June 21, 1922

LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland (Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment; Minister presiding over the Department of Health)

Liberal

Mr. BELAND:

June 16th. I think that is the date on which the committee held its last meeting. I have read the stenographic report of the meeting of the committee on the evening of June 16th. Mr. MacNeil was heard, and heard extensively, on the subject of the charges. On the other hand, the representatives of the Board of Pension Commissioners, the chairman himself, and the director of Medical Services, have also been examined on those charges, and, as far as I can make out, no decision could have been reached there and then, and when I found in the report that the recommendation was made to the House that a commission should be appointed by the Government to investigate those charges, I was of opinion that the position taken by the committee, under the circumstances, was entirely and absolutely commendable, but I have not had anything to do, need I say, with the proceedings, or the actions, or the recommendations of this committee. I do not think I have addressed one single member of the committee since they have begun their arduous work. On this very subject, Mr. Speaker, I may congratulate not only the chairman, but all the members of the committee on their work. I have read the reports as they came out day after day. It has been my privilege, in previous years, to sit on all those committees appointed by Parliament to study the problems of re-establishment. I know how long, tedious and arduous those duties of attending the sittings of that committee are, and I believe that the members who composed the committee this year have, perhaps, outdone their predecessors in this regard.

Many suggestions have been offered to the House, or to the Government, in the

carrying out of the recommendations contained in the report. I have listened, with a great deal of attention and interest, especially to the hon. member from Vancouver South (Mr. Ladner) and also the hon. member from Kingston (Mr. Ross), both of whom, with many other hon. members, have been very closely connected with the veterans on the other side. The suggestions on treatment, on re-establishment generally, on the care that should be given to the so-called problem cases, like tubercular cases, or the cases of the blind, and the cases of those who are called substandard, and whose disabilities due to war service are not so large as to entitle them to the pension that would be required for their maintenance, will receive the very careful attention and consideration of the Government, with a view to meeting them in a most generous spirit. The question, I think, of paramount importance amongst the questions discussed this evening is that of unemployment. We cannot overlook the fact that there is still a good deal of unemployment in Canada. It is less than it has been, as the figures that have been published since Januaray last will indicate. The number of unemployed in this country has been reduced from 300,000 to 43,000. This is a very satisfactory reduction. With respect to unemployment, however serious the situation may be in Canada, it is still much more serious and alarming in Great Britain. Would you think for one moment that a cry of joy comes out of every home in Great Britain, because the number of unemployed now has come below the figure of one million and a half? If you consider the population of this country, in relation to the population of the United Kingdom, you will find that it is about one to five, and if we had unemployment in Canada on the same scale as they have it in Great Britain, you would have in this country 200,000, at least, unemployed at the present time. What remedy has been applied! in the United Kingdom to alleviate the situation? Would you think that the government of Great Britain had resorted to some kind of government employment? Not at all. I may inform you Mr. Speaker that from November 1920 to this day, eighty five million pounds sterling have been paid out by the government of the United Kingdom in alleviating unemployment, and extending relief to the unemployed. Eighty five million pounds sterling would give you over three hundred million dollars and provision has been made now in the

Pensions Committee

United Kingdom for the expenditure, from now on till the Month of July 1923, of fifty one million pounds sterling, which reduced to dollars, would mean about two hundred and fifty million. But that is not to provide industrial reestablishment-not in the least. It is simply to assist those needy families of Great Britain who are suffering from unemployment-to give them some relief, some food, some shelter and some clothes. It is a / question of dollars and cents.

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CON
LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland (Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment; Minister presiding over the Department of Health)

Liberal

Mr. BELAND:

I was coming to that. If statesmen of the ability of the present rulers of Great Britain found that it was, after all, the best way in which you could relieve unemployment, would we be justified in adopting any other policy? I do not say that I should remain idle; I do not say that the members of this Government and the members of the House of Commons should disinterest themselves entirely from the problem by saying: "We will' simply pay out the money." Far from that; but I make an allusion to conditions in Great Britain only to draw hon. members' attention to the fact that paying out money simply for relief of unemployment is not to be condemned and absolutely thrust aside with a wave of the hand. I do not say that we should remain idle. Far from that; I think we should endeavour to devise means by which this unemployment, however large or however small it may be, may be entirely disposed of in a satisfactory manner by some kind of employment. With that in view, I have already taken steps through the officials of the department over which I have the honour to preside, in order that conferences might be held with the Canadian Red Cross Society with a view of establishing some industrial establishments of Some kind, at least to find employment for those returned soldiers who are disabled or who are in such a physical condition as will preclude them from entering the open labour market. Some results have already been produced, not as regards employment, but as regards devising some plans; those plans will mature with a few weeks or a few months, and provision will be made in the supplementary estimates in that connection.

