- SENATORS' STATEMENTS
- ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
- QUESTION PERIOD
- Agriculture and Agri-food
- Human Resources and Skills Development
- National Defence
- Foreign Affairs
- Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development
- Visitor in the Gallery
- Delayed Answer to Oral Question
- International Cooperation
- ORDERS OF THE DAY
- Speaker's Ruling
- Food and Drugs Act
- The Senate
- Education in Minority Languages
- Multiple Sclerosis and Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency
- Old Age Security Allowance
- Appendix - Senators Lists
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before calling for Senators' Statements, I would like to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Mohammed Saif Helal Al Shehhi, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Canada. He is the guest of the Honourable Senator Cools.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Judith Seidman: Honourable senators, less than two kilometres from this chamber one will find the Good Companions Seniors' Centre. It was my privilege to be invited there by my parents for breakfast and a visit not long ago.
What I saw is a place of exceptional warmth and energy where seniors gather to socialize and exercise, develop new skills and renew old interests. Whether it is for precooked meals seniors can purchase for home, birthday parties with cake for all or frequent in-house concerts, Good Companions Seniors' Centre is ultimately more than a meeting place; it is a community. In-house services include clinics for footcare, blood pressure, and walker and wheelchair repair. The centre also acts as a liaison connecting seniors in need with community support services such as snow removal, home maintenance and grocery delivery. In short, Good Companions is a fantastic resource for Ottawa's seniors.
This centre could not operate without the dedication and commitment of over 400 volunteers, many of whom are seniors themselves. Senior women make a particularly strong contribution. In 2008, approximately one in three senior women had done some form of volunteer work. In fact, a 2007 Statistics Canada report found that seniors aged 65 and older gave more volunteer hours on average than any other age cohort.
It was only recently that informal caregiving was recognized as an important form of volunteerism. Statistics Canada estimates there are 3.8 million Canadians aged 45 and older providing informal care to someone with a short- or long-term health condition. About a quarter of these caregivers are seniors. Informal caregiving has an enormous impact. It enables seniors to continue living at home and it reduces the strain on the health care system.
Honourable senators, these facts speak volumes. They tell us that seniors continue to contribute to society long after retirement. They also reveal the spirit of these contributions, characterized by a keen sense of compassion and an unwavering dedication to community values.
Yesterday, October 1, was National Seniors Day. On this occasion we should recognize excellent organizations dedicated to seniors in our communities. More important, we pay tribute to seniors themselves. They are a resource to our society and their valuable contributions — past, present and future — shape this country.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, on Sunday, September 23, I had the privilege of walking alongside 1,500 British Columbians at the twenty-first annual Ismaili Walk. This year men, women and children from across Vancouver gathered at Lumberman's Arch in Stanley Park where they enjoyed live music, delicious food and a festive atmosphere while supporting an important cause that is very close to my heart.
Twenty per cent of homes in British Columbia are headed by single mothers, half of whom live in poverty. Having spent six years serving as national president of the YWCA, I have worked with many of these women and am very familiar with the exceedingly vulnerable positions in which they are routinely placed. Whether it is deciding between paying the rent or buying groceries, or choosing between staying in an abusive relationship or leaving and living life in poverty, single mothers are forced to make impossible decisions each day.
This year the Ismaili Council for British Columbia partnered with the YWCA Cause We Care House, which is an integrated housing community that is being built to support some of Vancouver's most vulnerable families — single mothers bravely raising children in challenging economic conditions.
The YWCA Cause We Care House will provide safe and affordable housing to help women achieve economic independence by providing program space for much needed medical and employment services, Aboriginal infant development programs and literacy programs.
During this year's walk, we heard from Ms. Janet Austin, the CEO of the YWCA of Vancouver. Ms. Austin spoke of the great work the YWCA continues to do on behalf of single mothers while also shedding light on the vision they share with the Ismaili Muslim community in British Columbia.
The president of the Ismaili Council for British Columbia, Ms. Samira Alibhai, described this vision by stating:
Islam places a great emphasis on the principle of people and institutions coming together to make positive change. This walk is part of our tradition of service, giving back and helping those in need, and helping improve the overall quality of life in the society in which we live by making a meaningful contribution to our local community.
During the walk we also had the honour of hearing from M.P. Andrew Saxton who delivered a message on behalf of the Right Honourable Prime Minister Harper. In his message, the Prime Minister stated:
Today British Columbians will lace up their sneakers to raise awareness and funds for this great cause. I would like to commend the Ismaili Muslim community for organizing this event, which over the past 21 years has raised more than $3.8 million for community organizations in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver.
Honourable senators, I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate the Ismaili Muslim community, Ms. Alibhai, Ms. Austin and the many volunteers who worked tirelessly to make this year's walk such a great success.
I also wish to congratulate all those who participated in the Ismaili Walk for Women for taking steps to help some of Canada's most vulnerable and marginalized populations.
Hon. Asha Seth: Honourable senators, I rise to speak about a cause dear to my heart, a topic that affects our children, our parents, our friends and ourselves, a topic that is important to all of us who enjoy the beauty of this land through the gift of sight. I am talking about the launch of World Sight Day.
The theme chosen for World Sight Day in Canada this year is "The state of our vision, at home and abroad." Ninety per cent of people with a visual impairment live in developing countries, and almost 65 per cent of blind or partially sighted people are over 50 years of age. With Canada's rapidly aging population, the rate of vision loss is rising just as fast, and so are the costs associated with it.
Economically, the toll is shocking. In Canada the costs associated with vision loss are now conservatively estimated at $15.8 billion per year. That number soars to $3 trillion worldwide.
Honourable senators, it does not have to be this way because 75 per cent of blindness is avoidable through treatment and prevention. Canada has already voted in support of The Right to Sight Resolution at the 2003 World Health Assembly in Geneva to fight against avoidable blindness by developing and implementing Vision 2020 national plans.
The Harper government has shown initiative in helping those suffering from this awful fate. In 2011, the federal government was proud to announce over $7 million of funding to support CNIB's library services, which provide thousands of alternative-format books and material for the partially sighted and blind. Through these efforts and action plans like Vision 2020, it is Canada's goal to create a draft vision health strategy to address access to approved treatments, access to rehabilitation services and approved treatments, vision health research that contributes to a better understanding of the causes of blindness and vision loss and potential treatment, public education and awareness, and support for international blindness prevention efforts.
