House of Commons Hansard #42 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was asbestos.


The House resumed from June 13 consideration of the motion that Bill C-5, An Act respecting the establishment of the Public Health Agency of Canada and amending certain Acts, be read the third time and passed.

Public Health Agency of Canada ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.


Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Cape Breton—Canso.

It is with great pleasure that I rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-5, an act respecting the establishment of the Public Health Agency of Canada and amending certain acts. I rise not only as the elected member for Nunavut but also as the associate public health critic for the official opposition.

As our world becomes more globalized, and as our population ages, we are faced with challenges, as a country, to public health which we must address.

The necessity to strengthen coordination in public health across the country was largely highlighted by the inadequacies of the public health response to the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, commonly known as SARS. It was a most painful and difficult lesson and certainly required a focused and strategic effort to address the shortcomings for the future security of all Canadians.

I would like to quote from a document which is available on the website of the Public Health Agency of Canada. It is Dr. Naylor's response to Minister McLellan on June 15, 2003, as the chair for the advisory committee on SARS and public health. He wrote:

Thus, we believe the focus of governments should be first and foremost on building the necessary public health infrastructure and clinical capacity to contain infectious outbreaks. Local containment and rapid contract tracing is the key both to prevention of exportation and limiting the impact of importation of infectious diseases.

We are reminded of the crisis that we grappled with as a nation in 2003. This did indeed affect us as a nation, as a threat to our public health. It required action and the then Liberal government responded with study and consultation. The prominent reports included: “Learning from SARS--Renewal of Public Health in Canada, A report of the National Advisory Committee on SARS and Public Health October 2003”, which is also known as the Naylor report, and “Reforming Health Protection and Promotion in Canada: Time to Act”.

In September 2004 the Public Health Agency of Canada was established by an order in council, and the Public Health Agency of Canada received control of the former population and public health branch of Health Canada. After extensive study and consultation, the Liberal government developed and introduced on November 16, 2005 Bill C-75, an act respecting the establishment of the Public Health Agency of Canada and amending certain acts.

The bill would provide the legislative basis for the Public Health Agency of Canada. Once Parliament was dissolved the bill consequently died and was removed from the order paper.

Fortunately for Canadians, the Conservative government has decided to re-introduce the Liberal bill on April 24, 2006 in this new session as Bill C-5.

The preamble states:

--the Government of Canada wishes to take public health measures...foster collaboration within the field of public health and to coordinate federal policies and programs in the area of public health...promote cooperation and consultation...foster cooperation in that field with foreign governments and international organizations...creation of a public health agency for Canada and the appointment of a Chief Public Health Officer will contribute to federal efforts to identify and reduce public health risk factors and to support national readiness for public health threats--

Coordination and cooperation seem to be a clear path to a strong public health system, resilient enough to contain or deter outbreaks that could cause our economy billions of dollars in both health care expenditures and lost tourism dollars.

In addition to such financial consequences, the social costs are immeasurable. This was proven during the SARS crisis in the greater Toronto area as regular days were disrupted with fear and insecurity.

Bill C-5 indicates that the Minister of Health will preside over the Public Health Agency of Canada. To this end, the agency will be directly accountable to the Canadian people through federal legislation.

Furthermore, the bill makes amendments to the Department of Health Act and the Quarantine Act. As a country, our demands are always changing. It is important, therefore, to meet such changing demands with appropriate and adequate legislation and amendments if need be.

These amendments are an example of meeting such changes in our country. However, in my support of Bill C-5, it is of serious concern to me that the bill does not have specific statutory responses for first nations and Inuit population health issues, including crisis response.

In respect to the Garden Hill First Nation, which my colleague from Churchill represents, and the tuberculosis epidemic that is being experienced since March, the first two active cases of TB have spread to more than two dozen active cases. This outbreak has been the source of social disruption.

Although public health for first nations Inuit is currently administered through the FNIHB of Health Canada, Bill C-5 should be an important bridge and lead on the issue of public health for first nations and Inuit. It would work in collaboration with the aboriginal people, as they are the population at risk due to chronic housing shortages, mould in homes, and inadequate access to health care and health care systems. I might add that even in my own riding of Nunavut, we are certainly experiencing cases of TB that have been increasing in numbers and that is very alarming to us.

Through Bill C-5, the federal government also has legislative authority for specific client groups, including the RCMP, the military and federal institutions. These are areas of direct responsibility and each of these client groups requires specific consideration and responsibility for optimum service.

