April 21, 1950

LIB

James Ewen Matthews

Liberal

Mr. Matthews:

Now, sir, I want to make special reference tonight to immigration of refugees coming here under the mandate of the international refugee organization. Perhaps it may be of greater interest if I say that most of my remarks will be based upon personal observation when overseas a few months ago, when I had the pleasure of visiting one of these displaced persons camps. I went there, as some of you know, as representative of the Canadian government to attend a. convention of the international labour organization at Geneva.

May I digress here just for a minute or so to express the high regard my wife and I entertained for the various officials we found in various capacities and in various centres overseas. Their keen sense of responsibility, their abounding courtesy, their personal kindness compel me to make this public acknowledgment. I assure you I do so with pleasure and without any reservation.

The international refugee organization cooperates, as far as Canada is concerned, with the Department of External Affairs, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, the Department of Labour, and so forth. I want to concentrate on that phase of immigration for several reasons: First because I am convinced that many people are unaware of the great work, the important work, the humane work accomplished by the IRO in transporting refugees to Canada, to the United States and to other countries.

Then there is another reason. After the close of world war II, committees from various nations found themselves appalled by the.

serious condition of millions of displaced persons. Canada then played an important part -perhaps I may say a leading part-in urging the creation of a definite organization to handle the situation in some effective way. The United Kingdom and the United States were in complete agreement in pressing for what came to be known as IRO. Its constitution was signed by the Canadian government, and the Canadian parliament ratified the signature. Furthermore, the record shows that the resolution was adopted by a committee of united nations under the chairmanship of my good friend and fellow Canadian, Senator Turgeon of Vancouver. He also took a very active part in framing the constitution. It should also be kept in mind that the Canadian taxpayer is paying his share toward the financial upkeep of the IRO, and he is therefore entitled to know what is being done with his money.

These are some of the reasons why I deem it fitting to make known to the Canadian people, and to this parliament, the impressions I formed from actual observation of IRO activities.

I referred a minute ago to millions of displaced persons. During the war many of those people were forced to leave their homes, go into Germany and work as forced labour in German fields and factories. At the end of the war the allied armies liberated actually millions of them from concentration and labour camps in Germany. They were found to be from every country in Europe and represented almost every walk of life.

We are told that in the months immediately following the German surrender many highways in Europe were literally clogged with masses of refugees trekking back to their homes. By train, by truck and on foot, they wended their way back. What did they find when they got there? Those seven million people and more found their homes were no longer there. Their homes had been destroyed. Their livestock had been driven away; their farming implements were no more. They had the land, but nothing else. There they were like animals turned out into the fields to live or die. No doubt many of them in their despair would have preferred death. It was clear that something had to be done, and done quickly, if their lives were to be saved. I suggest that the practical efforts applied to the solution of that problem will go down in history as a lasting tribute to the Christian virtues of the United Nations.

But there was still another problem. Besides those seven or eight millions who had returned to their countries of origin there were another 1,600,000 refugees who

had to receive some other form of international assistance if their lives were to be saved. Many of them were still in Germany, some in Austria, some in Italy and other smaller countries. To re-establish those

1,600,000 was a hopeless task for any one nation to undertake. So, once again, United Nations got under the load.

Under the sponsorship of its general assembly a preparatory commission was set up which operated for over a year, until IRO could be constitutionally formed. This was completed on August 20, 1948. Under the terms of its constitution IRO became responsible-mark you, because responsible- for those 1,600,000 displaced persons, displaced from home and friends and thrown completely upon the charity of the allies.

Let me make it clear that there are seventeen countries who are members of IRO. Those countries pay the operating costs on an assessment basis. Canada's share is about $6 million per year. In other words IRO, although in a sense part and parcel of United Nations, is financed by the seventeen member countries, quite independent of United Nations funds. The head offices of IRO are in Geneva. That fact added to my interest in the organization, for during our two and a half weeks in Geneva I visited those offices several times. On each occasion I was profoundly impressed with the atmosphere of alertness, efficiency and sincerity that was everywhere manifest. The director general directs from the Geneva office an international staff of practically 2,500 persons, representing thirty-eight different nationalities, and assigned to twenty-six different countries. Among them are a good many Canadians, and those of them whom I met are mighty fine Canadians. I trust, Mr. Chairman, that I have now made fairly clear the creation of the IRO, as I found it, and that some idea of its work may be unfolded as I continue.

Hon. members will understand more clearly my interest in this question when I tell them that one of the highlights of our trip overseas was the greater part of an afternoon spent in a displaced persons camp during our days in Germany. We were in the city of Karlsruhe, where Canada has a most active branch office in the American zone. Karlsruhe, like many other cities through which we passed in Germany, carries the scars of war to a very marked degree. The IRO staff there is composed almost wholly of Canadians, and a more cordial, co-operative, efficient and friendly group it has never been my privilege to meet. We drove from Karlsruhe probably forty miles to this displaced persons camp, formerly a large German barracks, a formidable type of structure look-

Supply-Citizenship and Immigration ing well its part. It is what is called an assembly camp. It is recruited from some 58 or 60 minor camps quite a distance farther eastward. There I was able to grasp at first hand something of IRO activity, and still more of the responsibilities those officials were carrying.

