April 1, 1998

NDP

Alexa McDonough

New Democratic Party

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the health minister admitted to excluding 60,000 hepatitis C victims from compensation. That is like turning your back on every man, woman and child in Antigonish and Moose Jaw because it would cost money.

What will it take for the Minister of Health to finally admit that his decision to exclude so many victims was not based on compassion or humanity? Why will he not admit this policy was worked out with a calculator?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Hepatitis C
Permalink
LIB

Allan Rock

Liberal

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, thank goodness we live in a country in which the people who are infected, no matter when they were infected, have a wonderful health care system to rely upon.

For those who were infected during the period 1986 to 1990 all governments have come to grips with the question of when government should compensate those who are harmed by the system.

The hon. member knows that every day in every health care facility there are procedures carried out that involve risk. Is she saying that the public health care system should compensate everybody?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Hepatitis C
Permalink
NDP

Alexa McDonough

New Democratic Party

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, even Liberal caucus members are now indicating they cannot live with the package. They know that it is not fair or just.

Since the leaders in waiting have botched this compensation package, will the current Prime Minister now do the only just thing and implement Justice Krever's recommendation to compensate all victims with hepatitis C?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Hepatitis C
Permalink
LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I just said that it is a difficult decision. The minister is explaining the situation very well.

We were not the government when that problem occurred. It was before us but We take the responsibility that faces the government.

I say to the leader of the NDP that the two provincial governments that belong to the same party are in complete agreement with what the Minister of Health has done.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Hepatitis C
Permalink
PC

Greg Thompson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Greg Thompson (Charlotte, PC)

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health is caught between a rock and a hard place. The hard place is sitting right over there. He is called the Minister of Finance.

The government found $700 million for the botched Pearson airport deal and $500 million for the botched helicopter deal.

Why can this minister not stand in cabinet and come up with some money for these innocent victims, the 40,000 innocent victims of hepatitis C? Why can he not get some answers out of his own government and go in there and fight for these people?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Hepatitis C
Permalink
LIB

Allan Rock

Liberal

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the member should know that the governments of Canada are putting together $1.1 billion in compensation for 22,000 people infected between 1986 and 1990.

The member should also know that those who are responsible for the health care system both federally and provincially spent months considering this very difficult decision.

The conclusion to which we came was that we would not put the public health care system at risk by putting in place a system that compensates everyone for every harm regardless.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Hepatitis C
Permalink
PC

Greg Thompson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Greg Thompson (Charlotte, PC)

Mr. Speaker, the minister has the power to act unilaterally but he will not.

This question is for the Prime Minister. Last night the Liberal caucus exercised some power over the backbenchers when they voted on behalf of one of our motions. Now we are finding there are some cracks in the armour in the backbenches on this issue. Some of his own members are asking for a compensation package that includes all victims.

Will the Prime Minister now listen to his own caucus and do the right thing by exercising his moral leadership on this question? Would the Prime Minister please get up and explain?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Hepatitis C
Permalink
LIB

Allan Rock

Liberal

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member should know is that this decision was a government decision. It was a decision made by 13 governments.

It is a very unusual situation in Canada when our bipartisan intergovernmental bases come to one conclusion, and it is the responsible one.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Hepatitis C
Permalink
REF

Grant Hill

Reform

Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, the minister keeps saying that this decision was made by 13 governments. It is still a wrong decision.

In 1977 Josephine Mahoney was infected with hepatitis C. Her life in tatters, just two years ago she received a fair and just compensation plan from her government. Luckily for her she does not live in Canada. She lives in Ireland.

Why has the Irish government looked after every single victim of hepatitis C when this Prime Minister is abandoning fully 50% of our victims?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Hepatitis C
Permalink
LIB

Allan Rock

Liberal

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member as a physician should know that across this country every day in clinics, in hospitals and in offices medical procedures are undertaken that involve risk.

Is the hon. member suggesting that anyone who is harmed, regardless of fault, as a result of the health care system should be compensated? That is the principle at issue here. Thirteen governments have made their decision and I say it is the right one.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Hepatitis C
Permalink
REF

Grant Hill

Reform

Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, this is not about every harmful procedure. This is about a public system failing and the victims getting hepatitis C.

New Zealand has a no fault compensation package. Italy has a compensation package for every single victim of hepatitis C. They know what is right. Why has this Prime Minister chosen to do what is frankly wrong to those victims?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Hepatitis C
Permalink
LIB

Allan Rock

Liberal

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should take care with his examples. There is not another country in the world that has the public health care system of the quality—

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Hepatitis C
Permalink
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Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Hepatitis C
Permalink
BQ

Yvan Loubier

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, on February 19, the Prime Minister said we could obtain all the answers to our questions on the appearance of a conflict of interest involving the Minister of Finance and Bill C-28 by raising the issue in the Standing Committee on Finance. So far, however, all our attempts to do so have not succeeded.

How can the Prime Minister explain the difference between his statements in the House and the action taken by the members of his party in committee? They have been doing everything, since then, to prevent us from getting to the bottom of this issue involving the shipowner-lawmaker.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Bill C-28
Permalink
LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has been making these insinuations for two months and he is getting nowhere, because the members of my party and I have full confidence in the integrity of the Minister of Finance.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Bill C-28
Permalink
BQ

Yvan Loubier

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, for the sake of consistency and especially of transparency, would the Prime Minister tell us if he intends to postpone passage of Bill C-28 at third reading, and to refer the bill back to the Standing Committee on Finance to have this matter cleared up? If he has nothing to hide, he should let the committee do its job.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Bill C-28
Permalink
LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, we have had the opportunity to study this issue and, in my opinion, the hon. member, as well as other members, have been given a fully satisfactory explanation.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Bill C-28
Permalink
REF

Reed Elley

Reform

Mr. Reed Elley (Nanaimo—Cowichan, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, the health minister keeps talking about the excellent research we have in this country. He should really acquaint himself with it.

I want to clear up a factual error the health minister keeps on repeating. He says there was no way to detect hepatitis C in the blood supply before 1986. So he will not compensate people who contracted the disease before then. That is not the truth.

Justice Krever noted that Dr. Moore of the Canadian Red Cross laboratory proposed a test as far back as May 1981. Shamefully, no tests would be implemented for nine more years.

Enough phoney excuses.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Hepatitis C
Permalink
LIB

Allan Rock

Liberal

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, in various places throughout the world various tests were proposed. Those who understand the history of this chronology recognize that it was in 1986 when Canada should have, indeed practically could have, put a test in place. That was the year when things changed internationally and the year accepted as the turning point.

That is why it was chosen as a turning point by ministers of health not just from this government but from provincial and territorial governments that all looked at these facts and came to the same conclusion.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Hepatitis C
Permalink
REF

Reed Elley

Reform

Mr. Reed Elley (Nanaimo—Cowichan, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, that is an unacceptable answer. It gives no help to all these victims and it is still morally wrong to abandon them.

What is particularly painful is how the Prime Minister is picking and choosing favourites. He will compensate only the top tier of victims. Everyone who contacted hepatitis C before 1986 is being abandoned. This is a national disgrace.

Will the Prime Minister stand up and tell us that this is not a two tier system of compensation?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Hepatitis C
Permalink

April 1, 1998