House of Commons Hansard #26 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was industry.


Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River Ontario


Derek Lee LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to two petitions.

Privacy ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


John Reynolds Reform West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-330, an act to amend the Privacy Act.

Mr. Speaker, this bill amends the Privacy Act to invest the power in the privacy commissioner to ensure impartiality.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Immigration ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


John Reynolds Reform West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-331, an act to amend the Immigration Act (persons without identification not to be allowed into Canada as immigrants or refugees or under a minister's permit).

Mr. Speaker, this bill amends the Immigration Act to ensure that those immigrants wishing to enter Canada have proper identification.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Immigration ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


John Reynolds Reform West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-332, an act to amend the Immigration Act and the Criminal Code (refugee or immigrant applicants convicted of an offence on indictment).

Mr. Speaker, this bill amends the Immigration Act and the Criminal Code to ensure that those who commit an indictable offence while attempting to enter Canada can be removed.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Immigration ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


John Reynolds Reform West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-333, an act to amend the Immigration Act (removal of those convicted of serious criminal offence).

Mr. Speaker, this bill amends the Immigration Act to ensure that those seeking immigrant status who commit a serious criminal offence can be removed from Canada.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


John Reynolds Reform West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-334, an act to amend the Criminal Code (wearing of war decorations).

Mr. Speaker, this bill amends the criminal code to allow the next of kin to wear war decorations appropriately.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


John Reynolds Reform West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-335, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Young Offenders Act and the Transfer of Offenders Act (death penalty).

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Official Languages ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Jim Pankiw Reform Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-336, an act to amend the Official Languages Act (provision of bilingual services).

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to redefine the criteria set out in the Official Languages Act by which the language rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms will be provided so as to avoid unnecessary expense.

It sets out a standard of 25% of the population speaking an official language as a significant demand that warrants service in the official language.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Parliament Of Canada ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Jim Pankiw Reform Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-337, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (recognized political parties).

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to provide that only parties with the recognized membership of 10% or more of the total membership of the House of Commons, with representation from at least three provinces or territories, shall be recognized political parties.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.


Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured today to table on behalf of my constituents 43 petitions calling on the government to keep the reference to God in the Constitution of Canada.

These petitions come from a broad cross-section of the Churchill riding: Pine Falls, Churchill, God's Lake Narrows, Flin Flon, The Pas, Thicket Portage, Pikwitonei, Norway House, Snow Lake, St. Theresa Point, Cranberry Portage, Pukatawagen, Oxford House, Thompson, Wabowden, Gillam, Cormorant, Lac Brochet, Wanless and Grand Rapids.

The constitution reflects our shared values in the charter of rights and freedoms, as well as the reference to God in the preamble. The fact that Canadians from so many different faiths and cultures find a common meaning in the reference to God symbolizes the wonderful diversity of our nation.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.


Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased and honoured to be able to present a petition that has been signed by thousands of Canadians.

This is a very timely petition. It gives the government some critical advice at an important juncture especially facing the initiatives we have heard this past couple of weeks from Ralph Klein in Alberta.

The petitioners call on the federal government to preserve and enforce the Canada Health Act, the foundation of medicare in every province and region of Canada, and maintain the five principles of medicare: universality, accessibility, portability, comprehensiveness and non-profit administration.

They call on the government to guarantee national standards of quality, publicly-funded health care for every Canadian citizen as a right.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.


Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition from scores of people in the Peterborough area who are interested in the development of a bioartificial kidney.

They point out that as part of a caring society they believe that the Government of Canada can deal more effectively with the more than 18,000 Canadians suffering from end stage kidney disease.

They point out that those on kidney dialysis and those successfully transplanted recognize the importance of the bioartificial kidney approach to their problems.

They point out that ministers of health have great difficulty providing sufficient dialysis facilities and that rates of organ donation are not sufficient to meet the need.

They therefore call on parliament to work and support the development of a bioartificial kidney which will eventually eliminate the need for both dialysis or transplantation for those suffering from kidney disease.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.


Jim Pankiw Reform Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present today.

The first petition calls on parliament to totally reject the recommendations of the MacKay task force pertaining to the entry of banks into the casualty and property insurance markets.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.


Jim Pankiw Reform Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls on parliament to support the government in urgently making an unequivocal commitment to nuclear weapons negotiations and in calling for immediate and practical steps to de-alert and deactivate nuclear weapons world wide.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.


Jim Pankiw Reform Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, the final petition I have to present calls upon parliament to support a motion introduced by the member of parliament for Yorkton—Melville which states:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should authorize a proclamation to be issued by the Governor General under the Great Seal of Canada amending Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to: (a) recognize the fundamental right of individuals to pursue family life free from undue interference from the state, and (b) recognize the fundamental right, responsibility on liberty of parents to direct the upbringing of their children, and urge the legislative assemblies of the provinces to do likewise.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River Ontario


Derek Lee LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Is that agreed.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members


Canadian Institutes Of Health Research ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario


Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

moved that Bill C-13, an act to establish the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, to repeal the Medical Research Council Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to take part today in a debate in the House which is all about new directions for health research in Canada. The creation of the Canadian institutes of health research which is proposed in Bill C-13, now before the House, will truly mark a transformation in the way health research is organized, funded, co-ordinated and carried out in our country.

The institutes that we propose are all about excellence, about encouraging those who seek it, about rewarding those who achieve it. It is about changing the way that we conduct scientific inquiry in Canada. It is also about putting Canada at the leading edge of a dynamic international movement toward discovery. From cancer to the human genome project, from the workings of the brain to understanding better the social and environmental factors that lead to health or illness, scientists are pushing back the frontiers of knowledge toward understanding.

Investigators are contributing to our grasp of factors that contribute to health and allow us to focus on the prevention of illness. Here in Canada, we understand the importance of that work. We know that health researchers are making an outstanding contribution, not only to the breadth of our knowledge but also to the depth of our understanding and to the quality of our lives.

The Prime Minister's government is committed to making Canada an internationally acknowledged leader in the global advancement of health research. To do that, to achieve that ambitious goal, we need to contribute new scientific knowledge based on research that meets the highest international standards of excellence. We believe the best way to do that is to break down the barriers that have always separated different lines of inquiry in health research, separated one discipline from the other and so we propose the creation of the Canadian institutes of health research.

This will be a network of investigators linked in virtual institutes. It will bring together experts from four major disciplines: from biomedical enquiry, to clinical research, to those working on how to improve health services and the delivery of services to Canadians, and those who focus on health determinants, what makes us ill and what keeps us healthy.

This national network will address emerging opportunities, threats and challenges to accelerate the discovery of cures and of treatments. It will build on the research base already out there in our universities, in our health and research centres, in our teaching hospitals and in our research institutes and link them all in a way that has never been done before.

