Pages 1-1000 Volume II: Pages 1001-2026
Subtopic: FIFTH SESSION-THIRTEENTH PARLIAMENT 11-12 GEORGE V, 1921 IN FIVE VOLUMES
Pages 1-1000 Volume II: Pages 1001-2026
Pages 2027-3003 Volume IV: Pages 3005-4040
Pages 4041-4580 ,
House of Commons ©efmtes
Saturday, May 28, 1921
Draft conventions and recommendations of the International Labour Conference at Washington, 1919, and the International Labour Conference at Geneva, 1920, with memorandum from the Labour Department.-Right Hon. Mr. Doherty. Papers, correspondence and copy of Order in Council in connection with the sale of His Majesty's Canadian ship Niobe and submarines.-Hon. Mr. Ballantyne.
On motion of Mr. J. A. Currie (North Simcoe), the second report of the Joint Committee of both Houses on the Printing of Parliament was concurred in.
Bill No. 218 (from the Senate) for the relief of Susan Lee Johnson Bell,-Mr. McMaster.
Mr. HUME CRONYN (London) moved:
That the third and final report ot the Special Committee on Pensions, Insurance, and Reestablishment be considered and that the recommendations contained therein be commended to the consideration of the Government.
He said: In rising to make this motion I must reaffirm the difficulty expressed on a similar occasion last session. After being immersed for ten weeks in practically one subject, although with an infinite variety of detail; after listening to evidence which will fill a large volume; after wrestling with problems which although world-wide nevertheless affect, and in some respects vitally, the position of the returned soldier in Canada, and after finding oneself baffled despite the fullest discussion and consideration in reaching a full solution of these, it is hard to know how to present the case to the House.
Believing as I do that the report will receive the approval of the great majority of the members, it seems almost futile to weary them with explanations, but perhaps it is due to the country, to the returned man and to the committee itself that some expansion of the report should be made.
After the usual opening which recites the facts of the committee's deliberations, and the many suggestions submitted to it, the report gives an epitome of what this country has done for the returned man since he bade good-bye to his fighting unit. This summary mentions first the amount expended on war gratuities, including those paid to Canadians who fought with the Imperial forces, and indicates that at the end of the last fiscal year there was paid out on this account, without including cost of administration, in the neighborhood of $164,000,000. This money was expended by the Department of Militia and Defence and apparently no separate account was kept of the cost incurred in disbursing so large a sum among many hundreds of thousands of applicants.
Next on the list are placed the pensions paid since the beginning of the war, which with the cost of administration have amounted to the large total of about $90,000,000.
The expenditures connected with reestablishment have been even greater than that on pensions, nor will this appear surprising when the list of the activities of the Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment are considered. Starting with medical treatment from the inception of the Hospitals Commission and continued to the present day there come in review: Vocational
training, pay and allowances to those
under treatment and training, loans to vocational students, training and care of the blind, post-discharge dental treatment, the provision of artificial limbs and other appliances for the mutilated, the establishment of employment services throughout the country, and the relief measures extended during the two past winters to the disabled and needy. There has been spent on these various forms of assistance no less a sum than $102,300,000. It would be both interesting and instructive to go further into the various divisions of the work carried out by this department, but to do so would occupy a considerable length of time, and, save for setting down in Hansard what may be already found in the reports of the department, would not justify the attempt. After all, the above figures speak for themselves, and to any one who has seen fit to investigate the efforts made and still being carried on, these will not come as a surprise. Next in order is the great work done under the Soldier Settlement Act, which has been attended with a larger measure of success than even the most optimistic dared to hope. This very success has tended to swell the amounts the country has had to advance to establish some 20,000 returned men on farms throughout the Dominion. After deducting repayments of principal received from soldier settlers, etc., to an amount approximating $4,000,000, we find there still remains a liability for loans made and for cost of management of nearly $83,000,000. It is believed the progress of the whole scheme to date justifies the hope that a considerable portion of the above amount will be returned to the public treasury with interest, and this assurance must reconcile us to the prospect that large sums must as yet be advanced to applicants who are steadily qualifying themselves to take advantage of the provisions made. The only other actual expenditure noted is one of $2,800,000, which it cost the country to transport from overseas the dependents of soldiers. This added to the other four and much larger items, gives us a total of $442,700,000, which Canada, quite apart from her war effort, has been called upon to raise. Aside from these more definite and striking items of expense, there must not be forgotten the Returned Soldiers' Insurance Act, under which there is a present liability of over $7,000,000, a liability, however, which will be largely reduced by the premiums to be received from those insured under its pro- visions. Then, too, we have the effort made by the Civil Service Commission to find employment for the returned man in the public service. This has resulted in something like 29,000 temporary appointments and about 8,000 ex-service men being installed in permanent public positions. Nor should we lose sight of the effort of the Government to redeem at par any sterling funds which might be brought by the soldiers to Canada. As evidence of how this effort was appreciated may be mentioned the fact that up to date pounds sterling to the value of about $14,500,000 of our currency have been redeemed without loss to those who took advantage of the offer. The cost of this transaction has not yet been ascertained, but recalling the heavy discount at which sterling stood until a few months ago, it will be seen that the country