Hon. MURRAY MacLAREN (Minister of Pensions and National Health):
A day or
two ago the hon. member for Temiscouata (Mr. Pouliot) asked some questions in the house with regard to complaints that had been made to him concerning the hospital at Ste. Anne de Bellevue, and I said I would make inquiries. I have done so, Mr. Speaker, and I am informed that the officer in charge of the hospital and the chief medical officer have not heard of any of the complaints referred to. The officer against whom the charges are made is not a returned soldier,
but has been socially trained in diseases of the chest. He positively states that he did not give expression to the words mentioned and I think the language quoted by the hon. member for Temiscouata was such that no official in the hospital would be allowed to carry on his duties if it were found that these statements had been made. This official states emphatically and positively that it is not correct.
May I say that this officer has some knowledge of French, and my information is that when suitable opportunity offers he speaks to the French patients in their own language. In the ward there are about 35 patients, 7 or 8 of whom are French, and one of the ward nurses is French as well. I may tell my hon. friend from Temiscouata -and this may be of interest to other hon. members-that the nurses and officials generally in this hospital have been encouraged to speak to the French patients in their own language, and it has been pointed out that it is their duty and to their advantage to do so. I may say further that last winter classes were held for the purpose of improving their knowledge of the French language. The hospital is fortunate in having as full time chaplain a French speaking Catholic clergyman, who was kind enough to conduct the classes during the winter. He states that these classes were well attended, and that much interest was taken in them. I make this last statement of my own personal knowledge, because I may say in a modest way that these changes were instituted at the suggestion of the minister himself.