Howard Charles Green
It reports that five of the lake ships have been sold to foreign flags.
Subtopic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
It reports that five of the lake ships have been sold to foreign flags.
Who sold them?
The reason given for the sale of these ships is that they are not able to compete with ships of faster speeds. That is the picture of what is going on. We pointed out many years ago that Canada should be building some of these faster cargo freighters, but at that time he laughed and scoffed at the idea. He said that these slow boats were good enough, that we shipped principally grain, lumber and bulk products, and that we did not need faster ships.
Now the shipping companies who got the Canadian merchant marine after the war are selling their ships because they are too slow, and because we need modern cargo vessels.
Mr. Depuiy Speaker:
Order. I would inform the hon. member that his time has expired.
I allowed the Minister of Trade and Commerce to make a statement in the middle of my speech.
The Address-Mr. Green Mr. Green: I shall be only about five minutes more, if I might be permitted to conclude what I have to say on this subject. Shipyards are becoming idle. In Vancouver, I believe, the numbers employed in shipyards have fallen from a total of something more than 25,000 during the war, to only 750. Seamen are losing their jobs.
After the few remarks I made in the house on Friday about merchant shipping, I received an air mail letter from a father in Vancouver whose boy has served five years in the Canadian merchant marine. That boy has a splendid record of service, and is taking a course in navigation at the present time. A letter from him to his father, dated at Baltimore, January 20, contains this paragraph:
We sure got a lot of depressing news here. The Canadian companies are selling their ships, and no more jobs. There is a ship with the Canadian flag at the next dock, she has English officers and an Indian crew, the pay and conditions are deplorable.
I think myself there will not be one Canadian crew in one year; so I am getting out, and going to New Zealand.
Time is precious in this matter; yet the government has no policy. I suggest that without further delay a construction program is needed. Modern dry vessels and modern tankers should be built. Canada has built them for other governments in the last year or two, but not one has been built by Canada for use in the Canadian merchant marine.
I suggest that 50 per cent or more of our exports should be carried in Canadian bottoms; that there should be a stipulation that annual overhaul of Canadian ships must be done in Canadian yards. We were told on the coast about Canadian ships having their annual overhaul in Japanese yards. With that sort of thing going on we can never build a Canadian merchant marine. There should be restrictions in connection with our coastal trade, and it may be necessary to have some provision for government subsidies.
Furthermore fair treatment must be given to Canadian merchant seamen. I said earlier in my remarks what I thought about the treatment meted out to Canadian merchant seamen who served during the war. We will never build up a merchant marine until we treat the merchant seamen right. For example, at this moment there is no labour representative on the Canadian maritime commission, although we were told there would be one.
Suppose we should have this war about which the government seems to be worrying so much. Then the merchant marine will once more be of the utmost importance.
Just to sum up on this question I say that a definite policy is needed, and needed quickly.
Those are the five subjects which I place before the government for consideration. I
150 HOUSE OF COMMONS
The Address-Mr. G. S. White have nothing further to say, but I do hope that each one of these subjects, apart from the one upon which the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) has yielded or acted already, will be given consideration quickly by the government.
Mr. W. E. Harris (Parliamentary Assistant to the Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, in view of the incorrect impression that might be created as to what I said at Brantford ten days ago, I should like to make it clear that, far from suggesting that war might come, I stressed the fact that the signing of the Atlantic pact would be the most effective step that Canada could take to protect herself against aggressors and to ensure the peace of the world. I expressed the opinion that the signing might take place within the next three months. I said that I did not believe that we would have war, nor did I suggest that I had any knowledge about the matter other than what is generally known. I did say that the agreement of the nations which would be evidenced by the signing of the pact would place such a preponderant strength on the side of peace that it was highly unlikely that any aggressor, including Russia, would try to make war after the signing. I emphasized that the pact was essential for the peace of the world and for the protection of Canada, and that its signing might even mark the beginning of better relations with Russia.
I take it that the hon. member was incorrectly quoted.
The leader of the opposition has no right to ask questions.
I have every right. When did the minister start to run this house?
I am not running the house; I am simply telling you what the rules are.
Mr. Harris (Grey-Bruce):
I have made my statement and I think it is quite clear to everyone, including the leader of the opposition.
