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Newfoundland National Convention, 1 April 1947, Debates on Confederation with Canada

450 NATIONAL CONVENTION April 1947

April 1, 1947

Election of the Ottawa Delegation

Mr. Chairman I have this afternoon received the following communication from His Excellency the Governor, which I will ask the Secretary to read to the Convention.
His Excellency the Governor has been informed by the High Commissioner for Canada in Newfoundland that the Canadian government will be happy to receive a delegation from the National Convention of Newfoundland at a mutually convenient date.
The Canadian government is of the opinion that the questions to be discussed with the delegation are of such complexity and of such significance for both countries that it is essential to have a complete and comprehensive exchange of information and a full and careful argument of both panics of all issues involved, so that an accurate appreciation of the position may be gained on each side.
The Canadian government is confident that the friendship and co-operation which have marked the relations of our two countries should provide a firm basis for our discussions. The delegation from the National Convention will be warmly welcomed in Ottawa.
Government House, St. John's, Nfld. April 1, 1947.
I take it that following the precedent of a few weeks ago, the next matter is to resolve the Convention into a committee of the whole for the purpose of electing this delegation, if someone will now make a motion to that effect.
Mr. Ballam Mr. Chairman, in my opinion, before any such delegation is elected we should have the findings of the delegation to London first, in order to get a complete picture of the whole set-up.
Mr. Chairman The matter is entirely in the hands of the Convention, but I suggest that this delegation has a very substantial amount of work to do before they can leave to discuss the question of confederation with the Canadian government. It is not our desire to unduly prolong the length of this Convention, and in all probability the delegation to London will have returned by the middle of May, around which time the delegation to Ottawa should be ready to leave. In the meantime it is perfectly obvious they will have a tremendous amount of work to do. We have asked the Canadian government to receive a delegation, and they have accepted the idea. It is obvious now that we must get ready for that delegation to go. I am not going into any details now, but I suggest there is a tremendous amount of work to do locally. They have to take up the possible repercussion of the change from the Newfoundland to the Canadian tariff, the amount of the revenue that will be left to us, what amount would be required to run a provincial government, where these monies will have to come from, how much of our money will have to be taken over by the Canadian government, etc. All these questions require considerable figuring, in the course of which deliberations the delegation will have to have the assistance of some of the financial advisers of the government, the Assessor of Taxes and others. In fairness to whoever the delegation should be, I suggest that they should be appointed immediately, but it is for you to decide.
Mr. Hickman There may be something in what you say, and there may be something for them to do before they go, but I don't see any immediate rush to do it today. I would like to see this report cleaned up first, and with that in view I will make a motion that the election of the delegation to Canada be postponed until we finish this Public Health report.
Mr. Ballam I have much pleasure in seconding that.
Mr. Chairman You have heard the motion. Is there any further discussion?
Mr. Hillier I see no objection to electing the delegation to Canada immediately, but I also see no objection to delaying it until this report is finished. Seeing it has been moved and seconded I am prepared to accept it.
Mr. Chairman Is the Convention ready for the question?
Mr. Smallwood Suppose the report finishes today, according to the motion the election will follow the completion of the debate on the report. Is that what you have in mind?
April 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 451
Mr. Hickman The motion I made was that the question of the election should come up after the completion of this report.
Mr. Smallwood Do you mean its adoption, because you recall Major Cashin's motion of yesterday, which he withdrew to bring up again on the motion of the adoption of this report?
Mr. Hickman That might take us another three weeks. No, I mean the completion of our debate on it, Major Cashin's motion might keep us a month.
Mr. Chairman May I suggest that your motion should be that the election be deferred until the orders of the day are completed?
Mr. Hickman I am not up on parliamentary procedure.
Mr. Chairman That will follow the report of the Committee.
Mr. Hickman Supposing we don't finish today, it might be necessary to continue tomorrow?
Mr. Job I can't see why we should not go ahead now, it has to be done sometime.
Mr. Hickman Well, I thought if we finish tonight we can go ahead with the election.
Mr. Newell I am entirely in accord with the sentiments of Mr. Job. Sometime ago we decided we would send a couple of delegations, and when the letter was brought in here informing us that one such delegation would be received we went ahead and elected it. I don't see why we should waste any further time. We have known that we were going to send a delegation to Ottawa, and frankly I did not know that today might be the day of the election, but I have known that we would be sending a delegation, and I have in mind who I should like to see on that delegation. I don't need any further consideration or advice, and I don't see why the matter should not be disposed of and then get on with our regular business. There has been altogether too much pussy-footing around here.
Mr. McCarthy I was going to say much the same as Mr. Nowell. It is only a matter of 20 minutes or so. We all knew for some time that there would be a delegation to Ottawa, and there was no comment last time when the delegation was elected to go to London. According to the motion that the delegation should proceed to London and the other should proceed to Ottawa there was nothing in that motion to say that the delegation could not be elected before the other one had returned; so I don't see why we should delay. Let's get it over with
Mr. Smallwood I think Mr. Hickman's motion is reasonable. If we finish this report tonight, we can then get on with the election.
Mr. Hickman I am perfectly satisfied to withdraw it. I thought we would clean up one thing first, but I am perfectly satisfied to withdraw it.
Mr. Ballam I don't want to hold up the thing at all, but the orders of the day were to continue with the Report of Public Health and Welfare and I don't see why we should inject anything into the orders of the day.
Mr. Chairman This is a communication from His Excellency the Governor and that's why it was introduced at the beginning of the session. I received this communication since lunch, no one knew I had it, but I felt it was my duty to bring it before the Convention immediately. What the Convention does with it is for the Convention to decide. It seems to me that we are only following the precedent that we set a few weeks ago when we elected the delegation to London.
Mr. Hickman Vote on the question and let the house decide.
Mr. Ballam I seconded that motion, but I am willing to let it go as you wish. I don't like Mr. Newell's saying that we are pussy-footing around. Any delegation that goes from this Convention is important and there is no nonsense about it. I don't know what is going on, because there is so much inside and outside stuff going on, and it's time we got down to rock bottom, It seems to me there are some who are bent on selling the country or tying its hands.
Mr. Chairman If you will excuse me, please, no delegation from this Convention can possibly sell this country, or in any way tie the country's hands. I want that to be distinctly understood.
Mr. Ballam I will withdraw that, sir.
Mr. Newell I find that Mr. Ballam and I are very much in accord, and it was precisely for some of the things he hinted at that I would like to have the election now. Let's have it β€” now is the time.
Mr. Ballam That's what you think!
Mr. Penney I am with Mr. Ballam on Mr. Hickman's motion, for the reason that I have not given any thought to it, and I am not prepared to select members of this Convention at this moment; but if we proceed with the business before 452 NATIONAL CONVENTION April 1947 the Chair, I would have time to think it over. I would not like to think that there is going to be anything rigged in the way of selecting delegates to go to Ottawa.
Mr. Chairman I can assure you, Mr. Penney, that there has been nothing rigged. No one in the world knew of this except myself and His Excellency until this afternoon.