The bill sets out the framework for coordination, promotion and protection of public health for Canadians, and will support continued collaboration and coordination with provincial, territorial and first nation governments, along with Inuit governments as well.

Canadians want to be healthy. They do not want to feel at risk of diseases such as SARS, avian flu, TB, or any other diseases for that matter.

Canadians want to live free and healthy, and quite frankly, Canadians deserve it. Bill C-5 provides substantial assistance in this particular regard and this bill addresses the challenges and obstacles that are blind to our provincial jurisdictions and international borders.

I encourage all members of this House to join in solidarity and work toward the benefit of the health of our people, the health of our nation.

Public Health Agency of Canada ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for her contribution to Bill C-5.

I recently had the opportunity to sit in at a health committee meeting with the new head of the Public Health Agency of Canada, Dr. Butler-Jones. One of the things that I was very interested in was that there seems to be a partitioning of some aboriginal health issues outside of the agency, and it raises some questions.

I know that the members of the health committee also question the separation of initiatives as it might relate, for instance, to fetal alcohol syndrome, where there was one approach for the aboriginal community and one set of programs, and the rest of the population was dealt with through the agency itself.

I would like to ask the member, is she confident that the aboriginal health issues, which have been discussed often in this place, have an appropriate attention directed to them through this new Public Health Agency of Canada?

Public Health Agency of Canada ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.


Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that currently there is no obligation for the federal government. It has no statutory obligation to deal with aboriginal health through the Public Health Agency of Canada. That is something that worries me a little in that we would have a separate way of treating the health of aboriginal Canadians.

My personal preference would be to have a more coordinated effort that is in line with the rest of the country. I cannot speak so much for first nations, but I know for my riding, where we are under a territorial public government, that our department of health is part of the initiatives that pertain in the country.

I know my colleague from Churchill was very worried about this particular part of the bill. We discussed it and felt that there has to be a more coordinated effort so that these types of services for the bands, especially the health services for the people who live on reserves, does not fall through the cracks and that there is a coordinated national effort along with what we are doing in the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Public Health Agency of Canada ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.


Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to and greatly appreciated my colleague's speech, and I share her concerns about the first nations and the Inuit community.

I would like to know when, if ever, in her opinion, the government took concrete action to respond to the needs of the first nations and the Inuit without having to be seriously prodded into action by parliamentarians. Also, does she believe that her concerns will be put at ease by the government investing more heavily in structures?

Public Health Agency of Canada ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.


Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, again, I cannot speak for first nations issues, but in my discussions with different people on different issues, whether it be on health, education or housing, we need to understand that unless the people are involved in the process of developing criteria, developing curricula, and developing policies for their own people, they will not feel that they have ownership of the measures that are in place, and they will not work.

We have seen from past experiences, even within the nine years that I have been here, in areas where we do not work with the people, there has been resistance to come on side with whatever initiative we are doing, whether we are talking about health, education or governance. Unless the people themselves are directly involved and have a say in how measures are being implemented to help them, then they will not work and we will not get the results that we want to see.

In this particular area, I would say that the Public Health Agency of Canada and maybe through Health Canada must work with first nations and the Inuit population to work with measures that would ensure that the safety of their health is the same as other Canadians, especially in the Public Health Agency of Canada criteria.

The other thing is, under the first nations and Inuit health benefits, we have a different health insurance system that really needs to be overhauled. That might be another area that the federal government should pursue because we do not want, as we say in Canada, the two tier system for health. That is certainly also the case for aboriginal Canadians.

Public Health Agency of Canada ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.


Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to join today's debate on Bill C-5.

Enhancing the public health care infrastructure is the key in combating disease and possible pandemics that may threaten our societies and our nation at large. The lessons we have learned from SARS serve as imperative in restructuring and enhancing our public health care system.

Bill C-75, introduced by the Liberals in the last parliamentary session, was an initial step toward strengthening the ability to protect the health and well-being of our citizens. It is important to keep our public health system and the health of our population a priority at all times, not only in times of unpredictable disease. A key element in enhancing our capacity for disease prevention as well as emergency response lies within the intergovernmental infrastructure of public health.

A sustainable public health system encompasses a comprehensive and cohesive measure of cooperation, not only across governments but within governments as well, in addition to non-governmental organizations, the private sector and of course the public at large.

In general, every level of government, from local to federal, must collaborate and assume their roles and responsibilities in order to achieve a functional, integrated public health care system and an effective emergency response capacity. The SARS outbreak managed to articulate and highlight the weaknesses of our public health care system and the defects of managing health crises.

