June 21, 1922

LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. HERBERT MARLER (St. Law-rence-St. George) moved:

That the second and final report of the Special Committee on Pensions, Soldiers' Insurance and Civil Re-Establishment be consideredthat the recommendations contained therein be commended to the consideration of the Government, and that the recommendation contained in the concluding paragraph in respect of printing be concurred in.

[Mr. Meighen.l

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

The custom and the rule is that every member should speak from his seat, but I think in view of the accoustics of the Chamber and the importance of the question, the hon. member, who is chairman of the Pensions Committee, should be allowed to speak from one of the front seats.

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LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. HERBERT MARLER (St. Law-rence-St. George):

House, the report, as brought down by that committee, should also be representative of the opinion of the House itself. In the prosecution of the work of the committee, very many matters from very many bodies were placed before it. Some of these questions are discussed in the report. Others are brought in by way of recommendation. Others will be discussed in the course of my remarks. Some, I admit, are not discussed at all, because it was thought that no good object would be gained by discussing them. But I should like to make abundantly clear to every member in the House the fact that, whether these questions are discussed in the report or not, whether recommendations are brought down in the report or not, or whether they are discussed by me in the course of these remarks or not, the committee was actuated by one motive, imbued with one idea, and one only, and that was that the returned soldiers, and the dependents of those who died, and those who come back sick or disabled, should be given an absolutely square deal, in all respects, compatible with the resources of the country and the welfare of the nation. There was no other idea in the minds of the committee at any time. I admit, Sir, that it is quite true that some will say that something should have been done for certain who are not disabled, that pensions should have been given, perhaps, to some who are indirectly, or not at all, suffering from any war disability, and that treatment should be given to certain others when sick. Some of these matters are not brought down, in the report, I admit, but, I think, Sir, from the figures which I have given to the House so far, and the figures Which I expect to give later on, we can fairly admit, at least, that the country has been reasonably generous. I do not say that generosity is not right. I say that generosity is correct, and that generosity is proper in every respect. We are not giving this generosity to our returned soldiers as a gift, but as our duty, and we are glad to give that generosity to the returned soldiers, as a duty, and to their dependents, the sick and the disabled. But let us look further than that. Should we extend so-called generosity further? It is right, I admit, and proper, I admit, in every way, that the state should take under its paternal care, to the fullest extent, all those who are suffering from war disabilities, all the dependents of those who have died, and all those who are injured, or are

suffering from a war injury. But should that state paternalism extend further than that? I do not think it should. State paternalism, as I see it, when unavoidable, is necessary. Where it is avoidable, it should not take place. If extended where it should not be extended, the result can be, and can only be one thing, and that one thing will be this: that the nation will lose self reliance; instead of relying on ourselves, and remaining a strong nation, as we are to-day, it will take that self reliance away and turn us into a weak nation. Sir, let me qualify the statements that I have made regarding paternalism in all sincerity. Our soldiers have earned our gratitude. They have earned that gratitude, I venture to say-in fact do say-to an extent that we cannot repay to an extent even which we do not pretend to be able to repay. There is no pretence on our part of any attempt to estimate in dollars and cents what has been done. But, although these soldiers have served us, we ask the soldiers to go further. We ask them to remember, Sir, that they are also citizens of this country, and, although we are indebted to them in very many ways, we ask them to make us their debtors still further. We ask them to realize that they, also, although they have our gratitude, should carry on as citizens of this country the same an any other citizen, where it is possible to do so. I admit, Sir, that the great majority of soldiers who were overseas have taken up the duties of citizenship, without the slightest question. They have cheerfully taken up those duties, have gone back to their jobs, and have said nothing whatsoever about their being overseas. But, perhaps, there may be a few who do not realize the duties of citizenship and who ask the state to continue, as I say, its paternal care indefinitely. I think those few should realize the efforts which the state has made, realize the efforts which everybody interested in this great question has attempted to make, and is still attempting to make, and, also, realize that they, on their part, must take up their duties as citizens also. I quite admit, Sir, in reference to my last few words, that such utterance is far from popular. It does not breed popularity in any man who makes such an utterance, perhaps, anywhere in this broad Dominion. But, Sir, notwithstanding that, is it not much better to be sincere and not to deceive. Any influence I may have had, whatever that

