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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

IraqOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, only someone intent on misunderstanding this statement by the Prime Minister could have reached such a conclusion.

The Prime Minister clearly stated that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction around the world is a problem, which is something everyone agrees on.

He also said that there are some dangerous weapons in Iraq, and that we must fight terrorism all over the world and take these two aspects into consideration. These are two separate aspects. the Prime Minister made a clear distinction between the two. Let us not try to confuse the matter.

IraqOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister should have made the distinction. The Minister of Foreign Affairs ought to read the newspaper accounts today however.

Does the Prime Minister not realize that it is totally irresponsible to make such statements and say something as serious as what he said without something solid to back it up, and should he perhaps not just admit that he made a mistake and apologize?

IraqOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I do not think that the Prime Minister should apologize for having said something everyone knows. There is a problem with the proliferation of these weapons of mass destruction around the world. This represents a problem. There are individuals in Iraq who are dangerous. That is clear. There are people dying everyday over there.

IraqOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

IraqOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Liberal Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

We must be absolutely clear. There are a lot of weapons of mass destruction around the world. There are also means of delivering these weapons. Terrorism has to be brought under control. That is what the Prime Minister said. That is clear, and we all stand behind that statement.

IraqOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

IraqOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

The Speaker

I must say that it was impossible for the poor member for Mercier to hear the minister's answer to her question. That has been a problem, not only at this end of the House today. So, we could do with a bit more order, please.

The hon. member for St. John's West.

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans brags that the European Union is allowing one of the two Portuguese trawlers caught in violation of fishing regulations on the Grand Banks to return home: home, not to a Canadian port. This is the trawler that cut loose its nets. What choice does it have but to return home? How can it fish without a net?

What excuse can the minister drag up to explain why the second trawler is not being called home or, better still, towed to a Canadian port?

FisheriesOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, it is not at all surprising to me that the hon. member would take a defeatist attitude toward this issue considering his leader's attitude toward Atlantic Canadians.

We are taking a serious, strong attitude toward this. The fact is that last week there were 14 ships out there fishing in the area of the moratoria species and now they are not fishing in that area. We forced them away. Today there are only four vessels left in the area at all, and they are all in the areas where they are allowed to fish.

FisheriesOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, if the government had been listening to this member, we would not have a problem today.

In February 1990 in Charlottetown, the Prime Minister said he would impose sanctions against Portugal, Spain, France and the United States for overfishing around Canada when he came into power. That is a whale of a commitment, but who does he think he is codding? Because after 14 years, we still see what is going on. How can we trust a Prime Minister who ignores such an important issue until he finds himself up to his neck in sharks a week before an election?

FisheriesOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague knows that this line is nonsense. He knows that this in fact has been a priority of the Prime Minister for a long time. When I was appointed Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Prime Minister made it very clear to me that this was an important priority. It has been a priority for me and for this government and it will continue to be.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Brampton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Could the minister give the House his reaction to the abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners by the U.S. forces in Iraq?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the other day in the House the Prime Minister was asked a similar question. Canadians, the House and the government condemn, absolutely, the treatment of those prisoners in Iraq.

We welcome the fact that the United States government, the Senate, the House of Representatives and other American authorities are doing their best to rectify a terrible situation and one that has had an impact on the difficult situation in Iraq.

We in the House and we in the government urge all of us to look at the fact that what we need are clear international norms and international rules with enforceability so that all people can be protected at all times, which is why this government has the international policy that it has.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

SupplyGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2004 / 3:05 p.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to mention that I will no longer be sharing my time with the member for Vancouver East. Instead, I will be sharing my time with the member for Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore.

Some of the things to which we have been speaking very passionately and to which we will be speaking in the upcoming election are, first, the issue of restoring 25% of federal funding to health care; and second, the issue of a comprehensive home care program and pharmacare program for Canadians.

The NDP believes that we should be preventing future illness by restoring funding to participaction and banning trans fatty acids, a significant risk factor in heart disease.

Along with its health platform, the NDP will be working on its environmental platform, previously released, to provide cleaner air and reduce health care costs through renewable, pollution free energy and sustainable funding for public transit and rail.

Another one of our major issues is the idea of changing the law to stop public money paying for the private for profit delivery of health care and plugging loopholes in the law that allow more diagnostic services to be provided privately for profit.

