Evidence of meeting #62 for Health in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was antibiotics.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Andrew Morris  Chair, Antimicrobial Stewardship and Resistance Committee, Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease Canada
Karey Shuhendler  Policy Advisor, Policy, Advocacy and Strategy, Canadian Nurses Association
Shelita Dattani  Director, Practice Development and Knowledge Translation, Canadian Pharmacists Association
Michael Routledge  Medical Officer of Health, Southern Health, Regional Health Authority, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
Yoshiko Nakamachi  Antimicrobial Resistance Nursing Expert, Canadian Nurses Association

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

Ms. Harder.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

It brings me some solace that Mr. Oliver agrees with this. It is certainly very important that this stay public. The cannabis bill is very important to the Canadian public, and they do need to understand how this committee plans on studying this legislation.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

I think it's going to be a very interesting and educational session. I'm looking forward to it myself, but we have to come up with the right plan to make sure we meet the requirements of Parliament.

Dr. Carrie, you're on the list.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

I was going to suggest that we deal with this part first, if we can, and then go in camera for the budget.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

I'd suggest that we even do the budget publicly. It's just for this committee meeting or this subject we're talking about. There are no big secrets or anything. We could probably do that.

Mr. Webber, you're next on the list.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Len Webber Conservative Calgary Confederation, AB

I'll ask for some clarification of a comment you made about when we are in camera. You mentioned the letter for Lyme and said “if we ever get to it”. Are you referring to if we get to preparing one at all?

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

One is prepared. You should have a copy of it now.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Len Webber Conservative Calgary Confederation, AB

I have not seen that letter. All right. The clarification is clear. Thank you.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

All right. I need a motion to not go in camera, because it's on the agenda. Does somebody want to move that? Dr. Eyolfson.

(Motion agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

We're going to suspend. Thank you very much for sitting through that. We're going to suspend for just a minute while we clear the decks, and then we'll go into committee business.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

Order.

All members have a copy of the budget for our antimicrobial resistance study. Is there any debate? If there's no debate, could I have a motion to pass the budget?

Mr. Davies.

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Chair, I move that we adopt the budget as proposed.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

Is there any debate?

(Motion agreed to)

The motion is carried. The budget is carried. There you go.

Now, on Bill C-45, are we ever lucky to get this brought to our committee. It's going to be interesting. It's very important. It's a huge change in the way we do things. We're all aware of how important it is, and we're all aware of a time frame, so who would like to start?

Mr. Oliver.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

John Oliver Liberal Oakville, ON

I have circulated a motion. I'm going to make a couple of changes to it as we go forward, but I will quickly explain this.

This is a complex bill. It represents a fairly substantive change in the norms of how we view marijuana and the use of marijuana in Canada. I think it's really important. I've been talking to a number of committee members, and there is significant interest in hearing from many witnesses and hearing testimony from different sides of different issues. If we handle it as we would normally handle our committee business, we could be hearing witnesses for months.

It is important that we review the bill, that we give it full and open consideration, and that we hear from witnesses but also that in a timely fashion we return it to the House so it can go through the rest of the processes that need to be done.

The motion is looking at a way that will allow the committee in a very focused way to hear from a number of witnesses and to work quite diligently at this review to make sure we have a substantive number of witnesses who come forward and that we organize ourselves to hear the witnesses in a way that makes sense so that we can hear countering views around some of the more controversial issues. It's also a way for us to give full consideration and to hear from a number of witnesses to start.

Nothing in this motion is intended to say there will be no more witnesses. Nothing is intended to restrict the witnesses. We can still continue after this, but the motion proposes that we have one week of dedicated time, as a committee, on this topic to hear witnesses, that we would meet for four days, and that we would organize our work so that we can get at least 72 witnesses in that week around different topics. I'll review the topics in a second.

As I said, once that week is done, if we then determine that other witnesses are needed, or if that leads us to other areas that we should consider, then nothing limits us having more witnesses and nothing in here limits the time we have yet, because we do have to do a clause-by-clause review of the bill, and we'll need time to hear from the witnesses, to synthesize what we've heard, and then to do the clause-by-clause review and to give thought to that.

Nothing in this bill is restricting that. This is really just about setting up a time for the committee to have a focused four-day period to hear from a number of witnesses around some themes as a way to kick-start our work on this very important, very significant bill for Canadians. As I said, it doesn't limit further witnesses and it doesn't put time restrictions on the clause-by-clause study.

In addition to that, I am proposing that we come back a week early and that we meet before the House sits and that we work for the week of Monday, September 11 to Thursday, September 14, which is the four days before the House sits. Again, it gives us a focused effort. We're not being interrupted by votes in the House and other routines that often interfere with witness testimony. We can have four very focused, very good days getting through witnesses on some of the important topics that we know we have before us.

