September 19, 1917

CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

The Order in Council has not been passed as yet.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink
LIB
CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

I agree that everything should be done that can be done .for those who have served at the front or who have been injured or' whose families have suffered from their being at the front. It was with that object in view that the joint committee took the question up last session. They came to certain conclusions which have been adopted and put in force. The pension list is going to be a very large item. It is increasing by leaps and bounds as the war proceeds and if this war is to last a long time the pension list will be very large. But the question is an important one and it should receive the fair consideration of this Housje. (The .conclusion wihich has been arrived at is that the matter should be left over until next session for final decision. In the meantime the Government will take the matter up and do what they think is right to put it in proper shape; and it will carry on the work until the House meets again. Not having had time to prepare a proper pension Bill or to go into the question this session, we are just asking for a vote such as we have put in the estimates in order to pay the pensions that it is now necessary to pay from day to day.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink
LIB

Frederick Forsyth Pardee

Liberal

Mr. PARDEE:

There is a matter to which I wish to direct the attention of the Government and that is the system of paying sums of $100 or less to men injured and who are classed as under twenty per cent fit. Several cases have come to my notice in which this system has worked the very greatest hardship. Perhaps being under twenty per cent fit is not always a real disability but there are cases where men who have been adjudged under twenty per cent who are possibly not able to do a day's work and who will not be for a long time to come. A case was brought to my attention last week in which a man was adjudged to be under twenty per cent fit; he received $75 and that is all he will get. The man is practically disabled; he will never be capable of doing a day's woik again. That is one of the provisions of the Act that needs amending.

My own opinion is that any man. who cornea back here and who is found twenty per cent unfit, but permanently injured, and who is not as good a man as he was when he left, should not be given a maximum payment of $100, but he should be *awarded a pension by the State. I believe there are some hon. gentlemen on. the other side of the House who agree with me. Any

man who has served, and who comes back less fit than he was when he went away, is entitled to be taken care of by the State 60 long as he lives if he requires that care. It is a simple matter of justice and humanity on our part. I would like to present that view to the Government as strongly as I can,

I would also like to ask the Government whether or not there is any intention to adopt -an insurance scheme in connection with the pension system. I 4 p.m. understand in the United States they have a method of insurance which is carried on by a deduction from the allowance of the pensioner of a certain amount per month, the Government paying the difference between the amount deducted and the amount necessary to carry the premium. That was somewhat discussed when we had the commission of inquiry in the hospitals matter. No agreement or decision was arrived at because we did not seem, to have the necessary information to enable us to become fully seized of all the aspects of the matter. It would appear to me to be a very reasonable thing to do, and I hope that between now and the next session of Parliament the Government will take the matter up and see if some such scheme can be devised so that the men and their dependents will feel that they will be taken care of and that later on the families of soldiers will receive .an amount increased to the extent of the insurance. It would give the returned soldier a comfortable feeling to know that, while a certain small amount was taken from his pension and the balance of the premium was made up by the State, his dependents would later on reap the benefit.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink
CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

There is before the United States Congress at the present time a Bill, or Bills, dealing with the matter. The legislation which comes out of Congress will afford very valuable information for the consideration of the Government between now and the time of meeting of the next Parliament. I .have every sympathy with this system of insurance as one method at least by which that proper provision can be made for ou~ soldieis who *have gone overseas and that may be taken as one element or factor. I do not know whether there has been any extensive system of insurance adopted by any other country, but that matter will be looked into.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink
CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CURRIE:

