House of Commons Hansard #36 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was children.


Judges ActGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.


Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois members are in favour of the motion.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.


Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the NDP members present in the House will vote against the motion.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Progressive Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative members support the motion.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Division No. 38Government Orders

6:40 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill is referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Division No. 38Adjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, on February 2, I asked the Minister of Health a question about the critical shortage of MRI scanners in Canada today.

I referred to the example of Ontario where the wait lists have increased to 12,000 people per year. In Ottawa hospitals alone the waiting list is 7,000 individuals. This is but one example of the critical shortage of essential medical services available to Canadians today. It is merely the tip of the iceberg of a much larger problem of the lack of access to health care.

It is a profound tragedy that today there is an expanding gap between the resources and the demand. The situation is only getting worse. For example, in my province of British Columbia between 1998 and 1999, the waiting lists for a knee replacement increased by 69% and for hip replacements by 90%.

Across the board Canadians are not getting access to health care. The reason is we have more expensive technologies and an aging population. The population over the age of 65 will double in the next 20 years. The outcome of this will be that the government will be forced to ration. As a result of that, the poor and middle class will pay the heavy price of the lack of access to essential health care services.

It may be fine for us to stick our heads in the sand and believe that we only have a small problem or to throw money at the situation and believe it will be resolved. The absolute inaction of the government and its failure to work with the provinces is hurting the poor and middle class.

In the hospital where I work, the waiting time to see an orthopaedic surgeon is three and a half years. Imagine if we were the patients who needed a total knee replacement. Imagine if we had twisted a knee or tore a ligament in our knee which required a scope. Imagine having to wait three and a half years just to see the orthopaedic surgeon.

We have to make some changes. I am proposing that the government do the following. For heaven's sake, act. The government is not acting on this or having a rational debate on the most important issue affecting Canadians.

I beg the government to do the following. Call together the public health care professionals, intellectuals and academics to build a plan to save our health care system, dealing not only with the issue of how we fund health care but also with the medical manpower crisis. With respect to surgeons, 42% of them are over the age of 55. With respect to gynaecologists and neurosurgeons, 40% of them are over the age of 55.

We have a critical lack of medical manpower in all medical specialities. We will have a lack of 110,000 nurses in the next ten years. This would be almost palatable if we saw action on resolving this issue. but unfortunately we do not see it.

Again, I plead with the government to pull together its provincial counterparts and sort these problems out now. It could develop a plan of action to deal with the funding crisis. It could develop the best practices from around the world. Prevention could be looked at.

The government could implement the national headstart program which the House passed in 1998. It is a pragmatic solution that will save people's lives and a great deal of money. It focuses on making sure the children have their basic needs met in the first six to eight years of life. As a result there will be a massive decrease in the demands that we place on our health care system.

In closing, I would ask for the help of the Government of Canada to act on this issue.

Division No. 38Adjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies Québec


Yvon Charbonneau LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell our colleague the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca that the government is fully aware that in some regions of the country access to medical equipment is a problem.

This is why the government created a $1 billion medical equipment fund last September, in order to enable the provinces and territories to buy and install diagnostic and treatment equipment.

These funds, which were allocated on an equal per capita basis, have been made available through a trust arrangement since October 23, 2000. As of last week Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba and British Columbia have already withdrawn their full allocation, but not the other provinces.

Judging by recent announcements made in Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario, it is quite clear that diagnostic equipment, including magnetic resonance imaging equipment, is a high priority for many provinces.

As part of the first minister's agreement in September 2000, governments committed to providing appropriate and timely access to diagnostic treatment services. This $1 billion infusion of funds, specifically for medical equipment, is in addition to the substantial increase in cash transfers to the provinces and territories by more than $21 billion over the next five years.

Since the administration and delivery of health care services is clearly the responsibility of the provinces and territories, each government will determine its priorities with regard to investments in medical equipment. In keeping with the accountability provisions of the first ministers' agreement and of the trust fund, provinces will report publicly on the use of these funds.

