May 18, 1916


Motion agreed to.


SOLDIERS' PENSIONS.

REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE.

CON

John Douglas Hazen (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. J. D. HAZEN (Minister of Marine and Fisheries) moved:

That the Report of the Special Committee appointed on the 14th day of March last, to consider and report upon the rates of pensions authorized, the establishment of a Pension Board and other matters relating thereto, presented to the House on the 10th day of May last, be received and that the rates of pensions, and the methods of procedure and administration therein recommended he commended to the consideration of the Government.

Topic:   SOLDIERS' PENSIONS.
Subtopic:   REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE.
Permalink
LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

Mr. Speaker, I have a good deal of doubt myself, with all deference, as to whether the House has the power to adopt the report, because it is committing Parliament and the Government to a very large expenditure of money. I would think that the report might be received and perhaps some mild expression of opinion given to the House. The proper way, it seems to pie, would be for the Government to bring the matter before the House on the recommendation of His Royal Highness the Governor General.

Topic:   SOLDIERS' PENSIONS.
Subtopic:   REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE.
Permalink
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

The provisions

of the British North America Act'and the rules of the House which bear on this question aTe, of course, very well known. I mentioned to some members of the committee when it was first organized that there might be difficulty in reporting to the House proposals to increase the scale of pensions. I have not been able to give much personal attention to the question, but it has been referred to the Law Glerk. My own idea with regard to it was that, in order to comply with the British North America Act, perhaps the best course would be merely to commend the proposals to the consideration of the Government. However,

a somewhat different form has been followed, and possibly it would not he objectionable. All difficulty would be removed, however, if we amended the motion to read, after the formal * part, " that the rates of pensions and the methods of procedure and administration therein recommended be commended to the consideration of the Government."

Topic:   SOLDIERS' PENSIONS.
Subtopic:   REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE.
Permalink
LIB
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

It might be

better perhaps to use the expression I had in mind in the first instance as one that woulld not be objectionable. It is desirable that we should do nothing in the House that would have the semblance of contravening any provision of the British North America Act. If the motion were passed in the form I have suggested, the objection of my hon friend and other possible objections of a like character would be met, and the motion would be equally effective so far as future action by the Government is concerned.

Topic:   SOLDIERS' PENSIONS.
Subtopic:   REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE.
Permalink
LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

I approve of my right hon. friend's suggestion. I think it is desirable that we should always observe very carefully the regulations of the British North America Act. If the change suggested by my right hon. friend is made, the same result would be attained.

Topic:   SOLDIERS' PENSIONS.
Subtopic:   REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE.
Permalink
CON

John Douglas Hazen (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAZEN:

I beg to move that the motion be altered to read: "Be commended to the consideration of the Government," Before the motion is carried, I think it is only proper that I should say a few words in regard to the report; and, as several matters of importance have to be considered within the short time remaining before prorogation, my remarks will be somewhat shorter than might otherwise have been desirable. The committee, which reported on the XOth instant, consisted of nine members representing both sides of the House, and the report which has been submitted to the House was signed by every member of that committee. The committee had the advantage of hearing the views of several gentlemen who were interested in this question-gentlemen connected with the Militia Department, representatives of some of the labour associations in the Country, gentlemen who have given special attention to matters of this kind, medical men, and gentlemen interested in vocational training; and, while the information obtained from these gentlemen was of great value, and while many of them went to a great deal of trouble in getting

valuable information placed before the committee, I think I may be pardoned for saying that the committee were very much indebted to a gentleman from the city olf Toronto, Mr. Frank Darling, for the information he gave us and for the active and intelligent interest he took in this question.

Passing briefly over the recommendations made, I may say that the committee dealt , solely with the question of pensions for soldiers who have enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces. The report does not deal in any way with the question of . pensions for the ordinary active militia or the permanent force in this country, but only for those who have enlisted for active service since the breaking out of the great European war. The committee were of opinion that the administration olf the pensions should be entrusted to a commission consisting of three members. The language of the report in that regard is as follows:

That three persons, to he known as the Board of Pension Commissioners, hereinafter called the commission, he appointed to hold office, during good behaviour, for ten years unless removed for cause, and to this commission be entrusted the consideration, determination and administration of all military and naval pensions.

