Member's Statement: Irene on support for maternal and child health

Mr. Speaker, Two weeks ago, this government presented a budget in which it claimed that maternal and child health worldwide would be a priority of Canada’s G8 and G20 Summit year.

But as this government proposes to lead a global campaign to improve the health of women and children overseas, federal cash for troubled pregnancies and newborns in Canada remains in short supply.

Funding for the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program – which serves poor, isolated, vulnerable women, many battling substance abuse, and has resulted in fewer premature births, better birth weights and generally healthier babies, all at significant savings for health-care budgets in 2,000 Canadian communities – has barely budged in a decade.

The budget for the program was $25 million in 1999 and, by 2009, it increased by just $2.2 million. After a decade of inflation, that means an effective cut of $4 million; it certainly doesn’t reflect the success of the program, nor does it account for population growth.

Will this government lead by example and make maternal and child health a priority in this country?