Newfoundland National Convention, 31 March 1947, Debates on Confederation with Canada


March 31, 1947

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

Mr. Ashbourne Mr. Chairman, the Report of the Public Health and Welfare Committee has been distributed. It is not my intention to make a very long speech. We hope that members will find considerable food for thought in the report, and that in completing the final picture of Newfoundland the information herein will assist in our deliberations. It is not in one or two reports that we can expect to find the real answer we are seeking, but in studying all of the various reports as they are tabled and reviewing the future in the light of the present and of the past, come to some definite conclusions. I would like to make a few observations before I begin the piloting of this report through the Convention.
As convenor of the Committee. I would like to record my sincere thanks to each member of our Committee for the contribution he has made. It was hoped we would have been able to have had a second interview with the Commissioner of Public Health and Welfare, Sir John C. Puddester, but on account of his serious illness this has not been possible. I hope he will be able to appear before the whole Convention before its sittings are concluded. Any commissioner who has seen the whole life of the Commission of Government, on the inside as well as on the outside, should be able to make a distinct con 434 NATIONAL CONVENTION March 1947 tribution to our deliberations.
There are those who point to the Commission of Government as those who have instituted a new day in public health and welfare services in this country. I do not see how it could have started on the scale it did a decade ago had it not been for the financial assistance afforded by the United Kingdom. The aid received made it possible to make a good start in enlarging the health and social services.
The family doctor is filling and has filled a very important place in the sphere of social welfare and health services. In going his rounds he has not only built up his practice but left an influence which, when he is no longer available, leaves a void very difficult to fill. The modern tendency for the majority of doctors graduating is to specialise, and it seems these prefer to practice where a hospital is located and where hospital facilities are readily procurable. In the rapid strides and advances that have taken place in the field of medical science and scientific knowledge it is admitted even by the layman that methods may quickly become outmoded; thus it is understandable that doctors may prefer to join the staff of a hospital, but in the viewpoint of many who have had the valuable services of the family practitioner, they still much prefer to see the genial face of the family doctor, rather than having to take their sick to the hospital. There may be some who wonder if our medical services have not been extended too rapidly and spread out too thin, so to speak, and question if the country can afford to carry them. But the big question is, can the country afford not to have them? These cottage hospitals (a special feature of Newfoundland) are part of a system of modified socialised medicine No country can expect to reach its utmost capacity of production unless its inhabitants attain a satisfactory standard of health, and a nation's health is a matter of the most vital concern and consideration, and the provision of adequate health and welfare services is of paramount importance. We must look not only at the present but also to the future, and we see need of further expansion yet.
The shortage of nurses is a serious problem. It is readily understood that hospitals require doctors and many nurses to staff them, and if they are to function properly, the need of sufficient trained personnel is most apparent. During the war there was a greater scarcity of doctors and as time goes on and more medical students graduate this shortage will be gradually overcome. Many nurses marry after graduation and unless they take up private nursing, generally speaking they are not available. It has been questioned whether the spirit of self-sacrifice in this noble profession is not dying out. Personally I do not think it is. I understand the same situation exists in Canada. The scale of payments in Newfoundland offered to student nurses — $150 for the first year, $200 for the second year and $250 for the third year, may account for some of the shortage. During the war many young ladies found more remunerative employment at the bases and elsewhere and many entered the teaching profession.
The opening up of the new buildings at the Sanaton'um has been delayed by the lack of nurses. The need of many more nurses is urgent; also more beds for patients. The tremendous work of the Department of Public Health and Welfare itself suffered during the war owing to the fact that it lost some of its key men through enlistments, and the higher wages paid by outside companies naturally attracted others at headquarters to better paid positions.
Perhaps it is not out of order to mention that the success of efforts on behalf of preventative and curative medicine in Newfoundland, and of any all-round general scheme of health and social services, depends on the degree of co-operation between the people, the medical and nursing professions and the government. Our system of taxation should provide that all can get the necessities of life at the very lowest prices. The matter of nutrition is intimately connected and linked up with health. Proper foods, as well as proper nutritional values, are vitally necessary for our good health....
One of the most serious problems affecting Newfoundland is the great white plague, the silent menace, tuberculosis. I add my voice to the many others who have given unstinted praise to the laudable efforts of the Newfoundland Tuberculosis Association in the great work it has undertaken to assist to the utmost to rid Newfoundland of this scourge. It is hoped that the government will not only be ever ready but over-zealous to assist in this colossal work undertaken by a band of voluntary workers. This dread disease can be stamped out only by continued and concerted March 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 435 action in which the public must be adequately informed. The response of the public in its purchases of Christmas Seals and donations indicates its desire to further the work of the association. If crippling disease, let it be TB or anything else, is not checked and eradicated or brought to the lowest possible minimum, what avails the efforts of rehabilitation? Public health must be in the forefront of reconstruction.
The appointment of a sub-committee consisting of Mr. Vardy, Mr. Crummey and Mr. Roberts was made to draft a report on welfare. Their report was considered by the whole Committee and the report as amended forms part of the report now before you. The hope is that able-bodied relief, except for isolated cases, will soon be a thing of the past, and that in its place the government will provide public works or some other scheme whereby the needs of the people who have suffered owing to lack of sufficient income may be met. It is to be hoped that soon the government will be able to reduce the age limit at which an old age pension may be obtained.
The splendid work done by Dr. Pottle and the staff under him is included in the welfare report. The boys and girls of today will be the men and women of tomorrow, and monies invested in their welfare will pay real dividends in the future.
Under section 6 you will find a section devoted to veterans' affairs. It is not saying too much when we say that everything possible should be done on behalf of those who answered the call of king and country. We consider that labour affairs should be studied by a select committee of this Convention and while the delegations are absent visiting England, and perhaps Ottawa if one goes there, it might be a good time if those available in St. John's, and who do not intend to return home, could be appointed to study this matter.
The people of Newfoundland deserve the very best possible in the way of medical services. Who is going to say that anything less than the best is good enough for our people? We are dealing with the greatest asset that Newfoundland possesses when we are dealing with the people, greater then the material assets, for it is a spiritual one. While poverty and disease lurk in our midst it is our duty to do our utmost to ascertain the underlying causes and see that they are removed. In building a strong and lasting society the deadly forces which strike at the roots of society and sap the foundations of national well-being will have to be attacked, no matter how deeply entrenched they may be before ultimate recovery can be hoped for or real progress be attained.
Mr. Burry Mr. Chairman, I would like to call the attention of the members to the fact that there is one unfortunate omission in the first page in the list of names. To that should be added the name of the Hon. Mr. Quinton. The Committee feels that your predecessor, Mr. Justice Fox, in the selection of the convenor for this Committee made a very wise choice. Mr. Ashbourne, with his thoroughness and good spirit and persistent energy, kept us plugging at this work since last fall until 5 o'clock on Saturday last. We were able to have 48 main committee meetings, besides several subcommittee meetings, which meant at least 103 hours work on this report. I would also point out that the few references and quotations in this report coming from the interviews are not an indication of the value we have placed upon the interviews. We feel that the interviews with the various doctors, heads of departments, etc., were very valuable.
