Mr. Rey Pagtakhan (Winnipeg North):
Mr. Speaker, in answer to my question on April 20 the minister of health refused to initiate a national strategy to trace all victims of AIDS tainted blood until the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children had completed its investigation.
From the years 1980 to 1985 thousands and thousands of Canadians could have been infected with the HIV virus. The answer of the minister was not adequate for several reasons. The delay is inexcusable for those who are HIV positive but who do not have the symptoms. We know they may infect others.
The doctors may be slower to recognize the diagnosis in the presence of symptoms without knowing the actual positivity of the patients with respect to HIV.
Third, we know that preventive therapy could be available whereby infected Canadians without the symptoms could be treated early and thereby prevent the onset of the true AIDS disease.
I also submit that by tracing all the victims we will extinguish their anguish and that of their families who do not know their real status. We cannot afford to leave them in limbo. The piecemeal approach that the minister was suggesting allows each of the provinces to proceed on their own. It is unacceptable and reflects an absence of national leadership.
Moreover the minister did not reply at all to my other questions. Will he compensate the victims of HIV-tainted blood as soon as they are discovered? We know that Nova Scotia and now Quebec and Ontario have considered paying the victims additional amounts. Why is the federal government refusing to come forward with an additional compensation package, knowing the seriousness of the disease and the toll that this has imposed on families?
We know that people who went for health care between 1980 and 1985 were infected because of the failure of the national blood system. They ought not to be penalized financially for such a failure of the national blood system.
The minister resisted for six months. I requested that he initiate a full-scale public inquiry into HIV-tainted blood. Thanks to our persistence and the report of the committee he finally relented and agreed to it. I hope that he will not wait another six months to act on the unanimous recommendation of our committee that a national strategy be developed immediately. I therefore ask the minister to demonstrate national leadership, to help physicians in their diagnoses, to help prevent the Canadian public from being unwittingly exposed and finally to provide peace for people who might be infected. They deserve no less.