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


Humphrey Mitchell



I am well aware of that fact, and many times in this house I have expressed the opinion that in the very near future amendments will have to be made to the British North America Act to permit the government of this country to meet the problems of this industrial age in conformity with the very necessary social measures that we think should be in operation here.
If I may digress for a moment, I might point out to the Prime Minister that I had some experience in Europe this summer with regard to developments in different countries. In some countries one sees the development of dictatorships while others, of course, have remained with democracy. I believe the greatest contribution made in Europe in the last generation has been made by the British people in their approach to the question of social insurances. In the last generation they have practically redistributed the wealth of Great Britain; they have had a revolution in regard to the distribution of wealth without the loss of a single life or the shedding of a drop of blood. Frankly I believe that is a far better way to approach these problems than the way in which they have been approached in other countries.
To get back to my point, however, I believe that in this dominion we will have to meet the points raised by the Prime Minister. Unquestionably the question of jurisdiction arises in regard to all these social services, including unemployment insurance and national health insurance, but if, in order to organize properly on a national basis, it is necessary to amend the British North America Act, I think that should be done as soon as possible. But we have a right to know whence the opposition
fMr. Mitchell.]
comes with regard to such an amendment to the British North America Act, whether from the federal government or from the provincial governments, in order that we can bring into being the forces of public opinion-those forces that make a democracy and which are the very basis of its life-that are necessary in order to crystallize opinion in the various provinces with regard to such an amendment. I believ e this would be in the interests of the medical profession as well, and I speak with some knowledge of their sacrifices. I believe it would be also in the interests of the grea,t mass of the people in this country; the institution of a sound national health insurance scheme would be a great advance over the present condition which exists within the medical profession and would go some distance towards solving the problems of the profession with regard to the treatment of ill health and sickness in this dominion.

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