Mr. A. J. Brooks (Royal):
I should like to make a few remarks. Bill 27 is a short bill consisting of two sections. Of course the important part is the schedule. I think there is general approval among all members of the main principles of the measure. We took one objection the other day with reference to the date. I am sure we would have liked to have the payments made retroactive. However, we realize that an amendment to that effect cannot be submitted as it would mean an expenditure of money, and naturally would be declared out of order. There is also the question of pensioners receiving a pension under section 21 of the act. Under section 21 a compassionate pension is paid under certain conditions. I do not think this section is too widely known, and I think that I might read it.
Section 21 (1) of the Pension Act is as follows:
The commission may, on special application in that behalf, grant a compassionate pension, allowance or supplementary award in any case which it considers to be specially meritorious, but in which the commission has decided that the applicant is otherwise unqualified to receive such an award or supplementary award under this act.
And then subsection 2 dealing with amount says:
The amount of any compassionate pension, allowance or supplementary award granted under this section shall be such sum as the commission shall fix, but not exceeding the amount to which the applicant would have been entitled if his entire claim to payment had been upheld.
Our contention is that pensioners receiving pensions under that section should not receive the same consideration as those who come under the general Pension Act. We realize, of course, that the pension to which I am referring is granted by the authority of the commission. However, my understanding is that when in 1948 there was an increase in the pension we had an assurance from the then minister that these people would receive the same treatment as other pensioners. When the minister discusses the matter I would ask if we might not receive the same assurance from him.
In addition to this group, there is another that I feel should receive consideration. I refer to dependent parents. I believe they receive their pensions through the commission, under section 33 (2) of the act. I would
ask the minister also to consider these dependent pensioners, and we would ask comment from him as to whether assurance cannot be given to them as well.
With reference to those receiving pensions under section 21 I would point out that those pensions are received on account of specially meritorious service. Their cases are usually reviewed with great care. It is found that they are soldiers who have given special service in the field of battle. Anyone who has been connected with pensions must know that, while possibly 90 or 95 per cent of our pensioners are undoubtedly deserving of their pensions, owing to the fact that, particularly in the first war, many got into the army although they were medically unfit, some became more or less of a burden on the army from the time they entered until they were discharged. I know of these cases, many of whom received not only a part but a full pension. If they are to receive this increase in pension, then it does seem to me that every consideration should be given to the man who has rendered meritorious service.
I would refer also to the case of the small pensioner who receives an allowance. I feel that the increase in the pension to the pensioner who receives an allowance should not be considered as income. In 1948, when an increase in pension was given to our veterans, this increased pension was not considered as income. Section 18 (3) of the amendment to the Pension Act in 1948 states:
An increase in pension paid to any person by virtue of this section in respect of any period prior to the day on which this act receives royal assent shall not be included (a) as income for the purposes of the War Veterans Allowance Act, 1946.
If that section was put in the amendment in 1948, then I see no reason why the increase in pensions at this time should be considered as income. I say the same consideration should be given now as was given the war veterans in 1948.