May 12, 1933

CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

It is one o'clock. May I call your attention, Mr. 'Chairman, to the money phase of this motion?

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CON

John Alexander Sullivan

Conservative (1867-1942)

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Sullivan):

Yes, it is out of order.

At one o'clock the committee took recess.

The committee resumed at one o'clock.

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CON

Murray MacLaren (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacLAREN:

I just wish to make one observation on the amendment which has been moved by the hon. member for Antigon-ish-Cuysborough. I think there is merit in what the hon. member says. I propose to bring the matter to the attention of the {Mr. Duff.]

government, and'I hope it will be dealt with at some more favourable time. I think it is of sufficient merit to be fully considered, but it should wait until some more favourable time. That is my own personal view.

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LIB
CON

Donald James Cowan

Conservative (1867-1942)

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Cowan, Port Arthur-Thunder Bay):

The amendment is

to strike out all the words after the word "least" in the third line of subsection 1 of clause 10B and to substitute the following therefor:

"ten years, may grant him a pension for his life not exceeding one-third of the salary to which he is entitled as such member, or two-thirds of such salary to any member of the commission who has, as aforesaid, served fifteen years and upwards, provided any such member is not entitled to superannuation under the Civil Service Superannuation Act."

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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

Perhaps in view of the fact

that a monetary question is involved, the amendment may be out of order.

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CON
LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

By changing only a few words I submit, Mr. Chairman, the amendment would be in order. The Minister of Pensions and National Health was good enough to discuss my amendment with me and he has just said that the government will take it into consideration, but if this section passes as it is I submit that it will be impossible to deal with the proposal in my amendment until the next session of parliament. May I suggest to the minister that instead of dealing summarily with the amendment now and passing the clause, he let the clause stand until to-morrow so that he will have an opportunity to consider the matter further and perhaps agree to my suggestion. He admits that there is merit in the amendment.

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CON

Murray MacLaren (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacLAREN:

I did not have the

idea that it would apply this session.

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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

Do I understand that the

minister is willing to allow this subsection to stand.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

We have not been able to hear what the minister was saying on this side.

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CON

Murray MacLaren (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacLAREN:

I do not think the

section should stand. I have said I am impressed by the reasons expressed by my hon. friend, but it is a matter that requires a good deal of consideration by the government, and I said I should have much pleasure in bringing it to the attention of the govern-

Pension Act

ment with my favourable comments. I think that is as far as the hon. gentleman can expect me to go.

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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

I cannot agree with the minister. I can understand, of course, that it may be necessary for him to give further consideration to my amendment, but certainly my amendment is very much more modest than the proposals contained in certain legislation which we have passed in this house in the last two or three years or in the legislation which -was proposed to this house within the last day or two. I remember when I was very much younger and one of a big family, when some of us tried to get from the other the biggest slice of bread and molasses my mother used to say, "There should be no step-bairns in our family," and as far as government officials -are concerned there should be no step-bairns, but everybody should be treated alike. Within the last day or two the government introduced legislation whereby parliament was asked to vote for the chairman of the tariff board-I am not talking personally at all-not only a salary of $15,000, an increase from the $12,000 which the former chairman of the board received, but in addition that he should receive an annuity after drawing $15,000 for ten years. As far as I am concerned there are entirely too many pensions being paid, whether it is to the Chairman of the tariff board or anybody else, because the ordinary person in this country who has to pay taxes receives no pension at all. He is engaged in farming or mining or fishing or in mercantile life, and, if any of us does not make enough for our old age we have to go to the poor house or grub along as best we can without any pension. Yet the government proposed to give the chairman of the tariff board a salary of $15,000 for ten years and an annuity, and if the chairman of that board cannot save sufficient for the future out of a salary of $15,000 a year for ten years, I say that he is not fit to be chairman of the board. In addition, besides providing that the taxpayers of this country should pay the chairman of the tariff board a pension of $7,500 per year or fifty per cent of his salary at the end of ten years' service, that legislation originally proposed pensions also for the other two members of the board and now my good friend the Minister of Pensions and National Health says that he cannot agree to my very modest amendment to provide a pension for these men who have given good service to this country as members of the pension board, although my amendment proposes that they shall receive a pension of only one-third of their salary.