Mr. G. S. White (Hastings-Peterborough):
Mr. Speaker, I should like to add my congratulations to the mover (Mr. Brown) and the seconder (Mr. Demers) of the address, and also to add my personal welcome to the new members who have taken their seats at this session, especially to the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew). We who live in Ontario realize that during the period the leader of the opposition was premier of Ontario, from 1943 until his resignation a short time ago, Ontario was given more progressive and advanced legislation than any other province in the dominion. During his regime as premier of Ontario great progress and advancement was made in the realm of education,
health, road construction, agricultural services, labour relations, conservation of natural resources and social services. In fact, Ontario today enjoys the most outstanding social services of all Canada, despite the ballyhoo to the contrary by the prophets from the province of Saskatchewan.
I was interested in the reply given by the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. McCann) to the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker) who asked if it was the intention to set up a committee in regard to income tax as it affected farmers, with a view to removing the injustices presently imposed on farmers. The minister replied that he was only going to consider the matter, but I hope in the near future he will set up this committee.
I can state frankly that as far as farmers in my section of Ontario are concerned they are up in arms over the payment of income tax. They have protested against the campaign now being carried on by the minister's department. Speaking in this house in the debate in 1947 I suggested to the minister that the then activities of his department with regard to the imposition and collection of income tax on and from farmers would lead to a serious reduction in the production of cheese and other dairy products in Ontario. The result has been that in the county of Hastings, the largest cheese producing county in the province, seven or eight factories have closed already and a number of others will not open for the 1949 season. The production of cheese throughout Canada has shown a serious decline. In the brief presented by the Canadian federation of agriculture to the royal commission on prices on December 14 there is the following comment with regard to the production of cheese:
The production of cheese showed a sharp downward trend from 1921 to 1934 (-3-6 per cent a year) and a strong upward trend (4-7 per cent a year) from 1935 to 1945. Production has since declined very sharply and in 1948 will be 28 per cent below 1947 and the lowest in 50 years.
In plain language, the average farmer is saying that he has no intention of milking cows for this government. The number of dairy cattle in eastern Canada has declined sharply and is still declining at a rapid rate. The brief submitted by the Canadian federation of agriculture sums up the whole situation for the farmer in a few brief paragraphs which I should like to quote. I quote from page two as follows:
Today the farmers of Canada are worried about the future. They see a price structure in Canada which has risen to the highest levels in 100 years. They were told that price control during the war would prevent a repetition of world war I inflation and thereby avoid the disastrous deflation which followed. Now it is becoming clearly evident that price control, effective as it was in the war years, resulted in postponing the evil day of inflation.
Generally speaking, we believe the great rise in prices of recent years is not due to the action of any one specific group or institution. We do not believe that the whole cause of the great rise can be laid at the door of exorbitant profits in business, or the high wages of labour, or an increase in the middleman's margin or the operation of speculators and certainly not on the doorstep of the farmer.
And then from page nine there is a paragraph headed, "Long period of cheap food", which reads:
The cold facts are, and they can stand to be emphasized before this committee, food prices were cheap relative to wage rates from 1931 to 1939 because prices for farm products were below the cost of production. The consumers' cost of food was being subsidized by the farmers for at least eight years before the war.
The concluding paragraphs in the brief are as follows:
We have shown that urban consumers have made great gains over the past 50 years in their food purchasing power per hour of work. Hourly wage rates in September of this year could buy about 60 per cent more food than they could in 1913, or 68 per cent more than in 1920, another year of inflation. It can still buy almost as much as in 1939, which was a year of cheap food compared with wage rates.
The farmer does not begrudge the gains of urban groups, provided the gains are not made at the food producers' expense, and provided these gains are in line with increases in productivity. The farmer had a strong suspicion that urban wage rates were seriously out of line with food prices and the prices for farm products from 1930 to 1939.
The facts as presented in this brief bear out this contention. This disparity was hidden during the war and early post-war period by special government action. We are not criticizing this action in this presentation. But the fact remains, and again it needs to be emphasized, that consumers in general became used to a relatively cheap food situation which could not endure under normal free market conditions. When consumers have to bear the full cost of production of farm products it is only natural that it should be quite a jolt to them.
The farmers reject absolutely any suggestion that the position of agriculture, labour or consumers can be fairly measured today by any reference to 1939 or 1935-39. Those were years of agricultural depression and years of above normal food purchasing power for consumers.
