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Results: 1 - 3 of 3
View Rona Ambrose Profile
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you to the committee. I want to thank all of you for the work you do on the health committee. I know many of you are passionate about the issues of health, and I thank you for your commitment to that.
I'm joined by Simon Kennedy, Health Canada's new deputy minister; Krista Outhwaite, our newly appointed president of the Public Health Agency of Canada; and Dr. Gregory Taylor, whom you've met before, Canada's chief public health officer. I know he'll be here for the second half. You might want to ask him about his trip to Guinea and Sierra Leone to visit our troops and others who are working on the front dealing with Ebola. I'm sure he'll have some great things to share with you.
Michel Perron is here on behalf of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He's also new. Last time I know you met Dr. Alain Beaudet.
We also have Dr. Bruce Archibald, who's the president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. I think you've met Bruce as well.
Mr. Chair, I'd like to start by sharing an update on some of the key issues that we've been working on recently. I'll begin by talking about Canada's health care system, the pressures it's facing, and the opportunities for improvement through innovation. I will then highlight some recent activities on priority issues such as family violence and the safety of drugs in food.
According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Canada spent around $215 billion on health care just in 2014. Provinces and territories, which are responsible for the delivery of health care to Canadians, are working very hard to ensure their systems continue to meet the needs of Canadians, but with an aging population, chronic disease, and economic uncertainty, the job of financing and delivering quality care is not getting easier.
Our government continues to be a strong partner for the provinces and territories when it comes to record transfer dollars. Since 2006, federal health transfers have increased by almost 70% and are on track to increase from $34 billion this year to more than $40 billion annually by the end of the decade—an all-time high.
This ongoing federal investment in healthcare is providing provinces and territories with the financial predictability and flexibility they need to respond to the priorities and pressures within their jurisdictions.
In addition of course, federal support for health research through the CIHR as well as targeted investments in areas such as mental health, cancer prevention, and patient safety are helping to improve the accessibility and quality of health care for Canadians.
But to build on the record transfers and the targeted investments I just mentioned, we're also taking a number of other measures to improve the health of Canadians and reduce pressure on the health care system. To date we've leveraged over $27 million in private sector investments to advance healthy living partnerships. I'm very pleased with the momentum we've seen across Canada.
Last year we launched the play exchange, in collaboration with Canadian Tire, LIFT Philanthropy Partners, and the CBC, to find the best ideas that would encourage Canadians to live healthier and active lives. We announced the winning idea in January: the Canadian Cancer Society of Quebec and their idea called “trottibus”, which is a walking school bus. This is an innovative program that gives elementary schoolchildren a safe and fun way to get to school while being active. Trottibus is going to receive $1 million in funding from the federal government to launch their great idea across the country.
Other social innovation projects are encouraging all children to get active early in life so that we can make some real headway in terms of preventing chronic diseases, obesity, and other health issues. We're also supporting health care innovation through investments from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. In fact our government now is the single-largest contributor to health research in Canada, investing roughly $1 billion every year.
Since its launch in 2011, the strategy for patient-oriented research has been working to bring improvements from the latest research straight to the bedsides of patients. I was pleased to see that budget 2015 provided additional funds so that we can build on this success, including an important partnership with the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement.
Canadians benefit from a health system that provides access to high-quality care and supports good health outcomes, but we can't afford to be complacent in the face of an aging society, changing technology, and new economic and fiscal realities. That is why we have been committed to supporting innovation that improves the quality and affordability of health care.
As you know, the advisory panel on health care innovation that I launched last June has spent the last 10 months exploring the top areas of innovation in Canada and abroad with the goal of identifying how the federal government can support those ideas that hold the greatest promise. The panel has now met with more than 500 individuals including patients, families, business leaders, economists, and researchers. As we speak, the panel is busy analyzing what they've heard, and I look forward to receiving their final report in June.
I'd also like to talk about another issue. It's one that does not receive the attention that it deserves as a pressing public health concern, and that's family violence. Family violence has undeniable impacts on the health of the women, children, and even men, who are victimized. There are also very significant impacts on our health care and justice systems.
Family violence can lead to chronic pain and disease, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, self-harm, and many other serious and lifelong afflictions for its victims. That's why this past winter I was pleased to announce a federal investment of $100 million over 10 years to help address family violence and support the health of victims of violence. This investment will support health professionals and community organizations in improving the physical and mental health of victims of violence, and help stop intergenerational cycles of violence.
