April 5, 1910

CON

David Henderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HENDERSON.

Possibly we have drifted away from the subject which was brought to our attention earlier in the day by the Minister of Agriculture. At the same time, I feel sure that the time has not been wasted, for information has been given to members of this committee, and I hope it will find its way to the country. The minister was good enough to explain the^ system of compensation under the Contagious Diseases Act where animals become infected, and have to be destroyed. I have just one complaint to make with regard to the law 'as it is now framed, namely, that not only should the animal that is ordered to be destroyed by the government official be paid for, but that other animals in the same herd that may have died before the government inspector has reached the farm, should also be paid for. Now I am going to _ cite a case with which the minister's chief veterinary is quite familiar. Remember I am not taking exception to the administration of the law, but to the law itself. On the 11th day of the month a farmer noticed that his hogs were sick, and he called in the nearest veterinary who, by the way, is the quasi official of the government, because subsection 2 of section 3 of the Act respecting infectious or contagious diseases of animals, says:

Any veterinary surgeon practising in Canada should immediately, on ascertaining that an animal is labouring under an infectious or contagious disease give similar notice-

To the notice he gives to the minister, -to the nearest veterinary inspector.

So I say the veterinary is a quasi official of the government, and the government should in some way be responsible for any neglect of duty on his part. In the case I refer to, the farmer called in the veterinary on the 11th day of the month. He examined a carcass, and I understand a portion of it was sent to Ottawa for inspection. Before the officer of the government reached the farmer to examine his hogs, some ten days had elapsed, I think the veterinary from Ottawa did not reach there until the 21st day of the month. In the meantime, out of a herd of twenty-one hogs fifteen or sixteen had died, and only five or

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY.

six hogs remained which were ordered to be slaughtered. I understand the government paid, or promised to pay, and will, I presume, pay for those animals that were slaughtered. But what about the other two-thirds of that man's hogs which died before the veterinaary reached the place, and for which the farmer gets no compensation, though he had done his duty in the matter. My contention is that so long as compensation is to be granted, and so long as people carefully observe the law, and give notice to the proper officials, a man whose animals die before the inspector reaches there, and before the slaughter is ordered by the government inspector, should receive compensation for those that died previous to the inspector's arrival. I think the minister would not go far astray if he amended the law so as to permit of compensation being granted under conditions of this kind. The minister may tell me that he would be flooded with applications. Suppose he is. The object of the law is to stamp out disease, and I think the country can better afford to pay compensation for all these animals rather than that a poor tenant farmer should be compelled to sustain the loss himself. Not only does he sustain the loss, but he is actually prohibited for the next three months from keeping an animal of the same kind upon his farm, and probably loses the use of that class of product for the whole twelve months.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

This subject of course is entirely aside of the question before the committee, but I am not complaining of that. I may remind the hon. gentleman that when the law was amended so as to permit payment for animals killed by order of the department, perhaps not the hon. gentleman himself, but others around him, pointed out that unless that provision was carefully safeguarded it might lead to great abuse, and I promised that no compensation would be paid for animals slaughtered except they were slaughtered by order of one of my permanent officers. In the case my hon. friend refers to, the veterinary was not an official of the department in any sense of the word. My hon. friend says he is a paid official. We have given him authority to issue certain certificates, but that is all, he is not an official authorized to order the slaughter of animals. The law says that every veterinary who hears of a contagious disease must report it to us. but that does not constitute him a government official in any way. I can understand my hon. friend's dissatisfaction, when one of his constituents perhaps has suffered in the way he has described, and there may be occasions where it would be only fair and just to pay some compensation. But I fear that any relaxation in the law in that respect would lead to such demands, and

such difficulty in the verification of the reasons for slaughtering an animal, that enormous expense would be incurred which .would be unjust to the community at large who would have to pay the expense.

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LIB

Hugh Guthrie

Liberal

Mr. GUTHRIE.

Although the question of compensation may not arise under this Bill, I may perhaps be allowed to sav that I agree with the sentiments which have been expressed by my hon. friend from Halton (Mr. Henderson), to the effect that the present law is quite inadequate. Many cases have arisen, and do arise, where, through the action of the government or its officials, serious direct loss is suffered by farmers and no compensation is paid, and where, I am sorry to say, I do not think any effort is being made in the direction of paying compensation. I have rather a pointed case in my own county which I drew to the attention of the House last session, and have brought it to the attention of the department before, a case in which compensation has been refused. I think if there ever was a fair, just and reasonable case, to use the minister's language, in which compensation should be paid, the case I have submitted, and will again mention, is that case. In November, 1908, either one or two carloads of cattle were ordered for export from Fergus to Liverpool, fine cattle, all ready for export. At Niagara Falls, on the frontier, a veterinary inspector of this government stopped them, examined the car and reported, not that an animal was diseased, but that he suspected that one of the animals had the mange. The shipment was delayed at the Falls. It was ordered from there back to Toronto, for some reason that I have not yet been able to ascertain, from Toronto ordered back to Fergus, there it was kept for a considerable length of time, three or four weeks, the farmer had to procure special stables and to comply with the special quarantine regulations, and in the end it turned out that the animal was not diseased and did not have mange. The whole loss arose from the mistake of the inspector of the government at Niagara Falls. The farmer lost his opportunity of making a sale, he lost his freight from Fergus to Niagara Falls and back via Toronto, he was put to large expense for providing special stables and complying with the quarantine regulations; in fact, his loss has run from $1,000 to $1,200. That is directly attributable to the action of the inspector who made the mistake. Why should not the government compensate in a ' case of that kind? A man might make a mistake and act bona fide and I have no doubt that it was a bona fide mistake. Why should the farmer bear tlie loss? The minister informs me that it was for the security of the public. Well, then, why should the public not pay? If the animals

