CARP Reports on the H1N1 Emergency Parliamentary Debate

Stating that all Canadians who want the vaccine would be able to receive it by April, she argued that the government always knew it would not be able to deliver all of the doses of the vaccine at once and that it would have to be rolled out in stages. Furthermore, Conservatives argued that there were two limiting factors at play: the speed at which the supplier GlaxoSmithKilne could produce the vaccine as well as the speed at which the Provinces could deliver them to the population. The Provinces, ultimately, are responsible for healthcare delivery, they argued.

Liberal MP Bernard Patry called on the government to take specific action: “The Liberal Party of Canada implores the Conservative government to use part of the $400 million set aside in the 2006 budget for intervention in the case of a pandemic. Yes, we are in a pandemic situation now.” He said.

In the end, the Conservative government maintained that the amounts that have been allocated in previous budgets and to date have adequately prepared governments to handle a flu epidemic. Conservative MP Rob Clarke noted that there were already plans in place outlining the specific responsibilities of all levels of government and that money had already been allocated for influenza pandemic prevention in previous budgets including budget 2009.

“There has been more vaccination delivered per capita than any other country in the world. I think we should be telling Canadians how proud we are of the role that our health care workers are playing along with the excellent work of the Public Health Agency of Canada.” Said Conservative MP Patrick Browne.

What is an emergency debate?

Until the turn of the century any House member could introduce new business by moving the adjournment of the house. This invariably led to a debate over the adjournment motion and would have the effect of interrupting the business before the House, disrupting the day’s program.

In 1906, new rules were created for what is called an “emergency debate”. Such a debate can be initiated in the House when a Member requests leave from the Speaker to make a motion for the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter requiring urgent consideration, relating to a genuine emergency.

If the request is granted by the Speaker, the House is permitted to debate the topic at an early opportunity, forgoing the usual 48 hours’ notice period. Whether or not to grant the request is a matter determined by the Speaker based on pre-determined criteria that the matter should be of immediate concern throughout the nation and should not be considered a of partisan or continuing concern.

The Standing Orders provide that an emergency debate must occur between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 12:00 midnight on the day a request for one is granted, unless the Speaker directs that the motion be considered the next sitting day at an hour to be specified. Fore more information on emergency debates, click here

Keywords: H1N1, costs