The object Which every member of the committee had' in view was the establishment of a board that would be entirely removed from all considerations of a political character, and with that object in view they have provided that there shall be no appeal from t'he decision of the Board of Pension Commissioners, either to the Government or to anyone else. The only appeal that will be allowed is that of a soldier who is dissatisfied with the pension that has been awarded him in due course, on the documentary and other evidence that is produced in support of 'his claim, and that appeal will he heard by the full Pension Board; but from the decision of that board there shall be no appeal whatever. It is desired that there 'shall be a finality with regard to the board's decisions, and that no impression shall be allowed to get abroad in the country that a man's claim to a pension can be influenced in the slightest degree by pull ot influence of any kind. Every claim will be considered absolutely on its merits, and no one will have any influence whatever in the matter except the Board of Commissioners, who will 'adjudicate upon the claim. The language used in the report with regard to this Pension Board and the duration of

its term is the same as th$t used in regard to the appointment of the Railway Commission. They will " hold office, during good behaviour, for ten years, unless removed for cause," and to this commission will be entrusted the consideration, determination and administration of all military and naval pensions.

Topic:   SOLDIERS' PENSIONS.
Subtopic:   REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE.
Permalink
LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I understood my hon. friend to say that this scale' of pensions will apply only to those who have gone overseas and are at the front.

Topic:   SOLDIERS' PENSIONS.
Subtopic:   REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE.
Permalink
CON

John Douglas Hazen (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAZEN:

No. These rates will apply to all those who have enlisted in the Expeditionary Forces for active service. If a man, immediately after enlisting, goes to a camp and meets with an accident there that costs him his life, or disables him While in the discharge of his military duties, he or his family will be entitled to the pensions provided for here, just as much as if he had been injured overseas in the face of the enemy.

Topic:   SOLDIERS' PENSIONS.
Subtopic:   REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE.
Permalink
CON

Hugh Boulton Morphy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MORPHY:

What does my hon.

friend mean by the word " camp?"

Topic:   SOLDIERS' PENSIONS.
Subtopic:   REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE.
Permalink
CON

John Douglas Hazen (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAZEN:

I use the word in a general sense. These rates would apply to a man who had been injured while training, at Valcartier camp, for instance, or at any other military Qamp.

But perhaps I should make the matter a little clearer by saying that any man who, subsequent to enlistment, meets with an accident in the discharge of his duty is entitled to a pension just as much as if the accident he. met with was caused overseas on the battlefield in the face of the enemy.

The report goes on to say:

That the commission have full authority and responsibility to deal with and determine all matters pertaining to pensions, and from their decision there be no appeal; provision, however, should be made for any complainant so desiring to present his case, either personally or by counsel, before the full commission sitting for the purpose of hearing the complaints of those who may have been dissatisfied with awards given in the ordinary course of administration.

There is a provision authorizing the commission to engage such clerical and other assistance as may be considered by them requisite for the transaction of their duties, at such salaries as may be approved by the Governor in Council, and to make such rules and regulations as may be necessary to facilitate administration, such rules and regulations to be submitted for approval to the Governor in Council.

There is a rule that the pension awarded

to any member of the force, or any dependent of such member, should not be capable of being assigned, charged, attached, anticipated, or commuted. We are anxious that steps should be taken to ensure that no pension awarded to any soldier shall be used for any other purpose than that for which it was intended.

We had a great deal of discussion with Tegard to the rates of pensions. We had before us the old scale in force at the time that the war broke out, and we gave every possible consideration to it, having Tegard to the rates of pensions awarded in other countries, and having regard to the conditions that exist in the Dominion of Canada. The result is that we recommend a very substantial increase in the rates of pensions to those in lower ranks. From private up to lieutenant, we recommend what is a substantial increase in the pensions. From lieutenant on, we do not recommend any increase, with the exception of the rank of captain, where the increase is ten dollars, that increase 'being given for the purpose of convenience in the department in the working out of the pension scale. The committee were face to face with this condition of affairs, that over 300,000 men had enlisted under a certain pension scale, and, while it was perfectly right and proper and while no complaint could be made in regard to an increase in the pension scale, yet the committee felt that it would not be proper to reduce in any case the pension that had been in force at the time that such enlistment had been made. There was a very general feeling in the committee that in the existing scale there was too great a discrepancy between the pensions granted to those in the higher ranks of the service and those of the rank and file; and, had the Pension Committee been framing the scale in the first instance, my 'belief is that they would not have given to those who have commissions above the rank of lieutenant as high a rate as was given in the scale that we had before us. The fact, however, that over 300,000 men, of whom a percentage were officers, had enlisted with that scale in force, led us to the conclusion that, while there was no contractual relationship, yet it would be regarded as a hardship and an unfair thing for us to reduce any of the pensions that had been in force at the time that those enlistments had taken place. Therefore we left the pensions from the rank of lieutenant up generally as they were in the old scale. In some of the newspapers the criticism is

