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House of Commons Hansard #137 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was refugees.

Topics

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

National DefenceRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour, pursuant to section 96 of the Statutes of Canada, 1998, C35, to table before the House, in both official languages, the second independent review by the Hon. Patrick J. LeSage, CM, OOnt, QC, of the provisions and operations of Bill C-25, An Act to amend the National Defence Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

I also have the honour to table, in both official languages, a second document entitled, “Comments of the Minister of National Defence on the Report of the Second Independent Review Authority regarding Bills C-25 and C-60”.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to two petitions.

HealthCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Health, entitled, “Drug Supply in Canada: A Multi-Stakeholder Responsibility”.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to the report.

Fisheries and OceansPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that more than 400 Quebeckers have signed this petition from the Fédération québécoise pour le saumon atlantique, against the changes to the Fisheries Act, and in particular against the elimination of section 35, which protects fish habitats.

Since the depletion of fish stocks in the 1990s, people in the Gaspé and Magdalen Islands are very aware of the fact that we must protect all elements of the ecosystem to achieve sustainable development.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, Question No. 609 will be answered today.

Question No. 609Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

With respect to drug regulation and approval: (a) does the 2012 Economic Action Plan provide for decreases or increases in the financial and human resources allocated to (i) drug approval services, (ii) regulatory activities to evaluate and monitor the safety, efficacy and quality of drugs before and after they enter the marketplace, (iii) activities related to the review of submissions by drug manufacturers for market authorization and post-market changes, (iv) activities related to enforcing compliance with existing regulations, including those concerning clinical trials, drug manufacturing and the reporting of adverse drug reactions, (v) activities of the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board, (vi) services such as the Patent Register, Drug Product Database, Notice of Compliance, and Progressive Licensing Project, (vii) various areas of Health Canada such as the Marketed Health Products Directorate, Therapeutic Products Directorate, Biologics and Genetic Therapies Directorate, and the Veterinary Drugs Directorate; (b) for each of the programs and directorates listed in (a), (i) what is the estimated extent of the decreases or increases in human or financial resources, (ii) are positions expected to be cut and, if so, how many will be eliminated; (c) was a value-for-money assessment conducted for the drug approval process; and (d) what is the government’s financial allocation plan regarding drug regulation?

Question No. 609Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mr. Speaker, the 2012 economic action plan proposes changes that will give Canadians quicker access to drugs that have gone through Health Canada's rigorous scientific drug review process. This new proposed approach will not impact the safety and efficacy of drugs in Canada. All drug submissions to Health Canada will continue to be subject to rigorous safety, efficacy, and quality assessments prior to approval.

With respect to the questions (a) to (d) above, and subject to parliamentary approval of any required legislation, with regard to (a)(i), (a)(ii), (a)(iii) and (a)(iv) there will be no impact.

With regard to (a)(v), for the Patented Medicines Prices Review Board, PMPRB, there are no changes planned for the price review process. By 2014-15, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board’s financial resources and human resources will have been decreased, as explained below.

First, the special purpose allotment to be used for external costs of public hearings will be reduced by $630,000 from a budget of $3.1 million. To date the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board has not used the full amount in any given year. Any unused funds at the end of the fiscal year are returned to the consolidated revenue fund. The reduction of $630,000 will not limit the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board’s ability to conduct hearings.

Second, funding of studies on non-patented prescription drug prices will be reduced by $374,000, including three positions. This may not necessarily result in layoffs of employees, owing to potential vacancies and internal budget re-allocations. The PMPRB will retain capacity to undertake research, including on non-patented prescription drug prices if required, through the national prescription drug utilization system program.

With regard to (a)(vi), patent register, drug product database, notice of compliance and the progressive licensing project will not be impacted.

With regard to (a)(vii), the therapeutic products directorate will be impacted, as described below in the responses to (b)(i) and (b)(ii).

With regard to (b)(i), the proposed removal of the requirement for a regulatory amendment to schedule F and maintaining the list of prescription drugs administratively would result in the following decreases in financial resources: $32,000 for 2012-13; $270,700 for 2013-14; and $388,400 for 2014-15 and ongoing.

