October 19, 1949

PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

I am not suggesting the hon. member for Portneuf did. I am only pointing out that the amount is not one which bears very much relationship to the over-all problem. The Department of Education for the province of Ontario is spending approximately $50 million a year on education so that, while $74,000 is an important amount of money, it

Education

is a comparatively small amount in relation to the total sum which is being spent by that province. The grants, which are on a basis proportionate to the other provinces, would bear a corresponding relationship to the general problem of education.

I mention that, not because I have any thought that the hon. member for Portneuf attempted in any way to misinterpret the situation, but because on certain occasions elsewhere there have been attempts to magnify this subject. Attempts have been made to create the impression that certain facilities were being denied because of the lack of co-operation. I say that not one single thing that could be done about physical education or community centres was withheld because that $74,000 was not available. The only reason that particular amount was not received at that time was that there were strings attached to it which would have given an indirect measure of control over certain matters that were the responsibility of the provincial Department of Education. I am very pleased to say that the restriction was removed, and because it was removed that amount is now being received.

May I also point out that the cost of education has mounted enormously during the past few years. Speaking from my personal experience in connection with education, and just to indicate the extent to which those costs have been increased, I should like to recall that, in the case of Ontario for example, the year before I assumed the office of minister of education the total contributed to school boards from the provincial treasury was $7,830,000. The amount now contributed is in excess of $35 million a year. This illustrates the growth of the expenditure on education within a comparatively few years.

Topic:   EDUCATION
Subtopic:   EQUALIZING OF OPPORTUNITY
Sub-subtopic:   ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
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LIB

Gaspard Fauteux

Liberal

Mr. Fauieux:

This amount which the hon. member has mentioned is not solely for physical fitness?

Topic:   EDUCATION
Subtopic:   EQUALIZING OF OPPORTUNITY
Sub-subtopic:   ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Oh, no.

Topic:   EDUCATION
Subtopic:   EQUALIZING OF OPPORTUNITY
Sub-subtopic:   ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
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LIB

Gaspard Fauteux

Liberal

Mr. Fauteux:

It is for general educational purposes?

Topic:   EDUCATION
Subtopic:   EQUALIZING OF OPPORTUNITY
Sub-subtopic:   ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

While there are adequate physical fitness programs, I have departed from that subject. I am not suggesting for one moment that $35 million per year is being granted for physical fitness. What I said was that the year before I had responsibility for education in the province the grant to

Education

school boards amounted to $7,830,000, and to indicate how educational costs have grown I said the grants for that purpose are now around $35 million. The over-all budget in that one province approximates $50 million. The increase in cost has been general throughout Canada. For that very reason the provinces must have added sources of revenue to maintain education and to give the opportunities that are becoming increasingly available through the advances that have taken place.

The mover of this resolution has referred to the work of the Canadian Educational Association and to the emphasis of that association on the need for greater financial support of education throughout Canada. The Canadian Education Association affords an excellent example of the way that matters of common concern to the provinces can be advanced by the co-operation of the different provinces. The experience of each province is pooled to the common advantage of every province in Canada. This education association is a semi-official body. The Department of Education of every province is represented and, almost invariably, the senior officials of the association are members of the various departments of education or leading educationists. This association does not attempt to lay down a uniform pattern for the whole of Canada, but the officials of the different provincial departments meet and explain what is being done by the various provincial departments to advance education in the provinces. Out of that exchange of experience, there has been a tremendous advance in educational standards throughout Canada and a general improvement in understanding how to deal with the problems of education.

One of the reasons that education is costing a great deal more money than it did a few years ago, and that it is bound to demand increasing expenditure, is the very real effort that is being made to raise the salaries of the teachers and to provide modern facilities for education in the most remote areas of the country as well as in the urban centres. In the past few years a great advance has been made in the type of schools that are being built. Not only are the modern schools using the advances made in construction, new methods of lighting and heating, and improved design, but they are also being built in order to make full use of the increased facilities for transportation which make it possible for

schools to accommodate the pupils of much larger areas. In that way it is possible to bring into single schools, even in remote rural areas, a number of teachers who can have the advantage of their combined efforts. There is also the advantage of making it possible for teachers to specialize in different subjects and exchange information in the different classrooms.