Toronto followed China and Hong Kong as another region hardest hit by SARS. As of August 12, 2003, there had been approximately 44 deaths and 438 suspected cases of SARS in the Toronto area. These figures, along with the panic that occurred because of SARS, put great pressure and stress on the health care system and inevitably on society at large. There were high numbers of patients in need of intensive care. Hospitals had to be shut down. Elective procedures were cancelled. Most important, appropriate and adequate supplies necessary to combat the disease were woefully lacking.

Luckily, the public health care workers were able to contain SARS and prevent it from spreading to the larger community. Nonetheless, such health crises should not be subject to and depend on luck or a committed staff. Rather, they should be tackled by a cohesive public health care system with the regional capacity for outbreak containment, information management, surveillance and infection control.

Overall, the SARS outbreak illustrated that Canada was not ready to deal adequately with a pandemic. The Government of Ontario was certainly at no capacity to withstand simultaneous SARS attacks, and the rest of the provinces did not represent a better stance either.

Learning from these lessons, the former government's initiative in introducing Bill C-75 was aimed at creating an agency with the ability to protect the health and safety of all Canadians. Such an agency was meant to create the leading role in federal collaboration with the provinces and territories in order to achieve a sustainable public health care system through the renewing of the system as a whole.

The Public Health Agency of Canada assumes the role of working closely with provinces and territories by being part of the public service and working to combat and prevent chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, in addition to injury prevention, public health emergencies and, notably, infectious disease outbreaks.

The distinction of the agency is in its functional structure and interconnectedness. It liaises as follows. The agency is to be headed by the Chief Public Health Officer and includes two direct reporting bodies: first, the agency's corporate secretariat, which houses the executive and ministerial services, and second, the agency's scientific director general, who is responsible for the agency-wide mandate of science and coordination.

The agency has a number of branches. I will do a brief run-through of them. Of course, as with any good federal government agency, there will be a number of acronyms.

There is the infectious diseases and emergency preparedness branch, IDEP. Within this branch, there are number of different responsibilities. The centre for infectious disease prevention and control, CIDPC, is within this branch, as are the centre for emergency preparedness and response, CEPR, the national microbiology laboratory, NML, and the pandemic preparedness secretariat, PPS. They all fall within IDEP's responsibility.

Other branches are the health promotion and chronic disease prevention branch, HPCDP, as well as the public health practice and regional operations branch, PHPRO, which encompasses public health practice in all regions throughout the country.

Finally, there is the strategic policy, communications and corporate services branch, which encompasses the strategic policy directorate, the communications directorate, the finance and administration directorate, and the human resources directorate. Really, they are the logistical support behind the branch.

The new structure's functionality and collaboration and the division specialties created by this agency are essential for the renewal of our public health care system. With specific specialized fields and care divisions, each health oriented topic will be dealt with effectively, efficiently and rapidly.

For example, let us take into consideration the centre for emergency preparedness and response. This unit, under the infectious diseases and emergency preparedness branch, was created in March 2006 for the specific purpose of coordinating and facilitating pandemic preparedness and emergency response activities in a cross-governmental and nationwide format. This is an advanced unit that has brought together the lessons learned from SARS and was able to put them into use when dealing with the possible outbreak of avian flu.

By providing leadership within the Public Health Agency of Canada, next to working with key partners and stakeholders, the secretariat served as the focal unit of emergency preparedness. It provided internal and international capacity of outbreak containment, information management, surveillance and infection control. It also achieved clarity in defining the roles and responsibilities within the decision making process, enabling effective, efficient and integrated federal and national health pandemic preparedness.

The success in controlling and disqualifying the breakout of avian flu in Canada serves as an indicator that this agency and its particular branches serve as assets to the betterment of the health care system here in Canada.

Canadians want to live in a safe and healthy environment, with a reduced risk of disease. Certainly these branches and the work undertaken by these branches will go a long way in doing that. That is why I believe Bill C-5 should be supported.

Public Health Agency of Canada ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the remarks of my colleague on Bill C-5 regarding the creation of the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Since I have been a member of Parliament, the overwhelming majority of our time in this chamber has been spent on health care. I think everyone would agree. It has been the number one, top of mind issue, but very little of that time is spent on talking about public health and actually making Canadians healthier.