Pensions Committee

small influence has been, since this committee met, in the prosecutions of this work, has had one object, and one object only, and that has been to tell returned soldiers, and those representing returned soldiers, what we thought the state should do, and what we thought the state could do, and not to make empty promises When we thought the state should not or could not carry out those promises. No other man on the floor of this House-and I speak from my personal viewpoint at the present time-realizes with greater gratitude than I do how much this country is indebted to the returned soldier. I think any man who had not the privilege of going overseas should realize that, perhaps, more than those who did go overseas; hut personally I decline absolutely to attempt to deceive the returned soldier by making rash promises which, I know, cannot and will not be carried out. It is on that basis, in view of these preliminary remarks, that this report was prepared.

Coming directly to the report, let me say that the first chapter takes up the question of re-establishment. By re-estab-lisment is meant the placing of the exsoldier in a position to earn his livelihood, by means of remedying damages which have been caused by the war. For that purpose, the State comes forward and says: "First of all we will endeavour to cure you through hospital treatment." In the second place it says: "If you require artificial limbs or anything of that description, we will furnish you with such articles." In the third place it says: "We will give you training in order to fit you for a trade, and during this period of hospital treatment, during this period of training, we will pay you pay and allowances." This the state has done. The state has not stated, nor has the state ever attempted to say to any returned soldier that it will attempt to repair damages caused by a man's financial losses, or his losses in social standing. All it attempts to do, all that re-establishment tries to do-and I think re-establishment has made a very fair attempt-is to repair the damage done to the returned soldier on account of war service. That, I think, should be made perfectly clear.

Let me again detail to the House a few of the figures which the Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment have taken up. Prior to the 31st of December last, admissions to hospitals numbered over 12,000; clinical treatments accorded

numbered over 945,000; dental treatments numbered over 28,000; the number of those who commenced training was 51,000; orthopedic and surgical appliances supplied numbered over 127,000; positions found numbered over 175,000, and dependants returned from overseas numbered 49,000. All these are large figures.

The next item in the report which, I think, perhaps, I might call to the attention of the House is the knowledge which the returned soldier has of the various advantages which he may receive and the various acts and departments which attempt to assist him. Evidence came before the committee which led the committee to believe that, although a great deal of propaganda had been made, there might be a few returned soldiers in some parts of the country who had not the knowledge of what they could do and how they were to go about that. The recommendation, therefore, contained in the report that a booklet shall be prepared and issued to all returned soldiers, is for the purpose of giving all these returned soldiers ample notice of all that the state is ready and willing to do for them.

Hon. members will note the heading "Constitution of further Medical Advisory Board." Your committee considered that question with the utmost care. The facts were these. A soldier goes to the Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment and is there examined by the unit medical director. The unit medical director says to the soldier: "We are very sorry that we cannot give you treatment." Under the law as it stands at present, that soldier has a right to go to his own medical adviser and to obtain from such medical adviser a certificate stating that the injury, for which he asks treatment, is the result of war disability, and that certificate is then sent in to the Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment. Our suggestion to the House in that respect is this, that where a soldier goes to his medical adviser and obtains a certificate from a practitioner of standing showing that the initial decision of the Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment is at fault, submitting therewith reasonable evidence substantiating the facts set out in such certificate, then and in that case he goes before the so-called Medical Advisory Board, which consists, as shown in this section of the report, of certain independent medical men. In that way, the soldier will have the benefit of two boards to sit on his case and

Pensions Covvmittee

decide whether treatment shall or shall not be rendered and thus is set aside, in so far as it can be set aside, any question whatsoever whether the soldier is or is not capable of having treatment at the hands of that department.

