Hon. BROOKE CLAXTON (Minister of National Health and Welfare):
This item of $90,250 relates wholly to an educational campaign that was conducted last year by the department in an effort to combat venereal disease. A meeting was held as far back as 1943 and a special committee was set up composed of representatives of the armed forces, the provincial departments of health, other interested parties and the dominion health council. These meetings led on to a meeting on August 9, 1944, at which this special campaign was decided upon, and the campaign was authorized by an order in council passed the same day.
The campaign consisted of newspaper advertising, radio programmes, publicity by way of films and other educational material along the same line. It was worked out by the department in cooperation with other government departments and the armed forces. This was carried on under the direction of my predecessor, the present Minister of Veterans' Affairs. The result of the campaign was that public opinion was awakened, and we believe that it helped to create more favourable conditions for the provincial and other agencies to tackle the job. There has been close cooperation between the division of the department having to do with venereal diseases and the provincial health officers and the armed forces.
Supply-Health and Weljare
The 'hon. member asked what the present situation was with regard to this scourge. I think I can say that there has been a steady and fairly marked improvement with regard to venereal diseases in the army and other armed forces since 1942, and we believe also that there has been a considerable improvement in the civilian population. Statistics of venereal diseases in this country and in all others are notoriously unreliable because of the failure to report all cases, and so it is really impossible to say -with any accuracy what the situation is so far as the civilian population is concerned. The belief is that there has been an improvement.
Since I had nothing to do with the planning of the campaign which was entirely to the credit of my predecessor, I think I can tell the house that the publicity was very well received throughout the country. It met with approval in other countries and several foreign health authorities have indicated that they would like to use the same material in similar campaigns.