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House of Commons Hansard #182 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was report.

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The House resumed from November 7 consideration of the motion that Bill C-424, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (contestation of election and punishment), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

CANADA ELECTIONS ACTPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-424 under private members' business.

Call in the members.

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

Vote #500

CANADA ELECTIONS ACTPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion defeated.

The House resumed from November 8 consideration of the motion that Bill C-370, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada) as reported (without amendment) from the committee, be concurred in.

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recording division on the motion to concur in Bill C-370 at report stage under private members' business.

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

Vote #501

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for North Vancouver is rising on a point of order.

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I voted in favour of the motion. I am not sure that my vote was counted properly.

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The member's vote was included.

The House resumed from November 19 consideration of Motion No. 388.

FirefightersPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on Motion No. 388, under private members' business.

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

Vote #502

FirefightersPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from November 19 consideration of the motion.

BullyingPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on Motion M-385.

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

Vote #503

BullyingPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion defeated.

It being 6:42 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from October 16 consideration of the motion 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.

Patent ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The member for Guelph has six minutes left to conclude his remarks.

Patent ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, like its predecessor, Bill C-398 would amend the Patent Act to facilitate the manufacture and export of generic pharmaceuticals to address public health problems afflicting many developing and least developed countries, countries that most urgently need our assistance.

We know that treatment of AIDS prevents transmission. Science says so. Treatment of this terrible disease with antiretroviral medicines can reduce the total virus load in the body in an HIV sufferer to negligible amounts, which means the next step is to get that man or woman the medicine.

Under the current framework, Canada's Access to Medicines Regime, the compulsory licensing process, which is based not only on the specific kind of drug but also specific quantities, is further complicated by making each of those requirements specific to the importing country. Throughout the entire life of the current legislation only one country benefited, Rwanda, leaving the manufacturing company, Apotex, so frustrated that it stated it would not use CAMR again until it was reformed.

Many of the recipients in greatest need cannot wait much longer. Most recent statistics, which date back to 2010, estimate that 34 million people are suffering from HIV-AIDS, 50% are women, 3.4 million are children and 22.5 million sufferers are in sub-Saharan Africa, among some of the world's poorest, least stable countries. Without effective access to medicines enabling treatment, the numbers keep growing. By the end of 2010, HIV-AIDS accounted for 1.8 million deaths that year, deaths that we have come far enough, scientifically and medicinally, to have avoided.

Years ago I witnessed the terrible impact of this disease, while it ravaged the population of Central America. While doing international aid work in Honduras, I was in San Pedro Sula, which had the highest incidence of AIDS across the continent at the time.

Groups in my riding are well aware of the impact too. An incredibly compassionate community, I am pleased that Guelph is home to Dr. Anne-Marie Zajdlik and the Masai Centre for Local, Regional and Global Health and the “Bracelets of Hope” campaign.

The centre has a really incredible story. In 2003 a young boy named Masai was born to two HIV positive parents, yet through skilful and effective treatment, Masai was born HIV negative, something that would have been nearly impossible had he been born in Africa. Even if he had managed to be born HIV negative, without the proper treatment his parents would likely have joined the growing statistics of AIDS related deaths leaving behind broken families and orphan children.

It is frustratingly simple, really. There is a terrible problem with a workable solution.

The bill before us is substantially the same as the one we passed in March, 2011, but slightly streamlined. Bill C-398 includes the amendment pertaining to the definition of pharmaceutical products, including wording specific to the World Trade Organization General Council's decision of August 2003, reflecting international agreement on eligible drugs. Importantly, it also includes a one licence solution, enabling generic manufacturers to simultaneously sell multiple times to any country listed in schedule 2, cutting down on repetitious and burdensome red tape.

I would like to briefly address four myths about the bill.

The first myth is that the bill would weaken safeguards against the diversion and illegal sale of medicines. In fact, all safeguards currently in CAMR are maintained in the bill, which adds a further requirement for manufacturers to post certain information online that makes the process even more transparent.

The second myth is that the bill would remove measures to ensure the quality of exported medicines. In fact, Health Canada review continues to be required for all drugs exported under CAMR. There is no measure in the bill that would amend the Food and Drugs Act.

The third myth is that the bill would be contrary to Canada's obligations under WTO respecting intellectual property rights. In fact, CAMR and Bill C-398 are the Canadian implementation of agreements reached by all countries at the WTO, including Canada. Leading international legal experts all agree that the one licence solution proposed in Bill C-398 complies with WTO law.

The fourth myth is that like its predecessor the bill would remove the two-year limit on a licence. In fact, this was not carried over to this bill and the limit is not removed.

Also important to remember is that the bill continues the practice that generic manufacturers can only ship certain quantities of drugs. Listed countries must provide a notification of the quantities they need to the WTO. Generic manufacturers are only authorized to provide that notified quantity to those listed countries.

