House of Commons photo

Track Ben

Your Say


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is going.

Conservative MP for Huron—Bruce (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 45% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Alzheimer's Disease and Other Forms of Dementia May 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, obviously we are going to respect areas of jurisdiction.

I know the member for Nickel Belt had the best intentions with his private member's bill. I am fully satisfied with his effort. There is no issue there, but some of the pieces that he put in the bill would be problematic, such as the availability of specialists, including neurologists, psychiatrists, nurses, diagnostics, and treatment. These are areas of provincial jurisdiction.

The bill is well intentioned, but it is not the role of the federal government to get involved and start dictating to the provinces: thou shalt allocate this; thou shalt do this; and thou shalt put this equipment into this facility; thou shalt train doctors, nurses, specialists. That is for the provinces to do. We want to support them in any way that we can, but let us not get involved in the issues that the Liberals had in the 1990s and early 2000s when they became involved in areas of provincial jurisdiction

Alzheimer's Disease and Other Forms of Dementia May 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to answer the question. However, I do not think the member has read my motion, nor has he read the facts on what we have invested on the issue of dementia. I mentioned in my speech that we have invested over $1 billion through CIHR since 2006, so we are not late to the game. We have made investments right from the beginning of this government.

In addition to that, my motion lays out a number of activities that the government has already commenced, such as surveillance, monitoring, and best practices, and we are encouraging them to continue. These are all things that we have done for years and years.

It appears that once again the Liberal Party is a little late to the game.

Alzheimer's Disease and Other Forms of Dementia May 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, to the member's first point, we have seen recently what motions can do in the House. The thalidomide motion that recently came before the House actually caused action, and I think that is a great example of what motions can do. However, I would point out a couple of potential faults in the well-intentioned bill that the member brought forward.

One is that there are financial considerations involved in his bill. It would also create an advisory board and specifically points out the payment of members on the board. In addition, there is a clause in his proposed act that spells out a time period of 30 days after the enactment of the act. That is assuming that the bill would actually pass through the House and Senate, which is unlikely, considering the current calendar of Parliament. It is unlikely that any of this would happen.

However, we can put this motion forward. There are differences, but we can get things done for Canadians.

Alzheimer's Disease and Other Forms of Dementia May 27th, 2015


That, in the opinion of the House, the government should, while respecting provincial and territorial jurisdiction, continue to take the necessary measures to prevent Alzheimer's disease and other dementias and to reduce the impact of dementia for those living with this disease, as well as for their families and caregivers, by continuing to focus on: (a) taking leadership appropriate to the federal role that will encourage a collaborative and coordinated approach with the provinces and territories to develop a pan-Canadian strategy for dementia, as agreed to at the recent federal-provincial-territorial Health Ministers' meeting; (b) partnerships within Canada and internationally, including commitments with G7 partners, and the work initiated at the 2014 Canada-France Global Dementia Legacy Summit, to accelerate the discovery and development of approaches for the prevention, early diagnosis, delay of onset, and treatment of dementia; (c) education and awareness to reduce the stigma associated with dementia, including the implementation of the Dementia Friends Canada initiative; (d) dementia research with a focus on primary prevention, secondary prevention, and quality of life, including those initiatives outlined in the National Dementia Research and Prevention Plan; (e) promoting the sharing of best practices among all jurisdictions to ensure awareness of promising treatments and services; (f) continuing to work in partnership with relevant stakeholders, including families affected by dementia and leading national groups such as the Alzheimer Society of Canada and the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging; (g) ensuring the full inclusion of all Canadians living with dementia, regardless of age, when acting on the above; (h) continuing to support, through national surveillance systems, the collection of data on key aspects of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias in order to inform evidence-based analysis and policy-making; and (i) keeping Canadians informed as progress is made.

Mr. Speaker, that was well said. It is a pleasure to rise in the House today to debate Motion No. 575 on Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

Just to lay a brief context behind this issue, it is estimated there are over 40 million people worldwide who are currently suffering from this disease, and there are over 700,000 Canadians who are facing one or another of these diseases. Virtually everybody in this House today will know someone who is suffering, or has known someone in the past who has suffered, from this disease. It is very much a serious issue facing not only Canadians but people around the world. We are here today as parliamentarians to discuss this issue and look at what the government has done in the past and what it is working on today and into the future.

The motion calls on the government to take strong action to address dementia and ensure that we are doing everything we can to help Canadians who are living with this disease. I appreciate the opportunity to speak here today on this topic.

Our government, under the leadership of the Minister of Health, has made great progress to date. Lots of good measures are under way and we can always do more. We cannot stop now. We need to move forward and, if anything, we need to increase what we are doing at an even more rapid pace. Over the past year, there has been a lot of attention in Canada and internationally on how to better address the challenges of dementia. This has not gone unnoticed and there have been numerous federal investments in activities to advance collective efforts on dementia.