We were impressed last fall with the inadequacy of our equipment to cope with this problem, and we thought that the best way was to study the problem of public health and welfare with men who knew more about it than we did. We looked upon our interviews as study classes. We placed a great value upon the knowledge that was imparted to us by these men and two ladies who came before us. We recall very vividly the meeting that we had with the Commissioner, Hon. John C. Puddester, and how he outlined the work of his department and the problems that he had to face, and how it grew up under the needs of wartime. We also remember the studies upon TB and the incidence of TB in Newfoundland and Labrador under Dr. McGrath and Dr. Peters and Mr. Davis....
[The Secretary read from the report][1]
Mr. Ashbourne Is there any member who wishes to get further information about the section which has just been read? If not we will pass on to the next section. The report is quite lengthy, and opportunity will be given later for members to debate the report.
Mr. Hillier Was Lamaline omitted? It had been a nursing station but there is no nurse to my knowledge there now.
Mr. Job I am going to ask one question. In the cottage hospitals there are 14 doctors. Are those in residence or are they just working part-time? Do they have a doctor at all these cottage hospitals all the time?
Mr. Ashbourne Not as far as I am aware. They have a doctor associated with some of them, and they also practice in the other localities around. I have not a list of the doctors at present associated with the various hospitals, but I could get that if you would like to have the names of the doctors in the different localities.
Mr. McCormack It was mentioned about district nurses; and on page 10 it says, "304 nurses, or one for each 1,046 of the population." It should not be necessary for me to call attention to the fact that the people of Trepasscy and that vicinity are in urgent need of a nurse. They have quite a population and are isolated all winter and I have been trying to get a nurse installed there for some time but could not do so. Those people have no doctor or nurse, and over all Conception Bay there are a lot of nurses in a section connected with the city by railroad and taxis all winter.
Mr. Ashbourne Thank you, Mr. McCormack. Has there never been a nurse at Trepassey?
Mr. McCarthy There has been, yes.
Mr. Ashbourne It says there are places vacant, I presume that is one of the places.
Mr. McCarthy A similar position exists at Lourdes. Six years ago we did have one for a few months, and two years ago we had one for two months. I guess that's how it is with part-time nurses.
Mr. Miller It says "...doctors in the part-time service of the hospital". How can a man in part- time service direct anything?
Mr. Burry It is true that this Committee found there was a shortage of doctors, and when the department could get one they put him at the hospital where he was most needed and he did the directing while he was there; but the shortage of doctors necessitated that he would not be there very long. I feel that when the situation changes for the better all these cottage hospitals will have full-time doctors in charge.
Mr. Spencer The report mentions that at present there is no doctor on the Lady Anderson.[1] I wonder how many years is it since there has been a doctor there? It may be in some other part of the report that I have not come to yet, but do you have the cost of the Lady Anderson?
Mr. Ashbourne Mr. Spencer will find in the statistics the information that he requires. If it is not there I will be glad to ascertain from the department the further information that you require and see that you get it.
Mr. Hickman On the Lady Anderson, I notice there is at present no doctor. How long has that been so, and to what extent does it hamper the work for which it is intended?
Mr. Ballam In reply to Mr. Miller's question about the 14 cottage hospital doctors working part-time, I have been at these places and those doctors supervise the hospital and do the surgical work necessary, and serve the community outside on their own, and that's why it is called a part-time job. I can speak for Stephenville Crossing and the Bonne Bay area as well. Usually those localities are without medical care and doctors, that's how they come into the category of part- time work.
Mr. Ashbourne Thank you, Mr. Ballam. You will find as you go through the cottage hospital reports, they give the bed capacity and staff, number of patient days, etc....
Answering Mr. Hickman's question, I tried to find out about the doctor on the Lady Anderson when I was interviewing the head of the department. He advised us that there was not a doctor at the present time, but they are hoping to get one later on. I can't say what the last time was they had a doctor.
Mr. Hickman How much would that hamper the work of the ship?
Mr. Ashbourne Well, the nurse goes around and does what she can in that locality. I don't know if there is any member from that section who could enlighten the Convention on that point.... I am sure the nurse is doing what she can in that district the Lady Anderson is supposed to cover.
Mr. Hollett I have not been there for about five years, but I do understand that the Lady Anderson is costing $18,000 a year and has not had a doctor March 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 437 for four years and very rarely has a nurse. I think that question is well put and the Committee should find that out.
Mr. Reddy I have been informed that the service is very satisfactory up there. I think that requires going into thoroughly.
Mr. Spencer As far as I know there has not been a doctor on the Lady Anderson for the last four or five years, and the Lady Anderson covers that coast and is very conspicuous by her absence.
Mr. Smallwood In reply to Mr. Hollett, if he would look at the table of financial statistics he will see that the cost of maintaining and operating the Lady Anderson for this year, which ends today, is $11,800....
Mr. Newell You have to add the salaries — about $7,000 for wages for the Lady Anderson.
Mr. Ashbourne Rev. Mr. Burry has now gone out to try and get that information from the department, but I remember it was stressed, at the time that we discussed this matter, the difficulty that the department had to procure a doctor for this service. When there has been a shortage of doctors even for their stations on the land we can readily appreciate and understand the difficulty of procuring a medical man to go on the ship. I feel sure there is great need of a medical man to serve that part of the coast and that as soon as the department can get a qualified doctor willing to go on that ship one will be provided.
Mr. Hollett Whether it cost $11,000 or $35,000 is not to the point at all. What I want to know is what service the ship can be if she has had no doctor or nurse for four of five years? It's pertinent to the issue and these are things we want to find out.
Mr. Fudge I wonder if the Committee visited any of the hospitals and made inquiries from the patients there how often they see a doctor? I refer now to those who go in on the government, not paying their own hospital bill.
Mr. Ashbourne Mr. Chairman, various members of the Committee have visited various institutions. I visited the General Hospital and went through it, and also the Sanatorium since they moved into the new wing, the Children's Home and Merchant Navy Hospital, the Home for the Aged and Infirm, and I feel sure that other members have visited other government institutions. During the course of my rounds I questioned several patients about the food and care which they were being given, and found no complaint. I took it, of course, that in the general work of these institutions that the doctors would make their rounds, probably twice a day, and it did not occur to me to ask whether the doctors did that because I took it for granted....
Mr. Vardy I may say that on the welfare side of it I visited just aboutevery hospital in town. I was to the Mental Hospital with other members of the Committee and have been there on three different occasions, I have been to the Sanatorium and talked to the patients. and any observations I have I propose to make later.
Mr. Bailey We have a cottage hospital at Old Perlican, and they also practice with a doctor in Trinity South. The people of Bay de Verde district, including New Melbourne in Trinity South, practice with the doctor and hospital in Old Perlican, and the people of Trinity North go to Heart's Content. As you know a man or woman has a lot of dependence in a doctor they are used to; but we always found out that when a patient went into hospital they had to go under another doctor, and people often wonder if the medical services could not have been served better if both doctors could have had a chance to practice in the same hospital. I don't know if the doctor has the same chance to practice, but I know it is not possible to get under our own doctor's care in Old Perlican. I don't know if this condition exists in any other part of the island, because I believe that when a case puzzles the doctor he just calls in another one. The people are wondering why it costs a man in New Melbourne $10 for the doctor and hospital, and $l4 in Old Perlican. They asked me to find this out, whether the doctor is barred from practicing in the hospital or whether it's his own free will or otherwise. It seems strange when there is a hospital in the vicinity that all doctors should not be allowed to practice in them.
