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37th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

Standing Committee on Health


EVIDENCE

CONTENTS

Thursday, May 30, 2002




Á 1110
V         The Chair (Ms. Bonnie Brown (Oakville, Lib.))
V         Mr. Ian Shugart (Assistant Deputy Minister, Department of Health)

Á 1115
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Carol Skelton (Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, Canadian Alliance)
V         Mr. Ian Shugart

Á 1120
V         Mr. Glenn Rivard (Senior Legal Counsel, Department of Justice)
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         Ms. Caroline Weber (Director General, Policy Planning and Priorities Directorate, Department of Health)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. James Lunney (Nanaimo—Alberni, Canadian Alliance)
V         Ms. Caroline Weber

Á 1125
V         Mr. James Lunney
V         Ms. Caroline Weber
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         Mr. James Lunney
V         Ms. Caroline Weber
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         Mr. James Lunney
V         Mr. Ian Shugart

Á 1130
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, BQ)
V         Ms. Lise Lavoie (Senior Policy Analyst, Special Projects Division, Health Policy and Communications Branch, Department of Health)

Á 1135
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         Ms. Lise Lavoie
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         Mr. Glenn Rivard
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         Ms. Lise Lavoie
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         Mr. Glenn Rivard

Á 1140
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre, Lib.)
V         Mr. Ian Shugart

Á 1145
V         Ms. Hedy Fry
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         Ms. Hedy Fry
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP)
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis

Á 1150
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis
V         Mr. Ian Shugart

Á 1155
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Yolande Thibeault (Saint-Lambert, Lib.)
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         Mr. Glenn Rivard
V         Ms. Yolande Thibeault
V         Mr. Glenn Rivard

 1200
V         Ms. Yolande Thibeault
V         The Chair
V         Mr. André Bachand (Richmond—Arthabaska, PC)
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         Mr. Glenn Rivard
V         Mr. André Bachand
V         Mr. Glenn Rivard
V         Mr. André Bachand
V         Ms. Caroline Weber
V         Mr. André Bachand

 1205
V         Ms. Lise Lavoie
V         Mr. André Bachand
V         Ms. Lise Lavoie
V         Ms. Caroline Weber
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Hélène Scherrer (Louis-Hébert, Lib.)

 1210
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         Ms. Lise Lavoie
V         Ms. Hélène Scherrer

 1215
V         Ms. Lise Lavoie
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Merrifield
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         Mr. Rob Merrifield
V         Mr. Ian Shugart

 1220
V         Mr. Rob Merrifield
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         Mr. Glenn Rivard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         The Chair

 1225
V         Mr. Glenn Rivard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Glenn Rivard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Glenn Rivard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Glenn Rivard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Glenn Rivard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Ian Shugart

 1230
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Hedy Fry
V         The Chair
V         Mr. James Lunney
V         Ms. Caroline Weber
V         Mr. James Lunney
V         Ms. Caroline Weber
V         Mr. James Lunney
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         Mr. James Lunney
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         Mr. James Lunney
V         Ms. Caroline Weber

 1235
V         Mr. James Lunney
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jeannot Castonguay (Madawaska—Restigouche, Lib.)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jeannot Castonguay
V         Ms. Lise Lavoie
V         Mr. Jeannot Castonguay
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Hedy Fry
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         Ms. Hedy Fry
V         Mr. Glenn Rivard
V         Ms. Hedy Fry

 1240
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         Ms. Hedy Fry
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         Mr. Glenn Rivard
V         Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis
V         Mr. Glenn Rivard
V         Ms. Caroline Weber

 1245
V         Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Yolande Thibeault
V         Ms. Lise Lavoie
V         Ms. Yolande Thibeault
V         Ms. Lise Lavoie
V         Ms. Yolande Thibeault
V         Ms. Lise Lavoie
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Rob Merrifield

 1250
V         Mr. Glenn Rivard
V         Mr. Rob Merrifield
V         Mr. Glenn Rivard
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         Mr. Rob Merrifield
V         Mr. Glenn Rivard
V         Mr. Rob Merrifield
V         Mr. Glenn Rivard
V         Mr. Rob Merrifield
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         Mr. Rob Merrifield

 1255
V         Mr. Glenn Rivard
V         Mr. Rob Merrifield
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Ian Shugart
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Glenn Rivard

· 1300
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Rob Merrifield
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Rob Merrifield

· 1305
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Rob Merrifield
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis
V         The Chair
V         Mr. James Lunney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. James Lunney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Réal Ménard
V         The Chair










CANADA

Standing Committee on Health


NUMBER 085 
l
1st SESSION 
l
37th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Thursday, May 30, 2002

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

Á  +(1110)  

[English]

+

    The Chair (Ms. Bonnie Brown (Oakville, Lib.)): Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I'm going to call this meeting to order.

    First, I'd like to thank the members for their patience and diligence in getting the pesticide bill finished last night.

    I'd like to congratulate the staff for being ready this morning, particularly the officials from the department. To finish one bill at 7:30 the night before and find a package like this ready for this morning is, I think, really quite wonderful.

    We have a little formality to go through in order to start a new subject. I have to say this out loud in order to launch the proceedings on the new bill. I will remind you that on May 28 it was ordered that Bill C-56, an act respecting assisted human reproduction, be read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Health. That is the order under which we're working. Now I have to say that I call clause 1 in order to commence the proceedings, and I call clause 1.

    I invite the witnesses from the department, Ms. Lavoie, Ms. Weber, Mr. Shugart, and Mr. Rivard, to begin a little presentation and then open themselves to questions.

    Mr. Shugart.

+-

    Mr. Ian Shugart (Assistant Deputy Minister, Department of Health): Thank you, Madam Chair.

    We're pleased to be back with you. Thank you for introducing my colleagues. We're pretty well known to you by now.

    I thought it might be useful if I began by pointing out, on a few of the key items in the bill, areas where, in the process, the legislation responds as proposed in the committee's recommendations. Then I will identify the reasoning behind a couple of key areas where the changes do not reflect the committee's recommendations. I don't propose to take long to do that. Then we'll be in your hands.

    Let me begin with the statutory declaration that replaces what was previously a preamble in the draft and the inclusion in that statutory declaration of the principle of human diversity. The prohibition on sex selection was reworded, in light of the committee's suggestions. New prohibitions have been included, banning the creation of hybrids and chimeras for purposes of reproduction.

    The committee recommended an amendment to the area dealing with the creation of embryos for purposes other than reproduction. So there's a change there, according to the committee's recommendation, that narrowly defines research surrounding assisted human reproduction as a procedure oriented to health and safety, in the end.

    Then there is the recommendation of the committee relating to research using embryos. The bill, as proposed, makes it clear that research using embryos will be licensed only if the regulatory body, the agency, can be satisfied that the proposed use is necessary for the purpose of the research.

    There was much discussion, of course, about the regulatory body. The draft legislation was not clear on that point. The bill proposes the creation of the assisted human reproduction agency of Canada. There are a lot of details about that. I think the essence of that agency is very much in keeping with the committee's recommendations, although there are probably some issues you will want to discuss with us in that regard.

    I'll turn quickly to some of the issues where, on reflection and after careful review, the bill does not correspond exactly to the committee's recommendations. The first is in regard to surrogacy-related expenses and donor-related expenses. There are charter implications involved there. If you want to pursue that issue, I'll be turning to Glenn Rivard, general counsel, to elaborate on it.

    On mandatory donor identification, again there is variance between the bill and the committee's recommendations. Our examination of the situation shows that the conditions conducive to the mandatory release of donor identification are not yet in place in Canada. This gets very much into the domain of the federal-provincial environment into which this bill will be placed.

    There is a great diversity of regimes governing family law in place at this time. In the next period of time, we may see developments that will set the stage for a more open system. For example, we know that federal-provincial-territorial family law officials will be discussing a number of issues in family law, some of which are raised by the practice of AHR. We think that will continue to evolve.

Á  +-(1115)  

    There is in fact no open adoption system across the board in Canada. There are open adoptions, of course, but there is no single system in Canada that runs across the different provincial regimes for family law.

    Finally, on that issue, there was concern about the implications of mandatory donor identification, which it was felt would unduly affect the capacity or the ability of the infertile couples in Canada to be able to have children. So that's an important issue as well.

    On the issue of AHR regulations and parliamentary and provincial concerns about the development and the scrutiny of regulations, it remains our intention to be as transparent and consultative as possible in this regard. I have briefed, within the last couple of weeks since the introduction of the bill, for example, one of the federal-provincial advisory committees on the bill and indicated that we would be working very closely with provinces on the development of regulations to ensure respect for the jurisdictional lines in particular, as well as the interface of the health and safety and ethical dimensions with the institutional system in provinces and territories. So we're committed to working with them.

    We also want to be as transparent as possible with Parliament. Given the overall regulatory process across the government, we have tried to accommodate the desire of Parliament to participate as early as possible in the shaping of the regulations.

    Then we adjusted the timing of the parliamentary review of the bill in keeping with the recommendation of the committee, so it is now proposed at three years rather than the initial five, as it was proposed in the draft.

    I could go on, but I think I'll stop there. Those are some of the highlights of conformity and variance, and, as I said, we're in your hands.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Shugart.

    We'll begin with questions. Ms. Skelton.

+-

    Ms. Carol Skelton (Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, Canadian Alliance): Thank you very much for coming this morning, I really appreciate it.

