February 12, 1934 (17th Parliament, 5th Session)


Henry Elvins Spencer

United Farmers of Alberta


I will come to that. I know full well that the federal government does not undertake to take care of the full health program, and for that reason provision for only a limited amount of money for health purposes is placed in the estimates. Looking at the estimates for the year 1928 I found that while we were spending only 8900,000 for health we made provision for the expenditure of $1,800,000 on penitentiaries. In the estimates presented this session we are spending $2,833,000 on penitentiaries and, so far as I can ascertain we are spending only $830,000 on health.
Dealing with another aspect of the situation, may I remind hon. members that a few years ago in our twenty-three universities 9,525 students were enrolled, while at the same time in our fifty-two mental asylums we housed no less than 25,259 inmates. This, in itself is a serious situation and one which should be given very serious consideration. We recognize to-day that generally speaking city people are healthier than people in the country. That is exactly the reverse of the situation that obtained a few years ago, and it has been brought about because in the cities there

Federal Health-Mr. Spencer
has been a certain amount of definite health organization. For that reason the health of the city people has been kept in a better state. 'Country people, who are without that care, are suffering a higher death rate and a higher rate of sickness. Quite properly the federal government takes care to keep out of the country all people suffering from any serious illness. Surely, if they recognize their responsibility to keep sickness out of the country they must recognize a responsibility to keep in good health those people inside our borders.
Undoubtedly excellent work has been done in connection with full-time health units. Particularly is that so in the provinces of Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta. In order that the house may have some idea of the work done in these units I should like to give the figures showing the death rate in three units of the province of Quebec, and indicating how, owing to the organization for the care of health, deaths have been cut down:
Deaths per thousand 1926
Unit No. 1
46Unit No. 2
68Unit No. 3
Deaths per thousand 1928 19 46 14
These figures give one great hope as to what can be done and, of course, they indicate only a beginning. Furthermore, with the full-time health units taking advantage of endowments from the Rockfeller Foundation, which are given only for three years, it is essential, if they cannot afford to carry on without that help, that the federal government step in and give them aid. I am pleased to quote a statement of the present Prime Minister made in 1931, when I introduced my resolution favouring full-time health units in Canada and made the request for help from the federal government. On that occasion he said:
Touching the necessity for the establishment of health units nothing need be said. I think the case is complete and almost before it is stated.
I have always recognized that for many years the present Prime Minister has taken a great interest in the care of health. Therefore I hope that he will give this resolution his very very sympathetic support.

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