Madam Speaker, I rise with pleasure today to talk about Bill C-13, an act to establish the Canadian institutes of health research and to repeal the Medical Research Council Act. I agree with the objective of the bill and the new Canadian institutes of health research. Before I speak to the bill which I am pleased to support, I want to take a moment to speak about the decorum in the House and what has happened.
When I came in here earlier this morning a member from the Bloc was speaking about the bill. The member said it was a very important bill for Canada. I listened to the hon. member's speech. I would hope that Bloc members would show the same respect for all members of the House.
I understand the Bloc members are upset about closure being brought in at the committee stage on the clarity bill but that does not give them the right to derail the entire House. It is okay to take a stand on a bill and I acknowledge we did it on the Nisga'a bill. However it does not mean that they should try to derail the whole House and cause problems on every single bill over their one issue. I appeal to the Bloc members to give all members of the House including those on the government side the respect to be heard on this bill. It was very important to say that at the outset.
Why is this bill so important? At first glance one wonders whether it will create another billion dollar boondoggle. On really looking at the bill I agree with the concept of what it is trying to do. It is putting money back into medical research. It is very important that we make this investment. It will also help stem part of the brain drain by making this investment in our scientific community and will put the resources into medical research. The intent is correct.
The Canadian institutes of health research appear to have a precise game plan with the sole intention of promoting research. There are couple of qualifications. First, there is little time available to consult the scientific community for input on research projects that are to be undertaken. It is important to make sure that the scientific community is targeted. Second, I have some concerns that the president of the Canadian institutes of health research may bypass recommendations of the governing council and simply appoint people to the advisory councils based on individual choice rather than their qualifications. I say that because of what we have seen historically in that appointments become much more political.
When one reads the bill it does appear that the appointments will be independent and made at arm's length from the federal government. I applaud that and hope that will be carried out. Of course, we will not know until the bill is passed and we see the appointments but that issue seems to be addressed. Again, I point these concerns out because it is very important that the institutes operate independent of the government.
I wish I could say that was the case at HRDC. This all ties together. It is government grants going out as subsidies. Again, I think it has to happen in scientific research. That is an important role the government must play and that is why I support that. But we must make sure that the money gets to where it is supposed to be and is done in a non-partisan way.
Unfortunately we have seen the billion dollar boondoggle at HRDC. Not only that, it is the whole culture that flows through all levels of many government departments. I personally witnessed it with the TAGS program and the fisheries in Atlantic Canada. The federal government paid $2.8 billion for fishermen to stay at home and wait for the fish to come back. The government did not achieve any of the desired goals. We have seen it in Indian affairs, CIDA, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the list goes on and on.
I point out these concerns because if this is to work and we make this investment in our scientific community, we have to make sure it is done in a non-partisan way. The government has addressed that in the bill. That is why I intend to support it but it is important that we follow up and make sure that it happens.
All grant money should be administered that way. The new Canadian institutes of health research will replace the Medical Research Council which until now has not been accountable. It has not worked and that is why there must be a change. It is very important that the money is fully accounted for and transparent. This is the first step in making that happen.
We have seen in the past and on the front page of every paper for a month concerning HRDC, that it has not been accounted for. Most important it has not been transparent. Canadians are wondering where their tax dollars are going. I hear over and over again from people in my riding and in the medical community that it is very important that we make investments in research. That is an appropriate goal for government but it has to be transparent. It has to ensure that the public has access to where the money is going.
That is only one aspect. I wanted to raise it because I believe this can play an important role in curbing the problem of the brain drain. I have talked about this before in the House. This issue is very dear to me. Some of our best and our brightest in particular in the areas of health, engineering and the high tech sector are going south.
It is worth noting that we need that private sector and government partnership. The bill addresses that. It brings in the private sector for that partnership aspect. It is a very important component. I encourage the government to look at that in all ministries and departments. If we are going to help stem the brain drain, I absolutely fundamentally believe we need to lower taxes, but we also have to allow the private sector to create the jobs. It is not a role government can play.
We have to make investments in the scientific community. However, in other areas such as industry, and areas of grants where there is no transparency and accountability, that is not working. The private sector has a very important role to play.
I commend the government for the bill. I support it. It is very important. We are putting money into scientific research. It appears the government has tried to keep it at arm's length and I applaud that. It appears that 95% of the resources will go to front line research and that only 5% will be used for administration. I applaud the government. It is an encouraging first step. It will help reduce the brain drain. Hopefully when the bill passes, this will happen.
We can apply this whole concept to other ministries such as HRDC. We need to invest in our people but it cannot be a political fund which is used to buy votes. That culture has grown and grown and grown. We need to change that.
I will be supporting this very important bill. I look forward to seeing the results and to our scientific community benefiting from these so very important research dollars.