Mr. Speaker, the situation is misunderstood and misconstrued, causing people to think that the federal government will be the one to protect health and social services.
Even the Canada Health Act, which as we all know includes the five principles of health care: comprehensiveness, universality, portability, transparency and a publicly funded system, has not stopped the federal government from drastically cutting its share of funding for health.
We must face the fact that, no matter what province we come from and no matter how the provinces provide public health services, not one province, from Newfoundland to British Colombia, has not suffered from the federal government's withdrawal from health.
Its withdrawal was not subject to negotiations. The provinces learned shortly before the budgets were tabled, if not when the budgets of successive finance ministers were read, that funding would be cut, with the resulting potential destabilization of provincial public funding. That is the first point.
Second, with regard to pharmacare, the national forum chaired by Prime Minister Chrétien tabled its report in 1997. It asked the federal government to consider helping to implement a national pharmacare program.
Quebec's health minister, Jean Rochon, was responsible for implementing such a program under the Parizeau and Bouchard governments. Our public pharmacare program is funded by users and the Quebec government. If this model can serve as an inspiration for English Canada, we would certainly support this, and all the better. However, in our opinion, it is not honourable, proper or truthful to say that the Parliament of Canada will protect health care because there is a Canada Health Act. The existence of this legislation has failed to stop the Liberals from drastically cutting health transfer payments since 1994.