June 21, 1922

LAB
IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN (York) :

Will he give

his own experience as regards unemployment that has developed in the regiment with which he was associated?

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LAB

Joseph Tweed Shaw

Labour

Mr. SHAW:

Of course, I need not tell

the hon. member (Mr. Maclean) that there was not any unemployment at the front.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN (York) :

I mean unemployment that my hon. friend has come into contact with in connection with the regiment with which he was identified.

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LAB

Joseph Tweed Shaw

Labour

Mr. SHAW:

I regret very much that

I am unable to give that information, because the battalion with which I was associated was not a battalion which centered at the city of Calgary. It did, as a matter of fact, have its centre at the city of Regina and consequently I regret I am not familiar with conditions in that city.

I realize the difficulties that the committee necessarily would have in dealing with

the problem of unemployment. I do not know whether Mr. MacNeil, on behalf of the veterans' organizations, was able to give to the committee any concrete or definite plan; but in any event, I know the matter of unemployment was before this Parliament on another occasion. I know that perhaps next winter and during the next year or two, the greatest possible difficulties will again exist in connection with that problem, and returned soldiers in common with others will necessarily suffer by reason of that condition.

While therefore I do not blame the committee for not coming to a conclusion in the matter, I do think that the Parliament of Canada should if possible have some definite concrete proposal to put forward to solve this difficulty during the coming year.

I desire now to refer for a moment to the Soldier Settlement Board. The matter of the revaluation of loans made by the board is not a new one. I think it was voiced from practically every platform in the province of Alberta during the last political campaign. It did not become a political question for the reason, I think, that Liberals, Conservatives, Progressives and every one else agreed that if anything could be done in the way of revaluation it should be done in order to ensure that the soldier settlement scheme might be carried out for the benefit of those for whom it was intended. It is useless to continue this scheme if under its operations the beneficiaries find it impossible to carry on satisfactorily. I am not a farmer and I cannot say whether or not the measure of relief proposed by the committee, as indicated by the hon. member for Red Deer (Mr. Speakman), will achieve the end desired. However, if I were to venture an opinion, despite the fact that I am not a farmer, I rather doubt the full measure of success which soma may attribute to this relief from interest. I am hopeful that it will be successful. Indeed, I am sure we all hope that the proposal will prove abundantly worth while and that it will enable this particular scheme to be continued to the benefit of the people for whom it was intended. Having stated these various criticisms, if such they might be termed, I shall now suggest what I hope will be satisfactory to the mover of the motion. I submit the following amendment for his consideration:

Pensions Committee

That the said report be not now commended, but that it be referred back to the Special Committee on Pensions, Insurance and Civil Re-establishment with instructions that it have power to add to the supplementary part thereof, relating to the appointment of a royal commission the following words:

And further, that such commission shall have power to consider and report upon the following matters, namely:

1. To oonsider and mako suggestions in respect of the procedure by whim disabled exmembers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force are enabled to make application for pensions and medical treatment, or submit an appeal in respect of decisions thereon.

2. To recommend means for ensuring that suitable provision is made for those ex-members of the forces and dependents who are under serious handicaps by reason oi' war services, in conformity with the recommendations now made, and for whom definite legislative provision has not yet been made.

For the above purposes the commission shall:

1. Survey existing re-establishment needs among Canadian ex-service men and dependents.

2. Investigate available data in respect of phases of the Parliamentary Inquiry as yet incomplete.

3. Obtain information as regards suitable provision for those classes of ex-service men described in section 7, Chap. 2, of the foregoing report.

4. Investigate the question of exchange and canteen funds.

This amendment is offered in a friendly spirit, with the desire that the commission Which is to be appointed for the investigation of some alleged charges may be enabled to investigate certain other fields of activity and make recommendations in connection therewith. With regard to the question of canteen funds, which I am asking to have investigated, the committee, in my humble judgment, seems to have been under a misapprehension. That canteen fund belongs to the ex-service men of Canada. It does not at all belong to the Parliament of Canada to dispose of as it sees fit. It is money that must be used for the benefit of the men, and is subject to their disposal. But I notice that the committee, disregarding that fact, suggests that certain things be done with the fund.

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IND
LAB

Joseph Tweed Shaw

Labour

Mr. SHAW:

Page 375. The report provides for the appointment of a board and in that I heartily concur. Then there are the following provisions:

(a) In the allocation of such amount as may be necessary for the purpose of the promotion of workshops where sheltered employment under suitable conditions can be provided where not already in existence or, in the opinion of the board, are not sufficiently pro viced for; and

(b) To provide further educational facilities to children of ex-members of the forces, such

education to be both primary and secondary, and to apply to such children of ax-members of the forces who would otherwise In the opinion of the board be unable to procure such educational facilities.

