William Gourlay BLAIR

BLAIR, William Gourlay, M.D., C.M.

Personal Data

Party
Progressive Conservative
Constituency
Lanark (Ontario)
Birth Date
January 13, 1890
Deceased Date
June 16, 1957
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Gourlay_Blair
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=cfa44404-139f-4013-8827-d2c421728d5c&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
physician

Parliamentary Career

June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
PC
  Lanark (Ontario)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
PC
  Lanark (Ontario)
August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
PC
  Lanark (Ontario)
June 10, 1957 - February 1, 1958
PC
  Lanark (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 2 of 78)


April 8, 1957

Mr. Blair:

No. The minister said the purpose of this legislation was to assist the individual who was paying his own costs. The mental patients have difficulty; the insurance principle is difficult for them. They pay their costs even when they are declared mentally incapable; when they are put into a hospital the official guardian, if that is the correct description of the man in charge, takes over the estate so the patient does pay his costs. He does not have recourse to insurance. The situation in regard to insurance is just the same for the mental patient as for the other person who is ill-

Topic:   HEALTH INSURANCE
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENTS FROM CONSOLIDATED REVENUE FUND
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April 8, 1957

Mr. Blair:

Mr. Chairman, I am very happy to see this resolution on the order paper but I am sorry that the bill is going to be delayed until the next parliament. I was a member of the joint committee and I think the committee worked very hard in the hearing of evidence. There was one point that caused considerable difficulty, the division of jurisdiction between the provinces, the dominion and the townships adjoining Ottawa. It presented a very difficult question and, as the hon. member for Calgary North pointed out, conditions in Ottawa are changing all the time, especially in the areas surrounding

National Capital Plan

Ottawa, and the sooner we get a commission empowered by the government to get busy on the plan the better it will be.

The question of sewage disposal was one that was put in the class of No. 1 priority in the recommendations of the committee. The committee heard a long report from Dr. Berry of the Ontario department of health and we were greatly impressed by that report. Since that time, however, in so far as sewage disposal is concerned, the Ontario government has passed the Ontario water resources act which is going to make it less difficult to deal with the sewage question than it was prior to that act being passed.

There were other matters that were listed in the four top priority considerations of the committee, including bridges across the Ottawa, the matter of the Queensway and the matter of the green belt. We cannot afford to delay any longer dealing with the green belt. The bridges across the Ottawa river are a necessity at the present time. The question of the Queensway is being solved by an agreement between the city of Ottawa, the federal government and the provincial government. As yet, the matter of sewage disposal is delayed, and that was No. 1 on the list of priorities in the consideration of the committee. I hope the time will not be far distant when the question of sewage is dealt with by the same committee and when power is given to the federal district commission to deal with the question.

In so far as the name is concerned, I agree that the national capital commission is the better of the two because in the minds of certain people in and around the area there was the thought that the federal district commission would be a commission somewhat akin to that existing in Washington at the time. Hence I am glad that the resolution is on the order paper, even if the bill will not make its appearance or at least will not be dealt with until another session.

I again point out the urgent necessity of dealing with the sewage question because that is a basic matter. You can not start to build a city beautiful and still maintain the conditions existing in the Ottawa river at the present time. The solution of the problem is going to entail a great deal of work. Again you are dealing with the jurisdiction of several municipalities or areas along the Ottawa river. The sooner we start to work by way of a bill dealing with this federal district commission or, to use the suggested name, the national capital commission, the better it will be. So far as sewage is concerned, the position is not improving. Owing to the growth of this city which is rapidly expanding, there are in the outlying areas of the city now developing into an urban area, conditions which should be dealt with now because, as was

National Capital Plan

pointed out by the hon. member for Calgary North, the longer we delay this question, the more expensive it is going to be to deal with it.

Topic:   NATIONAL CAPITAL PLAN
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSTITUTE NATIONAL CAPITAL COMMISSION
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April 5, 1957

Mr. Blair:

Mr. Chairman, I think this

clause could be rewritten in some manner and still meet the objective of the minister. There are some people who when placed in a wheel chair outside can go all over the garden lot. There are others who have to be lifted into a chair. It may be a morris chair or an arm chair or something of that nature. They cannot move or propel themselves or anything of that nature, but can be lifted into a morris chair, wheel chair or rocking chair for a short time in order to rest out of bed. Perhaps after an hour or two they must be placed back in bed.

I know what the minister is trying to accomplish and I think it is quite right, but I believe if the wording were different he

could accomplish what he is attempting to do and still meet what the hon. member has just spoken about. I just point out that the wheel chair is not a limitation, because those who occupy them can go any place they like. In many cases they can propel themselves and are infinitely better off than a person who has to be lifted out of bed and placed in an arm chair. I think the minister should consider rewriting that clause.

Topic:   INCOME TAX ACT
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April 4, 1957

Mr. Blair:

It is not our intention to hold up this bill in any way. We have been in agreement so far as the bill is concerned. At the resolution stage, I pointed out certain things with which we were not in agreement. However, we do welcome this bill and we want to see it in operation. It is not our purpose, therefore, to hold up the bill by prolonged discussion. I intend to repeat some of the matters with which we are not in agreement. One of these is the question of depreciation. At the resolution stage I pointed out that depreciation should be allowed as a cost of these hospitals. I am aware of a hospital which lately wrote off some of their depreciation costs and this became a debt. Once this bill is passed, as I pointed out at the resolution stage, it is going to be very difficult for the organizations concerned with hospitals to go out to the public and seek donations, or try to raise money by the various means used by hospital committees.