By connecting all of these different areas of research and knowledge, we believe we can break down the old stovepipes of the past and instead create the intellectual pipelines of the future.

We are very excited about this initiative at this time. To our knowledge, no other country in the world is bringing such a multidisciplinary approach to health research and we are confident that it will transform not only how such research is done in Canada, but in other countries as well.

One of the reasons we have such confidence in this project is that it came from the health research community itself and reflects their priorities.

It was not imposed by the government. It was researcher-driven. Indeed, the involvement of the research community has been crucial to this initiative from the outset.

In 1998, a national task force of Canada's health research community came together to chart a new course for research in this country. After exhaustive consultations, that task force recommended the creation of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

These measures build on the strong foundation created over 60 years by the Medical Research Council of Canada as well as the national health research and development program.

To facilitate the transition from the Medical Research Council to the institutes, an interim governing council was appointed made up of 34 eminent Canadians representing the research community, health practitioners, the private sector, charities, university presidents, granting councils and provinces. This interim governing council has performed an outstanding service.

As a minister of the government, I want to report to the House that we should all be in the debt of these public-spirited persons who took so much time from their lives to make the remarkable effort to pull together the proposals that have now been expressed in the proposed legislation, which is Bill C-13.

It is important for members to know that this effort was led by Dr. Henry Friesen, a scientist of conspicuous ability and president of the Medical Research Council of Canada. He presided over the task force and over the interim governing council. Working with him at the interim council were two vice-chairs, Dorothy Lamont, president of the Canadian Cancer Society, and Eric Maldoff, who is, among other things, a busy legal practitioner from Montreal, but who involves himself in a variety of public service functions. These three people have made a lasting contribution to the leadership they have shown on the interim governing council. The government and the House, I believe, is very much in their debt.

The institutes of health represent a further demonstration of the strong commitment of the Prime Minister and his government toward research and the knowledge economy. We created a national network of centres of excellence. We started the Canadian foundation for innovation and, in the recent Speech from the Throne and in the Prime Minister's speech in the House, we announced the creation of 1,200 new chairs for research excellence in universities around the country.

We knew that additional funding was needed if we were to keep our research community alive and thriving, so we provided it.

In last February's budget, we announced $150 million over three years for the existing granting councils. We set aside another $65 million for the Canadian institutes in the coming fiscal years. We will increase that amount to $175 million in the second year. This is the single largest investment in health research in Canadian history. It represents a doubling of the level of Canadian funding for health research all in the space of three years. It is a clear indication of the government's profound commitment to research and to knowledge.

We are confident that these institutes will not only improve our understanding of health issues, disease, health services and prevention of illness, but they will also bring economic benefits.

New researchers will be hired. Technologists, graduate students and other highly skilled workers will be given opportunities to develop their potential. Over the longer term the work will lead to new discoveries, new products and new patents. This dynamic research environment will also create a very attractive investment climate for Canadian and international companies, resulting in even greater economic development.

Let me turn for a moment to how these institutes will work in practice and why they represent an improvement over the current system.

The health research environment is changing rapidly. New threats to health are always emerging, for example, new strains of bacteria resistant to old forms of treatment.

And in response to these new challenges, modern health research is also changing. There is a revolution in genetic technologies and a greater awareness of the effects of the environment and other factors on our health.

At the same time, innovative methodologies in health research are allowing us to identify and evaluate how to provide health services in the most efficient and cost-effective way.

What we need to do is bring all of these elements together, in a co-ordinated way. The CIHR will do this. It will integrate basic biomedical research with applied clinical research. It will improve our delivery of health care through study of health services and systems. And it will deepen our understanding of health by studying the factors which affect it.

They will also provide for a more efficient use of public funds. At the moment, research proposals are largely initiated by researchers themselves and funding is subject to quality review by peers. While research will continue to be subject to peer review, the new system will allow us to identify gaps in knowledge and direct our efforts to filling those gaps. Both the quality of the research and its relevance to health priorities will be the basis for future funding.

I also want to point out that ethics will be a key component of the institutes of health. Standards and policies will be developed to ensure that research is conducted in keeping with the highest ethical standards.

The institutes will also encourage the development of partnerships. The institutes are designed to work seamlessly with provincial and territorial health departments, with universities, with health science centres and with other research agencies. There will be a greater opportunity for the voluntary sector and community groups to have a say in setting priorities for research and for partnerships with institutes where there are common goals to be pursued.

One element which illustrates this approach is the Community Alliances in Health Research announced in October. This will take the institutes of health research into communities across the country to address issues of local concern.

Say for example the community has a particular health concern. Researchers would work with community representatives to examine the best ways of addressing those concerns, of finding the cause, of facilitating prevention, of furthering treatment.

We know for example that rural communities face different health challenges than urban areas. The CIHR will have the ability to address the specific preoccupations of rural populations employing a multidisciplinary approach.

The CIHR will do something else as well. It will create opportunities for young Canadian scientists and for scientists around the world to work in a cutting edge research environment. Dr. Henry Friesen has said that this initiative “sets Canada up to be a world centre”, to use his words.

Dr. Michael Smith, Nobel Laureate in 1993 who is now carrying on his work in British Columbia has stated: “The creation of the CIHR is a clear indication of a commitment to strengthen Canada's research capacity. This is a wonderful time to be a part of this country's research community as we enter the next millennium”.

That is the kind of impact this legislation can have. That is the kind of atmosphere of excellence we want to create here in Canada.

Our goal is to make Canada the country of choice for researchers from around the world. And we want to make our own students and researchers feel that there is nowhere else they would rather be because there is nowhere else that they can achieve so much. The CIHR goes a long way to achieving that objective.

This legislation is good for health research. It is good for jobs and it is good for Canada. Because at the end of the day, its beneficiaries will not just be the research community, or our young scientists, but Canadians, from all walks of life and from all parts of the country.

It is Canadians who will have more information about preventing disease and promoting health. It is Canadians who will benefit from new treatments and products coming to market more quickly. It is Canadians who will benefit from a health system that is making the most efficient use of their health care dollars.

I hardly need to remind the House that when it comes to health research, the obstacles to progress are often formidable. We also know that the human impulse for exploration and for discovery is unstoppable.

There has been much discussion in the House and elsewhere about what some call a brain drain. There are numbers exchanged back and forth in the debate about whether Canada is or is not suffering a loss of human capital and its best brains. It is difficult to know what the true facts are because the debate becomes so clouded by politics. One thing we do know for certain is that if we are to keep the best and brightest in our country, if we are to create an environment in which excellence is encouraged and its achievement is permitted, if we are to make Canada, as the Prime Minister has said the place to be in the 21st century, then one of the essential steps we must take is to invest in research and create a research environment where people will want to stay and where people will want to come.

