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House of Commons Hansard #255 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was federal.

Topics

Department Of Health ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Reform

Margaret Bridgman Reform Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to address a couple of things in the bill. One is that there is a tendency to think of it as a housekeeping bill because it is a change of name. There are a couple of reasons for changing name. First, it can be done because we do not like the present name. Second, the mandate or the content of the department can be changed. I would like to suggest that the bill represents a little more than just changing the name of the department.

I find it a little amusing that we are discussing the creation of the health department two years into our mandate. I believe we are going to be doing human resources a little later. Also, through Bill C-107 we have created the B.C. Treaty Commission approximately two years after it began functioning.

Getting back to the health department, the fact that it has been up and running under this mandate for two years gives me a little concern as to what its mandate actually is. Whether its mandate has been increased or decreased is the focus of what I am looking at here.

The Department of Health is a product of the phasing out of the Department of Health and Welfare and the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs. It is my understanding that most of the mandate that was the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs went to the Ministry of Industry. I am assuming that a lot of the welfare aspect of the Department of Health and Welfare went to the Department of Human Resources Development.

I am wondering what is left for the Department of Health. When we talk in our debates about health we tend to zero in on the health insurance or the medicare component of this department. I would think there is a lot more to health than that particular aspect. That is one component of what a good and functioning health department should be.

If we look at clause 4 of the bill itself, it states that the health department will promote and preserve the preservation of health for the people of Canada. I might add that it states it will do that where it has not been otherwise delegated to other jurisdictions within the government structure.

The second part expands on that a little more. Paragraph 4.2(a) refers to the promotion and preservation of the physical, mental, and social well-being of the people of Canada. I would argue that the social well-being, as we heard earlier in the debate, involves such things as housing, jobs, et cetera. It goes into great parameters from that point of view as to our individual well-being. I would suggest that possibly that aspect is being removed with the removal of the welfare component. Consequently, the health department is in a position of having to collaborate with a number of other industries in actually addressing some of these concerns.

The physical-mental component of that statement is relatively easy to address from a health point of view, because one can certainly look at that within this mandate. However, with the removal of the welfare component that mandate for health has been diminished to a point that now we are in more collaboration and co-operation with the other departments. There is not the same authority there the department once had.

When we move further down the list as to what the mandate of this new department will be, in paragraph 4.2(b) it talks about the protection of the people of Canada against risks to health and the spreading of diseases. One would tend to think immediately in that component of communicable diseases and such other diseases that do not necessarily meet the definition of communicable diseases such as HIV-AIDS and possibly hepatitis B and C. These are pandemic kinds of situations. I would hope that a health department would have a major role in addressing these types of things that affect the Canadian people.

We have had some experience in the past two years with both these issues. In my opinion, the response of the government has been reactive. I am wondering if this is a sign of some weakening in the department's ability to pick up the reins and lead when these situations occur.

We go down to paragraph (c), which is "investigation and research into public health, including the monitoring of diseases". I am not sure if it is the only reference, but I believe it is the only reference made in the act to research.

In this context, one tends to think of investigation and research, more studies. We are going to research this, study it. As we all know, we have done a lot of studies. In some areas the feeling is that we have done enough studies over the years and it is time to get into some action.

I also would like to suggest that the research component of health is very important. It not only should be addressing diseases that are out there, but we should be looking at where we are going in the future from a technological point of view and how these things will affect our health.

I am a little concerned that this is the only reference made to research. It tends to imply that we would be looking at diseases.

Paragraph (d) states that the health department will establish and control the safety standards and safety information requirements for consumer products and safety information requirements for the products intended for use in the workplace. That is a program called WHIMS, which is being carried out by the provincial governments. The federal role in that now tends to deal with a problem within a company in which they feel the giving out of that information on their product may violate the marketing aspects of their product, put them in jeopardy of being duplicated or whatever. I would suggest that the federal government's role in WHIMS is minimal now that it has actually been established and implemented.

Paragraph (e) refers to the protection of public health on railways, ships, aircraft and other methods of transportation. Here is a situation I made reference to earlier. The health department is in a position of not having necessarily authority in these areas but having to collaborate with other ministries. I suggest that this will weaken the leadership of this department.