Thank you very much for your support.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to an exceptional Islander who passed away July 28, Mr. Wallace "Wally" Wood, at the age of 77 years.
Wally Wood was born in Marshfield, Prince Edward Island. In his early years as a 4-H member, he won a trip to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, where he won the national dairy cattle judging competition. His agricultural roots stayed with him in adulthood, and he became a leader in the agricultural field. He served as chair of the Founding Committee, then first chair of the Prince Edward Island Soil and Crop Improvement Association.
Among many other posts, he was president of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture, from 1972 to 1973, and chair of the coordinating committee that saw the establishment of the P.E.I. Dairy Producers Association, a forerunner to the Milk Marketing Board. He also served as chair of the P.E.I. Provincial Exhibition and the Prince Edward Island Marketing Council.
He and his wife, Doris, owned Woodmere Farm, where they operated a standardbred nursery. He was the first president of the P.E.I. Harness Racing Industry Association, a charter member of the Maritime Provinces Harness Racing Commission and a Breeder Director of Standardbred Canada.
As a result of his long-standing commitment to the agricultural industry, he was inducted into the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2005.
Wally Wood was also devoted to the service of his fellow Islanders, perhaps most notably as a staunch advocate and charter member of the P.E.I. School Milk Program. Elected to the First Regional School Board, he served as a school trustee. He was a charter member of the Marshfield Pioneer Cemetery Committee, and he wrote, produced and published the first detailed history of his home community. He was a long-time member of the United Church of Canada, participating in his congregation's choir and serving as an elder and as steward.
Honourable senators, Wally Wood was an outstanding person who made a lasting contribution to his province and to his fellow Islanders. He has left a legacy of accomplishment built on a lifetime of hard work and dedication. I offer my deepest condolences to Doris, his six children and their families, and his many relatives and friends. Wally Wood will be missed by all who had the good fortune to know him.
Hon. Yonah Martin: Honourable senators, I rise today to acknowledge that this week marks the twentieth anniversary of Mental Illness Awareness Week.
Mental Illness Awareness Week is a national public awareness campaign organized by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health to share the inspiring stories of Canadians who are recovering from a mental illness. During Mental Illness Awareness Week, thousands of posters and bookmarks will be distributed across Canada to educate the public on the importance of mental health and the need to improve access to mental health services for all Canadians.
With one in five Canadians experiencing a mental health problem in a given year, mental health remains a prominent issue among the Canadian population.
There are several people in my family currently facing mental health issues, so on a personal level I can speak to the great challenges that we have encountered over the years. It is like trying to put together a giant puzzle. The pieces seem to fit and yet there are these cracks. It is these cracks that individuals with mental health can fall through. A family that tries to navigate through the system cannot access the services unless they understand the system.
During this week, I commend the front-line professionals who support the families and the patients: the mental illness health team, the emergency ward staff, the law enforcement officers, the social workers and the case managers.
Honourable senators, I wish to stress how important it is for all of us to educate ourselves to understand the issues so that we can eliminate the stigma attached to those suffering from mental illness. As a former educator, I do believe education is key. Understanding the illness and understanding the system allows everyone to access the services and to support those who are in need of our full support, the wrap-around support.
I value all the more the work that we do as a committee on the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, where this issue has come to light through many witnesses, bills and studies we have done. The importance of mental health probably impacts most of our families.
Today I am proud to wear my Mental Illness Awareness Week bracelet in support of the six million Canadians who are living with a mental illness. There is no health without mental health, and I applaud the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health for its advocacy efforts and for giving a voice to those who do not often succeed in being heard.
Honourable senators, I hope that you will all join me in celebrating the courage and resilience of Canadians living with mental illness and wear the bracelets that you received this week in your offices.
Hon. Marie-P. Charette-Poulin: Honourable senators, last Tuesday, September 25, Ontario celebrated Franco-Ontarian Day. It is an annual celebration of the contribution of francophones to the cultural, social, economic and political life and history of the province.
The legislation giving rise to this September 25 celebration was unanimously passed in the Ontario legislature in 2010 and was sponsored by the Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs, the Honourable Madeleine Meilleur. The year 2010 also marked the 400th anniversary of the French presence in Ontario.
Following the historic passage of this legislation, Minister Meilleur said:
Ontario's Francophone community can now celebrate their history and contributions with honour and emotion on September 25 every year.
September 25 was already a significant date for the francophone minority in Ontario. It was on that date in 1975 that a group of students from Laurentian University in Sudbury, under the leadership of Professor Gaétan Gervais, hoisted the Franco-Ontarian flag for the first time.
I had the honour of presenting Professor Gervais, "the father of the Franco-Ontarian flag," with the Queen's Jubilee Medal at a ceremony presided over by the President of Laurentian University, Mr. Dominic Giroux, on September 25, Franco-Ontarian Day.
Honourable senators, I join you in paying tribute to all Ontario francophones and francophiles who, through their personal and professional generosity, make it possible for us to live in French in Ontario.
Hon. Don Meredith: Honourable senators, I rise today to acknowledge the twentieth anniversary of Mental Illness Awareness Week, a national outreach campaign organized by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health to highlight the importance of mental health and the need for increased access to mental health services in Canada.
It is a known fact that one in five Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime, including schizophrenia, anxiety disorder, attention deficit disorders, and depression. In my home province of Ontario, 36 per cent of women and 22 per cent of men have experienced a mental disorder.
Although mental illness impacts both men and women, the rich and poor, as a youth advocate for the past 10 years, I am particularly alarmed by the impact that mental illness is having on our young people. It is believed that 10 to 20 per cent of Canadian youth are affected by mental illness.
An even more alarming fact, honourable senators, is that 3.2 million Canadians between the ages of 12 and 19 are at risk for developing depression. Many times, these illnesses and disorders end in suicide, which accounts for 24 per cent of all deaths among 15 to 24 year-olds.
However, of all the groups affected by mental illness, the most helpless are our children. In a fully developed country like Canada, it is a travesty that only one out of five children who need mental health services actually receives them.
As a result of these facts, our nation currently has the third highest youth suicide rate in the industrialized world. Today, I proudly wear — like Senator Martin — my Mental Illness Awareness Week wristband in support of the 6 million Canadians living with mental illness. I believe we must all find a way to deal with this issue, especially for our youth.
