and with the increased role being given NGOs.

It is particularly vital to adopt this bill with diligence because of the three realities that must be kept in mind. Every year, 10 million children die of diseases relating to malnutrition which could have been avoided. As well, every year one million people, most of them children under the age of five, die of malaria. Every day, 8,000 people in the world die of HIV-AIDS.

The bill we are preparing to adopt with this splendid parliamentary unanimity that is being promised, must give particular precedence to HIV-AIDS. As hon. members are aware, HIV-AIDS is a terrible reality on certain continents, Africa in particular. When it was first discovered in the 1980s, here in Quebec, in Montreal, people had no idea of the extent to which this disease was going to ravage all of humanity. Resistant strains have developed in some of the African countries, and these require urgent attention.

If it were not for this bill we are preparing to adopt, whole segments of the population would not have access to anti-retrovirals. As hon. members may know, there is a resistant strain in Africa that differs from the HIV/AIDS we are familiar with in North America. It is our duty to do something about this, as a rich country, one with great wealth, even if ours is not a perfect country and we have our own problems relating to the supply of these drugs. Yet our reality as a country, in Quebec and in Canada, bears no relation to the realities in the third world, Africa in particular.

My colleagues in caucus know I have sometimes been critical of the innovative companies. I do not think I have ever been overly critical, but I have sometimes been harsh on them and I must now thank them for their maturity and compassion in agreeing fairly readily to grant voluntary licensing rights. Once the bill is adopted, we will be ready to move.

There are, of course, provisions in the bill so that, if there is no agreement on the royalty to be paid once the voluntary licence has been applied for, it will fall to the Commissioner of Patents to set the amount.

With the member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, we met with the innovative companies, which are of course a very important industrial sector for Quebec, particularly the Montreal area.

I will stop there, since my time is up. It is my hope that this bill will be passed as promptly as possible, and I congratulate all the members of the parliamentary committee.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

April 28th, 2004 / 4 p.m.
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London North Centre Ontario

Liberal

Joe Fontana LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Science and Small Business)

Madam Speaker, let me begin by saying that I think this is Canada's finest hour, and also Parliament's finest hour, because my colleagues who have spoken before me have all indicated how all political parties have been able to come together in the committee to bring forward at report stage this bill that has practically unanimous approval.

I thank my colleagues on the committee who have worked so hard to get it to this point. They realize, as the government realizes, that this is Canada, and that we will be the first country in the world to put forward legislation and hopefully implement it as quickly as possible so that the drugs can get to the people who are dying.

I want to say to the people who sometimes watch this place that Parliament does some fine work and committees do some fine work, and this most important piece of legislation is in fact an indication of how Parliament and all political parties, when there is a national consensus to move forward, can in fact do so.

In this House we debate many bills that have a profound impact on the day to day lives of Canadians. Rarely, though, do we have an opportunity to debate a bill with such potentially far reaching benefits for the world at large. This is the type of legislation of which Canadians rightly can be proud.

Through Bill C-9, we reaffirm our compassion and our commitment to being a leader in the international community. It seems that every day we in the developed world are beset with fresh and disturbing statistics on the scope and extent of public health problems affecting much of the developing world. These facts and figures are very nearly beyond comprehension. Nowhere is this more true than with the AIDS and HIV pandemic.

HIV-AIDS has torn apart families and has caused untold suffering in some of the poorest parts of the world. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 40 million people are now living with HIV-AIDS, with 95% of them living in developing countries. An additional 14,000 infections occur each and every day. Last year alone, the disease claimed roughly three million lives worldwide.

HIV infection also fuels other epidemics of global concern, most notably tuberculosis, which has become the leading cause of death not only among people living with HIV but also among their HIV negative family members and contacts. One-third of the world's population is now infected with TB bacillus, with more than eight million people developing the active disease and two million dying each and every year.

As my hon. colleagues have already indicated, the situation is not without hope. We are seeing a renewed commitment and engagement around the world to address this global catastrophe. In June 2001, for example, the international community witnessed the creation of the UN's global fund to fight HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

In September 2003, we saw the launch of the World Health Organization's “three by five” strategy, which aims to provide three million people in developing countries with AIDS treatment by the end of 2005. As well, organizations such as the Clinton Foundation, an international AIDS trust, are raising awareness in North America and around the world. This is encouraging, but more needs to be done. That is why we must lead with our support for Bill C-9.

Again I want to thank the committee members. I know we are debating the technical amendments that may be required to make this bill even better, but let me set out in context what this bill really does.

As we know, the World Trade Organization, which is concerned with agreements on trade related aspects of intellectual property rights, otherwise known as TRIPS, set out these international rules relating to trade in intellectual property matters. TRIPS has traditionally placed a strong emphasis on the protection of private property rights. However, these are the provisions that allow members to adopt measures necessary to safeguard public health and promote the public interest.

Of particular relevance is article 31. This is the article that expressly allows members to override the rights of patent holders by licensing the use of a patented invention to a third party if it is necessary to respond to domestic public health emergencies. That is precisely what Bill C-9 does and that is precisely what some of the amendments need to do.

Not only did the committee members work together, we heard from a number of witnesses. We heard from the brand companies, the generic companies and the NGOs. All of us in this place came together with the five departments of this government to work together and come up with a workable bill. All of us in this place know that bills and regulations sometimes can be cumbersome, but with everyone's help, we have a great bill.

I can say that the brand companies in Canada are already delivering drugs to the poorest countries in the world. The generic companies in Canada also want to do that. The NGOs, which are part of the lifeblood of delivering assistance to the people of the world, have to be complimented and acknowledged, because without their human infrastructure and their actual delivery of the medicines, the people would not get them. The NGOs are of incredible value to the system. I applaud them for giving us their inspiration and for showing us the way toward a great bill.

