April 5, 1932

CON

Murray MacLaren (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacLAREN:

No, certainly not. In

the event of an applicant succeeding or failing before the tribunal, the procedure is not a matter of policy at all. It is all laid down in the act. The pensions advocate has the right of appeal for the applicant, and the commission counsel has the right of appeal on behalf of the pension board.

Topic:   SUPPLY-CANADIAN CURRENCY STATEMENT OF MR. COOTE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

The significance of the figures is that whereas since their inception there were 4,545 cases referred to the pension tribunals, of which number they allowed 2,129 and disallowed 2,416-about a fifty fifty proportion-there were appealed by the pension applicants 1,172 and by the commission counsel, who is ostensibly representing the administration or the treasury, 1,550. So that the commission counsel, whether under instructions or not, has appealed far more cases than have advocates acting on behalf of soldiers applying for pensions. I asked' the question how many decisions rendered by the appeal court were in favour of the applicants? The reply was:

On appeals by pension applicants, 26; by commission counsel, 239.

Almost ten to one of the appeals sent to the appeal court were in favour of appeals lodged by commission counsel as against those lodged by pension advocates. Then I asked the question:

How many were adverse to the pension applicant?

And received the answer:

On appeals by pension applicants 703, by commission counsel 343.

Taking it in a negative way we find on appeals there were far fewer decisions against commission counsel than there were against applicants for pensions. I think the figures speak for themselves with relentless severity.

I recall that last year during a discussion on the estimates it was pointed out that a circular letter under date of June 25, 1931 had been sent out by the chief commission counsel to all commission counsel throughout Canada instructing them to pursue the most rigid course in regard to these appeals. On that occasion I complimented the minister because the minute the matter came to his attention he was good enough to withdraw that letter from circulation. I trust there are no more* instructions of that type being given to commission counsel. Speaking for myse'lf I have the utmost confidence in the personnel of the tribunals; I think they have done a remarkable work, but I have very little confidence in the attitude of the appeal court, as constituted, towards the claims of the applicants.

Topic:   SUPPLY-CANADIAN CURRENCY STATEMENT OF MR. COOTE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
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LIB

Frederick George Sanderson

Liberal

Mr. SANDERSON:

I should like to say to the minister that I am not criticizing him; I have found him friendly and considerate, and he has gone out of his way on several occasions personally to investigate oases concerning pensions I have brought to his attention. Therefore anything I may have to say is not critical of the minister. It appears to me, however, that he must realize by now that the Pension Act, with the amendments which were added in 1930, is far from being .perfect, I should like to ask if it is the intention of the government at this session to bring down any amendment or amendments to the act.

Topic:   SUPPLY-CANADIAN CURRENCY STATEMENT OF MR. COOTE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
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CON

Murray MacLaren (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacLAREN:

I should like to say a few words concerning several points brought up by hon. members opposite. In the first place, it is the right of applicants to appeal. All they have to do is to advise or request a pension advocate to have it done. That is a matter entirely apart from the department. Then, appeals by commission counsel are not departmental matters. Commission counsel acting under the Board of Pension Commissioners make the appeals which in their judgment should be made. I should not like to

Supply-Pensions

agree with the remarks of the hon. member for Vancouver Centre about the appeal court.

I have had much to impress me concerning the good work done by that court. There are certain facts we must bear in mind concerning the three courts. The Board of Pension Commissioners, or some of them, have been acting for ten years or more. They are well trained, experienced men. At the head of the appeal court is a man who was on the supreme court bench of one of the provinces for about fifteen years, a man who has had an extensive training and is fitted for his position. Then there is the tribunal composed of twelve members chosen from every portion of the dominion and representing the different provinces. Naturally most of those men have not been trained in their particular work; they are new men at new work, and I think it is fair to expect that some time will elapse before they learn accurately the value of evidence. I should like hon. members to bear in mind that I recognize there is a marked disparity between the number of appeals allowed on applications by advocates and by commission counsel. I am not going to judge these officials harshly because I think they are all trying to do their best. We may reasonably suppose it will take time to train men properly to weigh evidence as it should and will be done.

Topic:   SUPPLY-CANADIAN CURRENCY STATEMENT OF MR. COOTE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
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CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

I should like to straighten out a matter of procedure. Did I understand the minister to say that the Board of Pension Commissioners instructs the appeals on behalf of the crown, so to speak?

Topic:   SUPPLY-CANADIAN CURRENCY STATEMENT OF MR. COOTE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
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CON

Murray MacLaren (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacLAREN:

Yes.

Topic:   SUPPLY-CANADIAN CURRENCY STATEMENT OF MR. COOTE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
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CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

So that each case is considered by the Board of Pension Commissioners, and it is the board which gives the instructions that the appeal be taken?

