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.


Canadian Institutes Of Health Research ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.


Pierre Brien Bloc 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.

Canadian Institutes Of Health Research ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.


Lee Morrison Reform 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.

Canadian Institutes Of Health Research ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


Maurice Dumas Bloc 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.

Canadian Institutes Of Health Research ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Ted White Reform 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.

Canadian Institutes Of Health Research ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Ghislain Lebel Bloc 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.

Canadian Institutes Of Health Research ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to have the privilege to enter into the debate in the House on a very important issue to Canadians.

I know there are a lot of people who will be directly and indirectly affected by the outcome of the legislation. First of all, there will be the people who are involved directly in research in the country. I hope the passage and perhaps some proposed amendments to the bill will have a positive impact on the ability of Canadians to participate in worthwhile, meaningful, efficient research in the area of health care in Canada.

Hopefully there will be thousands and maybe millions of not only Canadians but people around the world whose lives will be made more enjoyable and, in some cases, whose lives will be made possible because of the research that will come out of this particular initiative.

In case the people listening, either in the House, in the galleries or on television, are not aware, we are debating Bill C-13 today. It is one of those cases where the government is saying that it will end one organization and put in place a replacement organization. We are talking about the old Medical Research Council, which will be phased out with Bill C-13 and replaced with this new organization called the Canadian institutes of health research. It is a very noble sounding title with very noble objectives by this particular group.

I am one who firmly supports the funding and promotion of research in the medical field. I am not at all convinced that it should all be done by direct research grants funded by governments. I said that I support funding, but I am not sure that having a government bureaucracy involved is the most efficient. As a matter of fact, even before I get into some of the details of my discussion, I will put forward an idea for people to think about.

Perhaps what we ought to do is shift governments out of this more and more and allow private companies and individuals to receive a greater benefit in the tax regime so that they can directly support those particular areas which they support.

I know of many individuals who, because of involvements in their families with certain diseases, are very prone to supporting funding for research in order to find a cure, help to ease the problems of living with a particular disease and perhaps even in the preventative end. They would be very willing to support a research project in this area or that area. Many of our large corporations in Canada would support it.

I think that if we had that we would have a better allocation into areas of need than we do now when government bureaucracies and politicians, being subject to the vocal lobby groups, tend to respond to that. I think we are all aware of the fact that there are a number of groups that get a lot more money than the statistics would show are warranted simply because they make the most noise on Parliament Hill. I am thinking of a couple of specific organizations in different areas of research.

I had the privilege this morning of meeting with Barbara Nathan-Marcus. She is a volunteer. She is a diabetic who has learned to cope with the disease.

I have had several friends in my lifetime who have coped with diabetes. It is a very difficult disease. I do not know if members are aware of this fact, but there are some really interesting statistics in the brochure that I got from them which surprised even me. One statistic shows that the economic burden of diabetes alone is estimated to cost the Canadian economy in excess of $3 billion a year. I was also amazed to find out that there are approximately 2.25 million Canadians affected by this disease and many of them are not even aware of it. We have approximately 60,000 new cases every year. It is the leading cause of blindness. In fact, Barbara, with whom I met this morning, is very, shall I say, sight challenged. I cannot tell by looking at her. She copes very well but has great difficulty seeing.

One of my friends at university, a wonderful man, was stricken with diabetes. He was a very active, a helpful and kind person, who unfortunately lost his eyesight due to his diabetes. He died at a very young age as a direct result of it.

Do I wish that we had more funding and more research for diabetes so that my friend and millions of others like him could have their symptoms relieved and we could continue searching for a cure and for a way of preventing the disease? Absolutely. If there is anything Canadians can address themselves to as a country it is in this area.

I think of the area of cancer. I do not think there is a family or a person who has not had a close friend or a member of the family affected by this disease. We have seen it in our family. Very frankly, we need to do all that we can to find the cause, to search for a cure and to find a way to prevent the disease.

I think of Alzheimer's disease. My goodness, think of the people we know today who are totally able to communicate, to engage in discussions and debates and who several years down the road find their brain suddenly ceases to function and are stricken with a disease that causes lack of recognition of even their closest family members. How dreadful. How great it would be if, as a result of this bill, we could increase the research into Alzheimer's and look for and find something that would prevent the disease from occurring or to arrest it when it comes.

