June 20, 1947

LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

We are not on that item now; we have passed health insurance. However, the hon. member may be able to raise it later. This item is with regard to hospital designs.

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PC

Harold Aberdeen Watson Timmins

Progressive Conservative

Mr. TIMMINS:

I understood that the money in the United States was spent to

provide hospital beds, and I was wondering whether this particular item contemplates a plan of that sort.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

It is purely architectural.

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Item agreed to. National health branch- 220. Mental health, $40,096.


PC

Wilfrid Garfield Case

Progressive Conservative

Mr. CASE:

What responsibility has the federal Department of National Health and Welfare with regard to mental institutions in Canada?

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

We have no responsibility. That is a matter that comes under the provinces, and I must say that in spite of the overtaxed capacity of these institutions in the provinces they are doing, in my opinion, a very good work. The problem is a serious one, but it is one that comes under their authority and one to which, within our constitutional limitations, we are always prepared, by way of supplementary assistance in some form or other, to give help. I repeat, however, that the matter is one within provincial jurisdiction.

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PC

Charles Elwood Stephenson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. STEPHENSON:

With regard to hospital designs, is not this a case where the dominion and the province are overlapping?

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LIB

William Henry Golding (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN:

We have passed that item.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

I will note the question and when I reach the end of the estimates I will deal with it together with a number of loose ends that I shall pick up then.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FLEMING:

What is the expenditure under item 220?

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

The estimate for 1946-47 is $32,285, the expenditure $19,180.38 and the unliquidated commitments $155.48.

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PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BROOKS:

In view of the fact that some of the provinces are having great difficulty in looking after their mental institutions, and the federal government gives some help, has the department ever considered giving more practical assistance to the provinces? In my own province of New Brunswick the situation is bad1, and I am satisfied that if the federal government were aware of the conditions and gave some assistance the situation would be improved. Has any consideration been given to that question?

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

In the dominion-provincial proposals there is a proposed grant of $4 million.

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PC
PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HARKNESS:

I have been disturbed by different articles I have read in the last

Supply-Health and Welfare

two or three years in regard to the increasing number of mental cases in Canada, the large number of hospital beds they occupy, and the inadequate facilities provided for treatment and cure. Can the minister indicate what is being done under this particular vote to the end of bringing about improvement in the conditions which the hon. member for Grey North has pointed out as having formed the subject of articles disparaging to our mental institutions in the eyes of many people throughout the world? Can the minister indicate how this money is being spent to correct the condition complained of?

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

This matter is one that

comes under the jurisdiction of the provinces. It is one which they jealously guard as being within their own field. We did, however, in 1945 set up this division for the first time, at their request, as a sort of pooling agency to keep the provinces informed of what each was doing and to carry on general inspection work. The mental health field includes preventive work as well as provision for treatment facilities. The matter, of course, is a function of the provinces. The federal division cooperates with them in their efforts to benefit the mental hospital patients by surveying hospitals and setting up standards. We have produced a number of films at the request of the provinces, the cost of which we have borne. For instance, one film deals with the treatment of persons who have been in such institutions, the suggestion being that we should not frown upon such individuals but should try to help them. One film aims at increasing appreciation on the part of the public of the need of early treatment of mental illnesses, while another has reference to mild nervous and mental illness and the instructions of personnel engaged in the treatment of the mentally ill. There is another which deals with the treatment of children. As my hon. friend knows, there are many children in this country, as there are elsewhere, who are incipient patients. We try by educational methods, through films, lectures and the like, at the request of the provinces, to bring home to the people throughout Canada the dangers and ways and means of perhaps avoiding serious mental illnesses. That is the kind of work we are carrying on, and while the division has been in existence only since 1945, a truly remarkable job has been done, to use the words of Doctor Phair, deputy minister of health for Ontario. I look forward, as I am sure the hon. gentleman does, to greatly increased activity in this field, without any interference with the field occupied by the provinces.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FLEMING:

Taking up the phrase

just used by the minister, what is the expansion of work contemplated in this department this year? You are asking for an appropriation of $40,000. The amount expended last year was just $19,000. What is the expanded welfare programme which justifies this request for an amount more than double last year's actual expenditures?

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

The plans for the next

fiscal year are to publish jointly with the division of maternal and child health, and other divisions, some of the following booklets:

1. The Care and Training of the Normal Child from Two to Six Years of Age.

2. The School-Age Child.

3. Helping the Adolescent.

4. The Child in the Classroom.

5. The Home Training of the Mentally Retarded Child.

6. The Home care of the Epileptic.

7. Psychosomatic and Psychoneurotic Illnesses.

We hope to carry on those projects and to complete, with the cooperation of the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, the revision of the reporting cards and forms used by the mental institutions in reporting to the dominion bureau. It is hoped that forms and cards can be produced which will be uniform across the country and which will at the same time meet the requirements of the provinces for their own statistical purposes.

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PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BROOKS:

Many of these pamphlets are published; how are they distributed to the people?

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

We issue them to the provincial departments of health, and they distribute them to the schools and factories.

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June 20, 1947