Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to elaborate on a question I raised with the Minister of Health on February 17.
In that question I raised the serious problem of the growing privatization of our health care system and an ever increasing slide into an Americanized two tier health care system. As part of that concern, I also raised the apparent tendency on the part of this government to stand by and let it happen.
This is an opportunity for the federal government to explain its position on the privatization of health care.
On February 17 I asked the government about the deplorable situation in Ontario where the entire health care program, specifically the home care program, has been opened up for competitive bidding.
I raised with this government the matter of federal public dollars going into private, for profit companies. I asked the government to ensure that not one penny of the new health care dollars in the so-called health care budget would go to line the pockets of for profit, and in many cases American owned corporations.
The parliamentary secretary's position in my view was quite shocking, quite deplorable. On behalf of the government she said to all of us that the federal government cannot and will not interfere with issues of delivery. She used jurisdictional arguments to avoid the issue and excuse the lack of leadership on the part of the federal government.
I ask for the federal government's policies on the matter of privatizing our health care system, notwithstanding the jurisdictional issues. We would like to know from the government what its position is on the matter of public dollars going to for profit, private health care companies.
Where does the government stand? How does it feel about this issue? What kind of leadership is it offering Canadians on this matter? Where is the vision of this government in terms of whether or not we will be able to uphold a publicly administered, universally accessible health care system? Does this government agree or disagree with Mike Harris, and for that matter any provincial government that is using federal public dollars to put into private, for profit health care delivery of our system today?
This is an opportunity for the government to clarify. We did not get much clarification from the parliamentary secretary in question period. We did not get much clarification throughout the budgetary process about where this government stands on the erosion of medicare and on the growth in the private sector ownership of our health care system.
We are now in a situation with well over 30% of health care spending being held in the hands of private sector companies. That is an amazing shift from years gone by. We also know that with this federal budget we will only achieve in five years time a federal share of up to 12.5%. That means very little will be done on the part of this government through this budget or any other subsequent measures to reverse this trend and to ensure that we have some ability to preserve medicare and to take this medicare model and apply it to the whole continuum of care.