Statement made on 16 February 2011 by Senator Art Eggleton
Hon. Art Eggleton:
He said: Honourable senators, I will take only a minute to tell you a bit about this. A letter was received by both myself and the Deputy Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, Senator Ogilvie, from the Minister of Health, the Honourable Minister Leona Aglukkaq, asking us to look at the health accord pursuant to section 25.9 of the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act.
That act provides for the review of the ten-year plan to strengthen health care that was adopted in 2004. It provides for three-year reviews, the first to take place in March of 2008, and that was in fact conducted by the House of Commons committee at that time. The second review is the one referred to in this motion. The minister has asked our committee to carry out that review, so I recommend to the Senate that we do so.
This is an extremely important issue for Canadians. The accord will expire in 2014 and there are a number of key issues that need to be looked at. They were looked at in 2008 and will be looked at again. They include reducing wait times; improving access; strategic health human resources, an action plan on doctors and nurses, et cetera; home care; primary health care reform, including electronic health records and telehealth; access to care in the North; the national pharmaceutical strategy; prevention and promotion in public health; health research and innovation; accountability and reporting to citizens; and dispute avoidance and resolution. Those are the 10 main components of the accord, and we are designing our meetings around those 10 main components, but obviously, it is a wide-ranging examination.
The study will commence, if approved by the Senate, before March 31, which is what is required by the legislation, but we will take a little extra time to do all of this. We anticipate having about a dozen meetings, and we will have the hearings completed by the summer adjournment, which would be about the middle of June. The report would be prepared over the summertime and presented in the fall. That is, of course, if we do not have an election, which would bring everything to a halt, should it happen. That is the schedule we are working on, and this resolution gives us to the end of October to file a report.
This says a great deal about our Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee as well as the Senate in general in terms of the quality of reports and studies that are done. This particular committee, under its previous chair, Senator Kirby, prepared some well-regarded reports on health care and on mental health issues. We certainly want to continue that tradition by providing a quality report. We want to contribute well to a national conversation about these major issues on health care that we face in the years ahead.
With that, I move the adoption of the motion.