March 25, 1936

EXTENSION OP TIME FOR PAYMENTS OF ARREARS OR INSTALMENTS SUBJECT TO BONUS PRIVILEGES


Hon. T. A. CRERAR (Minister of Immigration and Colonization) moved the second reading of Bill No. IS, to amend the Soldier Settlement Act. Motion agreed to, bill read the second time, and the house went into committee thereon, Mr. Taylor (Norfolk) in the chair. Section 1 agreed to.


CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

Mr. Chairman, you mentioned section 1, which is followed by section 73. Which section are you referring to?

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OP TIME FOR PAYMENTS OF ARREARS OR INSTALMENTS SUBJECT TO BONUS PRIVILEGES
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CCF

James Samuel Taylor

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Taylor, Norfolk):

Section 1. There is only one section.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OP TIME FOR PAYMENTS OF ARREARS OR INSTALMENTS SUBJECT TO BONUS PRIVILEGES
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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

After stating certain facts I should like to ask the minister a question. I have in mind a returned soldier who won the military medal or the military cross. After the young man returned from overseas his father, an old man, apparently decided that the son should go out west and take up farming. He did not feel disposed to have the title drawn in the son's name. I have known this family since I was a boy, and my memory is that the old gentleman was about eighty years of age. It would appear that for some reason, of which I am not aware, he felt he ought to keep a guiding hand over the boy. Before the old gentleman was able to transfer the land upon which he had made a deposit, he passed away. Since that time the son has been having difficulty with the department, in an effort to obtain redress under the legislation of 1929 under which returned soldiers were to be allowed a thirty per cent reduction. I have discussed the matter with the department on two or three occasions, and I believe it was considered by the minister's predecessor on several occasions. I should appreciate it if the minister would look into the case. I shall give him the information privately, and I hope he will try to give this young man some redress. He has a family, and I was told this morning he had not been able to pay anything. As a result he is liable to be dispossessed. It is a very worthy case, and I should like to see some consideration given to a soldier who won recognition overseas on the field of battle.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OP TIME FOR PAYMENTS OF ARREARS OR INSTALMENTS SUBJECT TO BONUS PRIVILEGES
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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

I know nothing of the circumstances to which the hon. member has referred, but as he has suggested I shall be

Soldier Settlement Act

pleased to get all particulars and to discuss the matter with him further. I regret that at this time I cannot make any further observations because this is the first occasion upon which it has been drawn to my attention.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OP TIME FOR PAYMENTS OF ARREARS OR INSTALMENTS SUBJECT TO BONUS PRIVILEGES
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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

It may be necessary to bring in a special bill. Apparently the young man is in arrears, and owing to the fact that the father had taken the land in his name a returned soldier with a very creditable record is denied the consideration to which returned soldiers are entitled in matters of this kind.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OP TIME FOR PAYMENTS OF ARREARS OR INSTALMENTS SUBJECT TO BONUS PRIVILEGES
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SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. QUELCH:

I should like to support

the bill, but before doing so may I point out, as other hon. members have done, that although the measure represents a step in the right direction it does not begin to meet the needs of soldier settlers. Last fall when I interviewed the superintendent of the soldier settlement board in Calgary he said he was puzzled because he had not received applications from my constituency. I pointed out to him that the reason was obvious, namely that in the majority of cases the soldier settlers in the south-eastern part of Acadia were in such a hopeless position that they would be unable to repay their indebtedness to the board even if extensions were made indefinitely.

About the time the war ended the soldier settlement board was put into operation and field supervisors were appointed for the purpose of advising and reestablishing returned soldiers. At that time the dominion government had information from their engineers to the effect that the drought areas were unsuitable for settlers. In spite of that fact, however, the supervisors helped a number of soldiers to reestablish themselves in the drought areas, and for that reason the government incurred a direct liability. Although the land had already been condemned as unsuitable, many returned soldiers were established in these areas, and to-day they find themselves in a hopeless position. They have lost what little capital they had and are totally unable to repay their indebtedness. Surely it is the responsibility of the government to reestablish those men in areas in which they might have a chance to succeed. I would urge upon the minister that he make a thorough investigation into the whole problem with a view to a reduction of interest, a revaluation of land, and an extension for at least five years of the dollar for dollar bonus. After five years of depression and low prices the returned men even in the better districts are finding themselves in a precarious position.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OP TIME FOR PAYMENTS OF ARREARS OR INSTALMENTS SUBJECT TO BONUS PRIVILEGES
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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