That is what the Canadian institutes of health research is about. A doubling of federal funding for health research, a co-ordination of every one of the disciplines involved in health inquiry, a new approach to organizing and carrying out scientific inquiry for health purposes, all of this has been inspired by excellence. I truly believe that the legislation now before the House can make a measurable difference not only in the research environment, not only in keeping people in Canada and bringing them from abroad to do their best work, but at the end day in improving the health of Canadians and the capacity of our health system to respond when they are ill.

Many years ago, maps of the world had whole sections of the globe that were referred to only as terra incognita, because at the time, no one knew what was there. Over the decades and centuries, brave men and women ventured forth and discovered what was there. They gave names to those places and pushed back the frontiers of human experience and human knowledge.

Today there is still much terra incognita in human knowledge and understanding. Nowhere is the process of exploration more exciting or more important than in the field of health research. Canada intends to be at the forefront of that field. As Canada's Minister of Health, through this legislation I say to the world that we intend to be the best. We intend to do it best. We intend to demonstrate to the entire world that Canada is truly the place to be.

I commend this legislation to the House and urge all members of all parties to support it. It is a measure that goes beyond politics. It has nothing to do with partisanship. It is truly in the interests of Canada. I encourage all my colleagues to approach it in that spirit, to pass it through this place to committee, to hear the witnesses, to make sure we have it right and then to send this legislation on so that the institutes can open their doors and commence to function on April 1 next year.

Canadian Institutes Of Health Research ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the comments of the Minister of Health. Our objectives are very similar. We in the Reform Party are happy to see that finally the government has decided over the last two years to put money back into research.

Our objectives are the same in trying to strengthen research. We recognize that research is the backbone of our economy. It gives Canadians a cutting edge to provide not only our citizens but also people around the world with a better, safer, healthier future.

I also want to compliment Dr. Henry Friesen for the work he has done. He has been innovative in trying to merge or change the Medical Research Council from what it was into a new, dynamic unit which will ensure that more money is put into the cutting edge of research rather than swallowed up in bureaucracy.

We in the Reform Party are happy to say, as far as we can see at this point, that it will also provide an opportunity to revamp research units to make them more effective. It also links up existing research units across the country. Those linkages enable people in the scientific field to be work more effectively. Having previously worked in research, I can say that effort is welcomed to be sure.

We will support the bill up to committee. If the bill will improve the health and welfare of Canadians, research in Canada and make sure more money will be put into the hard edge of research rather than into the bureaucracy, then we in the Reform Party will support it because it is a good thing. If the accountability is there then we will support it. However, we want to hear from the specialists and the researchers.

Of course, we do have some concerns. One of those concerns was lobbed by a very well respected scientist in the country, Dr. John Polanyi, our 1986 Nobel Laureate. Dr. Polanyi made a very good point. He and other researchers around the country fear that research will be industrialized, that the only way individuals will be able to get their research funds is through a small group of people at the top who will dictate to them what they can and cannot do. I am sure the minister fully recognizes that this is not a healthy thing in research. No one wants it.

When I met with Dr. Friesen, he assured me in the context of the structure now that there would be peer review, that the money that would be spent would go to the most effective corners of research and that there would be outside, independent analysis on an ongoing basis as to where the research funds would go. We support that. At the end of the day we, and I hope the government does too, want to make sure that taxpayers' dollars in research, as in everything else, will be used in the most effective fashion possible.

In the organization of the CIHR it was stated that 95% of the moneys would be used for the hard edge of research and at a maximum 5% of the money would be used for bureaucracy. That is a good thing. We will make sure that the government holds up to that promise. It is most important that the money gets down to the hard edge and is not swallowed up by a bureaucracy.

I must admit that when I looked at the organizational structure, my fear was that would be exactly what would happen, that the organization being put forward was just another effort by the government to create a large bureaucratic structure that would swallow up a large amount of money at the expense of the hard edge of research. Our fear was that the extra money that was put into research would not go into research but would go into developing this rather grand bureaucratic scheme.

However, in speaking with Dr. Friesen, many of the people on the advisory boards will be volunteers selected from their peers. They will be the best of the best so that they can select, advise and channel our research funds from the federal government to make sure we get the best bang for the buck.

Whatever happens with the CIHR, it should be an arm's length institution so that the scientists who work there and scientists across the country will be able to do the basic research that is so important in developing groundbreaking findings in which Canada has historically been a world leader.

We need that basic research and it needs to be supported. It is not immediately obvious to those who work in research that their findings and their work will actually lead to an economic benefit in the short term. That is not what research is about.

It is true that much of the money that is invested has to have an economic benefit. We have to show effect and responsibility for taxpayer dollars, but there is a balance. On the one hand we have to make sure that the money goes to the type of research which will accrue a benefit, but on the other hand we cannot disallow or prevent the basic scientific research that exists in this country which will enable us to make those large groundbreaking research efforts in the future. Our concern is whether that will be allowed.

Our other concern is that we must ensure the independence of researchers. We must ensure that they have the intellectual independence and freedom to pursue the study and groundbreaking research that is inherent to the university setting.

Another option the government has in the industrial research setting is to provide the tax incentives which will enable industry to do that research.

One of the things that Reform has always said is that because of the high taxation levels the government imposes upon the corporate sector it is not able to do the required research. When we speak to the people who want to do this research they say “We would love to do the research but we cannot do it because our taxes are so high. Furthermore, we cannot retain the top notch scientists that we need”.

The Minister of Health explained that he wants to retain those people. Reform believes that we should retain those people. They are some of the best and brightest in Canada and in the world. In fact, almost 10% of our population lives south of the border, not only because of the money but because of the opportunities that are provided within those research institutes. These people go south because they have an opportunity to live and work in cutting edge environments. It is not because they have more money in their pockets, although for some that is certainly a benefit. More importantly, as researchers, in their hearts they truly believe they can do more for humanity by working in an environment where they have the tools which enable them to be the best they can be.

Canada does not provide that now. What I hope the Minister of Health will do is speak to his colleague the Minister of Finance and say “Cut your taxes”. If we cut our taxes, the corporate and industrial worlds will be able to engage in the research that will help Canada move forward. By doing so, we will improve our economy, retain our best and brightest, reduce our brain drain and strengthen our economy.

Another thing the Minister of Health needs to look at, and this is related to the research aspect, is the situation in health care in Canada today. We have had a debate recently on this issue and I think it is important to put it into context.

We talk about the basic humanity of health care, and about preserving, maintaining and ensuring that Canadians get the health care they need. However, the cold hard reality is that in 1999 Canadians are not receiving it. We have a two tiered system of health care in Canada today. There are those who receive health care and those who do not. Every tenet of the Canada Health Act is being violated. It is a myth to say that we will support the status quo because the status quo is killing Canadians.

