Thomas John BENTLEY

BENTLEY, Thomas John

Personal Data

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)
Swift Current (Saskatchewan)
Birth Date
May 3, 1891
Deceased Date
June 2, 1983
agrologist, farmer, organizer

Parliamentary Career

June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
  Swift Current (Saskatchewan)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 5 of 235)

April 7, 1949

Mr. Bentley:

May I ask the minister a question. I am not going to dispute the legality or otherwise of it. The minister may have given this answer in his statement, which was quite lengthy, and I may have missed it. If so, I should like him to give it again a little more simply and precisely.

Supply-Trade and Commerce Apparently the government came to the rescue of a concern that was in financial difficulties. According to the dominion bureau of statistics, commercial failures have been fairly extensive in the last few years. It is obvious that the government has no intention of coming to the rescue of other commercial enterprises which show indications of failure. What was the peculiar circumstance that brought the government to the rescue in this case, and in what other cases would the government likely come to the rescue of prospective commercial failures?

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April 5, 1949

Mr. Bentley:

If the hon. member for Comox-Alberni is interested in mental care and feels he is slipping over the edge he should come down immediately. I want to say something more about our health region because the set-up is completely democratic. It is set up under legislation of the province of Sas-

katchewan but at that point any influence by the provincial government ceases. There is no imposition of power or authority on our health region. The legislation provides that if the people in the region wish to establish a health region they may do so. A vote was held and 71 per cent of the ratepayers voted in favour of setting up a region.

I am going to give the details of the services we get in addition to what we get under my hospital services card. We get medical care from any doctor within the region who has signed a contract with the regional board, except residents of municipalities 22, 52, 112, 142, 172 and 232, who may attend Medicine Hat clinic. Those are municipalities that range along the Alberta border. The people there have contracts with doctors in Medicine Hat, Alberta, which is nearer to them than Swift Current or other hospital centres. They may go to Medicine Hat and receive exactly the same services from doctors and dentists as they would from those resident in the region or in other places.

Medical care does not include drugs, chiropractic treatment, glasses, serums or appliances. We hope to have these introduced when financial arrangements make it possible. Then we have what are known as referred cases. A doctor may refer a patient to some other doctor outside the region, maybe a doctor in Mexico, in Ottawa, in Vancouver or somewhere else. When a person is referred in such a way he comes under the provisions of the health region constitution. If a patient is duly referred by a contract doctor the region will pay 75 per cent of the account rendered, at the 1938 schedule of fees of the Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Emergency sickness while on a visit is paid for on the same basis, that is, 75 per cent of the 1938 schedule of fees. For instance, if I were taken sick here in Ottawa I could claim all the attention I would receive from a doctor in our region and he would be paid 75 per cent of the Saskatchewan fees. Then we get out-patient service at the hospital. A person may not be sick enough to go into hospital but his doctor may want him at the hospital for dressings or for certain medicines or for some other purpose. The fee and other costs for that are taken care of. Then we have dental care for children under 16 years of age.

Reference has been made to the splendid things that have been done in other provinces, but I think what I have mentioned should give even a greater lead to the Minister of National Health and Welfare than anything that has been indicated. I know that there is a tendency to believe that our health region plan has limited the freedom of the medical profession. I should like to read

a paragraph from an address given by Mr. Kjorven, the president of our health region, at a district council meeting held in July, 1948, at Gull Lake. I should like to read all of his speech, but as it is quite long I shall quote only one paragraph as follows:

There have been a great many changes in our program and certainly some improvements, since our original meeting of January, 1946, but today I feel that we have reached a point in the regional affairs which marks the turning point between experimentation and financial stability. It gives me pleasure today to tell you that our negotiations with the medical profession of Swift Current for a renewal of contract as of July, 1948, have been successful and, as a result of these negotiations, we can look into the future without fear of heavy deficits cropping up at the end of each year. I hardly think it is necessary to go into detail on the contract, but simply to state that the doctors have agreed to so allocate the amount of money mutually agreed upon for medical care that we cannot overspend our medical budget. I would like to publicly thank the doctors of this region for their co-operation and their willingness to negotiate on hitherto untried grounds.

And again:

The doctors are satisfied that the proposition advanced to them is fair and the regional board is satisfied as to the amount of money involved and the services which will be rendered to the residents of the region under the contract.

An estimate was made by the regional board of how much the doctors' fees should cost. They went to the doctors and said, "Would you as doctors be agreeable to accepting that and allocating it among your members in the region according to the services that they give?" It must be remembered that no medical man is on salary except the radiologist who does work for all the doctors in the region. The general practitioners are free agents who operate their own offices. The patients call on them or they call on the patients, as they would under ordinary circumstances. The proposal was made to them that they accept this lump sum which I think was $481,000. I have the correct figure somewhere and I could find it if necessary, but it is approximately that. The doctors said, "That is fine."

