Mr. G. H. Stokes (Hastings South):
I enter this debate, Mr. Speaker, for one purpose only, and I do not propose to occupy the time of the house for more than five minutes. One particular phase of administration to which I should like to refer for a moment is the administration of the health and hospital assistance program by the Department of National Health and Welfare.
When the estimates providing for this program were before this house on June 30 last year, the Minister of National Health and Welfare stated, as recorded on page 6175 of Hansard:
Let no one minimize the importance of this program; for whatever one may say, it is a program of the greatest significance. My remarks now are made in the knowledge that hon. members are prepared to deal with the steps to be taken by parliament to ease the burden of human suffering caused by disease, and all in this house act in this matter of national health in a spirit of nonpolitical interest. Of that I have no doubt.
This statement from the minister of the department, that the approach to this problem was nonpolitical, was most gratifying, I am sure, to all members of this house and as well to the people of this country, who after all are paying the costs of the program and rightfully expect it to be administered independently of politics.
The minister, during his speech at that time, made clear the basis upon which the health assistance program was to be administered, when he stated, as recorded at page 6177 of Hansard:
The program we are launching today is one of great importance to the people of Canada. We are approaching our role in a spirit of collaboration with those jurisdictions in our country that have direct legal responsibility in the field of health.
Later on in the same debate the minister was asked the following question, as reported at page 6179 of Hansard:
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