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House of Commons Hansard #52 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was services.

Topics

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

May 11th, 2004 / 10 a.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to the order of reference of Friday, May 7, 2004, your committee has considered Bill C-34, an act to amend the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, and agreed, on Monday, May 10, 2004, to report it without amendment.

I want to thank the hon. members who supported this bill and helped facilitate the completion of the work.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure for me to rise this morning to present to the House a petition signed by individuals from Braeside, Arnprior, Renfrew and Perth in Ontario, and from Lampman, Weyburn, Tribune, St. Walburg and Carnduff in Saskatchewan. The petitioners draw the attention of the House to the fact that adoptive parents make a significant social contribution to our society and often face significant adoption related costs, but out of pocket adoption expenses are not tax deductible.

Therefore, they are calling upon Parliament to pass legislation to provide an income tax deduction for expenses related to the adoption of a child, as contained in the private member's bill, Bill C-246.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Darrel Stinson Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my constituents of Okanagan—Shuswap, I am pleased to present a petition calling upon Parliament to pass legislation to recognize the institution of marriage in federal law as being the lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Liberal Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am going to be tabling a number of petitions. They call on Parliament to invoke the notwithstanding clause and pass a law so that only two persons of the opposite sex can be married. Approximately 100 people have signed the petitions.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Canadian Alliance Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, the first petition that I would like to present concerns my woman's right to know act. I am presenting petitions signed by 3,263 concerned Canadians from across Canada who support my woman's right to know act. These petitioners support my bill because it would guarantee that all expectant mothers considering an abortion would be given complete information by their physician about all the risks of the procedure before being referred for an abortion and would provide penalties for doctors who perform an abortion without the fully informed consent of the mother and penalties for doctors who perform a medically unnecessary abortion.

On Thursday of this week, thousands of people will gather on Parliament Hill for the annual March for Life. They march every year to mourn the death of more than 100,000 unborn children in Canada through medically unnecessary abortions. As you can see, Mr. Speaker, there is quite a number of petitioners.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Canadian Alliance Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, the second petition I would like to present is with regard to preserving the traditional definition of marriage. These petitioners point out that in 1999 Parliament voted to preserve the traditional definition of marriage, and a recent court decision has redefined marriage contrary to the wishes of Parliament. Now the government wants Parliament to vote on new legislation, but only after it has been approved by the Supreme Court. This is a dangerous new precedent for democracy in Canada. Elected members of Parliament should decide the marriage issue, not appointed judges. The petitioners are calling on Parliament to hold a renewed debate on the definition of marriage and to reaffirm, as it did in 1999, the traditional definition.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege of presenting four petitions.

The first petition pertains to Radio Canada International. The petitioners are concerned about the reduction in the number of hours of international broadcasting to Ukraine. They believe that RCI plays an important role in strengthening Ukraine's emerging civil society.

They call upon Parliament to indicate its support for the reinstatement of full Radio Canada International broadcasting to Ukraine.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the second petition pertains to immigration and the concern about a narrow and restricted definition for family class sponsorship. The petitioners are anxious to see this provision under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act changed.

They call upon Parliament to give full consideration to the addition of other relatives to this class so that family reunification can once again be a cornerstone of our immigration policy.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the third petition pertains to the issue of trans fats. The petitioners are concerned that trans fats raise levels of bad cholesterol in the body and prevent good cholesterol from clearing the circulatory system.

They call upon Parliament to eliminate trans fats from Canada's food supply.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the final petition, which is a matter very close to my own heart, pertains to fetal alcohol syndrome and the need to have warning labels on all alcohol beverage containers.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to remind the government of the motion that was passed in the House and to enact provisions to ensure that a warning is placed on all alcohol beverage containers stating that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause birth defects.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Sarnia—Lambton Ontario

Liberal

Roger Gallaway LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

moved:

That this House condemn the private for-profit delivery of health care that this government has allowed to grow since 1993.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the NDP is pleased today to provide the House with an opportunity to debate a motion having to do with the delivery of health care in the country. We think it is particularly appropriate given the confusion that seems to abound on the government side with respect to the Liberal position.

