- SENATORS' STATEMENTS
- ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
- Public Prosecution Service
- Natural Resources
- Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration
- Corrections and Conditional Release Act
- QUESTION PERIOD
- Democratic Reform
- Foreign Affairs
- Foreign Affairs
- National Defence
- Delayed Answers to Oral Questions
- Treasury Board
- ORDERS OF THE DAY
- Korean War
- Palliative Care
- Mental Health, Illness and Addiction Services in Canada
- Fisheries and Oceans
Thursday, September 27, 2012
The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. Asha Seth: Honourable senators, it feels great to be back in this great chamber in the company of all my dear colleagues. I would like to take a moment to welcome everyone back and share with them some of the productive projects in which I participated this summer. I dedicated my summer to using my influence within the multicultural communities of the GTA to reach out and inform citizens of the good work we do here in the Senate. I was so proud to join the Indo Canada Chamber of Commerce in welcoming a high-powered delegation from India that included leaders from every field who were eager to work with our government to increase prosperity and cooperation.
Of course, being an Indian senator gave me the opportunity to spread our ideas and goals within the Indo-Canadian community. From the Fortieth Annual Festival of India to the Canada-India Foundation's Agriculture and Food Processing Forum held in Vancouver, it was my great goal to let my community know that their interests are represented in the upper house of Canada thanks to the great honour our Prime Minister bestowed upon me.
Honourable senators, they were aware that Canada and India are important partners in trade, diplomacy and immigration and that the Conservative government of Stephen Harper is dedicated to strengthening those bonds. Indo-Canadians represent over a million of our citizens, and it is my goal to show them how we are working hard to further their goals and those of all Canadians.
Not to limit myself, I humbly accepted the opportunity to represent our Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, at the Caribbean Carnival of Toronto, which hosted thousands of people over the course of several weeks. From the Chao Chow Chinese Association of Ontario Canada to the Toronto Ukrainian Festival, I delivered our greeting at over 20 high-profile events with large, eager crowds. I know that if even one of those individuals felt a new-found appreciation for their government and its institutions, then my job was done.
Thank you to all the parliamentarians who trusted me to help and fight for those votes and those hearts. Thank you all, and good luck this session.
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, it gives me great pleasure to rise today to speak about National Seniors Day and to recognize the 2012 Senior of the Year Award recipients from Prince Edward Island.
Every year, October 1 provides an occasion for Canadians to appreciate and celebrate seniors. Throughout the country, events are held to pay tribute to seniors who have made valuable contributions to Canadian communities, workplaces and society. On Prince Edward Island, the Seniors' Secretariat took this opportunity to recognize important contributions that older adults have made in improving our way of life on P.E.I.
Throughout the year, the secretariat received many nominations and five Island seniors were chosen for the Senior of the Year Award. These awards celebrate the accomplishments and significant contributions made by Island seniors in many areas of community life, including volunteer work, the arts, fundraising, community involvement, career achievements, sport and other activities.
The 2012 Senior Islander of the Year Award recipients are: Garnet Buell of Murray River; Joyce MacKenzie of Charlottetown; George Olscamp of Summerside; Antoine Richard of Wellington; and Doreen Wooder of Ellerslie. As I could not be there to attend the ceremony, I send my sincere congratulations to all award winners.
Over the years, these people have contributed to their communities in a variety of ways. Much of their time has been spent devoting countless hours to volunteering in their community, which has helped many people of all ages throughout their lives.
Each and every day, seniors throughout our country make an important impact on their communities. They share their time, expertise and wisdom, and act as mentors and leaders to the younger generation.
As this is Canada's second National Seniors Day, I certainly hope that, as the year goes on, more and more communities across our country will take this opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge the role seniors play in our society.
Hon. Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie: Honourable senators, I rise today to invite my esteemed colleagues to a very special event on the Hill this coming Monday. As Chair of the Health Research Caucus, I will be hosting a reception and kiosk-style event on Canada's health innovation clusters.
Today's economic map of the world is characterized by clusters: critical masses of linked industries and institutions — from suppliers to universities to government agencies — that enjoy unusual competitive success in a particular field. Famous examples are found in Silicon Valley for IT and in San Diego for biotechnology, but clusters exist around the world.
Honourable senators, clusters affect competition in three broad ways: First, by increasing the productivity of companies based in the area; second, by driving the direction and pace of innovation; and third, by stimulating the formation of new businesses within the cluster.
This event will focus on the life sciences sector, demonstrating the impact these clusters have on creating high-paying jobs, generating wealth and increasing the quality of life in the regions within which they exist.
Come and join us and see how, at the University of Calgary, Canada space technology used in the creation of the Canadarm has been instrumental in developing NeuroArm, a surgical robot for MRI-guided brain surgery. Come and see also how, in Atlantic Canada, researchers have partnered with the private sector to develop a clinic-ready medical technology that improves outcomes for knee and hip replacements, resulting in better care, cost savings and job creation.
The health innovation clusters visited at this event will demonstrate how a strategic regional investment that capitalizes on local knowledge, people and entrepreneurship can lead to large-scale innovations that save lives, build prosperity and increase Canada's ability to be a global leader in science and technology.
Honourable senators, on Monday, October 1, 2012, please join some of our eminent scientists and leaders from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors to see first-hand the benefits of health innovation clusters in Canada. On behalf of myself and vice-chairs Dr. Kirsty Duncan and Ms. Megan Leslie, I invite all honourable senators to join us in Room 256-S between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Hon. Percy E. Downe: Honourable senators, Prince Edward Islanders are mourning the loss of John Yeo, who passed away this summer of cancer.
John, who was 49 years old, was diagnosed as an infant with a brain malformation. His parents said no to the conventional medical advice at the time to put John in an institution for people with disabilities and promised to have him live at the family home. That decision, made by Jeanette and Ken Yeo, changed John's life for the better and led to the very positive impact John had on so many people in the community.
John's father, Ken Yeo, would be well known to many in the Senate chamber as he was the former Executive Director for the PC Party of Prince Edward Island and served for many years in the office of Premier Jim Lee.
After a day working as a clerk at an agency that provided employment for people with disabilities, John would stand on the corner near his home, waving and smiling to every person and car driving by, a sure way to cheer up everyone. During the annual Gold Cup and Saucer Parade in Charlottetown, John would be riding in the police car at the front of the parade, waving and smiling.
Most of all, he would do house visits — always for a short period of time — in the neighbourhood. Walking in, no doorbell ringing or knocking required, he would ask, "What are you doing?" and to my spouse, "Where is your purse?" During John's first visit, my children were startled to suddenly have this man walk unannounced into our house asking questions. They soon realized that John Yeo was full of joy and love. A few weeks after that first visit, I came downstairs to hear my daughter welcoming another unannounced visit, saying, "Hi, John, what's going on?", already adjusted to the positive influence that John had on everyone he encountered.
A massive crowd attended his funeral, including members of the police and fire departments in full uniform. John would have liked that. May he rest in peace.
