Mr. D. H. McALISTER (King's and Albert).
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great pleasure to the addresses of the hon. member for Hants (Mr. Black) and the hon. member for South Huron (Mr. T. Chisholm) who have so ably proposed this resolution. But, Sir, I was surprised indeed to notice how little attention was paid to the subject by hon. gentlemen on both sides of the House. It is one of the most important questions that have been discussed in the House this year or that will be,, yet gentlemen left the chamber, one half of those who remained went to sleep, and one quarter did not pay attention. If I cared to do so I could make half the, members now here leave the chamber and could empty the galleries by saying there are millions of microbes in this chamber. Suppose there is a consumptive in the gallery to-night, as I have quite strong reason to believe there is, and if that lady should expectorate once on the floor, how many germs do you suppose would be put into circulation? One million.
The object of the resolution we are discussing is to enlighten our people along these lines, to prevent the people with that disease coming to a place like this, and to teach them how to take care of their sputum and to sterilize that which would cause infection. It may be said that this is not a matter for this government. Mr. Speaker, it is a matter of tremendous importance. I am sorry to say there are too many people in Canada who are not aware of the dangerous germs that are in existence. Pathologists have proved beyond a doubt that all diseases are transmitted by germs. When I had typhoid fever some 19 years ago, it was not known that that disease was caused- by a germ, but since then it has been proven beyond a doubt that it is a germ disease. What are these little germs like? Like the little pollywogs in the water. It would be interesting, if time would permit, to describe the development of these germs in the water, their entrance and the great battle which takes place between this germ, the typhoid baccillus, and the lencocyte in the blood. This conflict generates a poison called a potomaine, which in many instances creates sufficient constitutional disturbances to cause death. The hon. member for Hants (Mr. Black) told you of the number of deaths from typhoid fever, and I have no reason to doubt the correctness of his figures. He could have told you there are thousands and thousands dying of tuberculosis today, from a disease caused by germs, and that the death of these people was un-Mr. McALISTER.
necessary, that the disease could be banished from our country if certain precautions were taken. That is what the government should realize, they should become seized of the idea that this thing can be done, and as my hon. friend says the time has come when it must be done. As an illustration of the manner in which typhoid can be checked, in our little town of Sussex, I myself had as many as eleven cases of typhoid at one time before the installation of a waterworks system. I was myself almost ignorant how these people were being infected by the bacilli, and I am safe in saying that not three per cent of the inhabitants realized what was causing the disease. They were using water from wells which were contaminated from cess pools, &c. Every year we lost from three to six people from that little town. Some six years ago the waterworks were installed, the water was taken from a river that was perfectly pure and was run into a filter. Since then there has not been a case of typhoid in the town. That shows that typhoid fever can be done away with if the proper precautions are taken and it is the duty of the government, I believe, to prevent the pollution of our rivers. Take Montreal, for instance, where they have a great epidemic of typhoid. I believe the federal government should take that up and force the city of Montreal to instal a filtration system. My hon. friend beside me (Mr. M. Martin) who is an alderman of the city of Montreal, tells me they are going to spend $2,000,000 this year in trying to escape from that dreaded disease typhoid. I presume they will seek to do this by installing a filtration plant.
It does not matter about the cost; it is not a matter of money at all, it is too serious a proposition for that. We are very careful, as has been nobly said by the hon. member for Hants (Mr. Black), that the dumb animals should be protected and half a million dollars a year is expended to protect them. Why, then, should not human beings be protected? They ought to be. I confess that I myself am afraid of the bacillus tuberculosis. I feel that I have in my constitution appropriate soil for its growth. Some claim that tuberculosis is not hereditary. I know it is hereditary, in this sense, that, while a child may not be born with consumption, it may be born with a delicate mucous membrane of the air passage, inherited from father or mother, associated with a weak resistance, so that when the germ comes it grows like an oat in soil that has been prepared for its reception. Medical men know that patients come to them sometimes and say that they have a cough, have not felt well, associated with emaciation and night sweats. These symptoms date from a cold. The cold did not give them consumption; it
only prepared the mucous membrane of the air passage, so that when the germ was taken in it took root and grew and formed a nucleus for the dreaded disease. We spend thousands of dollars a year in bringing foreigners into this country to become citizens and live under the dear old flag. It is estimated, as the hon. member for Hants has shown, that the average male inhabitant, able to keep himself and others, is worth $1,000 to the country under whose flag he lives. We must bring in immigrants because we are not prolific enough to populate this country otherwise. If we are bringing in others, why not protect those we already have? Thousands of our people are dying every year who could be saved from dying; we want this government to show the people how to live. I am not looking for a job myself, and I do not want to go around the country lecturing, but I do not see how a better thing could be done by this government than to employ one or both of the hon. members who moved and seconded this resolution to speak to public audiences, to instruct the people in the germ theory, teach them how to be careful of their health, explain to them, if they have a consumptive in their house, how to destroy the sputum, and so on. It is wonderful what can be accomplished in this way if we take the necessary means to do it. We do not expect the government to do everything-and it would be a bad thing for us young doctors if they did. I am not surprised to hear these statements from the hon. member for Hants (Mr. Black) and the hon. member for Huron (Mr. Thos. Chisholm), for it seems to me they will not be practising medicine very much longer-I think they expect to remain in politics for the rest of their lives; they must be looking for a senatorship, or they would not talk as they do. If the government will do what these gentlemen ask it to do they wall accomplish one of the greatest reforms ever accomplished in Canada. The hon. member for East Huron made a remark on which I would like to enlarge. He said that we eat too much. There is no doubt about it. More people in the Dominion of Canada and the United States, and all over the world, die of overeating than of overdrinking.
Topic: A BUREAU OF PUBLIC HEALTH.