Thank you to my colleague for that.
I appreciate that we want to put some sort of parameter on this. Typically, the way the committee has worked is that we pass the motion, we decide on a study, and it's open to the committee at any time to determine when we've heard enough evidence.
I'm unable to agree to six meetings at this early stage for two reasons. One is that an enormous number of stakeholders would be interested in this: physicians, dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, patient groups, special-needs communities that have unique needs when it comes to dental care, indigenous groups, hospitals, and health economists, so we can hear what other countries do. Six meetings would, without question in my mind, be far too few.
I think it's really hard to estimate at this point, so I would rather just keep it open, and then it's always open to the committee to get it started. Once we hear from enough witnesses, we can revisit this at any time and determine that we don't want to hear any more witnesses. I think the goal of the committee should be to make sure we have a good look at this and that we've heard from everybody we think we need to hear from, as opposed to picking an arbitrary number.
I do think this committee would be a substantial one. I can see that. We took two years to study pharmacare. I can't remember, and I don't know if the clerk or analysts can tell us how many meetings we had on that. Also, we may even want to travel. Who knows? We may want to visit a jurisdiction that has dental care.
I wouldn't want to hamstring the committee, but I want to make it clear that I also don't want this to go on forever. I understand we have lots of other issues, so it's not my intention to drag this out, but I think this would be one of the issues. This would be a study where we could do some really good work like we did on pharmacare.
I will end by repeating two things. It's rare that we have an indication from the government in a throne speech and a mandate letter of what is essentially direction for us. Although we're masters of our own agenda, of course, we've been given direction by the government that it wants us to look into this. Therefore, to put such a small number of meetings to this.... I mean, we had three meetings on the coronavirus, and we've seen how you just scratch the surface of an issue, and in that case it is temporal, discrete, unique issue that's pretty tight. I think something like dental care would take significantly more meetings than that.
I would rather vote against this motion, keep it open, and as we schedule meetings, just keep very alive to how the witnesses and evidence are coming, and when we feel that we've had enough, we can pause and proceed to write a report at that point.