Honourable senators, please join me in giving a resounding round of applause to the many bright, brave and resilient youth who have recovered from or are still fighting mental illness in Canada.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, freedom of expression is a right often taken for granted. As parliamentarians, we enjoy the use of this right, free from hindrance, every day throughout the discourse of our debates and through other channels of communication. As representatives of the public, we are responsible for upholding this right and protecting its value.
Last week in the other place, this coveted right was under siege after being exercised by the Honourable Rona Ambrose during a free vote. The issue of Ms. Ambrose's vote in favour of Motion 312 goes beyond the subject matter of the motion itself.
The outcry from the folks condemning her democratic action only highlights the ugly truth in this country that freedom of expression does not exist in the face of intolerance. The opinions expressed by these special interest groups toward the actions of Ms. Ambrose are rather disingenuous. They fail to realize that tolerance is a two-way street.
During my nearly 30 years as a parliamentarian, never once did I regret my decision to exercise my right to stand up for what I believed in. I defended my decisions against dissenting opinions, as was my right to do so — as much as it was their right to disagree with me. Never once was I condemned or cast as morally void for having exercised my right to vote freely.
Honourable senators, whether we agree or disagree with the issue at hand, Ms. Ambrose should be congratulated — not condemned — for having the courage of her convictions to stand up and freely vote her conscience. As a member of Parliament, her actions rightly represent the essence of our democratic society.
Hon. Terry Stratton, Chair of the Standing Committee on Conflict of Interest for Senators, presented the following report:
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
The Standing Committee on Conflict of Interest for Senators has the honour to present its
Your Committee is responsible on its own initiative for all matters relating to the Conflict of Interest Code for Senators, pursuant to rule 12-7(16)(b) of the Rules of the Senate.
Section 53 of the Code requires your Committee to undertake a comprehensive review of the provisions and operation of the Code once every five years. Such a comprehensive review was last undertaken in 2007, and completed by the presentation of the Fourth Report of your Committee on May 28, 2008, which was adopted by the Senate on May 29, 2008. Accordingly, your Committee would be expected to undertake a comprehensive review of the Code, and report to the Senate next year, in 2013.
Earlier this session, on March 29, 2012, your Committee presented its Third Report to the Senate. In this report, the Committee recommended six substantive amendments to the Code. The Senate concurred in the Third Report on May 1, 2012.
Your Committee feels that it would not be appropriate to undertake a comprehensive review of the Code at this time. Your Committee would like to benefit from the implementation of the recent amendments before undertaking a review of the Code anew.
Your Committee recommends, therefore, that its Third Report be considered as the comprehensive review of the Code contemplated by section 53, and that the next comprehensive review be undertaken by the Committee in five years, or 2017, in accordance with the provisions of section 53 of the Code.
Your Committee notes that this recommendation does not affect the mandate of your Committee, which is responsible on its own initiative for all matters relating to the Code, and its authority to recommend amendments to the Code at all times, if need be.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?
(On motion of Senator Stratton, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce be authorized to define and report, by way of analyses and expert testimony, on the `net benefit' criteria stipulated within the Investment Canada Act in order to ensure transparency, accountability of the Government and protection of strategic national interest; and
That the committee submit its final report to the Senate no later than March 31, 2013.
Hon. Robert W. Peterson: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
On August 27, contaminated beef was slaughtered and tested at an in-house laboratory at the XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alberta. No signs of contamination were detected by the company's flawed detection system. Since that time, it was revealed in a written statement by a CFIA official that:
The company was unable to demonstrate . . . that it regularly reviewed or made necessary updates to its control plan . . .
Today, October 2, the CFIA is on record in The Globe and Mail admitting that the company failed in trend analysis, the crucial link in detecting food contamination and in tracking contaminated meat back to its source.
The time lapse between slaughter and today is 35 days. Why did it take so long for the government to report back to the Canadian public? How can Canadians have confidence in a system that is losing money for front-line inspectors, whose safety procedures are being downloaded onto the industry, to firms like XL, and whose own safety officials criticize its ability to deal with major recalls and outbreaks of this magnitude?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, we are all concerned about the news out of Alberta. Canadian consumers, of course, are the first priority of the government when it comes to food safety.
This is a matter, as the honourable senator pointed out, that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has been dealing with and responding to. Canadian food safety officials began containing contaminated products almost a month ago, on September 4. As I have pointed out in this place many times, we have hired over 700 additional food inspectors since 2006, including 170 meat inspectors.
Senator Peterson: Honourable senators, we keep hearing about all these new inspectors on the job, yet these issues keep coming up. Would it be possible for the leader, on behalf of the government, to table who these inspectors are and where they might be?
It is evident that self-regulation is not working and food safety for Canadians is paramount to all of us. Would the government commit the necessary funding for inspectors and inspection of food products?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I think it is rather obvious that we have committed an extra amount of money — a lot of money, actually — in order to hire 700 new inspectors. I would suggest to Senator Peterson and to everyone that this is a very serious matter; we have all acknowledged that.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has the responsibility for the safety of our food. They are doing their job; let us let them do that. They have been working on this particular problem since September 4.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, this is an awful turn of events and a tragedy for the people in the beef industry who suffered through the BSE crisis and were recovering, and then this happened.
It seems to me, honourable senators, that we also had another incident at the Maple Leaf plant in Ontario, when we had an outbreak of listeriosis and now we have this outbreak in Alberta at the XL plant.
The one common thing here is that Minister Ritz claims he is in charge and that he has control of the situation.
Senator Day: He has a plan.
Senator Mercer: Mr. Ritz somehow has a plan to fix this. Canadians are losing faith not in the ability of the farmers to grow this good quality beef but in the ability of the government to supervise and oversee the processing of this beef so that the product that arrives on their dinner plate is healthy and safe for them to eat.
Is this too much for the Canadian people to ask that the minister and the CFIA do their job of protecting the health and safety of Canadian food products?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I would suggest again that the safety of Canadian food is absolutely paramount. If the honourable senator would look to the budget of earlier this year, he would know that an extra $50 million was listed in the budget to enhance food safety.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has added many food inspectors and meat inspectors. Obviously the producers in Alberta, specifically, and also the government of Alberta are very concerned about this event. I would suggest to the honourable senator that absolutely the safety of our food is paramount and absolutely the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, an agency that reports to the Minister of Agriculture, is doing its job, as is the Minister of Agriculture.
