March 20, 1930

CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. H. A. STEWART (Leeds):

Mr. Speaker, this tardy measure does undoubtedly afford some relief to a few of those returned men who from time to time have been presenting their cases to the Board of Pension Commissioners. I am sure the experience of nearly every member of this house who has had occasion to deal with these cases before that board has been that the main difficulty arose in connection with the proof to be adduced in

support of the claims presented. There was no doubt whatever as to the unfortunate condition of the applicant, there was no doubt that he was in need of relief, and there was no doubt in his own mind that his condition was due to war service. There was, undoubtedly, a measure or a certain amount of proof in support of his contention. But the provisions of the Pension Act were so inelastic that the board took the position that the applicant had not met the onus of proof which rested upon him. The real problem presented in these cases was one of proof, and I am sure it has been felt by many that what has been really needed was some amendment of the Pension Act, some declaration to be embodied in that act, that would have made the way a little easier for proof in these cases. That position has not been recognized or dealt with in this bill.

I submit that the elaborate machinery that has been set up by parliament in the Board of Pension Commissioners, and board of appeal therefrom, is ample and sufficient to enable the department to deal with all these cases without setting up additional machinery under the control of the minister and his department. The hon. member for North York (Mr. Lennox) has, I am sure, presented this case very ably indeed, and has left very little for any of us to say to supplement the argument that he has presented. To me, Mr. Speaker, it is a surprise to know that this board of appeal has actually cost the Dominion government more to administer and operate than it has afforded in relief to those returned veterans, and, notwithstanding that, this bill proposes to set up another organization which undoubtedly will add to the expenditure that must necessarily be made in connection with these plans.

I would suggest that the minister seriously consider the situation, as presented with respect to this board of appeal, and the cost of it, and that he hesitate before he deliberately embarks upon the setting up of another organization to do the work which the existing organizations ought to be competent to undertake and to discharge, and which they ought to be able to discharge in the spirit of the Pension Act, and in keeping with the existing regulations. The Board of Pension Commissioners, I' think, would weicome some amendment that would enable them to do justice to the large number of cases that have been presented to them, and which they, unfortunately, have felt bound to reject. And I have not yet heard from the minister, or from any other source, any good reason why this additional machinery should be set up, why these few or many, as the case may be,

Allowances to War Veterans

returned veterans are taken out of the general class of their comrades, and placed in a separate class, and dealt with rather on a basis of charity than one of pension for the services which they have rendered.

There are certain defects in this plan which, to me, are very serious indeed. The measure does not take into consideration, or makes no provision, for, as the Pension Act does, the dependents of those who come under its provisions; and, in case of death, there is no provision for the dependents. It makes no provision for the support or maintenance of the children of the class of veterans who come under it. For all these reasons, while it will undoubtedly afford a measure of relief in some cases, I submit it does not meet the large body of cases that have been before the pension board, that have been dealt with by the appeal board, and that are yet in an unsatisfactory state, and that are leaving in the minds of many of our returned soldiers a feeling that they have not been properly dealt with, and that this measure is only one of partial relief.

I do submit, Mr. Speaker, that the Board of Pension Commissioners should 'be given instructions, and authority, to accept and to presume in the case of a returned veteran, where any case really would justify an assumption, that his disability is due to war service. We have in our courts, as I pointed out on a previous occasion, cases disposed of on circumstantial evidence. We have presumptions, and we have inferences drawn every day by our courts from certain proven facts. The pension board, unfortunately, appear to be under the impression that they cannot invoke these provisions, that they cannot adopt these practices of the regular courts in matters of proof, and that it is, therefore, better to say to the veteran: You prove your case beyond doubt, beyond question; we can make no presumptions, we can make no inferences, we cannot act upon circumstantial evidence, therefore, we cannot help you.

I would submit, Mr. Speaker, that all this legislation, whether in this form or in any other form, should be embodied in and made a part of the Pension Act, that all these soldiers should be treated in the same spirit, in the same way, and through the process of the machinery-the Board of Pension Commissioners and the Board of Appeal-that we have already set up and established for the purpose of dealing with this class of case. It does appear to me that no minister should welcome the setting up of an organization of this kind, and, without in any way seeking to reflect upon him, or upon any other minister who may occupy the position from time 2419-50

to time, he wili find that he is creating a great deal of difficulty for himself, that he is duplicating machinery, that he is setting up an organization that is altogether unnecessary, that he is bound and restricted by regulations and limitations, which, after all, will be found to be an imperfect, inadequate and imcomplete answer to the reasonably fair and proper demands of 'that large number of our returned soldiers. I know of many cases where the door has been closed to them, and that they have not been given that measure of relief to which their services entitled them.

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LAB

Herbert Bealey Adshead

Labour

Mr. H. B. ADSHEAD (East Calgary):

Mr. Sneaker, I am not going to speak upon the bill itself, but the hon. member for North York (Mr. Lennox) seemed to be under the impression that the pension committee had not the power to deal with this bill. He said he hoped that they had, and1 would use their power properly. If we have noit the power to deal with the bill, and to make suggestions, what in the world is the use of referring it to us, and if we have the power, as I believe we have, then surely we can be trusted to deal with it, because the personnel of the returned soldiers committee is constituted of gentlemen who are in full sympathy with the returned soldiers, and they will do all that they can to make amends for the wrongs they have suffered.

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CON

Robert King Anderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. K. ANDERSON (Halton):

Mr. Speaker, in addressing the house on the principle of this bill, I wish to state clearly and definitely that I am not opposing that principle. I am in favour of the returned soldiers being given the benefit and the preference under the old age pension scheme. I wish to say also that I am in favour of giving them the benefit of an old age pension even before the age of sixty-five if the soldiers or their dependents are at any time in very straitened circumstances. I have no objection whatever to this, and I am not in any way criticizing the bill except in regard to two points.

The first objection to the bill is that it is placed in the hands of a committee headed by the Minister of Pensions and National Health; thus it is brought directly into politics. When the Prime Minister addressed the house on this question he said he hoped it was not a partisan matter and that no partisan discussion would take place. Now, the bill having been introduced, I believe the Prime Minister has not acted consistently in throwing the whole question into politics through the committee. I believe that is an objection which the returned soldiers will have to the bill when they thoroughly understand the whole situation.

Allowances to War Veterans

My second objection is in connection with the returned soldier himself; I feel that under the provisions of this bill a very deserving class of returned men will not receive justice. I believe the very class for whom the present legislation is being enacted, those we call the deferred disability cases or what the returned soldiers describe as the burned-out men and their dependents will not receive justice under this act. I desire to show, if I can, my reasons for making that statement. These deferred disability cases are a direct, result of the great war, which produced a certain type of disability not previously known, and as a matter of fact these deferred types of disability have been recognized only recently. As a matter of fact I do not think they are as yet fully understood by the medical branch of the Board of Pension Commissioners or possibly by medical men generally throughout the country. However, doctors are beginning to realize that there is more to these cases than we have formerly understood. As we know, Canada never had much war experience, and certainly we had no experience in any such stupendous conflict as that which was waged between 1914 and 1918. To visualize the conditions under which our soldiers fought in that war is beyond the imagination of the average man, but still we should make an effort to understand some of the experiences they went through, which caused these remote disability cases which are being recognized now.

The engines of destruction used in the great war were more powerful and devastating in their action than any previously known in the history of the world. One type of case which has come to our attention as a result of the war has been the case caused by the waves of suffocating gases which sent our soldiers reeling and gasping before them. Many soldiers who were fortunate enough to survive these gas attacks have been suffering^ and are still suffering from the poison which entered their system. The acute cases were very easily recognized by the medical men who attended them, and they were treated quite efficiently, but now we have to deal with a more obscure case, the case of the man suffering from the remote effects of chronic gas poisoning.

The trouble in these cases occurs because the regulations under the aot compel the medical officer who examines these men to say that he has a certain disability as a result of which the medical man can demonstrate a pathological change in the system of the patient. In the chronic case nearly always there is definite evidence of a certain amount of chronic bronchitis, which a medical man

can discern very definitely. He gives a certificate to that effect, and as a result the pension of the soldier is based on his disability due to the chronic bronchitis alone. We know now, however, and have known for some time that in addition to the bronchitis there is another disability which troubles the soldier to an even greater extent, but the medical man cannot place his finger on a pathological change. The point is that suffocating gases, such as chlorine and mustard, cause a severe irritation and damage to the mucous lining of the bronchia, right down to the alveolar tissue of the lung. Because of the damage caused in this way the air breathed does not come in direct contact with the blood stream passing through the lung, thus preventing the proper elimination of the waste carried in the blood stream, which should be oxidized and burned off by the breathing process. The consequence is that the soldier is suffering from a certain amount of self poisoning in addition to his chronic bronchitis. Sometimes this condition is easily defined; the average returned soldier giving a very clear picture of the situation when he says, "I suffer from giddiness, shortness of breath, attacks of fast action of the heart, pain in the chest and great lassitude which sometimes prevents me from attending to my work for days at a time." The pension board will give such a man 20 per cent or 30 per cent disability for the chronic bronchitis, but they will not give him any consideration for the other symptoms which have resulted from the gas. The consequence is, Mr. Speaker, that a certain amount of injustice is being done this type of returned soldier.

The other type of case of remote disability is that of the shell shocked soldier. Shell shock was not new in the last war; it was known for many years before that time. Wellington knew of it; he called it cowardice and he very effectually cured his soldiers of that disease by standing them up before a firing squad. Some of our doctors in, the late war accused these shell shocked men of being cowards, not understanding the underlying conditions which made them act as they did. The acute case of shell shock was recognized very quickly, and some of these men were given the proper treatment, but it is easy to see the difficulty and the ignorance under which the medical profession laboured during the war through the number of names which they gave to this condition. Some doctors called it emotional insanity; some called it hysteria, some neuresthenia, some exhaustion syndrome and others psychoneurosis; (these different names simply demonstrate the great density of the ignorance shown by the medical

Allowances to War Veterans

profession when considering the condition which actually exists in regard to this type of returned soldier. The great war was the cause of some of these conditions due to the fact that the concussion produced by the explosion of shells left a definite damage to the finer fabric of the body. Men were found upon the battlefields in a comatose, semi-comatose or completely unconscious condition and no evidence could be found of any wound. They were taken into the base hospitals and never regained consciousness and finally died. Autopsies revealed that there was a definite and a serious hemorrhage in the brain substance or in the nerve centres without any evidence of laceration of (the tissues. That condition resulted in the death of a number of soldiers, and any hon. member of this house will realize that if such concussions were powerful enough to cause death they might easily have resulted in a certain amount of damage which could not be repaired, and which has resulted in these cases of deferred disability. These cases are very difficult to understand as they are very obscure in their character.

I claim that the Minister of Pensions and National Health is not doing justice with the present 'bill to such cases. The bill provides that when these men reach the age of sixty-five, or at any time when they are old enough to be considered by the examining doctor as of that age, then they shall come under this Old Age Pensions Act. They are being left entirely outside of the soldiers' Pension Act and their dependents will be unable to receive any benefits under that act, and I am afraid that there will be considerable injustice done to these men.

As I say, these repeated concussions and detonations from exploding shells fired by powerful artillery continually pounding at these men caused a certain amount of damage to the delicate tissues of the brain, to the nerve centres, to the cell system, and to the glandular system of the men's bodies. One shell after another coming continuously day after day evidently registered a definite damage to the system. It damaged these men in the very fountain of their life, in the well spring of their existence; that damage due to their services in the war will never be repaired. I do not think there are a great number of these cases, but they should not be denied the benefits of the Pension Act. These men are very clearly designated by the name given by the returned soldiers themselves; they say they are burnt out. The condition is similar to that of a piece of copper wire which has been used too long in the carrying of electric current or over which too high a 24X9-501

current has been passed. The copper wire loses a certain amount of its virtue, it has lost its resiliency, its pliability, it becomes brittle, it will not function properly and will not conduct the current as it did before-it is burnt out. That is the condition of these men. Their cell system has been damaged, which system is responsible for the replenishment of the blood stream and the repair of the body. The glandular system controls and eliminates waste, but it has become laggard in its duties and the soldier becomes a victim of chronic self-poisoning. The cells of his brain have been damaged as well as the cells of the central nervous system: his brain does not function as it did before because something has gone out of it although no doctor can put his finger upon the exact cause. Something has gone out of that man, he has lost his vitality, he has lost his initiative, he has lost his stick-to-itiveness, he has lost his strength and he cannot go out in the manual labour market and compete with the average healthy man. His pension is based upon his ability to earn his living in the labour market, it is based upon his ability to earn his living by the sweat of his brow. He cannot earn that living, he becomes discouraged and he finally quits and becomes a derelict on the stream of time. These men cannot help their condition and they should be considered, and that is the reason why I take objection to the present bill. .

I am not criticizing this bill in toto because there any many men in this country who will receive a benefit therefrom, and I commend it to that extent but to that extent only. I feel that it will not meet the situation which exists to-day with regard to the returned soldier.

I consider that the present Pension Act, which was passed in 1919 is basically sound. There is nothing wrong with the act and I believe it is wide enough and broad enough to include these men if the medical men belonging to the medical branch of the Board of Pension Commissioners were properly educated as to the consideration which should be given to the condition of these men. It may be that they are bound down by certain regulations, but those regulations have been made upon the interpretation of the act by the Board of Pension Commissioners themselves. I cannot say what those regulations are as apparently they are somewhat secret, but I think that such interpretation and such regulations based thereon should be formulated by an independent committee and not by the Board of Pension Commissioners. I am not blaming that board because they are bound to assess pensions upon the disability guaranteed by the medical branch,

Allowances to War Veterans

and the doctor cannot be eliminated when we come to consider soldiers' pensions. If that were done the whole thing would be thrown into chancery and chaos would be created; no one but a doctor could understand the condition of these men and no one but a doctor could give an estimate of their disabilities. If the Pension Act is not broad enough to include them a new spirit should 'be written into it in order that the will of parliament may be registered in the verdicts given by the pension board, which up to the present time I do not think has been done. Verdicts have been given in many of these cases which were not expected to be given by the members of parliament who passed the act. Those members were just as anxious as the members of this parliament that everything should be done for the returned soldier, and the act as passed would have been sufficient if the disabilities resulting from this war had been anything like the disabilities which resulted from previous wars. But that was not known in 1919 when the act was passed, consequently the regulations should be changed in order to bring these men within the provisions of the act.

I aim directing these remarks to the minister himself in order that he may look a little further into the question with regard to these burnt-out men and see whether he cannot devise a way whereby they may be brought under the Pension, Act where they properly belong.

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CON

Thomas Hubert Stinson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. H. STINSON (Victoria, Out.):

Mr. Speaker, the question of soldiers' pensions has been thoroughly debated by members of the house on the resolution introduced by the hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario (Mr. McGib-bon) and also on the resolution preceding this bill. From all corners of the house there has been a well defined attitude that justice should be done to the returned men. There has been ample evidence in the citation of individual cases that there are in Canada many instances of returned men having been unfairly treated through lack of positive evidence to link the disability with war service. Let us not adopt any measure that will fail to do full justice to the men in accordance with the terms in which the house has expressed itself during the present debate.

The -men who np to the present time have been deprived of consideration should now be placed in a position where they will receive ample justice. I have in mind the case of a man who for many years has been deprived' of a pension or consideration of any kind, although it seems to me that the evidence quite justifies the view that he is a subject for and should be entitled to pension

not only from now on but in respect of the years during which he has been deprived of one. The facts 'are shortly stated in a letter from his physician who has had him under observation for some three or four years, and I am going to give the house 'his summing up of (the case. The letter, which is dated at Havelock, August 9, 1928, reads:

Dear Sir:

Our mutual friend H. J. Bush of this place is having some difficulty in getting the commissioners of the Pension Board at Ottawa, to admit that the disabilities he is labouring under -extremely low blood pressure, and intense headaches, great physical weakness, at times quite incapacitating him for w'ork, and an obstinate form of constipation-are due

entirely to the results or effects of the wound in the right side received during active service. They insist that these results are of "post-discharge" origin and therefore do not entitle to pension. The truth, which so far they have refused to see, is that these above disabilities are entirely due to and caused by the wound above referred to; and that Mr. Bush suffered from all these symptoms while in the hospital before his wound healed and before he was discharged from the army; also that these symptoms were all ascribed to his wound and its effects, and that his blood pressure was never taken while in the hospital and the authorities have not a shred of evidence by which the above may be disputed or disproved. I have had Mr. Bush under observation for the last three or four years and am positive that the wound is the original cause of all liis present disabilities; further that these disabilities are almost certain to increase with time and Mr. Bush will have to take for the rest of his life special remedies to ameliorate these distressing symptoms and this remedy is expensive and should be provided by the Canadian government.

A. S. Thompson.

The reply which the board made to bis application for ,pension was as follows:

I beg to inform you that the conditions are considered to have developed post-discharge.

You are not entitled to pension for these conditions.

I purpose showing before I am through that under the present measure that man will still be deprived of any consideration. Let us examine the bill carefully and see whether it adopts the principle and the basis as advocated by various members who have spoken on the resolution of the hon. member for Muskoka. There should be a clear pronouncement by the minister as to whether the bill contains all the government intend to do for the returned men, or whether they purpose making some amendments to the Pension Act in accordance with the resolutions passed at the conference of the legion in Regina, where amendments to some ten sections of the present act were asked for. These men were not critical in making their contract for service overseas;

Allowances to War Veterans

they offered their services freely and for a principle. Let us approach this problem in the same way and give them their rights, not a compassionate allowance. All they ask is to be dealt with rightly, justly and fairly; let us fulfil our terms of the contract in that spirit. In my opinion the bill does not go far enough. The principle of the bill will have to be accepted if we cannot get anything more for these men, but it is objectionable on the following grounds:

1. The allowance in the case where men have been deprived of it up to the present time is in many instances inadequate.

2. It does not give the dependents any rights. A soldier who has been unjustly refused a pension, will be deprived of it from now on, and should he die within a short period his dependents will have no further rights under this legislation:

3. It leaves the soldier entirely open to political jugglery.

4. The real joker in the bill, in my opinion, is clause 5, which provides for an allowance where a man has reached the age of sixty-five years or where, by reason of physical or mental disability, he is permanently unemployable. There is in the legislation no interpretation of the term "permanently unemployable." In the case of Mr. Bush, he would not be termed permanently unemployable because he is able to work for two or three weeks or a couple of months at a time, and then he is out of work again for a month or two. He can do and has been doing occasional work to try to maintain himself and his family since he came back from overseas. Under these words he would still be deprived of any consideration provided by the bill until he reaches the age of sixty-five. Surely after the expression of opinion from all corners of the house, that is entirely unfair.

