Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to at least begin to address the issue of Bill C-51, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act.
There are very important issues raised in this legislation. It is not the first time a government in Canada in recent years has tried to change this legislation. In fact, this is about the fifth time in recent years and there has never been great success in overhauling this legislation.
It appears that the current government is facing the same kinds of problems. We now hear that even the Conservatives are proposing major amendments to their own legislation given the public outcry about it.
There are many serious problems with this legislation, things like the provision for direct to consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals. We have seen that this bill may open that door. We also know the American experience that many of us have some exposure to. We are concerned that that might increase costs to consumers. How will this affect the appropriate proscribing of drugs in Canada and how will it really contribute to the skyrocketing cost of drugs in Canada in our medical system?
There is also concern about progressive licensing and changes to the drug approval process. We have seen this aspect of our drug safety measures chipped away at over the years. In fact, the disappearance almost 10 years ago of the only drug lab that did the necessary kinds of testing, and post-market testing and surveillance is important to any drug and therapeutic product regime. That is another problem.
While we are concerned in this corner that the changes in this legislation may open the door to the kind of harmonization that is taking place under the security and prosperity partnership agenda, we are also concerned that there is too much ministerial discretion and too much regulatory discretion provided for in this legislation. We do not see that as appropriate either.
Like most members, I have heard from many--