No, I have not said that. I do say that all along we have been most anxious to keep this matter out of politics and in attempting to do that we probably have not faced our responsibility as we should have. But in this matter-because after all we are dealing with only one phase, and it is not, and should not be considered, a phase of the present Pension Act-we are bringing in a new piece of legislation to deal with special conditions which have arisen during the years since the war. If we had not brought in this legislation, then I am satisfied we would have had to come before parliament and in our estimates ask for large sums of money this year in order that we might establish homes where the aged soldier might have care and treatment. That matter will be discussed no doubt in committee. The judgment of the departmental committee may be found wrong, but it is the experience of those engaged in social work to-day that it is better not to break up the home, but rather to try to maintain it by giving sufficient allowances so that the old man and his wife may continue to live together, and
Allowances to War Veterans
the man who happens to be single at the age of sixty-five may have the opportunity to live with his relatives or friends. We had the alternative of establishing homes or of increasing our relief to the veterans. I think, Mr. Speaker, when the committee have had an opportunity of calling before it those officers who have carefully studied this problem it will endorse this bill. So far as I am personally concerned, I am not anxious'about the administration. I know that the soldiers themselves do not wish this bill to be mixed up with pension matters, they do not wish it to be referred to and administered by the pension board or the appeal board. It may be better to build up another board, but I do not think it is necessary, and I think it will be shown in the committee that the departmental officers, who are situated not only in Ottawa but in every large centre throughout the Dominion, will be able to deal with this bill and its administration better than any body that can be set up in the way of a committee or a commission.
We will use the machinery that we have, just as that machinery to-day is being used under the chief medical officer, who admits patients to hospitals in Vancouver, Edmonton, Fort William and other centres.
misunderstanding. We will have a departmental committee which will be composed as set out in the bill, but that committee will utilize the machinery available in every province. A few day's ago the hon. member for Vancouver-Burrard (Mr. Clark) suggested that we should utilize the machinery of the provincial old age pension boards. I should like to say so far as that is concerned that the machinery available to the Department of Pensions and National Health, is, I think, better organized and has greater facilities than the provincial old age pension boards that he spoke of.
say for the information of the house that in developing this legislation we have gone pretty far afield to inquire as to these and other proposals that I have suggested, and we have come in contact with the soldier organizations and outstanding men who have had the soldiers' interests at heart throughout the Dominion. We have also gone to the various provincial departments for information, and in our conversations they said they feared that this bill might be considered a pension matter, and they were of the opinion that it should be kept free and distinct from the ordinary pension matters and pension legislation in its administration. I think I may confirm that by reading what Colonel LaFleche said recently. This is quoted from the Ottawa Journal of March 5:
Complete approval of the principle of the war veterans' allowance bill was expressed by Colonel LaFleche.
"This bill must not deprive any war veteran of a disability pension," he stated. "I feel assured, however, that this will not be likely to occur, for the fact that the administration of the War Veterans' Allowance Act .... is to be by a committee specially appointed for the purpose."
The pension board themselves said they thought it would be a mistake to ask them to administer this bill as it was outside their jurisdiction and there should not be a conflict between the two. Reference has been made to my having
Companies Act Amendment
stated the other night that this was the measure the government had brought down- had initiated; that is what I meant. At that time it was understood there was to be a special committee and that the usual procedure would be followed, that resolutions moved by my hon. friends opposite would be referred to that committee just as this bill will be referred to it. We are hopeful that out of that committee-and it is a very excellent one-wiH come legislation which the government and parliament will endorse, legislation which will be for the benefit and advantage of the soldiers.
I do not think, Mr. Speaker, that I should delay the house at any greater length. We have given much thought and study to the measure. We think it will serve a very useful purpose in solving this great problem. If it is improved in committee, so much the better, but I think when the whole situation is canvassed this bill will be endorsed by the committee and will be returned to the house for endorsation.