Madam Speaker, I am happy to rise today to speak to Bill C-13, a bill to establish the Canadian institutes of health research. Finally we see this government come up with a piece of legislation that deals with a very important part of our Canadian infrastructure, health care and health research.
This is the same government that bragged in the budget of February of this year that it was putting $11.5 billion back into health care. What it failed to say, however, was that the $11.5 billion was basically returning part of the $17 billion it had cut from the health care system. It is good to see that at least there is some forward movement when it comes to health care.
I cannot speak today about health care and ignore what we saw in the last year in how poorly those afflicted with hepatitis C were treated by the government and the lack of support for these people. It was something that was truly not acceptable to our party, to me as an individual and to Canadians as a whole because they felt these people were truly victims and should have been given some compensation.
Let us look at the waste and the misuse of funds by this government. Take, for example, Bill C-68, the long gun registry. The government said it would spend $85 million to set up this registry. It has spent well over $200 million. The registry is not going very well. It is still not working as it should, and crime has not been reduced because of this so-called piece of crime reduction legislation. Had those funds been spent on giving our law enforcement people better resources, better computer systems and money to increase the number of policemen on our streets, those funds would have been better spent than wasting them on something that was more of a PR effort or a tax grab.
Canadians are not strangers to huge advances in medical science. Despite our small population of some 30 million people, we have seen very notable achievements within this country in health care. I think back to Banting and Best and their discovery of insulin. I think back to Sir William Osler, who wrote the medical text book Principles and Practices of Medicine . He basically introduced the idea of clinical care in our health care system.
We see that Canada has already had some notable people in the health care field. This piece of legislation will help to bring out some other people who could make a contribution to health care and health research.
We talk about the brain drain in this country. A lot of our bright young minds are going across the border to better paying jobs and better working conditions. One of the positive things about this piece of legislation is that it will help to keep some of those bright young minds in Canada. Not only will those people stay in Canada to earn their living, but some medical advances will probably be brought to this country because of them.
Prior to my entry into politics I spent over 15 years with the Life Underwriters Association of Yarmouth, the town where I worked for the past number of years, and every Christmas season we would raise funds for cystic fibrosis research. I know how difficult cystic fibrosis can be on the families of young people which demand the extent of care that is required for these people, the constant medication that they have to take, the constant treatment and therapy that has to be given so that they can continue living. Their quality of life is often diminished. Their life is not very long because this illness kills.
Research has isolated the gene that causes cystic fibrosis. The cure has not been found, but I think what it shows is that with funding and with research we can work toward a cure for some of our most serious health problems.
When I think of my home province of Nova Scotia, I think about the IWK/Grace Health Centre, which is a world renowned children's hospital. I know that a lot of research is done there. The centre has very bright minds, good researchers and good doctors. I know firsthand how caring the centre is. My youngest daughter has cerebral palsy and we have spent a lot of time there over the past 13 years. The level of care, the level of treatment and how that centre helps people is very evident.
Yet, because of all the cuts the government has made the people who work at the centre, along with many others, have had to work hard to raise extra funds. They have a telethon every spring to raise funds, just so they can continue to operate. These institutions should have the funds necessary to provide the services that Canadians need.
We get numerous calls and letters from people saying that health care is important, that we should work to make it better and not let it erode. If we are not vigilant, I am afraid that we will end up with something similar to what they have in the United States. I am not in agreement with that. We have a health care system in Canada that is by far the best in the world, but we have to be vigilant. We have to ensure that we keep it.
This is good legislation. There are, however, some things that concern me. As any legislation, it is not perfect. One of the things we have to do is ensure that we do not have institutes that are overburdened with bureaucracy. We have to ensure that the funds go to the researchers for research purposes and that the benefits go to curing illness and not to an administration that is top heavy.
Another point that has to be looked at is the transparency in the creation of these institutes. This cannot be another political plum given to supporters of the government. We have to ensure that these are institutes which are independent, which do their work, which do not waste funds on bureaucracy, and that the funds go where they are really needed.
This is legislation that is worthy of our support. I ask all members to support it so that it can go to committee where it can be studied properly.