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View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-11-27 12:05 [p.9880]
Mr. Speaker, I first want to congratulate the member for Oshawa on his very thoughtful remarks. We are certainly fortunate to have a parliamentary secretary who is so engaged on the topic.
It is impossible to stand today to speak about the thalidomide tragedy and not be moved. It is a story of an unspeakable tragedy of distraught parents, and children born with challenges that most of us cannot begin to comprehend. This is a tragic event from the 1960s that reminds us of why we need to take drug safety so seriously.
Nothing could ever undo the pain and suffering that was inflicted. It is a story that changed the way we regulate drugs in Canada. It opened our eyes to the fact that while drugs can bring many benefits, by curing diseases, reducing symptoms, and prolonging lives, they can also carry tremendous risks. It also serves as a constant reminder that we as parliamentarians must do all that we can to strengthen patient safety in Canada. That is why I am very pleased to hear that the Minister of Health will be meeting with thalidomide victims and working co-operatively with them to determine what government can do to support them.
Canada now has one of the safest drug systems in the world, and our government recently strengthened that even further, giving royal assent to Bill C-17, Vanessa's law. Protecting patients is a shared responsibility, one that also rests with fellow legislators in the provinces and with provincial health departments, individual health care professionals and administrators, the colleges that regulate medical practice and other professional organizations, key partners like the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, and the Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network, and last, of course, the manufacturers of drugs.
The thalidomide tragedy of the 1960s, like no other event before or since, has impressed upon us what a truly enormous responsibility that is. While the quest for new cures is vital, it is equally important that we do everything in our power to ensure that drugs that reach the market do not cause harms that outweigh their benefits. That is why all parties in the House and in the other place united to unanimously support Vanessa's law, and why so many stakeholders and individuals endorsed that legislation.
Although many steps have been taken previously to strengthen Canada's drug safety system, we all recognize that the Minister of Health and Health Canada did not have adequate powers to protect patients from drugs that were found to be unsafe once they were on the market We, as legislators, acted decisively to provide the new tools to address this gap.
I would like to take some time today to focus on how Vanessa's law will enhance patient safety, how it will reduce the risk of tragic events like those associated with thalidomide, and how it will help Canadians to make informed decisions about the drugs they are taking.
Vanessa's law will ensure that knowledge about approved drugs and medical devices continues to be gathered and shared with the public once products enter the market. This is important because clinical trials can only tell us about how a drug will affect a particular population, the population it was tested on. They do not tell us how the drug will affect everyone who might take it once it is on the market.
When a company submits an application for market authorization to Health Canada, reviewers analyze the results of all tests and studies that are submitted. If the product is safe, effective, and of high quality, the department will give the company a licence to market a drug in Canada for a particular use. However, once products reach the market, Health Canada's ability to gather knowledge about them has traditionally been limited, and its ability to take action when problems arise has also been limited. That is why there are new provisions in Vanessa's law that represent a game changer.
Let me take a moment to describe some of them and why Vanessa's law is so crucial. One important new provision is that Vanessa's law will give the Minister of Health the ability to set the terms and conditions on an authorization and to make those terms and conditions publicly available. What this means is that, as part of the authorization, Health Canada will be able to ask a pharmaceutical company to continue to gather information in the real world, after the product reaches the market, and to make the results of the information gathering public so that Canadians and their health care providers have easy access to them.
For example, Health Canada may require the company to gather information about the impacts of a drug on patients with multiple medical conditions. Health Canada could require a company to monitor and assess the effects of drugs on patients with impaired kidney function. This may or may not have been studied in the initial clinical trial, and the approved label would indicate that.
However, this information may prove to be important as we gather real-world experience and see some patients with impaired kidney function and how the drug affects them. It may become apparent that there is no difference in the benefits and harms experienced by patients with impaired kidney function.
However, should it become clear that there may be a cause for concern, Health Canada will be able to compel the manufacturer to conduct active safety surveillance or conduct a new study specifically to address the issue. The information about what activities the manufacturers are being compelled to undertake will be made public. It will be a transparent system so that prescribers and patients will know what actions are being taken. Vanessa's law also provides the Minister of Health with the power to compel a label change for a drug and to make that information publicly available to Canadians. In the past, most companies have agreed on a voluntary basis to undertake a label change. Sometimes, however, protracted negotiations have been required, and sometimes, those negotiations were not successful. The new powers provided by Vanessa's law have changed that, so if adults or children are taking a drug, they will be able to access this new information. This will allow us, as Canadians, to make informed decisions in consultation with our health care providers.
However, not all new information comes from tests, studies, or the ongoing proactive monitoring of a drug. Sometimes, adverse events are completely unexpected and only identified through a rigorous adverse drug reaction reporting system. This reflects the reality I mentioned before, that patient safety is a shared responsibility. That is why Vanessa's law included mandatory reporting of serious adverse drug reactions and medical device incidents by health care institutions. Simply put, serious adverse drug reaction reports from manufacturers, health care institutions, health care professionals, and the public often provide the first clue about an emerging drug safety issue.