Recent events in the House of Commons have given us the opportunity to do something significant for actually improving the general health of Canadians, but this has not met with broad support from members of the House of Commons. Most of us were moved by Wendy Mesley's CBC program about the contamination and chemical soup we live in today and the terrible reality that 50% of our children's generation will get cancer due to exposure to chemical agents, much of it environmental.

Just weeks ago, the chamber dealt with an NDP opposition day motion to ban the cosmetic use of pesticides. I had wanted to ask my colleague from Nunavut a question about this, given that even people in the far north are finding residual chemical pesticides in the milk of mothers living in the far north. The level of contamination is staggering.

I want to ask my colleague for his views on two important public health initiatives that we have missed acting on in just the last 18 months. One is the opportunity we had to eliminate 200 million kilos per year of chemical pesticides being used for non-essential cosmetic purposes, hopefully to elevate the public health of all of us. Also, there is the fact that 18 months ago the House of Commons voted to ban trans fats, a known public health hazard for which there are safer alternatives available. No action ever came of it.

It is frustrating to Canadians and certainly frustrating to me that as we stand here and talk about creating a new Public Health Agency of Canada we are not putting our money where our mouth is in terms of taking concrete steps to improve the general public health of Canadians.

Public Health Agency of Canada ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

First, Mr. Speaker, let me say that I see the merit in the member's point and I certainly agree with him. I think that as a society we have come a certain distance with regard to pollutants or carcinogens. I think we have become much more aware of their impact. Most provinces now hold portfolios for ministerial positions for health promotion. I also think there are steps toward addressing obesity.

That is what this agency is all about. With the establishment of this agency, we have a number of different opportunities. There is an opportunity that will focus on public education. There will be science based evidence that will support public education programs. The agency will look at legislative initiatives that will allow this country to go forward and make wise investments to secure the future health of our citizens.

I am not in disagreement with the comments that my colleague from Winnipeg Centre has expressed to the House today.

Public Health Agency of Canada ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Raymond Simard Liberal Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I was listening attentively to my colleague for the last 10 minutes. I agree with him that this bill was brought forth by the previous government. We obviously would encourage it.

One of the comments I have, though, is that the Public Health Agency is headquartered in Winnipeg. Winnipeg is the site of the only level 4 lab in the country. Given that my colleague is from Cape Breton and has always been a huge supporter of ensuring that these institutions do not remain only in central Canada, that they be located outside of Ottawa, Toronto or Montreal, I would like my hon. colleague's comments on, first, the importance of ensuring that it be maintained in Winnipeg and, second, the importance of having these institutions outside of the central capital region.

Public Health Agency of Canada ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, the evidence is overwhelming. We want to ensure these agencies and federal departments can deliver services more efficiently. We must also look at the cost of renting office space and having a well-trained, highly motivated workforce. I know great work is being done in Citizenship and Immigration by committed employees in Sydney and Cape Breton. I agree wholeheartedly that the regions make a great contribution to the country and this is one way that we can.

Public Health Agency of Canada ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in today's debate on Bill C-5, an act respecting the establishment of the Public Health Agency of Canada.

I would like to start by mentioning that I am a social worker by trade. I have worked in the Quebec health and social services network for 20 years or so. During that time, I worked in a residential and long term care centre for seniors. In this kind of facility, the risk of contagion and epidemics is significant, the clientele being extremely vulnerable. All that to say that, professionally speaking, I am very sensitive to the public health issue.

I witnessed firsthand how competently and expertly the public health authority in my region can handle epidemics, particularly a flue epidemic. I realized that Quebec had an aggressive and efficient response strategy that meets the needs of Quebeckers.

Bill C-5, which is now back in the House, is essentially designed to solidify the agency as an independent administrative entity that is an integral part of the Canadian health network, by giving it a number of powers and appointing a chief public health officer.

In fact, Bill C-5, an act respecting the establishment of the Public Health Agency of Canada and amending certain acts, has put Bill C-75, introduced in November 2005 just before the 38th Parliament was dissolved, back on the legislative agenda. As I have said previously, by making this Liberal bill its own, the Conservative government is also adopting the Liberal vision of Canada: Ottawa knows best and will impose its views from coast to coast.

I think it is important to understand that, contrary to what it has said since it was elected, the Conservative government wants to make inroads into health, one of Quebec's areas of jurisdiction.