One of the principles of the Canada Health Act is accessibility. That principle has been broken. Having 200,000 people on waiting lists for surgical procedures is not humane. It is not good health care.

If the minister wants to do something about it he needs to talk to the Minister of Finance and say “Return the $21 billion you took out of health care so that Canadians can get the health care they need when they require it”.

The second principle is universality, but we are not all covered. In fact, 84 essential procedures were delisted within a period of eight months in 1997. That is continuing to occur in the provinces because the provinces do not have the money to pay for what is demanded.

Reform recognizes the cold, hard reality. We have a situation today that is different than when the Canada Health Act was formed in the 1960s.

The Canada Health Act has noble, important principles that we would like to support. In fact, we do support them, but the reality is that in 1999 the situation is different. We have an aging population. The population of those over the age of 65 will double in the next 30 years. These people use 70% of our health care dollars.

Among OECD nations Canada consistently ranks in the lowest third for medical technology because governments do not have the money to buy new technology, to buy the MRIs that will give Canadians the health care they should be getting.

The minister likes to talk about publicly administered health care. The cold, hard reality is that in 1999 the federal government only supplies 11% of health care. For every health care dollar that is spent the federal government only contributes 11 cents. Fifty per cent comes from the provinces and 30% comes from the private sector.

That means that people who have the money will get physiotherapy. If they have the money they will get home care. If they have the money they will get new drugs. If they do not have the money they will not get those things.

As a physician I have worked with these people. It is cruel and inhumane to watch a sick, elderly spouse take care of a sicker spouse without the help of home care because they do not have the money to pay for that home care.

We have cut into the muscle and bone of health care in Canada today. Patients are being discharged earlier and sicker. Who pays the price? It is the sick patient, the poor and the middle class who pay.

We would like to see the principles of the Canada Health Act strengthened, but we have to look at the reality of today. We have to ensure that the poor and the middle class have accessible, affordable, universal health care where we can get the best bang for our buck.

Money does not grow on trees. That is the reality. It is easy for people to say that anybody who opposes this wants an American style two tier health care system. That is utterly false. There are no members on either side of the House, particularly members of the Reform, who want an American style two tier health care system. Everyone in the House abhors that with every bone in their body. That would mean that people could not get health care, in particular the poor and the middle class, because health care would be determined by the money they have.

There are 200,000 Canadians on waiting lists who are suffering. It is inhumane to tell a person of 70 years, who may only live for five more years, that they have to wait a year before they can get their hip replaced because of the waiting list and there is no money to pay for it. That person will spend 20% of their remaining life in severe pain. That is not humane medicine.

That is not what Tommy Douglas wanted. That is not what the Canada Health Act is about. The Canada Health Act does not support that. We do not support that. I am sure that every member in the House does not support that.

I encourage the Minister of Health to ask Dr. Friesen and other scientists to look at what we in the Reform Party would like to do. We have to see the reality of today: an aging population, more expensive technologies and fewer people working to pay the taxes that will provide the base for public health care. We want to strengthen our public system and we want to look at the best models to do that.

Let us not throw the baby out with the bath water. Let us not criticize provincial premiers like Mr. Klein who is not satisfied with thousands of suffering Albertans on waiting lists. He wants to find ways to make sure those people get health care when they need it. If the Minister of Health wants to get on his high horse, rip out $21 billion from the provinces and tell Premier Klein that he cannot provide health care for people on waiting lists, then damn him. It is the people out there who are suffering.

There are people who would try to polarize and poison this issue and prevent debate. When they say that we want an American style two tier health care system they are doing it for political advantage. Who pays the price? The poor and the middle class are not getting health care today and they will not get it tomorrow. We want to change that. We want to make sure that all Canadians have equal access to good quality health care and that there is enough money in the system to provide that health care.

If the minister wants to improve health care, I would suggest he do it through the CIHR. He could look at existing studies that have been done by Canadians on the head start program. If there is one fundamental thing that can be done to prevent many social ills, it is to look at an early intervention program using existing resources. I am talking about prevention, not the expensive management of problems.

There are models such as the Moncton program, in which the Minister of Labour was a leader, the Perry preschool program in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and the Hawaii head start program. What have they done? With a minimal amount of money, and with $6 saved for every dollar invested, they have reduced child abuse rates by 99%, they have reduced youth crime by 60% and they have reduced teen pregnancies by 40%. The benefits accrue all the way along. There is less dependence on social programs, less dependence on welfare and fewer kids dropping out of school. In my province of British Columbia 30% of kids drop out of high school. It is a recipe for economic disaster.

In May 1998 the House passed my private member's motion calling for a national head start program. Reform has given to ministers and the government a plan of action to save thousands of children's lives and to save the taxpayer potentially billions of dollars. I would personally like to see the ministers of justice, health, HRD and finance get together to look at adopting this plan. It has a 25 year track record. It is affordable to the taxpayer. It will save the taxpayer money. More importantly, it will save the lives of Canadians, especially our children.

That is what the government could do in its children's agenda. It could have this early intervention head start program for all Canadians, using existing resources. It could use the medical community at time zero. It could use trained volunteers in the middle, which is what they did in Hawaii. It could use schools for the first few years of schooling. That strengthens the parent-child bond, improves parenting, makes sure kids have their basic needs met and avoids a lot of the trauma that is so devastating to children when their brains are developing.

Current research shows very clearly that in the first eight years of life a child's brain is very sensitive. When a child is subjected to abuse, sexual abuse, drugs, the witnessing of abuse or even more subtle things such as improper nutrition, improper parenting, a lack of boundaries and discipline, then that child suffers intellectually and psychologically, which has a profound impact upon that child's ability to empathize, sympathize, cognate and have appropriate interpersonal relationships with other individuals.

One of the most devastating occurrences in the country today, particularly in some communities, is the issue of fetal alcohol syndrome. It is a hidden tragedy. It is the leading cause of preventable brain damage in children.

The average IQ of persons with fetal alcohol syndrome is 68. They cannot cognate. They cannot rationalize. They cannot understand. They cannot learn like we can. They are poisoned before they are even born.

The government has done nothing about that and it needs to do something about it. I have a bill in the hopper on that issue too. It is a way of preventing the devastation that is wrought on these children, a way of preventing them from having their brains poisoned so they will have a chance to grow up on a level playing field, to grow up to be integrated and productive members of society instead of never getting a leg up in society and never being the best they can become.

Another issue that the minister should look at, for which I place full blame on him and his colleagues, is the issue of smoking. In 1994, mere months after the government was elected to office, the Liberals reversed a trend in smoking that had been going on for the previous 15 years. For 15 years prior to that smoking consumption had been progressively going down. Yet because of a smuggling issue the government was faced with a problem, how to deal with the smuggling of cigarettes because of the different prices in Canada and the U.S.