Paragraph (f) moves into the promotion and preservation of health in public servants and other employees. That stands on its own. The health department definitely is a major player there.

Then we move into an environmental type of clause, international, dealing with the United States and others. Now we have another situation in which I am suggesting health is again in collaboration with another department, in this case environment, which means that there has to be a meeting of minds between the two departments for leadership to evolve in whatever situation has to be there.

Paragraph (h) refers to the Statistics Act and the collection, analysis, interpretation, publication, and distribution of information relating to public health. I would like to say that this aspect is being well done and has been well done in the past. We have had experience in our past in which people have been able to get information about specific things. Having worked in the health care field before, I know that if one put the effort into obtaining information one certainly could get it. I suggest that the various departments in Health Canada, the bureaucratic component, have been the major bonus in this aspect of things.

We are gathering information and correlating it and then disseminating it to the people. I have dealt with the health programs and services branch with Kay Stanley, specifically in relation to cardiac situations. I must say it has been excellent.

Two positive mandates of the health department have come up in my dialogue so far. One is the education and correlation of information and the other is public servants' health care.

The last item is the co-operation with provincial authorities with a view to the co-ordination of efforts made or proposals for preserving and improving public health. My interpretation of that is it is the one which addresses medicare or health insurance. Again, the role has been delegated to the provinces to provide the service. The federal role is the Canada Health Act and the five principles thereof which ensure that the provinces meet those five standards.

Through the amalgamation of departments we have weakened our health department with respect to giving it the necessary authority to address a great number of issues. Many other aspects of the health department, other than the health insurance aspect which has been transferred to the provinces, are tied up with other departments. One really does not know who has jurisdiction.

Being the critic for aboriginal concerns I have seen many studies. We just heard a member speak about programs. There are numerous studies, such as the EAGLE study which is being done in collaboration with the environment department. There is a drinking water study in progress on which the department of health is collaborating with the department of Indian affairs. As a matter of fact, with respect to the drinking water project, I believe an education program has been established.

All of these things are necessary. There is a great concern regarding the health of our aboriginal people which we should be addressing. We know that breast cancer is another problem which we should be addressing. There are many problems which need to be identified and addressed.

The authority to address these health problems within other jurisdictions, for example, aboriginal people falling under the department of Indian affairs, tends to weaken the authority of the health department. We can get caught up with money, priorities or other things. My point is that I think it is a weakness.

There is an abundance of money in the health care budget. There is a tendency to think of that money in relation to the health care insurance plan. We hear all kinds of dialogue about withholding transfers to the provinces and cutbacks in services. I realize there is a formula which is based on a dollar amount per head.

I might suggest that when we start looking at all of the areas in which health is involved, such as the studies and the various programs in collaboration with other ministries, possibly some of that money might be better used on the other side of the health department which is health insurance and medicare. I realize that entails changing the formula.

The moneys available in health care for health insurance-and I do not know what the percentages would be on that through the whole budget-should be revisited in relation to all the other things the health department should or could be doing with the dollars it has but has allocated elsewhere into studies and various individual programs.

Returning to the reference I made earlier that this bill is creating the health department, this department has been functioning for two years. It may support my argument that the department has been weakened. I hope there is a little more activity coming from the health department. We have had no legislation to date other than this bill. Bill C-7 was referred to the health committee but it was not introduced by the health department to this House.

We had the tobacco situation early last year which again had a negative effect on the health situation. We have had the blood tainting and HIV-AIDS situations. We have had the comments about the transfer payments to the provinces in the west. We have had TB in the women's prisons and also the assisted suicide issue arise. There was not really any leadership from the health department. The medical profession actually expressed the pros and cons and the ethics of this and the other House undertook the study on palliative care issues.

I have concerns. We are not just dealing with a name change. I have concerns about the role of the government. I have great concerns that it is being diffused.

I have had some discussions with the Canadian Nurses Association. The association expressed the concern that with the removal of welfare the department would be restricted in its ability to address the whole human being which is important. The approach of health care workers in Canada has changed from an illness approach to a wellness approach where they must look at the whole body. There are concerns from the Canadian Nurses Association on that.

The association is also concerned that the national standards coming from the department relate specifically, from what we have heard so far, to the Canada Health Act and the five principles which relate to the health insurance program.