When this bill's predecessor was last before Parliament, I made the appeal that if we did not vote for the bill, we would wake up tomorrow and, as a country, would be no better able to help 7,100 newly-infected people with HIV. Nor would we be in a position to prevent another 7,100 people from becoming infected two days from now.

It is as true now as it was then. The problem has not changed. If anything, it continues to get worse. The solutions are present. It is time we move the bill to committee, make the necessary amendments and start to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.

I implore all members to support the bill.

Patent ActPrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the bill that my colleague has brought forth. I rise with a sense of regret and shame for a country that has failed to deliver on a promise that it made nearly 10 years ago. As a result of that failure and that promise that was never kept, we have witnessed children, men and women suffer and die because we did not get a chance to provide medications.

We built the system. This is important to recognize when we go back and look at the past. Bill C-56 was the original bill. It was nicknamed Jean Chrétien's aid to Africa act. We said at that time that we would put a system in place that would be the envy of the world. It would allow generic drugs to get to those who were suffering, whether it be from HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria. We promised.

When Parliament recessed Bill C-56 came back to the House as Bill C-9 in 2004. We made another promise. Experts appeared at committee a couple of times. We brought in witnesses. We had expert testimony from many people from around the world. People testified to make sure that we were WTO and TRIPS compliant, that we were within the mandate with regard to allowing the patented drugs to be generically created and distributed, and that we would follow certain rules. Basically, we wanted to create an open and accountable process. Instead we built a monster that really has only been exercised once in all of these years. It really is a monster, because it is preventing us from stopping death and suffering.

Why is it important? Lots of numbers get thrown out and there have been some improvements over the years. The reality is that many people are still suffering. I cannot understand it when I look at the problems being faced in sub-Saharan Africa. What are we doing when children are becoming the heads of households because their parents are dying? We are taking out the capacity for the family unit to be effective. These children are losing the knowledge of how to raise themselves, how to become successful, how to get an education and work co-operatively with others. We are undermining people because we are not providing the resources that are there.

There is a will out there. I want to read some comments from organizations that are in favour of the legislation, because it needs to be noted that they did their part. They did their part for many years on the Hill as we have moved this issue forward.

When we moved Bill C-393, the previous legislation, it ended up dying in the Senate. Unfortunately, we are back here today. It is important to move this legislation again to committee because it does have a few changes, some improvements and some compromise. It is not like we did not compromise along the way. At one point I submitted over 100 amendments to the original bill at industry committee because we knew the legislation was so badly constructed. The Canadian access to medicines regime was built to defeat itself.

The organizations that did their part include the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Grandmothers Advocacy Network, Results Canada, the Federation of Medical Women of Canada, the Canadian Federation of University Women, the Ontario Nurses' Association, UNICEF, Bracelet of Hope, World Vision, the United Church of Canada. A whole coalition, a rainbow of organizations have come together and worked together.

There have been some important changes and there is some hope. We were fighting with the brand name drug companies along the way. We have gone through a whole range of issues about certain countries being listed and certain drugs being listed, and fought back and forth on all of those things.

However, now there has been a shift in their position. In a letter dated November 19 from research-based pharmaceutical companies to my leader, the hon. member for Outremont, it says they are open to looking at a more constructive approach. They list a series of concerns. Some I do not think are as valid as others, but there are important ones to note. They talk about transparency, amount and term, anti-diversion, eligible countries, eligible medicines and safety appeal mechanisms.

The good news is that there is no reason for any member now to vote against the bill. If a member is voting against the bill, he or she is voting directly against the pharmaceutical companies, the generics, and all the organizations I mentioned, that want to see this move forward. I thank them for coming to the table this time. In the past, we have witnessed a relationship that has been rocky at best. However, at this moment in time there has been a change in position. We are going to hopefully see this legislation move to committee so we can start to deal with some of the issues they raised to improve the legislation.

It is important. We have set an example internationally with this legislation. If we can get the changes here, other countries can also get some changes. We have a situation where some of the global funds are diminishing, so we have an issue with supply and management right now, and the costs.

I will conclude that I have come here today speaking out of frustration and disappointment, but there is a glimmer of hope this time. I am hoping all the members understand that there is nobody else out there against moving forward, so let us do it together with all members' support.

Patent ActPrivate Members' Business

November 21st, 2012 / 6:55 p.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-398, An Act to amend the Patent Act (drugs for international humanitarian purposes), which would amend Canada's access to medicines regime. In considering how I will vote on this bill and my approach moving forward, I will be clear that no one is more to the front my mind than the people in the developing world who need drugs and help.

