Gerry Rogers Question Period (03.21.2013)

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for St. John's Centre.

MS ROGERS: Mr. Speaker, last night Bill C-279, An Act To Amend The Canadian Human Rights Act And The Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression) was passed, explicitly protecting the rights of trans people, joining the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Ontario, and soon Quebec.

I ask the minister: Why is he not willing to amend our Human Rights Act to include gender identity? What is the problem?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly no problem, and I have never said that I am unwilling to do that.

I am very familiar that the federal government has made a decision to change their act. As I have said many times in this House to the member opposite, our current legislation around the provision of human rights for people in Newfoundland and Labrador provides for that same security and protection that the member is advocating for.

I have talked to the member on many occasions, just several days ago in this House as a matter of fact, and I am quite prepared to do that again as we need to. Currently, our legislation does not prohibit the protection of the individuals that the federal government referenced in their legislation last night, and I will continue to monitor that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. SPEAKER: The Member for St. John's Centre.

MS ROGERS: Mr. Speaker, his own Human Rights Commission is strongly recommending, in fact, that we do change our Human Rights Act. He is not listening.

Mr. Speaker, today my office was informed that we can longer contact the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program on behalf of our constituents.

I ask the minister: Why has she instituted this new policy to interfere with the work that I must do as an elected MHA on behalf of my constituents?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if anything happened when I was away yesterday, but there is no new policy up in my office that I am aware of. The same process that we always used for having your questions answered is the process that is in place today. If you have a question that needs to be answered, then there are two people in my office, an executive assistant and a liaison, and they were both there. They were not with me. You can contact them at any time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. SPEAKER: The Member for St. John's Centre.

MS ROGERS: Mr. Speaker, we were able to contact the drug program before directly, and as of today we can no longer do that.

Mr. Speaker, fifty-one-year-old Rosemarie Tulk has lost both legs to diabetes, and now risks going blind from diabetic macular edema. Her only hope is a series of expensive injections recommended by her doctors. These treatments are not covered by the Prescription Drug Program, so Rosemarie is forced to sit at home and go blind. She is afraid. These treatments are covered in other provinces and by 97 per cent of private user insurers and recommended by the Common Drug Review.

I ask the minister: Why can't this government help Rosemarie Tulk?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we spend over $150 million every single year through the NLPDP and we are very proud of that. Obviously, we can continue to put money into the NLPDP on a daily basis. We will never have all of the drugs covered, but all the drugs that are important to the people of this Province we have included on the NLPDP whenever and wherever we can. It is a commitment we have made; it is a commitment we have stayed with.

Mr. Speaker, we are proud of that $159 million investment. We will continue to invest in the people of the Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. SPEAKER: The Member for St. John's Centre.

MS ROGERS:: Mr. Speaker, Rosemarie Tulk is forced to sit at home and go blind. She is afraid.

Mr. Speaker, Eddie Gillard is a thirty-six-year-old construction foreman from Badger who desperately needs a liver transplant. He needs significant dental work done: $6,239 worth. The Province will cover only $1,400 worth of extractions. He cannot have this life-saving transplant without it. Eddie's Canada disability will be $826 a month. He has two children and his wife must stay home to care for him.

I ask the minister: Why is this required dental work –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS ROGERS: – not part of the transplant program?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we have $6.7 million in an adult dental program, one of the only provinces in Canada to do that. Mr. Speaker, if it was so important to the two parties on the other side, I have no idea why it was not even part of your election campaign, was not part of your platform even to do anything around adult dental. It was not considered to do anything around adult dental.

Now, Mr. Speaker, they get up and they criticize the $6.7 million that we are spending. We continue to invest in adult dental, Mr. Speaker, and we are going to continue to spend that (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!
One quick question without preamble.

MS ROGERS: Mr. Speaker, I ask this minister: What is the point of reversing and undoing the gains that were made by the new Adult Dental Program by creating yet another generation of people desperately in need of dental care?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.
MS SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, we brought in this program in response to the fact that absolutely nothing had been done.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MS SULLIVAN: That is the reason that we brought in the program, Mr. Speaker. We put into place something that can help thousands of people in Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker, and it has helped them. It will continue to help them, Mr. Speaker. That is more than I can say for people on that side of the House who did not even bother to include it in a platform when they were…

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Associated Caucus Members: 

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