Dementia, particularly Alzheimer's disease, is a complex public health challenge that confronts a large and growing number of Canadians. It affects not only those who are living with this condition but also the relatives and friends who are providing them with care and assistance. As well, there is the broader issue of health care system costs and models of care.

As reflected in Motion No. 575, further research is needed to learn more about what causes dementia and the most effective ways to prevent, identify, treat and ultimately find a cure for it. Addressing these challenges requires innovative actions from government, industry, non-governmental organizations and other partners. Our government recognizes that understanding dementia and its impacts on individuals, families and caregivers is necessary in order to be able to effectively meet their needs. Consistent with the federal role, our government's activities on dementia are focused primarily on research, surveillance and monitoring, promoting awareness, and understanding.

I would like to highlight the works that our government has supported in order to further develop effective programs in response to this issue.

Over the past decade, our government, through CIHR, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, has invested over $1 billion in world-class neuroscience research to improve the health of those people who live with brain diseases. Since 2006, government investments to the institutes and research specific to dementia have increased by 67%, reaching $37.8 million in the 2013-14 year. This research has not only helped improve our understanding of dementia, it has also created new possibilities for prevention, improved diagnosis, treatment and quality of life for patients and their families.

Notably, last year's budget announced a new ongoing investment of $15 million for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for the expansion and creation of a variety of health research priorities, particularly Canada's strategy for patient-oriented research and the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging.

Launched in September 2014, the consortium is working on bold and transformative research ideas to improve the lives of Canadians living with dementia. It is focusing on three specific areas of improvement: primary prevention, secondary prevention and quality of life. The consortium is supported with federal funding of $22.6 million, along with an additional $9.9 million over five years from a group of partners from the public and private sectors, including the Alzheimer Society of Canada and the Women's Brain Health Initiative.

Most recently, budget 2015 proposes to provide up to $42 million over the next five years to Baycrest Health Sciences to support the establishment of the Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation. Funding for the centre will support new research in the development of products and services to support brain health and aging. The funding includes $32 million in support from FedDev Ontario, the Federal Economic Development Agency for southern Ontario.

Furthermore, in 2009, our government invested $15 million over four years to the national population health study of neurological conditions to better understand Alzheimer's disease and other conditions as well as their impacts on Canadians. Findings from the study were released in September 2014. As a result of this study, our government is expanding the Canadian chronic disease surveillance system in collaboration with the provinces and territories to include ongoing surveillance of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.

In budget 2011, our government committed up to $100 million over six years toward establishing the Canadian brain research fund. This fund supports neuroscience research in the advancement of knowledge and treatment of brain disease and mental disorders, including dementia. In May 2014, the Prime Minister announced government support for one of the largest single grants for Alzheimer's disease prevention research in Canada under the fund. In September 2014, the government announced support for five additional dementia-focused projects with total funding of $7 million.

All of these federal investments, partnerships and initiatives are part of the government's national dementia research and prevention plan. We have a strong record of action on this file, but as I said at the onset, more needs to be done.

That is why my motion calls on the government to continue working with the Alzheimer's Society of Canada to establish a program called “dementia friends Canada”. This program, originally launched in Japan and more recently in the United Kingdom, will help to engage individuals, communities and businesses in understanding what it means to live with dementia and how to better support those affected within the community.

It is also clear that research is not enough. All of us in this place know that the provinces and territories are responsible for the delivery of health care, but we should ensure that, where we can as a federal government, we are working to support the provinces in addressing dementia. That is why this motion calls on the government to continue working co-operatively with the provinces to establish a pan-Canadian strategy for dementia. The Minister of Health has made good progress on this to date and will be discussing it with her provincial counterparts at the next federal-provincial-territorial meeting.

Having all jurisdictions working co-operatively together is the key to getting a national plan in place and I know that our minister has the dedication to ensure this is done. That is why I encourage all members of the House to support today's motion, so that the provinces know this is a priority not just for the minister, but for all members of Parliament.

It should be noted that dementia is not just an issue of national concern here in Canada, but has captured global attention. Many countries around the world are facing similar issues. The Government of Canada has committed to work internationally to address the health and economic challenges of dementia and to reduce the burden of this condition.

Most recently, in March of this year, Canada participated in the first WHO Ministerial Conference on Global Action Against Dementia in Geneva, Switzerland. At the conference, Canada was among 80 countries that adopted a call to action to advance efforts on dementia and maintain it as a priority issue on national and international agendas. This conference was the latest milestone in a series of international efforts to address dementia that began at the G8 Dementia Summit in December 2013 held in London, England. Canada also participated in this summit, which was dedicated to seeking a heightened level of international collaboration to face the global challenge of dementia.

