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


Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)



I want to say just one word to thank the hon. member for Greenwood for having so eloquently placed on Hansard the result of his researches into this health question. It is a very large question. The matter of responsibility particularly is one on which it is extremely difficult to get full
agreement throughout the country. There has been no doubt at all in my mind, particularly since I have had an opportunity to give health matters that study which I have been enabled to give them since taking over this department, that the state has as much responsibility to look after the health of its citizens as it has to protect them against burglary or any other social calamity. But which particular branch of the state in Canada should do that is something not yet decided. We cannot say all at once that we are going to take over all the health services of the provinces. I am sure that if I were to decide to take over the health units in my own province we would have a kind of revolution on our hands. We would be infringing on provincial rights. The banner provincial autonomy would be raised. If other province! would follow the example of Quebec and Saskatchewan and develop their own health units it would be for the greater good of Canada.
That is the ease all along the line. There is room for cooperation. There is room for coordination of effort. There is a crying demand for some kind of conference so that we may trace, as between municipality, province and dominion, just what are our responsibilities and how we may be able to carry them out to the best of our ability in order to assist the entire population. In any event I thank the hon. member for Greenwood and the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar for their observations. I assure them that so far as I am concerned I am always glad to hear members, on whatever side of the house they may be, urge on the government and on the country that we spend more on our national health, provided that we can spend it usefully.

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