I want to talk specifically about the amendments that the member for Windsor West has brought forward. I want to assure the member that the government amendment in the first instance wanted to ensure that NGOs would not be precluded from helping to address the needs of those people, but we know that this is a country to country arrangement. While another amendment came forward to further clarify the NGO role as it relates the importing country, I want to reassure the member. I heard what he had to say.

We cannot be supportive of reverting back. After all, the committee listened to the information, had a debate and, at the end of the day, decided to change the wording. I want to assure the member that in no way does the subamendment take away the opportunity for NGOs to play a meaningful part. Yes, it needs to be a country to country arrangement. Yes, the NGOs obviously will need to have the approval of the importing country. We all know that. That is what is required under the WTO. But in no way do we believe that the subamendment, which was passed and is now part of the bill, will make it impossible for NGOs to play the meaningful part that the member really advocated for very well at committee. We are very supportive of what we had already changed. This particular amendment by the member for Windsor West unfortunately flies in the face of what the committee did, and that was to decide which amendment was better. Again, I want to acknowledge his great contribution although we cannot support his amendment.

We are also talking about Motions Nos. 14 and 18. Again I want to applaud the member for Windsor West. Through a number of different amendments, which we have just accepted, he has added to the list certain drugs and their prescribed dosages. I want to thank him as well as other members of committee and members of the House who saw that these medicines could be added to the list. He brought them to our attention and we decided to move very quickly and add them to the schedule.

While we cannot support Motions No. 14 and 18, because there are some technical and health issues that need to be cleared up, and while I know that the intent was to deal with tuberculosis, I think we have to be very careful. We have to look to our experts for advice because these drugs have not yet been approved in Canada. We cannot move them into the schedule until such time as they have been approved.

I can reassure the member and the House that Motions Nos. 14 and 18 dealing those two drugs will be moved to the advisory committee as quickly as possible. I think that with some expert insight we can move them along as quickly as possible, but I think the House should be respectful of those professions that know more than some of us do with regard to medicines and their impact.

Let me reassure members that even though we cannot support Motions Nos. 14 and 18, those two drugs will be moved on to the advisory committee as quickly as possible and hopefully we will be able to put them on the schedule.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

April 28th, 2004 / 3:45 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-9, an act to amend the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs Act.

This subject is very close to my heart because I come from that part of the world where the bill will have a major impact, the continent of Africa, where I grew up and where I went to school. To see the devastation that is taking place on that continent is very shocking and of immediate concern.

Time after time there has been mention of the major impact on the economy over there. My family still lives in that part of the world. I have on many occasions visited that part of the world. I have had first-hand experience of the devastation that is taking place in Africa as well as the economic impact. It falls upon us to see what we can do.

As a compassionate country, we have been directing foreign aid to that part of the world. It is becoming very clear that no matter how much money we are spending in that part of the world, if we do not tackle this scourge head on, the money that we are pouring into Africa will be wasted because people are dying, the economy is being affected and they need our help.

I am very happy that Canada took the lead when it brought the bill forward. When the bill was first proposed by the government, although I am on the opposition side, I commended the government for bringing forward this vision. We were the first ones to come out and support this initiative. As a matter of fact the Conservative Party was willing to pass this legislation in a single day in November so that we could address this issue.

I am happy to say that changes have been made. People in the field who were working with AIDS victims were concerned with what was wrong with the bill. Amendments that were brought forward in the committee will address many of those issues.

The issue is that in that part of the world, people cannot afford the drugs. When there is such severe poverty, when putting food on the table is an issue, how could the people fight that scourge on that continent?

I was there in November last year. I attended one of the AIDS clinics in Nairobi. I grew up in that city. About 25 years ago no one was suffering from AIDS. There was not the scourge of AIDS. It hit home when I went back there after 25 years and saw the devastating impact in the place where I grew up.

I went into the slums. I went into a grandmother's home. She was taking care of her two little grandchildren because both her daughters had died of AIDS. She herself had absolutely no idea what would happen to the children when she died.

On the streets of Africa the number of orphans is increasing. There are other severe social problems that go along with the breakup of families in that society which have to be addressed.

The priority now, and rightly so, is to ensure that cheap drugs are available. The good news is that they are available. It was only the rules and regulations that we had put in place that did not make it possible to reach out to these people.

Indeed, Bill C-9 is one of those bills that will go down in history as one that went out to help people, as a bill that Canada initiated to help people. Three months ago I was in Europe talking to Irish and Dutch parliamentarians on a Canada-European Union parliamentary visit. They were extremely proud of the Irish and Dutch governments and the assistance through ODA that they were giving to people around the world. Every time we have talked, they have dwelled on this. It was with great pride on my part that I showed Bill C-9 to them and told them that this was what was required, that their governments must look at Bill C-9 and must make sure that their own pharmaceutical companies would follow Bill C-9.

I told them that if they are really interested in spending money to help people in poor countries, then they must look at this legislation to see how they can help, because, as I have stated, the devastation is so severe that effective foreign aid delivery will not be there. I must say that I am pleased to be standing in this Parliament and to be in this country that has taken such a strong initiative to help where this devastation hits the hardest.

As we continue with this process, right now we are focusing on sub-Sahara, and of course this bill also talks about the other two diseases, not only AIDS but malaria and TB. Having grown up in that country, I have been a victim of malaria. Anybody who goes there is bound to be a victim of malaria. One cannot escape malaria living in that part of the world. I have had it too. To fight it, one needs strength and one needs medicine, cheap medicine. Again, this bill will address that issue to make sure that the scourge of malaria is fought in that part of the world and that drugs are affordable for the people in the villages of Africa and Latin America and wherever people cannot afford them.

