House of Commons Hansard #130 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was defence.


An Act To Incorporate The Western Canada Telephone CompanyGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.


Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

That is absolutely true. Since the government took office in 1993 not a single cent has gone into social housing in this country. The government has abandoned that program.

Those members can talk later and explain where I am wrong.

The point is, we have people on Parliament Hill today from the women's march who are reminding us of this. Every single MP is being lobbied today. These people are saying “Please put some money into social housing”. The reality is that the government has not.

Let us just make it clear. There is government money for golf courses, hotels and luxury resorts but no money for housing that is much needed in all parts of the country. I could go on to identify other sectors as well.

What he did not mention either was the incredible growth of food banks. Not only have the national chartered banks done very well, the food bank business is also booming, and that we should be much ashamed of.

My hon. friend also did not mention the money that has not been invested in children. While we woke up this morning to come to a parliament that is about to end, 1.4 million children woke up this morning living in poverty. The reason they woke up living in poverty is not that only they are living in poverty but their parents are living in poverty. Is this not some form of societal child abuse? For a country as wealthy as Canada to permit, year after year, hundreds of thousands of children to live in poverty is a form of societal child abuse. Quite frankly, we should be ashamed of this record.

Does the government announce any major initiatives in regard to child poverty? No, but if someone needs money for a golf course in Atlantic Canada there is money, apparently, and if someone needs money for a luxury resort, there is money. However there is not enough financial support to deal with child poverty.

I could go on in regard to a number of issues but we are not actually supposed to be talking about them.

My friend also mentioned balancing the books. He forgot to mention that one of the ways in which the government balanced the books was to take money out of the EI that employers and employees contributed in anticipation that they were going to get some return on their insurance investment. The government dipped into their fund to take out the money and dipped into the pension fund of the federal public service as well.

It is important that we remind ourselves, in a more balanced way, of why the books of the country have been balanced. It is because money put into the employment insurance fund has now been siphoned off.

I have two quick points. Today we are talking about telephone services. I think we would all agree that communication is crucial in a knowledge based economy, crucial today in an ever shrinking globalized world and absolutely fundamental in terms of economic development in the future.

As we talk about this legislation, there are parts of Canada that do not have any telephone service. I know some members will be surprised to hear this, but there are parts of Canada that have no telephone service at all. As a matter of fact there are some parts of my own riding that do not, to be specific, the East Barrière Lake area and the Red Lake area. There are others. A lot of people who live there have been trying to get the telephone companies to provide service but to date they have not been able to do so.

I want to make that point clear as we are getting ourselves excited about how connected we are. There are still a lot of people who do not have even fundamental telephone services.

As we talk about balancing off this sort of equal playing field, which is what this legislation is all about, and talk about providing a level playing field for all players, let us also remind ourselves that as we speak we have the softwood lumber agreement that the Government of Canada agreed to which prohibits Canadian lumber exporters from exporting lumber into the United States. This is up for renewal on March 1. I do hope the government, if it actually espouses the fundamental belief in free trade, abandons this forum of managed trade which, quite frankly, militates against western lumber producers.

I appeal to my Liberal friends across the way. When companies are making the case that we should have free trade in lumber, when the members of the IWA say they want to have free trade in lumber, I appeal to the government to actually agree to have free trade, particularly as this is free trade with the United States. I thought we actually had a free trade agreement with the United States but when it comes to softwood lumber we do not have a free trade agreement. I find it rather perverse and almost amazing that we would allow this to occur but we have. Hopefully we can undo this damage in the next number of weeks.

To get back to Bill S-26, others before me have indicated that this is actually a pretty straightforward piece of legislation. It is a bit unusual when one thinks about it. The British Columbia telephone company special act was enacted back in 1916 by this parliament. The purpose of this special act was to federally incorporate the British Columbia Telephone Company and place it under federal jurisdiction. At the time this special act was created, the Canadian telecommunications industry consisted of monopoly service providers, including fledgling provincial crown owned corporations just beginning to be established in the prairie provinces.

Today this special act is inconsistent with the open and competitive Canadian telecommunications industry where all other Canadian owned telecom companies are free to compete in every Canadian jurisdiction. This places Telus at a competitive disadvantage for a number of reasons.

Rather than go into those reasons, I think it is obvious that when one company has to seek permission from the CRTC every time it wants to make a major corporate decision whereas other companies it is competing with do not and can simply do it within their own corporate structure, we are asking Telus to compete in the marketplace with its hands tied behind its back, so to speak.

In summary, we in the New Democratic Party support the updating of the legislation. We also support, as we indicated earlier, the rapid movement of the legislation through all stages so we can complete it today. It has already gone through the stages at the Senate, which has done due diligence on this legislation. It is appropriate that we move expeditiously as well to enable the legislation to be proclaimed prior to the dissolution of this parliament.

An Act To Incorporate The Western Canada Telephone CompanyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.


Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to state briefly the position of the Bloc Quebecois on Bill S-26, whose aim is to treat Telus the same as the other companies. This company is governed by the Act to incorporate the Western Canada Telephone Company, which dates from 1916.

The objective of this very short bill is to not subject it to a specific law, but to treat it like the other companies and have it governed by the Canada Business Corporations Act, which will enable it to continue its activities throughout Canada on the same footing as the other companies.

It is not a matter of not governing this company any longer, but of affording it equal treatment. Accordingly, we will not debate this at length, since everyone is in agreement to pass this bill as quickly as possible.

Since this bill does not involve any contentious issues, we will co-operate in passing it quickly at second reading, at report stage and at third reading today. We will support Bill S-26.

An Act To Incorporate The Western Canada Telephone CompanyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

An Act To Incorporate The Western Canada Telephone CompanyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Some hon. members


An Act To Incorporate The Western Canada Telephone CompanyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

An Act To Incorporate The Western Canada Telephone CompanyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time, considered in committee, reported, read the third time and passed)

The House resumed from October 5 consideration of the motion that Bill C-45, an act respecting the provision of increased funding for health care services, medical equipment, health information and communications technologies, early childhood development and other social services and to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.