    One of the clearest recommendations from the health committee was that children conceived through AHR procedure should have the right to know who their parents are. The committee heard very compelling testimony from children born through donated sperm who struggle with their identity, their history, many of the things that many of us take for granted. A recent MacLean's cover story, the May 20 edition, in fact spoke about it: “Who's my birth father?” It seems so obvious that we would want to give these children the benefits of knowing who their parents are, thereby avoiding pain that they may suffer.

    Why did you ignore the committee recommendation and the pleas of the donor offspring? This is a different issue than adoption? It really is. If you were concerned about the charter and federal-provincial issues, as you just explained to us, why not allow those challenges to come forward rather than cutting them off altogether and leaving these children out?

+-

    Mr. Ian Shugart: I think the government and the department recognize very clearly that there is an interest and that the offspring of AHR have registered that perspective. It is a balance of interest that is involved in this particular issue.

    I think perhaps I will invite Glenn initially to comment on the regimes relevant to the AHR issue in terms of adoption, and then perhaps Caroline could follow with the broader issue of that balancing of the interests.

Á  +-(1120)  

+-

    Mr. Glenn Rivard (Senior Legal Counsel, Department of Justice): We have looked at provincial adoption regimes, and typically they operate on the basis of mutual consent. That is, many of the adoption regimes create what they call registries or something similar whereby the birth mother and father can register with the adoption agency and indicate that they are willing to be identified to the adopted child. In turn, if the adopted child at some point seeks to find their birth parents, then they can register as well. If you have a mutual registration, then the adoption agency will try to facilitate the connection of the two.

    That type of regime could also exist under this legislation, but there's a requirement, really, that there be mutual consent to the release of this very private and personal information. On that basis, yes, the contact could be facilitated.

+-

    Mr. Ian Shugart: Could I just be clear, Glenn, that when I referred to charter considerations, there were no particular charter considerations on this issue. That had more to do with the expenses of the surrogacy in particular.

    The conclusion to that point is that we're not in any way precluding or indeed the agency facilitating identification. The question concerns its mandatory nature.

    Caroline, you may want to add to that.

+-

    Ms. Caroline Weber (Director General, Policy Planning and Priorities Directorate, Department of Health): One thing we wanted to make clear was that there are no anonymous donations according to this bill. Everyone who does donate would be identified, and their identity would be maintained in the registry. Also, there would be health information and medical history information that would be obtained, and that would be distributed regardless of consent. The important health-related information would be available regardless.

    Otherwise, then, in terms of whether to go with the two-key system or mandatory release, it came down to a couple of things, and on balance we were proposing the two-key system.

    One thing was that we didn't want to create two classes of individuals, and I do recognize that adopted children are different from the offspring generated through assisted human reproduction.

    The other was that there are fed-prov implications. Now, there are problems, which Glenn referred to, with respect to family law in the provinces. Anyway, regardless of this legislation...but we were sensitive about exacerbating the situation at this point in time.

    This is not unrelated to the third point we were thinking about, which was the impact on donation. We are prohibiting commercialization here, and that's going to have an impact on donation. Mandatory release of identifying information would have a further impact. In trying to lessen a little the impact on donation, we suggested the two-key system.

    We do recognize that the environment could change, and we look internationally and see some systems where there is mandatory release, but we also noticed that those systems tended to be unitary states. At the same time they were having a mandatory release of identity, they were also fixing their family law, something we're not really able to do simultaneously here.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Lunney.

+-

    Mr. James Lunney (Nanaimo—Alberni, Canadian Alliance): Would you explain, what are you talking about with the two-key system here?

+-

    Ms. Caroline Weber: The idea would be that at the age of 18, offspring from assisted human reproduction could request to know the identity of donors, and that information would be released to them if the donor consented.

    At the point of donation, donors will be asked to consent one way or another on that issue. Contact information will be maintained; it will be difficult to update and keep current, of course. The idea is that an attempt will be made at that point as well to contact the donor if they did not agree to release their identity.

Á  +-(1125)  

+-

    Mr. James Lunney: So if you get a person who at age 18 wants that information but the donor has not signed that, then they're out of luck. That's the implication there, right?

+-

    Ms. Caroline Weber: Yes.

+-

    Mr. Ian Shugart: With one caveat--that the agency has the information about the donor and could contact the donor at that point. The donor, being presented with information, circumstances, and the nature of the request, still has the option of releasing that information. It isn't that if they don't provide the information at the outset, there's never again any opportunity to. But in the end, if the donor chooses at any point not to release that information, it is as you described it. That would be the end of it in that particular case.

+-

    Mr. James Lunney: This leads us to something that was important to the committee here in the determinations we set out at the beginning of our report on the draft legislation. We felt the interests of the children needed to be placed first, then the interests of the parents involved, and finally the interests of the researchers and the professionals involved. We notice that emphasis is dropped in the bill. Would you care to comment on why you didn't choose to include that?

+-

    Ms. Caroline Weber: The interest of the child was certainly one of the three major factors in the framework, health and safety being the other one and Canadian values being the third. I guess we struggled with balancing the interests of the child versus creating the children and not wanting to excessively limit or eliminate the possibility of assisted human reproduction in the near term.

+-

    Mr. Ian Shugart: I would point out as well, Mr. Lunney, that in the statutory declaration, paragraph 2(b) does describe that principle: “the health and well-being of children born through the application of these technologies must be given priority in all decisions respecting their use”. That of course is after the fact of a child being born.

    I don't think any of us would pretend that there is not, in a sense, a competition of interests here. There is a tension of interests. It is hoped that there is an appropriate balance, particularly giving the agency the opportunity to facilitate that decision. In the end it is not mandatory. Of course, Parliament ultimately will have to judge whether that balance is appropriate. But the principle is in fact retained in the statutory declaration.

+-

    Mr. James Lunney: I think the majority of members of the committee are very concerned about the impact on children being created and the results later on. We had some very impassioned presentations here. I did hear one medical researcher rather cynically say that of the thousands who have been created, there are only a handful complaining. But there are a lot who haven't dealt with the issue yet, and we are very concerned about that.

    We're also concerned about the implication. Are we trying to create an industry here where there are a lot of children? I have trouble, personally, dealing with the question of anonymity and the concern that somehow this will turn off the tap of donations or make them hard to come by. The implication, as we've understood from other jurisdictions, is that there have certainly been adequate donations. My goodness, one donation of sperm can go a long way--not that we would like to see that go without restrictions; we'd like to see limitations on how far that goes.

    This is certainly something the committee is going to want to look at seriously, and I'm sure Parliament will.

+-

    Mr. Ian Shugart: On your comment, we take the point. As you know, as a department, we've been closely following the witnesses who have appeared before you. Indeed, we have had interaction with the stakeholder community as well.

    One of the comments you made I think is interesting. It certainly is not the intent of the bill to foster or expand the number of children born through AHR, to force a greater degree of research involving embryonic stem cells at the expense of research involving adult stem cells, or any of those kinds of things.

    Remember the starting point, from the perspective of the government, was a regulatory void. While we do not have robust statistics in this area, partly because the field has not been regulated and there are big gaps in data, what we do know suggests the trend, quite neutrally from the point of view of the bill, is increasing in terms of couples having recourse to these technologies.

    While one could forecast that there will be an increase in reliance on the technology, it isn't the intent of the bill to bring it about. The intent of the bill is to provide regulation, constraints, the appropriate balance, and social and ethical guidance for a phenomenon that is already there. Where the line ultimately is drawn, in terms of the balance and the competition of interest, of course, is a matter, as you say, the committee will want to spend time on.

    I think it's important to understand, or for us to state again, that the intent of the bill is not to make anything happen; it is to fill a void so that inappropriate things do not happen. It's adding constraints to an unregulated area, rather than the opposite.

    Mr. James Lunney: Speaking of constraints....

Á  +-(1130)  

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Lunney, you've had seven and a half minutes.

    Mr. James Lunney: It's a little one.

    The Chair: I'm going to go to Mr. Ménard. I think you might get another round.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, BQ): Good day.

    I don't find your explanations very convincing. I don't see why we should work for months as a committee if after that we are saying exactly the opposite of what the witnesses have told us.

    First of all, the bill encroaches, in part, on provincial jurisdictions, of course. Thus, if that's a problem, it has to be withdrawn.

    In concrete terms, what is the family law? What is meant by mandatory identification of donors? Our position is the following: someone who shows up at a fertility clinic must know that eventually the child to be born will have to know that a donation was given. It doesn't say it must be public. We also want a counselling service.

    At the outset, when we wanted to make that recommendation, I had my doubts concerning the counselling service as the federal government cannot tell the provinces how to offer counselling services. But there's going to be a register and, for medical reasons, in any case the donor will have to accept that complete anonymity will never be possible.

    So your argument doesn't hold water. There is no rigour nor legal foundation to what you're saying and the witnesses did state very clearly on that matter either that there is no donation and no kind of information is revealed or that the information may be revealed to the child after birth. The reason for that was explained in terms of psychogenesis. I think the government has shown a total lack of sensitivity by not listening to the members of the committee. We heard very clear testimony to that effect.

    In any case, you've made your point and we will make an amendment. Either the government will listen or it will not but in my opinion it is clear that the arguments that you have presented here don't hold water at all.

    I'd like to look at how to make up a register, just for it to be very clear. Say I show up at a fertility clinic and I donate a gamete, either an egg or sperm. I'll have to sign a form that will contain information of a medical nature which eventually must be given to the future child. This information will be updated in a register but it will be confidential. We agree on that. In other words, it will be divulged to no one other than the child.