41.34

made that we are giving too low an amount to officers in the higher ranks. The reason I am giving for that must appeal to the sense of fair play and justice of any man who is familiar with the facts.

With regard, to the lower ranks, we found that the old scale of pensions was: For a private, $264 a year; for a sergeant, $336 a year; for a sergeant-major, $372 a year; for a master gunner, $430 a year; for a warrant officer, $480 a year; for a lieutenant, $480 a year; for a captain, $720 a year; for a major, $960 a year; for a lieutenant-colonel, $1,200 a year; for a colonel, $1,440 a year; and for a briga-dier^general, $2,100 a year. These are all if unmarried; if married, an addition was made-and I want to compare the old scale for married men with the scale that we recommend. On the scale as it existed on the first of August, 1914, a private, if married, received $396 a year. Under the scale we submit a private receives $480. Under -the old scale a sergeant received $504; under our scale he receives $510. Under the old scale, a sergeant-major received $612; under our scale he receives $620. Undpr the old scale a lieutenant received $702; under our scale he receives $720. We, however, draw no distinction between married and single men. We have not in any sense reduced the amount that is paid to the married soldier; we have increased the amount that is paid to the single soldier, bringing it up to the same rate as is paid to the married soldier. That subject caused a great deal of discusion in the committee; it was viewed and discussed from almost every standpoint, with the result that the committee, with the exception of one member, who had some doubts on the subject, were of the opinion thdt if a man was single he was entitled to just as large a pension as though he were married, for the reason that in many cases a single man when he came back from the war would marry, and there was no reason why he should not receive the same allowance as a man who was married at the time the war commenced. Further than that, there was a good deal of discussion as to the case of a man who had to be taken care of, and it was generally felt that a man who had a wife was likely to be better cared for than a' man who was single, and that the single man would be put to extra expense to have himself cared for. We made the condition that in the case of total disability, that is, in the case of a man totally unable to help himself, he could be allowed, in the

discretion of the Pensions Board, an extra sum of $250. That applied to both married and single men and to all ranks up to and including the rank of lieutenant. We felt that the amount of pension allowed to those above the rank of lieutenant was sufficient to enable them to get the necessary attendance without the extra amount of $250.

The committee further decided to recommend that those entitled to be awarded pensions should be divided into six classes, and that to each member of such class there should be awarded a pension in the direct proportion of his disability to total disability. The man who is totally disabled receives $480 a year, and if he is totally helpless, so far as attendance on his physical wants is concerned, the board may make, subject to annual review, a further grant not exceeding $250 a.year.

Total disability is regarded at 100 per cent. Of total disability, the matter will have to be worked out by the Pensions Board; the only examples would be these: loss of both eyes; loss of both hands, or all fingers and thumbs; incurable tuberculosis; loss of both legs at or above knee joint; insanity; permanent extreme leakage of valves of heart. Class 2 would be disability of 80 per cent and less than 100 per cent, and the pension -would be 80 per cent of that for total disability. The examples in class 2 are loss of one hand and one foot, loss of both feet, dislocation of leg at hip; and so on with class 3, class 4, class 5, and class 6. Class 6 is where the disability is under 20 per cent, a gratuity not exceeding $100 being given. An example of that would be where a man gets deafness in one ear or loses his index or other finger. In that case there would be a gratuity of $100, but no pension.

Then we provide for pensions for children. " A disabled member of such force, up to and including the rank of lieutenant, entitled to a pension in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd class, in addition to his personal pension, shall be entitled to draw $6 a month for each child; of the rank of captain, $7 a month for each child; of the rank of major, $8 a month for each child; of the rank of lieutenant colonel, colonel, or brigadier general, $10 a month for each child, a child to include a step-child in respect of which such member was in loco parentis"-in the place of a parent, whether his own child or not.

