March 22, 1910

CON

Frederick Laurence Schaffner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SCHAFFNER.

AVould it not be far more satisfactory to have an officer inspect these immigrants on their way over? He could certainly make a far more thorough inspection. The minister will agree that it is impossible to make a thorough inspection of these immigrants as they are passing out of the boat, as I have seen it done at Halifax. I think they come out at the rate of five or six a minute. Why could not we have an officer on the boat all the way over who could make a thorough examination?

Topic:   IMMIGRATION ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Air. OLIVER.

The onlv reason is the large expense. As I have already said, I think if we take the condition of the immigrants arriving this year since we have had our administration fairly tightened up, so to speak, and compare it with the condition last year, it will be found that our present system of inspection is fairly satisfactory. I think it would be generally agreed that really we do not require to go to the very large additional expense that would be involved in making the still more thorough medical inspection of immigrants that the hon. gentleman suggests. We have impressed the steamship companies very strongly that they cannot get undesirables through, and therefore they do not try to bring over undesirables as they have done in former years. Once they get that idea thoroughly grounded in their minds, we will have very little difficulty with undesirables. I may Say that in somei cases, in order to facilitate the work, we put a medical inspector on board the winter boat that calls at Halifax, and he inspects on that boat on its way to St. John. In the summer also, in the case of one of the steamship lines, we put on an inspector at Rimouski, and he inspects all the way to Quebec. That is not done on all the

lines, but we do it in connection with one of them. The system has its advantages, although it adds somewhat to the expense because it takes up more time of the medical officer, and it adds also to the expense of the steamship company, because we make them bear the cost of transportation.

Topic:   IMMIGRATION ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

Frederick Laurence Schaffner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SCHAFFNER.

Could the hon. gentleman say off-hand how much the medical inspection cost last year?

Topic:   IMMIGRATION ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

I could not. The committee will understand that questions of administration come up more pertinently when we are dealing with the estimates, at which time I would have the advantage of an officer of the department at hand to furnish me with facts and figures. But if it is desired, I can secure the information and present it.

Topic:   IMMIGRATION ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

Frederick Laurence Schaffner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SCHAFFNER.

One more question. I think all these ships bringing over immigrants have a medical inspector of their own on board, have they not?

Topic:   IMMIGRATION ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

Yes.

Topic:   IMMIGRATION ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

Frederick Laurence Schaffner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SCHAFFNER.

Why could not some arrangement be made with the ship's medical officer to inspect immigrants for the government?

Topic:   IMMIGRATION ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

I think I have had already occasion to say that we do not feel warranted in accepting the examination of the ship's physician when he would be responsible to the transportation company and not to us.

Topic:   IMMIGRATION ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

Thomas Chisholm

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. THOS. CHISHOLM.

I think the minister might try the experiment of putting a medical officer on one or two of those boats next summer, and let him report, not only in regard to the physicai condition of these immigrants, but also obtain some idea of their object in coming over, Whether they intend to become farmers, or farm labourers, or what they intend to do. I think the same medical officer who inspects them in regard to health could also ascertain a great manv things about them in other respects, and make a report to the government that would be useful. I am satisfied it is impossible to make a proper examination of patients coming off the boats as they do at the present time, any medical man understands that. Take a case Where the physician examines a man in the morning for tuberculosis, he examines him with a thermometer and perhaps finds the temperature normal, while in the evening that same patient might have a temperature of 102. I understand that the way the immigrants are examined is simply by looking at them. That certainly is not satisfactory, because it is quality and not quan-Mr. OLIVER.

tity that we are looking for. I think the minister has improved the conditions a great deal, and I am sure he would like to improve them still further, but not being a medical man, he does not understand the difficulties. I am sure we are allowing in a great many diseased persons from abroad that could be kept out if we had an officer on board the vessel coming over. I agree that he should be responsible to this government. More than that,- his report should be published in a blue-book so that members of parliament could read it. But it is utterly impossible properly to examine immigrants in the short time allowed the inspector.

I have spent myself a whole day, from daylight to dark, examining eight or ten or fifteen patients, and been very busy. But here we find an officer putting through perhaps 500 persons in the same time. The thing is utterly absurd. I think the minister should try the experiment of putting a medical officer on one or two of those boats, it would not cost a great deal. I am sure if he did so the result would be so satisfactory that, notwithstanding the extra cost, he_ would continue the practice, and would also insist in getting other information about these immigrants. The physician could ascertain in regard to their moral standing by keeping his eyes and ears open, and he could learn a great deal about them which would enable him to judge whether they should be allowed in or not. I think he could be very busv the whole four or five days during the passage in examining the incoming immigrants.

Topic:   IMMIGRATION ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS.

I certainly agree with the Minister of the Interior when he says that the physician who makes the medical examination on board should be under the authority of this government. The expense, of course, must be considered, but I think the suggestion of the hon. member for Souris (Mr. Schaffner) is an excellent one, which could be carried out without very great expense. While I agree with the minister that it would not do to accept the examination of the ship's doctor, because he is not responsible to the government, and abandon the inspection by a medical officer on this side, it should be possible to have an arrangement for a. comparatively small sum, with the ship s doctor, so that he could make a general inspection and give to our medical inspector a note of certain cases which would attract his attention, as calling for special examination. .

Topic:   IMMIGRATION ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

I do not like to oppose my view to medical opinion, I do not take up that view of the matter. I do not often have to disagree with my own side of

the House, but I do not think it wise to have the medical officer of the ship either take upon himself to decide or to assist in deciding whether these people are fit immigrants. No man can serve two masters. A ship's doctor is employed by the shipping company and he cannot hold that office if he serves Canada in the capacity suggested.

Topic:   IMMIGRATION ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB
CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

The shipping company is interested in forcing as many people into Canada as possible.

Topic:   IMMIGRATION ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS.

But they are interested also in bringing in healthy ones, inasmuch as they are put to the expense of taking them back if they are not healthy.

Topic:   IMMIGRATION ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

That is true, but you are dealing not with people coming to the ship, but with people in the ship, and the question is whether they shall be allowed to enter Canada. It is to the interest of the ship's medical officer to sustain the company he is working for.

Topic:   IMMIGRATION ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

By section 26 of this Act we require that the master of the ship shall furnish the immigration officers a bill of health, certified by the ship's medical officer, giving particulars of the state of health of the people on the ship. That report is in the hands of our medical officer, as something to be taken into consideration.

Topic:   IMMIGRATION ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

Edward Guss Porter

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PORTER.

Are many immigrants who have been passed by the ship's doctor rejected by our officers and returned?

Topic:   IMMIGRATION ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

Hitherto we have really not had such a report from the ship's doctor.

Topic:   IMMIGRATION ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

Does not the report of the ship's doctor refer more to contagious or infectious diseases?

Topic:   IMMIGRATION ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

This section will call upon him to give a statement as to the

health of every passenger who is ill.

Topic:   IMMIGRATION ACT AMENDMENT.
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March 22, 1910