Health Insurance

It is very apparent, and has been for years, that there is a need for a bill of this kind. I cited figures at the time of the resolution stage showing the high cost of hospitalization. The cost per patient per day, as I indicated at that time, has gone up from $7 and some odd cents to $14 and $15, a cost that makes it imperative that some measure of relief should be given to people who find it necessary to go to hospital. Such a cost is beyond the means of the average person in this country. When there is added to the cost of a severe illness, laboratory fees and fees for special nurses and the like, the fees of the medical man or the surgeon, sickness becomes a terribly expensive proposition.

I do draw your attention again to the fact that depreciation costs are something which should receive consideration in this bill on account of the difficulty of raising money, because the public feeling will be that once this bill is put through the federal or the provincial government in some way will be responsible for hospitals.

Another thing I do want to point out is that we should make very clear that this is a hospital insurance bill. Since the time that the resolution was brought in I have heard it discussed as health insurance. This is a hospital insurance bill.

The other matter that I brought up at the resolution stage was the question of tuberculosis and mental patients. It is true that tuberculosis is being well taken care of at the present time. Indeed the lists are going down. The number of cases is rapidly being reduced, and we are coming to a position that has not been common for a good many years. It is possible to get a patient into a sanitarium because we are arriving at the place where beds are available. That is owing to the fact that the measures which have been taken by the provincial departments of health, especially in Ontario, are cutting down the incidence of this disease year by year. The mass surveys conducted by the province have done a great deal in the cutting down of tuberculosis; but at the same time, those people who remain in hospitals are still hospital patients; they are still afflicted with an illness, sometimes a long-term illness. They are sick people. The same thing applies to mental diseases. There are some other things that I wish to say, in a consideration of mental disease, while we are on this bill.

In the estimates committee last year the minister gave his reasons for not recognizing mental disease. He agreed to accept mental disease while the individuals were patients in hospitals; that is, in the psychiatric wards of general hospitals; but his argument from there on was that mental disease patients, if accepted under this plan, would raise the cost

so that it would more or less defeat the plan and raise the cost of the insurance to the person wishing to obtain it. I point out to you, sir, that we have a problem in mental disease in Canada that we will have to cope with some place somehow. I do not like the fact that mental disease is not recognized because I feel it is a backward step. It is a backward step for this reason. Mental disease may occur just as you may have pneumonia or any other disease in the categories of diseases that are treated in hospitals at the present time.

The very fact that the statistics of Canada show there must be something done about this beyond the amounts that are given in the health grants for certain clinics and research proves my point. The number of people, as I pointed out the other day, suffering in mental hospitals is 10,000 more than the people who are occupying beds in all the other general hospitals put together. Something has to be done about this.

There was one bright spot brought out the other day. I noticed in statistics issued about a week ago that there were some signs of a letting-up of mental disease in Canada. We hope the percentages shown there will continue to grow, and that we may feel we are adequately dealing with this disease. We require more than what is laid down in the health grants for the treatment of mental disease.

I am sorry that some place in this bill the minister cannot go a step farther and give further financial help to the mental hospitals. It would be of great assistance. We need something more than the fact that under this scheme, when they are patients in general hospitals in this country, they qualify.

It is true that this bill is only the beginning. From time to time certain changes will be made in this legislation. I think that certain conditions laid down in the legislation at the present time may even have to be changed by legislation in the future. But in discussing this hospital situation, there is one point that I wish to bring to the attention of the minister. He did not say it the other day when he was speaking on the resolution but I have noted his remarks in the press. I have read his speeches and I have heard him say that the health grants were responsible for the addition of 70,000 beds in Canada. May I say to the minister again, as I have said on previous occasions, and for the benefit of the committee, we ought to look at it in this way. Suppose we were building a hospital in the Ottawa valley-and I think the cost would run around $12,000 per bed-under the health grants the dominion government would give $1,000 for each new bed

and the province would give a matching grant. The donation of the federal government would be $1,000. If you took the $1,000 that is added by the province, and if the cost of the hospital bed in this year would be $12,000, it would leave $10,000. That money would have to be put up either by the municipality or by the various organizations interested in building hospital beds.

I feel very jealous on behalf of those people who have worked and are working to produce the $10,000. Therefore I think it is not altogether fair to say that the program has been responsible for 70,000 hospital beds. It is helping. Certainly, the assurance of $1,000 by the federal government and $1,000 by the provincial government is an incentive, but it is a long way from producing the 70,000 hospital beds.

The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre spoke of this as an election argument. I have said before in this house that in dealing with health I hope this matter will never become a political football. One must realize that every party in this house has been committed to some form of health or hospital insurance, and has been saying it over the years. I do not know how many speeches I have made on behalf of this party-the minister will agree with this-asking that something like this be done. I hope that when we go to the country we will not have any supporter of the government, any cabinet minister or anyone else, spreading his chest and saying, "I brought in health insurance". We have been asking for it; we want it. We are not going to delay this bill in spite of the fact we do think it has imperfections. We are going to vote for this bill. We want it passed and we want it passed as soon as possible.

The other day I brought in an amendment regarding the required six provinces and a majority of the people. The amendment was thrown out; it was not in order. We did express our opinion at that time regarding the number of provinces necessary to bring this bill into effect.

If this bill is necessary at the present time, if it is going to help people, let there be as little delay as possible. Again I point out it is not necessary to have the six provinces, or a majority of the people agreeing to it to bring it into effect.

Under these conditions the sooner we get this bill into operation in any province the better it will be. It is possible that when the bill is being discussed in the house we will make suggestions from time to time but we want to see this bill passed and the plan put in operation as soon as possible.

Health Insurance

Topic:   HEALTH INSURANCE
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENTS FROM CONSOLIDATED REVENUE FUND
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April 4, 1957

Mr. Blair:

Is a nursing home licensed by the province a hospital?

Topic:   HEALTH INSURANCE
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENTS FROM CONSOLIDATED REVENUE FUND
Full View Permalink