I know I should not at this hour delay the House any longer. My attitude towards the returned man is well known, land 1 need not say that I do and shall approach all these problems in a most sympathetic

spirit. Anything that can be done to relieve the suffering of the returned man has been done and it will be done in the future, that is anything that is compatible with the financial resources of the country.

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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

Why was the evidence taken before this committee not published the same as the evidence taken before the Railway Rates Committee. The conclusions that have been reached now are very important; but why was the evidence not printed for the information of the members? If we do not have it, when this report is being discussed, we cannot very well discuss the conclusions.

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LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland (Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment; Minister presiding over the Department of Health)

Liberal

Mr. BELAND:

I understand my hon. friend's objection. I have sat on this committee during the last three or four years. As was very well pointed out by the chairman of the committee (Mr. Marler), a committee has two absolutely different kinds of sittings. One kind is the sitting that is held for the purpose of taking evidence of witnesses who are called before the committee and who are subjected to interrogation by members of the committee. The other kind is the executive sessions which take place after all evidence has been taken, for the purpose of discussing the evidence that has been submitted and drafting a report. That has been the custom in the past for the parliamentary committee on pensions, and I think it has been the custom with every other committee. There is not that I know of the least desire on the part of any member of that committee to conceal anything that has taken place. Why should that exist, I wonder? If time permitted I could go over some of the subjects that have been approached very ably by hon. gentlemen this evening; but the hour is late, and all I can say in conclusion is that, if the House adopts the report of this committee as presented by the chairman, we shall try, as a Government, to carry those recommendations out to the best of our ability with a view of reconciling the public interest of Canada with the interest of the returned men.

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CON

Donald Sutherland

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SUTHERLAND:

While this report which was adopted by the committee two days before the supplementary report was adopted, was held in abeyance, was the minister consulted in regard to the matter of holding it up and as to the advisability of making such a recommendation as is attached to the final report which was adopted and then afterwards had this recommendation attached to it?

Pensions Committee

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LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland (Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment; Minister presiding over the Department of Health)

Liberal

Mr. BELAND:

My answer will be

very simple and direct. I was never consulted by the chairman or any member of that committee on any work at all that they were carrying on, and I never knew anything of the report until it was published.

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LAB

Joseph Tweed Shaw

Labour

Mr. SHAW:

What is the attitude of the minister towards the amendment which I moved, and which I withdrew at the request of the mover of concurrence in the report (Mr. Marler), on the understanding that the suggestions contained in the amendment would be approved by the Government and made part of the report?

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LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland (Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment; Minister presiding over the Department of Health)

Liberal

Mr. BELAND:

The answer is "yes."

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Militia and Defence; Minister of the Naval Service)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

All except the part referring to exchange, as, I believe, was understood.

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LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland (Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment; Minister presiding over the Department of Health)

Liberal

Mr. BELAND:

All that was understood between the chairman of the com-siittee (Mr. Marler) and my hon. friend (Mr. Shaw) in the presence of the House this evening. Is that satisfactory?

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LAB
CON
LIB

George Newcombe Gordon (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

The hon. member is out of order. He has already spoken and he cannot move an amendment.

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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

I should like to move

an amendment that the report be sent back to the committee with instructions to amend it by providing that in cases of total disability, the blind be paid a straight annual pension of $900 in addition to any bonus granted to them.

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Militia and Defence; Minister of the Naval Service)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

Of course, as the hon. gentleman, perhaps, is not aware, he could not himself, having spoken once, move that amendment.

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LIB

George Newcombe Gordon (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

I declare the amendment out of order.

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Motion agreed to.


PRIVATE BILLS FIRST READINGS


Bill No. 177 (from the Senate), respecting a patent of Simon W. Farber.-Mr. Chevrier. Bill No. 178 (from the Senate), respecting a patent of Daniel Herbert Schweyer. -Mr. Maclean (Halifax). Bill No. 179 (from the Senate), respect' ing certain patents of the Holophane Glass Company.-Mr. McMaster.


June 21, 1922