March 23, 2000 (36th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Mac Harb


Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I will not be taking my full 10 minutes but I will make a few comments about the importance of this act.
I have been approached by many people in the medical community in the Ottawa area who, before the government decided to proceed with this initiative, have lobbied and written letters to the Minister of Health, as well as to government officials and their members of parliament, demanding that the government initiate and introduce such an initiative.
I am delighted to see the government responding to the needs of the community and establishing this particular institute. This will set an example for other fields where we could bring together institutions, people who are on the front lines, different levels of government, agencies and the private sector so they can collectively work in the best interests of the public.
I was quite surprised that we did not have such an institute a long time ago. Given the kind of confederation and the kind of arrangement we have in Canada, one would think that this would have been the most obvious thing that we would have done 15 or 20 years ago, where would would have an agency that would look at best practices, that would exchange information and that would disseminate information across the country, and an agency where we would look at what others are doing in different fields around North America and, for that matter, all around the world.
I would say that it is high time. Finally we have something being put in place that will achieve what should have been done many years ago. To that extent I think the Minister of Health, as well as the government, is to be commended for taking this bold initiative and finally introducing what will be a step in the right direction.
I would say it is one of the finest initiatives in the area of research and development at the national level, particularly in the medical community. All we have to do is look at some of the institutes and some of the organizations in our own backyard here in the national capital region where we have some of the best pioneers in the whole world.
The World Heart Corporation is a perfect example of co-operation between the public and the private sector. We have the Heart Institute. We have leading professionals working with the Heart Institute in conjunction with the University of Ottawa and the private sector. They put their brain power and their resources together collectively and are now in the process of moving ahead with some of the finest devices anywhere in the world that will change the way we conduct ourselves and will save thousands of lives all across the world.
Initiatives like these would not happen if we did not have the kind of co-operation and the kind of cohesive exchanges of information and partnership between the public and private sectors.
The institute that the government is about to introduce and enact will facilitate more things like that, will bring together more people who have similar aspirations, similar views, similar talent, similar hopes and similar objectives. It will put them together so we can move forward and we can keep Canada on the leading edge in those areas.
I would say that despite all of the deficiencies that we have in our health care system, despite all of the problems that we encounter, we still have one of the finest systems anywhere in the world. I want to commend all those who are involved in trying to revitalize the health care system by trying to inject more blood into it, one might say. It is my hope that we do not lose sight of the fact that we have something that is good. But in thinking it out, what we need to do is bring our resources together so we can keep it healthy, so we can move forward with a system that continues to be the envy of the world.
It does not matter where we go, whether we go to Asia-Pacific, whether we go to Europe, whether we go to Africa or whether we go to the south side of the border, people always use the health care system here in Canada as an example of a system that is good and as an example of a system that responds to the needs of the people.
Now that we are faced with a challenge, which is to keep the health care system for the next 50, 100 and perhaps thousands of years, if we want to keep the system responding to the needs of Canadians we have to work collectively, but we have to work objectively. We have to work in a positive way, not a negative way. We have to find solutions that will respond to the needs of the people, rather than moving away and creating a two-tier system and start shooting at each other and undermining the system.
To the extent that this debate is taking place, it is my hope that it will be a positive one, that it will be a constructive one and that it will be an objective one.
I commend my colleagues on the opposition side for standing to support the government initiative on the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Act. It is my hope that we will push it through quite fast so it will become a reality as quickly as possible.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canadian Institutes Of Health Research Act
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