Hon. Vernon White: Honourable senators, I rise today preceding an important event that will occur this upcoming Sunday. Beginning in 1977, a memorial service has been held on Parliament Hill in honour of those peace officers, police officers and correctional officers who have lost their lives while serving this country. In 1994, the Prime Minister of Canada gathered with more than 700 officers to dedicate a site to the west of Centre Block of Parliament as a memorial site and the Canadian Police Memorial Pavilion.
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the Canadian Police Association work together annually with a local committee to bring forward a respectful and appropriate memorial service that allows us to remember those who have died in the line of duty.
On September 30, 2012, we will again see thousands of members of the police community stand shoulder to shoulder as they march onto Parliament Hill, a day that has been proclaimed as the Police and Peace Officers' National Memorial Day.
Having worked across this country in three provinces and all three territories as a police officer, I can say that police officers and peace officers across this country place themselves in harm's way, running toward danger while others run away. In a few extreme cases, they pay for that courage with their lives. I ask that honourable senators have these brave men and women in their thoughts and prayers this weekend.
Since its inception, the memorial has had more than 800 names added. I would ask that if honourable senators are within the National Capital Region this Sunday to please come and be a part of the day as we again honour those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to our communities and country.
Hon. Elizabeth (Beth) Marshall: Honourable senators, the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador is rich in culture and history, and we celebrate our heritage with pride. I rise today to speak of the Sunnyside Truce Sound 400 Festival. Last month on August 7 to 12, the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador celebrated the four-hundredth anniversary of the historic first meeting between the English and the Beothuk near Frenchman's Cove in Sunnyside, Newfoundland.
On November 6, 1612, Governor John Guy of Cupids and other colonists met with the Beothuk people in Sunnyside Harbour. During this first recorded meeting between the English and the Beothuk, the two parties shared a meal, sang, danced and exchanged gifts. Governor Guy named the harbour Truce Sound in honour of this peaceful and joyful meeting.
The Sunnyside Truce Sound 400 Festival, which took place from August 7 to 12, featured many events that celebrated the two cultures. Attendees enjoyed old-fashioned outdoor concerts, fireworks displays, traditional dinners, a display of archeological artifacts, and guided walks on the Truce Sound Coastal Trail. A new Peace Garden Memorial commemorating this first meeting was also opened on this occasion.
Our government proudly invested in this festival that celebrates our shared heritage and collective identity. Through the Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage Program created by Canadian Heritage, we are able to provide Canadians with more opportunities to take part in activities that present local arts and culture and that celebrate local history and heritage.
I congratulate the organizers of the Sunnyside Truce Sound 400 Festival for their commitment and dedication. Sunnyside is a small community on the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland and Labrador and has fewer than 500 residents. However, thanks to the hard work of the Sunnyside Heritage Association and other members of the community, including the mayor and the deputy mayor, the culture and heritage of the Truce Sound story was celebrated.
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2011-12 report of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada.
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report entitled: Applications for Ministerial Review—Miscarriages of Justice, Annual Report 2012, Minister of Justice.
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report on the state of Canada's forests for 2012, pursuant to the Department of Natural Resources Act.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the thirteenth report of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, which deals with the international travel of three senators.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-293, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (vexatious complainants).
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?
(On motion of Senator Carignan, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate, and I wish to welcome her back as well as all of her colleagues on the other side.
Bill C-21, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act, accountability with respect to political loans, is before the House of Commons, and it will likely make its way to the Senate. Would the Leader of the Government agree with me that in Canada it is right and proper to expect all political parties, including, as we now read in the papers, the New Democratic Party, to provide full disclosure of election and leadership expenses?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, that is the law. The law states, as has been reported by newspapers recently and in the past, that an unpaid loan is also considered an illegal donation.
Senator Cordy: Over the last number of months, we have seen members of the government in the other place tabling bills, making suggestions and calling on public and private sector unions to disclose all of their political activities and donations. We even have one Conservative calling for union dues to be voluntary.
Does the Leader of the Government share those sentiments? That is to say, does she believe that public sector unions should provide full disclosure of their donations and their political activities?
Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for the question. I believe this matter is before the other place in the form of a private member's bill. I would suggest to Senator Cordy and all senators on this side to await the deliberations of the House of Commons and what happens with that private member's bill before we decide in this chamber how to deal with that particular piece of legislation.
Senator Cordy: Does the Leader of the Government apply that same standard of disclosure and transparency and agree with me that it is about time that Prime Minister Harper finally releases the names of the 9,000 people who donated to his leadership campaign? We know that, to date, he has kept that information hidden from the public. Or is this another case of do as I say and not as I do?
Senator LeBreton: That particular question has absolutely nothing to do with the business of Parliament or, in fact, the laws. I would suggest to the honourable senator that the Liberal Party would be better off concentrating on how they will survive rather than going back 10 or 15 years in order to try to revive themselves.
Senator Cordy: The question has to do with openness and accountability. We have heard about that subject from this government since before they were elected, and, again, it seems to be a case of talking about it but not actually doing it. I ask again: Does the Leader of the Government believe that Prime Minister Harper should release the names of the people who donated to his leadership campaign?
Senator LeBreton: When we came into government, we brought in a piece of legislation called the Federal Accountability Act. It passed through this Parliament. I suppose I could be asking the honourable senator whether the $40 million stolen from the Canadian taxpayers would be returned.
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
As honourable senators are aware, eradicating land mines and eliminating the harm they cause is an issue that is close to my heart. Every year, some 4,000 civilians are killed by land mines and thousands more are horribly injured. That is why I often rise in this place to ask the leader about the government's commitment to the Ottawa treaty.
Time and time again, the leader assures me that land mines remain a priority and that the government will continue to fund the demining efforts and victim support programs around the world.
Recently, however, it has come to my attention that the government is now telling demining groups that land mines are no longer a priority, as they are too closely associated with past Liberal governments. In other words, land mine victims are not on brand, and, therefore, not deserving of this government's attention.
Can the leader please assure this house that the government bases its foreign aid priorities on principle and not on the recommendations of the marketing department of the Conservative Party?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the honourable senator in her preamble to the question stated quite correctly the position of the government on land mines. I have no idea what she is referring to when she refers to this document that purports to say what she says it does. I have no idea what she is talking about. She has already put on the record the government's position on land mines.
Senator Hubley: Can the leader please provide an update on current and planned demining and victim assistance programs and on our ongoing commitment to upholding the terms of the Ottawa treaty?
Senator LeBreton: As has always been the case, honourable senators, I will absolutely. I have always done so for the honourable senator, and I will continue to do so.
Hon. Francis William Mahovlich: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Recently, we have heard a great deal in the media about the so-called merging of Canadian and British embassies and consulates around the world. I understand that this sharing of services and office space will not mean the loss of Canadian or British independence in setting the foreign policies for each of our respective countries. I understand that it does not mean that we will be sharing ambassadors or trade commissioners.
It is meant to be a good, practical way to represent and help Canadians abroad while trying to reduce costs to taxpayers and vice versa for the British.