I would point out, Mr. Speaker, that there is absolutely no comparison between the hours that the farmer must work to earn $5 and the hours that a member of a labour union must work to earn $5. Yet in the computation of income tax both are taxed on the same basis. As has been mentioned so often before in this house, the farmer has always felt a grievance because he has never been allowed anything by way of deduction for the work that his wife and other members of his family perform on the farm. If the farmer sells pulp, wood products, sand or gravel, he must show the proceeds in his income tax return, but it appears to me that once the sand and gravel are gone there will not be a second crop. The same thing applies in a lesser degree to pulp and wood products. If the farmer sells a whole woodlot it is a capi-
The Address-Mr. G. S. White tal gain, but if he should take off ten per cent each year for a period of ten years he is taxed.
I should also like to mention to the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. McCann) that the item in the farmer's income tax return whereby he is taxed for produce raised and consumed on the farm is most irritating to the farmer. Why the minister and his department insist that this item be continued .s rather difficult to understand. Another irritation to the farmer in regard to income tax is the question of bookkeeping, and also the question of the deduction of income tax as far as hired help are concerned. The forms are still complicated despite the assurance we received from the minister last year that the 1947 form was to be a simplified one. Before this session opened I read in the press that we were to have another new form which is going to be so simple that anyone can fill it out, and no taxpayer will ever again have to consult an accountant or a lawyer. All I can say to the minister is that I hope the 1948 return will be an improvement over the form he produced in 1947.
Income tax rates are still most excessive. Many veterans have used their re-establishment credits, together with borrowed moneys, to go into business. The veteran is taxed on his earnings or income from the day he starts his operation. Today he finds himself in the position where he must repay with interest the money he borrowed. He must pay a heavy income tax. In many cases it will be years before the veteran is re-established.
Women working in cities find themselves in the position where they have an exemption of $750, a figure which today will not cover the cost of board, laundry and carfare, the bare essentials. I contend, Mr. Speaker, that the general rate of income tax should be reduced, that the exemption for a married man should be at least $2,500, and for a single person $1,250, together with an increase in the allowance for children and other dependents. The allowance of $300 for children over sixteen years of age, attending school or college, is almost absurd. I would ask any hon. member who has a boy or girl over sixteen years of age attending school or college how far that will go toward clothing and educating that child. We find that a wife is allowed an exemption of $750 and a single person the same. It has always been hard for me to reconcile why a wife should be allowed an exemption of $750 when, for a child going to school, and probably costing his parents more, the father is allowed an exemption of only $300.
I should like to commend the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. Sinclair) for bringing to the attention of this house the statements made by the member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Young). It appears to me strange
152 HOUSE OF
The Address-Mr. G. S. White that any member of parliament, who must at least have the respect and the confidence of his own electors to be elected to parliament, should make such slanderous statements, which, taken in a literal way, include every member of this house, including the members of his own socialist party. To me these tactics have a decided similarity to those adopted by the communists, a smear campaign to smear persons in positions of responsibility in a democracy, a tendency intended to discredit and destroy the confidence of the public in their elected representatives. The technique is well recognized as a part of a communistic program before they move in to take over a country. I have noticed in the press on various occasions how bitterly ihe socialists complain when anyone attacks their communistic policies, and how they adopt a holier-than-thou attitude when anyone attempts to compare their philosophy with that of Karl Marx. I for one sincerely hope that the hon. member for Vancouver North will persist in his announced intention to have the member appear before the committee on privileges and elections.
In a past session, Mr. Speaker, I brought to the attention of the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) the activities of the wartime prices and trade board in the county of Hastings. The village in which I reside has always been greatly honoured with very special attention from these official snoopers from the wartime prices and trade board. I am happy to report that their activities still continue. In some cases, in my opinion, they have been almost vicious. When one considers the persons who are prosecuted or persecuted, whichever way you wish to put it, one is forced to wonder and question at times whether or not there is a slight political tinge to the whole manner in which these prosecutions are carried out.
The board issues so many orders, regulations and directions that the average grocer is unable to keep up with the flood. According to a food bulletin issued by the board in November, 1948, there were in effect on the 15th November, 1948, fifty-two orders relating to the food trade. Of those fifty-two orders no less than thirty-nine were passed between the first of January, 1948, and the 15th November, 1948. The great majority of these orders were issued by the administrator. Once they are issued they have the force of law without ever passing through this house, which, after all, is at least supposed to approve and pass the laws to which Canadians are subject. The original order setting up the wartime prices and trade board, P.C.
8528, granted very wide powers to the board. In fact the very first words of this order in council are.
