May 20, 1901

CANADIAN NURSES' ASSOCIATION.


House again in committee on Bill (No. 88) to incorporate the Canadian Nurses' Association.-Mr. Clarke.


LIB

Angus McLennan

Liberal

Mr. MCLENNAN.

Mr. Chairman, before the preamble is adopted, I wish to make a few observations in regard to this Bill somewhat on the lines of the observations I made here the other evening. I hold the same views in regard to the objection to a group of nurses, or an association of this kind, securing incorporation for the purpose of enabling them to submit to re-examination their sisters in the profession throughout the Dominion of Canada. In regard to an examination as to competency, I would submit that if these ladies themselves could show a certificate of competency beyond the ordinary, there might be some reason in their thus expecting to constitute themselves a committee to investigate the professional competency of their sisters. All that they seem to think necessary for this is to name one here and there, throughout the Dominion, and to have them constituted into an association. This association professes to seek at the hands of parliament powers which it would really be unfair to confer upon them as compared with other ladies throughout the Dominion of Canada equally competent. As I said here the other evening, I say now, that no training school for nurses, recognized as such, in the United States or Canada would allow a nurse to go forth to practise her profession from its institution without a certificate of competency. The curriculum provides that two years must be devoted to the study of the various branches of knowledge required in the nursing profession. I think still that the bodies in charge of these recognized training schools of nurses, or in charge of respectable hospitals throughout the country, are really the very best authorities to judge as to the competency of a successful trained nurse. The qualifications for a competent trained nurse are quite different in many respects from those which would be necessary in a successful medical practitioner. A knowledge of the various branches of the science of medicine and of surgery would be necessary to the medical practitioner and to the surgeon, whereas there are a great many other qualifications that would be infinitely more advantageous to be possessed by the trained nurse than a knowledge of all these branches of science. Good health would be one of the prime necessities in a successful nurse. It cannot be expected that all the nurses that would come before this association, or before a board of medical examiners, in the various provinces of the Dominion, would possess this prime requisite. Suppose a sickly nurse should come before this board and know anatomy and physiology and all these other branches that she would be examined upon, thoroughly, it would not indicate her competency. One week's night vigil might render her thoroughly inefficient and incompetent to perform successful nursing in a case of a patient perhaps weeks on a sick-bed. Where is the ordinary practitioner to look for such a nurse, or how is this board, the members of which are strangers to these nurses, to take a matter of this kind into consideration? I say again that the only body which should be considered as competent to pass upon the various qualities which would constitute a successful nurse is the body with which that nurse has served a two year's course of training. While I have no objection to an association of this character being formed, I do object to its being vested with powers which would make it dangerous for the success of sister nurses throughout the Dominion, perhaps equally, if not more capable

than the members of this association to fulfil the duties necessary in the successful carrying out of their calling. While I have no objection to these ladies being formed into an association of this character, I do object to the clause which enables them to submit their sisters of the profession throughout the Dominion to an examination in the various branches. I, therefore, in order to allow this House and the members of the profession throughout the Dominion of Canada to properly consider a measure of this character, beg to move that this Bill be read this day, six months.

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LIB

Lawrence Geoffrey Power (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. DEPUTT SPEAKER.

The hon. gentleman's motion is out of order at this stage.

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LIB

Angus McLennan

Liberal

Mr. MCLENNAN.

It will serve my purpose, and at the same time conform with the rules of the House, if I now move that the committee rise.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

Perhaps it would be more convenient if the hon. gentleman would move an amendment to the third reading.

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LIB
CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

While this Bill meets with the approval of a great number of persons, there are also a great many who disapprove of it. Information which I have received leads me to believe that the medical profession have one very serious objection to it. They believe that there should be a representative of each of the prominent hospitals of the country on this board, which representative would likely be the medical superintendent. The fact that this is not provided for in the Bill makes it very unsatisfactory. I would suggest that the hon. gentleman (Mr. Clarke) should hold over this Bill for the current year, and in the meantime copies of it will be sent to the different hospitals and to the medical board which meets this fall, so that suggestions might be made which would overcome the difficulties which are apparent.

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CON

Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARKE.

