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House of Commons Hansard #70 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-16.

Topics

Canadian Human Rights Commission

10:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I have the honour to lay upon the table the annual report of the Canadian Human Rights Commission for 1999.

Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to three petitions.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Liberal Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present pursuant to Standing Order 31, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association to the OSCE, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, parliamentary assembly standing committee meeting in Vienna, Austria, on January 13 and 14 of this year.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

March 23rd, 2000 / 10:10 a.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to its mandate under Standing Order 108(3)(a)(vi), I have the honour to present the 22nd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs concerning additional issues raised during the committee's consideration of Bill C-2, the Canada Elections Act.

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Reform

Jim Pankiw Reform Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-459, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (withholding of tax by employers and others).

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce this bill entitled an act to amend the Income Tax Act (withholding of tax by employers and others).

The purpose of this enactment is to remove as from January 1, 2001, the requirement that employers and all others making payments to a taxpayer that is subject to taxation must withhold from the payment an amount estimated as the taxpayer's tax obligation and remit it to the government.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Reform

Jim Pankiw Reform Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-460, an act to amend the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Act in order to protect the legal definition of marriage by invoking section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce this bill entitled an act to amend the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Act in order to protect the legal definition of marriage by invoking section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The purpose of this enactment is to legally define marriage as being a union between one man and one woman as husband and wife and will protect the legal definition of marriage from challenge in the courts under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in section 33.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Statutory Instruments ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Reform

Jim Pankiw Reform Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-461, an act to amend the Statutory Instruments Act (regulatory accountability).

Mr. Speaker, this bill, an act to amend the Statutory Instruments Act (regulatory accountability), would increase regulatory accountability by causing the government through the designated minister to refer all delegated legislation to a committee for consideration.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, this petition asks that parliament take all necessary measures to ensure that the possession of child pornography remains a serious criminal offence.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Reform

Maurice Vellacott Reform Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition today containing a total of 2,862 signatures.

The petitioners object to the violation of the rights of religion and freedom of conscience by those in the health care profession where they have been stripped of those rights. They cite examples of hospitals where nurses are forced to assist in abortion against their deeply held religious and moral convictions and some have lost their jobs in this matter.

They call on parliament to enact legislation against such violations of conscience rights by administrators in medical facilities and educational institutions.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Reform

Maurice Vellacott Reform Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have another petition with respect to the status of pornography in certain provinces in our country.

Two hundred and twenty nine petitioners express their horror that pornography depicting children is now legally allowed within our country and is not regarded as criminal.

They ask for the enactment and enforcement of the criminal code provisions to protect those most vulnerable in society from sexual abuse. They ask that all measures be taken such that possession of child pornography would remain a serious criminal offence.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Reform

Maurice Vellacott Reform Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, my last petition is on the matter of taxes.

The petitioners are asking that something serious be done about the high taxes that we have, which have grown over the course of time. They call on parliament to give Canadian taxpayers a break by instituting tax relief of at least 25% in federal taxes over the next two years starting with the next federal budget.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Oak Ridges, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the pleasure of presenting a petition with regard to amending the Divorce Act to include a provision, as supported in Bill C-367, with regard to the right of grandparents to access or custody of children.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from February 24 consideration of 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, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Canadian Institutes Of Health Research ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-13. This bill will benefit the whole community in terms of our quality of life.

What we are talking about this morning is the establishment of health research institutes so that research is better coordinated and better organized and that health research can benefit from increased funding.

The purpose of these institutes of health research is to replace the Medical Research Council and to provide additional funding for health research to the tune of $500 million over three years.

The bill before us responds to recommendations made by a temporary committee made up of 34 members from the scientific and academic community.

I would like to remind hon. members of what the health research institutes will be. They will replace the Medical Research Council. They will have the very broad mandate of carrying out research in order to make health research a cutting edge sector, as was done with the communications sector in 1990.

What the Medical Research Council wanted, and what it called for, was for medical research to be given a lead role so that research could be carried out in response to the new market realities.

We are very much in favour of the creation of the Institutes of Health Research, let there be no ambiguity about that. The Bloc Quebecois accepts the legitimate right of these institutes to be created. Various points have been raised by various people, leading to the bill we have before us today.

It is said that these research institutes will not be centralized bricks-and-mortar facilities. They are virtual institutes. This will make it possible for researchers, academics, hospitals and various research centres in Canada to exchange information.

The Bloc Quebecois agrees with and supports the establishment of these virtual research centres. We know that no decision has yet been reached on the type of institutes to be created; the task force has listed a number of themes, however. They are 150 in all, and I will mention just a few of them: ageing, genome, technology and clinical assessment, heart disease, stroke, musculo-skeletal development. All of these sectors are of daily concern to the public, for instance cancer and new diseases.

