November 30, 1951

LIB

Hugues Lapointe (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Lapointe:

It is better than that anywhere else in the world.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

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

Mr. Wright:

The minister says that it is better than that anywhere else in the world. That may be so, but still I do not think it is as good as we could make it here in Canada. If there is one thing we should do, it is to see that every child of every veteran has the opportunity to receive in this country the maximum of education that he is able to use. We have a good educational system in this country, and I think that the opportunity for education should be given to the children of our veterans just as fully as it is possible for us to give it.

I should like to compliment the government on bringing in the legislation at this session. As I said before, I think the credit for its being brought in can largely be given to the war veterans organizations who so ably presented their case to the government on this matter.

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LIB
PC
LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. Cruickshank:

Yes, we consider it as more than half a loaf, as the hon. member for Royal (Mr. Brooks) has pointed out. Not being one of those who want to claim credit for anything, I will just say that I assisted in getting two-thirds of the loaf on behalf of the veteran.

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PC
LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. Cruickshank:

But through you, Mr. Speaker, I would say that the government have announced their policy. We voted on it. An amendment was moved by the hon. member for Acadia (Mr. Quelch). Before I came back here to Ottawa I expressed my views to my branches of the Legion and to the organizations within my branch, and I was supported throughout, unless it was a straight vote of confidence. I believe that the government have intimated, through the statement of the minister, that at the first of the next session we will have a committee set up. That is a matter of record.

It has also been intimated, as I understand it, that the war veterans allowance revisions, whatever they may be, will be made retroactive to January 1. If the hon. member for Royal will check up on the matter as recorded in Hansard, I think he will find that I was the first one to suggest that as to any exemption from income tax or otherwise of $1,000 on any income, the recipient of war veterans allowance should be treated in exactly the same manner as is the recipient of income of any other kind. If the hon. member will check the record, I think he will find that that is what I said. I think he will also find that the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott), if he did not commit himself-although I think he did and I hope he did-at least intimated that he saw the matter in the same light, namely that a war veterans allowance recipient-and I think that was the argument the hon. member was bringing out a moment ago-should be treated in exactly the same way as any other income recipient. In order to expedite the matter, I personally am willing to give all credit even to the hon. member whom I think the most of in this house, with the exception of myself, namely the hon. member for Peel (Mr. Graydon) or to anybody for getting the legislation, as long as we get it on behalf of the veteran. Let us pass the bill as it is and get on with our legislation. I still believe that the government should bring down, during this session,

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legislation affecting recipients of the war veterans allowance. Mr. Speaker, through you I appeal to my good friend the hon. member for Royal and all the other hon. members. Let us try to do something for the veterans without trying in this connection-and I will try some other time-to do something for ourselves, and let us bring down this act immediately.

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PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

I think the hon. member might explain his last statement. I do not know what he means by "doing something for ourselves". I certainly have not tried to do anything for myself, and I am sure the hon. member does not mean to imply that.

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. Cruickshank:

Mr. Speaker, on previous occasions I think I made myself clear as to the respect and admiration I have for the work the hon. member for Royal has done on behalf of the veterans. I think I showed my consideration in voting for a certain amendment moved by him. I think the hon. member will agree with that statement. Let him be just as fair with me.

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PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

I am not criticizing the hon. member at all. I just do not want any misunderstanding about what he means.

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. Cruickshank:

I say to the hon. member: Just be as fair to me. I now suggest that, as far as veterans are concerned, all of us forget partisan politics and put this bill through as is.

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PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

Mr. Speaker, I want to object to that last statement. If the hon. member is implying that I have introduced partisan politics into this debate, I think he should withdraw that statement because I have never, in any of my remarks, introduced or tried to introduce partisan politics. I am sure that the hon. member does not mean that, or else that he is grossly mistaken about it.