On the day of our visit there were present 2,145 refugees, men, women and children, in the last stages of preparedness for transport across the Atlantic. A few were still being X-rayed, but the screening in general had been completed. One trainload was due to leave next day for Bremen, thence to New York, and another the following day to Montreal. I talked with several of the men, most of whom were Polish or Ukrainian, and some of whom could speak English. Reference to their homeland brought only a look of despair, but when one mentioned Canada their faces beamed.

I shall not take the time this evening to discuss immigration in general, because I may have an opportunity to do so later. May. I say I am quite in accord with some of the remarks made before six o'clock by the leader of the opposition. However, if some of those remarks were intended to apply to displaced persons camps-and I am not sure that they were-then I would have to say that those remarks were not all in accordance with the facts. I speak from my own personal observations. There are two or three points he made with which I would be compelled to take issue respectfully and perhaps reluctantly.

I would say that everything humanly possible is being done to make their stay over there comfortable, and their trip across the ocean pleasant. I confirmed that opinion by personal discussion with some of them on board ship during our return from the old land. Every effort is being made to take care of them there, to take care of them on the ship, and to see that they are carefully placed after they are landed. I am sure they appreciate it. I am very happy therefore that these people are assured of a friendly welcome upon arrival here. Why should they not be? Throughout Canada, and particularly in western Canada, those who came to us from European countries forty or fifty years ago proved valuable assets to this country. They entered upon manual labour of the hardest kind, very often such as was refused by our native-born Canadians. They took up land in rough, unsettled areas, thought by some to be valueless; but before long those crude surroundings reached the stage when "creaking wagons bore the harvest home and well-filled barns laughed with their golden plenty".

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Supply-Citizenship and Immigration

Today a great many of those farm homes are among the most desirable in western Canada. The sons and daughters are making progress in all branches of Canadian life, not only on the farms but in business, professional and public life as well. In fact, in the province of Manitoba there are five members, either of European birth or ancestry, in the provincial legislature. I have no hesitation in saying that Canada is a richer country today because of that immigration years ago; and it will be richer still as a result of this new flow of immigration coming to pur shores.

In one of the rooms we visited at the camp an elderly woman, intelligent and neat in appearance, was being instructed in languages by a younger one. It was explained to us that this woman was waiting and longing for the day when a certain technicality would have been overcome and she could join her friends in Canada. When about to leave I stepped across the room, shook hands with her and said as distinctly as I could, "I hope you will soon be in Canada". Whether it was the word "Canada" or just the little gesture of good will, I do not know, but the expression of gratitude shining through the tears that started coursing down that lonely woman's cheeks is something I shall not forget. Yes, an extra touch of kindness bestowed upon these people who come to us will make of them better Canadians and in a shorter time.

I can assure the committee that the afternoon spent in that camp was to us an enlightening and worth-while experience.

I wish very bluntly to ask my fellow Canadians, both in this chamber and outside it, this pointed question: If as a result of war in Canada you had lost your homes and all you had, everything taken over by an enemy, many of your loved ones gone, if you were compelled to seek refuge in a European country, compelled to begin life all over again in a land you had never known, under conditions you had never experienced, among people you had never seen, addressed in a language you had never heard, in your despair hoping for the bread of kindness, just what would your feelings be; what would be your reaction? Just think that over for a while. I suggest that with the war clouds not yet cleared away, this is no time for any of us to adopt a complex of superiority or selfishness. At present there are two of these assembly camps in the French zone, six in the American zone and four in the British zone.

I should like to mention some of the general features noticeable around those displaced persons' camps. Notwithstanding, the number transferred to other lands, there were

still living in or near those camps as of March 1, 1950, a total of 305,407 persons. They included 105,000 Poles, 42,000 Ukrainians and

19.000 Yugoslavs. You ask: How do those

305.000 people manage to live? Well, it is pretty tough. Let us realize that they are maintaining their morale today only by the hope of migrating soon to some other country to begin life all over again.

Those people of various nationalities, various cultures, various degrees of education, have learned to live together in harmony. Everywhere they are reported to be governing themselves along the democratic lines of the countries in which they wish to resettle. A number of them earn a scant living by taking up work of different kinds, some as farmers, some as road builders, some as professional men and some as artisans. Many of them are doing work far below their qualifications. The women appeared to be busy at knitting, sewing and embroidery, and apparently all are of a thrifty type. Educational facilities have been made available for both children and adults. Moving pictures of Canada are shown and informative discussions concerning Canada are held. Lectures are given on various topics, educational and otherwise, for there is no lack of experts in almost every field.

May I emphasize here that many of those displaced persons although lacking in financial assets are well educated and capable in other ways. It is stated that in Latvia and Estonia, the original homelands of many displaced persons, practically the same percentage of the population attended university as in Canada, and that in 1939 there was approximately the same number of students at the university of Riga as at the university of Toronto. No, they cannot be classed as an illiterate -people, not by any means.

From what I could see and learn I would suggest that now with the rush of immigration lessening to some extent the age of admissibility to Canada, now limited at 45 years, should be raised to age 50 at least. I would suggest also that the time has arrived when there should be more elasticity when one member of a family is found to be physically handicapped. To have a family barred from coming to Canada or broken up, to have some little one left behind in Europe, because it is not as strong as the others, seems to me rather harsh today, even if it were justified two or three years ago. Then again, permission for widows with one or more children, according to conditions, should be widened to the extent that each case be studied on its own merits.

