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House of Commons Hansard #83 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was unemployed.

Topics

Child CareStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. Oral questions. The hon. member for Labrador.

HealthOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, imagine that you, your child or your grandmother have H1N1. Imagine people who live in fear of the spread of this disease. Imagine being a community leader or health worker pleading for help, trying to prepare and too often doing so on your own.

What message does it send to people, their families and their community when the government will not send medicine but it will send body bags? Will the Minister of Health own up to her responsibilities and apologize for this shameful incompetence?

HealthOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I totally agree with the member for Labrador. What happened in recent events is unacceptable. It is incredibly insensitive and offensive.

The Minister of Health has ordered her department to conduct a thorough and immediate inquiry into this matter, and the results of that inquiry will be made public.

HealthOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, the body bag incident was indeed callous. It was disrespectful and insensitive. It brings to mind an episode from history in my own riding. There was an influenza outbreak. The colonial government at the time did not send help; it did not send medicine. It sent planks to make coffins and bury the dead.

That was 90 years ago. I would have hoped, as all Canadians would have hoped, that things would have changed. How can first nations, Inuit and Métis communities trust their health and well-being to the government? How can any Canadian trust their health and well-being to the government?

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I again agree with the member opposite. It was unacceptable. It was incredibly insensitive. Indeed, it was offensive.

The Minister of Health put out a statement earlier today in which she was very clear that she finds this act to be totally inappropriate. She has ordered an inquiry from her department. She is incredibly concerned about it and she will make the results of that inquiry public for all parliamentarians and Canadians.

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, last spring the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development visited Island Lake, Manitoba. What did he see? He saw limited water facilities and overcrowded, mouldy homes. What did he do? He did almost nothing.

The communities were soon hit with H1N1. They waited and waited for help. Little real help came, but body bags came. Will the outcry over this shameful response force the government to get serious about the real needs of Manitoba's aboriginal communities?

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, we share the outrage at what happened recently with this incident. It was insensitive, of course. It was objectionable, and it understandably got the reaction it did from the chiefs and communities involved.

We have an extensive program. For example, we announced $330 million in the budget for waste water treatment. We have announced additional funds for housing, both in the stimulus package and in the regular funding. We are working with first nations to do more to address some of these root causes.

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the investments in housing that he mentioned have resulted in one house per community in Manitoba.

The children have returned to school and the parents are worried. We know very well how preparations are coming along in first nations communities: they have stalled. The Conservatives have had the whole summer to prepare the country for this pandemic, but they could do no better than to send body bags to Manitoba.

Do they not understand that it is their responsibility to protect the health of all Canadians?

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, of course there is much to do in first nations communities across the country, especially in remote communities, to provide things like safe drinking water. When we came to office we had 197 communities with high-risk water systems that we inherited from the Liberal Party. We now have that down to less than 60.

Of course there is more work to be done. The hon. member says that nothing has been done. This summer alone, we announced 21 new schools to be built and hundreds of millions of dollars in new housing. There is always more to do, but I will not be lectured by a party that left us with 197 high-risk water systems.

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, we learned today that dozens of residents of Vancouver Island have contracted the H1N1 flu. The authorities have told doctors to stop testing for the flue because they are already overwhelmed.

When will these people get the help they need? When will this insensitive government finally accept its responsibilities?

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health has taken great leadership with respect to H1N1. Her department and the Public Health Agency of Canada have done a significant amount of work in preparation, building on the work completed by the previous minister of health.

In recent days they have announced specific measures, giving priority to those communities which are the most vulnerable, and that is as it should be. We are obviously tremendously concerned for those most vulnerable for this and for our health care practitioners.

We will continue to work incredibly hard to ensure that all efforts are taken to combat this challenge.

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, during his visit to Washington, the Prime Minister talked to the American President about the dangers of protectionism. Under NAFTA, the American government does not have the right to engage in preferential purchasing, that is, buying only goods that originate in the United States. However, Mr. Obama's plan gets around the problem by forcing states and municipalities, which do not come under NAFTA rules, to buy American exclusively.

Does the Minister of International Trade realize that the real problem is not the buy American act, but rather the American President's plan?

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, that is why our Prime Minister continues to tell the President of the United States that there is a problem. We also have solutions, which are supported by municipalities across Canada.