Of course, the United Kingdom is not the only country with which we share consular space and services. We also have agreements with Australia, Italy and Sweden.
One of the reasons this agreement has come to fruition is that Canada and the U.K. share many values and principles in addition to a very long history. We work together in many fora, including NATO, the G8 and the G20.
France is another country with which we share those same values, principles and even a longer history. France is an integral part of Canada's history and is the foundation for the heritage of nearly a quarter of Canadians. Canada is a bilingual nation, with both English and French being our official languages.
Are there any discussions between the Canadian and French governments to implement the same kind of cooperation and coordination opportunities we have sought with our British allies?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for the question. I was listening to the question very carefully. I was going to thank the honourable senator for putting on the record the fact that we have many shared office spaces with other countries.
He actually answered the question for me. This, of course, as you know, is an administrative agreement with the United Kingdom that will facilitate our ability to serve Canadians. As the honourable senator put on the record, Canadian diplomats work out of Australia's offices in Cambodia, Australia works out of the Canadian offices in Bogotá, Colombia, and there are other examples.
With regard to the specific question about whether we are engaged in any negotiations with the Government of France, I am not aware of that, honourable senators, but I will take the question as notice.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Among the things I have been reading recently, I can quote the following. According to yesterday's front page headline in The Globe and Mail, industry leaders in the oil industry have expressed concerns regarding the Nexen foreign takeover, estimating that "there should be limits to what Ottawa is prepared to approve given the strategic importance of the oil sands and major companies in the sector." Also, according to these industry leaders, Ottawa should secure domestic ownership.
In light of these comments by industry leaders of that sector in this country, honourable senators, what measures will the Conservative government take to ensure that we maintain control of Canada's strategic industries, especially in non-renewable natural resources?
Furthermore, how will the government ensure that Canada's technological innovations — innovations that have been paid for by Canadians through tax credits — will be protected in order to serve the interests of Canadians?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, Senator Hervieux-Payette stated the obvious when she talked about the various opinions expressed in all of the newspapers. There have been many people weighing in on this particular story in all of our newspapers and on television. One can hardly open the newspaper or turn on the television without seeing people speaking on this issue on one side or the other.
I cannot add anything more to what I said to the honourable senator yesterday. There is a process in place to review this transaction and determine if it is of net benefit to Canada. This transaction will be scrutinized closely, obviously, following this process.
No matter how many times the honourable senator asks me the question, she will get the same answer.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, I think I can provide the leader with more information to help in her reflection and her intention to discuss this matter at cabinet.
Considering that Nexen invested $2.6 billion in 2011 — we most certainly cannot say that this is a minor investment — and that the recent CSIS report states that "certain state-owned enterprises and private firms with close ties to their home governments have pursued opaque agendas or received clandestine intelligence support for their pursuits here," would the leader agree that the actual criteria of a "net benefit to Canada" needs to be enforced, since this is the essential criterion for the approval of takeovers by foreign companies under the Investment Canada Act? I specify that this is the criterion under the act.
I might add that the honourable senator's Conservative friend, someone whom she reads regularly, Mr. Tom Flanagan, agrees that a poll found that 69 per cent of Canadians disagree with the authorization to go ahead with this transaction, and he agrees that the review process is opaque and believes that the "net benefit" test needs to be revised on an intelligible and principled basis. In fact, he suggests rewriting the net benefit standard.
I repeat the request I presented to the honourable leader yesterday: Will she agree to submit to her government a request for a clear mandate enabling the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce to conduct a thorough study clarifying the current opaque net benefit criteria of the Investment Canada Act, especially in light of the fact that the leader quotes the Bank Act as being so good and having saved the Canadian economy? I offer this to the leader again to save the Canadian economy from foreign investment.
Senator LeBreton: I was rather curious to hear the honourable senator say that she knows so much about my reading habits. I read everything in the newspapers. There are some people I read more than others. It is interesting that she has decided whom I read and whom I do not.
Again, honourable senators, I will repeat what I said yesterday and what I said a moment ago. There is a process in place to review this transaction and, of course, many people on many sides — former Liberals, former Conservatives, present Conservatives and present Liberals — everyone has a viewpoint on this.
The fact of the matter is there is a process in place to review this transaction and determine if it is of net benefit. This transaction will be scrutinized carefully following this process and, of course, I will not, would not and will never divulge discussions that I have been involved in around the cabinet table.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: Previously the honourable senator mentioned to my colleague that she would be willing to submit a question and come back with an answer. I am simply requesting that she submits my proposal to cabinet, the Prime Minister or the Minister of Finance, as the mandate usually comes from him. We are currently studying a subject matter of great importance, which is money laundering. We are preparing and we are close to submitting a report within a few weeks. Senator Gerstein is away on important festivities for his community, but I am quite sure we will discuss this next week at the committee level.
I am asking the leader this: Since everyone agrees that the criteria must be defined — even the minister has mentioned that we need to better define them — may a group of people who are quite familiar with the economic scene in Canada consult Canadians who are opposed to this transaction?
Senator LeBreton: In response to the comment about the honourable senator's colleague, Senator Hubley asked me specifically about a government policy. I am absolutely willing to bring her up to date.
With regard to the honourable senator's question, I already answered the question about the process being followed with regard to Nexen, and I am sure Senator Hervieux-Payette's colleagues in this place appreciate her commercial on behalf of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
On April 26, Passport Canada officials appeared before the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. During that meeting, in a response to a question as to why there is not a passport office in Prince Edward Island, a Director General of Passport Canada said:
. . . we also cannot afford to put an office where we will not make enough money to support the operations of that office.
My question to the leader is this: Is this the new standard for the provision of services to Canadians by this government? Must a federal office turn a profit or those Canadians are not entitled to a service?
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I would have to look at the testimony the Honourable Senator Callbeck refers to and see the context in which it was given.
The fact is that one of the many areas where the government has vastly improved service to Canadians is in fixing the whole passport application system. We all remember the pressure put on the government and the Department of Foreign Affairs with regard to passports due to the border issues. Happily, we resolved that, and people now have access to obtaining passports expeditiously.
As I mentioned to the honourable senator, I would have to see the context in which this testimony was given and who actually said this before I could provide a detailed response.
Senator Callbeck: Honourable senators, I certainly hope that the leader would look at the testimony given at that committee.
I assume from what the Director General of Passports Canada said that they have studied the issue of locating an office in Prince Edward Island. As I have pointed out many times in the past, Islanders are the only Canadians who do not have access to emergency passport services in their own province. In the event of an emergency outside of Canada, such as an accident or a death in the family, Islanders have to travel to Halifax or Fredericton to apply for an emergency passport. I do not think this is fair and Islanders do not either.
My supplementary question is this: Has Passport Canada done any analysis on the financial viability of locating a passport office or of providing emergency passport services in another federal office in Prince Edward Island? If so, would the leader undertake to provide me with a copy of that?