Is the government aware that Quebec has had its own Institut national de santé publique for eight years now, since 1998? It appears not, because if the government was aware, it would have inserted a provision in the bill at the outset to recognize the reality in Quebec and to recognize that the proposed Public Health Agency of Canada will duplicate services and cause confusion in Quebec.

To illustrate this, I invite all members to visit the Internet site of the Institut national de santé publique du Québec at I will provide some information that will help the members understand just how much confusion the establishment of this agency will create. The site says:

The vision of the Institut national de santé publique du Québec is to be the centre of expertise and reference centre for public health in Quebec. Its goal is to advance knowledge and propose intersectoral actions and strategies to improve Quebeckers' health and welfare.

In fact, when the Institut national de santé publique was created in 1998, the coordination of public health expertise in Quebec underwent a major reorganization. Achieving the institute's mission involves pooling and sharing expertise, developing research, disseminating and using knowledge and engaging in international cooperation.

In addition, in the field, the institute works to attain its objectives through various activities and specific services: advice and specialized assistance, research or development of new knowledge, training, information, specialized laboratories, international cooperation and knowledge exchange.

All Institut national de santé publique du Québec activities are part of a broad concept of public health, and aim for the highest possible quality standards.

To achieve the highest possible quality standards, the agency participates in three World Health Organization collaborating centres, including the Quebec WHO collaborating centre on the development of healthy cities and towns, the Quebec WHO collaborating centre for safety promotion and injury prevention and, finally, the WHO collaborating centre on environmental and occupational health impact assessment and surveillance.

By definition, a WHO collaborating centre must “—participate in the strengthening of country resources, in terms of information, services, research and training, in support of national health development”.

The preamble to Bill C-5 mentions that this proposed Canadian agency also plans to encourage cooperation in this area with foreign governments and international organizations, as well as with other interested organizations and individuals. Clearly, these functions will duplicate what is already happening in Quebec.

I understand that the government wishes to ignore this reality, but members of the Bloc Québécois were elected to talk about Quebec's reality, needs and distinct character here in the House of Commons. Do not be fooled into thinking that we are the only ones defending the interests of Quebeckers.

On May 11 during question period at the Quebec National Assembly, Jean-Pierre Charbonneau, member for Borduas and opposition critic for health, asked the health minister, Philippe Couillard, the following question, “Does the minister acknowledge that there is evidence of overlapping jurisdictions and that what the federal government is proposing is more than an exchange of information; that it is taking the place of the government that has the responsibility of applying Quebec's public health act and health and social services act? Does he acknowledge the overlap in responsibilities? Does he acknowledge that this is unacceptable? Will he tell us today that the Government of Quebec will strongly and completely oppose interference in jurisdictions that are strictly Quebec's in the area of health?”

Do you know what the health minister, Mr. Couillard, said? He said, and I quote:

Of course.

He said, “Of course”, and he continued:

The proof is that we used legal recourse on the issue of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act and we are opting out—

Now listen to this.

—of every national Canadian strategy that will be introduced, for instance on cancer, mental health and health promotion. We will see what the final wording of the bill will be, if and when it is passed by the House of Commons.

This proves it is not just the Bloc Québécois that opposes such a bill; the Government of Quebec's health minister opposes it as well.

I suggest that, instead of creating new sources of conflict and overlaps in public spending, that money be paid directly to Quebec so that it can provide the health services the public has every right to expect.

Let us come back specifically to Bill C-5. In the preamble of the bill it says, “the Government of Canada wishes to take public health measures, including measures relating to health protection and promotion, population health assessment, health surveillance, disease and injury prevention, and public health emergency preparedness and response”.

Does the current agency not already assume, for the most part, this role the government wants to give it in this bill?

I also understand that the agency already fostered consultation and cooperation with the provincial and territorial governments and that it already encouraged cooperation with foreign governments and international organizations, that it is headed up by a doctor and that it seems to have a large team of officials at its service as well as a hefty budget.

Why do we need to invent a new structure for Canada?

I seriously wonder if we really need Bill C-5, which has several elements that I find worrisome.

I am wondering whether the consolidation of this agency is really necessary and whether it is in the best interest of taxpayers—an expression so dear to our Conservative government—to finance this administrative structure as a separate entity within the existing health care network.

I truly believe that this bill came about in direct response to the SARS crisis in the Toronto area in 2003.

In my view, the government thinks that this intrusion in health care, an area of jurisdiction belonging to Quebec and the provinces, is justified largely because of the serious and unfortunate experience with SARS in 2003.