Reed Elley Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I really do appreciate the opportunity to speak to this bill. Over the course of my parliamentary career of three and a half years, which hopefully will be extended in the next election, I have had a great interest in this area, both as the deputy critic for health for the Alliance Party and as the vice-chairman of the health committee for the House of Commons.

I am usually quite delighted to be able to rise and bring the concerns of my constituents of the riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan before the House of Commons, but unfortunately I rise today being forced into bringing forward their concerns because I do not think we really need to have this debate in the way that has been lined up for us.

Canadians know and cherish the health system in Canada. For many years we have had a made in Canada solution which ensures that all Canadians have access to quality health care. Generations of Canadians have grown up expecting that their loved ones, their families and they themselves would have adequate health care available to meet their needs.

Thanks to the Liberal government Canadians no longer can be assured of that. The stark, cold reality is that over the last few years the health care system of yesterday has been steadily destroyed by the Liberals of today and will not meet the health care requirements of tomorrow.

I would like to describe the problems that have resulted from the Liberal government's uncaring approach to health care. For the record, I and the other members of the Canadian Alliance will be supporting the bill. However, let me be perfectly clear on our measure of support for it. We are supporting it because finally the Liberals are rectifying past Liberal mistakes that have needlessly hurt many Canadians in the process, need never have been implemented, and would not have taken place under a Canadian Alliance government.

In 1993, when the Liberals came to power, the federal portion of the Canada health and social transfer was $18.8 billion. Within four short years the heartless Liberals slashed away more than $6.3 billion annually. Today the federal Liberals are still $3.3 billion lower than in 1993.

Prior to this bill the Liberals had stripped away $24.7 billion from the health care system in Canada. Their earlier budget plans called for the removal of another $9.9 billion over the next three budget years. Were it not for the pressure of the official opposition, the provinces and indeed Canadians themselves, the Liberal government would have gouged an incredible $34.6 billion out of Canada's health care system over a projected 11 years. That was what it was intent on doing.

That $34.6 billion represents more than $1,100 less in health care for every man, woman and child in Canada today. Can we imagine what another $1,100 of health care spent on every person in each riding would do to alleviate the pain, suffering and discomfort many feel?

In my riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan there are approximately 100,000 people. That translates, if my math is correct, into 110 million missing health care dollars. That $110 million could have been used to hire more nurses and maintain and reopen operating rooms. It could have been used to ensure that more people were not subject to longer than necessary waiting lists and to give the opportunity to upgrade or purchase new medical technology equipment.

Not a region in the country has not been negatively affected by the callous financial approach the Liberal government has inflicted upon Canadians from coast to coast. A case in point is the Cowichan District Hospital in Duncan, in my riding, where a dialysis unit sat idle. What was the primary reason it sat idle? Simply put, there was not enough money in the system to hire trained personnel to operate the equipment.

I ask my hon. colleagues to imagine the concern and the pain in the hearts of parents whose children require a dialysis machine to stay alive and who know that because of funding the equipment in the hospital has never been used. This is not an academic subject for me. I know that feeling. I have a daughter who could have been one of those who required dialysis. She has only one kidney. Even though the dialysis unit was only 15 minutes from our home, the stark reality was that if her one remaining kidney had shut down we were over an hour away from the nearest dialysis unit. For her to use the pediatric dialysis unit we would have had to take her to Vancouver.

A dialysis unit costs approximately $630,000 to purchase. The annual operating cost for 36 patients totals approximately $1 million. Let us imagine if a portion of the $110 million the Liberals have ripped out of the system in my riding alone could have been used for dialysis in the Cowichan hospital. Then let us imagine the sense of relief a parent or patient would feel when the unit was finally opened and put into operation. Unfortunately this unit is already approaching capacity. It is expected that in less than one year new dialysis patients will once again be required to make the one hour trip to Victoria for the dialysis treatment they require.

In 1991 in my riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan, Mr. Pat Carson donated $861,000 toward the purchase of a CT scanner. That is what the health system in the country has come to. There is a critical need for new technology and modern equipment. The government does not have the money to pay for it. Individuals who know of this crying need are coming forward to pay for this equipment.

Mr. Carson's wife had cancer. Unfortunately she died of it. While there are no guarantees, it was thought that earlier treatment for her could have been initiated through a faster diagnosis by a CT scan.

Hon. members are wondering how well the scanner is now working. Has it saved lives? I am sad to say that the scanner is still not in operation. The money has now accumulated to over $1.3 million. Only now, after the promise of more federal money and nine years after this very generous public donation was made, is the CT scanner coming online. How many lives would have been changed or even saved if the CT scanner had been in place years ago? Simply put, a lack of funds claims lives in our health care system every day. The Liberal government must accept much of the blame.

If these were the only stories, the story of health care in Canada today would not be such a tale of woe. Unfortunately this is only one of thousands of stories from across the country. Through the remainder of the day we will hear from others about surgery waiting lists, cancelled surgeries, long waiting periods to see specialists, pain, suffering, and even death.

In my home province of British Columbia we have had patients lying on gurneys in the hallways and in linen closets, if we can believe that. Cancelled surgeries at the hospitals in my riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan are a daily occurrence. We can and we must do better than this. We have done so in the past.

The track record of the Liberal government speaks loud and clear. In the last few months the health committee has had meetings and at each opportunity I raised the issue of the committee studying the overall system of health care in Canada. What happened when I raised that issue at committee? The Liberal majority simply said no. During the discussion at the agenda planning subcommittee one Liberal member actually had the audacity to state that health care was too big a topic for the committee to study.

Let us imagine that: Canadian health care is too big for the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health to study. If the Standing Committee on Health cannot study the health situation in Canada, may I ask who should?

A recent report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information stated:

The number of health professionals from 1988-1997 did not keep pace with Canada's population growth, resulting in fewer health professionals per capita in 1997.

Over that 10 year time period “the number of professionals per 10,000 population declined by 1.7%, from 185 to 182”. Based on these numbers, we are short 9,000 health professionals.

