Mr. Speaker, on October 10 I asked a very specific question of the Minister of Health. The minister chose to answer a question that was not asked. Today I wish to put my question to the minister again and trust that the response will address the question asked.
In the report of auditor general some alarming facts were reported in the chapter on aboriginal health. In the years between 1986 and 1996 many accounts of prescription drug abuse were reported among aboriginal people. I was amazed to read that the Department of Health has known about this for 10 years.
For background I would like to review part of minister's response to a very specific question. He said:
It is true this problem has been known for 10 years. Throughout that time the health department has worked with provincial authorities and with the First Nations to address the problem.
By the end of this year, December 31, we will have in place technology across the country to help pharmacists detect abuse and reduce the problem the member refers to.
That is nice. Here are the facts of a real tragedy. The report of the auditor general shows that in one three-month period 15,000 aboriginal people went to three or more pharmacies, 1,600 obtained more than 15 drugs and over 700 people had 50 prescriptions or more.
For 10 years a very serious health problem, purported to have caused deaths, has been neglected by those charged with the responsibility for the care of Canada's aboriginals.
My question is not what wonderful things the government is going to do to solve the problem. My question is very clear and I would like a clear answer in response.
Has the minister identified those in his department responsible for overlooking this very serious matter for 10 years and what, if any, disciplinary actions or legal sanctions have been taken or are contemplated by his department?