I suggest this because I have confidence in the judgment of the men right on the ground

to make the proper selections. I have confidence in the screening, or security officers as they are called. I talked with two of them and could catch something of their difficulties. They have a tough job. They make every effort to be fair. It is not their wish to bar any worthy person nor do they want to admit the unworthy. Despite every precaution they will make an occasional mistake. That cannot be avoided. We are bound to get some misfits, but I ask whether there are any misfits among our own people.

We must also endeavour, so far as is reasonably possible, to keep down to a minimum that "hard core," as it is sometimes called, meaning the handicapped element. Norway has recently agreed to accept and care for one hundred of the blind among those unfortunates; Belgium 227 of the aged, now growing infirm; and Sweden 150 of those who

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nations should lend a hand. I am informed that IRO has a $22 million fund in the budget to pay part of the cost of permanent care to countries willing to accept some of those hard core cases.

It is to the credit of Canada, and I say it with pride, that ours was the first country to accept displaced persons from overseas. We began with fifty-four, who sailed for Canada on the Aquitania on April 4, 1947, and since then Canada's record compares favourably with that of any other country. From that time there has been a total of 43,000 workers brought to Canada under the arrangements made by the interdepartmental immigration committee. This is the break-down: for

domestic service approximately 10,400; for farms, 13,289; heavy labour, 19,000; and for nursing, interneship and professional service, 300. In addition to the 43,000 workers there were 3,388 wives or children of those workers who came along with them. In addition to those 46,388, there were over 55,000 wives and children of workers who had been left in d.p. camps and who were brought out after the workers became established. Some others were relatives or close connections of those already here. Canada has actually brought across 101,388 refugees to date. Here I should point out that Canada agreed in the first place to accept only five thousand displaced persons, but as you will note we have exceeded that number twenty times over.

There are those who say that because of our housing shortage immigration should not be encouraged. In that connection someone has made the apt remark that the greatest housing shortage this country has ever known was the day Jacques Cartier landed on the shores of Gaspe. Others claim we have all the population now we can assimilate. If I

Supply-Citizenship and Immigration remember correctly a somewhat similar claim was made long years ago by the Hudson's Bay Company. Those coming into western or northern Canada at that time to embark upon other activities were mostly regarded as aliens, intruding upon the supposedly sacred precincts of the fur industry. I take it we have far outgrown a mental attitude of that kind, particularly when we stop to consider that Canada's land area is greater even than that of the United States and Alaska, and comprises 28 per cent of the land area of the British commonwealth. Ever since the days when -the fur industry reigned supreme in western and northern Canada increased population and increased production have gone forward hand in hand in the development and the enrichment of Canada. Would any process of depopulation and decreased production spell any greater, or as great, prosperity for our people? The answer is obvious.

The IRO was supposed to discontinue operations on June 30 next, but it is pleasing to note that the time has been extended by United Nations up to March 31, 1951. After that date further arrangements will go into effect. I have taken longer than I would have wished in discussing the set-up and work of the IRO, but I feel that it is information to which Canadians are entitled, and which they will be glad to receive. I hope to have something to say at a later date on the subject of general immigration.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in conclusion may I point this out, that in the setting up of an organization to this end, in the adjusting of a thousand details and difficulties never even thought of by the general public, in the securing of an efficient and sympathetic personnel in many different centres, the fact of transportation congestion resulting from the huge number of returned men and women, who were so gladly brought back to Canada and re-absorbed into our economy, in placing those refugees at work when they arrived in Canada and in attaining the phenomenal results expressed in the figures I have just quoted, I am sure every thoughtful person will agree that the Department of Labour is entitled to sincere congratulations and the highest praise. A writer remarked not long ago that the achievement of bringing those refugees here in the face of the many difficulties that had to be overcome is as remarkable a performance as anything to be found in the history of immigration to Canada.

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Knowles:

I have already had the privilege of extending my congratulations to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (Mr. Harris) upon his appointment to this portfolio and I am glad to have this opportunity of repeating that expression of good will. One

1798 HOUSE OF

Supply-Citizenship and Immigration of the reasons why I am glad to see the hon. member in charge of this department is that I believe he is a person who is very much against discrimination. It is to that quality in him that I should now like to make an appeal. My appeal relates to the plea for the repeal of order in council P.C. 2115 of September 30, 1930, which has to do with the immigration of Chinese to this country.

As the minister knows, for quite a number of years Chinese immigration to Canada was governed by a portion of the Immigration Act which was known as the Chinese Immigration Act. The act was referred to by people in China as the Chinese exclusion act, and two or three years ago the hon. member for Spadina said that Chinese people in Canada referred to it as the Chinese extermination act.

It is good to know that the Chinese Immigration Act has been repealed. That was done by parliament in 1947. It was made clear at that time, however, in the course of the debate on the bill which abolished the Chinese Immigration Act, that there was still a bit more of the job to do. Not long since a delegation of Chinese and other citizens waited upon the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and placed a brief in his hands asking for the repeal of order in council P.C. 2115. May I remind the minister and the committee that just before the session at which the Chinese Immigration Act was repealed there was a press release indicating that that was going to be done, and that discrimination against Chinese on racial grounds would be ended. That press release was issued by the then prime minister, Mr. King, on January 27, 1947, and read in part as follows:

Mr. King said that, at an early stage of the session,-

The reference was to the session of 1947.

