June 24, 1946 (20th Parliament, 2nd Session)

PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FLEMING:

This item and item 231 have to do with the matter of national physical fitness, and arise out of the National Physical Fitness Act passed in 1943. At the outset I should like to observe that if there are any items above all others which should be considered only after the committee has been furnished with full information, it is items of this kind. Here the administration started out with $250,000 on hand, of which $25,000 was to be for administration expenses and $225,000 for distribution among the provinces. Six of the provinces have entered into agreements coming under the scheme, while three, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec, have refused to participate. It is now June 24, and we have not before us, in any form whatever, the report of the national council

on physical fitness for the past fiscal year. Section 13 of the National Physical Fitness Act, which is chapter 29 of the statutes of 1943, provides:
The minister shall, as soon as possible

I emphasize those words, "as soon as possible".
-but not later than three months after the termination of each fiscal year, submit an annual report to parliament covering the administration of this act for such fiscal year, and such report shall contain a statement of all moneys paid into or credited to the fund and all disbursements therefrom and shall include the regulations made under this act.
The fiscal year adhered to by the council is the government fiscal year ending March 31. Under the section I have just read, one week from yesterday is the last day within which the minister must file the report of the national council on physical fitness, even without giving any attention to the words "as soon as possible". I think the committee is entitled to an explanation of the fact that this report has not yet been furnished to hon. members.
I go on from that to offer this observation. In approaching items of this kind, having regard to its duty to scrutinize these proposed expenditures, I believe the committee needs to be certain that the activities of this national physical fitness council are really such as will contribute to the end of increasing physical fitness throughout the country. The committee will want to be very sure that what is being proposed or embarked upon here is not just a duplication of work already being carried on by the provinces. I know in the province of Ontario no occasion has been found for participation in this scheme, because it represents duplication. Just enlarging on that thought, at page 67 of the report of the Department of National Health and Welfare for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1945, I find this paragraph:
In connection with the training of instructors and leaders under the National Physical Fitness Act, the national council passed the following resolution:
"As many excellent leaders in physical fitness and recreation are serving at present in His Majesty's services, the council recommends that the responsible provincial departments use this source of potential leaders."
I do not think we need any national council on physical fitness to tell the responsible departments of the provincial governments that in the armed forces we have a source of instructors in physical fitness. I think the provincial departments are well aware of that fact, so that it is quite unnecessary, and I suggest perhaps just a little bit cheeky, for this national council to be passing resolutions of this kind undertaking to instruct the pro-
Supply-Health and Welfare
vincial governments concerned as to how they may carry out their duties to those who have served in the armed forces. I think the provincial governments are well aware of their duties in that regard.
Lacking the report, I question whether the committee is in a position to give these two items the intelligent study which should be given. Since we are without the report, may I ask the minister if he will answer questions on the following points? In the first place, will he give the committee the expenditures for the past year? In the second place, what programme is contemplated for the present fiscal year, and what distribution among the six participating provinces is contemplated? Next, can he furnish the committee with a financial statement for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1946? Next, what is the salary of the national director; and next, has the council undertaken to acquire any real property pursuant to the power contained in section 6 (2) of the act?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OP TRANSPORT
Full View