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House of Commons Hansard #162 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was omnibus.

Topics

(The House divided on the motion which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #475

Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

The next question is on the main motion.

Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, if you seek it I believe you would find agreement to apply the vote from the previous motion to the current motion, with the Conservatives voting yes.

Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is it agreed?

Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the NDP agrees to apply the vote and will vote yes.

Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals agree to apply the vote and will be voting no.

Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bloc Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is in favour.

Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Independent

Bruce Hyer Independent Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be voting yes.

Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Green Party will be voting no.

Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Independent

Peter Goldring Independent Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be voting yes.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #476

Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It being 6:19 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Patent ActPrivate Members’ Business

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

moved that Bill C-398, An Act to amend the Patent Act (drugs for international humanitarian purposes), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is a somewhat emotional moment for me to see debate begin this evening on Bill C-398, the purpose of which is to reform Canada’s access to medicines regime. Essentially, this bill could save hundreds of thousands of lives. I am therefore really very honoured.

This is not the first time that the House has had the opportunity to discuss a bill of this type, that is, a bill relating to Canada’s access to medicines regime. It may therefore be worthwhile to review the history of that regime. In 2004, the House of Commons unanimously adopted Canada’s access to medicines regime, in response to World Trade Organization decisions designed to ensure that patent legislation did not prevent the developed countries from doing their basic humanitarian duty and providing medicines to people in the most disadvantaged countries, who are in desperate need of them.

Unfortunately, in the years that followed, we realized that the system approved in 2004 was not working, because there were all sorts of obstacles and problems with its basic model.

In fact, during the first attempt at using CAMR, Canada's access to medicines regime, people rapidly realized that there were too many roadblocks that were not foreseen when the original law was drafted. There was basically too much red tape preventing it from functioning.

And so it was decided that something had to be done to make sure that Canada’s access to medicines regime did what it was meant to do. Accordingly, in 2009, the first bill to reform Canada’s access to medicines regime was introduced. It is important to note that the bill had widespread support at the time.

Tens of thousands of citizens signed a petition supporting the bill. A poll revealed that 80% of Canadians approved of the bill. Civil society rose to the challenge and numerous organizations, some of which are here this evening, started speaking out and working very hard in support of the bill. Finally, MPs from all parties united in the House of Commons to approve the bill. Unfortunately, it died on the order paper.

As my mother would have said: “Measure twice, cut once.” That is why we have to get back to work on this today and put this bill back on the agenda. We have to do it because this is a necessary bill, one that so many people are hoping for.

In the last few months I have met numerous actors. I have talked to loads of people concerned with this issue. I have met with brand name and generic pharmaceutical companies. I have met with citizens; with civil society organizations; with people active in the field, working in Africa, for example; and with MPs and senators. I can say that I am really confident that together we can achieve this. We can reform CAMR and make it work.

The essential point is that reforming Canada’s access to medicines regime is a win-win situation. The pharmaceutical companies win, of course. They gain access to new markets—markets, it is important to note, that are of little or negligible importance to the biggest pharmaceutical companies. Africa, for example, represents only 2% of the big pharmaceutical companies’ sales. This is a win for generic drug companies.

The big pharmaceutical companies also win because they are making a social contribution. That is important. I know it is important to them and they are committed to this. They lose very little, because we are talking about markets that hold little value for them, as I said, and they receive royalties.

Canadian taxpayers also win. They win, first, because the bill will not cost them a single penny. As someone said, the only cost associated with the bill is the electricity for evenings when we sit like this and discuss the bill. However, they win at an even more basic level, because this bill will mean that more can be done with our very limited development assistance resources.

As has been said, it is very simple: the generic drug companies will allow medicines to be supplied that will be cheaper, much cheaper, because the competition the generic companies engage in, in the markets, is the biggest factor in reducing the cost of medicines; in fact, this factor can reduce costs by up to 95%. That amounts to an enormous figure. So we can do a lot more with the same amount of money, and this in turn will make our co-operation much more effective.

I have lived in Africa. I have seen the effect these diseases have on people. We are talking about AIDS, but also about tuberculosis and malaria. Those diseases do not just destroy lives; they destroy families and communities. They are often the main factor holding back development in these countries. If we want the money we invest in international aid to be effective, it is absolutely essential that we use this tool to help combat these public health crises.

The pharmaceutical companies and Canadian taxpayers win, but ultimately, and most importantly, let us not forget that people in the developing countries win, human beings who are in desperate need of these medicines.

We must remember that sub-Saharan Africa is the region most affected by the AIDS pandemic and more often than not does not have the resources to deal with it. Sub-Saharan Africa is where 90% of the children in the world who have AIDS live, and one child in two born with HIV will die before their second birthday.

We are talking about tens, hundreds of thousands of people who are waiting for this aid, people for whom it will make things enormously better.