I think of Parkinson's disease. I have several friends who have Parkinson's. One of my friends who had this disease passed away not long ago. I have another friend younger than I, who I have mentioned in the House before, who had an early onslaught of Parkinson's disease. Today he sits in his wheelchair day after day. When people ask me if I would want to see a cure, a way of preventing Parkinson's, a way of curing it, I say “absolutely”. We in this country need to do all that we can.

I think of strokes and heart disease. One of my closest friends, younger than I, had a serious stroke. He will probably have to live with the marginal ability to get around and communicate for the rest of his life. Yes, let us find a cure. Let us find a prevention.

I think of multiple sclerosis, MS as it is called. I also have a number of friends with MS. I think what I am saying is true for all of us. Every one of us can think of someone in our families or a close friend who has been stricken with these different diseases.

I am not saying that Bill C-13 and the new organization of health care research is the final answer and will solve all of these problems, but I am encouraging all of us to work together to provide research so that these diseases can be tackled and solutions, cures and preventative measures can be identified, found and implemented. It would do Canada a great service and all Canadians would benefit. It would give us a mark in the world as being on the leading edge of needed health care research.

Canadian Institutes Of Health Research ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Dale Johnston Reform Wetaskiwin, AB

Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to stand in the House to speak on Bill C-13, an act to establish Canadian Institutes of Health Research and an act to repeal the Medical Research Council Act.

It was very interesting to hear my colleague from Elk Island talk about his friends who were afflicted with various diseases, in particular diabetes and how widespread that can be. Not only does it affect the way one's body metabolizes sugar but, as my colleague pointed out, it also affects one's eyesight, circulation and even the heart.

Many of the people I have known who have had severe diabetes have had their feet or another limb amputated just simply because their circulation was so bad. Because they were not able to maintain the circulation to keep those limbs alive, the limbs had to be amputated to save the person's life. That is a very traumatic thing.

We need to think back to the discoverers of insulin, the people who isolated and reproduced insulin and got it to the place where we could replace the insulin which was not produced in our bodies in order to break down the sugar.

Research in Canada has always been in the forefront. There are very significant contributions that have been made by Canadians, contributions that we should be extremely proud of.

In the medical area, I have already mentioned Doctors Banting and Best for their isolation and production of insulin. There are other areas that we should also be very proud of, and that is the production of the Avro Arrow for instance when we were able to develop a supersonic aircraft that was significantly ahead of its time and the sort of thing that would have been the envy of all the world. Even today, technology is just catching up to where the Avro Arrow was.

Whenever I think about research, whether it is medical, technological or in other areas, I think about the problem that we have in the country of maintaining our most inquisitive and best trained minds. There has been a great deal written and said with regard to the brain drain. It was not very long ago that the Prime Minister said that there was no problem, that there was no brain drain. Perhaps he might think that but there are all kinds of evidence to the contrary. We do have a problem with young people taking their skills south of the border in particular.

Some of the reasons they would do that is because there is more opportunity for them there. There is a less oppressive tax regime. They can keep more of the money they earn. They are also working for one hundred cent dollars. I know that is a rather novel approach but a dollar in the United States is still worth one hundred cents.

As a result of the tax regime in this country, we find that our tax freedom day comes around July 1. I do not know if it is particularly significant that we celebrate Canada Day on July 1. Maybe we could get a little funding for that so we could celebrate tax freedom and Canada Day all in one. Maybe we could save some costs on the celebration. Ideally, I would like to see the tax freedom day moved backwards to June or May or, heaven forbid, maybe even April.

One of the main reasons we have such tremendous difficulty keeping active, young, inquisitive minds here is that they are having a very difficult time making a go of it. I will give an example of what I am talking about.

Adam is the father of three boys. His wife chooses to stay home and look after the children because they think they can do a better job of raising their children than the state. Adam earns almost $53,000 a year, which amounts to about $4,412 a month. That is not a bad salary, but we must consider that five people have to live on that after $1,130 is taken out for income tax, $110 per month for unemployment insurance and $140 per month for the Canada pension plan. After that he has to pay his mortgage, his insurance and all of those other things.

