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House of Commons Hansard #99 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was federal.

Topics

Asbestos IndustryStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, on April 22, the plenary session of the Council of Europe adopted the highly regrettable recommendation that asbestos be banned.

Canada did not do enough to convince the European parliamentarians that crysotile asbestos can be used in a controlled manner. Canadian parliamentarians were, in fact, absent when the report was adopted on January 7, 1998 at the commission on social affairs, the family and health.

It is important that energetic efforts continue in order to allay the fears of the European parliamentarians concerning asbestos. This fibre, which is responsible for the economic health of an entire region of Quebec, is completely safe when used in accordance with the appropriate rules.

It is high time for the Canadian government to finally shoulder its responsibilities by filing an official complaint with the WTO.

Emergency PreparednessStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Rose-Marie Ur Liberal Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, as this is emergency preparedness week, it is a perfect opportunity for Canadians nationwide to increase awareness and to learn best how to plan and prepare for the risks they may face in their community.

Recent history has shown us that disasters can happen to anyone, anywhere, any time, the ice storm being the latest example.

I am pleased to note the presence in the gallery today of the provincial and territorial winners of the 1997 emergency preparedness week drawing contest.

Over 1,000 students across Canada between the ages of 9 and 13 entered the drawing contest. The students were asked to illustrate what they perceived as the dangers in their community.

I know my colleagues join me in congratulating and commending these young Canadians for their excellent work. They set an example for us all.

Canadian Hockey TeamsStatements By Members

May 5th, 1998 / 2:05 p.m.

Reform

Grant McNally Reform Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, our Canadian NHL teams face economic disadvantages when competing with American teams because their cities and states give them huge subsidies, allowing them to pay huge salaries to the league's biggest stars. There is certainly no disadvantage on the ice. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Contracts, tax breaks and subsidies are a problem for our teams but those are superseded by grit, determination and heart, demonstrated by our teams in the first round of the playoffs. There were countless heroes but none more important than the fans who provided the enthusiasm and passion driving our teams to play as champions and upset the American titans.

On behalf of the official opposition and all Canadians I want to congratulate the Edmonton Oilers, the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators. As these David and Goliath battles proceed, Reform will even be rooting for that team called the Senators.

Mental HealthStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, May 4 to 10 is Canadian mental health week, during which a number of special events will be held to promote public awareness and education about mental health.

One of these events involves two young Canadian women who are challenging the waters of Ontario this summer by canoe.

Erin McKnight of Mississauga and Marie Roberts from Kingston have teamed up to paddle for mental health. On April 25 they launched their trip from Lachine, Quebec, and made their way along the St. Lawrence, arriving in Ottawa on May 1. Their voyage will reach The Pas, Manitoba and on to Hudson's Bay in August and next spring they will continue on to Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories on the Beaufort Sea.

Both Erin and Marie are here with us today in the gallery. On behalf of all hon. members, permit me to extend our sincere congratulations and best wishes for a safe and successful voyage to promote mental health awareness.

The are a tribute to Canada's youth and we salute them for their important health initiative.

Millennium ScholarshipsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, the millennium scholarship fund is a flagrant example of the federal government's obsessive attempts to interfere in areas of provincial jurisdiction.

In 1953, the Liberal Prime Minister, Louis Saint-Laurent, tried to subsidize Canadian universities. Quebec blocked the proposal and, in 1957, got the support of Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

In 1964, Lester B. Pearson proposed offering loans to students and paying the interest. Jean Lesage was opposed, because the repayment of interest became a sort of direct federal subsidy of education.

The third try was by the current government. After cutting $3 billion from education in Quebec, the Liberals are creating a private foundation to serve their purposes.

This time around, Quebeckers with a single voice are demanding the federal government return the amount in question so the Government of Quebec can manage it according to its priorities.

Fresh WaterStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Ontario government has recently indicated that it supports a private company's application to sell Ontario fresh water for export to Asia.

This is the beginning of a host of private entrepreneurs applying to export and sell fresh Canadian water in bulk. They view water as a commodity to be exported just like oil or timber.

Fresh water is different. It is the nation's lifeblood. It is part of life itself. Proponents of bulk water exports view Canada as having a fresh water surplus. This is simply not so. Water plays a crucial role in our nation's ecosystems and is there for a reason. It is not a surplus commodity to be sold to the highest bidder.

NAFTA poses a threat to our ability to stop this sale. A good first step would be for Canada's Minister for International Trade to say simply no to any future bulk sale of Canada's fresh water.

The Late Robert De CosterStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval West, QC

Mr. Speaker, we were sad to learn of the death April 30 of Robert De Coster, following a long illness.

Mr. De Coster was a high ranking and respected official in the Quebec public service in the 1960s. Among other things, he was the deputy minister of industry and trade in the 1970s and responsible for setting up the Quebec Régie des rentes and the Régie de l'assurance-automobile.

More recently, Mr. De Coster had the job of analyzing the work of the Montreal urban community police and of Urgences santé as a consequence of the tragic events at the École Polytechnique in Montreal. He served as chairman of Sidbec-Dosco and honourary chairman of the board of the Laval University hospital.

An accountant by training, he also served as vice-president of the Caisse de dépôt et placement and he will leave his mark in the annals of Quebec public administration.

We extend our condolences to his family, his relatives and his friends.

FinanceStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Progressive Conservative Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, last week the auditor general released his latest report on the government's financial statements and the finance minister and this government received a failing grade from the auditor general for the third year in a row.

Why? Because for the last three years the finance minister has cooked the books by retroactively allocating funds from the previous fiscal year to pay for upcoming spending programs. First came the HST buyout, then the innovation foundation and now the millennium scholarship foundation.