Senator Mercer: I am having a hard time understanding this, honourable senators. We are all concerned about the safety of Canadian food. We all agree with that, but then the minister says they have spent all this extra money on food inspection since the time of the Maple Leaf issue a couple of years ago.
Now we have a plant that produces a third of Canadian processed beef. One third of the beef that is processed in this country goes through the XL plant. Where did the money go? Where did the inspections happen? Why is this plant in this situation? Should the inspectors not have been on the job? Should Minister Ritz not be on the job? Should he not be taking responsibility for the people who report to him and the programs that he has supposedly put in place to protect Canadians?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I do not know what part of my answer Senator Mercer has difficulty in understanding. I said that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has been working on this since September 4. That is almost a month ago.
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I just returned from Alberta. I was there at a conference this weekend and I spoke to farmers who are very concerned about what is happening to the beef industry in Alberta. This will have long-term ramifications for the beef industry.
Senator Peterson asked if the leader would table a document showing where the new inspectors she spoke of were hired. I do not believe she answered that for Senator Peterson. Would she table in the Senate where the new inspectors have been hired?
Senator LeBreton: I thank Senator Cordy for the question. Obviously I understand the concern of the beef-producing industry in Alberta, as would any of us who were raised in the agricultural industry. I lived through foot-and-mouth or hoof-and-mouth disease back in the 1950s and I know the consequences on producers.
The fact is that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has been working on this and, according to reports, has been seized of this since September 4.
With regard to the specific questions asked about the operations of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, of course I will take that question as notice.
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, the leader mentioned that an extra $50 million was added to the budget of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. We have heard, and it has been reported widely, that one third of the processed meat comes through this XL plant. Can we assume that one third of that extra money is being applied to the inspection services at that plant?
Second, I would like to know what the total budget is and where it is being spent across the country at the various inspection locations.
Senator LeBreton: If the honourable senator looked at the budget tabled earlier this year, $50 million was added into the budget for food safety. As to how that was specifically allocated, honourable senators, I would be happy to take Senator Moore's question as notice and table an answer at a later date.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
My province of Prince Edward Island has just introduced a 0 per cent interest rate for the student loan program, and Ontario and Newfoundland also have a program with a 0 per cent interest rate on student loans for a certain period of time. This is a way to help graduates, many of whom are having a very difficult time since our youth unemployment rate is 15 per cent.
Has the federal government considered following the Prince Edward Island example of eliminating interest for the Canada Student Loans Program?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, there are federal programs and there are provincial programs. I was not aware of actions taken by the Government of Prince Edward Island. As a government, we have done a great deal to support students. However, since Senator Callbeck's questions are more directly focused on specific programs, most particularly in Prince Edward Island, I will have to take the question as notice.
Senator Callbeck: I thank the leader for taking that question as notice. I will be very interested in the answer.
Another question I would like to ask concerns the recent report on post-secondary education done by the Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee. One of the recommendations was lowering the federal interest rate to prime. Currently, the interest rate on a fixed federal student loan is prime plus 5 per cent, which is really high. This report was tabled a while ago. It made that recommendation.
I would be interested in knowing from the Leader of the Government whether the government is considering the first option, as I said, to follow Prince Edward Island's example of eliminating the interest, or what the committee recommended, lowering the rate from what it is now because now it is prime plus 5 per cent.
Senator LeBreton: I will take Senator Callbeck's question as notice.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, my question is as well to the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
The Union of National Defence Employees is confused, and I confess that I share their confusion. It has been publicly reported, honourable senators, that the Department of National Defence is looking to give a contract worth over $100 million to a private firm, and this contract would include hiring workers to cover management services, maintenance services and other services for the Department of National Defence in Western Canada.
Can the minister please explain why, after giving notice to more than 1,500 DND workers, telling them they were no longer needed and their jobs would not be replaced, the government is now prepared to pay a private firm to do the very jobs it has just declared unnecessary?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I saw that report. I do not believe the report was based on factual information. That being said, I will, honourable senators, seek to clarify the matter for Senator Day.
Senator Day: I appreciate the leader attempting to do that. It is a very confusing story that needs some clarification.
Yesterday the honourable minister expressed with some delight that her government had increased the budget of the Department of National Defence over the past three years by $1 billion per year. A recent independent study by the Centre for Security and Defence Studies at Carleton University states that the cuts to DND will be much deeper than has recently been portrayed and that the cumulative effect of strategic review, the deficit reduction and the freeze on salaries, even though DND had negotiated salary increases and therefore the funds had to come from other operating budgets, will result in $3 billion lost to operations within DND. That is the last three years of increases gone at one time.
Can the minister tell us: Is it part of the government's plan to further reduce funds to National Defence by replacing federal jobs and privatizing them?
Senator LeBreton: Every day one group or another proclaims various things that will be happening in the government. In this case, I saw that report. I did not find it to be credible. Everyone has their opinions on all of these things, but they turn out more often than not to be not even close to the facts.
Obviously, the Department of National Defence, like other departments, is looking for savings. With the fact that we are withdrawing our commitment in Afghanistan, savings will be found, but I can assure Senator Day that the government is fully committed to our men and women in our national defence forces. National Defence, because of the end of the mission in Afghanistan at the end of 2014, will return to a more normal spending regimen.
Senator Day: I hear the minister indicate that she did not find the report by the Carleton University Centre for Security and Defence Studies credible. I wonder if the government or the Department of National Defence will share an analysis refuting these figures of nearly $3 billion in reductions.
Senator LeBreton: That was my own personal view when I read the report. When I see these reports out of the various universities, I tend to take them all with a grain of salt because often they are not accurate. They are based on information that is not accurate, and in many cases when they are stacked up against what the government is actually doing, they are so far out of touch with reality that I personally tend to take them with a grain of salt.
I can assure Senator Day that the government is fully committed to the Department of National Defence.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
On September 14 in an address to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations, Minister Baird emphasized our government's commitment to promoting the rights of women and girls. In his address, Minister Baird stated:
Women's rights are human rights. Women are the key to the development of pluralistic societies.
