interested in the ministers department, the Royal Canadian Air Force. For four years before coming to this house I watched each spring the very cream of our graduating class of the school from which I come joining the air force. That school has now one thousand of its graduates in the forces. By far the majority of them are in the air force; and as I hear from a considerable number of those boys from time to time, I am particularly delighted with the statements made by the minister this afternoon. I join with others in congratulating him upon the force which he has succeeded in building up and in the contribution which that force has made to the cause of democracy.
The minister is asking in these estimates for something more than one billion dollars for the air force. I am confident there is no hon. member who will criticize that expenditure on behalf of that force, particularly ' that part of the estimates pertaining to pay and allowances, to personnel supplies, or any other provision which touches the lives of the
men and women in the force. As a matter of fact, I am sure the committee would be prepared to increase that amount had the minister asked for more and the country would support us in voting a still larger amount than that for which the minister asked. Had the minister asked for an additional amount to reduce the transportation costs of travelling expenses of the men going to and from leave, as hon. members have already suggested, I am confident that the money would have been voted. Had he chosen to increase the amount in order that the leave granted might be exclusive of the days occupied in travelling to and from home, I am confident we would have voted that amount. Had he chosen to provide in these estimates money which would permit those of the groundcrews serving in England and overseas and others to be given leave of absence to visit their homes after absence from home for years, that, too, would have been forthcoming.
I should like to refer for a moment to what the minister had to say regarding the question of rehabilitation. He very properly called attention to the difficulty which would arise and the problems which would have to be confronted after the war, particularly if those boys were to be kept in uniform and in barracks and given continued drill and training after they returned from the war. That may be true, but I wish to emphasize the fact that, regardless of when these men may be discharged, there should be no period between the time of their return and the time of their rehabilitation in civil life when they should receive less than they are now receiving in pay and allowances. I am quite confident that this country does not expect those men who have served so valiantly to spend a long interval between the time of their return to Canada and the time of their rehabilitation on a mere pittance or on any pay less than that which they are receiving for pay and allowance while in the service.
I' was pleased to hear the reference of the minister to education. Certainly there is no branch of the service which would be more concerned with the educational opportunities that are offered them after the war than those who are in the air force. These young people-for the most part they are boys and girls-went into the air force, as I mentioned before, from high school, from college. Thousands of them had not completed their education. Thousands of them would have proceeded from high school to university had times been normal. Many of them found their studies interrupted in the midst of their university course. Others, probably, had just
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begun their high school course, having been for various reasons late in getting through. I suggest that every possible means be taken to furnish these youth with education for whatever career they choose to follow on their return from the war. We should be particularly careful that the regulations are not too restrictive. The regulations must be so elastic and broad that any man-and the same applies to women-returning from the R.C.A.F. will receive assistance in making up for the time he has lost in gaining or completing his education. On that matter I am not yet quite clear whether the provisions we have made for educational opportunities for Canadians who have enlisted in the Canadian forces will be equally available to those serving in the British army and the Royal Air Force. I am thinking particularly of the boys who enlisted in the R.A.F. in days before the R.C.A.F. could take them, the days before the war, and I am not certain whether the educational opportunities we have provided for the men returning from the war will be available in all cases to those who enlisted earlier in the R.A.F. The minister himself was not quite certain a year ago when this question was under discussion, and it is one of the points on which I should like to have him make a statement at this time.
There are one or two other matters I would call to the minister's attention. I presume item No. 1 is the item on which they can be brought up. I am not sure whether the minister has any connection with the wartime bureau of technical personnel. I suppose all three branches of the force are concerned with that bureau. This is what I have in mind. I know personally a considerable number of young men who are science graduates of a year ago. These men are held responsible to that wartime bureau. They have tried to enlist and some of them have had preliminary training for the air force. They tried to enlist as aircrew. They are physically fit and in every way suitable, but they cannot be taken as aircrew except as technical personnel, and apparently there are no positions of that kind vacant. Consequently they are now serving around in various industrial plants at the beck and call of the bureau. The strange thing is that while these same men cannot enlist in either army, navy or air force, they are subject to draft and have been drafted, and they have had to apply, or their employers have had to apply for deferment for them. It seems a strange situation where men specially trained as graduates in science are willing or anxious to enlist in the air force or the army, are no permitted to enlist, and yet they are liable to draft and every six months
must get deferment granted. Moreover, I am told that they must stay where they are. They dare not inquire about finding another position, no matter how small the pay may be in the job in which they are placed. There is a $500 fine, I am told, if they are caught looking for another job that may improve their position. There is a $500 fine, I am told, for the employer who tries to employ them. I have seen letters from the bureau to that effect. I presume the minister and his department are interested inasmuch as some of these are air force personnel or have had air force training.