bore a very substantial loss which otherwise would have fallen upon the ex-service man. In summarizing the above activities no credit has been taken for the moneys voted and expended in aid of the Federal Housing Project. Although this measure in the province of British Columbia was utilized for the sole advantage of the returned soldier, while in other provinces the same class largely benefited from its operations, yet its aim was a general one and the amount advanced on loan to the provinces and by the provinces to the municipalities should not be included. Nor has any account been taken of the large sums distributed by the provinces and municipalities without aid from the Dominion, the efforts of the Patriotic Fund, Red Cross and various soldier organization's and philanthropic societies which to a greater or less extent were financed by voluntary contribution. Even without regarding the above named extra federal agencies, Canada as a whole, through the Dominion authorities has raised between $450,000,000 and $500,000,000 in redemption of her promise to care . for the returned man. Even in these days df big figures and huge deficits the above are not small sums and may at least be taken as an earnest that the country is not unmindful of her obligation. It was perhaps not within the competence of the committee to estimate what in future will be spent to further implement that obligation, but after some inquiry along these lines the conclusion was reached, having regard to pension payments, to the activities under the other branches of the Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment, and to the further amounts needed by the Soldier Settlement Board, that a conservative estimate of the federal liability for the current fiscal year would not be less than $75,000,000. We now come to the immediate objects for which the committee was convened, and as the report states, it was faced with much the same difficulty as I am in on the present occasion, viz.: how much should be included and how much omitted? There were placed before the committee several hundred resolutions and suggestions emanating from departments, soldier organizations and individuals throughout the country. These were tabulated for the committee, credit in each case being given to the source from which it came. As was inevitable, a proportion were more or less in repetition of suggestions submitted to former committees and discussed at length both by those bodies and, to a certain extent, in the House. It is not to he expected that following years of public consideration and discussion, any wholly new suggestions could be made. There are however, as will appear by the report, logical developments along certain lines which it has taken time and much experimental work to bring to a point where practical plans could be evolved. In view of the above situation, the committee decided that the wiser and more effective method was to mention only those subjects wherein definite action could be recommended or suggested. In a few instances, however, certain proposals which did not receive the committee's support are set forth in its report. This was done to give an opportunity of briefly explaining the committee's view thereon, or for the purpose of directing the attention of the Government and the country to matters which might later call for action. Let it be understood then, that the committee received and considered scores of suggestions which find no mention in the report. Permit me to repeat on this point the following clause taken from the report itself: It is well to emphasize the fact that the mere absence of an expression of an opinion does not indicate a failure to consider any 'one of the many suggestions received. Once more let it be repeated that each and every one of these was submitted to, discussed by, and decided on by your committee. If then those who are interested in a special question submitted to the committee find no reference thereto in this report they may understand the committee found itself unable to make any recommendation on the subject. If I fail to refer to the work of the subcommittee which considered individual cases, it is because I hope that this aspect of the question may be taken up by those who can speak more directly on the subject. I have always had some doubt about the advisability of a committee such as ours overwhelmed as it is by questions involving matters of general interest to the soldier-acting as a court of appeal to review a particular decision covering the case of a single individual. Comparing small things to great, the extension of the committee's powers in this respect may be likened to the growth of the national status of Canada, a condition which admits of large differences of opinion, but which persists, nevertheless, in entailing added duties and responsibilities. However that may be, it is clear the committee is regarded as a court before which individual complaints can he lodged, and I desire to bear testimony to the efficient and thorough manner in which the subcommittee charged with this work, performed its duties. After this somewhat protracted introduction let me come to the immediate subjects of the committee's inquiry, viz.: Soldiers' Insurance, Pensions and Re-establishment. Insurance.-The Returned Soldiers' Insurance Act passed at the last session of Parliament, has been functioning since September 1, 1920. During that period up to the end of the fiscal year, nearly 2,400 policies on the lives of returned men had been placed, and this figure is reached after deducting those policies which have been cancelled or have lapsed. As was foreseen, many of these were taken out by men whose condition of health was desperate, and within a few short months (that is, from September to March 14), 28 claims have been received with a liability thereunder of $121,000. We can set against this immediate liability the sum of $95,000, which at the end of the fiscal year had been received from the assured. The outstanding liability on policies in force is something over $7,000,000, but this will undoubtedly be much reduced by the receipt of premiums which each month will be paid into the treasury. The comment is obvious that but small numbers of the returned men have taken advantage of the Act. Many reasons for this state of affairs will suggest themselves. The plan was not intended to appeal to or cover the man whose health is unimpaired; such a one can secure protection from the many life companies transacting business in Canada at a slightly higher cost, but with privileges purposely omitted from the national plan. We may be sure that these