November 6, 1941

THE WAR


INTERNATIONAL SITUATION SINCE JUNE 14, 1941- Canada's war effort The house in committee of the whole, Mr. Bradette in the Chair.


LIB

Joseph Thorarinn Thorson (Minister of National War Services)

Liberal

Horn J. T. THORSON (Minister of National War Services):

Mr. Speaker, at the adjournment last night I was dealing with applications for postponement under the national war services regulations. The board deals with each individual case on its merits. I think I may say, however, that in each case it is actuated by the national interest and the national economy. I would draw the attention of hon. members to the new section 14, which replaces the former one. This section appears in the Canada Gazette of October 7. Subsection 1 sets out the general principles upon which the board acts in consideration of applications for postponement. It reads as follows:

(1) When considering any application made in accordance with section 10 hereof-

This is the section which deals with the making of applications.

-the board before which the application is made shall have power to grant an advancement or postponement order when it is of the opinion that it is in the national interest to do so and, in granting such order, the board shall state the reasons for such opinion. No postponement order may be made for more than six months but, upon reviewing the application, the board may grant one or more extensions; provided that the board may cancel the order at any time for military reasons or for cause. Provided further that there shall be no exemption and no indefinite postponement of military training or service.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

What is the change?

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LIB

Joseph Thorarinn Thorson (Minister of National War Services)

Liberal

Mr. THORSON:

It is a lengthy regulation, but I would be prepared to read it.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I did not wish the minister to read it. I thought perhaps he would be so familiar with it that he could tell us in a word what the change is.

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LIB

Joseph Thorarinn Thorson (Minister of National War Services)

Liberal

Mr. THORSON:

The section in question makes it perfectly clear that in each case the board shall have sole disposition. The previous regulation contained a provision which placed certain responsibilities on the minister.

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NAT

Karl Kenneth Homuth

National Government

Mr. HOMUTH:

Is the change not to the effect that it establishes these exemption boards?

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LIB

Joseph Thorarinn Thorson (Minister of National War Services)

Liberal

Mr. THORSON:

No; the boards were in existence before. But this removes from the power of the minister the indication of any particular kind of direction to the board.

14873-259|

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

It takes the pull off the minister.

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LIB

Joseph Thorarinn Thorson (Minister of National War Services)

Liberal

Mr. THORSON:

It does more than that, although it does that to some extent. It sets out the principles upon which the board Shall be governed in each case of application for postponement.

Then, subsection 2 of the new section 14 is as follows:

(2) When considering an application for postponement order by a man engaged in farming, fishing, lumbering, trapping, mining, placer mining, gold prospecting, seafaring, railroad transportation, public utility, or engaged in an occupation which the minister has declared to be a seasonal occupation or one essential to the successful prosecution of the war or in the national interest, the board shall take into account the supply of labour available and the importance of the particular applicant's occupation to the national economy.

I am reasonably well satisfied that these national war services regulations as amended by order in council P.C. 7680 appearing in the Canada Gazette of October 7, 1941, will enable the divisional boards to reconcile the needs of the fighting services with those of war industry, farming and other essential occupations in the national interest. These postponement applications have imposed very heavy duties upon these boards. I should like to pay a tribute to the boards for the manner in which they have discharged their most difficult functions.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

What was the occasion for the amendment? Was a request received from the boards, or was there some loose position that needed to be tightened up?

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LIB

Joseph Thorarinn Thorson (Minister of National War Services)

Liberal

Mr. THORSON:

It was suggested from time to time that directions should be communicated to the boards with regard to certain classes of occupations. The purposes of the amendment will be perfectly apparent to any one who studies the former regulation and the present one side by side.

Perhaps the committee might be interested in knowing what has happened, with regard to these postponement applications. It may be interesting to know that out of 19,186 applications for postponement received from farmers during the first nine military training periods, 10,046 were granted by the divisional boards, or 52-4 per cent. The total number of applications for postponement in connection with all seasonal occupations, war industries and others, amounted to 43,390, of which 28,812 were granted, or 66-4 per cent.

There are some aspects of the system that are not very satisfactory. The calling up of men for military training has revealed that the

4100 COMMONS

The War-War Services-Mr. Thorson

state of health of Canada's youth is much below what might properly be considered the standard of fitness for young men in a virile nation. Out of a total of 217,588 men examined up to October 2, 1941, only about 56 per cent were placed in category A, the only category that is accepted for training at the present time by the Department of National Defence. This is a serious situation, and the plans for the reconditioning of these men who have been rejected are under consideration by an interdepartmental committee consisting of representatives of the Department of National Defence, the Department of Pensions and National Health and the Department of National War Services. Naturally, we are interested in this situation, and if it is possible to recondition these men so that they may be made fit for service, every possible effort will be made in that direction.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Would the minister indicate how the experience here compares with the draft situation in the United States?

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LIB

Joseph Thorarinn Thorson (Minister of National War Services)

Liberal

Mr. THORSON:

I am not able to make that comparison.

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NAT
LIB

Joseph Thorarinn Thorson (Minister of National War Services)

Liberal

Mr. THORSON:

I would think that perhaps there would not be a great difference between the experience of the United States and that of Canada, but I have not the figures for the United States before -me from which I could make an exact comparison.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

A total of 900,000 men were rejected out of 2,000,000, and of those 200,000 are to be reconditioned immediately.

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CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. MacINNIS:

Are any steps being taken to improve the health condition of those youths who are not yet eligible for the draft? The minister has said that those who have been rejected are to be reconditioned if possible in order that they may be accepted lor sendee, and that seems a rather hit-or-miss policy to pursue. We should begin at the foundation; we should see that those who are coming up will have such a measure of health that they will -be able to pass.

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LIB

Joseph Thorarinn Thorson (Minister of National War Services)

Liberal

Mr. THORSON:

The hon. member has raised a serious question, but I think he will realize that I can hardly attempt to deal with such a matter during a discussion of the national war services regulations and. their operations.

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November 6, 1941