What is the reason for this shoddy bookkeeping? To keep Canadians from seeing a surplus.

The fact is the finance minister is afraid to show Canadians a surplus and afraid to show his own government members a surplus. He is conveniently delaying this debate of what to do with the surplus when he should be giving Canadians what they deserve now, fair compensation for all hepatitis C victims and a millennium tax break now, in 1998.

Canadian UnityStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, in 1867, the two linguistic communities, the anglophones and the francophones, decided to unite to form a confederation whose existence is now firmly established and must continue to exist.

Other communities also made an essential contribution to our development and helped Canada become what it is today, that is a country which is the envy of the world.

Canadian unity is our strength and our pride. It is also a guarantee of stability and of a better future for all Canadians.

As a member representing an anglophone riding in the heart of southwestern Ontario, I want to say that my Canada includes Quebec.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, under pressure from the premiers, the health minister finally started to change his position toward the victims of hepatitis C. After weeks of belligerence and excuses the minister has finally started to sound a bit conciliatory. But he still did not answer one critical question, so I would like to put that question to the Prime Minister.

Does the Prime Minister now agree that all those who contracted hepatitis C through government negligence should be compensated?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, when the hon. member talks about negligence that is where the responsibility lies. The provincial ministers and the federal ministers chose the date of January 1986 because, according to scientific data, it was at that time that the government of the day could have started to do more.

If the question is in relation to responsibility, that was exactly what the package was all about. What the Leader of the Opposition is talking about are those victims who were infected when there was no legal responsibility for any of the governments.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is still a big part of a problem. Federal-provincial negotiations on this subject are going to get nowhere unless the Prime Minister accepts this principle. The principle is that all victims of hepatitis C who contracted that disease through government negligence should be compensated.

Can we get a straight answer from the Prime Minister? Does he or does he not accept that principle?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition talks about negligence. This is when you come to the conclusion that it started in 1986. Before that, if he claims there was negligence, that is fine. Let us find out when the negligence occurred. According to what we know at this time, and in the view of all the ministers around the table at the time of the agreement, negligence started in 1986.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we have had a whole judicial inquiry into this and Justice Krever answered this question by saying that there was a way to detect this disease in the blood supply as early as 1981 and that these people became ill because of government negligence.

The victims, the premiers, the Prime Minister's own backbenchers are asking him to accept this principle. I ask him one more time, does he accept the principle that all the victims of hepatitis C who contracted it through government negligence should be compensated?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, if the Leader of the Opposition can establish clearly when negligence started, he knows that we would take responsibility. We said that we were responsible from 1986 because we could have tested for the hepatitis C virus at that time. But the government of the day did not use the tests that were available in 1986. Apparently before 1986 there was no negligence because there was no way for the government to find out.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, this sounds like some kind of courtroom argument. This is the way the government has taken this from day one.

This question is not that tough for the Prime Minister. It is not tough at all. I think we will ask it until he answers it directly. Does he agree with the principle, yes or no, that all victims of hepatitis C from tainted blood should be compensated? That is the question. Yes or no?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I think that the critic should talk to his leader, because the leader was asking us about negligence. We said that when there is negligence there is responsibility. All the governments have agreed that negligence started in 1986, not before that.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I do not think any of them have read the Krever report. The minister himself said there were four volumes and there are only three. In the Krever report it says that the screening test was available to Canadian regulators as early as 1981. What did they do with it? They ignored the test.

I will ask again, does the Prime Minister agree with the principle that every one of these victims who got hepatitis C from tainted blood should be compensated, yes or no?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is not sticking to his own position. He is now saying that fault began in 1981, so compensation should start then. In essence he is agreeing with us, he is just drawing the line at a different place. The member is saying that only after 1981 victims should be compensated. What about victims before 1981? Is the hon. member suggesting a two tier system for victims?

The member is caught in the falsity of his own arguments.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, over the last four years, federal transfer payments have been cut by 35% and frozen at $12.5 billion, and this does not take into account the additional $1.6 billion cost of paying for the treatment of hepatitis C victims.

Will the Prime Minister admit that no additional amount has been proposed to help share the costs of caring for hepatitis C victims, costs that the provinces will have to shoulder alone, and that the government is a bit quick to wash its hands of the matter?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the federal government's responsibility with respect to transfer payments to the provinces is that programs for health, university and welfare are funded through the annual payments sent to them by the federal government.

When the member says that the provinces are footing the whole bill, this is not the case, because the federal government is paying a very large portion of this amount through transfer payments we make to them for this purpose, in addition to equalization payments.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, hepatitis C is a very special problem that requires a special solution.

The costs of compensation were shared because there is a shared responsibility. When it comes to care, the provinces are on their own.

Is the federal government not also responsible for sharing the costs of providing health care to hepatitis C victims? The federal government is getting off with a bill for only 30% of the costs.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, health care for those suffering from this blood problem has been in existence for a long time. From the time they were infected, these people have been receiving treatment from the provincial governments, and in all cases the federal government is paying its traditional share, as I explained earlier.

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to Justice Krever, Ottawa bears the bulk of the responsibility in the hepatitis C affair.

The federal government has the necessary funds for righting this wrong, because it has cut transfer payments to the provinces and is, when it comes down to it, footing only 30% of the bill.

How can the federal government continue to play this cat and mouse game with the provinces, when it is largely responsible for the problem, has the means to solve it, and is being called upon to do so by almost everyone?

Hepatitis COral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, first of all, as the Prime Minister has said, through the transfer payments we share in the costs of the health care system.

Second, and a very important point, the hon. member needs to keep in mind that Justice Krever recommended that a victim compensation system be set up by the provinces.