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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was friend.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Halton (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 47% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Member for Halton May 12th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, since this occasion may be the last time I rise in this place, it would be appropriate to point out that our tenure here is the result of the enduring support of many: our constituents, who vote; our loyal party workers, who keep the dream of democracy alive; our loyal staff, who have made it all work so well; and most of all, our families.

I would like to express my appreciation to my bride of 44 years, Deanna, and our three grown children, Christopher, Robert and Melanie.

To Deanna who regularly endured the loneliness of an absentee husband and who often filled in when I could not be in two places at once, to our three children who often endured political commentary, some of it unsavoury and uncalled for, I thank them all for giving me 10 productive and satisfying years of service to Canada.

Supply May 11th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. friend for those comments. There is no question in my mind that our health care system is constantly evolving, and constantly needs to be improved and upgraded as we go along.

We also know that the standards that are applied in different provinces sometimes differ. For instance, there are some provinces that charge for ambulance service and other ones that do not, and so on. It takes constant vigilance, if we like, to impress on the provinces that there is a standard to be maintained and that there are improvements to be made.

I do sympathize with the cost of the new drugs that come on the market. Some of them are very effective for curing or controlling illnesses that could not be controlled 20 or 30 years ago. They are, admittedly, very costly. It is the constant tossing the balls in the air as to how much of that can be borne by the taxpayer.

We still have excellent basic medical care in the country and I would not take that away for a minute. I talked to one physician who took the Canadian health care idea to other countries in the world. I met him at the Ottawa airport about a year ago. He said there was a lot that had to be continually improved and fixed in the Canadian health care system and when we do that we should never forget that compared to every other country in the world this is still the very best health care system.

Supply May 11th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I will be dividing my time with the hon. member for Dufferin--Peel--Wellington--Grey.

I appreciate the opportunity to make a few comments on the motion from the member for Churchill.

April 17 marked the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Canada Health Act, Canada's federal health insurance legislation and the cornerstone of the Canadian health care system. The five principles enshrined in the act reflect the values that inspired Canada's single payer, publicly financed health care system over 40 years ago. The Canada Health Act aims to ensure that all residents of Canada have access to necessary physician and hospital services without direct charges.

As Roy Romanow said in the Romanow Commission report, the principles have stood the test of time and continue to reflect the values of Canadians. No single issue touches Canadians more deeply than health care. Our health care system is a practical expression of the values of fairness, equity and solidarity that define us as a country. Medicare is part of our heritage.

Before the second world war, Canadians paid for health services in the same way they paid for any consumer service. Many Canadians had debts for health care and many suffered because they just could not afford the health care they needed. After the war, both commercial and non-profit insurance began to spread, but many Canadians could not afford that either.

I would like to inject, if I may, a very personal story. In 1941 our family was just beginning to recover from the effects of the depression. At that time, my late mother was admitted to hospital for a routine surgery, a tonsillectomy, that was botched. She ended up with blood in her lungs which caused a series of infections. She spent 13 weeks in hospital and nearly succumbed. In those days there was not even penicillin, so any drugs to combat infection were known as sulpha drugs in those days. At any rate she recovered and came home from the hospital, but the process bankrupted my father. He spent the rest of his life, until he passed away in 1957, paying off that debt. Therefore, the whole subject of medicare is particularly personal, as far as I am concerned.

By 1957, the year my late father passed away, 40% of the population of Canada still had no coverage at all. Medicare predates the Canada Health Act, but the passage of the act was a defining milestone. The Canadian health insurance system in fact evolved into its present form over several decades, and it will continue to evolve and continue to be improved as the years go by.

Saskatchewan was the first province to establish universal public hospital insurance in 1947. Ten years later the Government of Canada passed the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act to share in the cost of these services.

By 1961, all provinces and territories had public insurance plans and provided universal access to hospital services. Saskatchewan again pioneered in providing insurance for physician services beginning in 1962. The federal government adopted the Medical Care Act in 1966 to cost share the provision of insured physician services with the provinces.

By 1972, all provincial and territorial plans had been extended to include physician services. Through cooperation between the provinces and the federal government, Canada developed a national health insurance program which became the hallmark of Canadian federalism.

The federal government agreed to contribute financial support and the provinces would administer the programs. The conditions were that each province had to guarantee that its program would be universal, comprehensive, portable and publicly administered. With these guidelines established, the interlocking provincial plans formed our national health insurance program. It was tailored especially for Canada. Coast to coast medicare was created.

However, in the late 1970s, extra billing by some physicians and user charges levied by some hospitals were increasingly becoming a cause for concern. Universal access was at risk. In 1979, at the request of the federal government, Justice Emmett Hall undertook a review of the state of health services in Canada. In his report he reiterated that health care services in Canada ranked among the best in the world, but warned that extra billing by doctors and user fees levied by hospitals were creating a two tiered system that threatened the accessibility of care. This report led to the adoption of the Canada Health Act in 1984.

The Canada Health Act was introduced to ensure that Canadians had access to the medical care they needed without out-of-pocket charges. The road to passing the legislation was not always smooth. It involved four years of intensive debate and negotiations before the Canada Health Act was passed with the unanimous support of all political parties by Parliament on April 9, 1984 and received royal assent on April 17, 1984.

The act consolidated previous legislation on hospital and medical care insurance, and set out standards and criteria that had to be met for the provinces to qualify for federal funding. Canadians were assured universal and timely access to the health care they needed on a pre-paid basis.