    What other kind of information should there be in that register and how are you going to make sure it is updated?

+-

    Ms. Lise Lavoie (Senior Policy Analyst, Special Projects Division, Health Policy and Communications Branch, Department of Health): We're going to collect information on the identity of the donor or donors as well as the medical information. We'll draw up a complete list of the medical information. Moreover, the register will be used to determine things like the number of times a donor may give. We might want to determine things like that.

    So we're going to need a very complete and very selective data collection system. That will be done through the agency in cooperation with the clinics that will have to collect the information and send it to the agency. Of course, all that must be done in a context of confidentiality and respect for the privacy of all persons involved.

Á  +-(1135)  

+-

    Mr. Réal Ménard: The federal government will only be able to exercise operational control over the agencies through regulation and legislation. For example, it will have to establish the storage conditions for ova and the kind of information that will have to be disclosed. That's the link we're going to have to have with the fertility clinics. As for the rest of it, fertility clinics come under provincial jurisdiction. Am I correct in understanding it that way?

+-

    Ms. Lise Lavoie: Well, the clinics will have to be accredited and conform to all federal regulations which also include the prohibitions.

+-

    Mr. Réal Ménard: That's what I'm saying.

    Have you had any representations concerning discrimination, in fertility clinics, against single women or people of a homosexual orientation? Those people can't have access to fertility clinics. I know that the legal expert at this table is Mr. Rivard. If ever we were to introduce an amendment to include, amongst the seven principles in the preamble, that there should be no discrimination in accessing those services based on sexual orientation or matrimonial status, would that be considered as something of an added value to the bill?

[English]

+-

    Mr. Glenn Rivard: I guess we'd have to look at precisely what is being recommended, but certainly in general that is in keeping with the principles under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    Perhaps I can take this opportunity to comment on a couple of things. I just want to make it clear that with respect to the information that is gathered under the act, there is a flowthrough of all the health information to both the women who undergo reproductive technologies and the eventual offspring. It's only the identity that is treated differently.

    I also want to comment on the question of federal-provincial jurisdictions. The concern there is that there are questions around the parent-child status that can only be regulated by the provinces. Quebec has done a particularly good job in this regard. Not all of the other provinces have addressed these issues. So there is a potential--in fact a very significant potential--that under provincial law you could have someone determined to be a parent--

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Réal Ménard: One moment. Answer my question: In what way is this incompatible with mandatory disclosure? We understand that there is an impact in the field of family law, but once that has been said, we've said nothing at all. Tell me concretely how this is incompatible. Be specific.

+-

    Ms. Lise Lavoie: The incompatibility would come from the fact that if the donor were to be known, the child could take legal action against...

+-

    Mr. Réal Ménard: The committee has answered that. We said that a provision was needed on that. Yesterday, I made a presentation to my caucus. Of course, the child must not be able to sue for support or something like that, but if it's clearly set out in the wording of the act, than how can that be incompatible?

[English]

+-

    Mr. Glenn Rivard: The committee did raise this in its recommendations. The difficulty is that these are matters that can only be resolved by provincial law. Therefore, there is the potential that until the provinces have addressed it, a child of this procedure could claim, for example, support against the biological parent, or could claim an interest under the estate of the biological parent. Only the provinces can regulate those matters. Those questions have been raised with the provinces for their consideration, but until they actually legislate, the matter cannot be resolved. It cannot be resolved by the federal government.

Á  +-(1140)  

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Ménard.

    You've had eight minutes, it's more than your share.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: We'll come back on the second round.

[English]

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    The Chair: Dr. Fry.

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    Ms. Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre, Lib.): Thanks very much, Madam Chair.

    I suppose I am going against the stream here. I actually agree fully with the provisions as written in this bill, and I think Mr. Ménard asked a very important question.

    I think what this bill is seeking to do is to talk about what we call in medicine a non-nominal way of identifying somebody. In other words, Réal, as the child of your sperm donation, I would know all about your family history, I would know all about your medical history, I would know all the things that I need to know for my well-being: Am I going to get diabetes one day? Am I subject to genetic diseases or hereditary diseases? Are there all kinds of information that I need to know that might be passed on to me without my knowing? I know all that. All I don't know is that your name is Réal Ménard.

    There's a code through which only the physician will know that name. That means that physician-patient confidentiality is kept sacrosanct, because I think the argument here is you donated when you were 19 years old; you are now 37 years old and you have become a multi-billionaire. I am this child of your sperm donation. I want to take some of that money because I'm your child, or vice-versa. I grow up and I am 20 years old and have become very wealthy and you can come and claim from me, as your child, if you need part of my estate and I need to support you. There are all kinds of things.

    But it's not only the legality of the issue that, as was said here, is a provincial jurisdiction. There is the social part of the issue.

    First and foremost, the whole concept of reproductive technologies is to assist people who are unable to have children to do so. The person who is doing it, now that you have removed any commercialization, is doing it out of pure altruism. Suppose they did this out of altruism at the age of 20 and they are now 40. Their whole social life, their whole family life, the lives they have made since then, would all be pulled apart because, suddenly, this person arrives on their doorstep and says, “I am your child”.

    You have to recognize that it works both ways. What will happen is people will never want to donate. So every piece of information for the well-being of the child will be there. All you may not know is the name of the person who did it. You will know everything else but the name. That is what will give that sense of confidentiality, or people will not donate.

    The question I wanted to ask, though, is one that Mr. Ménard did bring up. That was...obviously, when I am 19 and I donate an egg, later on in my life I may discover illnesses that never surfaced when I was 19. Will there be a monitoring process between the person who gave the donation and the researchers and the physicians who helped them do so, so that you can keep monitoring the health and passing that information on to the offspring in order for them to constantly be aware of any changing influences on their own well-being and health? Will there be a way of doing that?

+-

    Mr. Ian Shugart: Certainly, that would be encouraged, and the relationship between the donor and the agency does not have to cease. At this point, there is no failsafe way of guaranteeing that.

    In other words, a donor who subsequently becomes aware of some situation and.... As you know, the significance of developments later in life may not be understood by the donor, or by science for that matter. There is no guarantee of a follow-up from the donor to the agency, but we would certainly be interested in input in that regard.

    That is one of the major advances or benefits of having an agency that forms that kind of role, so that ongoing supplementation of information in the registry is possible.

Á  +-(1145)  

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    Ms. Hedy Fry: I think that is an important piece that is missing here.

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    Mr. Ian Shugart: But at the moment it would be voluntary.

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    Ms. Hedy Fry: It's voluntary, but there may be some way you can ensure it isn't necessarily voluntary.

    There may be legal and practical components here that I don't understand, but I think it's a really important piece to fill in the blanks of that child's history and medical history, and risk factors within their medical history and family history that they need to know.

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    The Chair: Thank you, Dr. Fry.

    I have Ms. Wasylycia-Leis, followed by Madame Thibault, Mr. Bachand, Madam Scherrer, and Ms. Sgro.

+-

    Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP): Thank you, Madam Chairperson.

    I want to put a general question to Ian Shugart. I think all of us are concerned about any lapse in time before a bill is actually proclaimed into law. Obviously there are some concerns, on the part of some of the opposition. So I'd like to get a general sense of where there are areas for compromise and if you've received any direction from the minister for things we might focus on. That might help us determine the whole process.

    I guess I'm particularly worried that there are concerns that need to be addressed, but if we leave them until the fall and the House is prorogued, we may have to start all over again. More importantly, developments might occur around which we will have little control.

    So that's a general question. Then I will reference a few areas where I think there might be room for some compromise.

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    Mr. Ian Shugart: Ms. Wasylycia-Leis is a veteran member of the House and knows that the legislative timetable is entirely the government's prerogative. I will try not to skirt the issue unduly. I can only point to our minister's indication on the record that she very much wants to see this bill proceed and be enacted.

    We have not received instruction from the minister on areas where amendments might be accepted by the minister. I think she was anxious for the process to move along, in order to get to that stage of debate and hear from the committee. I began with the remarks I did because the committee may wish to return to the areas where there's some variance between the bill and the committee's recommendations. But that is an inference only, and we have no instructions in that regard.

    We will endeavour to do our best to be available to the committee to provide information on the implications of amendments, as you consider them, but at the moment I have no particular instructions.

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    Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: Let me start to pursue the possibility of some changes with respect to the makeup of the agencies.

    I think one of the concerns we have is that many issues the committee had recommendations on have actually been deferred or referred to this new agency. It includes the controls around research on embryos for stem cell research. It includes the question of what expenses are considered for surrogacy. It includes the extent to which women will actually get counselling before they engage in the interventions.

    I think the makeup and the powers of the board are critical. I guess I'd wonder about several areas.

    One is whether or not there would be a willingness to move on an inclusion in the bill that would prevent any possible conflict of interest with respect to members of the board. I'm presuming there's a standard clause that appears in many bills to check against the possibility.

    The second seems minor, but it's important to me. Could we get support for the gender parity recommendation we made, given that we are talking about reproductive health?

    The third would be whether or not we could include some innovative proposals around the whole involvement of the agency in this bill. I'm trying to get at a more definite way to engage the public in the decisions the agency will be faced with in a more open and participatory democratic process.