Halifax is home to a new private for profit MRI clinic that opened in 2002. The clinic was not opened by the Leader of the Opposition. It was opened under the Liberals, just like private for profit MRI clinics in Quebec, private for profit home care in Ontario, private for profit hospitals in Alberta and rapidly expanding private for profit clinics in British Columbia.

It is a fact that the Liberals have allowed private for profit delivery to grow by neglect when they cut health care funding and ignored Roy Romanow's practical solutions. Liberals have allowed private for profit delivery to grow by design; by changing the Canada Health Act and refusing to enforce it, and by agreeing to some of Ralph Klein's radical privatization in Alberta.

Upon being appointed Prime Minister, the Prime Minister appointed a parliamentary secretary for P3 privatization and a former corporate lobbyist for private for profit health care providers to key positions in his government. He also, in both the throne speech and the budget, refused to mention public delivery of health care or the Romanow commission. We feel that those are very telling absences.

If Canadians want to see Paul Martin's 10 year plan for health care they should look at the last 10 years of growing privatization and ignored innovation. Nobody is going to be fooled by another vague promise from Paul Martin's Liberals because if Liberal promises--

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The hon. member for Dartmouth knows she cannot refer to hon. members by name. She will want to refrain from such activity. It is an apparent breach of the rules.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

I apologize, Mr. Speaker.

If the Prime Minister's 10 year health care plan is something that we should be taking seriously, we should have a look at his last 10 years of growing privatization and ignored innovation. That seems to me to be the record that we have to be taking to the people in the next few weeks in terms of an election.

I will return to the issue of home care for a minute because that is an issue that is critical to people in Dartmouth and in all of Nova Scotia.

Canadians made it very clear in the Romanow submissions that home care services were too important to be excluded from the definition of insured health services under the Canada Health Act. Much of the care that was once provided in a hospital or in physician's office has moved to a patient's home. The care is still medically necessary but is provided in a different setting.

Why do the Liberals think that type of care should not be covered, or worse, why do they think it should be provided by for profit businesses?

Statistics show that for profit delivery of health care, regardless of the setting, results in reduced outputs for the patients.

I want to read from the Romanow report. It states:

--a comprehensive analysis of the various studies that compare not-for-profit and for- profit delivery of services concluded that for-profit hospitals had a significant increase in the risk of death and also tended to employ less highly skilled individuals than did non-profit facilities

In his report, Roy Romanow called home care the next essential service. It is the fastest growing component of the health care system and provides comfort and independence to the people who use it. It costs less than equivalent care in a hospital or in a long term care facility while improving the care and quality of life of patients.

The NDP wants to implement a public non-profit system of home care based on the successful Manitoba model. Since care in a hospital can cost from $9,000 to $16,000 more per patient per year than community based home care, this plan makes economic sense.

In my role as NDP critic on the status of persons with disabilities, I have heard over and over how important our health care system is to persons with disabilities. Groups, such as the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, have asked for a national system of disability supports, including home care or support to help people with disabilities with their quality of life.

Right now, many people with disabilities cannot access adequate home support for their needs. In some provinces, home support is only available after an acute health emergency. People with disabilities literally have to be sick enough to go to a hospital before they can get any support in their homes, and then the home care only responds to the acute medical emergencies, not an ongoing disability.

In other provinces, there is a monetary limit to how much home care a person can use per month. People with a disability must pick and choose which services they will give up each month so that they do not go over their limit.

In other situations, access to home care is linked to eligibility for other programs. For example, someone who is injured at work can access a home care program as part of workman's compensation, while a young person with a disability who wants to live independently in his or her own home is not able to.

There are many startling examples of people with disabilities finding today's health care system insufficient to meet their needs. This is the true danger of a not for profit system of health care. People with disabilities are disproportionately poorer than other Canadians, so if for profit health care costs increase, it will affect them more than ever.

The NDP is very clear and passionate about its commitment to a not for profit, publicly delivered health care system which will include pharmacare and home care in its new evolution in the years going onward.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague from Dartmouth has been a tireless advocate of health care, not only for her own family and her community but for those people with disabilities as well.

I have one simple question that the Liberals and Conservatives find very difficult to answer. Do they believe in publicly delivered health care?