had been slaughtered two thirds of the value would have been paid, but as the matter stands to-day the man has lost from $1,000 to $1,200 on one shipment through no fault of his own, he has a fair, just and reasonable case and I think that either by special vote or otherwise that claim should be paid.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

All I have to say in regard to that particular case is that it was not a case of slaughter at all under Animals Compensation Act, and we have not the right to pay compensation for that loss.

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LIB
CON
LIB

Malcolm Smith Schell

Liberal

Mr. SCHELL.

The discussion has taken a very wide Tange and has introduced a good many questions that are of a very complex nature. I just wish to make a few remarks in regard to compensation. The government, I am sure, deserve credit for appointing inspectors to inspect meats and animals which are slaughtered in our slaughter-houses, and I presume that when thev appointed these inspectors_ they had little idea of the number of animals that

would be found to be diseased and the loss that would fall upon our packing-houses. As to whether the packing-houses or the farmers should be remunerated is certainly a very difficult question to determine. Primarily, I suppose, the farmer is liable but after the stock leaves the farm it is not always easy to trace the particular farm to which the loss is attributable and the fact at once is presented to our mind that the farmer cannot be made responsible. The drover certainly should not be, and those who conduct the packing-houses, 1 think, are unfairly dealt with when they are compelled to stand all the loss.

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CON
LIB

Malcolm Smith Schell

Liberal

Mr. SCHELL.

Yes, they do in most cases. I have in my mind especially the packing houses that kill hogs. I know' as a matter of fact that they have sustained the losses up to the present time in almost every instance, if not altogether. If the government were to undertake to meet these losses it would be ratheT difficult to determine what should be the proper amount of compensation. The packing house men might make a demand for compensation that would perhaps be more than would be fair. Some portions only of hog carcases are condemned, and the loss is sometimes comparatively small on individual animals. But w'hen the staff of inspectors is ample in the various packing houses they could arrive probably at a fair basis of valuation, and I think that the government might fairly undertake to compensate the packing houses, say, to the extent of 50 or 75 per cent of the loss without incurring the danger of paying them more than should be paid. I think that the consensus of this House and the opinion of the country generally would be such as to justify the government in taking the matter up, and, in a measure, compensating those who are compelled to lose on account of the diseases which are to be found to exist amongst animals. Of course, I know there is a great work to be done in the education of farmers in regard to the better ventilation of stables and the better caring for their stock in order to prevent the loss which is occurring from diseased animals, and unless the farmers are made to bear some of the loss perhaps the incentive will not be as strong as it should be to compel them to adopt the best possible methods of caring for their stock. If the packing houses feel that they are only being remunerated to the extent of, say, 50 or 75 per cent, they must pay that much less for the stock which they purchase from the farmers, and the farmers must expect to obtain less for their stock than if it is known that the stock is free, or compara-tivelv free, of disease. The packing houses,

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LIB

Malcolm Smith Schell

Liberal

Mr. SCHELL.

after a year or two years' investigation and inspection, can determine fairly correctly what the percentage of loss is. But I think the best solution of this question w'ould be to pay the abattoirs a fair percentage, and the drovers who purchase from the farmers should enlighten the farmers, and the farmers should be led to understand that if their animals are absolutely free from diseases they would obtain even a better price than they are obtaining under the present regulations. I know' the government has done and is doing valuable and important work in educating the farmers in the care of milk, and the result is that the conditions under which the milk of this country is now' handled are infinitely better than they w'ere some years ago. It is the rule rather than the exception, that in every dairying district in Ontario the stables are thoroughly up to date in every respect, the ventilation perfect, and the dairy properly equipped w'ith every modern appliance. Now, Mr. Chairman, I believe this to be a very important discussion because it deals with the protection of every class of the community. It is a question of very great financial concern also, and anything that can be done by the government to properly distribute the loss as well as to better educate the people must prove most valuable in connection with this branch of our agricultural industry.

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CON

William D. Staples

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STAPLES.