As part and parcel of Canada's overall strategy of assistance through ODA to this part of the world, this bill fits extremely well into the whole picture of helping these countries, so it is with great pleasure that I say we will be supporting the bill.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

April 28th, 2004 / 3:35 p.m.
See context

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to speak to Bill C-9 and specifically to some of the amendments in the first group.

I would like to tackle specifically one clause, a motion that we have submitted which I believe is important and will make the bill better. I am concerned it will not pass. I want to outline the reasons for moving that particular amendment.

First I want to thank my staff in Ottawa and in Windsor for the hard work they have done, in particular the Ottawa staff for the research that went into the bill. I thank the volunteers as well. I would also like to thank Stephen Lewis for his leadership on this initiative abroad. It simply makes another mark for Canada, that I hope will be successful.

The NDP is committed to ensuring that this very important humanitarian bill is passed as quickly as possible. A very important issue unfortunately has not been dealt with appropriately in the bill which could compromise its effectiveness.

As we all know, the bill was first introduced last November and after prorogation was reintroduced on resumption of Parliament in February of this year.

One of the chief points of contention with the bill was the issue of non-governmental organizations being able to contract directly with Canadian generics to purchase medicines for their programs in eligible developing countries.

During the weeks of testimony that the industry committee heard, a variety of NGOs, including Doctors Without Borders and Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, testified about the importance of NGOs being able to produce lower cost pharmaceutical products directly, among other issues. I would like to thank them for all the work they have been doing abroad and also on this bill. I look forward to their achievements in the future. There are fine, capable people in those organizations.

NGOs testified that although the government intended to include NGOs, the language in the first version of Bill C-9 which identified governments and “agents” of governments as being eligible importers, the NGOs did not feel that this language adequately assured them of access to lower cost pharmaceuticals. It was inappropriate language terminology that hurt them.

Upon reflection of the various issues that were raised during committee testimony, the government proposed substantial changes to Bill C-9. It proposed removing the first right of refusal removal and opening the list of eligible importing countries to include many more developing countries. Of importance to consideration of this amendment, it changed the language about how NGOs could be involved. I commend those achievements, but unfortunately, they are changing it back again.

In its proposed amendments during clause by clause, the government put forward language in section 21.04 to remove the restriction of government or “agent of government” and replace it with “person or entity to which the product is to be sold”. The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network issued a statement in support of that particular change saying it would allow NGOs to procure medicines from generic producers, assuming the NGO was legally entitled to import and distribute in the country where it was operating. This was a very progressive, important step by the government.

The difficulty with the issue is the following. No one was ever requesting that an NGO be allowed to contract directly with generic producers without the legal authority to do so in the eligible importing country. NGOs regularly receive their appropriate legal authority within whatever country they are operating to allow them to distribute medicines through their particular programs.

The more open language “a person or entity legally entitled to import and distribute”, however, was changed through a subamendment at the committee. I recognize that my colleague who presented the subamendment was attempting to clarify the language in the bill, but whether purposely or inadvertently, the language as it now stands would again prevent NGOs from participating. That is why I put forth the amendment at this stage to ensure that the language remained inclusive of NGOs.

The language in section 21.04(2)(f), lines 36 to 41 in particular, on page 6 of the bill reprinted as amended at committee, has been changed to “governmental person or entity or person or entity permitted by the government of the importing country”. This is problematic because it does not allow NGOs to contract directly. That is how they feel about the bill at this particular time. It is one of the challenges that we are going to see in the field.

The problem is that many countries, including Canada, do not necessarily provide the legal authority to procure and distribute pharmaceutical products through the government. In fact the best reference point is our own system. Here in Canada we have a commissioner of patents. Although created by an act of parliament and is part of the larger government structure, it is the commissioner of patents, not the government, who decides who is issued a compulsory licence to allow the sale and distribution of a particular pharmaceutical product. If a person obtains a compulsory licence under Canadian law from the commissioner of patents, there is nothing else the person needs in order to have the legal right to deal with that patented product in accordance with the terms and conditions of the actual licence.

It is the same in many countries around the world that also have positions of commissioners of patents. In other countries, such as South Africa, compulsory licences are issued through the courts and the legal system, not through the government.

Why is this language in its current form so problematic?

Let us assume for example that Doctors Without Borders in South Africa wants to import an anti-retroviral drug used in HIV-AIDS treatment for their programs in that country. A generic version could mean thousands of dollars in savings per year per patient. Under the current language of Bill C-9, Doctors Without Borders would have to first apply to get a compulsory licence and then, because of our law, would have to get some kind of authorization from the South African government to buy the anti-retroviral drug to use for their patients.

There is no process for that authorization in the South African government at the moment because it has a commissioner of patents that issues compulsory licences and a person or entity is not required under South African law to get anything other than a compulsory licence. That is the obstacle.

The bill is intended to be humanitarian in nature. As the minister stated in her opening comments to the committee, it is important that we have a bill that ensures that the regime not be abused, but that it also provides for the actual intervention of the drugs on the actual streets of the nations that need those types of support and supplies.

If we maintain the language around who a generic producer is able to contract with, in order to contract, NGOs would be required not only to obtain the compulsory licence, but also to get some kind of governmental authority; some kind of governmental authority that NGOs are not required to get by the laws of the country in which they are operating. It creates a circle. This circle is what is causing the NGOs to have problems and why we have this amendment.

Whatever process the eligible importing country has identified for issuing compulsory licences, whether it be through a commissioner of patents, through the courts or some other agency mandated by the government, should be enough of a legal requirement to allow NGOs to contract with generic producers. This is similar to our system here.

Again, I am not proposing that NGOs should be able to contract directly where they are not legally entitled to according to the laws of the country in which they are operating. I am simply proposing that we ensure that the language of our bill does not create further steps and barriers in the process of getting these much needed drugs to the people who need them, through the government or other person or entity legally entitled to do so.

