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Evidence of meeting #24 for Health in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was products.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Charles Ethier  Director General, Consumer Product Safety Directorate, Department of Health
Paul Glover  Assistant Deputy Minister, Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch, Department of Health
Robert Ianiro  Director, Consumer Product Safety, Department of Health
Marc Toupin  Procedural Clerk
Diane Labelle  General Counsel, Legal Services Unit, Department of Health

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joy Smith

Could we have comment from the officials on this one?

5:05 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch, Department of Health

Paul Glover

With respect, Madam Chair, the government believes that meaningful information is most important to Canadians. We have some concerns that this will lead to information that might be hard for Canadians to interpret. A wealth of information is useful, we acknowledge, but sifting through it to find out what is relevant could be problematic. We receive a broad range of complaints, some of which are upheld, but some are not. We do, right now, publish all recalls on a database on our website. We anticipate looking at trends and providing consumers with more meaningful information and analysis of these that would be helpful to them, rather than just a raw “here's everything we've received” with no analysis of trends of the results of investigations.

We are committed to transparency. We are committed to meaningful information and are concerned that this will actually not lead to meaningful information.

(Amendment negatived)

(Clause 14 as amended carried)

(On clause 30--Recall)

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joy Smith

Dr. Bennett, could you speak to this one, please? We'll start with the amendment by Dr. Bennett.

June 4th, 2009 / 5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

This is very much in keeping with the amendment that we had to Bill C-11. We believe that the people of Canada deserve to know that the minister is getting the best possible advice, but also what that advice is. We are hoping that we will be able to do the same thing again. This is a bill that is expected to reflect the most recent science, and we want the minister to have very good advice, but the people of Canada need to know what advice the minister gets. Sometimes ministers can't do exactly what the science says, but at least the politics stays separate from the science.

I understand from the briefing last night that because this bill is housed in Health Canada instead of in the Public Health Agency of Canada, which already has an advisory committee policy, the officials may want to add some language concerning reimbursement and these kinds of things, because that doesn't exist right now at Health Canada. But the gist of the bill is the same as that of Bill C-11. The implementation of the amendment may need to be enhanced a little bit based on making sure that it happens.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joy Smith

Are there any comments from the committee?

Dr. Carrie.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

In principle, we're supportive of that, but there may be a technicality that requires royal recommendation. I wonder if we could get the officials to actually speak to that.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joy Smith

Yes.

Mr. Glover.

5:10 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch, Department of Health

Paul Glover

Thank you, Madam Chair.

The department is aware that under other pieces of legislation there is a requirement for advisory committees. We have consulted with them and understand that these advisory committees provide great advice and benefit to the officials responsible for running those pieces of legislation, so we would not have specific concerns with the concept of an advisory committee.

We appreciate the member's comments. We do, however, feel that the ability to reimburse members is important if we are going to have a diverse membership that reflects all aspects of civil society, some of whom may not be able to volunteer their time, pay for their travel expenses, and other things like that. The quality of advice and the diversity of members on that committee are enriched when we have the ability to provide some reimbursement. That unfortunately creates a new spending authority, which is what would require the royal recommendation, but we appreciate the intent here and the members' willingness to consider that.

The other question we would have is with respect to the exact placement of this amendment at clause 30, which seems to apply to inspectors and inspectors' orders. We suspect that it's intended to be somewhat more broad, so we could work to....

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joy Smith

Did you have something else, continuing in the same vein?

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

I was just going to say that we would work with the opposition to get something together for report stage.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joy Smith

Okay.

Monsieur Dufour.

5:10 p.m.

Bloc

Nicolas Dufour Bloc Repentigny, QC

I was wondering whether this amendment would not slow down the work of the inspectors.

5:10 p.m.

Director General, Consumer Product Safety Directorate, Department of Health

Charles Ethier

Thank you, Mr. Dufour.

Madam Chair, we do not feel that an advisory committee would slow the inspectors' work down. Depending on the questions it was asked to consider, the committee could provide very useful advice to our department and to the government. In fact, it would help us to determine the most appropriate corrective measures to take when faced with specific problems. But, with a pressing problem, we would not necessarily ask the committee for its advice.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joy Smith

Dr. Bennett.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

I was just asking the officials whether the reimbursement could be in the regulations, because it's monetary.

5:10 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch, Department of Health

Paul Glover

We appreciate the intent here. The department is aware of other acts that do this. But there is a technicality here: this would create new spending authorities and would as a result require royal recommendations.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

5:10 p.m.

General Counsel, Legal Services Unit, Department of Health

Diane Labelle

Bill C-11 was a different situation. Bill C-11 could refer back to the Public Health Agency of Canada Act . In this case, the advice we have received is that it would incur a royal recommendation. The Speaker's ruling in 2005 with respect to amendments of this type at committee is that they need to be made at report stage by government with a royal recommendation.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joy Smith

I'm going to call the question now on the amendment to clause 30.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Wait a second. If it's not placed properly, did you have advice for us? If this passes, where would you want it in the bill?

5:15 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch, Department of Health

Paul Glover

There are a few problems. If I'm looking at the right piece of paper, it refers to the Public Health Agency of Canada Act, which my colleague has spoken to.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joy Smith

It does, yes.

5:15 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch, Department of Health

Paul Glover

In my branch, we're under the Canada Health Act, where that language doesn't exist. So it's somewhat problematic for us.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joy Smith

Mr. Carrie.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

We won't be able to vote for this because, as the officials have just said, it would require a royal recommendation. But we can be supportive at report stage.