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House of Commons Hansard #88 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senators.

Topics

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, members of the Irish government argued just like this health minister argues today. They argued for four years and those victims finally won. They won a fair compensation package for every single victim of Hepatitis C from tainted blood.

The victims are here today and they are asking this health minister to meet with them so he can learn the example from Ireland. Will he meet with those victims today?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I have met often in the past with victims and their representatives.

Second, Health Canada some months ago sent its own representative to Ireland to look at the facts of that system. The facts are that about 1,800 victims so far have been compensated. We are covering 22,000 victims.

In Ireland the infection stemmed, for the most part, from a 1977 tainted blood supply brought about by the failure of the government to screen donors properly. The government itself distributed the tainted product which infected 1,500 expectant mothers.

We in this country have taken the same approach—

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Macleod.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, we have talked about feeble excuses and here, of course, again is just another feeble excuse.

The minister says the Canadian regulator was not responsible. That is not true and he knows it. If the Canadian regulator was responsible there is negligence. We are going to spend more money on these victims if they go through the courts.

For the sake of the victims, not for those of last week or for those who will be victims in the far distant future, but for the ones who are here, will he meet with the Irish individuals, find out and tell us why does the Irish system not work for Canada?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I have said to the hon. member in response to his question that Health Canada sent representatives to Ireland to meet with officials to examine the facts and to look into exactly how the Irish system is organized and how compensation was paid.

What we learned was that almost all of the victims in Ireland can be traced to 1977 when, because the government did not screen properly, a donor infected the blood supply. The government itself distributed the product that caused most of these infections. Because of that fault the Irish government paid compensation.

We are applying the same principle in Canada. When governments could have acted—

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The leader of the Bloc Quebecois.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the case of the hepatitis C victims, the federal and provincial governments have signed an agreement covering the period from 1986 to July 1990. However, the issue of compensating the other victims remains.

Without calling the agreement for the 1986-1990 period into question, would the Minister of Health be prepared to consider, as a special, humanitarian measure, putting in place a special plan to compensate individuals infected with hepatitis C before 1986 and after July 1990?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, all governments in Canada, including the Quebec government, have recognized this matter as a rather difficult one.

We have followed the situation since the beginning and identified a four-year period, between 1986 and 1990, during which the governments could have acted to prevent infection.

That is the period that was eventually selected for compensation, and all governments in Canada, including the Quebec government, have agreed—

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. leader of the Bloc Quebecois.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois has supported the agreement to compensate those infected with hepatitis C between 1986 and 1990 from day one. But for the other victims, we are faced with a special situation which demands special attention.

Could the minister consider the situation with greater compassion and, as recommended in the Krever report and by the Hemophilia Society, institute a special—I repeat special—no-fault compensation plan for individuals infected before 1986 and after July 1990?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the provincial ministers themselves identified as a threat to the health system as a whole any plan to compensate all victims regardless of fault.

All Canadian health ministers, at the provincial and federal levels, have agreed that only those infected during the period when governments could have acted to prevent infection should be compensated.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health continues to be insensitive to hepatitis C victims excluded from the program, although the latest figures show that the federal government is headed towards a substantial surplus for 1997-98.

Is it not disgraceful that the Minister of Health refuses to reconsider assistance to all hepatitis C victims, when his government, with its deep health cuts in recent years, is generating surpluses it had not even expected?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the health system in general poses risks for everyone. I wonder whether the hon. member is suggesting that Canada's governments should compensate all victims for all risks.

Has the hon. member asked her colleague, Minister Rochon, in Quebec City, if he is open to such an approach? All Canadian health ministers have agreed to adopt the approach I described.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the provinces have paid until now to look after hepatitis C victims, and since they will continue to do so in future, should the federal government not pull its weight and provide appropriate compensation for all those who contracted hepatitis C?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, all governments in Canada have acted together. As I said, we identified a four-year period during which action was possible to prevent these infections, and we agreed to compensate those who contracted hepatitis C during this period.

I think this is a wise, prudent, appropriate approach and I repeat that we have adopted an appropriate approach in these very difficult circumstances.

BankingOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

“Whenever bankers rush to do the same thing at the same time it is a sure rule that problems will follow”. So states today's Financial Times . Through his delay, our finance minister resembles a pipe major leading the parade of mega-mergers.

Let me remind the finance minister that he has a duty to the Canadian public that comes before his Bay Street buddies. Small depositors, small businesses and small communities across this country want to know why the Canadian government will not launch an immediate inquiry into these revolutionary changes and massive concentrations in the banking industry.

BankingOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to respond to the leader of the opposition. Perhaps instead of reading the Financial Times if she were to read some of the Canadian papers she might know that some time ago the government did that very thing. It is called the MacKay task force and it will be reporting this summer or September at the latest.

BankingOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, why does the Minister of Finance keep hiding behind the task force on financial services when its members have said themselves they are not looking at the bank merger issue?

Canadians want to have a say in the future of our banking industry. Unfortunately the finance minister says they have to wait until the bankers have had their say, wait until the task force reports, wait until the mergers are unstoppable, wait until there is a loss of tens of thousands of jobs. The bank mega mergers are not waiting. Why is this government waiting until it is too late to make a difference?

BankingOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, let us be very clear. The decision on the bank mergers will be made by this government, by this Parliament and by the Canadian people. It will not be made by any financial institution. Anybody who has any doubt about that had just better watch us.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

April 20th, 1998 / 2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Today in the House of Commons the Minister of Health sounds more like an accountant or a lawyer. The Minister of Health is responsible for the blood system. My question is very direct. Will the minister reopen the hepatitis C compensation package, a package that leaves up to 40,000 Canadians, innocent victims, with nothing?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the member sounds as though this is a decision made by one government, one party. The approach I have described was taken by all governments of all parties including the Progressive Conservative governments in Prince Edward Island, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta. I wonder whether the hon. member is saying that the Progressive Conservative governments of those provinces are also taking a wrong policy approach to this issue.

We are sounding not so much like lawyers and accountants as we are like ministers of health concerned about the implications of this most difficult situation where the sustainability of the health system will—

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. leader of the Conservative Party.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, the package announced by the Minister of Health is not fair and it is not honourable. Sadly it effectively denies innocent victims fairness and compassion. I want to remind the House that the government has the constitutional authority to correct this human tragedy, to act unilaterally as we did in 1991 with HIV. Will the minister exercise moral and constitutional leadership to correct this injustice?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I remind the hon. member that it is her party in power in Prince Edward Island, her party in power in Ontario, her party in power in Alberta and Manitoba. They were at the table with us taking a position in relation to this very difficult issue which we believe is in the public interest.

If the hon. member's approach were taken, the public health care system would have to pay to all claimants who suffer harm as a result of risks inherent in medical practice. The ministers of health from all governments in this country have decided—

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Medicine Hat.