Those are some of my concerns. I will certainly be supporting this bill when the vote comes. I am concerned that it is being diffused. The team leader, the Prime Minister, calls the shots when

it comes to setting up the ministries. I do have concerns that this department has been extremely weakened.

Department Of Health ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Vancouver Centre B.C.

Liberal

Hedy Fry LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the hon. member's comments, some of which were well thought out. I appreciate her supporting the bill.

The most important recurring theme I heard the hon. member refer to was that this new act will weaken the Ministry of Health in that the Ministry of Health will have to collaborate and co-operate with other departments. I do not see it that way.

As the hon. member rightly said, health is more than just the absence of disease. Health has to do with environmental issues. It has to do with issues relating to poverty and socioeconomic status. It has to do with issues of public health which has to do with contagious or transferable diseases.

Departments such as environment, Indian affairs and northern development and human resources development are already in existence and are already dealing with these issues. What happens is a duplication of efforts. In the past, programs were going on within other departments and health would be duplicating some of them. The idea is that if there had been a concerted effort, then health and the other department, which in turn deals with its colleagues at the provincial level, can create a better understanding of the issue. Then the appropriate department working with health can set a healthy public policy with regard to those things.

The positive thing about it is that in the past many departments have always felt that what they did did not impact on health. There is now a real opportunity here for departments to understand that health touches every single aspect of our lives. Those departments, whenever they make policy, can focus on looking at the healthy public policy component of their policy instead of just focusing on the other aspects of their policy that did not include health and left the health components up to health, in which case it was very diluted. It was more diluted in that case than it would be in this way.

For example, let us look at the issue of poverty and the transfer of the welfare component of health and welfare to human resources development. We know that one of the things that has to do with poverty has to do with creating opportunity for people for employment training to become independent contributors to society. This is already a major part of human resources development. Therefore, developing human resources is going to decrease poverty in the long run which will then impact on health.

This gives better focus to all of the departments which will in turn see that health is an important component of whatever they do across the spectrum. It also gives the Ministry of Health the ability to look at developing clear health promotion and disease prevention guidelines, focusing on research and some of the things the hon. member spoke about.

Research in terms of disease is not the only component of research one wants to do. The Medical Research Council is looking at health promotion research which will lead to the promotion of positive health status as opposed to just looking at the disease components.

This gives the Department of Health a better focus on some of those issues including public health which, as members well know, means taking healthy public policy with regard to things like sewers, contagious diseases, quality of drinking water and safety, as the hon. member mentioned, which is an important part of what the department does right now. The department will focus on those issues very clearly and will work in co-operation and collaboration with the other departments. This will be a learning process with the other departments to see how what they do impacts on health.

Department Of Health ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Reform

Margaret Bridgman Reform Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's comments. I also appreciate that progress can be achieved much more quickly if we work together.

I recognize the validity of ministries getting together and talking to avoid duplication and channelling their energies in the correct direction. This just does not apply to health; it can also be applied to the environment. Environment affects all the ministries as well.

My concern is that somebody somewhere has to have the authority to take leadership in these situations. When one starts collaborating to that point, is it a committee decision, a health decision, or a ministry decision that we are talking about? How does the priority for recognizing the problem which has been identified actually come into being?

The authority of the department is diminishing because its role is becoming more of an associate role or an advisory role to the other ministries. It is picking up the gauntlet and running with the program out of its own budget or this type of thing. That is where my concern is. I have no problem with collaborating. That is excellent and it is time we got to it.

I do not see any authority in this paper. If we have a health problem what authority does the department have to put it on the front burner? That is what I am concerned about.

Department Of Health ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I understand the hon. member's comment. It is like the chicken and the egg syndrome.

According to the member's vision of health it would be a super ministry encompassing all the ministries that will in turn look to the Department of Health to make decisions. Obviously that is not possible but it is an interesting concept.

This is what we have to move to. If we are talking about sharing jurisdictions and incorporating, we are also educating other departments so that people do not continue to focus in a narrow tunnel vision in specific departments on only one component of what they do. It is better for public health policy if the Ministry of the Environment recognizes that whatever it does impacts health, as opposed to the Department of Health constantly saying that it must do this and that, and so on for every other ministry.