It's also at a time, because the House is not sitting, when we may actually have additional media time and additional public interest in this, because the normal things that happen in Parliament aren't happening in that week. I know it's going to put a burden on members to come back from their constituencies and the work they're doing with constituents for that four-day period, but I do believe it will give us a really good start on hearing and understanding all perspectives around Bill C-45.

I am proposing:

That this Committee meet from Monday, September 11, 2017, to Thursday, September 14, 2017, inclusively for the purpose of the consideration of Bill C-45—

I'll cut out some of the verbiage. You have it in front of you. I'm changing it to “and, that each party send their lists of prioritized”—rather than “proposed”. The clerk has suggested that it's easier for them if you prioritize the lists—

—witnesses for the purposes of this study...and that the Chair be empowered to coordinate the witnesses, to a maximum of 72 witnesses, the resources, and scheduling necessary to complete this task in accordance with the following guidelines:

I'm proposing that we take those four days and break them into two four-hour blocks per day, with nine witnesses per four-hour block, and that we do two rounds of our normal questioning as well. It would be nine witnesses, and for questions it would be two rounds of seven minutes; five minutes; and then three minutes.

I propose that we organize the blocks into a number of categories. The first would be federal, provincial, and territorial responsibilities, which would include retail presentations. Revenue questions would be included in there.

The second category would be justice and public safety. We would hear from the police, RCMP, and others. If there were questions around the impact on organized crime, that would be a natural place to include witnesses around that topic.

Then we would look at other jurisdictions' experiences. Others have gone down this road, and what were the lessons learned? If there were international considerations, this would be a point in time to also build in international issues around compliance with other jurisdictions.

The next category would be the household cultivation of plants, which is a very common question that I've heard from others. It would also give us a chance to hear from landlords and tenants, and if there are rental issues on that topic.

Another category would be the age for legal possession and the impact on young Canadians. There's also prevention, treatment, low-risk use versus high-risk use, and health risks.

We would also look at workplace safety. There is a corresponding piece of legislation to this one, which is dealing with motor vehicles and heavy equipment. Otherwise, what's the impact on workplaces? Do we have appropriate detection? It would be a place to build in how we can detect and understand if somebody in the workplace is under the influence.

Then there's the impact on indigenous communities. That would be the eighth topic we would deal with.

The witnesses would be proportional to our committee. It would be five from the Liberals, three from the Conservatives, and one from the NDP. Generally on these topics we have a high degree of overlap anyway in our witnesses, but I think that would be the normal method the clerk would use to assign witnesses.

I'm changing number three. It currently says that witnesses should be directed to prepare oral remarks of five minutes. I think we can do 10 minutes. We normally do 10 minutes with four witnesses. We usually have about 20 minutes free in a two-hour block, so if we go to nine witnesses in a four-hour block, it's tight. We'll have about a 10-minute window in each four-hour block. The reason I was thinking of five minutes was really for us, just so that we have breaks. The four hours is not that intensive, and we make sure to ask for written submissions to augment the five minutes, but given that our committee practice has been 10 minutes, then we probably should stay at that 10-minute mark.

The second change I had in here is that witnesses be invited to submit their written statements prior to August 18, which would give time for the translation.

Is that correct?

Okay, sorry. It was my misunderstanding. In number three we will go back to 10 minutes, but we don't need to change the timing of the written statements on that one.

Number four really isn't about this week. I'm trying to get this week organized for us, because the House should be rising shortly and I want to make sure we have a good, robust week of study of the bill. Four is really about setting deadlines for others. Normally the committee sets a cut-off for when we receive submissions. I think we can deal with that when we come back and have a cut-off set. I'll leave it in for now and we can have discussions. In paragraph four, the chair would set a deadline of August 18 for written submissions regarding Bill C-45.

Paragraph five proposes that the Minister of Health, the Minister of Justice, and the Minister of Public Safety be invited to appear before the committee on Thursday, September 14. It would give us, at the end of that week, a chance to hear from the ministers involved in this, if they're available. It also proposes that they be given 10 minutes for remarks.

Again, I'm not trying to restrict other witnesses and I'm not trying to force us to clause-by-clause. I'm just trying to set up a very robust week of intensive work for us so that we can hear from a number of witnesses on some of the key topic areas that have been controversial in our debates in the House so that we can get a good start to our review of this bill.

Thank you.

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

I think there's a lot of good work there, and a good road map.

Ms. Harder.

June 15th, 2017 / 12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Oliver, overall, this looks good. I only have a few concerns.

One, I would like to see at the beginning a specific time frame set for each day so that the times when you're hoping to meet are actually in the motion. For example, are you hoping to meet from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., or are you hoping to meet from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m? What are the time frames that we're working with each day? I'd like that set out here. Would you be willing to amend that?

