Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP)
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in this important debate on Bill C-13.
I want to start by saying how very proud we are of our health care critic, the member for Winnipeg North Centre. She has done a great job in representing our concerns and interests in the various stages of debate on the bill. I notice that she moved some amendments.
I read with interest the speech she made on February 24. She cited the fact that while we are in favour of Bill C-13 and the whole concept of the proposed medical health research institutes, we have some real reservations not only about the process and how this bill came about but about the government's lack of willingness to entertain a number of the issues we raised. We thought they would augment the bill and add to the whole concept of promoting Canada as a centre of excellence for medical research which surely must be the ultimate goal in any bill of this nature.
Many groups made representations on the bill when it was before the committee not the least of which was the Canada Labour Congress. The Canada Labour Congress brought forward a very good point which we are disappointed the government did not automatically welcome and embrace. The issue it wanted addressed was that the one thing really lacking from a worker's point of view is that there is no medical institute specializing in occupational health and safety. One would think that in this day and age that would be automatic, an absolute given.
If we are concerned about occupational safety and health, which surely the government purports to be, it is a very timely recommendation. Part II of the Canada Labour Code is currently being debated and amended. That part of the labour code deals with occupational safety and health. Why would the government not have welcomed the recommendation that an institute be created that is dedicated solely to eliminating workplace accidents and lost time, injuries et cetera? Other countries have such a thing. The United States is way in front of us in terms of its research capabilities on occupational safety and health.
The government failed to respond to what we thought was a very creative and a very worthwhile recommendation.
Subtopic: Division No. 752