In addition to our efforts to address family violence and support innovation to improve the sustainability of the health care system, we have made significant progress on a number of key drug safety issues. Canadians want and deserve to depend on and trust the care they receive. To that end, I'd like to thank the committee for its thoughtful study of our government's signature patient safety legislation, Vanessa's Law. Building on the consultations that we held with Canadians prior to its introduction, this committee's careful review of Vanessa's Law, including the helpful amendments that were brought forward by MP Young, served to strengthen the bill and will improve the transparency that Canadians expect.
Vanessa's Law, as you know, introduces the most significant improvements to drug safety in Canada in more than 50 years. It allows me, as minister, to recall unsafe drugs and to impose tough new penalties, including jail time and fines up to $5 million per day, instead of what is the current $5,000 a day. It also compels drug companies to do further testing and revise labels in plain language to clearly reflect health risk information, including updates for health warnings for children. It will also enhance surveillance by requiring mandatory adverse drug reaction reporting by health care institutions, and requires new transparency for Health Canada's regulatory decisions about drug approvals.
To ensure the new transparency powers are providing the kind of information that Canadian families and researchers are looking for, we've also just launched further consultations asking about the types of information that are most useful to improve drug safety. Beyond the improvements in Vanessa's Law, we're making great progress and increasing transparency through Health Canada's regulatory transparency and openness framework. In addition to posting summaries of drug safety reviews that patients and medical professionals can use to make informed decisions, we are now also publishing more detailed inspection information on companies and facilities that make drugs. This includes inspection dates, licence status, types of risks observed, and measures that are taken by Health Canada. Patients can also check Health Canada's clinical trials database to determine if a trial they are interested in has met regulatory requirements.
Another priority of mine is tackling the issue of drug abuse and addiction in Canada. There's no question that addiction to dangerous drugs has a devastating and widespread impact on Canadian families and communities. In line with recommendations from this committee, I am pleased that the marketing campaign launched last fall by Health Canada is helping parents talk with their teenagers about the dangers of smoking marijuana and prescription drug abuse. The campaign addresses both of those things, because too many of our young people are abusing drugs that are meant to heal them.
Our government also recognizes that those struggling with drug addictions need help to recover a drug-free life. From a federal perspective, of course, we provide assistance for prevention and treatment projects under our national anti-drug strategy. We've now committed over $44 million to expand the strategy to include prescription drug abuse and are continuing to work with the provinces to improve drug treatment.
I've now met and will continue to meet with physicians, pharmacists, first nations, law enforcement, addictions specialists, medical experts, and of course parents to discuss how we can collectively tackle prescription drug abuse.
Finally, our government continues to make very real investments to strengthen our food safety system. As only the latest example, I recently announced a five-year investment of more than $30 million in the CFIA's new food safety information network. Through this modern network, food safety experts will be better connected, and laboratories will be able to share urgently needed surveillance information and food safety data, using a secure web platform. This will put us in an even better position to protect Canadians from food safety risk by improving our ability to actually anticipate, detect, and then effectively deal with food safety issues. This investment will continue to build on the record levels of funding we've already provided, as well as the improved powers such as tougher penalties, enhanced controls on E. coli, new meat labelling requirements, and improved inspection oversight.
In conclusion, those are just some of the priorities that will be supported through the funding our government has allocated to the Health portfolio. This year's main estimates, notably, include investments for first nations health, for our ongoing contribution to the international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and the key research and food safety investments that I have already mentioned.
I'll leave it at that. If committee members have any questions, my officials and I would be very pleased to answer them. Thank you.
Jeff Morrison
View Jeff Morrison Profile
Jeff Morrison
2014-06-12 9:52
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good morning to the committee. Thank you to the Standing Committee on Health for the invitation to appear this morning. My name is Jeff Morrison. I'm director of government relations and public affairs with the Canadian Pharmacists Association. With me—I'm very happy—is Barry Power, a pharmacy consultant with CPhA, an adjunct assistant professor at the school of pharmacy with the University of Waterloo, and a pharmacist himself.
As you know, CPhA is the national association representing the pharmacist profession in Canada.
Drug safety is a priority for the Canadian Pharmacists Association and for all pharmacists in Canada. Although it is not possible to completely eliminate all risks associated with the use of prescription drugs, pharmacists spend a lot of time counselling patients on the appropriate and safe use of the drugs they are taking. That is why the CPhA supported the general spirit and thrust of Bill C-17, Vanessa's Law, when it was introduced by the minister in December 2013.
In particular, the CPhA supports the bill's intent to increase penalties for unsafe products and to provide Health Canada with new powers to recall unsafe products and to compel companies to do further testing on a product when issues are identified with certain at-risk populations, as well as the requirement for drug companies to revise labels to clearly reflect health risk information, including potential updates for health warnings for children.
