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House of Commons Hansard #46 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was aboriginal.

Topics

TransportationStatements By Members

May 3rd, 2004 / 2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Canadian Alliance Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the communities of the Comox Valley authorized local spending of $6 million to build a new air terminal. The sparkling new terminal opened April 16. This will serve to retain direct WestJet connections between Comox, Calgary and Edmonton.

The local communities have a further financial burden now because the plan is to begin international service this fall and as a result they will have to pay $250,000 a year for customs staff.

The Liberal government airport policy creates winners and losers. Federal policy charges customs fees for terminals built since 1994, which discriminates against small communities most in need of economic diversification.

Customs and immigration is a federal responsibility with security implications. The federal government must stop imposing these costs on to local airport authorities.

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health made a number of statements on health care over the past couple of weeks. On Thursday, he appeared to backtrack on those statements in a public statement, but he never said what his position actually was. One of his lines was the following, “The Canada Health Act does not preclude delivery of services by private delivery”.

My question for the government is simple. Does the Canada Health Act provide flexibility on private delivery?

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, our government has been absolutely clear, as have Canadians been absolutely clear. They believe in a publicly funded health care system. They also expect their Government of Canada to defend and enforce the five principles of the Canada Health Act. That is exactly what the government will do.

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I asked the government a reasonably simple question and it should have been able to give a simple answer. I will ask the Minister of Health directly. The Minister of Health said, “The Canada Health Act already provides flexibility on private delivery”. Does the Canada Health Act already provide flexibility on private delivery?

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, our government is working very hard with the provinces at this time. We will cooperate with the provinces. We will engage in discussions with them, but there is one thing I can say. Let me quote the position of the leader of the Conservative Alliance, who has this to say about health care, “The solution is to have a health care system where people pay some of the costs themselves”. This is not the position of this government.

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, as a private citizen in the past few years, I paid a lot of my own health care bills and that is the case today with a lot of Canadians, if the Minister of Health does not already know it.

The Minister of Health also said, “If some provinces want to experiment with the private delivery option, my view is that as long as they respect the single-payer, public payer, we should be examining these efforts”.

Does the Minister of Health continue to believe that the provinces will need to have this flexibility? Yes or no?

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, it is very obvious that our government wants to work with the provinces. We want to do so in a spirit of cooperation. One thing is absolutely clear: we want Canadians to never have to pay with anything other than their health card. We want Canadians to use their health card, not their credit card, to have access to health care.

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, rather than governing, the Prime Minister continues his touring, pre-election. The Prime Minister, shipping magnate, millionaire, champion of the poor, defender, creator of the democratic deficit, now healer of health care is in Toronto today announcing $10 million to help the disabled.

The Prime Minister is a walking contradiction. While he was minister of finance, he inflicted the deepest cuts in Canadian history.

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough has the floor.

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Let me repeat, Mr. Speaker. There is the Prime Minister, the biggest contradicter of the Canada Health Act. While he was minister of finance, he inflicted the deepest cuts in Canadian history to Canadian health care. Now he wants Canadians to rejoice because he may give some of it back.

The government says that it has a 10 year health plan. Where is it and will we see it before the next election?

HealthOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, we are transferring $36.8 billion up to 2007-08. We have the health accord of 2003, which we are working on with the provinces at this time. We are trying to build on the health accord of 2003 for a 10 year plan that will last a generation.

HealthOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, health care and Canadians cannot afford another 10 years of this government in health care. The Prime Minister's true colours came through when he was minister of finance. He decimated health care more than anybody else. He is the one to blame for the long lineups and the underfunding.

Health Canada is in worse shape today than it was under the previous government. The Prime Minister has made it harder to access disability tax credits.

When will the government reveal this much publicized health care plan for the next 10 years? Will it come before the next election?

HealthOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, there are 34.8 billion of new dollars and another $2 billion in this year's budget. There is dialogue with the provinces in which we will be building, in cooperation with the provinces, a plan. We are working very hard at this very time because Canadians deserve certainly better than what the Alliance would like to propose to them. Canadians will pay for health care with their health cards, not with their credit cards.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 1998, the Auditor General came up against a brick wall at Canadian Heritage in his attempts to find out what use was made of the $5 million spent by Option Canada. We still do not know who benefited from that money, but we do know that the funds allocated to Option Canada were allocated under the guise of official languages.

Can the minister confirm that the official languages program was used as a channel to conceal the payment of $5 million to Option Canada?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Louis-Hébert Québec

Liberal

Hélène Scherrer LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, the Option Canada situation referred to is past history. My predecessor has already answered all the questions concerning this matter. All documents are public and have been published.

If my colleague wishes to have more answers on all these options, I believe he is capable of looking for them in these public documents himself.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thought it would be a good idea to ask the minister, because she is the minister, but it seems she does not know.

This money was diverted from the Official Languages program.

Can the minister deny—and it is her own answer I am seeking—that in the list of projects funded by the secret national unity fund, $5 million that appeared in 1995-96 under the heading of “Canadian Heritage: Unity—Quebec Referendum” was never used to promote official languages but rather to finance Option Canada? Can she deny that?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Louis-Hébert Québec

Liberal

Hélène Scherrer LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, my colleague seems to be very knowledgeable about where the money went. He probably has the relevant documents in his hands. I invite him to make them public so that we can all read them.

We replied to all these questions between 1995 and 2000. I believe all Canadians and Quebeckers got the answers they needed and can examine these documents, since they are public documents.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, even the Auditor General and her predecessor do not know where that money went and what was done with it.

It is the minister who is responsible for her budget. The fact that these events took place seven or nine years ago and that these millions may have disappeared does not mean that the government is no longer accountable.

I have a question for the minister. Have the $5 million taken from the official languages program been used to fund the love-in that took place in Montreal just before the referendum? This is what we want to know.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Louis-Hébert Québec

Liberal

Hélène Scherrer LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I will repeat the exact same answer I gave before. These questions have been put over and over to my predecessor. The answers are all on the public record. The documents are available and they are relevant.

If hon. members have additional information, I urge them to make this information public, so that we can take a look at it.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is just unbelievable. I have never heard such an answer. It does not make any sense.

The minister is responsible. The government is responsible. Millions of dollars have disappeared. The Auditor General does not know where that money went. We think it was used to fund the love-in. We are putting a very clear question to the minister and the government. If they want to be transparent, let them prove it.

Where does the $5 million come from and was it used to fund the love-in held in Quebec just before the referendum? That is what we want to know.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, what I can say is that this government has never put in jeopardy the $17 billion in savings from Quebeckers for its political option. This government has always assumed its responsibilities and protected the unity of our country in an open and transparent fashion.

All the figures are in the public accounts. We have not jeopardized the $17 billion in savings from Quebeckers as these people have, in case their option was approved by Quebeckers, something which was supposed to be a mere formality.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. We will now move on to another question. The hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona.

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals, when it comes to health care, are just unbelievable. The Minister of Health says that he does not want Canadians paying for their health care with their credit card. He wants them to pay for it with their health card. Yet over the last 10 years of the Liberal government, more and more Canadians have been paying for medically necessary services with their credit card under the watch of the Liberals.

What the minister said last week was not an aberration. In speech after speech these people will not say that they want to protect public delivery of health care.

I want to ask the Deputy Prime Minister this. Was the Minister of Health's speech on April 20, in which he basically said what he said last week, vetted by the PMO?