June 14, 1944

VETERANS' AFFAIRS

ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPARTMENT TO DEAL WITH THE CARE, TREATMENT, TRAINING OR REESTABLISHMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES


Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister) moved the second reading of bill No. 83. to establish a department of veterans' affairs.


LIB

Thomas Vien (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Is it the pleasure of the house to adopt the motion?

Topic:   VETERANS' AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPARTMENT TO DEAL WITH THE CARE, TREATMENT, TRAINING OR REESTABLISHMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Carried.

Topic:   VETERANS' AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPARTMENT TO DEAL WITH THE CARE, TREATMENT, TRAINING OR REESTABLISHMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES
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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GORDON GRAYDON (Leader of the Opposition):

Well, Mr. Speaker, my understanding of the arrangement was that on the motion for second reading the Prime Minister would make some introductory remarks, and then that the Minister of Pensions and National Health (Mr. Mackenzie) would make a statement. I rise only to draw attention to that understanding.

Topic:   VETERANS' AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPARTMENT TO DEAL WITH THE CARE, TREATMENT, TRAINING OR REESTABLISHMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I think my hon. friend is misinformed in respect of any understanding. WThen the resolution was before the house the minister made a lengthy statement respecting the measure. I too made a statement at the time. That was on April 17. At that time 'it was made clear that the bill was introduced for the purpose of establishing a new department of government, and I think all agreed on the principle. In committee the Minister of Pensions and National Health, who had most to do with the preparation of the bill, and who indeed some time ago suggested the creation of the department, took charge of it, and made a full statement.

Topic:   VETERANS' AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPARTMENT TO DEAL WITH THE CARE, TREATMENT, TRAINING OR REESTABLISHMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES
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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

I have no desire to urge my understanding in the matter. I do know however that some members are prepared to speak on the motion for second reading, and I understood that because of that the minister wished to make a statement before those speeches were made. That is the reason I raised the point.

Topic:   VETERANS' AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPARTMENT TO DEAL WITH THE CARE, TREATMENT, TRAINING OR REESTABLISHMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Does the hon. member not want the motion for second reading to pass at once?

Topic:   VETERANS' AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPARTMENT TO DEAL WITH THE CARE, TREATMENT, TRAINING OR REESTABLISHMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES
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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

That is it.

Topic:   VETERANS' AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPARTMENT TO DEAL WITH THE CARE, TREATMENT, TRAINING OR REESTABLISHMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

If any members wish to speak on the second reading, they should feel free to do so. Probably the house will excuse me, as I find it necessary

to attend a meeting of the war committee. I came in only to be present at the opening, and to move second reading.

Topic:   VETERANS' AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPARTMENT TO DEAL WITH THE CARE, TREATMENT, TRAINING OR REESTABLISHMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES
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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

The arrangement we made was that the Prime Minister would not have to be here.

Topic:   VETERANS' AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPARTMENT TO DEAL WITH THE CARE, TREATMENT, TRAINING OR REESTABLISHMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES
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LIB

Thomas Vien (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Then the motion is for second reading.

Topic:   VETERANS' AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPARTMENT TO DEAL WITH THE CARE, TREATMENT, TRAINING OR REESTABLISHMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES
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LIB

James Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. JAMES SINCLAIR (Vancouver North):

Mr. Speaker, my first speech upon returning to this house from overseas was in respect to veterans' affairs, so that perhaps it is only fitting that my last speech before returning to service should also be on the same subject. I am grateful to the air force for not only giving me very generous leave, but extending it so that I can discuss this bill.

I am most heartily in favour of the consolidation into one department of all branches of government activity relating to soldiers' affairs. Nothing is more disheartening to persons seeking information or help from the government than to be passed from department to department to department. That is what now happens in connection with veterans' affairs, which are now handled by five departments. When the new department is established every ex-service man in Canada will know exactly where to apply for help or for assistance. Such consolidation will also make possible something which every veteran believes highly desirable, namely, that all the officials of the department shall be returned soldiers who know the affairs and circumstances of returned soldiers.

One thing that concerns me somewhat in respect of the new department is its name. It is to be known as the Department of Veterans' Affairs. Since the last war the word "veteran" has been used a great deal in Canada, and as the years have passed there has attached to it an association of age and disability. Yet the greatest part of the work of this new department will be for men who are neither aged nor disabled. On the contrary they will be the youngest and most vigorous of our manhood. The dictionary confirms this definition of the word "veteran". I do not know whether a more applicable single word exists. "Ex-service men" is too much of a mouthful, and "soldiers" is not applicable as they are no longer soldiers when the new department takes over their affairs. While accepting the name "Veterans' Affairs", I sincerely hope there will be nothing aged or disabled about the approach by the new department to its work. In this connection I feel it most important that the department

Department of Veterans' Affairs

recruit a considerable percentage of its officials from among the young veterans of this war. I am not referring to the brass hats; rather I have in mind the junior officers and men in the ranks, men with a fresh and sympathetic approach to the problems of the new veterans.

