March 25, 1925

CON
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. BELAND:

No. But these are not

schemes in themselves; they are only limitations. They simply say: Do not use the money all at once but spread it over a number of years. Of course, there may be ten or twenty different plans, but these are general limitations recommended by the commission, and they are wise limitations, I submit.

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CON

James Arthurs

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARTHURS:

Would it not be better to leave it to the discretion of the various provincial governments instead of laying down this provision?

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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 Lieutenant Governor

in every province will appoint the 'board of trustees and the province will draft its own order in council; I am not going to draft it. But as minister I want to relieve my colleagues and myself of the responsibility which was placed on our shoulders by the royal commission in the recommendation of these limitations. In section (10) of the bill we provide that the Lieutenant Governor in Council and the provincial government shall direct themselves according to the provisions of the act, and if they fail to do that they will be to blame; I shall not be responsible. That is the only explanation I can give.

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CON

James Arthurs

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARTHURS:

I still object to the word "shall" in regard to these provisions. The minister says that he is relieving himself of the responsibility imposed upon him by the commission in these particulars. Would that not be equally true of all the recommendations of the commission?-and if so why did he not have them before the House long before now?

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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 hon. friend cannot accuse me of having hidden anything in connection with this bill, which is exactly the same as the bill that was before the House last year. The hon. gentleman read 'last year's bill more than once and he knows it by heart. Section (10) declares that without limiting the powers conferred on the lieutenant governors in council certain general principles shall govern any distribution or apportionment of the amounts allotted to the provincial boards. The word used is "shall." Why not? We could not say "may" govern. It seems to me that these particular limitations recommended by the commission are such as to appeal to every member of the House, and I am sure my hon. friend is ready to subscribe to them. They are of a general nature and are most commendable. They say that any plans formulated should be based on the assumption that there will be prospective beneficiaries for years to come. That is to say, it suggests that the plans be so formulated as to ensure that benefits will be derived from the fund for a considerable time. In the second place, it is recommended that any use of the money for relief purposes should be limited to the class of cases for which no relief is at the time available from government sources, and particularly to specially meritorious cases. Surely I need not dwell on the wisdom of that; in a word, that provision is that we do not help those who are already helped and that we confine ourselves largely to the most meritorious cases. And the third recommendation is that if provision in regard to scholarships in schools and universities is undertaken for specially promising children of ex-members of the forces or of members of the forces who have died, this should not necessarily be confined to the higher grades. Could anything be more democratic than that? It provides that we shall have regard for the children not only of officers but of the private man himself. This is a wise limitation and it is democratic in the extreme; it recommends that the son of the ordinary soldier shall be dealt with in the same way as the son of the officer high in rank. These limitations were accepted last year and I am sure they will be accepted Again.

Now, we have discussed this resolution extensively and there are some amendments which I intend to submit when the bill is before the House in committee of the Whole in connection with the appointment of the central board and probably as well of the provincial boards, largely in line with the suggestions that have been offered. Also I

Canteen Funds

intend to introduce an amendment to deal with the Yukon's share. I do not know whether it will satisfy my hon. friend (Mr. Black) entirely, but I can assure him that if it errs in any way it will be on the side of generosity for the Yukon.

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LIB

Alfred Edgar MacLean

Liberal

Mr. MacLEAN (Prince):

Mr. Chairman,

I notice that Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia are also grouped together. We take objection to that, and we sincerely trust that the minister will treat Prince Edward Island separately, so we will have the benefit of our own share of the funds.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mi. BELAND:

I shall be glad to submit an amendment making the allotment separate for Prince Edward Island as a province.