As one interested in soldiers, I have made it my business to follow up eases where complaints were made in reference to pensions. With reference to the subject that was brought up about a man serving at home, I know of one case in which a man whilst training for the expeditionary force contracted appendicitis. He was operated on and died, His wife and children .should and are receiving a pension. I think the appropriation referred to in the first item called would be to provide pensions for cases of this kind. I know another case where a very strong healthy young soldier was on a march in Canada, and slipped on a stone in the road, sustaining injuries with the result that his foot had to be amputated just above the ankle. Cases of that kind occur constantly. The Pension Board's policy as far as I can see, is one for which I have nothing but commendation. We should look at the matter in a purely non-partisan manner. I know many cases which have been dealt with promptly. Colonel Labatt served at the front as an officer, and his sympathies are entirely with the wounded returned soldier. Considering the tremendous amount of work he has undertaken in organizing that department, and considering the great numbers of cases which have come before him, the work the board has done has been marvellous. If a case is a clear one, arid a pension is required, there is no delay whatever. In some cases, questions may arise as -to whether pensions should be granted or not on the amount. At first there was great difficulty in getting these matters threshed out, but now the Pension Board has officers in various localities, and if complaint is made at the Pension Board that the pensions are necessary or inadequate, or anything of that kind, an officer is immediately sent to investigate the matter, and if any irregularities are found relief is immediately given. It may take a long time to adjudicate upon some cases. The l>on. member for Prescott referred to certain cases, but as far as the Pensions Department is concerned, it is certainly not their fault if those who are suffering disability do not receive their pensions promptly. The hon. member for West Lambton has referred to cases where men are dismissed with small gratuity if their disability is under 20 per cent. I know of several cases where men were discharged without even pensions, and it subsequently developed that they were suffering from gas when they arrived here and when they were discharged. To my knowledge, a num-

ber of these soldiers subsequently developed tuberculosis as a result of gas, and every one of these soldiers, after reference had been made to the Pensions Board, was returned to service and pay, treated in military hospitals as if he had never been discharged, sent to Gravenhurst or other places to recover, and pension was granted. In addition to that, some of them died, and provision has been made for their widows and children, in spite of the fact that they were discharged and considered at one time to have no claim on the Government. I give these instances to show the sympathetic manner in which the Pensions Board deals with these matters.

With reference to the increasing of the pensions on account of the high cost of living, in numbers of cases it is difficult for the parties to get along with the pensions allowed them, and in each case where the pension was not sufficient if application was made by the men to the Govern-merft, the man or the woman, as the case may be, is provided with some form of employment, which supplements the pension, so that they need not want for daily bread. Whether it is wise to increase the pensions to a greater amount than at present allowed is a question. I quite agree that, if conditions remain as at present, it will be necessary to increase the pensions considerably. I think I am quite safe in saying that, because I know many oases where children and widows have not received sufficient pension to permit them to live in a respectable manner, but we must also remember that it is possible that some change may come over the scene, and, instead of food and living soaring to the top as it is now, prices may drop, in a few years, and the cost of living may be greatly reduced. So far as the administration of the Pensions Board is concerned, I do not think a single case has been brought before them, to my knowledge, in which they did not grant prompt relief. I can speak in the highest terms of the efficiency of that board, and T do so gladly because the officer who is the active member of the board is an old comrade-in-arms of mine, and I know his heart is right in regard to looking after the returned soldiers. There has not been one single case that I have brought to his attention that he has not dealt with promptly and justly. Numbers of cases have been called to my attention from all over the country, because a number of the soldiers seem to think they should send a letter to me, if they have a complaint, and the attention of the board has been promptly given, and justice done. In many cases