We hope that during the course of the debate today, assuming that Liberals wish to speak to the motion, that we might get some clarity with respect to the Liberal position, particularly when it comes to private for profit delivery of health care.

Therefore it is no coincidence that our motion reads:

That this House condemn the private for-profit delivery of health care that this government has allowed to grow since 1993.

In effect, what the motion addresses is the Liberal record, as much as any abstract or ideological debate about the merits of for profit delivery versus non-profit public delivery, although we stand firmly on the side of non-profit and-or public delivery of health care, as did Roy Romanow in his conclusions vis-à-vis the royal commission that was conducted by Mr. Romanow on health care.

However our concern today is what has happened under the Liberals over the last 10 years. Privatization of our health care has increased markedly in that last 10 years,as a result of changes that the Liberals made to the Canada Health Act, as a result of cuts that were made by the Liberals, particularly under the current Prime Minister when he was the minister of finance, and also just the way in which the Liberals have sort of turned a blind eye to the creeping privatization of our health care system. We see that blind eye continuing to operate in the kinds of things that have been said recently by the Minister of Health.

At the same time as he acknowledged that there was room for the private delivery of insured services within the Canada Health Act, he did not express any concern about the tendency of that sector within our health care system to grow. We would have liked to have heard him say that the government was concerned about the growth of that kind of privatization and was determined to do something about it.

Instead, it was obvious that this was regarded as a neutral fact about the current health care system by the Minister of Health. It was only after alarm bells rang that the minister felt obliged to stand and say that the government was not encouraging the private delivery of publicly insured services. However it would have been much more authentic and convincing if this had been said right off the bat, which it was not.

It is also important that we get some clarity on this matter of health care because we are facing an election. In the election it is obvious that the Liberals want to create what we think is a false distinction between themselves and the official opposition when it comes to health care. It is no secret that part of the Liberal strategy is to demonize the official opposition when, in our view, there is very little daylight between the position of the Liberal government and the official opposition when it comes to health care, particularly when it comes to the role of private for profit delivery of health care in the country.

If the House will permit me a little bit of historical reflection, I think I am one of the few members of Parliament left in the Chamber who was here when the Canada Health Act was brought into being in the spring of 1984, 20 years ago. In fact, I was the NDP health critic at that time and sat on the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare that considered the Canada Health Act, amended it and heard the witnesses. Certainly it was one of my formative political experiences to be part of that process by which the Canada Health Act came into being. Therefore I know a little bit about it.

I find it curious that the Minister of Health, instead of answering the questions we ask him in the House of Commons, all he says is that the Liberal government will stand by the Canada Health Act, as if this tells us what we want to know. It is not enough to say that the government will stand by the Canada Health Act because the act, frankly, was not designed to deal with the problems that our health care system has today.

The Canada Health Act, which was the successor to the Medical Care Act which brought medicare into being in the first place, came as a result of advocating that the then Liberal government, under Pierre Trudeau and health minister Monique Bégin, do something about the proliferation of extra billing by physicians and user fees in the health care system.That is what the Canada Health Act, to the extent that it was different than the legislation that proceeded it, was designed to do.

The principles that are embedded in the Canada Health Act were also in the previous legislation. What is substantially new about the Canada Health Act is that it has given the federal government the ability to withhold from provinces, which allow the extra billing and user fees for medically necessary services, the equivalent amounts, so there would be no incentive, in fact there would be a punishment for allowing extra billing and user fees. This is what the Canada Health Act was about.

The Canada Health Act was not designed to punish, discourage or deal with the whole question of privatization. It is quite disingenuous, not to say intellectually dishonest, for the Minister of Health and the ministers of health before him, to get up, whenever they are asked a question about oranges, say privatization, and say that they are all for apples. As I said before, that is not what the Canada Health Act was designed to deal with.

