March 20, 1941

PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY


The house resumed from Wednesday, March 19, consideration in committee of a resolution to provide sums not exceeding $1,300,000,000 for the year ending March 31, 1942, for the carrying out of measures consequent upon the existence of a state of war- Mr. Ilsley-Mr. Vien in the chair.


NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

I think it would be very helpful to the committee if the Minister of Pensions and National Health (Mr. Mackenzie) would explain the present situation with regard to air raid precautions work across Canada. As I understand it, a year or so ago the government set aside a certain amount of money to be used to finance the development of air raid precautions groups in certain parts of the country, and looked to the provincial governments and the municipalities to carry out the details. I do not know of course what the situation is in the other provinces, but in British Columbia the time has come when some government, dominion or provincial or municipal, must be given the responsibility of leadership in the making of necessary further arrangements. For example, in British Columbia several thousand people have taken training and have really made great sacrifices

War Appropriation Bill

to fit themselves to take charge in the event of air raids, but now they have no proper places in which to store their equipment, nor have they any alarm signals or sirens; there is no central control system such as would be needed in the event of air raids, and they have no depots at all for various headquarters, no first aid posts. In many ways the scheme has come to a dead end.

These people have shown an excellent spirit throughout, over a long period of time, and if all that effort is not to be lost, definite steps must be taken at once either by the federal government or by the different provincial governments. I notice that in this war appropriation provision is made for $250,000 for air raid precautions work. I would ask the minister to tell us just how far the government proposes to go. Are the various local committees that have been set up being given any information that will enable them to judge as to the seriousness of the danger of air raids? How can they tell whether they should organize on the basis of an imminent threat or on the basis of the mere possibility of danger?

I think the local governments are entitled to have that information from the federal government, and they should know whether or not they have to put up any further money that is required or whether it will come from the federal government. Some of the municipalities find themselves without the legal power to tax, to raise money for furthering this work; yet the provincial governments are hanging back, not paying out the necessary money, and there is great confusion in different parts of the country. I am quite certain that leadership is needed from the government here and I would ask the minister to tell us what the government proposes to do.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

As indicated last year before war broke out, an interdepartmental committee was formed to consider the question of air raid precautions in Canada and a report was available with respect to the situation before the outbreak of the present war. Acting upon the recommendation made in that report, the responsibility for initiating certain measures was entrusted to the Department of Pensions and National Health, as in England. There, the ministry of health was entrusted with the work. The first method of Drocedure was to

ask the Department of National Defence to specify which areas in Canada would be considered vulnerable.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

Will the minister tell us what areas have been so specified?

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

It would not be wise to do so.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

That is confidential information?

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

I can tell my hon. friend privately, but I would not state it in public because it is marked most secret by the Department of National Defence. Otherwise I should be glad to tell my hon. friend.

Certain degrees of vulnerability are assessed in the recommendations made by the Department of National Defence, and consequent upon that the officers of the Department of Pensions and National Health got in touch with the various provincial governments-at first, only four governments: those of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and British Columbia. The provincial premiers were interviewed well over a year ago and they agreed to set up provincial committees, and it was also agreed to set up municipal or regional committees in the various provinces. Generally speaking, the recommendation of the first committee was that air raid precautions work was in the nature of passive defence and would be considered to be in the main the responsibility of the local authorities, that is, the provinces and the municipalities. The order in council itself was rather secret and was not circulated. A letter of instructions based on the terms of that order in council was sent out to the various provinces outlining what their responsibility would be and what measure of cooperation would be extended by the federal government.

Excellent work has been done in all provinces and since that time the organization has been developed in Ontario and is now under way in the federal district in Ottawa. A recommendation was made by my predecessor at the very outset of the war that a grant be made to these four provinces, for the purpose of organization only, of $5,000 each, and there may be some more small grants for the purpose of organization. But in recent months the assistance being given by the federal government from these moneys, last year some $100,000 and $250,000 this year, consists

[Mr. Green.)

War Appropriation Bill

practically entirely of literature and thirteen or fourteen different kinds of equipment which I shall be glad to specify later. So that at the present time I do not think assistance is being given for anything like salaries or expenses, which are assumed entirely by the various provincial governments. In Nova Scotia, for instance, they have expended only one or two thousand dollars of the first grant, and they have done excellent work. I saw the black-out once myself in Halifax, it was most successfully carried out. Excellent work is being done also in New Brunswick.

The trouble has been, if I may use the word, that the patriotic urge to serve outran the

terms of the intention of the recommendation of the committee when that recommendation was first submitted. In some provinces, notably Quebec and our own province of British Columbia, through keenness and anxiety to branch out they did engage in many activities which really were not related to air raid precaution work as such. There is now some disappointment in some of these centres because they have trained great numbers of men in this very excellent work-

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

Can the minister give the

numbers?