Countries already have legislation regulating what drug products are approved for sale and use in their country. A compulsory licence would only be issued in cases where a drug is patented in that country and approved for sale and use.

There may be occasions where a country wishes to import a drug that is patented here in Canada but is not patented there. In that case no compulsory licence would be necessary by NGOs or other persons or entities wishing to distribute that pharmaceutical product, but it would still have to be approved for use and distribution, again by the importing countries under their own rules and regulations.

It is like it is here in Canada. There is Health Canada's process of determining safety of drugs and Industry Canada's process of placing products on the patent register and determining whether compulsory licences can be used.

Again, this amendment seeks not to change any of that, but seeks instead to respect the rules that are already in place in whichever importing country tries to participate under the regime that Bill C-9 would create. The change in language would ensure that there is no confusion between patent holder, generic producer, importing country, or NGO about whether a person or entity is eligible. Confusion can lead to legal battles and I know members on all sides of the House, as well as stakeholders, want to avoid that possibility.

We as parliamentarians should be respecting the sovereign process of legally issuing compulsory licences to NGOs or other organizations or persons for using patented pharmaceutical products within their own borders. We as Canadian parliamentarians do not need to tell other parliamentarians and representatives of other countries how they should do their job. We as Canadian parliamentarians cannot undermine the potential for success of this bill by including language that simply is not necessary and creates more burdens for the NGOs attempting to provide much needed health care services and governments that are dealing with health emergencies.

My amendment is simple. It proposes to return the language from what was passed at committee on a subamendment to the language proposed by the government in its own amendments to its own bill. The NGOs welcomed the government's language, as did the NDP, but we have not welcomed the new language that was passed at committee. This amendment does not propose to do anything but keep the process within established legal grounds and ensure that no additional barriers are placed in the way of NGOs attempting to deliver their humanitarian programs.

It simply boils down to this at the end. We felt that the government did a good job of listening to the NGOs and also to the witnesses at committee to deal with this problem and deal with an appropriate change from the first to the second draft. That is very important because they did change a number of different things. I commend the government for that.

Unfortunately, the subamendment, we believe, will create problems for the bill. That is why we would like to see this amendment pass. It would open up a better process for NGOs and those countries to be able to make sure that the humanitarian efforts of this bill are realized. At the end of the day, that is what all of us in Parliament want.

We want a bold initiative that is going to actually create opportunities for people who are sick and suffering, where health standards and impoverishment prevent people from achieving their fullest potential and cause death. We want to provide assistance with cheaper drugs to treat those illnesses.

That will not only make Canada a stronger nation, it will also provide for peace and security in the world.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

April 28th, 2004 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll LiberalMinister for International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to speak in the House this afternoon on the subject of Bill C-9, the Jean Chrétien pledge to Africa act. As we know, the bill has been in committee and there have been a number of amendments. The bill will be coming back to the House for third reading very shortly.

The bill is the Government of Canada's response to the agreement reached at the WTO called the TRIPS agreement. It was an acknowledgement on the part of all the members of the WTO that drugs are desperately needed in Africa and other developing countries to assist them in dealing with the pandemic of HIV-AIDS, malaria, TB, and all of the diseases that are rampant there, and to make those drugs available at a price that people in developing countries could afford.

As one of the members of the WTO, Canada joined with our colleagues in signing the TRIPS agreement. That agreement puts an onus on all members within their own countries to bring forward domestic legislation that will have as its objective the distribution, production and availability of drugs for the diseases that I have just described.

In order to meet that onus, our legislation will meet changes requisite in the Food and Drugs Act, Intellectual Property Law Improvement Act, and the Patent Act.

I am proud of this bill and I do not have to apologize for that. I am proud of my government that we are the very first member of the WTO to bring this legislation forward. It was quite a task. We engaged the pharmaceutical industry in Canada and the generic drug companies. We joined in our consultation process with the non-governmental organizations. The work was the product of five departments of government coming forward to engage in the process and that, in and of itself, I think was quite an undertaking and accomplishment.

The legislation meets the requirements of TRIPS. I tend sometimes to be overly technical, but I want to give people the benefit of the background of this legislation. It reflects the moral imperative that Canada recognizes is ours to do all that we can to make those medical treatments available to the millions of people who are suffering from these diseases.

We have brought the legislation forward. It will return to the House once the process is complete in committee. As the Minister for International Cooperation, I have just returned from meetings at the World Bank over the weekend at the development committee and prior to that not long ago from meetings at the OECD, the DAC committee. Both of those are very prestigious and influential committees, where donor countries joined together in developing the best strategies to deliver aid effectively to the poor of this world.

I took advantage of both those venues to share the information with all of the donor countries, to tell them about this innovative piece of legislation, and to brag somewhat in spite of the reputation that Canadians must always maintain to be modest and unassuming. We have a lot to brag about and I did that, but I did it with a purpose. The purpose was to put a real onus on other member countries that have signed the TRIPS agreement to follow the precedent that Canada has set.

Until one country comes forward and does exactly that, these kinds of agreements can sometimes linger in a hiatus situation that would be beneficial to no one. Canada has come forward and has received accolades from our NGO communities worldwide, as well as the domestic community.

We have heard very favourable responses from leaders in civil society. I am pleased that people such as Bono and others have given great approbation to Canada for having shown the leadership to come forward and be the first out of the gate with this legislation.

It was a very important consultative process. There was a commitment on the part of the pharmaceuticals, the generics, the NGOs and these five departments to work out legislation that did not just meet the bar of that agreement, but in effect, went above the bar.

Canada has exceeded the bar in one dimension by including in this legislation, not just the countries that are members of the WTO but countries who meet the criteria as established by the DAC committee. It would include all countries that are officially recognized recipients of ODA, official development assistance.

