To ascertain whether or not this fund will be self-sustaining ?
I cannot say that we have made a calculation, but I understand that last year when a similar Bill was introduced in regard to the militia, such calculations were made, and it was supposed that the fund would be about self-sustaining, but I am not sure but that we may have to contribute a sum, but if we have to contribute anything it will not be a very large sum.
On section 5,
That clause, I think, should be very well considered, because a case might arise where an officer in the discharge of his duty, who had served three months, or three days of the time when he would be entitled to a pension, might be seriously wounded and incapacitated for further duty, and under this clause he would be compulsorily retired without pension and be obliged to take a very small gratuity. 1 think that clause certainly ought to be modified to some extent. It might work a very great injustice to men from time to time who are injured in the discharge of their duty.
I see the point of the objection of the hon. member for West Toronto (Mr. Osier) and it is not without being entitled to some consideration, but the hon. gentleman will realize at once that it cannot apply as an objection to this Bill. This Bill provides that no man shall be entitled to a pension unless he has been a contributor to the fund which is created for the purpose, for a certain number of years. It is expected that he will contribute to that fund for twenty years, that a fund will be created out of which his pension and those of his comrades will be paid, and that the fund will be self-sustaining. If we adopt the principle that a man without paying anything at all, is entitled to compensation,'that is a fair proposition to consider, but it cannot be considered in connection with this Bill. It would be beyond the principle that we have in view, bearing in mind that the principle of this Bill is the creation of a fund out of which this pension shall be paid. There is, however, a great deal to be said in favour of the
suggestion which has been made by the hon. member for West Toronto. Here is a man who has been for one or two years in the service, and he has contributed very little to the fund ; but, he has the misfortune to be disabled. Then, the hon. member for West Toronto' says, he ought to have a pension. I am not prepared to say that he should not have, and I think the country ought to be rich enough to provide for him. I am sorry to say I have a case for my consideration of a constable who lost his right arm in the discharge of his duty, and a very good man he was. He was disabled, and all we can give is a very small pension of a little more than $100 a year under the provisions of the Act we have. I would like very much if the law permitted me to give him a larger pension, but I am afraid the only way to deal with the case is to come to parliament and ask for an appropriation.
I am not referring so much to an officer who has served one or two years, because his case is a hard one, and I agree that it should be dealt with separately, but I am referring to an officer who has almost or nearly served his full time, when he has been disabled, and when perhaps one or two years of further service would have entitled him to the full pension. Would it not be possible to provide under such circumstances that he might continue to pay his percentage to the pension fund so that he would be entitled to l.is pension ?
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).
If the right hon. gentleman (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier) will look at the preceding clause he will see that his answer to the hon. member for Toronto (Mr. Osier) is not an adequate one at all. The previous clause provides that in case an officer becomes entitled to a pension by reason of having been employed in tlie Civil Service for a certain period, or by reason of having been a non-commissioned officer or constable, from his pension shall be deducted 5 per cent for the necessary number of years. What is the objection to making exactly the same provisions with regard to this ? Suppose an officer is injured in tlie discharge of his duties, after having served fifteen years, he would be entitled to no pension under the Act as it stands. Why not say, that such a man shall be entitled to a pension but that for the first five years you will make a deduction from his pension, equivalent to the amount he would have paid had he served for the balance of the twenty years ? It seems to me that it is not only perfectly feasible but perfectly fair.
The point is not new to me, for I have discussed it with the officers of the department. The difficulty is to draw the line. My hon. friend speaks of a period of fifteen years, but if the man has served for ten years or twelve Sir WILFRID LAURIER.
years he ought to be entitled to a pension on the same reasoning. In the previous Superannuation Act there was a provision under which an officer became entitled to a pension after twenty-five years. That was reduced to twenty years, and now my hon. friend (Mr. Borden, Halifax) suggests it should be fifteen years. The difficulty is to draw the line. I feel great sympathy with the idea presented by my hon. friend (Mr. Borden, Halifax) and I wish it could be worked out in some way. We have fixed the limit at twenty years and there would be great difficulty in departing from it.
In reference to what the leader of the opposition has said, I may say that when we introduced the Militia Pension Bill last year, of which this Bill is a copy, we carefully considered the matter and I felt as he does that twenty years seemed to be a long term. However, we decided that twenty years was a safe period to fix, and that in any case short of that, it should be a subject of special consideration in parliament. The clause under discussion is framed in the interest of the officer, by which if he desires it he may leave the service and get back the money which he has paid in. I may say to my hon. friend from Toronto (Mr. Clarke) that it does not follow that an officer who is seriously wounded shall for that reason leave the service, because it is quite possible that he may continue to serve out his whole twenty years and get his pension. .
The clause has reference to an officer who is constrained to leave because of bodily injury.
It does not say he must leave. If the government wishes him to leave in the interest of the service, then a special arrangement could be made. This clause is in the interest of the officer to enable him if he so chooses, to take the initiative and get his money back.
If that is the intention the clause should be made clearer.
What is the practice in the Imperial service ? If an officer has been incapacitated after two or three years service does he get a pension ?
I think the practice is that in such cases a special pension is arranged. However, the Imperial Pension Act differs materially from this.
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).
I do not exactly see why you should select a period of
twenty years any more than a period of ten years. Suppose one of these men in the suppression of an Insurrection loses an arm or a leg and cannot thereafter perform his duty as an officer ; then if he has served only five years or ten years or fifteen years he gets no pension at all. The committee is handicapped by having no precise statement as to what this is going to cost the country under the present conditions. Unless it' would impose a very excessive burden on the country I would be inclined to go the length of saying that any man who is constrained to leave the service by reason of injuries received in the discharge of his duties ought to have a pension-subject, it may be, to the payment of five per cent of his average pajr for the remainder of the time which is necessary to make up the twenty years. Some scheme of that kind would be fair. I regret that my right hon. friend has not seen fit to have some actuarial calculation made as to what that would cost. I hesitate to move an amendment in that direction in the absence of precise information as to what it would cost the country. Had I that information I might move to amend the Bill. Perhaps the right hon. gentleman would give us more time for consideration.
There is no objection to allow that section to stand.
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).
I think the right hon. gentleman recognizes with me that there is ground for consideration.
I see the point.
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax), The right hon. gentleman says that if you fix any period whatever, you will have a man coming within a few months of it, and that a difficulty would arise in that case. I would be inclined to take the bull by the horns, and to say, that if a man is injured in the discharge of his duties he would be entitled to a pension ; the government deducting from his pension 5 per cent for each year until the period of twenty years is made up. I would be inclined to do that, assuming that it would not impose too serious a burden on the country, and as to that I am not in a position to judge at present.
When the Militia Pension Bill was introduced last year, a very careful statement was made by the Finance Department which went to show that taking our previous provision, which was that an officer retiring should receive one-tenth of his pay as a gratuity for every year he had served ; taking that as a basis, and 5 per cent for twenty years, it was calculated that there would be no charge really on the country, in other words that the Militia Pension Bill was costing the country no more than the previous system of gratuity.
If there has been no system of gratuity in the mounted police, it is clear from the statement which I refer to, that the expense of this Bill to the country would be equal to one-tenth of the pay of each officer for each year he has served