I would further ask hon. members to consider our aging population. We are all getting older. We cannot reverse that trend, unfortunately. According to Statistics Canada demographics in 2001 about 13% of our population will be 65 years of age or over. By the year 2026, just a few years down the road, this same age group will rise to 21% of our overall population. In real numbers this is a rise from 3,945,700 to 7,759,700, almost a complete doubling of this age group.

I remind hon. members that with few exceptions this includes each and every one of us here. It includes our peers, our personal friends, our neighbours and many family members. Without an end to the serious damage inflicted on our health care system by the Liberal government I am afraid the health care system may not be available to those of us who may require it the most in the future.

Although I know some hon. members will scoff at this premise, let us consider a few facts within the various fields of professional health care. Currently the Canadian Medical Association has noted with concern that the number of doctors leaving Canada is roughly equivalent to the graduating classes of six medicals schools per year. That amounts to almost 40% of our medical school graduates. To my mind that is simply unacceptable.

It now takes half the output of all Canadian medical schools to replace the physicians who leave the country annually. One reason is the cost of medical education. The president of the CMA asserts that the debt of a graduating medical student could rise as high as $140,000. Other reasons as given by the former director of research at the Association of Canadian Medical Colleges of Canada include health care cuts and plunging morale.

Here are some other facts. In 1996, 731 doctors left the country. In 1997, 659 left. That totals 1,390 doctors in just over two years. Doctors moving south of the border represent just a quarter of all medical personnel leaving the country every year. Most of those leaving are nurses. We are told, and I believe it to be true, that we face a chronic shortage of nurses.

A 1997 study of 489 orthopedic surgeons graduating between 1985 and 1994 showed that fully 25% have moved to the United States and 70% of the rest were considering it. The most common reasons were restrictions on operating time, unavailability of beds and other frustrations with practice restrictions.

The CMA has also stated that there is a severe shortage of high tech physicians capable of reading the results the latest medical technology gives us. There currently is a shortfall of 150 full time radiologists in Canada, with an expected shortfall of 500 over the next four years.

Let us not forget that it takes a great deal of time to train the doctors and nurses we need in Canada. Regular training for a general practitioner takes at least seven years. Specialist training takes 13 or 14 years. We are short of trained staff now, not in seven or thirteen years. A crisis looms on the horizon, and still the government remains intent on destroying rather than renewing our stressed health care system.

The government claims it is treating the health care system with compassion. We hear that word from our hon. colleagues across the way quite often. They say they are a compassionate lot, with compassion oozing out of their pores. Last month in Montreal the Prime Minister stated that he had “invested in health care”. The Minister of Health laid claim to this being a “compassionate government, leading the way for those among us that require health care”. The 1997 Liberal red book stated that they “would not abandon the health care field and that predictable and financial certainty was essential for our health care planning”.

Absolutely nothing could be further from the truth if we take a look at what the government has done. I have been calling for a serious review of the Canadian health care system for over three years now. The government has done nothing like that. It has cut the transfer payments. It has chastised the provinces for attempting to find real solutions to real health care problems. It has made federal-provincial relationships completely untenable, and still it attempts to make the claim that it is upholding health care in Canada. On the eve of an election in the country finally it does something about it. Surely Canadian people can see through that.

I believe the federal Liberal government will be forever remembered in history as the destroyer of our present health care system. The facts are indisputable. It has permitted the rise of two tier health care on its watch, across the country.

The Prime Minister, the Minister of Health and all their minions can bluster and rant all they want, but the truth is crystal clear: the Liberal government has failed all Canadians when it comes to health care. It has permitted, even encouraged, the failure of the health care system that Canadians have come to enjoy and count on. Canadians all across the land know it. They will not forget the Liberal government's actions when the next election comes.

Canadians are not as gullible as the Prime Minister would like us to believe. I believe Canadians know where the blame rests for the unacceptable status of our health care system. It rests firmly at the feet of both the Prime Minister and Minister of Health.

Canadians are looking for someone to champion health care. Canadians are looking for a political entity that will put things right in this country, beginning with health care itself. Canadians are realizing that the Liberal health care talk has no substance, has no meaning and has no depth.

The Liberal government has attempted to make the claim that they are the only party willing to support the five tenets of the Canada Health Act.

In 1997 the red book stated that the Liberal “commitment is to the five fundamental principles of our medicare system and on our commitment to the continuing role in financing and other aspects of the federal government in health care”. That is a very noble statement, but have they lived up to it? When it comes right down to it, have they attacked this problem at the provincial level where the delivery of services actually takes place? How far from the reality of today, when the government is truly the architect of the demise of the Canada Health Act.

All across this country there are examples of abuses of the Canada Health Act. If someone hurts a knee on the job and the Workmen's Compensation Board is paying for it, there is no problem. That person gets to go to a private clinic and jump ahead of everyone else waiting for knee surgery. It may be legal but it is not right, and the government should fix that kind of queue jumping.

Does anyone need an MRI? There is a three week lineup. If someone pays $800 cash at a private clinic they will avoid the lineup. If they do not like the wait time involved they can take their credit card and head south of the border. There are a lot of Canadian doctors and nurses there already. Maybe it will seem like a Canadian reunion.

Has the Liberal government attempted to resolve these issues? I do not think so. Certainly not while I have been around this place. Rather than working with the provinces and attempting to ensure that all Canadians have quality health care, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health prefer to antagonize and cause dissension rather than build unity. Canadians see past the Liberal smoke and mirror show and they are really tired of it all.

Canadians are turning to the Canadian Alliance to right the wrongs that this Liberal government has forced upon all Canadians. Corrective actions cannot be implemented immediately but they can begin immediately.

My colleagues and I recognize, of course, that money alone is not the whole solution to this problem. However, we cannot deny that many of the problems were caused by the government's significant reduction in funding, funding that this Liberal government has simply slashed out of health care among other things. Many of the solutions will require funding, yet further efficiencies can be found in the system.