We have broadened, right at the beginning with our legislation, the number of countries who will benefit from this, and who will now be able to access drugs at a price that they are able to afford. This drug bill, the Jean Chrétien pledge to Africa, therefore becomes an integral piece, if I can speak strictly as the Minister for International Cooperation in Canada, this drug bill, of our strategies to assist people in the developing nations.

We are working to greatly enhance the capabilities of countries with their health services in all that is required to assist them in developing a capacity that they are slowly accomplishing. Obviously, it is uneven. The growth in capacity is stronger in some countries than others. The availability of drugs, that is an incredibly important part of their battle against diseases that are the scourges I have described, becomes a very important part of an overall holistic approach.

As the Minister for Cooperation, it became and remained, and still is a major priority for us as one of the five departments who came forward here. It was a very broadly based consultative system. It allowed Canadians to come forward wearing every hat that pertained to the development of the bill. It allowed them to come to committee to engage parliamentarians on that committee, convey changes they felt needed to be made, and to convey their approval of the strength of that bill giving excellent wisdom to us as we all moved together to enact this incredibly important and timely piece of legislation.

That speaks well for the process. It speaks well for the important role of the committee. The committee was enhanced by the enabling of the members of that committee through the recent approaches the government has undertaken under the leadership of the Prime Minister to address democratic deficit. It enabled people to work together and produce legislation of this tremendous import.

We have dealt with some of the issues that originally were not roadblocks, but I would describe as hurdles, and we have overcome them. With regard to voluntary licensing, the amendments eliminate the requirement that patent holders be given the right of first refusal and that was vital. When we initially came forward, we heard a lot of concern and really to be fair, criticism not just concern, on that right of first refusal.

We have come together with our stakeholders, made the changes and eliminated that requirement. In so doing, again, it produces a piece of legislation that says to the world, this is where Canada has come from, this is what we have come out of the gate with on the TRIP agreement, and this is exactly the model that will be there to emulate.

We have included two lists in the regulations, lists of countries that will be able to benefit from this legislation and lists of the drugs that will be available as a result. Both form a beginning and are not engraved in stone for all time, but we had to begin somewhere and we have done that.

I look forward to speaking in a more formalized fashion at third reading.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

April 28th, 2004 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

London North Centre Ontario

Liberal

Joe Fontana LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Science and Small Business)

moved:

Motion No. 4

That Bill C-9, in Clause 1, be amended by replacing line 23 on page 7 with the following:

“at least thirty days before filing the applica-”

Motion No. 5

That Bill C-9, in Clause 1, be amended by replacing, in the French version, lines 26 and 27 on page 7 with the following:

“l'OMC mentionné dans la demande, et ce à des conditions raisonnables et sans succès,”

Motion No. 6

That Bill C-9, in Clause 1, be amended by replacing lines 21 to 25 on page 11 with the following:

“its label and packaging, as required by regulations made under the Food and Drugs Act, as well as information identifying every known party that will be handling the product while it is in transit from Canada to the country or WTO Member to which it is to be exported.”

Motion No. 7

That Bill C-9, in Clause 1, be amended by replacing line 29 on page 11 with the following:

“(3) The Commissioner shall,”

Motion No. 8

That Bill C-9, in Clause 1, be amended by replacing line 34 on page 11 with the following:

“(4) The Commissioner shall,”

Motion No. 9

That Bill C-9, in Clause 1, be amended by replacing lines 1 to 3 on page 12 with the following:

“quantity to be exported, as well as every known party that will be handling the product while it is in transit from Canada to the country or WTO Member to which it is to be exported:”

Motion No. 10

That Bill C-9, in Clause 1, be amended by replacing lines 42 to 45 on page 15 with the following:

“authorized to be manufactured and sold, which agreement must incorporate information that is in all material respects identical to the information referred to in paragraphs 21.04(2)(a), (b), (e) and”

Motion No. 11

That Bill C-9, in Clause 1, be amended by replacing line 9 on page 18 with the following:

“Health shall establish, within three years after the day this section comes into force, an”

Patent ActGovernment Orders

April 28th, 2004 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

moved:

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-9, in Clause 1, be amended by replacing lines 36 to 38 on page 6 with the following:

“(f) the name of the person or entity to”

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-9, in Clause 1, be amended by replacing line 23 on page 7 with the following:

“at least fifteen days before filing the applica-”

Patent ActGovernment Orders

April 28th, 2004 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

London North Centre Ontario

Liberal

Joe Fontana LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Science and Small Business)

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-9, in Clause 1, be amended by replacing, in the English version, line 7 on page 1 with the following:

“is to give effect to Canada's and Jean Chrétien's”

Patent ActGovernment Orders

April 28th, 2004 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger LiberalDeputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Discussions have taken place between all the parties concerning the report stage debate of Bill C-9. I believe if you were to seek it that you would find unanimous consent for the following. I move:

That no later than 5:30 p.m. this day, all questions necessary to dispose of report stage of Bill C-9 be deemed put and that a recorded division be deemed requested on Motions Nos. 2, 14 and 18.

That Motions Nos. 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 19 and 20 be deemed carried on division.

That Motion No. 3 be deemed defeated on division.

That the recorded division requested on Motions Nos. 2, 14 and 18 be taken at 5:30 p.m. this day.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

April 28th, 2004 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

The Speaker

There are 20 motions in amendment standing on the Notice Paper for the report stage of Bill C-9. The motions will be grouped for debate as follows.

Group No. 1 includes Motions Nos. 1 through 11. Group No. 2 includes Motions Nos. 12 through 20.

The voting patterns for the motions within each group are available at the table. The Chair will remind the House of each pattern at the time of voting.