Topic:   SUPPLY-CANADIAN CURRENCY STATEMENT OF MR. COOTE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
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CON

Murray MacLaren (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacLAREN:

Yes.

Topic:   SUPPLY-CANADIAN CURRENCY STATEMENT OF MR. COOTE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
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CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

I understood the commission counsel-

Topic:   SUPPLY-CANADIAN CURRENCY STATEMENT OF MR. COOTE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
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CON

Murray MacLaren (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacLAREN:

Yes, that is true; the chief commission counsel is an official of the pension board.

Topic:   SUPPLY-CANADIAN CURRENCY STATEMENT OF MR. COOTE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
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CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

It did transpire last year that a circular letter was sent out which provoked a good many appeals-at least that was the inference. The minister was good enough to see that that letter was withdrawn. Perhaps the minister will let us know if within his knowledge any active part has been taken in invoking the appeal to the federal appeal board since that time, because there is a feeling on the part of some that the right of 41761-110

appeal by commission counsel has been very largely used. In many cases that appeal has been successful, whereas the appeal by the man has not been successful to anything like the same extent. I should like to be assured that it is not departmental policy that there should be such a large proportion of appeals by the commission counsel against the tribunal decisions.

Topic:   SUPPLY-CANADIAN CURRENCY STATEMENT OF MR. COOTE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
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CON

Murray MacLaren (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacLAREN:

As I have just stated, it is not departmental policy. As soon as my attention was drawn to the letter sent out last year I disapproved of it and asked the pension board to recall it. The chief counsel is an official of the pension board.

Topic:   SUPPLY-CANADIAN CURRENCY STATEMENT OF MR. COOTE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
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LIB

Frederick George Sanderson

Liberal

Mr. SANDERSON:

It does appear to me that the great defect of the Pension Act is the delay in dealing with cases that come before the tribunals. I have personal knowledge of twenty cases, of which ten or twelve have been pending for eight, nine, ten and twelve months, and two cases have been pending for fifteen months.

Topic:   SUPPLY-CANADIAN CURRENCY STATEMENT OF MR. COOTE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
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CON

Murray MacLaren (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacLAREN:

I cannot discuss specific cases-

Topic:   SUPPLY-CANADIAN CURRENCY STATEMENT OF MR. COOTE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
Permalink
LIB

Frederick George Sanderson

Liberal

Mr. SANDERSON:

I would not expect the minister to do that.

Topic:   SUPPLY-CANADIAN CURRENCY STATEMENT OF MR. COOTE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
Permalink
CON

Murray MacLaren (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacLAREN:

I have found that so many conditions were supposed to exist, but a close analysis threw a different light on them.

I do not know whether those cases are still pending, but the applicants sometimes delay their own cases. As to legislation this session, the question is being very closely studied at the present time. Of course, delay cannot be wholly avoided. We are aware now what this machinery is costing the country, and surely no one is going to advocate that it be increased still further. We are trying to expedite the work as far as possible, but, as I pointed out, the pension board is granting more cases than the tribunal and the appeal court hear.

Topic:   SUPPLY-CANADIAN CURRENCY STATEMENT OF MR. COOTE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
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LIB

Frederick George Sanderson

Liberal

Mr. SANDERSON:

I would not suggest for a moment that the machinery be increased, but could not the present machinery be speeded up? For instance, the tribunals meet at certain points in Ontario, but although there, may be twelve or fourteen cases on the docket they will sit for a day, dispose of four or six cases, and then move on to another point. Would it not be possible for the tribunal to clear the docket before they moved on?

Topic:   SUPPLY-CANADIAN CURRENCY STATEMENT OF MR. COOTE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
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CON

Murray MacLaren (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacLAREN:

If any hon. member will look over the itinerary he will find that the tribunals do clear the docket in each place.

Supply-Interior-Indians

In Toronto we have had a board sitting continuously for the last few months. In many centres the tribunals sit for three, four or five days and dispose of their work.

Topic:   SUPPLY-CANADIAN CURRENCY STATEMENT OF MR. COOTE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
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LIB

Frederick George Sanderson

Liberal

Mr. SANDERSON:

That may apply to

Toronto, but let me take Stratford in the county where the tribunal meets. To my knowledge that tribunal has never sat longer than a day and a half although there would be twelve or fourteen cases on the docket. In that time it could deal with only four or six cases. Why should not the docket be cleared before the tribunal moves on to another point?

Topic:   SUPPLY-CANADIAN CURRENCY STATEMENT OF MR. COOTE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
Permalink
CON

Murray MacLaren (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacLAREN:

There is no reason why the tribunal should not do so.

Topic:   SUPPLY-CANADIAN CURRENCY STATEMENT OF MR. COOTE ON MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
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April 5, 1932