May 27, 1941

LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

I now come to what I might call the date line provisions of the bill. There are three of them. The first date line provision deals with the time of application for pension. In a previous year the date line was made 1936 for those with service in Canada, 1942 for those with service overseas in the great war and, in bill 17 as introduced, there was a date line for the present war. Your committee struck out the 1942 limitation and decided that at least for the present there should be no date set for the present war. So that only the 1936 date line remains in the amended bill.

The second date line provision is concerned with widows. I believe in what I am about to say I am stating fairly well the opinion of the committee, although strong representations were made to us to extend that date to the present time, and not necessarily make it retroactive. The committee did not feel so strongly about the 1930 date line as it did with regard to the 1933 date line, having to do with children's allowances. Strong arguments were placed before the committee to extend the 1933 date line, and equally strong arguments for that extension were put forward by members of the committee themselves. It is felt, however, that this is scarcely the time to alter the principle involved. It has been before the house on several earlier occasions. The leader of the opposition will recall how the date line was established in 1933. As a result of a conference between the then minister of finance, Hon. Mr. Rhodes, and those who were representing all veteran organizations in Canada, an agreement was reached to the effect that allowances be not paid after May 1, 1933. The matter was taken up in this chamber on several occasions subsequent to 1933, but parliament has not varied the provision. I for one feel that with the tremendous obligations confronting our people, this is not the time to do what we could not do between 1933 and 1939.

There are other provisions of the bill which have to do with administration. One important section, dealing with Canadians serving with imperial forces, definitely broadens out the provisions of the old act. There is, however, a difficulty. We have indicated a period of four years prior to the war, in an endeavour to protect our boys in the Royal Canadian Air Force who went overseas in 1936, 1937, 1938 and 1939 for a short term of service with the Royal Air Force, and whose intention it was definitely to return to Canada when those four years had expired. So that not only are those who enlisted since the war for service with the Royal Air Force protected under the sheltering provisions of the section I have indicated, but also those who went over for a period of four years prior to the war are in like manner protected.

Topic:   PENSION ACT
Subtopic:   APPLICATION TO CERTAIN MEMBERS OF CANADIAN AND UNITED KINGDOM FORCES-CHANGES IN PRINCIPLE AND PROCEDURE
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Was that an ordinary term of enlistment?

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

No, it was not in every case. I believe, however, it was a general provision in such commissions at that time.

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CON

Mark Cecil Senn

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SENN:

Would that provision apply to any service other than the air force?

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

Yes, it will.

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CON

Mark Cecil Senn

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SENN:

It applies to all services.

Pension Act

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

Yes, to all services, and affecting those who were domiciled in Canada for four years prior to the outbreak of war.

Hon. members will realize that under the agreement we entered into with the British government in connection with the British commonwealth air training plan, pensions for Canadians serving or fighting in England or in Europe are payable by the British authorities. The provisions of this amending bill will supplement such pensions to the Canadian standard. There are, however, benefits in our Pension Act which are not contained in the pension act of Great Britain. The complaint might very well be voiced, and with justice, that we are not making provision to extend these additional benefits in every case. We simply cannot. We cannot do it by legislation. The basis of entitlement is in many cases different in the old country from what it is in Canada, and the benefits consequent upon such basis may not accrue to the men affected, as it would if they were pensioned on a definite Canadian basis. So that the only solution I can see at this time is arrived at not by legislation, but by entering into negotiations with the British ministry of pensions to see if we cannot work out administrative machinery which will give our men all the equality, all the justice and all the fairness to which they are justly entitled.

Perhaps I might take a few minutes to turn to the minor sections of the bill. One of them improves the provisions of the old section 21. Another section extends to children the benefits previously extended to widows under the fifty per cent disability clause. Then there are certain minor sections dealing with matters of administration.

In conclusion I wish to express to the members who sat on the select committee the sincere thanks of the government for the laborious and painstaking attention they paid to every clause in the bill. As an hon. member has said, pension legislation is always difficult. Two great principles are involved: first, that of basic fairness to state and country, and second, justice to those who are serving in this war and those who served in the former war. I think the committee has conscientiously endeavoured to carry out its duty with regard to these two principles. The bill now before us is the result of their deliberations.

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NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

The Canadian Pension Act is the magna charta of our fighting forces, the men of our navy, of our army and of our air force, and it is also the magna charta of their wives, their children and their dependent parents. In short, it may be described as the protection of that group of Canadians

who in this war, without doubt, are making the greatest sacrifices and perhaps of those who in the last war did likewise. In this war at any rate they are all doing so of their own free will. For these reasons, if for no others, I suggest it is of the greatest importance that these amendments to the Pension Act should be given the most careful consideration and that the members who are here to-day should suggest improvements thereto whenever they think that such improvements can be made.