There is one other matter. I have a letter from a boy whom I taught before he went into the air force and who is now in service with the R.A.F. in India. In his letter he tells me:
We single Canadians now stationed in India are required to do four years out here and our service overseas in Britain does not count. The four years is the normal Indian tour of duty for all single R.A.F. personnel. This is not right, and we are very much dissatisfied about it. As far as wre are concerned out here, any advantages except pay that may come from being a member of the Canadian forces are null and void.
I submit these suggestions to the minister and trust that when he has information he will make a statement.
My remarks will be brief because I understand it is the minister's intention to follow the same procedure with respect to his estimates that was followed by the Minister of National Defence for the army. In the estimates we have before us there is ample opportunity to question the minister on any specific matter we have in mind: that requires an answer, and feeling that that is the most expeditious way of carrying on the debate I intend to refrain from mentioning a lot of matters about which we may later on question the minister.
I join with those who pay tribute to the minister for the efficient and effective way he placed his estimates before the committee.
The leader of the opposition a few moments ago thought the minister was very cooperative and complimented him along those lines.
I believe the reverse is true. I think the minister anticipated about everything that the leader of the opposition or anyone else might have in mind by way of criticism and threw the ball over here for answer. That is exactly the way I see it. He posed every question that one might be thinking of and invited the opposition to give him the answers.
I appreciate the course followed by the minister. He quite frankly placed the matter in the hands of those who might have suggestions to offer.
I appreciate also his remarks with respect to the question of repatriation or rehabilitation, whichever one likes to call it, or demobilization. There are many questions that people will have to ask themselves and a great deal of serious thinking to be done. Two things struck me with regard to the minister's address. The first was his very frank approach to the question of what the boys should expect from Canada when the war is over. He emphasized, and rightly so, the fact that the war is not an end in itself. I, along with many others, hope that it is the end of something. I hope it is the end of unemployment, exploitation and misery such as we had in the years preceding the war. I hope it is the beginning, when the war is over, by the people of Canada, along with those who are overseas in the fighting forces, of building a better world on this continent. I trust that some members of the government are thinking along the lines of the expression of the minister with regard to that particular angle. I think he very rightly wound up his address on a note stressing the seriousness of the situation and the necessity for serious thinking.
When the estimates of the Minister of National Defence were up I expressed my opinions rather fully on matters pertaining to demobilization and rehabilitation. The mechanics that I outlined for the army would apply equally to the air force, and I am not going to take up the time of the committee by repeating them. I was pleased to hear the minister for air announce that the young Canadian personnel in the R.A.F. were to be given an opportunity of transferring to the R.C.A.F. He did not say how that was to be done or what one would have to go through in order to make that transfer possible. I suppose he will do so during the question period; but there is an angle to that particular group in the service to which no one has referred up to date, and I should like to focus the minister's attention on it. I think he stated that there were approximately 2,000 Canadian personnel in the R.A.F.
Yes, approximately. Many of those are boys who went to England in 1937, 1938 and 1939 because they could not get jobs in this country and therefore went into the
R.A.F. as Canadians. During their period of service in the R.A.F. they are subject to income tax. A pilot officer, for example, is paid approximately $120 a month in Canadian money. Out of that he has to pay approximately $35 in income tax. These young men have been paying that all during their period of service with the R.A.F. United States personnel serving in the R.A.F. were also subject to that income tax for, I believe, a couple of years. They were successful in having it eliminated and in having returned to them all the money that they had paid in income tax up until such time as they received exemption. Before these young men are finally transferred to the R.C.A.F. I hope that that particular angle will be given consideration.
I believe that these boys have a right to expect the same treatment in the matter of transfer and in the matter of return of income tax paid to the British government during their period of service as the Americans received.
There are many angles to the money side of it, but I am not going to go into them now, because I think every member of the committee is familiar with them. There is the matter of dependents' allowance. There is the matter of differential in rates. The one point I should like to focus the minister's attention on is income tax. I reiterate, I think these boys have a right to a return of the income tax that they paid during their period in the service. Another point that the minister made and that I should like to comment on briefly is the fear he stressed that when the war is over, boys returning from the services may come back with their minds focused on themselves individually, with the complex built up in their minds that the first back is the first on the job; get what you can for yourself regardless of what happens to the fellow who is coming behind. I believe the minister is quite correct in assuming that perhaps that will be the situation.
