June 2, 1921


Section agreed to. On section 4-provision respecting pension to widowed mother amended.


LIB

Lawrence Geoffrey Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

At the risk of having members of the House think that I have become a nuisance with regard to this subject, I must once more protest against the treatment meted out by the House of Commons and by the committee to the widowed mothers of our soldiers. I have on several occasions brought this matter to the attention of the House. When I present it in the form of a resolution I appear to get the almost unanimous support of members on both sides, but when it comes down to actual practical legislation I appear to be all alone. In this instance, therefore, I do not intend to submit an amendment-in the first place because I know, Mr. Chairman, your knowledge of the rules is such that you would promptly rule me out of order as you have already done on two occasions; and, in the second place, because the most enthusiastic supporter of the proposal which I have put forward is my hon. friend from Skeena (Mr. Peck), who, unfortunately, though he and I share the same opinion in this matter, is away and I am paired with him. So I am in the unfortunate position of not being able to put this matter before the committee in such form that it will be brought to a vote. But I would like to make my protest once more-perhaps fo" the last time, because this may be the last session of this parliament-and if only to keep my record clean in that at every session of this parliament I have protested against the treatment accorded to the widowed mother. In order to make my protest clear, Sir, and to show the anomalies of the Act, I wish to be permitted to read section 34 of the Act, subsection 1, which has reference to pensions to widowed mothers:

A parent or any person in the place ot a parent with respect of a member of the forces who has died shall be entitled to a pension when such member of the forces left no child, widow, or divorced wife who is entitled to a pension, or a woman awarded a pension under subsection three of section th! 'ty-three of this Act, and when such parent or person is in a dependent condition and was, at the time of the death of such member of the forces, wholly or to a substantial extent, maintained by him.

That is to say, the widowed mother of a soldier may obtain a pension when the soldier has left no child, no widow, no divorced wife under certain conditions, or a woman "awarded a pension under subsection 3 of section 33 of this Act." Now, let us see who the woman is who is thus preferred to the widowed mother of a

soldier. I quote from subsection 3 of section 33:

A woman who, although not married to the member of the forces, was living with him in Canada at the time he became a member of the forces and for a reasonable time previously thereto, and who, at such time, was publicly represented by him as his wife may, in the case of his death and in the discretion of the Commission, be awarded a pension equivalent to the pension she would have received had she been his legal widow. The Commission may also award a pension if, in its opinion, an injustice would be done by not recognizing a woman as the wife of a member of the forces although there is no evidence that she had been publicly represented by him as his wife.

I am not objecting to this section so far as it refers to what we have been pleased to call the " unmarried wife;" I am simply pointing out the anomalies of the Act as it exists. Under the law this woman, a man's mistress, his concubine, the prostitute with whom he has lived, will get a pension before his mother will get a pension. That is the state of the law as it exists to-day. I do not like to bring this matter before the committee, but I think it is fair that hon. members should know just what our Pension Act is. This country prides itself on its Christian spirit and on its morality, yet here we have in our statutes a provision which consecrates the principle that before the woman who bore the child shall get a pension on account of his death the woman with whom he lived in sin gets a pension. Sir, I think I have a right to protest against such a state of affairs. I do hope that if the matter cannot be remedied this year, the members of the committee and of the Government next year will see to it that this state of affairs no longer exists and that the mother that gave her boy to her country should at least get not inferior treatment to the person who, possibly, lived in open adultery with him.

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Section agreed to. On section 5-section giving additional allowance to widow and children repealed:


UNI L

William Stevens Fielding

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. FIELDING:

Will the chairman kindly explain the effect of this amendment in regard to deductions which were at one time made from a widow's pension? I believe that in that respect a change has been made in the right direction.

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UNION

Hume Cronyn

Unionist

Mr. CRONYN:

Under the Act as it

stands to-day no deduction is made from the pension of a widowed mother if while resident in Canada she is in receipt of an independent income of not more than $20 a

month, or $240 a year-that is to say, she may receive her pension and, independently of that, $240 a year. No deduction has been made on account of her own earnings, no matter where she lived, or on account of her owning her own home or getting the benefit of free lodgings. But there was a deduction made if she had sons living with her who in the opinion of the Pensions Board were fitted to support her, or if she had other children who were actually contributing to her support. In each of these cases, I believe, a deduction of $10 a month for each such son was made. It was thought, perhaps, to be unfair that on one side there should be a widow who was entitled to an exempted income of $20 a month, and, on the other, a widowed mother whose sons' contributions, whether they were actual contributions or implied contributions, should be deducted from her pension. The effect of this amendment is to place the contributions from the children, express or implied, on the same basis as the independent income and to exempt them up to $20 a month.