-the wartime prices and trade board regulations were made and established to provide safeguards under war conditions-
I say to the Minister of Justice (Mr. Garson) that it might be very interesting for his department to give a ruling as to whether or not the war emergency still exists. This original order also provides that the agents and servants of the board have the right at all times to enter upon any premises and inspect and remove books, documents or records of any nature. It further provides that all orders and regulations are effective merely after publication in the Canada Gazette, and also that servants and agents of the board are granted complete immunity for any act they may perform under these regulations. All this seems to me hardly consistent with recognized legal procedure in Canada. It sounds more like something we might expect under a gestapo order. These orders are simply mailed to the merchants, and it makes no difference whether or not they receive them, because they are bound by all the orders and regulations.
I should like to point out, as I have on previous occasions, what happens when these people descend upon your village. A short time ago I had occasion to defend a grocer who was charged with several violations of the regulations. The official snooper from this board called at a store, where he discovered several slight infractions. For instance, he found that oranges were selling for 30 cents a dozen whereas the ceiling price was 29 cents, a matter of one-twelfth of a cent on each orange. He found grapefruit selling at four for 25 cents instead of four for 24 cents, and canned fruit at a fraction of a cent over the ceiling. The investigator demanded the invoices covering these items, though it is always difficult for a grocer or anyone else to pick out an invoice and be certain that it covers the identical article on the shelf. In any event the investigator took the invoices away with him, but before leaving he obtained a statement from the grocer, without telling the grocer he was not obliged to sign it and, what was more serious, without telling the grocer that this statement would be used in court at a later date. This was not one of the printed forms used by the board; it was a statement written out entirely by the investigator.
In due time the grocer was charged and the matter came before the court. I appeared for the grocer and asked the magistrate for an adjournment because I did not have the invoices. I also asked the magistrate to
request the solicitor for the board to supply me with copies of the invoices; but the solicitor, who soon acquired all the arrogance this board has always possessed, said he was not obliged to furnish me with anything. Thereupon I wrote to the board at Ottawa, explaining the action of their solicitor, and the board replied advising me that they had instructed their solicitor to furnish me with the required copies.
It was also interesting to note that before the case came to court the solicitor for the board called on the grocer with a prepared paper which he asked him to sign, in which he would be pleading guilty. It has always seemed to me, Mr. Speaker, that any Canadian citizen must be presumed innocent until he is found guilty in a proper court of law, and that every citizen is entitled to his day in court. When the case came before the magistrate the investigator, with the assistance of his solicitor, attempted to file the statement he had obtained from the grocer. I objected to its admission, pointing out the well-known rules of evidence concerning the admission of any statement signed by an accused. The magistrate refused to admit the statement; and I was amazed to hear the investigator for the board say under oath that it was the practice of the board to obtain these statements while conducting their investigations and file them later during court proceedings.
It was also interesting to hear the investigator admit under oath that in the great majority of the stores he investigated he found some slight infractions of the regulations. He admitted that in my village he found such slight infractions in a number of stores, but that in very few cases prosecutions followed. As a lawyer I cannot follow the reasoning which dictates that in one village where there are ten merchants, all guilty of some slight infractions of the regulations, only one should be prosecuted, or persecuted, as you wish. Tactics such as these do not encourage respect for this law or these regulations, nor do they inspire any confidence in the manner this board enforces these price ceiling regulations.
As the final act in this peculiar case I was advised, on authority I would not question in the slightest degree, that two days after the case was heard the solicitor for the prosecution received instructions from the board at Ottawa to press for a fine of at least $100. These instructions had not been issued before the date the case was originally slated to be heard, and I can only assume that the board, with its usual autocratic methods, felt that any backbencher member of parliament who
The Address-Mr. G. S. White dared question or protest against any act of the board should be punished, and the only way he could be punished was to penalize his client. Fortunately, however, the case had been disposed of already, and the magistrate in his wisdom found the charges so trifling that the fine was merely nominal.
It does seem to me, Mr. Speaker, that there were many unusual features to this case, which however I presume must be the usual procedure. First we had the investigator taking away the invoices so that any solicitor who might be acting for the accused could not prepare his defence. Then he obtained a statement, contrary to all the recognized rules of practice. Then the solicitor for the board refused to furnish copies of the invoices. Then there was the action of that same solicitor in attempting to have the accused plead guilty. Finally there was the action of the board, after discovering that an opposition member of parliament was acting as solicitor for the grocer, in issuing instructions to insist upon a heavy fine. I notice that a committee has been set up to revise the criminal code, and as a sideline it might well devote its energies to improving and bringing up to date the procedure followed by the wartime prices and trade board in filing and carrying out prosecutions.
