House of Commons Hansard #30 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was trade.


The House resumed from November 25 consideration of the motion 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.

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Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-13, an act to establish the Canadian institutes of health research and to repeal the Medical Research Council Act.

It is not very often in the House when I compliment the government on its direction, but I must compliment the government in recognizing the need for Canadian medical and science researchers to be supported financially. It is the hope of the official opposition that the new institutes of health research will be accountable to the Canadian taxpayers who will be providing the financial resources in order for the research to take place.

Research and development has had very strange support from governments. I remember the former Conservative government made lots of promises to the people of British Columbia, particularly to the University of British Columbia with the Kaon project but it became very apparent that it was only a vote-getting promise. Other promises have been made across the country by governments maintaining that they recognize the need for research and development, but when the time comes the financial support is never there.

We are very supportive of research and development because that is how Canada will lead the way. That is how the Canadian economy will be able to compete with other nations of the world. So often and for so long we have watched our best and our brightest go elsewhere because the financial support has not been available in our country to develop and fund research projects and to put those research projects into a viable market.

We are very pleased that the government at least is recognizing the need to put financial resources into research and development, but even more so the need to be accountable to the taxpayers for that money, not only with this direction on research and development, but certainly with other government programs. What has happened is that money has gone into an area and the taxpayers have had no idea where it has gone, if the money has been well spent or if there is any benefit from that money being put there. It is quite clear that the government recognizes the need to hold these new institutes accountable to the taxpayer.

The amount of dollars will be divided between the institute development fund, which will get 20% of the earmarked dollars, and the strategic initiative fund, which will get 80% of the total budget. Both will be overseen by a body. Although the director may be appointed by the government, the other members who will be sitting on the committee will be appointed or nominated by their peers.

That is a very important step forward. There will not be more patronage positions for the government to fill. Rather, the people who will be showing leadership and who will be determining which project will be prioritized, that determination will be made by the peers of the scientific community and the medical research community. They understand and will be able to weigh the importance of the projects. They will be able to prioritize them in such a way that the taxpayers' funds will be well spent.

It is also important to note that the government is not interested in creating a new bureaucracy. The government is not interested in long term appointments to government paid salaried positions. The individuals who will serve as an advisory board will not be paid a salary. They will be paid a per diem fee for the amount of time spent in committees or the number of committee meetings they attend. Instead of having somebody on a salary of $80,000 to $125,000, we are talking about a per diem fee with expenses being covered.

I think we will get people who really want to serve the scientific community and the Canadian people. They will not be out for their own personal benefit, they will be out for the good of the whole. That is a very important step for our government to take.

It is important not to create an establishment where the majority of the dollars goes to support the bureaucracy itself. I understand that only 4% to 5% of the total funds will go toward administration. I think Canadians will uphold the government's decision. Hopefully we will see in the long run that taxpayers' dollars do not go toward an increasingly huge bureaucracy or, as we sometimes hear people call them, these little kingdoms that develop, but rather that the money will actually go into research and development.

We are very pleased the government is going in this direction. We hope in the end these appointments will prove that the system is right and that this model of an agency can be used in other areas.

The head of the institution will be appointed by the governor in council and the other members will be appointed by their peers. The names of individuals from the scientific community will be given to the individual who will be appointed to run the institute. He or she will select from the names. It is an interesting direction for the government to be going in.

We understand the agencies will be reporting twice annually. Their spending can be watched by the Canadian people. Over the years we will be able to assess whether or not they are doing the best they can, whether they are using the money wisely through the reporting process that has been put in the act.

It is important to acknowledge that the scientific community has been hard done by in years past. Most of the money which has gone into scientific research has been used for administrative purposes or for supporting bureaucracies. I think the scientists themselves are looking to the new act to free up dollars for actual research projects and that the money will go into research.

Hopefully at the end of the day not only will Canadian taxpayers be pleased with the results, but those in the scientific and medical research community will also be pleased. This will mean more money will go into research than into the bureaucracy. The appointment of members and the overseeing body will be done in an open and democratic manner which will be accountable to the people with a reporting process involved.

Years from now we look forward to seeing a strong scientific and medical research community which will lead the way internationally. Hopefully this will stop the serious brain drain of our best and our brightest.

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12:05 p.m.


Jean-Guy Chrétien Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

Madam Speaker, it is, of course, with interest that I rise to speak to Bill C-13, at the request of our health critic, the member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve.

For the benefit of our viewers, Bill C-13 is a bill to establish institutes of health research, which will replace the Medical Research Council.

I will provide a little background. The federal government, through the Minister of Finance, plans to allocate a surplus of $65 million for the year 2000-01, plus $240 million for 2001-02, for a grand total of approximately half a billion dollars, because it includes the 2001-02 budgets already earmarked for the Medical Research Council.

The fact that the federal government, through the Minister of Finance, is investing an additional $65 million next year, and $240 million on top of that in the second year, obviously requires a very broad consensus here in the House of Commons. The member for Chicoutimi has just told me that the Progressive Conservative Party will be supporting Bill C-13. The Reform Party member just gave me her backing. Last week, the NDP health critic also came on board. This means that, with the Bloc Quebecois, support for Bill C-13 will, to all intents and purposes, be unanimous.

However, Bloc Quebecois members will be introducing a few amendments to make sure of two things: first, that Quebec will receive its fair share, and not get the short end of the stick, as it did with the automobile plants. Nineteen out of twenty in Ontario, and only one out of twenty in Quebec, and every six months, somebody talks about closing it. Quebec should get its share of this $500 million budget.

We will recall that, in research and development, Ontario traditionally gets between 50% and 60% of the overall federal R and D budget, while Quebec, with 25% of the Canadian population, only gets some 14%.

We will also have to make sure that the federal government, the government of the Prime Minister and member from Shawinigan, is not slipping us a lump of coal, that he is not firing up its steamroller and once again invading areas of provincial jurisdiction. We will keep a close eye on that.

We know that the Canadian institutes of health research will deal primarily with organizing, co-ordinating and financing. I want to focus on research co-ordination here in Canada. Our researchers should not be competing against one another, neither should our institutes, and findings that, if shared, could speed things along and benefit our ageing population should not be hidden. To this end, we quickly emphasize research into cardiovascular disease, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer and, of course, respiratory disease. The Bloc Quebecois is in favour of the general thrust of Bill C-13. It is a necessity.