I do not think I need take up in any great detail other matters contained under the heading "re-establishment", excepting possibly the question of the canteen funds. As hon. members possibly know, the Canteen Funds' Disposal Committee was appointed during or after the last session of Parliament. Ballots were sent out to a very great extent, but no conclusive results were obtained from the ballots sent out. As a matter of fact, the ideas sent in by those who received ballots were too numerous; in fact, it would be impossible in any way to act on the report of that particular committee. Your committee in taking up this subject have analysed the statement and the report of the Canteen Funds' Disposal Committee and have segregated those items which appear to be the actual items that most votes were cast for under that reference, and they are bringing in their reference in this report based on the report of the Canteen Funds' Disposal Committee and suggesting to the House that that they concur in the recommendation that a board of administration be appointed, as set out in the report, for the purpose of administering these funds, indicating to that board that the funds, which all members of the committee understand and believe are soldiers' funds shall, in the first place, be used for promoting sheltered employment, and in the second place, for the purpose of promoting education of soldier's children who could not get education otherwise.

On the subject of unemployment, your committee expended a great deal of thought and energy. I myself, I may say, thought over the subject day after day. It was recommended to the committee that a National Economic Congress be appointed, and that it sit in various parts of the Dominion. We did not think that the appointment of such a congress would have any active or immediate results. Other points came up as regards unemployment; all were dissected ; all were considered; all were placed on one side. On several occasions we asked that concrete proposals as to what could be done for unemployment be placed before us. I, personally, as Chairman of the Committee, asked this question on many occasions; but after all this was done, none

was offered. There is nothing we can suggest which will cure the prevailing unemployment condition. We realize the difficulties of the situation, with which we are most sympathetic, and we should gladly have seized on anything that would have tended to improve matters. We did think, however, that the winter should not be allowed to approach without some kind of help being available for the returned soldiers, and we felt that if it was possible for the Government to give them work in the meanwhile so that they might be paid for doing something instead of being given money by way of gifts, as has been done in the past, it would be infinitely preferable. I am free to admit to hon. gentlemen on the floor of this House that although every attempt has been made, both on my part and on the part of every member of the committee, to solve the great difficulty, it appears that the only hope for a satisfactory solution lies in a return to normal conditions.

The next part of the report deals with pensions. I do not intend to say a great deal on this subject, but I think there should be clearly placed before the House at least the elements that enter into the question of awarding pensions. There has been considerable criticism on the subject of pensions. Many hon. members wonder why certain people are not granted pensions, and they cannot fathom the reason. Now, the elements of the principle on which pensions are granted are simple, but the application of the principle itself is exceedingly difficult. Similarly, the principles of war are simple, but the application of those principles present considerable difficulty. However, I want to put before the House a few simple principles that are adopted in the awarding of pensions. In the first place, the Pensions Boai'd is regulated by an act. That board is a judicial body, quite separate, and properly so, from any governmental agency. It is a judicial body and functions as such under the Pensions Act.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN (York):

Will the hon member define the distinction between applications for pension and the application that has been made for a bonus? Did such an application come up?

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LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

That question did not come up; it is an entirely separate and distinct thing. My understanding is that the application for bonus is made to the Department of Militia and Defence, while

Pensions Committee

the application for pension is made to the Pensions Board. But I am giving that answer to my hon. friend, not having any great knowledge of the question in regard to bonus.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN (York):

Was a direct application made to the committee by the returned men for a bonus?

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LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

I misunderstood the hon. member. As I understand his question now it is this: Was any application made for a bonus to be granted to returned men in addition to the ordinary pension? Is that the question?

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN (York) :

Was that matter brought to the attention of the committee? Was there a direct application of that nature before the committee?

