May 31, 1946

SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON:

Would the minister try to do that?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. CLAXTON:

Yes, I will try to do it. The national research council has been established by parliament as the principal agency of the federal government to carry on research. My predecessor and I have discussed with the council whether or not that function of the national research council should extend to medical research. We have decided that medical research should be assisted through the national research council rather than through the Department of National Health and Welfare. We came to that conclusion because we felt that it was desirable that practically all support of research by the federal government should be coordinated through one institution. The national research council has done magnificent work in assisting medical research relating to the prosecution of the war, but to a very great degree its assistance to medical research in connection with diseases not associated with the war had to be suspended because of the shortage of doctors and technicians in Canada. The pressure on the available personnel in connection with the war really exhausted all their possibilities of rendering useful service in any other field. But that has now changed, and with the demobilization of men from the armed forces, together with the continued output from the medical schools, it is expected that the medical research division of the national research council will be called on to assist in a very much larger number of research projects of various kinds.

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNOWLES:

Is there any liaison between the council and your department?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. CLAXTON:

I was just going to say that that does not mean that our department is not interested, because we are definitely interested and we are in continuous consultation with the research council just as it is in consultation with us. The deputy minister of national health and welfare is also a member of the associate medical committee of the research council.

I ask hon. members if that is not the sensible way to do it rather than to try to set up a duplicating institute of research for the federal government. In view of the resources available in Canada, it is our view that the best way to do this job is to assist in programmes of research being carried on in the places which can carry it on and are carrying it on and have the equipment and the trained research workers.

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SC
LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. CLAXTON:

If we are wrong I certainly should like to know it, because then we might have to make some changes.

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNOWLES:

The way is all right, provided that full use is made of it.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. CLAXTON:

1 wish to say, too, that that is the way it is handled in the United Kingdom. The ministry of health there is a large ministry compared with anything we have in Canada because it renders direct service to the people; they have not a federal constitution. It has very great resources of personnel; it spends very large sums of money, and yet I understand that medical and public health research work is not carried out through the ministry of health but through the medical research council which does not come under the ministry of health but under three committees of the cabinet of which the minister of health is a member, but which report to the president of the council. I have had opportunities of discussing this with Sir Wilson Jameson, chief medical officer of the ministry of health, a distinguished public servant who came out on our invitation to discuss matters with us; also with Mr. Attlee and the president of the council. They have reached this conclusion based on their much longer experience in the field of public health than this department has had.

In the United States research work is carried on by the United States public health service in fields particularly related to public health. We do a certain amount of that work ourselves, either in our department or in other departments of the government. In addition, in the United States the public health service carries on cancer research through the national cancer institute which is located at Washington. I visited it and went all over the building with the director, and if hon. members of this committee could see the kind of equipment that is needed to organize research on cancer I think they would appreciate something of the nature and magnitude of the task before us. Cancer research is also carried on in the United States by a number

Supply-Health and Welfare

of teaching special institutions and institutes where large sums of money are spent, just as they are by the imperial research institute in the United Kingdom.

If I might develop the question with regard to cancer research for a moment or two, we know there is a very great deal of work being carried on in the field of cancer research. There is free interchange of experience and knowledge as they accumulate. If we were to start to establish an institute of the kind they have in Washington we would have to develop not only a great plant, which would duplicate the equipment there, but a trained staff which it would take years to gather. Then, if we accelerated our activities, we would be abreast of where the Americans are in this kind of project. That is not the only kind of cancer research.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

Would it not be worth doing, though?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. CLAXTON:

We in Canada have great scientists, great doctors, great research workers whose names are known throughout the world. Canada holds second place to no other nation in these fields. Where we can proceed most intelligently is to see that anyone who is reasonably qualified to do research work gets the assistance necessary to enable him to do it, and, in addition, we could give some scholarships or see that scholarships were given in order to increase the number of research workers qualified to work in Canada.