With regard to (b)(ii), there will be a reduction of four positions in the therapeutic products directorate from 2013-14 and ongoing.

With regard to (c), there was no value-for-money assessment conducted for the drug approval process as there were no reductions in this area.

With regard to (d), as per the above, the 2012 economic action plan had no direct impact on drug regulation, with the exception of proposed changes to the Food and Drugs Act for schedule F.

With respect to the government's financial allocation plan regarding drug regulation, Health Canada updated its cost recovery fees for drug review and approval of drugs in April 2011. These fees were increased to reflect rising costs and will increase annually by 2% to help ensure that sufficient resources are available to support these activities.

Revenues from revised fees will provide stable, long-term funding for Health Canada's core regulatory activities, including efficient drug product reviews, enhanced drug safety monitoring and inspections. Revenues have also been invested in hiring new scientific experts, replacing antiquated IT systems and improving business processes and systems.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

June 8th, 2012 / 12:10 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 613, 616 and 619 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 613Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

With regard to the government response to Chapter 2 of the 2012 Spring Report of the Auditor General: (a) when did the departments of Public Works and Government Services (PWGSC), National Defence (DND), and Industry Canada provide their final responses to the Office of the Auditor General (OAG); (b) when did PWGSC and DND inform the OAG that they disagreed with the conclusions of Paragraphs 2.80 and 2.81 of the report; (c) was the disagreement with those two paragraphs approved by the Minister; (d) if this disagreement was not approved by the Minister, who were the officials who approved this response; (e) what was the rationale for disagreement; and (f) how was this disagreement communicated to the OAG?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 616Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

With regard to formal communications received by the government of Canada from the United States Department of Defense (DoD) regarding the Joint Strike Fighter/F-35 program: (a) what were the dates of all formal communications received from DoD regarding project costs and/or overruns; (b) what was the content of the communications; (c) who in the government received these communications; (d) were Ministers informed of these communications; (e) was the Prime Minister informed of these communications; (f) if not, why not; (g) if yes, how were these messages given to Ministers and on what date; and (h) what actions were taken in response to these communications?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 619Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

With regard to the budget for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev) from fiscal years 2009-2010 to 2014-2015, what is: (a) the total budget for each year; (b) the amount disbursed for each year, by program and initiative; (c) the amount of lapsed funding, by program and standard object; and (d) the number of budgeted full time equivalents versus the number of employed full time equivalents?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Protecting Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

When the House last left the debate on the bill, the hon. member for Newton—North Delta had eight and a half minutes remaining for her speech, and of course the requisite time for questions and comments.

The hon. member for Newton—North Delta.

Protecting Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I finished off by talking about the mandatory detention of bona fide refugees just because of the way they arrived here in Canada and the impact that would have on children. I want to expand on that a little bit.

I talked earlier about the emotional and the social costs, but we also have to look at the financial burden that the Canadian public would have to pay, because to keep people, legitimate refugees once they arrive and have gone through identification and security checks, in a provincial prison will be a costly matter. The last time I looked at those numbers, we were looking at anywhere from $60,000 to $80,000 a year to keep somebody in a provincial jail.

Besides that, we have to look at the human cost. Here we would not only be fiscally irresponsible and break UN conventions, conventions to which we are signatories, but we would also be fiscally irresponsible at a time of restraint, and it would be a cruel way to treat some of the world's most vulnerable people when they arrive on our shores.

I have heard a lot about how the bill will punish smugglers. I look on the bill as the “punishing refugees bill”, because that is what it does. Under the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, we already have $1 million in fines and life imprisonment for smugglers. If we really want to go after smugglers, we have to work with the international community and get to the source. It is my belief that all these smugglers we are supposedly going to catch will not be on the ship or boat when it arrives.

The current detention and security check system that we already have actually led to charges being laid against some of the people on the boat that arrived from Sri Lanka, but over 90% of the people who arrived on that boat were accepted by Canada as legitimate asylum seekers. However, under this legislation, we would be putting them in prison, and that just makes no sense to me.