To date, adverse drug reactions have been under-reported in Canada. It has only been mandatory for companies to report adverse drug reactions related to their products. It was recognized that it is critical that we increase the reporting of adverse drug reactions so that Health Canada could take quick action when a problem is detected and share the knowledge rapidly with health care professionals and, most importantly, the public, in order to prevent further harm.
Sometimes, it may be necessary to remove a drug or particular batch of the drug from the market. Other times, it may be appropriate to change the label of a drug so that health care practitioners are aware of the new information when they make their prescribing decisions. In other situations, it may be most appropriate to require the company to conduct some active monitoring to gather further information.
I mentioned earlier the important work done by the Canadian Patient Safety Institute and the Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network. The Canadian Patient Safety Institute works with governments, health organizations, leaders, and health care providers to inspire improvements in patient safety and quality care. It acts as an advocate and catalyst for improvements in patient safety, and it invests in and brokers policy and system changes to protect the health of Canadian patients. As Health Canada works to roll out the new authorities provided in Vanessa's law, either immediately or through developing regulations, these organizations will be able to provide advice.
Nothing can undo the pain and suffering endured by the thalidomide survivors and their families, and it is truly tragic. However, with the passing of Vanessa's law, federal regulators have important new tools to enhance on-market drug safety. The legislation is a very real step to reducing the risk that similar tragedies will occur in the future, and it represents a very important federal contribution to the shared goal of patient safety in Canada.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-11-27 12:16 [p.9882]
Mr. Speaker, I did sit on the health committee for several years but have not been on the committee for the last two years. I do have a keen interest in health care, and obviously this tragedy shocked all of us. It is an issue about which we all have endless concern.
The member mentioned that she is pleased that we are supporting this motion and I am glad to hear that. There is no partisanship when it comes to standing united in the face of this tragedy.
I am so pleased that the Minister of Health has announced she will be meeting with the Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada. It is important to state that it is going to happen. The government will be here to provide whatever support it can in the wake of this tragedy.
Health Canada has learned from this tragedy and has made improvements that have reduced the risk of this kind of terrible event from occurring again, including an overhaul of Canada's drug and regulatory framework. That is important. We recognize the pain and suffering of the victims and we are here to support them. At the same time, we want to make sure that we learn from what happened and that Health Canada has the framework and the regulatory ability to ensure we can prevent something like this from ever happening again.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-11-27 12:19 [p.9882]
Mr. Speaker, the member for Northumberland—Quinte West has made his life in public safety, and this falls into that category. This is all about public safety.
I want to touch on Bill C-17, Vanessa's law, which was raised by my colleague. It is important to recognize what this legislation will do. It is a step forward for patient safety and for public safety. Bill C-17 will bring in mandatory recall powers, so that we will not have to negotiate with big pharma companies; mandatory reporting of serious adverse drug reactions; tough new fines and jail time for companies that put Canadians at risk; and transparency for drug approvals and clinical trials. These are all critically important steps forward.
Obviously the tragic events in the 1960s remind us of why we need to take drug safety seriously. Let us be clear. Nothing can ever undo the pain and suffering inflicted on these individuals. That is why it is so important that we get it right, so this never happens again. That is why it is important that we use every power and tool within government's regulatory powers to make sure we have the proper framework in place to protect patients.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2012-05-29 14:01
Mr. Speaker, back in 1953 when Barrie resident Albert Stein was 15 years old, he suffered a terrible spinal injury after diving off a boat into shallow water. With no feeling from the neck down, young Albert was told he would be a quadriplegic for the rest of his life.
Albert worked tirelessly in rehab and started to regain mobility in his arms. He began to take steps with the help of crutches and then he began to walk short distances with leg braces. There was no slowing down Albert.
Albert has served for six years on Barrie's accessibility committee and now sits on the accessibility committees for the county of Simcoe, the Simcoe county District School Board, the Royal Victoria Hospital and the March of Dimes. He is also a board director for the Independent Living Services for Simcoe Muskoka as well as chairman of the Simcoe County Accessibility Network.
Earlier this month, I was incredibly honoured to announce to my riding of Barrie that Albert Stein was the recipient of the prestigious 2011 Robert Kerr Accessibility Award for his tireless volunteer work promoting better accessibility for disabled persons everywhere.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2007-04-16 11:04 [p.8203]
Mr. Speaker, it is good to be back to speak about this today. During the riding week we have just had, I heard many times from constituents how important this is and how much they treasure the CPP and the CPPD benefit.
It is important to note that a significant number of CPPD recipients also receive benefits from other sources. CPP disability therefore makes up one part of a broad and complex income system for persons with disabilities, a system that includes private and long term disability insurance, workers' compensation, employment insurance sickness benefits, and provincial social assistance. The standing committee may wish to take this into account when undertaking its study of CPPD benefits.
Calculation of the CPP disability benefit is legislated in the Canada pension plan. Any changes to these rates would require provincial approval.
Let us now turn to some of the accomplishments of the CPPD.
The Government of Canada promotes an inclusive society, one that allows people with disabilities to participate in the workforce and in their communities throughout their life transitions. For this reason, CPPD provides support for beneficiaries who are trying to return to work. Since early 2005 beneficiaries have had a new financial safety net that they can count on when trying to return to regular employment: automatic reinstatement of CPPD benefits.
