Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2014-11-24 16:39
Thanks, Chair.
Thank you to all of our witnesses.
I'd like to start with Professor Hoffman. We had the benefit last week of having the chief public health officer here, Dr. Taylor, who was excellent. We're very fortunate, as Canadians, to have such a talented individual before us. I suppose, like you, as a lawyer, I looked at this and had a very different understanding from the one he provided, in which he seemed to think there was no issue with independence. When I read it, I had exactly the same perspective as you did.
Your point about loss of independence as regards the old bill was something that caught my eye as well. The devil is in the detail in drafting, and I thought that Dr. Kettner made the same point very well when he said the chief public health officer has the ability to make reports and he hopes it's broad enough to do the big communication. Well, so do I, and that's the problem with the drafting of this bill. There's no communication responsibility. You have a person who is now subordinate to a CEO who is an official, and our model doesn't seem to provide that ability to go forth and speak.
Do I have the gist of what you're saying is wrong with this?
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2014-11-24 16:41
Yes. Your colleague Mr. Culbert, from the Canadian Public Health Association, put it well, I think, when he said that “rank matters”—being equal at the table or something—given this role we're supposed to create for this national figure.
I thought you also did an excellent job of reminding Canadians of the importance of this, of the health costs and of the SARS example, and why we want to improve things going forward. As my colleague Mr. Brison said, it's bizarre that we're talking about this in the finance committee in dealing with a budget bill, but there you go.
You talk about “demotion and politicization”. Those are very serious accusations. Could you elaborate a bit on why you say those are accurate characterizations?
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2014-11-24 16:42
Mr. Culbert, you made another similar comment in the context of the fact that these two people—the president and the CPHO—both appear before the minister and may have different views. You've pointed out, I think accurately, that Public Administration 101 says that you don't have two people, you have a hierarchy. Yet if such a dispute were to occur in the future in good faith between these two individuals, it would be for the minister to resolve.
You were careful and I think you appropriately said that it's the minister who has to take political responsibility in our system. I agree, but what if the chief medical officer of Canada thinks we have a bigger crisis than the bureaucrat and the politician think? Essentially, it's the politician who gets to decide whether SARS is a big deal or not a big deal at a moment in time, when maybe no one really knows. Is that not the concern?
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2014-11-24 16:44
On the point of communication, I know, and Mr. Therrien may also know, that there's been a big debate within the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada about whether the language in their statutory mandate allows public communication. They still fight about it. They don't have it in their law and it's not been inferred because apparently the legal advice in the past has been that we can't publicize Canadians' rights of access. That's their advice.
We don't have anything in here that talks about the ability to publicize, not a single word, just reports, which, as Dr. Kettner says, we hope will be broad enough. It's really quite a scathing indictment.
I'd like to, if I may, ask you another question about the Naylor committee, Mr. Culbert. You talked about how the Naylor committee said that the chief public health officer should be the head and should have the responsibility to promote public health. We got half of that, I suppose, right? We did not get the head, but we have a person with responsibility. I'm trying to marry that up with the point about resources that Professor Hoffman mentioned.
You said they're dropping section 258, as they've done in division 20, and this doesn't allow for “reimbursement”. Could you elaborate a bit on what you meant by that?
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2014-11-24 16:46
As a matter of statutory interpretation, when you specifically repeal something that used to exist, one can infer, in interpreting that statute, that you no longer want there to be that reimbursement. It doubles the problem that they're silent on, that they repealed. Would you agree?
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2014-11-19 17:30
Thank you to the witnesses for coming.
I'd like to ask Dr. Taylor a question. When you confront a public health issue like ebola, are you free to speak out publicly if, as, and when you wish?
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2014-11-19 17:31
The reason I ask is that with this new arrangement, with the president and yourself, clause 256 only talks about you providing advice to the minister and the president on public health matters.
Do you consult with the ministry first before you provide advice? Are you free to go out on your own if you wish?
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2014-11-19 17:31
I'm familiar with the annual report but this section changes now, and only contemplates speaking and giving advice to the minister. I wasn't sure, do you have a communications protocol or something to confirm your ability to speak independently to the media?
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