Now, I contend that these two objects represent an obligation either of the Parliament of Canada or of the provincial governments, and this special fund should not be used for such purposes. This obligation on the part of the Dominion of Canada or of the provinces-wherever the responsibility lies-should be carried out by the people who obligated themselves to perform them, and I say that you cannot properly without the consent of the veterans of Canada, who are entitled to the fund, allocate it for these particular purposes mentioned.

I know that some attempt was made to secure a vote of the veterans of Canada to indicate what they wanted done with the fund. But the report itself, at page 372 states:

It was considered by the Committee after the Report of the Canteen Disposal Funds Committee, appointed under the said Order in Council, had been reviewed, and also after having heard the evidence, that the plebiscite as so taken did not yield conclusive results.

I say, therefore, that it would be unfair to take this fund and allocate it to these purposes. By way of enforcing what I have said in connection with this matter, I might point out that shortly before coming here I received a telegram from the secretary of the Great War Veterans' Association in Calgary protesting against the proposed disposal of the canteen fund, believing as he does that the education of children, and that the furnishing of sheltered employment, are government responsibilities. He urges that the fund be placed at the disposal of the men who contributed to it. Under these circumstances I am sure that the committee would not desire to use the fund for purposes for which, in my judgment at any rate, it cannot properly be used. May I say in conclusion-

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. BELAND:

Before my hon. friend

leaves that point, can he suggest to the House any mode by which the wish of the veterans in Canada could be ascertained with regard to the disposal of the canteen fund?

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN (York):

What is the amount?

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. BELAND:

In round figures, $2,000,-

000.

Pensions Committee

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LAB

Joseph Tweed Shaw

Labour

Mr. SHAW:

The request of the hon.

minister is indeed a very large order. The veterans of course are scattered all over this country, but nevertheless the difficulty of securing their judgment on a particular matter does not justify this or any other government in allocating this fund, which are held in trust for them, to these specified purposes without their consent. I have no doubt that the allied veterans' organizations could probably suggest to the minister some satisfactory means for the disposition of the fund. I have no special views myself on the matter, except that I do not think it would be right or just to allocate the fund to these particular purposes in view of the results obtained by this most unsatisfactory and incomplete plebiscite, in which only about 22,000 men out of a total membership of 250,000 indicated their choice.

I trust that the hon. gentleman who has moved the adoption of this report will see his way clear to incorporate in it the amendment which I have proposed. I am sure we are at one in our desire to do what is right and fair and to ensure that the veterans receive from this Parliament the fullest possible justice.

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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. L. CHURCH (North Toronto) :

Mr. Speaker, I would not have had anything to say upon this question but for the fact that about 60,000 men went to the front from Toronto, where many of the difficulties in the administration of the Pension Act have arisen, and where there is a great deal of suffering among the returned men through technical enforcement of acts of Parliament; therefore at their request I take part in this debate.

I take this opportunity of congratulating the hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George (Mr. Marler) on the report he has presented, although it does not go as far as I had hoped it would. However, I think the hon. gentleman's heart is in the right place for the returned men, and I believe [DOT]that he wishes to eliminate many of the technicalities which have hampered the administration of the present act and have worked to the disadvantage of the veterans.

This is about the only opportunity the House has had to consider the whole question of soldiers' civil re-establishment which up to date has involved an expenditure of $475,000,000 or about one and a half times the total debt of Canada before the war. The report deals with four

important points: re-establishment; pensions; insurance; land settlement, and a very elaborate survey is made of these problems. Certain recommendations are made, but I am sorry these do not go as far as the circumstances necessitate.

The recommendations made by the committee of which the former member for London, Mr. Hume Cronyn, was chairman, added about $623,000 to the pensions granted for disability plus special cases. The report now before us has this to say about the inquiry-

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LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

I think my hon. friend

will find that figure is not correct. If he refers to section 1 of chapter 2 he will find the correct figures to which he refers.

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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

Perhaps I had better

read what the report says. I find the following in the first part of section 1, chapter 2 to which my hon. friend from St. Lawrence and St. George (Mr. Marler) refers, but my total is corect, $623,000:

This committee is satisfied that every effort possible to be made has been made in effecting the recommendations and suggestions of the 1921 committee referred to in this section.