Mr. Ashbourne Mr. Chairman, as far as I know the fee for these cottage hospitals is $10. The doctors who attend the hospital, their wages are $200 a month and two thirds of the fees collected. I will try to find out why that additional $2 is charged — is that it, Mr. Bailey?
Mr. Bailey The fee for hospitals is $4. I am paying $4 and everybody in the district pays $6 to the doctor and $4 for the hospital, a total of $10. When we come to New Melbourne we pay $10 for the doctor and the hospital besides.... That 438 NATIONAL CONVENTION March 1947 is what our people are talking the most about, the fact that when they go in hospital they go under another doctor and not their own doctor. Their own doctor does not practice in the hospital since it was there. We don't know why, and people asked me to try and find out.
Mr. Ashbourne That's probably a government regulation about having their own doctors in the various localities. It is quite understandable. You could not have every doctor in every community on the hospital staff at $200 a month, it would run up the cost considerably. I take it that fee you pay the doctor, who is not associated with the cottage hospital, is a fee to have your name on his books as we used to say in years gone by, and whoever wanted his services, summer or winter, night or day, would have to put his name on the books and pay him a certain annual fee. I will try to get that information for you.
Mr. Vincent That, to my mind, is a matter for the local board of health. The fee is $10, and that covers all settlements.
Mr. Crummey There are two points there, one is that he has the family doctor, but at Old Perlican the doctor does not come within the radius of the hospital. He pays the family doctor for his services, but on the other hand he is affiliating himself with the hospital in case his family has to go there and get special rates. If he is outside the territory he pays $4, otherwise it is $10 altogether. There is no discrimination against your doctor going into that hospital, although he has to go there under the supervision of the other doctor.
Mr. Bailey We were wondering about that. I don't know why because our doctor is a government doctor too.
Mr. Crummey But he is only getting a subsidy because of your people who cannot pay. The hospital doctor is getting his fee as a doctor in the hospital plus the fees.
Mr. Vardy There are various scales of payment for these cottage hospitals. I think I have a receipt here from Walwyn Hospital[1] for $15. There is also a fee for the X-ray, and the $ 10 is the nominal hospital fee, and there is a special medical fee for certain special services if you pay the extra $5 and happen to require it. I think that's correct.
Mr. Butt On page 10: Hospital beds: We have 1 for each 111 of our population. Doctors: We have 1 for each 2,719 of our population. Nurses: We have 1 for each 1,046 of our population
I have no doubt that's statistically correct. I was wondering if the Committee went into that. In other words is there a bed available for every 111 people? In practice have they been able to get to where we have one doctor for every 2,700 people?
Mr. Ashbourne No, it's not a general average. In St. John's, yes.
Mr. Butt It does not work out in that way?
Mr. Ashbourne Not really.
Mr. Butt In that case you may have one doctor for 5,000 people.
Mr. Smallwood I think the figure taken as the ideal is one doctor per 400 of the population. I don't suppose there is a country that has reached that ideal although some come much nearer to it than we have done. Some countries average one doctor for every 1,200.
Mr. Starkes That does not apply in White Bay and Green Bay districts. The population down there is around 30,000, and there is one doctor in Baie Verte in the Bowater company's operation.
[The Secretary read the next section][2]
Mr. Hollett I would like a word on that. You give the infant mortality rate for Newfoundland over a period of years and on the next page the infant mortality rate by countries. You have Newfoundland down as 91, New Zealand 31, South Africa 52, Denmark 45, Australia 36, Canada 21.4. I take it that is per 1,000 births. I am wondering if that's a typographical error, or where did you get your statistics?
Mr. Ashbourne Perhaps Mr. Smallwood could answer that question.
Mr. Smallwood The statistics affecting Newfoundland were obtained from the Division of Vital Statistics which has been keeping them for many years past. The statistics on other countries were obtained from their year books.... The particular question that Mr. Hollett has asked with regard to infant mortality rate by countries, speaking from memory I could not swear that there is no typographical error at the bottom of that table, Canada (1940) the rate 21.4. I suggest that someone obtain the original script and see March 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 439 how it checks with the mimeograph copy. It does look very low I admit....
That's only one table, the number of children dying in these countries under the age of one year per 1,000 births, I am pretty sure that it's per 1,000. They have certain standard rates all over the world, but they vary. TB is per 100,000; maternity death rate is per 1,000 live births, what proportion of the mothers die in childbirth, but in all these different things it varies. I believe in infant mortality it is per 1,000 live births. Short of checking with the original copy, does that answer you Mr. Hollett?
Mr. Hollett Yes, but I want to be sure, because I have here the Canada year book for 1945 which gives the infant mortality rate by provinces and for the whole of Canada, and I find that in 1940 the infant mortality rate was 64 for the whole of Canada....
Mr. Fogwill I have a table showing the world rates for 1934-35-36, and this is somewhat similar to those quoted by Mr. Hollett. For the years 1921-25 the average is 98; in 1934 it was 72; 1935, 71; and 1936, 66.
Mr. Ashbourne I am glad Mr. Hollett brought up that matter. We have here the original script given to be mimeographed, and I notice that there are several changes made on this list. Perhaps Mr. Smallwood can explain because I believe he was responsible for this; for New Zealand the original he had was 22.6, and several of the others were corrected and altered to give other figures. It seems to me he has taken the wrong rate. I notice that New Zealand, Denmark and several others have been marked off, but the figure for Canada was left there. It seems as if an error was made.
Mr. Smallwood I notice too that some of the figures have been corrected in ink. I don't recall from memory, but Australia is raised from 18 up to 36 and Great Britain from 15 up to 54, USA from 17 up to 40, Denmark from 18.3 up to 45, South Africa from 25.3 up to 52, New Zealand from 22.6 up to 31. Evidently the wrong figures were typed in there in the first place and the corrected ones were written in. What strikes me as being possible is that Canada was also typed and not corrected. I expect that is what happened....
Mr. Ashbourne I think we want to get this report as correct as possible. I suggest that this be amended to read Canada 1936 — 1940, average 64, and down below, Canada 1941 — 60. I think that would cover it. As regards checking the others I would be only too glad if any member would do that, because we don't want any misleading information in our report....
Mr. Butt I suppose this table is given to show something of a picture of Newfoundland's assets. You will find that there is a little note on one of these tables which says that this figure of 64 does not include statistics for the territories. I point out that nine-tenths of the population of Canada runs straight across the American boundary. There is something like 1,400 miles from that up, and there is one tenth of the population in that area, and they have a problem of isolation something the same as we have. We ought to take into consideration the problem of isolation in this country as well. I know the problem we have in public health. It is serious and terrific. We should all give all the time and attention and energy that we can do it, but it strikes me as odd that we make ours out as a little worse than we need to. I think 64 would be a little high if you take in the isolated districts. I am only just trying to keep in my mind the fair picture of the problem in relation to our own and those of other countries.