Bill No. 17, this bill, amending the Pension Act, as it was brought into the house some weeks ago was very restrictive, far more so than it should have been. For example, it made it quite difficult for a man serving in Canada to qualify for pension-almost impossible, unless he was accidentally shot while on the rifle range, or was knocked over while drilling or otherwise directly engaged in his military training. Except in such cases it would have been almost impossible for him to get a pension or for his dependents to qualify. That applied particularly to cases of disease.

Also the bill as it was brought down contained deadlines which were very restrictive. For instance, the new soldier, the new sailor, the new airman could not apply for a pension unless he applied within seven years of his discharge. That was bringing into the Canadian act for the first time the principle which applies in Great Britain. Again the additional pension payable for the child of a pensioner could not be obtained, so far as the present war is concerned, unless that child wereborn within ten years of the termination of the war. In other words, a married manreturning from the present war, and laterhaving children, could not get an allowance for any of them unless they were born

within ten years of the date of the termination of the war. The similar restriction which applies now to men of the old war went into effect in May, 1933, which was fifteen years after the end of that war, and of course we have always contended-some of us at least have done so-that there should be no such restriction with regard to children.

Then the additional pension payable for the wife of a man serving in the present forces was payable under the terms of the bill only if he was married within ten years after the war. In other words, if he married more than ten years after the termination of the war he could not get the allowance for her. Finally, the widow of a man serving in the present forces could get a pension only on his death, no matter whether she was otherwise able to qualify for it or not, if she had married him before he obtained the pension. In other words, if a man came back from the

Pension Act

war, was granted a pension and then married, his widow could not get a pension upon his death, under the provisions of the bill as it was introduced into the house.

Furthermore, the bill contained no relief for a returned soldier of the last war in respect of the various deadlines. As the minister has said, the bill as introduced contained that portion of the Pension Act which stipulated that the man who served overseas in the last war must apply before January 1, 1942, or, if later, only with special leave from the pension commission; also the provision that he received no payment in respect of his wife and children, if the children were born or the wife married after May 1, 1933, and that his widow could not receive a pension if she was married after January 1, 1930. All these deadlines were retained in the bill as it was introduced, although throughout the years we had been complaining, and complaining strongly, that they should be taken out of the act.

Another restriction imposed by the bill as originally presented was that the appeal board, which is the final board in the hearing of an application for pension at the present time, should be reduced from three men to two, and that if there was disagreement between these two the decision would be left to a third man appointed in Ottawa, who had never even heard the witnesses or seen the man. He sat in Ottawa and read the file and based his decision upon the documents. This was a retrograde step that should never have been introduced into the bill.

1 agree with the minister that the committee have worked very hard and have had interesting sessions. In committee some of these restrictions were removed and others were not, and I think it is fair to say that the special committee have made changes, in fact that the bill's own mother, which in this case I suppose would be the minister of pensions, would hardly recognize the child as it comes back to the house.

For example, some of the deadlines have been removed. A man applying for pension, a returned soldier of the last war who served overseas, now has no deadline. He can apply at any time, not being limited to January 1, 1942. Further, there is no deadline for the man serving in the present forces.

Topic:   PENSION ACT
Subtopic:   APPLICATION TO CERTAIN MEMBERS OF CANADIAN AND UNITED KINGDOM FORCES-CHANGES IN PRINCIPLE AND PROCEDURE
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LIB

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS:

I understand that there is no deadline now for the returned soldier of the last war in regard to his claim for a pension. Do I understand that he has still to prove that the disability was caused while he was in the service-that he is bound to give evidence by medical certificate obtained during the war or a few years afterwards?

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NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

Oh, yes. It is fundamental. The man must always show that his disability arose as a result of his service. He must trace it right back to his service in the war. That still stands. The deadline has been removed in the case of the man who served overseas as distinguished from the man who served in Canada only who some years ago was prevented from applying after July 1, 1936. For the man who served overseas, the deadline which was set at January 1, 1942, has now been taken out. As regards the child and wife of a man serving in the new forces, deadlines have been removed, which I think is a very good thing. In other words, no matter when a child may be born, payment can be received in respect of that child. But the deadline still stands with reference to the child and wife of a man who served in the last war.