The stakes are very high. We also know that people live longer. Consequently, we will have to be able to deal with these problems and to ensure this system is well implemented, allowing researchers to respond to the demand. They will also be able to know what is being done in the field of research elsewhere, in Canada and in other countries.

I do not want that there be any ambiguity in the willingness of the Bloc Quebecois to support the different high technology sectors in the research and development field.

We are in favour of this multidisciplinary approach. We know very well how it could promote science. All researchers want these virtual institutes to be implemented. The objective is to create between 10 and 15 research institutes, and their funding will be doubled over the next three years. There is a great demand for funds.

I have attended the meetings of the Standing Committee on Health. We know that researchers are all looking for funding so that more advanced research can be done. Operations are supposed to start on April 1, 2000. This is a deadline to which researchers and the federal government are hanging on.

We in the Bloc Quebecois are very vigilant. We wish April 1, 2000 will be the deadline so that things can get under way. However, we are very touchy about the wording of this bill, which clearly infringes on provincial health jurisdictions.

With regard to the support of the budget increase, we commend the effort the bill reflects. As for the communication of health information, this is where there is a great difference in the wording of Bill C-13. What bothers us is the words that are used.

We submitted several amendments to ensure that the institutes would only communicate information on health and would not get involved into the management side of the health sector, because this would be going beyond the communication of information, which is what Bill C-13 is all about.

In its current form, the bill squarely infringes on the jurisdiction of the provinces in the health sector. The bill goes beyond promoting research. It contains several references to health related issues that come exclusively under the jurisdiction of the provinces. The bill does not recognize responsibilities of the provinces. It makes mere actors of them and the organizations and people who are involved in health.

It gives national mandates to the institutes, without the provinces' involvement. This is dangerous because it is the provinces that have responsibility over health and its management.

The Bloc Quebecois cannot support such a measure. I am aware of the pressure to make the Bloc Quebecois look like a spoilsport, like a troublemaker, but we must look at the long term implications of such a bill. In its current wording, it would support the federal government's intention to set national standards, to apply a certain type of management and to prioritize certain processes in health.

We are well aware that research and development fall into the federal government's residual powers. The Bloc Quebecois agrees with that. It is the federal government's role to help the provinces with research and development so that they can thrive.

However, we cannot accept that, through some tricks, the federal government would use this legislation to centralize all the decisions made in the health sector. Indeed, the bill provides many opportunities for direct infringement on the provinces' jurisdiction in health, this without any consultation.

That is why the Bloc Quebecois is proposing amendments. If the federal government really wants to discuss seriously with the provinces, if it agrees to respect the autonomy of the provinces, then it will accept these amendments by the Bloc Quebecois so that we can come to an understanding and move ahead when the April 1 deadline arrives. Our constituents are lobbying to have this bill adopted.

However, we also have to be careful because we know what the government has done with the Canada social transfer, deep cuts to transfers to the provinces. It had announced $48 billion worth of cuts and $30 billion have been cut since 1993. Each time the government hands out a paltry $2.4 billion, it tells us that it is investing in health. It is not investing in health at all. The only thing it is doing is reducing the cuts that were announced.

It is very important to look at this bill. The government should be working with the Bloc Quebecois and all the other opposition parties to give full jurisdiction to the provinces in matters of health and confine itself to the flow of information and the networking of virtual health and research institutes.

I know that this is a truly important social issue. The Bloc Quebecois has said so on many occasions and I say so again this morning. I hope that the government will act in good faith because we are. We would not want our communities, our researchers and our universities to be penalized. We would not want to be considered as not wanting funds to go to health and research. This is not at all what we want to achieve by our amendments. We only want to further define the role of the Canadian government in health.

Canadian Institutes Of Health Research ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will not be taking my full 10 minutes but I will make a few comments about the importance of this act.

I have been approached by many people in the medical community in the Ottawa area who, before the government decided to proceed with this initiative, have lobbied and written letters to the Minister of Health, as well as to government officials and their members of parliament, demanding that the government initiate and introduce such an initiative.

I am delighted to see the government responding to the needs of the community and establishing this particular institute. This will set an example for other fields where we could bring together institutions, people who are on the front lines, different levels of government, agencies and the private sector so they can collectively work in the best interests of the public.