The reason I particularly mentioned the Canada pension plan is because Adam has said that he has given up on the idea of ever having the Canada pension plan. Part of the reason, he says, is that so many of our—

Canadian Institutes Of Health Research ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member still has four minutes remaining, but in view of the fact that we will be welcoming new colleagues today I thought we might begin our Statements by Members a little sooner.

Natural DisastersStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Brampton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, one month ago, on October 29, a cyclone believed to be the century's worst to hit India killed tens of thousands, left millions homeless and virtually wiped away the eastern Indian state of Orissa's infrastructure.

The Canadian Red Cross, Care Canada and the Canadian Lutheran World Relief Fund are leading the efforts in assisting CIDA in bringing aid to the victims of this disaster. I am happy to provide Canadians with the telephone number of the Red Cross cyclone relief effort that have been organized in Canada. Donations can be made by phoning 1-800-418-1111.

I encourage all Canadians to once again show their solidarity, generosity and to contribute to the relief efforts for the victims of this tragic natural disaster.

Nisga'A TreatyStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, British Columbians have been demeaned again.

The Prime Minister said here in this place “There is a legislative assembly in British Columbia which voted on the Nisga'a agreement expressing the view of the people of British Columbia. This parliament will vote on this issue. This is the way we do democracy in Canada”.

What arrogance. What contempt for British Columbians. What utter disregard for the democratic process.

This government killed second reading debate on Nisga'a, shutting out dozens of speakers. It then sent a committee out to B.C. on a wild goose chase to see, hear and do nothing for British Columbians.

Democracy? British Columbians are actively ignored by this government. Strong opposition to the Nisga'a agreement by the people of B.C. has done nothing to make this government care about them. What should British Columbians do to express their discontent with the Nisga'a agreement, and also about trade policies, immigration policies and fisheries policies that are not in the interest of British Columbia?

These are questions that are being seriously considered by British Columbians.

Royal Canadian Army CadetsStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


George Proud Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, yesterday marked the 120th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Army Cadets.

Over the last 120 years, the Canadian cadet movement has helped youth understand the values of active citizenship, leadership and physical fitness.

Through the Royal Canadian Army Cadets we are investing in Canadian youth and meeting our mandate to develop leaders for the next century.

By contributing to their communities and by acting as ambassadors for their country in the eyes of the world, cadets live up to the expectations of Canadians.

Ex-army cadets have contributed greatly to our war efforts. By 1918 there were 64,000 cadets enrolled. Of these, upward of 40,000 ex-army cadets voluntarily enlisted to serve in World War I.

It is to be noted also that of the 64 Victoria Crosses awarded during World War I, 25 were won by ex-cadets.

On the 120th anniversary I extend my thanks to the young men and women and the numerous volunteers who continue to make the Royal Canadian Army Cadets a success.

Violence Against WomenStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Susan Whelan Liberal Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, on December 6, Canada's national day of remembrance and action on violence against women will mark the 10th anniversary of the tragic death of 14 young women at the École Polytechnique in Montreal. At this time Canadians will not only remember the loss of these women, but will also remember women who are killed as a result of deliberate acts of violence and those women who live with violence every day.

Violence against women touches every Canadian community. Statistics Canada research reveals that at least 51% of all Canadian women have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16 and that sexual assault accounts for almost one in ten violent crimes.

Ending violence against women requires the efforts of all members of society. Together we can eliminate systemic violence against women and children in the home, workplace and the streets.

Laval University Rouge Et OrStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Claude Drouin Liberal Beauce, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I pay tribute today to the Laval University football team, the Rouge et Or, winners of the Vanier Cup, the symbol of dominance in Canadian intercollegiate football.

Remarkably, this victory was won by a team that has been in existence a mere four years over a traditional gridiron power, St. Mary's University of Halifax. I would like to commend the other team as well for their performance in the finals.

There was heavy fan support for the entire team led by star quarterback Mathieu Bertrand and receiver Stéphane Lefebvre, who was named most valued player, as well as ball carrier Jessé Gagné from Beauce.

I am sure that all hon. members will join with me in congratulating head coach Jacques Chapdelaine and all of the team on this great victory.

