House of Commons Hansard #215 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was families.


Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Some hon. members


Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1Government Orders

1:10 p.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 45, the recorded division stands deferred until Monday, May 25, at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.

I believe the hon. Chief Government Whip is rising on a point of order.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1Government Orders

1:15 p.m.


John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I believe, if you seek it, you will find agreement to see the clock at 1:30 p.m.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1Government Orders

1:15 p.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members


Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1Government Orders

1:15 p.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Accordingly, the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business, as listed on today's order paper.

Health CarePrivate Members' Business

May 15th, 2015 / 1:15 p.m.


James Lunney Conservative Nanaimo—Alberni, BC


That, in the opinion of the House, the government, in concert with provincial and territorial partners, should develop a National Strategy for Innovation, Effectiveness and Cost-effectiveness in Sustainable Health Care that: (a) establishes regional centers for collaborative research and experimentation with innovative models that (i) focus on effectiveness and cost-effectiveness, (ii) are collaborative and interdisciplinary in character, (iii) team up integrative medicine with allied professions, (iv) utilize optimized information technology to document outcomes, (v) foster competition for better health care outcomes that are both effective and cost-effective; (b) is holistic in perspective and open to new models of care, delivery and discovery; (c) is patient-centered and emphasizes the importance of self-care, wellness promotion and disease prevention; (d) empowers the patient with information and choice; (e) creates financial incentives for innovation; and (f) promotes a “culture of innovation” throughout the healthcare system.

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to rise today to introduce and discuss for the first hour of debate Motion No. 501. It is a national strategy for innovation, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness for sustainable health care.

Accelerating health care costs threaten not only the sustainability of the health care system, but they imperil the future competitiveness of the Canadian economy. If we want to develop a high-impact, sustainable health care system that leads the world it is imperative that we consider every avenue of promising intervention.

There are clinical efficiencies that exist but are underutilized, or they face institutional barriers in implementation. We have the capacity to overcome these challenges and release billions of dollars into our economy while improving clinical outcomes, and patient and clinician satisfaction.

Recognizing the constitutional divisions and powers that make addressing health care innovation a vexing challenge, Motion No. 501 calls for collaboration with provincial-territorial partners and it is crafted to empower the “outside the box” clinicians in the medical world.

Just three weeks ago, I was in Toronto with about 200 doctors from around the world who had gathered to look at what else works. It is an international society for orthomolecular medicine. These people are in every province, across the country, across the U.S. and around the world, looking at how we can get better clinical outcomes by using means and approaches that are less toxic to the body and get better clinical outcomes. Their approach is collaborative. It is interdisciplinary. It is driven by a passion for superior clinical outcomes, for patient empowerment, for self-care and choice. Self-care is the foundation of health care. We have many such clinicians across Canada. They are self-described as functional medicine, integrative medicine or orthomolecular physicians.

What does orthomolecular mean? It was a term coined by Linus Pauling, the only man to get two Nobel prizes in the history of the world. One was in science and the other was a peace prize. It just means using molecules in their natural state, as opposed to patented medicine, where they take a molecule but in order to control the molecule for its role in the body they have to change it somehow. I often describe it as like having someone analyze a football team and deciding that it is the quarterback that makes that team hum. However, they cannot use the quarterback in his natural state so they have to take his head off, tuck it under his arm and then send him out to play without the rest of the team. Actually, in nature, a lot of these molecules work in synergy with other compounds that are found in natural sources.

Therefore, they like to use natural molecules. They are using the foundational tools, such as thorough case history, physical, laboratory and technical diagnostic aids, but they prefer an applied biochemical approach, using natural molecules rather than patented medicines.

Patented medicines are not as good a fit because they have been modified. They have been hydrogenated, carboxylated or methylated to make them patentable. They are very much like the natural molecule, but they are not as good a fit. They are therefore xenobiotic or foreign to biological processes and many of them end up blocking other metabolic pathways in the body, therefore leading to side effects that are unhelpful.

Natural molecules are common in biological systems. They are generally well tolerated and low risk. When they are applied intelligently they are highly effective for a wide range of clinical presentations.

The strategy calls for, in collaboration with provinces and territories, setting up centres where we can look at what else works. I want to give examples of how this is already being done across the country and how it could release funds and get better clinical outcomes for Canadians.

The focus needs to be on both effectiveness and cost-effectiveness because we could have a treatment that is effective but so expensive it is very difficult for the public purse to pay for those treatments. That creates strain on the system. It needs to be collaborative and interdisciplinary, because apparently we do not know everything about the body. It is like saying we know everything about the universe. Apparently we are still learning.

It teams up integrated medicine with allied professions like naturopaths and chiropractors for mechanical, spinal and joint dysfunction. It fosters competition for better health care outcomes that are both effective and cost-effective.