This also highlights the fact that the functioning CAMR would contribute significantly to the government's child and maternal health initiative and would stretch our aid money by providing low-cost medicine to the people who need it most. I think it is really a win-win situation for everyone.

We can reform CAMR and make it work. If we can do it, then we should do it because it will save lives.

We can do it by working together and listening to all the Canadians who have already stood up, who have been standing up for years, to say this is the right thing to do, it is what they want their representatives to do.

In fact, on the question of the contributions by Canadians and Canadian organizations all across the country, I cannot fail to mention the extraordinary role played by so many individuals and organizations that have put all their energy into supporting this private member’s bill.

I am thinking in particular of Richard Elliott of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, and Pat Evans, Bonnie Johnson, Andrea Beal, Bev McGibbon and Norah Menzies of the Grandmothers Advocacy Network, also known as GRAN.

I am talking about Meg French and Carleen McGuinty of UNICEF.

I am talking about of Tara Fischer and Robin Jackson of the Canadian Federation of University Women.

I am talking about Anne Gardiner of Bracelet of Hope, and Pastor James Qhobela of the Apostolic Faith Mission Social Development Division of Lesotho and his wife, who I had the pleasure of meeting.

I am talking about Ariane Cartwright of Results Canada.

I also want to express special thanks to the Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale, or AQOCI, and its executive director, Gervais L'Heureux, for their support. Thanks to support like that from partners and from tens of thousands of Canadians who have stood up and called on their representatives to approve this bill, we can do it. We can reform Canada’s access to medicines regime and we can save lives, in the interests of us all.

Patent ActPrivate Members’ Business

6:30 p.m.

NDP

Craig Scott NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Richard Elliott, the executive director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, who was mentioned by my hon. colleague in her speech but who is also a constituent in my riding of Toronto—Danforth, for his continuous dedication to this issue.

Richard, in a recent interview in Embassy magazine, had the following observation:

Overcoming the global gap in access to medicines requires multiple, complementary strategies. But ensuring more affordable medicines for low- and middle-income countries is a necessary part of the solution.... They need to harness the power of competition in the marketplace to make medicines affordable. This is why it's important to make the access to medicines regime work—even as it should be complemented by other efforts....

Would my colleague from Laurier—Sainte-Marie elaborate a bit further on the bill being a part of the solution but never something that we should expect to be the solution, in and of itself?

Patent ActPrivate Members’ Business

6:30 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Toronto—Danforth. I absolutely agree that this is an essential part of the solution, but not the whole solution.

I was speaking just today with Pastor Qhobela. People tell him they need doctors, infrastructure and hospitals first, but he wondered what it would accomplish to have doctors and hospitals if they do not have medicines to treat the patients. He talked about meeting a nurse who had simply resigned from his position because he was discouraged. He would have liked to do things to help people, but he did not have the medicines he needed to do that.

There is another part of the solution to the problem. When people need to pay less for medicines and the price is affordable, that frees up resources for other activities that will contribute to solving the problem.

Patent ActPrivate Members’ Business

6:35 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend my friend, the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, on this extraordinary initiative.

She just said—and that really intrigued me—that this frees up money for other things.

Is it reasonable to expect that the money that will be freed up by not having to buy drugs could be invested in building hospitals and hiring doctors?

Patent ActPrivate Members’ Business

6:35 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us look at the global health fund, for example. There are fewer and fewer resources available to cope with the major challenges it must face.

When the global health fund is forced to invest what little it has in buying drugs, this does not leave room for other initiatives. I do not think that we can assume that the savings from drug purchases will automatically be allocated to other infrastructure. However, having access to more affordable drugs will certainly free up resources within the countries and among donors and multilateral organizations and allow them to continue working on other aspects.

Patent ActPrivate Members’ Business

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like my colleague to say a few words about the difference in the quality of the drugs made in Canada and the role that this plays in the competition between drugs from Canada and drugs from other countries.

Patent ActPrivate Members’ Business

6:35 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his question and for his general interest in this bill.

I cannot underscore enough the importance and quality of Canada's pharmaceutical industry and its capacity to positively contribute to resolving a global problem. Of course there are other suppliers of generic products in other countries, but I have tremendous faith in the capacity of Canada's industry and the quality of its products. We must not forget the importance of competition for reducing prices either.

Patent ActPrivate Members’ Business

October 16th, 2012 / 6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-398, An Act to amend the Patent Act (drugs for international humanitarian purposes), which aims to modify certain fundamental aspects of Canada's access to medicines regime.

I join many members of the House in viewing the regime as a key component of Canada's long-term, multi-faceted approach to addressing the serious public health problems that affect many low and middle-income countries. However, this is only one weapon in the arsenal Canada has put together to fight disease, to provide access to medicines and to improve health conditions in the developing world.