Yes, we need more trained professionals. Yes, we face challenges that we have not previously encountered. Certainly we have an aging population. Yes, the delivery of health care services remains a provincial responsibility. We know all these things to be true. However, what positive role has the federal government played in this? To date, none. It has been irresponsible in its lack of solutions to the health care crisis that now faces Canada. Many of the problems are systemic and there has been no plan from the government to attack the systemic problems in our health care system.

Canadians look to government for leadership. They have not found it here in this place with this Liberal government as far as health care is concerned.

We do need changes in the health care system. We need a system that shows we are truly getting results. We need a system where governments work together. We need a system that provides funding on a regular basis consistently over the years working co-operatively with the provinces. That is what a Canadian Alliance government offers to Canadians when it comes into office. What we will do for the health care system is what the Liberals have failed to do. They have acted irresponsibly. Putting this kind of money back in at this point will simply be a band-aid solution to a growing problem.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.


Gordon Earle NDP Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to stand as the member for Halifax West and speak on behalf of my constituents to Bill C-45. I should indicate at the outset that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys.

Bill C-45 is an act respecting the provision of increased funding for health care services, medical equipment, health information and communications technologies, early childhood development and other social services, and to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act.

The bill came about as a result of the September 11 health deal that was reached between the federal government and the provinces. The bill is in two parts. The first part provides authority to make expenditures into a special $1 billion medical equipment trust, as well as a $500 million fund for information technology.

The second part of the bill authorizes an increase in transfer payments through the Canadian health and social transfer for social programs which are defined in the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act as programs in respect of health, post-secondary education, social assistance and social services, and early childhood education.

While the September 11 health deal is a step forward, and we admit that it is a small step forward, it really does not go far enough. When I say that it does not go far enough, I am not just giving my opinion on this. I have knocked on well over 1,000 doors within the past few months talking to the constituents of Halifax West. Many of the people to whom I have spoken have indicated to me that health care is still the number one issue for them. They feel that the present agreement of restoring the kind of funding that has been put back in does not go far enough to deal with the kinds of concerns and problems they have. They do not see any immediate relief to the many problems that they are facing: waiting for needed surgery, long line-ups, trying to obtain needed medications and so forth. They do not see any immediate relief to those problems in the deal that was worked out between the federal government and the provinces.

As an example of this I will tell the story about what happened at one of the doors that I knocked on. It was on a beautiful day just last week. The sun was shining and there was beautiful colour in the leaves in the maritime provinces. It was a nice day to go around getting to know the people within the riding of Halifax West. Up until the point when I knocked on that door, I was feeling pretty good.

After I had knocked on the door, a young man answered. I asked him if he had any special issues he wanted to discuss that related to the federal government or its programs. He said “Yes. Step inside for a minute”. I entered and right off the bat he started to tell me about his concerns with the health care system. He introduced me to his wife who was lying there. This young man was probably no more 30 years of age and his wife was probably around the same age. When he introduced his wife I saw this lady lying on a couch and the look of her belied her age. She looked much older than I knew she was. This was because the woman was dying of cancer at such a young age.

To hear this young man tell his story about his involvement with the health care system, about the trials and tribulations that he has gone through and about his concerns for his wife, just about brought tears to my eyes.

The interesting thing about this young man's story was that he was telling me his story not so much because he thought it would help his wife, as he knew her days were limited, but in the hope that it might help other people who find themselves in a situation where they need health care.

These are the kinds of things that we are seeing right across the country, the kinds of problems that we see coming because of the short-sightedness of the government in dealing with our health care system.

I can tell another story, about an elderly woman. She is the widow of a veteran who served our country proudly. On one occasion my wife and I visited this lady. We had a wonderful time having a cup of tea and chatting with her. Not too long ago I decided to call her up to see how she was doing. She told me “I am not doing too badly. I just came back from the hospital. I had been in the hospital for a while but now I need to have permanent nursing care on a daily basis. I need someone in my home with me on a daily basis”. Up to that point this lady had lived by herself in her home, a beautiful home in the Bedford area along the shore. She said “I do not know what I am going to do because I cannot afford this kind of care. I wonder if there is any way I can get any help”.

Since she was the spouse of a veteran I thought I could refer her to the veterans independence program under which she may qualify for some assistance. I gave her the name and the phone number and asked her to call. I asked her to let me know how she made out. Some time later I had not heard from her so I gave her a call just to see how things had worked out. She said “Well, the news is not so good. Unfortunately, my income is just beyond the threshold at which they cut people off for such assistance.” That is not a very high threshold. She then told me that she did not know what she was going to do. She said that she needed to pay for the service but that she would probably end up losing her home because she could not really afford the service.

When we look at Bill C-45 we see that it does not really deal with the kinds of concerns that Canadians have in the health care system. It does very little to address an overall plan for health care, and specifically, there are no initiatives pertaining to national home care, which is what this lady would benefit from, and pharmacare, which so many of our seniors are in need of.

When we talk about home care, I must say that even though the current government has gutted the health system and has not really put back the amount of money that is required, the amount of money that is being put back is less that it was in 1994, and this is the year 2000.

With that kind of gutting of the system, I must take my hat off to the people who are working in the system day in and day out with commitment and dedication and working against adverse circumstances to try to provide health care for their fellow human beings.

When I think about home care workers, I am honoured to indicate that Nova Scotia has dedicated this week as Home Support Workers' Week. Many people are recognizing and expressing their appreciation to the home care workers who help thousands of Nova Scotians get the quality of care service that they need in the comfort of their home and close to their family and friends. Home support workers are an essential part of the fabric of the health care in Canada.

As we look to reshape health care in Canada and hopefully begin to undo the damage wrought by years of health care cuts administered by Liberal and Conservative governments, we need to ensure that home care is properly funded, that the workers are properly supported and paid properly, and that they work in decent conditions.

The financial support for those needing home care—and I think of the lady I mentioned—must be made available. Home care workers offer experienced care, support, compassion and dignity to people within our communities. They are an integral part of the health care system, taking a lot of the responsibility and the weight off much needed hospital beds in today's system.

Those are some of the areas that Bill C-45 does not address. Those are some of the things that we must give attention to if we are going to make this health care system one of which we can continue to be proud.