Mr. Penney I know that, but there was whispering going around after the delegation for England was elected that there was a kind of a selection made or agreed upon. Whether that was so or not I don't know; I did not have any part in it and I voted for the delegates I thought best. I don't agree that we are wasting time if we proceed with the business where we left off last night, and then select the delegates and give us all a fair chance.
Mr. Fowler I would like to support Mr. Hickman's motion simply because on looking around here I see six or seven seats vacant, and possibly by the time we have this disposed of the members may be here.
Mr. Chairman Let me be quite sure what your motion is, or have you withdrawn it?
Mr. Hickman I suggest that we put the motion which is that the election be deferred until this report is finished and adopted, except for the proviso of Major Cashin, but until the debate is concluded, and immediately after that proceed with the election.
Mr. Smallwood The debate of the committee of the whole.
Mr. Chairman The motion is then that the election take place after the completed report of the committee of the whole has been received. Does everybody understand that clearly? When the committee of the whole on the Public Health and Welfare Report has reported that they have considered the matter and passed it and recommend that it be received and laid on the table of the House, after that the election takes place. Is that it?
Mr. Hickman Yes.
Mr. Higgins It strikes me that if you are going to wait until the report is adopted, and there is talk of adjouming until after the Easter recess, in that case it could very well be that the election would not take place until after the Easter recess.
Mr. Hickman I thought that it would be completed today. I had no intention of delaying it till after Easter.
Mr. Vardy We decided here a little while ago to send two delegations, and it was the understanding that the delegation would be chosen for Ottawa immediately we learnt from that country that they would receive that delegation. I think we should all be big and broad enough to face the issue now and then get on with the report. None of us knew this was coming up, but I think we should face up to it now. We are all in the same boat, and then we won't be accused of gauging up on anyone.
Mr. Hickman I would suggest that in any event it would be the last business before the Easter recess.
Mr. Chairman The motion is that the election of the delegation to Canada be the last business before the Easter recess.
Mr. Higgins I am not trying to obstruct the progress of the House, but I understand that it was something of a similar nature to the last one and it was acted upon immediately. Is this going to be regarded as discourteous or not? This is merely a thought, not that it matters to me much, but it would look a little discourteous. I would like the members to think that over before they make a decision.
Mr. Harrington May I point out that there was no other business before the House at the time?
Mr. Chairman I ask you to consider the point that has been suggested by Mr. Higgins.
Mr. Hannon I would like to also suggest that previous to the election of the delegation to London every member of this Convention was fully aware of the fact that the election was to take place, I am not sure, but I think at least two days previous.
Mr. Chairman I don't think that is correct, Mr. Harmon. I gave nobody any information about it until I brought the document into this chamber.
Mr. Vardy If you remember, I came in a little late and those who refused to be nominated were sitting at the table and I did not know what they were sitting there for then. I did not know what it was all about.
Mr. Hannon I must admit I did not get it from you, sir, but from hearsay.
Mr. Chairman I believe there were some suspicions, and that was because the House was called together when there was apparently no business to go ahead with.
Mr. Crosbie It is my opinion that we are wast April 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 453 ing time and playing petty politics. Let's clean this up and be done with it now.
Mr. Newell I am agreeable to anything, but I am not very diplomatic about it, and I am not going to try to be. I believe Mr. Penney said there has been a lot of talk about the previous delegation. I feel, personally, that if we, without any preconceived notions or knowledge of this thing, have this election now that there will be no excuse for talk whatever, and I am heartily sick of even hearing politics.
Mr. Chairman Is the House ready for the question? The motion is that the election of the delegation to Canada be deferred until the Report of the Committee on Public Health and Welfare has been received, and in any case to be the last business of the house prior to the Easter recess. Those who are in favour of that motion please say "aye," contrary "nay". I think the "nays" have it. I declare the motion lost. Now, gentlemen, we have this document before us. Is it your pleasure that we do now resolve ourselves into a committee of the whole for the purpose of holding this election? If so I will receive a motion for that.
Mr. Hillier I move that.
Mr. McCarthy I second that.
Mr. Chairman It has been moved and seconded that this House do now resolve itself into a committee of the whole to elect the delegation to Ottawa. The motion is that I do now leave the Chair.
[The motion carried and the Convention resolved into a committee of the whole]
Mr. Chairman Now, there are six delegates to be elected. Each member can vote for six members. If he votes for five, or four or three, his ballot is a perfectly good one, but if he votes for seven his ballot must be rejected. Possibly there are some members who are not desirous of being members of that delegation, if so would they please come and sit in the center of the room. Those who can't sit at the table will please sit in the easy chairs at the back of the room. Mr. Newell, Major Cashin, and Mr. Hickman, I want you to help in the scrutinising, and also Mr. Penney; these will be enough, with the Secretary. Before you cast your ballots is there any further information that any member requires? If so, I will be glad to furnish it if it is in my power.
Mr. Harrington When we elected the delegation to London there was some talk about the fact that the newspaper reporters were excluded and the radio represented.
Mr. Chairman We can't allow any but the officials of the House here. The radio operators are officials of the House.
Mr. Penney Another matter, it is definitely understood that the delegation from England will return before this delegation goes to Canada?
Mr. Chairman That is the resolution, Mr. Penney, there is no question about that. Now, will the secretaries please count the members present. There are 37. Call off the names to be sure. Will you all please sit down somewhere and remain there until your names are called....
Mr. Chairman Now, will you take a list of the gentlemen who are in the running?
Mr. MacDonald May I ask a question? There are six appointed to go to England, can any of these six go to Canada too?
Mr. Chairman I know of no rule under which they can be excluded. I understand that there will be two alternates; they will be the seventh and eighth candidates on the ballot, but you only vote for six, remember. Now check off the members who are eligible. The members who are in their seats are the members who are eligible, I understand.
[The Secretary read the names of the members to be voted on: Messrs. MacDonald, Starker, Jones, Ballam, Penney, Roddy, Vincent, Higgins, Smallwood, Crummey, Burry, Miller, Fogwill, McCormack, Ashbourne, Bailey, Vardy, Job]
Mr. Chairman Has anybody been left out? Very well. When you complete your ballots, gentlemen, please hand them in.
[After the ballots were counted, the Chairman announced the result]
Mr. Chairman Gentlemen, there are five elected: Messrs. Higgins, Ashboume, Small- wood, Job and Burry. Messrs. Ballam and Crummey have tied for sixth place. The eighth place has been secured by Mr. Starkes, so he will be the second alternate. You will now ballot on Mr. Ballam and Mr. Crummey, that is to say who will be the sixth of the delegation and who will be the first alternate.
[The result of the ballot was that Mr. Ballam took sixth place on the delegation and Mr. Crummey became first alternate]
Mr. Chairman Moved and seconded that the delegation to Ottawa do consist of Messrs. Hig 454 NATIONAL CONVENTION April 1947 gins, Ashbourne, Smallwood, Job, Burry and Ballam as members of the delegation, with Messrs. Crumrney and Starkes as first and second alternates. Those in favour please say "aye", con trary "nay" β€” motion carried.