justice has been done where possibly, if they had not looked upon the case in a sympathetic manner, they would not have granted any pension. The conditions which now obtain, are giving great satisfaction to the returned soldier, and the number of complaints made in recent months has been greatly reduced. There is a certain class of soldier who did not serve at all, but malingered, who claims a pension. I refer to those who suffer from imaginary rheumatism, and that sort of thing in England. I find, as a rule, some of these are inclined to be chronic grumblers. Fully 98 per cent of the men in receipt of pensions are men of established character and first-class men in every shape and form. There are always one or two in a thousand who give the public the impression that they do not deserve anything, and I trust the public will deal kindly with their cases, and not take their complaints seriously, realizing that the Pensions Board is doing everything possible to ameliorate the suffering of the wounded and sick soldier, looking after the widow, and seeing that the orphan is 'brought up by the state as it should be.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I am sorry that on this occasion I find it impossible to altogether agree with what my hon. friend has said. I notice in the newspaper to-day an item stating that the Ottawa Great War Veterans' Association had a meeting last evening and discussed the action of the Government in granting gratuities in lieu of pensions to returned soldiers. The matter was thoroughly discussed, and the 'action of the Government unanimously condemned. My opinion is entirely in line with the view expressed by the hon. member for West Lamb-ton, namely, that in many cases trifling gratuities have been granted where men have suffered a serious permanent disability. That is an abuse of the power of the Pensions Board. It is not the .fault of the pensions scale, nor of the Pensions Committee of last session, nor is it the fault of the Government that framed the Order in Council passed on the recommendation of that committee. It is the administration of the Pensions Board that is at fault. When they disregard the fact that a man is suffering from a disability that permanently decreases his earning power, and give him a gratuity of $25, or $75, or $100 and turn him loose, they are not treating him fairly, or, as the country desires he should be treated. I know of a man who received a permanent injury to one of his

380i

legs, so that he walks through life with a serious limp, and he was given a gratuity of $25.

I know many other cases in which men have suffered disability which did not entirely incapacitate them, but which seriously reduced their earning power or interfered with their possibilities in life. Yet the Pensions Board dealt with these men simply by the payment of a small gratuity. I do not .consider that that is in line with the spirit of the country; I do not think it is in line with the intention of the Government. I know that it is not in line with the views of the committee that had .to do with the drafting of the scale of pensions.

'Mr. REID: The regulations concerning

pensions were made in accordance with the recommendations of a committee of this House. The Board of Pension Commissioners have forms to be filled

in by persons disabled. Upon these

rorms, which may be filled in by a clergyman or a doctor, a certificate is .made as to the condition of the man, whether he has any other visible means of support, and so on. Upon this report the Board of Pension Commissioners act. In a case that occurred in my county, the person who filled in the blanks stated that the man in question had other means of support, and on that report the Board of Pension Commissioners could not do otherwise than act as they did. If representations are made to the Board, however, that full justice has not been done in any given case, the hoard will take the matter up again, reconsider it, and see that justice is done. Pension and gratuity claims are coming in iin large numbers, and they must be dealt with according to the best evidence available in order that settlement may he arrived at as soon as possible. Every case is subject to revision by the Pensions Board; the facts may be re-examined and the conditions again looked into. The Board have special officers to deal with such cases. If any member of -the House or, indeed, any ,person outside of the House hears of a case where injustice was done, I aim satisfied that the Board of Pension Commissioners, upon the matter being brought to their attention, will take steps to see that justice is done. There may be oases where persons would be probably ignorant of the law or, for other reasons, would not he able

to take -up their own cases; it is only fait and right that we should interest ourselves in such matters.

Members of the House and private citizens generally should take every step to see that justice is done to those who are entitled to consideration under this Act. I desire only to emphasize my impression that the Pensions Board are anxious to see that justice is done to all; I know that justice will be done if all these matters are brought to -their attention.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink
CON

Hugh Boulton Morphy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MORPHY:

The difficulty as I see it is that we are not now discussing principles that should govern. I should like to have an expression from the Government on the point whether men who have sustained 20 per cent disability as a result of the war and who have been paid $25, $50, $75 or $100, are absolutely shut out from any further claim. The estimate that a man has 20 per cent disability to-day may be quite correct, but the seeds of weakness in his constitution may at no distant date grow into a 40 per cent disability. It is unfortunate if a man who is in need of money, taking advantage of what he understands to be the law, should submit himself to an examination, receive $50 or $75, and bo absolutely shut out from any further claim in the future. The minister speaks very nicely, but I think that there should be something more than the nice words. I believe that public opinion will not stand for injustice to any returned soldier through settlement being made upon a basis of 20 per cent disability, if the seeds of weakness in his constitution afterwards cause him to sustain a 50 per cent disability.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink
CON
CON

Hugh Boulton Morphy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MORPHY:

