Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on Bill C-202, introduced by my colleague, the member for Ottawa—Vanier. I congratulate him on his initiative.
The purpose of his bill is to amend the Canada Health Act in order to take linguistic duality into account. It would mean that the provinces would, as soon as possible, in cooperation with the facilities of the province that offer health services, develop a program ensuring access to health services for members of the province's anglophone or francophone minority and, in so doing, take account of the human, material and financial resources of each facility and the social, cultural and linguistic characteristics of the members of the public served by the facility.
The result would be that this would be placed entirely in the hands of members of the province's anglophone or francophone minority.
Like those of my colleagues who have spoken in the House on this bill, I acknowledge that the principle being pursued by the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier is a laudable one. The means he is using to achieve that principle, however, are not necessarily either desirable or optimal.
I do not believe that a Canadian law relating to health, an area of provincial jurisdiction, is going to go over very well with the people of Quebec.
In Quebec, we took a different approach, by passing bill 142 in 1986, which guarantees access to health care services in English throughout Quebec. Initiatives have already been taken in Quebec, and they have worked.
Like my colleagues, the members for Repentigny and Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, I do not believe that this country is bilingual, nor do I think that it can be. The efforts that have been made to make it bilingual have not produced the desired results. I would like to point out that only Quebec and New Brunswick have passed legislation on bilingualism and have demonstrated any real will to provide bilingual services to their residents.
Even though members here have been critical, at times, of bilingualism in Quebec, I believe that Quebec is ahead in this area and that it has demonstrated and continues to demonstrate that it is very open when it comes to applying its laws.
While the principle may be laudable, this is not, as we see it, the right way to achieve the objective.
Also, the Canada Health Act, passed in 1984, was another example of interference by the federal government in an area of provincial jurisdiction. We will never accept any further intrusions into provincial jurisdiction.
Let us not forget that the Canada Health Act was passed at the very end of Pierre Elliott Trudeau's regime. Even though all of the federal political parties supported it, all of the provinces were against it. This new legislation would again encroach on provincial areas of responsibility.
I understand that the purpose is to provide French services for francophones living in minority communities. However, amending the Canada Health Act by making payment of the full cash contribution under the Canada Health and Social Transfer conditional, is not the solution. It is akin to blackmail.
It could have the effect of delaying or compromising care provided in different institutions, either in Quebec or in the provinces. It seems to me that all of the provinces should respect the principle of linguistic duality.
If negotiations and exchanges were proposed instead, which could be accepted by the federal government and the provinces, then we would be more inclined to support them over provisions contained in a federal act.
Personally, I recognize the provinces' right to determine how health care services will be delivered to their residents. I do not think that amending a federal statute, which would apply from coast to coast, will help us reach that goal.
Health care is a very complex sector that is facing significant cost increases with regard to the delivery of services, especially those related to the aging population.
Since it is specified in the bill that the province “shall take account of thehuman, material and financial resources”, it is very possible that such amendment would never be implemented because there would be no financial resources available.
The member for Ottawa—Vanier knows how important the promotion of the French language is to me, but I am not sympathetic to his fight for linguistic duality as represented by his proposed amendment to the Canada Health Act.
Therefore, I must tell him that the Bloc Quebecois will not support this bill mainly because it would mean allowing further federal intrusion into provincial jurisdictions. It is very difficult to talk about health and bilingualism in political terms but we often have no choice but to face that reality.
In conclusion, I congratulate the member for Ottawa—Vanier on his fight for bilingualism and I invite him to find other avenues than further intrusion in provincial jurisdictions to achieve that objective.