    One model I was going to reference, that Mr. Ménard might have some comments on, is the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement in Quebec. It has adapted a more innovative model for open meetings, recorded minutes, and involving the public in the decision-making process.

    Given the kind of area we're dealing with and the issues the agency is likely to be handed, at this point, I think our best bet is to try to make the agency as representative and innovative as possible, with many checks against possible conflicts with the industry itself.

Á  +-(1150)  

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    Mr. Ian Shugart: With respect to conflict of interest, I'll invite any of my colleagues to refresh my memory with respect to any specific provisions of the bill that deal with it.

    The main distinction I would make is, on the one hand, you have conflict of interest in the classic sense of there not being a direct conflict. On the other hand, you have members of the board of the agency. Because of their life experiences, and perhaps connected very closely to expertise and interest in the issue, I don't think it would be possible or necessarily desirable for members of the board not to have an interest, perspective, or outlook they would bring to bear.

    I think the distinction is there. We certainly would want to deal with a conflict of interest in the classic sense,

    Glenn, or anyone else, is there anything you would want to add on the point before going on?

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    Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: I guess one way it has been addressed in other bills is to include a standard phrase: Members of the agency board of directors shall not directly or indirectly, as owners, shareholders, officers, directors, partners, or otherwise, have any pecuniary or proprietary interest in any business that operates in the reproductive technology field. Then reference the conflict of interest and post-employment code for public office holders to apply to all board members. It's a suggestion that I think would strengthen the bill.

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    Mr. Ian Shugart: We'll certainly follow that up. I think you can tell that there's an openness on that issue to separate that out. I think that distinction between the kinds of conflict you've just referred to is to be avoided.

    As to the issue of gender parity, the extent to which we have gone is referred to in the statutory declaration in terms of the recognition of the impact of these procedures on women.

    At this point the government did not want to be too restrictive or constraining on the makeup of the board. The primary objective of the representation on the board is a diversity of perspectives. The board and the agency are seen in an important way as a forum for engaging the public, Canadians from different perspectives, on these issues because of the nature of these issues. That's the third point you referred to in particular. Certainly, the committee may want to register that view again, and we'll take that as it comes.

    In terms of the agency and its manner of doing business, again, the intent.... Because one of the main purposes of the agency is to provide that forum for having the various perspectives brought to bear on difficult issues, although it's not spelled out in detail in the bill in a prescriptive way, I think it does follow that the manner of doing business by the agency would in fact be open. Of course, it will have to be subject to privacy rules with respect to transparency, but I would think it would likely be in the bylaws and potentially in some of the regulations that some of those procedures could be spelled out.

Á  +-(1155)  

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    The Chair: We'll go to Madame Thibeault, please.

[Translation]

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    Ms. Yolande Thibeault (Saint-Lambert, Lib.): Good day. First, I'd like to look at the matter of payment to surrogate mothers. You quickly said, at the beginning, that there were probably Charter implications. Could you elaborate on that, please?

[English]

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    Mr. Ian Shugart: Oui, madame.

    Glenn.

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    Mr. Glenn Rivard: Essentially, the concern is this: there is a prohibition on the reimbursement of any of these expenditures. This will undoubtedly discourage, perhaps quite significantly, women who are considering being surrogates or who are already surrogates from seeking additional health services or seeking legal advice as to the consequences of this decision. That, then, would raise a charter concern in the sense that it presents a risk to the security of the person.

    What has to be understood here is that what was suggested was a positive provision in the act that would actually discourage women from seeking advice as to the consequences of their decision in this area or seeking additional health services, thereby potentially putting their health at risk.

    I would also point out that it could very well go to the issue of whether their consent is fully valid, which in itself raises a charter concern. Both the legislation and the committee, quite rightly, I think, put a great deal of emphasis on the importance of full and informed consent. Therefore, that is the issue.

    As a consequence, there is what still remains a fairly limited but sufficient authority in the bill to allow for reimbursement of reasonable expenses as defined in the regulations. Therefore, it is not a completely open-ended system, but it's sufficient to ensure that impediments to receiving legal advice or necessary medical services are not there.

[Translation]

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    Ms. Yolande Thibeault: When we asked some witnesses what a reasonable amount might be to reimburse someone's expenses, we were told that if someone doesn't work for a year and their usual salary is $75,000 a year, then a reasonable amount would be $75,000 a year. That is the committee's problem.

    You say that the reasonable expenses incurred by the surrogate mother for that service will be reimbursed based on the criteria established in the regulations. What does that mean? That's very broad.

[English]

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    Mr. Glenn Rivard: In fact, the legislation has been drafted very carefully to avoid that exact problem. You will notice that the authority is to reimburse for expenditures. An expenditure is a narrower concept than an expense. An expenditure means that money must actually have been paid out by the individual, and that is what they have been reimbursed for. Furthermore, it goes on in subclause 12(2) to indicate that the person must actually provide a receipt for that expenditure. Lastly, of course, it must be a reasonable expenditure, as set out in the regulations.

    So in fact that type of cost, if you will, would not and could not be authorized under the bill. That would not be an expenditure.

  +-(1200)  

[Translation]

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    Ms. Yolande Thibeault: Thank you very much.

[English]

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    The Chair: Thank you, Madame Thibeault.

    Mr. Bachand.

[Translation]

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    Mr. André Bachand (Richmond—Arthabaska, PC): Thank you, Madam Chair.

    I would simply like some information, as unfortunately, I must leave. I thought we would be discussing our work on the bill from now to the end of the session. Unfortunately, I will not be here. If I understand correctly, we will be discussing whether or not we will hear witnesses.

    Having said that, I would like to make some comments, especially with respect to anonymity. I am highly satisfied with what you have provided. I am probably the only one on the opposition side who is satisfied, but I am very happy with the way it has been worded. For us, donor anonymity is very important. I am very happy that there will be a review in three years. In the short term, we will have all of the necessary information for the health of the child, and the identity of the donor will be protected for the years to come. As you know, Ms. Weber, we will make adjustments. Once the act is in force, we will see the results of that in the field. We are very satisfied.

    Réal raised the issue of gays and lesbians as donors and recipients. Do you think they will be protected under the act?

    Will the registry contain information on the donor's sexual orientation? I know that Réal wants to make some proposals on that. Will the regulations require the donor or the recipient to provide information on sexual orientation? In other words, are gays and lesbians currently protected by the act?

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    Mr. Ian Shugart: The bill is silent on that subject, but I think that it is implicit. Glenn could add a few comments.

[English]

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    Mr. Glenn Rivard: I would simply say it is federal legislation and therefore it's subject to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That includes any of the regulations, any of the decisions of the agency as a government agency, and any of the policy decisions of the minister. Therefore, protection of the equality of people, regardless of their sexual orientation or marital status, would apply.

[Translation]

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    Mr. André Bachand: So it should be in the regulations. We should have a clear answer to the question as to whether or not the donor or recipient will be asked a question about his or her sexual orientation.

[English]

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    Mr. Glenn Rivard: It could be addressed in the regulations if it were found to be an issue with any of the clinics.

[Translation]

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    Mr. André Bachand: When will the regulations be tabled with the committee so that we can examine them?

[English]

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    Ms. Caroline Weber: As soon as possible after proclamation.

    This is of course is a complex area, and as much as we have tried to plan for many resources being devoted to the development of regulations, we imagine it might take some time. So we're currently breaking them into groups, or staging it so we can proceed with some sort of risk-based approach, where we take the areas we think represent the most risk, start with those elements, and then proceed accordingly.

    We are concerned it will take a couple of years to get all of the regulations, but we're trying to respond to the committee's recommendation that this be done in a very short time period and come forward with some relatively quickly.

[Translation]

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    Mr. André Bachand: Another one of the committee's recommendations dealt with the issue of patents. We are aware that the Patent Act will not necessarily be subject to consequential amendments, because it is much too important an act. I would like to hear you on that. During speeches at second reading in the House, there was talk of amending the Patent Act, and the committee examined the matter. There is nothing on that here, of course, because there is another act that must be amended, but I would like to know what your thoughts are on that.

    You talked about recommendations that are found in the bill and those that are not. That is an important one on which there was consensus in the discussions. What is your analysis of that Health Committee recommendation?

  +-(1205)  

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    Ms. Lise Lavoie: The question was put to the minister responsible for the Patent Act. Minister Rock is currently examining the matter. So it does not necessarily come under our bill.

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    Mr. André Bachand: We heard several witnesses on that topic. Has the Minister of Health asked the Department of Industry to respond in writing? We could take that into consideration in our analysis of Bill C-56. We have not obtained a response to a very important recommendation. We know that there is a case before the Supreme Court, but do you foresee receiving a written response from the minister and can you submit that written response to the committee?

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    Ms. Lise Lavoie: We are working on the matter with the officials of the Department of Industry, but it remains to be seen if we will receive a written response from the minister himself. If we do receive one, we can certainly share it with you.

[English]

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    Ms. Caroline Weber: This is a very important issue.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Ian Shugart: Some aspects of that issue are of interest to the provinces. Discussions with our provincial colleagues are currently underway.

[English]

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    The Chair: In answer to your question, I had hoped we might finish this by 12:30 p.m. and take the last half hour to do planning. However, if they still have more questions, we may have to delay that discussion until Tuesday morning. So it depends on how the questions and answers go. But thank you for your interest.

    Madame Scherrer.

[Translation]

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    Ms. Hélène Scherrer (Louis-Hébert, Lib.): Thank you, Madam Chair. I apologize for arriving late. I hope that I will not be asking questions that have already been asked.