I wish to call the attention of the House to the provision that we make in regard to the widow. We provide that if a member

of such force has been killed or has died as the result of injuries received or disease contracted or aggravated while on active service, the widow until remarriage is entitled to the equivalent of the pension mentioned in class 2, and is also entitled to draw the allowance recommended for children. Upon her re-marriage her personal pension ceases, but she is entitled to draw a gratuity of an amount equal to one year's pension. If a man'who is a widower dies on active service as the result of injuries and leaves a child or children, the orphan children are entitled to receive $12 a month each.

Then, there is this very important provision: in the even of application being

made for a pension on behalf of a woman who has, without being married to a member of such force, lived with him as his wife, or on behalf of the child or children of any such man or woman, the commission is authorized to grant the customary pension for a wife or for a child or children upon being satisfied that the circumstances were such as to warrant the conclusion " that the woman 'had at the time of enlistment and for a reasonable time previously thereto been publicly represented as the wife of said member of such force, or if the commission is satisfied that justice would be done by the recognition of such woman, for the purpose of pension, as the wife of .such member. On the marriage of the woman her personal pension ceases, but she is entitled to draw a gratuity of an amount equivalent to one year's pension."

The committee is of opinion that in the case \?here a man and a woman have been living together as husband and wife without any marriage ceremony having been performed, the woman ought to be placed on.the same basis as in the case of actual marriage, and that the children should be provided for in the same way.

It is provided also that " no payment will be made on account of any child, if a boy over the age of .sixteen, or if a girl over the age of seventeen, unless owing to mental or physical infirmity the Child is incapable of earning a livelihood, in which case the pension may, if in the aiscretion of the commission it seems, best, be continued until the child is twenty-one."

I cannot in the time that is at my disposal go fully through this-report, but I wish to call attention to a provision the effect of which is that a widowed mother, step-mother, or grandmother wholly or

mainly dependent upon a member of such force who is killed or dies as the result of injuries received, or disease contracted, or aggravated while on active service, if such member was without dependent children and unmarried, or a widower, be entitled do a pension of class 3, provjded, however, that no such woman be entitled to more than one pension, and that on the marriage of the woman such pension do cease. There is also a provision that a father wholly or mainly dependent upon a son who is a member of .such force and who is killed or dies as a result of injuries received, or disease contracted, or aggravated, while on active service will be entitled to a pension * under similar circumstances.

In the case of a man who had served at the front, had been wounded, had come back and received his pension and subsequently died, no provision being made for his widow, we make provision for the widow in case of total disability or in case of total disability or in case of pension under the 80 per cent disability clause. In those cases the man would he unable, because of his wounds or infirmities, to make provision for his wife, and the opinion of the committee was that it was only fair that under such circumstances some aid should be given to the wife by the State. But that provision is to be applicable only to the case of a woman who was married to the soldier at the time that he received the wound or injury or contracted the disease which subsequently led to his receiving a pension. If a man returned from the war and married afterwards, the widow would not be entitled to a pension.

Another matter that was urged strongly on the committee, but upon which we did not take any decisive action, was with regard to the question of reservists. There were a considerable number of people in Canada who at the outbreak of war were called to the colours of the countries to which they owed allegiance. Britishers, French, Belgians, Russians, Italians, have been called to the colours of their respective countries. It was urged very strongly on the committee, especially by the member for St. Antoine, Montreal (Mr. H. B. Ames), secretary of the Patriotic Fund, that we should place these men in the same position as men who enlisted in the Canadian overseas expeditionary force; or, rather, that we, should pay to these men the difference between the amounts which they would receive from their respective Governments

by way of pension and the amounts they would have received had they enlisted in the Canadian overseas expeditionary force. That would be limited to the case of men who were married and whose families had been living in Canada at the outbreak of war and who after the war returned to Canada for the purpose of settling in the country. With the amount of information before us, however, we did not feel like making a recommendation in this respect at the present time. Some gentlemen who were interested in English pensions appeared before the committee and one of them said that he understood that the British Government was considering that question with a view of determining whether they would not give an increased pension to those who came to join the colours from countries overseas in which larger pensions were provided than are provided by the British Government. We were unable to ascertain what' would be done in that regard; besides, we were unable to get accurate information in the time at our disposal as to the number of those who had actually joined the colours of the countries to whom they owed allegiance. We therefore recommended, in section 25 of the report, as follows:

That strong recommendations were made to your committee that the reservists of the Allies who were bona fide residents of Canada at the time they were called to the colours of their respective countries, and who left their dependents with the intention of returning, to Canada after the war to make it their home, should be treated on the same basis as those enlisting from Canada in the Canadian [DOT]Expeditionary Force, and that this country should supplement the pension granted respectively by the Allies.