I should recall that, last Friday, I was invited by the president of the volunteers of the old Thetford Mines hospital, Lucien Roy, and Treasurer Remi Vachon to join a group of hospital volunteers for a social diner. On this occasion, those patients who could be “taken out”—in the words of Lucien Roy—gathered in the chapel for dinner. I had an opportunity to talk with about 30 patients, and all of them asked that more money be put into health care.

What does not impress me, but surprises me, is that this same government has made $3.4 billion worth of cuts since 1993. The same finance minister and the same health minister, who have cut $3.4 billion over less than six years in Quebec alone, now want to put $65 million into research. It certainly takes a lot of nerve.

One day, during question period, Jean Charest, when he sat in this House, at the far right, close to your chair, Madam Speaker, put a question to the Prime Minister, stating that, if Quebec had problems in the health care sector, he was primarily responsible for it. He was referring to the Prime Minister of Canada and member for Saint-Maurice.

Today, the same government is bragging about putting $65 million more into research. In Quebec alone, the shortfall for the year 1999-2000 totals $1.7 billion. For health alone, the total is $850 million for the current fiscal year. It is a lot of money.

Quebec is not the only province to experience heath care problems. Problems exist across Canada. Unfortunately, it is the finance minister's doing.

This is why hundreds and thousands of protesters rallied in Hull yesterday to speak out against what this government has done in the area of health care and social services. It has made cuts almost everywhere, including in social housing, and it did it unilaterally.

Today, to ease its conscience, it is planning to include in next year's budget a meagre $65 million more for health research. The Prime Minister and member for Saint-Maurice really does have nerve. He is a Quebecer willing to sacrifice Quebec to increase his popularity in the rest of Canada.

He is the one who, as you will recall, when he was the justice minister in 1982, with 74 members of his political formation, had orchestrated with Pierre Trudeau the unilateral patriation of the Constitution. He had organised all that despite all the opposition from Quebecers, including Claude Ryan, who was the leader of the Quebec Liberal Party at the time.

Fortunately, he was prevented just in time from playing this dirty trick on us when the National Assembly, where all parties were against him, and all Quebec newspaper editorials, including La Presse and Le Soleil —which are not fundamentally separatist papers—condemned the Prime Minister's plans.

It is not surprising that ministers from Quebec, including this minister here, who is the President of the Treasury Board, distanced themselves from him. I am happy to say that she distanced herself from her leader, which could only be to her credit. She is one of the few in Cabinet. Sure, there is also the Minister of Finances, but he can talk for ten minutes without saying anything.

That is what he did. Fifty per cent plus one will do it for him. That is what international law and democracy demand. Will the vote of Raymond Setlakwe, in Thetford, count for 1.2, while that of the member for Frontenac will count for just one? In democracy, it is one woman one vote and one man one vote. That is what I want to remind the House.

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12:20 p.m.


Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise to address Bill C-13, an act to establish the Canadian institutes of health research and to repeal the Medical Research Council Act.

At the outset of my brief remarks I rise in qualified support of the legislation. My arguments in support of the bill are focused on improving the health of Canadians through research. Who could possibly be opposed to that premise?

My problems with the bill are based on the difference between the fundamental beliefs of the Liberal government and my beliefs as a Reform member of parliament. While our goals are the same, to improve and lengthen quality of life for all Canadians, the differences lie in how to obtain this goal.

I note that we are coming at this from two different directions. The government's approach certainly appears to be how to perpetuate and protect the existing health care industry. In other words it views it as the system. It believes that we have to hold on to and stand fast with the Canada Health Act, not look at making any changes, even though the government fully recognizes and is in agreement with opposition parties that the health care system is rapidly deteriorating. Its present form is failing Canadians and failing to address their needs in the area of health care.

In contrast to that the official opposition has said that we have to change the focus from the system and from the industry of health care to that of the patient. We have to broaden our research and the way in which we look at the whole issue of health care, with the intention of focusing on the individual, on the patient, and what is best for him or her, not on what necessarily is best for our so-called universal health care system.

When it comes to health care, currently the provinces are paying almost 90% of health care costs. Yet Ottawa continues to defend the Canada Health Act to the extent that it should dictate the terms, the levies and fines to provinces which are trying to accommodate the ongoing legacy of the government cutting billions of dollars from health over the last number of years. In the last year or two, once the government achieved a balanced budget and started to run surpluses, it put back a few billion dollars, a mere fraction of the billions that it cut from the Canada health and social transfer.

The government expects some applause from Canadians for doing that at a time when Canadians are suffering under the weight of a taxation system which has seen them as the most heavily taxed we have ever been as a society, as a country and as Canadian taxpayers in our history.

What a legacy for the Prime Minister. What a situation for Canadians to find themselves in as they go into the next millennium. We will turn that corner in about a month's time and will find that we are the most heavily taxed we have ever been in our history. At the same time Canadians are an aging population which has to rely more and more on health care and faces the reality that the health care system is failing and is deteriorating.

I welcome the opportunity to speak to the bill today. I want to broaden the context of it. There is no point in trying to have a debate when we agree with something. What we have to do is try to focus on what we do not agree with. I have already laid out the difference in the approach of the official opposition to that of the government. I also want to talk about the so-called two tiered health care and the fearmongering on the part of the government every time the official opposition, the Reform Party of Canada, brings forward new or innovative ideas about health care and how to address the needs of Canadians in the whole area of health care.

We are immediately bombarded with the comments that we want to change it, that we want to destroy the universality of the Canadian health care system. Nothing could be further from the truth, but unfortunately that gets lost in the very heated and emotional debate we face every time we try to bring forward ideas.

I note that some of the most innovative thinking in the last while has been by the provinces. As I said earlier in my comments today, they are struggling under the weight of the cuts the government has instituted and the cuts they have had to face in administering health care to Canadians, to provincial taxpayers, their citizens.

Certainly much to the disappointment of the official opposition, when a premier or provincial health minister comes up with an innovative plan on how to address the needs of Canadians in the area of health care, instead of some co-operation from the government we see that it attacks the provinces and the individual who brings forward some innovative and new thinking on the issue.

We are all in agreement that we need more funding and more focus on research in the area of health care. We could go down a long list of debilitating and life threatening diseases that require some urgency in the area of research. I draw the attention of the House to the fact that we should be concerned about priorities and how scarce tax dollars are spent.