-the government intends to introduce a bill to repeal the Chinese Immigration Act which is regarded by the Chinese government as an exclusion act and in the nature of discrimination on grounds of race against a friendly and allied people. The effect of the repeal will be to remove all discrimination against the Chinese on account of race and to bring Chinese persons under the general provisions of the Immigration Act and no longer under legislation applying exclusively to persons of Chinese origin.

As the minister knows, the portion of that last sentence which caught the attention of the Chinese people in this country and others interested in this matter and encouraged them was the first part which read:

The effect of the repeal will be to remove all discrimination against the Chinese on account of race-

The sentence went on to add the further words that I have given. At the time most

people did not feel there was any particular significance to the rest of it, but it turned out that there was. The rest of the sentence read:

-and to bring Chinese persons under the general provisions of the Immigration Act and no longer under legislation applying exclusively to persons of Chinese origin.

That sounded fine, but I shall point to the flaw in it shortly. First, I want to indicate that there were three orders in council that are a part of this story. There is order in council P.C. 695 which is the general order in council respecting immigration and which may have had certain amendments. Then there is order in council P.C. 2115 of September 30, 1930, which provided that no Asiatics were to be permitted to bring their wives or other members of their families into Canada unless the person in Canada was himself a citizen. P.C. 2115, however, did not apply to Chinese people so long as the Chinese Immigration Act was on the statute books. The relevant paragraphs of P.C. 2115 read as follows:

From and after August 16, 1930, and until otherwise ordered, the landing in Canada of any immigrant of any Asiatic race is hereby prohibited, except as hereinafter provided:

The immigration officer in charge may admit any immigrant who otherwise complies with the provisions of the Immigration Act, if it is shown to his satisfaction that such immigrant is the wife or unmarried child under eighteen years of age, of any Canadian citizen legally admitted to and resident in Canada, who is in a position to receive and care for his dependents.

The next paragraph was of particular significance so long as the Chinese Immigration Act was in force. It read:

Provided that this regulation shall not apply to the nationals of any country in regard to which there is in operation a law, a special treaty, or agreement, or convention regulating immigration.

It is clear from the sense of the last sentence that so long as there was in effect a special Chinese immigration law governing these people P.C. 2115 did not apply to them, but once the Chinese Immigration Act was repealed by parliament in 1947 it automatically put the Chinese under the provisions of P.C. 2115.

Here was, if I may call it that, the joker in the press release made by Mr. King. He had said that once these changes were made all discrimination against the Chinese on account of race would be removed, but that was not the whole of the sentence. In the rest of the sentence he said that Chinese persons would be brought under the general provisions of the Immigration Act and no longer under legislation applying exclusively to persons of Chinese origin. We took that at its face value, thinking that Chinese persons

would be brought under the general provisions of the Immigration Act, but "With the repeal of the Chinese Immigration Act we [DOT]discovered that they came automatically under P.C. 2115, the order in council which denies to any Asiatic the right to bring members of his family to Canada unless he, the person in Canada, is already a citizen.

How did Mr. King square his announcement with what ensued? It was squared by the last words of his sentence in which he said they would no longer be under legislation applying exclusively to persons of Chinese origin. Certainly they are not now under legislation applying exclusively to persons of Chinese origin as was the case when they were under the Chinese Immigration Act, but they are now under regulations that apply to people of Asiatic origin. They are almost no better off. As I say, it was a bit of a joker, and the minister knows just as well as I do that it has been a very sore point not only with the Chinese people of Canada, who discovered that discrimination against them on account of race was not ended, but also with religious bodies, trade union organizations and thousands of Canadian citizens whose feeling toward these matters is so essentially sound that, like the minister, we do not want discrimination on account of race.

There was one other order in council that related to this matter, namely, P. C. 1378 of June 17, 1931. It was a further piece of discrimination in that it required the Chinese people, before they could come to Canada, to have the approval of the minister of interior of the Chinese government. I am glad to say that that order in council was repealed about the same time that the Chinese Immigration Act was repealed. Now, the government has done well in the steps it has taken. It has repealed, by a subsequent order in council, order in council P. C. 1378. The government also got parliament to repeal the Chinese Immigration Act. My request is that they go this further step and repeal P. C. 2115, and put the Chinese under the provisions of the general immigration regulations that are set out in P. C. 695.

The particular point about P. C. 2115, as it applies to the Chinese, is this. Whereas a person who has come here from Europe can bring his wife and relatives to this country, even though he is not yet a citizen, that right is denied to a Chinese person who is here. The denial is clearly on the basis of race. When one realizes the disabilities under which these people have been for many years, one can understand why some of these Chinese have not become citizens of this country. The order goes a bit further than that, and the

21. 1950 1797

Supply-Citizenship and Immigration member for Red Deer (Mr. Shaw) referred to it this afternoon. Even if a person of Chinese origin in this country, now a Canadian citizen, wishes to bring his wife and children from China, he finds he can do it only with respect to his wife and the children who are under eighteen years of age. I do not need to continue to emphasize the unfairness of it, Mr. Chairman. I am sure the minister who has come into charge of this department, and has to deal with it, feels just as badly in his heart about it as I do. I simply want him to know that the people of Canada feel that way about it too. He will be doing what the people of this country want, if he removes from our immigration regulations this discriminatory rule that is involved in P. C. 2115. It is one of the worst forms of discrimination, discrimination on the basis of race; there is no room for that in Canada.