I see it as a positive move as opposed to a negative move.

Department Of Health ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Reform

Margaret Bridgman Reform Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, it might be the chicken and egg syndrome, but the concern first came to me with the EAGLE program. To my understanding that program is being done with the involvement of an aboriginal group. There is probably a specific group around the Great Lakes. The program is studying the effects on aboriginals of the Great Lakes environment. I believe it is being done in collaboration with Indian affairs.

This collaboration is ongoing. We are studying the effects on aboriginals of the Great Lakes environment. I am sure it is affecting other people as well but because it was done in collaboration with one department we have zeroed in on a specific group. This is the trend I am seeing. Instead of the effects on Canadians, we studying the effects on aboriginals because of the ongoing collaboration. That could get out of hand eventually.

Department Of Health ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—Woodbine, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am supporting Bill C-95 because of the important role Health Canada plays in the life of Canadians. Too often Canadians, and even some hon. members of the Chamber, do not realize that there is more to health than the Canada Health Act. Health Canada supports unique federal roles and responsibilities. The work undertaken by the department is far reaching and important.

Health Canada not only provides the benefits of universal health insurance. It also ensures the safety of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices and consumer products. It invests hundreds of millions of dollars in health research. It monitors disease in developing pathogens and it conducts a wide variety of health promotion programs and activities.

Finally, Health Canada administers health services to First Nations, federal public servants, Canadian civil aviation personnel and Canadians in need of emergency health and social services in case of national civil disaster.

The department touches Canadians every day in all aspects of their lives. Canadians look on their health system with pride. They have an overwhelming degree of satisfaction with what the department is doing. They expect governments to work hard to adapt to changing times and priorities. They understand the need for cost effectiveness, but they demand the security of a department concerned with maintaining and improving the health of all Canadians.

The government has recognized that economically disadvantaged, unemployed or poorly educated Canadians are more likely to suffer from ill health and to have a lower life expectancy. Like governments everywhere we will strive to deal with these problems. We are committed to an equitable health care system. The vast majority of Canadians are solidly behind the efforts being made by government, professional groups and other stakeholders to improve the efficiency of the system.

Canada has a long history of commitment to these principles in serving a dispersed population in a federal system of government. We will maintain our commitment to these principles notwithstanding some difficult economic reality that we, as many nations of the world, are experiencing at the moment.

Canadians look to Health Canada for reassurance whenever there are natural or civilian disasters or threats to national health from chronic diseases such as cancer and tuberculosis or communicable diseases such as AIDS, HIV or the Ebola virus.

Within Health Canada 6,400 employees work to provide Canadians with the research data, programs, information and support they need to make positive lifestyle decisions. The business of the department is conducted in offices and laboratories, in cities and on reserves located on sites all across Canada. Just over half the department's employees work in the national capital region while the rest work in regional offices, collaborating with their provincial, territorial and non-government counterparts.

The Canada Health Act is administered by about 25 employees in Ottawa. The face of Health Canada comprises many names and many talents. Forty per cent of Health Canada staff are involved in the area of health protection, keeping Canadians safe from risks to their health arising from emerging diseases, dangerous products, the environment or unsafe food or drugs.

Defining, assessing and managing current and emerging health risks are also among branch responsibilities, along with maintaining the country's health protection infrastructure. More than 2,000 employees of Health Canada work in the area of First Nations health within the medical services branch. It is often forgotten that two-thirds of the budget of the department, excluding transfers to provinces, is devoted to native health.

Health Canada provides community health services to status Indians on reserves and to residents of Yukon through 600 health facilities across Canada. In order to help First Nations to achieve the highest possible standards of health care, the department has undertaken a variety of initiatives. These include the five-year building health communities strategy and the aboriginal head start

program aimed at children. The latter is a government red book initiative.

However the department's major focus remains the transfer of control of programs to First Nations. The first main program of Health Canada is the health promotion and programs branch involving some 525 people. They provide support to groups at risk, including children, families and seniors, and develop programs to prevent and reduce heart disease, breast cancer and other illnesses. They also work with and assist Canada's many national voluntary organizations.