The solicitor general announced the other day that he would institute under tremendous pressure from the official opposition a research facility at the cost of $2 million to $2.5 million to look at the whole area of drug addiction, how it relates to prisons and the prison system, how it relates to crime and recidivism rates, and why people do what they do in the area of crime if they are under the influence of drugs.

Certainly we have been pushing for a national drug strategy. We have been drawing the attention of Canadians to the fact that drugs are more rampant and readily available in prison than they are outside prison. I have to question the sanity that would go into announcing supposedly never ending research into this issue and having it headquartered in Prince Edward Island, in the minister's riding.

Why take a vitally important issue to Canadian society and denigrate it by making it into a patronage issue? He has announced that he will temporarily house the research facility until such time as a new federal building can be built, which will just happen to be in his riding, to house the 20 permanent staff members he envisions to look into the drug issue.

Unfortunately I am almost out of time. All of us, especially my colleagues in the Reform Party, in the official opposition, could go on at great length talking about the issue of priorities, how the government spends scarce tax dollars, and our concerns in that regard. I only had time to briefly highlight one issue.

With all the empty federal buildings across the country, I am sure the government could have found one, heaven knows, in areas that have serious drug problems in prisons such as the lower mainland of Vancouver or in and around Toronto. That might be a better location for a facility such as this one.

I sum up by stating that the Reform Party prime health care objective is to improve the quality and length of life of all Canadians. For that reason my Reform colleagues and I support the legislation, as I said. I must state unequivocally that we in the Reform Party do not support the government's irresponsible approach to managing Canada's health care system. The government has gutted funding for health care, yet it has increased taxes every year since coming to power. If Canadians are sick of anything, they are sick of paying more and getting less.

The bill will provide increased moneys for medical research, but will Canadians get their money's worth? I do not think so. Canada has some of the world's best research and development. However, our incredibly high level of taxation leaves Canadian companies little or no money left for research, and a substantial tax cut for Canadians, including Canadian businesses, will improve the lives of Canadians, create jobs and keep our kids at home. We often hear about the brain drain.

I believe this is in line with the wishes of Canadians who want to pay less and get more from their government, instead of the current Liberal system which is exactly the opposite; paying the highest taxes in history while facing a deteriorating national health care system. What a legacy for the Prime Minister.

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12:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Dubé Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to speak on Bill C-13, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Act.

First of all, I would like to congratulate my colleague from New Brunswick, the member for New Brunswick Southwest, for his excellent work at the Standing Committee on Health. I also want to point out to the House that this is the first significant bill dealing with health care that has come before us during this parliament. It is incredible that this is the first bill dealing with a matter of such significance.

This reminds us of the fact that the present government is the laziest of this century. It is absolutely incredible that, today, the government is putting an emphasis on health. The Prime Minister recently reopened the constitutional debate. To him, it seems more important to debate constitutional matters than to discuss the priorities of Canadians regarding health, education and employment. This is absolutely incredible.

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12:30 p.m.


John Bryden Wentworth—Burlington, ON

The question must be clear.

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12:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Dubé Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Yes, the question must be clear and specific. I would like the government side of the House to answer clear and specific questions.

Since it took office, this government cut $17 billion from health care. It is absolutely incredible because, meanwhile, the demand for health care is increasing. We all know that the ageing of the population is increasing the demand for health care and yet the government cut some $17 billion in health care.

In the last budget, the Minister of Finance gave back some of that money, in transfers for health care, but that simply brought us back to where we were ten years ago. To have such a government in this day and age is absolutely incredible.

Canadians are furious at the Prime Minister for having revived the constitutional debate. Given the government's record in the House right now, I can assure members that Canadians want change. I can hardly wait for the next election, because then the people will have the opportunity to say exactly what they think about this government.

Let us consider the problems in the health field. During the past year, I had the privilege of being a member of the Conservative Party's committee that toured Canada to study poverty. The government has nothing to brag about when it comes to poverty, which is growing in Canada. We have seen much evidence of this. I had the opportunity to meet some university students during the tour and, believe it or not, I discovered there are soup kitchens in Canadian universities. It is absolutely incredible that there should be soup kitchens our Canadian universities.

We wonder why health costs are so high. It is because of the constant stress Canadians are under. In some regions, Canadians are looking for jobs, they are having a hard time making ends meet and they are under heavy stress as a result. And where does stress lead? Stress gets people into the hospital, sometimes for long periods of time. We also know that stress has an impact on the cardiovascular system.

I think all the hon. members in the House know only too well what this causes and what it costs. We should be focusing our efforts on this, to reduce health costs.

I totally support Bill C-13, but I think we should examine the origin of the problem and the causes of skyrocketing health costs. Again, we have an aging population in Canada. Nowadays in Canada, young families are like mine, with two young children aged six and two; there are no more families of six and more; we do not see that anymore.

So, we have an aging population, which has an impact on taxes collected. We will have to pay attention to this. We have serious problems, and we really have to focus our attention on the causes of health problems.

I want to go back to what I said a few minutes ago. I was saying that I was deeply disappointed with the government's work during this session. I honestly think this is one of the laziest governments we have seen.

It has to be the laziest government in this century. It is totally unbelievable. We are going on to the constitutional debate again when Canadians really want to hear us talk about health care. I know I want to talk about health care and I think most of the people in here want to talk about health care. I am sure most of the people on the government side want to talk about health care as well.

Unfortunately, today and for the past week in the House everyone knows what we have been talking about. Who initiated all this? I think it was our friend across the way, the Prime Minister of Canada.

It is totally unbelievable to throw gas on the fire like that. It is ironic because our party, the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, believes in a united Canada. This was demonstrated when Jean Charest left our party to head the federalist party in Quebec. He seems to be doing a good job there trying to bring up the popularity of federalist troops in Quebec. We saw in a poll about two weeks ago that the federalist forces in Quebec were on their way up. I think it was at 57% and the Lucien Bouchard troops were down to 30%.

We should keep an eye on the polls in the coming weeks to see what happens in Quebec. I am sure we will see a change in the polls.

Members of parliament were debating clear issues that people were concerned about. We were talking about jobs and health care. We must be getting close to an election because it seems to me that every time there is an election in the country we talk about the constitution. Believe me, we should be talking about much different things.

When I say that it has to be the laziest government in this century, I think that is why the PM is trying to hook onto this.

Let us look at what we did as a Conservative government and at the balanced budget today. Why do we have a balanced budget today? Let us take a look at what free trade did to the country. Free trade was brought in by this government. It is one of the biggest pieces of legislation this country has had in this century. That was a proactive government taking care of business.