It may be noted as regards the recommendations of the 1921 committee that they resulted in the following increased liability to the state,

namely:

Increased liability to pay to pensioners resident outside of Canada the same bonus as that paid to pensioners resident in Canada $400,000

Increase to widowed mothers by reason of lessened deduction of income

from children 10,500

Increase to pensoners for deaths or disability prior to August 1914 not

receiving C.E.F. rates 7,500

Additional death claims not provided

for 10,000

Total Supplementary Estimates for

pension $428,000

Employers' liability compensation.. 100,000

G.T.R. employees 60,000

Calydor Sanatorium addition 35,000

Total Supplementary Estimates.. .. $623,000

The report now before us at page 25 has this to say about the inquiry:

"The committee has heard and considered much evidence with regard to increasing pensions or bonus, as the case may be, applicable to pensioners in general, or to pensioners suffering from particular disabilities and/or to dependents under certain circumstances. All these representations and the evidence a dduced with regard thereto have been very carefully and separately considered by the committee."

This is what the committee recommends as to increases in pensions:

Pensions Committee

Except where otherwise indicated in this report, the committee is not disposed to recommend increases in pension and/or bonus as requested, but does recommend that'the rates and extent ot pension and bonus as now provided for under The Pension Act be continued-

That is, the present scale be continued except as specified.

-and remain in effect until the 1st September, 1924.

I contend very strongly that the time have not yet arrived when there should be any curtailment in the very limited scale of pensions granted. Rent and coal are the two main items in the cost of living, and they take about 65 per cent of all that a soldier gets, leaving him a very small balance to meet the other items which go to make up his total cost of living, and we all know that everything is still very, very expensive. Therefore I consider that the time has not yet come to mark down the scale of pensions.

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PRO

Thomas Wakem Caldwell

Progressive

Mr. CALDWELL:

Is the hon. member arguing that we have recommended reducing the scale of pensions? The bonus provided last year expires this coming September, and the committee recommends that it be continued for another two years.

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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

I understand that and have already read that the bonus is to go to 1924, but I have here a large number of telegrams from many organizations, urging increases. Organizations in the city of Toronto protest strongly against any curtailment in the present rate of pensions. Last year the House increased the amount paid out in pensions to the extent of $623,000. I contend that there should be a 10 to 121 per cent further increase in pensions over the amount paid in 1921, particularly in special, urgent and important cases. The extra expenditure involved would only be about half a million dollars. I have an outline of the suggested increases for 1922 here, but I will not read it to-night.

I would like to refer to some points dealt with in the report, some of which have been referred to by others who have spoken in the debate and some have not. I wish to mention first the case of the blind, not yet referred to in this debate. A deputation representing the organizations of Canada which are working in the interests of the blind waited on the committee, and were more than kindly received by the chairman. Consider what it means to a man to be blind-what he suffers; what his family suffers; the attention he needs. It is difficult enough for . persons who

CMr. Church.]

their sight to move about the streets of our large cities under modern conditions of traffic without being knocked down. A bond man in a large city or town needs a guide or attendant. The blind men ask that their pensions be increased from $600 to $900-the present rate is $600 plus a special bonus of $300. They are asking for a straight pension of $900, to enable .them to take care of their living expenses and engage the services of a guide, etc. It is true that the blind men have a home, Pearson Hall, but the money they can earn separately is a mere trifle, not sufficient to keep body and soul together. It has been said that a few of them earn their living in various ways, but few of them make enough, as I have said, to keep body and soul together, let alone save anything. We have an institution in our city which is looking after the interests of the blind, and they have continually to ask for money; once or twice a year they have to have a charitable tag day in order to help to maintain this magnificent institution. But many men who have lost their sight are men of great knowledge and ability who to-day would be earning salaries of $25,000 to $30,000 a year were they not blind. I myself know a young engineer, one of the most brilliant graduates of Queen's University, who was permanently blinded at fhe battle of St. Eloi, and who gets a pittance of a pension. Another has a family but he is quite unable to do anything, and all he receives is a pension of $600 plus a $300 bonus. I hope that the chairman of the committee, who has taken a great deal of interest in the blind, will consider the advisability of increasing the pension to the blind as I have suggested.

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PRO

Thomas Wakem Caldwell

Progressive

Mr. CALDWELL:

Is the hon. gentleman not aware that the blind have been getting $900 and will be getting it for the next two years?

