I am quite sure that there will be no objection whatever from the people in that area if the appropriate authorities decide that those living there may qualify for the benefits which the minister has outlined in this great national hospital program.
I notice that the hon. member for Moose Jaw-Lake Centre has not been taking part in the discussion. The minister will recall that a year ago when this matter was being considered in the estimates committee the hon. member for Moose Jaw-Lake Centre was concerned about the cost; this proposal was to be a tremendous cross on the shoulders of the Canadian people. My colleague the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre made a good case, I think, when he pointed out that the Canadian people are now spending a very large amount on hospital care, and while this program will no doubt increase the cost it will certainly result in improved hospital services if the record is anything like our record in Saskatchewan.
The minister has a very efficient research department. In endorsing what my colleague has said I draw to the committee's attention the fact that this same department did some research work prior to the publication of the green book in 1945, and it was estimated in 1945 that $3.60 per person per year would be sufficient to provide hospital care. That figure was arrived at by taking into account the number of Canadians who went to hospital each year and the cost which prevailed
at that time. We set a $5 figure in Saskatchewan and, of course, we found that this has not been adequate because of rising costs.
But there has been another important factor which entered into this picture. Prior to the introduction of our hospital service program in Saskatchewan only a small percentage of women counted on going to hospital to have their babies. But today that practice is changed, and it is rare that babies are born outside hospitals. People are getting better care, and we find that infant mortality and maternal mortality have decreased; the situation has changed dramatically since this program was introduced.
I would like to ask the minister whether he has done anything in the past year to bring to the attention of provinces such as Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia the fact that they are losing money by failing to agree to go along with this plan? The minister himself placed on record a very interesting table on page 192 of the report of the estimates committee a year ago-
Subtopic: AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENTS FROM CONSOLIDATED REVENUE FUND