We agree with the parliamentary secretary regarding the important debate on the state of public health in Canada triggered by the SARS crisis. Nevertheless, I would point out that, at the time, the various players in the Quebec health care system agreed that, if the crisis had happened in Quebec, it would not have been as serious as it was in Ontario. In fact, Quebec was ready. The well-established and well-structured Institut national de santé publique du Québec was there precisely to respond to that kind of event.

Quebec has an action plan ready to be carried out in the event of an emergency situation within its borders and it has well-established, responsible human resources.

Furthermore, Quebec has developed a public health culture and public health practices that are often cited as examples all over the world. Furthermore, the Institut national de santé publique du Québec was consulted for its expertise by members of the working committee from Ontario responsible for making recommendations regarding the creation of a health promotion and protection agency in Ontario. Their report was tabled in March 2006 and the agency should be created by 2007.

The SARS crisis in Toronto, in a sense, prompted the creation of that agency in Ontario. At first glance, the agency would seem to play the same role as the Institut national de santé publique du Québec.

In short, because in its area of jurisdiction Quebec has put in place what is required to respond to this type of crisis, because Quebec is rigorous and has developed remarkable expertise in its role as protector of public health, in addition to collaborating with the various players in this area, the Bloc Québécois does not feel it is necessary to give this status to the Public Health Agency of Canada, as provided for in Bill C-5.

I really do not see how the new status and the new powers of the Public Health Agency of Canada, which will have an office in Quebec, will help to better deal with a future influenza pandemic, for example. Each province must put in place its own public health structure, one that is well co-ordinated and well run.

I do not believe it necessary to squander large amounts of money on a heavier bureaucracy in order to establish and conduct coordination of provincial activities in the area of health promotion and prevention. I do not see how this agency per se will make it possible to react more quickly.

The parliamentary secretary to the health minister stated in May, and I quote:

—everyone in Canada can benefit by working together...if there were, heaven forbid, a pandemic influenza we would need to have a coordinated effort throughout Canada to deal with the issue.

He added that “we would need a coordinated effort throughout the world”.

The parliamentary secretary to the health minister leads us to believe that, at present, the provinces, territories and the WHO are not working together, and that Bill C-5 would solve this problem.

I would not want the parliamentary secretary to think that I am against collaborating and cooperating, or that I have anything against concerted efforts. I want him to know that what I am against is duplicating structures, creating another bureaucracy, unnecessary spending, duplication, and intrusion by the federal government in Quebec's areas of responsibility.

I am for better health protection for Quebeckers and Canadians while ensuring both efficiency and effectiveness. The most appropriate actors for this remain the experts designated by the provinces.

In Quebec, the public health action plans are coordinated by the director of the Institut national de santé publique, who is responsible for cooperating with his counterparts in the other provinces, federal officials and the WHO in the event of an epidemic or pandemic.

The problem is that people's needs in terms of health and social services are experienced in Quebec and the provinces, while the money is in Ottawa.

Take for example Quebec's ongoing planning activities in the area of health promotion.

In Quebec, every provincial, regional and local expert agrees that the top health promotion priority is addressing the problems of our overweight and obese youth. Allow me to quote the following:

The scope of this public health problem has prompted the Government of Quebec to identify obesity prevention as a government priority...The institute's work also contributes to the development of preventive interventions based primarily on changes to political, economic, socio-cultural, agricultural and food, and built environments that will make it easier to adopt healthy weight management behaviours while taking care not to intensify the excessive preoccupation with weight.

That is a rather concrete example showing that, in Quebec, we have identified among our health promotion priorities the issue of excess weight in our young people. The response methods selected and used are suited to the culture and values of Quebeckers.

If we visit the website of the Canadian agency, we can see that it too has national strategies dealing with weight and excess weight.

Thus, a Quebecker doing Internet research would come across a Canadian strategy and a Quebec strategy to battle excessive body weight. Personally, as a taxpayer and a citizen, I see this as a waste of public funds. Running a health promotion campaign involves all sorts of activities: brochures, flyers, radio and television ads. The federal government is spending money, and so is the Quebec government. This is a clear, blatant example that shows taxpayers that spending is being duplicated.

I have one more example. Even though I only have a minute left, I would like to take the time to provide one last example, which is about the fight against cancer.

These days, cancer is a very serious, increasingly common illness that affects many Quebeckers and Canadians. Quebec has its own strategy for fighting cancer. On the federal level, Canada has created its own national strategy. As a Quebecker, I find myself up against the same situation as in the other example I just gave. We are presented with two strategies, complete with different kinds of promotional and educational materials. This is another blatant example of unacceptable duplication of spending.