This measure is brought forward because a large class is debarred under the present act on the ground that there is not sufficient evidence to connect their disability with war service. Are we not back to just the same thing under clause 5 of this bill wherein occur the words "permanetly unemployable"? Where a man is able to do occasional or part time work he is excluded, just as he is excluded under the Pension Act by reason of his not being able to connect up the disability with war service. In this case they would say to him: You cannot come under the class of

"permanently unemployable" because you are able to do occasional or part time work and you will have to stand aside until you are sixty-five years of age. That is surely unfair and is not doing justice to our returned men.

Let us try to mete out justice fairly and squarely to this large body of returned men who are not receiving consideration. Let us take the jokers out of the present legislation, set up a non-partisan tribunal to administer the act and divorce it entirely from politics. The act at the present time is susceptible to political considerations and political jugglery so far as the returned men are concerned. That is the last thing they want. They want justice pure and simple and nothing else. They are not asking for any compassionate allowance, but they want what they are justly entitled to and what they were promised before they left our shores to go overseas and fight the battles of the empire.

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CON

Leon Johnson Ladner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. L. J. LADNER (Vancouver South):

Mr. Speaker, this bill affects the lives, the happiness and the rights of many thousands of our most worthy citizens. A large number of them reside in British Columbia and particularly in my constituency; therefore I deem it my duty to make some observations on the proposal which has been placed before the house.

The principle of the bill is one of relief to a number of our veterans. I do not think that any hon. member would have objection to any principle for aiding materially in the relief of our returned men, but I would direct the attention of the house to the fact that the nature of this particular relief does not come under the principles of the Pension Act, and the rights which are claimed by the dependents who seek relief are rights which relate to service overseas and should properly be covered by the Pension Act itself. To grant the relief afforded by this bill is to grant a relief which in many respects is similar to that granted under the Old Age Pension Act. In my judgment, the relief which should be granted is relief involving amendments to the Pension Act for the benefits of those who in fact suffered disabilities from services overseas, but who have not been able by conclusive evidence to establish that fact to the satisfaction of the pension board.

I am sure that hon. members and the country at large can still hear the echoes of the clarion call that summoned to the great war the flower of the youth of our land. Our memories should not be too short, our consciences and our sense of responsibility should be as fully alive to-day towards these men as in the past. During that great conflict we read with great pride of their glorious attainments. We witnessed the tragedy of the loss of life, the destruction of property, the agony and desolation brought to Canadian homes by the many deaths that occurred in that con-

Allowances to War Veterans

flict; and finally we participated in the welcome home to our heroes who brought glory and fame to Canada and helped so vitally to save this country. I ask hon. members to recall the feelings in their hearts when these men returned. It was a moment of maximum impulse of generosity towards these men who had borne the burden and heat of the day in that great conflict. All throughout Canada it was the intention and desire of the people that the most generous contributions should be made for the benefit of those who had in that conflict suffered in the cause of Canada, and particularly for the wives, the widows and the children of our gallant men.

In gathering a few notes for my remarks this afternoon I came across some words of the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) which express a sentiment that is in the hearts of every Canadian, that must be in the hearts of every member of this house, and should particularly be entertained by the government at this time. I refer to that because of the legislation which should have been brought down now by the Minister of Pensions for amendment to the Pension Act. That is the one in which the returned men throughout this country are interested; that is the act under which they feel they are sntitled to relief. Speaking at Cobalt on November 20, 1921, the Hon. W. L. Mackenzie King, then leader of the Liberal party, now the Prime Minister, is reported as follows by a Canadian Press Staff correspondent:

"Our duty to the returned men, their dependents, and the dependents of those who have not come back is clear," Mr. King stated. "It is a demand that we treat their requests with geuerosity, which is more than mere justice. To the men who sacrificed their all in that fight for freedom we owe all the freedom we have to-day; though we default the interest on the national debt (which would mean national bankruptcy), we cannot afford to let one of our returned men or their dependents suffer."

That statement of the Prime Minister merely reflected the prevailing sentiment and the great impulse of generosity and sense of duty which at that time animated the Canadian people. That was in the year 1921. We thought we had then, in the Pension Act a principle which is called the insurance principle. It ensured a pension to every disabled man who enlisted A-l, As the act was interpreted by the pension board, it was found that instead of giving relief to those men who had not conclusive proof that their disabilities were due to war service, they were excluded from a pension. In. June, 1923, after representations had been made by various soldier organizations throughout this country,

I took it upon myself, when the Pension Act was under consideration in committee of the whole house, to move the following resolution in order to cover that very point, which has been a grave source of dissatisfaction and the cause of that sense of unjust treatment which is prevailing to-day among a great number of the returned men. I moved, as section 3A of Bill No. 205, the following amendment

Hansard, 1923, page 3850:

3A. For the purpose of The Pensions Act and amendments thereto and notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the provisions of the said act and amendments thereto, or any other act, where a member of the force who has left the naval, military or air force service is, or at any time after the date of his leaving that service, has been found to be suffering from tuberculosis, neurasthenia, cancer or any other disease or incapacity which could reasonably be attributed to war service, such member shall be deemed to be suffering from a disease attributable to, or aggravated by, naval, military or air force service, as the ease may be, unless or until it is shown that the tuberculosis, or neurasthenia, or cancer, or other disease or incapacity was neither attributable to, nor aggravated by. such service; and for the purpose of this provision, acceptance for such service shall be conclusive that at the time of joining such service the officer or man was not suffering from any such disease or incapacity.