While the spirit and intentions of this bill are laudable, the proposed amendments would not achieve their intended effects and would prove costly to our economy and damage our credibility in the world. The case for Bill C-398 rests on a few basic myths.

The first myth is that the Canadian access to medicines regime does not work. In fact, Canada is the only country in the world to have used this kind of regime to export medicines. In 2007, it took the Canadian government only 15 days to issue a licence, resulting in the shipment of nearly 16 million tablets to Rwanda for the treatment of HIV-AIDS.

A second myth is that Bill C-398 will save lives. This bill would in fact do nothing to save lives or deliver a larger quantity of essential medicines to developing countries in need. Rather, Canada's approach in funding medicines for those who need them most is saving lives and will continue to do so.

These amendments will not change the economics of drug supply. Less costly alternatives will always be available from emerging markets. Canada is not and will never be a low-cost producer, such as India or other emerging economies. India supplies over 80% of donor-funded antiretrovirals to developing countries.

This is not only about one country. Brazil, Thailand and South Africa also produce a significant amount of affordable medicines. We should not be surprised that even after CAMR was requested and used successfully to send medicines to Rwanda, that country soon found a more affordable alternative source in India.

The bill also ignores what the World Health Organization's panel of independent medical experts from the developed and developing world have said. Over 98% of the medicines on the World Health Organization's list of essential medicines are either generic or not patent protected in the developing world.

Developing countries are telling us that patent protection is not the issue. Despite some improvements in public health, the real challenge facing them is a lack of resources, which is yet another reason they always go for the most affordable source, which will always be the emerging markets.

Canada is addressing the real issue of resources by delivering aid to fight serious public health problems, such as HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Our government's plan to fight disease and deprivation is delivering results through our leadership on key global initiatives. Canada has been a leader in supporting the global fund to fight HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. This fund has become one of the most important instruments for countries in need to access lower cost medicines. In 2010, our government pledged $540 million to the global fund, bringing Canada's total commitment to more than $1.4 billion.

Through the global fund, 3.6 million people living with HIV-AIDS currently receive treatment and 1.5 million HIV positive pregnant women receive treatment to prevent mother to child transmission. According to the global fund, Canada is the top contributor on a per capita basis.

Canada has also pledged $149.6 million to the Stop TB Partnership's global drug facility to procure quality assured anti-tuberculosis drugs. Since shipments began in 2009, the number of people receiving modern TB treatment has increased from 32% to 61% of estimated sufferers.

We have pledged $450 million over 10 years to the Africa health systems initiative towards strengthening health systems to ensure that facilities and expertise are in place to make effective use of the medicines we deliver.

Canada has also provided $2.85 billion to champion the Muskoka initiative on maternal, newborn and child health. Through the Muskoka initiative, Canada has taken action to support the provision of medicines, vaccines and the other actions needed to prevent and treat diseases that are the main causes of maternal and child mortality. In Afghanistan, we have trained more than 1,455 health workers. In Mozambique, we have increased the number of women giving birth in health facilities to 64%. In Tanzania, we have provided primary health care services to more than 43 million people.

These and other Canadian-led efforts are yielding positive outcomes. According to the joint United Nations program on HIV-AIDS and the World Health Organization, an estimated 8 million people living with HIV in low and middle-income countries were receiving antiretroviral therapy at the end of 2011. That is a 25-fold increase over the last decade, and I do not want that number to be skipped over.

According to the World Health Organization, the number of people receiving proper treatment for tuberculosis has almost quadrupled, from 1.9 million in 2000 to 7.7 million in 2010, and the incidence rates are declining worldwide.

We have a proven track record and we will not rest while millions suffer in the developing world.

A third myth is that Bill C-398 would comply with our international obligations. However, it would clearly remove the central protections in our laws. Canadian jobs are at stake as we become less attractive for trade and innovation and lose access to vital international research partnerships that lead to the development of lifesaving medicines in Canada.

The bill would remove the notification requirement, the quantity requirement on licence when issued, the requirement to name the recipient country and application and the eligibility requirements for countries that could use CAMR. All of these would violate our international obligations. There is even a risk of diversion of medicines into the wrong hands rather than go to people in countries who truly need them.

Bill C-398 would also have unintended consequences of creating delays in shipments by introducing more discretion into the regime. Currently, if an application, one, identifies a listed drug and country, two, includes the WTO notification and three, provides information about the relevant patents, the Commissioner of Patents has no choice but to grant the licences. The proposals in Bill C-398 would require the commissioner to exercise discretion regarding eligibility. This could introduce delay and an opportunity for patent holders to challenge the licence in court. Why would we add red tape to the system?

Canada's approach is addressing the real problem by leading global initiatives to provide medicines against HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria for those in need. The bill would not deliver more lifesaving medicines. Instead, it would harm our economy and our trade and research partnerships.