This brings me to the King George silver jubilee cancer fund, to which the hon. member for Lanark referred in his interesting and helpful speech. To that fund, which was raised in 1935, a substantial contribution was made by the federal government. It was set up under a trust deed, and the trustees have full power to spend the money from the fund as they may wish. The hon. member for Lanark referred to what I said last night and gave from my speech last year the expenditures which have been made so far and which have been almost entirely on educational work carried on either by the cancer committee of the Canadian medical association or the Canadian cancer society. In no year has more than $14^000 been spent. The expenditure was made in that way on the advice of the cancer committee of the Canadian medical association, because the trustees could not see how during the war money could be intelligently spent on research in cancer in addition to the money which was available from other sources. But that situation is changing. The trustees have been meeting; we have examined the whole situation, and we have had a number of sessions with representatives of the Canadian

fMr. Claxton.l

cancer society and the cancer committee of the Canadian Medical Association, as well as the others I mentioned earlier. In consequence, not only are we going to give assistance again this year-one year more-to the Canadian cancer society in connection with its educational work, but we shall hold out the possibility of making grants to those who want to do research work in this field. In addition, we hope to establish a number of fellowships to train research workers.

While these developments have been going on, we have been having active discussions in an informal way with various provincial ministers and deputy ministers. There has been, the most general kind of cooperation; and I hope very shortly to call a meeting of those interested at which the fields of activity of the various organizations interested in cancer control work will be defined as well as they can be without putting them in straitjaekets. The objective will be a programme of work in cancer, using all means, which will mobilize all the resources that can be mobilized within Canada and to see to it that we do everything possible to find the cause and the cure of cancer.

There are four ways in which money can be spent in work in connection with cancer. The first is in the education of the public, to which the hon. member for Weyburn referred. That is necessary. It is necessary that it be brought home to people that if they have any of the symptoms-a lump or a tumour or a persistent sore throat or any of the other things-they should consult their doctor; and a large part of the money so far spent by the Canadian cancer society has been spent in just that work. We believe that organizations like the Canadian cancer society can carry on that work effectively. If there is a general desire that the federal government should go into the work of publicizing the need of early discovery and diagnosis and treatment of cancer, that certainly will be considered, because I believe we could do an effective job in that field, but it would remain -with the house to say whether that is a proper activity for the federal government to undertake.

The second way is the training of doctors to specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. As I believe hon. members know, there are only three established methods of treating cancer: radium, X-ray, and operation. As yet, there are no other established cures. These are effective only if used early enough. It seems to me that this work of enabling doctors to improve their own ability in this field can best be done by the establishment

Supply-Health and Welfare

of fellowships, by work through the Canadian cancer society, the Canadian medical association, through hospitals, teaching institutions, clinics, the provision of refresher courses, and the like. Certainly the federal government should not enter into that field at all.

The third way in which cancer work can be aided is by improving facilities for the treatment of cancer. That, it seems to me, is peculiarly a matter of provincial responsibility.

The fourth way is in research and the training of workers to do research. I have already mentioned this in relation to the subject of research, and I have nothing further to add to what I said in that connection. But I think I might say this. I am informed that it is a generally held opinion among those who are competent to say that it is unlikely that up to this day anyone who is really competent to do research in cancer has been held up for lack of funds. That is substantially true, though there may be exceptions.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON:

What about Doctor

Davidson in Winnipeg?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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LIB
SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON:

The minister can say whether there has been any report as to the: success of the treatment.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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LIB
CCF

George Hugh Castleden

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. CASTLEDEN:

Have you made any surveys in that field yet?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. CLAXTON:

Yes; we have made extensive surveys and have plans laid out which will substantially improve the services rapidly.

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CCF

George Hugh Castleden

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. CASTLEDEN:

Are reports of these surveys available?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. CLAXTON:

As the hon member knows, a committee on Indian Affairs has been set up. I understand it is the intention of the committee to call officers of this department before it, and we shall make available all the information we have. When we come to surveys of some conditions among the Indians and Eskimos we still may have fairly sketchy material, but we shall make available all we have. While the results of our plans will not be spectacular at once, I hope that in a few years it will be possible to make substantial improvements in the health and welfare of our Indians and Eskimos.