As regards the widow of a member of the present forces the provision will be found in section 17 of the bill. She can now receive a pension if she married a pensioner within a year of his death, or if she was married to him less than a year before he died, in the event that the board decide that it was not to be expected that he would die within a year. In other words, this provides against death-bed marriages, and I think the committee were agreed that death-bed marriages should not be recognized. But the widow of a man who served in the last war is still subject to the old deadline. Unless she married before January 1, 1930, or before he received his pension, she is just out of luck; she cannot qualify for a pension.

The committee wiped out the provision that the appeal board membership should be cut from three to two; they insisted that the board remain as it was, composed of three members. They made another change in section 6 of the bill, which affects section 11, subsection 1, paragraph (c) of the act, by striking out the words "or was a congenital defect". As the act stood formerly, the meaning of these words was that no pension could be paid where the disease or disability was a congenital defect. That aroused great antagonism in nervous and mental cases. Apparently a portion of the medical fraternity had decided that if a man became a nervous wreck or perhaps went out of his mind subsequent to the war, it was because he was born to do so; that he had a congenital defect and that his war service had nothing to do with the disability. Such a ruling never seemed reasonable to the lay members of the house, and the doctors who served with us on

Pension Act

the committee this year agreed with us and recommended that these words should be deleted.

Another important change is to be found at the top of page 3 of the bill. Subsection 9 of section 3 of the act is amended to provide that the chairman of the pension commission shall have the status of a deputy minister. He had this status before 1936, but in that year was deprived of such standing and made subject to the deputy minister of pensions and national health. In order that the pension commission may be more independent it has been decided that the chairman should be given the status of a deputy minister.

The minister has referred already to section 20 of the bill, which introduces a new section of the act to be known as section 46A. This provides that Canadians who serve with the imperial forces will be entitled to have the difference between their imperial pension and a Canadian, pension made up by the Canadian government. This is of vital importance to the men training under the commonwealth air training scheme. It may perhaps surprise hon. members of the committee to know that all Canadians who train under that scheme become imperial airmen once they leave the shores of Canada; they are paid by the British government and receive their pensions from the British government, pursuant to the agreement between Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It was of the greatest importance, therefore, that these men should be able to get the same rates of pension as those who serve in the Canadian air force.

In this connection there is one thing I should like the minister to explain more fully.

I should like to know what he is prepared to do in order, for example, to permit a Canadian airman serving under the commonwealth training plan to establish in Canada his right to a pension rather than in Great Britain. Is it not possible for us to arrange with the British government to send, to Canada a pensions representative who would have the authority to decide whether or not a Canadian airman serving under the commonwealth air training plan is entitled to a pension, rather than require the airman to fight his case in England?

There still remain certain serious defects in this bill, which will also be defects in the act. A good example will be found in section 1, the definitions section. The definition of "member of the forces" does not include men who serve in the auxiliary forces. For example, a Salvation Army man, a Y.M.C.A. man or a Canadian Legion man may be serving overseas with the troops. For all purposes he is treated as a member of the forces except when it comes to pension. If

he is disabled or killed a pension can be granted only by order in council. I submit that that should not be necessary. A Canadian Legion man was drowned a couple of weeks ago along with some of our troops on his way to Great Britain. The widow of that man will be able to obtain a pension only by order in council. I submit that all such cases should be covered by the act.

Topic:   PENSION ACT
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LIB

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS:

Would the hon. gentleman go as far as to include C.P.S. members?

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NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

What does the hon. member mean by C.P.S.?

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LIB

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS:

Civil protection services.

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NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

In some provinces they are called A.R.P. men. They certainly should be protected, whether under this act or some other I do not know. Their rights should be clearly defined by dominion statute.

There is another more serious defect in this measure. It still will be far too difficult, even with the amendments provided by this bill, for a man to qualify for pension. After the last war a man qualified for pension whether he had served in England, in France or in Canada, under section 11, subsection 1, paragraph (a) of the act. The keywords of the whole Pension Act were to be found there, as follows:

-was attributable to or was incurred during such military service.

This was the "incurred on" principle, sometimes known as the insurance principle. It applied to all men who served in the last war, whether their service was overseas or in Canada. Another relevant provision was subsection 2 of section 11 of the act. It is described in the marginal note as covering post-war disabilities. In other words, a provision is put into the Pension Act to cover men serving in peace time. They or their dependents can get pensions only if the disabilities are attributable to military service as such. The words "as such" are very restrictive. As I say, this provision applied to men serving in peace time.