Simply put, if women play a role in a society, it's likely to be a better one.
That's why women's rights have become such an important part of Canada's foreign policy, and why it has become a personal priority of mine.
I would first like to commend Mr. Baird for putting women's rights first. My question to the leader is exactly what part will women play in Canada's foreign policy and how will the government implement the inclusion of women in Canada's foreign policy?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I believe Senator Jaffer has asked similar questions in the past. I thank her for the compliment to the Honourable John Baird, who acquits himself very well as Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Obviously, there are many areas where the government involves women, including the child and maternal health initiative through the United Nations. I know I have provided written responses to the honourable senator before, that outlined many programs where the government promotes and advances the cause of women all over the world. I would be happy, honourable senators, to dig out those answers, add further to them and give the honourable senator a more detailed response in writing.
Senator Jaffer: I thank the minister.
More important, I would like the leader to seek an answer to the question about the role that Canada will play under Resolution 1325 in empowering women in conflict zones. Specifically, what role will Canada play in helping women from Egypt and Libya so that they also are able to press for their rights?
Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator asked me a question some time ago about the role we would play in advancing women in Afghanistan. I believe the honourable senator received a response to that, so I would be very happy to do the same for women in Libya and Egypt.
Senator Jaffer: I think maybe there is a misunderstanding, so I will ask a supplementary.
I am not asking about the maternal health programs the Prime Minister implemented some time ago and the response the leader gave. I am not asking about the malaria programs the Prime Minister spoke about some time ago.
I am asking specifically what Minister Baird will do to empower women's rights.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the record of this government on empowering women and advancing women's rights is stellar. I think Minister Baird has made that very clear everywhere he has gone, including when he visited the refugee camps of the women and children and their families who had fled Syria and were living in Jordan and Egypt.
It is hard to answer a question like this because we have done so much. I know the honourable senator was not asking specifically about malaria, and I did understand the question. I knew she was not referring to child and maternal health.
However, honourable senators, I think in all fairness the record of the government, of Minister Baird and of all ministers of our government in advancing the role of women and ensuring their safety is paramount. I will be happy, honourable senators, to try to provide Senator Jaffer the information, but the actions of the government speak for themselves. I will provide her with the information they have at Foreign Affairs and the various programs they embark upon to assist women, children and, as a matter of fact, humanity in general.
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, I have a question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
We learned last night that the Department of Justice, acting on behalf of Aboriginal Affairs, spent $3.1 million over the past five years to prevent First Nations child welfare cases from going before the courts. Honourable senators, Ottawa — meaning the Harper government — is being accused of funding First Nations child welfare services at a rate 22 per cent below that of the provinces. The Federal Court disagreed with the government's arguments and has ordered a full hearing.
Honourable senators, why was $3.1 million of taxpayer money wasted in an effort to avoid providing young Aboriginal Canadians with the services they deserve?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, this matter was before the courts. I will have to get more detail for the honourable senator.
We have invested a considerable amount of money in the betterment of our Aboriginal communities, including the women and children. I will seek to get more clarity for the honourable senator.
Senator Munson: I thank the leader for that. I hope she can do that for me.
The story has garnered a wee bit of media. The spokesperson of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, Cindy Blackstock, the society's executive director, said that they spent that $3.1 million trying to avoid this hearing on the truth. She also said:
That really raises the question of what they're trying to hide. All we've wanted from the get-go is a factual hearing on whether they're discriminating or not.
Can you answer her concerns?
Senator LeBreton: All I can say, honourable senators, is that we continue to work in partnership with the First Nations to ensure children and families have the support they need. I will not comment specifically on the views of one individual reported in the media. All I can say is that I will provide the honourable senator with information, as I promised to do in answer to his first question, on the details of this particular matter.
Senator Munson: Speaking of children, last week I asked the leader about our obligations as a country under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. She has heard about the UN's official review, and it is pretty devastating where Canada is lacking.
During that time, I also asked about a children's commissioner, and the leader referred me to a delayed answer. The answer stated:
Most provinces have already established independent children's commissioners, advocates or ombudspersons. The Government of Canada places a high value on their work.
The response in the delayed answer, which took months, went as follows:
The Government of Canada endeavours to strengthen coordination and monitoring of children's rights through interdepartmental and intergovernmental initiatives . . .
When I listen to the delayed answer, it seems to me that the statements support the creation of a national children's commissioner. There are all these different working groups, and there is no coordination or national feel to it. We already have an interdepartmental working group on children's rights, so is it not sensible to have one individual, a children's commissioner, appointed to oversee this group to ensure we have accountability and leadership for the protection of Canada's children and, at the very minimum, the protection of Canada's Aboriginal children?
Senator LeBreton: I did answer the question about the commissioner last week. My answer, as I reported, has not changed.
As I indicated, I will provide the honourable senator with a written response to his other questions.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before calling for Delayed Answers, I would like to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Sir Geoffrey Rowland, former Bailiff of Guernsey and a distinguished leader among speakers of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
On behalf of all honourable senators, welcome to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the response to an oral question raised by Senator Jaffer on June 18, 2012, concerning global malaria prevention.
(Response to questions raised by Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer on June 18, 2012)
Question: What role will Canada play to help ensure that progress continues to be made and malaria becomes a thing of the past?
Recognizing the impact of malaria on maternal and child health, the Government of Canada has been a global leader in the prevention and treatment of this disease, particularly among children under five. CIDA's support has focused on the distribution of bednets, integrated community case management, and improving access to anti-malarial medicines. As of October 2011, Canada has supported the training of over 100,000 front-line health workers in diagnosing and treating childhood diseases (including malaria), for deployment to communities in countries including Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Indonesia, Uganda, and Niger. As part of Canada's support, over 3.5 million malaria treatments were provided through several UNICEF initiatives, including the Integrated Health Systems Strengthening Program, part of the Catalytic Initiative to Save a Million Lives.
Question: What resources have been allocated to help ensure that millions of men, women and children no longer die from this entirely preventable and treatable disease?
Malaria prevention: CIDA has been a leading donor in the distribution of bednets, which are an effective intervention for the prevention of malaria transmission. Since 2006, CIDA in collaboration with other donors has contributed to the provision of over 260 million bednets to malaria endemic countries through our support to the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Overall, an estimated 8.7 million lives have been saved by programs supported by the Global Fund since 2002, including programs to prevent and treat malaria.