While the bill is necessary, I guess, in the final analysis, and while the NDP does support the bill as a step in the right direction, it is really a small step forward in light of the giant steps backward taken by the Liberal government. Let me also make it perfectly clear that we feel the Liberal government has missed a golden opportunity to present a vision for the future of medicare and to advance a plan that would preserve and strengthen universal public health care.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.


Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague's very eloquent presentation and I must say that it is probably one of the most thoughtful presentations I have heard in the House for some time. I commend him on his thoughtfulness and the thoroughness of his research.

I will give a speech later in the day so I have some notes here. There must be a mistake in my notes because I remember that a few years ago there used to be a 50:50 balance. The federal government would put in 50% of the funding for health care and the province would put in 50% of the money. My notes say that the federal government now has reneged so much that it only allocates 13% of the total, which means the provinces have to pick up 80 some per cent and the federal government only picks up 13%.

Would my friend at least tell me my notes are wrong? If in fact the feds are only giving 13% of health care funding, that would be absolutely scandalous.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders



Gordon Earle NDP Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, despite the protestations I hear from the other side that my hon. colleague's notes are wrong, my research indicates accordance with his notes that the federal government is currently down to a low of around 13% in terms of the health care. It wants to talk about tax points and other things to try to accommodate that but we know full well that it falls far short of what is required to provide the kind of health care, home care and preventive measures which are so necessary today.

It is one thing to try to put a band-aid on a cut when it is bleeding and festering. It is another thing to try to get at the root cause and to prevent the illness in the first place. This is what adequate funding will do. We are calling upon the government to provide the kind of funding it used to, which was at least 50% of the cost of health care, and make a meaningful contribution to the well-being of our citizens.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2000 / noon


Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, I direct my comments to my Liberal friends sitting across the way. I assume they have been out door knocking like my friend from Halifax who indicated that he had been knocking on doors for the past number of weeks. I know I have and there is one thing that I found out at almost every door. Those who wanted to talk inevitably talked about health care and the abysmal state of our system. There were some people who did not want to talk or they were not at home or they could not talk.

I would say it is almost in a crisis situation. As a matter of fact, I suspect there is not a single member of parliament today who does not know someone personally in his or her family who has not been confronted with an inadequate health care system in terms of treatment. I know I certainly have. My parents are elderly and are sort of struggling all the time. They do not complain but they have had to wait weeks for tests and weeks to get into the hospital for a minor operation and so on. That is what one hears everywhere.

It is absolutely scandalous that the government has somehow gotten away with not taking responsibility for the problem. It has blamed it on provincial governments, not to say that they do not deserve some criticism. However, the reality is that it was this government that made those massive cuts to our health care system, which caused this problem from coast to coast to coast. That is fact number one.

Fact number two, as my friend from Halifax just verified, is that the federal government was supposed to throw in 50% of the funding for health care but is now contributing only 13%. That in itself is scandalous. Let us face it, when it throws in only 13% we can forget about national standards from coast to coast.

Forget about the same quality and standard of health care in British Columbia as one would find in Prince Edward Island or in Nova Scotia. That is not the case. We now have virtually 13 different health care systems. There are no serious national standards because the government puts such a minor amount of the money into health care that it cannot enforce national standards.

My friends across the way must be shaking in their boots as people are finding out what is happening in Alberta. There are 50 private health care clinics in the province of Alberta. Bill 11 opens the door now for an American style, two tier, for profit health care system. If we ask any real health care providers or any serious students of health care what they think, they will say that we are opening the door to a two tier for profit American style health care system, which is not what Canadians want. I do not think I have ever encountered a single Canadian who says he or she wants to be like the Americans when it comes to our health care system.

Perhaps, as my hon. friend reminds me, there are some parties in the House that feel comfortable with an American style health care system, but Canadians do not. People ought not to make profits on sickness, injury and suffering. That is what a private health care system does.

My friend who spoke just said that Bill C-45 was a small, baby step in the right direction. However, I would not say it is a baby step. This is more like a nudge forward. We have so much more to do. The government for the last two elections has promised Canadians a home care system. Do we have a one today? No, we have not. For the last two elections the Liberals promised a pharmacare program for Canada. Do we have a one? No, we do not.

The government goes to the electorate and says that if it elects the Liberals it will give the people a child care system but they do not do it. The next time they say that if the people elect them they will give them a home care system, but they do not do it. Or they say that if they elect them they will give them a pharmacare system, but they do not do it.

Canadians will eventually figure out that this is a group of folks they might want to be cautious of when they say that they will do this or that for them while really meaning they will do it to them. We will not have a child care system, a home care system, a pharmacare system or an elder care system. I hate to say it but unfortunately that is the reality. I wish I could say something different. I wish I could say that the government has provided health care and home care and so on, but I cannot.

Have members ever seen people trying to clap themselves on their backs using both hands and both feet? That would be quite a sight. That is what we have seen. We have seen people clapping themselves on the back and saying “Look how wonderful we are. We have restored funding”. That is not the case. The government has not restored proper funding for health care. It has restored funding to 1994 levels. The Liberals should wake up. This is not 1994. This is the year 2000. They have increased the funding to 1994 levels, which is a nice step, but what about 1995 levels? Populations were increasing and inflation was increasing. What about 1996? What about 1997? What about 1998? What about 1999? What about the year 2000?

Are we supposed to get excited that the government has dipped into the EI fund and into the federal pension fund to come up with moneys so it can increase federal health care spending to 1994 levels? Are we supposed to be cheering? Yet that is what we are expected to do, cheer. We are not cheering, nor will we cheer. We will say not only is it not enough money, but we have to look at the components of health care.

I think members would agree that we have to have a decent home care system in our country. We are an aging population. How many householders do we know of who do not have to be concerned about caring for an aging member of their family? Home care is a reality. To have a health care system in the 21st century without a home care component is just not possible.

