Mr. P. E. Wright (Melfori):
Mr. Speaker, I should like to say a few words before the bill passes. All hon. members are pleased to have had this measure introduced at the present session.
I should like to pay a compliment to the veterans organizations in Canada, including the Canadian Legion, who presented their case so well to the public, to members of the House of Commons and to the government. I am sure it is largely because of the very able way in which they presented their case that we have this legislation at the present session, and in the form in which we now see it
Those veterans organizations did an excellent job for the returned men. As a returned man, I am sure other returned men in the house will join with me when I say that every returned man should belong to a veterans organization. They have demonstrated that they can do a good job in presenting the case for their members. They have done so in this case, and I believe returned men should give those organizations their wholehearted support, by joining them and assisting in future presentations to be made on behalf of all veterans.
In 1948, at the time of the last increase in the pension, hon. members from this group thought that the pension payments should be attached to the cost of living index. We felt that when price controls in Canada were taken off we would have an increase in the cost of living index, and that veterans pensions should be governed by that increase. As a matter of fact in the veterans committee of that time we moved an amendment which, in effect, would have given one dollar of increase per month for each point of rise in the cost of living index. That amendment went to a vote, and that amendment was defeated by the deciding vote of the chairman of that committee. Had the amendment been accepted the veteran would have been in an even better position today than he will find himself with the increased pension set out in the present measure.
However, all hon. members are pleased to note the introduction of this measure. It has not gone as far as some of us would have liked. The hon. member for Royal (Mr. Brooks) referred to two groups, those receiving compassionate pensions, and the dependents of deceased veterans. With the hon. member for Royal, I feel the minister should give us a statement as to what is going to take place with regard to the pensioners in these groups.
We have the assurance of the government that at the next session of parliament war veterans allowances will be considered, that the case of those receiving war veterans allowances will be placed before a veterans committee, and that they will be given the same sympathetic consideration as was given to the pensioners affected by this measure. We hope the government will announce either that these groups will be taken care of at this session, or at least that their case will be presented to the war veterans committee at the next session.
There is also the matter of further increases in children's allowances. There is a very small increase in the present measure. Some will argue that because of the general payment of children's allowances in Canada, it
was not necessary to increase the children's allowance under the present legislation. However, I would point out that in many cases, especially where the soldier did not return to Canada or where he has returned to Canada and is in hospital under treatment or is incapacitated, he is not in the same position to take care of his children as are some of us who were more fortunate. I think that the government should be liberal especially in their dealing with the children of war veterans. I have felt for a long time that that is one thing we have failed in with respect to our veterans legislation namely in making better educational provision for war veterans' children.