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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

The minister has wrestled

all day with this resolution and I do not intend to delay its passage. The only point before the committee is how the canteen fund is to be divided, by whom and when. There is room for a great deal of difference of opinion on this, and the more I hear the minister (Mr. Beland) speak on the resolution the more doubtful I am whether he is taking the right course. The city of Toronto is interested in til's fund, having some 45,000 returned soldiers within her boundaries. We know it is the desire of the minister to help the returned men. He is a returned man himself, and fie never looks to this part of the chamber without getting sympathy and help. My objection is to the administration of the fund. I would like to see him take example by the patriotic fund of $44,000,000, which was administered by outstanding business men at a minimum of cost and with a maximum of efficiency. There was never a single complaint about the administration of that fund. Here we have two and a half million dollars, and I fear that a large part of the fund will be spent in administration costs and the men will get only a small balance for their benefit. To-day, seven years after the war, we have the most cumbersome and complex system for the relief of our soldiers. What they want is direct relief. And goodness knows many of our returned men who are suffering to-day would find this fund a godsend and a blessing if it were administered by outstanding business men instead of being frittered away by a bureau here in Ottawa. I fail to see such a bureau can help a soldier in Toronto, Hamilton, Brantford or any other city. This bureau is simply a lot of red tape. I think it would be better if the minister administered the fund in his own department, or by three outstanding business men. I know one such

man in Toronto, Mr. W. D. Ross, and there would 'be no difficulty in getting others to cooperate with him without expense to the country or to the soldiers. Then those for whom the money is intended would get every cent of it. We in this quarter of the House have every sympathy with the minister, notwithstanding the very unfair remarks of the hon. Minister of National Defence (Mr. Macdonald). He was not in the House last night and did not hear the reasons why I spoke. I did not occupy the attention of hon. members for more than ten minutes, and yet I heard him say, "Tommy Church 'has been obstructing for an hour. Everybody knows that that is not correct. I repeat, the minister should either deal with the fund through his own department or as the patriotic fund was administered, by a board of two or three prominent business men.

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CON

Leon Johnson Ladner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LADNER:

I should like to say a

few words on this question, having a large number, relatively speaking, of returned soldiers and their dependents in my constituency. One aspect of the question I do not think has been touched upon-the nature and need of the work of the adjustment bureau. I am in accord with the principle of the resolution, it being based upon the Ralston report. Since 1917, when the soldier organizations first became active on behalf of the returned men, it has been evident to anyone associated with those organizations that they were serving a good purpose. Taking the Great War Veterans' Association as an example, I am informed on good authority that they have dealt with more than 80,000 individual claims during the past six years, of which 32,000 were successful. The men have confidence in their own organization, which explained to the claimants the nature of their cases and the legal difficulties confronting them, and as a rule the claimants were satisfied. It has been suggested that perhaps the D.S.C.R. could carry on some of this work, but being a department under the goverment and having the taint of officialdom, it does not satisfy all the returned men The cases I have referred to cover a very wide range. They indude -matters connected with parliamentary legislation, cabinet action; departmental regulations; Employment Service Council; pensions; medical treatment; medical treatment-pay and allowances; dental treatment; military pay; working pay; separation allowance; burial expenses; badges and decorations; estates; exchange; transportation expenses; repatriation; whereabouts; war service gratuity; discharge cer-

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tificates; medals; pleas for clemency-judicial; civil service appointments; divorce; educational exemptions; housing loans; soldier settlement; Dominion lands; insurance; mother's allowance; naturalization; patriotic fund; relief; general employment; vocational training; vocational loans; miscellaneous; appeals.

Now, the cost of maintenance of the legislative and adjustment service during this period amounted to $450,000.

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CON
CON

Leon Johnson Ladner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LADNER:

From a memorandum

handed me by the secretary of the organization I am discussing. The amount expended, I am told, was $450,000, of which eighty per cent was borne by the Great War Veterans' Association from its internal revenue. Staffs are maintained in seven provinces. There are in this particular organization some 800 branches. I am told that about forty new Claims per day are coming in and that over

8,000 files are in process of adjustment. I mention these facts in order to lay the groundwork for my contention that an independent adjustment bureau detached from the government does serve a good purpose and should be maintained in the future.

