Mr. HUME CRONYN (London) moved:
That the third and final report of the Special Committee on Pensions and Re-establishment be considered and that the recommendations contained therein be commended to the consideration of the Government.
He said: In rising to move the consideration of the report of the Committee on Pensions and Re-establishment, I find it difficult to determine to what length my remarks should run. After being for the past nine weeks daily-nay almost hourly-immersed in the business of the committee, it is well nigh impossible to decide how much of what was accomplished is a matter of common knowledge, or to what extent explanations may be necessary or acceptable. The report, in a sense, speaks for itself, and to members of the committee who have been called upon to earnestly consider and very carefully discuss the. various matters dealt with in the report, there may seem little that can be usefully added. Owing to the approaching end of the session it would as well be most inexpedient to weary the House with lengthy remarks, and I therefore propose to deal as briefly as possible with the main items of the report, in the belief that by means of questions which may he asked any matters of doubt will be made clear.
As the report states, the reference to the committee dealt with two distinct-although allied-questions: the first-that of pensions, and the second, Te-establishment.
Dealing with the subject of pensions: In June of last year the Parliamentary Committee appointed to draft the Pension Act brought in its report, which contained recommendations increasing the annual liability of the country in this connection, by $8,000,000. The report now under consideration recommends certain increases in pensions which will involve the addition of a like liability, that is to say-the Pension Bill of the country, if these recommendations be adopted, will be increased by nearly 8,000,000.
The number of disability pensioners at the end of the fiscal year was 69,583; if we add to these the dependent pensioners, the wives and children of disability pensioners, and the children of widows, we find the total number of beneficiaries to be 177,035. The amount which will be paid to these pensioners for a period of 12 months on the present scale is estimated at over twenty-five millions. If we add to this sum the increases suggested, we find our annual pension bill totals about thirty-three millions.
The history of pension legislation since the beginning of the Great War shows a steadily ascending curve in the scale of pensions adopted. I am not now saying that increases made in the past were sufficiently ample: unfortunately, during the same period, the cost of living has also increased, or to put it in another way, the value of the dollar has diminished. Let me in a word mention the increases already made. The first provision was arrived at just five years ago, when $264 a year was fixed as a pension for the totally disabled of the rank and file, a. similar amount being awarded to widows or dependent widowed mothers of those who were killed. It m.ay .appear astonishing, but this rate was an appreciable increase over those which had been in force prior to the Great War. -
About a year later, that is to say-in June of 1916-the total disability pension was raised to $480, and that to widows and mothers to $382. In October of 1917 the pension, for a totally disabled private soldier was raised from $480 to $600 per annum, and that of the widow and mother from $382 to $480 .a year. In June of last year a bonus of 20 per cent on the above-mentioned pensions was recommended and, under the Pension Act passed at the time, went into force as at the 1st September, 1919. The result of this bonus is that a totally disabled member of the forces below the rank of lieutenant receives $720 a year, while his widow or dependent parent is entitled to $576 per annum. We have had,
therefore, since the outbreak of the war, three distinct increases in the amounts paid to the above-named classes of pensioners, two of them being permanent increases, and the last being reached by way of a bonus.
As the report states, a fourth increase is now being recommended, to be given effect to in the same manner as the increase of last year, that is-by way of bonus. The permanent figures which were arrived at in 1917 are taken as the standard or basic rate, and the bonus recommended is to be calculated upon the pensions then fixed.. The bonus being one of 50 per cent, the result is that a totally disabled member of the rank and file-whose pension in 1917 was $600-will receive $300 additional, or $900 in all. This does not mean an increase of $300 over the payments he is receiving during the present year, because, as was stated before, he was awarded-from 1st September last-a bonus of 20 per cent, which yielded him an increase of $120 a year, and thus gave him a total of $720. His net gain by means of the present increase will, therefore, be the difference between $720 and $900, or $180 per annum. Following the same Tule, the pension of the widow or of the widowed mother, fixed in 1917 at $480 a year, will be increased by a bonus of 50 per cent or $240. As, however, at present she is in receipt of a bonus of 20 per cent on the basic pension, the net increase resulting from the recommendations in the report will be the difference between $576 and $720, or $144 a year.
This increase of pensions from 20 per cent to 50 per cent, has been 'recommended by the committee to apply only to the cases of those pensioners who are resident in Canada; so far as pensioners resident outside of Canada are concerned, the recommendation is that the present bonus of 20 per cent should be continued for another year.