[The committee of the whole rose and reported the election of the delegation. The Convention adopted the report]

Report of the Public Health and Welfare Committee:[1] Committee of the Whole

Mr. Starkes ....I would like to make it plain to the people of this country about the old age pension of fishermen. They are entitled to an old age pension when they get to 75 years even if they are earning up to $25 a month, and even if they have up to $400 in the bank. That is something I don't think the majority of the people in this country realised before, at least in our region. I am speaking from experience because there are several in that district who applied for the pension and have been turned down on that account. I would like them to understand that they can legally get it.
Mr. Hillier I am in the same boat as Mr. Starkes. I mentioned quite recently that I had a letter from my district β€” Lamaline β€” on the old age pensions, and by reason of the fact that this man had a small amount of money through selling some property he was denied that pension.
Mr. Vincent I would refer you for a moment to page 22 of the report: "To be eligible for the pension a man must have passed the age of 75. On his death his widow receives $18 per quarter if she has reached the age of 65 years." I submit that this old age pension scheme needs revision. I regret that no practical recommendations to this effect are to be found in this otherwise very fine report. It seems just tragic that so little consideration is given the honest, hard-working fisherman and his wife, who for years have toiled and slaved at their calling to give us this heritage of Newfoundland. I am not proud, I feel ashamed that these fishermen who have spent 30 or 40 years at the cod fishery, and somenmes years at the seal fishery as well, should derive so little from their labour. Something is wrong, something should be done by the people that legislate in this country. I submit that your Committee would have been justified in bringing in, and I am sure this Convention would have approved of it, a recommendation to lower the age limit to 65 or at least 70 years, and augment the pension, or double it from the amount it is now. My friends have no bank accounts, and very little life insurance, but by the grace of God and the apparent hardihood of your race, if you live to be 75 then your very grateful country may recognise your years of service and hardship and patriotism, and you will get for the rest of your days the magnificent sum of 19 and 3/4 cents per day!
Mr. Jones Mr. Chairman, I have not spoken to this report because I would rather listen to the next fellow and get his ideas. I see that $1 million has been spent for dole this year.
It was stated here yesterday that a man in need did not have as much trouble in some districts as he did in others to get relief. I wonder why? In speaking of relieving officers I know they have instructions from the Department of Public Health and Welfare to keep down expenses, and I also know they have instructions to see that no man starves. I wonder how far on that road of starvation does a man have to go before he can get a note from the officer to relieve him from that starvation? I think that there should be something definite about it. All relieving officers should have their instructions and should treat the people in the same way. I know there are people here who are fasting since this is the Lenten season, but they are not fasting because the Church tells them it is right, but because they have not the food. I know instances of that, and I think there should be something tangible in order that people may get relief.
In speaking of sick people, I wonder what a man has to do when he is sick before he can get relief? I suppose he has to get a note from the doctor, and then when that man recovers how is the relieving officer to know that he is fit to work to cut off the funds?
Mr. Ashbourne In reply to Mr. Jones, the department has set up outport representatives known as relieving officers, to whom any man who is in need can apply. When these men, whether sick or poor or destitute, apply to the relieving officer he gets in touch with the depart April 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 455 ment in St. John's and gets his instructions from the department. They have certain standing orders from the department, and I have always maintained that a relieving officer should have not only some initiative on his own part, but some power to grant relief in cases of destitution. It might be, perhaps, that in certain cases it might be abused, but certainly the department could check on the relieving officer; but naturally this relief has to be given out, as in the past, in larger quantities in certain sections to a great number of people, and they have to have certain other rather stringent rules and regulations. That is the set-up in the outports, any man can approach a relieving officer in his district; and I know some cases where the relieving officers are Rangers, and they forward on to the department the applications and need for relief as it arises. As you can see from the figures given there has not been much relief up until quite recently in the outports, but as the winter months move along the people become destitute, they have no money, no credit, and no means of providing themselves with food, and they have to apply to the relieving officer; and, as was pointed out last night, in certain sections, in White Bay for instance, where the trap fishery has failed for two years following, these people have just carried themselves along as far as they can. I think that the department is sympathetic towards these applications and, while each application has to be studied on its merits, the amount of earning power that a man has during the summertime and what avenues he has tried to secure employment, all these factors have to be ascertained and studied. As far as I know they are submitted to the department in St. John's and they get their orders from the official here who looks after outport relief and deals with the cases as they come up.
Mr. Ballam ... If a male is receiving a pension and he has a wife, on his decease the whole thing is forgotten unless she goes through the whole rigamarole all over again and has the relieving officer and the doctor state that she is eligible for the pension, and then she has to wait six months after his death. In nine cases out of ten the people are too old or too poor to bother about it. They don't get it until the whole thing is gone over. We should recommend that this should be automatic.
Mr. Ashbourne That has been my experience in the past. I have filled out quite a few applications for old age pensions, etc. They can certainly find out by sending out a questionnaire to every old age pensioner who is married and ascertain the age of his wife; when the man dies, the cheque is immediately returned to the department and, as has been said, application has to be made. As soon as the application is made the cheque is sent forward, and if it happens to miss a quarter the past quarter is included with the next one. That's been my experience.... These old age pensions are marked "payable in advance" whatever that means. I know of a case or two where people have died after the beginning of the quarter, and have been alive at the 1st of April when the cheque is supposed to be issued. If the person is in St. John's and alive on the 1st of April he gets a cheque, and if he happens to die when the cheque was received in the outports, on the 4th or 5th, the cheque is sent back to the department; and I have had one or two cases where they have paid that cheque in order to give the benefit of the money for burial purposes. I quite agree with that point, and I don't see why a better plan could not be worked out as regards the age of the widow. It is the practice of the department to send out once or twice a year for a certificate showing that the old age pensioner and his wife are still alive. That's done so that nobody else would be getting the cheques....
That age limit of 65 is strictly adhered to, and there are cases where the widow may be 62 or 63 and has had to have her name entered on the widow's list instead of becoming eligible for the old age pension, and is therefore looked after by the fund for widows, orphans and the infirm. I don't know if that answers your question. I am in full sympathy with the idea that the pension age should be lowered. When I was introducing this report I mentioned that in my remarks. We have no authority to make any change in this age limit, it is a matter for the government. I know that to these elderly people, particularly the fishermen and others who have helped build up the economy of Newfoundland throughout the years, this amount, even if very small, is a help to them, and I am in sympathy with the remarks of Mr. Ballam.
Mr. Vincent Thank you very much for that explanation. Are the relieving inspectors making periodic visits to the outport districts? If so how many are there?
456 NATIONAL CONVENTION April 1947
Mr. Ashbourne I can't answer offhand how many there are.
Mr. Crummey Two.
