Mr. F. W. TURNBULL (Regina) presented the third report of the select standing committee on industrial and international relations, as follows:
Pensions for the Blind
' Your committee has held two sessions and has heard statements from eleven persons with respect to the subject matter of the resolution referred to it for consideration under an order of the House of Commons, dated January 31, 1935, which resolution reads as follows:
"Resolved that in the opinion of this house the provisions of the Old Age Pensions Act should apply to blind people over forty years of age."
The committee has under instructions of the House of Commons reconsidered the said resolution, together with the instructions of the House of Commons-
"That they have power to amend their second report by recommending that the house pass a special blind act applicable to the nine provinces of the dominion and providing pensions for the blind over forty years of age on the same basis as the Old Age Pensions Act."
As persons seventy years of age and over, whether blind or not. fall within the application of the Old Age Pensions Act in its present form, your committee considered the position of the blind persons between the ages of forty and seventy.
Evidence submitted to the committee indicated that the Old Age Pensions Act is in force in only seven provinces out of nine and its provisions therefore when amended will not affect blind persons living in the remaining two provinces unless these provinces subsequently adopt the Old Age 'Pensions Act or the proposed amendments thereto.
It is also indicated that records of organizations interested in the blind place the number of the blind between forty and seventy years of age at 3.016 in the whole nine provinces. After making fair deductions, it was stated that approximately 2,600 persons would be affected by legislation requested by the said resolution. These figures are sufficiently in harmony with census returns to be considered reasonably accurate.
The estimated expenditure by the dominion government on the present basis of contribution, occasioned by the proposed legislation, if the above figures are accurate and allowing the maximum of $240 per person per annum, would be under $500,000 apart from administration expenses and the expense for the present fiscal year would probably be less than $125,000.
The committee regrets that an amendment to the Old Age Pensions Act may result in lack of assistance in those provinces that may not feel inclined to adopt appropriate legislation to bring such amendment into effect within their respective borders.
In view of all the circumstances, including possible constitutional difficulties, the committee recommends that the government of Canada consider amendments to the Old Age Pensions Act in such manner as to make that act apply to blind persons of forty years of age and over. The committee are of the opinion that in drafting such amendment provision should be made whereby any province might by appropriate provincial action, provide for the operation of that portion of the act dealing with pensions for the blind without the necessity of providing for the operation of the whole act within such province.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
F. W. Turnbull,
Mr. TURNBULL moved that the report be concurred in.