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.