I think this is a very Humane provision. In one case that I know of the widow of a general was receiving as pension the small pittance of $500 a year until her son, her only support, was killed in action on the battlefield. On account of the death of her son, who was a lieutenant, she was entitled to a further pension of $800, but instead of her pension having been increased by reason of the death of her son it has been reduced. I think Canada is in honour bound to do the right thing for the general's widow who has lost her son, her sole support.
shown that this widow was in receipt of an income from other sources to an amount greater than the military pension; say the military pension is $1,400, and the income from other sources $1,450 or $1,500; would this income in any way affect her pension? The reason I ask is this: A case came under my notice where a bank clerk in Ottawa, who was the main, if not the sole, support of his mother, enlisted, and was killed overseas. His mother had two other sons and three daughters, I believe, but they were all married and living in different places, and did not contribute to the mother's support. While her son was overseas she ret ceived the usual separation allowance, and on his death she received a pension. I think it amounted to $40 a month, and she undertook to supplement that by keeping a boarding house. Later it was ascertained that her income from the boarding house exceeded the amount of the pension, and the pension was discontinued. The reason given was that her income from the boarding house exceeded the amount of the pension.
Major-General MEW BURN: The Pension Act provides:-
Such pension or compassionate allowance shall not he granted if the applicant ds in the opinion of the minister unworthy, or if the applicant is already in the opinion of the minister wealthy.
My hon. friend has cited the case of a disability pension. I do not know just what the new Bill provides in such a case.
case of that sort that my hon. friend from Maisonneuve cited just now. In that case, after the husband had served thirty-five years in the permanent corps, the widow was granted only the small pittance of $500. This unfortunate lady had no other means, and because she was drawing this pension she was not entitled to a further amount when her son was killed.
practice of searching for other sources of income may sometimes be carried too far.
A case was drawn to my attention recently of an old gentleman living in a poor settlement in the province of Nova Scotia who lost his two sons in the war. He himself was almost blind, and was utterly unable to carry on the work of his farm. His wife was living on the farm, but he had no other help whatever. He was getting a pension of $480, and an agent of the departmeent was sent to investigate into his other sources of income. This agent reported that he found this poor man on his farm with a horse, two cows, twelve hens, and twelve apple trees, and he estimated the revenue from these sources to be half the amount of the pension. He recommended that the department therefore cut the pension in two, giving the man $240 instead of $480. This recommendation was carried out by the department. It strikes me that that is going altogether too far. Any one who knows anything about a farm knows that unless the man was able to work the farm he would get very little profit indeed from twelve hens, twelve apple trees, two cows and a horse. I just want to mention these to the minister so .that in administering the pension fund the rules be not allowed to bear too strictly on poor people, because it strikes me that at the present time they are a little too stringent.
Major-General MEWBURN: 1 think the hon. gentleman is confusing this particular Bill with the Pension Bill on which a Special Committee of the House is sitting at the present time. Those are matters that will be covered by pensions for disability or death. What we are now considering is the old Pension Act dealing with the permanent service.
Have I the assurance of the minister that there is not to be this duality of pensions?
Major-General MEWBURN: I certainly agree with the hon. member. I think the Disability Pensions Act should provide for that. If an officer of the permanent corps was killed in action, his widow would probably get the disability pension; she certainly should not get both.
I have taken this case up for six months, and have not been able to get justice for this man^John Taylor by name-and I thought perhaps it would be a good time to have the Government stir up the Pension Commissioners to act a little more rapidly. I will discuss the case when the report of the board comes up, but that will mean a delay of two months in securing justice for this man.
The hon. member should not say that the rules of the House preclude him from discussing the matter and securing justice. He can bring it up and discuss it on any Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, when the House is moved into Committee of Supply. He would be in order in doing that, but he is not in order on the consideration of this Bill in Committee. *
I would suggest that the section might be amended in this way:
Provided, however, that where a widow is entitled to a pension as the widow of a member of the Canadian Expeditionary Force and under this Act, she shall elect which pension she will accept.
Major-General MEWBURN: ll have no objection to that. She must elect between the two. That is, if her husband in the permanent force was killed at the front she must elect which pension she will take, whether the disability pension or the pension under this Bill.
I am very glad that the minister appreciates the point. The Order in Council I referred to is No. 1569, and as the minister will remember, by that Order in Council:-
Ail officers and men from time to time in Pay in Canada during the present war or during demobilization thereafter who belong
to the permanent active militia or who are attached to the headquarters staff or to the staff of a military district, shall be officers and men of the Canadian Expeditionary Force and shall be continuously subject to military law. They shall, while their services continue to be required in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, hold therein temporarily as from the date of last appointment or promotion the ranks which they now have or may from time to time be granted therein, and except as hereinafter provided, the regulations for the pay, allowances and pensions for the Canadian Expeditionary Force shall be applicable and shall govern any claims for pension not heretofore disposed of.
Major-General MEWBURN: If an officer were killed at the front his. widow would get a disability pension under the C.E.F. rates.
If during service a member of the permanent militia, who was made a member of the C.E.F., remained in Canada and died of influenza, his widow \vou)d be entitled also to the C.E.F. pension, and the question of election might come up.
Major-General MEWBURN: Do you think it wise to provide for that?