    I would like to go back to the issue of surrogate mothers, because the issue gave rise to significant debate at the committee. There were clear-cut differences of opinion. I think that everyone agreed that surrogate mothers should not be paid honorariums, so that women do not decide to become surrogate mothers for the next 10 years in order to earn a living, so that it does not become a commercial activity.

    However, several questions were raised about determining eligible costs. We looked into the costs incurred by a surrogate mother. That is where there were differences of opinion. For example, we talked about psychological counselling during the pregnancy or legal aid for support. For me, there are many more costs associated with the pregnancy, just in terms of clothing and food. I must point out quite frankly that I have a problem with the idea of strictly limiting costs.

    Here is my second question. Assisted reproduction, in other words all activities outside the uterus, are under federal jurisdiction. However, when a surrogate mother goes to see a gynecologist, that falls under provincial jurisdiction. How can we reconcile all of that? What is the extent of the federal involvement in this bill with respect to surrogate mothers? To what extent are the services that are provided...?

    I know that the committee encouraged all provincial governments to ensure that these women benefit from follow-up and to take charge of their support, but how will we manage that? In one area, surrogate mothers are under federal jurisdiction, but when they get pregnant and they have to use services, they fall under provincial jurisdiction.

  +-(1210)  

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    Mr. Ian Shugart: I'm going to address two points, then Lise or Caroline can add a few words on eligible expenditures.

    First of all, the scope of the bill reflects the nature of our Constitution. There are many areas where constitutional responsibilities are shared. It is very clear that there is a fine and important line between the jurisdictions in this regard. That is why we must work with our provincial colleagues to avoid any defects.

    The bill deals solely with embryos outside the woman. This is somewhat of an artificial line, but these are artificial technologies. That reflects the nature of the issue.

    With respect to reimbursing expenditures, I would like to remind you that the details will be included in the regulations. The committee will have an opportunity to examine the proposed regulations. We currently have some ideas on that. Lise will be able to give you some examples.

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    Ms. Lise Lavoie: We want to avoid what you talked about at the beginning: the commercialization of surrogacy. We do not want it to become a new industry in Canada. It is not so much to limit the activity, but to protect women who could consider becoming surrogate mothers. We are not interested in the pregnancy as such, but in ensuring that a woman who makes a decision to become a surrogate mother for a couple fully understands the implications of her decision and can make a very well-informed decision.

    It is clear with respect to the scope of the bill that once the embryo that has been created is transplanted into a woman's uterus, our responsibilities end.

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    Ms. Hélène Scherrer: I would like to ask a question on the principles of the bill. One of the provisions states:

(f) human individuality and diversity, and the integrity of the human genome, must be preserved and protected.

    If I recall our discussion, this point was added because witnesses told us that it was important not to make a distinction with respect to the initial genetic material, so that there was no choice of genetic material. I have a major problem with that. I wondered if researchers were able to determine if a child with specific genetic material would be born with Down's syndrome or a congenital disease. I must say that I find this particularly bothersome. If I were to turn to assisted reproduction, and I gave birth to a child who was slightly handicapped and I learned after the fact that researchers could have told me in the beginning that the child could have major difficulties, I would have a problem with that.

    Does that mean that there will not be any identification of or research on genetic material and that couples may well have a child with a disease, or will there be some analysis of the genetic material to be used to ensure that we give couples the best opportunities possible?

  +-(1215)  

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    Ms. Lise Lavoie: First of all, I would like everyone to fully understand that genetic analysis is not a common practice. It is very rare and very difficult. At present, there are very few people who turn to genetic analysis for diagnosis at the embryo level, what is called PGD in English. The acronym must be different in French. It is very rare.

    Secondly, above all, we wanted to ensure that this technique, as rare as it is, is not used for purposes that would be inappropriate or unethical, for example to determine the sex of an embryo, because the couple wants to have a boy or a girl. However, the technique could be used by people who have medical grounds for undergoing such a test. So it is not common practice and it is used primarily for medical reasons. We have specifically excluded the use of this technique to determine the sex of the embryos that will be transplanted.

[English]

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    The Chair: Thank you, Madame Scherrer.

    Mr. Merrifield.

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    Mr. Rob Merrifield (Yellowhead, Canadian Alliance): Thank you.

    Thank goodness the legislation is here and we can take a look at it and see where it fits in with the work we've done in the last year and where it falls a little short. One of the most important areas of this piece of legislation--and I think it can be argued very clearly and very forcefully--is the importance of the agency. As we go ahead into the 21st century, this agency and the trust it garners with Canadians will be imperative. It will either garner their trust or it will fail. Something we heard from Dr. Bernstein as well, when he was here, was that it was very important, even from a scientific perspective, that it not be driven solely by science, but it be an agency that hears all voices.

    That concerns me a little bit, from two perspectives. Clause 25, and the quite sweeping controls that are there, is something that disturbs me a little bit. This whole area of how we can make an agency responsive to the Parliament of Canada and to Canadians, and the idea we had in the majority report with regard to a code of ethics for the agency and the importance that we lay out the purpose and where they're going as an agency, is very important. Perhaps the actual code of ethics shouldn't be in the bill, but there should be reference to it so that it's there in the regulations. I'm wondering if I can get your response on that.

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    Mr. Ian Shugart: One of the vehicles for addressing that issue is also the bylaws of the agency, which would be public and have to be formally approved--I think, Glenn, by Governor in Council?

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    Mr. Rob Merrifield: But we should not make reference to it--

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    Mr. Ian Shugart: Regulations constitute a further vehicle. It is a question as to whether the bill itself could deal with that. It may be the subject of amendment or recommendation by the committee.

    With respect to the standards of ethics brought to bear in determining some of the questions that will come before the agency, the bill provides for the incorporation of such standards into the regulations and into the work of the agency, so that, for example, codes of ethics for researchers about what constitutes ethical research, whether developed in Canada or internationally, can be used. This is a field that is moving both on the bioethics side and on the science side as well. I think there is a variety of ways of incorporating that into the work of the agency.

    I've lost track of the first part of your question, Mr. Merrifield.

  +-(1220)  

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    Mr. Rob Merrifield: Let me add another angle to it, because the chair has me on a tight rope here. When it comes to the whole makeup of this agency, there are two different approaches. We wrestled with that as a committee. Do you set up the judge style and have statutory standing by all the interests before that group or that agency, or do you put all the interests around the table and slug it out?

    We saw in the United Kingdom they have all of the interests around the table. We see where that goes and we're very nervous about it. I think this committee came up with the judge style, with all the interests before it, and yet that was ignored here. I don't understand. Maybe you could explain that in ten seconds.

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    Mr. Ian Shugart: I'm not sure it is in fact that clear-cut. There certainly is an orientation to providing the board, for example, as a forum outside the government for the resolution of these difficult questions. I don't think that implies there would not be order and procedure and regularity and representations from various interests before the board. I don't think it's entirely one or the other.

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    Mr. Glenn Rivard: Let me add that there's a lot of transparency around this agency. For example, clause 19 provides that any of the policy directions from the minister have to be publicly made available; any of the applications for licences have to be publicly available, as well as the decisions of the agency.

    I'd also point out that clause 43...and I've just lost it now. There is a provision, in any event, that allows any person to make representations that must be considered by the agency as well. It is a very transparent process.

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    The Chair: I think we're more concerned about the bodies around the table. We're happy they can hear representations; we're happy that everything's transparent. But I think Mr. Shugart, earlier in his testimony, suggested that a person with interests might be at the table, and we were trying to make sure that didn't happen.

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    Mr. Ian Shugart: I'm sorry, Madam Chair, that certainly wasn't the intent. Going back to the exchange with Ms. Wasylycia-Leis concerning interest, perspectives, experience, outlook--that kind of reflection of the nature of the debate in society more broadly--I didn't mean “interest” in the more technical sense of “representing on behalf of” or that particular interest having standing. I'm sorry if I gave you the wrong impression.

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    The Chair: You do have the picture we wanted to project, which is the judge model: people of wisdom and experience. They're not necessarily people with experience in this field but rather ones who might reflect a more general Canadian approach, one of an average citizen but a highly educated thinker. This is as opposed to six scientists, a couple of consumers, and one ethicist. We don't want that.

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    Mr. Ian Shugart: Yes. Again, we don't preclude people with experience in the field. Our view would be that scientists, for example, should not be excluded from membership on the board. Our view is that the model, the intent for the nature of the board and how it would work, is very much in keeping with the committee's recommendation. We're very comfortable with that approach and ethos for this board.

+-

    The Chair: I notice in your verbal testimony that you continue to say “informed consent”. While I know that has been the traditional use in law and in medicine, we objected to that as a committee because “informed consent” implies there is going to be a yes answer, a consent. We prefer the term “informed choice” to make sure that both upsides and downsides are fully explained to the patient, client, or whoever, and that in fact it is a choice.

    It is true that in the medical profession people are told the upside and the downside and it is called “informed consent”, but we still think that word suggests a bias towards saying yes. We suggested in our report that it be “informed choice” rather than “informed consent”, and I just wanted to make that point again.

    I'm wondering, with these expenses that are receipted, will that be audited? Had you considered going that far with a fertility clinic, perhaps sending in auditors who would indeed check the receipts, making sure they go along with the payments out?

