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House of Commons Hansard #87 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was plan.

Topics

Option CanadaOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Don Valley West Ontario

Liberal

John Godfrey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, we have responded to the criticisms, of the auditor general for instance, by saying that changes will have to be made in future. We then answered the questions asked.

But we also have our own questions. We could also ask the Bloc Quebecois about Plan O, a plan to spend billions of dollars in the event of Quebec's separation. This question should be put to the representatives of Mr. Parizeau in this House.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

April 3rd, 1998 / 11:25 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Whether or not the federal minister likes it, health ministers will hold further talks next week on hepatitis C compensation.

To date the health minister and his cabinet colleagues have closed their eyes to the injustice and inhumanity of not compensating tens of thousands of hepatitis C victims. Canadians are watching. What will the health minister take to next week's talks?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is woefully misinformed. Next Monday, Clay Serby, minister of health for the NDP government in Saskatchewan who this year is the chair of provincial ministers, will co-ordinate a conference call among provincial ministers of health to talk about the membership of the board of directors and other details for the creation of the new blood service.

The ministers of health of the governments of the country, all governments of all political stripes, believe strongly that we have an appropriate and a justified approach to the compensation issue. They are solidly behind this deal. The hon. member should not cruelly raise—

Hepatitis COral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Halifax.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the minister can repeat his mantra. He can continue to try to evade his responsibility but it does not change the facts.

Unlike this health minister, some provinces have had the courage to acknowledge that the proposed compensation package does not provide a satisfactory solution for tens of thousands of victims.

Is the minister now prepared to negotiate a new deal? Will he say yes to all victims by bringing more money to the table, or will he continue to say no to fair compensation for all hepatitis C victims?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the member is simply wrong. If her reference is to Premier Clark, I assume Premier Clark has by now spoken to his minister of health with whom I spoke yesterday and has been reminded that the British Columbia government was at the table, part of the discussions, part of the agreement, and stands solidly with the rest of the governments of the country behind this agreement.

As to responsibility, we did take responsibility as those responsible in government. We considered a difficult matter. We came to a conclusion as to the appropriate response. We announced that decision and we have explained the principles behind it. That is the responsibility of public officials.

TaxationOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Progressive Conservative Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, small private woodlot owners are being penalized by the federal tax code for following environmentally responsible standards.

The national round table on the environment and the economy report tabled last October recommended that private woodlot owners be treated as small business owners. This would require a change to the tax code to allow sound forestry management practices and silviculture expenses to be deductible from their taxes against their income.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. What is the government's response to the round table's recommendation, and when can private woodlot owners expect a change?

TaxationOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for giving me advance notice of the question.

It is my understanding that there is a differential between the odd woodlot owner and a woodlot owner who has a business plan and is actually in the business. Owners under the second category are considered to be in the business of operating the woodlot and would be able to claim silviculture expenses.

TaxationOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Progressive Conservative Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his unusually succinct answer.

The national roundtable also recommended that private woodlot owners be provided with the same capital gains tax exemption currently available to farmers. At present if an owner wishes to pass on their woodlot to an heir it is more advantageous to clearcut the woodlot and pay less capital gains tax than manage the woodlot in an environmentally sound manner. The current tax code offers an incentive to prematurely clearcut woodlots rather than use sustainable forestry practices.

When will the government respond to this recommendation?

TaxationOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I guarantee you that if I am given advance notice I can be succinct.

We have again looked at the capital gains tax. The view was that would be a very small part of the solution to the problem of overcutting. We are certainly prepared to sit down with the national roundtable and with the provincial governments and take a look at the overall problem.

The question is simply one of expense versus the cost.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Maurice Vellacott Reform Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, the health minister says he does not want the government's approach to compensation to set a legal precedent.

It is possible for the government to compensate hepatitis C victims infected before 1986 without admitting legal liability. To use a legal term, it can simply compensate ex gratia, out of grace.

Why is he inventing a doomsday scenario in order to avoid across the board compensation?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, there is sound reason for the approach taken by the governments of Canada in dealing with this difficult issue.

I refer the hon. member, for example, to the writing this week of Professor Bernard Dickens of the medical law and ethics faculty of the University of Toronto. He wrote at length an analysis that was published in the popular press about the proper role of government when it comes to a tragedy like this and the distinction between paying compensation based on accepting responsibility and going beyond that and the implications for the health care system.