There are 1,466 soldier

settlers who come under the jurisdiction of the Calgary office. Of that number, 1,080 have taken advantage of the provisions embodied in the act. That is a substantial

number indeed, considering conditions in the province of Alberta in the last four or five years. I doubt whether this would be the proper time to consider the hon. member's suggestion of further reductions in interest and principal. During the last fifteen or sixteen years, since the soldier settlement scheme was embarked upon, there have been very substantial reductions covering a considerable period of years. In 1922 legislation was passed granting exemption of interest in arrears, and the amount involved was over $10,000,000. In 1925 provision was made for a revaluation of live stock, and a reduction was made in the value of live stock of almost $3,000,000, covering soldier settlers throughout Canada. In 1927 there was a land revaluation, involving a total of $7,500,000. In 1930 legislation was passed providing for a reduction in principal and interest over the whole scheme, involving a sum of $11,300,000. So, during the period that this scheme has been in operation substantial reductions have been made in the obligations of the soldier settlers. Furthermore, when the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act was passed returned soldier settlers, although their debt was to the crown, were brought under the provisions of that measure.

In reply to my hon. friend's suggestion that a two year extension is not sufficient, as I indicated the other day when we were discussing the resolution, if conditions at the expiration of two years warrant a further extension, it will require only a simple amendment to the act, but as my hon. friend from Portage la Prairie (Mr. Leader) pointed out in the debate the other day, if you now make the period five years, the inevitable tendency will be for the soldier settlers to postpone making payments until nearly the end of the period of grace. So, taking it all together, after a very full discussion with the officers of my department, I think a two year extension is probably the wisest at the present time. I am quite aware of the fact that the particular district in Alberta from which my hon. friend from Acadia (Mr. Quelch) comes, has had serious reverses over a period of years. But the history of that district, which I know fairly well, having handled grain from it for a great many years when I was with the United Grain Growers, is that it has its periods of good times and its periods of bad times, and

Soldier Settlement Act

while everyone in the house desires, I am sure, to extend the fullest possible sympathy and support to the returned soldier settler, I think on the whole the legislation before us will achieve what we have in view.

One other fact that should be kept in mind-and it has been brought to my attention already in the last few months-is that there are on farms throughout Canada to-day many returned soldiers who secured their farms independently of the soldier settlement scheme altogether, and they have had none of these benefits which have accrued to the soldier settlers under the various provisions that I enumerated a moment ago. If we extended the provisions as far as my hon. friend suggests, perhaps these other soldier settlers might have some claim upon us. My hon. friend can rest assured that the administration of the soldier settlement scheme will be as fair and reasonable as possible, and if at the end of two years we find it necessary to make a further extension I am quite certain that this parliament will gladly make it.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OP TIME FOR PAYMENTS OF ARREARS OR INSTALMENTS SUBJECT TO BONUS PRIVILEGES
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CON

James J. Donnelly

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DONNELLY:

Can the minister tell the committee the amount of money that was spent originally in establishing soldiers on the land, just the principal, without interest, for land, machinery, live stock, and so on?

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OP TIME FOR PAYMENTS OF ARREARS OR INSTALMENTS SUBJECT TO BONUS PRIVILEGES
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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

I have not that information at hand, but I shall be glad to give the hon. gentleman the information when the soldier settlement estimates are before the house. My recollection is that the total advances for land, live stock, and assistance in other directions, with administration costs to date, approximate $150,000,000, against which there are the credits of principal and interest payments received.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OP TIME FOR PAYMENTS OF ARREARS OR INSTALMENTS SUBJECT TO BONUS PRIVILEGES
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CON

James J. Donnelly

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DONNELLY:

