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


Murray MacLaren (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Conservative (1867-1942)


I do not understand my hon. friend's suggestion that I am throwing cold water upon the question of cooperation

Federal Health-Mr. Willis
between the provinces and the dominion, as almost everything I have said has been supporting it. I have given him many examples of the dominion government and in particular the department of health doing all it can to promote cooperation among the provinces. There is, so far as we Can carry it out, a close connection between the provinces and the federal deaprtment of health. For example, there may come to the federal department information of an important character concerning, perhaps, some infectious disease, and that information is conveyed to the health officers of the different provinces. There is cooperation in that respect. There is an attitude of mutual helpfulness between the provinces and the federal department; there is a good understanding, and I wish to convey to the hon. member that I am not throwing cold water, as he says, on the question of cooperation. I am indicating that there is a cordial recognition of the importance of the whole question, and an attitude of increasing, so far as possible, active cooperation between the various provinces and the dominion.
Mr. ERRICK F. WILLIS (Souris): Mr. Speaker, I should like to say a few words in regard to the resolution now before the house, because I am deeply interested in any policy which would give better health to the general public. The resolution before us, in my opinion, would involve a strengthening of the duplication of services which now exists as between the federal and provincial governments, and for that reason I am opposed to it. In the province of Manitoba from which I come we have a department of public works, even as we have here; a department of labour even as wrn have a federal department of labour; a railway commissioner even as we have a minister of railways at Ottawa; a minister of health even as we have the Minister of Health (Mr. MacLaren) who has just spoken; a department and a minister of agriculture just as we have in the federal government here; an attorney general just as we have a solicitor general here; a provincial treasurer as compared with the minister of finance and also a minister of mines just as we have a minister of mines at Ottawa. In my opinion the whole question of the matters to be handled by the federal as opposed to the provincial government should first be redefined in. the light of present day circumstances, rather than that we should do anything to increase the duplication of such services. I do not agree with nor am I in favour of an amalgamation of the western provinces to bring this about. I hasten to make this remark due to the fact that the press in Mont-
real recently said that I had made such a statement. Rather do I think we should commence now to define those matters over which the federal government has sole jurisdiction and responsibility as against those over which the provincial government has sole jurisdiction and responsibility.
Let us consider for a moment the question of public works. Recently as a relief measure we constructed public works partly through the municipalities, partly through the provincial government and partly through the federal administration. If the poor voter, the forgotten man on the street, desired to malqe any complaint in. regard to public works he had nowhere to go. He might try, if he would, to complain to the municipal council; he was passed on from the municipal council to the provincial government, from the provincial government to the federal government, and then, no doubt, the federal government passed him back to the municipal council again. This is on account of the fact that the individual responsibility of these bodies in connection with public works and other matters is not sufficiently defined. This fact is more clearly revealed in the operations of the department of labour whereby we now administer relief. Again the poor forgotten man has nowhere to go; he does not know where the responsibility rests. Here also we require a redefinition of where that responsibility may lie, because if you do not say definitely where it lies, you put a premium upon lying and much of it is done.

Full View