  +-(1225)  

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    Mr. Glenn Rivard: That would all be subject to the inspection power of the agency. The agency could definitely go into a licensed clinic, inspect its records, and determine what expenditures had been authorized.

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    The Chair: Now, Ms. Lavoie said something about wanting to avoid this business of surrogacy becoming a new industry; we don't want it commercialized. Well, we had testimony that referred to the industry. It isn't a new industry; it exists today. That's what we are trying to do, change the status quo in the presence of that industry, and the reality we heard about suggests there is an industry we want to stop.

    Now, I'd like to speak to Mr. Rivard because he suggested that women who are considering surrogacy might be discouraged from seeking health or legal advice by the fact that there is no reimbursement, which is what we had suggested. What about the opposite side of that same coin, which is the way we looked at it? That is, if there were no money, women wouldn't be considering it. It is the money. It is our understanding that it is women who are poor and who see it as a way of injecting some income into their family who are doing it.

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    Mr. Glenn Rivard: The way the provision is written, it would not be possible to receive income for this. The sort of thing that might be acceptable would be a case where, let's say, a woman is approached to be a surrogate and goes and sees a lawyer to determine the implications of that. Perhaps they go on to produce a contract to protect her interests, etc. She's billed by the lawyer, and then she could be reimbursed, but it's a cost-neutral impact.

+-

    The Chair: We understand that, Mr. Rivard, but from the testimony we heard, it is highly unlikely that a poor woman will seek out a lawyer. The more likely possibility is that the commissioning parents seek out the lawyer in order to protect their interests.

+-

    Mr. Glenn Rivard: Well, they can always do that, but they're going to pay for the lawyer themselves, and they're not going to be reimbursed.

+-

    The Chair: Exactly.

    We talked for a minute about a woman with an income of $75,000 a year being reimbursed, and you said that can't happen. But we didn't hear about any women with $75,000 a year who were even considering it. They're not at that end of the spectrum; it's poor women we are trying to protect.

+-

    Mr. Glenn Rivard: Let me take a hypothetical case of a poor woman who is offered $20,000 to be a surrogate.

+-

    The Chair: I understand that's illegal now.

+-

    Mr. Glenn Rivard: That would be illegal under this bill.

+-

    The Chair: That's great, but we also hear perhaps before and sometimes after our hearings from some of the commissioning parents. And it would seem to me they will be saying they have to keep their pregnant woman healthy; therefore, they'll pay the heating bills because she's too poor, they'll pay the telephone bill so that she is socially connected and keeps her mental health, they'll pay her grocery bills, they'll pay this, they'll pay that. In the long run it will be a flow of income into a house that wouldn't otherwise have it and the ticket to ride is the pregnancy.

+-

    Mr. Ian Shugart: I think that kind of thing would fall under the notion of consideration, which the bill prevents. It would not be receipted expenses in advance or associated with the carriage of the child. The reason the regulations would have to enumerate, in the end, those kinds of things is to be able to imagine a variety of circumstances so that the principle we've been discussing would in fact be borne out in reality.

    I guess the issue is that part of informed decision-making in regard to surrogacy might include a recourse to legal counsel or something like that for a woman of any socio-economic status.

    The charter consideration was that any prohibition or prevention of that kind of support could well be considered interference with the security of the person.

  +-(1230)  

+-

    The Chair: I've used up my time, and I'm sorry, Ms. Sgro was ahead of me. I forgot about her.

+-

    Ms. Hedy Fry: Ms. Sgro said I could have her place.

+-

    The Chair: No, sorry, Dr. Fry, nice move.

    It was Mr. Lunney who was next.

+-

    Mr. James Lunney: I want to take it actually to the question of the import of gametes. Is that allowed under the existing law...or transport across the border?

+-

    Ms. Caroline Weber: Yes and no, and our colleagues in the Department of Foreign Affairs will be taking this up. If the gametes have been purchased, then, no, they will not be allowed entry into Canada.

+-

    Mr. James Lunney: So the big question we have is why? Do we have a shortage of material in Canada? Why would we allow the import of gametes?

+-

    Ms. Caroline Weber: We do have a shortage, so we'd allow imported gametes that have not been purchased.

+-

    Mr. James Lunney: For example, donations from prisons in the United States...?

+-

    Mr. Ian Shugart: It is subject, Mr. Lunney, to the same regulatory constraints with regard to health and safety considerations. In other words, the semen regulations, for example, would apply across the board, regardless of source.

+-

    Mr. James Lunney: Do you envisage problems in ascertaining the reliability of data coming from other countries? For example, if somebody decided to import some from a third world country, is the Department of Health going to be able to verify the accuracy of information coming in from those sources?

+-

    Mr. Ian Shugart: We would need to be able to be satisfied, it would seem to me, in order to meet the test for safety that would be embodied in the regulations.

+-

    Mr. James Lunney: I see a problem with that.

    The other question is about importing. Subclause 8(2) talks about taking tissue from a donor who's deceased. You're talking about import and export. There's a big deal in the world already in organs that are taken from live subjects, unwillingly. There are all kinds of illegal activities happening in spite of our controls here in this country. Why do we need to open the door beyond our borders? I'm not satisfied that we have a shortage of raw materials here in Canada that we can control.

    You may have it in terms of supply and demand, as it exists today, but surely there's no shortage of reproductive materials in Canada in spite of fertility problems.

+-

    Ms. Caroline Weber: While it is difficult, because the area is unregulated, to have complete information or be totally reassured that you have your hands on all the facts, everything we see says there is a shortage of material.

    The other thing to keep in mind here is the requirements for consent. That would need to be demonstrated as well. With respect to posthumously harvested material, there are pretty explicit and strict requirements in here about not only consent but identification of recipients.

    There is a shortage, as we understand it, and so we didn't want to again go excessively to exacerbating that, but there are requirements in the legislation that would certainly limit and constrain importation as it exists now.

  +-(1235)  

+-

    Mr. James Lunney: We have very significant problems in controlling aspects of even regulating within Canada, and I think we're opening a real Pandora's box, if you will, by allowing import or export of reproductive materials.

+-

    Mr. Ian Shugart: From the point of view of the clinics, that variation, those gaps in regulation, are in fact the purpose of the regime. The orientation is to ensure that at the coal face--I guess the expression might be--the interface of these clinics with the individuals, the health and safety regulations and the standards they set, whether it's with respect to consent, identification, and health and safety particularly, are met. And those would be spelled out in the regulations authorized by the law.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you.

    Dr. Castonguay, you didn't ask, but you haven't had a turn. Would you like to speak?

+-

    Mr. Jeannot Castonguay (Madawaska—Restigouche, Lib.): No, I'm listening. It's very interesting. There are very good questions.

+-

    The Chair: We'll go to Mr. Ménard.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Réal Ménard: Madam Chair, could you ask the officials to provide us with a summary of what the various provinces do in terms of adoption and what you see as a link with family law, so that we can have these issues in mind when we study the bill?

    If I understand correctly, the agency that will be created and the minister will be required to justify decisions when, for example, research will be authorized on stem cells and the researcher will have to prove that he cannot conduct the research on existing genetic material. At that point, the authorization will be publicly disclosed, and the minister will be required to publicly justify, through the agency, why she has granted the authorization. Is my reading of the bill correct?

+-

    Mr. Ian Shugart: With respect to the first question, Madam  Chair, the answer is yes. We will do that. And the interpretation is correct, in our opinion.

+-

    Mr. Réal Ménard: Perfect.

[English]

+-

    The Chair: Dr. Castonguay has a little question to slip in here on the same subject. Mr. Castonguay.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Jeannot Castonguay: Thank you, Madam  Chair. I was looking for something in the bill with respect to the question my colleague asked earlier. Will pre-implantation genetic diagnosis be allowed in certain cases where we know that certain diseases may be transmitted genetically and that they are fatal several months or years after the child is born?

+-

    Ms. Lise Lavoie: If we know the situation and know that there is any chance that a genetic disease could be transmitted, such a test could certainly be done.

+-

    Mr. Jeannot Castonguay: Thank you.

[English]

+-

    The Chair: Thank you.

    Dr. Fry, and then Mrs. Wasylycia-Leis.

+-

    Ms. Hedy Fry: Thank you, Madam Chair. There was a clarification I wanted. Under the agency, under 24, could you clarify for me what you mean by saying the agency may exercise the powers in relation to licences under this act? I would like to know whether this in any way, shape, or form will infringe on the licensing and monitoring of individual physicians, which under the medical act has been given to the colleges of physicians and surgeons.

+-

    Mr. Ian Shugart: No, that is certainly not the intent, and we don't think it would be possible either, because the powers in relation to licences under the act are themselves circumscribed and are entirely separate from that other body of law, which is provincial domain.

+-

    Ms. Hedy Fry: I'm just concerned that it's not clear.

+-

    Mr. Glenn Rivard: The only licences under the bill are those referred to in clause 40 and the immediately following clauses. Those are the authorities to license a clinic, for example, to provide these types of services. It has nothing to do with the sorts of licences you're speaking of.

+-

    Ms. Hedy Fry: That's my second question, actually. The authorities will accredit a clinic. There already is a national body that accredits any facility that is undertaking a medical act. Will this infringe on the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation's job?

  +-(1240)  

+-

    Mr. Ian Shugart: No. The boundary line, if you like, is the powers under this bill or the phrase “to which this Act applies”. It's clear that the bill does not apply to those matters that the accrediting body would take into consideration in its activities.