We know the price of drugs. We know that the price of pharmaceuticals has been skyrocketing, particularly after the Mulroney government brought in protection for the drug companies, unfortunately supported by this government. We cannot help that. That is what we have. We need a pharmacare program because we know that seniors by the tens of thousands cannot afford the necessary prescription drugs which they require because we do not have a pharmacare program. We cannot have a modern 21st century health care program without having a pharmacare component in there.

We talk about elder care and child care. I know this is not necessarily part of this discussion. However, when we look at modern countries around the world, do they not have a national child care program? Of course they have. Do they not have a national home care program? Of course they have. If these countries can afford it, why on earth can we not afford it? We have these huge surpluses.

I know we have money to spend to build luxury holiday resorts. We have money to spend on building huge fantastic golf courses. As a matter of fact, I golfed on one this summer. I did not realize it was subsidized by the federal government and by the taxpayers of Canada. We have money for golf courses and luxury resorts but we do not have money for home care.

We heard a lot about the values of our society. The Prime Minister said that this would be an election about values. I hope it is. I think Canadians from coast to coast to coast will also hope that it is. What does it tell us about the values of a government that says it has money for luxury resorts, for golf courses and for fancy statues and fountains in the Prime Minister's riding but cannot afford health care in terms of home care, pharmacare, elder care and child care? It cannot afford these. It cannot even afford social housing.

I want to say that the Prime Minister lives in social housing. The Governor General of Canada lives in social housing. The Leader of the Opposition lives in social housing.

If we can afford social housing for the Leader of the Opposition and for the Prime Minister of Canada, we should have some social housing for people who actually cannot afford decent housing. It seems reasonable to me.

We have to start thinking about what kind of a country we want. Mr. Trudeau called this a just society and our goals should be a just society. The New Democratic Party supports this. We like the idea of a just society so that if we are sick or injured, it does not matter where we happen to be in Canada, we will have access to the top quality care. That is not the case today.

I appeal to my Liberal colleagues to be generous. We have a huge surplus of perhaps $20 billion before us. Invest some of that money in home care, in pharmacare, in elder care and in preventive care so that we can build the health care system of the 21st century that Canadians want, one that we can afford if we have the will to do it.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to take part in today's debate on Bill C-45.

I am not sure how to begin. We are obviously not going to deny the health care system more money because it needs it. There is no question that this is a cynical move on the part of the government on the eve of an election. That is really what drove the government to the bargaining table with the provinces, so it came up with a deathbed reprieve and put money into health care, money which it took out of the system over the last seven years after it came into office in 1993.

We heard on many occasions this morning about the dollars that the government has taken out. If we look at this, it has taken $24 billion out of the system. It projected taking out another $9 billion but was forced to back down on that. If the Liberals had their way, they would have taken at least $35 billion out of the system.

The money they are putting back into the system will bring us back to 1994 levels once the full value of the package kicks in. However, we are going to be waiting a number of years before we get there. Actually, by the year 2004, we will be back to the levels of spending of 10 years ago. It does not make sense but that has been the government's cynical approach to governing over the last number of years.

Now, on the eve of an election, the Liberals are suddenly wanting to rush this bill through the House. They are attempting to marginalize this place because the agreement was struck between the Prime Minister and the provinces. The House of Commons and parliament were not consulted on the best way to approach this. Now we are stuck again with a deathbed reprieve. That is what they are asking for.

This may be somewhat cynical but it will be 18 months before the payments actually kick in. It is not going to immediately repair the damage that they have inflicted on the system in the last seven years. The first amount of money comes in 18 months. It will not affect the lineups at the emergency wards during flu season. In fact, that might be one of the reasons the government members want to go to the polls early. They do not want to go through another winter of lineups at the emergency ward.

It is not going to stop the trips or the busing of Canadian citizens to the United States to receive cancer treatments. In my home province of New Brunswick we are taking cancer patients down to Bangor, Maine, for treatment because our system has been denied funding for the last seven years. We cannot afford to treat our own patients, so at a higher price per patient we are now shipping them to the United States. Does that make sense? Of course it does not, because basically they do not have a plan. They do not have a vision. They are devoid of ideas. “No ideas, no votes” should be the slogan in the next election.

The premier of New Brunswick put it best. Our share as a small province is about the same as that of Nova Scotia, I might add. It would be in the order of $16 million once the money kicks in. That would keep the system in New Brunswick running for all of 12 days once it gets its full share of the money. There are 365 days in a year so there is a big shortfall.

The health minister in New Brunswick expressed it another way. The moneys that would come to the province of New Brunswick, if it wanted to use them on a day to day basis would keep the system running 12 days. That is another way of putting it. The health minister, Mr. Furlong, said that money would pay off existing health corporation debt, debt that has been racked up over the years simply because of the money shortage and because of the lack of commitment by the federal government to fund health care. That responsibility rests at the doorstep of the Prime Minister.

In the last election, with the same kind of deathbed reprieve, he asked for forgiveness for taking a wrecking ball to health care. On the eve of the election he pumped a few billion dollars back into it to resurrect his political fortunes. Fortunately for the Prime Minister it worked. Unfortunately for the Canadian people it worked, because now we are victims of the same cynical process.

We only have to go back to the election of 1993 and the election of 1997. Let us remember red book one and red book two. I suppose we could call them fairy tale one and fairy tale two. I could quote from either one of the documents to make my point. In both those documents the present government made a commitment to health care. In two successive elections it reneged on that promise, not to mention its promise on the GST. We will forget about that one because that is another argument.

The revenues from the GST are making the government look pretty good today in terms of balancing the books and eliminating the deficit. Automatically we could extract $30 billion from the equation today as we stand in this place because of the revenues coming in from that hated tax, the tax the government was to axe when it got into office. It is seven years and waiting and we still have it.

If we take a look at the OECD report in terms of world economy and how Canada is faring, it credits the GST and the free trade agreement as the engines of the Canadian economy, the structural changes that we made along with deregulation and privatization to get the Canadian economy rolling. What do the Liberals do? They pick on the most vulnerable in society: the sick, the poor and the elderly. I could add the unemployed. They use the same technique of heavy handedness on the most vulnerable of all workers, our seasonal workers.