After the matter had been brought to light in the debates that took place in this house in 1947, debates which were rather heated at times because some of us felt that, to use the words of my leader, a cruel hoax had been perpetrated, as a result of those debates and the way in which the continuing racial discrimination against the Chinese was brought out, the matter came up for discussion in the other place the following year. In fact, the whole matter was referred to the standing committee on immigration and labour of the Senate. On Wednesday, March 10, 1948, a group of witnesses appeared before that Senate committee to make a plea for the repeal of P. C. 2115. I hold in my hands a record of that day's proceedings of that committee, and according to the minutes of the proceedings the final results were as follows:

On motion of the Hon. Senator, Murdock, seconded by the Hon. Senator Bouchard, it was resolved that in the report of the committee a recommendation be included for the repeal of order in council P.C. 2115 respecting the admittance to Canada of wives and children of men of Chinese descent now resident in Canada.

When one reads the minutes of evidence in detail, he discovers that when the motion was carried the Hon. Senator Euler made the remark that it was carried unanimously. In that instance, Mr. Chairman, I think the hon. senators who were on that committee were reflecting the views of the people of Canada. During the course of the discussion questions were asked which made it clear that the Chinese people were not asking for the gates to be opened wide. They made it clear that the total number who would come in after the repeal of P.C. 2115 would be very few. So far as I am concerned I feel that we Canadians who value our principles, and who like to think we are non-discriminatory, should be more concerned about this than

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Supply-Veterans Affairs the Chinese who are denied the right to bring their wives and children to Canada. They suffer from this wrong; we are ashamed of it.

As I have already said, it is not long since a delegation came to Ottawa and waited upon the minister. I understood from the delegates that he received them most sympathetically and most kindly, and I know that he would. Later that day the delegation entertained a number of us at a most enjoyable Chinese dinner at the Cathay restaurant. I am looking to see whether any of the members who were present on that occasion are in the house tonight. I thought they would be here when this matter came up. Certainly the members who were there that night, the member for Vancouver South (Mr. Laing), the member for Sudbury (Mr. Gauthier) and the member for St. Paul's (Mr. Rooney), along with myself, to name a few who made speeches when called upon, promised they would back up the representations the delegation had made. I am sorry that those members who were there are not here tonight to say something on the floor of this house. I am sure they meant what they said, and I believe the minister knows the feelings of the Canadian people about this matter. I do hope that it will not be long now until the government removes this discriminatory provision from our immigration regulations.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

Mr. Chairman, the discussion which has taken place so far-

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LIB

Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Fournier (Hull):

Mr. Chairman, would the member mind if I interrupted for a moment? I saw the leaders of the different parties, and asked them if they would object if we asked that this item be allowed to stand so that we might take up veterans affairs. My colleague the minister has to leave in a few minutes, so if my good friend could postpone his speech until the next time-

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PC
LIB

Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Fournier (Hull):

As soon as possible.

Item stands.

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DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS


528. Departmental administration, $2,175,279.


PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pearkes:

Does the minister wish to make a statement at this time?

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LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

Not at this time. I should prefer, if the house agrees, to make the remainder of the hour available for any hon. member who might wish to bring up a matter under general administration.

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PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pearkes:

Mr. Chairman, I welcome this opportunity of bringing up a few matters concerning the Department of Veterans

Affairs, its general administration, and matters whfch affect the ex-servicemen of this country. I welcome the opportunity particularly this evening, because this week end sees the anniversary of the baptism of fire of a great many Canadian veterans who took part in the first world war, and who were members of the first thirty thousand troops to leave Canada. Those men set a standard of service for this country which succeeding contingents, both in the first and in the second world war, did their best to live up to. It is, therefore, a pleasure for me today to find that there is an opportunity of expressing in this house, in very inadequate words, the deep gratitude which Canada owes to that first contingent in the first great war.

There had, of course, been Canadians going overseas to the South African war previous to that. But during the early months, and particularly during April of 1915, the great bulk of the men who had left Canada with the first contingent came into action and brought everlasting honour to themselves when they stemmed the German advance at the second battle of Ypres and suffered all the horrors and hardships of what is so frequently referred to as the first gas attack. The men who had fought through those battles, the men who had set that example for other Canadians who followed in their footsteps, are the type of men we are considering today when this country is providing, and providing generously, for their well-being and for the care of those who are still suffering from wounds, and the dependents of those men and those who followed after them, trying to live up to the example of that first contingent of world war I.