The fact that the hon. member (Mr. Sproule) has made the suggestion that the Bill be held over until next session would under ordinary circumstances have a good deal of weight with me. But I would remind the hon. gentleman that tlie Bill was before the House last session and withdrawn. It has been redrafted since, and it was submitted to the House two months ago. After it was printed I sent dozens of copies to the medical profession, and to the hospitals in Toronto, and any objections that were made were submitted by me to the Miscellaneous'Private Bills Committee. I would remind hon. gentlemen that the Bill was not once but twice before the committee ; that it came before this House and was referred back for further considera-Mr McLennan.

tion, and that the Bill was amended in the committee so as to meet every reasonable suggestion offered. I do not know that I should take up the time of the House at this late period of the session, in answering the statements made by the hon. member for Inverness. There is nothing in this Bill which gives those incorporated under it any privilege over others engaged in the nursing profession ; there is nothing in the Bill which prevents any person who is qualified for nursing from doing so. The intention of the Bill is to improve the status of the profession in every possible way, and only reasonable provisions have been incorporated in the Bill. I do not know that it is necessary for the success of an association of trained qualified nurses, that they should have on their board a number of medical men. I think they are quite able to transact business respecting their profession and its interests, even without the co-operation and assistance of the medical men. At the request of the hon. member for North Oxford (Hon. Mr. Sutherland) there has been provision made, that if the board of this association require that an examination shall be passed by those who seek admission to the association, then that examination shall be conducted by a board of medical experts to be named by the president of the medical association in the respective provinces. I repeat that the provisions of this Bill are reasonable ; that a demand exists for the establishment of the association which it is proposed to incorporate ; that organizations have been established in the United States and the mother land having the same objects in view ; that these associations have been productive of the greatest possible good both to the nurses themselves and to those placed under their care by reason of ill-health. The fact that the incorporators are women ; women of experience, women -who have passed the medical examinations necessary to qualify them as trained nurses, is of itself a sufficient guarantee. The fact that no males are seeking to be incorporated under this Bill is not in itself sufficient to justify the House in throwing it out. In view of the fact that this is the second time that this Bill has been before parliament ; in view of the fact that it has been considered not once but twice by the Private Bills Committee most carefully, and that every reasonable amendment proposed was accepted, I think I am justified in asking that the Bill be now proceeded with.

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LIB

William Forsythe McCreary

Liberal

Mr. McCREARY.

I have a copy of this Bill before me, reprinted as amended and reported by the Private Bills Committee. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Clarke) states that this Bill lias been considered with great care, that it has been before this House on different occasions and that there are none but ladies incorporated under this Bill. I take up the first clause showing the names

of those asking for this legislation and I find the name, Elizabeth McKay, of Winnipeg. I believe she is a nurse though I am not sure, but at all events she is the only representative of the entire west from Winnipeg to the Pacific coast. Looking through the names I see ' Johnston, of Chatham.' Apparently there is so much ignorance of the incorporators of the Bill that the Christian name of Johnston is not known. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Clarke) says it is the name of a lady, and it may be, but X believe that it may also be Rufus Snowball Johnston, a tonsorial artist of Chatham.

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Some hon. MEMBERS

Oh.

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LIB

William Forsythe McCreary

Liberal

Mr. McCREARY.

It may be one of the barbers of the town of Chatham, but the hon. gentleman from Kent would know more about that.' Here is the Bill reprinted and reported and yet we do not know who Johnston is.

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Mr. CLARICE@

The hon. gentleman (Mr. McCreary) need not trouble himself about that. I have here the Christian name of the lady and I intend to move that it be inserted in the preamble when the proper time comes. The hon. gentleman may disabuse his mind as to the identification of that lady.

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LIB

William Forsythe McCreary

Liberal

Mr. McCREARY.

Notwithstanding that the Bill has been amended four times it does not show much care when they could not insert the name of one of the incorporators. Although the hon. gentleman (Mr. Clarke) says that this Bill does not mean anything, I find that clause 3 says :

The object of this association shall he to further the best interests and to establish and maintain a universal standard of training for all nurses.

What right have these people whom we do not know are professional nurses to arrogate to themselves the duty of establishing and maintaining a universal standard of training ? I contend that they have no right to do so without consulting the numerous nurses throughout the country who know nothing of this Bill or its provisions. We are making a very reasonable request when we ask that this Bill should be withdrawn for this session. I have the right to submit copies of this Bill to the various hospitals in Manitoba, North-west Territories and British Columbia, and to ask them if they approve of it, and if they have any suggestions to make. This is a new parliament and we know nothing of what was done by Dr. Roddick and the other promoters of the Bill last session. Clause 4 says :

The association may adopt a constitution, bylaws, rules and regulations for its government.

That means that they can practically exclude from their corporate body any person they desire. We all know how hard it is

to get men to agree on anything, but any one who has been at a meeting composed entirely of ladies will understand that a great deal of jealousy may be brought up, and that a qualified nurse might be excluded without any just reason. The Bill says in reference as to who shall be admitted :

Nurses from any hospital under the control of any provincial government or of any municipality of Canada, or who have graduated or hold certificates from any other hospital approved by by-law of the association, who shall have two full years' training-

That would bar out every sister of mercy and every nun in the whole country. It would bar out every graduate from an hospital in the United States. It would bar out every hospital graduate from the British Isles ; and in Manitoba and the North-west we have a good many graduates from hospitals in Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, practising their profession-some in Winnipeg, some in towns, and some in remote districts in the country, where they give their services to many poor and needy settlers ; and this Bill would prevent them charging anything for their work unless they were, members of this association. It is tfn-wise and improper legislation, and I would ask the hon. member to withdraw the Bill, or hon. members to vote against it, so that we may have an opportunity to bring in a proper Bill at the next session of this House.