Mr. Smallwood This figure of 93.5 per 1,000 is for Newfoundland and Labrador. The same thing applies to the other countries. You take the figure for all Newfoundland and you see how it stacks up against other countries. Naturally, you take the figure for all Newfoundland, and all the USA and all of Canada, not a part of it. We had figures for parts of Newfoundland which were much better than that, but the average for all Newfoundland and Labrador is 93.5 per 1,000 live births for 1943, but there are parts of the country that were deliberately left out of the report because we thought it would be queer to pick out certain parts. There was one part that was 210, another part 145.5, 118.4 ... another part is 43.5, another part 51, etc ..... Taking the country as a whole with Labrador it is high, but it is dropping. The report gives the results from 1920 up to 1944, every year inclusive, and the rate is dropping. In 1944 it shot up again, but there is a general fall in the rate, in other words an improvement in the infant mortality rate. We have along way to go but our rate is improving....
Mr. Hollett I am only interested in correcting the figures presented to us. Apparently there is a 440 NATIONAL CONVENTION March 1947 grave error concerning the infant mortality rate in Canada.
Mr. Bailey I wonder if we could know What the medical services are in those sections where the infant mortality rate is so high.
Mr. Smallwood I am not going to mention the places where the rates are high — where it is 210 the medical service is not good, not too plentiful. Now the other one — 145 — the rate is high but the medical services are good, and where it is 141 the medical services are excellent. On the other hand there is one part where the rate is the lowest in the country and I don't believe there is a doctor there.... It is not only the medical services, the doctors and nurses, there are a lot of other factors.
Mr. Miller In view of that correction, the following sentence: "Newfoundland is 300-400% worse off in her rate of infant mortality than the countries shown", we have to accept that with some reservation. That conclusion is definitely based on the comparison submitted, and if we can't feel they are really correct I don't see how we can accept those conclusions. There is another point, the report is signed by the full Committee, and I would like to ask what liberty any one person has to make alterations and add more thereto. It seems queer no one knows whether these figures are at random or correct or what. I don't think that's thorough enough for our work.
Mr. Newell It seems to me that when errors are discovered and corrected in other reports, and the report has been adopted as amended, there has been dam little said about it. It seems today there is an attempt being made, because of these errors, to sort of throw dust over the rest of the reports. I wonder why?
Mr. Ashbourne I suggest the report be amended and even though I signed the Report as other members did, believing that those figures were right, I for one am prepared to have them corrected, and I believe I can speak for the other members....
Mr. Newell I don't know if this discussion, which seems to be rather aimless, may be to make some other country a little worse or our own country a little better. I suggest that if we don't know our own country well enough to know the condition of public health it is time we got around to finding out.
Mr. Vardy No individual tampered with the report after it was signed. These changes were made beforehand, it is only a minor matter, and we should get on with the report. There were changes made in every section of every report brought before this Convention. There were many times, over the welfare section. when the guts and almost the ribs were taken out, but I did not complain. All these 11 men had to agree practically unanimously. If there were minor details we disagreed over we still signed the report, and generally speaking we agreed with the report.... There was no juggling of figures by anyone.
Mr. Reddy I agree with Mr. Miller. There is a grave error here according to Mr. Hollett's year book, and it is too bad to try and make Newfoundland any worse than she is.
Mr. Ashbourne Mr. Reddy, there was nothing in my mind as regards to trying to do anything in Canada's favour.... I assure you there is nothing in my mind about trying to bias the thing in favour of any other country or show Newfoundland in anything other than the true light.
Mr. Banfield I think Mr. Reddy made a very harsh statement in saying that we are trying to build up a record for Canada.
Mr. Hillier I am quite satisfied that the Committee placed on that report the facts as received. If their source of information was in any way incorrect no blame is attached.
Mr. Vardy I would like to make a motion that the next paragraph on Newfoundland be deleted.
Mr. Smallwood I second that.
Mr. Chairman The motion is that these words be deleted: "Newfoundland is 300-400% worse off ... countries shown". Are these the words you mean?
Mr. Vardy That is my motion.
Mr. Chairman Moved and seconded that these words be stricken out — motion carried.
Mr. Newell I wish that the high infant mortality rate we have in this country could be stricken out just as easily. I notice nobody has questioned the figure of 93.5 for 1943. That's what I am concerned with, not what it is somewhere else — ours is still 93.5.
Mr. Bailey I agree with Mr. Newell. I am not worried about other countries, but I believe one of the first things that should have been done is to see that the medical service as regards our mothers of the past and future are being looked March 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 441 at. Now considering the conditions that our people live under, and the way they work, especially our wives, and the number of children they bring into the world, I think the time has come in Newfoundland when the mothers of the future won't be bringing children into the world every year and every second year of their lives. Mothers of the future will be prepared, because I don't believe it is possible, especially where a woman has got to work in the stage and the field, and work like a dog, to nurse and care for a brood of 15 or 20 children. I believe the time has come when not only the medical service can be broadened, but that education should be started for the mothers-to-be, to give them a break, and then we will have a healthy population. It is impossible not to have a high rate going out when we have so many coming in. That's what's wrong with the country today.
Mr. Smallwood ....I don't think the Committee would mind if I say that these statistics were compiled by me. All the members of the Public Health Committee were given their work to do.... This particular table, which Mr. Hollett's eagle eye detected so quickly, was this: this is the original script.[1] I would like to put myself right with him. Idon't want you to think I was a Hitler or a Judas. It was discovered that some of the figures were wrong and they were corrected by me with a pen, here they are up here, but they were not corrected all the way down to the bottom of the column. I would be willing to stake my life, it is the only error in this mimeographed copy, because the error was not corrected in the original copy. You will find all the other tables correct I am reasonably sure. I have lived in this country long enough to expect that my word would be taken on something or other, but over further there is another table here where Canada shows up very badly in comparison with Newfoundland, and that is in the matter of maternity. Look at page 6 in the report, Newfoundland maternity death rate 3.7, Canada 4. That is quite a bit worse, quite a difference. Now I did not change it there, or try to twist it there. The same comparison runs all through the report.... I am not such a fool as to make a thing like that deliberately.
Mr. Hollett I am sorry I raised that point. I had no knowledge that Mr. Smallwood had anything to do with this. I happened to look at this table and it struck me as being so very small that I thought I would bring it up. There is nobody thinks that he would do that with figures. I have perfect faith and trust in his manipulation of figures. If somebody suggests that, I would like to take him outside. I had no knowledge that you had anything to do with it, if there is any objection let's waive the matter.
Mr. Ashbourne I have no objection whatever to it and want to thank you for it.
Mr. Burry I express my thanks too to Mr. Hollett for bringing this to our attention. As far as I am concerned there is no attempt whatever on the part of any member of the Committee to fix up these figures to make Newfoundland appear in a dimmer light than Canada or anyone else. I do not like the remarks of some members insinuating that if this was wrong then we could not take any of the other figures. We shall be glad to make any other corrections and do it in the interest of the work at hand.
Mr. Banfield Referring to the remarks made by Mr. Hollett, he was out of the room when another member rose to his feet and made the accusation that threw a slur on every other member of the Public Health and Welfare Committee.
