Mr. H. C. GREEN (Vancouver South):
There is very little that I can add to the discussion on this resolution, but there is one material feature which should be brought out, and that is the efficiency with which work for the blind has been carried on in Canada during the last ten or fifteen years, perhaps longer. That is a material point, because the leaders of the blind come before this parliament to-day as a group who have done efficient
Pensions for the Blind
work. I suggest that these men have done all that could possibly be done, and they are now up against a blank wall.
I should like for a minute or two to deal with the work of some of these men. It has been my privilege to see some of them at work. First I should like to mention Captain Baker. Captain Baker lost his sight during the war. He was a promising young engineer, a graduate of Toronto university, decorated for gallantry in the field, and one night he was shot across both eyes and blinded. From that time to the present his life has been an epic of courage and initiative, a life that in times to come I think will be looked back upon by the Canadian people as outstanding in his generation. Captain Baker, like most of the blinded soldiers, was trained at St. Dunstan's in England. When he came back to Canada he took charge of work for blinded soldiers; then he took over work for all the blind in Canada. He is now managing director of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, and probably one of the leading younger executives in Canada to-day.
Captain Baker has been able to draw around him several other leading young men, for instance, Mr. Harris Turner, who although blinded overseas was at one time leader of His Majesty's loyal opposition in Saskatchewan; also there is Mr. Myers, and we have in Vancouver M. C. Robinson, superintendent of the western division of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. Mr. Robinson was blinded overseas at the age of nineteen, and his work and experience have almost duplicated that of Captain Baker. Then we have Joe Clunk, placement officer of the institute, an American, a qualified solicitor doing wonderful work; and we have the work of the Layton family in Montreal.
I refer to these men for this reason, that in all their work their main idea has been to help to make the blind people independent, make them feel that they are taking their share in the life of the nation. In addition they have tried to raise the morale of the blind. As many hon. members know, blind people easily become discouraged, and it is no wonder they do. These leaders of the blind have started social clubs; for instance in Vancouver we have a club known as the Nil Desperandum club, which might be interpreted as the Never Say Die club. By such means the morale of the blind has been greatly improved. Despite this able leadership and good work there is a class of blind people for whom little can be done, and they are the ones for whom we are asking help to-day, the blind over forty years of age. These older blind folks are in many cases not active enough to work for wages; the
majority of them have not the initiative to run concession stands, or carry on a business of their own and are really unemployable; they are just stranded, and I would suggest that the government could very well extend the provisions of the Old Age Pensions Act to cover these people.
The Old Age Pensions Act is particularly suitable because under its provisions only those blind people who are not earning a certain income would get assistance, and it would throw a portion of the burden on the provinces, which, while perhaps not so good for the provinces, would -ensure their checking very carefully every application for a pension.
I personally am convinced that if we in the parliament of Canada adopt this resolution we shall be expressing the sympathetic feeling of Canadians generally for the blind and carrying out the wish of an overwhelming majority of the people of our nation.
Topic: PENSIONS FOR THE BLIND
Subtopic: PROPOSED EXTENSION OF BENEFITS OF OLD AGE