There is, however, this important consideration which cannot be emphasized too often. Even if we built in Canada the finest schools that have ever been constructed anywhere, we would have done nothing to advance our educational standards unless those who are teaching in those schools are highly qualified to teach the children that come under their direction. For that reason, wherever the school may be and whatever type of school may be under consideration, the effort of all those concerned with the advancement of education in Canada should be to raise to a level that is in keeping with their responsibility the salaries of those to whom we are entrusting to a considerable extent the whole future of Canada.

This may be an obvious statement, but it is one which should be repeated over and over again. The standards of our national life in the years ahead will depend to a considerable degree not only upon the technical and academic standards of our education but more than on anything else upon the ethical standards of our education and the character that is implanted in our youth by the education that is given in our schools.

I am not forgetting for a moment that education does not begin in the schools. It starts in the home, at the mother's knee. Then the next stage of education is in the churches where it carries on. The broader phases of education are the responsibility of the schools of all types in every part of the country. The character and the spirit of our youth, the confidence of our youth in their own future, will depend upon the character of our teachers and also in great measure upon the spirit of the teachers and the feeling on their part that the value and importance of their work is being recognized by those who employ them.

One of the most remarkable things about the advancement of this country of ours is the unselfish spirit of service and sacrifice that has inspired our teachers at times when many of them must have felt the importance of their work not being fully recognized by those who engaged them. There have been improvements, however; in many places there have been great improvements. But having regard to the place that the education in our schools will take in the building of

our nation, I think it can properly be said that next to the church itself there is no higher calling to which men and women can devote their brains and their service than that of teaching the youth who will guide the destiny of Canada tomorrow and in the years ahead. In approaching this subject, therefore, and in considering the importance of giving to it the attention that it deserves, emphasis must be placed not only upon the necessity of meeting the physical and structural requirements of education but also upon the necessity of advancing the opportunities of the teachers themselves, of not only raising their salaries to levels that are in keeping with their responsibilities, but of also opening to our teachers even wider opportunities of continuing education in their own chosen profession.

There is great need for educational opportunities for teachers themselves, because education is advancing all the time in the facilities that are available and in the way in which it can be imparted to the children. Just in these last few years great strides have been taken in the use of moving pictures in the schools. This is a field in which an agency of the dominion government, the national film board, can be of great assistance, because there are almost infinite opportunities for advancing the education of our children in many lines through the impact of the visible impression upon their minds. Whether it be in such subjects as history, biology, or the practical subjects such as physics and chemistry, or whether it be in the cultural subjects such as music and art, the possibilities of the film are almost limitless. There is a field in which an agency of the dominion government can co-operate effectively in the work that is being done. But in mentioning that, it also needs to be emphasized as well that to give these facilities to all the schools a very considerable expense must be incurred in providing the equipment that will translate those films into actual educational opportunity in the schools themselves.

Then, also, great advances have been made in the opportunity for education by the radio. At the present time most, if not all, of the departments of education in Canada are making use of the radio within their own provinces for the purposes of carrying education into the classroom. There is another mechanical device which is not being used to the extent that it could be, but which is extremely useful, namely, the sound record. Now, with the development of modern records that will play for fifty minutes, whole courses of instruction can be given on particular subjects, and through this device the most highly trained educational experts available in the whole country can, with

Education

their own voices, give instructions in the subject in which they are so highly qualified, and in that way the most remote classroom, whether it be in the Arctic or in the remote northern coast lines on the Atlantic or on the Pacific, can have the advantage of personal contact with the greatest brains in this country, in a way that never before was regarded as possible.

These things are only the beginning. Perhaps at the moment television may be regarded as highly experimental, but past experience with new devices teaches us that this also will experience great advances in the years ahead. Each of these things, as it comes along, provides new opportunities to bring to our children the best training, the best standards of skill, the best qualifications, right into the classroom. It is no longer necessary for a single teacher, teaching all the classes in a single classroom, to try to teach the children to sing when that teacher was never gifted with a talent of song. Now, by bringing into the classroom by radio, by record or by the film, instruction in music, the greatest voices in the world can impress upon the children the quality of music and what it means to their own satisfaction.