Mr. Bailey I intended to draw the attention of the Committee to it because it was a matter of fixing it for Canada. I looked through it before I went out, because i knew that New Zealand has the lowest infant mortality rate in the world.
Mr. Reddy I believe I made that remark. I am glad the words are stricken out.
[The Secretary continued reading the report][2]
Mr. Hickman On page 5 it states, "At this writing over 100 patients have been moved into the new Sanatorium." It would appear from the report that that would be new patients not hospitalised before. That is not an additional 100 patients?
Mr. Ashbourne I do not think it is. I am not quite sure of the number out there. They are suffering from lack of staff. They have the beds but they have not the nurses to care for them.
Mr. Hickman It reads as if 100 new patients had moved in.
Mr. Smallwood They moved some from the old Sanatorium....
Mr. Bailey ....One thing I have been wondering, and that is what has been done with patients from different parts of the island and different hospitals where they have no care going back to their homes. I firmly believe that a lot of spreading of the white killer has been done in that way, whether through total ignorance or carelessness, I do not know. The Northern Ranger[1] should have been a modern ship — she was a ship which carried passengers and hospital patients from north to south and from south to north. Fishermen also travel on that ship. There was a case of a man who returned from Belle Isle and shortly after two of his girls got sick. Four months before he had called in a doctor and who said there was no TB. When it was all boiled down, it was found that there was a TB patient travelling in the steerage with that man. It ended up with five of the family getting TB. There should be a special place on the boats where patients from or to hospital can be placed. If a nurse is travelling with them, there should be accommodation for that nurse. There have been cases on the Northern Ranger where the nurse had to sleep on the table. That is one of the greatest crimes against us....
Mr. Miller Mr. Bailey has raised the point of TB patients travelling and mixing up with other passengers. When I returned from my Christmas vacation — you will understand there is only one boat on the Placentia Bay route from Lamaline to Argentia — at that particular time the boat was packed, some sitting on chairs, some lying across tables, some walking about the deck, etc. If you got a place to lie down for half an hour, you were lucky. I had occasion to go down in the second class to see someone. The second class was also overcrowded. When I went down someone remarked, "We have a very sick woman on board." As I walked along I looked just below me in a berth, a mere frame of a person. Right down there among a crowd of passengers.... The boat was overcrowded and is nothing but a spreader of disease, and to have a patient in that condition in the second class among a crowd of passengers, I really and sincerely think it is not good enough....
Mr. Crosbie Could you tell me, in the case of families on relief, who have TB in their homes, do they get ordinary relief or do they get an increase?
Mr. Ashbourne They do get an additional amount. You will find that later on.
[The Secretary read the section on Recent and Prospective Expenditures][2]
Mr. Hollett That projected expenditure — is that capital or is it upkeep?
Mr. Ashbourne Additional capital expenditure. Some has been made on the new general hospital....
Mr. Crosbie That $100,000 should be in maintenance.
Mr. Ashbourne They are all projected expenditures. Some of them are capital.
Mr. Crosbie There is an amount of $420,000 mentioned here for cottage hospitals.
Mr. Ashbourne That is the erection of new hospitals. Mr. Crosbie mentioned the amount of $100,000 — additional outpott doctors and nurses. Mr. Newell That would be regarded as capital — that with the others; it is an extension of present services....
Mr. Ashbourne That would be a recurring expenditure as well. When we have the new hospitals built, doctors will be required to staff them for years after they are constructed.
Mr. Smallwood All the items in that table are capital expenditures with the exception of the $100,000 and that refers to increases in expenditures in future for doctors and nurses in the existing institutions, for services. They are down now where the hospital institutions and services are below standard. To bring them up to standard will cost   $100,000. "that does not count the additional doctors and nurses in the additional institutions. That $6,730,000 will be spent. Page 5: "The Commissioner states that they could use an additional 50 nurses at the present time." Before all these places are built. Fifty nurses are at least another $60,000 or more of that $l00,000. The $30,000 or $40,000 left for doctors they need right now.
Mr. Crosbie That is maintenance, not capital. It recurs every year.
Mr. Miller On the question of the nurses' home. We find that the General Hospital report says "A splendid new Nurses' Home has been erected." There are 47 nurses registered and 84 nurses in training. Turning to the Fever Hospital, "It is March 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 443 planned to erect a new nurses' home for this institution at a cost of about $200,000." There are only nine resident nurses — it does not give the number of nurses in training The figures seem to be out of proportion.
Mr. Smallwood Costs have gone up. The nurses' home was built several years ago.
[The Secretary read the next section,[1] and the committee adjourned to 8 pm]
Mr. McCarthy In the list of cottage hospitals, the total revenue is given in comparison with the expenditures and most of them with the exception of Old Perlican seem to have collected 30% to 50% of the expenditure. This one was only about approximately 12%. I would like the Committee to explain the reason for the difference.
Mr. Ashbourne I took up the matter with the secretary of the Department of Public Health and Welfare. The Old Perlican cottage hospital, for the year 1946, collected about $11,000 but in 1945 the amount is shown here as $3,000. I understand there was no board of health there previously, or otherwise it was not properly organised. That would account for it.
Mr. Smallwood I rise to explain how that error occurred, that we were discussing this afternoon. You will remember the infant mortality rates as compared with other countries. This is a copy of the official year book of the Commonwealth of Australia. This chapter on vital statistics gives their statistics and also statistics for other countries. On page 339, there is a table showing the infant mortality of many countries. Any gentleman who wishes to look at it can see that the figure is 21.4 in Canada; in South Africa 25.3; in the United States 17.9; Great Britain 15; Australia 15; New Zealand 22.6. 1 copied those figures from the Australia year book 1942-43. ln doing so the mistake is made. Although the headline is 'Infant Mortality' there is also 'Crude Birth Rate.' I discovered it and made some corrections in ink. I was in the right table but in the wrong column of that table. If there is any impression in anyone's mind that that was done deliberately, I am most anxious to convince the whole House that it was an honest mistake that any gentleman would have made if he were copying from that same table.
[After some discussion, the section was adopted. The Secretary then read the next section][2]
Mr. Smallwood ....It is worth noting, if members took the trouble to add up that first page of statistics — 1934-35 up to 1946-47 — the total amount spent is $45 1/2 million for the 13 years that Commission of Government has been here. The total amount they have spent in that one department, Health and Welfare, is $3.5 million a year on average — starting at $2 million and ending up at $6 million. We all feel that the public health part of that department has been very good. There has been big development in public health institutions and services. It has cost, along with the rest, $45 million. A staggering sum of money!
Mr. Newell ....The 1945-46 figures are more up to date in that they are the actual expenditures for last year. As for the 1946-47 figures, they were compiled one month ago. It should not be more than a few thousand dollars out. One other correction: in the last section "War Pensions", l943- 44, this figure should be $476,325.
Mr. Vardy We are making some wild jumps there. I know figures are a bit monotonous. but I wonder if we are giving sufficient information to the country. I realise a whole lot of this information will be given more fully, but I am inclined to think we are making big jumps there. All the details are not given. If we do not read more figures, we will be through the report tomorrow and the country will know little or nothing about what we are spending $6 million for. It is the heaviest spending department in the government, especially if we bear in mind that the Department of Public Works is spending a large amount. We should, as far as possible, give the country what information we can.
