March 17, 2000

PC

Greg Thompson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Greg Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest, PC)

Madam Speaker, when I started out in this debate I was hoping we could avoid, although not completely, the idea of throwing back and forth who said what, who funded what and those percentages.

The minister's speech reminds me of that old axiom “Figures lie and liars figure”, because we totally disagree on those numbers, as did the member from Winnipeg. Those numbers are not real. If it evolves into that type of debate, which it often does, nothing happens. It goes back to finger pointing: him pointing at the provinces and the provinces pointing back at him.

What we are talking about is fixing a system that is broken and his government did it. We are looking for solutions, not name calling and finger pointing, and who did what, who said what and whose figures are real.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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LIB

Allan Rock

Liberal

Hon. Allan Rock

Madam Speaker, if we are going to have a debate, which the member started with his motion today, then let us do it on the facts.

When I hear his colleague suggesting that Ottawa is contributing 15 cents on every dollar to health spending, that is plain wrong. Let us put the facts on the table and let us have this debate framed by reality.

The Government of Canada contributes one-third to all health spending every year in this country. Let us get that straight. These are not figures we are pulling out of the air. As I said, they come from the Canadian Institute for Health Information. It tracks actual spending on health in this country.

I went beyond figures and talked about what we need to fix the health care system. I encourage the member and his party to join us in that effort.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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REF

Grant Hill

Reform

Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Ref.)

Madam Speaker, one of the figures that is really difficult to argue with is the percentage of spending per capita. That is the figure that is accurate and reproducible.

I wonder if the minister would, from this document, because these figures are in this document, go to 1993 and look at the federal cash contribution per capita in Canada and compare that with the same figure, the cash contribution from the federal government per capita today. Those are the two figures that tell the tale. Because those figures are in that document, I ask the minister if he would present them to us.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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LIB

Allan Rock

Liberal

Hon. Allan Rock

Madam Speaker, I am delighted to table the document and the member can look at it from any angle he would like to.

One message emerges clearly from that document, and it is that for their own purposes some people understate the contribution of the Government of Canada. I insist that we tell the truth. I also insist that we look at the last four years in which in every budget we have increased the transfers to the provinces for health; a 25% increase over the last four years. Transfers this year to the provinces are at an all time high. Those are the facts.

As I have said, it will take two things to solve the problems facing medicare: First, a long term plan with the changes we will need; and second, a commitment to long term financing. Let us focus on both. We are ready to get to work on each of those elements.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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BQ

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold

Bloc Québécois

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ)

Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to what the Minister of Health had to say. He asked the provinces to show their willingness to restore the health system.

It is fine for him to tell that to the provinces, but is he undertaking to engage in dialogue with the provinces? Is he undertaking to restore provincial transfer payments to the 1993-94 level? Is he undertaking to do something to make up to the provinces the shortfall since 1994-95? Is he also undertaking to respect provincial jurisdiction over service to the public?

I ask him what he wants to do. Provincial governments are more than willing, but let us not forget that it is because they have seen their payments slashed by the federal government and been forced to go through what they have gone through in the health care system in the last few years.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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LIB

Allan Rock

Liberal

Hon. Allan Rock

Madam Speaker, the government has already stated its position on this. We have stated our commitment to be there over the long term to fund the health care system with the provinces. We have already stated our commitment to be there to take part in the changes necessary in the delivery of services in order to support the provinces in introducing the necessary reforms.

I cited Bernard Landry, who said himself a few days ago that it is a question not just of more money but also of how our health care system is run.

Responsibility for the delivery of services is in the hands of the provinces, and the Government of Canada also has a role to play in co-ordinating the changes and supporting the provinces in their efforts.

In reply to the questions put by the hon. member for Jonquière, we have already stated our intention to honour our responsibilities in this regard.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis

New Democratic Party

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, my questions are simple. How is it that the health minister is not able to come forward with a legal opinion after four months since Ralph Klein introduced Bill-11 and two weeks since he has known about the actual contents of the bill?

If he is now saying “wait for the regulations”, is the Minister of Health in fact saying that he is waiting until Ralph Klein puts the last nail in the coffin of public health care before he acts?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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LIB

Allan Rock

Liberal

Hon. Allan Rock

Mr. Speaker, we have had this exchange before. Let me remind the hon. member what I said to her. I said that if she has a legal opinion with respect to Bill-11, I wish she would share it with us.

The second thing I said to her was to wait until we found out what the bill is all about. The premier himself is speaking about amendments. We do not have the regulations. Let us find out what the bill contains before we pronounce a final position.

Finally, I have not been shy about expressing the government's grave concern. We do not agree with the policy of private for profit clinics. It will not help with costs. It will not help with waiting lists. We have urged the premier to reconsider, as he has done twice in the past.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis

New Democratic Party

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis

Mr. Speaker, on several occasions the minister has asked us to table the documents containing legal opinions. Yesterday his House leader refused the unanimous consent necessary to do so.

Will the Minister of Health now agree and assure that unanimous consent is achieved for the tabling of these—

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
Permalink
?

The Speaker

Let me understand. The Minister of Health would not make this decision; the House would. Does the hon. member have unanimous consent to table the document?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
Permalink
?

Some hon. members

No.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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LIB

Brent St. Denis

Liberal

Mr. Brent St. Denis (Algoma—Manitoulin, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend our government for its commitment to preserving and promoting the environmental integrity of the Great Lakes. I am from the north shore area of Lake Huron, so I appreciate how important all of the lakes are to those communities which depend on marine tourism and commercial fishing.