Malaria diagnosis and treatment: To complement CIDA's malaria prevention efforts, the Agency is also helping to strengthen access to treatment once a person is infected with the disease through integrated community case management. This strategy addresses the three leading causes of deaths in children under five (malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia). It provides prompt, effective diagnosis and treatment (e.g. distribution of antimalarial medicines) in hard-to-reach communities, where children are at greatest risk of dying from these preventable diseases. This integrated approach is critical given that many of the symptoms of these diseases are similar. As such, ensuring accurate diagnosis is critical for effective treatments to be delivered.
Examples of CIDA support for malaria treatment includes:
- UNICEF's Catalytic Initiative to Save a Million Lives, which is helping to improve the capacity of front-line health workers to diagnose and treat the leading causes of death in children under five: pneumonia, malaria and diarrhea. The project is operational in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique and Niger. To date, over 48,000 front-line health workers have been trained and 4.7 million bednets were provided to communities as a preventative measure against malaria. In addition, 636,243 malaria treatments have been provided to children under five years of age. Between 2007-2012, CIDA is providing $105 million to UNICEF for this project.
- Support to the implementation of UNICEF's Equity Agenda through projects for community level diagnosis and treatment of the leading causes of death among children: malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea. These projects are operational in Uganda, Indonesia, Sierra Leone and have just been launched in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Through these projects, UNICEF has trained over 7,700 community health workers to provide essential health services to the poorest fifth of the population in areas where child and maternal deaths are high. Commodities include anti-malaria medication and preventative treatment of malaria for pregnant women. To date, community health workers have provided 575,180 malaria treatments. Since 2009, CIDA has provided $35 million to UNICEF for these projects.
Question: Will Canada take the same leadership role as it took on maternal health?
CIDA support to malaria prevention and treatment is a critical component of Canada's Muskoka Initiative commitments. Through this support and ongoing policy dialogue with our partners, Canada will continue to be a strong advocate for addressing the leading causes of maternal and child mortality, including malaria.
Question: How much funding is Canada providing to multilateral organizations that work tirelessly to combat malaria?
Canada's largest contribution towards combating malaria goes towards the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which is the main funding mechanism for addressing malaria and has directed approximately 22% of its resources towards the prevention and treatment of the disease. Since 2006, Canada's contribution to the Global Fund is $920 million. Since 2006, Global Fund supported programs have provided 254 million malaria drug treatments and distributed 260 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets for families with young children to prevent the spread of malaria.
The Hon. the Speaker: On Wednesday, June 27, Senator Tardif rose on a point of order in relation to comments made by Senator Wallin in debate on an inquiry dealing with allegations of harassment in the RCMP. Senator Tardif cited rule 51, which forbids all personal, sharp or taxing speeches. Under our revised Rules, this has become rule 6-13(1). A number of honourable senators then contributed to arguments on the point of order, including the Honourable Senators Comeau, Cowan, Downe, Duffy, Fraser, Plett and Tkachuk. Some senators suggested that the remarks at issue had been, in part, a response to an earlier speech on the inquiry by the Honourable Senator Mitchell on June 21, 2012.
Freedom of speech is a fundamental right necessary for the performance of our duties as parliamentarians. This right, as described in the second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, at pages 89-90, permits members ". . . to speak in the House without inhibition, to refer to any matter or express any opinion as they see fit, to say what they feel needs to be said in the furtherance of the national interest. . .". However, this right is not absolute. It is "[s]ubject to the rules of order in debate. . .", as indicated at page 222 of the 24th edition of Erskine May.
There is no definitive list of words or expressions that are "personal, sharp or taxing". Indeed, as explained in a ruling of December 16, 2011, "[t]he circumstances and tone of the debate in question play important roles in this determination".
By and large, this limitation on the freedom of speech is observed in the Senate without incident. The Senate is a largely self-regulating chamber and each of us assumes responsibility for maintaining order and decorum in this place. In close to 30 years, only eight rulings have addressed inappropriate language. This is because the respectful exchange of ideas and information is a basic characteristic of the Senate.
In the past, I have asked senators to show care in how they frame their remarks. This caution includes whether senators are speaking extemporaneously or from prepared remarks. It is possible to express a position firmly and with conviction, indeed to attack a contrary view, while avoiding giving offence. We should always strive to show respect for each other, for the right to hold and express our divergent opinions is the basis of free speech.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Duffy, seconded by the Honourable Senator Frum, for the second reading of Bill C-313, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (non-corrective contact lenses).
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Some Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Duffy, seconded by the Honourable Senator Frum, that Bill C-313, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act, be read the second time.
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to and bill read second time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?
(On motion of Senator Carignan, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Jaffer, seconded by the Honourable Senator Munson:
That the Government of Canada officially apologize in Parliament to the South Asian community and to the individuals impacted in the 1914 Komagata Maru incident.
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I moved that this debate be adjourned in my name but, since no one has anything new to add to what has already been said, I believe we are ready to vote.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
The Hon. the Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say "yea."
Some Hon. Senators: Yea.
The Hon. the Speaker: All those opposed to the motion will please say "nay."
Some Hon. Senators: Nay.
The Hon. the Speaker: In my opinion, the "nays" have it.
And two honourable senators having risen:
The Hon. the Speaker: I see two senators rising. We will be calling in the senators for a vote and the whips have advice.
We are agreed on a 30-minute bell, which means the vote will take place at 3:35. Call in the senators.
Motion negatived on the following division:
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Losier-Cool, calling the attention of the Senate to the evolution of education in the language of the minority.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, I see that this inquiry is at the 14th day. Since I do not want it to die on the Order Paper, I would like to comment at a later date, since I have not had a chance to finish my research.
(On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Cordy, calling the attention of the Senate to those Canadians living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI), who lack access to the "liberation" procedure.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak Senator Cordy's inquiry regarding access to angioplasty treatment for Canadians living with multiple sclerosis and chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, or CCSVI.
In speaking to this inquiry, I want first to recognize our colleague Senator Cordy and Dr. Kirsty Duncan, M.P., for the incredible work they have done to advance the rights of Canadians with multiple sclerosis. Senator Cordy is especially steadfast in her advocacy, never relenting, never despairing and always remembering the important role that we play as senators to give voice to those in need of our compassion, understanding and support. Her example is an inspiration to us all.