Mr. Chairman I think all these figures will be published in the newspapers. I suggest the constant reiteration of figures becomes utterly meaningless, even to the most intelligent men. You cannot grasp a series of figures delivered one after the other without a break. I do not think the people would appreciate it. If anybody wishes to comment on the figures, that is another matter. lf you want your constituents to read them they will probably do so.
Mr. Vardy I am not thinking of my constituents. I had a telephone call from a man who complained that the cottage hospital figures were 444 NATIONAL CONVENTION March 1947 given out in round numbers. The whole country would want to know what was spent for provisions; what was spent for salaries and what for fuel and light.
Mr. Chairman The exception proves the rule. If the Convention desires these figures to be read, we shall read them.
Mr. Starkes I understand an old age pensioner is supposed to be 75 years of age before he goes on the list as a pensioner?
Mr. Ashbourne That is so.
Mr. Starkes A man who raised a family of eight children — three of them might have lost their lives in the war and the others married, with families. The old age pensioner of 75 or 80 might have $100 in the bank and might be living with a married son. Is it true he is not allowed to get his pension, seeing he has $100 to pay for his funeral? When is a man entitled to that pension? What are the conditions after he is 75 years of age?
Mr. Ashbourne This matter of old age pensions is listed under the section on welfare which we have not yet come to. There are certain regulations under which old age pensions are granted. It is not everyone who attains the age of 75 years mat can send in to the government and get his cheque. He is supposed to be pretty much in need of the old age pension. Still, he does not have to be in destitute circumstances. Up to quite recently, I think, the man was allowed to have $250 in the bank if he belonged to the outports. He could have a somewhat larger figure, $400, in St. John's. Although he had that amount in the bank, if the relieving officer, after investigation of his circumstances, approved of his application, the old age pension could be granted. I believe it is now $400 in the outports. Naturally an aged person who had worked hard in the fishing boat and on the land and had attained the ripe old age of 75, should not have to be penniless before he could get the pension. I do not think a man with $100 would have any difficulty in getting an old age pension.
Mr. Smallwood Mr. Vardy made a very good point. Your reply, Mr. Ashboume if I may be bold enough to say it, was very good. There are five or six pages, masses of figures showing the money spent the last 13 years by that department. It is a pity the whole country could not be here with the figures in front of them, so they could follow them. 1 do not think it would be any harm just to take one year, the year ending today. On salaries: doctors, nurses. clerical — 1,374 employees $1.25 million. There were other large amounts. Next largest is assistance to indigents, $1 million. Next largest amount for the year, war pensions, $750,000; next largest amount is nearly $500,000 for widows, orphans and infirm (sick people); next largest amount is maintenance of hospitals and institutions $1,100,000. Another large one is hospital grants: $150,000; grants given to orphanages, $41,000. Local councils — local town councils —- $200,000 for the year. For the ambulances here in the city, $25,000. For the year they spent $25,000 on telegrams. Travelling expenses for employees, $36,000. All that and a few other items thrown in comes to $6 million. I think the country ought to know that. That is roughly how it is made up year by year.
Mr. Newell I think when we drew up this table we felt that it was something the members would study at their leisure. Therefore we did not draw the conclusions. Two of the largest amounts spent have been on salaries and maintenance of institutions. Salaries are just about eight times what they were in 1934-35 — the total spent, not the individual salaries. The same is true of hospitals and other institutions. Approximately eight times. What I was going to suggest is, that our report is in two sections — public health as read and public welfare which we are about to read. The figures in between are applicable to both. These figures will have more meaning if they were taken up after having read the welfare section. There are things in the welfare which might be asked about here now.
Mr. Starkes $1,100,000 — what was that spent for? Is that what was once called dole? Was $1 million in dole given out this year?
Mr. Ashbourne I have a breakdown of that. But first I would like to answer your enquiry about old age pensions. An old age pensioner is eligible in the city of St. John's if the applicant is of the age of 75 years and is in receipt of less than $40 a month or less than $600 capital. Outports: he is eligible if in receipt of less than $20 a month or less than $400 capital. [*See next page]
Mr. Starkes Could you give us the exact figures paid out in dole?
Mr. Ashbourne That is the total of relief accounts, including sick people — $803,450. You March 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 445 will see in the welfare section when we come to it, the total number of persons on relief, and costs as broken down by the various districts throughout 1946.[*]
Mr. Cashin It was not my intention to make many remarks on this report, but this involves a huge expenditure of public funds and I think the people should know how the money was spent. This report does not tell it all. There is another report which should have been brought in with this. Are we going to overlook that and pass this report by reading out a lot of figures or are we going to have the whole truth? I would like to know that.
Mr. Ashbourne In reply to Major Cashin, as regards the other report, you know as much about that as I do.
Mr. Cashin The public have not been informed what is going on and the public are entitled to know. All very well to read off a list of figures; look at this $1,100,000 — $4,000 overspent. Where is it going to end? Particularly when there are suspicions over the whole department. It should be cleaned up before this report goes any further. It is up to the government to clean it up. If we are going to whitewash everything, it is time to close down the whole Convention. If I am in order I would move that the committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again; and in the meantime find out what is happening to the other affair before we go any further into the matter.
Mr. Crosbie I second that motion.
Mr. Smallwood Before we vote on it, does Major Cashin really mean that?
Mr. Cashin When I make a motion of that kind, I mean it.
Mr. Smallwood I was wondering, if he puts it to a vote — I am trying to picture developments from hour to hour. We have Easter coming up. I am sure Major Cashin knows the position of the Committee.
Mr. Cashin I understand the position of the Committee. I think this Convention should demand an explanation. This document was given us two or three months ago. Inquiries are going on in one department and the public knows nothing about it. Nasty rumours are going around about this department and I contend we should not go any further until it is cleaned up.
Mr. Chairman I did not recognise at first what you had in mind. I appreciate the situation now. Your motion is still in order, of course. I would like to point out that this Convention has no authority to obtain any such information from the government and if the government refuses, there is nothing we can do about it. In the meantime, I do suggest this to you: that these proceedings can go along. We are not likely to finish the report tonight. Even should we do so, on the committee's report you can raise the question again. I think that would be the better place to raise it.
Mr. Cashin I appreciate your suggestion. This has been on the go for some time. True it does not concern the Convention, but these people are trustees of the people's money. We are the only elected representatives of the people in existence. I hold, whether under the Convention Act or any other act, we should demand and get an explanation into the whole business. If not, we are derelict in our duty here tonight. They saw fit to give us a document two or three months ago. We have kept our months shut about it. I want to serve notice on the government that I am going to open my mouth about it. My motion still stands.
Mr. Penney In regard to Major Cashin's motion, I wonder could we not defer action on that at this time and proceed with our work and when the recapitulation of the reports come in, we will 446 NATIONAL CONVENTION March 1947 have an opportunity then.
Mr. Cashin Getting the information is another thing.
