Qestion Period: Canada’s Reliance on USA for Drug Safety and $36 Billion in Health Cuts by Conservatives

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the federal government should not be balancing the books on the backs of provinces. The Parliamentary Budget Officer’s report clearly shows the government’s fiscal sustainability has come at cost. Cuts to services and downloading the fiscal burden to provinces are what is going on.

If the federal government had not cut health care transfers by $36 billion, the fiscal gap faced by the provinces and municipalities would be essentially eliminated. How does cutting federal funding improve health care for Canadians?

Hon. Kevin Sorenson (Minister of State (Finance), CPC): Mr. Speaker, again, Canadians know that they are better off with this Conservative government. No government in Canadian history has provided, again, more funding to the provinces for health care, and it continues to grow.

We are committed to a publicly funded, universally accessible health care system. We all use the health care system. We want to see a strong, sustainable health care system that is there for Canadians when they need it.

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, maybe the minister should read the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s report and find out that they are not downloading to the provinces.

I am glad to see that the government has finally listened to the NDP on drug safety and taken action to ban imports from two Apotex factories. The ban comes after Health Canada received information from the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S.

However, the Auditor General warned three years ago that Health Canada is slow to react, so why does Health Canada have to rely on information from the U.S. before it takes action to protect the health and safety of Canadians?

Ms. Eve Adams (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, CPC): Mr. Speaker, our government will not tolerate drug safety risks. As soon as Health Canada was made aware of this information, it acted immediately to quarantine the medication. I can tell members that additional safety testing took place, and all medication from all three plants will not be entering Canada. It has been fully quarantined.

Additionally, Vanessa’s law is just making its way through the Senate right now. This is a piece of legislation that the opposition completely dragged its feet on all of last summer, forcing us into late night sittings. That piece of legislation would allow Health Canada to enact hefty fines against pharmaceutical companies.