We could have regional centres taking a small amount of federal investment along with a provincial investment to look at what else works and then reward the ones that are getting demonstrated outcomes. I will give examples in a moment of what some look like.

We need to empower the patient with both information and choice because sometimes a great treatment is offered, but there are institutional barriers to that being implemented because the patients are either not offered choice or people are standing in the way who do not want to see competitive therapies advanced.

I will give an example. In May 2014, the School of Public Policy, University of Calgary, sponsored a vitamin D forum in Ottawa. It brought many lead experts to the Chateau Laurier: Dr. Heaney from Nebraska, Dr. Holick from Boston, Dr. Vieth from Toronto and others. A few MPs from the health committee attended. Their purpose was to meet with Health Canada officials about cost savings and the benefits of increasing blood levels of vitamin D3 for Canadians.

Canadians are not getting enough vitamin D. Why? It is the sunshine vitamin, but for eight months of the year the sun is too low in the sky, the atmosphere filters out the UV light that is necessary for skin to produce vitamin D and then for most of the time, our skin is covered. In the wintertime our faces and hands might be exposed a little, but we have 80 to 100 trillion cells in our body that all have receptors for vitamin D and the face cannot produce enough for our whole body.

Experts say that we need to get our blood levels up to about 100 to 150 nanomoles per litre for optimal health effect. Beyond bone health, it is about reducing cancer risk. It is about reducing heart disease. It is about reducing diabetes. It is about getting better mental health outcomes. It is about reducing pre-term births that cost the system an immense amount of money and put the babies born prematurely at risk. A whole range, almost any disease we could be name, is easier to manage if vitamin D levels are up.

Published literature indicates that we could save $14 billion a year just in breast and colorectal cancer alone. That is in the medical literature from the results of two major studies. Reductions in heart disease, diabetes, improvements in mental health and the cost benefits are immense. Why would Canada not move quickly to implement these kinds of cost savings?

Recently published research by Dr. Paul Veugelers and Dr. John Ekwaru, who re-examined the raw data that the Institute of Medicine in the U.S. used to determine what vitamin D3 amounts Health Canada adopted, found a huge statistical error in the analysis. The researchers wondered how it was possible that the levels recommended were low. Were they off by 10%, 20%, 50% or even 100%. No. According to the recent statistical re-analysis, they were off by a factor of 10, meaning the recommended levels were only about one-tenth of what people needed for optimal health care. Correcting this error could result in immense health care savings.

In Vancouver, Dr. Hal Gunn and his team at InspireHealth have been getting superior results with cancer patients, although the oncologists are treating the patients the same as other patients. However, their approach is to take the fear out of cancer treatment. They give nutritional instruction and advice to the patients. They emphasize the importance of exercise. They optimize the vitamin D levels. Everything works better when vitamin D are levels are up. They do things like yoga, stress management, explain what goes in bodies and empower patients with information and choice.

The province of B.C. has taken notice. The BC Cancer Agency has taken note and the province has expanded opportunities, but there are still barriers to optimizing and accelerating the potential in this approach.

There are new cancer drugs on the horizon that are about helping tumour cells trigger impaired immuno-defence or programmed cell death, or apoptosis. These new treatments are on the horizon. Scientists have spent nearly a decade trying to find ways. Programmed cell death is an amazing internal controlled demolition that cells go through. It is estimated one million cells a second go through programmed cell death if they have been hijacked by a virus, if they are a broken down components or they do not functioning properly, or they are unnecessary for what is going on in that particular tissue, without damaging neighbouring cells. However, these new treatments are entry level $10,000 a month. That would be $120,000 to $140,000 a year. The public system is going to come under enormous pressure to provide cutting-edge treatment.

Cancer cells have lost the ability to go through this programmed cell death, which means something has programmed the cell to interrupt that cycle, or has changed the program.

I can point members to literature from the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a prestigious journal in the United States, going back to 2005, where it talks about an intravenous treatment that will do exactly that. It will reinitiate apoptosis, or programmed cell death, by simply using intravenous vitamin C.

There are naturopaths and integrative medical doctors across the country doing these treatments. I know that the integrative cancer clinic here in Ottawa is looking at new models. It is a great program that is being worked on there.

However, there are barriers to these treatments being applied, even though they are far more cost-effective. We need to look at everything that shows promise and remove barriers to looking at more cost-effective treatments.

This treatment could be offered in any remote community. It is a simple intravenous treatment. Ascorbic acid is the agent that is administered. Linus Pauling was saying it more than 40 years ago. It actually introduces cell death.

We know that the mechanism of cell death happens through the production of hydrogen peroxide in the interstitial area of the tumour, and the cells proceed with programmed cell death. Unfortunately, some people have tried to apply this, but there have been barriers, such as oncologists not approving the treatments unless they have exhausted chemotherapy and radiation. Providing patients with choice is about giving them informed consent and allowing them to try a small “c” conservative treatment. When their immune systems have not been damaged by the unfortunate side effects of conventional treatment, the outcomes might be far superior.