I would suggest to the minister that in all future prosecutions by this board, especially in my own village-which no doubt now will be persecuted more than ever-the well established and defined legal procedure be followed. It is very difficult for me to approve the attitude of this board in deciding who, among a large number of merchants all of whom may be guilty of some slight infractions, should be the victim, who should be persecuted. I would not even suggest that some slight political bias might enter into such a decision; yet I find that in my district, at least, those who have been prosecuted by this board are individuals who are and always have been opposed to this government.
I should like to concur in the remarks made by the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Green) about veterans affairs. I regret that the minister has decided not to set up the veterans affairs committee at this session, because I am sure he has received many complaints regarding veterans allowances, including a brief from the legion. These allowances at the present time are inadequate and I for one hope that the minister will reconsider his decision and yet decide to set up the veterans affairs committee during this session, if only to deal with allowances under the War Veterans Allowance Act.
The Address-Mr. L. Dionne
Mr. Ludger Dionne (Beauce):
Mr. Speaker, many hon. members have already spoken in this debate on the speech from the throne, and no doubt many others will take part in it. It is not my intention to elaborate on its text. In taking part in the debate, I do so with the intention of exposing a situation which, to my mind, is not in the interests of the Canadian taxpayers and which is detrimental to the practical and economical administration of the Canadian government.
This afternoon I had the privilege of hearing my colleague, the hon. member for St. James (Mr. Beaudry), suggest a reduction of the income tax by 50 per cent. I think we can go further than that. We have on our statute books provision for a special sales tax of 8 per cent on a good many manufactured articles. This tax brings to the Canadian treasury a sum varying between $350 million and $400 million per annum. This tax costs the Canadian taxpayers thirty cents for every dollar of processed raw material. Yet it yields to the treasury only eight cents. The difference of twenty-two cents goes into profit of the various intermediaries, according to their various stages in the distribution ladder. This fact is easily verified. The instance I am taking is that of cotton goods, a requisite in every household in Canada including my constituency. Let us look at the tax and profit history of a shirt. When selling $100 worth of shirt fabrics, the textile manufacturer must charge 8 per cent sales tax. This material is then billed at $108 as cost price to the shirt manufacturer. The shirt manufacturer doubles this amount for making the shirt ready for marketing. He thus bills at $216 these goods converted into shirts. The wholesaler adds a profit of 25 per cent to his cost of $216-namely, $54-which brings his sales price to $270. The retail merchant who pays $270 for the goods adds his profit of 50 per cent or $135 which, added to his cost of $270, brings the retail price to $405, which is the price the consumer must pay for these goods.
If there were no sales tax of 8 per cent collected at the source, the same scale of markup would work out as follows. The textile manufacturer would invoice his goods at $100, the shirt manufacturer would bill his shirts at $200. The wholesaler would bill the same goods at $250 and the retailer would make his retail price $375. In other words, the $8 which the government has collected at the manufacturer's shipping department now costs the consumer $30, the difference between $405, which is the retail price with the 8 per cent sales tax, and $375, which would be the retail price after allowing the same margins of profit but without the orig-
inal sales tax. This means that the consumer has, through the operation of the sales tax, paid $30 for what will bring $8 to the treasury. By the simple process of applying its 8 per cent sales tax at a different level of distribution, the government of this country could obtain the following results: not interfere with the margin of profit or the markup of any of the intermediaries of manufacturing or distribution; not modify the retail purchase price of any article of consumption, but increase its revenue by three and three-quarter times, and thereby eliminate the need of personal income tax to the extent of over one billion dollars a year.
The sales tax of 8 per cent at the source is yielding to the government a revenue of $400 million, in round figures. If the government collected $30 on the same goods instead of $8, they would get an approximate revenue of over one billion dollars, and nobody would be any worse off. Some hon. members may think it will create a problem to the govern-merit to collect the sales tax of 8 per cent on the retail level. This problem can be easily solved by compelling the retailers to put a stamp on the shirt. This stamp would represent 8 per cent of the retail price of the shirt.
I hope the government will listen favourably to this suggestion, because I cannot understand why they would any longer permit over one billion dollars to escape from the treasury and go into the cash of intermediaries who do not need it. With this huge sum of over one billion dollars the government could probably vacate the income tax field entirely.