+-

    Ms. Hedy Fry: Thank you. Your answers are great. I just wanted you to make paragraph 24(1)(a) a little bit clearer because it is ambiguous.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Dr. Fry.

    Ms. Wasylycia-Leis.

+-

    Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: I'd like to pick up on James Lunney's questions around commercial activity. We know the bill prohibits the buying and selling of reproductive material from donors. What I'm not so sure of is that this bill specifically prohibits commercial activity once a donor has given consent for non-reproductive use and is therefore no longer directly involved. Notwithstanding the issue of imports or exports, what controls are in this bill to prevent that donation from then being used in a commercial way or for purposes about which we have grave concerns? I think that's a real possibility given the information we received recently with regard to people making donations of tissue to a clinic attached to a hospital, which they believed would be used for genuine research. It ends up being sold, for example, to a clinic in the United States to be used in cosmetic surgery. I'm not sure this bill actually deals with that end of things. The controls around private clinics are vague. Can you give us absolute assurances that commercial activity is taken care of?

+-

    Mr. Ian Shugart: Any transaction for commercial purposes would be prohibited by the bill. It's not simply the donor to the clinic, but any transaction of a commercial nature, so that the clinic also cannot engage in a commercial transaction with the gametes, an embryo, or any reproductive material at all. It's a blanket prohibition in that regard. If it were more narrowly defined as “no donor shall receive consideration for”, then that would be a gaping hole. But it's “no person”, which would include the clinic.

    Do I have that right, Glenn?

+-

    Mr. Glenn Rivard: Yes. Perhaps I can just elaborate a little bit. The ethical dilemma with regard to gametes is that we don't want to encourage donations by providing commercial incentives, so that is dealt with. With regard to embryos, the ethical dimension is broader so the prohibition is broader. You cannot sell or purchase an in-vitro embryo, period, no matter what stage, if you will, or who was involved. It's a broader prohibition.

+-

    Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: Presumably, that kind of regulatory approach would apply now to things such as organs and tissues, yet we know that commercial activity happens. So the question is, is the bill strong enough in terms of its regulatory capacity to be involved in surveillance and investigation to guard against the fact that these private clinics may try to skirt the law and profit from such donations?

+-

    Mr. Glenn Rivard: I think a key element in this bill is the fact that no one can engage in this sort of activity until they are licensed by the agency. Once licensed, the agency has full authority to inspect the records and activities of the licensee. If you have a clinic that is trying to undertake these activities without a licence, that in itself is an offence under the bill. So in fact there is very tight control over these clinics. We should know every one that is operating. If they're operating without a licence, they are operating contrary to the law.

+-

    Ms. Caroline Weber: The issues that are being raised are statutory prohibitions in the act, and the penalties are substantial.

  +-(1245)  

+-

    Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: I had just one other issue to raise. Well, I have lots more issues, but I think the chair's going to cut me off.

    In the area of women's health, I think Mr. Rivard had said earlier that there are very strict requirements in the bill for ensuring the flowthrough of information so that women who are seeking out help in reproductive matters will get the counselling they need and will have access to all the information to determine the risks involved, to determine the success rate of the clinics, and to make wise decisions. My sense is that this bill is not as strong as the committee's recommendation. It doesn't go so far as to ensure that counselling is mandatory, and there is no requirement that reliable information be made available to women in forms, places, languages, and times that would be optimal for them--for example, at the clinic itself, at their point of entry into the system. I have a concern about that, which I think is key to women's health.

    Secondly, that concern is reinforced by the fact that the bill doesn't respect the committee's wishes to have a reference to the precautionary principle. I hate to reference this, since we've gone through this debate over the last 48 hours, but can I facetiously ask if there has been a general directive from on high that no department shall ever again mention the words “precautionary principle”?

+-

    Mr. Ian Shugart: Madam Chair, there has been no such directive.

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

+-

    The Chair: I'm hoping you'll take Ms. Wasylycia-Leis' comments as suggestions. We don't really have time to hear answers.

+-

    Mr. Ian Shugart: We've noted that.

+-

    The Chair: Okay, thank you.

    Madame Thibeault.

[Translation]

+-

    Ms. Yolande Thibeault: I would like to talk about recommendation 14 in the committee report, which talks about embryonic cell research and which led to the bill we have before us today. In our deliberations, we reached a compromise on recommendation 14, and that brought us to recommendation 15, which deals with possible regulation and the maximum number of ova that can be taken and fertilized; paragraph (e) indicates the maximum number of children that can be born from a given gamete donor. I would like to know the department's current position regarding recommendation 15 and the other recommendations.

+-

    Ms. Lise Lavoie: These recommendations will be reviewed when the regulations are drafted. When that happens, we can come back before the committee.

+-

    Ms. Yolande Thibeault: You cannot give us some indication of the department's approach?

+-

    Ms. Lise Lavoie: We can tell you that there are already professional standards in existence that can be adopted as regulations.

+-

    Ms. Yolande Thibeault: You know that some countries limit the number of ova that can be removed. There is the whole issue of some donor possibly coming across a town made up of...

+-

    Ms. Lise Lavoie: There is certainly no problem as far as the intention goes. As for the final version of the regulations, we will have to wait, since, among other things, there are many of these standards developed by professional bodies. We want to be very careful about distinguishing between what comes under the medical profession and what comes under regulation; that said, we can reference those standards in the regulations.

    Ms. Yolande Thibeault: Thank you very much.

[English]

+-

    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Merrifield.

+-

    Mr. Rob Merrifield: I'd just like to bounce back to the question I had earlier on the agency, which you never had an opportunity to really clarify. That was the sweeping controls for the minister under clause 25 and the necessity of having that in the bill. I am really at a loss as to why it would be there and be that strong, unless you can convince me that it doesn't go beyond what needs to be in the bill.

  +-(1250)  

+-

    Mr. Glenn Rivard: Perhaps I can speak to that.

    This is, I guess, a necessary consequence of two elements of the bill. One is the creation of an agency independent of the Department of Health, and the second is maintaining the principle of ministerial accountability.

    Typically, a minister has the authority, and indeed the responsibility, to exercise policy direction over agencies of this nature. In fact, this is clarified in clause 20 of the bill. What this clause basically does is to clarify the minister's responsibility to provide these policy directions as needed. I would say, too, that they must then be made available to the public pursuant to clause 19, so there's transparency in the process.

+-

    Mr. Rob Merrifield: Just to get this straight, any direction the minister would give to the agency would have to be public?

+-

    Mr. Glenn Rivard: That's correct.

+-

    Mr. Ian Shugart: They do not have the status of regulations. They're not regulatory directives or statutory instruments.

+-

    Mr. Rob Merrifield: But they would have to be followed--

+-

    Mr. Glenn Rivard: That's correct.

+-

    Mr. Rob Merrifield: --without question by the agency.

    The only caveat on it is that it would be public. That's not clarified very well in clause 25.

+-

    Mr. Glenn Rivard: The only other limitation is everything under the act, including, very specifically, the operations of the agency, must conform to the principles set out in the statutory declaration. So there is some guidance, if you will, provided in that method.

+-

    Mr. Rob Merrifield: This whole agency is an area that we really need to take a serious look at, to see how we can make it more transparent and accountable. I think Canadians are very keenly interested in this.

    The other area we talked about earlier was with regard to patent law. I think one of the questions was about patent law. Patent law was initially there to promote research and development. It allowed protection of certain things that were patented, so that others would not steal these. It enabled patent holders to pay for scientific researchers and then promote the research. Unfortunately, what we're seeing today, more often than not, is patents are becoming a shield or a defence retarding research.

    When you get into this area...we wrestled as a committee very hard and long with the idea of whether we should be allowing patenting of the human gene, or human materials at all. Our conclusion was they should not be patented at all. I'm really a little surprised, because it is a very important area we have an opportunity to set a direction for, and not to be whipsawed by the courts in this whole area of patenting of the human body or human material. The Harvard mouse case, which is going to be coming down in the fall, is certainly going to be precedent setting. So I'm really keen to know why we haven't addressed it somehow in this legislation.

+-

    Mr. Ian Shugart: There are two answers.

    One is to understand exactly the point you're making about the nature of the trends and the issues involved there. I would refer back to Mr. Bachand's question and our answers in that regard.

    Glenn, you can set me straight if I'm wrong, but more technically, as I understand it, this particular bill simply does not provide the vehicle for dealing with matters of patent law. It just doesn't provide scope for this. Other federal legislation--the Patent Act--does.

    So I think it's a question of the feasibility of the vehicle. A policy intention shouldn't be read into its absence from the bill.

+-

    Mr. Rob Merrifield: There's no other piece of legislation I know of that deals with human material. So you're in an uncharted area, you might say.

    Why would we not deal with the patenting of human material, or at least give a direction in this piece of legislation?

  +-(1255)  

+-

    Mr. Glenn Rivard: This would be a matter that should be addressed in the Patent Act itself. It's the reading of that statute that really encompasses--or doesn't encompass--the authority to patent human genes. There is a process under way now through the Canadian Biotech Advisory Committee. It is looking at biotechnology issues, including related patenting issues.

    If the matter is to be addressed or clarified, restricted or whatever, it really would require an amendment to the Patent Act.

+-

    Mr. Rob Merrifield: Should we not be making that as a recommendation somehow?

+-

    Mr. Ian Shugart: I think the committee did.