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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

Yes, but not as a pension. They only get $600 pension plus $300 bonus as I said, and not $900 as the hon. gentleman says. I was not a member of the committee, and I may say here that I think the Toronto city and county district which sent 75,000 men overseas should have had a representative on that committee. A large number of the cases that came before the committee were from Toronto district, and though there are fourteen or fifteen members in this House representing that district-they constitute one-third of the members on the Opposition benches-we

Pensions Committee

had no representative on that committee, and, therefore, no voice in determining questions with regard to the blind, and ether soldier matters. Now, the committee recommend that the 'blind should have free transportation on the steam railways occasionally; that is as far as they go. It is not necessary to make such a provision for the Toronto blind men, because the city is carrying them free in the street cars, and I believe that many patriotic companies in Canada are doing the same thing. I db urge on the committee the necessity of dealing with this question at once. Only a small number of men have lost their sight, and the best the country can do is none too good for them. If we doubled the pensions of these men we would not be discharging one-fifth of the debt the people of Canada owe to them. They have suffered for humanity and Canada as no other class of soldiers suffered, and deserve every consideration instead of the miserable pittance afforded after a lot of trouble.

The question of unemployment is also dealt with in the report. Unemployment, which is acute at the present time, will be worse next winter in the large centres. The tendency seems to be to give the returned man all the pick and shovel jobs, so to speak, but when it comes to the large appointments, such as appointments to the Bench, the antiquated Senate and so on, they go to others who are civilians. Take the case of secretaries and assistant secretaries to the present ministers. I venture to say that if a proper return was brought down it would be found that there are not two returned soldiers among the considerable number of private secretaries and assistant secretaries who have been appointed since this Government came into office. I doubt if -more than from three to five among them would be found to be returned men. Some of the ministers are filling positions by appointing women when the work could be done by returned men. The returned men are entitled to something more than a pick and shovel job. They are entitled to senatorships, judg-ships, appointments to the Bench and other larger positions. Many of these men have been in the banking business and engaged in other enterprises, yet they are walking the streets to-day. I know two or three men who were in banking and financial business before they enlisted, but who cannot now get a position; some of them are working with a pick and shovel for the transportation commission in the city I come

from-and no city in Canada does more for the returned soldier than Toronto does in every way possible. This is a deplorable state of affairs. The other day a question was asked in the House with respect to an appointment of a customs officer in the constituency represented by the hon. member for East Toronto (Mr. Ryek-man). The salary was $960 a year, and although there were over 200 men on the list, many of them returned soldiers, the man who was appointed was a civilian, No. 241 on the Civil Service Commission's list-a Mr. Ritchie, who had left the Civil Service three months before. I suppose the Government have not yet had an opportunity to look over the service, but there is one isolated instance of the treatment accorded to returned soldiers. Has the policy of giving returned men the preference been rescinded? The House and the country should know.

I would like to see this Pension Act broadened out. I think there should be a proper court of inquiry to cover not only pension cases, but everything pertaining to the returned men-civil re-establishment, pensions and everything else that concerns their health, prosperity and comfort. We have an act which is construed literally by some men who have not shown any too much zeal on behalf of or sympathy for the soldiers. We should have a proper pension and civil re-establishment court established that would travel all over Canada. A civilian who institutes a civil action involving damages of $500 or $1,000 may take his case to one of three, four or five civil courts in the land and in most cases he can take an appeal, if he so desires, right across to the Privy Council, but a returned man who has done his duty by King and country, who has given up his business and lost everything, has no such facility afforded to him and no appeal from a technical decision by a pension board often wrong in both law and fact. I am glad that the committee has recommended an appeal board; if civilians have the right to appeal to the Privy Council, there should be an adequate, proper and up-to-date appeal board for the soldiers as well, especially when the matters in question relate to the health, condition, comfort, prosperity and welfare of the men who fought Canada's battles and of their dependents as well.

I am glad to see a step taken in that direction by the committee, and I hope the Government will bring down the necessary

Pensions Committee

legislation and see that an efficient and proper court of appeal is established. I would go even further than the report of the committee. I would! have a proper court established, get good men and bigger men, and pay them good salaries. If a Royal Commission is appointed I think it should investigate the present board, its findings, administration and so forth, and travel all over Canada inquiring into the whole administration of the board as well as investigating the charges made by reputable returned men in the city of Ottawa, who are very conservative and moderate in what they say. We should sooner or later have a new board of pension commissioners, and the sooner the present lot are let out the better if these charges are substantiated.