What free trade has done for us in Canada is to raise our exports from $90 billion to $230 billion over five or six years. That is absolutely incredible. These are very fine figures indeed and I believe the government is very proud of them today.

Had the Liberal government had it its way, free trade would not be what it is today. However, the Minister of Finance must be very pleased with that $230 billion figure today. The Liberals are patting themselves on the back now about having a balanced budget. But why is it that they have that balanced budget? I think the $230 billion certainly has something to do with the fact that there is a balanced budget. Let us be realistic.

As for the GST, I was not much in favour of that as a businessman, and many people in Canada were also opposed. We saw what happened in 1993. Looking a little further, we can see that the GST will bring in $24 billion in revenues to the Government of Canada this year.

Looking at what we did as a government and what the present government has done, it is evident that the employment insurance cuts have hurt the poor, particularly women. It can be seen from last week's Statistics Canada report that the poor are the ones most affected by employment insurance reform.

I am pleased to take part in this debate, and we are going to support Bill C-13.

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12:40 p.m.


Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak today to Bill C-13, an act to establish the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and to repeal the Medical Research Council Act.

For those who are reading through Hansard or watching on television, I will repeat that the official opposition supports the bill, which I think is taking medical research in Canada in the right direction. It is more of an arm's-length relationship between the government and the medical research business in Canada. It is very important research that I think all Canadians support. It is the type of thing we have long advocated as a necessary role for government to be involved in.

There are many things governments should not be involved with but medical research is certainly a good use of dollars. It benefits all of society and it benefits people around the world. It is a good use of our tax dollars. And I do support the bill.

I want to talk about a theme I developed the last time I was on my feet here, which was that when governments choose to head in a certain direction they basically have chosen one priority over another because almost always the bills and acts that we discuss here in parliament involve the expenditure of tax dollars.

When the government chooses to spend money on a research facility with hundreds of millions of dollars involved, it means that there is some money that cannot be spent on something else, assuming there is a finite amount of money involved. That means something else has dropped to the bottom of the priority list, which is as it has to be. Governments have to make choices. I would urge them to be a little more stringent in their choices. I would urge them to drop a few more things off their very full plate to allow for some tax relief and tax breaks for Canadian businesses and families. Be that as it may, it always involves a priority.

I draw to the attention of the House today another research facility I just became aware of this weekend that was announced by the government last week. The research facility is sort of health related. It has to do with developing research into the use of drugs in prisons, the impact they have, how they affect crime rates and all those sorts of things. It is not a bad idea to study that, although it is so rampant and so widespread I am not sure what exactly they will discover is new.

I bring this up because the announcement was made by the solicitor general that this research facility, sort of health related, sort of crime related but interrelated, would be put in his own riding in Prince Edward Island. There are a couple of million dollars involved. It is a priority of the minister to spend the money, not just on the research but on building a facility in Prince Edward Island to house it.

I asked our solicitor general critic how many federal institutions of incarceration there were in Prince Edward Island. There are no maximum or medium security facilities there. So I asked why this was put in the solicitor general's riding. What is the scoop? Why has he decided that this has to be the place?

For example, I think of the lower mainland of British Columbia which obviously is the area I am most familiar with. In the immediate area in and around my riding there is Kent maximum security prison, Mountain medium security prison, and the regional psychiatric or Matsqui prison, which does the assessments of all people who are incarcerated in the federal system for British Columbia. In other words, everybody goes through this system which is in my riding. The Sumas centre, the Elbow Lake institution and six or seven provincial institutions all are within 20 or 30 kilometres of my part of the Fraser Valley.

In addition there is the entirely vacant CFB Chilliwack base and facilities. It has been vacant since the government moved everybody out of there to Edmonton to the justice minister's riding. She enjoys that in her part of the world. The buildings sit empty. The buildings on this site are available for any federal department to use. Some of the buildings are so new that they were still being built when the place was shut down. They are brand new state of the art buildings which were built for the Canadian forces as a training facility. They are classroom type facilities and are fully wired and computer sensitive.

If I wanted to get a handle on researching drug use in prisons there would be a couple of things I would do if I were the government. This is part of the prioritization of spending. I would investigate actual prisons. I would not just conceptualize it, I would access the minimum, medium and maximum security prisons. I would want access to all the prisoners in the federal system, in other words like those at the Matsqui institution. I would check up on them following discharge to see how they were doing in the real world and see the rate of recidivism, which is alarming when drugs are involved. I would want to be aware of where those people were.

I would want to do a follow up and be close to other medical research facilities such as those at UBC. It has world class medical research facilities and is about a one hour drive from my place. I would want the facilities in a place that would cost the taxpayers the least amount of money. I would want good facilities and good use of them. As far as the drug problem is concerned, I would want to be where the action was and at the lowest cost possible to the taxpayer.

One of those places would be in the lower mainland which would meet all those criteria. The buildings and the facilities are there. If we did not like CFB Chilliwack, how about CFB Aldergrove which has also been shut down. It has facilities and land and is in the middle of all of these prisons. There is the ability to study these individuals.

The solicitor general did not bother to do that. Instead, he is going to build a brand new place in his home province because what the heck, it is a couple of million bucks for back home. I cannot think of a single other reason why he is doing this. There are no prisons or medical research facilities or a building there. There is no inmate population to study. There is no reason to build it there except for one. It is the home province of the solicitor general.

That is very unfortunate. It shows Canadians that priorities are being made based on political considerations and not on the best interests of medical research or the use of tax dollars. Neither one of those is the paramount consideration. The partisan use of tax dollars has taken precedence over the good and judicious use of limited tax dollars. That is a shame.

Every time I see a bill, like Bill C-13, that involves medical research, I am happy to support it. I think of how important the work of medical researchers is and how difficult it is for them to get funds. When I see other money being wasted, as I described, for partisan political reasons and not being given to a new and improved research facility, I wonder why that choice of priority, instead of the priority which is in the best interests of taxpayers, drug users, drug abusers and so on. We are trying to fix a problem in our penitentiary system. I do not believe that long term facility in Prince Edward Island is strategically located or will be a good use of tax dollars.

That means something else has to give. Some other priority has to come in below that. The millions of dollars that will be spent on it will not be available for other things such as medical research and community housing. It will not be available because it is being spent for political reasons.

In closing, I would like to say again that the official opposition is happy to support Bill C-13. Medical research is important to our country. I hope the government will not only encourage medical researchers to do the hard research that they must do, but that the government itself will move away from being the protector of the system and toward the protector of the health of individual Canadians.

