The War Veterans' Allowance Act provides for allowances to ex-members of the Canadian forces and to ex-members of the allied forces who were domiciled in Canada at the time of their enlistment and who served in a theatre of actual war, or, not having so served, are in receipt of a pension or have commuted a pension by final payment. The allowance is payable to such veterans upon attaining the age of sixty years or, not having attained this age, who are in the opinion of the board permanently unemployable by reason of mental or physical disability. The maximum allowance is $40 per month if the man is married or a widower with dependent children, or $20 if he is unmarried. The allowance may be continued to a widow for a period of one year.
I think it is well known to the committee that the War Veterans' Allowance Act will continue to rise in cost; the operation will be more expensive as the years go on and more and more men reach the age of sixty or become permanently incapable of carrying on their occupation.
Under the amendments of last year another class was admitted to allowances. I have already stated that the allowances provided for carrying out this act, beginning in 1930 with something like $300,000 have now risen to $4,200,000 and will rise to $12,000,000 or $13,000,000 a year.
Naturally the members of the board were obliged to use their discretion more than before, but I think they have managed to give a fair degree of satisfaction. I have not heard any serious complaint, and I do not think my hon. friend has or he would have told me about it.
Before we leave this item, while we were discussing this matter of war veterans' allowances this afternoon, I gave some information in reply to questions asked by my right hon. friend the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett) in regard to the South African war veterans. I was only quoting the figures from memory but they were substantially correct. From figures obtained from the Department
Supply-Pensions and National Health
of National Defence we find that 5,325 veterans from Canada saw service in South Africa, and that a further number of 2,041 arrived there subsequent to the cessation of hostilities, making a total of 7,368. Here is where I had not remembered by what procedure we arrived at the figure of 5,000. The insurance department expressed the opinion that after the mortality was deducted, the survivals from these two groups would now be 3.920 in the case of those who actually served and 1.569 in the case of the others, a total of 5,489. But we neglected to take into consideration the fact, brought to the attention of the committee this afternoon by the right hon. leader of the opposition and the hon. member for York South (Mr. Lawson), that a large number of these men had returned to serve in the great war, who would, of course, if they had now reached the age of sixty, be qualified for an allowance under the War Veterans' Allowance Act. If we assume that the average age was twenty-five at the time of the South African war, the average age of South African veterans now would be approximately sixty. If 15 per cent of the total now living were found to be indigent- here is where the guess comes in-825 veterans would benefit the first year-