The other thing is the four-hour block. Listening to the same nine witnesses for four hours can be a long period of time. I wonder if that is going to serve us in the best way possible. Perhaps we could consider breaking that into two two-hour blocks instead, with even a short 15-minute break in between. It wouldn't add a ton of time to our day, but I think maybe we'd be able to digest the information a little more easily. Again, could we make a friendly amendment there?

With regard to the topics at hand, one of the things I'm wondering about—and you can probably clarify this for me—is that I don't see a place for municipalities. I've heard from all of mine, and they're very concerned about this legislation and about the time frame for by-laws that they have to put in place. I wonder, again, if we could add another friendly amendment to the list.

Last, I don't see a place, or it's not obvious to me, where we would fit in things like packaging and labelling. Maybe you could clarify that for me as well.

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

Mr. Davies.

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Chair, at the outset I just want to reinforce that this legislation changes over a century of legal, social, and cultural rules, mores, and law in our country. As I said earlier, this is a flagship bill that was a major campaign plank for the Liberals in the last election, and I think we all agree that it is of great interest to many Canadians and stakeholders. I don't think it's an exaggeration—

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

And us.

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

And us, and of course everybody, parliamentarians and the people we represent.

I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that billions of dollars are at stake, not only on the medicinal front but also as we move towards Canadians accessing in a legal way the sale of recreational or adult-use marijuana.

I'm pleased to see that this motion is written in a way that leaves it open-ended whether or not we have more meetings. I was concerned that if we limited this testimony to four straight days of public input, effectively in the summer before Parliament sits again, it could convey to the general public that this committee and this Parliament are looking to restrict public input.

I would point out that this part of the legislative process, this committee phase, is the only phase when members of the public and stakeholders have the opportunity to come before Parliament and express their comments on the proposed legislation.

I know that there was some consultation during the McLellan task force, and the government had a website, but that was prior to any legislative framework being designed, and that is what we have before us.

I know there are going to be a lot of people from a lot of different perspectives who will want to have their input into this legislation. Frankly, I think we will benefit from that input, so I'm very glad. I want to put on the record now that I'm almost certain that from of those four days, as always happens with every study we undertake, we'll learn a lot. Issues will arise that we haven't anticipated, although I think that John has done a good job in setting out some of the major areas. I don't think it's quite there yet, as I'll say in a moment, but it's largely there.

Certainly, there will be other issues raised by the testimony that will prompt further questions from us, and so the opportunity to have further days of testimony, later in September, is important. I will say right now that I think it will be necessary.

There are a couple of more things.

In terms of the structure of this, I don't think the subject matter is complete. I agree with Rachael on this. I had indicated originally when I saw this list that packaging and marketing were not included here, and packaging is a part of this bill. There's a very strong cleavage between those who want to see—in fact, I think the bill does speak of it—a plain-packaging regimen, as opposed to those who would like it marketed more like alcohol, where there's branding and lifestyle advertizing, particularly for the recreational aspect. That's going to be a very important part of this bill, and I think every one of us has had meetings with people who want to get in on the commercial sale and are intensely interested in how they'll be able to market this product. That should definitely be added as a subject.

Another critical subject that's missing is edibles. I don't know if the bill deals with this. I think it's a very important part of safety to determine whether these drugs will be available in gummy bear form or brownies, or any other aspect of that. I think that this committee—

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

This going to be exciting.

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

—should really be looking at edibles as a subject. I think we should look at whether or not it should be covered.

Finally, medicinal marijuana is not indicated in this list, which, I think, is a subject.

I have to say there are a couple of things in here that I'm not sure warrant complete separation as subjects. For instance, workplace safety I'm not sure is a subject on its own. I think that will be touched on by adding these other subjects. I'm a little confused as to why indigenous communities would be segregated out on cannabis. I'm not sure that there's any particular aspect of this bill that has a unique application to indigenous communities.

I have a final couple of housekeeping matters.

I would rather not have one witness allocated per subject. Rather, let's just divide up the witnesses by our percentage and let each party determine where they would like to call their preponderance of witnesses. There might be a subject here for which I'm perfectly comfortable with the government's witnesses and on which I don't feel I have a witness who could add anything, but there may be another subject for which I would like to have two instead of one. I would propose that friendly amendment.

John, you mentioned something about there being at least 72 witnesses. This motion talks about the chairman scheduling a maximum of 72 witnesses. I understand that you're referring to just these four days, but I want to be clear that we're talking about 72 witnesses for these four days.

Finally, within those 72 witnesses, the last item proposes that the three ministers appear before this committee. If they have 10 minutes each, that's going to take up a significant part. I would even propose that, perhaps, we sit on the Friday, as well, and have the fifth day. Maybe that could be limited just to the ministers, as an example.

