Madam Speaker, I am glad I was able to hear the member for Lac-Saint-Louis and his reflective comments that are always right on target as we would expect from the member. I appreciate him allowing me to have a few moments to reflect on Bill C-202.
I wish to congratulate the member for Ottawa—Vanier, but I will take some credit for helping the bill to the floor of the House of Commons. I am one of those who signed on in that process.
The intentions of the member are good. We are encouraged by what he is attempting to do. I do not have to remind the Speaker nor the House that I come from Canada's only officially bilingual province. This linguistic duality as it pertains to health care is something that we have been striving to achieve. We have had great success in New Brunswick. We would hope to see that across the country if the bill were passed by the House.
I will throw out some questions to the member. I know we will have another hour for debate. The member will most likely address those concerns and possibly already has.
Looking at the bill, this would in fact bring a change to the Canada Health Act by adding a sixth principle in respect to linguistic duality. I will read a summary of the bill so that my constituents back home will know exactly what the bill does. It says:
This enactment amends the Canada Health Act so as to ensure that payment of the full cash contribution under the Canada Health and Social Transfer is subject to the obligation for each province to respect the principle of linguistic duality.
This is what the bill would do as we understand it.
If we look through some of the language in the bill, and the member could speak to this, perhaps it has to be tightened up. In my opinion it has to be made more doable.
We are all attempting to change the Canada Health Act and add new principles to it. I know as a party the Progressive Conservative Party has suggested that the sixth principle of the Canada health Act should be stable long term predictable funding. Then the provinces would know in fact how much money they would have to deliver health care across the country. The provinces have not had this.
The reason I point that out is because we know what the Prime Minister and the federal government recently went through with the provinces in terms of this last health care accord and the difficulty of achieving an accord that everyone could agree with. I am saying this because there are still some financial restraints on the system.
Some of the phrasing in the proposed section 12.1(a) of Bill C-202 that I am not comfortable with reads:
(a) as soon as possible, the province shall, in co-operation with the facilities of the province that offer insured health services, develop a program ensuring access to health services for members of the province's anglophone or francophone minority and, in so doing, shall take account of the human, material and financial resources of each facility--
And so on. That is the concern that I have.
It appears to me as if the provinces could use that as an escape clause for not achieving the objectives that the bill wants to achieve. In other words, the duality issue is contingent upon their financial resources.
If those financial resources are not there, and in some cases they are not, the province simply could look at the amendment to the Canada Health Act and say that the bill states that financial resources of each facility have to be taken into account in order to offer linguistic duality. My concern is that they could use that against the bill. Maybe the member could speak to that.
Finally, proposed section 12.1(c) of the bill states:
as soon as possible, the province shalltake action to ensure that the managementof any facility in the province that offersinsured health services is placed entirely inthe hands of members of the province’sanglophone or francophone minority, where the number of users from the anglophoneor francophone minority is sufficientto warrant that action.
I just want clarification on that. I guess we need to have a definition of that word “sufficient”, because again we do not want to have the ability for a province to opt out, which we often see if we do not have tightly worded legislation. This is another concern that should be raised.
In terms of what the member is trying to achieve with the bill, we do support it. We are encouraged by the bill. We want to see this type of legislation enacted and endorsed by all provinces. Our only thought, when we get into that final hour of debate on the bill, is that the member could flesh out some of these details so that the bill will survive the close scrutiny it will come under in each and every one of the provinces. We support the bill in principle. Maybe the member might have a minute to sum up on some of those points we have made.