It was very interesting that at that time, in 1983-84, after the second Hall commission report and the recommendations by Justice Emmett Hall, the government would do something like the Canada Health Act. The Conservatives of the day were led by Brian Mulroney after his entry into the House in August 1983 in a byelection in Central Nova. I remember going down to Central Nova to challenge him to a debate on health care, which, incidentally, he did not take up.

In any event, the Conservatives at that time moved to the left to adopt the emerging Liberal position. It was not easy to get the Liberals to move on and create the Canada Health Act. It took three or four years of persistent questioning in the House and agitation by the Canadian Health Coalition, the Canadian Nurses Association and all kinds of people who were concerned about what extra billing and user fees were doing at that time.

The principles are the same with respect to extra billing, user fees and privatization. What unites those issues is the concern that Canadians have to pay out of their own pockets, whether it is in the form of extra billing, user fees or privately run clinics, particularly those who are now making available diagnostic services so that people can actually pay for those services, and then even more unacceptable, jump the queue because they have their diagnosis before someone else who has to wait in the public system.

I want to get back to the politics of this. In 1983-84 Brian Mulroney decided that he would not stick to the usual historical Conservative position on health care, which was to be critical of medicare or at least not defend it. In fact, in all those years leading up to the Canada Health Act I do not think there was a single question asked in the House of Commons by the Conservative opposition at the time with respect to extra billing and user fees, just as, 20 years later, there has not been a single question asked by the Alliance and now Conservative Party in the House leading up to this current debate on health care with respect to privatization, with the exception of the official opposition raising the question of health now as a way of trying to get around the Liberals' strategy.

The difference now is that I think there was for a while, until Mulroney changed it, a genuine difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives at that time. I am not so sure that the Liberal government is anywhere near as progressive when it comes to health care as Monique Bégin and Pierre Trudeau were in the early 1980s and which culminated in the Canada Health Act.

Instead of the Conservative position moving over to adopt the Liberal position, we have a kind of meeting of the minds, and I use that word loosely, meeting somewhere in the middle of the aisle, with there being very little distinction between the Liberals and the Conservatives, when it comes to private delivery of health care.

The leader of the official opposition said--

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I hesitate to interrupt the hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona. The Chair needs some guidance in terms of whether it is his intention to use the full 20 minutes allocated or will he be splitting his time with a colleague.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

If I intended to split my time, Mr. Speaker, I would have indicated that to you at the beginning of my speech. However, I thank you for your concern.

The leader of the official opposition is reported to have said that he does not really care who delivers health care. Whether it is public or private, it is not a big deal for him. I commend the leader of the official opposition for at least being honest about his position. If he had said otherwise, I would not have believed him. I know where he is really at. I did not just walk into this chamber yesterday. Anybody who has listened, particularly to former Alliance members over the years, really knows where the Conservatives also are on this, and is not surprised by that position. I commend him for at least being straight up about his indifference. I would say he probably has a preference in some cases for private delivery, but at least he is willing to say that it does not make any difference to him.

Whereas the Liberals are being quite disingenuous and dishonest with the public about their true feelings on private for profit health care. Either they are indifferent or in their heart of hearts they think this is part of what they mean when they talk about the need for innovation or part of what they mean when they talk about the accord they want to reach with the health ministers on new federal money, plus innovation and reform in the health care system.

When I asked the Minister of Health the other day in the House if he saw a place for a privately owned chain of MRI clinics in the Liberal vision of health care in this country, he would not answer the question.

If we were going to have an honest debate about health care, then instead of answering a question I did not ask or repeating the mantra about the Canada Health Act, which is what he did, would it not be useful for Canadians to know before the election what the Liberal position on this is? We know what the Conservative position is. We know what the NDP position is. Why can we not know what the Liberal position is? Why can we not even know what their preference is? Liberals might say that this is what they prefer and then go into negotiations with the provinces, but they will not even go there. We hope they might go there today and shed a little light on their position.