Why does the member think those two parties have such great difficulty answering the question on whether they think health care in this country should be publicly delivered?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, what we seem to have witnessed over the last two terms in the House of Commons is a connection of disturbing proportion between the government side and the official opposition. There seems to be a consensus that it is acceptable to allow for profit health care to take place. Roy Romanow and many studies around the world have shown that for profit health care does not provide effective, efficient or reasonably priced health care benefits for the population.

The idea is to allow for profit companies to get into our health care system and make that additional 15%. That is the money we all hear is the sacred trust that private companies have to make at the end of the day. That additional money comes out of the pockets of individual Canadians in user fees. Some people cannot even go to hospitals or to doctors because they cannot afford those additional costs.

As profits in for profit health care companies increase, we see a decrease in the health status of Canadians

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I know my colleague mentioned the lack of adequate services for disabled people within the health care system. In listening to what a number of Liberals have said, we would probably get an argument that the Canada Health Act does not specifically say that we have to provide those kinds of services. Maybe they are not medically necessary or they are not mentioned in the Canada Health Act.

There is certainly an understanding among most Canadians that when types of services are needed, we expect it to be delivered. How would she respond to some of the comments that came from the Liberal side about only reflecting what is absolutely in the Canada Health Act, somehow leading to a misunderstanding of what they see as medically necessary?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, any Canadians I know, if asked where we should draw the line as to what is medically necessary, would say that this. People who require medical assistance on a regular basis throughout the course of the day because of an illness or other condition, such as a post-operation situation, is medically necessary and they require the health care. Canadians believe that is the system for which we want to pay. We want to that system for all vulnerable people in our society.

It is important to note that the Canada Health Act has to be an evolving act. We have to look at our health care system, our future health prospects and our challenges, environmentally and medically. Certainly the New Democrats are very eager to do that. Roy Romanow in his report was very eager to do that. We have to look at new ways, smarter ways and more effective ways of delivering health care within our communities, in shared clinic situations and in preventive medicine situations. There are ways and we believe we can do it together as a nation.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue brought to the House of Commons by the federal New Democratic Party. Of course we all know Tommy Douglas from Saskatchewan brought health care to his province, through very difficult circumstances. That showed real leadership. When we look at the battles in those days, it is quite ironic that groups of doctors hung Tommy Douglas in effigy. Forty years later, who has been entered into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame? Tommy Douglas.

Sometimes it is very difficult to do the right thing under tremendous pressure. Mr. Douglas went through some very personal experiences. He witnessed some very serious circumstances through the 1930s and the 1940s of what happened to people when they became seriously injured and did not have the finances to look after a loved one or themselves. They became destitute, and that should never happen in a caring country like Canada. No one should lose opportunity. No one should lose a future. No one should be set back because of a serious illness that either occurs individually or to a family member.

Federally and provincially, the New Democratic Party believes in this one very simple philosophy when it comes to health care: a publicly funded, publicly delivered, not for profit health care system. That is it in a nutshell. We know very clearly that the Liberals and Conservatives will be unable to say that when they are on the campaign trail. It goes against their philosophy.

I do not believe a Liberal or Conservative will go across the country and say to Canadians “I believe in a publicly funded, publicly delivered, national health care system in this country”. I do not think Liberals or Conservatives, on threat of resignation of their seat, will stand up and echo the views of Canadians and mirror the policy of the NDP. If they do that, it will be a glorious day. Then and only then will the NDP realize a fully--

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

I am standing up.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

It is nice to see the member from Ottawa standing up right now. She should be talking to her health minister. He said very clearly that the private sector can play a role in health care. What that means is we eventually turn over the public system into the hands of private corporations. If they follow suit, like the Conservatives would like them to do, eventually those corporations become foreign corporations.

Then what happens? Someone can become very ill in this country and someone from another country makes money from that illness. That is unbelievably wrong. The New Democrats will fight against that and we will continue to fight against as long as we remain in the House of Commons and in legislatures across the country.

This will be one of the major issues in the campaign. Canadians want to know and they are clear. The vast majority of Canadians support a publicly funded, publicly delivered health care system.