The Government of Canada views timely access to needed diagnostic and treatment services as a high priority.

Division No. 38Adjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Canadian Alliance Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, March 2 I asked the Minister of the Environment an important question. The minister was not here and neither was his junior minister which is unacceptable. Here is the background to my original question, and I still want an answer.

On February 17 the minister unfairly compared the gas fired cogeneration plant in Campbell River on Vancouver Island with the proposed Sumas 2 plant in Washington state. The minister incorrectly stated that the Vancouver Island plant was ten times as polluting per unit of power and that the province of B.C. should do better.

The minister criticized the province as if he did not know that as part of a thorough environmental review, his own officials were part of the project approval. I have the approval letter right here. It is from Environment Canada, dated February 25, 1998 and is addressed to the provincial environment office. It says that:

—we would not disagree with...recommending they issue a project approval certificate for this project.

I would say that is a pretty strong endorsement.

The $220 million Campbell River plant was approved in 1998 and construction is now complete. It is scheduled to go operational next month, and now the minister is criticizing it.

The real facts are as follows. The polluter label does not apply because this project will, in combination with boiler shut downs at the pulp mill, reduce overall nitrous oxides, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide from current levels.

The new steam source means that Elk Falls can shut down two wood-oil fired burners and reduce the use of a gas fired boiler. This reduces the mill energy requirements and total emissions. In addition, sulphur emissions were originally projected based on a much higher sulphur content in the natural gas supply locally than has been demonstrated to be the actual case. The Vancouver Island plant compares very favourably for sulphur dioxide emissions once this correct sulphur content is taken into account.

The minister is apparently totally unaware of this fact. The $240 million project is environmentally sound, creates jobs and helps the economics of the pulp mill. It is no wonder that it received great endorsements from all sectors, until these unfortunate statements by the minister which have outraged the mayor of Campbell River, baffled me and the provincial MLA.

The mayor wrote to the minister on February 19 consequent to the unwarranted criticisms the minister made a couple of days earlier. It is now five weeks later and the minister has still not responded to this letter in any way. The minister has done Vancouver Island a great disservice and particularly my community.

When will the minister retract his unsubstantiated, incorrect and irresponsible criticisms of an enlightened energy project known as the island cogeneration project?

Division No. 38Adjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Brome—Missisquoi Québec


Denis Paradis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, Environment Canada has no statutory decision making role for the island cogeneration project.

This project was reviewed, assessed and approved in 1997-98 under the provincial environmental assessment act. Under that assessment process, Environment Canada officials provided review comments in relation to a number of issues in which the federal government has an interest, such as greenhouse gases that result in climate change. Environment Canada was satisfied with the greenhouse gas aspects of the environmental review.

The Sumas 2 power plant proposed for Whatcom county, just south of the international border in the Fraser Valley, is a controversial project notwithstanding the proposed use of some of the cleanest air emission control technologies available.

Many Canadians have expressed their opposition to that proposed power plant, as has the Minister of the Environment, because of concerns about the effect of air pollution on human health.

The island cogeneration project will have higher emissions of air pollutants that affect human health per unit of electrical production than the proposed Sumas 2 project.

Given this, U.S. businessmen, legislators and the media have begun to allege that Canadian opposition to the Sumas power plant project is hypocritical. If we wish Canadian criticism of U.S. energy proposals such as Sumas 2 to be credible, the clean technologies available, such as those proposed for Sumas 2, will have to be adopted and used at Canadian facilities such as Island Cogeneration.

This is the challenge the Minister of Environment has already put to the province of British Columbia and to the greater Vancouver regional district.

Look around outside. The air pollution is clearly visible. The health effects are insidious and hidden but real nonetheless.

The pollution affects not only our major urban cities but many smaller communities, particularly those in the valleys—

Division No. 38Adjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24.

(The House adjourned at 6.56 p.m.)