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, if I understand correctly, the Minister of International Trade agrees with my analysis.

However, the Prime Minister is proposing that the principle of full reciprocity should dominate trade relations between the United States and Canada. Such an agreement would prevent Quebec, the provinces and the municipalities from using preferential purchasing as a tool for economic development. Furthermore, Canada's position during the negotiations on free trade in 1988 and on NAFTA in 1992 was to maintain that privilege.

Does the Minister of International Trade realize that full reciprocity could have a very negative impact on small and medium sized businesses?

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, clearly, it is very important that we strike a balance. That is why Canada's municipalities want to keep the doors open and also want reciprocity. Thus, they could have American representation and their companies, their businesses, could also present their infrastructure programs to the United States.

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, opening up government procurement to full reciprocity, which the Conservative government proposed to the President of the United States, is a bad idea for Quebec's economy and for Canada's because it would introduce an all-or-nothing dynamic. That is exactly what happened with softwood lumber.

Instead of creating a new problem, should the government not be working to convince American authorities to allow U.S. states and municipalities complete freedom in choosing their suppliers?

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, our municipalities were the ones who said they wanted to keep the doors open. So we presented a solution. Some Canadian municipalities disagreed and said that they wanted some regions to remain under their authority. That is what some Quebec municipalities did. We also have the support of Quebec's Premier Charest, who was a leader in developing the program.

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, full reciprocity is not only a bad idea for Canadian companies, but it could also cause the United States to call for the extension of free trade to sectors that are currently exempt from NAFTA.

Is the government aware that its proposal gives the United States grounds for demanding access to sectors such as health and culture?

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, what is bad is when the doors are closed and there are no opportunities. It is very important for our workers and investors to have opportunities to submit bids for public works projects in the United States. That is why the mayors agree with us about the solution. Maybe the member should talk to those mayors.

HealthOral Questions

September 17th, 2009 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, imagine how the chiefs, the leaders and the nurses must have felt when they opened up what they thought were H1N1 kits and found body bags: 30 of them in Wasagamack First Nation, 20 in God's Lake First Nation, more in other communities.

As the chief of the AFN told me today, it demonstrated a disturbing lack of respect for first nations, Métis and Inuit people and their leaders. Body bags will not halt the spread of the virus. It will not stop the disease. These communities need help and I would call on the government to explain when it is going to start working with the leadership.

HealthOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the government has been very clear. I have been very clear. The Minister of Health has been very clear. What happened was inexcusable. It was unfortunate. It was regrettable. It was incredibly insensitive. The Minister of Health has issued a statement, and I will read from part of it:

As minister of health and as an aboriginal, I am offended. To all who took offence at what occurred, I want to say that I share your concern, and I pledge to get to the bottom of it.

The Minister of Health will do just that, and she will make it public.

HealthOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government is all set to bury the dead in aboriginal communities, in first nations communities, but it is not ready to cope with H1N1. Why not? People want a plan. This is the same government that refused to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, that refused to build schools that students need and that even refused to respect treaties. Now it is sending them body bags. Such disrespect is unacceptable.

When will the government start working with aboriginal leaders?

HealthOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I share the views of the leader of the NDP on one point, that what happened was incredibly unacceptable. I do not think the leader of the NDP is putting much light on it and he does not do himself any service by his comments at the outset of that question.

HealthOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, let us stop the excuses here. There is no plan for assisting these communities to deal with the H1N1 crisis. That is the problem. If the government wants to respond to the situation of the body bags, then bring forward a plan, put it here so people can know what it is. More important, the government should be in touch with the first nations leadership of this country who are waiting to work with the people in their communities to prevent the spread of this terrible disease. Where is the plan? Put it on the table. That is the best response to the situation we are facing now.

HealthOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, neither the minister nor this government offers any excuses. What happened was inexcusable and the minister is pledging on behalf of all Canadians to get to the bottom of it.

As we speak, the Minister of Health is meeting with her provincial and territorial colleagues to work on dealing with this challenge. In a statement earlier today, she said:

There is strong co-operation taking place with First Nations people at the community, regional and national levels, as well as with provinces and territories, to ensure that all Canadians are informed of and protected from the H1N1 flu virus. As Health Minister I am fully committed to these efforts."

The people of Canada can depend on the Minister of Health to get the job done.