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UF

Thomas Wakem Caldwell

United Farmers

Mr. CALDWELL:

As a member of the special committee, I do not feel like allowing this opportunity to pass without voicing jmy protest against one particular section of the report. I had not the privilege of attending the committee on the day that this was decided upon by the committee, but the fact that I opposed this clause last year gives me a right to oppose it this year. I refer to the deduction from a widow's pension on account of her children. It is making deductions from her pension on account of, not only contributions which have been made, but contributions which should have been made, whether they have i been made or not. I think, on a recent occasion, "imaginary letters" were ordered to be deleted from the records of this House. In this case we have the Pension Committee authorizing that imaginary contributions to a widowed mother's support will be deducted from her pension. If the one is illogical, the other is much worse. It is leaving it to the discretion of the Pension Commissioners to decide, not that contributions have been made, but whether they should be made or not. If actual contributions to the widowed mother's support were deducted, the matter would not be quite so bad; but in this recommendation, it is left to the discretion of somebody to say that these contributions should have been made. If they are not made, they are deducted from the widow's pension just the same as if they had been made. That

is surely illogical. As I said, last year I opposed the deduction of $10 a month for each son who resided at home with the mother. This year the provision is made to include not only sons, but daughters. The word "children" is substituted for the word "sons", and the word "child" for the word "son". If this Widowed mother has children who reside at home or abroad, whether they are contributing or not, a deduction is made of $10 for each such son or daughter. It is a well established fact that we need more citizens in Canada, and surely a mother who raises a large family is more entitled to a pension than to be penalized by raising such a family, but under this Act, you penalize the widow who has raised a large family. The logical thing would be to give her an increased pension on account of having contributed to the population of Canada by raising that family.

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LIB

Lawrence Geoffrey Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

While we are on that

section, I wish to read sections 3 and 4 of the Bill together. If I understand clause 4, it adds to subsection 7 of section 34 by stating that any moneys contributed by children will not be included in the income of $240. If I am wrong, the chairman of the special committee will please correct me.

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UNION
LIB

Lawrence Geoffrey Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Therefore, this $10

which the children are presumed to contribute really no longer exists.

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UNION
LIB

Lawrence Geoffrey Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

I would suggest to the

chairman of the committee that subsection 6, of section 34, be stricken from the Bill altogether, and then we would have no difficulty at all about the matter. There would be no trouble in interpreting it.

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L LIB
LIB

Lawrence Geoffrey Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Subsection 6 is amended

by striking out the words "sons" and "son" and by substituting therefor the words "children" and "child" respectively. But I do not see the necessity for this subsection if we no longer take into consideration any contribution these children may make.

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UNION
LIB

Lawrence Geoffrey Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Yes, but supposing the

widowed mother has $15 and the son contributes $10; that would be $25. We will not count this $10 under the Act as I understand it. Is that not a fact?

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UNION
LIB

Lawrence Geoffrey Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Why not strike out the

whole of subsection 6? Would the chair-

man consider that? I think if he considers it, he will find that I am right in my contention.

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UNION

Hume Cronyn

Unionist

Mr. CRONYN:

I think my hon. friend has not the facts quite correctly in his mind. The contributions, express or implied, from the children are exempt up to $20 a month. They are not wiped off the slate altogether. If we have a widowed mother with an independent income of $20 a month and two sons living with her who are contributing, or should contribute, to her support, either the independent income or the amount charged for the two sons is deducted from her pension.

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LIB

Lawrence Geoffrey Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Only the independent income would be deducted? You would not deduct the amount from the sons?

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UNION

Hume Cronyn

Unionist

Mr. CRONYN:

If she has three, four or five children, then a certain amount would be deducted each month from her pension, and I think the section would have to stand.

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June 2, 1921