Thank you, Madam Chair, for the member's question.
The Minister of Health did become quite concerned over a year ago about the global problem of the increasing number of shortages that were being experienced worldwide, not just in Canada but as a global problem.
She wrote to the various industry associations, including Rx&D in terms of the brand names, CGPA for the generics, the biotech industry, the Canadian Medical Association, the Pharmacists Association, the distributors, the wholesalers, and others. She asked them to work together, first to improve transparency, so that if there were drug shortages, there would be a way to notify the health systems so that they could respond, and second to take a look at what they could do in reducing the number of drug shortages that were occurring.
In response to her recommendation, a working group was formed. They began as a collective to address this issue. They wrote back to the minister with a plan that had three phases. The first phase, which is already up and operational, involves the existing websites, the ones that exist today, where industry is now posting drug shortage information and making that available to any and all Canadians in the health jurisdictions. There are two existing websites.
Our response was while that was a positive first step, it was not sufficient; there needed to be a one-stop site where all health system practitioners, professionals, provinces, and Canadians in general could go to get information on drug shortages. That's the second phase, which is being accelerated right now. The two main industry associations have put money on the table to build this second phase.
That will be a positive step. That new site should have increased functionality, and not just with regard to what drugs are in shortage. It will address the previous member's question with regard to how to deal with a shortage of a particular drug, what alternatives can be used to treat a patient, and other information that might help health system practitioners deal with shortages.
The other thing—