Senator LeBreton: Again, honourable senators, I saw a report not long ago about the percentage of Canadians who have a passport. I do recognize that there are instances where people require emergency passports. I believe those numbers are few and far between.
As a result of the changes made, especially along the Canada-U.S. border — and I do not have the article in front of me — there is a high number of people who have passports.
With regard to the honourable senator's question about whether consideration was given about putting a passport office in another government facility in Prince Edward Island, I do not know that but I will take the question as notice.
Hon. Percy E. Downe: Honourable senators, with so many people having passports, they will have to be renewed. To be able to do that follows on the same point that Honourable Senator Callbeck raised, one must leave the province to do that or one must mail the documents away. Why are Islanders denied the service that is available to every other Canadian?
Senator LeBreton: First, regarding the renewal of passports, we also made that more convenient by not having to go through the long document. There is now a much shorter renewal process. Most people, when their passports require renewal, do so through the mail.
Senator Downe: I recently renewed a passport through the mail, and I was advised by a government official working for Canada Post that it was better to send it by registered mail rather than regular mail in case the documents were stolen. That is an additional cost we have. Not only do we have the cost of transportation leaving Prince Edward Island to go to Halifax or Moncton — the bridge is $42.75, there is the cost of gasoline and so on, the expense of the time it takes — we now have an additional cost to renew it. The Leader of the Government in the Senate appears to be laughing at this information. Islanders are not laughing. It is a cost that should not be assumed by Islanders when other Canadians have the service available to them in their province. Why do we not have the same service?
An Hon. Senator: Hear, hear!
Senator LeBreton: First, let the record show that I was not laughing. I expressed astonishment that the honourable senator would suggest that we now have Canada Post people suggesting to not send things through Canada Post because documents might be stolen.
I renewed my passport some time ago. I mailed the documents from my local post office in Manotick and received them at my local post office in Manotick. I did so completely secure in the knowledge that Canada Post is perfectly capable of handling passport renewals.
Senator Downe: Let the record show that the leader was astonished. However, the Canada Post official, an employee of the Government of Canada, told me in Charlottetown that it was better to send the documents by registered mail and incur the additional costs.
Returning to Senator Callbeck's question, she has been raising this issue on a continual basis for a number of years. What has the leader done to advance the issue? She has heard the concerns. Has the leader taken this issue to cabinet and raised it with the responsible minister? What action, if any, has she taken?
Senator LeBreton: First, the record clearly indicates that every time Senator Callbeck has asked me questions I have either attempted to answer them, or because often Senator Callbeck's questions are about specific areas, I take them as notice.
As far as I know, I do not believe we have any outstanding questions on this issue that have not been answered to Senator Callbeck.
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. If she lived in Prince Edward Island, would she like to have the same rights as other Canadians?
Some Hon. Senators: Shame!
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator LeBreton: If I lived in Prince Edward Island, I would consider myself very fortunate. It is a lovely place. If I lived in Prince Edward Island, I would know that I do have the same rights as every other Canadian.
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. The F-35 delays, cost overruns and technical problems have led other countries to create stop-gap plans while waiting for the F-35s to finally come into operation.
The U.S. navy has purchased F/A-18 Super Hornets to maintain a naval aircraft capability, and the U.S. air force has begun to make structural fatigue improvements to its F-18 fleet.
I would like to know what contingency plan this government has formulated in order to ensure that Canada has the capability to defend our sovereignty while waiting for the F-35 to finally overcome its many problems.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): First, as the honourable senator knows, we have CF-18s that are at the moment perfectly capable of defending our country.
With regard to the F-35s, the long, hot summer has not changed my answer. The National Fighter Procurement Secretariat is in place to ensure transparency and due diligence in the decisions to replace our aging CF-18s. It is informed by the independent advice of the former Auditor General Denis Desautels.
As I reported before we broke for the summer, funding for the acquisition of the CF-18 replacement has been frozen until this due diligence is complete and conditions have been satisfied. Canada will not sign a contract to purchase new aircraft until all steps of our seven-point action plan are completed and development work is sufficiently advanced. KPMG has been hired to independently verify the cost of the F-35, and that report will be made public.
Again, these measures were put in place last spring, as the honourable senator knows. This secretariat has been working over the summer and let us let them do their work.
Senator Moore: I have a supplementary question. I really do not think that setting up a panel to discuss the F-35s will provide air force capability for Canada. Another report simply will not enable us to meet our obligations with NORAD.
What provisions has the government made to maintain our aging fleet of F-18s? What have the budget cuts at the Department of National Defence done to limit our ability to maintain that fleet of aircraft?
Senator LeBreton: We are cognizant of our responsibilities to our military, unlike the previous government.
Obviously, the Department of National Defence is perfectly capable of maintaining the CF-18 fleet until such time as it is necessary to replace it.
Senator Moore: Honourable senators, it is interesting that the leader mentioned the previous government and how we maintained or spent money on the Department of National Defence, but the leader always somehow forgets to mention that we inherited a deficit of some $40 billion. Does the leader not think that is part of the answer here?
Aside from that, what I would like to know, honourable senators, is the Almaz-Antey Russian firm, which is one of the world's largest in anti-aircraft weaponry, has developed a radar piece of equipment which counters the so-called stealth capability of the F-35s. In fact, Lieutenant-General Mike Dunn of the U.S. Air Force Association says only the F-22 can survive in aerospace defended by increasingly capable surface-to-air missiles. The F-35 does not have the radar-shunting curves of the Raptor to help mask it from radar at all angles.
The Australian critic says that the F-35 is demonstrably not a true stealth aircraft.
In view of that and in view of the Chinese hacking into the Lockheed website and the three years that that went on, what has the Conservative government done to take into account these developments? How will that affect the budgeting for this aircraft?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I already mentioned the secretariat. Let us let the secretariat do its work.
I cannot let the honourable senator's opening comment go by. With regard to the deficit, the government of which the honourable senator is so proud paid down that debt on the backs of the provinces at the expense of our health care and education systems. The honourable senator fails to point out that the largest deficit ever left by a government in this country's history was left by their big hero, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, to the Brian Mulroney government in 1983.
Senator Cordy: But you are working on it.
Senator Ringuette: How about your hero?
Senator Moore: Is that not the same record that the leader loves to extol today as being the basis for the great financial health of our country? Spare me, leader. Spare me.
You, who wanted to merge the banks; you, who wanted to take away financial sector regulation. What does she have to say to that?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, at one point in time there was some question about whether Paul Martin should be called "Merger Martin." At that time, if my memory serves me correctly, he was looking at that, although that was not a policy, as honourable senators well know.
Senator Munson: A $13 billion surplus.
Senator LeBreton: The fact of the matter is that the sound stewardship of the economy by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is the result of our government, when we came into office —
Senator Moore: A pretty good deal, was it not, a $13 billion surplus?
Senator LeBreton: — cutting the taxes of Canadian taxpayers —
Senator Moore: What is in the cupboard today?
Senator LeBreton: — and paying down the debt, which is what we did. That is why we are in such a good place, including our sound economic management, to see our way through the economic downturn.