That does not mean we throw out the Canada Health Act. It does not mean there is not a lot of good, obviously, in our Canadian public health system. However, as we move into the new millennium we have to encourage people to think outside the box on medical research, the medical system and the delivery of medical services so that all Canadians are cared for the best.

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12:50 p.m.


Pierre Brien Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak on 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.

This legislation stems from an announcement made initially in the budget of last February, when the health minister mentioned plans to establish a virtual network of research institutes. Then, the latest federal budget announced that an initial amount of $65 million would be earmarked for fiscal year 2000-2001, to be followed by an additional $175 million. If we add all these figures to the existing budgets for the Medical Research Council, we can see that the government's objective is to raise the total amount to close to $500 million.

The act also provides for the establishment of all that is required to manage these health research institutes, so that these facilities can be operational the beginning of April 2000.

The act includes several parts. Some clauses state the objects of the CIHRs. Others, such as clauses 6 to 11, deal with the organization of the CIHRs. Others still deal with the governing council, including its establishment. A series of other clauses include transitional measures or consequential amendments to other acts.

Of course, no one can be opposed to the idea of allocating money for research. Everyone agrees that it is extremely important to conduct health research. Various subjects have already been proposed as being worthy of study, such as aging, research into arthritis, musculoskeletal development, cancer, muscle biology, heart disease and so on.

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12:50 p.m.

An hon. member

The flu.

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12:50 p.m.


Pierre Brien Témiscamingue, QC

Unfortunately, there is nothing yet for the flu.

There are things that will lead to discoveries, other research, other discoveries in the medical field, and that is important.

An aside. I had the opportunity to accompany, together with the Minister of National Revenue, who is also responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions in Quebec, a group of Quebec businesses that recently took part in a trade fair called Salon Medica, where the greatest discoveries in the field of medicine were displayed. These were medical equipment manufacturers.

We saw extraordinary things. It is not clear how we will be able to provide all these services, because the technologies are obviously extremely expensive. They will have to be made more affordable. The more they are used, the more marketing will bring the prices down.

It is incredible to see what is available to provide support for or treat various diseases, increasingly advanced discoveries, and increasingly sophisticated rehabilitation equipment. What is clear is that humans are moved by a desire to push ever further back the inevitable appointment with death or disease, and to attenuate their effect.

We are all in favour, but there are operational efficiency constraints facing the government in its efforts to make sure the public gets the best medical service possible. Obviously, this is a problem for several areas in Canada, and it involves health as well. In the case that concerns us in Quebec, there are two levels of government involved in the delivery of health care, in addition to various institutions, regional boards and hospitals.

The Government of Quebec, whose jurisdiction it is, must run this system and come up with the money to pay the entire workforce involved, as well as operating costs. In the meantime, the federal government agrees that this is a provincial jurisdiction, but is stepping up its interference.

It has always been present in research but, with its various foundations, is becoming more so. I could name the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, and a host of other foundations, financial tools created by the federal government that encroach on the health care system in various areas, which is easier for the federal government because it does not have to shoulder all the recurrent costs, all the more complex side of the health system, or negotiate labour agreements and whatnot.

But it interferes wherever it can come out looking good, looking like it is really concerned, such as in health care. The big problem is that, when we arrived here, in 1993-1994, this same government made real, not virtual, transfer payments of almost $17 billion in hard cash under three provincial transfer payment programs—in health, education and social assistance. Now, those payments are closer to of $12 billion. There have been various cuts, which annually amount to about $6 billion in direct funding that the provinces used for health care delivery.

By reducing this funding, which is used to pay for the system, where costs are not going down, the federal government is putting tremendous pressure on the health care system in view of all the new discoveries, the new medical solutions, the level of care required, an informed population demanding more and more services, the increased availability and high cost of drugs, and all the rest.

Provincial governments have seen their budget reduced drastically due to cuts in transfer payments, and smaller contributions from the federal government while it is increasingly interfering with important initiatives in areas such as research where it can get more visibility without being involved in the mechanics, while providing less support to the funding of the whole system than it did in the past.

This is quite deplorable. How can provincial governments successfully plan and orchestrate health care services when they have no control over the level of financing coming from the federal government? The cuts that are being made or were made were unilateral. One fine morning the federal government said “I am withdrawing from this area”.

Yet it is introducing initiatives, saying as usual it is going to co-operate with the provinces. However, when we see how little it recognizes the role of the provinces in this bill, which puts them on the same footing as all the other players, we know it does not want to recognize the crucial role provincial governments must play, namely to properly plan for the management and organization of health care services.

The level of federal funding is beyond the control of the provinces and nowadays, with the budget surpluses which are accumulating in Ottawa and which are not virtual, but quite real—the federal government mentioned something in the order of $90 billion over the next five years—there is a very strong desire to interfere more and more in numerous areas.

It is difficult to have plan properly in our health system, when the left hand does not know what the right hand is going to do. There is an obvious lack of co-operation here.

The federal government wants to play an ever larger role and it has no intention of increasing transfers to the provinces to provide them with some relief, to help them absorb regular costs and have the required flexibility in their own budgets to fund necessary initiatives in research and so on.

The federal government wants to take full control over this area and the best way to do so was to reduce funding for the provinces so much that they now barely have the means to pay the regular operational costs of the health system.

I am convinced that this was well planned and thought out by the federal government and that it is no coincidence. Considering that the government now has annual surpluses in excess of $10 billion to $15 billion, why is it unable to reinvest the $4 billion to $5 billion that were once used in transfer payments to directly fund services to citizens?

It is all fine and well to do medical research, but we must also ensure that the public has access to existing basic traditional services. Health professionals are very good, but the problem often has to do with access, with the time required before we can see certain specialists.

So, it is definitely not by just funding initiatives relating to research, development or government visibility that we will achieve the necessary balance to have a good health system.

The bill includes many interesting things, but we will have to make some important cautionary remarks when it is debated in committee. We agree with the bill's principle to allocate more money for research, but we are very concerned about how the government is defining its role in relation to that of the provinces as regards the management and delivery of services to the public.

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1 p.m.


Lee Morrison Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Madam Speaker, as my colleagues who have spoken before me have indicated, the Reform Party will support Bill C-13.