When I spoke about this matter some years ago, I think during the first session of this parliament, the hon. member for Stanstead interjected and said that we would drive all the doctors out of the region. I would quote again from the speech of the president of the region where he said:

We have, at the present time, 33 doctors in the region, an increase of 13 doctors since the region started

That speech was made last July. In two years' time thirteen more doctors had come into the region than were there when we started. As far as I know, not more than one or two doctors have moved out of the

National Health Insurance region. One of them left because he is retiring from his profession. I believe another one left to take a post-graduate course, or follow some other line of activity in his profession.

Shortly before I left home for this session of parliament I was informed that two more doctors were likely to come into the region, that they were investigating the possibilities of a place in which to operate. Therefore you can see that we have not interfered in any way whatsoever with the private life of our doctors.

I want to deal for a moment or two with the matter of complete medical attention. It is recognized by us, and I believe by all other hon. members who spoke this afternoon, that we have not reached the glory of God in complete medical and health services. We know we have many things to do. That is recognized by the region, but we have gone as far as our financial ability will permit. We have received considerable assistance from the province. We have in the region a population of about 48,000 to 50,000 people in slightly over 19,000 family units, ranging from one in a family to seven in a family. We receive from the provincial government a per capita grant of 25 cents. We receive a grant of 50 per cent for all our hospital outpatient costs. We receive 50 per cent of all dental costs, and we also receive 50 per cent of the cost of paying and equipping our radiologist.

There are many things that the people of the region would like to have. I want to quote a short sentence from a speech by the president of that particular region to show how he thinks these things will have to come about. He is dealing in his remarks with some of the requests for extended services. He has this to say:

That, however, I feel is for you to decide.

He is speaking to a meeting of the representatives of the people.

It is not for a centralized committee of any kind, it is for you men right here to know how much the residents of this area can pay by way of taxation to provide services which you deem necessary.

That indicates the completely democratic nature of the organization. Dental treatment we provide for all those up to sixteen years of age. The reason it was organized in that manner is that many of our public-spirited citizens believe that if the children's teeth are cared for until the age of sixteen, a great many of them will never need any expensive dental treatment thereafter. If they reach adult life with good sound teeth it is possible that a great many other potential illnesses will not attack them, and that eventually the

National Health Insurance age limit will be extended and we will be able to give complete dental care to all citizens. It was felt desirable, however, to start with the younger ones and raise a generation with good, sound teeth. To take care of that program we have traveling dentists. With the exception of the radiologist, they are the only salaried or professional men in the region. They are not brought in by press gangs; they are not conscripted from outside. They are advertised for, and they offer their services at a salary. If their qualifications are satisfactory to the region, and the salary is agreeable to them, then they are supplied with dental equipment and a car. Their itineraries are arranged, and they visit these small rural areas and villages, set up their equipment and attend to the children. In that way these dentists are covering everybody in the region as quickly as possible. It has not all been done yet. We grant all that, but we believe that we are at least giving leadership along this line.

I do not want to take a great deal of the time of the house. I know that government members are very anxious that we get on with the supplementary estimates and pass them. They are quite critical because we are taking up time on these matters, but I should like to say to the government that it is their own fault. If they would tell us frankly and honestly when they propose to hold the election, if we are really coming back after Easter and will have an opportunity to deal completely and exhaustively with the main estimates, if the house were convinced that it was going to have all the time that it requires, we probably would not take up the time of the house on the supplementary estimates. Failing assurance from the government that we will have that opportunity, I think the government can expect nothing but an exhaustive examination and study of the supplementary estimates.

I expect that the time I am taking on this matter will be somewhat irksome to our friends of the Progressive Conservative party. They have their claymores sharpened, their knuckle-dusters shined, their arrows pointed and their bows all strung, ready to go out and engage in combat.

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April 5, 1949

Mr. Bentley:

Your woollen mill has closed down.

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April 5, 1949

Mr. Bentley:

Some drugs, but not all.

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April 5, 1949

Mr. Bentley:

I said North American. I will take American and Canadian as a correction. We could include Mexico in my geography, but I mean what he meant. We agree that if we were not able to supply these goods from these countries then undoubtedly the British standard of living would be lower. But the point to be remembered, the point that the hon. member for Stanstead ought to remember, is that, regardless of where Britain gets her supplies, owing to her present legislation she is making that supply of goods and services available to all of her people. That is an important point to remember when dealing with the matters discussed by the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar. I wish our Progressive Conservative friends were as anxious to join in such boasting as we have heard about the accomplishments in the field of health in the different provinces.

My other reason for rising was to do a little boasting myself. I am proud of some of the things my province has done, and I am particularly proud of some of the things that have been done in my region in the southwest part of Saskatchewan. Undoubtedly this region leads the North American continent and the province of Saskatchewan in the matter of health services.

I have the hospital services card which the hon. member for Qu'Appelle mentioned. This cost me $10 for my wife and $10 for myself.

I also have the health region No. 1 card for which I pay $15 for myself and $9 for my wife. With the card from the hospital services I get complete hospitalization when I need it in the province and for 60 days outside the province at the rate of $6 per day.

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