As set out in the report, the increased pension has been recommended because of the steadily advancing cost of living. The evidence before the committee was clear that in many parts of Canada-even were it possible to make ends meet on the pension and bonus being paid to-day-there was certainly no margin left for any unforeseen emergencies such as illness, etc. In the hope that in some happier future the cost of living may' once more sink to a more reasonable level, it was deemed wise to provide for the existing emergency by means of a bonus-. It has been argued, and with some reason, that a bonus is not so certain, and therefore a less satisfactory method to the pensioner of providing what- he is to re-
ceive, but he should feel assured that it will be continued so long as present prices prevail. The figures published by the Department of Labour, purporting to show the cost per week of a family budget, including staple foods, fuel, lighting and rent, as determined by the average prices in 60 cities, prove that this cost rose from April of lf>15 to the same month this year- 80 per cent. While these figures omit the important item of clothing, yet they can be fairly treated as an index of the cost of living, and so long as no sensible decline is shown thereby pensions should not be decreased.
'^Before leaving the items already discussed, it might be well to point out that a proportionate amount of the $900 which under the new scale will be awarded to the totally disabled members of the rank and file, will be paid to those suffering from disabilities which are less than total. For instance, the man who has a 50 per cent disability, and whose pension on the basic rate is at present $300, will receive a 50 per cent bonus, or $150, makifig his total allowance $450 per annum.
The result of these various increases is to bring to a parity the pensions paid to or in respect of all ranks below that of Captain; and the added cost thereof to the country, it is estimated will amount to $3,650,000 per annum.
Pensions to the dependent parents are increased in like manner as those to widows: that is to say:-the dependent father or mother of a soldier who died leaving neither widow or children, Will receive by way of pension a bonus precisely the same amount as would have been paid to his widow.
Those who were in the House a year ago will recall the discussion which took place over the pensions allowed to dependent widowed mothers. While these mothers are, under the Pension Act, awarded the same rates as those to widows, their pensions are subject to a deduction if they are in receipt of an independent income from outside sources: it is true under the Act that no deduction could be made because of the personal earnings of any widowed mother, but the Act was so construed that if she owned her own home, or had the advantage of free lodgings, she was held to be in receipt of an independent income of from $10 to $15 a month. Much complaint has arisen on this score, particularly from those widowed mothers who, until the passing of the Act had been in receipt of their full pension of $40 a month. Your committee felt a change in the law was called for, and
accordingly recommends that the advantage of free lodgings should not be counted against the pensioner, nor, so long as she resides in Canada, should her pension be reduced because of her income from outside sources, unless that income exceeded the sum of $20 a month. If, therefore, a widowed mother residing in any part of the Globe, owns her own home or is able to earn something by her own exertions, her pension will not be reduced; and if she resides in Canada, she can as well enjoy an independent income up to the sum of $240 a year.
It will be readily understood that these concessions to widowed mothers will seriously add to the liability under this head. Not only will many mothers whose pensions have heretofore been reduced receive their pension in full, but there will be brought on to pension numbers whose incomes f-rom outside sources have hitherto barred them. The estimate of the increased liability in this respect is $2,400,000. It appears to me to be a large one, but it was prepared by the officials of the Pension Board who, although admitting the difficulty of accurately forecasting the result, believe it would not be safe to place the amount at a lower figure.
Thus far we have been dealing solely with increases in pensions brought about by means of the bonus suggested; In addition to these increases, the committee suggest that larger pensions in certain other cases should be awarded. These increases are not made by means of a bonus, and they apply equally to all ranks.
At the present time, if a total disability pensioner be married he is entitled to an increase in his pension of $180 a year. It is proposed that this pension shall be made $300 per annum. This will mean that the totally disabled married man without a family will receive $900 for himself and $300 for his wife, viz:-$1,200 a year, or $100 per month. This is an increase of just $300 more than he receives to-day. If he has one boy of 16 or under, or a girl of 17 or under, his pension has been increased by $12 per month, or $144 a year: it is suggested that this allowance be increased to $15 per month, or $180 a year. For a second child he receives $10 a month; it is now suggested that this be increased to $12 a month: and for each subsequent child below the above ages, instead of receiving an additional $8 a month he will be allowed $10 a month. As in the case of pensions to soldiers, these increases will be allowed in proportion to those whose disabilities are
less than 100 per cent. The estimated increased liability on this head is $1,000,000 per annum.
The widow of a deceased soldier, no matter of what rank, had last year her pension increased for her first child, if under the ages above mentioned, by $15 a month, or $180 a year. No change is suggested in this allowance: but the allowances on behalf of a second, third or subsequent child or children is increased to those proposed for similar children of a totally disabled pensioner. In other words, the children of the totally disabled man and of the soldier who has died are put upon the same basis. These increases, it is estimated will cost $220,000 a year.
It has taken some time to set forth the recommendations of the committee covering the increases thus far mentioned. The report contains a series of tables illustrative of the figures just quoted, which convey in a brief and clearer fashion what the results of these increases will be. With the permission of the House I should like to have .these tables extended on the record without taking up the further time required to read the same. While they now appear in the Votes and Proceedings, there is an advantage in having them embalmed (to use the expression of my friend from Springfield) in Hansard. When the question of pensions in future comes before the House, these tables will permit the member to grasp at a glance what was recommended at this time.