Mr. Smallwood I am not going to delay you at all, but a minute ago Mr. Jones referred to that amount of $1.1 million as being dole. That's not quite the case. It is $1.1 million for this year, but it is not all able-bodied relief or dole; it is for the sick poor, for widows, children, for special food orders, extra nourishment that is, and coal and clothing. That $1.1 million is for this year to the end of March. Now if you take the report and add up the different things under the different headings it is astonishing, and I am sure if Major Cashin has not already done it he will be astonished when he sees what the total comes to β€” $1.1 million for those items I have just mentioned. Widows and orphans, including board and lodging, is another $450,000; old age pensions $250,000; grants to orphanages $40,000 odd; aged and infirm $78,000 β€” that's a total of $2 million this very year for relief of one kind and another β€”if you can call old age pensions relief, and perhaps you should not, but it is in that general classification β€” $2 million a year. Now in the old days the sick poor and widows and children of widows and special food orders, coal and clothing, that was all called dole. You take the figures today and you can find there are only 300-400 people on the dole. That seems to compare very well with six or eight years ago, but the reason is this, that they have changed the system. What is now called dole is only able-bodied relief, but in the old days up to the war everything was called dole, and if you included everything today in the year that ended yesterday the government spent $2 million on public relief. It is an astonishing figure.
Mr. Fudge I have had some experience in getting applications forwarded to the Department of Public Health and Welfare, especially with the relieving officer. As I see it this widow that was referred to here is entitled to the $18 per quarter, provided that she is not one that in the opinion of the relieving officer can support herself. I remember a case or two where the widow has been living with the son, and the son has a large family, and in the opinion of the relieving officer the son could very well look after the mother as well as his wife and children, and the OK from the relieving officer did not go on the form. If that's the principle of the Department of Public Health and Welfare, that this poor old soul must go over with the son, and he has to support his mother along with his family, I am wondering if that principle should not apply even to the official of the department. If I am correctly informed there are officials of this department who have been recommended for a pension. I wonder whether any investigation was made as to whether any of the sons of these officials are able to look after them, and therefore why the pension?
Mr. Bailey I don't know if Mr. Smallwood meant that old age pensions etc. should be called dole. I think it is to our discredit that the country is in such a shape as it is, and I don't believe it should go down as such, or that the country should get the impression that it is. If a man gets sick the government has a fund for that, which is called social security. Dole should be able- bodied relief and nothing else β€” for the man who can work, but can't get work to do.
Mr. Smallwood I did not call the old age pension dole, I said that generally under the heading of relief we might include old age pensions. I expressed some doubt as to whether old age pensions could even be included under relief, I was not even talking of dole at that moment. I think that you can almost measure the civilisation of a country by the extent to which that country looks after its womout toilers. They say you can measure the standards of a country by the way in which we bury our dead, but you can certainly measure it by the way in which the womout toilers are treated.
Mr. Bailey Well, we have called relief dole in the past, and dole relief, but I would like to see in this the amount that the people received who would have worked, but could not on account of sickness, and I would like to see it classified as social security.
Mr. Ashbourne Referring to that matter brought up by Mr. Fudge, was that widow you mentioned the widow of an old age pensioner? I can't understand how they can grant a man and his wife a pension, and then take away the pension from the wife after the man who was her sole support was taken away. I think that calls for special investigation with the department.
Mr. Starkes I think his wife was living, but instead of getting $30 a quarter he was only April 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 457 getting $18 and if his widow did not apply for the old age pension within six months she did not get it. She has to apply within six months from the death of her husband to get it.
Mr. Fudge In the case to which I referred, this widow, I don't think her husband had a pension, was seeking the widow's mite, but because in the opinion of the relieving officer her son could support her, which I think was incorrect, I took the matter up myself here in St. John's, and settled the matter satisfactorily for the lady, but no thanks to the relieving officer.
[The Secretary read the next section on Child Welfare and War Pensions. The committee then adjourned until 8 pm]
Mr. Burry Before the debate begins, I would like to point out an error in the Daily News report of yesterday aftemoon's debate. I refer to what was said by Mr. Smallwood when he was speaking of the infant mortality rate in Labrador. As you will recall he pointed out that there were several districts in Newfoundland and Labrador which had a high rate, other districts had a low rate. He mentioned one district where medical services were not up to the highest and yet that district had a very low infant mortality. He said there was a member in the Convention representing that district. Apparently the reporter concluded that that district was Labrador. He refers to it in the write-up: "In Labrador where the infant mortality is lowest, medical facilities are almost nil." There are two errors. The district where the infant mortality rate is lowest is not Labrador β€” I wish it were. Also, describing the medical services in Labrador as almost nil is just not the way to describe them. I do not want to give you the impression that we are satisfied in Labrador with the medical services we have. I do not suppose any part of the island is satisfied. But we do have medical services. As you will recall, it was pointed out that there are three hospitals; we have a motor ship travelling up and down the coast during the summer. We have a nursing station at Forteau, there was a new institution put up there last year. Some of our people are also in close proximity to the RCAF in Goose Bay and we get medical services from these people, and supplies too. Missionaries in the north, while not graduate doctors, have some training along those lines and have given good service. All in all, our medical services are not too bad in Labrador. I would like to point that out because I am sure that the reporter probably misunderstood Mr. Smallwood when he made that statement. I am sure he will be happy to make a correction in the interest of keeping the record straight.
Mr. Chairman The sections read this afternoon are now open for debate.
Mr. Smallwood The only business is the debate of the report?
Mr. Chairman Yes.
Mr. Vardy Mr. Chairman, as a member who signed this report, and more particularly as chairman of the sub-committee responsible for the welfare section, I can do no other than agree that this gives you the picture as presented to us, and we have endeavoured to make the comments necessary to give the country our unbiased views regarding whether or not many of these huge expenditures are fairly or equally made, considering not only the peculiar wishes of the ex- serviceman or other applicant, but the ability of our purse to undertake such lavish commitments on these doubtful schemes.
Let us take the report section by section. In the health section we find the department has done an enormous amount of good by bringing the total number of hospitals in this country to 39 plus nine nursing stations. The General Hospital is now one of the best in North America, both as to building, equipment and skill. There is a shortage of nurses, due partly to so many of our girls joining the Canadian services or obtaining more remunerative employment elsewhere, but in the main because of the refusal of the department to step up the beginner's salary in proportion to the trained personnel or the higher income brackets.
It means a real sacrifice today for a girl to spend three years in training, which in reality is three years hard work and not going to school as some would suggest. Owing to the serious dearth of trained nurses, instead of being in a lecture- room they are almost continually doing full-time duty for 12 hours a day or night. They are trying to study when they should be resting. I realise this is unavoidable for the present, and will be for many years to come unless those responsible learn the definition of justice, and face the undeniable realisation that we are living in an age of social reform when every labourer is worthy of his or her just and reasonable hire.