Automatic reinstatement helps CPP clients take a chance on returning to the workforce. Before this provision came into effect, clients were not sure whether they would re-qualify for benefits if it turned out they could not continue working. Automatic reinstatement reduces this uncertainty by providing extended entitlements to clients whose CPPD benefits are stopped because they begin working again on a regular basis.
It provides a two year period during which they can ask to have their benefit payments restarted, using a simple process, if their disability recurs and prevents them from staying at work. There is no limit on the number of times a client can use this provision, a particularly good support for persons with episodic disabilities.
A survey of clients who used this provision shows that the change is doing what it was intended to do and is doing a good job. A substantial majority, 75%, felt that automatic reinstatement would influence their future plans to return to work and a third of these clients indicated that the provision offers security and improved their self-confidence in planning a return to work. Almost 80% were completely or mostly satisfied with all facets of the process, including ease of use.
The government is also committed to client service as demonstrated by Service Canada on behalf of CPPD. As an example, to make it easier for CPPD applicants, telephone contact is maintained throughout the application process. When a decision is reached, a personalized letter is sent to each applicant explaining the decision in simple language.
In addition, Service Canada has made other improvements to the delivery of services to Canadians. Clients are now offered the convenience of a one-stop personalized service. They have the choice to communicate via telephone or in person.
Communication with clients and stakeholders, of course, is an important part of this commitment to client service. CPPD beneficiaries receive an annual newsletter, “Staying in Touch”, that contains useful information on federal programs and services in such areas as student assistance, tax credits and benefits for seniors.
Our government strives to uphold its commitment to Canadians for accountability and for transparency. We believe the Canada pension plan exemplifies both. We are proud of this accomplishment.
This accountability and transparency are demonstrated by the fact that every three years the federal, provincial and territorial ministers of finance review the CPP to ensure that it remains financially sound and to make any necessary adjustments. The triennial review also allows us to ensure that the CPP evolves along with the changing needs of Canadians.
I would like to return to the issue currently before the House and highlight an initiative that complements the motion. A recently initiated comprehensive evaluation of CPP disability will focus on the extent to which the overall objectives and outcomes of the program are being met. This important study will take place over the next 18 months.
I am sure that the evaluators will want to review the study that is the subject of the current motion as additional input. The evaluation goes beyond the scope of the study to look at all aspects of program management, client outcomes, interaction with other disability programs, and documenting best practices.
We want to ensure that the CPPD is meeting all the current and future needs of Canadians without jeopardizing the affordability and financial sustainability of the CPP in the years ahead. These two sources of important information, the study proposed in the motion and the more comprehensive CPPD evaluation, should give us a better picture of those Canadians who receive the CPPD benefit and of how it helps them.
In other words, our government is confident that there are valuable lessons to be learned from these studies. We therefore welcome this opportunity to support the motion to conduct a study of the level of funding provided by the CPPD benefit. We believe it will help our government to achieve its commitment to Canadians to ensure that the Canada pension plan disability benefit continues to be there for current and future generations when they need it most.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2007-02-21 19:40 [p.7168]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to join the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development in support of the motion calling on the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities to study the level of financial support provided through the Canada pension plan disability benefit, or CPPD. In speaking to the motion I would like to take the opportunity to talk about the CPPD, the current payment structure and its accomplishments.
Canadians are fortunate to have a public pension system that is internationally recognized as one of the best in the world. Of course, most Canadians are aware of the Canada pension plan retirement pensions paid to contributors starting as early as age 60. What many do not fully appreciate is that each month almost 300,000 Canadians with disabilities and nearly 90,000 of their children receive financial support in the form of CPP disability benefits.
The CPP disability program is the largest long term disability insurance program in Canada. Without it, some of the most vulnerable Canadians would be left without basic financial support. CPP contributors who find themselves unable to work at any job due to a severe or prolonged mental or physical disability can count on the Canada pension plan disability benefit when they need it most.
When employees, employers and the self-employed contribute to the Canada pension plan, they are investing in their future, whether it is to ensure a basic level of retirement income in their later years or to provide basic earning replacement in the form of disability benefits in their working years.
Like other investments, the CPP requires careful monitoring to ensure it remains financially sound while staying relevant to the needs of those who contribute to it today and who will draw on it in the years ahead.
Federal, provincial and territorial governments have collaborated for many years to ensure the long term sustainability of the CPP on behalf of Canadians today and for future generations.
Since the motion speaks to the level of funding provided by the CPPD, let us turn to the payment structure currently in place. Monthly CPPD payments are made up of two parts: a fixed amount, which is set at $405.96 for 2007; and a variable amount based on the level of CPP contributions and the length of time over which those contributions were made before the client became disabled. The combination represents the monthly amount a CPPD beneficiary will receive. In 2007, the maximum benefit payable is $1,053.77 per month. Last year on average, CPPD beneficiaries received $763.37 per month. In addition, eligible children of disabled contributors are entitled to a fixed monthly payment of $204.68.
It is important to note--
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