After some discussion the government refused to accept that amendment, as they did in subsequent years. Later, other hon. members proposed amendments introducing the same principle, but it always failed to carry.

The point I want chiefly ito bring bo the attention of the Minister of Pensions (Mr. King, Kootenay) is this: There are mein, as the hon. member for Halton (Mr. Anderson) pointed out in his able remarks a few moments ago, who are suffering from disabilities which, if the facts could be demonstrated, would be seen to be definitely attributable to their war service, but they cannot establish that fact, as would be required in a court of law, and the attitude of mind of the pension board does not assist them in establishing it. These cases must sooner or later be attended to. I am sure that all hon. members like myself have received communications on this subject. Large files in my office contain a great number of just such cases, some of them so pitiful that they would enlist the sympathy of any red-blooded' citizen of this country; but because the Pension Act is framed the way it is, throwing the onus of proof upon the soldier, a pension is refused. So I want to draw the attention of the minister and of the government (to the fact that an amendment to the Pension Act is necessary to deal with that very question of the onus of proof.

Allowances to War Veterans

The bill which the minister has introduced is a bill for relief fashioned to a large extent upon the principles of the Old Age Pension Act. It is a commendable move, because it is a step in the right direction towards the relief of what the soldiers call the burnt-out oases. But that does not touch nor does it affect those cases which are justly and properly entitled to pensions under the Pension Act according ito the scale provided thereunder.

At the moment I have not any comments to make on the different clauses of the bill; I propose to reserve them until the bill is before the committee. But I should like to emphasize one point which I mentioned the other day to the minister, that this bill should give some consideration to the women and children dependents of returned men and to the widows and children of those who paid the supreme sacrifice. Clause 9, for example, provides that:

Payment of allowance shall be suspended,

(c) during the period of treatment where a recipient is admitted to hospital for treatment of injury or disease related to service.

While the man was in hospital his dependents would have no relief whatever. I think the minister should consider that phase. Simply because this bill embodies to a great extent the principles of the old age pensions legislation, no unnecessary injustice should be done to the women and children; and after all they are the ones who in the last analysis suffer the most when proper relief is not given. The same defect will be found in other provisions of the bill. It is not a large sum-$40 a month for a married man.- but if he goes to hospital for treatment under this clause no allowance is made to him, neither the allowance of $20 to himself nor the further $20 to which he is entitled for hds dependents, his wife and children.

There are a number of other clauses which should also be amended, but as the bill is being referred to a special committee I shall not delay the house longer in that respect, beyond making a final appeal to the minister and the government. If they will examine the course of legislation relative to pensions since the amendments of 1920 and 1921, they will find outstanding and staring them in the eyes in every report, in every complaint, in every discussion, the facit that there should ibe an insurance principle, that they should be given the benefit of the doubt, that they should not have to shoulder the onus of proof, and that relief be granted according to the true intent and desire of the Canadian people. That has not yet been done, although nine years have gone by. Now I make this

appeal to the minister and the government, that they do not allow even nine weeks to go by before they bring in legislation, either through the committee or on their own initiative, to remedy that patent defect, which almost every hon. member I think will agree with me requires consideration and adjustment.

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UFA

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. ALFRED SPEAKMAN (Red Deer):

Mr. Speaker, in common, I suppose, with most members of this house, bheTe are many items in the proposed bill to which I might take exception; but I shall not discuss the bill for the moment, for one reason which appears to me, at least, to be good and sufficient. In relation to this bill and in relation also to the Pension Act and to a number of other acts which affect the welfare of our returned men, we expect in a few days to be sitting in committee. We anticipate at that time that the provisions both of this bill and of the Pension Act and the whole problem of our returned men will be dealt with in detail. Because of that fact, and because I with others will have the opportunity of presenting my views there in a much more effective manner than is possible at present, I shall refrain from trespassing further upon the time of the house.

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CON

Alexander McKay Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. A. M. EDWARDS (South Waterloo):

Mr. Speaker, at this late stage of ithe debate I desire to say only a few words in regard to the bill. I realize that the bill is an effort to assist in adjusting those cases of so-called burnt-out men and those men who have not been able to prove continuity of treatment from the time of the war up to the present time. To the extent that it does that I shall voice my approval of the bill. I realize, of course, that there is a danger, as has been pointed out by many speakers, of political interference, but I hope there will be none.

To my mind there is abjection to this bill in that it does not take care of the dependents of those who have been able to prove a good case but have not been able to prove continuity of treatment. When the bill was brought down I took the opportunity of writing to the different posts of the legion in the constituency that I have the honour to represent-and I might say right here that in that constituency we have many returned men- and invariably in their replies the posts commended ithe bill to a certain extent, but said they felt the effort should rather be put forth towards amending the Pension Act to take care of those cases that they were not able to get before the board through the objection either that they were post-discharge cases, or that the disabilities complained of had occurred before the war. We have all had oases of that sort. Some of them we have

Allowances to War Veterans

been able partly to adjust, but most of them we have not been able to get through. I have no criticism to make of the Board of Pension Commissioners, I feel that they are hedged about, unnecessarily so, by restrictions and by rules which they must follow; but I do submit that the resolution moved the other day by the hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario (Mr. M'oGibbon) was in the right direction, that is, the onus of proof should not be entirely on the men. I have in mind particularly two cases. One is a man who was an iron moulder by trade before enlistment, and- obviously he was not a nervous wreck at that time or he could not have followed his occupation. This man enlisted in 1914; he was *heIl-shocked in 1916 and invalided out of the army on part pension. He came back to the city of Galt a nervous wreck. After treatment there for a year his doctor recommended an entire change of scene and he went bo Vancouver. I knew nothing about, him until about a month ago, after the house opened, when he wrote me stating that he had been suffering from neurasthenia, but had been unable to get any pension on that account and he asked me to take his case up with the pension board. I went over to the board and was kindly given the file. I found that in 1916 neurasthenia was given as one of the causes for which he was invalided from the army, but during all that time he had not received any compensation for that trouble. I must say in fairness to the board that they immediately adjusted the pension and made it retroactive to 1919, When the application was made.