In addition to our access to medicines regime, Canada makes significant contributions to global mechanisms for the procurement of low-cost drugs to respond to the needs of the developing world. Canada continues to provide leadership in the global fight against diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Canadians are proud to have invested more per capita than any other country, according to the global fund.

Our comprehensive approach combines prevention of the spread of disease in co-operation with international partners to increase the impact of our funding and lower delivery costs; leadership, through initiatives such as the Muskoka initiative, to improve the health of children and mothers; and innovation to provide the right climate for the development of new medicines and treatments. Our strong track record of support also includes being a founding donor to the global drug facility, being the single largest donor of first-line tuberculosis drugs and working with the Gates Foundation to advance the HIV vaccine.

We embrace the bill's laudable objectives of improving public health in the developing world. However, it would not accomplish this goal.

Independent experts have testified that it would not benefit those in need. It cannot change the fact that there is a demand for lower-cost generic drugs from emerging markets. For instance, India produces 80% of the antivirals funded by countries such as Canada for the developing world. The bill would eliminate many of the checks and balances that were built into the current regime to prevent misuse, which could harm researchers who have invested their energy and know-how into developing new life-saving drugs. The approach suggested in the bill would hold back continued pharmaceutical investment here in Canada and reduce the type of new and innovative therapies being brought to the Canadian market.

Finally, many of the bill's proposed changes are not in keeping with the spirit of the World Trade Organization decision on which Canada's access to medicines regime is based. This decision was designed to provide access to countries facing health emergencies but lacking the means of acquiring needed medicines. The intention of the decision was to remove patents viewed as a barrier to the supply of drugs needed to address public health issues in developing nations. The decision brought together divergent stakeholder views to come up with the appropriate response to public health issues in the developing world, while at the same time respecting intellectual property protections. It was viewed as just one part of the broader international strategy to combat diseases that impact the developing world, a strategy to which Canada has been a key contributor.

In the end, the decision achieved the unanimous support of all members of the World Trade Organization. The World Trade Organization decision ensures that patent rules do not preclude the manufacturing and exporting of cheaper generic copies of patented medicines to the developing countries facing public health emergencies. The international consensus was that it was important to have safeguards to guarantee that the system would only be used for humanitarian purposes and would not be used and diverted for unintended purposes.

Canada's access to medicines regime incorporated all the key elements required by the World Trade Organization decision. It provides a framework for countries to access less expensive generic versions of patented drugs. It also respects Canada's domestic intellectual property framework.

Why is a stable and predictable international intellectual property regime important in Canada?

Intellectual property protection provides incentives for companies to invest in research and development into new and innovative drugs and medical devices. This research and development benefits all Canadians by improving our knowledge, generating research infrastructure, creating more highly paid, skilled jobs in Canada and leading to innovations that will help people live longer, healthier and more productive lives.

The protection and promotion of patents and innovation in the domestic pharmaceutical sector is also key in achieving this government's international humanitarian objectives. The generic industry relies on its brand name competitors to innovate in order to have the products to copy and to sell here in Canada and abroad.

Bill C-398 would interfere with the balanced approach of Canada's access to medical regime and make Canada a less stable, less reliable and less welcoming place for those people who want to invest and innovate.

There are clear reasons to believe that the proposed amendments would be inconsistent with Canada's trade obligations and harm our relationship of trust with our international trading and research partners.

The provisions of the Canadian access to medicines regime were carefully considered, designed and implemented to comply with the World Trade Organization rules. The intention of these rules was to address serious health issues in low and middle-income countries and not to create a system of exporting an unlimited amount of medicines for any reason without the proper checks. These rules require that countries have to notify the World Trade Organization of their intention to use the system. Bill C-398 would remove this requirement and, along with other proposed changes, would alter the intended purpose of the regime. It would also remove the mandatory safety reviews by Health Canada that are currently required.

Canada's approach has a proven track record of improving access to treatment and health care delivery. Together, the global efforts that Canada supports are producing significant results. The supply of lower cost medicines has increased as has their ability to those in need. I will give one example. According to the World Health Organization, nearly eight million people living with HIV in low and middle-income countries are now receiving HIV antiviral treatment.

Our government continues to support an access to medicine regime with the proper checks and balances, that respects our international obligations and serves as one essential part of a comprehensive approach to improving health and fighting diseases in developing countries.

For those reasons, I urge all members of the House not to support Bill C-398.

Motion No. 13Ways and MeansPrivate Members’ Business

6:45 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor ConservativeMinister of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and I offer the following motion. I move:

That the order for consideration of ways and means Motion No. 13 be deemed read, the motion to concur deemed moved and seconded, the question deemed put and the recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Wednesday, October 17 at the expiry of the time provided for oral questions.

Motion No. 13Ways and MeansPrivate Members’ Business

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Does the hon. government whip have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Motion No. 13Ways and MeansPrivate Members’ Business

6:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.