Clause 2 of this bill makes provision for the salaries which the members of the new Canadian pension commission ^hall receive. The chairman is to receive a salary of $7,000 and each of the other members of the board $0,000 per annum. I am willing to admit that in these times under present conditions $7,000 or $0,000 is rather fair remuneration in the public service. But how can the minister or the government justify not accepting my amendment when the chairman of the pension commission is responsible for the expenditure of $55,000,000 per year, and when he receives a salary of $7,000 and the other members of the commission $6,000, as compared with $15,000 for the chairman of the tariff board and $10,000 each for the other two members of that board? The minister is part of the ministry and an adviser to His Excellency the Governor General in Council, and I ask him how can he justify waiting for another year. Surely, Mr. Chairman, the members of this new board, whether these gentlemen Who have been members of the pension commission for the last ten years or the new members who are going to be put on from the tribunals, with the serious responsibilities they have to assume, are entitled to as much money from the taxpayers of this country as the members of the tariff commission. Yet my hon. friend says when I move a modest amendment to give these men not so high a pension when they retire after ten or fifteen years, that it cannot be dealt with this year, and asks us to pass this bill and the matter will be considered later. I say that is not fair either to the members of the pension board, the members of the tribunal or the members of this house. I say to the minister that in fairness to everyone concerned he should allow this clause 10B to stand for further consideration.

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LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. HEAPS:

In the course of the proceedings this morning, I listened very attentively to the plea of the hon. member who has just sat down for the utmost economy in pensions. He pleaded that as much as twenty-five per cent could be cut off the pensions list of the Dominion of Canada. Yet the amendment he now moves is one which if accepted would have the effect of increasing the amount spent by the government on pensions. Now, Mr. Chairman, I am quite in favour of giving employees in the service of the government a reasonable retiring allowance, but I think that instead of starting at the top we should start at the bottom. I am getting sick and tired of listening to pleas on behalf of men in the employ of the government who are receiving very high salaries, and to whom in addition

Pension Act

to ithe high salary we are asked to give other large sums in the way of pensions. During the past two days we have listened to a plea for high pensions to men receiving $15,000 a year, and to judges receiving salaries of $8,000, $10,000 and $12,000 a year. We have been told that thrift is one of the great virtues. I am under the impression that if we are to have thrift it should start among those people who enjoy these very high salaries; men in receipt of $8,000, $10,000 and $15,000 a year should be alble to save a little for the rainy day. We are always hearing that people receiving $700, $800 and $1,000 a year should be taught the virtue of thrift. I think these people receiving high salaries are still better able to put something aside to tide them over. As I said, I am not opposed to the principle of retiring allowances, I am heartily in favour of it.

May I point out further that the engine driver or the crew of a train that brings the hon. member here from Nova Scotia is performing just as useful service to society as the man who takes office on the pension board. After all .their work deals with the spending of money, but the train crew have entrusted to them the very lives of a number of human beings. It is true, I do not for a moment deny it, that the man sitting on the pensions tribunal is performing a very important task, but not one bit more important than that of the men driving the trains. These men at present are entitled not only to certain emoluments, but as they come under the Civil Service Commission they have also a claim on the superannuation fund; at any rate if not they are receiving fairly good salaries. I think this particular time is not one in which it is essential to provide them with retiring allowances. We have been told for the past two or three years in this house that these are times for the practice of the utmost economy. I do not know of any more extravagant expenditure at this time than providing these very extravagant retiring allowances for men in receipt of high salaries, so I think if we allow this question to stand for the time being there will be no harm done.

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CON

Murray MacLaren (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacLAREN:

I would like to point out that the government has consented to pass this bill as it stands. I do not think it would be desirable to make any changes if possible to avoid doing so. Therefore I would favour the passage of this section as it stands, and as I say I will bring it before the government for future consideration.

Amendment negatived.

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Subsection agreed to. Mr. SPlEAKMAN: Owing to the confusion in the house I was unable to hear what section was called. Do I understand that section 6 was declared carried?


CON

Armand Renaud La Vergne (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

The CHAIRMAN:

We are taking the bill subsection by subsection. Subsection 10B is carried.

On subsection 10C-Appointment of civil servants.

Some hon. MBMBEiRS: Carried.

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CON

Murray MacLaren (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacLAREN:

Mr. Chairman, with the animation that is prevailing in the house you have got a little ahead of me. I wish to amend the wording of this section. There are several words omitted in the last line on the page. It reads:

-his tenure of office as a member of the commission or of the . . .

I wish to amend it to read as follows:

-his tenure of office as a member of the board of pension commissioners for Canada, of the pension tribunal, or of the . . .

Those words were omitted in error.

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Amendment agreed to. Subsection as amended agreed to. Subsection 10D agreed to. On subsection 10E-Medical and clerical assistance.


LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

I wonder if the minister would answer an important question that I would like to put now. Perhaps it does not come under the bill, nor do I wish at this time to raise any question regarding the matter of pensions, but among many organizations of returned men a feeling prevails that the private soldier who receives a pension is called up each year for examination, but that such examination is not required in the case of those who were officers. My question is, do those who were officers and who are in receipt of pension come up for examination periodically the same as the private soldier?

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May 12, 1933