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.
Subtopic: PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY