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House of Commons Hansard #51 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was protect.

Topics

HealthOral Question Period

February 3rd, 2003 / 2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the first ministers conference on health care begins. Canadians have been clear they want the federal government to work with the provinces, not to bicker with the provinces. Instead, the Prime Minister fired off a take it or leave it letter to the premiers in which he said most federal money would only be available for new health care initiatives.

I ask the Prime Minister this. When Canadians and the provinces are saying that the existing system needs more money, why is the government focused on spending money on new health care programs?

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity to pay my respects to the seven young Canadians who lost their lives in an avalanche over the weekend and to the seven astronauts who lost their lives in a tragic way in Texas last weekend.

On behalf of Canadians, I talked with the President of United States and offered our condolences.

On the question, I think the Canadian people want us to put more money on the table, but they want to have a real change to ensure the Canadian health service is better for every Canadian in every part of the country. That is exactly what I want to do and what most of the premiers want to do too.

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, one of the federal proposals, when it comes to accountability and transparency, is apparently to create a new council to monitor health care.

To put this in perspective, we have the federal Department of Health, the provincial health departments and, in most provinces, we have regional health authorities, hospital boards and independent health research institutes.

Why does the government propose to spend money on yet another new expensive bureaucracy?

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the intention is not to have an new, expensive bureaucracy. It is a council that would monitor the situation to ensure that the accountability and the transparency are acceptable to the Canadian people. It would be made up of officials of different levels of governments, stakeholders and people who would report to the Canadian people in a very objective way.

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, Health Canada already has been hiring recently at record rates. Surely we do not need yet another bureaucracy to get some accountability.

Canadians want transparency in the health care system, but they do not want the federal government to impose its will on the provinces.

Will the Prime Minister promise to respect the priorities of each province and reach bilateral funding and accountability agreements with each one?

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, all Canadians, regardless of which province they come from, and those responsible for health at the provincial and federal levels, have only one goal and that is to ensure that the health care system works much better and that we are able to provide all citizens with modern care at an affordable cost.

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Canadian Alliance Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, two of the three priorities in the Prime Minister's health reform fund miss the target of fixing the existing health care system. The provinces have laid out eight priorities that address the core problems in health care. By the way, it is the provinces that deliver the frontline health care services.

Will the Prime Minister assure Canadians that the bulk of the new funds will go to the priorities that have been identified by the provinces?

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and I have been absolutely clear over and over again that we understand the provinces are on the frontline of delivery of health care.

I had the opportunity to meet with my provincial and territorial colleagues in December, where we identified a list of shared priorities. Those priorities include primary health care, home care, pharmaceuticals, diagnostic medical equipment, human health resources and information technology, all things that are highlighted in our draft accord.

HealthOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Canadian Alliance Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, unless there is an actual dollar figure to go with these so-called priorities, there is no commitment at all. The Prime Minister has not been bargaining in good faith when it comes to health care. In fact the Prime Minister has leaked the accord and the priorities, without any dollar commitment.

The provinces were upfront with their priorities and, as well, the amount of money they needed to fix the system.

Canadians want to have governments that are upfront. How much money is the Prime Minister putting on the table?

HealthOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and I, and the Minister of Finance, have been absolutely clear that new money is required. The federal government will be there to do its fair share. We all know that new money alone will not bring about the important structural and systemic changes that we all agree are necessary in the system.

I can reassure the hon. member that the Prime Minister and his first minister colleagues, beginning tomorrow evening, will be discussing, among other things, the money required to ensure we have a renewed, sustainable health care system.

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois is trying to convince the government of the need for a second Security Council resolution to legitimize any action by the international community against Iraq, but to no avail. The Prime Minister claims that if Iraq does not disarm, resolution 1441 would authorize action. Yet, Tony Blair is in favour of a second resolution and George Bush says it would be welcome.

If he truly wants to give peace every chance, will the Prime Minister finally recognize that there must not be any military intervention in Iraq without a second resolution?

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have always spoken in terms of legality and of what is desirable. Right now, clearly a second resolution would be desirable.

I had the opportunity to discuss the matter this weekend with the President of the United States and the leaders of several other governments. We hope that Mr. Blix's report and Mr. Powell's presentation this week will bring clarity to the situation.

If a decision on the matter is needed, the Security Council will review the situation. If there must be action, I, like everyone, think that a second resolution would be desirable. However, I must point out that it is not legally necessary.

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, with 90% of Canadians—and even more Quebeckers—against any intervention in Iraq without the approval of the UN Security Council, how is it that the Prime Minister continues to say that resolution 1441 gives him this authority, when the final paragraph of the resolution states clearly that the Security Council remains seized of the matter? That means that if the Security Council says no, then it is no. If there is a veto, then there is a veto. Are we going to follow the United States or the United Nations?