Under present conditions there are not many prospects for those in the service coming back, and the natural tendency is to recognize that and to try to do something for themselves. In connection with that very fear the minister expressed the opinion that it was wrong to keep them in uniform when they come back. He likened the situation to the last war, and of course made the observation that there was [DOT] quite a difference in attitude and opinion to-day because of the changes made since the last war. I agree with him in most of his remarks, but I make one exception. I have expressed the opinion time and time again and I wish to reiterate it now. Because of the
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situation that exists in Canada to-day, with the lack of planning to absorb the service personnel returning and the million of war workers in war industries that will be closed, and without any opportunity of finding employment for a large percentage of them, I think it would be wrong to take the army, the air force and the navy back and to discharge them to civilian life, route them through the channels of selective service, unemployment service and the civilian agencies that are being built up. Because of that situation the very fear that the minister expresses is the one we shall have to face. The proper thing to do in a situation that we all fear along with the minister is to guarantee to the returning personnel not the relief that is paid now-because $14.20 a week to a married man or $10.20 to a single person is relief in the final analysis; it lasts for only a certain number of months and the mechanics of getting it are not very easy through welfare agencies, selective service, unemployment insurance, and so forth; there is a lot of discontent wrapped up in these regulations, although they look all right on paper-but something more definite.
I stated in my remarks on the navy estimates that I thought the camps which are established in Canada should be fully utilized in the demobilization period. Instead of bringing the service personnel back to where there is no possibility of work for them, discharging them and sending them across the country, breaking up as it were the units that were formed overseas, units that fought together and will work cooperatively together as a unit if they are kept together, we should keep them together. If they are discharged and sent throughout the country an individualistic spirit will be bred among them, and they will be made the prey of any demagogue who comes along, waves a flag and tells them that he has a solution. I believe if they were brought back, placed in their camps and the educational machinery we have to-day utilized while they are in uniform in camps- and I would not haVe them drilled and booted around on the parade ground and required to salute every second officer they meet and all that kind of stuff-and routed back to gainful employment in teams in order that they might be able to work their way back to civil life, there would be no need to fear that which the minister expressed. I do not think the fear of the individualistic selfish spirit being bred can be avoided in any other way.
I merely leave this thought with the minister; I elaborated upon it when the army estimates were under consideration. Unless drastic changes are made in the structure of [Mr. Gj.U.'S.l
society in Canada; unless greater employment opportunity than we can see now is provided for those coming out of the service, we shall have discontent and strife and everything that goes with it. Every care will have to be taken in the demobilization period to see that those now in the services are at least kept on the same basis of pay that they are receiving at the present time. You cannot take a man who has an income of $130 or $150 a month, drop him down to $14.20 a week, give him a suit of civilian clothes, send him out to look for a job, and then expect him to be at all happy or proud of himself after the contribution he has made to the cause of his country. I think in all three branches of the service men are making their maximum contribution in the work for which they have the greatest aptitude. I believe that in rebuilding Canada, if we are to get the support of those now in the services we shall have to do everything in our power to make this period of reconstruction just as glamorous as we made the fighting during the war. Otherwise, we shall not be able to interest the boys who are in the service to-day and who will be coming back from the excitement of war and everything that goes with it, whom we shall expect to settle down to the humdrum job of just working out an existence in Canada. We have to start rebuilding Canada, making it the kind of country that those in the service believe they are fighting for, and it seems to me the best way to do that is to have the teams which are fighting the war together kept together for instructional purposes, educated and sent out to do jobs which will provide them with a livelihood for themselves and their families. And this must be done before they leave the service, before they are sent out into a hard, cruel world to look after themselves.
Another classification was mentioned by the minister; I refer to the radio mechanics. The minister emphasized their position, scattered all over the globe, working alone or in groups of two or three. In regard to these men there is a complaint I have heard, though I do not know whether it is justified; the minister should know. In his remarks he stated that these mechanics are largely isolated and are attached to the R.A.F., but that the responsibility for their pay, promotions and so on rests with the Canadian government. The complaint I hear in regard to these men is that in the matter of promotion, while a large number of them are classified as noncommissioned officers they are merely shadow N.C.O.'s, in that they merely receive the pay of a leading aircraftman even after years of
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service. If that is so, I think the minister should try to rectify that situation, because these men are making quite a sacrifice in carrying on their work.