Mr. Vardy Mr. Penney has given the thoughts I had in mind when Major Cashin made the motion. I feel if I could go on with the report it would be better. We have Mining to come in and then Finance and then the delegation to London has to move off. This will give us time to consolidate all this into the main report. Eventually we all have to take our stand here. We have to pick to pieces all these reports and it is my firm conviction that Major Cashin will not find himself alone at that time. I have done all I possibly could to get the information he refers to released to the Convention and to the people of this country. A whole lot of the facts contained in the various documents will be looked into when a fully qualified government takes office in this country, and I do feel we should do nothing to jeopardise the work of the Convention. I would like to see Major Cashin reconsider his position. I think we will get further in the end. We will all support each other when that main report comes before this Convention and every man is called upon to speak according to the dictates of his conscience. Let us get on with the report. I would again ask Major Cashin to please reconsider his motion.
Mr. Cashin In reply to Mr. Vardy, it looks to me like a case of whitewashing. We all know they have been down in that department digging up things and the report is incomplete. It does not contain the right facts and you know it. When we go to England I want to know the true statement of the Public Health and Welfare Department before I go over and talk to the Dorninions Secretary, otherwise how am I to know? The department is under a shadow. Clean it up! They have been at it six months; it could have been done three months ago. The Department of Public Health is deliberately hiding facts from this country.
Mr. Penney I want to tell Major Cashin and the House that I am not in favour of smothering anything. I know in this report there is a whole lot of stuff hidden that the country and the House should know. But as I said we shall have an opportunity later to go into that and to demand all the information we want. I think at this time it is better to get ahead with all the work we can. You have to go overseas the 24th or 25th of April and we can get that information later.
Mr. Cashin We would like to have it before we go.
Mr. Crosbie I agree with that.
Mr. Cashin I am prepared to compromise. I am prepared to go ahead but on condition that the report will not be definitely received until they get this information.
Mr. Chairman That is a matter for the Convention to decide when we have the motion to receive the report and lay it on the table. That was my suggestion to you. Am I to understand that your motion is withdrawn?
Mr. Crosbie I am not satisfied to withdraw. Three months ago we were asked to receive a confidential report. We were not allowed to use it or release it. What have they been doing? Are they going on investigating until the Convention winds up? I think the people are entitled to know about it. I regret very much that I took the confidential report. If I had not taken it I might be able to print it.
Mr. Chairman I still suggest that the bringing up of this matter on the report of the committee is the proper place to hold up the report. In the meantime I suggest we let the details of the report go through. This is a committee of the Convention to examine the details of the report and to amend as the committee thinks they ought to be amended. When the report comes formally before the Convention, the whole thing is in the melting pot again and can be all discussed. I suggest you let it go through.
Mr. Crosbie Very well, sir.
Mr. Chairman The motion is withdrawn with the consent of the mover and the seconder.
Mr. Hollett In connection with that statement that $45 million has been spent by the Commission of Government on public health; also in connection with the matter raised this afternoon in connection with the Lady Anderson, it was intimated there was no doctor and no nurse. It was also insinuated that the hospital ship was not doing as much as she could in regard to medical services. I would like to point out....
Mr. Ashbourne I rise to a point of order. We have not said that the hospital ship has not had a nurse. I have the information here. Since June 1941 there has been no doctor available, but there has been a nurse on the ship continuously. There is a nurse on the ship now.
Mr. Hollett In that connection, I would like to point out that during the past four years it has cost the country $45,000 to send a nurse on the southwest coast. Whether that is right or not, I do not know. I am wondering if the Committee enquired into that?
Mr. Hillier I think the point is the ship brings patients from the various places to the hospital, accompanied by a nurse. She may have been instrumental in saving a number of lives. If she has done that it would not have been a waste. Probably she has been giving better service than we know. I do not know much about the service.
Mr. Hollett I am asking the Committee to give us some information about it.
Mr. Banfield There have been periods of time, longer than a week, when that ship was without a nurse. I know what the expenditure is; whether it is justifiable to the taxpayers of the country, I do not know.
Mr. Burry I telephoned Mr. Crummey and he told me the ship has a nurse continuously except when they have a change-over and that is a period of a week or longer.
Mr. Hollett What area does that ship cover?
Mr. Burry I do not know the coast very well, perhaps Mr. Banfield might be able to answer that.
Mr. Harrington On that matter of the Lady Anderson, it is only fair to the Convention to point out, as far as I could gather from the interviews, that there is a difference of opinion in the department as to the value of the ship. As far as territory is concerned, actually when she went into service she covered part of the southwest coast, Burgeo to Hermitage. Now she is on the Fortune Bay run. The point should be made clear as to what her real value is. If she has saved one or two lives, her services are worth that.
[The Secretary read the next section, on Welfare][1]
Mr. Cashin On page 4, what does that mean, "special orders (nourishment) $10 per month per head for very needy cases?"
Mr. Chairman That is for sick people.
Mr. Cashin I have heard some peculiar remarks regarding this "nourishment".
Mr. Smallwood Does not that refer to special amounts given over and above the regular amount of dole? There are some persons who are sick and need special nourishment.
Mr. Ashbourne That is given on a doctor's order — milk, eggs, soup and other things for people in delicate health, to build up their bodies.
Mr. Vardy Under this $10 order they get special orders for milk and other food — so many milk tickets; order on the butchers; and various other items, including fruit. '
Mr. Fudge I wonder ifthe people in my district get those milk tickets, fruit and fresh meat? "Orders on the butcher" — where do they get that?
Mr. Starkes I think they get it in all districts.
Mr. Ashbourne In reply to Mr. Fudge, I have here a circular signed by Dr. McGrath from the department to all doctors, district nurses and relieving officers:
I am directed by the Commissioner of Public Health and Welfare to give you a ruling in respect of the policy of the department for the issuing of special food orders...special food orders were designed for tuberculosis; following operations and childbirth. This nourishment is not especially intended for chronic cases, such cases should be referred to the relieving officer....
Mr. Cashin I wonder if Mr. Ashboume could try and get a statement from the department as to the total amount paid last year under the special nourishment orders of $10; and could you give us a statement how much was paid in each district under that heading, in goods or in cash?
Mr. Ashbourne I will try and get that.
Mr. Fudge I note there that the relief in the outports is $5 per head; special nourishment $7.50; in St. John's, $1l.25 and $10 per head. I wonder why the difference. I doubt if some of the outports I know get either $7.50 or $5.
Mr. Ashbourne That was $7.50 in 1943 — they get $10 now.
Mr. Fudge I doubt if some of those people get $10 in the outports. I have in mind one or two places, and according to what I can gather they have not gotten it. lt largely depends on the relieving officer. However, I would be pleased indeed if any of those people who have to apply to the relieving officer in the district of Humber and who have not gotten this special $10, would wire me collect tomorrow, so we can get a true picture. It depends upon the relieving officer as to what an individual gets — if the relieving 448 NATIONAL CONVENTION March 1947 officer likes him he may give him something, if he does not, he will not. There is a special case I know in Flowers Cove where a man had a large family and had to take dole. The result was he had to come to the Lakeside.[1] Another man had to travel 20 odd miles to get the dole and he went out of this world before he was sent for.
