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House of Commons Hansard #90 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.

Topics

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as prime minister and leader of this party I have given more freedom to members on free votes. We get up on free votes and the Reform Party gets up at the same time. The same people who were asking for free votes never have free votes.

This is a matter of confidence in the government because it is a decision made by this government and all other governments of Canada. We do not want to try to score political points. It is the first time. He always comes with that. He should come first with freedom of votes on his side.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the one area where the Prime Minister has supported free votes in the past has been on moral issues. This is an issue of right and wrong. It is a moral issue. It is morally wrong to abandon the sick. It is even worse for the health minister to abandon the sick when it was government negligence that made them sick in the first place.

Will the Prime Minister call off the whips and allow his backbenchers to vote freely on this motion tomorrow?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am happy they are all relying on their leader. We were afraid of losing him. I will quote the minister of health from one of the provinces.

Jean Rochon, Quebec's health minister, said “Compensating those who contracted the disease before 1986 would raise a problem of basic fairness. If these people were compensated, the door would have to be opened for other cases, others who had suffered complications as the result of a health or surgical procedure. This is another issue, in no way related to the agreement, the—”

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt, but I must now give the floor to the hon. member for Wanuskewin.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Maurice Vellacott Reform Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is some consolation to be in collaboration with others to deny justice to victims in our country.

The Canadian public happens to disagree with the Minister of Health, as do all the opposition parties and his Liberal colleagues, and he knows it.

Hepatitis C victims were protesting on the lawn of Parliament Hill on Monday. Thousands of Canadians will be on their phones over the weekend asking their members of parliament to do the right thing.

Why does the health minister not hustle back to his office, work the phones and come up with a plan to compensate all hepatitis C victims before the vote next Tuesday? Why wait for the vote?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, in many ways the easiest thing to have done would have been to write a cheque and pay cash to everybody. In fact one of the reasons we get into public life is that we want to help others, particularly the sick and the vulnerable.

At the end of the day those who are in government, those who have positions of responsibility, must make tough decisions, must make responsible decisions about where cash payments should be made to those who are harmed through the public system.

On this issue and in this instance we see every government in the country in a remarkable display of unanimity coming down on one side—

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Wanuskewin.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Maurice Vellacott Reform Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, I guess that is his choice if he wants to go down with a dozen other people on this issue, but the Canadian public and hepatitis C victims are watching and waiting for the Liberal government to come up with some different lines than should have, could have and would have. It sounds like a cracked record.

Speaking of cracked records, I appeal to the minister. Why create unnecessary cracks and division within his own caucus and his own cabinet? Why will the health minister not do the right thing and go back to the drawing board to figure out how he can compensate all victims of hepatitis C? Then he could enjoy a good weekend with a clear conscience. Why wait for a vote on this Tuesday?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the member speaks as though this was the unilateral act of one government. All governments took part in this. In fact Progressive Conservative governments in Prince Edward Island, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta all took part in this agreement.

We are paying $1.1 billion to 22,000 victims of hepatitis C. Is the hon. member suggesting we pay cash to all those who are affected by adverse reactions to vaccines? Is he suggesting we pay cash compensation to all those who have outcomes in the health system which reflect the risks? I think not.

Budget SurplusOral Question Period

April 22nd, 1998 / 2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, during the first eleven months of fiscal year 1997-98, the government pocketed an extra $4.1 billion, having forecast a $17 billion deficit for that same period. This is a slight difference of $21 billion, which could rise even higher when the end-of-year corrections come out this fall.

Is the Prime Minister aware that his massive cuts in transfer payments have caused a major imbalance in the Canadian federation, that the provinces are short of funds, do not have the money to provide basic services, while the federal government has more than it needs to fulfill its own mandate?

Budget SurplusOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have succeeded in balancing the government's books and we are very proud to have done so.

As for provincial transfers, we have cut the provinces less than they have cut in services.

When account is taken of the increase in transfer payments, the increase in provincial revenues because of tax points, and the reduction in provincial interest payments because interest rates have gone down, the difference between what the Canadian government gave to the Province of Quebec and what the province is now receiving is less than the province cut municipalities.

Budget SurplusOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government saved money on the backs of the provinces, on the backs of the most disadvantaged, on the backs of the ill and the unemployed. That is how it saved money.

Is the fact that the federal government has much more money than it needs to carry out its own mandate not proof that it is interfering, and that this is the opportunity it was waiting for to interfere in areas of jurisdiction where it has no business, areas of jurisdiction belonging to Quebec and the provinces?

Budget SurplusOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear proof that we have provided the Canadian people with very good government.

Budget SurplusOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are headed from a $17 billion deficit to a $4 billion surplus.

This means that the government could have balanced the budget this year even if it had not cut transfers to the provinces by $3 billion in 1997-98.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Does he not understand that the only fair thing to do is to put the surplus back where it came from, in provincial coffers to be used for health, education and social services, and in the pockets of taxpayers, who are being taxed to death?

Budget SurplusOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, if the member had listened to my reply, instead of reading a prepared question, he would have understood that, when everything is factored in, the net cuts to provincial governments, Quebec in particular, total $500 million, which is less than what the province is cutting from municipalities.

I do not blame them. They were forced to make cuts. We were forced to make cuts. Today, however, the economy is in much better shape. We have the lowest interest rates in many years; we have a balanced budget, and today we heard that—

Budget SurplusOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.

Budget SurplusOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the Prime Minister, but he is not telling the whole truth. The Government of Quebec was robbed of $11 billion, which was needed for welfare and education, as well as health. That is the fact of the matter.

And is it not the government's responsibility to help with some of the damage by giving back what it lifted from the provinces?

Budget SurplusOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I do not think there was a question. But I can tell him that what he said is incorrect.

I have just said that the net difference is $500 million with respect to the level of contributions made by the federal government in 1993-94.

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, mismanagement has led to disaster in the east coast fishery, threatening to destroy an ecosystem, an economy and an entire culture. The human and financial costs are staggering.

Will the Prime Minister use the occasion of Earth Day to admit that federal mismanagement was the principal cause of this catastrophe? Will he finally respond to the December 12, 1997 pleadings of all five eastern premiers to immediately establish an Atlantic groundfish program successor to TAGS?

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I think the issue of government responsibility for the cod collapse is well illustrated at pages 380 and on in a book by John Crosbie, a former minister of fisheries in the House.

He outlined as minister of fisheries the advice he received from the department which was rejected for political reasons at the time over a period of some four years.

The hon. member may wish to reinterpret history as she will, but if she looks at that book, if she looks at other reports that have been put forward and other books written, she will see that this is not the simplest of problems. It is a complex problem. To have the cod stock recover—

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Halifax.

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister knows that federal environmental mismanagement and his government's woeful response to this catastrophe keeps tens of thousands of east coast families in crisis.

An all party committee from Newfoundland and Labrador is here today in Ottawa following up on the all premiers' letter in December pleading with Ottawa to recognize that we are dealing with a long term problem that requires a long term solution.

Will the Prime Minister ease the suffering caused by this tragedy and pledge a comprehensive response sensitive to the particular needs and conditions of coastal communities?

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I hope the hon. leader of the fourth party will realize that when we formed the government at a time when we had the biggest deficit in Canadian history, we introduced a program to solve the problems that were created before we formed the government.

We had a program for five years at a time when it was most difficult to have a new program. At that time everybody agreed that a five year program was a very generous long term program.

The problem is not resolved yet and the government is looking to see what can be done from thereon. I want to say—

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Saint John.