Senator Munson: What is in your wallet?
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the response to an oral question raised by the Honourable Senator Jaffer on May 15, 2012, concerning sex tourism, and the response to a question raised by the Honourable Senator Peterson on June 11, 2012, concerning public service severance allowances.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer on May 15, 2012)
In addition to our written answer tabled on May 16, with regard to travelling child sex offenders, we are providing the Honourable Senator with further information.
The primary obligation to prosecute travelling child sex offenders rests with the destination country. Where a Canadian or permanent resident of Canada is alleged to have committed a child sexual offence in a foreign country and that country assumes jurisdiction, Canada supports the investigation and prosecution, as appropriate, including through Mutual Legal Assistance treaties and/or international treaties such as the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Child, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. Where the foreign country does not assume jurisdiction, Canada can prosecute the Canadian or permanent resident of Canada to ensure that such an offender is fully held to account.
The Government provides ongoing funding to the RCMP Canadian Police Center for Missing and Exploited Children (CPCMEC), which is the national law enforcement coordination center for child sexual exploitation cases. Most of the information received by the RCMP CPCMEC, relating primarily to "on-line" child sexual exploitation offences, is analyzed by the Center and then provided to the law enforcement agency where the alleged offender resides for the purpose of investigative action. The RCMP CPCMEC also receives information relating to cases involving travelling child sex offenders, and coordinates investigations, on a case by case basis, with Canadian and foreign law enforcement agencies. Where appropriate, the RCMP CPCMEC contacts foreign law enforcement agencies through the RCMP Liaison Officer program.
Working in partnership with international law enforcement agencies, foreign governments and Canadian embassies, the role of an RCMP Liaison Officer is to maintain a link between Canadian law enforcement and the law enforcement agency of a foreign country to prevent and detect criminal offences against Canadian federal laws. Currently, thirty-seven RCMP Liaison Officers are posted in twenty-six different strategic locations to be able to effectively deal with Canadian interests and pursue various international investigations, ranging from drugs and organized crime to terrorism, human smuggling and child sexual exploitation. RCMP Liaison Officers facilitate global international cooperation on an operational level and share best practices with international partners. Five RCMP Liaison Officers are posted in countries within South East Asia, which is known as a destination region for Canadian travelling child sex offenders. They are responsible for more than thirty countries in the area.
Also, the Department of Public Safety Canada hosted a national workshop on Travelling Child Sex Offenders in Montreal, Quebec on March 27-28, 2012. Attended by eighty participants, this event provided, for the first time, a forum for law enforcement, border officials, prosecutors, federal agencies and other key experts to share information, learn about respective roles and responsibilities, examine case studies, and gain knowledge about the issue of travelling child sex offenders and opportunities for collaboration. A final "handbook" document, produced using information presented at this event, will serve as a resource guide for law enforcement in responding to the issue of travelling child sex offenders in Canada and abroad.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Robert W. Peterson on June 11, 2012)
In Budget 2010, the Government indicated that it would engage with public sector bargaining agents and assess measures taken by other jurisdictions in Canada to ensure that the total costs of compensation are reasonable.
The elimination of the accumulation of severance for voluntary departure is being negotiated to bring public sector compensation in line with the private sector. The severance benefit for voluntary departure was part of collective agreements and is generally one week's pay for each year of service at the salary rate at the time of payment.
Severance benefits will continue for cases of lay-off, death, rejection on probation, and termination for reasons of incapacity; however, employees will not receive a cash-out twice for the same period of continuous employment.
As a result of the elimination of accumulation of severance for voluntary departures, employees were given three options: a single payment of their accumulated severance, a deferral of this payment until their departure from the public service or a combination of both options.
Severance for voluntary departures has been eliminated for about 230,000 unionized and non-unionized federal government employees. As of April 2012, more than 91,000 payments had been processed for employees who had opted for an immediate single or partial severance payment. Of that number, over 84,000 employees have opted for an immediate single payment of this benefit.
In 2011-12, about $1.1 billion was paid out in the form of cash payment as part of the elimination of the accumulation of severance for voluntary departure.
The 2012-2013 Supplementary Estimates (A) include $850 million set aside largely to fund anticipated payments to employees who opt for an immediate payment during 2012-13.
Based on the estimated annual liability for the accumulation of severance benefits for voluntary departures before the Government began taking action to terminate this benefit, it is expected that this measure will provide ongoing fiscal savings of about $500 million per year.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Martin, calling the attention of the Senate to:
(a) the importance of the Korean War, the third bloodiest war in Canadian History but often called "The Forgotten War"; and
(b) Canada's contribution to the three-year war on the Korean Peninsula, including the 26,791 Canadians who came to the aid of South Korea, 516 of whom gave the ultimate sacrifice, and the 7,000 Canadian peacekeepers who arrived following the signing of the Korea Armistice Agreement in Panmunjom 59 years ago this July 27.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, the adjournment of Inquiry No. 52 by Senator Martin has been taken by Senator Dallaire. I have spoken to Senator Dallaire's office, and he has consented to me speaking on this at this time. With your permission the matter would then be adjourned in the name of Senator Dallaire. He does have the intention to speak on the matter in the next few days.
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Day: Honourable senators will see this particular inquiry at page 8 of the Orders Paper, Item No. 52. Let me say at the outset that I commend Senator Martin for bringing this inquiry forward and those who have participated in the debate thus far, including Senator Oliver.
I know that we are all in support of the principle of the inquiry. I am not in full support of all of the things that have been said in relation to the inquiry, but, in general, from the point of view of those who have served in the Korean conflict, I believe they are deserving of the recognition that we are calling for in this inquiry. I believe it is a worthwhile initiative for all of us to consider.
Honourable senators will allow me to set the stage for what transpired in 1950, the state of matters in Canada and the state of matters generally, because that led to what took place, how we reacted and what the situation was from the point of view of Armed Forces personnel who were sent from Canada in relation to what was known as the Korean conflict. I will get into that issue.
I do not believe anything underhanded was done by the government or by anyone in referring to this as a "conflict" at the time. It was a result of Articles 45 and 47 of the Charter of the United Nations of some five years prior to that.
Typically, in the past, a war was one nation declaring war on another nation. This was not the case in this particular matter because it was a restoration of peace through a resolution of the United Nations, so it was called the Korean conflict.
The problem is that normal public discussion is of the view that when the conflict is of such a level that people are being killed and shooting at one another, we normally would call that a war. That has resulted in some misguided statements. There was an attempt by some to put down the importance or to forget the Korean conflict. I think that is not the case.
Honourable senators, at the end of the Second World War in 1945, as a result of peace negotiations — because Korea was part of land occupied by Japan — the southern part of Korea came under the assistance and support of the United States, and the northern part by Russia.
In 1949, China turned to a communist state as well. The North of Korea was supported by Russia — the U.S.S.R. at that time — and China, the People's Republic of China. They wished to create a communist country in the North, and the United States wished to create a free and democratic society in the South. The thirty-eighth parallel was the dividing line. That is the context.
