Mr. Speaker, I have listened to my two colleagues' speeches, and now it is my turn to speak of the institutes of health research.
For two years, I was fortunate enough to work with the member for Drummond, and I know that she has done some excellent work. I particularly remember her extraordinary efforts on the hepatitis C issue. I wish to thank her, and I know that many Quebecers and Canadians with this illness are grateful for all the work she has done on their behalf.
Now, she has been replaced as health critic by the member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, who did not wait till he was given this new responsibility to plunge right into the fight against AIDS. Since being elected, he has spoken very regularly on this subject and I think he deserves credit. He is now continuing his marvellous work in this sector by frequently bringing it to the attention of caucus, and he is a most eloquent spokesperson both here in the House and in caucus. His view is that we can never say too much about health, and he is right.
I am a recreation specialist by training and I can say right now that I accept the invitation to the volleyball game in February. I would have liked to go earlier, but I will certainly be there in February, because there is a connection between physical activity and health. Unfortunately, we members may not always have enough time for physical activity.
I am a diabetic, and I know that there are several other members in the House with the same condition. Diabetes is an illness that often strikes very active people who do not perhaps pay enough attention to their health. It is true that diabetes is a hereditary disease, but there are ways to stave off its onset.
I now come to today's topic, Bill C-13. The Bloc Quebecois has presented its position well, through the two hon. members in question. No one can be against health research. If there are any members in this House who are opposed to health research, let them declare themselves, but I am convinced there are none. There can never be too much money made available for finding solutions, for finding remedies for disease. Life is worth living and, more importantly, it must be lived in good health.
In my opinion, one of the problems with this bill lies in one of the four sectors, that is, the assessment of health services provided across Canada. My colleague from Drummond has asked a good question: Who is it that delivers health services in Canada? The provinces.
It can never be said too often, and we must keep hammering at it, health care and the delivery of health services to the public is a provincial area of jurisdiction. This is no whim; it is in the Canadian Constitution. Health care management is an exclusive provincial jurisdiction. Even with this bill, although it may not be its main intent, we see the federal government again trying to interfere in the health field.
Yes, more money will be injected into R and D in the health field, but it is regrettable that, at present, Quebec receives only 14% of funding allocated to R and D.
I referred earlier to transfer payments to the provinces, but since the government opposite has made cuts to health, a cumulative total of $3.4 million has been cut from Quebec since 1993. That is a considerable amount, and the Government of Quebec could certainly have done more in the area of medical research. There have, however, been problems, but there has been good news as well, such as the announcement by the hon. member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve that the Government of Quebec will soon spend $500 million in this area.
So much the better, but it might have been possible long before, had the federal government not cut transfer payments to the provinces in health care, among others.
Now, I am on the Standing Committee on Industry, and on this committee we often hear witnesses express concern about the brain drain. The brain drain obviously involves researchers. People from a variety of research institutes appeared before the committee, because it is the Department of Industry that is funding research agencies.
Canada ranks at the bottom of the G7 countries in this area. In the field of health, it is in last place among the OECD countries as well. I think one of the aims of the bill is to finally catch up somewhat. But the considerable delay and time involved is most regrettable.
In the meantime, many of our young researchers, and even more experienced ones, have left the country. They even left Quebec. My colleague from Hochelaga—Maisonneuve made a connection between health and physical activity. As an example, Dr. Bouchard, who ran the scientific research centre on physical activity at Laval University, left the country for the United States, because more money was available for research in this area. This is most regrettable.
It is not only a health issue, it is an employment issue as well. When we talk about the knowledge economy, here is a fine R and D opportunity in the health field. Here is a fine opportunity to concern ourselves with retaining our researchers, people who trained in university for many years and whose education Canadians and Quebecers have helped fund. When these scientists can finally do research, a number of them leave Canada for the United States. This is regrettable.
Let us hope that this tendency will be reversed, so that we can keep our researchers, because we are talking about quality employment here.
There is also the fact that economic spinoffs from R and D are greater in the field of health than in any other, because of the value added. We know that discoveries lead to the development of better drugs, products or equipment, all of which can be exported to other countries. Think of developing countries.
We must not forget these countries, which may not have the money to invest in research and development. However, once new drugs, equipment or products are discovered, these may help fight disease and improve health in all countries of the world.
This is very good for the Canadian and Quebec economy, and this is why, as a member of the Standing Committee on Industry, I welcomed this opportunity to add my two cents' worth to the debate today, to say that we should do more.
In the minute that I have left, I would like to address another issue, which I would not want to overlook. I am referring of course to diabetes. The Minister of Health recently talked about the money to be allocated to fight that disease, but I think we should do even more about diabetes, because it is on the rise. Besides insulin, which does not treat diabetes but merely slows down its progression, possible cures are emerging, hence the need to invest more in research in this area.
One last area mentioned by researchers was social sciences. I have always been struck by the fact, which has apparently been verified, that children from zero to six with health problems stand a greater chance of experiencing social problems, including delinquency, later in life.
I will conclude on this note, but we should not forget health research through social sciences.