Included in these tables are figures showing to what extent the suggestions made by the committee will increase the pension to a totally disabled married man with a family of three chidren of
pensionable age. In 1018 such a man received a total of $ly140
upon which to support himself and his family; this year, with the added bonus of 20 per cent he is being paid $1,260; while under the proposed new bonus and the increases suggested on account of his wife and children, he will be paid a yearly pension of $1,644. This class of pensioners, comprising as it does the average family of five, thus has its income increased by $504 over that of 1918, or $384 beyond the amount being paid to-day.
(a) Pension for total disability (per annum).
Rank or Rating of Member of Forces. Basic Rate. Present Bonus. Total. Basic Rate. Proposed Bonus in Canada. Total.Privates and Corporals (Military), Ra- $ $ $ $ $ $tings below Petty Officer (Naval)
Sergeants,' etc. (Military), Chief Petty 600 00 120 00 720 00 600 00 300 00 900 00Officer, etc. (Naval)
* Regimental Sergeant-Major, etc. (Military). Naval Cadet and Midshipman 637 50 82 50 720 00 637 50 262 50 900 00775 00 Nil. 775 00 775 00 125 00 900 00Warrant Officers (Military and Naval).. 850 00 Nil 850 00 850 00 50 00 900 00
(b) Pension for widows of
Privates and Corporals (Military), Ratings below Petty Officer (Naval) 480 00 96 00 576 00 480 00 240 00 720 00Sergeants, etc. (Military), Chief Petty Officer, etc. (Naval) 510 00 66 00 576 00 510 00 210 00 720 00Regimental Sergeant-Major, etc. (Military), Naval Cadet and Midshipman 620 00 Nil. 620 00 620 00 100 00 720 00Warrant Officers (Military and Naval).. 680 00 Nil. 680 00 680 00 40 00 720 00
(c) Pension for dependent parents of
Privates and Corporals (Military), Ratings below Petty Officer (Naval), (not exceeding) 480 00 96 00 576 00 480 00 240 00 720 00Sergeants, etc. (Military), Chief Petty Officer, ete. (Naval), (not exceeding).. 510 00 66 00 576 00 510 00 210 00 720 00Regimental Sergeant-Major, etc. (Military), Naval Cadet and Midshipman (Naval), (not exceeding) 680 00 Nil. 620 00 620 00 100 00 720 00Warrant Officers (Military and Naval), (not exceeding) 680 00 Nil. 680 00 680 00 40 00 720 00
(d) Pensions in respect of wives and children of total disability pensioners (all ranks):
Wife .. $180 00 $300 00First child .. 144 00 180 00Second child .. 120 00 144 00Subsequent children .. 96 00 120 00(e) Pensions in respect of chidren ofwidows (all ranks): Present Proposedrate. rate.(Yearly) (Yearly)First child . $180 -00 $180 00Second child ,. 120 00 144 00Subsequent children. . 96 00 120 00(f) Pensions in respect of orphan children (all ranks): Present Proposedrate. rate.(Yearly) (Yearly)First orphan child . . $360 00 $360 00Second orphan child. 240 00 i 288 00Subsequent orpha n children . 192 00 240 00
Estimated increased liability $17,000 per annum.
(g) The totally disabled man having a wife and three children (of pensionable age) as a result of the changes suggested above would have his yearly income increased from $1,260 to $1,644, made up as follows:-
Proposed rate Present rate, within Canada.
Monthly. Yearly. Monthly. Yearly. Totally disabled
man .. .. .. $60 $720 $75 $900Wife
15 ISO 25 300First child.. .. 12 144 15 , ISOSecond child . . 10 120 12 144Third child. . . 8 96 10 120Total $105 $1,260 137 $1,644
(h) Amounts payable annually to those of the rank and file permanently totally disabled under the new scale suggested for Canada and under the existing rates so far as known in the countries of the allied belligerents.
Single. man. Man and Wife. Man, W7ife and child. Man, WTife and 2 children. Man, Wrife and 3 children. Each additional child.$ $ $ 8 $ $Canada 900 00 1,200 00 1.380 00 1,524 00 1,644 00 120 00Great Britain 506 13 632 66 727 56 803 46 879 42 75 92Australia 379 60 569 40 695 93 790 74 854 01 63 26New Zealand 506 13 759 20 885 73 1,012 25 1,138 80 126 53South Africa 379 60 506 13 601 12 685 36 759 20 63 26United States
. 1,200 00 1,200 00 1,200 00 1,200 00 1,200 00 Nil.France 480 00 480 00 540 00 600 00 'v 660 00 60 00Italy 243 33 291 99 318 75 345 51 372 27 26 76