The United Nations had played a part in this by 1947, calling for a free and open general election in both the North and the South of Korea as a whole, as a country. Unfortunately, in the North there was not a free and open election and the election was recognized only in the South, resulting in de facto two countries: North Korea and South Korea. That is the context that we are in as of 1950.
Canada at that time, between 1945 and 1950, was supportive of the United Nations, but we were also hoping to reap a peace dividend from the end of the Second World War. We were going through a period of rapid downsizing to try to save some funds.
Then, in 1950, along comes a request from the United Nations Security Council to two nations to provide support for the peace establishment and peacekeeping mission in Korea. Canada, at that time, was also gearing up for its support of the newly created institution of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. By the end of 1952, Canada had 10,000 Armed Forces personnel in Europe as a result of our commitment there, and that continued for a good number of years.
I think honourable senators will be astonished to learn that in 1951, 45 per cent of the government's budget went to the military in gearing up for the conflict in Korea and for NATO operations and activity in Europe, such as building the infrastructure. That can be compared to less than 8 per cent of our budget last year with respect to the Armed Forces.
We were in a period of rapid rebuilding to meet our international obligations at the time that the call went out for help. What happened that resulted in the call going out from the United Nations is in itself fascinating.
Because of what was happening in China and Chiang Kai-shek going to Taiwan, the nations of the world continued to support the nationalist government in China having a seat on the Security Council of the United Nations. This body had been in existence for only five years. The Soviet Union insisted that the communist regime be recognized. Mao Zedong and the communist regime had taken over in 1949. Therefore, the best thing the Soviet Union felt they could do at that time was to boycott their seat and the activities in the Security Council.
The result of their boycott was that decisions could be made without them, and a decision was made to engage in peacemaking and peace restoration in Korea as a result of activity that started in June 1950, when the North Koreans, with no expectation by anyone, came across the thirty-eighth parallel and invaded the South. That immediately resulted, on the same day, in a Security Council meeting, with Russia boycotting, and the motion passed. As a result, two days later the United Nations called for help.
For a short while, it looked like this would end quickly. The Americans had troops available, and it looked very much like the North Koreans were pushed back. However, early in the summer of 1950, General Douglas MacArthur was leading the United States forces, and they commanded the United Nations forces. We had only three ships in there at that time. MacArthur decided, contrary to everyone, including the Canadian government — and Lester Pearson was very upset about this — to push on with the troops into what was then North Korea.
As a result of that, the Chinese came in. Therefore, the conflict escalated significantly in the summer of 1950, and that is when the call went out for much more help from all the nations, including Canada.
That sets the stage for the conflict that ultimately, with all the extra help that came from Canada and other nations, resulted in a stalemate at the thirty-eighth parallel.
Honourable senators, we sent many Armed Forces personnel to Korea at that time as a result of the United Nations, and over 500 Canadians died helping in the UN action.
The actual date when the Americans started the Joint Command under the UN banner was June 27, 1950. I told senators the story about General Douglas MacArthur. Not long after, President Truman fired General MacArthur for his statements, and basically the stalemate resulted.
Let me tell honourable senators about the stalemate, because it was not that they just stood there and did nothing. Tunnels were made. I had the wonderful opportunity, as I have mentioned in this chamber before, to visit South Korea with Korean War veterans in 2003, for the fiftieth anniversary. We went to the demilitarized zone. In fact, the tunnels in a valley are still there and still manned by Korean soldiers on both sides of the border. North Koreans would tunnel through, attack the border, and then run back. That went on during that stalemate and has gone on for years since.
One of the very interesting things we saw is that beyond this valley, on the North Korean side, is what looks like a city from a distance. This is all part of the propaganda of the Cold War era. Although it looks like a prosperous industrial city, it is just a facade. It is just the front end of what would appear to us to be buildings. That is part of the standoff and the propaganda war, and we have seen other things happen since.
Honourable senators, I have told you about joining that delegation. One of the things that really struck me was that Canada was the third largest foreign participant in that conflict. We are recognized for that. There is a wall of honour in Seoul that features Canada very prominently. It is truly a great tribute to the men and women from Canada who participated in that conflict.
Honourable senators may also wish to visit the Monument to Canadian Fallen, which is located here in Ottawa, just on the south side of the National Arts Centre. It is identical to a monument that stands in Pusan, Korea, where the United Nations Memorial Cemetery is located.
We attended that United Nations Memorial Cemetery and visited the graves of fallen Canadians. They are very well maintained. It was a moving experience to visit the graves of the 516 Canadians who sacrificed their lives. The monument depicts a Canadian soldier holding a young Korean girl in one arm and holding in his other hand — might I have another five minutes?
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Day: Thank you, honourable senators.
The soldier is holding two Korean children. The young girl is holding 12 maple leaves that represent the 60 Canadian soldiers who have no known gravesite and 5 Canadian sailors who were lost at sea. The young boy is holding the maple leaves as well as the Rose of Sharon, which is the national flower of Korea. It symbolizes the ongoing friendship between our two great countries.
Honourable senators need go no further than the Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower to see the names of the fallen that are written into the Korean War Book of Remembrance, just down the hall. South Korea is among the world's 20 largest economies and, as of 2007, has become a member of the trillion-dollar club of world economies. That, in itself, is a tribute to the work of the United Nations and the Canadians who served to help bring about a free and prosperous society.
Honourable senators, I would like to conclude by telling you about one of the people travelling on the return to Korea pilgrimage in 2003. He had never been back there since the Korean War. I was sitting with him, and I kept looking and thinking that I recognized him. After two or three days, we did get to how we happened to know one another. It turned out that he had been a drill instructor sergeant of mine when I attended Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean. It was a most amazing reunion.
I had never known that he had gone to Korea. I knew him for three years as a drill instructor. He was born in Pointe-Verte, New Brunswick. He enlisted in the Armed Forces when he was 17 years of age. He served in many different places and was a member of the Second Battalion, Royal 22e Regiment. After Korea, he returned to Canada, served in a number of places and ended up being a drill sergeant and instructor at the military college from 1960 to 1965. His name, honourable senators, was Sergeant Alexandre Doucette. After his military career, he worked at Pratt & Whitney for a good number of years. Unfortunately, he died last month at the age of 86.
Honourable senators, I would ask you to consider the sacrifice made by many — those who went, and the families that remained and tried to carry on. It is important that we recognize them and that we not forget.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, as agreed, this inquiry stands in the name of Senator Dallaire.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Hubley, calling the attention of the Senate to the state of palliative care.
Hon. Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis: Honourable senators, today I will be talking about palliative care in Canada. I will elaborate on ideas in the Honourable Elizabeth Hubley's recent inquiry and provide a brief overview of the current situation in Canada.