The cottage hospitals are a grand thing if we 458 NATIONAL CONVENTION April 1947 had a population of five or ten million people to support them. They are giving splendid service. I will say reasonably commensurate with the cost of operating, in some respects inadequate but in every way out of proportion to our capacity to pay. We have them now and are building more, but with our very scattered population the most we can afford for many years to come is an increase in our doctors and nursing services throughout the country. What we need most is a sound consciousness of the basic factors of our real problem. Spend half the money we are spending on hospitals, Markiands, boglands, Humber Valley projects and other crazy schemes, on subsidising boat building, a bonus to men who are farm-minded for clearing their own land, of say $100 an acre, and in two years the country will have several thousand more engaged in each of these occupations and will be $4 million better off than we are today, instead of spending to create huge insurmountable problems for future governments and generations unborn.
The "Impact Upon Disease" has been tackled seriously and the department deserves commendations for their efforts in this direction. But the lack of statistics is inexcusable when the whole country knows this division was amply staffed to keep them. It is a hopeful sign to find that tuberculosis is on the decrease and it is common knowledge that the Dominions Office has always taken a serious View of the effect of this dread disease upon our people. The noteworthy contribution of the TB Association[1] is evi-dence of our deep consciousness of our responsibility as citizens. The work of the Division of Visual Education as a means of combating this silent menace will contribute in no small way toward checking at the source the unnecessary spreading of the disease. We have given due credit for what has been done but we cannot overlook the cost. The amount of $6 million plus the Public Works expenditure for the department is a terrific burden for this little country to carry. In fact under normal conditions we cannot hope to survive under such a load.
In spite of what has been said on the favourable side of the balance sheet, the question the whole country is asking is, "Are we getting fair value for the money spent? And can we get as good or better value for the same or less money?" In my checking of the various statistics, and observations through the various departments and institutions, my conclusions are that this can be done, but not while under the control of unscrupulous individuals whose political records are black chapters in this country and who should never have been put in positions of trust, but who in my opinion acquired the position through a betrayal of the people's trust. Any Commissioner who would knowingly withhold four days pension or any part of it belonging to the war veterans of this country is not fit to hold this office, and in my opinion, and I have good evidence on this, it would never have been paid had it not been for pressure brought upon him from the Auditor-General. It has been stated that certain investigations are in progress; these have been in progress for several years, and in my opinion will still be in progress when the Convention dies, and in the interval between then and a general election they will have a grand opportunity to cover up their dirty tracks.
If the Dominions Office had wanted a fair, true picture of what has been happening in this country they should have recalled the Commission, and appointed a provisional government with the understanding that it held office only until Newfoundland decided on her future form of government. It is no use denying we have been handicapped for information from some quarters, and that some received has not been authentic. When we rechecked we found the figures were questionable.
The veterans' section of the report gives the people of this country the most disgraceful picture they were ever asked to view. Those responsible for the first scheme, which I am informed has been changed six times, must be mentally unbalanced and in any case cannot know the definition of justice. The figures before you are self-explanatory and speak for themselves. I feel it my bounden duty to appeal to the Commissioner for Home Affairs to cease further action under this senseless scheme at once, and if it has been modified or changed six times, in the name of justice and the veterans frame a scheme immediately on true democratic principles of equal rights to all and special privileges to none. We did not expect any special privileges when we went over, we would all have been satisfied if we April 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 459 had not received any on return. There may be extenuating circumstances where compassionate allowances would have had to be made, but the whole ex-serviceman's school of thought is broad along these lines and no unjust criticisms would have been offered for any such action.
Mr. Smallwood I am not going to delay the House, but before this report passes the committee of the whole, I think it is only fair to say a word or two about it. I think it is also only fair to say a word or two about the business of the Department of Public Health and Welfare. This Convention cannot possibly do its work without taking very close account of this department. They are spending $6 million a year. The Committee is of the unanimous opinion that in the years to come they will have to go on spending $6 million a year, at least.
It is pointed out by the Committee that although certain items of expense in the Department of Public Health and Welfare may come down because the value of the dollar may go up β€” the same amount of money will buy more β€” on that account the cost of running the department may fall. Although that is true on the one hand, on the other hand the new extensions and new institutions that the department is putting in for the next year or two will drive the cost of running these institutions up again. The additional cost will equal the saving they may make on the purchases of supplies and materials in the public institutions. So for that reason, the Committee is unanimous in the opinion that the future government of Newfoundland, whatever that government may be, had just as well face up to it that itis going to require at least $6 million dollars a year to run the Department of Public Health and Welfare, not counting what used to be called dole in this country, but is now known as able-bodied relief; we have today practically none β€” none worth speaking of. If we should have it in the next few years, then the cost of able-bodied relief must be tacked on to that $6 million.
Now, Mr. Chairman, speaking for myself and not for the Committee, I have to say that the growth of the public services of this country insofar as they have to do with social and welfare services is a thing that needed to be done. I feel like giving the Commission of Government praise.... In health and welfare, especially in health, they do deserve praise. I think the people will think better of us if we give them the credit due them and the people will then be more likely to pay attention when we knock them where they should be knocked.
As Major Cashin has said, they have gone from 500 employees of all kinds 12 years ago to 1,400 today. They have gone from $2.75 million a year to $6 million today. Since 1934 they have spent $45 million in that one department. $18 million of that was spent on public relief β€” not dole, not able-bodied relief, but all forms of public relief. The second largest item of expenditure since 1934 is $7.5 million in salaries; the third largest was pensions, principally for World War I β€” $7.5 millions in 13 years. Fourth is the same amount and is for maintenance of their own hospitals β€” $6 million, not counting salaries. That was for drugs, food and equipment. Then they spent $1 million since 1934 to help out privately-owned hospitals. Then they spent $500,000 in those 13 years to help out the orphanages. That brings you up to $33 million. The remainder comes under various headings. On top of that they are going to spend $65 million in the next year or two: $250,000 on the General Hospital; $2.5 million to build a practically new mental hospital; $200,000 for a new home for nurses; $750,000 to build a home for the aged and infirm; $500,000 to build seven new cottage hospitals; $2.5 million to build a new sanatorium on the west coast. When the new west coast sanatorium is built, even though they have the old one on Topsail Road and the new one is opened, all the doctors who are authorities on TB who came before us agreed that there will still be a need for more. When these new institutions are built, it is going to run it up $1.25 million extra expenditure over and above the $6 million a year they are spending today. Let the Committee say, and I agree, that the government is doing right in introducing and expanding these social services and they must go further.
I suggest to Major Cashin, who has one of the most onerous and responsible jobs as chairman of the Finance Committee, that if I were here in opposition and Major Cashin was standing over there as Minister of Finance, I would plead with him to put down at least $6 million dollars for this social service and social welfare vote in that department; not counting what he would have to put down for dole, if, God forbid, there should be 460 NATIONAL CONVENTION April 1947 any dole in the next few years. When Major Cashin brings in the Finance Report showing the prospective expenditure, let him start off by saying that $6 million a year is the amount the government has to spend, and not a cent less, on social welfare.