I shall now propose Motions Nos. 1 to 11 in Group No. 1 to the House.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

April 23rd, 2004 / 12:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief Liberal Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology in relation to Bill C-9, an act to amend the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs Act.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

April 22nd, 2004 / 3 p.m.
See context

Brossard—La Prairie Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, tomorrow and Monday, we will continue with the business listed, namely third reading stage of Bill C-11, an act to give effect to the Westbank First Nation Self-Government Agreement, this reading of Bill C-12, an act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act, third reading of Bill C-15, an act to implement treaties and administrative arrangements on the international transfer of persons found guilty of criminal offences and third reading of Bill C-10, an act to amend the Contraventions Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

We will also continue with the report stage of Bill C-23, an act to provide for real property taxation powers of first nations, to create a First Nations Tax Commission, First Nations Financial Management Board, First Nations Finance Authority and First Nations Statistical Institute and to make consequential amendments to other acts, as well as debate on the motion to refer committee before second reading Bill C-29, an act to amend the Criminal Code (mental disorder) and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

Tuesday shall be an allotted day.

On Wednesday, we hope to be in a position to take up the final stages of Bill C-9, an act to amend the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs Act. I understand that there are some discussions under way that could make it possible to deal with this bill a bit earlier. The government would be prepared to cooperate with any such desire.

I hope that my colleague across the way, and all of his colleagues, are in excellent shape, because we have a lot on our plate.

International AidOral Question Period

April 20th, 2004 / 2:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, today the government tabled its amendments to Bill C-9, the Jean Chrétien pledge to Africa act. This legislation will enable the flow of inexpensive drugs to African countries to combat HIV-AIDS and other life threatening illnesses.

While the original legislation tabled last fall demonstrated Canada's leadership on this issue, it was the first legislation of this kind introduced anywhere in the world. I would like to ask the Prime Minister to describe the key changes that were necessary to improve this critically needed legislation.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004Government Orders

April 19th, 2004 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to speak to Bill C-30 and talk about some of the spending issues that are involved in the bill as well as the vision that it puts forth.

I have received a number of concerns, as a member of Parliament, from my constituency as well as from several hundred Canadians who have already e-mailed, phoned, faxed or provided some documentation to me about what has been pronounced by the government.

I want to first say that there are some good provisions for some things in Bill C-30. To get up and say that absolutely all of it is bad would not be right. One of the things that I do want to point out is the fact that there would finally be the elimination of environmental fines as tax deductions or business write-offs. That is one thing that we could not believe was happening. It was causing a national embarrassment.

I was getting correspondence from American elected officials about pollution coming from the Canadian side of Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River and other areas, that spilled out from Canadian factories and other sources. At the same time, companies were able to apply for a tax deduction on that, let alone the cleanup and the effect that it was having upon our American neighbours.

It is interesting to note that the government talks about improving relations with the United States. The first thing would be for our side to stop poisoning the water and to provide all kinds of progressive steps to clean the system up in partnership. The United States has actually been far more progressive in the Great Lakes by investing in their renewal in a couple of different fashions. It has been doing it, not only through its government, but through other means, for example, Robert Kennedy Jr. and his efforts have been through the legal system in order to provide some of the improvements that have been happening.

We have actually created some of those things on our side of the jurisdiction of the Detroit River with our river keeper announcement, from the public point of view, without the assistance of the government as an initiator of the project.

We saw the budget come out with basically an ideological attempt to reduce expenditures just for the sake of scoring political points.

The government did a set up here. It wanted to appear that it was shifting to the right to deal with the Conservative agenda but what it has done since then is to go out to the public to announce different projects in the multimillions after the actual budget was released.

It is a classic attempt to try to have it both ways. Quite frankly, it has been very good at getting it both ways until now because Canadians are starting to recognize that they each have different choices about things and they should be making those choices based upon principles as opposed to wishy-washy behaviour.

We are watching the privatization of health care. The New Democratic Party is really concerned about the fact that there were no new health care transfers.

The Prime Minister had plenty of time to address this as a former minister of finance and during the time of his leadership run-up. He talked about these issues a lot of times and said that it was very much a priority, but at the same time he did not actually have an action plan in his first official budget.

That is unfortunate because we believe that the Roy Romanow solutions that were proposed should have been specifically mentioned in the budget. There should have been advancement because Canadians are looking for accountability. They are looking for a single system of medicare that is not going to introduce a level of profit that will certainly mean a loss of service for people. It will make people who are vulnerable susceptible to longer lineups.

The lineup is important to note because I know of a community that is under serviced because the infrastructure has not been provided for the medical society to provide the actual services that are necessary on the ground floor. We are not getting the specialists and we have long waiting times.

That is important to note because specialists also relate to the quality of life and the productivity of the citizens we have in our community. If people are waiting for an exponential period of time to have their knees scoped or to have some type of minor operation, it certainly is a negative derivative when we look at the economy. We have more people who are off on sick leave. We have people who can further injure themselves and we also have family situations that become more complicated.

Whereas, if the investment were there, we would see the benefit of people returning to work earlier and have a healthier environment. I think that would be more productive for our economy and our country. We also have people who need those types of services in order to stay physically active in our society. The investment of that accountability and the investment in reducing waiting times would allow them to stay active and healthy.

I know of many seniors who have had to wait far too long to receive operations. It is unacceptable and unfair to them because their health deteriorates in the meantime. They have contributed a significant amount of money into the health care system over the years and they have certainly contributed to our economy. They have also been productive family members. To be in one's golden years and not have a required operation creates a lot of problems as it is stalled from month to month. That threatens their physical well-being as well as their mental well-being. The stress and the anguish that goes along with that is difficult as well.

I was out the other day talking with a constituent whose husband, a young worker, was waiting for a minor operation. He is now into his fourth week of waiting. He had to wait a series of days just to get an MRI done on his broken leg. If his leg is not treated properly, it could lead to a permanent injury. This is a result of long waiting lists.