The same is true of the things that are taking place from day to day. They can actually hear history as it is being made, and the great speeches at momentous times in the world's history can now be carried into the classrooms at the very moment they are being made, instead of being brought at some distant day in the form of the written word to leave its first impression upon the child's mind.

I have taken the time to review these things only to impress the fact that, along with these vastly increasing opportunities, will come vastly increased expenditures on the part of every school board in every part of Canada. For that very reason I believe it is important that the provincial departments of education be assured of that measure of financial support which is necessary to bring to reality the desire that I am sure is shared by every hon. member, that real equality of opportunity in education shall be extended to all Canadians, no matter where they live or what the material circumstances of their parents may be.

There is no single thing upon which money can be better spent than upon this great subject of education. There is another aspect. We are being called upon to provide increasing sums of money not so much for the health of our people as for their sickness and, in many cases, to deal with permanent and irreparable damage to the human system. The old Latin maxim mens sana in corpore sano is one which also carries the reverse

Education

connotation; because while it is true that we usually find a healthy mind in a healthy body, we shall also be most likely to find a healthy body where a well-trained mind has given to the individual that measure of self-discipline that, having regard to the physical ability of any individual, will make it possible for him best to meet not only the general test of life, but the physical test as well. Many of the crippling accidents that are limiting and impairing the whole future of so many of our children today would never happen if our education were on a level where the self-respect, the self-discipline, the ethical standards of our youth imparted by education provided the greatest possible safeguard against some of these misfortunes.

At a time when we are seeing millions upon millions being spent for those whose minds are gone beyond repair, and when we see millions upon millions being spent upon those who are incurably disabled as a result of personal weaknesses, and accidents which were themselves the result of failure to apprehend obvious dangers, and at a time when we see the increasing burdens of sicknesses that could have been avoided-that is the time for us to recognize that education is not something only to teach people how to make a living and how to enjoy living; rather it is also something to equip people to meet the physical as well as the other tests of life.

Therefore while this resolution covers only part of the problem, I do believe it is one which merits the wholehearted support of every member in the house. Before closing these remarks however I would emphasize that it is essential that there be an examination of the whole field of dominion-provincial relations, so that the provincial requirements in respect of health, education, and all these other responsibilities, considered to be provincial responsibilities under our constitution, may be fully examined, and that we shall not deal with these things piecemeal but that we may place the provinces in a position of being able to meet the demands properly made upon them by the people who have chosen the provincial governments as their servants.

In any event it will be helpful to have emphasized the need for support in educational matters; and if this debate serves no other purpose at the moment, I hope it will help to emphasize that there is a high degree of unanimity within the House of Commons as to the desirability of assuring to every child in Canada, wherever they may live, or under whatever conditions, whether they have parents capable of taking care of them, or whether unhappily they may be orphaned and dependent upon others, that to the limit of our power we shall make the words

"equality of opportunity" a reality, so that in the years ahead we may build a nation based upon character and upon educational understanding of the great opportunity it is to be a Canadian and to live in this land of ours.

Topic:   EDUCATION
Subtopic:   EQUALIZING OF OPPORTUNITY
Sub-subtopic:   ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
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LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, it would be impossible for me during the two or three minutes remaining before six o'clock to attempt to deal at all adequately with the resolution before the house. I am sure all hon. members have welcomed this opportunity of focusing their attention upon this assertion, one which certainly appeals to each and every one of us, that there should be across Canada the greatest possible degree of equality of opportunity for the education of our young Canadians, the Canadians of the next generation.

Whether or not the granting of financial assistance by the federal government to the various provinces could be arranged in such a manner as to avoid exercising any direct or indirect control over the field of education, which is essentially within provincial jurisdiction, is a question offering greater possibilities of controversy.