There are many other questions in which I am interested, but I think I shall reserve any further discussion until the specific items are under consideration.
I do not intend this evening to enter into a lengthy discussion of the various matters which were dealt with by the minister, since they can be discussed fully when the individual items are considered by the committee. Suffice it to say that all members of this house felt the same pride that was exhibited by the minister in his recital of the activities of the Royal Canadian Air Force. But while we are all appreciative of what is being done, more than ever it is necessary to keep in mind the things that have not been done, to the end that when the period of rehabilitation comes along we may-assure those who have served that they will have a job and an opportunity in life. In other words, we as a nation must remember the sacrifices that have been made, and must be firm in our determination to see that those who served are assured of certainty of occupation when they return. As the minister spoke with pride of the work being done by the air force he mentioned three outstanding young men who were being considered to carry on the work of rehabilitation. At the time I thought of one young man from my own constituency who in less than one year of service rose from the rank of sergeant-pilot to that of wing commander, and who to-day commands one of the outstanding squadrons in Britain. _
In considering what should be done in the post-war period we must bear in mind that many young men who are serving in the air force to-day look forward to an opportunity to take part in the greater air development that will take place after the war_ is over. If one asks air personnel what they intend to do after the war, invariably the reply is that if they have the opportunity they would like to continue in the air force or in civil aviation. If there is one thing in which we in this house and we in Canada have been remiss it has been in our failure to discuss, in regard to the rehabilitation of our men and the future position of Canada itself, the formation of a great international transport system which will give these men an opportunity to serve when the war is over. Only a few weeks ago Mr. Ralph P. Bell, director-general of aircraft production, stated that in relation to our population we shall come out of this war with the largest proportion of trained airmen of any allied nation. What are we to do with these men; what opportunity are they to have to
serve in the great air transport systems of the future The other day the minister outlined something of the policy of this department with reference to the Alaska air lines. International air lines were referred to by the Prime Minister in an address he delivered about a year ago; but we in this country have no wide and comprehensive picture of the postwar air development that will take place, and what will be the position of Canada in regard thereto. Now that we are considering the rehabilitation of these airmen after the war,
I think the time has come for a frank explanation by the minister in charge of that department, giving this committee and the country a recital of what took place at the great conference which was held in England last October and telling us something of Canada^ plans for the future. Shall Canada's air scheme be an international one, under an international board? Shall Canada participate with the other nations of the empire _ in a vast empire air scheme, with the cooperation of the United States? These matters, more important than any others as far as the rehabilitation of the men in the air force is concerned, have remained the secret of the government, if the government has a policy with respect thereto. In order to give hon. members an opportunity to discuss the post-war rehabilitation of those discharged from the air force, the minister should at the earliest possible date, and before this debate on his estimates is concluded, make a statement as to what took place at the conference, in so far as it can be revealed, a picture of the stand Canada intends to take, a recital of such post-war plans as have been made with regard to aircraft production after the war, the continuation of the industry in Canada and the utilization of the man-power now in the air force, when discharged, so that we shall be in a position to discuss these matters.
The air future of Canada and the empire has been kept under lock and key by the government. We have had only piecemeal recitals. We had the statement of the Prime Minister, and a few days ago a further statement of the Minister of Munitions and Supply. But we have not yet had a picture of the stand Canada intends to take. By their agreements, Australia and New Zealand have indicated to the world the stand they intend to take. An opportunity is thereby given to men who serve in the air force to make plans now for a continuation in that service after the war.
I should like to secure from the minister- and I think the minister for air could give it-a statement showing the numbers to-day in the air force who may reasonably expect to be absorbed in civilian aviation after the war.
We are taking the departments one at a time. I shall be very glad to cover the point to which my hon. friend has referred, when we are discussing the estimates of my department.
home to Canada, and have made requests for pensions based on the wounds they have received. One of their complaints is that if, upon discharge, their rank is that of sergeant, flight sergeant or warrant officer class 1, they are paid a pension on the basis of their original substantive rank, namely AC-2. I have heard that complaint raised several times, and it is generally believed that such is the condition.
It has been pointed out that in deciding the question of pension, pension is paid not on the basis of the rank held at the time of discharge but on the original substantive rank of AC-2, at which the airman entered the air force.
While this matter does not come strictly within the department of the Minister of National Defence for Air, would he not consider giving a statement dur-mg the present discussion so that, in so far as the rehabilitation of men in the air force is concerned, we could discuss the matter as an entity? The minister for air discussed the matter of rehabilitation.