All of us in the House of Commons talk about health care to the nth degree. We talk about people being ill and what to do about that. Very little debate takes place about the preventing illness. When it comes to this, the Liberals and Conservatives are at huge fault. They have made massive cutbacks to the provinces.

The provincial conservative government in Nova Scotia cut physical education from the school system. What happens when provinces cut physical education from the school system? We end up with kids that no longer have activity in their classrooms or in their schools. Many reports have said that we are breeding a group of children who are rapidly becoming more and more obese.

What happens when we have obesity? We then have diseases like diabetes. Diabetes is very expensive to treat, with the proper insulin and everything else. We try to save a dollar by cutting physical education from the classroom, but we are more than willing to spend hundreds of dollars years later to treat something that we could have prevented.

It is very clear, if we really want to prevent people from accessing health care in the end, we should bring back physical education into the school system. We should bring back other aspects into our lives that make Canadians more physically fit. George Chuvalo once said, “a healthy mind and a healthy body makes a healthy choice”.

It brings me to my next point, which is an idea that the New Democrats put forward. We thank the government on the one hand. It took the idea and put it into effect, but only in small part. That is the aspect of palliative care and special rehabilitative care.

Sometime in our lives we are either going to become caregivers or have care provided for us. When it comes to palliative care or special rehabilitative care, the best thing for an individual going through that care is the ability to be in the surroundings of their choice, to be free of pain and to be surrounded by their loved ones. When we reach the time for us to exit this world and go on to the next one, we would like the opportunity to die in the comfort of our own homes. Hopefully all of us will be very old when it happens. Poll after poll shows that when Canadians have the choice, they prefer to die in the comfort of their own homes.

There are people who need to provide that care for those who remain in their own homes. That generally falls upon a relative, and that relative generally is a woman. Too often women have to make the choice to leave their workplace and to care for a loved one, their child, their partner, or another relative.

We thank the government for recognizing this after years of debate and for establishing a six week program, although very limited. People can stay at home for six weeks to care for someone under palliative care, be it a child, husband, wife. Six weeks is a start, but we in the NDP would like to see the exact same benefit for maternity leave given to people who are on what I call eternity leave.

All of us have relatives who go through certain stages in life, under palliative care or special rehabilitation. People of my generation are called the sandwich generation. We have children to look after and we have elderly parents to look after.

Here is a classic example of what happens. My wife and I have two children and she works outside the home. She can have a year of maternity leave or I can take a year off on paternity leave. I would receive an employment insurance cheque every two weeks for up to one year. If the doctor diagnosed one of my children with cancer and said that our child had six months to live, what would we to do? That is a heavy question to ask anyone. Would my wife or I be able to leave our place of employment and care for the child for the six month period? Would my company allow me the time off to do that? Would my company pay me for that time off? The answer to those questions mostly likely would be no.

Eighty per cent of caregivers are women. Most of them are elderly women. Most of them have other jobs to which they attend. That is a very difficult situation to put a person in.

We in the NDP believe people should not have to go through that decision on their own. We believe the government should be there to help them. We believe very clearly that if people make that choice and leave their place of employment to care for a relative under very special rehabilitative care or palliative care, they should be allowed to collect employment insurance for up to one year or at least six months at minimum. They also should have job protection until the time they returned.

This would save money. It is fiscally responsible and accountable. We have proven over and over again that for every dollar of employment insurance we would spend on this program, we would save over $4 on the health care system. We all know it is very expensive to institutionalize someone.

In a society such as ours, it is my belief, my hope, my dream and aspiration, and that of many people throughout the country, that we will be much more compassionate in this type of debate than we are being right now.

It is not just dollars and cents, although what we propose does save money. If we just want to use the fiscal argument, it saves money. The provinces would win in terms of the fiscal side of it, because they would save a lot of money. That money could then go toward assisting other aspects of health care.

Another program was introduced by the NDP but I see my time is up. I am sure I will have more time to discuss this valuable topic in the near future.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member challenged somebody from the Liberal Party to stand up. I am sure he will see lots of us during the election campaign, including the party platform and the Prime Minister, so I hope he does not hold his breath.

I am sure as a responsible citizen the member takes good care of his health, has his annual checkups and so on. The last time he had his blood tested or perhaps an X-ray, could he tell me whether he had it in a public facility or a private lab?