April 8, 1957 (22nd Parliament, 5th Session)


Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

Mr. Chairman, when we were last discussing clause 2 there were a number of features in the clause which came under consideration. I should like to say a further word about one of the matters, and what I wish to say is by way of comment on a statement made by the minister.
We have contended that this legislation, which provides for a sharing of hospital costs between the federal and provincial levels of government, should include the hospitalization of patients in tuberculosis hospitals and hospitals for the mentally ill. One of the arguments used by the minister in opposing our contention that there should be this extension is contained in a sentence or two to be found on page 3122 of Hansard for April 4, 1957. At that point the Minister of National Health and Welfare said:
We are simply following the pattern that exists in the province of Saskatchewan where tubercular patients and mentally ill patients are not covered by the hospital insurance scheme which, as my hon. friend knows, is basically on premium; but tney are covered under a separate account for tubercular people and mentally ill people.
The minister went on to say that the same practice is observed in British Columbia, and so on. It seems to me that the minister is distorting the picture when he tries to take the position that the federal government is following the pattern established in a province such as Saskatchewan. It is true that in Saskatchewan there are two separate accounts. Those in tuberculosis hospitals and in hospitals for the mentally ill are paid for out of general account, whereas hospitalization in general hospitals is paid for out of a special account which is set up on an insurance basis including the payment of premiums.
The over-all fact is that in the province of Saskatchewan-and it is true in the province of British Columbia as well-any person who requires to go to hospital, whether it be a general hospital on the one hand or a tuberculosis or mental hospital on the other, has his hospitalization covered. We suggest that is the basic fact, namely that in the provinces to which the minister has referred all types of hospitalization for whatever disease are covered under provincial arrangements.

Health Insurance
The federal government is now proposing at long last to get into this field and to share in the cost of hospitalization. But the federal government proposes to share only in that portion of hospitalization which relates to hospitalization in general hospitals. In my view the minister cannot put forward the argument about the insurance principle because, so far as the federal payment is concerned, he has already asserted-in fact he has boasted of it-that the federal payment is to come out of general revenue. There is not to be imposed by the federal government any premium for the purpose of collecting the money that Ottawa will pay into this hospitalization scheme. The federal money comes out of general account in the same way that the payment for tuberculosis patients and the payment for mental patients in the provinces of Saskatchewan and British Columbia come out of the general funds of the provinces.
If the minister wants to use other arguments as to why the federal government does not wish to come into this scheme he is free to do so, but I suggest that it is not fair for him to say that the federal government is following the Saskatchewan pattern. The Saskatchewan pattern is for the state, as represented by the province, to provide hospitalization for patients in all hospitals whatever the nature of the disease. The pattern in this legislation is for the federal government to provide hospitalization only for those who are in general hospitals. It excludes those in tuberculosis hospitals and in hospitals for the mentally ill.

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