About the time the present war broke out- in fact, on September 2, 1939, just before the declaration of war-the government provided by order in council that the "incurred-on" principle-in other words the insurance principle-should apply to all men serving in the Canadian active service force, whether in England, in Canada, in Iceland, the West Indies, or elsewhere. All men in the Canadian active service force were protected by the insurance principle by that order in council, and it stayed in effect until May 21, 1940,

Pension Act

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LIB

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS:

Is that changed now in the bill?

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NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

I am coming to that in just a minute. I think the house should lay it down as a principle, without equivocation, that the man in the active army, in the navy or in the air force who is going overseas, and who is merely here in the meantime training for that purpose-in other words, the man who is on "active service" as the Canadian people understand it, the man who is really going to do the fighting-should have the protection of the "incurred-on" principle, whether up to the time of the accident he had been able to get out of Canada or not.

In other words, the men of the third Canadian division now in Canada waiting to go overseas, the men of the armoured division, the men of the tank brigade, the men of the fourth Canadian division, all on active service and all ready to go and do the fighting, should be protected, even though they have not yet been able to proceed overseas.

In spite of these considerations, however, the committee bring in a half-and-half recommendation on a question about which there

should be no compromise. What a majority of the committee has done is to bring in, as embodied in the new section 11, subsection 2, a provision extending the peace-time principle a little by changing the words "attributable to military service as such" to "disability which arose out of or was directly connected with such military service." It is still very much restricted. I doubt whether it will cover cases such as I mentioned a few minutes ago, of men killed while returning from leave, or dying as the result of an epidemic of disease while in barracks.

Then, to go further and cover a few borderline cases of hardship, the committee inserts subsection 3 of section 11, which provides that where there is a serious disability-it must be serious-or death-that is the first restriction -and, where the man or his dependents are in necessitous circumstances-that is the second restriction-the commission may, if they see fit-for the whole thing is left to the discretion of the pension commission- award a pension, not exceeding the amount that the man would get if he were overseas. It may be considerably less, but they have power to go up to that amount, as well as to pay a lower amount.

I will add no more to my statement with regard to this defect, except to repeat that it is a serious one, and that the men who are going overseas to do the fighting for this country are entitled to the protection of the "incurred-on" principle.

A third defect, which also is serious, is that the children and the wives of the men of the old army are not protected, if the child was born, or if the woman was married, after May 1, 1933. No matter what deal was made here in that year-and there is some question as to what it was-I have never been able to see the fairness of saying to a man with, say, three children, one born before and two born after the first of May, 1933: "We will give you the allowance for your one child, but we will not give you the allowance for the other two"; or to say to the young veteran of the last war, the man who enlisted at the age of sixteen or seventeen and did not get married until a few years ago, "The child of an older soldier can get the allowance, but there is no allowance for your child". Such an unfair discrimination should have no place on the statute books of Canada. These men should be encouraged to have children rather than the contrary.

Of the sections of the bill which apply, sections 13 and 22 have to do with the wife and children, and sections 16 and 17 have to do with the widow. So far as widows of the men of the last war are concerned, they are still not entitled to pension unless they were

Pension Act

married before the husband got his pension or before January 1, 1930. The Canadian Legion suggested that the date be changed to January 1, 1940, but that was not accepted.

Finally, I wish to point out to the committee something which is not, strictly speaking, a defect of the Pension Act: that it is impossible now to make any change this session in the War Veterans Allowance Act. It was decided that some provision for widows who were not otherwise pensionable could best be made in the War Veterans Allowance Act. This group of widows made out a good case, but apparently the only way in which they can be covered is under the War Veterans Allowance Act.

Topic:   PENSION ACT
Subtopic:   APPLICATION TO CERTAIN MEMBERS OF CANADIAN AND UNITED KINGDOM FORCES-CHANGES IN PRINCIPLE AND PROCEDURE
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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

Will the War Veterans Allowance Act be amended this session to take care of that?

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NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

No; as I have said, the act is not to be amended at this session, which means that no protection will be given at this time to this deserving class. It means also that relief cannot be afforded to the men of the old imperial army who have been in Canada for a period of years and who are claiming some benefit from the War Veterans Allowance Act. It also means that there will be no amendment for the benefit of veterans of the Riel rebellion.

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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

That is pretty hard on the widows of the war veterans.

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NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

That sums up my complaints and my suggestions in connection with this bill. I believe the bill should be most carefully considered by the house and that they should insist that the proper changes be made. I am certain that the Canadian people, if they could all be here, would wish us to go the limit to protect the men who are going to do our fighting, and their dependents.

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May 27, 1941