In the latest federal budget a new commitment of $8 million per year for three years was made to assist in the clean-up of 16 areas of concern identified by the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

Further, the latest report from the International Joint Commission, entitled “Protection of the Waters of the Great Lakes”, supports the government's action contained in Bill C-15, which will prohibit the bulk removal of water from Canada's major drainage basins, especially the Great Lakes.

While Canada recognizes the need to ensure safe, clean water for all citizens of the world, simply removing water in bulk from the Great Lakes is not the answer. Simply put, the ecology of the Great Lakes Basin is too fragile.

These are firm actions by the government to protect the Great Lakes—

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   The Environment
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?

The Speaker

The hon. member for Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   The Environment
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REF

Jim Gouk

Reform

Mr. Jim Gouk (Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, I have good news and bad news.

The good news is that the federal government's official subsidy of VIA Rail was reduced from $212 million in 1997 to $178 million in 1998. The bad news is that VIA's losses went from $253 million in 1997 to $261 million in 1998. Who picks up the difference? The Canadian taxpayer. Perhaps that is why the Minister of Transport went to cabinet and asked for the subsidy to be increased from $500,000 a day to almost $2 million a day.

The good news is that the Rocky Mountaineer, a private sector rail tour company, installed sewage containment units on all of its rail cars years ago. The bad news is that VIA Rail continues to dump raw sewage on the tracks wherever it goes. CN and CP workers have to work on these tracks, which make for unbelievably bad working conditions and possible health risks. If VIA is forced to make the same change as the private sector voluntarily did, the Canadian taxpayer will be asked to pick up the bill.

When is the government going to stop wasting the taxpayers' money and privatize VIA Rail?

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Via Rail
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LIB

Beth Phinney

Liberal

Ms. Beth Phinney (Hamilton Mountain, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the Harris government continues to claim that the federal government contributes only 13% to public health care spending in Ontario, when in fact the real number is 33%. That government still has half a billion dollars in federal health care cash from last year in the bank. That money could be used to enhance health care in Ontario. Rather, it is contemplating the closure of Henderson Hospital, the only hospital on Hamilton Mountain.

The constituents of Hamilton Mountain have spoken. They want and need this hospital. Twelve hundred people attended a rally last week to tell the Harris government to use the health care cash and keep Henderson Hospital open.

I congratulate the provincial Liberal member for Hamilton Mountain, Marie Boutriani, for her efforts to keep this hospital open.

The federal government has shown its commitment to health care. Now it is time for the provincial government to do the same and keep Henderson Hospital on Hamilton Mountain open.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Henderson Hospital
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LIB

Sophia Leung

Liberal

Ms. Sophia Leung (Vancouver Kingsway, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, in my riding of Vancouver Kingsway last week I met with local small business owners to discuss the federal budget. I am very proud to report to the House that those business owners were very positive toward the government's budget provisions and tax reductions for the business sector. They will go a long way to support not only businesses but also the communities in which they operate.

This action by our government proves that Canada is on the right track to support our economy and business development in Canada.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   The Budget
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LIB

Claude Drouin

Liberal

Mr. Claude Drouin (Beauce, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the member for Joliette once again displayed his ignorance. He is so nervous about losing his seat in the next election that he has already started attacking our party.

I would like to point out in this House that the Liberal Party of Canada has invited young people between 14 and 18, with the permission of all their parents, to savour a unique experience—participating in the political process of a major party. Nothing was done unbeknownst to anyone.

Allow me, however, to salute the young people of Joliette, who are here in this House and who have revealed their desire to learn, their interest in the future and their wish to assume their place in society. Welcome to Ottawa.

It would be appropriate for the member from Joliette to make a public apology and inform the people of Joliette that the incompetence and irresponsibility are not ours.

The members of the sovereignist party want the voting age lowered to 16, so long as the voters are separatist, I imagine. The member should be ashamed of worrying their parents and especially of implying that the young people had no idea why they were here in Ottawa.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Liberal Party Of Canada
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REF

Jay Hill

Reform

Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George—Peace River, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, the people of Toronto saw a strange sight this week. Motorists travelling the infamously congested highways around Canada's largest city found a big red Massey-Ferguson combine in the lane next to them. That combine is named Prairie Belle, driven by my constituent Nick Parsons from Dawson Creek, B.C.

Nick set out on February 1 from the small rural community of Farmington, British Columbia on a 3,000-plus kilometre odyssey to Ottawa. The purpose: to raise awareness for the family farm income crisis which is forcing western producers into bankruptcy.

To welcome Nick to Ottawa I am hosting a rally on Monday, March 20 at 11 a.m. in front of the centennial flame on Parliament Hill. I invite all those interested in showing their support for Nick or welcoming him to the nation's capital to come out on Monday morning.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   The Family Farm
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LIB

Pat O'Brien

Liberal

Mr. Pat O'Brien (London—Fanshawe, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the coat of arms of Canada bears among its symbols the Royal Harp of Tara and the Shamrock of St. Patrick to recognize the outstanding contribution of the Irish people in the formation of our blessed nation.

The Irish began to arrive in a trickle as early as the 17th century in Newfoundland. That trickle became a river during the 18th and early 19th centuries. That river became a great flood of Irish refugees during the tragic years of the great famine in Ireland.

By the time of confederation in 1867 fully one-third of the people of Canada were of Irish origin, including the visionary Father of Confederation, Thomas D'Arcy McGee.

Today some four million Canadians are of Irish ancestry. Former prime ministers Lester B. Pearson, Louis St. Laurent and Brian Mulroney all shared Irish ancestry. Some 70 MPs in the House of Commons are of Irish ancestry, by far the largest cultural representation after French and English.

Today I wish the people of Canada and Ireland a very happy St. Patrick's Day.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   The Irish People
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March 17, 2000