House of Commons Hansard #138 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cpp.


Underground EconomyAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

St. Paul's Ontario


Barry Campbell LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Madam Speaker, as the Minister of Canadian Heritage mentioned, the CBC makes all the decisions concerning its programming and its daily operations. This includes the decisions concerning French language television programming.

That having been said, I am pleased to provide details to the hon. member regarding the measures announced by the CBC on January 30, regarding its French language radio and television. These initiatives will improve services provided by Radio-Canada to French speaking communities outside Quebec.

According to the CBC news release:

The half-hour French language news bulletin Ce soir , which is aired at dinner time, will be maintained in the four western provinces, and will have a new format as of this spring.

As for other programs from western stations, services will remain essentially the same and regional teams will continue to produce news stories and information programs that will be broadcasted by Radio-Canada and RDI.

The French language radio will provide $500,000 in additional support to the stations most affected, namely Regina, Edmonton, Vancouver and Windsor, to focus on regional and local programming.

Except in Vancouver, there will be at least 36 hours per week of French language radio programs. Regional programming on the national network will be maintained and, in some cases, increased.

In Acadia, special arrangements will allow the Moncton station to maintain infrastructures to preserve regional and network programming. These infrastructures will also be made available to independent producers.

Radio-Canada has been present for a long time in Canada's regions, and it is an integral part of the communities that it serves. These measures reflect the public broadcaster's determination to provide regional programming and, particularly, to meet the needs of minority French language communities outside Quebec.

On February 11, the Minister of Canadian Heritage announced that, as of April, annual additional funding of $10 million would be provided to CBC's French and English language radio, as well as stable multiyear funding.

Underground EconomyAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


Rose-Marie Ur Liberal Lambton—Middlesex, ON

Madam Speaker, in the January 11 edition of the Canada Gazette , Part I, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, PMRA, of Health Canada published its proposals on cost recovery which are part of the current review of Canada's pesticide registration system.

Since that time, I have received at least 50 copies of responses to the PMRA proposals by individual farmers and agricultural organizations. Not one of these responses has been favourable.

On February 21 I asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health if the minister was prepared to revisit the many concerns voiced by Canada's farmers and farm organizations and make further changes to cost recovery and the PMRA proposals.

By and large, the main concern which has been conveyed to me is that the PMRA is not taking into consideration the cumulative effect its proposals will have on producers.

A constructive environment where there is a will to collaborate, revise and improve must prevail by all participants before any progress can be made on PMRA efficiencies. Regardless of the particular suggestions put forward, it must be understood that such advice is given by Canada's farm organizations in the spirit of making things better.

For years now, farm organizations have been telling the PMRA that it has overestimated the number of product registrations. This means that the overall budget is still too high. The PMRA's budget forecast for five years does not reflect the full potential for efficiency gains, including international harmonization and tech-

nological innovation. In other words, the PMRA's proposed budget contradicts federal government policies such as program review to do more with less.

Because Canada is not normally the first market for pesticide products, the PMRA could have substantially reduced costs and speeded up approval times by better utilizing information gained through the approval process in other countries. Despite repeated urging from farm organizations across the country, the PMRA chose not to follow this route.

Despite Health Canada's 40 per cent reduction in the original fee structure, the current cost recovery target of $12.3 million still puts the international competitiveness of Canada's pesticide producers and users, who are primarily Canada's farmers, at stake. This is because the proposed fees are still not substantial, given the high level of fees and the relatively small size of the Canadian market. Canada's farmers and farm organizations predict that these fees will lead to significant product withdrawals and will reduce the ability of Canada's farmers to compete internationally.

When PMRA's cost recovery target is compared with other Health Canada initiatives, it becomes readily apparent that this target is still too high. For example, the drugs directorate cost recovers is 28 per cent of its total budget and the medical devices program cost recovers only 14 per cent of its total budget. Yet the PMRA is asking industry to pay 45 per cent of its total budget. Obviously this places the international competitiveness of the Canadian farmer at risk.

According to the PMRA proposals industry will be charged $2,690 a year to maintain each product registration on file. Even at this point in time it is still unclear what services industry is actually paying for here.

I have seen studies which show a high level of price sensitivity to maintenance levels, particularly for pesticides with low volume sales that cater to what is commonly referred to as the niche markets.

These studies suggest that the proposed maintenance fee would lead to a 71 per cent withdrawal rate of products with sales of less than $5,000. That would be a terrible blow to the niche markets I was referring to.

It has also been brought to my attention that the PMRA has not set performance standards for other submissions such as new pesticide use or formulation changes. This is contrary to Treasury Board policy which stipulates that performance measures should be set and agreed to by stakeholders. This is in contrast to other international agencies committed to developing their performance times on an ongoing basis.

The PMRA must commit to developing and meeting performance standards that are competitive with the best in the world on an ongoing basis.

I conclude with one further observation. Unless there are changes to the PMRA's proposal the Canadian farming community will suffer enormous consequences in the global marketplace. It is time for the agency to move forward for the good of Canadian farmers and consumers.

Underground EconomyAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario


Joe Volpe LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

Madam Speaker, I am delighted to speak on this matter. I know the member will be delighted to hear me repeat some positions.

The member for Lambton-Middlesex has a concern regarding the PMRA. As I stated in my response to her on February 21, the Minister of Health has been reviewing the various proposals of groups interested in the matter.

The member will no doubt be happy to learn that on February 27, a mere six days after my response to her query, the Minister of Health wrote to the president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. In that letter he addressed a number of issues. I will be happy to table a copy of the letter for the member and for the House.

The member will see from the letter that the PMRA will be co-operating with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture on a post-implementation impact analysis. This would monitor prices and product withdrawals and assess the impact of the two factors on competitiveness.

The PMRA has actively participated in the pesticide program of the OECD which is working toward global harmonization of test protocols and data requirements leading to reduction in industry costs.

The minister also indicated in his letter that the PMRA has no intention of re-evaluating all the products every three to five years, nor of re-evaluating products that have acceptable data bases to support their safety and effectiveness. The purpose of re-evaluation is to bring older databases up to modern standards, identify and examine human safety and environmental concerns, and ensure continued efficacy. I am certain the member will and does support these goals.

It is also important to note that the PMRA has made significant improvements to the review process for new submissions. Based on these improvements the PMRA has projected a 40 per cent reduction in costs for reviewing new product submissions over the next six years and has already built this into its proposed fee schedule.

There are other issues addressed in the letter. The member for Lambton-Middlesex has been aggressive, insistent and persistent on the matter. Others who like her have an interest in the issue should review the correspondence. I think they will find it to their satisfaction.

Underground EconomyAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6.43.)