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, since last summer, we have been very clear in our support for the United Nations option, while the United States and Great Britain were leaning toward a unilateral intervention. We were saying, “We must act through the UN, no matter what”.

This is still our position. The matter must be taken back to the Security Council, and decided on as required by Security Council regulations.

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am just back from the Council of Europe, where the parliamentary assembly is calling upon all countries, including those with observer status, to reject any recourse to force without an explicit decision by the Security Council.

Does the Prime Minister not realize that, if his objective is to defend the authority of the United States, he needs to listen to the Council of Europe, and call for a second UN resolution before there is any intervention whatsoever in Iraq? Even Prime Minister Blair has adopted that position. What justification is there for Canada's still having an ambiguous position on this?

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, our position has never been ambiguous. We have, right from the start, supported the Security Council's authority, as the Prime Minister made clear to President Bush in their very first conversation on the subject.

Our behaviour in this respect has always been the same. The Prime Minister has been honest with the House. He has said that legally there is a situation, but Canada has always backed the authority of the Security Council and its responsibility for taking the necessary steps.

We shall see how things develop over the coming weeks, but we do support resolution 1441. It is our way out of this impasse. We are confident that the Security Council will provide us with the opportunity to avoid war if possible, while at the same time disarming Iraq.

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, there are very few countries that share that opinion. We read in the weekend newspapers that the Pentagon was contemplating dropping some 3,000 bombs on Iraq over 48 hours, clearly indicating its intention of waging out and out war, which has very little connection with disarming Iraq.

Are we to understand that the Prime Minister of Canada, by refusing to come out clearly in favour of calling for a second UN resolution, is providing unacceptable support to the warlike attitude of the United States?

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we have been very clear. We have never adopted a position with any option in favour of war. We are fiercely opposed to war, and made that clear here in this House the other evening during our debate. This is the position of the Prime Minister, but it must also be acknowledged that the Security Council has imposed certain obligations on Iraq. Those obligations must be respected. We are counting on the Security Council to commit to ensuring that Iraq meets those obligations. We are opposed to war, except as an absolutely last resort.

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, we are on the eve of the first ministers' conference, which we all agree is a turning point when we can begin to construct a new blueprint for public health care. I want to ask the Prime Minister his intentions for adhering to one of the most fundamental recommendations of the Roy Romanow report, which called upon the government to establish reliable, predictable long term funding, and an increase in the federal share of the financing of health care to at least 25%.

To lay the cornerstone of the future of health care, will the Prime Minister today tell Canadians that he will present the 25% funding commitment to the premiers this week?

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am not in the business of using the usual battle with numbers. The reality is that too often the provinces have refused to recognize that the federal government is giving them tax points and so much so that provinces that are receiving equalization payments receive more equalization payments because their tax points are not sufficient to meet the revenues of the big provinces.

The federal government is paying 42% of the public financing of health care at this time. There is some need for more money. There will be more money, but I do not intend to play politics with that. I want to have an agreement that will give us a new health care system with real changes.

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, let me remind the Prime Minister what he said in the 1993 red book:

It is essential to provide financial certainty and predictability for our health care planning.

Let me remind the Prime Minister that under his watch health care funding has dropped to dangerously low levels to the point where medicare is at risk. Today we have a chance for a new beginning. It requires federal leadership and a commitment to that basic 25% share of funding of health care.

I want to ask the Prime Minister, will he set a new tone for this important meeting starting with a straightforward timetable for the basic 25% federal funding formula?

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, to go down to 25% would be very disappointing if we are at 42%. That is why the hon. member is playing the numbers game.

She should recognize that in September 2000 we signed an agreement where we gave the provinces $23 billion for the next five years. They want more and we will do more.

However, the hon. member always makes the same speech that is based on rhetoric rather than reality. The federal government has always taken its share of the responsibilities. We will keep doing that and improve on it this week.

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, Secretary of State Powell will brief the Security Council on Wednesday respecting new intelligence reports on Iraq. My question for the Prime Minister is precise and I am not asking him to reveal the contents or the details of intelligence briefings.

My question is, has Canada been given intelligence information that establishes a clear link between the regime in Iraq and the al-Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001?

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I do not comment on international communications that we receive from different governments. However, Mr. Powell will be making a presentation to the Security Council. That will be public and we will see what kind of evidence the American government can make public to that effect.

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom gets invited to Camp David and he reports regularly to his Parliament. This Prime Minister does neither.

Will the Prime Minister explain to the House why he will not treat, on the conclusions of intelligence matters, the Parliament and public of Canada with the same respect that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom treats the Parliament and the public of the United Kingdom?