I have another case that I should like to put before the house of a man who has not been able to get a pension. He has been suffering since 1917 and has produced certificates from four medical men certifying that they had treated him. Unfortunately the doctor who treated him in 1917 did not keep a correct record of his case; the man was paying his way and the doctor simply made an entry in his books that he had treated the man, but did not state the trouble. This man has cystitis and pyelitis, and I have no doubt that the medical members of this house will agree that that trouble could have been induced by exposure. This man claims that cystitis was brought on from exposure while on service in England. He did not get to France. He was invalided out of the army on account of eye trouble, and he has not been able to connect up his disability with his war service, for the simple reason that the physician in 1917 and 1918 did not keep a record of his case. I have every hope of that case succeeding before the appeal board. I have it before

the board now. I know this man very well, and I know that when he left, he was in first class shape, physically fit, but up to the present time he has not been able to get a pension.

I commend the act, up to a certain point, as being an effort to adjust cases of this kind, but I do submit that an amendment should be made to the pension act whereby the onus of proof is not placed entirely upon the returned man. I trust that I shall have an opportunity, when the bill goes to committee, not only to make suggestions but to assist other members who are interested in putting this matter before the board. It is my view also that this bill should be so amended as to take care of the dependents of veterans who come within the scope of this proposed legislation.

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CON

Charles Herbert Dickie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. C. H. DICKIE (Nanaimo):

Mr. Speaker, having resided for many years in a district in British Columbia which shares with the district represented by my good friend the hon. member for Yale (Mr. Stirling), the proud honour of having sent to the front a greater number of men per capita than any other part of Canada, or of America, for that matter, exceptional opportunities have been afforded me of studying the effects of war on those who went and those who returned. I have watched these boys grow to manhood's estate; I saw them go and I saw them return, and I have observed their effort to succeed on the land, or in other endeavours, since their return. I quite agree with the very learned remarks made by the hon. member for Halton (Mr. Anderson). I have seen those men come back feeling fit in every way, but have seen them gradually become weary, becoming old men long before their time, and I have had instance after instance of those men trying to bring their case before the pension board, but always the reply was that they could not trace their disabilities to war service.

It strikes me, Mr. Speaker, that an amendment, or amendments to the Pension Act would accomplish all that this bill is seeking to accomplish, and would be very much less unwieldy. By a few amendments to the Pension Act, and by the sotting up of proper machinery, they would be able to go into districts such as mine, where they could meet the people interested, getting the benefit of their local knowledge and the ideas of the physicians. I feel sure that a committee could be appointed to go into those districts, and in a few weeks' time would be able to decide who should receive compensation and who should not.

When those men came back from the war the government, seeking to do what was best

Allowances to War Veterans

for them, settled them on land. It was a well meant effort, but it was doomed to failure from the start because of the physical and other conditions. These men, coming back from the muck and tumult of war, desired nothing more than a piece of land, anything to get away from the din of battle, and the soil appealed to them. The sight, the sounds, the fragrance of field and forest was to them Elysium. They fought hard to make things go. They cleared land in many cases, but eventually they had to give up the job. I know of many men who, while doing their very best to get along, are able to work only a few hours a day, men who have families dependent on them, in many cases families who were accustomed to luxury before the husband and father went to war. Those are the people that we want to help by setting up the proper machinery, and I think that could very well be done by appointing to go through that country a committee composed of men who know the conditions in the country. It is not at all necessary, Mr. Speaker, to trace from a pathological point of view the connection of their disability with war service; we all know it, we have seen so many of them. It does not require the opinion of a physician. Those are the people to whom we want to afford relief. We do not want to bring those men under an act which resembles the old age pension act as does this one. I have seen men 45 and 50 years of age much older looking than I am at three score and ten, all due to the war. These men are not able to enter into competition with other labour in the district, and it could easily be proved to the satisfaction of a committee that these men should receive relief under the Pension Act. This country wants to deal rightly by those people. I have every respect and regard for the hon. minister who has introduced this bill, but, as I say, having had exceptional opportunities of observing these men who will come under this bill, I do not think it is quite the proper mode of procedure for dealing with them. As I say, I have seen them strive and unable to compete with others in the race for life. Very many have left British Columbia and have gone to California, but when they get there they are just about on the same plane as at home in British Columbia. They are not on the same plane as the virile young man. Their cases are very piteous, sir, and I believe this committee, which would come face to face with these men and with people who live alongside of them, in large measure could protect the government from demands which might be made by those who are able to work and earn a living. This could be accomplished by a small committee; I could name one or two men on Vancouver island who would be glad to do this work in order to help the returned soldiers.

I have gone to these men and suggested that they be reboarded, but they have said, "What is the use; we have been boarded before. When we go up before the board, which is like a court, we are diffident and timid; we cannot put our cases as we could put them to you, and the result is that we get no relief." I have seen these men refuse for this reason to make application for a rehearing of their cases. If some such procedure as I have outlined could be instituted for the benefit at least of the people in that part of the country from which I come, I believe it would not cost the country anything like it will cost under the provisions of this well-meant act.

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CON

William Spankie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WILLIAM SPANKIE (Frontenac-Addington):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to

refer to this bill for just a few moments. In common with other members of the house I have received many letters from returned soldiers, to one or two of which I desire to refer in particular. Before doing so, however,

I wish to direct the attention of the minister to section 5 of the bill, which seems to contain either a mistake or misprint. It reads:

An allowance may be paid to every veteran who, at the date of the proposed commencement of the allowance,

(a) has attained the age of sixty-five years, or, not having attained the age of sixty years ii. in the opinion of the committee, by reason of physical or mental disability, permanently unemployable;

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John Warwick King

Mr. KING (Kootenay):

That is a mistake which will have to be corrected.