As your committee were unable to get definite information as to the policy of the other Governments, and sufficient information to warrant a sound conclusion being reached, your committee recommend that the commission give the matter of pensions to reservists and their dependents careful consideration and investigation, so as to permit a full report being made to the House at its next session.

The attention of the Canadian Patriotic Fund should be directed to the advisability of its aiding in the meantime the dependents in Canada of such reservists as have become disabled, and whose dependents as a result require assistance.

Tour committee are, however, of the opinion that if .provision be subsequently made for supplementing pensions given to reservists by their respective Governments, it should apply to men who, at the time of their being called to the colours, had dependents bona fide residing in Canada and who continued in Canada during the war.

And that such supplementary pensions be not continued beyond the time that the dependents

of such Reservists actually continue to reside in Canada.

We make the recommendation that the gentlemen who are appointed to administer the pension fund should deal with all applications with the utmost despatch; that in due course legislation should be introduced confirming this report; and that, in the meantime, proceedings be taken forthwith to bring it into operation. That can be done under the provisions of the War Measure Act. The desire of the committee was that, as soon as possible, the new board should be constituted and should proceed with its duties. It will be the duty of the Government, as soon as the session is over, to consider this report and, if it commends itself to the Government, to deal with it under the provisions of the War Measures Act.

We also recommend that our recommendations with regard to the pension scale become operative as from the 4th day of August, 1914, the day on which war was declared. This makes it retroactive as to every man who has enlisted since the 4th day of August, when the war broke out-[DOT] and an appeal was made for volunteers. The result will be that all members of the forces will be placed on the same footing as regards the pensions they will receive; the men .who enlisted .in the earlier days of the war will receive the same pensions as those who enlist now.

The changes which we recommend involve a very considerable increase in the amount that the country will have to pay for pensions. Under the scale in force at the present time, it is estimated that for a force of 100,000 men of all ranks in the field for one year the pension list of Canada will amount to $5,481,500. It is estimated that, under the pension laws which we recommend, the total pensions for a similar force in the field for a similar

length of time will be $7,184,181 a year. So hon. gentlemen will see that, based on the estimate of a force of 100,000 men in the field for" a period of one year, there is an extra cost under the scale we propose of $1,702,681. That statement is based on figures received from the War Office with regard to casualties that have taken place during the present war. The estimate of the War Office for a force of 100,000 men in the field for one year is as.follows: Deaths, 15 per cent; total disablement, 3 per cent; partial disablement, 6 per cent; and slight disablement, 9 per cent. The militia

authorities tell us that judging from the experience of the Canadian forces for the past year, the above estimate as to the percentage of deaths, is high.

The increase is a very substantial one, and the amount that this country will have to pay for pensions in the future will be a large annual charge upon the finances of the country. Even although that is the case, the members of the committee, and I am sure the members of the House, and I think everybody in this country, are desirous that justice and fairness and liberality-generosity, in fact-should be extended to the men who, at this crisis in the history of out country, have come forward to fight our battles and are willing, with the red bleed that flows in their veins, to sacrifice their lives for that liberty which we all hold so dear.

Topic:   SOLDIERS' PENSIONS.
Subtopic:   REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE.
Permalink
LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. E. M. MACDONALD (Pictou):

Mr. Speaker, I have much pleasure in seconding the motion of the hon. Minister of Marine (Mr. Hazen). In my eocperience in this Parliament I have neveT served on a committee in which every gentleman, on both sides, seemed to be actuated by so sincere a desire to arrive at the best solution of a very important question as were the members of this committee. I regret that the report is necessarily being considered on the last day of the session, and that the recommendations contained in it have not formed the subject of special legislation on the part of the Government. It is true that, under the War Measures Act, power is vested in the Government to deal with this question; but, after all, the provisions off the War Measures Act vest only temporary powers in The Government of the day in order to enable them to deal with situations occasioned by the war. This problem of pensions, while it is one that arises immediately on account of the war, is yet a permanent problem and one which will remain with the Canadian people long after the war will have been successfully concluded.

