Tag Archives: Leona Aglukkaq

Aglukkaq might as well be talking about car washes and kittens

We’ve noted several times the absence of Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq when it comes to media inquiries about issues within her jurisdiction.

Her performance in Parliament likely gives us a good illustration why.

The absence of a renewed Federal-Provincial health accord has raised considerable discussion over what the role of the federal government should be.

The 10-year 2004 accord set a number of national objectives for the provinces and federal government to work towards, the most prominent being wait times.

It is therefore reasonable for the opposition to ask questions when the Health Council of Canada — set up to monitor that accord — starts throwing up warning flags that achievements in reducing wait times are beginning to erode.

Responding to a question from NDP health critic Libby Davies, Aglukkaq cryptically responded that the problem was really two Quebec NDP MPs who were having trouble paying their back taxes.

“Our government is making record investments in health care, including new e-health initiatives I announced some time ago,” Aglukkaq told Parliament. “It is Canadians who pay those taxes. When members of the NDP caucus do not pay their taxes, it takes money away from services Canadians value, like health care. It is bad enough that they vote against health care investments, but now we know that some members of their caucus are not even paying their fair share of taxes.”

Aglukkaq might have well answered by talking about car washes and kittens for all the relevance her answer contained.

Continue reading

Federal health minister missing in action (again) during major conference on drug coverage

Jeff Connell (Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association) says Ontario spend $24 million more than they needed to by delaying adoption of the generic version of just one drug -- Crestor -- into the provincial formulary.

Jeff Connell (Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association) says Ontario spend $24 million more than they needed to by delaying adoption of the generic version of just one drug — Crestor — into the provincial formulary.

OTTAWA – Experts came from as far away as France, the United Kingdom and even New Zealand. Politicians from both the NDP and Liberals were there, as well as academics and policy-makers from across Canada. But Leona Aglukkaq, Canada’s Federal Minister of Health, couldn’t travel the few blocks from Parliament Hill to Ottawa’s National Hotel to participate in a national forum on pharmaceutical policy.

She might have been excused had her schedule not allowed her to come, but her letter to organizer Michael McBane stated “the subject matter of this conference has to do with health care delivery, which is a provincial and territorial responsibility.”

The question is, why is Aglukkaq so blatantly misrepresenting the Federal government’s responsibilities around both health care and pharmaceutical policy?

As we pointed out yesterday, the Federal government is the fifth largest direct provider of health care in Canada. They have a constitutional responsibility for health care to both First Nations and Inuit communities. They also have a responsibility to provide health care to specific groups within society, including veterans, refugees claimants, federal inmates, the Canadian Forces and the RCMP.

Forgetting even all of this, the Federal government also has a very specific role around pharmaceuticals, including approval and labeling of new prescription drugs as well as patent rights. They also regulate prices.

There is a sign here on Wellington Street that tells visitors the distance to both war and civilization, a reference to the two major museums. War is closer. Had the conference been about the war on drugs, rather than how to make civilization with a national Pharmacare program, the Feds might have actually been here. While the Federal Minister shows no interest in the savings that could be reaped from a national drug plan, the Federal government has been active in sending support to Mexico to fight the war on drugs.

This is not the first major conference on Pharmacare Aglukkaq has absented herself from. Representatives from industry, patient groups, labour, and even the Conservative-friendly National Citizen’s Coalition were in Vancouver earlier this year to discuss how we could better coordinate a national strategy to provide universal coverage to Canadians for prescription drugs.

Guess she had something else to do that week too.

Continue reading

Ontario gets worse grade than feds on CMA report card

Ontario is the only region in Canada to receive a worse rating than the federal government on how it deals with health care according to the Canadian Medical Association’s National Report Card for 2012.

The report card represents a poll of Canadians conducted in July by Ipsos Read Public Affairs.

Given most Canadians likely couldn’t name the Federal Health Minister, Ontario’s inferior ranking is a curious result.

Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq has been largely invisible to the public. When questions started getting asked about the federal response to the Sandoz drug shortage, for example, Aglukkaq was largely missing in action.

Despite federal sponsorship of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, Aglukkaq was a bit player at the launch of the Commission’s strategy earlier this year, her speech uninspired, her commitments no more than a nod to fund ongoing research.

Continue reading

Saturday Diablogue story pile-up

In sports they call it plays of the week. For us, it’s just our way to address the pile up of issues surrounding health care this week.

Labour issues are very important to us given OPSEU presents more than 41,000 members who work in our health system, about 700 more having voted to join us in just the last month. They include health care workers at such diverse locations as Orillia’s Soldier’s Memorial Hospital, London Health Sciences, the Oshawa Health Centre and Trellis Mental Health and Development Services, located throughout much of Southern Ontario. Therefore the Ontario PC white paper proposing changes to the province’s labour laws certainly caught our attention. What was more surprising, as our translator pointed out, is the Tories rushed it out in English only. Do the Tories understand there are more than 580,000 francophones who live and vote here? The PC web site offers no French button like we do here at Diablogue.

Canadian Blood Services has announced it is opening a second National Contact Centre (NCC) in Saint John, New Brunswick. The announcement follows CBS’ closure of its blood distribution centre in that city earlier this year. The present NCC is in Sudbury, Ontario. CBS Chief Operating Officer Ian Mumford says Saint John was chosen because of the presence of a bilingual workforce, although the city of 128,000 (metropolitan) is one of the more anglophone parts of the province. It has a large cross at the tip of the downtown peninsula celebrating the arrival of the Irish. The most recent census shows a little over 5,000 residents who have French as their mother tongue. Did Mumford confuse Saint John with Moncton? Mumford also says a second national call centre is necessary “for business continuity,” suggesting that “in the event of a crisis, people who need to contact Canadian Blood Services will always be able to do so.” Crisis? This is a phone centre that handles both inbound and outbound calls with donors and arranges appointments for the donation clinics. Ontario politicians may want to pay attention to the jobs, as Mumford is stating the current contact centre work will be redistributed and that additional information will be provided after a “more detailed staffing analysis is complete.” CBS closed its Thunder Bay operation in April of this year, shedding about 25 northern jobs.

Continue reading

Can Canada’s first mental health strategy really find buy-in from the provinces?

At the very end of the launch of Canada’s first ever mental health strategy, a reporter asked Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq if the government intended to seek uniform mental health services across the provinces.

Senator Michael Kirby jumped in, saying there never has been uniformity. The level of access to services presently varies between provinces. Some will need to do more than others. The gaps were different.

Dr. David Goldbloom, the new Chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, said the recommendations were meant to be at a high enough level that they could be shaped by the individual provinces.

The presenters had begun the presentation by describing the strategy in historic terms; the reality became clear by the end that there was a considerable job ahead to sell the provinces on one guiding path forward.

Continue reading

Drug crisis: Where is Leona Aglukkaq?

Canadian hospitals are scrambling to find sufficient quantities of certain generic drugs after the manufacturer recently slowed down production at its three Sandoz North American plants, including one in Boucherville, Quebec. The company is doing so to address issues raised by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Last November the U.S. FDA issued a warning letter to Novartis International stating the Canadian plant failed to follow appropriate written procedures designed to prevent microbiological contamination of drug products purporting to be sterile.

In the November 18, 2011 letter, the FDA stated specifically of the Boucherville plant “your failure to implement corrective actions and prevent future recurrence is indicative of an ineffective quality system.”

So where is Health Canada on this? Health Canada also inspected the plant AFTER the U.S. FDA and said they found no issues.

Continue reading