There is no doubt that every one of us, as a Canadian citizen, is vitally concerned with the necessity of there being maintained in this country adequate educational facilities to produce the kind of citizens who may be able to make the best possible use of the bountiful resources with which Providence has blessed our great country. And there can be no doubt that, since the cessation of hostilities, the program devised to provide educational facilities for veterans of war has been of great assistance in the maintenance of the efficiency of our educational institutions. I think many of us feel that, without the assistance it was possible to provide during that period, many of our institutions would have found it very difficult indeed to maintain their activities to the high degree which is so satisfactory to the Canadian public.

Personally I have no doubt that it will be necessary to find some way in which these institutions can continue to be supplied with that which is necessary to them to maintain that high standard in their educational activities. The leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) referred in a most interesting manner to some of the facilities which modern developments in science and equipment make available now to promote education in our institutions of learning. Some of them are activities in which the federal government is engaged.

Hon. members know that, at the present time, there is a royal commission investigating the problem as to whether or not we are making the best possible use of the public moneys being expended for the promotion of the development of the aspect of national life in Canada which is not measured in statistical trade returns, or in dollars and cents, or pounds and shillings. Though the reference calls upon that body to confine its recommendations to matters which are within federal jurisdiction, it will be impossible for them to formulate such recommendations without looking at the whole picture throughout the Canadian nation, and without seeing the other activities under provincial jurisdiction which contribute to the same development. It will certainly be a matter of months before we can obtain a report from that commission, and I should think it would be wise not to attempt to determine with any degree of precision how the purposes can best be served until we have had that report.

It may be that there are other hon. members who would wish to participate in the discussion of this problem, and perhaps at this time the most convenient thing to do would be to adjourn the debate.

Topic:   EDUCATION
Subtopic:   EQUALIZING OF OPPORTUNITY
Sub-subtopic:   ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
Permalink
CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Knowles:

No. On a point of order, would the Prime Minister just ask that it be called six o'clock, rather than move the adjournment of the debate. I have in mind the effect of standing order 27.

Topic:   EDUCATION
Subtopic:   EQUALIZING OF OPPORTUNITY
Sub-subtopic:   ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
Permalink
LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent:

Then if Your Honour would call it six o'clock, this debate would remain unfinished.

Topic:   EDUCATION
Subtopic:   EQUALIZING OF OPPORTUNITY
Sub-subtopic:   ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
Permalink
CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Knowles:

Yes, and it will be first next time.

Education

Topic:   EDUCATION
Subtopic:   EQUALIZING OF OPPORTUNITY
Sub-subtopic:   ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
Permalink
PC

Thomas Langton Church

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Church:

It involves a change in the British North America Act, and would extend to all the civil service, including the police.

Topic:   EDUCATION
Subtopic:   EQUALIZING OF OPPORTUNITY
Sub-subtopic:   ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
Permalink
LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent:

I do not wish to engage in a discussion of the point at the moment. However, it being six o'clock, I suggest that further debate on the matter might take place at some other time.

Topic:   EDUCATION
Subtopic:   EQUALIZING OF OPPORTUNITY
Sub-subtopic:   ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
Permalink
CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Knowles:

Next Wednesday.

Topic:   EDUCATION
Subtopic:   EQUALIZING OF OPPORTUNITY
Sub-subtopic:   ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
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PC

Thomas Langton Church

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Church:

It could be done by a subvention, could it not?

Topic:   EDUCATION
Subtopic:   EQUALIZING OF OPPORTUNITY
Sub-subtopic:   ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
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BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

?

Jean-Paul Stephen St-Laurent

Mr. Si. Laurent:

It being six o'clock I understand that the Speaker leaves the chair without question put. Tomorrow the first order of business will be the continuation of the debate on the resolution standing in my name with respect to amendment of the British North America Act. If that is disposed of we will proceed with second reading of Bill No. 12, to establish the Canadian Overseas Telecommunication Corporation; then Bill No. 62, respecting forest conservation. As has already been announced by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott), whatever progress may be made on those measures, at eight o'clock he will reintroduce the budget resolutions. I assume that, in accordance with the usual practice, after his speech and some remarks by one of the hon. members of the opposition, the debate will be adjourned. If it is adjourned and the other matters have been disposed of, then estimates will be resumed.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Permalink

At six o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order.



Thursday, October 20, 1949


October 19, 1949