OTTAWA - Canada's health minister says government officials are working around the clock to review applications for 23 medications that could help ease the nationwide drug shortage...The Tories unanimously backed an NDP motion on Wednesday calling on the federal government to adopt an immediate drug-shortage action plan and implement a national strategy in the wake of the current shortage. NDP health critic Libby Davies said she wasn't surprised all parties supported the move. "The pressure had really been building," she said, citing the vast number of Canadians impacted by the shortage.
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Pressure continues to mount on federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq to take stronger action to solve the burgeoning medication shortage in Canada. Drug shortfalls have been occurring more frequently in the last two to three years, both in Canada and around the world. But recent production cuts by Quebec-based generic pharmaceutical company Sandoz have left even bigger gaps in the drug supply...In Ottawa on Tuesday, NDP health critic Libby Davies accused Aglukkaq in the Commons of failing to take concrete steps to deal with the drug shortage, including making it mandatory for pharmaceutical companies to report production shortfalls for specific products. Such reporting is now voluntary, although drug makers increasingly are reporting shortages in their product lines. "The fact is, this minister has refused to stand up and show the leadership that is required on this crisis," Davies told the House.
Q: What do you have to look forward to over the winter sitting? A: Healthcare is my file right now, so that’s taking up a lot of my time, and it’s a very big file, and we have great NDP members on the committee, so we’re dividing it up and each specialising on certain things, so I’m very happy about that. We’re working as a team. We are going to be generating a bigger campaign around the future of medicare. Besides that, issues that come out of my riding that in some ways are very much related to healthcare, such as affordable housing and homelessness, the rights of sex workers, the impacts on drug users from the “war on drugs” – these are issues that are ongoing, whether it’s Insite, or what’s happening to sex workers in the court challenges that are happening right now. These are things that I’m paying attention to because they don’t get a lot of attention in parliament, and I feel like l have to be a strong advocate for those issues, and I want to be a strong advocate. Those things are also very much a part of the work that I do.
OTTAWA — Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq confirmed Tuesday the federal government won't fulfil a promise to regulate trans fats in foods if voluntary measures failed. Facing questions from the Opposition in the House of Commons about newly released internal records showing she killed a government plan in 2009 to impose strict limits on trans fats in food products after the voluntary approach didn't get the job done, Aglukkaq said she won't add a "regulatory burden" to industry..."Health experts are clear, the provinces are onboard and families are trying to make healthier choices for their kids. In fact, there was a plan in place but the large food companies complained and, guess what, the minister killed it. In 2009, the minister wrote, 'further action is needed.' Can the minister tell us if she was wrong then or is she wrong now?" NDP health critic Libby Davies asked Aglukkaq during question period Tuesday.
The House of Commons doesn't resume sitting until next week but MPs on the health committee will be coming to Ottawa early for a special meeting on the government's controversial health-care funding plan. The NDP used a procedural tactic to request a Thursday meeting and will use it try to force the committee to undertake a study of the new funding plan that was abruptly announced by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in December. "We think that this is a very critical and emerging issue that needs to be addressed by the health committee," the NDP's health critic and deputy leader, Libby Davies, said in an interview.
Canada's premiers united in Victoria Monday to demand that the federal government reopen its "unprecedented and unacceptable" decisions over health-care funding, even as the prime minister tried to shut the door on further debate..."The premiers were unanimous that the federal government's decision to unilaterally decide funding was unprecedented and unacceptable," B.C. Premier Christy Clark said Monday, speaking as chairwoman of a meeting of 13 provincial and territorial leaders in Victoria. The premiers remain angry after Ottawa imposed a new 10-year health accord last month, without any consultation or negotiation...B.C. NDP MP Libby Davies, who represented the federal Opposition in Victoria Monday, questioned whether Harper is trying to cause division among the premiers.
VICTORIA — The Harper government’s health plan is often said to divide booming western provinces and poorer eastern provinces. But, more accurately, it pits Alberta against everyone else. Alberta would be handed about $810 million more under Ottawa’s new per capita transfer model if it were in place today, calculations by The Chronicle Herald show. Every other province would lose out...The federal NDP has gone so far as to say Prime Minister Stephen Harper designed the system to pit the provinces against each other in a divide-and-conquer strategy. "This is a very calculating prime minister," said federal NDP health critic Libby Davies. "I’m sure he knew full well that just slapping down one formula was going to create divisions. I just don’t think there’s any two ways about that."
Provincial and territorial leaders gathered in Victoria Sunday evening for their first meeting together since Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the federal government would stop providing health-care transfers at an annual increase of six per cent after 2016-17, and instead tie funding to economic growth...New Democrats held a roundtable on health care featuring over a dozen experts in Victoria on Sunday. NDP health critic Libby Davies accused Ottawa of not doing more on the file. “After investing over $160 billion in health care, many of the reforms included in the 2003-04 health accords have seen little or even no improvement under Stephen Harper’s leadership," said Davies in a press release.
On the eve of pivotal health care meetings between Canada's premiers, with critics calling on provinces to unite against Conservative cuts, B.C. premier Christy Clark and five other provincial leaders toured a new Victoria hospital wing, speaking to reporters of medical innovation and inter-provincial cooperation...Following a roundtable on public health care held yesterday, Libby Davies, Vancouver-East Member of Parliament and the New Democratic Party (NDP) health critic, said Canadians expect more leadership from Ottawa. “The Canada Health Act is a federal act,” Davies told the Vancouver Observer. “There is a key federal role that has to be adhered to.
