House of Commons Hansard #49 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was air.


7:20 p.m.

Kootenay—Columbia B.C.


Jim Abbott ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Madam Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the opportunity to be hear in the House on this important issue again.

Our government's track record on foreign aid is impeccable. As she noted, we have doubled our aid to Africa, we have doubled our total aid to a record $5 billion, and we are making our aid more effective, focused and accountable. The goal of foreign aid is obvious: to reduce poverty in developing countries. Improving the lives of mothers and children is the foundation to achieving sustainable poverty reduction.

This year the international community will review the progress made in achieving the millennium development goals before the 2015 deadline. Of all the MDGs put forward a decade ago, improving maternal health is the one that lags farthest behind. Our Prime Minister took this fact into consideration and made this issue his. Canada will be the country that leads the world forward to help mothers and children.

According to the World Health Organization, every year more than 500,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth from largely preventable causes, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. These women are giving birth in conditions that are entirely unsanitary. Our initiative is working to change that. I urge the opposition to get onside with the government and with the NGOs.

With respect to reducing child mortality, MDG 4, the situation is equally concerning. Although mortality for children under the age of five has declined steadily worldwide, we have not yet managed to get to the point required to meet the MDG goal by 2015.

Every year three million babies die within the first week of life. Almost nine million children in the developing world die before their fifth birthday from largely preventable diseases, such as pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, severe acute malnutrition, measles and HIV. The tragic fact is there are simple solutions to address all of these problems. That is why the Prime Minister chose to focus on maternal and under-five child health at the G8 summit in June.

A few weeks ago in Halifax, all G8 development ministers unanimously agreed that improving the health of mothers and children was a top priority for the G8. There was a strong consensus that our scope of action would require a comprehensive approach that would include the full continuum of care from pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, delivery and early childhood.

This means integrating high-impact interventions at the community level, such as antenatal care, postpartum care, family planning, treatment and prevention of diseases, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, immunization and nutrition.

Ministers really stressed the importance of improving and integrating nutrition into the development goals. Most important, and in keeping with the Prime Minister's focus on accountability that he set out as a key theme for our G8 presidency, we agreed to a set of principles on which to guide the work ahead.

As the Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-moon said:

We know how to save mothers' lives. Some simple blood tests, a doctor's consultation and someone qualified to help with the birth can make a huge difference. Add some basic antibiotics, blood transfusions and a safe operating room, and the risk of death can almost be eliminated.

Before the member opposite gets up to respond to the question, she should consider the words of those development ministers from the G8 countries. We want to get the most bang for our buck. I have just finished outlining all of the things that we will be able to do not only in a cost effective way but in the most efficient way possible to be able to positively impact this situation.

7:25 p.m.


Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, our foreign aid is nowhere near the 0.7% of GDP in the millennium development goals and we renege on our promises to get there the minute the G8 photo op is over, each and every time. The message that we are sending is that women do not count unless they are mothers.

Do members know what a real plan looks like? This is what a real plan should look like. First, Canada should use its position as host of the G8 and G20 to take a leadership role, a global leadership role towards improving maternal and child health in the developing world by: one, committing significant new funds, separate from existing commitments, to build on successful international health interventions; two, by moving toward doubling our contribution to the global fund to fight HIV-AIDS, TB and malaria; and three, by ensuring that Canadian support for maternal health in the developing world includes a commitment to strengthening sexual and reproductive health care services, including family planning and safe abortion where it is legal.

This is a real plan. Will the government act on it?

7:30 p.m.


Jim Abbott Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Madam Speaker, over the past few months the Minister of International Cooperation met with representatives of our Canadian non-governmental partners, such as CARE, UNICEF, World Vision and Save the Children, who shared their collective experience and knowledge with her and helped plan our initiative for mothers and maternal health.

Canada is also working closely with its multilateral partners, such as the UN; the World Health Organization; UNICEF; the World Food Programme; the OECD; and the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.

Our objective with this initiative is to eliminate, as much as we possibly can, unnecessary deaths of mothers and children. We are on track to achieve that objective.

7:30 p.m.


The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted.

Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m. pursuant to order made on Thursday, May 6, 2010.

(The House adjourned at 7:31 p.m.)