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. Cruickshank:

I have not the time to look up Hansard now but, if I remember correctly, the other day the hon. member for Royal implied that the members of the veterans affairs committee on this side of the house were not in favour of bringing down the increase across the board at the last session. I have not the time in which to verify myself through Hansard, but I think he modified his statement by saying "with the exception of the hon. member for Fraser Valley." If he will check up on the matter, I think he will find that at that time I stated that at no time had I ever been instructed how to vote, and nobody is going to instruct me in this house.

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PC
LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. Cruickshank:

I have never been asked or instructed to vote otherwise than according to my convictions. If the hon. member wanted to be fair in speaking about partisan politics, he should recall that I pointed out that I, at least, used my own judgment and I presumed other hon. members did too. 1 do appeal to the hon. member for Royal to let us forget partisan politics in so far as veterans affairs are concerned. I am not accusing him, either now or at any time, of adopting partisan politics. I am merely suggesting that we all, including myself, forget partisan politics and put this bill through in the next two minutes.

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SC

Robert Fair

Social Credit

Mr. Robert Fair (Battle River):

The hon.

member who has just spoken has already made three speeches, yet he wants to have this bill put through in the next two minutes; that would not be fair. As the only member in the house who can be Fair to everybody, I want to say a few words. Bill No. 27 is one piece of legislation which need not take up much time of the house. I have personally expressed my gratitude to the Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Lapointe), but I want to take advantage of this occasion to express my appreciation to the minister and the government for introducing this bill. When the speech from the throne was read, many of us did not expect this legislation would be introduced this session. I am glad that the veterans organizations, as well as the veterans in this house, have been insistent enough in their demands to have the government bring down this legislation. I feel that they realize this legislation was necessary, and I hope that before the end of the session another piece of legislation which many of us have advocated on other occasions will also be brought down. I am not mentioning any names, but the minister knows quite well to what I am referring. Then he will make the members of the house, and those to whom I refer, very happy at Christmas.

As I have stated on former occasions, we shall have many cold, stormy days before the committee which has been promised us for next session will have an opportunity of dealing with this matter. The question of dependent parents has been raised, and I do not see any provision in the legislation for dealing with that. Before this bill is finally passed I should like to have the minister introduce something which would take care of those people. In many cases, these servicemen have been the sole means of keeping their parents on a decent standard of living. Since they have given everything on the battlefield, I feel it is our duty now to see that their parents are properly cared for.

If there are in the act any weak spots which prevent the pension commission from doing the job as they would like to do it, I would suggest that those weak spots be remedied. Personally, I cannot pick out those weak spots now, but if they should show up then I hope no time will be lost in having those deficiencies repaired, so that the pension commission can give justice to those people in Canada who are entitled to it. Once again I shall ask the Minister of Veterans Affairs to give consideration to that other little group about whom I have spoken.

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PC

George Harris Hees

Progressive Conservative

Mr. George H. Hees (Broadview):

I should like to associate myself with the remarks made by the hon. members for Royal (Mr. Brooks) and Melfort (Mr. Wright), both of whom spoke on behalf of the dependent mothers and fathers of those who were killed in battle. I believe that these dependent parents are faced with the same rise in the cost of living as disabled war veterans and war veterans widows. I believe that their case is just as deserving of consideration. I should like to appeal to the government to have the pensions of these dependent mothers and fathers increased by the same percentage as the other pensions dealt with in this bill.

On this occasion I should like also to appeal again on behalf of those who receive war veterans allowance. I believe that theirs is a very deserving case, and should be dealt with at this session. If it is not dealt with until the next session, I earnestly request the government to make .sure that whatever is done for those pensioners is made retroactive to January. I hope that whatever is done for them will be as generous as the provisions contained in this bill.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Clarence Gillis (Cape Breton South):

am not going to repeat anything that has been said already concerning the principle of this bill. 1 have said about everything I can say, and I believe every other hon. member has too, when speaking on the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Acadia (Mr. Quelch). I should like to make two points in connection with the Pension Act itself.

