July 3, 1931

CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I caught the point.

Topic:   PENSIONS
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LIB

James Layton Ralston

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

The amendment now

being made makes the board a judicial tribunal, whereas previously they may have been more or less administrative, or at least a court of first resort-a grand jury, as 1 described it. Now they are becoming a judicial tribunal, and I submit that we ought to get rid of the practice of having them instruct counsel to appeal. Let us get a board entirely outside the Board of Pension Commissioners who will decide whether or not an appeal shall be launched.

Topic:   PENSIONS
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

I want to point out another weakness. Under the old system once a pensioner received notice that his claim was accepted, that was almost final in every case.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Not since the appeal board came in.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

I am coming to that point. I was referring to the old system. If the case went to the appeal board and the applicant was successful there, that also was considered final except in the case of a second appeal, which were very rare. But under the present system we have up to date 417 cases which were admitted by the pension tribunals throughout the various provinces, in the presence of the applicants, to ,be pensionable. The applicants, hearing that their cases were admitted as pensionable, naturaly returned to their homes .with the impression that the pensions were theirs, but these 417 cases went to the appeal court and every single one of them was rejected. So the principle I am trying to establish is this: it is unfortunate to notify the appellant in his own presence that his ease has been admitted when there is a possibility of its being finally rejected, with consequent disappointment and heart-burning.

Topic:   PENSIONS
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I quite appreciate the point, but I think that it has always been stated since recently that the case is subject to appeal.

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CON

Murray MacLaren (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacLAREN:

It is well to have

discussion, but it is well also not to be too hasty in coming to a conclusion in connection with these matters. The varieties of opinion are beyond enumeration. I believe that a good deal could be said to meet the objections and criticisms which have been

offered to-night. I would like to say one thing in reference to the commission counsel. The aet states that they are subject to the direction of the commission. I think it is only fair to say on behalf of the commission counsel that I believe they do not approach cases that are placed before them as prosecutors or anything of that kind. They appear as crown counsel acting in a fair and reasonable way to the best of their ability, and taking exception or objection or an appeal only in cases in which they think it is their duty so to do. I believe that the instructions given by the pension board are in keeping with that practice. It may be that the way they are appointed is not a perfectly logical procedure, but I think that the spirit in which they carry out their duties is a fairly reasonable one.

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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

May I invite the attention of the minister to what I consider a hardship on those who are applying for pensions. Let me give a concrete case, for which there may be a remedy. I have in mind the case of a soldier who applied for a pension. He was notified by the soldiers' advocate, and the tribunal also notified him, that it would sit at a certain place in a certain county. This individual lived nearly 110 miles away from where the tribunal was to sit, and he had no means of getting there. He would have to pay his own expenses all through till he got to the court. He had no means of his own, and no means of getting money to pay his way, and he would have had to drop his case if someone had not furnished the money for him. It is true that after he got to the tribunal and his case was tried, his expenses were handed to him, but why could there not be some means of providing at least transportation for the individual especially when he is living so far away? He might be given a certificate of transportation that would be good over the railroad to the point where the case v'as to be tried. For instance, there was a sitting in the town of Newcastle in February last, and applicants from the county of Gloucester who live on the islands in the gulf* of St. Lawrence had to go all the way from the gulf of St. Lawrence to Newcastle, a distance of 110 miles, and borrow money to get there.

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CON
LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

Yes, but the trouble is

that often an applicant has no means of getting there, and he has to go about and collect money from his friends. There should be some way of meeting that difficulty. If the tribunal sat in the county of Gloucester

Supply-Pensions

for these Gloucester county cases, the expenses would not be one-half the expense of bringing an individual 110 miles away to the town of Newcastle. If the tribunal had sat in Gloucester county they would have been sitting within 45 miles of this man's home. There are many of these cases, and I would ask the minister to look into it and see if some means cannot be found for providing for this difficulty.

There is another point. A doctor's certificate is not admitted as evidence under the new system. The doctor must be summoned to appear in person before the tribunal and give his evidence. Under the old system the certificate of a doctor who had looked after the soldier was admitted as evidence, but to-day, I say, the doctor has to appear in person. The advocates, who are supposed to look after the soldier's interests, did not notify the applicants, at least, up to a month ago, that they should produce the doctor in person instead of a doctor's certificate. The result was that the particular case I refer to was turned down for want of evidence. When the case was heard on appeal before the appeal board I appeared myself in person for the individual because he was too poor to have anyone else do it for him, and I knew the case. The minute I examined the evidence before the lower court I knew that the appeal court could do nothing else but throw out the case. I asked them to issue instructions to have the case retried, and they did so. But look at the expense connected with that process! I trust that the minister will look into this matter, and see if he cannot find a remedy.

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CON

Murray MacLaren (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacLAREN:

I should like to assure

the hon. member for Gloucester and all other hon. members that the facilities which have been put at the disposal of the soldiers during the last year have been uncommonly good. There may be exceptional instances, and I should like to have a full report on the case that has been referred to by my hon. friend, but on the whole the provision is exceedingly generous. Let me mention for the bdhefit of the hon. member for Gloucester that last year the tribunal met in New Brunswick at Campbellton, Bathurst, Chatham, Newcastle, Moncton, St. John, Woodstock, Fredericton and Edmundston.

Topic:   PENSIONS
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LIB
CON

Murray MacLaren (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacLAREN:

I have not the date,

but they sat in nine places in New Brunswick since last November.

Topic:   PENSIONS
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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

Why is it they are making Bathurst applicants go to Newcastle? I myself paid the expenses of those men.

Topic:   PENSIONS
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CON

Murray MacLaren (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacLAREN:

If there is one thing

that is being done well it is this particular thing. Since last December these tribunals have met in different places in the hon. member's own province. The instructions are for them to meet in every centre where there are a sufficient number of cases to justify it. The men and their witnesses are paid their travelling expenses and for loss of time. If there is anything wrong it is probably because the man himself has mistaken the instructions or has failed to carry them out.

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LIB
CON

Murray MacLaren (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacLAREN:

What is the committee

going to do?

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

They are going to bed. It is after eleven o'clock.

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LIB
CON

Murray MacLaren (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacLAREN:

I ask the hon. member

to give me particulars and I will have the case investigated.

Topic:   PENSIONS
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July 3, 1931