I urge the member to think through the position he is expressing and its possible consequence for health care in Canada.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Maurice Vellacott Reform Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is a good thing the minister never read that article before the ice storm in January and the Red River flood.

The health minister says the government is not liable for infecting those victims before 1986. He believes it was an unforeseen tragedy. In the last budget the government set up a $3 billion contingency fund precisely for needs unforeseen by the government.

Why is this minister saying that his compensation plan is the best that can be done?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, Speaker, because in our analysis carried out by every government in Canada when we looked at the history of this matter as sketched out in the Krever report and elsewhere, it was clear that in the period 1986 to 1990 something could have been done to manage the risks. Something should have been done to prevent the infections and it was not.

In those circumstances all the governments of Canada agreed that is the appropriate basis on which the public should offer compensation to those who were harmed.

Native CommunitiesOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Fournier Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Government of Quebec introduced its new policy of cooperation with Quebec's native peoples, a policy that was very well received by many native leaders, but that requires the cooperation of the federal government.

In a gesture of open-mindedness towards Quebec's native communities, will the federal government agree to match the Government of Quebec's contribution of $125 million over five years for the native people's development fund?

Native CommunitiesOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada has not been advised of the details of the negotiations to which the hon. member refers in his question.

When we have these details, we will of course duly examine them and reply to the Government of Quebec after careful consideration of the matter.

Native CommunitiesOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Fournier Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Quebec has also decided to give Quebec's native peoples an opportunity to collect the QST paid by natives and non-natives on and off reserves.

In order to give Quebec's native peoples greater financial autonomy, is the federal government prepared to allow native communities to collect the GST?

Native CommunitiesOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the federal government has already signed similar agreements with native peoples in other provinces, and we are certainly prepared to sit down with the Government of Quebec and with the native peoples residing in Quebec for the same purpose.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Jason Kenney Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the health minister is running out of excuses. One of the lame excuses he trots out is that if he compensated all the victims it would open up the legal floodgates. He said that anybody who is sick would sue the government. But that is ridiculous.

These victims are not suing because they are sick. They are suing because the government made them sick. It is government negligence that is to blame. That legal precedent has already been set through the treatment of AIDS victims who are now compensated on the principle of negligence.

Why the two tier standard?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I made the point that in the HIV example of 10 years ago the government proceeded on the same principle. It looked at what happened. It found that government should have been more vigilant, should have put surveillance systems in place, should have been more keenly aware of what was going on in Europe and other countries, and did not.

On the basis of that, compensation was offered. We are using the same principle in this case. It is a sound principle. It is a principle accepted by every government in this country.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Jason Kenney Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the principle is that when the government is negligent it should pay. The government was negligent because it had a test that could have screened for hepatitis C as far back as 1981. That is when the German government started using the same test to screen for hepatitis C. The facts are irrefutable.

The government should have screened for hepatitis C as far back as 1981 but it did not. That is called negligence. Some people would call it malpractice. I call it just plain wrong.

Why will the health minister not right this wrong? Why will he not compensate the victims?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

First, Mr. Speaker, it is accepted by most commentators who know the history of this file that it was in 1986 that Canada ought to have adopted testing procedures. I rely, among others, on the Krever report in that connection.

The hon. member refers to 1981. Is he now arguing against his colleagues by suggesting compensation should only go to 1981 and not before that? The Reform Party should decide on one approach to this issue because it is contradicting itself.

Acquisition Of SubmarinesOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence.

Everyone recognizes that the provinces are having a hard time providing front line health services because of the cuts made by the federal government.

How can the government be preparing to spend $800 million on submarines, while refusing to return the funds it dramatically cut from health care in recent years?

Acquisition Of SubmarinesOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, there is absolutely no connection between the two. The question of the equipment that is necessary for the Canadian forces has been a matter of long discussion. It is a matter of where we deal with these equipment purchases within the budget, within the allocation of funds for defence purposes. It is part of protecting the sovereignty of our country on land, in the air and at sea.

I think the health minister has advised members of the House well with respect to the very fine position the government is taking in dealing with hepatitis C.

Acquisition Of SubmarinesOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, would the government be preparing once again to make an important decision, such as buying submarines during the parliamentary recess in order to avoid a public debate on its misguided priorities?