Thank you.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OP TIME FOR PAYMENTS OF ARREARS OR INSTALMENTS SUBJECT TO BONUS PRIVILEGES
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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

I should add, for I want the information I give the committee to be as complete as possible, that the figure I gave a few moments ago of 1,466 soldier settlers under the jurisdiction of the Calgary office, 1,080 of whom have taken advantage of the dollar for dollar bonus plan, does not take into account any settlers who may have settled under the three thousand family scheme, and of whom there are many others in Alberta.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OP TIME FOR PAYMENTS OF ARREARS OR INSTALMENTS SUBJECT TO BONUS PRIVILEGES
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CON

Harry James Barber

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARBER:

What are the figures for the Vancouver district, the number of those who took advantage of that provision? fMr. Quelch.]

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT
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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

The total number of soldier settlers under the jurisdiction of the Vancouver office is 1,431, of whom 1,090 have taken advantage of the dollar for dollar bonus provision.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OP TIME FOR PAYMENTS OF ARREARS OR INSTALMENTS SUBJECT TO BONUS PRIVILEGES
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SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. QUELCH:

The point I wish to make is this, that certain districts not only in my constituency but throughout the province and other provinces have been condemned by government engineers as unsuitable for settlement, and yet in spite of that fact the soldier settlement board reestablished soldiers on certain of these lands on which they will never be able to make a living. In some cases individuals in these districts have not harvested a paying crop for fifteen years, and the settlers are on relief and will never be able to make a living there. Would it not be cheaper in the long run to move them to more suitable land? The government assumed the responsibility of reestablishing them, and then settled them in districts that were totally unsuitable for farming. I say that the government has a moral obligation to establish them on farms on which they have a chance to make a living.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OP TIME FOR PAYMENTS OF ARREARS OR INSTALMENTS SUBJECT TO BONUS PRIVILEGES
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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

The suggestion of my hon. friend may have considerable merit, but if we attempted to carry it out, it would open the door, I am afraid, to a great many difficulties in the administration of this act. While those for whom he speaks in the constituency he represents may be in a difficult way, there are many others in a difficult way, and if we opened the door for the settlers in his constituency, I am afraid the department would be exposed to many demands from other constituencies.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OP TIME FOR PAYMENTS OF ARREARS OR INSTALMENTS SUBJECT TO BONUS PRIVILEGES
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

One word, Mr. Chairman. A question was put to the minister, which was not answered, as to whether provision could not be made to deal with the case in which title was taken in the name of one person as trustee for the settler under the act, or for the person entitled under the act. The suggestion appears to me to warrant some consideration. It would require legislation, in my judgment, to accord the benefits of this act to a trustee for a settler, if the department is satisfied that the relationship of trustee exists. That is the only method by which I think the matter could be dealt with, and it might be dealt with by an amendment to this section. Perhaps the minister will take the suggestion into consideration, and the amendment might be made in another place in order not to delay the passage of the bill here.

Soldier Settlement Act

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OP TIME FOR PAYMENTS OF ARREARS OR INSTALMENTS SUBJECT TO BONUS PRIVILEGES
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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

I shall be glad to give consideration to the suggestion made by my right hon. friend the leader of the opposition, but as a layman it strikes me as unusual to legislate by a special act to relieve the necessities of an individual. I gathered from the observations made by the hon. member for Davenport (Mr. MacNicol) that the land in question was held by the father, and the occupant was in the nature of a tenant on the land. I shall be pleased to get all the relevant facts and also to take under consideration the suggestion of the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett).

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OP TIME FOR PAYMENTS OF ARREARS OR INSTALMENTS SUBJECT TO BONUS PRIVILEGES
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SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. QUELCH:

Does the minister admit that the government incurred any responsibility or moral obligation when they settled returned men on lands that had been condemned by government engineers? I am referring not only to my own constituency, but to all the drought areas in Canada which were condemned as unsuitable for settlement and then settled by soldier settlers.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OP TIME FOR PAYMENTS OF ARREARS OR INSTALMENTS SUBJECT TO BONUS PRIVILEGES
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March 25, 1936