Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-45, the bill dealing with health care funding.
The bill would ratify and implement the deal between the provinces and the federal government. We respect the fact that the provinces did reach an agreement with the federal government to increase funding and we support that. The Canadian Alliance supports increasing funding for health care, but we do not pretend that will solve the problem with health care. We do not believe that is the case.
Just because we support the bill does not mean that we will just let it pass all in one day. The Prime Minister in question period today said that if the bill did not pass by Friday, because the opposition wanted to talk about it or maybe some government MPs wanted to talk about it, then we were against health care. That is not the case.
Opposition members and government members want to speak on the bill because we have things we want to say on health care. We want to make the point that more money will not completely solve the problem. We want to make the point that the amount of money the government has agreed to put back into health care through the legislation and through its agreement with the provinces will not restore health funding by the amount it has cut over the last few years. It is absolutely absurd for the Prime Minister to say that if we do not agree with the bill and if we do not pass it immediately then we are against health care.
I remind the Prime Minister of a few facts about the legislation. One fact is that a bill of this magnitude has received less than six hours of debate in the House. Yet the Prime Minister said that if we did not pass it today we were against health care. The Prime Minister really does not understand the democratic process. He does not understand that the House is a place for debate. This House is a place where we should bring out different views on issues, especially on important issues like health care.
Debate on the bill was first called for on October 5. This was less than three and a half years into the government's mandate. The government has been in place for seven years. Yet the Prime Minister said if we did not let this pass we were against health care. We will tell that to Canadians. That is not right.
The Prime Minister is asking for the members of the House to break the rules of the House. That is what he called for in question period today. That is not right. We should have time to talk about the bill. We should not just pass it on through. We should give Canadians a chance to know what this piece of legislation is about.
The legislation is about ratifying the provincial-federal agreement on health care. It is about returning only part of the funding that the government reduced over its seven year mandate. It is not as wonderful a thing as the government makes it out to be. There is no increase in funding. This only returns part of the funding that the government cut over the past few years.
Does that mean we will hold up this legislation? Absolutely not. In fact, as far as I am concerned we can allow this to pass second reading in the next few minutes and get on to the rest of the process.
There is no reason that we cannot pass this bill over the next few weeks. We do not want to hold it up. We respect the fact that the provinces have reached an agreement with the federal government. The legislation would ratify the agreement so that the money could be paid out, but we are looking for proper debate on the issue.
It is ironic that the Prime Minister said that if we did not agree to pass this legislation immediately we were somehow against health care. If we look at the government's legislative calendar for the next three weeks, Bill C-45 is not even on the legislative calendar. That is the level of priority the Prime Minister gives to this piece of legislation. If the Prime Minister feels that the bill is important, as I think it is, and wants the bill to be dealt with in a quick fashion, then he should talk to the House leader and get him to put it on the legislative calendar as a top priority item. He has not done that.
Again, we are here to talk about ratifying this deal. Does the Canadian Alliance support passing Bill C-45? Yes, we do. We believe that restoring some of the funding which the Liberals cut from the provinces to fund health care is the right thing to do. We say they should restore all of the funding that they cut from the provinces over the past seven years of their mandate. We say this deal is not good enough. We say it is only a start.
When we form the government it will only be a start. We will not only focus on funding, we will focus on actual solutions to the problems in health care. We respect the jurisdiction of the provinces in health care. Under the Canadian constitution the provinces have jurisdiction over health care. We also respect the Canada Health Act.
Today in question period, the Leader of the Opposition said “Let us add a sixth pillar to the Canada Health Act”. That pillar would be guaranteed funding for the provinces. The provinces could then rely on getting a certain level of funding committed to and guaranteed by the federal government so that the federal government could not decide some time in the future to cut back, slash and burn health care funding. That is what the Liberals have done over the past seven years. We want a sixth pillar to health care which says we will guarantee funding over the long run.
How many Canadians know that when medicare was first agreed to back in the 1960s, the level of funding of the federal government was more than 50%? The provinces signed onto the deal because the federal government was committed to this level of funding. Have successive Liberal and Conservative governments respected that commitment? No, they have not. Now the federal government only funds somewhere around 13% of the cost of health care. It has absolutely reneged on the deal that a Liberal government committed to back in the sixties.
The Liberals reneged on the deal that the Liberal government committed to in the sixties. They reneged on the commitment to the Canadian people and to the premiers of the provinces back when the provinces agreed to publicly fund health care. That is just not right. That is why the Leader of the Opposition today stood in the House and said “Let us put that sixth pillar of health care in place”, and that would be—