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

Yes, I was just going to do that. They are as follows:

Province

New Brunswick..

Nova Scotia

Ontario

Quebec

British Columbia Federal District.

Total personnel, 64,764.

Wardens Auxiliary- fire First aid Municipal1,712 in 587 1541.500 100 400 10010,000 5,000 2,500 1,00030,000 1,000 2,500 7502,800 650 600 2502,200' 250 450 15048,212 7,111 7,037 2,404

This was made up last week.

In regard to the nature of the work carried out, in the first place the wardens, who are practically all volunteers, are attached to the various police forces. Their duties are to know the districts to which the various workers are assigned, to know the locations of first aid posts, fire alarm boxes, and the resident address of doctors; to prevent panic or confusion; to patrol and enforce lighting restrictions during black-outs.

The auxiliary fire services consist of volunteers trained by the fire chiefs to augment and assist the regular fire departments by relieving the firemen of ground duties.

The engineering services are volunteers trained by the ordinary municipal repair crews to assist in regard to water mains, sewers, et cetera, also a number trained in decontamination wTork and the demolition of buildings.

Under public utilities, are volunteers to assist, if required, repair gangs of electric light, gas and telephone companies.

The first aid are volunteers for stretcher parties and first aid posts. Under the Red Cross there are volunteers for relief and care of temporary homeless-this is a matter of training of course; for the care of evacuees if the evacuation of any centre is found necessary; for the hospitalization of injured.

Under transportation come volunteers with privately-owned cars and light trucks used as ambulances or for other transport needs. That is the basis of the transport organization, following closely experience obtained by some officers who had been overseas and seen the methods adopted over there. But the responsibility of carrying them out is entirely that of the local authorities. This government is assisting as far as possible in the type of equipment most necessary to carry out that work.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

Does the government intend to go any further than it has already gone? It is of the greatest importance that this work should not be allowed to drop at this stage. The minister has just said that there are approximately 64,000 volunteers trained to do this work. I fear that if further equipment is not provided without much more delay these volunteer groups will not be held together. The vote has been increased this year; is it not possible for the government to provide the equipment which has become necessary in connection with the more advanced training? For example, should not the government provide alarm signals and the central control system, and depots in which to store equipment which after all has been bought with federal government funds? There is not much money involved, but if the government does

War Appropriation Bill

not step out and take a lead the whole thing may be lost; thousands of people who had felt they were doing something to help the war effort will be discouraged, and there will be a weakening of morale right across the country. Is the government not prepared to go further and meet this present situation, or must the provincial governments do it?

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

I stated very carefully in reply to my hon. friend that to make it a primary federal responsibility would be an absolute departure from the entire spirit of the recommendation upon which they acted in the first place. Even in England, where of course there is much greater necessity for this kind of work, they commenced it on a local authority basis. I saw a clipping from a Scottish paper in which it was stated that the local community were complaining that they could not carry on their share of this work. But it would be unwise to assume this as a federal responsibility. It is the responsibility of the local authority.

In regard to equipment I see no reason why we cannot assist materially in that regard. There are considerable quantities of equipment now in the provinces.

In regard to storage, something can certainly be done. I am not aware that there is any necessity for storage facilities in any centre, but I will certainly look into that. If any additional equipment is recommended by those in charge of the work, I see no reason why-

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

Who would make the recommendation?

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

Doctor Gliddon, our federal officer, is in constant touch with the provinces. He was in Vancouver a couple of weeks ago. Ontario has got out an excellent booklet on the various phases of A.R.P. work, and they have done the same in Quebec and in the maritime provinces.

Having regard to the experience of other countries, unless the situation drastically changes I think it would be a mistake to assume this as a federal responsibility entirely. 1 am satisfied that excellent progress has been made in all centres, and, as mentioned by my hon. friends, the spirit of these volunteers is simply splendid in every way.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

At the moment I am not suggesting that the federal government should take over the plan in its entirety. What I want to know is whether or not the federal government will provide the funds required for the further equipment which is needed if the training is to be carried on.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

If our experts who are in constant touch with the situation recommend it as necessary.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

That is, if Doctor Gliddon recommends it, the government will act?

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

Yes.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

What arrangements are being made to provide for compensation in the event of any of these wardens being killed or injured? Is any provision made for them or for their families?

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

Not definitely as yet, but that matter has oeen under consideration for some time and an order in council has been prepared to deal with it. The order in council is now before the Department of Justice for review.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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March 20, 1941