I am not referring to the member for North Simcoe, or to any other gentleman in that regard. Some member of the Government should announce the principle that these men may come back and that their eases will be given further consideration if necessary. Even doctors may not know whether the 20 per cent arrived at as a result of examination is the real extent of the disability from which a man is suffering. Certainly the man himself does not know, and it would be a great act of improvidence to make a settlement upon a basis of 20 per cent and shut the man out from further consideration. Many soldiers who return are not normal; in many cases their judgment is not as strong as it was before the war. Moreover, we must guard the soldier against his own improvidence, if necessary; we must riot, simply in order to expedite: settlement, take advantage of a

man who is not in normal condition. When a man is injured in a railway accident, the settlement claims agent calls upon him as quickly as possible after the wreck or the accident; the injured man accepts $100, $200, $300, as the case may be. Some have avoided this speedy settlement and subsequently obtained thousands of dollars through a verdict against the company. There must be absolute frankness, absolute openness; there must be tender care on our part to guard against improvidence and to do what this country ought to do for men who have offered themselves as sacrifices in the interests of their country.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink
CON

William Sora Middlebro

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MIDDLEBRO:

The complaint of the member for Edmonton (Mr. Oliver) was, perhaps, justified in the first part of the administration of the pensions. I believe that under the former rule, and according to the recommendation of tne general Committee on Pensions, if a man's disability did not exceed 20 per cent he could be paid off in a lump sum by way of gratuity.

When the matter came before the Returned Soldiers' Committee, the committee was almost unanimously of opinion that the grading should be in tenths and not in fifths, for th'is reason: You might have a man who was injured nineteen

per cent of the extent of total

disability, and he would be paid off with a gratuity of perhaps $100. If he was injured one per cent more, however, he would be paid $8 a month for the balance of his life. In ihy opinion there is too much of a discrepancy between those two disabilities, and if the grading has not been made in tenths, I strongly urge that the grades of disability should be divided into tenths instead of into fifths. There is no reason why a man who is injured to the extent of 19 per cent should be paid off with a lump sum of $100, whereas a man who is disabled to the extent of 20 per cent should receive $8 a month for the rest of his life.

It is said that a man who is not totally incapacitated on account of deafness cannot be given a pension; that he comes under the 20 per cent class. That is to say, he might be deaf to the extent of ninetenths in both ears, and he would slidbe under the twenty per cent class anJwould not be entitled to a permanent pension, but would be given a gratuity. There is no justice in that. If a man is incapacitated to the extent of nine-tenths of his total hearing capacity, he would be useless for many occupations in life.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink
LIB
CON

William Sora Middlebro

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MIDDLEBRO:

He might be useless for the occupation in which he was formerly engaged. Therefore, there should be more provision for a soldier incapacitated to that extent.

There is another question to which I wish to refer, which, while it does not directly affect the question of pensions, affects the total amount that we shall have to pay. I refer to the medical examination in the first instance. The medical examiners in the first instance were, in many cases, not as strict as they should be. At the beginning of the war large numbers were anxious to enlist, and we were all anxious to see them go. But when we are going to raise another

100,000 men, the medical examiners should be men of the highest calibre and of the greatest experience, and they should be appointed permanently. The system of one week appointing a medical board composed of certain men and another week a medical board composed of certain other men who do not get the experience of the first board for the short time they have been working, is a very bad system, and will entail a responsibility for millions of dollars on this country. I would, therefore, suggest that the men who are appointed for the purpose of examining the 100,000 men who are shortly to be enlisted, should be men of the greatest experience. It costs something like $1,500 to equip a man, tram him, -send him overseas and get him ready to go into the trenches. If we pay $1,500 for a medically unfit man who is worse than useless when he goes into the trenches, we are doing an injustice to the country by taking him in the first instance. The men who are enlisted should be men of the highest possible efficiency. In addition to a medically unfit man being worse than useless when he goes into the trenches, when he comes back to Canada, he has a fair claim to a pension from this country, because he has been passed as medically fit. In such a case, how can you conscientiously get over his claim that he offered himself; that he was passed by the medical officers provided by the Government who in effect, said to him: You are a fit man? That being the case, he has a prima facie case for a pension. I cannoit urge too strongly upon this House that the medical [DOT] examiners for those 100,000 men should be thoroughly experienced and efficient.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink
CON