Referring to this section "Impact on Disease" β€” we are talking only to Newfoundland people and let us face it. It was only in the second last government (of which Major Cashin was a member) that they brought in the Health and Welfare Act. In the next government β€” the Alderdice government β€” that was acted upon a little further. When the Commission came in with some money from the British Treasury they went further. This has started in the last 15 or 16 years only, and since that attention has been paid to social services and social welfare. Because it is new we have a lot of leeway to make up before we catch up with other countries in the standard of social services. There is not a man here who would suggest it is wrong for the government to give more and more attention to social welfare.
I do honestly and sincerely congratulate the Commission of Government upon expanding β€” not starting β€” what the Squires government began, and what the Alderdice government continued. We in Newfoundland have become more prosperous in the last five or six years thanks to the war, when the money began to flow in, and we began to give the Commission of Government more money in taxes. I congratulate them for spending more on public health. It is a trend in the right direction....
Mr. Butt As we had some discussion on the Lady Anderson about the justification for the money spent on her, I would like to ask just one more question, has the Lady Anderson any X-ray equipment? I am thinking of TB and the possibility of doing an enormous amount of good if the X-ray equipment were installed on that Lady Anderson.
Mr. Ashbourne In replying to Mr. Butt's question, I might say there is no X-ray equipment on the Lady Anderson. I quite appreciate the fact that it would be a good idea to equip this vessel with an X-ray....
Mr. Butt When we were discussing the opening of the new sanatorium on Topsail Road there seemed to be some doubt as to whether there were any more patients in the hospital since the new building has been opened. Is there any difficulty in the way? Why are there not more patients?
Mr. Ashbourne I have here a letter from Dr. Bennett. There are now 350 patients at the Sanatorium; 250 of these are in the new naval hospital; 150 patients were transferred out of the former sanatorium and 100 new patients have been admitted There are still 100 patients in the old hospital, making a total of 350 now left. The new hospital, which was taken over from the Canadian naval authorities, will hold 35 more and these will be admitted soon, making a total of 285. These new patients will be admitted as soon as staff is available. There are 100 patients now in the former sanatorium and 130 will be admitted after renovation; which will then give capacity to the old sanatorium of 230 β€” which added to the 285 capacity of the naval hospital, will give a grand total of 515 patients. Further accommodation above this figure will need new construction of the wings of the naval hospital....
One point as regards the Sanatorium, it seems to me that they have only a skeleton crew of nurses. It is a sad affair. lt seems to me there is great danger of some of these nurses being run off their feet. Some of the patients I spoke to there had been in the nursing service, and picked up the germ and have become victims and naturally they require hospitalisation. There is a big shortage of nurses....
Mr. Butt I wonder if the Committee gave consideration to the question of care or follow-up treatment of people who have been in the Sanatorium?.... In my opinion one of the most hopeful signs that I have seen as far as welfare is concerned in the last few years is the organisation of the TB Association, for the reason that it has grown out of the people of Newfoundland and is not a purely governmental organisation. It involves a principle which to me is of the utmost importance, that it is out of the people themselves must grow all the institutions which will make Newfoundland better and increase her social welfare developments.
Mr. Ashbourne I do not know definitely what follow-up treatment the doctors have as regards the patients, but I would take it that in these institutions they have some such plan. In the Notre Dame Bay Memorial Hospital at Twillingate, every patient who leaves that institution is given a slip signed by Dr. Olds advising what that April 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 461 patient should do for a certain period.... I take it that is the standard practice in any up-to-date hospital and I presume the same thing is done in the Sanatorium. There is a need to follow up these cases, to find out how they are getting on. Unless we have these statistics with regard to the number of active TB cases and the number of cures effected and of people who can enter into profitable employment, how do we know what progress we are making? I hope and trust that Public Health and Welfare will in future make an annual report, so that the people would have a clear and thorough picture of the activities of the department and the inroads it is making upon disease... I believe that the work of the Committee on Public Health and Welfare would have been greatly helped if we had had annual reports. It is a practice of certain sub-divisions of government to make annual reports to the Commissioner in charge. I strongly suggest that this matter should be taken up.... We are laymen when it comes to making reports on these things We do the best we can. But when it comes to medical terms and disease terms, it is the doctors themselves who can put in black and white the facts of the inroads on disease.
Mr. Newell I wonder if that is entirely what Mr. Butt had in mind I take it he was not referring to people coming back to the hospital to get subsequent treatment. I wonder if he had in mind the economic condition β€” the means of earning a living. An arrested case of TB has to go back to engage in a type of work not conducive to the good health of persons who have just come out of TB hospital. I do not think it is done in this country along these lines. In one or two cases I know they have been provided employment, but that has been done on their behalf by other or ganisations in the north. This is another case where the whole public health and welfare system ties up with the economic position. I think we have the wrong outlook towards the expenditure of public monies. Take cottage hospitals β€” if they do cost $20,000 to $25,000 a year, what is that? I suppose there are households, not to mention hospitals, who get through that amount of money a year. The question we have to face, and very soon, is why do we have so much TB? Why do we have relief? And somebody says it is partly attributable to the standard of living. The standard of living is low, why? Is that something that is going to be dependent on a particular form of government or is it dependent on us, the people? Who do we have to blame?Β 
Mr. Fudge The labour crowd?
Mr. Newell Perhaps we can blame them. I think it goes even deeper than that. Our whole economic system is antiquated and whenever you suggest a minor alteration somebody thinks you are crazy. Unless we can check the economic problem we are not going to make any great strides in public health and welfare and we will always need to spend huge sums on both. I suggest that whether or not we can afford it, if we are not prepared to get to work and change the economic position of this country, at least the economic system, if we are not prepared to do something drastic. then we had better make up our minds that we have to afford these expenditures. The people do not want anybody's sympathy, but we have to tackle this problem from a realistic point of view. When we can provide an economic system that will give a decent standard of living we may be able to look forward to lower expenditures on public health and welfare. Until we do that, we have to make up our minds that it must come from somewhere; even if we have to do without some things to provide $6 million, it has to be provided.
Mr. Northcott Speaking of TB, we have to get at the root of it. First, the government should see that every hotel, boarding house and restaurant has hot and cold water. Where there are no toilets inside, the ones outside should be treated with chlorine which will kill flies which carry the germs. I think if the chairman of the Committee would stress that point to the Public Health and Welfare Department, they will have done something worthwhile.
Mr. Bailey raised a very important point when he mentioned the Northern Ranger carrying sick people. Sick people should be segregated from other passengers, especially if a patient is carrying the germ of TB. It is a terrible thing to have those patients among two or three others....
Speaking of the report, it is a mass of figures and a few hours' job to grasp them, so I would more or less leave them as they are. I congratulate the members on the report. I am sure they put a lot of time and energy into it. Going back to the able-bodied relief which was spoken about β€” this $100,000 spent on fuel for the sick relief, 462 NATIONAL CONVENTION April 1947 $50,000 in St. John's and $50,000 in the outports. I wonder if the chairman could give us some idea of what districts this $50,000 was spent in?
