Mr. Chair, I want to make some opening remarks on health care in the north and our appreciation for our treatment. If I have any time left at the end I will ask some questions.
First I want to thank the Minister of Health for the tremendous job he has done since he has come in. Almost the first day I got here I approached him with a problem and he responded very openly and agreed to work on the problem right away. I am delighted, as a constituency MP, to have that kind of treatment.
I would also like to congratulate the Minister of State for Public Health who has done an equally great job. She came to my riding, had a long consultation with all the people and all the stakeholders and then, at the end of a long day, she had a long meeting with the nurses who are so important to our health care system.
I also want to thank the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada for the tremendous emphasis they put on the north recently. We have had a complete northern strategy that included $90 million for economic development programs, sustainability proposals, a huge northern environmental cleanup, northern sovereignty and, of course, northern health care. I thank the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance for understanding the uniqueness of the health care problems in the north and the extra costs those add.
For instance, if people in a big city have a serious accident they can go in their family car or in an ambulance a few blocks or a kilometre to a hospital at relatively low cost. In the northern territories it costs $5,000, $10,000 or $20,000 just to get to the hospital through Medivac. We have a very small tax base and obviously we cannot cover all that. We have a very harsh northern climate and it increases the cost of everything, transportation of materials, et cetera.
Another issue is the lack of guaranteed access to specialists and hospitals. Our hospitals, of course, do not tend to all the major surgeries. There is one major hospital in each of the territories. We also do not have the numbers to warrant having all the specialists there permanently. A problem that is a challenge for the future is how to have guaranteed access to those systems in various provinces so that our doctors could be guaranteed they will get their patients in at the time they need?
The last challenge I want to mention right now is the fact that there is only one hospital in each of the territories. We should think back to the SARS crisis. When there was a problem with one hospital in Toronto it was closed and the patients went to another hospital. In the north there is only one hospital in each of the territories. The others are hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometres away, so if we close a hospital for a similar infectious disease, people would die. There is no other place for them to go, not for SARS, but for all the other accidents and life-threatening conditions that people might have.
My thanks go out for the understanding of that and the tremendous amount of transfers the north has had for health care in recent years. In the transfer payment for the territorial budgets were very significant moneys for health. On top of that, as we know, we came to that historic agreement in 2003 that added $20 million to the territories. I was very excited about the money for prevention and health promotion because I think everyone in the House would agree that if we can prevent disease and promote health, it certainly reduces the costs in the long run.
Over and above those funds, we also have the first nations and Inuit programs. The figures I will be using are as of March 31, 2004. We have the Canadian prenatal nutrition program, $26,000; home and community care, more than $2,159,000; the environmental health program, $20,000; and the tobacco control strategy, over $117,000.
I appreciate that all the parties support reduction of tobacco and the minister's work in that area. In fact I talked to both ministers only yesterday about how we might reduce investment in the tobacco industry.
The next figures are: the aboriginal diabetes strategy, $155,000; the national native alcohol and drug addictions program, $18,000; the fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, $62,000; the AIDS office, $105,000; health services program management, $45,000; consultation Indian and Inuit, $16,000; health careers, $47,000.
I want to talk about health careers for a moment. We need to get more aboriginal people into health careers. I support the Canadian Medical Association's effort in partnering with the government in that goal.
The next figures are: the health programs transfer, $894,000; integrated community services, $1,656,000. Then we go on to the Canada Health Agency and the funds it provides to the north: community action program for children, $760,000; the Canada prenatal nutrition program, $632,000. That is a tremendous program. When I was president of the Skookum Jim First Nation Friendship Centre it was a wonderful program to reduce illness in babies.
The aboriginal head start program was given $529,000. I would like to tell the minister that is a tremendous program. It is absolutely remarkable how popular and successful it is. I implore the minister, any way he can in future budgets, to try to find more money for that program, whether it comes from human resources development, early childhood learning or wherever. It is very successful and we would like to expand it. Communities like Carmacks, Ross River and Pelly Crossing would like to expand it. The ones we have already are successful but we need funds for new centres.
We have more money for the AIDS program ACAP, $125,000; the population health fund, $75,000; diabetes, $104,000; FASD, another $65,000; hepatitis C, $70,000.
In Yukon the 10 self-governing first nations have assumed responsibility for all eligible community based first nations and Inuit health programming. The other four first nations communities have entered into integrated agreements with Health Canada. Health Canada also supports the work of the health and social development department, which is part of the Council of Yukon First Nations, to promote health promotion and illness prevention in first nations.
Those were not all the funds provided because, as everyone will remember, after the first ministers' conference from September 13 to 15 the Prime Minister, the finance minister and the health minister provided $41.3 billion over the next 10 years. My riding's portion of that was another $3 million for the Canadian health transfer, $34 million for the Canada health transfer base and $0.5 million for medical equipment. That is more than $37 million. On top of that there will be Yukon's share of the wait times reduction fund because that has not been calculated yet. Of course, the other two territories, if the people from the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are listening, we have been treated equally generously.
However, that is not all because in this new deal there is money for aboriginal people, which I certainly appreciate as being about 23% of my population. If all the programs I mentioned so far cannot cover it, then starting next year for the next five years there is $200 million for the aboriginal health transition fund and $100 million for the aboriginal health human resources initiative. Of course, those are very important human resources in health care. I think everyone agrees with that.
I certainly agree with the Canadian Medical Association that we have to increase residency spaces not only for our new doctors but so they can have better choices, so that aboriginal doctors can come through the system and overseas doctors will have spaces.
Finally, for aboriginal people there will be $400 million over the next five years for health promotion and disease prevention, which I talked about earlier.
However that is not all. Out of the new deal from last September, over and above the $37 million my riding received, as all ridings in Canada will get a share, the Prime Minister, finance minister and health minister recognized all the things I said at the beginning of my speech of the extra costs in the north. For that they provided $150 million over five years for the territories, $65 million for the territorial health access fund, $10 million for the federal-territorial working group and $75 million for medical transportation. Those funds can be used for things like recruitment and retention, which are so important in the north, and for advanced technology, such as Telehealth, where I hope we can be leaders in the world. We have already saved lives with equipment that has been provided with some of the funds I have talked about.
Of course everything is not perfect so I have some questions and challenges. First, I would like to ask a question that a number of my constituents have asked me. What is the minister doing about the labelling of genetically modified foods?