There is another aspect we have to look at. We all know the importance of family. All of us like to have our family around us. We can imagine refugees arriving here after running away and putting their lives at risk to get to this new country where they will seek protection. Their number one goal will be to have their family members join them also . Sometimes it will be a mother who might have been able to run away with only two of her kids and might have had to leave a kid behind. Sometimes the whole family remains behind, and only one person escapes.

In those cases, under this legislation, once again we have a two-tiered system that would prohibit legitimate asylum seekers from applying to have their families join them here. They would not have any travel documents. That again goes against the UN convention.

We are not talking about going away on cruises and things like that. For example, if somebody gets here, they might have some family just over the border in the U.S. and they might be able to go there and meet them. If they have arrived here from Mexico, maybe they cannot go back to Mexico but some of their family can get into Guatemala, and they could meet with them there. In these cases, we would once again be limiting and denying some very fundamental rights to people.

This five years of forced separation, by the way, is before they can apply. We know, given the way processing goes in this country right now, two or three or four years could be added to that. We can imagine the impact that kind of separation would have on families.

Once again it would not just be the mental torture that the families would suffer in knowing that their children and other family members were in danger; it would also be the social impact.

There would also be health care costs. Just imagine the impacts it will have on health care. Not only do we keep people in prison for up to a year, but now we will keep them separated from their families.

The impacts cannot be underestimated. We had witness after witness tell us about the impacts of incarceration on children and on adults. Every one of them said that it interferes with the settlement of families and becoming productive, and we heard as well about the costs to health care that I just raised.

Also, we are concerned about biometrics. We are not concerned that biometrics will be used in two areas, fingerprinting and digital photos. Rather, what we are absolutely concerned about is that the committee has not had a chance to study the privacy impact assessment. That is very important for all of us. Obviously, these reforms are not clearly consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

At this time I have an amendment.

I move, seconded by the member for Saint-Lambert:

That the motion be amended by deleting all of the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: this House decline to give third reading to Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, the Marine Transportation Security Act and the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Act, because it:

(a) gives significant powers to the Minister that could be exercised in an arbitrary manner, including the power to designate so-called “safe” countries without independent advice;

(b) violates international conventions to which Canada is signatory by providing mechanisms for the Government to indiscriminately designate and subsequently imprison bone fide refugees—including children—for up to one year;

(c) undermines best practices in refugee settlement by imposing, on some refugees, five years of forced separation from families;

(d) adopts a biometrics programme for temporary resident visas without adequate parliamentary scrutiny of the privacy risks; and

(e) is not clearly consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Protecting Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The amendment is admissible.

Questions and comments. The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Protecting Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

St. Catharines Ontario

Conservative

Rick Dykstra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I certainly respect the member's position and her speech this morning on Bill C-31. Of course, I disagree with just about everything she had in there.

However, there were two amendments that the government moved, and I would thank her and the other members on the committee from the NDP and from the Liberal Party for agreeing and voting unanimously in favour of both amendments that the government passed. While we heard a lot of opposition to the bill today, there was a faint hope within the context of the bill, and we did see some support.

This leads me to believe that once the bill is passed and we have moved forward, a number of members from both the Liberal Party and the NDP who will see the light of day and see that this is in fact the right bill. Bill C-31 is the right legislation in terms of reforming our refugee system.

The member spoke for a couple of moments on designated safe countries. It should be made very clear that the transparency about the method and scope of how safe countries would be designated is now in the bill. It was not in the prvious bill, Bill C-11, but it is in the current bill now.

Most importantly, the member spoke at great length about the issue of children and that a decision would be made for those under 16 years of age. That is an addition to the bill that did not exist under Bill C-11. I know she was not here back when we were talking about this issue, but when the government passed legislation on the issue of sexual consent of a minor, we moved the age from 14 to 16. I would like the member to comment on why her party argued so vehemently against raising the age of consent to 16, yet today she says that 16-year-olds are not in a position to make the types of decisions that she is talking about.