C. difficile infections claim thousands of lives annually in U.S. and Canadian hospitals. The rise of these infections is linked to gastric acid-suppressing drugs and antibiotics. Health Canada recently approved a preventative natural health product called Bio-K+, which rebuilds the microbiome devastated by antibiotics. If a person has a lung infection and doctors want to give antibiotics, a nasty side effect is that all of the healthy bacteria in the colon are killed. That sets the stage for a C. difficile infection, which kills somewhere around 1,400 Canadians a year. In the United States, the new figures look like double that, so it may well be higher in Canada as well. All of this may lead to an unnecessary bowel surgery.

There is a hospital in the Montreal area that has been doing this for nine years, by simply giving a potent probiotic of 50 billion CFU twice a day. It has nearly eliminated all C. difficile infections, and created a high reduction in other antibiotic-associated diarrheas that cause extended hospital stays, hundreds of millions of dollars in extended health costs, and put Canadians at risk.

After 25 years of experimenting with acid-suppressing drugs, there is a 40% to 275% increase in the risk of C. difficile. I have been raising that issue for more than 10 years with Health Canada officials. I had press releases about this after the Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network reviewed the issue. With the support of the health minister and the Prime Minister's Office, it took it on as one of its first projects, and basically came back reporting what I had been saying for 10 years. It is a dose-response fashion. There is a 40% to 275% increased risk, and it is a class effect.

I am pleased to see that the Canadian Medical Association Journal wrote it up about a year ago. I was also pleased to see that the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology, under the Choosing Wisely Canada program of the CMA, has recommended eliminating the use, and the shortest possible use, of these antibiotics.

In Alberta, we have a program called Pure North S'Energy, which puts about $200 million into health care in Alberta. It is an innovative program that takes a lot of homeless people, high-needs people, first nations, Inuit, and other citizens, and gives them the vitamins and minerals they need. It has about 100 doctors, nurses, and naturopaths working on the program. From the outcomes, it estimates that it has saved an immense amount of money for the Alberta health care system.

Here is an article by the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, which was published in January, called “Bending the Medicare Cost Curve in 12 Months or Less: How Preventative Health Care can Yield Significant Near-Term Savings for Acute Care in Alberta”. It talks about this study with the Pure North S'Energy Foundation's preventative health care program. It found that the sorts of preventative health care services offered by Pure North S'Energy can lead to genuine and significant near-term costs savings for Canada's single-payer health system.

Participants in the first year of the program required 25% fewer hospital visits and 17% fewer emergency room visits compared to the control group. When those persisted for a full year, they had 45% fewer hospital visits in the year after joining and 28% fewer emergency room visits compared to the control group. That is an immense cost saving to the health care system. The cost is about $500 per participant, and they estimated that they save about $1,700 per person in Alberta. If everybody had access to a program like this, it would obviate the need for two hospitals the size of Calgary's Foothills Medical Centre and release about 1,600 beds to be used for other purposes.

That is what Motion No. 501 is about. It is about empowering people who are looking for better answers. I hope all members will support the motion.

Health CarePrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.


Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for a very educational speech. I know his passion for this subject, and I certainly applaud him for that.

I would like to learn a bit more from the member on maybe what some others are doing, perhaps in the United States or elsewhere. I would also ask him a bit about the holistic approach to health care, treating the patient versus treating the disease.

Health CarePrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.


James Lunney Conservative Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for that question because the time goes so quickly and I wanted to mention what they are doing with veterans south of the border. They have a huge problem.

They have a program led by Dr. Tracy Gaudet for the transformation of health care as applied to the veterans down there. She mentions the increase in the past decade in heart disease, diabetes and stroke, in spite of the best efforts. The message is, “Doing more of the same, Even if we do it better, will NOT fix this problem. Not for our Veterans, and not for [our health care system]”.

They are using an integrative approach. They way they define that is this way:

Whole Health: A well developed national infrastructure for provision of a proactive integrative health approach for Veterans, which is inclusive of a relationship based approach, self care strategies, complementary and alternative approaches, and integrative health coaching.

This approach puts the patient at the centre of the treatment. They are concerned that the health care costs are not sustainable.

The Institute of Medicine Summit on Integrative Medicine and the Health of the Public in February 2009 said, “This disease-driven approach to care has resulted in spiraling costs as well as a fragmented health system that is reactive, episodic, inefficient and impersonal.”

That is what this motion is about: trying to move the yardsticks so we get better outcomes for our vets, for the elderly, for first nations, for Inuit and for all Canadians.

Health CarePrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.


Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to know why my colleague did not choose to talk in the motion about the importance of being innovative and more effective in an effort to preserve Canada's public health care system.

Does he believe that innovation and effectiveness are essential to preserving our public health care system?

Health CarePrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.