We all know that the provinces and territories are primarily responsible for providing most health care services, including palliative care, under the terms of the Constitution Act, 1867. The act establishes the criteria and conditions that the provinces and territories must fulfill to receive funding from the federal government. Palliative care and pharmaceutical products dispensed in a hospital environment must be covered by provincial and territorial health insurance programs. However, palliative care provided at home is not covered. Pharmaceutical products for use in palliative care are not covered either because they are not dispensed in a hospital environment.
In 2004, as part of the 10-year plan to strengthen health care, the first ministers agreed to include the full cost of palliative care in their health care programs. Specifically, they agreed to include the following services delivered at home: case management, nursing care, pharmaceutical products used in palliative care and personal end-of-life care.
To fulfill these commitments, the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association and the Canadian Home Care Association developed stringent quality standards for palliative care provided at home.
In May 2008, the Quality End-of-Life Care Coalition of Canada published a report that examined the quality of palliative home care in the 13 provinces and territories.
The findings of this report showed that significant progress has been made in improving access to palliative home care services and the range of services available. According to the coalition, 12 of the 13 provinces and territories planned to cover the cost of some medical supplies and equipment; 11 of 13 planned to provide coverage for a wide range of pharmaceuticals; 11 of 13 promoted a team-based approach to care; and 8 provided some form of inter-professional education and training on palliative care.
I believe that many of the senators here today will remember that, when representatives of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association appeared before the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, they reported that the provinces and territories covered the cost of medications used in palliative care as part of home care programs. However, they also indicated that not all medications related to palliative care were covered by the palliative home care medication programs.
I must point out that the coalition did not assess the quality of palliative care in other care settings, but that it found that the quality of care in different care settings varied considerably from one province or territory to another. The coalition thus indicated that it was in favour of all organizations with a role to play in the delivery of end-of-life care services encouraging the adoption of standards and best practices and working to improve the awareness of health care providers, home support workers, volunteers and caregivers in all palliative care settings.
Honourable senators, the reality of our federal system encouraged the provinces and territories to develop strategies to establish common standards and to coordinate the delivery of palliative care services. However, the delivery of these services can vary from one region to another, where regional health authorities are responsible for coordinating service delivery.
For example, in British Columbia, specialized health care services are provided by the Provincial Health Services Authority, which also provides palliative care to patients and their families. The B.C. Palliative Care Benefits Program allows patients to receive palliative care at home rather than in hospital. This program ensures that patients receive complete coverage for approved medications, medical supplies and equipment.
In the neighbouring province of Alberta, palliative care services are provided by health care services.
Palliative care is also provided in patients' homes, health centres and continuing care centres. Health and Wellness Alberta subsidizes a program that covers the cost of palliative care drugs through Alberta Blue Cross for those receiving palliative care outside a long-term or acute care facility.
Another Western province, Saskatchewan, offers in-home palliative care through its regional health authorities. The province's Palliative Care Drug Plan Program covers the full cost of palliative care drugs. Palliative care is provided through regional health authorities in Manitoba as well. Each RHA has a palliative care coordinator who is responsible for managing and coordinating services.
Manitoba Health implemented a Palliative Care Drug Access Program that offers deductible-free drug coverage for patients who are not in acute care, long-term care or psychiatric facilities. The program covers the full cost of drugs.
The situation in Ontario is particularly interesting. In December 2011, 80 stakeholders from various regions of the province drafted the Declaration of Partnership and Commitment to Action to correct regional disparities and shortcomings in the delivery of palliative care. Health care services are delivered through local health integration networks, which provide funding to community care access centres to coordinate palliative care. Ontario does not have a palliative care drug program, but it does offer various drug coverage programs that patients may be eligible for.
In my province, Quebec, the National Assembly created a special commission on dying with dignity. The commission published a report in March 2012, which assessed palliative care services. According to the commission, a lot remains to be done regarding the implementation of a palliative care strategy, even though the availability of services has improved a great deal since 2000, despite considerable differences among the regions.
Quebec's health and social services department is responsible for implementing the end-of-life palliative care policy. Regional health and social services organizations are responsible for providing palliative care among the different establishments. In 1998, palliative care was officially integrated into the health care continuum. Quebec does not offer a drug insurance program to cover the costs of medication associated with palliative care. However, it offers a general drug insurance program to individuals who are not covered by private drug insurance through their employer. As part of the public drug insurance plan, individuals pay a maximum contribution of $992 to cover medication. Seniors who are receiving the guaranteed income supplement pay much less.
The Maritime provinces have some common ground. However, New Brunswick is the gold standard and a model not only for the Maritime provinces, but also for other jurisdictions. New Brunswick provides palliative care through its extra-mural program, which offers a full range of coordinated health care services. These services are offered in 30 locations or at home, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. A liaison nurse is responsible for coordinating these services. Furthermore, this province covers all medications and supplies necessary for home health care. The program is the payer of last resort for all medications, since most clients receive assistance from other payers.
I would just like to say one last thing about our three territories. Overall, the home and community care programs and services are designed and implemented by eight regional health and social services authorities. Although there is no general drug coverage program, there are pharmacare programs for specific groups, including the Metis, seniors and those with certain illnesses. I want to mention that many First Nations members and Inuit have access to drug coverage under Health Canada's Non-Insured Health Benefits Program.
I would like to conclude my remarks with the words of my friend Anya Myers, a dietician who is currently working in the area of palliative care and helping to make the trying moments that dying patients have to endure easier to bear. She has acquired a great deal of experience over the years in different provinces and territories of Canada. She says:
. . . It is important to know that, at the end of their lives, most people would prefer to have the option to die in the comfort and privacy of their own homes surrounded by their loved ones. In order for this to happen, patients and their families need many resources and a lot of support from their employers, their friends and home care professionals. By way of comparison, in Western Canada, home care is covered by the public health care system while in Ontario, for example, it is covered by the private system. To me, this means that dying at home is not always an option for many patients in Ontario because, too often, palliative care is provided mainly in a hospital setting.
Honourable senators, only 40 per cent of dying patients in Canada have access to comprehensive, coordinated palliative care measures to enhance the quality of their end-of-life experiences. We can and we must do better.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, if no other senator wishes to speak, this inquiry is considered debated.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Hubley, calling the attention of the Senate to the 5th anniversary of the tabling of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology's report: Out of the Shadows at Last: Transforming Mental Health, Mental Illness and Addiction Services in Canada.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise today to speak on Senator Hubley's inquiry, which is about the report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology on mental health, entitled Out of the Shadows at Last: Transforming Mental Health, Mental Illness and Addiction Services in Canada. I want to commend the senator for bringing forth this important inquiry.
The report was tabled about six years ago and I want to speak very briefly about what has happened since that time. I was a member of the committee when it dealt with this important topic, from 2003 until the final report was tabled in 2006.
What we heard was overwhelming. The mental health system in this country was shocking. The committee heard over and over about the fragmentation and lack of integration of the mental health care system. There are so many different players involved that it is difficult to have everyone working together, and even more difficult to follow patients. We heard from people living with mental disorders who told us about the stigma they faced. Many said that they would give anything to have any disease other than mental illness.