However, there are some concerns and outstanding questions we have with regard to the bill. Although these questions and concerns may be addressed during the regulatory development process, we still wish to raise them with the committee this morning.
First, the bill provides a blanket exemption for natural health products. As NHPs are medicinal products and have the ability to cause harm, and given that Health Canada and several provinces state that between 60% to 70% of therapeutic products consumed by Canadians are in fact NHPs, the CPhA feels that NHPs should be included within the scope of the bill.
Second, the bill mandates the need for adverse drug reporting by stating the following, which I'm sure you know:
A prescribed health care institution shall provide the Minister, within the prescribed time and in the prescribed manner, with prescribed information that is in its control about a serious adverse drug reaction that involves a therapeutic product or a medical device incident that involves a therapeutic product.
However, this clause raises several questions that frankly the bill doesn't clarify.
For example, what is a prescribed health care institution? Is a pharmacy a health care institution? Will the downtown community health centre, of which I was the president, be considered a health care institution?
It would be helpful to specify the definition of a prescribed health care institution that is required to provide information.
Also, what is a serious adverse drug reaction? How is that to be defined? For example, is it necessary to report a well-known but serious reaction? All health care professionals know of many of the serious adverse reactions caused by chemotherapy, for example, during cancer treatment. Would they be expected to report these? Where do we draw the line between what is to be reported and what is considered well-established fact? Again, clarification within the bill would be useful.
Also, what will happen with this information? Will it be analyzed? Will all the information that is reported be made publicly available? If so, how so? As pharmacists we believe that Health Canada should be transparent in the provision and aggregation of the information it receives from this mandatory reporting, but at present, the legislation as written is unclear on whether this information will be properly analyzed and shared with health practitioners and with Canadians.
The same issue regarding transparency can also be applied to the bill's requirement that the minister may order the manufacturer to conduct additional assessments and tests of a questionable product or drug in regard to health and safety. The legislation states that the results of these tests will be provided to the minister. However, there is no allowance currently in the bill for providing that information more publicly, including to pharmacists, other practitioners, and Canadians. As you can probably guess, we feel it should.
Last, the bill also states that this reporting requirement “shall take into account existing information management systems, with a view to not recommending the making of regulations that would impose unnecessary administrative burdens”. However, this clause would appear to be at odds with the reality of the situation on the ground.
By its inclusion in the bill, the requirement for prescribed health care institutions to report adverse drug reactions will impose additional administrative burdens. Although technological solutions can and should help, the fact remains that additional human resources will be required to collect and provide this data. If the definition of prescribed health care institution is broad in scope—as I mentioned earlier, we don't have that—then the administrative requirements will likely increase. As a result, we're uncertain about how the bill can reconcile what would appear to be two contradictory goals of, on the one hand, increasing reporting, but on the other hand, without imposing administrative burdens.
In short, Mr. Chair, the Canadian Pharmacists Association is very supportive of Bill C-17. Given pharmacists' preoccupation with safe and effective use of medications, the CPhA believes the legislation is a step in the right direction. However, as I've outlined, we feel that there are clauses within the bill that could benefit from greater clarity and certainty in terms of how they will be applied.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
We are ready to answer the committee's questions.
Shawn A-in-chut Atleo
View Shawn A-in-chut Atleo Profile
Shawn A-in-chut Atleo
2013-12-05 19:19
[Witness speaks in Nuu-chah-nulth]
Greetings. I am A-in-chut.
[Witness speaks in Nuu-chah-nulth]
I want to join others in acknowledging that we're here in unceded Algonquin territories.
It's my privilege to offer up some thoughts as National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. As I said, I am A-in-chut, or Shawn, Atleo.
I am joined here tonight by my colleagues.
With me is Alberta Regional Chief Cameron Alexis, who holds the national portfolio with the Assembly of First Nations executive. We have executive members representing 10 regions from coast to coast to coast. He carries the executive responsibilities for justice matters, has also served his community as chief, and brings with him over 20 years as a police officer with the RCMP.
Also with me is Charlene Belleau, a former chief of Alkali Lake first nation.
Thanks to the chair for acknowledging that she is a former chief herself.
She works with the Assembly of First Nations and, in my view, has demonstrated some of the most important leadership on the issues that are before us this evening at this committee, as well as in her community, in addressing safety, security, justice, and healing issues.
I really appreciate the opportunity to be here and to provide you with contributions to your recommendations.
In doing so, the Assembly of First Nations would like to recognize you, Dr. Carolyn Bennett, for your leadership in introducing the motion to create this committee.
We also recognize the support among all parties that was given to moving this forward. We welcomed the reconstitution, Madam Chair, of this committee in the new session of Parliament. I wanted to share that with all of you.