A good investment for Canadians would be to have more money and accountability put back into our health care system in different ways such as those outlined by Roy Romanow. That would be a way of rebuilding this country.

I want to talk a bit about some of the things that could have been done in this budget and would have been influential in lowering the price of medications and eventually the costs associated with our health care system.

Last year, the industry committee spent a lot of time on notice of compliance, that is the evergreen that happens. Evergreening is when the 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry is extended by an automatic stay of injunction by the patent holder. This then delays the actual generic version of the drug being available on the market.

We saw delay after delay as these automatic injunctions compounded year after year. These injunctions prohibited generic companies from introducing a lower cost drug and which would have actually reduced the cost of medications in Canada. That money could then have been put back into health care and toward addressing other issues related to waiting times and services.

It has been quite amazing to see what has happened. A progressive Liberal, the member for Ajax--Pickering, sat on the committee. I give him credit for being so active on this case file. Some other sympathetic Liberals were also there. They were part of the Chrétien era, I suppose. After Chrétien resigned from his position, a new Prime Minister came in, and he has changed the committee. I am virtually the last member of that committee that is still talking about reducing the cost of medications, or at least trying to raise the issue.

It is unfortunate because a lot of time and taxpayers' dollars has been spent in having witnesses come forward and research done. A lot of time has been spent trying to get the Minister of Industry to respond. We have seen nothing yet. We are watching these studies become basically outdated. The studies that have been done are sitting on a shelf like so many other studies, even though the Romanow Commission noted that Canada should be doing something right away to lower the cost of prescription drugs.

It is also important to tie that in to the fact that we would like to see Bill C-9 passed. That bill would allow developing countries access to patent drugs, or generic versions of them, so they could address some of their horrible conditions of malaria, tuberculosis and HIV-AIDS. It would also assist those developing countries in dealing with their poverty issues.

One of the things that was outright shocking in the budget that I was very disappointed about, coming from an auto town, was the fact that it did not contain an auto policy or at least some indication of what was going to happen. There was no indication in the Speech from the Throne either. I immediately asked questions about that as did my colleague from Windsor as to why the auto industry was not mentioned in the Speech from the Throne. There are one in 7.5 Canadian jobs affected by the auto industry and one in 6 in Ontario. That was left out of the Speech from the Throne which was very shocking.

Mayors of municipalities have formed a committee to talk about this. The Province of Ontario, even though it is drowning in debt and complaining about its costs, has had to come up with $500 million for an auto investment strategy because there has been no national auto policy. I want to acknowledge the fact that the government had to admit that it still has one-quarter of the border funds available.

A community like mine is waiting for announcements, waiting for those improvements like the truck ferry service, for example, that can take trucks off the city streets and move them across the border to help our economy and our trade. We want to have the grid-lock taken care of, something that can happen in a matter of months. The Liberals do not have any resources or support for that; only the projects for their friends and the lobbying that has been happening.

With that, I want to say thank you very much for the opportunity to respond to the Speech from the Throne, subsequently the budget and Bill C-30. I look forward to seeing better progress. This was disappointing to building Canada which needs to happen now as opposed to giving it away.

International AidOral Question Period

March 30th, 2004 / 2:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, four months have passed since the Liberals first introduced Bill C-9, a bill to assist developing countries to get affordable drugs. An estimated 800,000 Africans have died from AIDS and more than 1.5 million have been infected with HIV since that time.

When Kofi Annan was here, the Prime Minister told us that the time to act is now, but this month the Liberals have cancelled the committee four times for the meetings on Bill C-9.

For the Prime Minister, some of the Liberals have told us they want to change the name of the bill to the Jean Chrétien pledge to Africa. Is this why the Prime Minister is stalling the bill? Because of his personal vendetta?

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

March 25th, 2004 / 3 p.m.
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Brossard—La Prairie Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to answer the Thursday question.

This afternoon, we will continue the budget debate. Tomorrow, we will begin consideration at the report and subsequent stages of Bill C-3, the Canada Elections Act, followed by a motion for referral of Bill C-25, the whistleblower bill, to a committee before second reading.

Monday and Tuesday we will continue with the budget debate. Wednesday, we will have votes on ways and means motions. We will then resume consideration of any bill that did not get finished on Friday, Bill C-11 in particular, plus of course, if possible, Bill C-9 on drugs. Next Thursday, I hope we will be able to start second reading of the budget bill.

As for the committees, all I can say is that I am pleased the Standing Committee on Public Accounts will be able to make some progress during the week we are not sitting here in the House.

SupplyGovernment Orders

March 22nd, 2004 / 6:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak on the opposition day motion, because the drafting and passing of legislation, as important as it is to the House, Canadians and Canada, is not the full measure of government action.

The world matters increasingly to Canada and to Canadians. Canadians look to their government not simply to legislate but also to define Canada's role in an increasingly complex international environment.

Globalization internationalizes every aspect of Canadian life. We are part of a global community where interdependence is increasing. We have gained enormously from this aspect of our economy. Our society is becoming one of the most diverse in the world. We are building something new in Canada, constructed from the contributions of individuals and communities right around the globe and from the unique way in which we sustain and celebrate our increasingly rich heritage.

For centuries our economy was based on trade and it has expanded and strengthened as we have pursued new frameworks for a more open, economic relationship not only within North America but indeed throughout the world. Today our prosperity depends not just on trade but also on investment in Canada from abroad as well as Canadians investing in other countries.

It depends as well on the free international exchange of ideas in science and technology, on the wealth of our cultural ties and on links among educational institutions as well as student exchange programs. And we can never forget the engine of tourism.

Canadians have seized the opportunities offered by this more open world to take their creative impulses, their innovation and entrepreneurship to global heights. Our security, too, has benefited from an international framework founded on the rule of law as enshrined in the United Nations charter and given effect through our alliances with the U.S. as well as our European partners.