Canadian Wheat BoardStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, last Monday 27 farmers were found guilty of illegally exporting grain by a Regina court. These farmers received thousands of dollars in fines.

In September an aboriginal farmer from Lethbridge, Alberta was found guilty of illegally exporting grain, but instead of receiving fines he was given an absolute discharge because the justice presiding over the case said that he only did it to challenge the Canadian Wheat Board's marketing authority.

We have two different standards in this country. This group of 27 farmers was also challenging the Canadian Wheat Board's marketing authority, yet it received huge fines. Even Provincial Court Judge Bruce Henning said the farmers were only testing the law. He said “I accept that they were sincere in believing they were not breaking the law because they believed it was invalid”.

The courts are playing favourites. In the meantime our government does nothing. It is time the government ended this unfair treatment of the people who feed this country.

When will the government end its autocratic rule over western Canadian farmers?

Ontario Legislative Internship ProgramStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Bob Speller Liberal Haldimand—Norfolk—Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I welcome eight members of the Ontario Legislative Internship Program to Ottawa, a program in which I participated during the early 1980s. Similar in nature to our own program, the Ontario interns, who are recruited in a competitive process, provide valuable assistance to members of the Ontario legislature.

An integral part of their program is the unique opportunity to visit Canada's federal and provincial legislatures to strengthen their understanding of the parliamentary system at both levels of government.

During their stay in Ottawa they will attend several conferences on the parliamentary system and meet with many members of different political parties.

I encourage all members of parliament to join with me in recognizing the importance of such internship programs in shaping our political future and our community leaders. Please, if members see them wandering the halls, stop and say hello.

Laval University Rouge Et OrStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Saturday, the Laval University Rouge et Or clinched the Canadian university championship with a hard-won victory, 14-10, over the St. Mary's Huskies of Halifax.

This is the first time a team from a francophone university has won the prestigious Vanier Cup, and the Rouge et Or did so with a valiant team effort right until the final seconds of a tough game.

This past Saturday, there were many fans watching who had dreamed of this very thing back in the days they attended that same university and watched their team's rapid ascent in the league.

The Bloc Quebecois wishes to congratulate all of the players, coaches and others who contributed to this great victory.

Constitutional DebateStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Harvey Progressive Conservative Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's provocative approach to Quebec serves simply to muddle English Canada and to slow the advances in the polls of the Right Honourable Joe Clark.

Yes, people are tired of the constitutional debate, but they certainly need a break from the provocation carried on for the past 30 years by the leaders of the Liberal Party of Canada, who must see that their strategy has increased the sovereignist vote from 20% to 49% in 20 years. Does the Prime Minister of Canada want to carry on into the next century?

Fed up with inflated taxes, the sabotage of our health care system, the departure of our young people and the increase in poverty, Canadians want a practical political agenda from their Prime Minister.

Enough of the constitutional bear trap for our English-speaking fellow citizens.

Team LiberalStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Hec Clouthier Liberal Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, as player-coach of team Liberal, I want to say how proud I am of our hockey players.

Last Thursday night we played in the second annual parliamentary hockey championships. I must point out that the only reason the opposition finally found winning conditions was because of outside help. Just as its members rely on the media to provide ammunition for question period, they relied on two reporters who made a big impact, although little Jimmy Munson needed a booster seat to see the game. Their goalie, also not an MP, was the real ringer. He was more acrobatic than Patrick Roy.

Team Liberal, made up entirely of MPs, showcased two impressive rookies. The member for Pickering-Ajax—Uxbridge shared goal tending duties with the Secretary of State for Amateur Sport, and the member for Vaughan—King—Aurora scored a goal.

It was a great game for a great cause, the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. I extend special thanks to the Corel Centre for donating the ice.

Mr. Speaker, the puck stops here. In the millennium rubber match we will fill the opposition net with these pucks.

Team LiberalStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I would ask hon. members not to use props.

FisheriesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


John Cummins Reform Delta—South Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, the lobster fishery opens today in Nova Scotia. A cloud hangs over the usual excitement and expectations of opening day, a cloud largely created by the Liberal government's fishery policy, a policy which seeks to displace currently licensed fishermen with aboriginal fishermen.

