Hon. BROOKE CLAXTON (Minister of National Defence):
I havei received a report from Colonel Snow, commanding officer of the Vancouver area, who has been co-ordinating activities in connection with efforts to control the flood and provide relief in the Fraser valley. From this it appears that the situation is not yet out of the critical stage.
Flood Relief in British Columbia
Within the next two days we should know whether conditions are definitely on the mend or are likely to be considerably worse.
In view of the fact that in the United States they have had much more experience in flood control, particularly in connection with the Mississippi system, the flood control committee in Vancouver, with the concurrence of Colonel Snow, suggested that it would be useful to have the advice of American experts on the situation. Accordingly, at the request of the Premier of British Columbia, I made arrangements under which Colonel L. H. Hewitt, of the United States army, and two civilian engineers, Mr. John Monarch and Mr. Raymond Bracelin, were flown to Vancouver and yesterday inspected the dikes at Chilliwack and Vedder canal. We are greatly indebted to them for this service. Colonel Snow reports: "A number of suggestions were offered but general comment was that men in charge of dike work knew their job." They are looking over the situation in other areas.
At the present time, in addition to the naval and air force personnel engaged, there are 1,225 active and 1,359 reserve force army personnel, with another 500 active force on the way from the prairie command. Some of the reserve force men have been at work night and day for more than two weeks. Hon. members will agree that this is a very real contribution to meet a national emergency. It also represents a considerable contribution on the part of employers who would like to see their men back. Our intention is to release reserve personnel just as soon as the situation is in hand. In the meantime, I appeal to their employers to see the job through, as the men themselves are doing.
A rumour has been brought to my attention that several federal government employees have been told that the time they are spending on relief work will count against their holidays. On the authority of the cabinet I can tell the house that this is not so. Another rumour has reached me that an employer has laid off men because they were out with the reserves working on relief. I do not believe this; but if it were true I would think public opinion would be a sufficient corrective. No man should lose either job or holidays because he has been helping to meet a national emergency.
Subtopic: FLOOD CONDITIONS
Sub-subtopic: FRASER VALLEY-ARRANGEMENTS BETWEEN PROVINCIAL AND DOMINION GOVERNMENTS