May 22, 1939

CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

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

Mr. MacNEIL:

What is the total number of pension commissioners at the present time?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF MINES AND RESOURCES
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LIB
CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

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

Mr. MacNEIL:

Will that number be

increased to take care of the new appeal board?

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

I do not think so necessarily. It may be considered advisable or even necessary to appoint ad hoc commissioners. As my

hon. friend knows, we have authority under the Pension Act to create ad hoc commissioners for periods of from one month to a year, and it may be necessary, when the commission is sitting in certain districts, to appoint ad hoc commissioners for a certain time.

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CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

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

Mr. MacNEIL:

In view of certain rumours I think the committee would appreciate a statement from the minister as to the ratio of administration costs to pensions.

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

We have figured and given estimates to the house in the past fifteen or twenty years as to that ratio. I have never satisfied myself that any of them were absolutely accurate, but we say it is about 4 per cent. If an accountant examined it, there might be an error either way. I will not guarantee it.

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Item agreed to. Direct payments to veterans and dependents. 232. European war pensions, $40,750,000.


CON
LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Yes. If my hon. friend wants to say anything on this item, I have no objection.

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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

We are passing these items rapidly for a good reason, but I want to say a word to express my appreciation of the chairman of the Canadian pension commission, General McDonald I believe it is. I have heard so many warm commendations of him from all over the country for the splendid way in which he approaches each individual case that comes before him, and he has given such complete satisfaction that I embrace this opportunity to speak in the kindest way I can of such an efficient official.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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CON

Frank Exton Lennard

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNARD:

Can the minister explain why, although there has been a decrease oi $150,000 in this item, the pensions branch administration shows an increase?

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER :

Pensions branch administration takes in treatment, hospitalization and every other function. It is the pensions branch as opposed to the health branch.

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CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

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

Mr. MacNEIL:

I do not wish to labour the point. The minister knows my difficulty with regard to those suffering from nervous and mental disorders; it has been brought to his attention on previous occasions. There are some 4,500 in that category. He was good enough to say on a former occasion that some attempt would be made to review the situation to determine whether or not their diflfi-

4378 COMMONS

Supply-Pensions and National Health

eulties might be alleviated. Would he be good enough to make a statement as to what progress has been made in that respect?

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

I am having the statement looked up. I know I asked for a report from the head of the Canadian pension commission on- that matter, and I am under the impression that there is only a small number who might be adversely affected by our present legislation. So it is not perhaps a major question. Then quite frankly there is a feeling among medical men, not only here but in the United States and to a much greater degree in Great Britain and France, that neurological cases should not be given too much attention, that you perhaps make a neurological case worse by catering -to that very disability. I know that in England and France they will not admit a neurological case at all. In the United States they have possibly gone the other way. Here is the report of the head of the Canadian pension commission:

Last October I had this whole question very carefully gone into by the medical branch, to try and find out just what hardship, if any, was being caused. A review was made of the pensioners receiving pension for functional conditions: hysteria, neuroses, psychasthenia, and so on, who saw service in France. There were 2,998 of these receiving pension at 25 per cent or less, and 1,879 above that up to 100 per cent, or a total of 4,877. The form we use to record the results of a medical examination and the rate of assessment, form 865, has two headings: (a) entire disability, (b) pensionable

disability. In only 129 of the above cases was the pensionable disability recorded as less than the entire disability, unless there was a difference due to an organic condition. That is to say, only this small number of pensioners might possibly-I cannot say would-benefit by some such amendment.

The main source of trouble and complaint in this class of pensioner is not based upon that factor, but upon the factor of assessment. Naturally, their very disability in most eases leads them to be constantly agitating for more money. They invariably believe, or pretend to believe, that they are much more handicapped in the ordinary labour market than they actually are.

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CON

Grote Stirling

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STIRLING:

Does the minister mean [DOT] that cases of this type are not pensioned at all in Great Britain?

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

They do not pension neurological cases any more.

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CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

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

Mr. MacNEIL:

The act provides that they * shall receive treatment in neurological centres, and that after treatment they shall be assessed for purposes of pension. Are any of these cases being sent to any special neurological centre for any particular treatment?

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

We have two, at AVestminster and St. Ann's, and we have special observation at Christie street.

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CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

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

Mr. MacNEIL:

I may be misinformed, but I understood that these institutions were not equipped to carry out up-to-date neurological treatment, as that term is understood.

Mr. POAA'ER: We believe we have in the employ of the department, either as consultants on schedule of fees or as part or full-time doctors, as good neuropsychiatrists as there are in Canada, As a matter of fact our people do rate very highly in that line. The year before last a survey was made of these cases, as my hon. friend knows, and I think in almost one hundred per cent of the cases brought before the committee the findings of the departmental doctors were confirmed.

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May 22, 1939