The MS Society of Canada tells us that multiple sclerosis is:
. . . an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system which is composed of the brain and spinal cord. The disease attacks the myelin which is a protective covering wrapped around the nerves of the central nervous system. . . . Symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary greatly from person to person and from time to time in the same person.
These symptoms can include vision problems, loss of balance, loss of coordination, extreme fatigue, speech or memory failure, muscle stiffness and paralysis.
Chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, CCSVI, also attacks the central nervous system. The MS Society states that "CCSVI describes a theory in which portions of the venous system in the head and neck are narrowed or blocked and, therefore, unable to efficiently remove blood from the brain and spinal cord."
In 2008, Dr. Paolo Zamboni of the University of Ferrara in Italy first published findings on an apparent association between multiple sclerosis and CCSVI. Since then, he has pioneered an angioplasty procedure correcting the abnormality in veins to the brain.
More than 50 countries around the world have implemented clinical trials for the CCSVI angioplasty treatment. Until last Friday, September 28, Canada was not one of them. I commend the Minister of Health on her announcement that the Canadian government will conduct clinical trials in British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec to determine the safety and efficiency of treatment for CCSVI.
In the piece by Anne Kingston of Macleans, Dr. Michael Shannon, a former deputy surgeon general of Canada, said that CCSVI clinical trials have "the potential of providing very useful information that can be integrated into the bigger CCSVI research picture." As Dr. Shannon, an expert in setting up clinical trials, went on to say that it is absolutely essential that these clinical trials adopt an unassailable design universally perceived as credible.
I sincerely hope that the federal Minister of Health will answer pressing questions that that CCSVI advocates have asked in the wake of Friday's announcement. Their questions are: Where were the interventional radiologists who will perform the procedure trained and who trained them? How will the clinical improvement be measured, and by whom will it be measured? Which vascular specialists will participate in this research along with the already-named neurological specialists?
Though CCSVI is a vascular condition, a neurologist who has publicly expressed his opposition to the treatment will lead the clinical trial. In the wake of these and other questions, how will Health Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research proactively ensure both the validity and the credibility of the clinical trials?
Canadian MS patients deserve nothing less than full answers and diligent action.
Honourable senators, there is no denying that, when it comes to MS and CCSVI, we are left with more questions than answers. In science as in life, definitive conclusions are hard to come by. Nevertheless, we must not lose hope that research can help us to learn more about how we can treat and cure this horrible disease.
Indeed, we have made great advancements already. To quote the U.S. National Multiple Sclerosis Society, "in rare cases MS is so malignantly progressive it is terminal," but thanks to new treatments and therapies for people with MS, most patients "can have a normal or near-normal life expectancy."
The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada does extremely valuable work in educating Canadians about MS. Being diagnosed with a chronic disease is an incredibly scary experience; the more we learn about available treatments the better able we will be to support the family, friends, co-workers and neighbours of people who live with MS and CCSVI.
This support is unbelievably important. When Senator Cordy first commenced this inquiry in March 2011, she said something that struck me to my core: The suicide rate for MS patients is seven times higher than the national average. Honourable senators, I want you to remember that statistic as we deliberate on the bill. I will repeat it: seven times higher than the national average.
From a holistic perspective, the health challenges that patients and their families face are only the tip of the iceberg.
We can learn from the National Aboriginal Health Organization, which tells us that:
From an Aboriginal perspective, holistic health care is an integrative approach that seeks to balance the mind, body, and spirit with community and environment. . . . First Nations Traditional medicine emphasizes the basic spiritual principles of compassion for others and for self.
Debating access in Canada to angioplasty treatment clinical trials and to proper follow-up care for Canadians who have undergone these trials not only demands consideration of medical advances and promises, but it also presents an ethical juncture at which we must recognize the moral imperative to act. Instituting targeted, credible clinical trials and follow-up care to protect citizens is neither an extraordinary nor a costly policy measure. If we are consistent in our devotion to nurturing a healthy society, the choice seems evident.
Honourable senators, when I stand before you calling on Canada to implement truly comprehensive quality universal health care, I do so acknowledging that we have still much to learn from science, but also from one another and from each other's unique experiences.
Let me share with you one tragedy. Roxane Garland died this past summer, on July 22, after a long battle with MS. She was 37 years old. Garland fought for her life, undergoing angioplasty treatment abroad, which provided her some relief from her symptoms. She paid for the procedure out of her own pocket. When she returned home to Saskatchewan, however, she was unable to access follow-up care procedures and services available to all Canadians.
A CBC news story dated August 1, 2012, stated:
According to Michelle Walsh, a friend to Garland and an advocate for improved MS treatment, [Garland] was unable to get an appointment for a specialized scan — available in Saskatchewan — to evaluate her need for further treatment.
"Anyone could pay to have this test done," Walsh explained to CBC News. "But not if you have MS and you have CCSVI. So they were being turned away."
As Garland's MS progressed, it became more difficult to manage. She contracted a bladder infection, among other complications. She was finally admitted to hospital, where she died.
I continue from the CBC News story:
Her husband Vince Garland told CBC News he believes Saskatchewan doctors are reluctant to provide follow up care for the CCSVI procedure because it is relatively unknown.
"They don't want to get involved because a doctor somewhere else has done the surgery," Garland said. "And they don't want to learn anything about it. They don't want to know anything about it. This is something new."
Walsh says Saskatchewan's health system should support MS patients who need follow up care after CCSVI treatment.
She said it should not matter where they went for treatment or who paid for it.
"If you went on a holiday and broke your leg, you wouldn't be refused by a doctor . . . So why are MS patients being treated like second class citizens here?"
While Saskatchewan will allow some MS patients to take part in clinical trials in New York, the government is only supporting follow-up treatments for those involved with the clinical trial. The federal government's recent announcement about clinical trials does not guarantee the follow-up care that Canadians who seek treatment for CCSVI abroad deserve. Clinical trials are a good first step, but they did not facilitate follow-up care for Roxane Garland in Saskatchewan, and they will not facilitate follow-up care for the thousands of Canadian MS patients who have travelled abroad to receive treatment.