Mr. Ashbourne I am unable to give that breakdown this evening, but we may be able to get those figures. As regards the inspection of hotels and restaurants, the department has supervision over restaurants and the people who work in them. As regards isolation wards on steamers, I think that is an excellent point. I think there is a sick bay on the Kyle.[1] I think in the construction of the new boats now in process of being built it would be a good idea to have places on them for sick people. We are a maritime country β€” lots of people cannot get to a doctor in hospital without taking passage by boat and it is sometimes very necessary for them to try and reach hospital to see whether or not they can be cured. They have no way of travelling, oftentimes, except by these boats. As pointed out by Mr. Miller, it is certainly too bad when these people who are going to seek hospitalisation are, through no fault of their own, forced to occupy staterooms with other passengers who are travelling. When I see the manager of the Railway, Mr. Russell, I will make that suggestion.
Mr. MacDonald Page 27 of this report β€” Veterans' Affairs β€” something struck me very forcibly: "With regard to the men of the merchant navy, they appear to have been discriminated against. Those who were not recruited through the agents of the Ministry of Shipping received no consideration whatsoever, while those who were so enlisted for foreign service for the duration, unless disabled, received only a small fraction of the benefits of other units, many of them as low as one fifth of the lowest amounts given other members of the forces...." It just shows what short memories governments have. Here you have a body of men whose help was largely instrumental in the winning of the war. These men carried quantities of munitions, food, etc. without which no war could have been won. I do not think any member of any other service will deny that they took exceptional risks in doing this work. Yet when the war is all over, they are forgotten. I wonder if the Committee asked why the men of the merchant navy were discriminated against?
Mr. McCarthy I would like to say I was going to make that point. I would like to add further, we find in this reportβ€”Civil Re-establishment plan, under Veterans' Affairs β€” under plan A, $4,000 to $6,000 is being Spent for higher education; under plan B, ex-servicemen who want to settle in their own areas on a farm are entitled to approximately $2,500; we find a man starting a small business and he gets about $500. I am not supporting all the accusations made by Mr. Vardy, but we also find fishermen who stay home and want to go fishing will get $500, and if he needs an engine, for instance, he will possibly get $700. We find in the Fisheries Report that our fisheries are still the economy of our country. Yet, as Mr. Vardy stated, these men wore the same uniform, they fought on the same front and still they are only entitled to $500 to $700. I wonder if your Committee enquired as to why that decision was made as regards these different rates?
Mr. Ashbourne I would ask Mr. Vardy to answer that question. He was a member of the merchant navy during the war and was chairman of the sub-committee.
Mr. Vardy I think Mr. Ashbourne will agree that it is simple for me to answer these questions. From the very start I kept up my interviews and consultations with various men in connection with this scheme. As far as the merchant navy men are concerned, Mr. MacDonald will be surprised to know that out of 3,000 men, only about 60 received anything, and some of them as low as $20. We have that evidence from no less a person than the Director of Civil Re-establishment.
Mr. Smallwood Sixty?
Mr. Vardy Yes, 60. Now they have the scheme changed. They give these men, if they are on relief, a limited amount of unemployment benefit. The limited of these men can get, if they served from 1939-45, is $700. That is the top limit. These men signed the same articles that men signed in the Royal Navy, the RAF or the Royal Artillery. They had to sign in triplicate up here at the Newfoundland Railway office or at Bowring's office β€” forms to the effect they were volunteering for the duration, unless disabled. I have these forms, I signed them myself. The men of the merchant navy did a good job and the men of the tug service did a good job and are deprived April 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 463 now of any benefits. Finally they were informed the scheme had been changed and they were going to be given benefits under the land clearing scheme. I know a number of men in the merchant navy who, with this understanding, spent the last cent they had cutting down brush, made preparations for tractors to come in and clear the land; and during the time they were doing this work, trying to take advantage of these benefits, the scheme was changed and the merchant navy men and the tug service men who landed the troops in France for the invasion, these men were deprived of all benefits except under the fishery assistance scheme. Some of these men got as low as $100 to $140. One man told me he could qualify for $140, and he was a married man who left his family to go over there to serve.
The unemployment scheme is made to suit each individual case. I was told they regarded it as compassionate allowance. If a person happens to come in and is hard up they will give him the amount of unemployment benefit.
In reference to the questions asked by Mr. Butt and Mr. Newell in connection with the Sanatorium, I do know for a fact that when each case is regarded as cured and the patient returns home, they give the patient a form to report periodically, and they make a special effort to get these people to come in at certain intervals for X-ray or check up. Eventually when cured, they give them a certificate to that effect. They do try to keep contact with each case as it is discharged from the institution.
Mr. McCarthy In spite of all that Mr. Vardy has said he has not answered my question, which was if the Committee had inquired as to why the government should make the decision.
Mr. Vardy We did make numerous inquiries We objected from the beginning and the Committee knows I was strong on it. The only answer to these enquiries was that this scheme was framed by the Commissioner for Finance and the Commissioner for Home Affairs. The Director of Civil Re-establishment has the duty to carry out the scheme as far as possible. They have no excuse except that was the decision made by the two Commissioners and they are powerless to change it. We made enquiries in every detail in connection with the scheme. I may say that the Humber Valley scheme started from $4,000 to $6,000. I do not think $4,000 is mentioned in our report. The first information we had was that it was $5,000; our final information, which was given to the Agricultural Committee as well, was that it was $6,000. I am informed on good authority that $6,000 will not go near re-establishing these men. The vote is $1.3 million for 300 men.
Mr. McCarthy That includes road building, etc.?
Mr. Vardy Yes.
Mr. Hillier The delegate from St. John's West Extern made reference to the TB Association. In doing so he intimated we had solved some of our own problems. How many branches of the TB Association are in Newfoundland at the present time?
Mr. Ashbourne I believe that two branches have already been organised β€” a branch at Channel and another at Comer Brook. I believe that the formation of a branch at Grand Falls is being proceeded with. These are the only three branches I know of at the moment. At the meeting of the directors of the TB Association, of which I am a director, the matter was discussed and I think that in a great many of the larger outports they would like to have branches and for those who want them there will be a chance for a branch to be formed.
Mr. Hillier I think that a branch properly organised and active would solve some of the TB problem.
Mr. Butt In fairness to myself, there would seem to be implied that I was criticising the work done at the Sanatorium. I was thinking of the thing pointed out by Mr. Newell, and that is the supplying of proper kinds of work for patients afterwards. That is important....
Mr. Penney Speaking briefly on the report I would call attention to page 36, wherein the cost of living index is given from 1 October 1938 to 1 March, 1947, beginning at 100 and ending up 167.6. I would like to know if this cost of living index is really an index of the lift in prices or the cost of things from 1938-47. Many people think costs have lifted three times or more. I was wondering if we could get any information on how the index is made up; and in asking that question I would like to say I agree with other members regarding the very informative report of this Public Health and Welfare Committee....
