March 31, 1936

CON

Frederick Cronyn Betts

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BETTS:

I take it that theatre of war would extend to Russia.

Topic:   PENSION ACT AMENDMENT
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LIB
CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacNEIL:

Is it the intention to refer the details for consideration to the special committee?

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

It is the intention, if the house agrees, to refer all these bills to the non-partisan committee already set up and composed largely of ex-soldiers. I suggest to the committee that these bills, and particularly the amendment to the Pension Act, dealing with matters which are extremely involved, would perhaps better be dealt with by a special committee than in general discussion in the house.

Topic:   PENSION ACT AMENDMENT
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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

Would the minister make this point clear? He spoke of a merger of the appeal court with the board of pension commissioners. Does that mean that some of them will be sitting on cases, and some will be sitting in appeal on those cases later on?

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Naturally provision would be made that the same judge will not sit in the first instance, and also in appeal on the same case.

Topic:   PENSION ACT AMENDMENT
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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

But they will be members of the same commission?

War Veterans' Allowance Act

Topic:   PENSION ACT AMENDMENT
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

They will be members of

the same commission.

Resolution reported, read the second time and concurred in. Mr. Power thereupon moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 26, to amend the Pension Act.

Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.

Topic:   PENSION ACT AMENDMENT
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WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT


Hon. C. G. POWER (Minister of Pensions and National Health) moved that the house go into committee to consider the following proposed resolution: That it is expedient to bring in a measure to provide under the War Veterans' Allowance Act for special consideration for certain veterans not having attained the age of sixty, but having attained the age of fifty-five, who by reason of disability, pre-ageing and general unfitness, are incapable of maintaining themselves; to provide for continuation of part of the allowance to dependents of certain veterans admitted for treatment to departmental institutions; to substitute a war veterans' allowance board for a war veterans' allowance committee and to provide for the continuance in office of the members of the committee as members of the board and for their salaries, superannuation and pension, and to provide a more complete definition of the board s powers. Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. Young in the chair.


LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

This resolution is the preliminary to the introduction of a bill to amend the War Veterans' Allowance Act. At the present time the war veterans' allowance committee is functioning. There may be some little difficulty about the word "committee." It was called a committee because when the first bill was introduced back in 1930 it was intended that the functions of this body should be performed by a departmental committee, but as a result of the deliberations of a select committee of the House of Commons it was decided that the members of the war veterans' allowance committee should be outsiders entirely independent of the department. There has arisen a certain amount of confusion as to the jurisdiction of the committee so that it has been thought advisable to change the name from "committee" to "board." We are proposing to increase the salary of the chairman of the committee, later to be called the board, from $6,000 to $7,000, and of the members from $5,000 to $6,000. I may say that the work performed by these gentlemen has been extremely satisfactory not only to this government and the former government but, I believe, to ex-service men

generally. I think I am safe in saying that of all the legislation that was passed in 1930 and since, this is probably that which has met with the most general approval from exservice men. The members of this committee have, with a very small staff, dealt with a very large number of cases and I believe, generally speaking, to the satisfaction of everyone. They are expending fairly large sums of money. The appropriation this year will be $3,100,000, and as the years go on it will rise gradually until the peak is reached, I think in 1957, when, if the act is not further amended, the expenditure is estimated to run around $12,000,000. After that the peak may come down fairly rapidly.

There are also provisions for superannuation such as are to be found in connection with other boards and commissions, such as the pensions commission.

There is also a provision-and this is perhaps the most important of all-that consideration shall be given to a class of veterans who are not considered under the present legislation. The present legislation provides that when a veteran reaches the age of sixty and is unemployable he is entitled to an allowance of $20 per month if single, and $40 if married. If before he reaches the age of sixty he is mentally or physically incapable of earning his living he may be classed as permanently unemployable and obtain the same allowance of $20 or $40, as the case may be.

