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


Humphrey Mitchell


Mr. HUMPHREY MITCHELL (East Hamilton):

Mr. Speaker, I would like to put briefly before the house the point of view of the industrial worker in connection with health services. The statement was made this evening that the health conditions in the farming communities are much below those in industrial communities. No figures were quoted, and I am inclined to disagree with that conclusion. I think the health services in this dominion, particularly from the point of view of the medical men, stand in the same relationship to the nation as the schools did a century ago, a condition of, might I say, anarchy. A century ago the boys and girls of this country got a more or less indifferent education, owing to the lack of organization, the lack of interest on the part of the state in educational facilities for the average boy and girl of working class people of that time. So in the development of our modern civilization, and largely through the efforts of those of progressive viewpoint, the opinion was eventually crystallized into action that every boy and every girl in the country should, in the interests of the state and in the interests of industry and commerce, receive an education. The development of our educational institutions has been one of the driving forces of our civilization. I think it fair to say that to-day the medical profession stands in the same relation to the country and its services as education did many years ago. It is a tragedy that the state should spend the enormous sums it does on the education of our young physicians, and that on the completion of that education they should have to sit down and wait ten or fifteen years before they get anything that approximates a livelihood. Particularly is this true in view of the fact that it is not because of any lack of desire and need on the part of many people for expert medical advice and attention, but because of their lack of ability to meet the financial obligations that would confront them should they seek that advice. I am not unmindful of the enormous contribution that the medical profession has made to the people of this dominion, but frankly I believe that policy is absolutely unsound. We have long since passed the stage when physicians and surgeons should be expected to make that contribution to our hospitals and to the people in general without thought of reward. They are the only section of the professional classes who do so; no one ever heard of the lawyers doing it, or the teachers, or, might I say, even the preachers. Eventually we shall have to deal with the problem in conformity, of course, with the particular conditions existing in this dominion, as they did in Great R'-'t-ain when
Federal Health-Mr. Mitchell

they instituted their national health and insurance system. I believe that is one of the great social questions that will have to be met by this dominion. It is one of the predominant questions confronting our people- the provision of health services organized on a sound basis and administered by the state. You had in Great Britain at the inception of this form of legislation the same condition that you have in this dominion to-day, that is, active organized opposition of the medical fraternity within the country.

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