It is not well known that the federal government spends about $340 million on health research annually. Altogether we estimate that in Canada we spend about $1.5 billion a year on health research. This is a very impressive number.

Each of the three program areas has staff in every province and territory. Not only are offices located in provincial capitals but members will find Health Canada staff in smaller centres like Trois-Rivières, Hamilton, Thompson, Port Qu'Appelle, the Sarcee reserve at Tsuu Pina in northern Alberta, and Prince George.

Most of the remaining thousand or so employees work in the national capital region managing the department, developing health policy and legislation, undertaking consultation and managing essential departmental services. About 250 people work in the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board and the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission.

Canadians have a strong attachment to their health system and the federal role in it. They look to the federal government to provide a viable, well managed national health care system. According to an Angus Reid poll of March 1995 almost all Canadians want national standards in health care, with 94 per cent saying such standards are somewhat or very essential.

At a time when so much is changing in Canada and in the world people need security to cope with change. They expect their governments to play an important role in that regard by providing Canadians with the best health care system in the world and by reassuring them that they will be taken care of if they are sick, that the products they use are safe and that the most advanced research goes into the measures Health Canada takes to prevent disease. The Department of Health does this to earn the trust and confidence of Canadians.

We have proven over and over again that a publicly administered health care system is the most effective, most inclusive and most successful system one in the world. Privatization of the health care system is a weakening of the system of health care. It only makes the private corporations wealthier at the expense of those who need health care and at the expense of accessibility.

This is why I support the bill and I encourage all members of the House to do so.

Department Of Health ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre De Savoye Bloc Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, we are considering Bill C-95, an act to establish the Department of Health.

This bill contains a number of disturbing clauses, and the Bloc members who spoke before me in this debate pointed out that the provinces will have to pay close attention to how the federal health minister implements these clauses, because they give the federal government an opportunity to encroach on an area of provincial jurisdiction.

I think that our concerns are totally justified; I would like to go beyond the clauses themselves and look at how the Department of Health has been positioning itself for some time now.

As hon. members will recall, in the throne speech almost two years ago, the government announced the national forum on health with great fanfare. What has happened since then?

I would like to think about this because I think it puts the bill before us in a special light and allows us to express a number of reservations with arguments that everyone can understand better.

This forum on health officially started its operations on October 20, 1994, under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister and the vice-chairmanship of the Minister of Health. The mandate of this forum is to improve the health of the Canadian people, increase the effectiveness and efficiency of health care services, and make recommendations to help the government achieve these goals.

We should point out here that the federal government does not miss any opportunity to interfere in the area of health. The federal government therefore decided to participate in the debate and even to initiate the consulting process to assess the Canadian health system, despite the fact that this is an area of exclusive provincial jurisdiction, while setting future priorities in order to improve the quality of health care.

The federal government is making a lot of claims. As you will recall, it turned down the request by provinces to participate fully in the work of the national forum on health. Instead, the Liberals decided to let the provinces attend the forum but only as observers.

How, I ask you, could the federal government disregard the main stakeholders in the area of health, namely the provinces? On September 27, 1994, the current Minister of Labour, who was then Quebec's Minister of Health, told La Presse : ``The federal government's conduct does not make any sense. How can they contemplate reviewing the health care system without the partici-

pation of the provinces, which must provide the services. It is simply unacceptable".

Senator Thérèse Lavoie-Roux said, in the other place, on May 31, 1994, that the government was headed in the wrong direction by overlooking the role of the provinces. She said, and I quote: "Are the provinces not considered major partners? Why were they not invited to participate in the forum? Does the leader find it appropriate for the government to be acting unilaterally on a matter of provincial responsibility?"

Needless to say that the federal government went ahead with its national forum on health, in spite of the strong objections of the key players in the health sector, namely the provinces.

On October 21, 1994, during question period, the Prime Minister said, and I quote: "We in Canada cannot afford to lose our health insurance system because we did not take the time to plan for the future".

That statement from the Prime Minister is telling in more ways than one. First, the federal government sets itself up as keeper and promoter of the quality of health care services provided to the public. According to the Prime Minister, it is thanks to the federal government if the health care system, as it exists, is the pride of Canadians.