James Lunney Conservative Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for that very good question.

Of course, of the programs I was describing in Alberta, with Pure North S'Energy it was innovative; with InspireHealth, it is innovative; with the University of Calgary School of Public Policy, it is that raising the D levels for Canadians is a simple low-cost intervention that would save money.

Also out of Alberta, an innovative project called Empower Plus helped many Canadians with mental disorders like bipolar disease and other psychoses. It was a simple vitamin, mineral and amino acid compound. It had a struggle with Health Canada, but that program has continued because of help from members of this House. Now there are at least 22 peer-reviewed articles in published medical literature about better clinical outcomes using vitamins and minerals, micro-nutrients, to help people overcome psychiatric disorders and bipolar disease, and get off medications and lead more normal lives.

I could go on about innovation.

In th U.K., in the National Health Services, the northwest division has a whole program that is mandated to innovate and it has a whole cycle of health innovation, education clusters, evidence and a new legal duty to innovate. It has challenge prizes. It has something like a Dragon's Den where people can bring forth ideas, and it has a commission for quality and innovation. It has a health care innovation expo, innovation funds and academic health science centres.

All of this together can release tremendous clinical outcome improvements, better cost savings for the system and healthier Canadians.

Health CarePrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.


Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak on the important issue of innovation in health care and to join today's debate on Motion No. 501, put forth by the hon. member for Nanaimo—Alberni.

I would like to start by acknowledging my colleague's long history in this place and his passion for this particular topic. I know it well and, as I said earlier, I applaud him for it. We all know that representing our constituents is a true privilege, and I know that he has worked hard to earn that privilege every day.

This motion focuses on an issue of critical importance for Canadians: the need for a strong, sustainable, and responsive health care system that provides high-quality, cost-effective care now and into the future. I think we can all agree that innovation will be an essential ingredient if we are to achieve that goal.

Our government is committed to a strong, publicly funded, universally accessible health care system. We are providing record levels of funding to the provinces and territories for the delivery of health care service through the Canada health transfer, and we have done this without raising taxes. This funding gives the provinces the financial predictability and fiscal flexibility they need to address their specific priorities and pressures.

Since we took office, the Canada health transfer has increased by almost 70% and will continue to grow each and every year, reaching $40.9 billion in 2019-20. Of course, we all know that money alone is not the solution to challenges facing Canada's health care system. This government recognizes the important role that innovation can play in maintaining a sustainable system that is responsive to the changing needs of Canadians.

Indeed, our government plays an important role, working with the provinces and territories, to make the most of our investments in health care and produce the best possible health care outcomes. The federal government is already the single largest contributor to health innovation in Canada, providing over $1 billion every year to support research and knowledge development. In addition, the federal government provides targeted initiatives to improve the monitoring of health system performance, support the establishment of electronic health records, and provide supports for residency positions and other challenges to the supply of family doctors.

Economic action plan 2015 has built on this strong record with additional investments of $13 million a year to expand the strategy for patient-oriented research and $14 million over two years for the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement to identify efficiencies in the health system. Through these investments, our government is actively working to harness the tremendous potential of innovation in health care.

It is essential that governments and the wider health care community make the best possible use of existing resources if we are to secure a more efficient, responsive, and financially sustainable health care system for the long term. That is why I was very pleased by the health minister's recent announcement of an advisory panel on health care innovation, which will look at areas of innovation that have the potential to address spending pressures while improving care and will recommend ways in which the federal government might better support innovation in key areas.

The panel, assembled by the minister, includes individuals from a variety of sectors and brings together a broad range of perspectives and expertise. Dr. David Naylor, who chairs the panel, is the immediate past president and former dean of medicine at the University of Toronto and is a highly respected leader and health researcher.

Neil Fraser, the president of Medtronic Canada, brings a strong business and engineering background to the panel and plays key roles in a number of Canadian organizations, including the Conference Board of Canada's Centre for the Advancement of Health Innovation.

Francine Girard, dean of the Faculty of Nursing Sciences at the University of Montreal, was a member of the Canadian Nurses Association's National Expert Commission in 2012 and is a leader in the nursing field.

Toby Jenkins, president of Columbia Developments, has wide experience in the public, private, and academic sectors and extensive past involvement in the governance of health care organizations.

Jack Mintz is a well-known, internationally recognized economist and tax expert. He is the director of the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy and past president of the C.D. Howe Institute.

Chris Power, the CEO of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, began her career as a nurse and was previously the president of Capital Health, Nova Scotia's largest regional health authority.

Lastly, I want to acknowledge Dr. Cy Frank, a member of the panel who, sadly, passed away in March. Dr. Frank served as president and CEO at Alberta Innovates Health Solutions and made many important contributions to the direction and future of health care innovation in Canada.