The older members of the veterans affairs committee will recall that up to about 1942 the Pension Act contained a provision whereby it was necessary to go back into the family history of an applicant for pension to determine his eligibility. Often the pension was refused on the ground that the disability suffered was of congenital origin. Previous to entering the service, his grandfather had handed him this particular weakness. The question of congenital origin was a bone of contention over the years. About 1941 or 1942 when the act was opened to take in world

war II veterans, this provision was discussed at some length. It was decided then to remove from the act the provision concerning congenital disability.

While the wording of that particular formula was removed from the act, my impression is that the results of it are still being felt. Now instead of refusing a pension upon the ground that the disability was of congenital origin, it is termed a pre-enlistment disability. I think there is a large number of cases across this country where a man came back from the service and then broke down. Many of them are psychopathic cases. They are ruled ineligible for pension on the ground that the break-down was of pre-enlistment origin. I believe it is necessary for the commission and its advisers to sit down and take a serious look at that particular situation. We must remember, too, the figures that were put on the record of this house which show that 25 per cent of the men discharged from the service for medical reasons were those who were considered to have psychopathic disabilities-in other words, nervous break-downs. I do not think we are being fair when we refuse a pension to that type of case, and for this reason. If a boy is taken into the service he is examined by the medical men who attempt to discover, in so far as it is possible, whether or not that boy is fit for service. There are hundreds of men taken into military service who never should have been taken into the service. If they had not been taken into the service and subjected to the rigours of war they would have remained at home in civilian occupations and perhaps led a normal life. They were never constitutionally suited to engage in the kind of combat that one goes through today, such as Korea, Italy and other places where we have recently been engaged in a war.

I know that I receive many cases and many hon. members receive them as well. The point I want to make, for the benefit of the commission, is that I do not think a person who is affected by the decision that his disability is of pre-enlistment origin is getting the benefit of the doubt established by the act. I say that because much of the evidence I have read, where pension was refused, showed, in my judgment, that they were borderline cases. In some instances the summary of the evidence actually stated that the disability was of indefinite origin. There certainly was a doubt there, but in the few cases that I have read the benefit of the doubt was not given to the applicant.

I believe that a section of the commission at least should be set up to examine the number of cases of that type that exist, or that are in the process of having a decision made, or 9469S-95

Pension Act

that have been refused, and to ascertain whether a more practical approach to the problem can be made. Whether a man is shot with a bullet or comes back with a nervous break-down, or has some other disability arising from a weakness that he may have had before being taken into the service, it must certainly be considered as a war disability, because if he had not gone in and been subjected to the type of thing he had to go through there is a possibility that that disability would never have appeared. I myself believe that in cases of that kind the examinations that the man received on going into the service were not adequate. If it can be ascertained after four years of service that a man had some weakness that brought on the disability because of his service, then it must have been known before he went in; otherwise some other decision would have been made.

Anyone who is watching enlistments today, and the large numbers that are being routed back out of the service after two or three months, can certainly form no other conclusion than that there is something wrong with the type of examination that the service personnel are getting when they go into the service today. The minister shakes his head. Well, I am going to give my own experience.

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LIB

Hugues Lapointe (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Lapointe:

I did not shake my head. I said it was not the responsibility of veterans affairs, under which this bill comes.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Gillis:

This bill has to do with disability pensions. I am talking about the establishment of a pension under this bill. I am talking about the boy who is taken into the service, and who is a potential pensioner. If he is not the kind of person, or if he has not a constitution that can stand up to service, but breaks down, then he should not have gone into the service. That is the root cause of a large number of cases that cannot be related to service. They break down for some other reason than being hit by a shell. You have to start at the root cause of that type of thing, and the root cause is taking into the service young men who have not the constitution to stand up to military service.

I said there was something wrong with the type of examination they were getting. We have been in this Korean thing only a short time, a year or so, but I am amazed at the large number of boys who come to me when I am home or write to me when I am here and say: "I was in the service for two or three months. When I went into the service I was declared fit, and I am out of the service now after two months, and I am declared medically unfit." That boy thinks he is entitled to a pension because if a doctor certified him fit three months ago, and another

Pension Act

doctor certified that he was unfit three months later, something must have happened to him, he thinks, in between.

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November 30, 1951