I would like to see the Royal Commission given wider powers than is at present proposed by the committee. They should be able to investigate all charges brought by returned men. There are many phases of the problem of re-establishment that could very properly be investigated by this proposed Royal Commission, and they should have their report ready for presentation at the next session of Parliament. I think it is very desirable in the public interest that all vexatious technicalities-quibbles, failures and delays and the many problems that surround the re-establishment of exservice men should be cleaned up now and for all time. I believe that this commission should not only investigate the present administration of the board, but go further and deal with the whole problem of the returned man from coast to coast, and not only with the problems of members of the military forces but members of Canada's naval and air forces as well. Members of the naval forces were treated in a very shabby way on demobilization this month in my opinion. This commission should have power to inquire into the problems affecting the naval and air forces because they are all returned men, after all is said and done, whether they served on land or sea or in the air. The commission should also have power to investigate the question of the pensions paid to those Canadians of all ranks who in their great desire to get to the front quickly, took a ship overseas on the outbreak of the war, and paid their own passage across the ocean, and enlisted with the British expeditionary forces. I know one such veteran, Colonel Young of Kingston a splendid soldier who served in the Northwest Rebellion, the Fenian Raid, the South African war, and the last Great War

and who is now getting a pension of only $17 a month from the British government because he would not wait in Canada to get over. This commission should go over the list of all these special case men and deal with their cases. Many of them are receiving a mere pittance to-day from the British government. I believe that the government of Canada should make up the difference between what these men are receiving in pensions from the British government and what they would have received if they had served and suffered the same disability in the Canadian forces.

The parliamentary committee did very good work, and I want to congratulate the chairman especially. He worked night and day to get at the root of the trouble, and had his heart in the work, but it is impossible for any parliamentary committee to go into all these soldier problems equitably or thoroughly. I would therefore suggest that the powers of the proposed Royal Commission be broadened out and extended so that they can inquire into the entire soldier problem in all its phases and into any dissatisfaction that now exists; with a view to providing a permanent remedy.

Much dissatisfaction undoubtedly does exist at the present time owing to the technicalities which are raised by the Board of Pension Commissioners at Ottawa and their failure .to carry out the intention of Parliament. They give judicial decisions which are not right, and from which there is no appeal. For several years parliamentary committees have been dealing with the returned soldiers' problems. Now let us have an adequate Royal Commission and not a lot of whitewash-a commission who will travel from one end of Canada to the other, and get at the root of the trouble once and for all. [DOT]

One very emphatic claim being urged by ex-service men is for certain members of His Majesty's forces who do not get anything at all under any existing legislation. There are a number of these men throughout Canada who served in different blanches of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, but who do not get anything under existing legislation. These are more or less special cases, and they should be taken up and dealt with by this Royal Commission, because in my opinion they cannot be properly dealt with by a parliamentary committee. It is further contended that in these special cases I have mentioned, there are serious handicaps other than physical which are not given recognition. It is in the public interest, I think, that these claims

Pensions Committee

should be fully investigated by a judicial body in order that Parliament may be furnished with accurate information and that no opportunity may be given for exaggerated statements as to the distress among these men. There are many of these special cases throughout the coun-trdy, but owing to technicalities in the present law, the men and their dependents now get nothing at all and there is much suffering as a result and much real dissatisfaction.

Another special class of cases that I wish to refer to are the tubercular cases. We have many of these in the various institutions and hospitals throughout Canada, and it is a very pitiful sight to go through one of these hospitals. If you go to the top floor of the Christie street hospital (an institution with about 1,200 different cases) you will find there many of these men suffering from tubercular glands. There are several institutions in Ontario and ' throughout the country looking after these cases many of which are incurable, and these patients and their families are suffering from lack of proper 9 p.m. pensions in a way I cannot describe here to-night because I have not the time. I am sorry the committee has not made recommendations for dealing more generously with these special cases and allowing more latitude. I advocate here and now that when this Royal Commission is appointed it shall have power to investigate these special cases and any others overlooked in this report.

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LIB

William F. Carroll

Liberal

Mr. CARROLL:

Does the hon. member say that some cases were not investigated by the committee that should have been?

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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

Yes, many. I am referring to a great many special cases, those who were in the B.E.F., also disability cases, blind cases, tubercular cases, and some where the men and their dependents do not now get anything at all under existing legislation, and others I have mentioned, and I am advocating a policy that would broaden out the act and givte the Pension Board power to deal with them as a matter of right and justice.

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June 21, 1922