Mr. Vardy Every detail covering the cost of 464 NATIONAL CONVENTION April 1947 living index is somewhere here in the files, but owing to the report's being limited there were several details we felt compelled to leave out.
Mr. Ballam I must refer back to something Mr. Butt said with regard to TB patients and what happens to them. I had occasion to go into the Sanatorium early last fall, and I happened to meet a gentleman there, whom I understand has since deceased. I refer to Mr. Conrad Fitzgerald. He edited a magazine called Sunbeams. It was most interesting and informative Mr. Fitzgerald told me that one of the big factors in the recurrence of TB was the fact that after a patient is discharged from hospital there is no form of rehabilitation. In other words, he is to all intents and purposes cured, and if he is a fisherman he must go in a boat; if a logger, he must go in the woods. By so doing, he is losing what it took years to build up. Mr. Fitzgerald's idea was that there should be some form of rehabilitation whereby those fishermen coming out of hospital could be looked after until they could rehabilitate themselves to the extent where they could follow their usual vocation....
Mr. Ashbourne I agree entirely with Mr. Ballam. This problem should be tied in with our health system. The problem of rehabilitation is one which must be tackled because when a man has suffered from such a disease as TB naturally the whole body is impaired, and it stands to reason that a man cannot undertake strenuous work. I believe such a scheme would be money well spent.
In reply to Mr. Penney, I wish to thank him for his remarks on the report. I would like to say that this matter of arriving at the monthly cost of living index in St. John's is a rather complicated matter as I see it. There has been a discussion on this matter going on; you see letters in the papers. It seems that when the index was started it was set at 100. Staple articles, food and clothing, were placed at certain values and when they advanced other articles were placed on the list. When prices advanced in grocery stores the prices were entered and different calculations were arrived at. They took October 1, 1938 as 100 for these commodities as listed and eventually these figures were arrived at. I have not changed the figures myself....
Mr. Penney Do you not believe that the cost of living over the last decade has been lifted a great deal more?
Mr. Ashbourne Certain items no doubt have.
Mr. Fudge It is made up for St. John's; I do not know if the department inquired into the cost of living in the outports. I see nothing about it. I take it for granted that the cost of living may be higher in St. John's than in the outports. I suppose that is the reason for giving able-bodied relief in St. John's at $1 1.25 per head and in the outports at $5 per head. I suppose the cost is not so high?
Mr. Smallwood What is the Federation of Labour index?
Mr. Fudge 210.7.
Mr. McCarthy I think it is 215 now.
Mr. Smallwood The government figures are notoriously wrong, everyone knows that.
Mr. Ashbourne In answer to Mr. Fudge, I do not think they have the cost of living compiled for any outports.
Mr. Fudge The people on poor or sick relief are expected to live on $5 β€” they must think the cost of living is lower in the outports.
Mr. Vardy I would say it is not because the cost of living is lower, but because the outports are far away from the source of government.
Mr. Bailey I have been paying close attention here tonight to what the members have been talking about and I have also noticed the amounts paid to the different returned men. I wondered about it. I wondered why such a difference was made in the different classes. All the men took a chance on going over there. I do not know who is responsible for these pensions. I have before me a letter which I received from a returned man and which I shall read: "At the age of 35 I enlisted in 1939 with the Forestry Unit, later transferring to the Royal Air Force with air sea rescue and air crew, Bomber Command. In June, 1940, I took part in evacuating troops from Dunkirk and France by small boats. During the Battle of Britain I flew as air-crew, also made 49 trips over occupied territory up to February 7, 1945, when we were shot down by enemy aircraft and I received a fractured spine and fractured ribs. I spent six months in hospital in Holland and England and upon arrival in this country in September, 1945, I was again hospitalised for removal of parts of ribs. My pension has been reduced to 20% β€” $28 per month β€” for wife and family of three in spite of the fact that I have spent about three months in bed with medical attention April 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 465 for injuries since my return. I was promoted to commissioned rank in 1944 attaining the rank of Flying Officer upon my release in 1945. In an effort to supplement my pension since my return, I made application for 32 government positions advertised and was called for nine interviews on selection boards for junior government positions, but was unsuccessful. The other 23 positions I was ignored. I was successful in obtaining a temporary position with the Tourist Board with a small salary in the hope that some other position would open and under present circumstances this job will soon end. I obtained my Junior Associate Grade at Trinity East and have three years' training at the Baptist Theological College of Missouri, USA. My war record speaks for itself and my civilian character can be ascertained from any of my past employers. I was the oldest person from Newfoundland who served in air operations and took part in all major conflicts from the evacuation of Dunkirk to the crossing of the Rhine."
I am not going to say much about this because I do not know the set-up but I believe if ever we get a government of the people for the people, this is something that should not happen....
Mr. Ashbourne I suggest that Mr. Bailey take that case up with the pensions officer of the department.
I would like to answer some of the points brought up in the debate yesterday afternoon and last night. Major Cashin asked about the amount given for special food orders. The department does not give the cost of those food orders per district. It is in accounts rendered by supplying merchants and they are issued on recommendation of the doctor or nurse. The question was asked regarding cottage hospitals, whether a doc tor not attached to a cottage hospital and who is working in the area has a right to send a patient into the cottage hospital. It is understood that the doctor in charge will treat the patients; they charge $4 for services for hospital outside the area. Some member asked regarding salaries of district nurses for Harbour Breton, I believe.
Mr. Spencer I did not ask for any particular section. I asked if there were two nurses, why were the amounts different.
Mr. Ashbourne The $4,866.73 charged up for Harbour Breton is the salaries of the district nurses of the area, and not in the cottage hospital alone. The district nurse looks after the area, of which the hospital is the head. In regard to Mr. Penney's question, the answer is not yet available.
[The section was adopted, and the committee then adopted the report as a whole. The committee rose and so reporled to the Convention]
Mr. Chairman In deference to Major Cashin who raised the question in connection with this report, its further consideration should be deferred.
Mr. Crosbie I move that this report be not adopted or received until the Convention and the public have received the full report regarding a secret and confidential report[1] given the members in private session.
Mr. Chairman If I may offer you a suggestion, the best thing to do is to defer it until tomorrow. That keeps it before the House and we can always defer it from day to day.
Mr. Vardy I second that.
Mr. Chairman Moved and seconded that this report be deferred until tomorrow.
[The motion carried, and the Convention adjourned]

Source:

Newfoundland. The Newfoundland National Convention, 1946-1948 Vol 1: Debates. Edited by J.K. Hiller and M.F. Harrington Montreal: Memorial University of Newfoundland by McGill-Queen's University Press, 1995).

Credits:

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Selection of input documents and completion of metadata: Gordon Lyall.

Footnotes:

  • [1] Volume II:251. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [1] Newfoundland Tuberculosis Association founded by St, John's Rotary Club, 1942.
  • [1] Newfoundland Railway coastal steamer serving Labrador.
  • [1] Above, p. 445.

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