The resolution provides for the placing of S100.000, allotted from the canteen fund for the maintenance of an adjustment bureau, under the control of three trustees. As I understand it-at any rate, I hope the bill provides for this-the trustees may make the arrangements for the organization to be used in connection with the adjustment bureau. No doubt all the soldier organizations will be consulted so far as the formation of the bureau and the spending of the money is concerned and that the advice of the different organizations capable of assisting in the perfecting of such an adjustment bureau will be secured. I do not advocate, and I do not think anyone would, that the money should be applied to or given to any one particular organization. But it should be independent of the government, detached from any element of bureaucracy or officialdom and under the control of the trustees who themselves would appoint capable men selected perhaps from different organizations on account of their skill to carry out the work.

A reference to. the Ralston report will Show that a ballot taken with regard to the disposition1 of the fund1 disclosed such a variety of opinion that it was impossible to come to any conclusion upon it. The largest vote was in favour of the establish-

Mr. Ladner.]

ment of memorial workshops for the provision of sheltered employment and home employment for disabled ex-service men including the tuberculous. The number of votes for that scheme was 5,764. The votes for two other schemes, denominated in the report as schemes B and C, were 2,874 and 2,298 respectively, and there was a similar number of votes for scheme D. The parliamentary committee of 1922, in making their report regarding the disposition of the canteen funds, recommended a board which would consider the advisability of employing the canteen funds: (a) for the promotion of sheltered workshops, and (b) -for providing further education facilities for children of ex-members of the forces who would otherwise be unable to enjoy the same. When the Ralston commission went to the different cities they found that various organizations had different ideas as to how the matter should foe dealt with. The report states:

To determine from the foregoing the common desire of the ex-service men concerning the ultimate use of the money is impossible, but the Wo clear-cut suggestions were, education of children whose fathers served in the war, and relief of distress among exservice men and dependents.

I now come to a question that I do not think has been raised in this debate, and that is the question of pensions for old soldiers. We know there are many meritorious cases of men who served overseas and whose health has been shattered but who have not been able to claim pension on account of the peculiar operation of the rule of attributability, and who may find themselves destitute and dependent upon charity unless some provision is made for them. I would like to see some direction given to the provincial trustees which will bind them to certain definite purposes in the use of this fund. I would like to see something in the bill which would oblige the trustees to give primary regard to the two purposes which the commission found there was common agreement on, namely, the education of children whose fathers served in the war, and the relief of distress among ex-service men and dependents. I would also like to see a provision which would enable relief to be given to men of shattered health who require assistance in the evening of their life. It will be noted that the resolution is wanting in that respect. According to the resolution the trustees are empowered to receive and hold this allotment and to ascertain the wishes of those interested and residing in the province. Now, the royal commission sat in each province, at considerable expense to the public treasury, and they did ascertain to a large ex-

Patent Act

tent the views of representative organizations and interested parties in the provinces. I therefore hope that the minister will make provision in his bill for a recognition of those purposes in respect to which a definite conclusion has been arrived at. With regard to the appropriation of $100,000 out of the canteen fund, I do not entirely share the views expressed by some hon. members in this part of the House. The fund is primarily for the purposes of returned men and their dependents, and these purposes having been served to a large extent in the past, by the adjustment bureau of the Great War Veterans' Association, a portion of the money for the purpose coming out of these funds, I do not see why in the future also the canteen funds should not take care of an adjustment bureau under the trustees. The public have expended large sums of money in the establishment of the department, in the establishment of federal appeal boards, soldier advocates, and in a number of other ways, and I think the fairest and the most considerate way would be to appropriate $100,000 out of the canteen funds, because that apparently has already met with the agreement and consent of large sections at least of the soldier body and of the public, as well as being the judgment of the royal com" mission which investigated this matter.

Resolution reported, read the second time and concurred in. Mr. Beland thereupon moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 32 respecting the distribution of the Canteen Funds.

Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.

At six o'clock the House adjourned, without question being put, pursuant to rule.

Thursday, March 26, 1925

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March 25, 1925