Canada has a long and honourable tradition of medical research. However, it is ironic that in the land of Frederick Banting and Charles Best we have seen a long, slow decline in the level, if not the quality, of our research. I do not know the causes for that, but I suspect they may have something to do with internal bureaucracies or perhaps bureaucracy emanating off of the Hill.

There is no question that we need an accountable, well administered health research institute. That appears to be what is going to come out of this legislation, at least that is our fond hope. The projected 4% to 5% administrative cost is certainly commendable. I hope that goal can be reached because there are not too many organizations that can operate within parameters of that nature.

I am very pleased that this institute will operate at arm's length from government, from the politicians and the bureaucracy. It will be run basically by the people directly concerned, the researchers, and in this respect it should be as useful as many other professional organizations which have existed in this country for decades without direct government interference.

I would like to diverge a bit, since I have already stated that I support the legislation, and talk about the gradual long term decline, not just of medical research, but of the entire health care system which, to a great extent, is tied to the research establishment.

I want to talk about the lack of reasonable distribution of the fruits of medical research within this country. We hear talk across the way about the danger of Canada slipping into a two tiered medical system. I wonder where these folks have been living for the last 15 or 20 years. We probably have a multi-tiered medical system, but for a rural person like myself, boy, do we ever have a two tiered system.

If people try to access modern, state of the art medical technology in my riding, I wish them luck, because we simply do not have it. If people want decent medical attention they either have to go to one of the major centres in Canada or, unfortunately, sometimes for efficiency and for expeditious treatment, they head south to the United States. There is a bit of an epidemic, a good medical term perhaps, in the flight to seek better medical care.

I would like to give members an example of the sort of thing I am talking about. Magnetic resonance imagery units are ubiquitous in the United States. Any small or medium sized city in the United States will have one or two of them. In Canada we have to go to a major medical centre and wait in line sometimes for months, depending on the seriousness of our need, to have access to one of these machines.

I do not understand why we have to live in the past with our medical facilities. I say that I do not understand it, but actually I do understand it to a point. The problem is that the government has gutted the medical system. It has taken billions and billions of dollars out of it and thrown the responsibility to the provinces to maintain the level of service. Therefore, we do not have access to the good stuff. By the way, MRI units are not really state of the art now. They have been around for quite a while, but we have not caught up.

I do not see any reason, other than the bloody mindedness of the government, for which we could not have state of the art medical treatment all over the country, instead of a two-tiered system which gives it to the urban areas, and the devil take the rural folks.

We cannot blame the provinces. Under the Canada Health Act we started with a 50:50 sharing of the cost of medical care. It is now about 85:15. The provinces are digging and scratching. That is simply unfair. It is indecent. The federal government made a deal 30 years ago. If it made a deal it should stick to it. This will have historical ramifications.

By all means, let us have a better developed medical research organization in this country. Let us encourage research. Let us fund research. That is something which really has not been mentioned much in this debate, but we cannot do medical research without something in our jeans to pay the bills. We have to fund this research. We have to encourage it. We certainly should encourage the new organization.

There are a few problems in the bill with respect to how the organization will work. There are a lot of details that have to be worked out, which can be managed in committee. That is what committees are for. I am hopeful that in this instance, since there is no debate about the desirability of the bill, perhaps the government will allow the committee to function as committees were designed to function and let it actually have some real input into the legislation, instead of having the whip sneak over to make sure that the good little boys and girls do not stray. I hope the committee will actually be able to do a bit of thoughtful work. I think this is a great opportunity.

Madam Speaker, I thank you for being so patient and not cutting me off when I diverged. I hope the people out there in TV land will take note of the fact that there are some people in Ottawa who realize what is going on with health care, and we are those people.

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1:10 p.m.


Maurice Dumas Argenteuil—Papineau, QC

Madam Speaker, it is with great interest that I rise today to speak to 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.

I am particularly interested in this bill because I am the critic for seniors and seniors organizations. As they are sometimes very prone to health problems, health is an issue of concern to them.

The Bloc Quebecois is in favour of increasing research funding, particularly for health. The Bloc Quebecois therefore supports the principle of establishing these institutes. However, Quebec must receive its fair share of federal R and D funding.

But the CIHRs involve much more than research. The federal government must not designate any CIHRs in Quebec without the approval of the provincial government.

Investment in R and D is necessary. The hospital and university research community badly need funding. We all know that Quebec has received the short end of the stick when it comes to funding. The federal government must rectify this through additional funding to researchers and the university community so that they can carry on their research.

A recent article in Le Devoir about the health of seniors in Quebec described the situation facing the province's beleaguered Department of Health and Social Services:

This time, the association of CLSCs and long term care facilities is calling for funding. Today, with the need for services going up, but not the funding, long term care facilities can meet only two-thirds of the demand. The problem is the widening gap between the needs of seniors and the ability of facilities to meet those needs.

By not giving Quebec its fair share, particularly in the health sector, the federal government is responsible for this state of affairs. Of course we are not opposed to an increase in research and development budgets for the creation of virtual institutes.

Quebec is not getting its fair share of federal research and development funding. We know that, historically, Quebec has received only 14% of federal spending on research. The Government of Quebec will table, at the beginning of next year, a report on scientific policy. Quebec is in favour of biomedical research and has made commitments to support it.

I mentioned that, as spokesman for senior citizens' organizations, I think health research is essential, particularly for seniors, who represent one of the fastest growing segments of the Canadian population.

In 1998, the estimated number of Canadians 65 years of age and over was 3.7 million, a 57% increase over the 1981 count of 2.4 million. With this tendency, the percentage of seniors within the Canadian population has increased over the last few years. In 1998, seniors accounted for 12% of the total population, compared to 10% in 1981 and 8% in 1971.

The number of older persons should keep growing in the decades to come, especially with the baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1965, starting to turn 65 years of age early on in the second decade of the next century.

Therefore, about 1 out of 10 Canadians is 85 years old and over, compared to 1 out of 20 Canadians at the beginning of the century. As we approach the millennium, we do have to consider the health of our people.

I remind the House that the UN declared 1999 the International Year of the Older Persons. The purpose of the IYOP is to improve understanding, harmony and mutual support between the generations and to better recognize the contribution of the elderly to their communities.

I have often stood up in this House to defend the rights of the elderly. The federal government has tried to hold the seniors hostage and make them pay for the deficit.

The federal government did not succeed because our senior citizens are no fools and made their opposition known. Life expectancy for older Canadians has increased quite a bit since the beginning of the century. By 1996, life expectancy for a 65 year old Canadian had increased by around 18.4 years, six months more than it was in 1991, three years more than in 1971 and five years more than in 1921.