While I am talking about user fees, extra billing and the origins of the Canada Health Act, I was very distressed to see that the National Post , in its editorial about the Canada Health Act, actually had the nerve to recommend user fees in an article by Nadeem Esmail, senior health policy analyst at the Fraser Institute. I suppose it does not take much nerve at the Fraser Institute to come up with a recommendation like that. If the Fraser Institute has its way, I cannot believe we will have another debate about user fees. I thought that debate had been put to rest 20 years ago.

We have had study after study. We have the Romanow Commission. We even have studies that do not necessarily agree with everything that the NDP says. None of them have advocated a return to user fees. Unless we have significant enough user fees, the cost of administering them cancels what we gain from the user fees. If we have significant enough user fees, then we begin to punish people who do not have the money straight up to go to the doctor or whatever the case may be, and we begin to penalize people. This has been proven over and over again.

Every once in a while we might get an intelligent notion from the Fraser Institute or from the National Post about these kinds of issues, but to suggest that somehow a return to user fees is the answer is really retrograde and harmful to what could be a useful debate about the future of health care.

While I have not had a chance to check, at the end of the debate on the Canada Health Act 20 years ago, on various occasions during that era I had occasion to say that no amount of principles enshrined in the Canada Health Act and enforced by the federal government would save medicare if it were progressively underfunded to the point where the system became untenable and people therefore felt they needed some kind of alternative to the publicly funded health care system.

We have not exactly reached that point yet, but there is no question that over the last 20 years successive federal governments have unilaterally changed the terms of reference by which medicare was created in the first place. The original deal that brought provinces into medicare, the fiscal midwifery that brought provinces into medicare, was the fact that for every 50¢ provinces spent on health care, they would receive 50¢ from the federal government. What is that 50¢ down to now? The most popular and accepted percentage that I have heard is 16% of spending on health care. Clearly, we have a case of governments progressively, in an unprogressive spirit, reducing the role of the federal government in health care.

This goes all the way back to a Liberal finance minister under Allan McEachern. Under the Mulroney Tories in 1984, the first budget had unilateral cuts in federal spending on health care. This occurred in budget after budget. The mother of all cuts was in the budget of 1995, when the Prime Minister was the then minister of finance. All those other nicks and cuts were bad, but they paled in significance to the cuts that came under this current Prime Minister. Billions of dollars were taken out of the federal transfer to provinces for health care.

It is that cut, the deepest cut of all, that created the circumstances in which we now have this debate. There would not be any need, perceived, real or otherwise, for MRI clinics and for other private for profit delivery of health care services if the public system was adequately funded. If we are to save medicare, the public system does have to be adequately funded or Canadians will rightfully want an option to a system in which they have no trust.

I think at this point Canadians still have trust in their health care system, although they know that it is not perfect. They know that with respect to certain kinds of services, diagnostic tests and others, there are unacceptably long waiting lists, et cetera, but they do not think it is beyond repair, and it is not, if we can gather the political will across this country to create a federal government that is willing to contribute its fair share.

What are we talking about here? Romanow was only talking about 25%. A minute ago, I was talking about 50%. That was the original deal. For the longest time, the NDP and others who were concerned about medicare advocated a return to fifty-fifty cost sharing. We still do in our heart of hearts, in our dream world. However, for now, we would be happy with a Liberal government that is willing to spend 25%, half of the original contribution by the federal government to medicare. That is not what we have over there.

It is clear to us that we need to have a much more honest debate about health care. The Minister of Health has come into the House. I hope he is not here to tell us that he stands by the Canada Health Act over and over again. As I said before, and I will say it for the benefit of the Minister of Health, that is not enough. The Canada Health Act was not designed to deal with that which now threatens the health care system; and that is, the proliferation of private for profit delivery of even insured services. However, we have the private for profit delivery of diagnostic services, which people are able to pay for and then they jump the queue.

