February 14, 1944

LIB
CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

I do not want to hold up this resolution, but I should like an answer from the minister with respect to the low-category men who are discharged after having been called up under the mobilization act, or who have returned from overseas as casualties. I do not know whether the information is correct, but I have had at least two letters from military district No. 6, written by men who recently returned from overseas. They complain that the camp is literally blocked with category "C2" men, who are performing no useful service in the camp.

Topic:   COM'MONS
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LIB
CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

Yes. I have received complaints from men who feel that perhaps they could make a better contribution outside, since they are not fit for regular military duties. That complaint also has come from other places, but the two specific complaints I have had came from military district No. 6. I should like to find out from the minister just what is the policy of the department when a man is boarded, his catgeory is lowered and he is classified as unfit for regular military service. What is he assigned to do in the military district; what duties is he required to carry out, or what service does he perform when he is kept in the army? Would it not

War Appropriation-Army

be 'better to discharge that man and send him out so that he might be able to make a useful contribution in some civilian capacity? I think it would be good business if men like that were routed' 'back to civilian life and given an opportunity to rehabilitate themselves now, before we have the general demobilization. I think it is a mistake to keep any large number of men of this kind in any camp.

Topic:   COM'MONS
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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

I must confess that I agree with my hon. friend. Of course there are some jobs, such as orderlies and things of that kind, in which low-category men can be usefully employed, but. generally speaking I see no point at all in keeping a man of that kind in the army, unless he is absolutely essential and no one else can be obtained to do the work. I indicated that our depots are very full at the present time, though the number of men in them, is going down quite rapidly. However, in talking with my colleague, the Minister of Pensions and National Health, I have inquired into the matter pretty carefully, and I may tell my hon. friend that one reason which is given to me is that the procedure fol-* lowed this time in connection with the discharge of a man is really terrific, in the number of forms that have to be filled out and the examinations that have to be gone through. You may ask why. Well, it is for the purpose of seeing to it that pensionability or otherwise is established at the start, instead of having a man come in two or three years from now saying, "Such and such a thing happened. I was stripped to the waist and examined; out I went, and nobody looked at me to make any notes of how I was." The examination does take a considerably longer time than formerly; they have specialists and so on, as my hon. friend knows.

In my judgment, however, there is no reason for these men being kept at our depots for any long time, except that of course medical officers are none too plentiful, and they tell me that a board can only handle properly something like fifteen men a day. So that it takes a number of boards if you have to deal with three, four, five or six hundred men, or perhaps a thousand or more as they may have at Halifax. It does take time to get them out, but I really think that is principally due to the necessity of taking time in order to see that the examination is properly carried out. As a matter of fact, we are putting someone in charge of all these depots, having him go around to see if he cannot smarten up the procedure. I know one depot in particular which is extremely efficient. We have had officers in command of other depots visit this one to see how it is run, and they have worked out something in the nature of a belt-line procedure.

There is another thought that has just come to me. We had an investigation made of our examination system, our reception system and our discharge system by officers of the United States army, and I must say that the result put our people very much on their toes. Perhaps they became a bit complacent following the compliments they received from these visiting officers because of the care that was taken in connection with the discharge of personnel. I remember writing a memorandum at the time congratulating them on the record they had made, but adding that I hoped this would not lead to complacency. Coming back to my hon. friend's statement, I say that by all means these men ought to be out of the army. We try to work just as hard as we can, in order to get them out just as quickly as we can, and the procedure is being improved just as much as it possible can, always having in mind the examinations which are required in order that pension cases may not arise in the future, and that men may not be deprived of evidence which they would have had if they had undergone a proper examination.

Topic:   COM'MONS
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SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. QUELCH:

Recently I have had brought to my attention several cases similar to those referred to by the hon. member for Cape Breton South. The complaint I hear is that these men get tired of hanging around and apply for their discharge. Invariably the discharge is given, but then these men are barred from receiving the one month's pay and the clothing allowance. For instance, I have before me a letter from the Edmonton branch of the legion-

Topic:   COM'MONS
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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

Was the man discharged to

accept civilian employment?

Topic:   COM'MONS
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SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. QUELCH:

Let me read part of the letter:

I think this is one of the grievances that certainly should be rectified, as men who have been overseas and are returned to this country certainly get fed up hanging around not doing anything, and they naturally after a time make application for discharge, which is inevitably granted.

Then, due to the fact that the discharge was granted: at his own request, the man is refused his one month's pay and the clothing allowance. I have referred these cases to the department but so far have received no reply. It does seem to me that when a man has been overseas for two or three years and returns to this country he should be granted a discharge and should be eligible to receive the one month's pay and the clothing allowance.

Topic:   COM'MONS
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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

Would my hon. friend mind giving me one name?

Wartime Wages Control

Topic:   COM'MONS
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SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. QUELCH:

I am referring to the case of Corporal J. R. Wallace, and also the case of Private Jossul. I believe in the latter case, however, the allowance has been granted, though at the time the letter was written it had not. Of the four oases referred to in this letter, the allowance was granted in only one.

Topic:   COM'MONS
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LIB
SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. QUELCH:

The first case is that of Corporal J. R. Wallace, No. R-93837. The second case is that of Private Jossul, but in that case I believe the allowance has been granted, because there is a postscript to the letter which reads:

I am very pleased to let you know that_ I have been successful in having Jossul's rehabilitation granted, so maybe the others will come through.

Apparently Jossul's case was an exception to the rule.

Topic:   COM'MONS
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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

My hon. friend has sent a copy of the letter to the department?

Topic:   COM'MONS
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SC

At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. Tuesday, February 15, 1944


February 14, 1944