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CON

William Spankie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPANKIE:

That was directed to my attention in a letter which I received from a man who is just over sixty years of age. His application for pension has been refused, and he did not know what to do.

Another point in connection with the bill is the fact that it does not come into operation until September 1 of this year, which means that five months must elapse before any benefits will be received under it. During that time many soldiers and their families will suffer, perhaps severely. I have here a letter from a soldier's wife, the soldier himself being unable to write. She asks why they have not heard from the Board of Pension Commissioners, after having waited for months. Some time ago I wrote the board, laying the matter before them, and received a reply a few days ago which I forwarded to this woman, but in

Allowances to War Veterans

the meantime she wrote the letter which I intend to read. In the letter she said:

I would like to hear from you at as early a date as possible concerning his case. It has been over eight months since he has been able to do a tap of anything and he is getting worse every day.

That soldier has a wife and four children; he draws $7.50 per month for himself and $7.50 for his family, on which he has had to live and on which he will have to live for the next five or six months until this new act comes into operation. Why should there be such a long delay? Is it absolutely necessary?

There is one other case to which I should like to direct the attention of the house. It is the case of a young man who enlisted at an early age and who saw service overseas in a theatre of war. I have here the report of his officer, giving the history of his case. On December 23, 1915, this private enlisted in the 146th battalion, proceeding overseas on September 26, 1916. He disembarked in France on October 6, 1916, and was sent directly to the front line trenches. After being there for six months he was severely wounded and was admitted to hospital on April 24, 1917. From that time on he was treated first at one hospital and then at another and eventually, after having been discharged as unfit for further service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, he was returned to Canada.

This case is very sad. During the absence of this man overseas his two children were drowned and his wife ran away with another man, with whom she is living at present in Virginia. His home has been completely broken up. While in the trenches this soldier was hit in the face by shrapnel and now he is unable to open his mouth more than one inch and cannot eat ordinary diet. He has lost a considerable portion of his lower jaw on the right side and is fitted with a denture. He also has a large scar on the right side of his face and defective vision of the right eye. At the time this letter was written this soldier was only twenty-five years of age. He is disfigured for life; he did his duty and returned to Canada after serving his king for twenty-seven months, without a mark on either of his conduct sheets.

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CON
CON

William Spankie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPANKIE:

This man is suffering at

present and is living with friends who are supporting him; he has no pension. He was given a gratuity of $100 in 1919, and has not received one cent since that time, during which period he has been supported by his friends. I hope, Mr. Speaker, that the special

committee dealing with this matter will take ample time to consider all these cases and I hope the bill will be brought into operation at the earliest possible date.

We should not be too strict in requiring proof that disability is due entirely to war service. The very fact that a soldier who served his country is now suffering should be sufficient for us. When a man has seen service in a theatre of war he should be entitled to our sympathetic consideration, whether or not it is possible to prove that his disability is directly due to that service. I do not see how the soldier can prove that in many cases, nor do I see how the board can prove the contrary, but in any case the onus should be on the board and sympathetic treatment should be given the soldier. To my mind, when a man has given service to his country we owe him everlasting gratitude. I hope this bill will give satisfaction to the soldier, and I know it will meet with the approval of the majority of our people if it treats them sympathetically and does not require too much proof which it

is impossible for most men to furnish. The case to which I referred a moment ago, that of a man who had a pension of $15 all told, $7.50 for himself and $7A0 for his family, was communicated with last week by the board-that communication came to me and I forwarded it to the man-which stated that his disability was actual but as a period of ten years has elapsed they could not connect it with his war experience.

When these young men returned from the war they were not thinking about pensions, they were thinking about getting home. At that time their ailments seemed to be slight because youth was strong and buoyant and they had the strength of early manhood, but as the years rolled by these weaknesses developed.

I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that the soldier be allowed to apply for this pension at the age of sixty years. Anyone may apply for pension at the age of seventy years, and I think the soldier should be given a preference of at least ten years. I hope that this question may be worked out satisfactorily.

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CON

Robert Henry McGregor

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. H. McGREGOR (South York):

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to represent a riding which is known as the soldiers' riding, that of South York. I do not intend to take up the time of the house in bringing up individual cases or in discussing this new proposed legislation, because I think it has been discussed thoroughly by members on this side of the house, but I do want to say that all that the returned soldiers in my riding are looking

Allowances to War Veterans

for is a fair deal. They believe that this old age pension annex is a good thing as far as it goes, but they do not think it goes far enough. The soldiers in my riding feel that unless the government intends to add something to this act, it is an insult to them. I have talked with a good many of the boys in my riding and they agree that the resolution proposed by the hon. member on this side of the house (Mr. McGibbon) is what they have been attempting to get for some years, and I know that nothing less than that will satisfy the soldiers in my riding. They have asked me to see if it would not be possible to have a draft of any proposed new legislation sent out to the different posts before it becomes law, so that they may have a chance to approve or disapprove of it..

It is only a matter of probably ten or twenty years before the boys who are now with us will have passed along, so let us all get together and do what we can to help those who have done so much for us.

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LIB

Alexander MacGillivray Young

Liberal

Mr. A. MacGILLIVRAY YOUNG (Saskatoon) :

Mr. Speaker, I intend to take up the time of the house for a few moments only, not because the subject under discussion is not of importance but because we have had the assurance of the Minister of Pensions (Mr. King, Kootenay) and of the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) that this bill will be referred to the committee as well as the resolution proposed by the hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario (Mr. McGibbon), and any suggestions made by any hon. member will be considered by that committee. That seems to me to be the best place to discuss these questions which concern many of the people whom we have the honour to represent.

I do not propose to take up any time in dealing with individual cases. I have had many cases before the pension board and [DOT]I have found the board to be always sympathetic. In some cases they seemed to have great difficulty in coming within the act; on many occasions my judgment differed with theirs but whether they were right or I was right is a matter which should not be left to themselves or .to myself to decide. Whenever there is any reasonable doubt I say that that doubt should be given always to the returned soldier, but I am inclined to think that in some cases that has not been done. Since we are to have the opportunity of discussing fully before the committee all the cases which have come within our notice, I am satisfied .to say no more, but I do hope that when the bill comes back to this house there may be a recommendation that the Pension Act be amended so that all cases

which have not heretofore been brought within the scope of that act will receive a full and fair measure of justice.

