Cyrus Macmillan (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Defence for Air)
With reference to the remarks of the hon. member for Yorkton (Mr. Castleden), it will be interesting to the committee to know that the universities of Canada are making every possible provision for these men and women when they come back. We expect thousands of them to apply for university courses. Because of the nature of air force work, the educational standard is, in general, higher than in the other services. It is estimated that over sixty per cent of the men in the air force have had junior matriculation or, better, senior or two or three
years at college. There has been a break of from one to four years and these men and women will have to pick up their education where they left off. In my own university, for example, over 300 have come back this year; 220 came back in January. Instead of having one date for registration at the beginning of the college session, the universities have now changed that to three dates; in other words, if a man is mustered out in December he does not have to wait until next September to begin his college course. Provision is made to have him begin his course in January and again on the first of June. In two calendar years he covers three years of college work. His course is accelerated. I am sure the committee will be glad to know also that the impression these men have made on the university authorities throughout Canada has been excellent. During the war years, as we know, the number of women students has largely increased while the number of men students has decreased, and in the interests of the future of the country it is absolutely essential, as the hon. member has said, that provision be made for the continued education of these young men when they return. Some went overseas at the age of eighteen or nineteen, and they are coming back at the age of twenty-two or twenty-three to resume their interrupted studies. Our experience is that for the first few days they find life a bit strange; but, to use their own language, they get back on the beam quickly and they stay on the beam. It is my opinion, and the opinion also of others who have come in contact with them, that these young men will be the stabilizing force in this country. They must be cared for and1 guided1, and no expense should be spared to carry them forward to their objective; otherwise we are heading for disaster. These young men have given evidence of industry, diligence and seriousness and they are disciplined. They are the greatest asset that this country possesses at the present time.