It appears that the fisheries minister has proposed a plan to his cabinet colleagues which would allow for the purchase of three-quarters of the commercial licences in some areas, at a cost of $300 million to $500 million. The impact on coastal communities is something this minister seems to have forgotten with his hare-brained scheme.

Taking three-quarters of the licences will cut the heart out of these vibrant communities. Without the income from lobster, the need for many businesses would vanish. The communities would lose their reason for being. Welfare would replace wages. Out migration would be the order of the day. Killing one community in a misguided effort to inject life into another is not good policy.

The Grey CupStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Stan Keyes Liberal Hamilton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with regret that I report that Canadians yesterday witnessed the last Grey Cup game of the 20th century, and the Hamilton Tiger Cats were the champions, having soundly defeated the Calgary Stampeders 32 to 21 in Vancouver.

Following the game, 12,000 emotional fans crowded on to King Street in downtown Hamilton to celebrate. To their credit, there was not a single problem. Police laid no charges.

Hamiltonians have much to be proud of. In fact, Canadians have much to be proud of. The Grey Cup and the Canadian football league help to define us as a nation. They are a big part of who we are.

It is the eighth Grey Cup victory for Hamilton since the old Ticats and Wildcats merged just before the start of the 1950 season.

On behalf of my constituents and Ticat fans nationwide, I say “Oskee Wee Wee, Oskee Wah Wah, Holy Macinaw, the Ticats ate them raw”.

TradeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, as the federal government continues the sellout of Canada in the millennium round of the WTO in Seattle, thousands of Canadians are hitting the streets to say no: no to a market ideology and trade liberalization that would give more power to corporate elites; no to the commodification of health care, education, culture and human services; no to the multinational corporations which want to trade, exploit and profit from public services; and no to the Liberal government's secretive agenda that undermines democracy.

The auto pact, farm income support, magazines and the fisheries have already fallen at the WTO altar. Canadians are not going to stand by and see more of their precious resources—now, for the first time, education and health care—thrown to the WTO to control.

The NDP opposed the creation of the WTO in 1994 because, like the NAFTA, it elevates the rights of multinational corporations at the expense of public needs. We say to the Liberal government today “Stand for Canadians, stand for our public services and defeat the WTO agenda”.

Liberal Party Of CanadaStatements By Members

November 29th, 1999 / 2:10 p.m.


Pierre De Savoye Bloc Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, last weekend, at the biennial Liberal Party of Canada convention in Hull, members representing all regions of Quebec rejected all the proposals calling on the federal government to take a hard line against Quebec.

Despite these calls for moderation from his own membership, the Prime Minister continued his barely veiled threats against democracy in Quebec. The province has never given in to this sort of blackmail. Once again, Quebec will not bow to the undemocratic threats of the federal government.

Rather than pushing ahead plan B every way they can, the Prime Minister and his professor minister should come up with a true constitutional vision. In fact, according to a survey commissioned by the Privy Council, 52% of respondents consider that, since the 1995 referendum, the Government of Canada has shown no clear indication of goodwill.

Liberal Party Of CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, at the last convention of the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party of Canada, the Prime Minister offered a truce to the Premier of Quebec, proposing to stop talking about a referendum if the premier was prepared to give up his plans to separate Quebec from the rest of Canada.

The Prime Minister truly reached out to the sovereignists.

We are asking the sovereignists to take this proposal seriously, in the interest of Quebec's stability and political future, and to ensure a better economic and social future to all Quebecers.

The reason for this invitation is simple: Quebecers no longer want to hear about referendums and independence.

CulturalismStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Janko Peric Liberal Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, during the past several months Canada's heritage minister has been building an international alliance to strengthen national cultures.

Under her leadership, Canada was entrusted with housing a permanent liaison office for the contact group of the International Network on Cultural Policy.

Canada will also host the first world summit on arts and cultural institutions in December 2000.

Recently the minister presided over a round table on culture and creativity in the face of globalization. These efforts are increasing international awareness of the need to protect and enhance Canadian and other world cultures.

I urge the minister to keep this momentum going and to continue to defend cultural diversity in this era of globalization.