I direct the attention of the Minister of Agriculture to the particular case cited by the hon. member for Wellington as being worthy of further consideration. In that case the farmer lost $1,200 through the neglect or inability of officials appointed by the minister and in such a case it appears to me only fair that the government should compensate the farmer for that loss. An item of $1,200 is a very important consideration to a farmer. I can speak with a good_ deal of sympathy as to that ease because''I know' a farmer who through the neglect of the government officials lost to the extent of about $1,500. The officials were advised of the case, but it took them four days to get there, and w'hen they arrived they ordered the animals destroyed, but about 20 per cent of the animals had died during the four days' delay. I believe that if that farmer took an action in the courts he would recover damages because of the neglect of the officials of the department.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

On the question of amending the Act in the direction of stamping all food that goes into cold storage, any one wdio has paid attention to w'hat has appeared in the press during the last few' months must conclude that great injury is being done to the trade of the country by the abuse of this cold storage system which amounts practically to a

conspiracy to enhance prices. Then, there is the health aspect of the case, because in my judgment as a medical man, food may be so deteriorated that it becomes unhealthy if it is kept in cold storage for an undue length of time. We had a statement as to the length of time food products arc kept in cold storage in Chicago and Kansas, but I saw a statement recently that the carcases of animals were kept for two years in cold storage in Montreal. It is very easy to verify that statement and it should he inquired into. It seems to me that it is the imperative duty of the Department of Agriculture to amend the law so as to compel the stamping of the date upon all food that is put into cold storage, and, providing that it shall not be kept there longer than a certain period. This is an opportune time now to legislate in that direction.

At- one o'clock committee took recess.

Committee resumed at Three o'clock.

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CON

John Albert Sexsmith

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SEXSMITH.

A matter was brought to my attention some time ago which I wish to bring to the attention of the minister. A farmer sold a very valuable beef animal to a drover. Some ten days or two weeks afterwards, the drover, who had taken his cargo to Montreal, sent a notice to the farmer that one of the animals he had bought from him had tuberculosis, and asked the farmer to refund the purchase money. The farmer had no evidence other than the word of the drover that it was his animal that was diseased, but rather than go into a lawsuit he decided to refund the money, amounting to some $80. He asked me if I would bring the matter up here at an opportune time, and find out if some remedy could not be provided for cases of this' kind. He hacl raised a great many beef cattle, and so far as he could see all the animals he sold to the drover were in perfect health. The animal in question may have been his or it may have been somebody else's. I want to bring the matter to the minister's attention, and ask him if he thinks the farmer should suffer the loss of his animal under these circumstances?

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

Not knowing all the circumstances, I could not say anything about it. I suppose it is a matter for the courts to decide.

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CON

John Albert Sexsmith

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SEXSMITH.

It seems to me that a farmer in selling his animals to drovers runs a great deal of risk. When the drover tells him that any of his animals are diseased, he has to lose the money or else perhaps go into court, and if he handles thoroughbred cattle he probably prefers to pay the money than go into court. I should imagine that a drover should be compelled

to give some evidence that an animal is diseased, or else notify the farmer immediately after the purchase.

r

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

I should think that if the farmer defended himself, the drover would have to produce some evidence before he could collect; but I would not care to give a legal opinion on the matter.

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CON

Thomas Chisholm

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. CHISHOLM.

What is right and honourable, and just should be law. Now, the government appoint Inspectors to inspect meat. They do that for the benefit of the general public. The government, representing the general public, pay these inspectors, and it is through them that the general public receive the benefit. Those who receive the benefit should pay the cost. The government, in appointing inspectors, have gone a certain distance. Any one who employs another person to do work for him, whether the government or an individual, is responsible for what that servant may do under their instructions. When an animal is condemned, there may be considerable difficulty in knowing to whom it belonged in the first place. It is utterly im-IKissible that one hog among 400 or 500 can be traced to the farmer from whom it was purchased. Even if that could be done, a farmer who had any suspicion that the animal was diseased, would not offer it for sale to a drover who would be likely to take it to a point where it would be inspected. The result is that diseased animals are retained on the farm. In that way the present practice really results in propagating disease, because the animal thus retained by the farmer is sold to the local butcher, and by the local butcher to the people of the neighbourhood. Thus meat for export is being inspected while the meat being sold to our Canadian citizens is not being inspected.

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LIB
CON

Thomas Chisholm

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. CHISHOLM.

I am just pointing out what the natural result of the present condition of affairs is. I am not saying that it is anybody's fault in particular. The meat supplied to our Canadian citizens is not inspected. They get the discarded beef, while the inspected meat is exported. The consequence is that if the farmer is made responsible, the result which I have pointed out will naturally occur, while if the government would pay a percentage of the value of the meat that is condemned, when it gets into the hands of the final purchaser, the farmer would not have 'such a fear to sell his animals, and more effective inspection would take place. I think that the government, as representing the general public, which is being benefited, should pay a percentage, say 50 or 75 per cent, of the value of the animal destroyed. The farmer would not be subject

to the loss, the drover, wlio now receives cheques which are only payable on certain conditions, would also be relieved, and the man who packs or cans the meat would not be such a heavy loser as he is. I quite approve of the government appointing these inspectors; I am one of those who think that the government cannot do too much along that line. I believe that a bureau of health should be established, and should 'be put under the charge of a man who would take a position in this country at some future time equal to that of Koch or Pasteur in Eurpoe. I believe we have in Canada young men of enthusiasm who are competent for such a position. Then we would not have so many halting attempts, and failures as we have at the present time. Such a man would make his work his life study, and the result would be that a great deal of good would he done, and a great many valuable lives saved.

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April 5, 1910