How could it do that? The government had two options. The first one, which was proven to work, was to put an $8 per carton export tax on exported cigarettes. That would have cut the legs out of smuggling in cigarettes completely, as was proven in 1991-92.

The government also saw from that experience that when an export tax was put the tobacco companies, those purveyors of death said it could not do that because, if it did, they would leave town and be very angry.

Instead of doing the right thing, standing up to the tobacco companies and saying that it would put on an export tax because it is important to decrease smuggling, the government compromised the health and welfare of Canadians, particularly children, by dropping the tobacco taxes substantially and reducing the price by virtually 50% along with the provinces in central Canada. Now we are reaping what was sown in 1994.

In the last few years in Ontario there has been a dramatic increase in consumption. This is not news. In 1994 Health Canada warned the Minister of Health at the time that more than a quarter of a million children would be picking up cigarette smoking as a direct result of the government's decrease in tobacco taxes and that half those children would ultimately die of tobacco related diseases.

Government members did not do the right thing and put on an export tax. Rather they comprised the health and welfare of every Canadian, particularly children. They put their tail between their legs and dropped the tobacco taxes, knowing full well that it would commit a quarter of a million children to smoking and that half those children would wind up with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, early heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, strokes, numerous types of cancer and numerous other problems.

That is the legacy of what the government did in 1994. It introduced the single greatest devastating health care act to affect Canadians in the last 50 years.

The facts today are proving what we said in 1994. If the government wants to truly deal with smoking and kids, it will deal with education but it will also put tobacco taxes back where they were in 1994 and put an export tax of $8 on each carton.

This would accomplish two things. First, it would decrease consumption among kids and, second, it would cut the legs out from any smuggling initiative. That is what the government needs to do and ought to do, yet it has not.

Another issue I would like to raise is the issue of the manpower about which the CIHR need to warn the government very carefully and closely. We have a significant manpower shortage.

If we look at the nursing population, in the next 11 years there will be a lack of 112,000 nurses in the country. There are nurses today that have graduated, and I was asked last night why we do not hire more nurses. Why are they going down to the United States? They are going to the U.S. because governments do not have the money to provide jobs for them.

It is not that there is not a demand for them. There is a huge demand for them. As testimony to that are the 200,000 people on waiting lists, but the reality is that governments do not have the money to pay them. Therefore they are going south where they can try to get jobs.

Another issue is the area of medical specialties. We will have an enormous lack of medical specialists in the very near future: surgeons, internists and specialists in dialysis. This is what the government has to face and deal with now so we can train people to care for Canadians as we get older and to care for our children. This is a critical shortage that no one is talking about. The CIHR may want to warn the government of this impending disaster.

In summary, we will support the CIHR bill up to committee stage. We will be very interested in seeing what the government has to say about it and, more important, what the researchers have to say.

I would also stress that the government has to look at the reality of 1999. We have an aging population, more expensive technologies, and less money to pay for what we want. There is also a greater demand for things that are not covered today such as home care, drugs and dental services.

I might add that when the Canada Health Act was constructed the whole body was taken into consideration except for the mouth, the entry into the body. By ignoring that, a great deal of morbidity was caused among the poor and the middle class of the population who do not have the money for proper dental care. It is another unseen and silent problem within society today.

We also have to recognize today that we have a multi-tiered system. People who can afford it get the services. They queue jump or the rich go south of the border. Whereas the poor who would like to have physiotherapy when they are rehabilitating but cannot because they do not have the money, are forbidden to get it.

The Minister of Health continues to ignore that if people need physiotherapy, home care, certain drugs, or care that is essential to their health, they are actually prevented from getting it in 1999 because they do not have the money and it is not covered. The number of services not covered are expanding as time passes, and they will increase. The gap between what we demand of our health care and our ability to supply it will also widen.

Let us find a way in 1999 to live up to the ideals of Tommy Douglas, to live up to the ideals of the Canada Health Act, and to provide an affordable, accessible universal health care where no Canadian will be economically disadvantaged by becoming sick. We do not want that.

The reality today is that not only are Canadians waiting longer for surgery. It has become so appalling that in the province of Quebec many patients have to wait two months for radiation therapy for cancer treatment.

Can we imagine the shock of being diagnosed with cancer, with breast cancer or prostate cancer, and being told by a doctor that we will have to wait two months to get radiation therapy? Is that good care? That is not good care and no one in the House would support it. That is what is going on today. That is what we have in 1999.

The province of Quebec is so desperate, as is my province of British Columbia, that it is sending people south of the border at a cost that is far greater, five times what it would cost in Canada.

Premier Klein said that he would not accept the fact that Canadians were sick, that the poor and the middle class had their health care withheld, that they suffered and were sent to the United States where they had to pay five times what they should pay for service. Premier Klein is looking for a way to provide for the care of these people without destroying the health care system and to make sure they get care when they need it.

At the end of the day the only thing that really matters is sick people get health care when they need it. It should not harm them financially in any way. It should be affordable to the taxpayer. That is the common objective of the Reform Party, and I would suggest all members on all sides.

We must have the courage to move forward. We must have the courage to recognize the reality of today. We must have the courage to open our minds to dealing with new and innovative, modern and effective solutions to make sure that sick Canadians get health care when they need it. That is our objective as Reformers. I am sure it is the objective of members across party lines. We would like to see it happen and we would like to see it happen now.

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11:10 a.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate on Bill C-13. I will start off by stating that we are, of course, in favour of the bill.

I can clearly remember the 1993 and 1997 election campaigns. In 1993, Bloc Quebecois leader Lucien Bouchard called upon the government to make considerable investments in research in general, but in health research in particular. He based this on an OECD report to the effect that Canada was lamentably behind in this area.

I would like to focus on three major principles in my speech. I will try to explain what the Canadian Institutes of Health Research are, and why it would have been simpler, even if we are in favour of additional research in this area, for all this to have gone through the provinces. We will have the opportunity to remind hon. members of the billions cut from transfer payments to the provinces, nearly $7 billion of them to health. These $7 billion cuts were imposed unilaterally.

When the time comes to make cuts, co-operative federalism no longer applies. The Minister of Health and the Minister of Finance do not sit down with their colleagues to find out how the wealth can be divided while destabilizing the provinces' finances as little as possible. That is not how it was.

I will remind the House as well of the requirements of the Government of Quebec and the members of the Bloc Quebecois, since we will be moving amendments to Bill C-13.

Why will we have to move amendments? My colleagues know why— the members for Rosemont, Chambly and Jonquière—the role of the Bloc Quebecois is to work for an independent Quebec. It should not be too long now before that is achieved.

Second, work will have to be done to improve the government even more. There is no need my telling members that this work is exhausting, such a heavy task it is.

