Question Period: Supporting Maternal Health

Member's Statement: Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP): Mr. Speaker, this Sunday is Mother's Day. As we celebrate, mothers in other places across the globe are at risk. Over 300,000 women die each year due to pregnancy or childbirth-related complications, yet maternal, newborn and child health accounts for only 3% of global aid.

While New Democrats applaud that maternal and child health will be a priority at the G8 summit this June, it is disheartening to know that the government refuses to fund the services necessary for maternal and child health, including a complete range of family planning services that include access to safe abortion. The government has made it abundantly clear what services and initiatives it will not fund, but it has not been equally forthcoming about what it will fund.

On Sunday, as we honour our mothers and caregivers, the greatest gift the government could give to women in Canada and around the world is action. We have had enough empty promises. We need the fulfillment of these promises, concrete commitments and leadership to ensure the health of mothers and children here in Canada and around the world.


Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the government's talk about leadership on maternal health issues has to date been completely hollow and regressive. First, it took a divisive and ideological stance on abortion, putting Canada out of sync with its G8 partners. Now we learn that the government as failed to respond to an invitation to the Women Deliver conference on maternal health in June, just weeks before the G8 summit.

Will the government actually put Canada in a leadership role on maternal health and attend this conference or is this just more Conservative ideology on abortion?

Hon. Bev Oda (Minister of International Cooperation, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I can report that I will be attending the conference referred to.

Canada has a leadership role in saving the lives of mothers and children. In fact, today, unfortunately, 340,000 mothers will die. We know what we can do. We can prevent those deaths. We have the experts telling us. We have cost effective, known remedies to prevent deaths and that is what Canada is doing in a leadership role.