I was quite surprised that we did not have such an institute a long time ago. Given the kind of confederation and the kind of arrangement we have in Canada, one would think that this would have been the most obvious thing that we would have done 15 or 20 years ago, where would would have an agency that would look at best practices, that would exchange information and that would disseminate information across the country, and an agency where we would look at what others are doing in different fields around North America and, for that matter, all around the world.

I would say that it is high time. Finally we have something being put in place that will achieve what should have been done many years ago. To that extent I think the Minister of Health, as well as the government, is to be commended for taking this bold initiative and finally introducing what will be a step in the right direction.

I would say it is one of the finest initiatives in the area of research and development at the national level, particularly in the medical community. All we have to do is look at some of the institutes and some of the organizations in our own backyard here in the national capital region where we have some of the best pioneers in the whole world.

The World Heart Corporation is a perfect example of co-operation between the public and the private sector. We have the Heart Institute. We have leading professionals working with the Heart Institute in conjunction with the University of Ottawa and the private sector. They put their brain power and their resources together collectively and are now in the process of moving ahead with some of the finest devices anywhere in the world that will change the way we conduct ourselves and will save thousands of lives all across the world.

Initiatives like these would not happen if we did not have the kind of co-operation and the kind of cohesive exchanges of information and partnership between the public and private sectors.

The institute that the government is about to introduce and enact will facilitate more things like that, will bring together more people who have similar aspirations, similar views, similar talent, similar hopes and similar objectives. It will put them together so we can move forward and we can keep Canada on the leading edge in those areas.

I would say that despite all of the deficiencies that we have in our health care system, despite all of the problems that we encounter, we still have one of the finest systems anywhere in the world. I want to commend all those who are involved in trying to revitalize the health care system by trying to inject more blood into it, one might say. It is my hope that we do not lose sight of the fact that we have something that is good. But in thinking it out, what we need to do is bring our resources together so we can keep it healthy, so we can move forward with a system that continues to be the envy of the world.

It does not matter where we go, whether we go to Asia-Pacific, whether we go to Europe, whether we go to Africa or whether we go to the south side of the border, people always use the health care system here in Canada as an example of a system that is good and as an example of a system that responds to the needs of the people.

Now that we are faced with a challenge, which is to keep the health care system for the next 50, 100 and perhaps thousands of years, if we want to keep the system responding to the needs of Canadians we have to work collectively, but we have to work objectively. We have to work in a positive way, not a negative way. We have to find solutions that will respond to the needs of the people, rather than moving away and creating a two-tier system and start shooting at each other and undermining the system.

To the extent that this debate is taking place, it is my hope that it will be a positive one, that it will be a constructive one and that it will be an objective one.

I commend my colleagues on the opposition side for standing to support the government initiative on the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Act. It is my hope that we will push it through quite fast so it will become a reality as quickly as possible.

Canadian Institutes Of Health Research ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise after the speech by the member for Québec and speak to Bill C-13 on Canadian Institutes of Health Research at report stage.

This bill presents us with a paradoxical situation and I think that the member for Québec has expressed it very well. The Bloc Quebecois agrees with the principle of the bill as drafted, but will not be able to support it because it runs counter to certain fundamental aspects of the Canadian constitution.

I was listening to the comments on the bill by the member from the Ottawa area who spoke just before me.

I would say that, purposely or otherwise, the government has had an incomprehensible memory lapse when it comes to a document that I think is fundamental and essential: the Canadian constitution. It is the mother of all statutes, the ground rules under which we operate.

The Liberal party is approaching the debate as though this basic document governing our daily lives did not exist.

According to the Liberal government, there is one way of thinking in this country, the Liberal party way, one way of doing things, the Liberal party way, and one way of acting, the Liberal party way.

As a background to Bill C-13 and with all due deference, I am going to remind the House of the existence of the document written and adopted in 1867, which was reworked and re-adopted without Quebec's consent in 1982.

As the member for Quebec pointed out, and as the member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve so eloquently explained, we are not opposed to the principle of Bill C-13, but to its basic values.

The government is proposing to replace the Medical Research Council with Canadian Institutes of Health Research. We noticed that and it is fine with us. This consensus is based on recommendations made by an interim committee composed of 34 members of the scientific and academic community.

I am sure neither our critic nor any Bloc Quebecois member would ever want to suggest that we know the conditions that should govern the Canadian institutes of health research better than the 34 leading experts who looked at the issue.

Our objections concern the legal and constitutional aspects of the bill, not with terms, because these 34 people coming from the scientific community and academia have done a tremendous job.

The Bloc Quebecois also cannot help but welcome, as my colleague from Québec said, the budget increases for research and development. We think that this bill is innovative in many regards, particularly with regard to ethical discussions that promote a multidisciplinary approach.