We support the principle of Canadian institutes of health research. Obviously, because of the environment, health research has changed. The field is increasingly complex and requires increasingly sophisticated technologies.

Some claim that, with the sophistication of the technologies, between 1950—if I am not mistaken, the year you were born or were about to be born, Mr. Speaker—and now, our life expectancy has increased by one year every four years. It is extraordinary to think that people lived to an average age of 40 at the turn of the century, and by the 1960s were living to an average age of 60.

The average age of people today, if we take men as our example, is 76 years. We are talking of men who do not smoke excessively, eat fairly well and look after their health determinants. I will come back to this.

In the case of women, the situation is even more interesting, and I am sure no one here will be upset by it. Life expectancy for women is closer to 83 years. People can hope to enjoy the company of the women in their lives, on average, for 83 years.

All this reminds us that the major health determinants, technologies and environmental and health research are increasingly complex.

We also have increasing requirements for more resources to buy equipment and to carry out health research. While a few years ago scanners and equipment for health research and development may have cost $2 to $3 million, such equipment can now easily cost $10 million, $15 million, $20 million or $25 million, not to mention the fact that the life cycles of this equipment are getting shorter and shorter.

The health sector has changed and it is a good thing that Canada and the provinces can face new challenges.

We support the establishment of Canadian institutes of health research and we also approve the four major research areas in which they will be involved. As the minister pointed out, an acting governing council has been established. It would have been a good thing to have the provinces take part in the appointment process for the acting governing council, and that this be spelled out in the bill. I will get back to this governing council, which will make extremely important decisions.

The lawmaker was right in not specifying in which areas health research institutes will be established. However, the acting governing council will become permanent and will have the power to decide in which sector these health research institutes will be set up.

There will be four major areas and I will talk about them, because hon. members are dying to find out about them.

The first area in which Canadian institutes of health research can conduct research is a very important one, namely basic research in the biomedical field. I should point out that at least 60% of all biomedical research conducted in Canada is done through companies located in Quebec. This is not surprising, since research in brand name pharmaceutical products relies on tax incentives that were devised by the Quebec government and that apply in Quebec.

On average, research helps produce about 20 new drugs every year. I could talk at length about research cycles.

I do not want to name any pharmaceutical companies because I have too many friends in that field to give preferential treatment to one over another, but between the time a molecule is isolated in research and a drug is patented for use against a disease, 10 or 20 years may well have gone by. This is a highly complex process that requires millions and millions of dollars. It can easily take close to $300 million to get a drug onto the market.

Biomedical research is one of Quebec's strengths. I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health agrees. I believe there are even some companies located in his riding in the east of Montreal, and I am sure he agrees with me that it is very important for funding to be available to ensure the continuation of research in this field.

What does this mean, concretely? I would hate to be like Professor Calculus in Tintin, talking around in circles, without giving our viewers any concrete examples. What exactly does it mean to get a drug onto the market?

I will give the example of AIDS. As hon. members know, AIDS came on the scene in the early 1980s. At that time it was dubbed the gay plague, a figure of speech but a very evocative one, because it was so closely associated with a specific group.

A whole generation of people lived with the AIDS virus, for which there were then no drugs. Now, the battle has been won. AIDS has gone from a fatal disease to a chronic illness.

Generally speaking, people are no longer dying of AIDS. Triple therapy, which is a combination of drugs, came along. It is, of course, still an ordeal to be a person living with AIDS. It is an ordeal for these people personally and for their natural helpers, but nonetheless it is possible now to live with AIDS. This is in large part due to biomedical research.

I would like to see all parliamentarians join with me in offering our most sincere congratulations to BioChem Pharma, a Quebec company responsible for a number of drugs that have contributed to our winning out over AIDS and no longer dying of it. AIDS has gone from a fatal disease to a chronic illness.

That initiative required an investment cycle of several millions of dollars. This makes it all the more important for governments to provide tax incentives.

I am not saying we should not discuss the balance to be achieved between the role of the patent drug industry and that of the generic drug industry. On the contrary, such a debate should take place.

The hon. member for Rosemont will certainly address this issue in his speech. We in Quebec feel we have achieved that balance; we do not hesitate to encourage, through real and significant tax incentives, the development of the patent drug industry, which is one of Quebec's finest industries.

Public authorities, and particularly the health department masterfully steered by Pauline Marois, one of the best health ministers we have ever had at the National Assembly, do not hesitate to put on the list of available medication generic drugs that are equivalent to brand name drugs, when these may save taxpayers some money.

So, one of the research areas to be considered for Canadian Health Research Institutes is that of biomedical research in which, as I pointed out, Quebec is a leader.

Clinical research is the second area. Applied clinical research is a very important area, since it plays a fundamental role in the discovery of new drugs.

Here, I would like to digress for a moment. I am not very proud of the government in that area. I have a natural tendency toward fair-play. I tend generally to remember the good things the government does, when they happen, but I must also recognize the bad ones.

Let us assess the entire drug licensing system. I have been interested in this since 1993, when I elected to represent the people of Hochelaga—Maisonneuve in the House of Commons with a very solid majority. Not as solid as that of the member for Chambly, but I was still proud of my majority.

I want to say that the system of licensing drugs is not up to par in Canada. Changes are necessary, since it is not uncommon for companies to choose to submit their clinical monograph in the United States in order to get their drugs approved, even though the research was done in labs here, in Quebec or in Ottawa.

I ask all parliamentarians to take note and to help me put pressure on the government so that we may soon review the drug licensing system, which has two great shortfalls.

When we look at what happens in the States, relatively speaking— we all know that the population of the States is ten times that of Canada and that the money invested in health research is not the same. In relative terms, ten times the number of people are working on drug licensing in the States as in Canada.

The system of organizing work at the health protection branch is not the most effective to ensure a reasonable time between the submission of a clinical monograph and the arrival of the drug on the market, to ensure the wellbeing of our fellow citizens.

There is as well an important third area of research, health systems services. Health systems raise questions for all levels of governments. I understand one of the roles of the Canadian health research institutes—there will be between ten and fifteen—in addition to biomedical research and applied clinical research, will also be the business of analysing health systems and services.

Politics aside, all governments, be it the government of Ralph Klein in Alberta, Lucien Bouchard in Quebec, or Mr. Tobin in Newfoundland, are wondering whether we have organized our health system for maximum efficiency and effectiveness, so that it can deliver the best possible services to the public. They are asking themselves some questions.

For instance, all governments have envisaged some sort of ambulatory care formula—virage ambulatoire in Quebec—for ensuring that the public has health services when needed, but that stays in institutions are kept to the shortest time possible. This is what the shift toward ambulatory care is all about: getting people back to their normal surroundings as quickly as possible.

