Boards and Commissions.

  586. There exists at present a number of Boards and Commissions appointed under statute for the purpose of supervising certain branches of Government activity. Some of these Boards and Commissions are composed of members of the Government and its supporters in the Legislature; on others, local interests are also represented. Examples of the former may be found in the Commissions which supervise the working of the Railway and the Post Office. The Railway Commission consists of one Member of the Government and three private Members of the House of Assembly, with the General Manager of the Railway as Secretary. The Post Office Commission is composed of three Members of the Government in addition to the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, with the acting Deputy Minister as Secretary. An example of a Board on which local interests are represented is to be found in the Board appointed to supervise the management of the Newfoundland Hotel which consists of two Members of the Government and three Members representative of commercial interests.

  587. As a result of the constitutional changes which we have recommended, Boards and Commissions composed of Governmental representatives will disappear. Those on which local interests are represented, while commendable in theory, have not in practice been found to work well. The evidence submitted to us shows that such Boards are apt to become centres of political wire-pulling, while the private individuals concerned have in some cases sought to promote their own interests, e.g., through the grant of contracts, rather than those of the undertaking which they are called upon to supervise. We consider it of great importance that the new Government should be under no restrictions in taking such steps as it may deem proper to ensure that the various branches of the public service are conducted to the national advantage, and we recommend therefore that Boards and Commissions of this type should also be wound up. In making this recommendation, we do not wish to imply that no steps should be taken by the new Government to consult local interests in matters directly affecting them. On the contrary, we have no doubt that the new Government will keep in close touch with local interests in all such matters. We consider, however, that it should be left complete freedom to determine the manner in which such consultation would best be achieved.

Public Health and Welfare.


  588. There are two Departments in Newfoundland whose task is to look after the health and welfare of the people, the Department of Public Health and the Department of Public Welfare. The Department of Public Health is responsible for the control of infectious diseases, the inspection of milk and other foods, the protection of water, sanitary inspection, the health of school children and the treatment, in hospital or otherwise, of the sick poor, including the blind, deaf and insane, throughout the country. The Department of Public Welfare is responsible for the administration of public relief, both in St. John's and in the outports, for child welfare, for the management of the Home for the Aged and Infirm and for the administration of widows and old age pensions.

  589. The two Departments are supervised by a Bureau of Health and Public Welfare, established under a comprehensive Health and Public Welfare Act passed in 1931. Up to the present, the health and welfare services of the country have not been organised in accordance with the provisions of this Act. The Bureau consists of the Secretary of State, who presides, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Public Works, the Controller of the Treasury and the Director of Public Health.


  590. The staff of the Department of Public Health in St. John's consists of the Director of Public Health, a Medical Officer of Health and Government Pathologist and Bacteriologist, two Laboratory Assistants, four Inspectors, an Accountant and two Clerks. In addition, there are 12 Medical Officers of Health distributed over the country. The Department possesses in St. John's a well-equipped laboratory in which the pathological and bacteriological work of the country is carried out. The laboratory is also used as a centre for the treatment of venereal disease in poor persons.

  591. The staff of the Department of Public Health consists of a Commissioner, an Inspector and Accountant, a Cashier, a Bookkeeper and three Clerks. Under the control of the Commissioner are upwards of one hundred Relieving Officers who are responsible for the distribution of public relief both in St. John's and in the outports.

St. Jacques, n.d.
Photo by Holloway. From the album of photographs furnished to the Newfoundland Royal Commission, August 1933. Courtesy of the Centre for Newfoundland Studies Archives (Coll-207), Memorial University of Newfoundland Library, St. John's, Newfoundland.
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St. Jacques


  592. There are four Government Hospitals in St. John's--a General Hospital, a Hospital for Mental and Nervous Diseases, a Fever Hospital and a Tuberculosis Sanatorium. There is also a Home for the Aged and Infirm. In addition, there are four hospitals in the Island to which the Government make grants, the Grace Hospital in St. John's, which is subsidised in respect of poor maternity cases; the hospitals at Twillingate, known as the "Notre Dame Memorial Hospital," and at St. Anthony, both maintained by the International Grenfell Association; and a small hospital at Grand Bank. St. Clare's Hospital is operated by the Sisters of Mercy at St. John's. Hospitals are maintained by the two Paper Companies at Grand Falls and Corner Brook, primarily for the benefit of their own employees; a hospital is similarly maintained at Buchans by the Buchans Mining Company, Limited. It may thus be said that there are 12 hospitals in the Island.

  593. Apart from the doctors associated with the Grenfell Hospital at St. Anthony, there are 83 doctors in Newfoundland, a decrease of nine since 1921, and a decrease of 36 since 1911. Of this number, 23 are established in St. John's and eight in the hospital towns of Twillingate, Grand Falls, Corner Brook, Buchans and Grand Bank. The remainder, all in private practice, are established in 62 of the country's 1,300 settlements. As might be expected from the distribution of the population (see Map No. 1), the majority of these are to be found on the east coast. There are indeed only 17 doctors on the whole of the south and west coasts.

  594. In 1920 there was formed, under the auspices of the Government, a Committee called the "Outport Nursing Committee," which later grew into the "Newfoundland Outport Nursing and Industrial Association," or "Nonia" as it is affectionately known throughout the Island. As a result of the activities of this Association, which are carried on partly by funds raised by a devoted band of voluntary workers and partly by subscriptions from the people themselves, to all of which a small Government grant is added, nursing centres have been established from time to time in some 25 settlements not ordinarily visited by a doctor. Owing, however, to the extreme financial stringency, there are to-day only four such centres in the Island.

Image description updated May, 2004.

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