Heart disease and cancer are the main causes of death among senior citizens in Canada. In 1996, 30% of all deaths among people aged 65 or over were from heart disease and 26% from cancer. Hon. members will understand that medical research is very important to an ageing population.

Take, for example, Alzheimer's disease, which is affecting increasing numbers of seniors. In 1999, 78% of all people aged 65 or over with this disease lived in an institution. In that same year, people with Alzheimer's or some other type of dementia made up 35% of the total population in such institutions.

In general, though, seniors are involved in numerous activities and take advantage of the freedom offered by their retirement years. Many seniors are physically active. They travel far more than in the past, as well, making an average of 3.2 trips within Canada and 1 out of the country in 1994-95.

Overall, Canada's seniors are in fairly good health. Most live at home with family members, consider themselves in good health, and keep relatively active.

The Bloc Quebecois is not, therefore, opposed to Bill C-13, but it is opposed to the potential for direct interference in an area of provincial jurisdiction, population health, without any consultation whatsoever with the provinces.

The federal government is creating parallel structures rather than supporting actions undertaken by the provinces. It is vital to point out that, with the creation of the research institutes, the Canadian government is clearly giving itself the power to impose its priorities and convictions in the health field.

The federal government must respect the specific characteristics of researchers in the various regions of Quebec, and not go ahead with the designation of any health research institute in Quebec without the agreement of the Quebec government.

It is, therefore, essential to ensure that, if there is interference with provincial jurisdiction with the Canadian institutes for health research, Quebec will play an integral part in the process of selecting and administering the institutes.

In closing, we are in favour of Bill C-13 in principle, but respect of Quebec's jurisdiction must be a priority.

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1:20 p.m.


Ted White North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise to speak today to Bill C-13, an act to establish the Canadian institutes of health research and to repeal the Medical Research Council Act. I have to first say that I always have a concern when I look at these new government bodies that they are actually being set up as creations of the government for the purpose of providing jobs for the Prime Minister's friends.

I am well aware a consultation process is built into the bill that will supposedly base grants upon the information from leading experts in every conceivable field. I certainly hope that is effective. Otherwise the bureaucrats appointed there by the Prime Minister, presumably for life, will have control of the system and the process will break down just the way it has in the previous organization.

In having high hopes for some rational decisions by the peers reviewing the various applications, I hope that they provide some priority to prostate cancer research as they begin to look at the grants that come across their desks.

Many members of the House will know my interest in prostate cancer research and my work with prostate cancer information groups across the country. Unfortunately it is one of those diseases that has been overlooked for a long time. Men, for one reason or another, did not talk about it or did not even know that it was a common disease that they should be talking about.

It has been left now in a situation where although it is as common as breast cancer is in women it receives one-eighth to one-tenth of the research funding that breast cancer receives. That is certainly not to detract from the money that breast cancer gets. Nobody would want to deprive that worthy cause of getting research funds, but it is certainly time to bring prostate cancer up so that it is more in line with what is being spent on a similar type of hormonally driven disease.

In addition, prostate cancer receives only about one-fiftieth of the research funding that AIDS research receives. Yet it kills about 10 times as many men. It is completely out of proportion and needs to be rectified fairly quickly. If there is one thing I would hope this new body does, it would be to correct the imbalance out there right now.

One of the other aims of the legislation according to the drafters is to take care of the brain drain of researchers and qualified people down to the United States, which of course the Prime Minister claimed does not exist but which this act recognizes.

I would argue that most of that is actually caused by the tax regime in this country. If we talk with anybody who has moved to the United States, it is very clear that the salaries and the amount of disposable income after taxation are so much more attractive in the United States that it is no wonder people move down there.

Certainly it would be nice if some of the research funding draws some of those people back, but I think we have to address the taxation issue as well. If we do not address the taxation issue, I am afraid we will end up giving grants every year to people who are not actually very competent. We will be left with the people in Canada who do not want to move to the United States or are incapable of getting a position in the United States. I would not want that to happen.

Certainly passage of the bill and implementing its provisions would have to be done in conjunction with some sort of meaningful income tax reduction to help researchers and scientists who need to be spending their time in Canada.

As I mentioned, for prostate cancer certainly Vancouver is a centre of excellence in this research. There are many skilled people there who are well recognized. In fact, the Vancouver Island Prostate Cancer Network recently produced two videotapes on early stage prostate cancer and late stage prostate cancer which won an international award in New York about two months ago. Those educational tapes are recognized world wide as being some of the best in the whole world.

I have some copies of those tapes in my office. I will shortly be notifying all members that those are available for loan from my office, because I would truly like them to become well aware of the effects of the disease.

When I look at the bill I see that there is peer review of the applications for grants. I certainly feel it is a shame that we did not have some peer review of the Nisga'a agreement when it was introduced. If the government had bothered to do a little peer review it would have found, for example, the Gitkanyow calling it an act of aggression. Lawyers all over the country are rubbing their hands together in glee at the thought of all the cases that will brought before the courts as a result of that agreement.

A Queen's counsel, Mr. Bill Irving, in Vancouver on Friday said it would not matter to him whether he was on the side that supported the Nisga'a bill or on the side that was against it. He could live for the rest of his days off the court cases that will be started on constitutional grounds against the bill. The only certainty that the Nisga'a bill will bring is certainty of income for the lawyers.

What worries me about Bill C-13 is that it will slip gradually into certainty of income for researchers who produce maybe questionable or indifferent results. I can think of an example in the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Professor Tremblay has managed to extract about $18,000 a year since 1983 out of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to send questionnaires to members of parliament every year.

My rough calculation is that she has managed to extract about $270,000 out of taxpayers for this exercise. She sends out the questionnaires every year to members of parliament asking us to suggest ways that there might be more women represented in the House of Commons. They are questions that completely ignore the fact that it is voters who elect members of parliament and not members of parliament who elect members of parliament.

After doing this since 1983 it seems that nothing useful has come out the other end of that exercise at all. I questioned Professor Tremblay about the issue and pointed out that having a proportional system of electing people to the House would do a lot more to help women get in here than just about anything else. She was unwilling to admit that would be the case. She would rather stick to her surveys and collect her $18,000 a year.