Health systems are also facing a number of problems which, if managed effectively, could suggest promising solutions.

As I pointed out, for instance, people are living longer, with the result that there will obviously be tremendous demands on the system at some point, because it is inevitable that, between the ages of 60 and 90, we will in all likelihood require varying degrees of health care. Of course some are in better shape than others but the demand on health services does not generally come from people in their 20s, 30s, 40s or even 50s.

If I were to ask all hon. members here to raise their hands if they needed to call upon the health services between the ages of 30 and 50, I do not think there would be many hands to be seen, for this need generally arises in one's 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s or even 90s. In fact, the elderly no longer belong to a single group known as the third age. A new term has been coined, the fourth age, because people are living longer and longer.

The Bloc Quebecois caucus is always pleased to salute our seniors. We invest a great deal of time in our fellow citizens of mature years, whether they are in social housing, in specialized resources or in their natural surroundings. We are always pleased to salute them.

Besides biomedical research, clinical research and research into health systems, the fourth area that will be supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research is that of cultural society and population health. This is something that needs considering.

It must be admitted from the outset that people do not all start off life on an equal footing. It is an error to think that a person born in Anjou and a person born in Saint-Henri start off life the same, will age in the same way, will cope with life in the same way. It is wrong to think so, and this leads us to the whole matter of health determinators.

We are now aware that all is determined before the age of five. That is what is called early childhood, and the more stimulation a child has, the better his or her early interpersonal relationships, the stimuli in life, the better his or her personal growth will be.

I have no hesitation in paying tribute to the government, which has invested considerable sums in help in early childhood. It is of course a provincial responsibility, but I must recognize that the government has done an excellent thing, and I think all my colleagues have benefited. I refer, naturally, to the community action program for children, the CAPC.

I recognize it. I said so earlier. I can be critical, but I can also be motivated by honest fair play. The CAPC is a good program. I am sure that my colleagues will offer the government a good round of applause.

Canadian Institutes Of Health Research ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

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11:30 a.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

The determinants of health are found in well designed programs to meet the needs of a specific clientele, infants in this case. I repeat, it is between the ages of 0 and five that everything comes into play. This is when the brain develops. This is when we learn to take in information and to create meaningful relationships with people, which will last a lifetime. This is what determines our intellectual directions.

There is no need for me to tell members that I had the good fortune of belonging to the category of children receiving a lot of intellectual stimulation. I thank all those who have made the process possible, especially my mother and my twin brother.

In my early childhood, while we were not rich, we were not lacking for affection. We lived in fairly close proximity. My identical twin, René, and I have fairly different characters. He is active in sports. My only sport is jumping to conclusions, but I do train a bit at the gym. I must say I was very happy then. I remember those moments with great joy. He went to École Victor-Doré, because he had cerebral palsy, and I went to a regular school, but at the end of the day, we kept each other abreast of the day's events.

I think that contributed a lot to my intellectual development. It is in fact my intention before June to invite my twin brother René and to introduce him to my colleagues, even though some have thought that people are not quite ready for two Ménards in the same political party.

I will continue by saying that the health research institutes will reposition research. It is extremely important to make sure that the areas to be covered by health research information will indeed be covered.

A strategic repositioning will take place in health research to solve major medical issues. While we are pleased about the progress made in science, we are aware that some answers have yet to be found.

Since my two colleagues are here, I am taking this opportunity to stress that one area of research in which we will have to invest in the coming years is that of heredity, genetics, the human genome.

The timing is good, because later on I will explain how Quebec has a number strengths in research. I mentioned biomedical research. There is, of course, cancer research. Quebec has very definite strengths.

There is also AIDS research. Quebec was one of the first provinces, one of the first nations to conduct research on AIDS. I am thinking about Dr. Weinberg's expertise. Dr. Weinberg is a member of the international institute for research on AIDS. He is the chair of that organization.

I know that the hon. member for Jonquière will make an eloquent presentation on genetic engineering, which is a strong sector in Quebec. This is why my colleague—who is incidentally an excellent member of parliament and a hard worker who keeps on top of her files—is very involved in making sure that the riding of Jonquière, which she represents here in the House of Commons, will get a health research institute specializing in genetic engineering. I do not want to anticipate on this topic, because the hon. member will be addressing it. She has a much better grasp of what is going on in this area than I do.

I have no doubt that the government will be won over by the arguments in favour of selecting her region as the hub of all genetic engineering research, because the institutes in question are not physical structures. We are not talking about mortar and brick, but about virtual structures.

Those of us here know something about the meaning of virtual because very often, during oral question period, we have the impression that the answers the government is giving us are virtual too. So we can speak with authority about matters virtual. The future CIHRs will be virtual; they will not have a new physical location, but will bring people together in a network. We are speaking of establishing networks. I will give an example of the region my colleague, the member for Jonquière, comes from. If it is decided to establish a genetic engineering research institute, research will be concentrated in this region, but there may be information from Saskatoon or Halifax, because all researchers will be able to access the network, and the most up-to-date information will be available to all members of the research community with similar concerns.

I must admit that this is the great thing about the institutes being proposed in Bill C-13.

Research will thus finally be broadened—I use this word deliberately—and decompartmentalized. Wherever researchers are concentrated, they will be able to stay abreast of what is being done by their counterparts elsewhere. This will, we hope, create a vigorous environment that will benefit the public and contribute to the development of researchers.

If I understand what the government intends to do, funding for these institutes will follow the normal curve. I think we used to learn in statistics—perhaps not so much in law—that the normal curve of distribution is bell shaped. I understand that investments in the Canadian institutes of health research will peak at $500 million. One has to admit that it is not a mere pittance. Indeed, it is a considerable amount. It will allow an increase in our capacity by investing in the development of researchers.

Incidentally, I would like to draw attention to a fact which the minister glossed over, but which I believe is worth mentioning, and that is the fact that the Medical Research Council will be abolished. This bill contains transitional clauses. There are basically four main granting agencies in Canada: the Medical Research Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Natural Sciences Research Council, and the National Research Council, the latter being involved in supporting industrial research in the private sector.

If this bill is passed—and I understand that it is reasonably well received, although I will comment further on this later on, because the Bloc Quebecois is motivated by its search for excellence as it has always been—we will have the opportunity to move amendments which I dare hope will be supported by the government.

The Canadian institutes of health research will promote interdisciplinary and integrated health research. This is important, because very few research fields are self-supporting. When research in genetics is carried out, it obviously can have some impact on research on populations. For instance, research on diabetes can change our understanding of health determinants.

It all hangs together. One of the merits of the Canadian institutes of health research would be to promote greater interdisciplinarity. As I said on many occasions because I feel it is quite crucial, this will encourage exchange of information between researchers. It will also encourage innovations in the field of research and, to conclude on this particular issue, it will further advance health research application in Canada and in Quebec.