How many times have I previously asked the government for income tax relief in favour of Canadian taxpayers. I will not repeat all I have said in previous years with regard to the income tax and the raising of the exemptions. Everyone here knows my views. This year I should like to add this. In the past I urged higher exemptions for the lower brackets. This year I am urging that all brackets can be almost fully exempted and by means which will represent no added burden to the taxpayers, either as taxpayers or as consumers.
I know that some people stick to the idea that the income tax is on our statute books until the end of humanity. They argue that it is the fairest form of taxation, owing to the fact that the higher the earnings of the individual the higher the taxes. The same reasoning applies to the sales tax. When a wealthy man buys a suit of clothes costing $100 he will pay $8 tax. When the poor man buys a suit of clothes costing $25 he will pay $2 tax. That is the favourite argument. Let me tell you that no matter how just in theory the income tax may appear to some people, it can never be entirely fair in its application, and
we cannot be deaf to the protests against it. Some provincial governments collect hundreds of millions of dollars through indirect taxes. You never hear very much criticism of it.
Let us take a package of cigarettes on which there is probably a tax of twenty cents. You never hear anybody complaining about the price of thirty-eight cents at which it is sold on the market. Why? Because the buyer pays for it in cash at the counter. If this package of cigarettes were sold at fifteen cents, and at the end of the year the government tried to collect $60 from the smoker who had bought 300 packages of cigarettes in the course of a year, you would probably hear the same recriminations as you do about the income tax. Why should the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) insist upon the income tax which displeases every Canadian citizen, and which in the case of the farmer particularly makes the laying of each egg, and the picking of each carrot, a bookkeeping operation?
Like every other hon. member of this house, I have been sent here by my constituents to serve to the best of my ability and in their interests. This duty impels me to suggest that the income tax legislation can be repealed, and at no cost either to my constituents or to the rest of the country. In suggesting the means I am only doing my duty and that which the responsibility my electors have placed upon my shoulders forces me to do.
I trust the minister and his officers will give more than glancing consideration to my suggestions. I stand ready to uphold that the welfare of each Canadian justifies it, and I can assure the minister that my constituents, by themselves, are sufficient reason why I should not cease my efforts in the field of taxation. If we can find other ways and means to tax our population without provoking their feelings, I think it is our duty to do so.
The income tax system is obsolete. As long as it applied to business firms exclusively, where reliable auditors had to sign income tax returns, the government had some reason to enforce it, because it could be taken for granted that most of the income tax returns were exact. But now that it applies to almost everybody it would be rather too optimistic to expect the same result. Consequently, when a law cannot be enforced with justice and fairness to all it must be discarded and replaced by some other more practical system. The system I advocate would eliminate the need for income tax and would not add to the burden of the consumer by one iota. It would, however, tell him exactly where his money goes. I believe that the Canadian citizen is big enough to take that with equanimity.
The Address-Mrs. Strum
Mrs. Gladys Strum (Qu'Appelle):
I wish to take this opportunity, in this our national health week, to discuss the nation's health and in particular the biggest health and treatment problem today challenging our medical men, and one for which we have not yet made any direct provision. I refer to that terrible cause of pain and heartbreak, the nation's number one crippler, arthritis. Twenty years ago tuberculosis stood in a position similar in many respects to that which arthritis holds today. Twenty years ago tuberculosis was little understood. It was greatly feared. There were few treatment centres, and these were so costly as to place them beyond the means of the average family. At that time the death rate from tuberculosis was 84-5 per
100,000 persons. There was not a single province which had free treatment for tuberculosis in any of its forms. Nor was there a province which had a ratio of three beds per annual death, the rate which is now considered to be the necessary ratio. While it was known that the best way to fight tuberculosis was through the use of X-ray, as far as the population as a whole was concerned such a thing was quite out of the question because the cost of X-ray at that time was prohibitive.
In 1926 the anti-tuberculosis league was formed, and it organized its first Christmas seal drive. In that first sale of seals they raised $91,312.75, and in the twenty-three years since that time we have seen a complete transformation in the field of tuberculosis treatment. There are now large and well equipped sanatoria in every province. Twenty years after the inception of the first Christmas seal drive the fund reached the million dollar mark, which was more than ten times as much money for preventive work as the initial drive had yielded. All over Canada this money is now used to conduct mass X-ray services for the early detection of tuberculosis infection.
Most of the nine provinces now offer free treatment for tuberculosis, and several of the provinces have attained the target ratio of three beds per annual death. The death rate has been reduced from 84-5 to 45'9 as the average rate for all of Canada. This rate varies, of course, from province to province, depending upon the length of time the tuberculosis program has been in operation there.
