Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak about anaphylaxis, a condition that must be taken very seriously. Anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction. More and more Quebeckers and Canadians suffer from food allergies and approximately 4% of the population has one or more food allergies.
Motion M-546 aims to promote public awareness and to establish product standards to make life easier for people living with allergies. As I said, these allergies can sometimes be life-threatening. Living with an allergy-related health problem affects individuals and alters their quality of life. They live every day with worry. It is a daily battle. The allergies also affect family members, friends and other people in their lives.
I can share my own experience, since I have allergies to two medications: codeine and cortisone. These medications are found in many over-the-counter products. Every day when I take medication, I must be very careful to keep myself safe, since many other medications or products are made with codeine and cortisone derivatives.
My personal experience has shown me that it is not always easy to determine and identify which products contain these derivatives. As the hon. member said, it is important to remember that many children suffer from these allergies. It is also important to remember that they will have to deal with this issue their entire lives, even as adults, because these allergies do not go away and will always be part of their reality.
The Bloc Québécois and Quebec understand the importance of acknowledging food allergies. And so, on May 14, 2010, the Bloc Québécois voted in favour of a motion designating May as Food Allergy Awareness Month. The majority of people who suffer from allergies, suffer from food allergies. They must always be on the lookout, whether they are going to a restaurant or someone's house. It is a constant challenge for people suffering from food allergies because they must always be conscious of what they are eating. Allergies can appear in infancy or can develop at any point in a person's life. The most common allergies are to peanuts, eggs and milk—all basic food products.
Over 10 years ago, Quebec declared March 21 food allergy awareness day. Today is March 21. The purpose of this day is to increase awareness about the problems and issues associated with food allergies. It is important to educate the public and increase awareness about this affliction. Prevention is also a major issue and very important to any success that is achieved, since it helps increase the quality of life of those who suffer from these allergies.
We support today's motion, for the most part. As always, the Bloc Québécois studied the motion very carefully, and we concluded that it respects the values upheld by our party, the values of Quebeckers, and that it calls for compassion in particular. We therefore believe that the government should take the necessary steps to ensure that Canadians and Quebeckers who have these allergies can maintain a high quality of life.
However, these measures must be taken only in areas that fall under federal jurisdiction. Quebec and the provinces have exclusive jurisdiction over health and social services. The Conservatives won adoption of a motion recognizing the Quebec nation. Therefore, they must also respect the fact that certain matters fall solely under Quebec's jurisdiction.
In order to allow Quebec to fulfill its responsibilities regarding health and social services, the government must settle the $5 billion dispute it has been having with the Quebec government, for instance, by resolving the equalization issue once and for all.
In its 2007 budget, the Conservative government allocated money for equalization. The Bloc Québécois supported that budget at the time because it resolved, in part, the equalization issue. Nonetheless, it has not been resolved entirely. Quebec still has not been paid what it is owed.
Quebec is still waiting for compensation for harmonizing the GST and the QST, despite the fact that it is a nation and it harmonized its taxes a number of years ago, as a number of Canadian provinces have done. I think we were the first province to do so and we are still waiting for compensation. The Conservative government, including the Prime Minister, initially used Quebec as an example of harmonizing taxes. The government must compensate Quebec the way it has compensated the other provinces and adequately fund social programs.
The federal government can get industry to change its rules on labelling food allergens, as it did recently for gluten and sulphites.
When I was elected I sat on the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food with the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska, who does excellent work for our party in that area. We were studying food labelling. The government asked us to do our homework and set labelling standards for products entering Canada. Despite a consensus in committee, the government introduced an entirely different bill.
If we adopt a motion as important as the one being moved today, I invite the government to respect the will of the House and not repeat what it did with the labelling issue. It disregarded the report that had been presented in committee and it implemented unsatisfactory standards for all Canadians and Quebeckers. The government should work with the opposition and respect the will of the House when it comes to labelling.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, allow me to propose the following amendment, seconded by the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska:
That the motion be amended by adding after the words “the government” the following: “with respect to subjects under the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada”.
I invite hon. members to support the Bloc Québécois amendment to the motion moved by the hon. member for Niagara West—Glanbrook.