In conclusion, the Bloc Québécois is committed to supporting the other parties in this House when it is in the best interest of Quebec. However, we cannot support a project in which the government seeks to duplicate services and create new bureaucratic structures.

Public Health Agency of Canada ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia Manitoba


Steven Fletcher ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's comments. I have to say they were quite disappointing because there were a lot of inaccuracies and misstatements.

With respect to the Canadian strategy for cancer control, it is true that the government put $260 million toward a five year strategy. When the Conservatives were in opposition, I brought forward a motion to fully fund and implement the strategy. Unfortunately it did not happen with the Liberal government but our government is going to make it happen.

The strategy will provide coordination of best practices in cancer. If something is going well in Quebec, Quebec will be able to convey that knowledge to British Columbia, Alberta or P.E.I., for example. The same is true if something is going well in another party of the country. Quebec could benefit from that knowledge.

The other part of the strategy is research. The federal government plays a significant role in cancer research. It is ludicrous for the member to suggest that the research that will be conducted within the cancer strategy will not have the potential of helping people in Quebec.

With regard to the larger picture, we hear the same tired lines from the Bloc Québécois all the time about duplication and provincial jurisdiction. That is not the case with this bill. This bill allows for the coordination of resources to deal with a pandemic. Pandemics do not respect borders. Moreover, the Canada Health Act and the powers that the Minister of Health has are well known. The Public Health Agency is part of that. The health minister already has the power to deal with public health issues. The Public Health Agency falls under the responsibilities of the Minister of Health. It is not an encroachment. It allows the health minister to better deal with the challenges faced by all Canadians, including Quebeckers. The Public Health Agency also has to deal with our international obligations.

Would the member agree that pandemics do not respect borders? A simple yes or no answer would be fine.

Public Health Agency of Canada ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for listening to my speech. Perhaps he missed half of it, I do not know. He arrived almost at the end of my speech.

I can say, in answer to his question, that I think he is right; germs, bacteria and so on know no boundaries. This is an undeniable fact. He must understand that the Bloc Québécois is not opposed to strategies for fighting cancer. However, we believe that this is a provincial responsibility, that this comes under the province's jurisdiction and that we can cooperate with a federal authority.

We want the federal government to give us the money so that we can implement our own strategy for promoting health and fighting cancer. Indeed, Quebec is always prepared and it is already doing so, since the Department of Health is part of the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control. We are already cooperating.

Consequently, why is it so necessary to create an entity and to use public funds to support a structure that, in my opinion, is not relevant? I believe that Quebec is currently cooperating with federal authorities, and that it is doing so very well. Why duplicate our health promotion and cancer control activities when each province is doing this well and we are already cooperating with federal authorities?

Public Health Agency of Canada ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

We will now go to statements by members. There will be five minutes left for questions and comments when the debate resumes.

SportsStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Gary Schellenberger Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the middle of the Stanley Cup finals and the World Cup for soccer, I am reminded of the importance of sports at all levels in the lives of Canadians.

On June 24, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will hold its annual induction ceremony in St. Marys, Ontario.

In the coming week, Softball Canada's Senior Women's National team will be participating in a series of exhibition games in southern Ontario, including a game in the small town of Milverton.

On June 30, the Monkton World Fastball Invitational will begin in Monkton, Ontario with teams from across Canada and the United States.

I have always been a big supporter of sports, especially at the local level. I hope that this summer all members will enjoy the variety of sporting events offered in their ridings.

Finally, I want to pay tribute to all the coaches, volunteers, parents and players who give their time to keep sporting events running in our communities.

Jobie NutarakStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, it is with deep regret that I inform the House that Jobie Nutarak, of Pond Inlet, Nunavut, died unexpectedly as the result of an unfortunate snowmobile accident while hunting on Saturday, April 29.

Mr. Nutarak took great pride in being the first confirmed elected member of the first Nunavut legislature in 1999. As a hunter, he symbolized what our new territory would represent. He was then elected Speaker of the Legislative Assembly in Nunavut on March 9, 2004.

Active in Inuit organizations and the land claims process, Jobie earned great respect with his ability to calm heated debates and direct the participants to a resolution where all were happy.

This is a tragic loss to all Nunavummiut and, indeed, to all Canadians.