That is what worries me about this bill which sets up another quasi-government body that has a bunch of the same people, these peers, every year reviewing applications that are identical to the year before. If we look at Professor Tremblay's applications they are identical every year. They have the same wording. They are renewed every year, over and over again. It becomes like an old boys club or an old girls club where they just keep giving the same grants to the same people over and over.

I certainly have professors in my riding who have never had grants from places like the Medical Research Council or the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. They approach with stories about some of their colleagues who use these grants to travel all over the world. They treat them like vacations.

There was a very well publicized one recently from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council where a researcher received a grant of $60,000 for three years to go to Vanuatu, a small island in the Pacific which is a tax haven. I think there was an unfortunate earthquake there over the weekend. The researcher was going to this tax haven for three years to study tax havens and how people lived, the housing in Vanuatu. What a complete waste of Canadian taxpayer money for that sort of thing to be going on.

These examples are just pouring out the doors of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council one after another. I saw another one from someone in my riding who managed to extract a grant to study English poetry from the 1400s, or something along those lines. I really have to ask what value my constituents got from that extraction of their tax dollars to support somebody's hobby.

When I look at Bill C-13 and the provisions in it for peer review and increasing budgets year after year, I worry about where that money will go. One can bet that I will be watching very carefully to see where the money goes.

There is another example of foolish giveaways under these programs. The millennium fund has been widely touted by the government. They are celebrating the millennium. It is even in the wrong year. The new millennium does not start until January 1, 2001. Even the Canadian Mint, which is selling 1999 quarters and claiming they are millennium quarters, admits on its own website under frequently asked questions that it is not even the last year of the millennium. They are actually selling them falsely, but it says in the frequently asked questions that we are not to worry, that it will be issuing year 2000 quarters which will be the correct quarters for the last year of the millennium.

We waste tremendous amounts of money doing foolish things. The millennium fund gave $278,000 to a group in my riding to produce a program called “Visions of the North Shore”. What a waste. I certainly hope that medical research institutes do not turn out like that.

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1:30 p.m.


Ghislain Lebel Chambly, QC

Madam Speaker, just like all my other colleagues, I am pleased to speak to 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.

I have been listening with a good deal on interest to the speech by my colleague for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, a very articulate man who dealt with the principles of this bill, a bill he and the Bloc Quebecois think must be supported, despite its lack of emphasis on consultative federalism.

The government is making decisions all by itself, and is imposing its own position. Research will be oriented in this sector or that, without much consultation with the provinces, if any. This is cause for concern for Bloc members and also for members from other provinces.

I believe that scientific research must not be determined by chance discoveries or the whims of researchers or visionaries, but that it should be channelled. In the case at hand, this does not seem to be what is going on, with the leeway the government is giving to the so-called transitional council. I am convinced that my colleagues, the hon. member for Frontenac and the hon. member for Laval, agree that indications should be given as to the direction in which research ought to go.

Here is an example. A few years ago, in 1996, Bill C-46 was introduced and read a first time on June 14, 1996. This bill was entitled an act respecting human reproductive technologies and commercial transactions relating to human reproduction.

This bill attracted a lot of interest from the population and members of parliament who saw in it an opportunity for the government to set its priorities and orientations in the area of medical research on human reproduction, and the commercial transactions that could arise from it.

As I said, the Bloc Quebecois supports the bill before us today, despite the fact it lacks clear direction and does not provide for consultations with the provinces and various stakeholders. It will result in some $65 million more being invested in research. I hope Quebec will get its share of research dollars and that it will not be as it has always been when it comes to research and development: 50% goes to Ontario and the rest is to be shared between the other provinces and territories.

I hope that—contrary to its habit—the federal government will show some fairness and will give a little bit more, or at the very least their fair share to Quebec and other provinces where research is being carried out.

This bill is not about building offices. As the member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve said, there is no concrete, no wood, no glass structure. It is about building a network, which we are very happy about.

For instance, researchers at the University of Alberta, who are working on a particular gene, and who might be isolated—in terms of their research—will be connected through a network to a researcher in Chicoutimi, Montreal, Halifax or elsewhere. These people will finally be able to speak to one another thanks to this famous network which is being planned. This is good.

However, specific indications have to be given to the transitional committee made up of 34 members, including several prominent persons in the medical as well as the psychological sectors.

I am happy to see that this bill is about research. It is not limited strictly to pharmaceutical or medical research. Many sectors of social activity are included in the word “research”. Reference is made of course to fundamental biomedical research and to molecular isolation for marketing purposes. Reference is made also to clinical research, which of course has to follow the primary stage of molecule identification and find an application likely to be of benefit to the human being.

As for research respecting health services, my colleague, the member for Argenteuil, referred earlier to seniors. Perhaps I should talk now—and I would not want to upset him—about the very elderly, since there is talk of an increasing life expectancy, set at close to 83 years for women and a little less for men. Life expectancy has considerably increased since the 1950s.

Over half a century, average life expectancy for men has gone from 50 years or so to 76 or 77 years. Within 19 years, from 1980 to 1999, life expectancy increased by about three or four years for men, and by five years for women. All that is due to scientific and medical research.

There is a fourth aspect. I mentioned the first three, which are basic biomedical research, clinical research and research respecting health services. The fourth one is health of populations and the societal and cultural dimensions of health. That could include psychology, psychiatry and many other things. However, the main thrust of the research must, in all cases, be human health, increased longevity or assistance for reproduction.

On that subject, I must say that I am extremely disturbed by the fact that Bill C-47, on reproductive technologies and the commercial operations surrounding them, of which I spoke earlier, died on the Order Paper last summer. That bill had been rewritten by the committee that studied it before sending it back to the House. Of course, it was not perfect, but at least it gave direction. Let me give one example of medical research leading to weird situations.

I know that right now, in Montreal, there is a doctor barred from practicing in England because of the nature of his research. His speciality involves taking ova from female foetuses, which are really unborn children. It seems that a female foetus, no matter how small it is, possesses the complete feminine genitalia. The ova taken are cultivated in laboratory and once developed, they are used for insemination. That means that a child could be born from a woman who was never born.

England banned this technique for ethical reasons. The doctor in question came over here,. He now works at McGill University and does research in this area. This type of research is dangerous. For example, we can say the discovery of the atomic bomb was a great discovery but, knowing its very tragic impact on humanity, can we really say it was a good discovery?

We must not go down that road; it often leads nowhere and augurs ill for humans and human dignity.

That is why I am sorry this bill does not set any parameters or give any direction for research or the type of research we would like to see done in Canada.