Canada has a tremendous record of achievement in advancing our own and global security by building and innovating international architecture. I think of the Ottawa treaty on banning anti-personnel landmines as a great illustration of how we took an idea that came from the NGOs and lifted it onto the world stage. Indeed, we have seen it reverberate around the world.

Finally, our identity has been powerfully shaped by the distinct role that Canadians have played internationally. We are peacekeepers. We are humanitarians. We are known as champions of human rights and human dignity as well as human security. For decades we have been one of the world's great activist countries, recognizing that in order to be the kind of country that we want to be at home we must do our fair share, and as a matter of fact even more, in the global community.

Not only does the world increasingly matter to Canada, Canada and what it stands for increasingly matter to a world that is changing rapidly and in very many ways is becoming a very uncertain place. The global village that Canadian Marshall McLuhan wrote about 40 years ago is today a reality, and in a village there are both advantages and disadvantages of this increased proximity. Although the global economy has grown and hundreds of millions have been able to leave poverty behind, many remain, and the inequity is even more stark.

There are new vulnerabilities, some reflecting the dark side of global interdependence or the reaction to this interdependence. Terrorism is one such reaction. Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is another. Trafficking in people from impoverished to rich countries is another. We have the issue of global warming and the destruction of global fisheries. These are all examples of problems without borders.

In Canada we have experienced the effects of SARS, a new disease that moved with the speed of globalized public travelling by merely having a Canadian who was visiting a foreign country get on a jet and come back home.

Clearly no one country can manage all the consequences of an interdependent world. No single state can shape the international environment according to its own plan. No country can afford to simply withdraw from the world.

This new interdependence can only be managed with an interdependent way, a new approach. Countries must work together and their leaders must take responsibility for doing so. Our international institutions and practices, many designed for a simpler context at the end of the second world war, are showing their age. We need to be a part of this renewal. We will need to find creative, practical ways to tackle the emerging issues and to include more voices from all regions of the globe.

This is a responsibility which Canada will proudly take on, maintaining its great tradition of strong and effective international engagement. Few other countries have had such an important stake in ensuring not only that they stay abreast of change but that they are actually at the forefront of managing and shaping this evolution.

That is why the government is committed to a comprehensive modernization of our international policies and a strengthening of our capacity to act and to remain as a catalyst to international change. We will ensure that Canada has the means to retain and enhance its place of pride and influence internationally.

We have launched this renewal through a series of decisions, among them introducing new legislation to help combat the HIV-AIDS plague as well as tuberculosis, malaria and the other epidemics that are devastating Africa. Bill C-9 will facilitate developing countries' access to pharmaceuticals crucial to combatting these diseases.

We have also committed no less than 5% of our research and development dollars for knowledge based assistance to developing countries. We have committed to the implementation under the UNDP's report on helping establishing private sector growth in developing countries, including, through the project with the UNDP, a creative private sector link between developed and developing worlds and a local enterprise sector in Bangladesh.

We have invested in the capacity of our armed forces through a new armoured vehicle and helicopter acquisition. We have committed to establishing the Canada Corps, which will assist Canadians in playing an important part in building democratic good governance abroad. We are sending our forces and other assistance to help Haiti restore the rule of law, democracy and prosperity. We are strengthening our commitment to multilateralism, including through a visit with the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He was our first foreign dignitary to visit. He came so that we could discuss how we could help the UN meet its new challenges.

Finally, we have also begun a comprehensive international policy review. It is the first in almost a decade. It will take a new approach, for the first time undertaking a fully integrated examination of all of our international goals as well as what the instruments are that we need in order to achieve these. It will seek to identify better ways for development assistance and promotion of good governance. I can say that throughout my environmental work in all of the international fora I have been in, good governance continues to be a thread that is woven through all of these. We will be more targeted in how we approach these factors.

We will improve defence capacity, consider our representation abroad and determine how to expand trade and investment, how to better manage the U.S.-Canada relation and how to support multilateral renewal. Last will be how best to showcase Canadian creativity and know-how around the globe.

The outcome of the review, to be tabled in Parliament this fall, will reflect not just a “whole of government approach”, but will also make proposals to ensure that Canada's global commitment, reflecting both our values and our interests, is implemented through a new partnership with Canadians.

I held a forum on foreign policy dialogue last spring in my riding. It was one of the best events I have had. There was a great deal of interest, not only in Canada but in how Canada's international policies are reflected in the world. There was a real commitment, not only through our decision not to go to the war in Iraq unless through multilateral means but clearly in how this multilateralism is in a large way the essence of how Canadians view themselves.

The review will put forward an international agenda for Canada, an agenda for the 21st century based upon the best attributes of the country: respect for diversity, creativity and innovation, and democratic governance within the framework of law.

We have a rich and full agenda, and I look forward to working on this with my fellow parliamentarians as well as my constituents in Kitchener Centre as we go forward.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

March 9th, 2004 / 2:45 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, this morning the Prime Minister urged the House to pass Bill C-9 to get generic drugs to developing countries.

Why then does he urge the House to pass a bill that would prevent at least 18 UN member states from accessing those drugs? Why is the government preventing countries like Vietnam, Algeria, Iran and Iraq from dealing with the health emergencies in their countries, such as HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria?

Will the Prime Minister commit to changing the bill and help all developing countries of the world access cheaper drugs and generic medications? What does he have against those UN member nation states?

Patent ActRoutine Proceedings

February 12th, 2004 / 10 a.m.
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Brossard—La Prairie Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada Liberalfor the Minister of Industry

moved to introduce Bill C-9, an act to amend the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs Act.

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to the special order made previously, I would like to inform the House that this bill is in the same form as Bill C-56 was at the time of prorogation of the previous session .

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)