Following the summit, Canada joined forces with our G7 partners to work toward identifying a cure or disease-modifying treatment for dementia by 2025, increase investments towards dementia research and reduce stigma, exclusion and fear, among other commitments.

Additionally, the World Dementia Council was formed to stimulate innovation and development of treatments for those with, or at risk of developing, dementia. Five priority areas have been identified, including finance, global integrated development, open science and big data, care and risk reduction. A representative from Canada is greatly involved in this international council.

Canada also co-hosted a followup legacy event with France in September 2014, which brought together 200 experts from a variety of countries and focused on strengthening academic-industry partnerships in order to develop new approaches to dementia prevention, treatment and care. The outcomes of this event informed the development of a global action framework, which brings together commitments on dementia from different countries and organizations.

It is clear that addressing the challenge of dementia requires the participation and collaboration of many sectors and partners. Many initiatives involve the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, including different levels of government within Canada and other countries. By working with a variety of organizations and initiatives, our government is able to gain greater awareness and understanding of dementia and other neurological disorders. Our government is doing its best to ensure that the necessary research is made to better combat dementia.

In closing, I would like to thank the House for the opportunity to speak today about this important issue. There are many initiatives under way in Canada and abroad. We are working to maintain and build on the momentum that has been generated through these initiatives. While we are still learning from each other in the development of innovative approaches to addressing dementia, we are definitely moving in the right direction.

I would encourage all members to consider this motion, do their research and if they have other questions, they are free to ask me or any member of our caucus. We would be happy to answer any questions they have.

In the beginning I talked about people in our community who had Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. I was going to talk about one particular individual who I have had the chance to get to know through the years, Jim Finkbeiner, a resident of South Huron, and his wife Linda.

Jim was diagnosed with Alzheimer's at a relatively early age, in his 60s. He and Linda wanted to do as much as they could while Jim could still participate. They came up to Ottawa, they toured Parliament, went to the provincial legislature and toured there, and they toured around the province, spending a lot of time together.

While they were here, they mentioned that in January Jim had walked from Exeter to Huron Park. He is a former firefighter. That is about a 14-kilometre walk. His latest endeavour, going back a few years now, was to walk from Exeter to Clinton, which is about a 33-kilometre walk in the middle of January.

Being relatively keen to support Jim, I told him that if he was game to do it, I would do it as well. I and members his family went for a walk a week before the Walk for Memories. We did a 33 kilometres trek. Jim was actually in his early stages of Alzheimer's when he did the walk. He did the entire walk on his own.

It shows the tremendous commitment that he had for raising awareness. He did a great job in promoting that people could live effectively with Alzheimer's.

As his disease progressed, it also shed light on the need for support for caregivers. His wife did her very best to keep Jim at home as long as she could, and as the disease progressed, she did have to send him to a long-care facility.

Just before I take questions, I want to stress that this disease, as I mentioned in the beginning, affects 40 million people worldwide. The numbers are going to double before too long. All levels of government around the world need to continue to take action. Now is the time to act.

Committees of the House May 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, from the Standing Committee on Health, a study on the federal role in the scope of practice of Canadian health care professionals.

Business of Supply May 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have two quick questions.

First, what are the member's thoughts on having research findings peer reviewed before they are discussed in the public domain?

Second, the communications policy for scientists is the same policy that was in place when he was in cabinet in the early 2000s. Has the member had a change of heart on that policy and could he provide us with any thoughts on that now?

Taxation May 14th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, our government understands that small business is the backbone of the Canadian economy. While the opposition wants to raise taxes, small businesses in my riding of Huron—Bruce know that only this government supports them.

Could the Minister of Finance please tell the House why the members of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business applauded the government's economic action plan 2015 and gave it an A?

Committees of the House May 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Health in relation to its study on the main estimates, 2015-16.

It is one hard-working committee.

Committees of the House April 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the tenth report of the Standing Committee on Health, entitled “The Statutory Review of the Pest Control Products Act, 2015”.

The Budget April 23rd, 2015

Again, Mr. Speaker, the member is also welcome to sit in the House all day and ask farcical questions.

He got up about 10 minutes ago and complained about the federal government transferring $20 million a year to his city. The riding of Huron—Bruce received $6.6 million a year in gas tax funds. It has received over $100 million in infrastructure since 2008. Umpteen investments have been made in Huron—Bruce, to the point now where they have no water problems. They have invested in sewers, in water and water treatment, in roads, in bridges, and in community centres, all because of this government.

The member's provincial cousins, the Liberal government in Ontario, drag their feet every chance they get, because there is money ready to go for more investments in infrastructure in this province.

Why do you not call your premier in Toronto and ask her why she is slowing things down?