GATINEAU, QUE.—Ottawa still has sway with the provinces on health policy, despite issuing a new funding formula without conditions, says Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq. But federal-provincial talks on the future of health care won’t be the tense, high-stakes game of chicken of the past, Aglukkaq said in her first public comments since Finance Minister Jim Flaherty handed provinces the federal health-funding scheme for the coming decade. Instead, the discussions will be more about performance measurement, accountability and sharing of best practices rather than money, she told reporters. Critics and some provinces have accused Ottawa of abdicating its responsibility to maintain a high national standard for health care, and Aglukkaq’s comments on Thursday did nothing to change those views. “She’s dreaming if she thinks it’s a better atmosphere,” said NDP health critic Libby Davies. “I think they’ve botched the whole file.”
Despite recent statistics showing HIV/AIDS on the rise in Canada, AIDS service organizations say the government has made it more difficult to access federal funds. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) released its guidelines for funding proposals for Canadian HIV/AIDS groups on Dec 2, giving groups just 28 days to make their cases for more federal funding. Funding criteria has also changed, and funding is now open to groups that had not received past monies. Applicants must now also include more information from partners, and the funding envelope is for two years instead of the usual four...NDP health critic Libby Davies says it’s disrespectful. “I hate to be cynical, but I feel like there is a pattern where for funding, they like to create this sense of uncertainty, and it creates almost a dependency, where people don’t dare speak out,” Davies says of the government.
Q: What was the highlight of your fall session? A: For me it was watching our new MPs get in the game. It’s been incredible to watch them, because I remember what it was like when I was a new MP, and I was someone who’d been involved in politics municipally for quite a while, and I felt overwhelmed by this place. So watching our new MPs, suddenly we’re the official opposition, and we’re up there in Question Period, and I feel like we’ve found our legs, and here we are, almost in our fifth week of a five-week run and usually by that point, people are getting tired and crabby, and yet our team is still raring to go.
OTTAWA—Roy Romanow is 72, though he hardly looks it. He has earned the right to sit this one out, but, of course, he can’t. As the future of health care in Canada elbows its way onto centre stage in 2012, the former Saskatchewan premier will be marking 50 years of fighting for a publicly administered, single-payer health-care system in this country....“Very early on in my thinking, I came to the conclusion that the most efficient and most ethical form of delivery is predicated on the assumption that we are all together on this short journey in life and we owe it to each other to look after each other the best that we can,” he said...Under the proposed Ottawa scheme, says NDP deputy leader Libby Davies, good years will mean sustainable health care, but the bad years will mean, “sorry, you are out of luck.’’
Rodney Watson recently marked the second anniversary of his move to a one-bedroom apartment in the First United Church on East Hastings Street. As a former U.S. soldier and a conscientious objector to the war in Iraq, Watson took sanctuary in the building after Canadian immigration authorities ordered that he be deported in September 2009. Since then, he has made a life in the Downtown Eastside church with his wife, Natasha, and their two-year-old son, Jordan, as he awaits word on his application to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds...Libby Davies, the NDP MP for Vancouver East, noted the previous Parliament passed two motions in favour of stopping the deportation of war resisters. “The expression of parliamentarians by majority in the last Parliament was very strong in favour of welcoming war resisters as we had during the Vietnam era, but we have a Conservative government that is blinded by politics on this,” Davies said in a phone interview with the Straight.
OTTAWA — Vancouver's controversial supervised-injection site should stay open indefinitely, the country's top court ruled Friday, calling the federal government's move to shut it down a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms...Shortly after the decision was released Friday morning, Davies said she felt "an incredible sense of relief and victory." "It's always been about saving people's lives," she said. "It's always been about a very important medical intervention to help people and the relentless opposition from the Conservative government has been just an incredible thing to take on. I feel so proud of all of the people who came together — whether they were academics, police officers, front-line activists, health professionals, and most of all, the drug users themselves — who were willing to stand up and have the courage to say they would fight all the way to make sure Insite continued its important work."
Xtra: What do you have planned for this fall? LD: I’m digging into the health file. I have three of my colleagues on the health committee with me, and we’ve been meeting regularly, and canvassing the health file overall. It’s a huge file with many different subsections, but obviously one of the things that we’re focusing in on is the Health Accord – both the 2004 accord, but also leading into the 2014 accord, and putting together a program about what we understand to be some of the issues from 2004 and what we need to do to address those issues in 2014, so we’ll be very active on that. That’s been taking up a lot of my time – just working on that.
NDP deputy leader Libby Davies has ruled out running in the party’s helm race. “It was a decision made after a lot of thought about what my role should be,” the Vancouver East MP said Thursday. Her minimal ability to speak French was one of her main reasons, she said in a phone interview from New Orleans where she’s speaking at a conference about HIV and housing.
New Democratic Party deputy leader Libby Davies, described Wednesday as the "heart" of the party's left flank, has decided she won't be a candidate in the contest to replace Jack Layton. Davies, a key player in an attempt, a decade ago, to replace the NDP with a new party, said she had cross-Canada support, but concluded that her inability to speak French was too great a barrier to overcome...Davies said that in the past, she focused on a candidate's policy views, but she'll now back a candidate with strong leadership skills who can follow in Layton's "pragmatic" footsteps.
OTTAWA — The B.C. government is honour-bound to repay the $1.6 billion it received from the federal government to bring in the harmonized sales tax, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told the House of Commons Tuesday. He was responding to a demand from New Democratic Party deputy leader Libby Davies that the Harper government drop its plan to "punish" British Columbians who voted in a summer referendum to axe the combined federal-provincial sales tax.
"I’ve often said that to me, the Pride parade reminds me of what the Peace Walk in Vancouver used to be in the '80s when upwards of 50,000 people would come out. The expression of love and positive feeling toward each other is what I find incredible at the parade, and it’s fun. People have water guns, and things happen spontaneously. The NDP will have a big contingent in it this year. Jack has been often in the past. He won’t be there this year, and I’m going to be thinking of him when I'm there."