Mr. Joseph Volpe (Eglinton—Lawrence, Lib.)
Madam Speaker, I listened attentively to my two colleagues opposite whose concern for the health care system in the country is very genuine. It can only reflect our concerns.
I wonder if in expressing concern whether there is as well a method to address those concerns. What is the solution they would wish our government to follow? They have acknowledged in their statements that we have been very progressive in adding more and more funds to the Canadian health transfer. We have been very trusting of our provincial partners in the discharge of their duty with respect to health administration.
We found only last month that notwithstanding the social union we signed one year ago and notwithstanding the fact that the Government of Canada increased the transfers by $3.5 billion immediately last February 1999, with an additional $8 billion to follow, the provinces and in particular the province of Quebec took the additional money, as he said mettre plus de fonds dans les poches. Quebec took that money from les poches and put it into bank accounts and not to the service of the health care system which is in great need.
That province took $800 million. Instead of investing in health care, it invested in interest deposits. The province of Ontario thought it was a good example to follow and put roughly $600 million into bank accounts rather than invest in hospital restructuring and health care delivery.
These are difficulties that we have to address. Our colleagues opposite point out the obvious, that Canadians want a viable, vibrant health care system. I wonder what they would have us do short of the things we are doing. As we indicated in the last budget, we are willing to do even more. They should give us the bill, tell us what they would do, and we would look for the means to finance it.
We have increased funds for medical health research. We have increased funds for health innovation. We have increased funds for various projects. We have discharged our responsibilities to those in our care. What would members suggest we do for those who come under the care of the provinces?