February 25, 1938

LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Perhaps I had better begin by stating the provisions of the Pension Act dealing with widows. Under the provisions of the Pension Act the disability pension automatically ceases at death. If'the assessment at death is fifty per cent or more, an immediate grant of one month's pension is paid the widow and children, provided the additional pension was payable on their account.

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S16 COMMONS


Supply-Pensions-European War If the deceased pensioner's estate is insufficient to pay last illness and burial expenses the commission may make a grant not exceeding $150, provided the payment in respect of burial shall not exceed $100. If the soldier dies of a pensionable disability, or where his death is ruled attributable to war service, the widow and children are eligible provided (1) that the marriage was contracted before January 1, 1930, or before the soldier was granted a pension; (2) that the children were born prior to May 1, 1933, and are within the age limit and (3) that they were supported or entitled to be supported by the soldier. In cases where disability pension was payable at the rate of eighty per cent or more at the time of death, irrespective of the cause of death the widows and children are eligible, provided (1) that the marriage was contracted before January 1, 1930; (2) that the children were bom prior to May 1, 1933, and are within the age limit and (3) that they were supported or entitled to be supported by the soldier. If the soldier dies under conditions which do not entitle his dependents to pension, any surviving eligible children are paid a bonus of one year's additional pension at the rate being paid on their account at the time of death. With respect to the agitation which has spread throughout the country, and which has been organized by an association which, I believe, is known as the Non-Pensioned War Widows' Association, new legislation would have to be enacted by the house to cover nearly all the cases which have been submitted this afternoon. We would have to adopt an entirely new principle. It must not be forgotten that for many years in the house there was a great deal of agitation to enable any widows who married soldiers after the appearance of disabilities to get pensions. The fear then was that if we opened the door too wide to pensions for widows we would get this country into the position in which the United States finds itself with respect to war widows' pensions.


CON
LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Then we would have these so called deathbed marriages, and so on. The agitation was to extend the provisions of the Pension Act to cover cases wherein there had been, let us say, a promise of marriage by the soldier prior to his leaving for overseas. It was urged on governments in those days that it was far nobler and far more proper for the person who did not marry the soldier, but who was now claiming something by way of recognition, than for the person who went through a hasty war wedding.

Very sympathetic cases were presented to the consideration of the house, and after more than ten yearn of struggle it was finally decided that persons married prior to January 1, 1930, or prior to the time when the soldier was awarded a pension, would be eligible, provided always that the soldier had died of his pensionable disability. But, as I said at the outset, the present agitation introduces an entirely new principle. Up to the present time I have no means of knowing just what the objective of the association may be. But I take it for granted that these so called war widows would like to get at least a maintenance pension, or an allowance which would amount to perhaps $40 per month. A great many of those soldiers-some mentioned by my right hon. friend the leader of the opposition-were not drawing pension at all. Under these circumstances we would find a widow getting far more than the amount to which the soldier was entitled on account of his war services. Many more are drawing pensions-

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

He would be getting something under the provisions of the last statute- the allowance?

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LIB
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Those are the cases to which I referred.

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Yes, but perhaps that would not be so. I do not know just what persons are eligible for membership to this association, but as I understand it any person who is the widow of a soldier would be eligible.

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CON
LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Yes, a widow who has no pension. But that would take in the widow of any person who happened to have been a soldier or to have served in the war. We have been fighting against service pensions for the soldiers themselves, and now we are asked to give pension to the widows of soldiers who were never entitled to pensions in their lifetime.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

By the means test.

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LIB
CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

But what about the

widows of soldiers who did receive a pension before they died?

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

I am taking the general question as it is presented, in so far as I know it.

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SC

John Charles Landeryou

Social Credit

Mr. LANDERYOU:

Just the widows of soldiers who have served in a theatre of war.

Supply-Pensions-European War

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Well, once we start in on that, I do not know where we will go.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

The means test was put to me.

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

I have not before me any complete or definite proposal, and I do not know that anybody else has. The agitation that is going on does not appear to me to have any definite objective either in money or in any clear indication of just what persons are to be eligible.

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SC

John Charles Landeryou

Social Credit

Mr. LANDERYOU:

How many widows of pensioners are there in Canada? How many widows of ex-service men are there?

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February 25, 1938