Mr. Speaker, I want to take the opportunity to say this as we close out the debate at second reading on this very important bill, Bill C-100. This bill will enable us to take the next steps toward ratification of one of the most important and progressive trade agreements that has ever been negotiated anywhere in the world.
We went into this discussion with three primary objectives: first, to preserve important NAFTA provisions and market access to $2 billion worth of trade into the U.S. and Mexico every day; second, to modernize and improve the agreement to make it a better agreement than NAFTA; and third, to reinforce the security and stability of market access into the U.S. and Mexico for Canadian businesses. Those were the objectives, and that is what we accomplished.
I want to take a moment to commend our Prime Minister, who has a spine of steel when it comes to these sorts of issues, and our formidable Minister of Foreign Affairs, because no one can negotiate anything in the world like she can. I want to thank her parliamentary secretary, the member for Orléans, who was engaged in this process, as well as the trade negotiators, the officials, and the members of opposition parties who were engaged in the council that did this work, which is really groundbreaking work to make a difference for Canadian labour, indigenous Canadians and workers in every sector to make sure our businesses remain competitive while we continue to grow them and have access to markets in the United States and around the world with the most diverse trading program that any country has ever developed.
One issue I want to spend a bit of time on, because there has been so much misinformation tonight, is with respect to biologics and patent protection, which was negotiated as part of this whole deal.
I want to be clear about this. There are pharmaceutical drugs that are compounds created from atoms being compounded to each other to create the drugs we know so well. Of the drugs that people in this room take, 95% are those kinds of drugs, while 5% of the medications we take are biologics. These are created from living organisms in a living organism and are extremely complex and expensive to make.
My career for four years as president of the Asthma Society of Canada led me to understand the very complex way that biologics are created. On the one hand, drugs made from compounds are generic drugs that are relatively easy to create and are exactly the same as the original drug. However, a biologic will never be replicated exactly. They are biosimilars. At times, I jokingly call them “bio-differents”, because they are different. They are extremely expensive to replicate, and most companies do not want to do it.
I am really glad some people are listening to this. The reality is that a biologic drug, if we have 10 years of protection for it, most likely will be replaced by another biologic. That is the way that the industry works.
I am not simply saying we do not need to worry about this because I am, on this side of the House, arguing for this trade agreement; I am arguing this because we have a very high stake in targeted medicine and in ensuring that Canadians have access to the biologics that are part of our medical care system.
I have heard various numbers quoted, which are mathematical calculations without any nuance whatsoever. When Amir Attaran, a professor at the University of Ottawa, a biomedical scientist and a lawyer, looked at everything we are doing, he recognized it is going to be a wash. We are changing regulations on the PMPRB, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board. We are obviously committed to a pharmacare system that we can see is being developed through the early steps taken in this budget. We are moving on these issues.
I would ask every member of this House to commit themselves to the science, the creativity and the imagination that goes into our pharmaceutical industry. Quit beating up on big pharma.
I have taken on big pharma as part of a patient organization to ensure that Canadians have access to medication. I am not afraid of big pharma; I am respectful of pharmaceutical scientists and the companies that bring us the medications that, frankly, keep me alive. I need those medications and I am glad they are there. NAFTA will ensure that there is moderate protection, either under the 20 years as a drug or the 10 years as a biologic.
This is not something that is scientific. It is an embarrassment that some people in the House are misusing this idea to scare Canadians. The reality is that we have a progressive trade deal. It is the most progressive and inclusive trade deal to involve indigenous people. It has labour standards that are progressive and will become a worldwide model. We have a deal that will make sure that as Canadians move into the rest of the century, we will be effective and competitive.