Most of the officials of the present department of Pensions and National Health have been handling veterans' affairs for the last twenty-five years, and are pretty well set and hardened in their ways. Some time ago the Minister of National Defence for Air (Mr. Power) announced retirements from his service of senior air officers, so as to keep his air force "young, virile and dynamic." I think that this principle would be most desirable in the new department of veterans' affairs.

I intend now to comment briefly on some phases of the activities of the new department. I did not enter into the debate when the pensions estimates were before the house, because I felt I could add nothing to what was being done so well by senior members in all parts of the house. Most of those members who did speak were old returned soldiers themselves, and have been fighting the cause of the old soldier in parliament and through veterans' associations for the last twenty-five years. Most of them know the Pension Act line by line.

I have found, and I am sure most hon. members have found that the most distressing part of our duty is that of dealing with pension cases. Members of parliament get those cases only as a last resort, when all other processes have failed. It is perhaps only natural that we should have few successes in these cases. I find it particularly heart-breaking to have to write to men who, I know, are aged, disabled or crippled, men- who, in the prime of their lives, offered everything to their country, life itself, and tell them that they have been denied that pittance which would mean security to them in their time of need. It is not as though any great saving were effected by this policy, because these men generally have to be supported by public funds, from some source or another. How much better, for the self-respect of these men and of their dependents, and, what is more, how much better for our self-respect as Canadians, that they receive this help as a right, in gratitude for their services and not as public relief or private charity because we are too Christian to see them starve.

I do not wish this to be taken as too broad a criticism of the Department of Pensions and National Health. I know our legislation is as good as any in effect anywhere. I know that for every one of these pitiful borderline cases the department handles hundreds of cases success-

fully, and about which we hear nothing. This merely adds weight to my observation that it is so petty to be niggardly to so few because the cost would be so little, especially at a time when we think nothing of spending billions for the implements of warfare. Yet we are hesitant about spending just a little more to bring security to the few casualties of warfare whose disabilities cannot quite be proven to come within the scope of our present pensions legislation.

Whenever I get too despondent about how impotent my efforts are in these cases I think about the load carried by the Minister of Pensions and National Health. He carries the load of every single member multiplied by the two hundred and forty-five ridings. I know he has done his best to liberalize the pensions legislation, and I know that throughout his long career in public life he has fought very hard for his old comrades. It is not because of any lack of sympathy on his part that these borderline cases fail. It is rather because of the economies of the treasury board in the background. I intend to speak more fully on that in a moment.

At this time perhaps it would be appropriate for me to thank the minister's secretary, Miss Dixon, for all the help she has given, through me, to the old soldiers in my riding. Her courtesy, her patience, her willingness to help in every way, and her wide knowledge of departmental affairs have been of great help to me, and I am sure also to many other members of this house.

The whole problem of the return and the proper reestablishment of our fighting men after the war is a secondary one. It depends on one prime consideration, that the programme of reconstruction shall eventually provide adequate employment for all those who are willing and able to work. Included in this programme must be the war workers, but any plan big enough to provide employment for our veterans will certainly include the war workers. After all they are a preferred class, having practised civilian trades throughout the war in civilian life. Therefore, our entire programme of rehabilitation should be based on the assumption that adequate employment will be available. If that is not so, our programme of rehabilitation will be nothing but a programme of glorified relief, with a little training thrown in to pass the time away.

The object then is to return those who had civilian jobs to those jobs, to find jobs for those who have trades and skills, and to provide training for those who will need or want such training to fit themselves for employment. The training aspect is especially important because so many of our fighting

Department of Veterans' Affairs

men are young men who joined up before they had learned a trade or profession. If this training is not given they will be condemned to a life of unskilled labour because of their war service.

There are some who deprecate any talk of post-war planning, reconstruction and rehabilitation at this time, because, they say, our whole energies should be concentrated on winning the war and that such talk gives the impression that the war is practically won. The tragedy of the united nations in 1939 was that we were unprepared for war even though it had appeared on the horizon since Munich. It will be a much greater tragedy if we are unprepared for peace, if having won the victory on the battlefield we lose it in chaos at home through unpreparedness. No better lift to the morale of the men now fighting can be given than the assurance by the government that it is now planning how to rehabilitate and reestablish them in civil life when the war is won.

The task is scarcely one just' for the government. No soldier is going to be rehabilitated and reestablished just by government legislation or government enactment. It is up to the government to lay the foundation and from then on it is up to the soldier himself, to the community to which he returns and to private industry. May I here pay a tribute to the very fine work being done across Canada by the citizens' rehabilitation committees. After all, the first job of rehabilitation is to fit the veteran back into the social life of the community to which he returns, and these citizens' committees are doing a very fine work.