Honourable senators, when you sleep tonight, I want you to think about Roxane Garland's obituary notice. She demonstrates how important it was to her that other Canadian MS patients receive the treatment and follow-up care that they need. Her obituary reads as follows:
Rocky would want people to keep on trying to get CCSVI treatment available in Canada and more importantly, the follow up care that she so desperately needed but could not attain.
Honourable senators, we bring our knowledge and our experience to debate in this place. We also bring our values. We try to walk in someone else's shoes. If my father, brother, sister — if anyone I held dear — was fighting this terrible disease, I would trust and insist that Canada — free, prosperous, compassionate Canada — would facilitate access to whatever procedures might help them win that fight. I believe in love and compassion and human dignity, not only for my father, my husband, my sister, my loved ones, but for everyone.
His Holiness the fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet tells us that "many illnesses can be cured by the one medicine of love and compassion." The head of state and spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk. The Holy Bible's Gospel of John, chapter 13:34, quotes Jesus Christ, who said, simply, "love one another." In remarks at Évora University in Portugal on February 12, 2006, my own spiritual leader, His Highness the Aga Khan, called "the pursuit of human dignity" a "moral imperative" to which "we must work towards and think about on a daily basis."
Honourable senators, I cite these various examples because I know that senators of many faiths share these beliefs. We still have much to learn from science, but should our collective wisdom not dictate a health care policy that privileges, above all else, these three values: love, compassion, and human dignity?
These are our shared values — Canadian values. The Canadian government must play a leadership role.
Besides fast-tracking clinical trials for the angioplasty treatment, the government should coordinate with provinces to ensure proper follow-up care for patients who have chosen to undergo the angioplasty treatment outside Canada.
As Senator Cordy pointed out, the MS Society of Canada's call for a nationwide registry seems an obvious policy step and opportunity for federal government leadership.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I regret to inform the honourable senator that her time is up. Is the honourable senator prepared to ask the chamber for more time?
Senator Jaffer: May I have five more minutes, please?
An Hon. Senator: Yes.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Yes. Five minutes is granted. The honourable senator may continue.
Senator Jaffer: Nonetheless, for Canadian scientists and doctors to properly study MS and CCSVI, they need funding for clinical trials. Canadians have made landmark contributions to medical research — Dr. Banting and Dr. Best's discovery of insulin; Dr. Mak's discovery of the T-cell receptor; Senator Keon's work on heart transplants — the list goes on. It will go on for much longer, hopefully to include advances in the fight against MS and CCSVI.
Senator Cordy's private member's bill, Bill S-204, An Act to establish a national strategy for chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCVI), is currently before the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, which is ably and judiciously chaired by our colleague Senator Ogilvie.
I have the utmost confidence that the bill will be accorded due priority and consideration. Even after Friday's developments, Bill S-204 remains incredibly important. It is essential that Canada adopt a comprehensive approach to health care for MS and CCSVI patients, and a national strategy that is vital to this goal.
The bill would require the Minister of Health to convene with provincial and territorial health ministers for the purpose of developing a national strategy that would institute clinical trials for CCSVI treatment and estimating and identifying appropriate funding for clinical trials in Canada and for tracking Canadians who have been treated for CCSVI.
In short, the bill calls on the Government of Canada to show leadership by guaranteeing Canadians access to a high-quality, comprehensive health care system, while promoting Canadian values.
Honourable senators, our Canadian government has the opportunity to honour Canadian values by demonstrating leadership and by ensuring that desperation is met with compassion, that fear is met with love, and that the scourge of disease is met with respect for human dignity. I hope and pray that Canada will respond to Roxane Garland's obituary.
Hon. Jane Cordy: Will the honourable senator accept a question?
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Will the honourable senator accept a question?
Senator Jaffer: Yes.
Senator Cordy: Honourable senators, the announcement of clinical trials is a small step, although a lot remains to be done. I was surprised that the press release said it was a pan-Canadian study. Yet I live in Nova Scotia and no one from Atlantic Canada will be able to take part in those clinical trials because they will only be taking place in British Columbia and Quebec. I do not think that is pan-Canadian, but perhaps the honourable senator can clarify that. Also, there will be 100 patients. That is fewer than 10 patients per province and territory.
Does the honourable senator think, first, that "pan-Canadian" should mean across Canada? Second, does she think the study should involve more than 100 patients? An average of fewer than 10 patients per province or territory seems pretty small to me.
Senator Jaffer: I thank the honourable senator for the question. This is certainly not a pan-Canadian study. This is a study of 100 patients and, from what I understand, it is in only Quebec and my province of British Columbia. However, more important is that the minister indicate to the provinces, no matter where the surgeries occur, that people should get help in their provinces so that there are aftercare services for the people who have these treatments done abroad.
Senator Cordy: I thank the honourable senator for sharing the story of Roxane Garland. Her death, I believe, resulted because she did not get follow-up care and the honourable senator certainly indicated that in her story.
I attended a conference for MS and CCSVI on the weekend, and I heard story after story about people not getting follow-up care. Does the honourable senator not think that the Canada Health Act says that people should be receiving follow-up care?
Senator Jaffer: Not getting follow-up care in Canada is absolutely unacceptable. As I set out in my example, if one broke one's leg outside of Canada and came back to Canada, one would get follow-up care. However, if one underwent a procedure for MS outside of Canada and returned to Canada, one would not get follow-up care, and that is unacceptable.
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): I see that the debate was adjourned in the name of Senator Harb, but I did not think he had anything to add to the debate. No other senator has indicated an intent to participate in the debate on this inquiry. As a result, I propose that we close the debate.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, on this side, Senator Merchant has expressed an interest in continuing the debate.
(On motion of Senator Tardif, for Senator Merchant, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Callbeck, calling the attention of the Senate to the inequities of the Old Age Security Allowance for unattached, low-income seniors aged 60-64 years.
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, this inquiry was debated and was adjourned in my name. However, after verifying with senators on our side, it does not seem as though anyone else wants to participate in this inquiry. I propose that we close the debate.
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, I have great interest in this particular item. As we have just celebrated National Seniors Day, I think it is appropriate that we give this a little more attention. I would like to take the adjournment of the debate at this time.
(On motion of Senator Hubley, debate adjourned.)
(The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, October 3, 2012, at 1:30 p.m.)