Mr. Ashbourne If Mr. Fudge will refer to page 18, he will see the number on Relief and costs per district for 1946. It says there sick people in the Humber district — 204 — which at $5 would be $1,020. The amount given is $1,070.00. I presume there were five $10 orders given in addition to the $5.
Mr. Smallwood I must have been napping. On page 2 there is a little table that ought to be read out. It starts in 1934. If I remember, that is the year the investigation starts with, the changes that have taken place in Newfoundland since 1934. The reason 1934 is given is because that is the year the Commission of Government came here. This shows from 1934-39, the number of people in Newfoundland on relief — March, 1937, 80,000; 1938, 45,000; March 1939, 67,000. It seems to me these ought to be read out. Up to the outbreak of war we were still on the dole.
Mr. Bailey I do not think anybody in the country is going to forget it.
Mr. Smallwood I find a lot of people who do forget it. Thousands of people think that before the Commission of Government came the country was on the dole. I know a lot of people who will tell you honestly that dole came here before Commission and that since Commission, everything has been prosperous. But these figures that the Commission gave us do not show that. They show us they had tens of thousands on the dole up to the day the war broke out; it did not disappear, it went right on. When the war broke out they increased it; we were giving them a lot more money — our money.
Mr. Fudge I notice in this report that in 1934 the outport people were receiving $1.80 per month relief. In the city of St. John's they received $6 per month.
Mr. Bailey On page 5, 1935 — $2, what does that mean?
Mr. Ashbourne That was given per person for relief, as against $5 in 1946. It is $5 now.
Mr. Bailey 1935-39 a lot of people did not get that.
Mr. Starkes In the outports, 1931-34, a person on relief received $1.80 per month; at St. John's they received $6 per month plus free house rent and free medical attendance.
Mr. Smallwood They had to work for their coal in the city.
Mr. Hollett At what?
Mr. Smallwood Snow shovelling and so on.
Mr. Bailey I cannot see why those figures are here; they are not true. I was in contact with the relieving officer and he told me there was nothing given above $1.80 a month — that was before 1939.
Mr. Cashin They gave them 20 cents extra — they made it $2 instead of $1.80.
Mr. Miller Twenty cents a month was worth more then than it is today.
Mr. Fowler It is significant that 1933-34, prior to the war, the cost of government relief was $1.5 million. Now this year, 1946-47, immediately after hostilities, you see the amount spent on reliefis practically the same $1.1 million. I would like to ask, is it a fact that in the outports every person gets $5 a head for relief? For instance, if a woman and child is left and her husband is incapacitated, do they get $5 each per month?
Mr. Ashbourne That is the rate, as I understand it.
Mr. Fowler If that wife and child should be incapacitated, do they get an extra $10?
Mr. Ashbourne Only under special orders — either from a doctor or relieving officer.
Mr. Fowler I have a special case in mind, where a man is in hospital, expecting to be there ten or 12 months. He has a wife and child of two or three months; no income to depend on. What, in your opinion, should that family receive? The figures look encouraging, but when you get down to brass tacks, those figures do not work out. I agree with Mr. Fudge when he said anyone not receiving what they are entitled to should wire him. It is all right to publish figures and say that the wife and the child gets $5 each and $10 for special orders, they sound fine and look fine on paper; but when you come to see them in cold reality, I can tell you it is not a bit as encouraging as it is here. I think everyone in that condition should make representation to someone in authority. I know people who are not getting anything near March 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 449 it. Do you think that a wife left with a small child, her husband in hospital — should they get $5 a month each and $10 a month extra for sick relief? Is that the opinion of your Committee?
Mr. Ashbourne In reply to Mr. Fowler, of course this man would have to qualify for relief because I presume he has not any means or any bank account. If you give me the name of the person and the locality, I will investigate it for you.
Mr. Fowler I am not questioning you as a minister of the Crown. I know that you, as chairman of the Committee, are doing your utmost. In private I will give you the name of the man in question and point out to you where he is not getting near the amount stated in this report. It is not any fault of yourself or your Committee but the fault lies somewhere between the relieving officer and the department concerned.
Mr. Ashbourne I will investigate that.
Mr. Starkes Would this be correct, page 19[1] — 341 receiving able-bodied relief in March, 1946?
Mr. Ashbourne These are the figures supplied us by the department.
Mr. Starkes And in April 1939, the total on relief was 84,659 — that was five years after Commission of Government came here. Would that be right?
Mr. Ashbourne Yes.
Mr. Vardy In regard to the 341 on able-bodied relief in White Bay, I asked the department why that was so and they explained it was in a section where the fishery was an absolute failure. They were compelled to give temporary relief.
With reference to the 84,000, that was the peak of all time.
Mr. Northcott To go back to the "three score years and ten". Take an old man of 75 years, he gets $12.50. Is that man entitled to able-bodied relief or sick relief?
Mr. Ashbourne No. The amount is different now, it is $18.1fa man is married, he and his wife get $30 a quarter.
Mr. Starkes Old age pension?
Mr. Ashbourne Yes.
Mr. Chairman Perhaps it might be just as well to run through these tables so that members of the committee could ask questions. One or two questions are given where we have read thus far.
[The Secretary read the table[2]]
Mr. Hollett In that summary, under able-bodied relief, the number is given as 2.688. I look back to page 18 and I find that is wholly for St. John's. There is no able-bodied relief anywhere else?
Mr. Ashbourne I do not think there was; it was practically non-existent.
Mr. Hollett That was the only able-bodied relief last year. I want to bring that up because I saw where there were something like 5,600 on relief in Halifax which is another seaport town. It is something which is not the general condition of things either in this country or in Canada, but it is a seasonal thing which takes place.
Mr. Ashbourne Yes, it is a seasonal thing. These men got out of employment and cannot get any further work, Naturally they have to fall back on the government. I presume it is mostly labourers and longshoremen. In winter time work is slack. I presume the same thing would apply to Halifax.
Mr. Ballam If you look through the whole year, you will find those conditions existed throughout the year and not seasonally except for White Bay.
Mr. Vardy At the present time there are slightly over 100 outside the city on able-bodied relief.
[The Secretary continued to read. The committee then rose and reported progress and the Convention adjourned]


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).



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

Notes de bas de page:

  • [1] Volume II:251. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [1] Volume II:255. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [1] The Lady Anderson was a small hospital boat, stationed on the southwest coast. It was named after the wife of a governor, Sir D.M. Anderson.
  • [1] In Come-By-Chance.
  • [2] Volume II:256. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [1] Mr. Smallwood held up the original paper.
  • [2] Volume II:263. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [1] A coastal steamer built in 1936, owned and operated by the Newfoundland Railway.
  • [2] Volume II:266. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [1] Volume II:269. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [2] Volume II:272. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • *
    Breakdown of relief figures:
    Food orders $803,450.00
    Rents 12,993.16
    Clothing 114,584.55
    Coal (St. John's) 53,786.65
    Coal (outports) 48,587.29
    Relieving officers (booths) 1,392.21
    Miscellaneous lumber, building, repairs 10,523.49
    Amount to Glovertown fire sufferers 53,869.90
  • [1] Volume II:273. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [1] Probably a reference to the penitentiary in St. John's.
  • [1] Volume II:275, figures for White Bay. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [2] Volume II:276. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]

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