It is notable that those provinces which first undertook to pay the cost of treatment, and so relieve the patient of the burden of expensive care, have made the most rapid gains in reducing the death rate. These provinces, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario, all show high average sanatoria populations, compared with the average number of deaths, while provinces with high death rates had
The Address-Mrs. Strum smaller sanatoria accommodation. That is to say, Saskatchewan, which was the first province in Canada to institute the free tuberculosis treatment and subsequently establish a world record for treatment and cure, has now the lowest death rate; and I am happy to say now that we have more beds available than patients needing treatment. In spite of the slight increase due to the war years we have for the first time in our sanatoria empty beds waiting for patients, instead of patients waiting for beds.
Perhaps the most important difference between arthritis and tuberculosis is that tuberculosis, if untreated, means the death of its victims in a relatively short space of time. Arthritis, while being a crippler, is not a quick killer. Perhaps if it were it would have been taken seriously long ago. Perhaps because rheumatism symptoms are fairly widespread and are often confused with muscular strains and stresses we have accepted this burden of pain and suffering without question, and have permitted the disability to go untreated and unchallenged.
But how important is arthritis as a disease? We are happy to have now the results of the most recent attempt to determine the incidence of arthritis in Canada. The survey of November 1947 undertaken by the Dominion Bureau of Statistics at the request of the Department of National Health and Welfare is now before us. Again comparing arthritis with tuberculosis, while there are in Canada
30.000 people suffering from tuberculosis, according to the government survey, in November 1947 there were an estimated
652.000 people, or almost 22 times as many suffering from arthritis as from tuberculosis. This is a comparison worth noting.
The number of arthritic sufferers is more than the total afflicted with heart disease, cancer, tuberculosis and diabetes combined. Yet in Canada there is only one hospital for civilians, equipped for the specialized treatment of civilian arthritis. It is the hospital at Banff, and this hospital can treat only seventy-five patients, who must pay the cost of their own treatment.
I visited this hospital last summer. I was greatly impressed with the provision made there by the nursing sisters of the order of St. Martha. I was impressed with the story the patients told me of the relief they had had from pain, and of restored mobility of limbs through the use of various treatments and surgery. I was impressed beyond anything I had expected; and I could see that, if we could only establish treatment centres where we could get experience in treating large numbers of people to build up a history
of cases and to train personnel, the picture for arthritis would be far from hopeless.
Perhaps the hon. member
would permit me one observation. I am sure she would like to know that, under the new national health plan, funds have been placed at the disposal of the government of British Columbia to do that very thing.
I am glad to hear that, and I shall still ask that it be done for all the provinces.
The November survey carried out by the Dominion Bureau of Statistics has some very interesting facts about arthritis in particular. It reveals that 25 per cent of the persons with arthritis have had no medical advice or treatment whatever. The menace to Canada of this untreated disease represents the greatest single loss to industry. It represents approximately 20 per cent of persons suffering unemployment through illness. That is, 19-8 per cent of all persons laid off because of illness are laid off because of arthritis, according to our own bureau of statistics. This represents 22-5 per cent of all the time lost, because of the extended nature of the disease and the time during which people are out of industry and employment. The loss of days by both male and female employees represents the staggering total of 1.650,300 days during the period of the month of October for Canadian labour, or the equivalent of 5,501 years of 300 working days per year.
The Department of National Health and Welfare in its annual report of 1948 states:
Canada has today 4,800.000 gainfully employed persons. The sickness rate of this vital section of our population is estimated to he nine days per annum, and represents a loss of over $500,000,000 to the national income.
The cost of arthritis might be represented as 22-6 per cent or almost one-quarter of this staggering sum.
While this Canadian survey gives us a very valuable chart as to the prevalence of this painful and disabling malady, it does not recommend any program to alleviate or check its ravages. We are fortunate however in having a report suggesting such a program. I refer to the report by Lord Horder, and the plan for national action which he sets forth here. This report is the result of four years of research by the empire rheumatism council. This council conducted a campaign inquiring into the causes and best means of treatment of rheumatic diseases. It states:
From laboratory and clinical research, from observations of the work of various treatment centres at home, from a close examination by representatives of the empire rheumatism council into the methods of many of the rheumatic hospitals and clinics in Europe and in the United States, there has been gathered knowledge sufficient to suggest a plan of treatment on a national scale and of some
measure of prevention. The purpose of this document is to outline the plan and its medical and administrative aspects to show that it is possible of application without incurring vast expense and that its application would result in a reduction in the ravages of rheumatic diseases-such rheumatic diseases including rheumatism and arthritic cases.