One of the difficulties I had when I thought this would be only the four straight days was that it would not give us any time, really, to digest the evidence, or if you hear something, to research and inquire among other people to get different perspectives. That's another reason I'm really going to be pressing the committee hard to have a day or several days of testimony after this, so that after these four intense days or five intense days, we have a chance to reflect on what we have heard and maybe even hone some further testimony. We've seen that in the pharmacare study, Mr. Chair. As there is testimony, it's an organic process, and we decide to call yet other witnesses to go down paths that maybe we didn't anticipate at the beginning.

Finally, on paragraph 1(i), I'm not sure federal-provincial responsibilities warrant a topic on their own. We're a federal committee, and we are going to be looking at the federal issues on this, I think.

I guess what I'm saying is, with regard to those paragraphs (i) to (viii), although I think it's a very good first proposal, I'm already seeing that some of them should be dropped and others should be added. Either we can do that now or maybe we can leave this a little bit flexible in some way. I don't know how the committee wants to have it or how my colleagues feel about that. Otherwise, I would propose that we drop paragraphs (i), (vii), and (viii), and replace them with packaging, edibles, and medicinal marijuana. I don't want to limit any particular category. If members feel there should be other areas, then I think we should add them.

Those are my preliminary comments at this point.

1 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

Thank you very much.

Dr. Carrie.

1 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

First, I want to say that it's interesting to get the opportunity to study this bill. Also, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss this motion, because I know that in the provinces and territories there are a lot of questions, and the timeline of July1 is being seen as an extremely tight timeline. I'll disagree with Don a bit about the provinces and territories. I believe they have a lot of questions, and I think it's incumbent on this committee to actually allow them to ask those questions and get prompt answers, because the timeline to make such a substantial change that's happening here is really going to be tight for them.

I have a couple of recommendations that will perhaps move this forward a little more quickly.

I agree with Don about the “maximum of 72 witnesses”.

I appreciate John's talking about these topics, but I don't think those topics actually have to be in the motion. I think they could be hashed out in a planning meeting.

Don brought up some really good points about edibles and things along those lines. I know that it may not be intended to be restrictive—you may not have intended it—but I think it does come across that way. As we discuss it, if there are stakeholders who want to come in and talk about a few different things....

I'd also like to point my colleagues towards the really good job the analysts have done with the legislative summary, the pre-release unedited portion of it. I think they've done a great job, and of course they're non-partisan. It is available upon request for public use, so this could get out and people could take a look at it.

They did a good job of talking about topical organization. They talked about the prohibitions, the obligations offences, criminal activities, other prohibitions, promotion, and what Don said, which was about packaging and labelling, displays, selling and distributing, obligations, and a miscellaneous category, which was, did they have ticketable offences...? We've heard the debates in the House. Even though this is the federal legislation, there are some options for provinces and territories and how this is understood in terms of licences, permits, general authorizations, ministerial orders, a cannabis tracking system, and inspections, which is huge, as we're finding out with the medical marijuana, and which maybe we are not doing as well as we can. What are the options for this for the general public? As well, they talk about the disposition of seized things, administrative monetary penalties, transitional provisions in the related Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Criminal Code, and coming into force. Coming into force is going to be huge here.

I think the analysts have done a really good job.

From my standpoint, to move the motion forward, I like your amended your motion that now includes the word “prioritized” lists. I would even take out “a maximum of 72 witnesses”. Depending on if we're doing those two-hour blocks, we might be able to leave it up to the analysts and clerk as they start booking. We might be able to be flexible there. Also, I would take out what I see could be interpreted as overly prescriptive, which is point 1 of your motion.

I would also suggest that in point 5, where you say “the Minister of Health, the Minister of Justice, and the Minister of Public Safety be invited to appear before the Committee” on the Thursday, I would like to see them here on the Monday, as the first witnesses. It's their bill. I would like to see what tone they want to have reflected in it. It may help us when questioning some of the witnesses going forward. At the end of the day, these are the guys. It's their bill. They wrote it. Things are going to be put forth to us that are really important for interpretation, so it would give us a bit of an idea on our line of questioning.

I'd also ask.... I was curious to note that, as Don said, it does stop on September 14. I was just wondering, is there is something happening on the 15th that we might not be able to...?

1 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

1 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

There have been all kinds of leaks about what may or may not happen. I'm glad you're not saying that this is it, because as we learn a little more as a committee, I think we're definitely going to need to study it.

In that light as well, on point 4 that “the Chair set the deadline for written submissions”, I think we can just take that out. At the end of the day, witnesses may hear what other witnesses say, and if this goes on a little longer, I wouldn't want to see them not being able to submit something in a timely manner, something that we couldn't take into account.

With those changes, I think we could almost, from my standpoint, move the motion and get it passed today.