Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his comments.
The hon. member spoke about the health forum. He said the health forum is encroaching on provincial jurisdictions. The health forum is a dialogue by Canadians who form the forum and who were chosen from every province. They have an ongoing dialogue with Canadians to see Canadians' vision for health system as we move into the 21st century.
I believe it is appropriate for the health forum to do exactly that because Canadian medicare is Canadian medicare. It is pan-provincial. It is a Canadian institution. Eighty-nine per cent of Canadians from every province agree and support medicare as something they treasure as a Canadian system of values and as being completely Canadian in its context.
The provinces deliver services. Nothing in the dialogue the health forum is having with Canadians should interfere with that. These are Canadians speaking with Canadians to get a vision of their health care and reporting back to the Prime Minister on what they believe in. It is appropriate for the federal government to meet and speak with the Canadian people. We talk about a bottom up approach to health care. Everyone agrees we need to know what people think.
Decisions in health care have always been made between governments and through discussion among governments in the health ministers' forum. It is very rare that the people of Canada get an opportunity to have an ongoing dialogue. This is putting the health care system into the hands of the people and letting them describe a vision for Canada as opposed to governments describing a vision for health care in Canada. I believe this is extremely appropriate.
Nothing in this interferes with the parallel meetings that occur constantly between deputy ministers of health in every province and the deputy minister of health in the federal government, and between ministers of health of every province and the federal Minister of Health. They are parallel. They are government to government. They discuss what governments can do.
This is important. Health care is a three-legged stool. That stool comprises of the consumer, the Canadian public, who uses those services, the provincial governments which provide, manage and administer those services, and the federal government which has been given the mandate under the Canada Health Act to ensure the five principles of Canadian medicare are kept. One leg of that stool has been pretty shaky. No one has bothered to talk to that leg for a long time.
The Prime Minister has said it is important for the people of Canada to speak about their vision. This is extremely appropriate if we see Canada as one country.