Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak on group four of the motions on Bill C-76, the report stage. A lot of this has to do primarily with provincial transfer payments for health care and education.
I would like to point out to the House something that is perhaps not recognized: we do have a serious problem in health care in Canada today. Recently in the news it was stated that medicare is essential to the identity of the government. That is good, because it is essential to the identity of all Canadians. Unfortunately, this government does not recognize that in this country health care is in dire straits.
Recently we have seen some tragic statistics of people dying while on waiting lists, waiting for essential health care services that this government and governments across this country should be providing to the Canadian public. Just this last weekend we heard about 25 individuals who died while on waiting lists awaiting surgery at the Ottawa Heart Institute.
In my province of British Columbia, if you have prostrate cancer you can wait over a year to get ultrasound therapy. As a result of this, patients in British Columbia go to the United States in order to get this essential service. In fact, what we see in the United States is a whole industry built up around Canadian people who cannot have their essential health care services met and therefore are forced to go to the United States. It is in fact the Canadian taxpayer, through the medical services plan of British Columbia, who pays for that.
This is completely unnecessary, as we have the skilled individuals in this country who can do this. It is just a question of changing our priorities.
One of the sad things that happened as a result of the last budget was that over $6 billion was ripped out of the heart of education and health care by the federal government. As a result of that, the provinces are now somehow going to have to make up the shortfall. The result is an impossible quandary. You simply cannot pay for what the taxpayers are asking for and the demands of health care in this country through the moneys that are now provided.
What we are going to see in the future are many more tragic cases of Canadians who are dying while on waiting lists, waiting for essential health care services to occur.
We in the Reform Party propose a number of motions relating to Bill C-76. First is that we remove the government's ability to unilaterally decide what constitutes a violation of national standards and to unilaterally decide what the financial penalty should be. To remedy this we have proposed amendments that would force the federal government to take provincial governments to court in order to determine what the violations are and whether there should be any penalties. Second, we have put forth motions to prevent the federal government from imposing additional national standards without the consent of the provinces. Last, we are trying to move towards a situation where we have unconditional transfers of health care and education dollars.
I reiterate that it is impossible for Parliament to unconditionally remove money from the provinces and expect them to meet the demands of their citizens. It simply cannot be done. Tragically, the Canadian people do not realize this. Unfortunately, in the next federal election this will haunt all of us, because people who are on waiting lists are going to die.
We propose a different solution, which will meet the needs and the objectives of having a medicare system for all Canadians and put it on firm financial ground.
We do not want to destroy health care in the country. We do not want to destroy medicare. We want a new Canada Health Act, unlike what they have in the States, unlike what is in the United Kingdom-one made in Canada. It would entail defining essential health care services and ensuring that all Canadians across the country will have their health care services covered, regardless of income.
Second, we must amend the Canada Health Act and allow the provinces to get their health care dollars under control. It is very simple. If we allow private clinics it creates a two-tiered system. But what happens if as a patient you want to pay for an MRI on your knee or your neck? You go to a private clinic and private dollars are exchanged into private hands. Not a cent of taxpayers' dollars goes into this. Sure people will get services perhaps faster than in the public system, but that would enable you to get off the public system into the private system. So those people in the public system would receive health care faster and more efficiently because they would move up the waiting list. There would also be more money in the system on a per capita basis.
This is not a threat to medicare. Rather, this an adjunct to medicare, which will help it. Would it be a two-tiered system? Yes. But is it not better to have an unequal system that provides better and more timely access for all Canadians than a relatively equal system that provides poor access to essential health care services? The choice is very easy.
Another aspect I would like to address is to ask the federal government to take a leadership role in health care in analysing the determinants of health care in Canada. We often put forward grandiose plans of studies on many things, but nobody actually takes the bull by the horns and tells us what makes up health care in the country.
I will give some solutions. One thing that is in greatest neglect is the fact that in early childhood education, children aged from two to five years, the pillars of a normal psyche are developed. The pillars of good health are also developed. We do not put enough emphasis on that area. The emphasis we can put on that area will actually pay off in spades later on in the health and welfare of the adults.
I would argue that we should put more emphasis on teaching children, at that age, not only their ABC's, but also teaching them about self-respect, pride, respect for other people, and appropriate conflict resolution. These things can be done. Although we take it for granted that many people know this, we would perhaps be very surprised to find out that in some dysfunctional families and in the lower echelons of the socio-economic groups, these things are actually unknown. Some children have not grown up with this, and some have grown up in very tragic situations indeed, where the givens of a normal psyche are not there. Many children and parents do not know this.
I would ask the government to look at an interesting experiment that was done at Columbia University. It took over an inner-city school board that was wracked by violence, sexual abuse, drug abuse, teen drop-out rates. It focused on the aspects of teaching self-respect, et cetera, in the early years and found out that it paid off in spades when the children grew up.
The other aspect I would like to focus on is something on aboriginal health care. I would seek to support some of the ideas I have had on aboriginal health.
We have created an institutionalized welfare state in many aboriginal reserves. By continually pouring money into the aboriginal reserves we have not succeeded in addressing some of the underlying problems that are actually behind the sexual abuse, violence, and the general malaise of the soul that we see on many reserves.
I would say let us focus on enabling the aboriginal people to take care of themselves. Let us put the responsibility for their destiny back on their shoulders. Let us help them to do that. Let us help them to call their own shots. Let us put an end to the institutionalized welfare state that we have set up.
More money is not the answer. Giving people the tools to help themselves is. I would strongly urge this government to do this in the name of health care for all aboriginal people.