Several hon. members have referred to the need for cooperation in this field. In my first speech in this connection I think I said, that cooperation was essential, as I have said the same thing to every other organization I have met in connection with the work of the department-. It has been my privilege to be invited to attend the annual meeting or other meetings of practically every organization working in' the field of health on a nation-wide basis across Canada. I have welcomed these opportunities and have gone to all these meetings with the hope of creating confidence and of establishing the foundation for real collaboration as well as cooperation. I believe that the general statements made by the officers of these associations have on every occasion, been supported by their members, and that their reciprocal promises of cooperation have shown by their works.

During the eighteen months that the department has been in existence, we have had, with very little exception, nothing but the heartiest and warmest cooperation from everyone working in the field. That applies to the

provincial officers, to the municipal officers and to the members of all professional and voluntary associations. This is one field in which there can be no room for competition. It has more than enough for everyone to do, and we have not failed to seek the assistance of everyone possible to make the best contribution we can to the work which we and they have in hand, namely, to see to it that as far as lies within our power we shall improve the health and welfare of the people of Canada.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. GILLIS:

I listened with a great deal of interest to the minister, and I have no doubt that he meant everything he said, but after listening to him I am reasonably sure that he is not going to get very much activity in the field of medicine in this country until the government- are prepared to tackle two problems. First, they have to face up to the British North America Act and get away from this business of passing the buck to the provinces. That is one stumbling block which will offset about 75 per cent of what the minister had to say to us this afternoon. I do not wish to leave any doubt in his mind as to whether he is getting improvement or not when he makes the kind of statement and paints the kind of picture with regard to the future of health in Canada that he has done this afternoon.

Second, there is another problem that the government will have to face up to. They are going to have to tackle the drug manufacturers of the North American continent. There is a straight monopoly in drugs. The medical profession is largely hampered in putting on the market drugs that are already available in a form in which they could perform some service, because the drugs are pigeon-holed, curtailed, and kept off the market by the drug monopoly which exists on this continent. These are two things which will completely hamstring everything the minister had to say this afternoon.

I am not going to go into the matter of health in Canada. I think it is well known, and it- leaves much to be desired; but the federal government will have to face up to the two questions I have just mentioned.

With regard to this question of research the minister's statement also left me rather cold. He outlined so much machinery he is going to set up that his department will be completely fenced in, and he will not be able to break out of that ring. There is too much of it. It is like a committee. If you get twelve men on your committee, particularly if you include two lawyers, and want the committee to do a specific piece of work, the twelve men

Supply-Health and Welfare

start arguing and fighting and you get nothing done. If you boil it down to a couple of men, they will perhaps do something and ' bring in some sort of comprehensive report.

I am going to mention one specific matter on this question of research, following the point raised by the hon. member for Vancouver South. He asked the minister a specific question with regard to arthritis; what was being done and could be expected to be done. He gave the minister a golden opportunity to make a long speech, but he wound up without giving the committee very much information as to what would be done on the question of arthritis. The minister would lead me to believe, in his discourse to the committee, that he is pinning his hope on research to be conducted in Canada and the United States, and is not going beyond the borders of those two countries.

In June, 1944, as the Minister of Veterans Affairs will remember, I raised the question of arthritis in this house and pointed out that a drug known as ACS had been perfected in Russia which was guaranteed to cure arthritis and allied diseases. At that time I asked the minister if he would make some inquiries into the matter, pointing out that arthritis was responsible for the loss of more man-days in industry in this country than any other disease, and that, in addition, a large number of our ex-service personnel, particularly from the first war, were badly crippled, that our hospitals were filled with them. The Minister of Veterans Affairs, always cooperative, did what he could at the time by way of making inquiries and informed me that he could get very little information on the matter. Well,

I took time off to write the Soviet embassy in Ottawa, who referred me to the Mission of Alliance of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies of the U.S.S.R. in the U.S.A.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE:

I was referred there also.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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May 31, 1946