When we come to examine the funds which are being provided for the welfare of these men, and for their rehabilitation into civilian life, I think everyone will agree that succeeding governments have endeavoured to follow the wish of the people of Canada to deal generously with their returned men. It is quite immaterial what party happens to be in power. I think it has become the practice of governments in this age to follow the wishes of the people of the country. They are in a position, by means of their civil service which is established all across the land, and by the contact which members of the House of Commons are able to obtain with their constituents, to size up accurately what is the opinion of the country on any particular point. The governments have been able to assess with a considerable degree of accuracy the wishes of the Canadian people with respect to their veterans, so frequently expressed, namely, that the veterans should

be dealt with generously and that, provided that the general economy of the country is not adversely affected, every possible assistance should be given to the returned men of this land. I therefore feel that the governments, since the first great war, have been following the wishes of the people rather than leading the nation, along the line of generous treatment to the veterans of Canada.

However, in spite of the fact that the country is anxious to deal generously, the country is not in a position to be extravagant even with regard to its treatment of the exservicemen. It is therefore the duty of members of parliament to examine the estimates as they are presented, to see whether there is any undue extravagance, and whether the dollars which are being provided by the people are being spent in the best interests of the veterans. As every hon. member of this house knows, in the past the members of all parties were given an opportunity of assisting the government in making certain that the money allocated for the welfare of the veterans was spent to the best advantage. Members from all parties were called together in the committee on veterans affairs -of bygone days, I regret to say-and there they were able to offer their advice to the minister and his assistant. They were able to call before them the officers of the department. They were able to call representative groups of 'the veterans before the committee so that the wants of the different types of veterans might be explained at first hand to the members. The problems of the department were discussed and decisions were reached in that committee so that sound recommendations might be made to the government of the particular day.

I believe there is no matter of greater urgency today than the setting up of a similar committee so that they may examine the estimates of this department; so that they may hear the evidence presented by the various organizations; and so that they may discuss with the officials of the department not only what measures may be taken for the further assistance of the veterans of this land but also may examine the situation and see whether it is not possible to effect economies in the administration of the department.

When one takes just a casual glance at the estimates as presented in this blue book, the very first item that one sees is "general administration"; and under the heading of "general administration" one notices that, this year, $18,255 more than was required for the general administration last year is being asked for by the minister. I have

Supply-Veterans Affairs no doubt that, when questioned here in committee, the minister will be able to give reasons why there should be an increase in the general administration of his departmental headquarters. At the same time it is significant that there should be an increase in the headquarters item when we heard only yesterday, in another discussion, that the policy, as far as the war veterans allowance board is concerned, is to decentralize to district administration. Yet we find that in district administration they have been able to effect a reduction or a saving in the estimates this year over those of last year of $93,017. If savings can be effected in the districts where the district administration is in the closest touch with the bulk of the returned men in the country, one is forced to ask why a similar or even a greater saving cannot be made in the general administration

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not a saving be made instead of there being an increase? This is just one of the type of questions which might be investigated in a committee specially assembled to inquire into veterans affairs.

It must be embarrassing at times for a minister to have to effect economies in a department where there is such an urgent desire on the part of so many people, and so many members of this house, to obtain greater benefits for their old comrades. I am not at all sure that a committee might not be of very considerable assistance to the minister. That is only one matter which might well be referred to a committee.

There are many other matters dealing with veterans' welfare which require the most careful consideration at the present time. We know that it is necessary to introduce certain amendments to the War Veterans Allowance Act. Reference was made to that in the speech from the throne. Yesterday a resolution was introduced in the house dealing with some of the improvements which are considered necessary, but there are other adjustments which might be made to the War Veterans Allowance Act other than merely granting to ex-imperial soldiers and others who had served in forces other than Canadian forces in the war the benefits of that act.

Many representations have been made that the basic allowance should be increased. Many representations have been made that other groups of veterans should also be made eligible for that allowance. Many representations have been made for the removal of the so-called means test in connection with the War Veterans Allowance Act.

Earlier this week a discussion was held on another matter which has been long outstanding as far as a certain group of veterans are

1800 HOUSE OF

Supply-Veterans Affairs concerned, namely, granting clear titles to the old soldiers who took up land under the soldier settlement board. The debate on that subject was adjourned. I suggest that there would have been no need to adjourn the debate on that subject had it been possible to discuss it again before a suitable committee, because it had been discussed a couple of years ago.

Another point which is exercising the minds of many people who are closely connected with the returned men of this country is the necessity of stabilizing the pension. When there was a committee on veterans affairs that committee recommended to the government-and the recommendation was accepted -that the pensions of veterans of world war I should be stabilized after a period of three years. A great many organizations across the country feel that the time has now come when there should be a general stabilization of pensions of men who' have even served during world war II, and who have been drawing a pension for a certain period of time, let us say three years. After three years, and when it is obvious that their medical condition is not likely to improve, that pension should be stabilized, and they should be given the secure knowledge that they will be able to draw a certain rate of pension for the rest of their lives because of the war disability that they have received. The man who has been wounded, or whose health has been seriously impaired by active service, feels that although he perhaps may be able partially or at times temporarily to regain a measure of his health, yet there is still the aggravation of that wound or that sickness which is a handicap to him, and that as a recompense for all that he has gone through, and to make up for that haunting fear that at some time the old trouble may recur, he should be entitled to whatever classification of pension was given to him, after a reasonable time has elapsed, and after there has been a period of fixed and steady pension income accruing to him. Therefore I say that that is one of the problems which must be facing the administration today; and I am sure that representations have been made to the minister in the same way as they have been made to me and to other hon. members that the time has come when that matter might well be given consideration.