Following a meeting with provincial officials in Victoria, the health minister said, in a press release: "The October 15 date is final. However, I believe we can reach an agreement to end extra-billing by clinics to cover essential medical services. It was never my intention to penalize the provinces, but I firmly intend to preserve and to protect Canada's health care system".

Meanwhile, the federal government is careful not to mention the dramatic consequences of its financial withdrawal which, for Quebec alone, will have resulted in a shortfall of over $8 billion between 1982-83 and 1994-95. That is a lot of money, considering that the government claims to be the keeper of health care in Canada.

The government is also trying to give the impression that it is the only one able and willing to propose efficient solutions to solve the thorny issue of funding for our health care system, as it currently exists. The federal government goes so far as to assume the responsibility of defining priorities to preserve the future of quality health care services.

The Prime Minister's statement shows to what degree the federal government sees itself as the "great thinker" regarding Canada's current and future health care systems, as well as the one which can ensure that it remains accessible, free and universal.

Let me quote an excerpt from a document on the federal-provincial perspective prepared by Thomas Duperré on behalf of Quebec's commission of inquiry on health and social services: "By using several programs gradually put in place over the years, the federal health department tends to give itself overall responsibility for health and social services, and it does not hesitate to describe itself as the main architect of the implementation and smooth operation of Canada's health system. It should be noted that, for the Canadian government, health services (and, to a lesser degree, social services) in this country form, to a large extent, a nationwide system. Indeed, Ottawa sees provincial governments as mere health care providers, and provincial programs, which never seem to form a global structure, as mere elements of the national system. Provinces, and particularly Quebec, sometimes find it hard to understand the federal government's attitude in the health and social sector. This is because they forget that, rightly or wrongly, the central government gives itself a much larger role than the one provided in the constitution".

Nevertheless, it is obvious that the provinces constitute the ideal sociopolitical agent for health system reform. According to the distribution of powers under the 1867 Constitution Act, only the provinces have the power to create, deliver and administer health and social services to the public.

Let us look at the example of the various actions undertaken by the government of Quebec to transform, modify and improve the health system over the past ten years. Let us think of the Rochon Commission, which took a critical look at the entire health system in Quebec. Each component of the system was placed under scrutiny and a number of groups involved in the health field spoke before public Commission hearings, in order to make known their concerns, their anguish, and their suggestions for improving the irritants inherent to the system.

After this brief review, I hardly need point out in connection with Bill C-95 that the provinces and Quebec are the ones best placed to intervene directly and knowledgeably in the system of health care and services. Who better than the provinces to know what the true issues are, and what solutions are required, to keep the health system accessible, universal and free of charge?

The better solution by far would be to hand over to the provinces all taxes earmarked for health care, allowing them to provide their populations with appropriate and suitable health services. Interaction between the provinces would result in agreements to ensure the delivery of services that, while homogeneous and equivalent,

were tailored to the specific requirements and means of each province, Quebec in particular. I shall close on this note,Mr. Speaker. Thank you for your kind attention.

Department Of Health ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Vancouver Centre B.C.

Liberal

Hedy Fry LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

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.

Department Of Health ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre De Savoye Bloc Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, you will permit me to disagree completely with my hon. colleague's remarks.

Health is a provincial matter. If the federal government wants to keep an eye on all the provinces, it should not go through the people of the provinces, but through the governments, whose job it is to administer the system within their province. When you start short-circuiting the authority of the individual provinces and going directly to individual citizens, you are short-circuiting a process that is normal, natural and desirable, because it is practical and necessary. You mess up the whole thing.

In June 1994, a journalist called me and asked me about the forum. I said it was window dressing. I say the same thing today, almost two years after the speech from the throne, this forum has served absolutely no purpose. We have not made any progress, and the provinces are increasingly aware that they are being given responsibilities and deprived of the means to carry them out. This is both unfair and inefficient, and, in the final analysis, the provinces will have the last word, because common sense always prevails.

Department Of Health ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

My dear colleagues, it being two o'clock p.m., we will now proceed to statements by members.

Canadian VeteransStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Hickey Liberal St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, the past year we watched Canadian veterans return to the Netherlands to places they had fought and where many of their comrades laid down their lives in the defence of freedom. These veterans were greeted as the heroes they are. Dutch children have been taught about the Canadian sacrifice to liberate their country.

