Mr. Speaker, I want to approach the debate on Bill C-30 from a slightly different perspective than what we have had so far this afternoon and this morning. I want to approach it from three points of view. First, setting the tone from the top; second, some useful concepts to look at evaluating the management of government; and finally, the re-use of single use medical devices.
When it comes to setting the tone from the top, one has to pay special tribute to our Auditor-General. She has given a tone to this particular report that is very exemplary. There have been two reports. It is absolutely superb the way in which she has approached the evaluation and the management of certain government programs.
I would like to talk about setting the tone from the top. The top of course is the Prime Minister. There are various management consultants who have talked about leadership and management from the top, and the significance of the top in terms of an organization and its management.
One of these special consultants who works very heavily in this field is a fellow by the name of John C. Maxwell. He did an interview with Don Stephenson, who is the chairman of Global Hospitality Resources, Inc. Global Hospitality Resources, Inc. is called in by companies in the recreation and hotel area that are in financial difficulty to see if there is something that can be salvaged.
Here is what the interview results were. Don Stephenson said whenever there was a take over of an organization, two things were always done. First, all the staff were trained to improve their level of service to the customers; and second, the leader was fired. When he told me that, I was at first surprised. “You always fire the leader?” I asked. He said every time. I asked if he did not talk to the person first to check him out to see if he was a good leader. He answered no, if he had been a good leader, the organization would not be in the mess it was in. That was a very interesting comment.
As Mr. Maxwell says, this is an illustration of the law of the lid. The law of the lid states that leadership ability is always the lid on personal and organizational effectiveness. If the leadership is strong, the lid is high; however, if it is not, then the organization is limited. That is why, according to Maxwell, in times of trouble organizations naturally look for new leadership. When a country is experiencing hard times, it elects a new prime minister.
In Canada, the actual administration and operation of the management of the government's affairs is carried out by the Treasury Board. It plays a key role in developing and fixing the government's management, really refining and developing the management agenda and overseeing its government wide implementation.
We are speaking about the implementation of the budget. The budget is probably the single most significant policy document that an organization or government can ever put together and finally adopt.
In managing the government, the Auditor General provided some very useful concepts. In fact, she listed seven of them. I want to read them into the record because they are very significant. They are found in chapter 7 of the March 2004 Auditor General's report and they are:
Probity--The adherence to the highest principles and ideals.
Prudence--Skill and good judgment in the use of resources.
Economy--Getting the right amount of resources, of the right quality, delivered at the right time and place, at the lowest cost.
Efficiency--The minimum resources used to achieve a given quantity and quality of output.
Effectiveness--The extent to which the outcomes of an activity match the objective or the intended effects of that activity.
Transparency--Operating in a manner that is clear and easy to understand.
Accountability--The obligation to render an account, and accept responsibility for, one's actions, both in terms of the results obtained and the means used.
Let us examine this budget and some of the implementation practices that the government has used in applying these concepts.
Probity is the adherence to the highest principles and ideals. It would appear to me that one of the ways in which one can see evidence of probity being used in the management of government affairs would be to have the highest principles and ideals. One of them clearly would be to follow the rules that are there to be used by the bureaucrats. Guess what the Auditor General had to say? She said that virtually every rule in the book was broken on this ad scam program. Clearly that one did not work.
Prudence is the skill and good judgment in the use of resources. I cannot help but look at this in terms of the subsidies that are given to industry. One really asks the question, what is it that government does when it selects certain kinds of industries for subsidy and not others? In fact, one of the critics of this particular program asked and I quote:
I don't know why governments pick one industry to subsidize over another.
This is from a National Bank financial analyst, Steve Laciak. He further said:
They won't rule against steel imports being dumped into Canada, so you wind up watching Stelco, Ivaco and Slater Steel go bankrupt.
On the other hand, other ones are picked and given billions of dollars. Of course, the most recent one here is the one that came up yesterday, Rolls Royce and $30 million, and very closely allied to that is of course Bombardier, which has been getting this money for years.
John Williamson of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said, of Bombardier, and I quote:
--we need to lower taxes to compete internationally, we'd be right there behind him.
I agree with that. He rejected outright the idea of creating more programs like Technology Partnerships Canada. He said:
Anyone who thinks TPC should be expanded should have his head examined. That program has been a total disaster and has only gotten a small fraction back--
I think the issue here is very clear. Subsidies given to certain kinds of industries mean that taxpayers' money is taken from other industries who also pay taxes. The government says that it will take our money now and it will give it to this other industry, which means that the burden falls on this group, and the other group actually gets the benefit.
If that is a wise use of resources, if that is prudence, and if that is skill in the management of resources, I think there is a very strong difference of opinion.
Economy is getting the right amount of resources, of the right quality, delivered at the right time and place, at the lowest cost.I wonder if there is anyone in the audience who would recognize or remember the firearms registry? How effective was that particular program? It was a billion dollars and now going beyond that. People are asking themselves, is it now going to get more money from this budget? Is that really an economical use of taxpayers' money?
Efficiency means the minimum resources used to achieve a given quantity and quality of output.We have the secret unity fund and we ask ourselves, what is it supposed to accomplish? If we do not know what it is supposed to accomplish, how could we ever measure whether in fact it is doing that. The HRDC boondoggle is another example.
Transparency is operating in a manner that is clear and easy to understand.We found that our Prime Minister who did own CSL, Canada Steamship Lines, actually found that there was $136,000 given to the company, only to discover later that it was actually a hundred million dollars plus. If it was really so transparent, then why was it that it was not known?
