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ARCHIVED - Minister's Response to the Speech From the Throne

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Speech for Leona Aglukkaq
Minister of Health
March 22, 2010
Ottawa, Ontario

Check Against Delivery

Mr. (or Madame) Speaker,

It gives me great pleasure to rise in this House to speak about the Speech From the Throne.

It sets forth our Government's agenda to get Canadians back to work and bring Canada back to a balanced budget.

It lays out a course for the future while acknowledging the need to stand up for those who helped build our country.

It also sets out to improve and protect the health and safety of our children.

Mr. (or Madame) Speaker, we believe that youth are the cornerstone of our communities. As such, one of our goals is to ensure our children enjoy a safer, healthier and more prosperous future.

Being fiscally responsible will help us better guarantee our continued prosperity and that of our children.

In order to help restore fiscal balance, our government will reduce stimulus spending once the Canadian economy has recovered; all the while protecting transfers directly benefiting Canadians.

And Mr.(or Madame) Speaker, on this note, I'm pleased to say that unlike past governments, we have maintained important health care support that Canadians need.

As the Speech makes clear, "Balancing the nation's books will not come ... by cutting transfer payments for health care."

And so Mr.(or Madame) Speaker,

While seeking efficiencies and savings within our own operations, we remain wholly committed to increasing the Canada Health Transfer by six per cent each year until 2013-2014.

By keeping our promises, and fulfilling this commitment to Canadians, we're providing much needed assistance for the benefit of our families and ultimately to protect and promote the health of Canadians.

As Health Minister, I know full well that health issues are not restricted to the delivery of health care. They extend throughout our society and economy.

Health matters when it comes to making sure consumer products are safe.

It matters when we buy food for our families. It matters when we buy medicine. And as we saw last week, it even matters when we buy a hockey stick for our kids.

Protecting the health and safety of Canadians and their families is a priority of our government. We believe Canadians deserve to benefit from stronger legislation that will ensure these products are safe.

We believe that producers and manufacturers should be held accountable for the safety of their products. And we believe that our standards should be improved to align with those of our major trading partners.

Canadian parents need to have confidence that their government will protect their children and will get tough on those who try and profit from dangerous goods.

As such, we will be re-introducing legislation to protect Canadian families from unsafe consumer products.

This legislation is long overdue and will replace the current 40 year old legislation - something that all Canadians deserve.

This means gaining the ability to recall products, such as children's toys, that are found to be unsafe.

We will be able to act more quickly - whether the producer agrees to do so or not.

Improved consumer product legislation would also require suppliers to report serious injuries or illnesses resulting from the use of their products.

This legislation will ensure that Canadian families have the information to make informed choices and will hold those who produce, import and sell goods in Canada accountable for the safety of Canadians.

It's unfortunate that Liberal Senators delayed and watered down the consumer product safety bill we introduced during the last Parliament.

So I urge the Members of this House, who provided their unanimous support during our last session, to act accordingly in supporting its swift passage through Parliament.

With this commitment to action, the Speech From the Throne commits to a safer future for Canada's children.

While health issues extend beyond our hospitals onto our store shelves and into our homes, they also extend to our playgrounds.

And on this note, the Speech From the Throne commits to action aimed at preventing accidents that harm our children and youth.

Last year, our Government took action to prevent childhood injury. This included changes in regulations to make cribs, cradles, bassinettes and corded window coverings safer for children.

We are committed to making communities and households safer places to raise a family.

As a result, I look forward to working in partnership with non-governmental organizations to develop a national strategy on childhood injury prevention.

This commitment builds on years of important thought, work and initiative; and as both federal Health Minister, and as a mother, it's my honour and privilege to see it through.

Mr.(or Madame) Speaker, I also commend the Throne Speech for recognizing the goal of realizing "the potential of Canada's North for northerners and all Canadians."

As prosperity and good health go hand-in-hand, I am pleased to see that the vision of the Speech is reflected in Budget 2010.

For example, I commend the temporary extension of the Territorial Health System Sustainability Initiative.

This initiative enhances territorial health responsiveness to Northerners' needs and to improve community level access to services.

As well, in my home territory, this funding supports Nunavut's Public Health Strategy, education and training programs for Inuit to enter health professions.

We are also investing an additional $45 million dollars to make healthy foods more affordable and more accessible to people living in Northern and Remote communities.

This will broaden the ability of Northerners to make healthier choices, and therefore live longer, healthier lives.

Mr. (or Madame) Speaker, I would like to highlight our commitment to Aboriginal health.

Effective disease prevention, health promotion and improved health outcomes for First Nations and Inuit are critical.

That's why our budget commits $285 million dollars over the next two years for the continuation of Aboriginal health programs.

In closing Mr.(or Madame) Speaker, as Health Minister, I commend the direction of the Throne Speech.

It confirms important health commitments to Canadians.

It reaffirms our commitment to modernising our legislation for consumer, therapeutic and food product safety.

And it builds on our focus on Canada's North.

It's for all these reasons and more that I urge all of my fellow Members to vote in its favour.

Thank you.