I assume, however, notwithstanding the fact that we have not legislation of a special character, that in the carrying out of the recommendations of this report during the coming year, the Government will be actuated by the same spirit, in the formation of the Board and all other phases of this question, as they would have been in asking for a parliamentary ratification of this proposal; and that at the next session of Parliament it will be the duty of the Government to present to the House an Act dealing permanently with this question. The figures which the minister has just given indicate the tremendous importance of this question to the Canadian people from a financial standpoint. On the basis of the estimate prepared for us by the officials of the Militia Department, and, assuming the percentage of disabled men to be similar to that contained in the calculation, for the 300,000 men who are already under arms the annual cost to the Canadian people for pensions would be $21,552,543. For 400,000 men, the annual charge to the Canadian people would be $28,736,724. If hon. gentlemen will pause for a moment to estimate what this annual charge would amount to if capitalized, they will realize the tremendous extent of the onerous charge placed on the whole people, and the importance of this matter from a financial standpoint will be recognized.

Alongside of that great question there is, of course, the other equally important consideration, which I am sure actuates every member of this House and every loyal citizen of the Dominion, just as it impressed, in the most serious way, every hon. gentleman composing the committee-that is, the duty which falls upon us, as representatives of the people, to do everything that is possible for the men who bear the burden and go out to make the great sacrifice in this terrible war. Let me state clearly that the idea which may naturally occur, if not to the minds of some hon. members, to others outside of this House, that this country proposes to give a pension to every one who has gone across, is not the idea at the basis of these proposals. Only those who have enlisted in the Canadian overseas expeditionary force and who become disabled, whether they are disabled at home or at any period of the war, become entitled., under these proposals, to any monetary consideration from the Government. The extent to which they do become entitled to such consideration depends entirely upon their disability, and the minister has stated very clearly the different grades under which these pensions aTe to be paid. We have recommended that the extent of assistance to be given be determined according to the extent of the disability, and the figures which we have published in the report and in the press indicate the maximum amount which a person suffering from any disability is entitled to receive. That amount is graded according to the extent of the disability. As we pass through this war

and the years succeeding it, proposals will no doubt be made from various sources in the direction of the extension of the liability of the country in regard to the pension system. What has occurred in the United States gives an illustration of what may be expected in this country .in that particular, and hence it is that I regret that legislation has not been formulated so that a definite policy might be laid down by Parliament. It may be that in the intervening year further light may be had upon this question, so that the legislation, when it is finally brought down, will be the result of perhaps riper judgment and more information than the committee has had before it.

Realizing, to the full, the importance of all these considerations, it was the unanimous judgment of those composing the committee that the members of the board, which has been recommended in this report, ought to be independent men, not mere office holders or office seekers, but men whose position, character and status in the country are such that there will be no question about their absolute independence and integrity, and whose position will be recognized by all classes in the country as being above party. It was felt by the members of the committee representing both sides of the House that the appointment of this board should only be made by the Government after a consulta-, tion with the right hon. the leader of the Opposition, in order that the members should not be merely appointees of the Government, but, to a very great extent, the representatives of the Parliament of Canada chosen by the leaders of the two great political parties. The annual expenditure of at least $25,000,000 will constitute this board, once it is organized, one of the most important bodies in the whole Dominion, in so far as the disbursement of funds are concerned. I am sure that what I have said in that respect will, upon reflection, commend itself to every hon. gentlemen in this House.