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LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

Yes, it was. That question was considered and is mentioned in the report. Now, as regards the question of pensions. Pensions are awarded on account of death or by reason of war disability. Before any pension can be awarded there must first of all be the prerequisite of a disability caused by the war. Pensions are not awarded because soldiers went overseas and underwent bodily sufferings, or because they have lost social status, or because their businesses did not prosper while they were away. Pensions are not awarded for any of these causes, but simply and solely for war disability or on account of death. This being the case, pensions had to be reduced to a common denominator. In other words, one man could not be awarded a pension because he held a certain status in life, and another man another pension because he held a lesser or a higher position. One common denominator was chosen, and that was unskilled labourer 100 per cent efficient. It follows therefore that if a man is 10 per cent deficient he gets a 10 per cent pension on that basis; if he is 100 per cent deficient he gets 100 per cent pension based on that deficiency.

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LAB

William Irvine

Labour

Mr. IRVINE:

.Does this common rate apply to officers as well? Is there any distinction between one class and another?

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LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

Pensions are given according to rank. Prior to the late war pensions were granted only on account of disability due to war service. On the outbreak of the war we granted for a time, until September, 1920, pensions to soldiers no matter what happened to them during the course of the war. But after the first of September, 1920, the old principle was

reverted to, under which a soldier was pensioned only because of disability attributable to military service as such. It does not mean that a soldier has necessarily to apply for his pension on discharge. The soldiers were discharged either on the short form or on the long form. If they claimed to be fit they were discharged on the short form; if they were not well, or if they were suffering from any disability at the time, they were discharged on the long form. The long form gave a pen picture of every man in the condition in which he was at the time of his discharge. Hon. members will see from this that certain difficulties must arise in connection with the granting of pensions. When a man has been discharged on the long form the particulars of his case are taken at the time. But a man might say he was fit and would accordingly be discharged on the short form. And a man discharged on the short form is not thereby precluded from getting a pension if he discovers that any disability that has appeared afterwards is attributable to war services. In other words, the evidence in existence at the time of his discharge is not conclusive at all. The history of every man is gone into and every attempt is made to give the soldier the benefit of the doubt, no matter how long after his discharge it may be before he applies for his pension.

The question as to the rates of pension will no doubt be of interest to hon. members. We have heard that our Canadian pensions are higher than those in other countries. Here are the rates:

Canada United States United Kingdom New Zealands 5 $ c. $ c.For a pensioner only.. For a pensioner and 900 1,200 506 13 506 13wife

For a pensioner and wife and three child- 1,200 1,200 632 66 759 20ren 1,644 1,200 879 42 1,138 80

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LIB
LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

I am speaking in total disability terms at the present time.

The next question taken up in the report is one which I have alluded to before -the question of an appeal board. When a man applies for a pension the necessary information is first of all given to the unit medical officer of the D.S.C.R., who sends it forward to the Pension Board for

Pensions Committee

examination by the physicians of that board. Naturally pensions are based on two particular points: first, on the point of law, that is, whether the pensioner comes under the Pension Act or not; second, on the facts. The facts are largely medical. It therefore follows that the medical officers may disagree. What your committee had to consider was this: The unit medical officer would say to the applicant, "I think you should receive a 50 per cent disability pension." When that application with the requisite papers reached the head office the physicians there would say, " No, we think the unit medical officer is wrong. We think you should receive only a 40 per cent disability pension." In other words, there is a difference between the medical unit officer and the medical directors of the head office. In another case where a disability pension was subject to revision, the unit medical officer might say, "Your pension should be reduced so much." But on the papers being transmitted to the head office the medical directors there would disagree with that opinion. Therefore your committee recommends that where such a disagreement arises the case shall be submitted to what we call a Medical Advisory Board. This would give the soldier affected two boards, consistently against or in his favour, to determine which decision is right.

