I have here a letter which illustrates the principle. This letter is from a gentleman living in the constituency represented by the hon. member for Lincoln at St. Catharines. He is a returned soldier; he was a major in the army, and writes to support my action in this connection. He says that in 1895 he took out insurance in the Maccabees, a fraternal order, at the low rate of fifty cents per month. That rate was increased to sixty cents, later to $1.50, later to $4.50 and then to $6. This gentleman paid this society over $1,000 in rates before he thought it time to quit, and now he has lost everything he paid in. He considers this most unfair and believes this society should be kicked out of Canada, and he says:
I stuck to them during the war; now they have my $1,000 to pay their heavy mortality in the United States. I could keep paying in another $1,000, which would be $2,000, and then die and my heir only get $1,000.
Something should be done to protect such policyholders. If we look at the prices of the stock of these insurance companies we find that they have increased tremendously in the last four years. I have in my hand a pamphlet issued by an investment concern in Toronto, in which they include a table showing the growth in value of the shares of the Canada Life, Crown Life, Great West Life, Imperial Life, Manufacturers Life, National Life, Sovereign Life and Sun Life insurance companies. This table is as follows:
1925 1926 1927 1928Canada Life.. .. $700 $800 $1,000 $1,000Crown Life 115 135 330 425Great Western Life. 335 460 550 600Imperial Life.. .. 250 350 400 465Manufacturers Life. 65 190 400 450.National Life.. .. 32 42 65 100Sovereign Life.. . 25 37 55 75Sun Life 300 800 1,825 2,400
I protest against such a policy in this country; we find many millions of dollars put up by the policyholders of Canada being invested in Japan, Bolivia and almost every other country in the world, and a large proportion of this money came from lapsed policies. We have a very sympathetic minister in charge of this department; he is the backbone of the government in so far as the voting power of the country goes for his party, and I hope he will support this bill. I protest against our present policy with regard to lapsed insurance; there should be a special committee appointed to go into the affairs of these companies, because the poor policyholder is not adequately protected at all. This bill will protect the policyholder and prevent many of these companies crossing the border into Canada and finding this country
such a happy hunting ground. They get a lot of money in their exchequers and then go and invest it all around the world.
About fifteen or twenty per cent of these companies are provincial in character but the majority are federal and, in my opinion, the superintendent has not the power he should have. Are we going to wait until we have a Home bank among the insurance companies before the act is amended? The insurance law to-day is twenty-five years behind the times. They have been brought up to date in England, Australia and the United States. The legislatures there have been doing something.
These companies are not paying the taxes they should pay, but the working classes have been paying the peak of taxation in Canada through their breakfast tables, the clothing they wear, and everything else. All of this is due to the fact that our insurance law has been falling by the wayside for many years, and that the Insurance Act is out of date; parliament seemed too busy to take it up.
A statement I have from Washington shows that the lapsed policies in the United States amount to several hundred millions, and that amount of money belonging to the people has been confiscated by these American companies. They are taking action down in Washington as there was a bill before congress during the session before last. They are trying to do something down there to regulate the whole situation.
This bill should go to the banking and commerce committee where an opportunity would be given to hear the Superintendent of Insurance. This committee could look into the question of lapse of policies and find out what is being done with the money and also the terms and conditions under which a policyholder may have his policy revived. We are surely here to protect the public, and it is nearly time the policyholders and the government had something to say about this.