Since 1993, there has been a complete lack of will on the part of the Liberals to deal with this. Why have they been unwilling to deal with it? They do not exactly have the moral high ground with the provinces. On the one hand they are drastically reducing their contribution to health care and on the other hand they are laying down the law to the provinces. The provinces are rightly irritated that the Liberals are reneging on the fiscal side, but they want to get tough on the regulatory side, and they have a case with regard to this. Some provinces have tried to deal with it differently than others.

We think it is time for the Liberals to fess up to where they are really at on private for profit delivery of health care. They should share our concern. Even if the for profit sector in our health care system is providing insured services now, at some point a second tier will be created. A private health care system would be created that initially would deliver insured services, but five or ten years from now say that it could make a lot more money if it were not under medicare. It could break free of medicare and create a second private tier all by itself. That is the danger.

Our system has always been an ideological hybrid, but public delivery and non-profit delivery of health care has been the dominant mode. If this Liberal government allows the private for profit delivery of health care to become the dominant mode, to expand even more so than it already has in their last 10 years of government, medicare will suffer a defeat on its watch, despite the fact that the Prime Minister's father had something to do with it in the 1950s.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I certainly agree with the hon. member. It is way past the time that we in Canada had an honest, open and fair debate about the future of health care. I appreciate the fact he has recognized that the leader of the Conservative Party has been forthright in expressing his opinions on where Canada should go in the health care field. However, I have a few questions for him in the interest of adding to the openness of the debate.

I watched a discussion of a panel on television last night. His colleague from Vancouver East was asked whether the NDP proposed that existing private clinics, such as MRI clinics and other clinics that provide health care services for Canadians, be shut down. Is that the NDP's position? His colleague from Vancouver East did not answer the question.

My colleague mentioned jumping the queue and also stated that if we were not careful, there would be a second tier. I would suggest to the member that there already is multi-tiered health care in Canada. If we are going to be honest about it, then let us talk about it.

When Canadians are faced with terribly long waiting lists, partially because of inadequate funding from the federal government, they seek other means. If people are told by their doctors that they might have tumours, but they might have to wait six months to have an MRI in Canada, or they could go to the United States, pay a few thousand dollars and get one next week, what would people do? They would try to access other health care services. If that is not another tier, then what is, even if it does not exist within our borders? It is a situation where those who can beg, borrow or plead with their banker to get the money, if they do not have it in their bank account, would consider to find out what their true health is.

He mentioned adequate funding in his speech. Could he attach a number to that? What is the amount of adequate funding that would solve all the woes of Canada's health care system?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, obviously the solution to the clinics that now exist is twofold at least. One solution is to create a publicly funded health care system where there is no demand for such clinics, particularly those clinics that enable people to pay for diagnostic services by themselves and then queue jump because they got their diagnosis and people who are waiting for the public system do not.

There were private clinics in Manitoba. I can think of one in particular. The Manitoba NDP government did not want to have this private for profit clinic in Manitoba, so it negotiated with that clinic and brought it into the public sector. This is certainly one of the things that was done by the Manitoba NDP government. It has been a huge success as far as I know.

There are different ways to do this. The member wants to force us into some kind of radical unacceptable position, that somehow if the NDP government was elected, all these places would be shut down tomorrow. We want to initiate a process by which, by a certain time, there would not be these kind of private for profit clinics. If that means changing the Canada Health Act, then that is exactly what we would do.

In terms of the so-called second tier that exists by virtue of the fact that some Canadians can go to the United States, we can never change the fact that some Canadians may choose to go to the United States for health care. What we can do is reduce the number of Canadians who feel that they have to go to the United States in order to access particular services. We can do that by properly funding the publicly funded health care system.

I am glad to see that the Conservatives are now saying this kind of thing. However, it is getting awfully close to the election. I can remember when the hon. member's colleagues often rose in the House and talked about the fact that there needed to be cuts in federal transfer payments to the health care system. The record will show this.

The member makes a point that, yes, we will always have this other tier called the United States, for people who either have the money or who can get the money together. We should create a publicly funded health care system in this country where no one feels that they have to do that.