Universally accessible health care is not just a program. It is much more than a system. It is central to our way of life, a source of pride and identity. The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the health care system that Canadians consider part of their identity. The Prime Minister recently stated that our health care system is more than a program; it is a statement of our values as a nation.

Canadians continue to strongly support the principles of the Canada Health Act. They want a system based on need, not wealth. They consider equitable and timely access to medically necessary health care services to be part of our national character, not a privilege of status or income.

Times have changed considerably since the act was passed. What has not changed is the support among Canadians for the principles underlying the health care system. There are challenges and pressures to continue to provide quality services in the face of rising costs, emerging and costly technology, and increases in the ability of physicians to treat hitherto untreatable diseases.

The Canada Health Act has been instrumental in protecting reasonable access to medically necessary care by all, regardless of age, income or place of residence. Canadians have expressed their support for universal health care time and time again, and all levels of government remain committed to upholding what Canadians consider a top priority which is their publicly funded health care system.

The Environment March 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, home to the Niagara escarpment, residents of Halton riding and particularly those in Milton are motivated to do their part to protect the environment. Milton Hydro is helping them by providing information about their electricity consumption.

Yesterday, Milton Hydro Distribution Inc. received an energy efficiency award from the Minister of Natural Resources for its Milton interval metering project. By focusing on the demand side of energy management, Milton Hydro's interval metering project encourages people to change their consumption habits from peak hours to off-peak hours.

If this were combined with variable electricity rates, it would be an even more powerful incentive for conservation. I wish to congratulate Milton Hydro on winning this national award.

Angel Hair For Kids March 12th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to tell the House and all Canadians about a very special constituent. Megan Leonard, from my hometown of Norval, is six years old and has a big heart.

Last year she watched a show about kids with cancer and learned that wigs can be made from donated hair. Right away she knew she wanted to donate to Angel Hair For Kids. She let her hair grow out and last Friday went to the salon and had her long hair cut off. Now she is sporting a cute pixie style cut.

I would like Megan to know that no matter how beautiful her hair is, the beauty of her heart is even greater. Bravo to Megan, only six years old and making a real difference in the world.

The Environment February 25th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to commend the region of Halton, as well as Burlington, Oakville and Halton Hills on their clean air initiatives.

Halton started buying biodiesel in October 2003 and now it accounts for almost 40% of their total fuel purchases. Biodiesel helps reduce smog causing emissions and air toxins from being released into the air. They also have an anti-idling engine policy.

Burlington has programs in place to encourage the use of public transit and a public awareness campaign.

Oakville reduces emission emitting activities on smog days and has reduced pesticide use.

Halton Hills has a longstanding tree planting program.

I congratulate these local governments for clearing the air, literally.

Supply February 19th, 2004

Madam Speaker, I heard my hon. friend deliver a persuasive argument that totalitarian regimes are not likely to attack North America because of their self-interest, the interest in staying in power and keeping their people in subjugation and so on. That in itself would be a persuasive argument, if that were the only thing that we might be concerned about. However, what we are living in now, and I hope it comes to an end in my lifetime, is this age of active terrorism.

As we have found out to our horror, the terrorists who are active in the world are well financed. They have lots of money and lots of capability to do just about whatever they want to unless they are defended against. While I can agree with my friend that these regimes are more interested in self-preservation than risking physical annihilation, I would argue that there are other areas of concern.

As I said, they are well financed, access to technology does not seem to be a problem, and so on. The defence from missiles and that supposed threat which we hope never ever happens is a real one. Canada, being a close neighbour to the United States, should be at the table and should be working through Norad to have our voice in that debate.

Identity Theft February 17th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, as we approach tax season, Halton regional police have issued a warning to the residents of Halton riding, particularly those in rural areas, which should be a concern to all members.

With a large number of sensitive documents being mailed out from employers, financial institutions and government agencies, citizens are at risk for identity theft. Criminals target the mail because it contains valuable personal and financial information.

Common sense measures are helpful. People should always use a locking mailbox, approved as secure by Canada Post. Mail should be removed from the box promptly, or if people are out of town, they should have the post office hold their mail. Police should be notified if someone is seen tampering with a mailbox.

Halton Hills February 11th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the riding I am privileged to represent is becoming more and more urban.

As the town of Halton Hills continues to develop with new subdivisions, making sure that trees are planted to sustain the urban forest is important. Today I would like to congratulate Halton Hills on being recognized as a Green Streets Canada Community for 2004.

Halton Hills has recognized the importance that urban forests play in the economic, social and environmental well-being of the community and will plant trees around the town. It will incorporate trees into its Earth Day events and work with the Georgetown Agricultural Society.

I look forward to enjoying all of the new green streetscapes in Halton Hills.

Agriculture February 6th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, many people might think that the problems the beef and dairy industry are facing with BSE are restricted to the rural areas. Not so. In the riding I am privileged to serve, Halton, which is only 45 minutes from downtown Toronto, farmers are having a tough time of it.

I would like to urge all my colleagues in the House to listen to what my constituent Bert Stewart, an international expert, had to say about the situation in Halton. He said:

Farmers still need to feed the animals, purchase machinery and tools to take care of their farms, and keep their businesses going. But everything is crazy expensive and there's no money coming in.

Let us support our local farmers and get the borders opened up.