It is for these reasons that I urge all hon. members of Parliament not to support Bill C-398, but instead to focus on the many things that Canada is doing that are making a real impact on the lives of the people around the world who most need it.

Patent ActPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand and speak in support of Bill C-398. As others have said, the bill is an act to amend the Patent Act (drugs for international humanitarian purposes). In summary, the act amends the Patent Act to make it easier for manufacturers and exporters of pharmaceutical products to address public health problems affecting many developing countries and least developed countries, especially those resulting from HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other epidemics.

I have to say that I am somewhat shocked by the words of the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Industry, who is clearly signalling that the government will be voting against the bill. I do not want to get away from my comments on the bill and its importance, but there is another serious issue here, which is that Parliament is not allowed to work the way it should. If the government has concerns about this private member's bill, then it could bring forward some sensible amendments that might fix some of the problems.

In the previous vote, I did see some courage coming from the government's Conservative backbenchers for a change. A private member's motion passed tonight. That is unusual. It passed because, for once, some Conservative backbench members decided to stand up against the wishes of cabinet.

I would plead with the Conservative backbench members to look at the bill. Does it need changes to address some of the concerns the parliamentary secretary talked about? I would not say that all of his concerns were wrong because they may not be, but the government has the authority, power, legal advice and drafters to assist in making the bill all that it should be. We are not just talking about widgets here. We are talking about lives in other countries. We are talking about people.

I know the parliamentary secretary meant what he said with respect to his concerns in Africa and other countries. I believe him on that point. However, the fact of the matter is that if this place were working properly, it could fix the bill to accommodate the concerns of government and save some lives in the global community. That is what we should be focusing on, not whether or not it meets this little factor or that one.

I was here with Prime Minister Chrétien when the previous bill passed in an attempt to help Africa. It was the right thing to do. However, there were some problems with the technical and regulatory requirements in terms of moving generic drugs into Africa, and we did not achieve Prime Minister Chrétien's intent and objectives because of those overburdening criteria. However, we can fix this bill to do that.

In simple terms, the purpose of the bill is to improve access to needed medicines in developing countries by allowing generic drug companies to make and export essential drugs to a list of countries. Why is that important? Let me turn to a UNICEF Canada fact sheet, which explains it better than I could: increased access to ARV medicines is required for preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV-AIDS and to treat children who are infected with HIV. These are the facts.

I agree with the parliamentary secretary when he said that some progress has been made. That is true. However, more progress, and rapid progress, needs to be made. We have the ability in the industrialized world, and in Canada, to help out in terms of preventing AIDS, and that is what we ought to be doing.

The facts on mothers is that only 48% of pregnant women receive the most effective regimes for preventing mother-to-child transmission. On infants, only 42% among the estimated 1.49 million infants born to mothers living with HIV received antiretroviral medicine to prevent HIV transmission from their mothers. Children represented 7% of those receiving antiretroviral therapy and 14% of the people who needed it. Of the more than two million children estimated to need antiretroviral therapy, only 23% had access to treatment versus 51% for adults.

The fact sheet goes on to talk about the solution, which is that greater access can be achieved in part by reducing the cost of commodities, such ARV therapy. UNICEF supports this bill and believes it would go some distance to saving lives, which is what is important at the end of the day.

Why, from Canada's perspective, is this bill important? I do not think I can do any better than quote my colleague from Kingston and the Islands when he talked about why it was so important that Canada is one of the main countries that does this. He stated:

Some medicines are expensive and the point of CAMR is to make available to developing countries safe, generic versions of medicines manufactured in Canada and to do it within international rules on trade and on intellectual property rights. It is intended to provide the competitive pressure to reduce the cost barrier to those countries that would never be able to afford the medicine but would greatly benefit from it and where people are in dire need of the medicine. We know that other countries can produce generic drugs but the Canadian product is produced with higher standards in quality control and it will provide competition on that basis.

That spells out why it is important that Canada is a country using, through its authority, its ability to move generic drugs to countries and the people who need it.

In the beginning, I talked about the bill that was introduced in a former Parliament, in 2004, and that some will try to use that as an excuse that there is already a law in place to deal with the problem and ask why the changes in this bill are required. It is quite simple. I, in part, suggested it before. In 2004, Parliament passed a bill, known as the Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa, that created what is now known as Canada's access to medicines regime, or CAMR. However, evidence has shown that the technical and regulatory matters within the bill have made it less than effective and Bill C-398 would fix those problems.

Canada is part of a global community and we can show the global community that Parliament can act in a responsible way to save lives around the world. If the government, as the parliamentary secretary has said, has concerns, then some amendments should be put forward to address those concerns that industry or whoever may have. We have a responsibility to other citizens around the world.

I urge members on all sides of the House to support this bill and move it forward so we can save lives around the world.