March 29, 1945

LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Hon. BROOKE CLAXTON (Minister of National Health and Welfare):

This item of $90,250 relates wholly to an educational campaign that was conducted last year by the department in an effort to combat venereal disease. A meeting was held as far back as 1943 and a special committee was set up composed of representatives of the armed forces, the provincial departments of health, other interested parties and the dominion health council. These meetings led on to a meeting on August 9, 1944, at which this special campaign was decided upon, and the campaign was authorized by an order in council passed the same day.

The campaign consisted of newspaper advertising, radio programmes, publicity by way of films and other educational material along the same line. It was worked out by the department in cooperation with other government departments and the armed forces. This was carried on under the direction of my predecessor, the present Minister of Veterans' Affairs. The result of the campaign was that public opinion was awakened, and we believe that it helped to create more favourable conditions for the provincial and other agencies to tackle the job. There has been close cooperation between the division of the department having to do with venereal diseases and the provincial health officers and the armed forces.

Supply-Health and Weljare

The 'hon. member asked what the present situation was with regard to this scourge. I think I can say that there has been a steady and fairly marked improvement with regard to venereal diseases in the army and other armed forces since 1942, and we believe also that there has been a considerable improvement in the civilian population. Statistics of venereal diseases in this country and in all others are notoriously unreliable because of the failure to report all cases, and so it is really impossible to say -with any accuracy what the situation is so far as the civilian population is concerned. The belief is that there has been an improvement.

Since I had nothing to do with the planning of the campaign which was entirely to the credit of my predecessor, I think I can tell the house that the publicity was very well received throughout the country. It met with approval in other countries and several foreign health authorities have indicated that they would like to use the same material in similar campaigns.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

Has any plan been

worked out by the department in cooperation with the provincial health and educational authorities to provide some education along these lines to the senior students in our high schools, technical schools and universities? As we all know from the statistics that have been brought to our attention, in the United States this scourge has been prevalent among children in the late adolescent years. One of the difficulties facing the authorities has been to find the carriers, who are not in many cases of the type that were supposed to be carriers in former years. During the war there has been a considerable relaxation of morals, and I was wondering if any plan had been worked out to inform students in our high schools and universities, or possibly senior groups outside of our educational institutions. The facilities are already available through our schools and universities.

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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. CLAXTON:

The plan I referred to was designed to appeal to all classes of the community, which would include senior students in the high schools and colleges. Publicity was carried on in -the newspapers and magazines, over the radio and by means of films. A federal-provincial conference of venereal disease control directors was held between August 8 and August 11, 1944, and I understand that it considered the question raised by my hon. friend. This is, of course, ultimately a matter for the provincial authorities. I am not aware of anything that this department has done toward making specific suggestions along that line to the provincial authorities, but I can assure my hon. friend

that we will take his suggestion into consideration. I shall see that it is brought before the dominion health council at its next meeting.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

I am anxious that this government should do something along this line. In some of the provinces the appropriations that have been made for this work have not been spent. I think there has been some neglect on the part of certain provincial authorities. During the last several years the federal authorities have tried to do something to improve this situation.

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NAT

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

I

understand that Hon. R. P. Vivian, minister of public welfare in Ontario, has carried on a campaign in this respect for over two years. He has taken it to the schools, and he has also had lecturers going around.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

I was not referring to Ontario.

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NAT

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

No, but I wish to mention that this has been done. I know it has been taken up with the local councils of women throughout Ontario.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

Frankly I was thinking of Saskatchewan.

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NAT

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

There is no doubt that similar work is needed all over the country. I -wanted to ask the minister if it is being carried on at all by the national health associations, of which, I understand, he is trying to form industrial and other branches.

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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. CLAXTON:

The Health League of Canada is one of the organizations which has carried on a very active work in this field. It is assisted by an annual grant of S5.000 from the federal government, and also, I believe, by very close cooperation from the officers of the department. A number of other organizations are actively concerned with this matter, but do not receive a specific grant from the federal government. In addition to Ontario, to which my hon. friend referred, a number of provinces and many educational authorities conduct lectures and give demonstrations of the type suggested by him and by the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar.

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NAT

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

It was found in Ontario very hard at first to break down the prevalent hush-hush feeling with regard to venereal disease. Eventually, largely by taking it up with the local councils of women all over the country, and especially in Ontario, this attitude has been changed, and I know that the subject is openly discussed at their meetings.

Supply-Health and Welfare

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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. CLAXTON:

The committee may be interested to learn that this campaign of publicity was quite new in the history of health advertising anywhere in the world, and it was entered upon with, I believe, some trepidation by my predecessor in office. The advertising dealt with this matter with great frankness, although in quite a proper and unsensational way. I can tell my predecessor, and I am sure he will hear it with satisfaction, that the campaign was not only greeted with great praise from all parts of Canada, but no single complaint was received from any source, and I think it did a great deal, as the hon. member for Peterborough West suggested, to break down the hush-hush attitude toward this disease.

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. CRUICKSHANK:

I agree that it is time to get over this hush-hush attitude, but I do not like what has been said about the armed services. I am not apologizing for anything which happened in Ontario; nobody can account for what happens there.

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NAT

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

It is the cleanest province in the country.

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. CRUICKSHANK:

Not from all we have seen; but an allusion has been made to the armed services which I entirely resent, and I want the minister to correct any impression it may create. No one in Canada has anything to fear from the armed services, and as an old soldier I object to any intimation that this trouble is confined to the armed services.

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CCF

Angus MacInnis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacINNIS:

I understand that Colonel Williams, who was in charge of venereal disease control, has returned to his former practice in Vancouver. Has anyone taken his place here, carrying on what he was doing?

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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. CLAXTON:

I am glad to say that Doctor Georges Leolerc, who was Colonel Williams' assistant, and who was brought into this work in the army first, and then into the department by Colonel Williams, who had himself done such fine work, is acting as his successor. Major Leclerc, after graduating from the university of Montreal, did postgraduate work in this field at New York, at Johns Hopkins, as well as a long interneship in Montreal, and he is thoroughly competent in his field.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

May I say a word in connection with the wonderful work carried on by Colonel Williams, not only in British Columbia, which has pioneered in reforms in this direction, but also for the Department of National Defence and for the former department of pensions and national health. As my hon. friend knows,

Colonel Williams' services were requested on several occasions bj' international authorities to undertake this work in a large international way. In regard to his successor, who has been mentioned by the present minister, when this campaign was launched last year I felt it my duty to address a great meeting of some fifteen hundred people in Ottawa. This very able gentleman was present and addressed the same meeting, and I can vouch for everything the minister has said as to his excellent qualifications to succeed one of the greatest authorities in the world*-Colonel Williams.

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LIB

George Taylor Fulford

Liberal

Mr. FULFORD:

About a year ago all hon. members were invited to the railway committee room to hear Doctor Williams lecture. It is a crying shame that there were only a handful there. At this lecture motion pictures were shown which were prepared for the armed services-I have special reference to those prepared for the air force. I think that those pictures in a modified form could and should be shown in every high school in the dominion. They were by far the best material on the subject, of venereal disease that I have seen.

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NAT

March 29, 1945