Over the past year, this impressive group of people met with provincial and territorial representatives, providers, patients, stakeholder organizations, industry leaders, researchers, innovators, and many others. It commissioned research and convened international experts to hear about high-performing health systems elsewhere. Throughout, the work of the panel has been guided by respect for the federal, provincial, and territorial roles in health, respect for the core values set out in the Canada Health Act, and a focus on evidence-based analysis and fiscal responsibility.

The panel sought and received a wide range of perspectives through extensive consultations, both in person and online. It heard from hundreds of groups and individuals. Indeed I understand that this has been a truly open process, in which all views were welcomed and considered.

Canadians were given the opportunity to share their health care experiences, what they have seen to be working well, and what they think needs improvement. Canadians were also asked about their ideas for positive change.

Stakeholders were asked to describe promising innovations and the supporting evidence for them, to identify strengths and weaknesses in Canada's current approach to innovation, and to propose avenues for improvement, with a particular focus on actions that the federal government might take.

In response, the panel heard about some of the challenges that impede the spread of innovations in Canada. It learned about successful innovations that are taking place in pockets across the country and the approaches that underpin them. The panel convened meetings from coast to coast to coast where it heard about a wide range of issues, including the power of patient engagement, and the unique health care challenges faced by first nations and those in rural and remote areas.

Recognizing that the advent of personalized medicine is rapidly changing the future of health care, the panel sought input on its potential contribution to higher quality and more efficient care. More broadly, the panel heard about the emerging pressures associated with population aging and the rising burden of chronic disease, and the need for a system that is able to adapt to remain responsive and sustainable in the face of these changes.

In a few short weeks, the panel will offer its advice to the Minister of Health, providing its analysis and proposing ways that the federal government could better align its efforts to foster and accelerate innovation in the Canadian health care system. I know that the minister is looking forward to reviewing what they have to say. The report and recommendations of the committee, to be published in June, will provide much food for thought about the steps the government should take in this area.

The Canadian federation is unique. Respect for provincial and territorial skills and responsibilities regarding the provision of health care and an understanding of the ways we can help at the federal level are key elements of our approach to innovation in the field of health care.

I would like to close my remarks by again recognizing the uniqueness of our Canadian health care system. Respect for the leading role that provincial and territorial governments play in health care delivery and an understanding of the kinds of contributions we can make at the federal level have been key factors in our approach to health care innovation.

I know that the Minister of Health is looking forward the panel's report and the discussion it will undoubtedly generate. We live in a world where technology is rapidly evolving, a world where we might in the future carry our genome around on our smart phones, Skype with our doctor, or use remote patient monitoring to help us stay in our homes for a little longer.

We need a health care system that is responsive to change, that is sustainable, and most of all that offers the best possible quality of care for Canadians. That is why I think it is important that we are having a debate on the best way to support innovation. Our government will continue taking the steps that we can, while respecting the province's jurisdiction over health care delivery and working within the public health care system under the Canada Health Act.

I look forward to hearing more from my colleagues on their thoughts regarding this motion, and I thank my hon. colleague for bringing it forward.

Health CarePrivate Members' Business

1:45 p.m.


Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by saying that I fully understand where my colleague from Nanaimo—Alberni is going with this motion. He, like me, is a health professional, and he knows the importance of innovating and changing our models and procedures if we want a more effective health care system.

Unfortunately, I have a few concerns about the motion. My first concern has to do with the importance of preserving a public health care system. This motion makes no mention of whether these innovations, this research and these new practices seek to preserve our public health care system and ensure that everyone continues to have access to health care. I had the opportunity to ask my colleague a question about that. He did not directly answer the question on the importance of preserving the public health care system. That is one of my concerns about the motion.

The other concern or question that I have regarding the motion has to do with the understanding of what is written between the lines. When we talk about innovation, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness, those things are more about structuring health care, which comes under provincial jurisdiction. I would like to remind the House of the federal government's role in health care. This can be summarized into five responsibilities. First of all, there is access to health care for certain groups, including first nations, veterans, the RCMP, correctional services and the Canadians Forces. The second responsibility has to do with health protections. Third, there is the health promotion aspect, as well as disease prevention and awareness strategies. The fourth area is health research. When it comes to innovation in health research, the two aspects do fit in with the federal government's mandate on health. The fifth responsibility pertains to financial support for the provincial health care systems.

However, the way work is organized in hospitals does not fall under federal jurisdiction. It really falls under provincial jurisdiction. This would include a holistic approach, for example. As a professional, that is the type of approach that I promote. However, it is first up to the professional bodies, which fall under provincial jurisdiction, to determine the direction they want to take and how they want their members to redirect their efforts and change their way of doing things. It is really a provincial issue. It falls under provincial jurisdiction.

There are many other words that one needs to understand. “Cost-effectiveness” and “effectiveness” for example, pertain to determining whether it is cheaper and just as effective to have two practical nurses and two nurses on a health care team rather than two nurses, one practical nurse and one health care attendant. How the work is organized not only falls under provincial jurisdiction but it is also the domain of the hospitals.