William Folger Nickle

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. NICKLE:

There is a certain misapprehension existing in the minds of hon. members of the committee as to just what the claims for pensions are. With the hon.

member for Edmonton (Mr. Oliver) I was a member with others of the Pensions Committee of last year, and I am not so carried away with enthusiasm for the work of that committee that I am prepared to say that it was perfect. A good beginning was made, but it is capable of much improvement, and I think, when the next session of Parliament is convened, very radical improvements will be made, if a committee of this House gives the matter further attention. I thoroughly agree with my hon. friend (Mr. Middlebro) that the committee of last year made a mistake in dividing the pensions only into six classes: five classes and a gratuity. The Great War Veterans'' Association, and the experience of last year has taught those who have given any consideration to the subject tba/t we should have at least eleven classes; ten classes and a gratuity and that it is very unfair to the man who suffers a disability of 19 per cent, that he should be paid off with a gratuity not exceeding $100, whereas a man who has a disability of 21 per cent-I am using arbitrary figures to illustrate my argument-should receive a pension of $8 a month or $96 a year. It is well understood and recognized that it is right that we should have at least ten classes. I think it also can he said that it is recognized that no man should be compelled to accept a gratuity unless ho chooses to do so. If a man has suffered disability and desires recognition on the part of the State for the sacrifice he has made for his country, he should have an opportunity of taking either a pension or a gratuity. If he wants to take a gratuity, he should have a right to take it, but if he prefers to take a pension, then he should have the right to do so.

In regard to the point raised by the hon. member for North Perth (Mr. Morphy), if he will be good enough to turn to paragraph 8 of the committee's report of last year, he will see it is distinctly stated in that paragraph that a man is not estopped by the taking of any gratuity or pension at the time the award, is made. Paragraph 8 says:

Each case shall toe subject to review at the end of a year from the time the pension is first granted, except in those cases where the disability is obviously permanent, and then there can he no further review.

In the working out of that provision, it was found that many men had been improperly or prematurely discharged; that there had not been a keen appreciation of the disability the men had suffered. As a result, an Order in Council was passed by which it was provided that, if any man

could show that he had been, improperly or prematurely discharged, :he was entitled again to be admitted to hospital and have his case medically treated, and then when the time came for hie again being discharged his right to a pension was considered as if he had never before been before a court of review. That means that if a man, at any time within a year, reaches the conclusion th at he has not received adequate consideration, he has a right to apply to the board for special consideration, and if fresh complications have set in, and if he can show that those complications are the result of service, he can go hack to hospital and have his case reviewed.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink
CON
CON
CON

William Folger Nickle

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. NICKLE:

I can hardly answer the question of the hon. member, because I do not know what the policy of the next Parliament will foe. It will be within its jurisdiction to say whether or not the new Act shall be retroactive. Answering the question my hon. friend has raised in regard to deafness, the gentleman who brought that matter to his attention must have laboured under a misapprehension, because I see by referring to paragraph 12, class 4, which determines what certain disabilities are, it is provided that total deafness shall be considered a disability of 40 per cent. Total deafness of one ear entitles a man to a gratuity. If a man were totally dealf in one ear and were substantially affected in another, he would come out of the gratuity class and go into class four.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink
CON

William Sora Middlebro

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MIDDLEBRO:

If a man is nine-tenths deaf in both ears, that is partial deafness in both ears, and he comes under the 20 ner cent class.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink
CON
CON

William Sora Middlebro

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MIDDLEBRO:

I put this question distinctly to the officers who appeared before the. Soldier's Add Commission, and they said that under the wording of the Act a man might be deaf in both ears to any. extent short of complete deafness and

still foe entitled only to a gratuity. Will my hon. friend show me the clause showing that a majn who is partially deaf in both ears is entitled to anything more than a gratuity?

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink

September 19, 1917