More than two years, we held more than 150 hours of extensive hearings from coast to coast to coast. We heard from more than 400 witnesses, such as government officials, mental health professionals, law enforcement agencies, advocacy groups, and people living with mental illness and their families. In addition to those witnesses, we heard from about 650 people who took advantage of an online consultation on the committee's website. They provided us with even more information regarding the state of mental health care.
No one is immune from mental health issues. They affect people of all genders, ages and cultures, and in all occupations and educational and income levels. New statistics from the Mental Health Commission of Canada tell us that over the course of a lifetime, 43 per cent of people in Canada will experience a mental health problem or illness.
The Hon. the Speaker: Order, order.
I remind honourable senators of rule 2-8, which states that conversations should be taken outside or below the bar when an honourable senator has the floor.
Senator Callbeck: A large number of these individuals will never seek assistance.
About one million children and adolescents in Canada between the ages of 9 and 19 years are living with mental health problems or illness right now. The prevalence of mental disorders among seniors in nursing homes and long-term facilities is very high. The prevalence of mental disorders among Aboriginal Peoples, homeless people and inmates is much higher than in the general population.
The economic costs of mental illness are extraordinary. Current estimates put the total costs to the Canadian economy at about $50 billion per year — nearly 3 per cent of the GDP. The Mental Health Commission projects that, over the next 30 years, these costs will increase to more than $2.3 trillion.
Over the course of our study, we became painfully aware that, despite its importance, mental health is an issue that usually garners little attention. Therefore, the committee came up with 118 recommendations that we felt would make major steps forward to improve the lives of Canadians living with a mental illness and the lives of their families and friends. The vast majority of these recommendations — 95 of them — were directed to the federal government.
The report contained two major recommendations: first, to establish the Mental Health Commission of Canada; and, second, to create a mental health transition fund. The purpose of the Mental Health Commission would be, among other things, to provide leadership in the development of a national mental health strategy; to be a catalyst for reform of mental health programs and improvements in service delivery; to be a source of information for governments, stakeholders and the public on mental health issues; and to decrease the stigma and discrimination faced by Canadians living with mental illness. The previous Liberal government committed to the establishment of the Mental Health Commission in 2005 and I commend the present government for carrying through on that commitment.
The second major recommendation in the report, the creation of a mental health transition fund, would be an immediate but time-limited investment by the federal government to cover the costs of transitioning from an institution-based system to a community-based system. Many witnesses pointed out the fact that, in moving away from sending people with mental illness to special psychiatric hospitals or asylums, we had failed to create enough spaces and support services in the community to replace those institutional beds. The result is that many people, who once would have been in psychiatric hospitals, find themselves in prisons and homeless shelters instead. Unfortunately, this recommendation for the mental health transition fund has not been implemented, but I am hopeful that the government will carry through with this recommendation at some time.
The good news is that progress has been made. As announced in Budget 2008, the Mental Health Commission of Canada received $110 million over five years for a research project on mental health and the homeless in five locations across the country: Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Moncton. The project is called, At Home. As of October 2011, more than 2,200 people have participated in this project and more than 1,000 now have homes.
The committee also recommended a 10-year anti-stigma campaign. The committee had heard a great deal about the stigma associated with mental illness. One Islander described it like this: "With a mental illness, people do not understand what is wrong with you. I would give anything to have a physical illness."
One mother told us about her son, who had been active and popular at school and captain of his high school football team. Her home was always full of her son's teenaged friends. When he was diagnosed with a mental illness, his friends stopped visiting. They were uncomfortable, and her son was left alone.
We heard such stories time and time again. Few people want to discuss mental illness, and not many people think of sending a card or flowers to a family member who has been diagnosed with a mental disorder. Sometimes friends and neighbours do not know how to react. As a result, many of them choose to walk away instead. People living with mental illness lose precious support at a time when they need it most.
In response to the report's recommendation, the commission launched Opening Minds in 2009. They call it the largest systematic effort to reduce the stigma of mental illness in Canadian history. As it stands, Opening Minds is evaluating more than 50 programs currently being delivered by corporations, non-profits and other organizations. The overall goal is to identify which programs are more effective and to share them with other communities. Some are of these programs are being replicated across the country.
Until recently, unlike many other developed countries, Canada had no national action plan for mental health, mental illness and addiction. There was no national vision, goals, objectives or standards to guide the funding and delivery of mental health services, supports and addiction treatment. However, last spring, the Mental Health Commission of Canada unveiled its mental health strategy called, Changing Directions, Changing Lives. The document is a strategy for people to work together — governments, organizations, individuals, service providers and researchers — to improve mental health care in this country. I am hopeful that the federal, provincial and territorial governments will take on this leadership role.
I would like to speak for a minute about the committee's recommendation on suicide, because it is an important topic. More than 4,000 Canadians die every year as a result of suicide. I would have liked more immediate progress with regard to our recommendations, but, thankfully, there has been some forward movement, especially in recent months and in the new mental health strategy.
In our report tabled in 2006, recommendation 106 called on the federal government to support the efforts of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention and other organizations to work together to develop a national suicide prevention strategy. In 2009, the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention developed a blueprint for a national suicide prevention strategy. In addition, the Mental Health Commission of Canada has included many recommendations in its mental health strategy that aim to advance suicide prevention in Canada. According to the commission, these recommendations are in line with the strategy of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. I would urge the federal government to assist in implementing this strategy.
Recommendation 99 called on the Canadian Mental Health Commission to identify measures to reduce the alarming suicide rates among Aboriginal Peoples. In our report we asked the Government of Canada to allocate a designated suicide fund that accommodates the distinct needs of each group of Aboriginal Peoples.
In its recent mental health strategy, the Mental Health Commission of Canada has identified measures that can be taken to prevent suicide among Aboriginal Peoples. The measures include addressing the common underlying risk factors for suicide in these communities such as poverty and trauma, and strengthening the response to the mental health needs of these population groups. Again, I am hopeful that the federal government will provide the funds necessary to address this tragic situation.
As honourable senators can see, some steps have been taken since this mental health report was released. This is very gratifying to me, having been on the committee that studied this issue for three years. We are moving forward. However, given the huge impact of mental illness on individuals and on society, we must do better. Mental health is as vital as physical health. It is an integral part of every Canadian's overall well-being. I urge the federal government to continue its work and speed up the process of implementing the recommendations from the mental health report entitled Out of the Shadows at Last.
Hon. Fabian Manning, pursuant to notice of September 25, 2012, moved:
That notwithstanding the order of the Senate adopted on Sunday, June 26, 2011, the date for the final report of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans in relation to its study of issues relating to the federal government's current and evolving policy framework for managing Canada's fisheries and oceans be extended from September 30, 2012 to September 30, 2013.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to.)
Leave having been given to revert to Government Notices of Motions:
Hon. Elizabeth (Beth) Marshall (Acting Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(g), I move that when the Senate adjourns today it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, October 2, 2012, at 2 p.m.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to.)
(The Senate adjourned until Tuesday, October 2, 2012, at 2 p.m.)