Right now, hospitals are already sharing information when they conduct pilot projects or try different approaches, for example, and that is working very well. They will often publish scientific information on what they tried so that other hospitals or jurisdictions that may want to try the same thing can use that information. The information is already being shared. However, having the federal government directly interfere with the organization of work is going way too far.

The third part of the motion moved by my colleague from Nickel Belt with respect to the dementia strategy referred to health promotion and disease prevention. That fits in well with the federal government's mandate. However, the organization of work intrudes too much into the provinces' jurisdiction.

The motion also refers to being collaborative and interdisciplinary in character. Once again, excellent approaches have been tried across the country with good results. Nevertheless, this is a provincial jurisdiction.

I believe that the provinces continue to try to implement initiatives. Their efforts are based on what is done elsewhere, and they use models from other countries, for example, but this is still a provincial jurisdiction. To my mind, the motion goes too far in that regard.

When we talk about a health care model, we are talking about policies for professional practices and the various occupations. When we talk about teams, we are referring here to the provinces, which still have different professional bodies and designations. For example, when we talk about massage therapists, they do not currently have an association or recognized federation in Quebec. Thus, we have a problem. We do not even have the same starting point from one province to the next. There is still work to be done. A motion like this one makes things extremely complex from a federal perspective.

What I want to say is that most professions and provinces realize that they must innovate, and they are already sharing information. However, when we talk about really putting in place a national strategy, I believe that this intrudes too much into the provinces' jurisdiction.

The federal government has really neglected funding for the provinces. Let us not forget that the member for Nanaimo—Alberni was still a Conservative caucus member when the government decided to cut provincial health transfers by $36 billion. It decided to unilaterally end the provincial and territorial health accords and to shut down the Health Council of Canada, which was responsible for introducing innovation. I think there is a contradiction there. The government is not respecting the provinces' jurisdiction. In addition, it is not giving them the funding they need for implementation.

Canada has asymmetrical federalism. Quebec can have separate arrangements with Canada. When the government provides health funding, the Government of Quebec has to use that money to implement its own plan to ensure access to quality health care in a timely fashion and to reduce wait times.

It is therefore critical that the provinces retain their independence when it comes to how they organize how the work is done on the ground. They have to be able to decide how they want to improve effectiveness. I believe the provinces do that by considering the available scientific data and looking at what is being done elsewhere. I believe that they take all of that into account when determining their priorities and that they make changes to improve their health system on the basis of their priorities.

That is why, as an MP, I cannot accept a motion that intrudes too far into provincial jurisdiction. I want to make sure that the health system remains a public health system above all. Unfortunately, the member refused to give me a clear sense of whether he really believes that the system should remain public.

Health CarePrivate Members' Business

1:55 p.m.


Adam Vaughan Liberal Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise to speak on the motion before us.

I was comforted to hear the member who presented the motion talk about the notion of molecular evolution. The work of Linus Pauling and Emile Zuckerkandl spoke very precisely about molecular evolution and the theory of evolution, which was so critical to understanding exactly when species changed and evolved. It is an amazing body of thought. We all do better when we embrace and think about evolution as a real scientific theory.

Equally, I think we are all supportive of innovation that leads to choice, giving patients choice in how they protect their wellness, and choice in which medical procedures they choose to explore and employ to prevent health outcomes they do not want. Choice is critically important.

Innovating our health care system in such a way that it accommodates choice is something our party has long supported. It is critical for improving health outcomes and giving patients the power to make the decisions about their bodies in a way that protects the integrity of their ability to survive and thrive as individuals in our community.

It is incredibly important that new ideas and opportunities be available to individuals who suffer from various afflictions. It is not just about treating the symptoms, but about treating the whole person. For people with perhaps significant drug addictions, a medical condition that affects many people, harm reduction strategies that embrace the whole person, that treat more than just simply the medical phenomenon of addiction can present themselves. Safe injection sites is an example of one of the great innovations in our country that has allowed people to live, thrive, make better choices and to embrace their whole health outcome to drive significant change into their lives.

Any proposal on the floor of the House of Commons that seeks to empower an individual to choose these new options is critically important. I am glad the member has brought forward an idea that totally and fundamentally embraces that sort of notion of harm reduction, of allowing patients to have the full scope and full access to all of the medical innovations and scientific research that has been presented to communities.

I am glad the motion calls for the provinces to have the power to set up these centres of innovation without having to go through extraordinary laborious processes, but rather to embrace what science, medical facilities and patients are advocating for. This a great step forward and one of the reasons why private member's bills and motions are so critically important. Sometimes governments do not embrace those ideas, but I am glad that private member has given us the opportunity to talk about it.