It was only a fight that we waged in this little corner of the House of Commons that forced them to back down. They took a position they could not sustain, especially on the eve of an election.

If this were six months after an election they would roll in for another three years or so. The plan of the Liberals is that they do not go to the people every four or five years. They go in three and a half years. They do not wait for the constitutional period a government is allowed. They go because of political expediency. They go because they are high in the polls. They are not going because their agenda has been filled or their red book promises have been fulfilled. They forget about red book one and red book two. They go on the trash heap of all trash heaps in terms of political promises.

This is like a crazy glue, Scotch tape approach to government. We can see them pasting together a platform that might work with the aid of crazy glue and Scotch tape. I hate to use the words Scotch tape in reference to the Liberals. I guess it is derogatory used in that sense. Their approach to government is basically ad hoc. They make it up as they go along, with no plan for the future.

There is no plan in the health bill. The plan is to get re-elected to impose the same kinds of draconian cuts. There are no guarantees in the bill that they will not do it six months after an election. How did they get away with it? They forced the provinces into a room and said either take the money or there is no money. This was the deal or no deal.

The Prime Minister basically asked how they would go back home and deny their people that money. That is old fashioned blackmail. That is what the government is used to. It got away with it for seven years. This will be the third election in seven years, with no other reason than political expediency for calling an election. The government's commitments to the Canadian people have yet to be filled.

They went back to trash heap and resurrected red book two from 1997. Where are the commitments to health care in terms of delivery of a home care program and a pharmaceutical program? They are lost somewhere out there in great Liberal propaganda land, nowhere to be seen. The government is hoping that Canadians will forget about it, but we will not forget about it. We will remind them exactly what the government has done or in this case not done on the health care file.

There is nothing there to be proud of. The premiers wrapped their arms around this in Ottawa at 24 Sussex. It is pretty hard to deny the Prime Minister on his turf. He would probably kick them out on the street if they did. The premiers went home and sobered up. I am saying that in a sincere sense. After having a chance to go through the document, every one of them said the document came up short of the mark. The Canadian Medical Association said it was $17 billion short of the mark. The government will continue on the same track if it is given the mandate. That should be a sobering thought for Canadians.

There is an old expression that there is nothing like a lynching in the morning to sober the mind. I am saying that is what the government will get because it is looking at a huge ocean of support, a mile wide, but unfortunately for it only about an inch deep. It will evaporate on the first day of the campaign. It will be a downhill trail for the government.

A few years ago David Peterson in Ontario suddenly called an election for no reason other than the fact that he was popular in the polls. The same thing will happen this time.

This is how the preamble should read to Bill C-45, because we are talking about fairy tales one and two. In other words, red book one is fairy tales edition one and red book two is fairy tales edition two. We are anxiously awaiting fairy tales three or a rerun of one or two. The preamble to red book three, if there is one, should go something like this: Once upon a time, long ago in a land far away, the benevolent king bestowed upon his et cetera.

It is a fairy tale in the making. It is not real. I guess the Liberal philosophy is, if it worked once we will do it again, if it worked twice we will do it again, but three times and the jig is up. The Liberals have no credibility on that file.

Let us talk about balancing the books. I see, the Secretary of State for International Financial Institutions here. He loves to get up, button his suit and boast about their financial record, conveniently forgetting that he stood on this side of the House and raged against the GST.

In a moment of weakness not too many months ago that same minister admitted we could not eliminate the GST and that some of their financial success was due to revenues generated by that instrument. I see the minister clapping. I appreciate that. It has taken him seven years to publicly acknowledge that in the House of Commons. I welcome questions from the minister as well.

Nurses have taken an awful pounding from the government, as have doctors. The government forgets about the commitment of Canadians to preserving health care: the nurses and doctors, the people cleaning hospitals, the instrument technicians and the people who work in cafeterias. Every one of them, from the top to the bottom, has been a victim of the government.

It will happen again. In addition to the five principles of the health care act, universality, portability, accessibility, et cetera, we are suggesting that we need the sixth principle of secure, defendable, dependable funding so that governments have a chance to plan.

A government cannot give everything to everybody all the time, but most Canadians deserve a road map, a plan of where the government is going, which would allow hospital corporations and provinces to budget and lay out plans that would be workable in a five to ten year period. We know what spending costs are doing in the health care field. Statistically we can forecast what the cost will be down the road in a number of years.

I am reading from a document of June 2000 that talks about the cost drivers. It predicts that annual provincial health care costs will rise to at least $85 billion in 10 years from the $54 billion of today. That is just on the health care side provincially. It also says that the long range outlook is even more stark. Provincial health care costs could rise by 247% in the next quarter century to $186 billion from today's $54 billion. Those are real numbers.

The government must acknowledge the fact that we are getting a deal on health care. We have a system that includes everyone. Every one of us is entitled to the publicly funded health care system.

In the United States the system is driven by litigation and private corporations, insurance companies being one of them, not to mention medical corporations or HBOs. Some 40% of all Americans are left out of their health care system because it is not publicly funded. A majority of the other 60% is getting services below a standard that would be acceptable, simply because it is driven by the private sector.

We do not want to see that type of system in Canada. The fact is that the Americans, as a percentage of GDP, pay more for a system that is completely broken than we pay in Canada. In GDP terms in the U.S. it is just slightly under 15%. In Canada we are slightly under 10%, more in the order of 9%.

It is a deal but it does not come without a cost. We acknowledge that, but we must have a commitment from the Government of Canada stating that, yes, it will have sustained funding and it will make sure the system works, and no, it will not subject people to the next round of budget cuts as has been done in the past.

There is nothing in this package, Bill C-45, that gives us any sense of relief or satisfaction that the Government of Canada has learned its lesson and that stable funding will be there. At the whim of the Prime Minister or the Minister of Finance acting on behalf of the Prime Minister and cabinet, the government could actually come in six weeks after the election and take a scalpel to health care again.

The principle we are standing by is the sixth one, sustained dependable funding, and adding it to the health care package or the five principles of health care so that there is a road map, a business plan. No one can run a business without a plan except the Government of Canada.

