Mr. E. A. McCusker (Regina City):
I should like to say a few words in this debate. I congratulate the hon. member for Vancouver East (Mr. Maclnnis) on bringing this resolution before the house and the hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra (Mr. Green) on the saner view he takes of it. In moving his resolution I think the hon. member for Vancouver East forgot the cost entailed in implementing the services. Probably I would not speak tonight if I did not come from a province in which we have had considerable experience in socialized medicine and with these different schemes over a long number of years.
Like the hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra, I think that the socialists and C.C.F. are too inclined to take the credit for any social services or health measures which are being implemented or extended at the present time. I would remind them that back in 1916, and earlier than that, the Liberal government of Saskatchewan introduced many health measures which were of great benefit to the people. We had then a people
who were suffering from adversity, crop failures and one thing and another. We had a portion of our people who were unable to meet their obligations and receive the attention that they required. A number of schemes were put into operation. In one of those a municipal doctor was introduced and the municipality gave a basic guarantee of salary to the doctor to enable him to come in and live there while he provided medical services for the community. Municipal hospitals were put into effect. Contributions were made by people at large. Those within the municipality itself who were unable to pay their municipal bill were assisted by those who were in more fortunate circumstances. Municipal health schemes were introduced many years ago by Dr. Seymour, who was then the deputy minister of health in Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan tuberculosis league was an outstanding example of what a community can do in the treatment of disease. This organization was made up of officers from the rural municipality and officers from the urban communities, citizens at large and members of the government. They set up the committee which handled the tuberculosis hospitals of Saskatchewan. I believe it was then that free hospitalization first came into effect and not in recent years, as our friends from the C.C.F. party would have us believe. However, this was done under the control of a sane nonpolitical body, which sought no kudos for what they were doing. Expenses were controlled and I need not say anything about the work that they have carried on. All hon. members know that in Saskatchewan today we have the lowest incidence of tuberculosis to be found anywhere in the world, and probably the most advanced treatment. I may say that the other day in my city a tuberculosis survey was made of the population. What percentage of the population do you think was covered? Ninety-nine per cent of the people were X-rayed. That shows how conscious they are of this disease. These things have not been brought forward in recent years. It is something that has developed. You cannot give a service such as that to a people and have it accepted overnight. It must be built up gradually.
In 1930 the Saskatchewan Cancer Commission Act was introduced by Dr. Munroe. The work was developed by Dr. Uhrich, now lieutenant governor of Saskatchewan, when he was the health minister of that province. Today we have probably one of the most advanced centres for cancer treatment in the Dominion of Canada. We had there, until a few months ago when he died of a heart attack, Dr. Blair, who was director of our cancer service and who, along with Dr.
Richards of Toronto, has contributed more to the care and treatment of cancer than anyone else in this country. It was sane treatment gradually developed.
During my election campaign I expressed myself openly and wholeheartedly in favour of a contributory old age pension without a means test. I believe in the contributory feature of it. In the constituency I have the honour to represent there are a large number of people who have been ordinary labourers. They have worked on the streets -worked here, and worked there. The more frugal among them during the years have been able to purchase their modest homes, develop good gardens around them, and grow some of their winter supplies. However, they have not been able to put aside quite enough to look after their security in old age.
In order to be eligible for old age pension they would have to pass means tests. Some worthless galoot down the street, who had never done a decent day's work all his life, could get an old age pension and be just about as well off as someone else who had worked hard, been a good citizen and saved during his lifetime. Therefore I am in favour of the old age pension without a means test. But it must be a contributory pension. I do not think anything is worthwhile if one does not contribute toward it.
I am in favour of unemployment insurance, and I believe family allowances are a fine thing. I had not intended to speak long this evening, but I did wish to mention briefly the matter of health grants. Here perhaps my C.C.F. friends may give me a little assistance by handling some of my C.C.F. friends in Saskatchewan, so that I may get for the community I represent that to which it is entitled, and which it is prevented from getting today by a C.C.F. government.
As hon. members are aware, the national health program made provision for the sum of $165 million to support provincial health programs over a period of years. These grants covered public health, professional training, technical training, public health research-and it goes on down the line until it comes to hospital construction.
The Regina General hospital built a wing at a cost of $800,000. Construction had been started before the health grant became effective. I believe that date was April of 1948. At any rate, the hospital was partly constructed by that time, so that the city was not entitled to the total amount of the grant. The hospital authorities felt that $225,000 was coming to them from the federal government by way of grant, and an equal sum of $225,000 was coming from the provincial government. It will be recalled that
federal health grants were to be matched by the provincial governments, in hospital construction.
When the campaign started last spring the city of Regina had received no grant. The hospital wing was completed, but remained empty because they had not sufficient money to purchase furniture. I made a public statement at that time, and the result was that there was an agreement to match $75,000 of the grant so that the hospital could buy furniture and open the wing. There was a waiting list of 300 people to get into the hospital. The building was there, but the provincial government refused to match the grant so that furniture could be purchased. The hospital had expended its funds. When I hear these great humanitarians talking I want to let them know just what the truth is, and just how human they are. They have matched $75,000 of that grant, but there is still over $100,000 which has not been received. The dominion government has
agreed that the city is entitled to $175,000. Thus far the provincial government has matched only $75,000 of this amount. The taxpayers of Regina are forced to find out of taxes another $200,000, to which they are rightfully entitled by way of hospital grants.
So that if my hon. friends to my left who get their inspiration from there, and who seem to send inspiration out to them, can induce them to match this grant, I am sure my constituents in Regina city would be most grateful.
I believe I have said all I wish to say at this time.
Topic: REQUEST FOR FORMULATION OF NATIONAL PROGRAM