I am also glad that the motion talks about preventative care, getting to the root causes of issues, trying to prevent problems from becoming so large and expensive that the treatment afterwards becomes prohibitive, and instead taking the opportunity to look at root causes and invest in preventative strategies. This is another way of rooting out not just medical conditions but things that transform people's psychological capacity to contribute to society.

It great to see a member of the House stand and be proud about preventative care, proud of an analysis that would get at root causes. This deals with much more than simply the scientifically available dynamic that might be leading to poor health. Instead, it creates the opportunity to deal with the whole person, cure the whole person, so a person may again become a more contributing and positive member of our society.

These things are extraordinarily important, and the principles that are outlined in the motion are ones that all of us should and can support: the idea of evolution, preventative care, and seeking alternative treatments that deal with the whole person and not just simply deal with conventional medical approaches to some of the challenges we face as a society when we deal with public health care.

I do, however, recognize that most of the jurisdiction that is being discussed here is provincial in nature. While we seek to create a more broad-based national dialogue, while seek to stimulate areas of excellence in different regions, and while we try to bring as many voices to the table as possible as we explore new health outcomes, it is critical that we respect provincial jurisdiction in this area. It is also critical that we do not lead this conversation and be oblivious to the constitutional jurisdictions that were established in our great federation.

We look forward to seeing where the motion delivers the House, we look forward to having more debate on it, and we are happy to see the House coming around to those principles about which I just spoke.

Health CarePrivate Members' Business

2 p.m.


Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to our government's support for innovation in health care today. I welcome the opportunity to join today's debate on the motion put forth by the hon. member for Nanaimo—Alberni.

I would like to start by recognizing my colleague's long career as a parliamentarian. The member was first elected to this place over a decade ago, and I think it probably feels like two decades, I am sure. We can all recognize the dedication he has put into representing his constituents.

This motion underscores the importance of a strong, sustainable, and responsive health care system, a system that is able to provide high-quality, cost-effective health care. It also draws attention to innovation as a means to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of our system so that Canadians across the country can access the care they need.

Our government fully recognizes the importance of innovation in health care. We have shown an unwavering commitment to a strong, publicly funded, universally accessible health care system for all Canadians, one that is founded on the principles of the Canada Health Act.

As individuals, we all rely on the health care system at some point in our lives. We all know of family members and friends who have fallen ill or been injured or who are frail. We know how important it is to have access to good health care.

Keeping our health care system strong requires an effective partnership between the provinces and territories, which have responsibility for the administration and delivery of our health care, and the federal government, which provides financial support through federal transfers.

The government recognizes that Canadians expect the health care system to be there when they and their families need it, both today and into the future. That is why we have continued to increase health care funding to record levels, regardless of what is being said out there in the media, while at the same time ensuring that the government's long-term fiscal position is sustainable. I think it is equally important to point out that we have achieved these record increases to health care transfers without raising taxes. In fact, we have continued to provide this record support for the provinces while reducing taxes on Canadian families to record lows.

In 2015-16, the government will provide $34 billion to the provinces and territories through the Canada health transfer, up almost 70% since 2006, and that funding will continue to increase, reaching over $40 billion annually by the end of the decade.

Our government's health transfer arrangement is fair, predictable, and sustainable. It provides a solid but flexible foundation for provinces and territories to continue their health system improvement efforts, efforts that include the implementation of innovative and creative approaches, as they strive to meet the health care needs of Canadians.

With federal transfers on a long-term-growth track, our government is actively supporting innovation and research that improves the performance of our health care system so that it is efficient and responsive to the needs of Canadians now and well into the future.

Economic action plan 2015 underscores our focus, pointing to the government's commitment to improving the health of Canadians and our support for innovation in the health care system.

As members of this House may know, our government is already the country's largest investor in health innovation, providing over $1 billion each year for research and other targeted initiatives that foster change, with a view to increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the health care system.

For example, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, our government is supporting the strategy for patient-oriented research, or SPOR. This strategy brings together a coalition of federal, provincial, and territorial partners, all dedicated to integrating their research into care and to ensuring that the right patient receives the right intervention at the right time. Through pan-Canadian networks and regional centres of expertise known as SUPPORT units, this strategy is fostering the development of innovative approaches that will transform research into cost-effective care and improved practices.

To build on this success, budget 2015 proposes an additional $13 million per year for the expansion of this work. Similar to the regional centres for collaborative research proposed in Motion No. 501, the SUPPORT units are located across the country to provide leading research expertise and to support reforms in response to local needs.

Provinces and territories were directly involved in establishing the plans for these units, each of which is focused on addressing the health care priorities and strategies of its host jurisdiction.

Research is a particularly critical catalyst for health care innovation, but that is not all we do. We also provide essential support for pan-Canadian health organizations that play a leading role in accelerating health system change.

