Mr. Speaker, while I wholeheartedly endorse the spirit of Bill C-284, a private member's initiative moved by my colleague, the hon. member for Winnipeg Transcona, which I had the privilege of seconding, I cannot see where we can support his idea to put it through the Canada Health Act.
Perhaps what we have to do today is not talk about what we cannot do. I have to agree with the position taken by the parliamentary secretary. She very eloquently put forward the reasons we cannot put it through the Canada Health Act, as was proposed by the member for Winnipeg Transcona; rather, we should find a mechanism, a way to accomplish our goal.
Since I was elected in 1988, firefighters from Hamilton and across this great country have been lobbying legislators to set up a contagious disease protocol. They stress, and all of us who have heard their lobby agree, that it should be of national importance, which it is; that it must be co-ordinated nationally, and we agree; that we should establish national standards and conditions, which can happen. We need a way to administer the protocol that is being proposed.
The international association of firefighters has been meeting with provincial and federal representatives since June. They have had quite a bit to say about this. There have been some resolutions. Progress is being made. Maybe the amendments being put forward by the hon. member for Winnipeg Transcona are a worthwhile public health objective and need to be examined.
The purpose of Bill C-284 is to incite the provinces to ensure that the health care insurance plan of a province provides for the obligation for hospitals to disclose to emergency response employees who provide emergency medical or rescue services to a patient the name and nature of an infectious or contagious disease the patient might have transmitted to them.
As I said at the outset, maybe we have to look at what we can do. What we can do is search out a central organization that would work with the hospitals to create that information-sharing proposal. I wonder if the hon. member for Winnipeg Transcona has considered approaching the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. That particular centre, which is located in my riding of Hamilton West, receives a government subsidy, although it has been cut back. To its credit, it has been sharing information with the private sector and actually selling a product to employees and companies, both here in Canada and in the United States, to obtain the money it needs.
I wonder if the hon. member for Winnipeg Transcona has approached the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, which has created a database of infectious diseases, of products different companies across the nation use in their workplaces, et cetera. For example, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety is there for the major corporations in product identification. It is also there for an individual employee, someone who may be working on the shop floor in Winnipeg when a drum spills over and some glop pours out. The employee can see that the barrel is marked XT-2000. He is not sure what XT-2000 is, so he calls the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety to find out what the product is and whether it will be harmful to his health.
I wonder if the hon. member for Winnipeg Transcona, in looking for a way to accomplish a very credible goal, has looked at the options. The parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Health made it quite clear today that it is not really in the domain of the federal government, but rather a central organization. This could address the opportunities the member spoke of, could satisfy the needs of the medical emergency personnel and rescue services people who are responding to the patient who might have an infectious or contagious disease.
Maybe we could use this opportunity to dovetail with organizations that by consequence are also today forming partnerships with the private sector. It is the private sector that understands that this database is beneficial. If the private sector finds that it is worth while, then it can share its information with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, which can also share its information with hospitals provincially.
Let us germinate the seed today. This is an option the hon. member for Winnipeg Transcona can look at. Having seconded the bill, I would be more than happy to sit down with him and get together with officials in Hamilton at the CCOHS to try to accomplish the very worthwhile goal this member and other
members of the House have been trying to achieve since I was elected in 1988 and even before that time.
I thank you for this opportunity, Mr. Speaker.