Earlier in this session-to be precise, on March 13-the minister announced that there had been a change in the regulations affecting the hospitalization of ex-servicemen who

[Mr. Pearkes.l

under the provisions at that time were nor eligible for hospitalization. The words of the minister will be found on page 681 of Hansard of March 13 of this year. He said:

This regulation permits this department to give hospitalization and .treatment to veterans who are ineligible under present regulations, but who are covered as to hospital costs by private or provincial government insurance plans; or who, though not insured, have the means to pay for the treatment for which they may apply at D.V.A. hospitals.

After the minister had made his announcement I was permitted to ask him a question. I asked whether it was the intention that those who are now to have the advantage of hospitalization in the D.V.A. hospitals under this new regulation would be expected to pay their full amount. The minister replied in this way:

As I indicated in my statement, many of the matters related to the question just asked-

And that was in connection with the second part of my question which dealt with the relation of the patient going into the D.V.A. hospital with such provincial hospital scheme as there might be.

-are now being worked out. To answer the hon. member's second question first, under this regulation only those veterans will be accepted who pay the full amount which will be set for that particular hospital.

I cannot help feeling that had more consideration been given to this change in the regulations we should have seen something of a rather different nature. Here we are giving those veterans who have the ability to pay the opportunity of entering D.V.A. hospitals. The question which will have to be decided, as to whether a man who is not eligible under present regulations is to be admitted into a veterans' hospital, is: Will he be able to pay the full amount? I do not believe that that is really the wish of the majority of the people of Canada. I believe there could have been worked out an alternative plan whereby the opportunity to go into our veterans' hospitals would have been given to those ex-servicemen who had not the ability to pay rather than to give it to those who have the ability to pay.

I know we have somehow or other to make both ends meet, I suppose, so far as hospitalization is concerned. 1 know men who are destitute can be admitted into these veterans^ hospitals under what is generally known as the class 5-A scheme. But a man has to be almost destitute to be admitted to a D.V.A. hospital under those conditions.

The conditions as to the requirements in assessing his eligibility to enter a D.V.A. hospital under this 5-A treatment plan are

that his liquid assets and his income have to be assessed. If a veteran has no dependents and has liquid assets not exceeding $250 he may be admitted to a D.V.A. hospital. But I ask you, Mr. Chairman, how long will liquid assets of, let us say, anything over $250 last? Are there not a great many people who will hesitate to take advantage of hospitalization in the fear that they dare not use up all their savings, all their liquid assets, in paying out hospital bills? They would rather suffer at home than go into a hospital where they have to spend their savings to the extent of $250.

If a man has dependent children he is allowed $400 in liquid assets. But, with more than that, he does not become eligible for the class 5 treatment. Then, so far as income is concerned over and above these liquid assets, he is eligible if he has an income of less than $500 a year. If he has an income of more than $500 a year certain deductions are made and certain other restrictions imposed. If his income is between $500 and $900 the cost of the treatment he expects to receive in the veterans' hospital must be at least 5 per cent of his income before he is admitted. And if as a single man his income is over $900 and less than $1,200 his treatment must be assessed at at least 10 per cent of his income.

Surely a scheme could have been devised in which the authorities would have made that hospital accommodation in D.V.A. hospitals available to a larger group of veterans who really cannot afford to pay the full amount of hospitalization, by making an extension of those regulations I have just read out, and making those conditions more flexible by raising what might be called the means test which is required of a veteran before he is eligible for the class 5 treatment.

Then, there are many men in this country who are drawing 100 per cent disability pensions. Those men are not eligible to enter a D.V.A. hospital unless their illness, sickness or the accident they may have suffered can be attributed directly to the disability as a result of which they are drawing pension. Might it not have been more generous if the 100 per cent pensioner were permitted to occupy available space in a D.V.A. hospital, whether or not he was able to pay in full the usual charges of that hospital?

I feel that had more consideration been given before this regulation was drawn up, if there had been an opportunity for members of the House of Commons to discuss the matter with representatives of the government, with departmental officials and with representatives of veterans' organizations, a scheme

Supply-Veterans Affairs would have been prepared which would have helped the veteran who is not in a position to pay, rather than give advantage to the veteran who is in a position to pay the full amount of his hospitalization.

I know that I shall be told that the cost of hospitalization in a veterans' hospital compares favourably with the cost in any other hospital, but we know that the cost of hospitalization, whether it be a D.V.A. hospital or a civilian hospital, is quite expensive. Figures were given last year showing that the daily charge for a ward bed in a D.V.A. hospital was $9.75, which included medical attention. It will be seen that these charges compare favourably with those of civilian hospitals, but I point out that $9.75 a day is a mighty large sum of money for a man to pay out who has liquid assets of only $250 and whose yearly income is only $500. Had there been an opportunity to discuss tins matter I think a different solution might have been worked out.

Another matter I wish to refer to is the general policy with regard to the issue of medals for service in the last war. General dissatisfaction has been expressed because men who were entitled to receive service medals find that their names have not been inscribed on the medals. The medals issued after world war I gave the man's name and his regimental number on the edge of the medal, but in this war the medals have been issued without any name whatever and they can be pawned off and passed around without a man being able to say, "This is the medal I earned."