It is proposed now to take in a class of men who are aged from fifty-five to sixty, and who, though they cannot be classed pathologically as unemployable, are in fact, owing to their pre-aging or general unfitness, incapable of earning their living. It is a very narrow distinction, and possibly the committee may think it advisable to provide a better definition of the class which it is proposed to bring in, but the question whether or not this class will be admitted to war veterans' allowance will, of course, be in the discretion of the war veterans' allowance board. Again I repeat: Quite possibly the definition which has been laid down in the bill will not be satisfactory to the parliamentary committee and another definition may be reached.

May I add that in connection with all this soldier legislation, while concrete bills are being laid before the committee, there is no intention on the part of the government to insist on the legislation being brought out of the committee in the form in which it goes in. On the contrary, the bills are being introduced simply and solely in order to give the committee something to work on. So, in this particular instance, while there may be some

War Veterans' Allowance Act

disagreement as to exactly what is meant by the class definition which has been drafted by the officers of the department, I believe no difficulty will be felt in the commiteee itself when we come to giving a definition of this particular class.

Topic:   WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT
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CON

Frederick Cronyn Betts

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BETTS:

Having read the resolution

carefully many times, and followed with considerable interest the discussions that took place at the legion convention in Vancouver last week, I am inclined, subject of course to what the bill may reveal in detail, to approve and support .this heralded legislation as strongly as I can. To me it looks like a step in the proper direction. The only question that bothers me is whether it is a sufficiently long step. I believe that hon. members and the country as a whole are quite conscious of the debt that is owing to the returned man by virtue of his service during the war, but I sometimes wonder whether we are just as ready to appreciate the influence which the returned man is playing right now in the everday life of the dominion. To my way of thinking, the veterans constitute a stabilizing and very salutary influence in the day to day life of the dominion, and though I think it will be admitted that Canada has done as well by its returned men as has any country in the world, I sincerely hope that we shall not grow weary in well doing. I would urge, and urge as strongly as I can, that this very considerable body of trained men-and when I say trained, I mean trained not only in the arts of war but in the habit of thinking and acting in the best interests of the dominion and of the empire-is a body of men whom we must support and continue to support as long as they are with us. In approving this resolution and the legislation based upon it, I reserve my right, which the minister has made very clear, to question in committee the advisability of dropping that deadline from fifty-five to perhaps fifty. I say-and I think I speak for every returned man in the house-that in the efforts which the minister is making he will have the cooperation and support of veterans of every party, and in these efforts I wish him in my humble way the best of luck and assure him of cooperation.

Topic:   WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT
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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

Representing as I do a

riding that is said to have more returned soldiers than any other-at any rate it is among the ridings with the greatest numbers of veterans-I wish to endorse in the strongest language the minister's resolution proposing to reduce the age limit from sixty to fifty-five, though I should like to see it

fMr. Power.]

lowered to fifty if possible. Of course, the problem is a considerable one to find the necessary money for the latter figure, but I know of many men who will be heartily pleased with this resolution. When I was home on Saturday last two returned soldiers came to me, neither of whom was entitled to pension on the ground of having been wounded, but both of them fit in with the description the minister has given as to physical unfitness, and the other qualifications which he has mentioned, and certainly relief in such cases will be wonderfully beneficial.

Resolution reported, read the second time and concurred in. Mr. Power thereupon moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 27, to amend the War Veterans' Allowance Act.

Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.

Topic:   WAR VETERANS' ALLOWANCE ACT
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VETERANS' ASSISTANCE COMMISSION


Hon. C. G. POWER (Minister of Pensions and National Health) moved that the house go into committee to consider the following proposed resolution: That it is expedient to bring in a measure providing for the establishment of a commission, to be known as the veterans' assistance commission, to investigate, report and make recommendations as to the facilities and as to certain projects to provide employment for veterans, and also to make use of such facilities and carry out such projects, and for other purposes related thereto; and to provide for the remuneration and expenses of the commission. Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. Young in the chair.


LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

This resolution and the bill to follow are based upon the recommendations of the Hyndman report. It will perhaps be remembered that last year when the Hyndman report was under consideration it was understood on both sides of the house that a commission of some kind would be set up to carry out some of the recommendations of that report. On page 15 of the report under the title of Recommendations and the subtitle, Problem of Unemployment, will be found all the information upon which the bill is based. The Hyndman commission recommended that a commission be set up to study certain suggestions which had been submitted to it in the course of its sittings. It will be recalled that the Hyndman commission had not sufficient time to visit more than two or three of the large centres. If I remember rightly, it sat only in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa, and received representations from people in the locality. There was not sufficient time at the disposal of Mr. Justice Hyndman and his

Veterans' Assistance Commission

associates to go all over Canada, but they recommended in their final report that a commission should be set up to study the suggestions made, and this bill is as a result of that recommendation. A number of suggestions will be studied by this commission; they will report to the minister, and the commission, it is proposed, will have power to supervise these projects and to carry them out.

Topic:   VETERANS' ASSISTANCE COMMISSION
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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

I take it that this is in the nature of a permanent commission.

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

It is provided in the bill that the commission shall be for one year only, with a possibility of keeping them on for eighteen months.

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CON

Frederick Cronyn Betts

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BETTS:

In dealing with this resolution I feel that I am perhaps in a happier position than I was in connection with the former resolution, because I think I can congratulate without any reservations whatever the honourable and gallant minister. I should like to urge that the legislation based upon this resolution be made wide enough to enable the proposed commission to fulfil a very much needed function in the jurisdiction of those who deal with returned soldiers. Ever since the war there has been, I suggest, on the part of many who are prominent in the commercial and industrial life of this country, a lack of understanding of the mentality of the returned soldier. I do not say that is true of all those prominent in our industrial and commercial life; far from it, but it describes the attitude of many, and I submit that that arises because in many instances there is a marked disparity in age between the returned soldier and the younger business executive. They have, perhaps, no point of common contact. To the younger successful business man the war is at best, perhaps, only a childhood memory; at worst, something he has read about. The point I wish to urge on the minister is that qualities that in greater or in lesser degree are inherent in every returned soldier, qualities of service, of loyalty, of devotion to duty, are of inestimable benefit to any organization, and I think one of the main functions of this commission and its staff will be to act as liaison officers between the potential employer and the returned man. In other words, it is up to the commissioners to sell the returned men to the potential employer, and I want to say that they are dealing in dandy good goods when they are doing that. If the proposed commission will proceed along those lines it will be welcome, for it has a great work to perform, but if it is going to be simply another commission that will design a new series of complicated reports, returns 12739-107

and other forms to be filled out, we should be far better off without it.

To my way of thinking the solution of the problem depends entirely upon the personal qualities of the commissioners and of the staff that they gather about them. If they are endowed with sincerity, with zeal, with tact and, above all, with the complete sympathy with the veteran and his problems that this great work demands, we shall get some place. Therefore I urge that the minister, in making these appointments or in setting up the machinery to make them, dismiss every political consideration from his mind. I would remind him that he has been placed in the high position he now occupies by returned men of every political stripe; that they are looking to him with admiration and with confidence, but they are watching him like hawks. Once again ^ I want to say that in the setting up of this commission he will have, for what it is worth, my humble cooperation.

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LIB

Daniel (Dan) McIvor

Liberal

Mr. McIVOR:

As the representative of a constituency which contains a very large number of returned men, I wish to say a few words in support of this motion. While I am not a returned man, it is hard to see them reduced to the necessity of going out and working for twenty-five cents an hour. With the aid of the minister I hope that that will be eliminated, because it is worse than relief for a man who has gone overseas and returned to have to keep a wife and family on twenty-five cents an hour, eight hours a day. I have addressed large groups of returned men, and my observation is that they age far more quickly than do men who have not been overseas. We must support the Minister of Pensions in order that these men shall get the consideration that is their due. In .speaking previously on the resolution for pensions for the blind I recalled the case of a returned man, an intelligent Scotsman, who could not get a job and had to go into a gravel pit in which, working on relief, he lost his sight. That is not in keeping with our conception of this great Canada of ours, and I am glad to see our Minister of Pensions stepping out in the right direction.

Topic:   VETERANS' ASSISTANCE COMMISSION
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March 31, 1936