+-

    Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: The problem is the minister didn't respond at all. Never mind the bill; she didn't respond at all in her statement or speech to the House. We've had no indication it's a concern. That's the problem with it.

+-

    The Chair: The researcher is saying we could write a letter to Mr. Rock asking for that particular piece of advice.

    I'd like to throw one more thing on the table, and that is the fact that we restricted our thinking, as did the draft legislation, to those events prior to implantation in the womb. I think this was very wise, and your bill sticks to it.

    However, the CIHR guidelines were not so prudent. So the scientific guidelines a lot of people are seeing as sort of the other relevant piece of information around assisted human reproduction and stem cell research have an allowance in them for the use of stem cells from aborted fetuses.

    Now, there's no way I wanted to go there, nor I think did the minister. But the fact that the CIHR has now introduced this whole idea, and because this is the piece of legislation around stem cell research, do you not think we have to respond to that with something in here?

+-

    Mr. Ian Shugart: If I understand your question, I think you put your finger on it, Madam Chair, in referring to the scope of the bill, and by implication, the scope of the CIHR guidelines as well, which by their nature are in fact broader. They cover a range of ethical guidelines or ethical guidance to researchers.

+-

    The Chair: But that particular list on stem cell research...what other thing is in it that is beyond what we talk about here, other than about aborted fetuses? Is there something else?

+-

    Mr. Ian Shugart: My point is that the issue of stem cells, insofar as this bill is concerned, is a consequence of assisted human reproductive technologies, which is the focus of the bill. So I guess the answer is that, because of its point of origin, the bill can't go beyond this subject matter in that sense. It can go as far as research on embryonic stem cells because it is a consequence of the fundamental point of the bill.

    So my answer has more to do with how the bill can't go further than embryonic stem cells because the whole starting point, the whole subject of the bill, has to do with assisted human reproduction and only that. My comments are more on the limits of this bill than on the other guidelines.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Rivard wants to comment.

+-

    Mr. Glenn Rivard: I had the pleasure of being the advising lawyer on the CIHR legislation, and therefore I just wanted to comment on why I believe its guidelines are broader in scope. It is a funding agency for research and it would fund, in theory at least, stem cell research involving stem cells from a number of sources.

    The legislation places a positive responsibility on the agency to address the ethical issues related to its funding decisions. Indeed, it's my recollection that the Standing Committee on Health at the time strengthened that provision in the bill; that's why, therefore, the scope of its ethical guidelines in this area encompasses any and all of the stem cell research it may fund.

·  +-(1300)  

+-

    The Chair: There are members of that former Standing Committee on Health who aren't very happy with what happened.

+-

    Mr. Rob Merrifield: On a point of order, if we don't have enough time to get our questions in, I'm wondering if on Tuesday we could have the department back again and just continue on.

+-

    The Chair: Yes. It is past 1 p.m.

    I want to thank you for your presentations.

    I have several suggestions about what we do next, but it's possible, as Mr. Merrifield is suggesting and Mr. Lunney also has suggested, that we have the officials back on Tuesday.

    The other ideas, I want to get some idea about, because I have to give the clerk some instructions about what we're going to do. Does he have to ask somebody other than these officials? Then, even for Wednesday, if we want to put in a day or late-afternoon-into-evening session, there has to be some time to ask people.

    The underlying question to all of this spins on this fact: It's in the paper this morning that the bill is now at committee. My feeling is that there will probably be many people, many associations, who want to come, again in some cases, to speak to us. So my general question to you is, do you want to have that broad range of hearings where we listen to everybody who wants to come? Or do you want to have a very limited exposure, perhaps on the controversial issues? Do you have any ideas?

    Ms. Wasylycia-Leis.

+-

    Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: I think we're all interested in making sure that we finally get a law. So we want to expedite the process. It seems to me that going the route of a limited representation is the appropriate way. I would think the advisory council to the minister on reproductive health would be one such witness that we should have before us.

    I think what I'd like to hear from the government and the minister is a sense that some of our concerns will be addressed in this process, and that will give us an ability to go forward so that we don't have to hear all the same people again. We can't make this judgment until we get some sense from the government that there's a willingness to take into account some of the concerns and to get this bill back into the House before the House rises, and get it approved.

+-

    The Chair: I think you're being overly optimistic, Ms. Wasylycia-Leis. The government has come forward with a bill. This is now the minister's opinion. So I think, even if you had her here tomorrow, she's not going to say, okay, I'm willing to bend on 14 clauses here. You'd never get that. I think that's a vain hope.

    Mr. Ménard.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Réal Ménard: I think we need the minister to come and I agree that we need to move quickly. I think that everyone wants this legislation passed quickly. But I think that the committee should meet at its scheduled times. I would not agree, for instance, that we should start to hold hearings at night. I think that we will be able to agree on 10 or 12 witnesses.

    I agree with you that it is not a matter of getting information that we already have. What we need to do is to focus on issues which are controversial and on which there may be new information. I would agree to trying to hear all the witnesses during the day next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The following week, we could work things out and do clause-by-clause study. We can move this ahead quickly. We have already heard around 100 witnesses. We do not need to hear 56 more. We can agree on 10 or so.

[English]

+-

    The Chair: Just let me run a couple of these names by you. The researchers are suggesting Madeleine Boscoe, who is the head of that advisory council. Another one that I remember as a sort of a summary witness at the end of our hearings was a doctor, Abby Lippman, from Montreal. I found her very clear. I thought she was one who had a broad overview and could hone in on the new bill and tell us what she thought.

    Was there another one?

+-

    Mr. Rob Merrifield: I don't know if we want to get into a--

·  -(1305)  

+-

    The Chair: I'm only doing it for a day. I'm trying to give the clerk a chance to get these people.

    I was thinking of Wednesday. We could have a planning session on Tuesday to go over what issues we want addressed, etc., and which people might be able to address them. If you want, we could do it for the first hour on Tuesday. For the second hour on Tuesday, we could have the officials back.

    The thing I'm concerned about is, obviously, there are members on both sides who don't agree with everything in the bill. I don't think there's any point in debating with the officials about it. This is now their position.

    If you want to change what's in the bill, you do it through the amendment process. You're not going to convince them to go to the minister and ask for changes to clause 25. We could be wasting a lot of hot air.

    The officials are here to clarify the meaning of the bill if you don't understand it. It's what they're here for. They're not here to defend their positions. It's not our role to attack their positions.

    Do you see what I mean?

    It has been very enjoyable. We've all had a little go at them. It has been fun. The fact of the matter is they can't authorize changes to the bill. They are not going to advise the minister to change certain things. This is the position.

    Is it worth your time to have them back for more debate and suggestions because the bill is now here?

    It's what we did before. We were trying to clearly get our opinions across so they'd put them in the bill. Now we have the bill. On this kind of interchange, when it goes beyond clarification of asking what they mean by a certain clause, we're wasting time.

    Mr. Merrifield.

+-

    Mr. Rob Merrifield: I don't think we had a problem understanding it. I think it is what we were doing.

    I think more clarification is needed. If we can squeeze in another hour on Tuesday, it would be appropriate to do so.

+-

    The Chair: Is the plan agreeable then?

    On Tuesday, we'll have a planning session from 11 to 12. From 12 to 1, we'll have the officials back.

    Is it agreeable to people on this side?

    Ms. Wasylycia-Leis.

+-

    Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: Is it appropriate for us to be doing it, if Bill C-53 is in the House at report stage at that very moment? It's on the government's agenda for Tuesday.

+-

    The Chair: I'm sorry. Our work has to continue no matter what's happening in the House.

    If it's the case, and you want to speak in the House, you could send someone to represent you here. Both things are going to be happening simultaneously. I know it is upsetting. I'd like to be at both places, but we can't.

    We'll plan for Tuesday, if it is all right.

+-

    Mr. Réal Ménard: Don't be so tough with the members.

[Translation]

    As far as I am concerned, that was not my file, but do not forget that the people involved are members of the committee. You cannot say that both are going to be happening simultaneously, since they are the same MPs.

    The Chair: We will make arrangements.

    Mr. Réal Ménard: Yes, but we are out of time.

[English]

+-

    The Chair: They have Mr. Hilstrom who can represent them.

+-

    Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: I have no one.

    Ms. Hedy Fry: We'll vote for you, Judy.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Comartin can do it.

    Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: With only 14 members, you can see it's a problem.

    The Chair: Yes. You have Mr. Bigras and they have Mr. Harris. It's okay.

    We have a plan for Tuesday.

    Do I also have your permission to ask a couple of highly expert witnesses to talk to various sections of the bill on Wednesday afternoon? I'll only ask two.

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    Mr. James Lunney: No. If we will be debating Bill C-53, forget it.

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    The Chair: Do you think it's happening on Wednesday?

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    Mr. James Lunney: Are you talking about Wednesday now?

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    The Chair: I'm talking about Wednesday.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Réal Ménard: What time on Wednesday?

    The Chair: Three thirty in the afternoon.

    Mr. Réal, Ménard: From 3:30 to 5:30? Perfect.

[English]

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    The Chair: Yes. I may suggest, if we come up with more ideas on Tuesday morning, we add to the list for Wednesday. We could at least try, although it probably wouldn't be possible in one day. We know what we're doing on Tuesday.

    It would help the clerk if everyone brought their binders so he isn't constantly handing out bills. It makes too much of a load for him to carry all the time. He's doing a great job, but we don't want to burden him. Thanks very much.

    The meeting is adjourned.