It is imperative for Canadian children to learn those same lessons. This week is National Veterans' Week. My home province of Newfoundland has also signed a proclamation declaring this Remembrance Week, the first province to do so. The flag of remembrance will be flown outside schools and municipal and provincial buildings across our province.

These tributes are important. We must take the time to remind ourselves and to teach our children about the courage and sacrifice of Canada's veterans.

In wartime and in peacekeeping missions around the world they have left a legacy of which we can be extremely proud.

Canadian Armed ForcesStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the latest information on the practices of the former Airborne Regiment in Petawawa is distressing. The revelation of more and more repugnant practices by former members of the Regiment not only tarnishes the reputation of Canada's armed forces, but indicates that a significant change must take place within the armed forces.

How could anyone tolerate a celebration of the anniversary of the massacre of 14 innocent women at l'École polytechnique? These sordid celebrations are an insult for and an attack on all women.

I call on the Minister of National Defence to act quickly to put an end to the unacceptable behaviour of the Canadian armed forces, which, it would appear, took place with the approval of higher ranking officers. Women are entitled to a public apology.

Armed Forces Pensioners/Annuitants AssociationStatements By Members

November 6th, 1995 / 1:55 p.m.

Reform

Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Armed Forces Pensioners/Annuitants Association contracted a group dental insurance plan, but only under the proviso that monthly premiums be deducted at source.

The request to do so went to Treasury Board in October 1993. Only after many follow-up inquiries did the minister, almost two years later, finally agree to consider the pension deductions.

However, planned implementation could be no sooner than the summer of 1996 and at an estimated cost of "no less than $100,000" for system development.

Treasury Board already processes payroll deductions for income tax, union dues, United Way campaigns, Canada savings bonds and other insurance plans. The software programs are in place and do not require the massive rewrites suggested by the minister.

The association is willing to pay reasonable administrative charges so there would be no cost to the taxpayer. Rather than letting his bureaucrats place unreasonable impediments in the way, the minister should direct Treasury Board to provide this service to a group of people who simply wish to protect their dental health.

Canadian UnityStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Jag Bhaduria Liberal Markham—Whitchurch-Stouffville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the people of Quebec for the patriotic and historic decision they took last week by opting to remain in Canada. Fellow Canadians living outside Quebec are grateful for this expression of confidence.

At this time I also express my personal gratitude to the constituents of my riding who travelled with me by bus to Montreal on Friday the week before, and to the more than 50,000 South Asians living in Montreal and elsewhere in Quebec who worked with me over the past two months on the Canadian unity campaign. To all of you I say your efforts are deeply appreciated by all Canadians. The dedication and tireless efforts to serve your host country will long be remembered.

Finally, it was a pleasure to work with the various South Asian community leaders in Quebec during the referendum campaign. In a true sense you have made Canada strong and free.

Take Our Kids To Work DayStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Nault Liberal Kenora—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, as members may be aware, this Wednesday is Take Our Kids to Work Day.

Sponsored in part by the federal human resources department, 150,000 grade nine students from across Ontario will spend the day at the job of a parent, relative or other adult. This program is an integral part of the grade nine program and is supported by a majority of school boards across Ontario. Through direct experience it shows young people how important skills, training and education are to their success.

Today I have a constituent, Natalie Martz, shadowing me on the job. I am pleased to participate in such a valuable program and I encourage all members who have the opportunity to do so.

RadarsatStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Eugène Bellemare Liberal Carleton—Gloucester, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada has just launched Radarsat, its first earth observation satellite. With Radarsat, Canada undertakes a new international business venture using satellite imagery to monitor our environment and manage our natural resources.

In addition to providing us with exclusive images of our planet, Radarsat will allow us to follow the movement of ice in the Arctic, monitor the risks of forest fires, and detect pollution in coastal waters.

Radarsat is among the first symbols of the evolution of our knowledge-based society. It also provides concrete evidence that space science can have major commercial benefits on earth.

Anne Beaudry-GourdStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Albina Guarnieri Liberal Mississauga East, ON

Mr. Speaker, last Friday, the audience at Place des Arts in Montreal witnessed the triumph of the human spirit and the overcoming of physical barriers to success.