As I said originally in this debate, there are no ideas. The government is devoid of all ideas. There is no plan for the future. I think the Liberals' campaign slogan in this election should be “No ideas, no votes”. I would accept that.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Durham Ontario


Alex Shepherd LiberalParliamentary Secretary to President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to the hon. member's comments on this piece of legislation. He was talking about fairy tales earlier, and I was thinking about why we had budget cuts in the first place. It seems to me it was a government that the member's party was part of that brought us to a $40 billion annual deficit. That deficit, I very well remember, endangered not just the simple health of every Canadian in this country but the financial integrity of this country. It was this Liberal government that took up the cause to eradicate that problem.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

An hon. member

Thirty-two billion dollars of that debt belonged to Pierre Trudeau.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

Yes, there were some changes made, some unfortunate changes, and health care was one of them. Now we are happy to say that our financial house is back in order, that we in fact have surpluses and that we are able to share them with the provinces in this manner.

We must keep focused about just who administers the health care system. Canada has the fourth highest per capita spending on health care in the world. The member would say that we should spend more. That is not the answer because people are saying at the same time that we rate 18th in service delivery. That tells us a whole story, not of the federal government but of the provinces and territories that are responsible for administering the health care system.

That is why this legislation includes an accountability framework. It requires provinces to meet certain accountability targets, like how much money we are going to be spending in new technologies and buying MRIs, like how long the waiting lists are going to be and how we are making progress to improve health care for average Canadians. That is what this legislation is all about. The fairy tales the member was talking about were in his speech.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, not that I have to, but I would be willing to table the fairy tales, edition one and edition two, if the member would like to have them just as a reminder of what those members have said.

The member was not in the House in the eighties. Not once between 1988 and 1993 did the Liberals, including the Secretary of State responsible for International Financial Institutions, who is sitting in the House right now, or the finance minister, for that matter, ever stand up in the House and vote for anything that would reduce either the size or the cost of government, never.

When the Liberals left office in 1984 they bragged that they left the cupboard bare. They said that they had left the country in such financial destitution that the Conservative government could never recover and would never get re-elected. Surprise, we did. Basically they are reaping the rewards for a lot of tough things we did, things we had to do and were forced to do.

However, when they resort to hitting the most vulnerable in our society, the sick, the poor and the elderly, simply to balance their books, there is something wrong. There is something wrong when they have a $40 billion surplus in the EI fund which they want to use to pay down debt to balance the books. When the mini-budget comes out we can rest assured that they are going to lay down a lot of cash on the national debt right on the backs of the poor, the working poor, the sick and the elderly. The transfer of funds into health care, education and welfare has been decimated by the government and by no one else.

That is the sad legacy on which the Liberals are going to have to run the election. It is a record that I would not be particularly proud of. I do not think they are going to be able to stagger around too many parts of Canada promoting it.

Their latest hero to come on the scene is Captain Canada, all the way from Newfoundland. Perhaps we should call him Captain Kangaroo because he stood up in this kangaroo court called parliament and voted for these draconian cuts to health care that almost decimated his own province. He went back home and almost admitted the same, saying “I can go back home and fight as premier for this province and restore health funding”. He is the very man who stood up in the House and took it away. That is the phony of all phonys.

He is coming back now to save Canada. He is saving Canada only because the Prime Minister wants to keep Paul Martin off his back. It is a political game that even the Liberal caucus understands. Putting a man like that into cabinet—

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

As the hon. member for New Brunswick Southwest is well aware, we do not refer to each other except through our office. I understand there are other members wishing to get a question in edgewise.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.


Val Meredith Reform South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to see that the member from New Brunswick can read. He was giving us the Canadian Alliance platform just a minute ago.

What is the platform of the party he represents? None of us have seen anything in writing to this point.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is accusing me of not reading, but obviously she was not listening. One of the cornerstones of our platform will be the sixth principle of the Canada Health Act: secure funding so that provinces, even Alberta, even B.C., will know where they are down the road, so that they can plan.

Running a government or a country is no different from running one's own family or business. Mr. Speaker, you have been in business. You have a number of businesses on the go now, I think. You are an entrepreneur. You take risks. You do not get out of bed in the morning without some kind of plan as to where you are going or how you are going to do it. People must have a plan no matter how successful their business, no matter if the cash is flowing in by the barrel or the truckload. Mr. Speaker, you must have a plan for how you are going to reinvest or for where you are going. You just do not simply hand out money and think that it is going to work.

That is what the government is doing in this case. A deathbed reprieve is what it is looking for. “Here is the cash, do not get in my way, there is an election coming” is exactly what the Prime Minister is saying. He is saying “Just get lost, here is the money, do not make a peep. We can change it all tomorrow, but we are getting ready for an election and we do not want to talk about it. Take the money and run”. That is exactly what the government is doing.

I have a feeling that it is not going to work. Canadians are a bit too smart for that. As I said earlier, the Canadian people were duped once by red book one, twice by red book two, and the cut, paste and crazy glue approach to red book three is not going to work.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.


Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I do not think we need to debate in the House the record of the Mulroney Conservatives and the role they played in diminishing transfer payments to the point where in fact cash for health care would have completely dried up as we speak.

What we do need to address are the comments by the Liberal member in this debate that defend a deal which in fact does nothing more than put back the cash transfers the government took out in 1995. It does not even ensure that those moneys flow immediately. It makes provision for some money to flow a year from now. It does not even increase the base from which to build for the future.

The real issue here is how anyone can justify a government maintaining federal funding at a low rate of 13% despite being in this surplus position.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is usually kind except when she gets onto this. How can I express this in a generous way? The point is, I take exception to some of what she said, but in terms of the government and their track record on this issue I could not agree more with her.

In all seriousness, the Canadian people are becoming just a little bit cynical about a government running by the seat of its pants. It will come down to ideas and a commitment to doing the job the way it has to be done in civilized society.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

New ideas.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

Yes, with some new ideas, ideas that will to challenge us, where the government meets the challenges head on.

These people have never spent any political capital on ideas, have they?

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

An hon. member