Earlier, I referred to the interim governing council made up of 34 eminent Canadians. If need be, I could easily list them; there are quite a few celebrities among them.

I am thinking of Dr. Friesen of the Medical Research Council of Canada, which will be abolished. There was also Mr. Bryden, from Ontario. One of the most eminent members to whom I want to pay tribute today is Michel Bureau, of the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec, the FRSQ, the main granting council in the province of Quebec. He played a key role in drafting this bill. I believe I am correct in assuming that the FRSQ will appear before the committee.

I could also talk about Ms. Nadeau, associate professor in the department of psychology. Psychology is certainly one field where more knowledge is needed and it is certainly something politicians should know how to use.

I could also mention a distinguished professor from the faculty of law whom I had the pleasure of meeting myself in my Montreal office. She is an ethics specialist. Members know how important ethics are in politics. It is even more so when one has to develop research protocols to ensure that, if humans are asked to take part in research, it will be done with all due respect.

I thank Bartha Maria Knoppers—I know she will recognize her name even though I am not pronouncing it correctly—for making herself available and for talking to me about what we should expect from the Canadian institutes of health research.

There is also Dr. Robert Perrault, medical consultant and heart disease specialist. He is the director of public health in Montreal.

This is an impressive group of people. They worked very hard. I thank them for what they did, as did the Minister of Health. I want members to know that they organized their work. The minister announced the establishment of the Canadian institutes of health research last February. They formed a number of committees.

They formed these committees to be more effective, and I would like to list them. They organized their work using as their starting point a legislation committee. One of their mandates was to advise the minister on enabling legislation. I will return to that later.

They also had a subcommittee on planning the institute, a third one on programs and a fourth very important one on peer review. Hon. members must realize that all committees that are to award fellowships must be governed by the principle of excellence. Fellows must be selected on academic merit, the intrinsic merit of the research is what determines a recipient, not political affiliation. That has nothing to do with it.

Peer committees are therefore important. Peers must be the ones to make decisions. They must examine the documents. Care must be taken to ensure that, in each sector in which a research institute is created, the most knowledgeable people at the leading edge of research in that sector are the ones to assess applications. That is what peer review is all about.

There was a fifth committee as well, focused on knowledge. Then there is partnership and marketing. I will take it upon myself to point out to hon. members, although I cannot imagine them not knowing this, that there are two major categories of research.

There is basic research, which deals with theory and has no connection with marketing. This is research for the sake of research, like art for art's sake.

Then there is applied research, which of course has a very specific goal. It is very often sponsored by the private sector. It is aimed at a very precise application.

The last committee, and I already touched on this, is the ethics and policy committee. It is concerned with people who will be taking part in the research as guinea pigs, let us not mince words. Its area of expertise concerns the need to respect their status, on the need for a policy of informed consent always and on the need to ensure that people taking part in research projects know the effects of the products tested.

Could the Chair please tell me how much time I have left? I think I have used up half of my time, but I want to make sure that I do not forget some critical elements. Anyway, if I have something to add, at the end of my 40 minutes, to fully cover the subject, I will ask for unanimous consent to have more time. But it would make things easier for me if you could tell me how much time I have left.

The institutes will be headed by a governing council and there will be a president and advisory committees. I believe that it is important to see a few things. I do not know if the cameras can close-up on this acetate, but that would be very instructive.

You are indicating that I have only six minutes left. I still have many things to say. However, I am confident that there will be unanimous consent to allow me to continue.

Each of the research institutes will operate as follows: there will always be a secretariat, and divisions on basic activities, on clinical activities, on health systems and on culture and health, which are to some extent the determinants. The same model will apply for everyone.

I would also like to speak—I did not realize it would go by so quickly—of a number of things, and, in particular, of one thing that must be considered. The government cut $21 billion in transfers to the provinces. That is a cut of nearly $7 billion to health care and social services. This was money the provinces were counting on.

Even though we are pleased about the Canadian institutes of health research, even though for all the reasons I have given we will support the project, would it not have been simpler for the government to allow the provinces to assume this responsibility? Before establishing the Canadian institutes of health research, should the government not first have returned transfer payments to their 1993 level?

I want all parliamentarians in this House to realize that the Government of Quebec was deprived of $1 billion in transfers. That is $1 billion annually to manage a department of health, as Pauline Marois is doing with vigour. I will show correlations and demonstrate in specific terms what the cuts mean.

If we take all the cuts made since 1993 in Quebec's budget, we are talking about 20% of the cuts in all the hospitals of Quebec, about the closing of half of Greater Montreal's hospitals, about hospitalization costs for 370,000 persons, about the salaries of half the nurses, about all the operating budgets of all Quebec's CLSCs and, lastly, about the cost of all the youth services offered by the health care system.

The government cannot ask us to discuss such a bill if we are not able to remind the government that it acted like a highwayman, like a common thief. It had no respect for the provinces; it deprived them of resources. This is a government, in health care, that did what the worst offenders hesitate to do, it misappropriated funds. I repeat, and there is a consensus among opposition parties, this is a government that has literally stolen from the provinces. It should know that anyone who does that is called a thief.

I hesitate to mention this, but I felt it was my duty to do so. This will not, however, prevent us from supporting the bill in principle.

We will be introducing amendments because, when I read the bill, I nearly had heart failure, and I am in good shape. In law, the preamble to a bill has an interpretative function. It is not insignificant.

It states:

Whereas Parliament recognizes the role of the provinces in health care and that the Government of Canada collaborates—

Does it not take some nerve to mention “the role of the provinces” in a bill?

Needless to say that the first thing we will do in committee is introduce an amendment emphasizing the central role of the provinces under the Constitution. Is there anything more well established, since the days of the Tremblay commission ordered by Maurice Le Noblet Duplessis, is there anything clearer in the minds of Quebecers than the prerogatives of the National Assembly and the nine other legislatures when it comes to the health sector?

The very least we are entitled to expect of a bill such as this is that it would state clearly that the provinces have a preponderant role.

I note that my time is running out. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to speak for approximately five more minutes. If my colleagues agree to grant me an additional five minutes, I will be most grateful, because there are things I feel bound to share with the House and I think that, as a general rule, when I rise to speak, it is value added.

We are going to support the bill. We are going to work hard in committee. We have submitted a list of witnesses, but I would need another five to ten minutes to fully address the issue. So, if you would be so kind as to ensure, in a spirit of open co-operation, that I am not deprived of my time, I would be very grateful, Mr. Speaker.

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11:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The hon. member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve has asked for the unanimous consent of the House to extend his speaking time by five minutes. Is there unanimous consent of the House?

Canadian Institutes Of Health Research ActGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Some hon. members