I would ask the House to join me in expressing condolences to his wife, Joanna, and his children, Dennis, Harvey, Marc, Angela and Melanie. Our thoughts are with them and the community of Pond Inlet at this sad time.

Claude VilleneuveStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, Claude Villeneuve, a university professor and head of the ECO-conseil program at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, was honoured with a 2006 Canadian Environment Award at a gala ceremony on June 5, 2006, in Vancouver.

A biologist by training, he earned a silver prize in the “climate change” category. I must underscore that Mr. Villeneuve has earned several honours in the past, including scientist of the year in 2001, awarded by CBC.

In addition to being a leader in environmental matters in Quebec, Claude Villeneuve also acts as a consultant for UNESCO and the United Nations Development Programme.

The Bloc Québécois would like to congratulate this brilliant environmentalist, whose work and international acclaim are a credit to the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean area and to all of Quebec.

Elections CanadaStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, my colleagues in the NDP would not dare spend one nickel over our election spending limits for fear of the dire consequences with which we are always threatened. Therefore, we were shocked to learn that the member for Newmarket—Aurora spent $241,000 on her election campaign, and Elections Canada seems to find nothing wrong with that.

There were unreported corporate donations of illegal size. The $75,000 she spent on her election night was more than I was allowed to spend on my entire campaign. What gives? Do we have elections--

Elections CanadaStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Elections CanadaStatements By Members

11 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. I remind hon. members that Standing Order 31 statements cannot be used for personal attacks. They can be used for attacks on policy, maybe, but the hon. member seems to be going after one hon. member and not the general policy. I would invite him to confine his remarks to a more policy-oriented discussion.

Elections CanadaStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, my point is, do we have election financing laws or are these just suggested guidelines that only suckers like me follow?

I will not tolerate any double standards. The integrity of our electoral system depends on the fair application and the enforcement of the rules. There has to be consequences for those who would abuse those rules, or we might as well have no rules at all.

Law and order means more than just street crime. Law and order should apply to the application of election financing laws. I call upon the elections commissioner to investigate and enforce those rules.

Mariette Carrier-FraserStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Guy Lauzon Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of myself, my colleagues, and particularly the Minister of International Cooperation and Minister for La Francophonie and Official Languages, I would like to congratulate Mariette Carrier-Fraser on her appointment as the new chairperson of the Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario.

On countless occasions over the course of her long and productive career in the public service, Ms. Carrier-Fraser has demonstrated her commitment to the Franco-Ontarian community.

There is no doubt that this eloquent woman of high calibre and remarkable experience will demonstrate the leadership needed to ensure the development of the Franco-Ontarian community. Several challenges lie ahead, but I do not doubt for an instant that she will meet them brilliantly, with the help of the AFO board of directors.

Once again, I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to Mariette Carrier-Fraser on her new position.

IranStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Bryon Wilfert Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Baha'is of Iran have been persecuted throughout their history. With the triumph of the Islamic revolution in 1979, the persecution has been systematized. More than 200 Baha'is have been executed or killed, hundreds more have been imprisoned and tens of thousands have been deprived of jobs, pensions, businesses and educational opportunities.

The approximate 300,000 member Baha'i community is the largest religious minority in Iran. The Baha'is have been oppressed solely because of religious intolerance. The progressive stands of the Baha'is on women's issues, education have particularly infuriated Muslim clerics.

This problem however has crossed borders. A group of Baha'is in my riding are concerned that their relatives in Iran are at risk from the increasingly aggressive Islamic regime.

In recent months I have written the Minister of Foreign Affairs regarding a series of short term arrests of Baha'is on undeclared charges. The pattern of actions by the Iranian authorities is threatening. It is essential that Canada play a role in promoting human rights for Baha'is around the world.

Tourism WeekStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Bruce Stanton Conservative Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week was Tourism Week in Canada. It is one week of the year that brings together many of the 180,000 businesses and organizations, large and small, to celebrate their success and remind us all of the tremendous contribution this industry makes to our nation.

Spending by business and leisure travellers in Canada amounted to $57.5 billion in 2004. It accounted for 615,000 direct jobs and brought in $8.6 billion in federal tax revenue. C'est très important.

Between now and 2015, the tourism industry worldwide is expected to grow an average of 4.6% per year. That represents a tremendous opportunity for our country.

I know the Tourism Industry Association of Canada and its provincial and territorial partners will continue to advance the cause of tourism. I commend them for helping to make Canada the world-class destination we know it to be.