I want to get a little information in respect to this Bill. I want to offer no factious opposition but a gentleman who is a prominent member of the other chamber and also a policy-holder in this company has put some papers in my hand in reference to this Bill and I would like to get some information from the promoter. This gentleman says :
As the Bill stands now, it is simply to enable the wreckers in New York, who are not the policy-holders to withdraw from here the amount held by the government for the protection of the assessed policy-holders, some $236,000 in round numbers, and leave in its stead, only $40,000, so that what little we had here to hold on to, will be gone. Reference to sections 32 and 33 of the Insurance Act, will prove it. If to-morrow, they elect to do no more business here, which they won't do, for they cannot get any, they can withdraw all the deposit, as I have said, leaving only $40,000. In other words, they are attempting to force the old policy-holders to go into this new scheme of theirs and to have the breach of contract legalized by the Act. They tried this without the Act, and the policy-holders declined to go out of the fat into the fire. They will by Act of parliament be allowed to load down the policies or increase the premiums. To any sane man, who can reinsure, this will not be acceptable, as he can get into another company on the same terms. To the wretched individual who cannot reinsure on account of ill-health or old age, it means, that he must submit to the company reducing his policy from say $10,000 to $1,000, $2,000 or $3,000, as they may see fit ; or put such a premium as they cannot pay. The point to be guarded is that they must not be permitted to withdraw the deposit which they have at Ottawa, which is applicable to the assessment policy-holders, and must be left there intact for the assessments solely, and not for the1 benefit of the new company which they propose to work out ; and there must be conditions to it, as in Mr. McMullen's proposed motion. The Bill should be amended to include this motion ; next, they must not be allowed to load up or create any duty against the policy-holders, which will diminish the amount they have insured for.
There are provisions for options in this Bill which will enable the holder of a policy to take either the one or the other. In paragraph I), line 25, of section 3 you will find this provision :
Each such policy-holder, on exercising either of said options, shall be entitled to a dividend of his proportionate share of the sum of one hundred and fifty-two thousand dollars of the deposit in the hands of the Receiver General of Canada
That is where the money is now :
-applicable to the assessment policies of the company in Canada at the date of the said license, which dividends shall for policy-holders accepting the first option, be in the form of paid-up insurance to the amount purchasable by the said dividend.
That is the way this $152,000 is disposed of. Every policy-holder accepting option No. 1 will receive a certain amount of insu-[DOT] ranee at the rate fixed by the Act which is about $2 per thousand less than the best companies of Canada charge. In addition lie will receive the paid up policy for his share of the reserve and each of the other options have similar provisions attached. So, that is the way this $152,000 is disposed of. It is disposed of by giving it to the policy-holders, it is in the hands of the Receiver General of Canada as a trust to see that these provisions are carried out and it is impossible for the company to put their hands on one cent of the money.
Mr. FOWLER, The motion which the Hon. Senator McMullen made in the other House is as follows :
That section 5 may be amended by striking out all the words after the words ' Receiver General of Canada ' in line 53 of page 4 of the Bill, and that the following words be substituted in lieu thereof :-' together with any addition thereto under the provisions of this Act, shall not be reduced below the whole amount of insurance in force in Canada.'
That is that this money shall not be taken away. As I understand the explanation of the promoter of the Bill it is not the intention to withdraw the deposit which is now with the Receiver General but that this deposit shall be used for paying the policyholders to accept either of the alternative options which are allowed in this Bill.
Whether they accept the options or not. If they do not accept either of these options within four months the Bill provides that they shall accept option No. 1 and if so they get a paid-up policy for their share. This money is in the hands of the Receiver General. It is not in the control of the company at all and under this Bill every dollar of it is disposed of and given back to the policy-holders. The object of any amendment here would not be to improve the Rill but to have it sent back to the Senate in the hope that through the efflux of time the Bill itself would be quashed. The object is not to look after the welfare of the assessment policy-holders so much as to provide means whereby some one who is hostile to the company may gratify his inclination. As the Bill goes on it will develop itself and each provision will be made clear and plain.
The explanation given by the promoter of the Bill had reference to the general subject and he has seen fit to make the sweeping allegation that any one who would dare to suggest any opposition to this Bill or move any amendment to it is actuated by personal or local animosity.
Not being in the confidence of the company I do not know their motives; but judging by the agitation which existed in the country on behalf of the policy-holders who complain of the excessive premiums they are called on to pay, I surmise that this Bill is for their benefit and not for the benefit of the company.
The hon. gentleman declines to give the reason why the Bill is before the House, and if there are no reasons in support of the Bill then the House should not entertain it. This Bill involves the right of citizens of this country to the extent of several million dollars, and this parliament should not undertake to legislate away these rights without at least some explanation.
Mr. Burgess sent out a circular asking the policy-holders whether or not they were in favour of the Bill. He received 785 replies in favour of the Bill, forty-six against it, and ninety-eight asking for further information. The forty-six who are opposed to the Bill are not compelled to accept it; their rights are not interfered with, because they can continue as at present if they wish.