With respect to adequate funding, I have already said that we accept the recommendations of the Romanow commission.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would appreciate some more clarification. The hon. member said that he could not see any daylight between the positions of the Conservatives and the Liberals on health care.

The member said that the NDP endorses what the Manitoba government did with a clinic. He used the words “brought it into the public sector”. There is a clinic, one or more, delivering services and he says that is all right. It sounds like something I have heard from the Liberal side and something along the lines of what we talk about in terms of delivery of services, but still full access to everyone.

Would the member shed a little more light on the narrowing daylight between the NDP position and the Liberal position? They sound identical. He is talking about allowing a clinic to deliver services within the public system. That is what it sounded like to me.

Also, would the member reflect on the federal government when it talks about a transfer of payments? This is referring to health care also, and it includes going back to the 1970s where a certain amount of tax points would be transferred when the government talked about fiscal responsibility. What does he see as the present percentage of that tax point transfer and would he like to see that continued or expanded, especially as it relates to requests from Quebec?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have debated the member before and he is always very careful with his words. He talked about clinics. He did not say private clinics, for profit clinics, or non-profit clinics. All of a sudden he is trying to misrepresent the NDP position.

I said that we do not want for profit clinics. What happened in Manitoba was that a for profit clinic was turned into a non-profit clinic and brought under the public health care system. That is what I said was done in Manitoba. That is the sort of thing that we would like to see done right across the country.

That is our position. The member does not have to like it or agree with it. It is clearly quite different than the federal Minister of Health who stood up and talked about for profit private delivery of services in clinics or otherwise that he did not seem to feel was a problem.

The next day of course he said that he did not want to encourage that sort of thing, or he did not want to promote it. These were afterthoughts after the alarm bells went off that showed that the Liberals were actually sort of neutral when it comes to providing our public health care services by for profit private delivery.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my hon. colleague what he thinks about the NDP government in Saskatchewan sending compensation patients out of province for MRIs and diagnosis that they need? How does he feel about that?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that if the federal Liberal government, over the last 10 years, had been providing the kind of money to the provinces that it should have been providing, provinces like Saskatchewan or, for that matter, other non-NDP provinces would not feel that they have to do some of the things that they have to do today.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Maurice Vellacott Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask my colleague from Winnipeg a question. He did answer the question from the hon. member for Okanagan—Coquihalla in the matter of the tax point transfer. Could the hon. member for Winnipeg--Transcona give us a response to that as it relates to Quebec?

The hon. member for Winnipeg--Transcona did not remark on whether or not it was a private clinic. The member talked about profit and not for profit, but I would like to ask whether or not it was a private clinic? It is obviously not making money now. I do not know if what he meant by that. Was it going into a hole? Was it a private clinic or not? What was the status there? I would like a response to the tax point transfer as well.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, how often do I have to explain the nature of the clinic in Manitoba to the hon. member and his colleagues? However, we will get him some more information on that so that he can be as well informed on that as he likes.

Clearly, it is not a for profit clinic. It was a for profit clinic and the Manitoba NDP government did something about that because it found it philosophically unacceptable and changed the clinic. I can get the hon. member more details on that.

With respect to tax points, this is an ongoing debate between the provinces and the federal government as to what the federal government is contributing vis-à-vis tax points. It goes back to the seventies. The provinces and the federal government, depending on which stage we enter the argument, are guilty of various kinds of sophistry with respect to tax points.

I wonder, is the hon. member suggesting that the Conservative position is that the federal government is already giving enough money through tax points and that there is no need for more federal funding for health care? Is that what the hon. member is suggesting because that is what is implied in the question.

With respect to Quebec, I believe that Quebec has made even more suggestions with respect to the transfer of tax points. This is something that would have to be worked out between the federal government and the provinces and/or Quebec, but this is not relevant to the debate today about privatization. It is only relevant to the extent that anything that impinges on the federal government's ability to regulate with respect to for profit health care in this country because it is not contributing its fair share to the overall cost of health care and therefore it has no moral high ground from which to preach to the provinces.