Various other matters are dealt with in the report which, however, do not call for particular comment. The report, in so far as pensions are concerned, is very full, and each section has been drawn in such a way that I hope it is perfectly clear. There are only one or two other points in connection with pensions on which I need comment. One of these points-and I must say that I approach it with a geed deal of hesitation-deals with pensions to widowed mothers. I think all hon. members will recall the resolution which this House passed on the 1st May last:

That, in the opinion of this House, it is expedient to amend the act to provide pensions to or in respect of members of the Canadian Naval and Military Air Forces, 1919, so as to provide that the pension of a widowed mother of a member of the forces wbo has died on active service shall not be reduced on account of her income; and further that pension shall be granted her of right whether or not there are other living children.

I have stated, Mr. Speaker, that I approach this question with a good deal of hestitation. I have a high opinion of the

mover of that resolution, and I am quite sure that by reason of his magnificent war record he realized the situation and acted in the best possible spirit. Hon. members will recall that during the course of the debate which took place on that resolution a question arose as to whether or not the resolution, if accepted by the House, would be submitted to the committee which was sitting at that time. The resolution carried. Your committee were authorized under the general reference to take up the question embodied in that resolution.

A pension of of $720 a year is awarded to a widowed mother when a soldier does not leave a wridow and children or orphans. Of course when the soldier leaves the other dependents referred to the widowed mother does not receive as much. The particular section of the act dealing with this class of pensions states in effect that where a soldier leaves a widow and also a widowed mother that his widow shall be preferred as the recipient of the pension. In addition to the pension to the widow the widowed mother is also allowed a certain sum. It is also provided that the pension to the widowed mother shall not be reduced on account of her own earnings, but if she has a g'reater income than $240 per annum, anything over and above that sum shall be deducted from the pension.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

That is, income which she does not earn herself.

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LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

Yes; she can earn as much as she likes. The effort of the state,, it seems to me, has been to place all widowed mothers in precisely the same position. In other words, the widowed mother in one case is told: If you need this pension it shall be granted you. But in another case she is told: If you have an income from other sources there is no reason why the state should support you. If you have children who can support you, then the money that they give you will be deducted from the pension. That, according to my reading of the law, was the intention of the state in framing the legislation as regards widowed mothers' pensions. Let us look at what the resolution asks for. The resolution that I am discussing at the present moment, that is to say, the resolution passed by this House on the first of May last, asks that the widowed mother of a soldier who died on active service shall receive a pension of $720 per annum, whether or not the soldier left a widow and whether or not he left depen-

Pensions Committee

dent children, and that a pension so granted to the widowed mother shall not be reduced for any cause, no matter how much income of her own she may have. If an amendment of this description were placed in the law it seems to me it would strike at the whole question of dependency, because pension for dependents other than the soldier's widow is always based on the extent to which the persons in question are actually dependent. In other words, the question to be determined is whether the dependents of the soldier need the money to live on, or do not. The effect of the law can be reduced into dollars-and I am not referring to the question from this point of view for the purpose of influencing the decision of any hon. member. If a thing is right, it should be done, but before asking that a thing be done we should certainly count the cost. If every widowedi mother who at present is in receipt of pension is granted additional pension in accordance with this resolution, it will mean a known increase in our pension bill of $2,200,000 per annum. It is impossible to say, of course, what the ultimate effect of the adoption of the resolution would be, because it is a fact that many widowed mothers have applied for pension and many of these applications have been refused because the applicants were not considered dependent. But so far as can be ascertained, the change would result in an increased expenditure of $2,200,000.

Another question dealt with in the report has reference to certain charges made against the Pensions Board.

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CON

William Garland McQuarrie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McQUARRIE:

May I ask the hon. gentleman a question?

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LIB
CON

William Garland McQuarrie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McQUARRIE:

Will he be good

enough to explain what he means by "dependents"? Take the case where a mother has a number of sons, one of whom was killed in the war. She has certain sons with her now who should be expected to support her, but who do not do so, and she is really in destitute circumstances. In a case where these facts can be shown beyond question, will the widowed mother be entitled to pension?

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LIB
CON

June 21, 1922