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CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. G. R. GEARY (South Toronto):

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that the hon. member who has last spoken (Mr. Young, Saskatoon) is under some misapprehension. As far as I have been able to hear, there has been no definite undertaking by the Minister of Pensions (Mr. King, Kootenay) or by the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) that the Pension Act itself will be amended during the present session. We have not had that assurance, and my fear is that intensive and thorough as may be the deliberations of the special committee, the result of those deliberations will come down so kite that we will find, as was the case in 1927, that there can be no legislation prepared to implement the findings of the committee.

I think we may assume that the genesis of this legislation is in .the letter of Sir Arthur Currie written during the last summer to the general convention of the legion. The preamble of .the bill reads:

-and whereas it is found that many pensioners and non-pensioners are, in fact, unemployable by reason of intangible results of their war service apart from any consideration of pensionable disability; and it is desirable to provide assistance, or additional assistance, for these veterans in recognition of their service:

I am thoroughly in accord with that principle. I do not intend to concern myself ait the moment with the details of the bill, as they will be taken up by the committee, but I think the minister should take advantage of the somewhat devastating criticism which has been made of the provisions he has inserted in the bill. If the Prime Minister thinks he is fulfilling the pledge made by him shortly after Sir Arthur Currie's letter was written by introducing this legislation, then I cannot agree with him. Only one branch has been covered, and that imperfectly in many respects.

The committee will have this bill under consideration, as well as the motion of the hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario (Mr. McGibbon) and certain resolutions of the legion or of the service committee, and I would like to have from the government the definite assurance, which as yet we have not been able to obtain, that any favourable recommendations of the committee will be implemented at this session by means of legislation.

This bill has provoked a great deal of discussion amongst the returned men. Some like it, others do not, but I think it is satisfactory to those cases to which it properly applies.

Allowances to War Veterans

The feeling amongst the men, however is that if this is the government's last word or the only solution of the problem to which they claim to have set themselves long before. this session began, then it is unsatisfactory in the extreme. It cannot be accepted as the final word and as the disposition of these claims which men through the legion and otherwise have been making. I do not know that the functions of the committee go far enough to enable it to suggest or recommend amendments to the Pension Act, but I take this position now: if any objection is raised at a later stage to implementing the Pension Act by just such resolutions as are adopted by the committee, we should press in the house for such amendments to the Pension Act as will carry out those recommendations.

With the principle of the bill as affording some measure of relief, subject to discussion of the details, I think we may be all in accord; but as a final implementing of the Prime Minister's pledge spread further in the speech from the throne, it is not at all satisfactory. I take it that the soldiers will not accept this as being adequate and complete satisfaction of what the speech from the throne promised in the way of pension legislation.

At six o'clock the house took recess.

After Recess

The house resumed at eight o'clock.

Mr. D. .1. COWAN (Port Arthur-Thunder Bay): Mr. Speaker, the bill now 'before the

house has been too long delayed. I think it would have been in the interests of the war veterans themselves and of the public generally if this legislation had' been introduced some years ago. It would have come with a much better grace if it had come spontaneously from the hearts of the Canadian people as expressed here, rather than being forced through the agency of the legion from a most reluctant government.

In common with other members who have spoken this afternoon, I adhere to the principle of support or aid or recompense for the returned soldiers of this country. They left our Shores with loud hurrahs ringing in their ears and with the implied promise that upon their return they would be reestablished in civil life, or if they did not return that their dependents would be adequately oared for. This proposed legislation does not meet the full requirements of the legion in my community with which I have the honour to be connected in an honorary capacity, in that

it is deficient in providing for the relief of our returned men, for various reasons, of which I will state a few.

First, in the definition clause the word "veteran" is not sufficiently inclusive. I know that this and other deficiencies will be .considered in the special committee to which this bill will be referred, and I sincerely hope the government will give earnest consideration to these deficiencies so that when itihe bill is reported they will be remedied. The word "veteran," as I say, is not sufficiently inclusive, for it does not cover those veterans who served in Canada and in England. The definition should be so widened as to include those veterans. In the second place, no benefit is provided for dependents. I think the proper course would be to amend the Pension Act so that the dependents of these men could be properly provided for. In the third' place, the clause in regard to disallowance is too strict. If a war veteran has conveyed his property within five years of the time of his application, the conveyance is deemed to have been made for the purpose of getting the allowance under this bill. I submit that a great many of these men have had to dispose of their property during that period, that they have been forced to do so iby the pansimony of this government in looking after them, and that it is most unfair and unjust that a man who by reason of those circumstances has had to dispose of his property should be debarred from the benefits of this bill.

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John Warwick King

Mr. KING (Kootenay):

Mr. Speaker, may I interrupt the hon. gentleman for a moment?

I am afraid my hon. friend has not read very carefully the provisions of the bill. The disallowance applies if the man sells his property after the coming into force of this proposed legislation,

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CON

Donald James Cowan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COWAN:

Even so it seems to me [DOT]

unwise that any one coming within the terms of this bill should be debarred by reason of having disposed of his property in the subsequent five years.

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John Warwick King

Mr. KING (Kootenay):

That is quite true.

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CON

Donald James Cowan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COWAN:

He should be entitled to

the benefits of this bill even if he has to dispose of his property within the next five years. Then the age limit is too high. A great number of our men who went overseas would not be entitled to the benefits of this legislation until forty years had elapsed from the beginning of hostilities. That in itself is an unwise position for the government to take, because I think that on the average our men enlisted at twenty-five years of age, and I sub-

Allowances to War Veterans

mit they should not have to wait until they are sixty-five until they come under the benefits of this legislation; it is too long a time altogether for them to have to wait.

I was amazed this afternoon to learn of the expense of administering the Pension Act. When you find that the cost of its administration so far as appeals are concerned was greater than the benefits which have been awarded to our returned men, I think the uselessness and futility of setting up another commission to administer this proposed legislation is apparent.

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March 20, 1930