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LIB
LIB

Robert Franklin Sutherland

Liberal

Hon. Mr. SUTHERLAND.

When this Bill was first introduced I raised an objection to some of the clauses. On that account there may be some misunderstanding that I was opposed to this legislation. I wish to make it clear now that I do not oppose it. I wish the nurses to have any legislation which will tend to raise the standard of the profession in this country. As the promoter of the Bill has accepted the principles which I advocated at that time, and has removed the objectionable clauses, I do not intend for my part to offer any further objection. But I may inform my hon. friend that since the discussion took place. I have received a great many letters, indicating that there is a good deal of difference of opinion with regard to this legislation, and suggesting improvements in it. So far as I am concerned, there is only one practical suggestion which I think might be adopted. If that were done, and good sound principles were laid down for the government of the institution, T have no doubt that the by-laws framed by the incorporated body would be perfectly satisfactory. The principal suggestion which has been brought to my attention is that there should be one uniform standard of examination. which I think we could all agree to ; and if that change was made applicable to all nurses becoming members of the asso-

ciation, I would be prepared to support the Bill.

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CON

Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARKE.

A provision has been made in the Bill for the express purpose of preventing the association from holding an examination that might be vexatious or might have the effect of excluding qualified ladies from membership in it. It is now provided that if an examination is required to be held in any case, it shall be conducted by a committee of medical experts under the direction of the president of the medical association in each province, which is the best guarantee that the examination will be conducted fairly and wnn the sole object of promoting the interests of the nurses' association. 1 may say again, that the objections which have come to this Bill have come because in many instances those who have made complaints have not been supplied with copies of the Bill, and have been but partially informed as to its purpose. There is nothing in this Bill to prevent any person going to the North-west Territories or to Manitoba, or to any other province, and practising his or her profession as a nurse. There is no advantage given to those connected with the association, except the permission to use after their names the initials which are permitted to them as members of the Canadian Nurses' Association. If it is a laudable thing for those ladies who have had many years' experience in nursing, by uniting together in an association of this kind, to improve their status and the status of all others engaged in the profession, I think the committee should give them that opportunity. They do not place a bar upon anybody and do not compel anybody to join the association. It is purely voluntarily, and if the Bill passes, I am sure that within two or three years from now Canadian nurses will occupy an even more prominent position in their profession than they do to-day. They ask to be placed in a position similar to that occupied by their sister nurses in the United States. Their request is a reasonable request, and I hope, in view of the fact that the Bill has been before the House for two months, that the committee will now allow it to pass.

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LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON.

It seems to me that while this parliament has the right to pass this legislation, it would be trespassing on what properly belongs to the several provincial legislatures. We have in the several provinces organizations not exactly similar, bi^ analogous to this. We have had applications for the incorporation of civil engineers. dentists and other similar bodies. Why should these applications not go to the several provincial legislatures, where they are better understood ? The conditions are different in the different provinces, and it would be much more feasible to settle these matters through the different legislatures than to attempt to establish a standard that Mr. SUTHERLAND (Oxford).

would apply to the whole Dominion. Each province has its own peculiar circumstances, and will have its own standard despite anything that this parliament might do ; and I am sure that this Bill would not be viewed with favour in the different provinces. Speaking for New Brunswick, I am satisfied that that province would not favour the incorporation of this Dominion organization. I shall, therefore, oppose the Bill.

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LIB

James Joseph Hughes

Liberal

Mr. HUGHES (North Victoria).

I notice one clause in this Bill which, to my mind, is very dangerous, that is subsection 6, referring to examinations, and it is one which might possibly destroy the intended benefits accruing from this Bill. I would submit that any standard of examinations should be made subject to the ratification of the Governor in Council or some other controlling body. We have in the jn'ovince of Ontario a medical board which is fast earning the name of a tyrannical body. I submit that there could be no harm in retaining to the control of this parliament some immediate jurisdiction over this body.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

I think it would be much better if the hon. member in charge of the Bill accepted the suggestion to hold it over, instead of allowing it to be prejudiced by being thrown out. It would not injure the Bill to hold it over, nor would it, I apprehend, do any injustice to the nurses of the country. I know, from complaints which I have had from medical men in the country, that the Bill as it now stands is objectionable to many of them. They desire delay, not for the purpose of preventing the Bill ultimately passing, but for better adjusting the differences that exist between the medical profession and this proposed nurses' association.

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May 20, 1901