May 22, 1939 (18th Parliament, 4th Session)


Leslie Gordon Bell


Before this item passes, I do not want to make any lengthy speech, but simply say that I am very glad indeed that the hon. member who has just taken his seat has covered the ground in such an excellent manner. Coming from Saskatchewan, I am glad to know the things he said in praise of the work that has been done there, particularly in connection with tuberculosis. I remember very well when the work started by the anti-tuberculosis league back, I think, in 1911 or 1912 when they built the first sanatorium at Fort Qu'Appelle, and how Doctor Ferguson since that time has built up the institution.
Once upon a time it was the private obligation of the person suffering from the disease to meet the cost of care. Then the cities and urban centres formed a pool, and in that pool they placed a certain amount and sent patients to the sanatorium. Since, then, other sanataria have been built, and to-day tuberculosis treatment is free in Saskatchewan to all those who require it. That seems to me a demonstration of what might be done on a much wider scale. The hon. member who has just spoken showed the necessity for similar care for the same disease in other parts of Canada. He drew attention to the tremendous wastage in human life from other diseases, and from sickness which is very largely preventable. I am not forgetting that much of this disease arises from insanitary conditions in our cities and lack of nutrition in the case of many people in the country. And I think that consideration of economic conditions has to go with consideration of these health measures. I strongly support tie position that this is a national problem, because it deals with our greatest national asset, that of health and human life.
There is one other disease to which I wish to draw the attention of the minister and the committee to-night; that is the dread scourge of cancer. A great deal of work is being done in many provinces in regard to cancer. In Saskatchewan cancer clinics have been established. I was startled when some years

Supply-Pensions and National Health
ago I heard a young doctor, I think Doctor Dragon, a member of the legislature, turn to the members of the legislature-there were then sixty-five of them-and tell them that in all probability thirteen of the sixty-five, if they lived up to the average, would die of cancer. It was a startling statement. That scourge is spreading.
I wish to put in a plea for just one phase of the cancer situation. Many people find it very difficult to avail themselves of the opportunities provided by the clinics, where they exist. It has been suggested to me-it is not original with me-by a woman who is interested in health work, and particularly in cancer cases, that the federal government, if it made no other contribution, might in some manner provide that people who desire to avail themselves of treatment at these cancer clinics should be provided through the federal department with free transportation to these clinics. In Saskatchewan, where distances are great and where there is a great deal of poverty at the present time, transportation is a barrier. I make this plea to the minister because it would be at least a small contribution to the splendid work that is being done in these provinces.

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