The governing council will have enough freedom to adapt easily and quickly to the constant changes in the area of research, which are occurring at an ever increasing pace, due to innovation. The legislation required should not provide a very rigid framework but some room for manoeuvre, and we should trust the Canadian leading experts who did a tremendous job in that regard.

At long last, the government is acting to increase its investments in research and development, as the OCDE had been asking since 1993. However, as I explained earlier, the Liberal government is ignoring provincial jurisdictions; it wants to intrude in these jurisdictions, not only in Quebec but also in all the provinces of Canada. We are simply asking the government to comply with section 92 of the Constitution of Canada, which deals with power sharing.

As my colleagues from Québec and Hochelaga—Maisonneuve said earlier, this bill has forgotten provinces by not recognizing their authority in their own jurisdiction.

In 1867, it was easy to leave health to the provinces because it was an expensive area which did not bring in any money. Today, now that health has become a priority for the public, the federal wants to come back. We are only asking that it comply with the constitution.

With this bill, the role of the provinces is being reduced to that of mere actors, like any other stakeholder. The provinces—and I repeat it for the Liberals, who unfortunately tend to forget it—have a specific jurisdiction in the area of health, yet they are treated like any other health organization or stakeholder.

The creation of health research institutes is not the problem. The Bloc supports the increase in funding for research and the establishment of health research institutes. However, Canada does not invest enough in research and we ought to invest more if we want to remain competitive and be leaders in research and development.

I wish to underline the excellent performance, both in medicine and research, of the University of Sherbrooke, which made a clean-sweep of all Canadian first awards in the medical area. It must be recognized that, in medicine as well as in research, Canada and Quebec are doing pretty well. But we must make sure that the necessary financial resources are made available, because the human resources necessary to carry on are already available.

Again, the problem is the serious risk of direct encroachment on provincial jurisdiction in the area of health services to the population, without any consultation with the provinces.

With the establishment of the Canadian institutes of health research, the federal government is clearly grabbing the power to impose its priorities and views in health matters and is going well beyond the area of research. It is imperative for the government to respect the specific expertise and strengths of the research scientists in each region, to allow them to use their skills in their area of expertise and to be as successful as possible.

That is why the Bloc Quebecois has moved a series of amendments whose purpose is to reaffirm the primacy of the provincial jurisdiction in health matters; it also stresses the importance of respecting the jurisdictions. Many organizations in Quebec applied for grants to the interim council of the Canadian institutes of health research, and it is extremely important that Quebec get its fair share of research and development funds.

We must be on the leading edge in these areas to move ahead into the 21st century and to ensure the growth and economic development of Quebec and Canada. The federal government must address the problem of the inadequate funding of research, by making more funds available to research scientists and academics to allow them to complete their work.

We, in the Bloc Quebecois, have said repeatedly that we support the idea of new investments in research and development and we want even more such investments. But there is one thing we cannot accept, and that is the establishment of Canada-wide standards and the infringement on provincial jurisdictions. If the federal government wants to interfere in provincial matters, it is imperative and necessary that the provinces be fully involved in the selection and management of the institutes.

The government claims that it wants to promote the health of Canadians, but one must not forget that, in the past, it cut transfer payments to provinces for health, education and social services, but mostly for health. We agree that investment in research is important, but let us not forget that a lot of money has been brutally and irresponsibly taken from the provinces. That funding must be restored to them immediately.

The government says it is reinvesting in health services offered by the provinces—I do not want to talk about the billions and billions of dollars bandied about, because the public has difficulty understanding the full scope of the cuts that were made. I will put it this way: it is as if $100 worth of cuts were made or will be made, but then we were told “We will give you back $20 and we will cut only $80”. And we are supposed to be happy because we got back $20 on the $100 that were cut without our permission.

We cannot let the federal government invade provincial jurisdictions again, and we cannot continue to ignore the cuts to transfer payments that are causing very serious problems in the area of health.

I hope that the House will pass the amendments moved by the Bloc Quebecois so that our researchers and scholars will have access to the funds they need so much and that, I repeat, in conclusion, provincial jurisdictions will be not be invaded.

Canadian Institutes Of Health Research ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I must inform the House that the Chair made an error in recognizing the hon. member for Repentigny. He had already spoken to this group of amendments. This is an error, not a precedent.

Is the House ready for the question?

Canadian Institutes Of Health Research ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Canadian Institutes Of Health Research ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on Motion No. 1. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canadian Institutes Of Health Research ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canadian Institutes Of Health Research ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Canadian Institutes Of Health Research ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.