The estimated number of cases in the United Kingdom and Wales is set at over a million, ant it is estimated that in Scotland alone there were 344,872 new cases yearly. In addition to the economic loss-the loss of days, the loss of wages and the loss of production-referring to the toll of pain the report states:
The toll of pain can be calculated on the assumption that almost every patient suffers, since pain is a characteristic symptom of most forms of the disease-pain so great in severe cases that medical practitioners sometimes have experience of patients praying for death as a release. The toll of disablement may be assessed from the fact that the basis of inclusion in the national health insurance figures quoted was incapacity to work on account of rheumatic disease.
I might add here that arthritic patients have told me that when they were first seized with the rheumatoid type of pain they were afraid they would die; later on they were afraid they would not. And as they became progressively worse and became chair cases, and in many cases blind, their condition was extremely sad and hopeless.
The report gives the findings of its investigations, and the evidence obtained thereby in relation to all aspects of the problem. This report, which I would recommend to all members, goes very fully into a classification of types in relation to causes, and stresses the need for the special training of physicians so that they may properly diagnose and classify the various types of arthritis, and recommend proper treatment.
It discusses glandular disturbances, physical injury and occupational causes which may be at the root of infection. It was found that some occupations seemed to provide conditions favourable to arthritis. The November survey by the bureau of statistics seems to bear this out. The women of Canada will be interested to learn that the largest single group comprises those keeping house, 41 per cent of the total arthritic population consisting of mothers or housewives charged with the great responsibility of holding the nation's homes together.
Agriculture, housewives, fishing, trapping and logging head the list of occupations in which the highest rates occur. Level of family incomes is also a factor of the greatest importance. The family income determines whether or not there will be enough of the protective foods; and in investigations carried on in England it was found that children coming from poor homes had three times as
The Address-Mrs. Strum much rheumatic infection as children derived from the same class but living in well-managed children's institutions and homes.
Any nation-wide attack on arthritis must include an attack on poverty because bad housing and inadequate diet are factors contributing to the incidence of rheumatic infections and have a bearing on the general health level and resistance of the people.
Climate also was investigated. I think we are all interested in this because we have the impression that if we could only go south, if we could only get to a warm climate or some place like Arizona or Australia, all the symptoms of rheumatism and arthritis might disappear. So climate was investigated in this empire association attack on arthritis. It was found that climate had very little to do with the incidence of arthritis. They investigated coastal and mountainous regions and hot, dry, arid climates like Arizona and Australia, but it was found that in every country there were the same problems and that there were large numbers of people afflicted in varying degrees by this universal crippler, arthritis.
This investigation of hot climates has suggested that the problem is not one of geography but is related more to industrial and occupational groupings. With regard to the treatment of rheumatic diseases-I do not think we can emphasize this too strongly- the report states:
It must be repeated that much of this sacrifice of human well-being is unavoidable; that there is no refuge in the excuse that, since medical knowledge of causes and of the most efficacious treatments is incomplete, nothing can be done. In the majority of cases a great deal can be done. Even if there were no hope of gaining further knowledge by research-which, emphatically, is not the case-yet the national application of present methods of cure and alleviation would lift much of the burden of rheumatic disease from the community.
The importance of early treatment has been emphasized by a Swedish authority who charted the percentage of cures in relation to the stage at which treatment was undertaken. He states that the results of the first year of treatment resulted in 79 per cent validity; after two years this diminished to 56 per cent and at three years it had dropped to 50 per cent. He defined "validity" as the restoration of the ability to work normally or diminished according to the period which had elapsed before the specialized treatment was taken.
What can we do in Canada to check this painful and crippling malady and to cut down heart disease which results from the unchecked course of rheumatic diseases? We can begin this year by appropriating a part of the budget surplus for assistance to the provinces in launching an all-out drive on arthritis. Our greatest contribution to the
158 HOUSE OF
The Address-Mrs. Strum health and well-being of the Canadian people can be made in this field because this is the greatest crippler we have, taking a toll much greater than the combined total for heart disease, cancer, tuberculosis and diabetes. I urge the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Martin) that it be included as a specific category for which grants in aid will be made to the provinces.
It is now included.
Is advantage being taken of it?
By some of the provinces.