I am not going into this matter in detail, but there are a couple of considerations to which I would like to refer. One is the point emphasized by the Minister of Marine and Fisheries in regard to the difference in the scale of pensions paid to the men of the rank and file and the men in the higher ranks. In the short discussion which took place upon the motion, which I had the honour to move on the subject earlier in

the session, I pointed out that there was not between the men in the ranks and the men who hold commissions that difference in status, either socially or otherwise, in this country which warranted any very great line of demarcation being drawn between the two classes in the awarding of pensions. In that respect, the conditions in Canada differ from those that exist in the Mother Country and in other countries across the ocean. That view was fully entertained by every hon. member of the committee, but the conclusion at which we arrived, and which has been so well stated by the Minister of Marine and Fisheries, expresses the difficulty which confronted us when we came to deal with the question of final adjustment. The fact that men had gone out, had suffered and died for their country, that their dependents were entitled to feel that they had a vested right in the scale of pensions originally introduced, created a situation in which wa felt the great difficulty of interfering with the scale of pensions allowed to the men in the upper ranks of the overseas forces. As a consequence, we have recommended that the scale should be levelled up on the basis described by the minister. We provide not merely for the man who is disabled and who survives the conflict, but, as the minister pointed out, for his widow and his children, and, in addition to that, where a man may not leave a widow or child, we provide for the widowed mother, the step-mother, or the grandmother in the way which is set out in section 21 of the report.

Just one word more in regard to the proposition that the pension aid should be extended to the men of other nationalities who left Canada to fight or to the reservists who belong to Great Britain.

Topic:   SOLDIERS' PENSIONS.
Subtopic:   REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE.
Permalink
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

Before my hon. friend proceeds to deal with that, there are one or two questions which I would like to ask for information. I obsprve that in clause 8 it is provided that after an extension of one year, no pension can be reviewed. Does it not sometimes happen that a disability, which seemed very serious at first, may in the course of two or three years be completely removed, so that the man is restored to health and to his usual strength and energy? I have known instances of that character in accident cases during my own practice in the legal profession. Is it intended to debar any further inquiry in a case of that kind? A board can be held under the law as it is at pre-

sent, for the purpose of establishing the fact that the injury is greater than was supposed, or for the purpose of establishing the fact that the disability has been completely removed.

With regard to single and married men, I would like to know, merely for information, whether or not the committee had under consideration a suggestion that some difference might be made in the first instance, but that if the returned soldier should afterwards marry, he would be placed on the same footing as if he had been married in the first instance. I do not know whether that was under consideration or not. -

I do not suppose that the language of these clauses is intended to be construed with the utmost exactness; but it seems to me that clause 17, taken literally, would lead to the conclusion that if a woman had been living a number of years with a member of the Expeditionary Force, though not married to him, she might, in the event of his death, be entitled to a pension, although the conditions might have very greatly changed in the meantime. I suppose that a consideration of that kind is not intended to be excluded by the committee's report.

Topic:   SOLDIERS' PENSIONS.
Subtopic:   REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE.
Permalink
LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD:

With reference to

the first question suggested by the right hon. gentleman, section 8 provides for a review at the end of the first year after the grant had been made in the first instance, and each pension must be applied for, if I recollect rightly, within two years of the date of discharge. But there is no review. There may be in those cases where the disability is obviously permanent, but there can be no further review. If my right hon. friend will look at the clause which is included in what is known as class 1, he will see that where the disabilities consist of the loss of both, eyes, both hands, incurable tuberculosis, the loss of both legs, insanity, or permanent extreme leakage of the valves of the heart, you have cases in which the permanent disability is settled and determined, and upon which there is not much room or necessity for further review.

Topic:   SOLDIERS' PENSIONS.
Subtopic:   REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE.
Permalink
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

Yes, but I suppose that these illustrations are not intended to be exhaustive. For example, I have known of cases of very severe injury to the spine in which medical men testified that there could not possibly be any relief, that the man was permanently injured, and would be incapable all his life, but, in the course of two or three years, the

anticipations of the physicians were not realized, and the man recovered his strength completely. I had in mind cases of that kind which possibly might occur.

Topic:   SOLDIERS' PENSIONS.
Subtopic:   REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE.
Permalink
LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD:

All these matters

were fully discussed before the committee, and I think that every hon. gentleman composing the committee will agree that I am only stating what is true when I say that the suggestion of my hon. friend from Kingston (Mr. Nickle), who gave very careful consideration to all those questions and details, included the matters to which my right hon. friend refers.

Topic:   SOLDIERS' PENSIONS.
Subtopic:   REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE.
Permalink
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

I am not criticising at all.

Topic:   SOLDIERS' PENSIONS.
Subtopic:   REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE.
Permalink

May 18, 1916