These national organizations, such as the previously mentioned Canada Health Infoway, the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health, and the Canadian Institute for Health Information, support and inspire coordinated efforts across the country. These organizations are moving the yardsticks on such priority issues as getting electronic records into doctors' offices, providing guidance on the effective use of pharmaceuticals, and reporting on health system performance.

Another of these organizations, the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement, was featured in our recent budget, which proposes to provide $14 million over two years to identify efficiencies and support innovations in critical areas such as palliative care.

In addition, national coordination in key areas is provided by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer.

Our government is proud to have established these organizations through significant funding, as we all know that cancer and mental health are some of our system's leading challenges. These organizations continue to help all governments and the health care community work together to effect positive change.

I am proud to say that our government also supports a number of targeted initiatives that contribute to health system improvement. They include projects that develop, test, and promote cost-effective innovations and the use of health professionals; new models for home, community, and end-of-life care; and improvements in quality and patient safety. We also have many other programs and projects that are advancing innovations to improve first nations and Inuit health care.

Through these investments, the government is actively working to accelerate innovation in health care, developing and promoting the spread of innovative practices, enabling pan-Canadian collaboration, and supporting provinces and territories in delivering care to Canadians.

Of course, Canada's health care system must continue to evolve to remain effective and sustainable in the face of demographic, economic, and other pressures. Through innovation, the system can make better use of existing resources to improve efficiency and patient outcomes.

Real health care spending in Canada has doubled between 1975 and 2011. Currently, Canada's total spending on health care stands at over 11% of GDP, the fifth-highest among OECD countries. With most provinces and territories already devoting close to 40% of their budgets to health care, there is a very real need to ensure our system is meeting the needs of Canadians in an efficient way.

Innovation is widely seen as key to improving health system productivity, efficiency, and responsiveness while fostering better, more effective patient care. Organizations like the OECD, the Conference Board of Canada, and the C.D. Howe Institute have all noted the importance of innovation, and it has increasingly served as the focus of provincial and territorial efforts.

We know that more money is not the only solution. Innovation is essential if we are to ensure that our health care system continues to improve.

Our government is committed to working with our partners to harness the tremendous potential of innovation so that together we can make better use of existing resources and achieve an efficient, more responsive, and financially sustainable healthcare system for the long term.

Not only must Canada's health care system adapt to remain responsive and sustainable, but federal efforts must also be appropriately aligned to support this adaptation. That is why, in June of 2014, the Minister of Health launched the advisory panel on health care innovation. It has been charged with identifying the most promising areas of innovation, based on learnings from across Canada and abroad, and recommending ways federal efforts might better support those areas to generate positive change across the system.

The panel, working at arm's length from government, has actively engaged provinces and territories on the challenges of innovation across Canada, and it has heard from hundreds of individuals across Canada on a wide range of issues. There is always room for improvement in the way we deploy our federal programs and resources, and I am sure the panel's work will be a key resource as the government considers its priorities and initiatives on healthcare innovation.

I would like to close by thanking the member for bringing more attention to the important issues in our health care system. It is important that we continue to debate how we best can improve our health care for all Canadians. I especially thank the member for Nanaimo—Alberni for his tireless efforts to ensure our health care system is better.

Health CarePrivate Members' Business

2:10 p.m.


Djaouida Sellah NDP Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure for me to debate issues related to health care, as that is something that I care deeply about, as do my constituents in Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert.

However, I rise today to oppose this motion to implement a national strategy for innovation in health care. The only good thing about this motion is its name. Unfortunately, it offers no concrete measures to improve our health care. Worse still, the motion makes no mention whatsoever of the public health care system, which needs to be strengthened.

On the contrary, the motion explicitly seeks to foster competition for better outcomes. That is definitely not what Canadians want. I am left to really wonder about what is really behind this motion.

We in the NDP want to see real improvements to our health care services, and we would have preferred to see a motion that proposes restoring the Health Council of Canada, an agency that the Conservatives demolished in 2014. In its reports, that agency assessed the results of the federal-provincial health accords. It allowed us to adjust and better target our programs.

After 10 years of contempt and repeated cuts to health care, suddenly the Conservatives are claiming that they care about innovation in this field. Who would believe them? Not Canadians. Canadians are not stupid, and they want concrete measures that will improve their daily lives.

We would also have liked to see this motion address the budget cuts imposed on our health care system. We would have liked to see the government understand that health care expenses will increase as the population ages, and that if we invest today, our seniors will be better off tomorrow.

Canadians want to get back the $36 billion that has been cut in recent years. The truth is that the Conservative government sacrificed our health care system for the sake of savings. We cannot do more with less.

When the New Democrat government comes to power in October, we will restore the health transfers to the provinces. We will talk with the provinces and will work closely with them, since that is how we will develop a real national strategy for health care innovation.

Health CarePrivate Members' Business

2:15 p.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member will have seven minutes to conclude her remarks the next time the bill is before the House. The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

It being 2:16 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, May 25, at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2:16 p.m.)