At 75 years of age, Anne Beaudry-Gourd became the oldest graduate of the University of Quebec in Montreal when she received a Master's Degree in death studies.

This great achievement comes after Mrs. Beaudry-Gourd raised nine children, cared for a sick husband, hosted the radio program Au pays des livres in the Abitibi region for several years, founded the two municipal libraries in Rouyn and Noranda, and won a literary prize with, among other things, an article on the German writer Gertrude von Lefort.

Mrs. Beaudry-Gourd succeeded thanks to her great determination and tremendous potential. Congratulations to a much loved and admired woman.

New Brunswick PremierStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, Premier McKenna is on a mission in western Canada. He wants to explain to his colleagues that the distinct society clause to which the Prime Minister of Canada and he himself are referring is indeed the meaningless concept set out in the Charlottetown accord, even though this accord was rejected by a majority of Quebecers and Canadians.

To support his arguments, he can also remind those unfamiliar with constitutional wrangling of the key role he played in killing the Meech Lake accord. Despite Mr. McKenna's assurances on the purely symbolic value of the distinct society clause, the premiers of Ontario and western Canada are incapable of recognizing, even half-heartedly, the existence of the people of Quebec.

Since we know that two out of three Canadians do not want to reopen the constitution, Quebecers will quickly realize that the vague promises of change and the McKenna-style machinations in favour of distinct society are nothing but a ruse, and that real change can only be achieved through Quebec sovereignty.

Prime MinisterStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Darrel Stinson Reform Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, in opposition Jean Chrétien told minister Kim Campbell that-

Prime MinisterStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I ask the hon. member to refer to present members in the House by their riding or title.

Prime MinisterStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Darrel Stinson Reform Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

In opposition, leader Jean Chrétien-

Prime MinisterStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Burnaby-Kingsway.

IndonesiaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, December 7 of this year will mark 20 years since Indonesia illegally invaded East Timor and began a campaign of genocide and human rights violations. This November 12 will be the fourth anniversary of the Dili massacre.

Over the past two months repression has intensified as Indonesia tries to suppress protest in advance of these anniversaries and before the upcoming visit of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Several hundred people have been arrested and it is feared they are being tortured. Others have been killed.

Given all of this, it is totally inappropriate for the Minister for International Trade to be planning a trade visit to Indonesia for November 11 on his way to the APEC summit in Japan.

This trip by the Minister for International Trade on the very eve of the Dili massacre anniversary demonstrates once again the complete moral bankruptcy of Canada's foreign policy.

I urge members of the House to support the New Democratic Party's proposal to end Canadian aid and arms sales to the Government of Indonesia and I urge the minister to reconsider his visit.

First NationsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Bonin Liberal Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to ask my colleagues to join with me in congratulating these aboriginal Canadian communities: the James Bay Cree, the Walpole Island First Nations and the Sanikiluak Inuit community.

Recently these three communities were honoured by the United Nations for their achievements in overcoming great hardships to improve the quality of life of the members of their communities.

As recipients of the United Nations award "We the Peoples" our three aboriginal communities were held up as models to others facing hardships. The award serves as a testimony to the ability of

communities to come together under a common banner to promote positive change in the harshest of circumstances.

I thank the peoples of the James Bay Cree, the Walpole Island First Nations and the Sanikiluak Inuit community for reinforcing our hope and resolve in bettering the lives of aboriginal Canadians from coast to coast.

The Late Yitzhak RabinStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Don Valley North, ON

Mr. Speaker, one who kills in the name of morality kills nothing except one's own morality.

The world has suffered the loss of a great peacemaker. Mindless violence has claimed a leader whose foresight and courage led his nation from the twisted path of endless conflict and pointed it toward the road to peace.

I was honoured to nominate Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin for the Nobel Peace Prize in January 1994 and overjoyed when he was awarded that honour in December 1994.

Yitzhak Rabin was a soldier who fought for his country and yet he grew to realize that the only solution was to become a soldier for peace. He survived conflict as a soldier but died as a soldier of peace.

When I met him last year in Canada he promised he would continue to work toward a lasting peace.

I extend my deepest condolences to Mrs. Rabin, her family and the nation of Israel.