Finally, accountability, which is the obligation to render an account, and accept responsibility for, one's actions, both in terms of the results obtained and the means used.
One then has to draw attention to the fact that we had in the Department of National Defence some $160 million plus that was fraudulently billed because nothing happened. There was $160 million paid and nobody could figure out what it was paid for. That is not accountability.
One has to evaluate these and ask, from these examples alone, were these seven concepts or ways of evaluating things actually observed? Was there direction from the top that clearly said the highest principles and ideals would be observed in the management of our affairs and in the expenditure of taxpayers' money?
One has to conclude that this particular budget does not do that. The government has not done that. We have to ask, how likely is it that the government will manage $187 billion using these seven concepts? I would suggest that probably the answer is, no it will not.
I want to go now to the third point that has to do with the single use of medical devices and the reuse of single use medical devices. I am not an expert in this particular field so I am going to be reading in rather complete detail what has been said.
What kind of devices are we talking about?
Single use devices that come into contact with blood or normally sterile body cavities by penetrating the skin or mucous membrane, such as cardiac catheters or urinary catheters.
The reuse of single use devices is different from the reuse of devices designed for multiple uses because single use devices were not intended to be reused. Thus, their reuse creates a number of potential risks that include poor functioning after multiple uses or reprocessing, as well as concerns about sterilizing and disinfecting medical devices properly. Other concerns include the lack of informed consent by the patient and the liability of the reuser should something go wrong because of reuse.
The main reason that single use devices are reused is to reduce costs. There are two factors here.
Members have probably heard the news that the SARS situation in China, the most recent one, deals precisely with this very issue we are talking about right now. It is not just one disease we are talking about but other diseases as well in relation to single use devices.
The second point has to do with the cost involved. Why is there a preoccupation with the cost of reusing a single use medical device? If we had taken the $250 million that was spent on the ad scam program and put it into specifically this kind of area, that would have helped many people in not subjecting them to reused single use medical devices. We have some critical issues here that are very significant. It is stated that:
Because the reuse of single use devices can put the health and safety of Canadians at risk and because Health Canada is one of the entities responsible for protecting the health and safety of Canadians, we expected that it would take action to deal with this issue.
It is further stated:
While we recognize that this issue is a shared responsibility among various jurisdictions and professions, it is important that Health Canada as the federal regulator take action to manage the health and safety risks related to the reuse of single use medical devices.
That would have been expected. The Auditor General went on to say:
However, we found that Health Canada has not developed a position on managing the risks related to reuse of single use devices, although very recently it began examining its authority to regulate reuse practices. As a result, Canadians are not being protected from the health and safety risks created by the reuse of single use devices. Canada's failure to develop a position on this issue has created a regulatory vacuum.
This is pretty serious stuff. Health Canada has known about this for at least 10 years, and it is still talking about jurisdictional questions. Now it is going to re-examine this. The response to the Auditor General's recommendation was that by the year 2005 there may be something in place. How many people are going to be subject to having these single use medical devices inserted into their bodies, running the risk of contacting serious diseases and complications?
The time to act has passed. We need to act as quickly as possible now. These are very serious implications. I am so happy that we have an Auditor General who is not afraid to talk about these kinds of things and draw them to our attention. There is a person who is accountable, doing her job, doing it with probity and being prudent, accountable and transparent in what she is doing.
People ask where the trouble lies. Does it lie with the ministers who are in charge? Does it lie with the Prime Minister? Does it lie with the professionals? Does it lie with the taxpayers? Does it lie with the House? With the power that has been concentrated in the Prime Minister's office and with the fact that virtually every member on the government's side of the House can be whipped into voting against the wishes of their constituencies, there can be no other conclusion. These kinds of problems can be taken straight back to the very top of this organization, which is in the Prime Minister's office.
The time has come for us and for all Canadians to look very clearly at the way the government has been running for the last 10 years and why the Auditor General has come up with the kinds of conclusions and observations that she has. For these reasons that I have just mentioned, I cannot support Bill C-30.
The time has come for a new prime minister, a Conservative prime minister, a prime minister who will manage the affairs of the country and of the government with probity, with adherence to the highest principles and ideals, with prudence, demonstrating skill and good judgment in the use of the resources of the taxpayer money and the many resources that we as Canadians have, with the economy, with getting the right amount of resources of the right quality and quantity and delivering at the right time, in the right place and at the lowest cost.
He will be a prime minister who will be efficient so that the minimum resources used to achieve a given quantity and quality of output will be the ones that are used, not a surplus that is unnecessary. He will deal with effectiveness and will manage with effectiveness, that is, the extent to which the outcomes of an activity match the objective or the intended effects of that activity. When we say we want to do something in a program, we will get the results with transparency. The operation will be in a manner that is clear and easy to understand, and we will all know what is being done, how much it costs, who will do it, why they will do it and their competence to do it.
Finally, he will be a prime minister who will be accountable and will recognize the obligation to render an account and accept the responsibility for one's actions, both in terms of the results obtained and the means used.
These are tremendous challenges. One would look at that and ask if there a human being alive who could actually do this in its entirety. The answer is, we can try.
I remember so clearly a philosopher professor who said that we should all look at perfection and that is the way we should go. I have talked about seven concepts that are very useful. I submit that a Conservative prime minister, in particular the leader of the Conservative Party, would do that. We need to strive for that perfection. However, when we have a Prime Minister who is not trying to do that, then we need a change.