There is another point of grievous concern to a unit in which a large number of men from my constituency served and to other units across the country. Those gallant men who served in the magnificent raid upon Dieppe in 1942, a raid which startled the world and provided such valuable lessons for the invasions to follow in later years in Africa and Europe, have been denied the privilege of wearing the Northwest European Star. Service medals are awarded after consultation between the various governments of the commonwealth. The only government that was really concerned with the welfare of the men who served at Dieppe was the Canadian government. There were no other commonwealth troops in that action except the men of the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force and two commandos from the British army.

Surely the Canadian government might have realized what the Northwest European Star would have meant to those men. Many

Supply-Veterans Affairs of them were taken prisoners of war and had no opportunity to gain medals in other campaigns. If any troops served in northwest Europe, they did. If any troops were entitled to that medal, they were. I cannot help feeling that there was laxity on the part of the government in not seeing that those men who fought in such a magnificent action, an action which contributed so much to the success of the campaigns that were to follow, were awarded that medal.

I have only one other point with which I should like to deal. Earlier in my speech I started to refer to the necessity of being as economical as possible. I wonder whether the money spent on the monthly publication Veterans' Affairs is really worth while and whether that publication is appreciated by all those who receive it. I am wondering whether the $20,000 or $30,000 required for its publication could not be spent to better advantage. I know that many copies are sent to hospitals where perhaps they are appreciated, but there are many other copies that perhaps are not appreciated.

The publication contains a certain amount of information regarding the department, but I feel it is of questionable general advantage. I am not prepared to say that it is of no advantage, I am not prepared to say that it is not appreciated, but I think the expense of its publication is well worth investigating. I have mentioned $20,000 or $30,000, but I imagine the exact amount will be brought out in the discussion of the estimates. The details are given in this book and1 I presume the amount mentioned is largely spent on that particular publication.

To sum up, because there are these and many other problems which I have not the time this evening to go into, I say once again that we need a committee to examine all matters having to do with veterans' affairs, to examine the estimates and the general policy. It would make available the cumulative advice and experience of hon. members of this house who could meet and express the wishes of the people of this country to deal as fairly and as generously as possible with the ex-servicemen of this land.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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LIB

Donald Ferguson Brown

Liberal

Mr. Brown (Essex West):

Mr. Speaker, during the few minutes at my disposal I should like to make a plea to the minister and to the government on behalf of a group of veterans in my constituency as well as in various constituencies across Canada. I refer to the prisoners of war in the European theatre. These men who served

[Mr. Pearkes.l

so gallantly in that theatre of war have now come back into civilian life to a large extent and have taken their part in a dignified and important manner. The commanding officer of the Essex Scottish regiment at the present time is Lieutenant Colonel Walter Macgregor, who served with distinction at Dieppe, and who for many months was a prisoner of war. Mr. Frank Walton, the newly elected president of the junior chamber of commerce in my constituency, is another who served with distinction in the armed forces and who is now taking his place in civilian affairs.

These prisoners of war in Germany were subjected to great indignities. I am informed that the enemy did not comply with the Geneva agreement with respect to many of the laws and rules of warfare concerning the treatment of prisoners. The men suffered insults of mind and of body and also great humiliation. They were unlawfully confined on numerous occasions. Their restraint and shackling is now history and we hope such practices will never reappear. They were deprived of adequate food, shelter, accommodation, clothing and various other amenities of life while prisoners of war. The result was that many of these veterans suffered great physical difficulties which have continued up to the present time, and in all probability will remain with them for many years to come.

I understand that members of the armed forces of the United States who served in this theatre of war and who became prisoners of war have been allotted certain compensation out of reparations due from the Germans, and also that there was certain compensation given by Canada to veterans who served at Hong Kong. I have received two resolutions which have been forwarded to the minister. One is from the Essex Scottish regimental association at Windsor and in brief it petitions the government as follows:

Now therefore be it resolved that the government of Canada be respectfully requested to award to each of the said Canadian prisoners of war held by the German government, by way of reparation and partial compensation, a sum of money calculated on the basis of $1 a day for each day of confinement, on which the German government failed to furnish the quantity or quality of food or supplies, heat or accommodation required by the terms of the Geneva convention, or on which it subjected the said prisoners of war to other unlawful treatment as aforesaid.

I understand this petition has been forwarded to the Minister of Veterans Affairs representing the government and has also been supported by a further petition from the largest automotive labour union, I believe,

in the Dominion of Canada, local 200 UAW-CIO. This union goes on record as supporting the veterans of the Essex Scottish regimental association as follows:

Be it resolved that we of organized labour request the Canadian government to pay all prisoners of war (world war II) $1 as provided in the Geneva agreement.

May I, Mr. Chairman, add my support to the plea not only of the regimental association but also of organized labour and request that every consideration be given by the government to the granting of this compensation. We realize that probably the Canadian veteran has been treated as well as or maybe better than most other veterans throughout

Supply-Veterans Affairs the world. Nevertheless there is no compensation in dollars or in goods that we can give to these veterans which will adequately pay them for their services, or which will adequately exonerate us from the great debt that we owe them.

Item stands.

Progress reported.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

LIB

Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Fournier (Hull):

Mr. Speaker, on

Monday we will resume the debate on the budget.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. 1805



Monday, April 24, 1950


April 21, 1950