I would like to say that this bill is necessary because the situation in Canada and the world is urgent. Some cancer and heart patients will not be able to receive diagnoses or treatment. Canada now has a shortage of isotopes. It is not the same in every province, but I can speak about one case in particular.
For example, in British Columbia there is enough supply currently in some institutions, but others are in severe shortage. Alberta does not use this supplier, so it is fine. Saskatchewan is on a wait list for generators. Manitoba is using suppliers from Europe.
Ontario has limited supplies--I believe under 20%--and all regions of Ontario indicate shortages. Quebec is looking at contingency plans, but it expects shortages in the near term. In the Atlantic provinces, it is very severe. Newfoundland and Labrador and the Atlantic provinces have severe shortages. New Brunswick has two regions out of six that are affected. It goes on.
That is today. Tomorrow it will be worse. The day after tomorrow it will be worse still.
Let me take the opportunity to quote just very briefly from Dr. Brian Day, president of the Canadian Medical Association, in a letter to Ms. Keen that was delivered earlier today:
The Canadian Medical Association...joins the Canadian Society of Nuclear Medicine...to express our deep concern and profound disappointment with the disruption of supply of medical isotopes due to the extended shutdown of the reactor at Chalk River. The devastating impact that this has had on patient care across Canada, and indeed around the world, has been compounded by what we perceive as a true lack of understanding of what the extended shutdown means to patients who need access to vital diagnostic procedures. For physicians it means we are increasingly being forced to make difficult clinical decisions without appropriate critical diagnostic tools.
I will read another quote for members:
Nuclear medicine services are now being rationed across Canada. Patients are not getting timely access to critical diagnostic procedures...This is impacting on diagnostic services; timely surgery; and therapy planning, placing patients increasingly at risk.
I will read one final sentence:
The decision to take the reactor off-line for an extended period of time has already affected critical medical management decisions and the numbers affected will escalate every day that the shutdown is in effect.
Members do not have to believe me. They do not have to believe this caucus. They can believe the head of the Canadian Medical Association. They can believe the Canadian Society of Nuclear Medicine.
That is the situation we find ourselves in. As responsible parliamentarians, we should act.