You've heard from a number of witnesses at this point and have a clear understanding of the contexts and the background, and I will not spend time going over that with you this evening.
We know there are many factors that work together to increase the vulnerability of indigenous women and girls: that historical, socio-economic, and legal realities have come together to create the conditions that allow this violence against indigenous women and girls to persist. You also know that it is simply and sadly true that there continue to be unacceptable levels of violence against indigenous peoples, particularly women and girls. The safety of indigenous women and girls is central to the health and well-being of all of our nations.
The factors that have led to the current rates of violence are absolutely complex, and they're intersecting, as was just articulated. Therefore, our responses must similarly be comprehensive, and they must be far-reaching.
At the 2012 annual general assembly of the Assembly of First Nations, over 800 chiefs, leaders, and citizens made a pledge to “live violence free and to personally work to achieve safety and security for all Indigenous peoples—women and men, girls and boys”. At the 2012 Council of the Federation, the premiers took up this pledge as a reminder in their professional and personal lives of the responsibility to ensure the safety of indigenous women and girls.
Since that time, thousands of first nations citizens and Canadians alike have taken the pledge. The pledge is clear recognition that ending violence and ensuring the safety and security of all citizens, particularly those most vulnerable, is everyone's responsibility.
Change starts within all of us, and we all have a role to play. In April of this year, the Assembly of First Nations and the Native Women's Association of Canada together convened a national forum on community safety and ending violence. We came together to identify the key elements and actions that needed to be brought forward for prevention, response, and ongoing support.
Specific actions were identified under broad themes of addressing structural/state violence and racism, rebuilding strong and healthy communities through capacity-building and support, increasing and strengthening partnerships, and building awareness and accountability. We've provided all of this to you, this national action plan, and I encourage you to incorporate it into your findings.
In the preparations leading up to this joint event, we summarized recommendations from previous inquiries and studies, and I remarked that if we stacked up all of the reports and studies related to first nations justice matters and violence, this body of work would simply tower over all of us. We don't lack for reflection. What we lack is accountability, and what we lack is action.
When I and others met with the Prime Minister last January and spoke specifically about a national inquiry into missing and murdered women, he responded that he had not yet seen the evidence that another inquiry could make a difference. Instead, he wanted to know what actions should be taken. I've heard these words echoed since by the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
I want to be very clear with all of you tonight. The families who have lost loved ones—mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends—are not asking for more study to delay moving forward on what we know needs to happen. The AFN is not in any way saying that we sit back and not undertake the needed efforts now to stop violence against indigenous women and girls. Instead, I want you to know that a national public commission of inquiry is critical for accountability and to create change. What has prevented us from moving forward in the past? Has it been cost, negligence, or has it been oversight?
The children, families, and communities that have been indelibly marked by violence deserve answers and accountability towards the future, a commitment that we all strive to achieve safety.
I believe you have a unique and very powerful role and I urge you to use it for the best outcomes. Structural change and achieving true reconciliation in this country, overcoming decades of failed and oppressive laws and policy, will take time, but there are immediate actions this committee can recommend take place, actions that demonstrate the commitment and political will needed to create change.
These actions include the creation of an independent national public commission of inquiry on violence against indigenous women and girls with a focus on developing action plans to address violence and the factors that lead to it, one that is inclusive and reflective of the perspectives of indigenous women, communities, and the families of missing and murdered women.
We seek a clear and unmitigated commitment to taking action demonstrated through the creation of a national public action plan. Indigenous communities, organizations, provinces and territories, are advancing strategies to end violence, but without clearly articulated national goals and coordinated efforts led by the federal government these initiatives will not fully address the magnitude of response required to prevent and end violence against indigenous women and girls and bring accountability to the families of those who are missing and murdered.
Thirdly, there need to be immediate increased investments in front-line services and shelters on reserve and in rural areas so that every first nations woman and girl experiencing violence has access to immediate support. As well, there needs to be a coordinated focus on prevention among youth and across populations, with particular outreach to remote communities and, as was expressed, in the urban centres.
You've heard from police services, and our work has brought forward specific recommendations for police that are worth noting here and in your final report. Police services need to work together to produce verifiable numbers on incidents of violence against indigenous women and girls so that progress can be measured. Adequate sustainable resources are required for first nations police services. Compulsory protocols are needed between and amongst police services to share information and immediately respond to and appropriately investigate reports of missing persons by indigenous families.
In conclusion, addressing violence against indigenous women and girls is all of our responsibility: individuals, elected representatives, legislators, and police. I believe we know what the solutions are. What is needed now is the commitment, the will, and the leadership to get there.
Thank you.
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