June 21, 1922

LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

He left only a widowed mother; he did not leave any children?

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CON
LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

The widowed mother

under those conditions would be entitled to pension only if she was dependent. Now, the hon. member asks what is the meaning of "dependency."

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CON

William Garland McQuarrie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McQUARRIE:

That is the question, please.

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LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

I will answer it, with pleasure. Dependency is a sufficiency for maintenance and is recognized by the statute to the extent of $60 a month in the case of one parent and $75 in the case of two. In the ease mentioned by the hon. member, if the widow asking for the pension has $60 a month of her own, the law would not consider that she was dependent.

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CON

William Garland McQuarrie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McQUARRIE:

But if she has no income whatever and has other sons who might be expected to support her or to contribute to her support, but do not do so, what then?

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LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

These sons would have to contribute to her support, and any pension she might be entitled to under the act would be subject to reduction to the extent that the Pension Board considered those sons should support her.

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CON

William Garland McQuarrie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McQUARRIE:

As the law stands now, and according to rulings of the Pension Commissioners, she is not entitled to anything because she has these other sons who should be expected to support her, but do not do it. That is the case I am referring to.

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LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

If there are other sons who should support the widowed mother, she will not get a pension. The law in effect, is based on the principle .that children should support their parents and that the country cannot be expected to support a widowed mother if there are children capable of supporting her to such and such an extent.

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LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARCIL (Bonaventure) :

Is any change being made in the practice of reducing the pension to widowed mothers? Several cases have come up in my constituency in which the amount originally awarded has been reduced.

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LIB
LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARCIL (Bonaventure) :

That is, these pensions may still be reduced? I received a letter only this morning in which it is stated that the pension awarded to a widowed mother has actually been reduced.

Pensions Committee

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LIB
LIB

Harold Putnam

Liberal

Mr. PUTNAM:

Is that provision invariable, that a mother having capable but unfilial children shall be obliged to account for their lapses in the deduction of her pension?

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LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

Yes, she would. I think I had better finish my remarks, Mr. Speaker, with regard to the pensions. I was about to deal with the question of certain accusations which had been made against the Pensions Board. Charges have recently been made in the press, and the matter has been brought up on the floor of the House. I do not desire to pose asja defender of the board, or anything of that kind; I would simply like to say that the question was carefully considered by the committee and that the committee has recommended that a commission be appointed to inquire into the facts. I hesitate, in view of that, to discuss the matter at any greater length; probably it will be just as well to leave it to the commission to consider the facts as they are brought before it.

The next question dealt with in the report is that of insurance. The only comment I desire to make in that respect is with regard to section 5, which has reference to the refusal of the minister to enter into an insurance contract. Under section 13 of the Insurance Act the minister has the right to frame regulations, and under section 15 he has the right to require medical examination where that is thought proper. The present regulations were placed before the committee and the committee found them to be eminently fair in all respects.

The noKt question which comes up under the report is that of land settlement. I shall be exceedingly brief on this question. I shall give only the outline of the general law on the subject and the general effect, and indicate the payments which the soldier settlers are now required to meet under the various acts, and the payments which it is proposed shall be made under amendments to the acts which this House will be asked to concur in.

There were two Land Settlement acts. The first was the Land Settlement Act of 1917. It provided in the first place for loans of $2,500, which amount was subsequently extended under Order in Council to $3,000. Then the act of 1919 was passed, and amendments were made to that act in 1920. The provisions of these acts are very largely the same. They all give the returned soldier, and in certain cases the

widow of a soldier, the right to become settlers, but hon. members should realize that every returned soldier was not entitled to become a settler under the terms of these acts. Whether he was capable of being a successful soldier settler or not was first of all carefully inquired into by the board. Other inquiries had to be made as to whether the soldier was sufficiently fit, whether he had had practical farming experience, as to his sincerity of purpose and his ability to pay 10 per cent of the cost of the farm and to keep his family from want. The man on being declared eligible to become a soldier farmer selects his farm, subject to the approval of the board. In the selection of the farm the board takes all the necessary facts into consideration, and after it has been finally decided that the soldier settler is suitable to become a farmer, and that the farm is a suitable one on which to settle, he is granted a loan.

At present there are three classes of loans. There is the loan to the settler who purchases land; there is the loan to the settler who settles on Dominion free land; and there is the loan to the settler who owns his own land. All these loans have various qualifications: various questions arise as to repayment and whether the loan is made on improved or unimproved land. It follows from this that we have settlers at the present time under many conditions. We have settlers under the act of 1917, and settlers under the act of 1919, who have loans on land, loans for improvements, loans for stock and implements. We have also settlers under the act of 1920, with loans on unimproved land, loans for improvements on improved land, loans for improvements on unimproved land, and so on. In other words, in many cases the settler has several accounts which have to be kept, and the keeping of these accounts is cumbersome to a very great degree. In examining into the question of soldier settlers, there has been a certain amount of criticism of the acts. I do not see it in that light. I think the effect of soldier settlement so far has been remarkably good.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN (York):

Roughly, how many soldier settlers are there?

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LIB
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

That would be without taking into account the homesteading soldier settlers. With those included, the number would be between 27,000 and 28,000.

Pensions Committee

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LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

Yes, the figure I gave

was of settlers under the Soldier Settlement Acts. These soldier settlers have opened up 600,000 acres of new land, and they have under cultivation over 5,000,000 acres of land. Take, for example, the amounts they are worth to the railroads. If we take as a basis $740 of freight for each soldier settler, that means a very large amount in freight to the railroads. It does seem to me that the soldier settlers under the circumstances that have existed in agriculture in the past few years have done remarkably well. But I do think this, and the committee also thought, that the loans as made under the acts, were not sufficiently extended as regards repayments.

In other words, they did not 5 p.m. give the soldier first of all the opportunity of getting his farm in order before being called upon to make heavy payments. We must look at this question from two viewpoints. We should look at it from the viewpoint of the great advisability of keeping the soldiers on the land, because, as I have said, they have done remarkably well so far, and, in the second place, we must also look at it from the standpoint that the nation has a very large amount of money locked up in this undertaking. It is therefore advisable that we should encourage the soldier settlers tc stay on the land and to cultivate it, as-' sisting them in every way possible to repay the loans which have been made to them.

As I have indicated previously, the pay-' ments under the present acts are far too heavy. The soldier settlers cannot meet these payments as they now exist. Consequently, what your committee suggests is this, that all amounts advanced to every soldier settler, the arrears, loans for improvements, loans for stock and implements, and loans on land, be all consolidated into or.e account, as of the 1st of April, 1922, and that interest be added to the consolidated account so arrived at, at the rate of 5 per cent per annum to the next interest date, which in Manitoba is the 1st of October, and that on the 1st of October next the soldier will pay one twenty-fifth of that amount less interest exemption, which I shall explain in a moment or two.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIOHEN:

Did the committee take into account when making that recommendation the mortality of personal property security? Land is eternal, but implements very soon pass away, and twenty-five years seems a long time to expect them to remain

as security; and it seems longer still in the case of stock. I am just asking if the committee took into account that there is a very great difference between the length of time you can afford to give in the case of land, and in the case of stock and implements.

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June 21, 1922