Very little has been said about the part industry must play in this programme of rehabilitation. The Reinstatement in Civil Employment Act of 1942 lays down the bare minimum, a minimum a great deal less than many soldiers realize. While the act provides that any man who left a civilian job to enlist shall get that job back after the war under conditions not less favourable than those that existed when he enlisted and with his old seniority, it does not mean that every soldier who had a job when he joined up is going to get his job back. When industry has had employees who enlisted, and who were replaced by others who later enlisted, it cannot be expected to have these junior service men displace senior civilian employees who have stayed with the industry throughout the war and who have seniority.

Another major factor is that a great many of our men do not want to go back to their old jobs. They have advanced in the service and in their knowledge of trade skills and in

ambition, and they have no wish to return to their old jobs. If private industry tries to get by by doing only the minimum required under the act, it will be of very little help in the programme of rehabilitation. However, if private industry tries to carry out the spirit of the act in the most generous fashion it will prove an important factor in the reestablishment of our fighting men.

In this regard I should like to mention one company and what they have done. When I last spoke on rehabilitation I was treated very kindly by the gentlemen of the press, and as a result I received a considerable volume of mail from soldiers, soldiers' organizations, unions, service clubs and so on. I received one letter from the president of the Canadian branch of one of the largest companies in the world, Lever Brothers. He enclosed a booklet which they had sent to all their employees who had enlisted. I was very much interested in what they were doing, and took the opportunity of visiting their main plant at Toronto, where I met men who had been discharged and reemployed, and I was told what this company were doing in an effort to reestablish their employees who had enlisted.

When a man leaves this company he receives the same sort of send-off that a man leaving any other company would receive. The employees in his section wish him well and the company tells him that his job will be there when he gets back. During his absence he receives parcels, cigarettes, news, and so on. The management of this company believe that when these men return it will be much of an anti-climax if they have to go round to the time office and tell some junior bookkeeper whom they have never seen before, "Here we are; we want our old jobs back because the government says you must give them back to us." This company feels that the man returning should have as personal a welcome as he had a send-off, and so they have set up a welcome and placement committee consisting of a director, the personnel manager and a senior employee who is a veteran. They meet the returned man by appointment in a comfortably furnished office; they talk with him informally about what he has done in the war, where he has been and what he would like to do. Their aim is not to fit him into the job he had before the war, but into the job for which he is now best qualified. They intend to place every employee who enlisted, whether or not he is legally entitled to his job back. Other jobs will be provided for men who are disabled and cannot take over their old jobs, and their pay will be made up to their old rates.

Department of Veterans' Affairs

They have found one serious difficulty in carrying out this policy. When a man comes back, the company knows everything about him before he joined up, how he worked, where he worked, and so on. They had a full record of how he had served them, what his education was, and so on. But when a man comes back, so far as the company is concerned his years in service are an utter blank. All the man has is his discharge certificate, which gives his name, number, rank, his physical description, his character, which is given in two words, and his trade assessment, which is also covered by two words. During his period of service the man may have taken many courses and obtained valuable training. His record may show that he had a real flair for leadership, but of this the company knows nothing. If they are going to place him in a proper job they should know this.

As an example, a boy who wrapped soap before enlistment has risen to the rank of captain in the army. The company does not want him to go back to wrapping soap, nor does the man want to do that. As far as the company is concerned his record is a complete blank. Of course, all this information is on file in the Department of Pensions and National Health and the Department of National Defence on one of those many, many forms by which paper wars are fought. That information is at headquarters, but it is not given to the man, on the ground that there is considerable confidential information such as his medical categories, his pulhems profile, whatever convictions or courts martial he had, and whatever punishment he may have received.

The employer is not interested in these negative factors. What he wants to know are the positive factors, how the man has improved himself during his service career. In the United States they gather the same information on the same number of forms, but they make a distinction between what they call the positive factors, which are of help to the man in getting employment, and the confidential factors. The man is given a complete record of his service for himself so that when he meets his employer, his employer will know exactly what he has done in his period of service. I have already raised this question with the minister and his department, and I hope that the Canadian authorities will soon take similar action.

I now turn to what is to me the most important feature of our entire programme of rehabilitation, and that is finance. I spoke on this earlier in the session and I do not intend to weary the house by repeating my arguments of that time. I said then that I thought the

programme was very fine but that few soldiers could afford to take the training, and four months' study has confirmed me in that belief. No returned man can say that training to fit him for any desired vocation or profession was not prepared. My criticism was that few soldiers could afford to take this training, and figures given right in this house since that time certainly have confirmed that criticism. The minister of pensions, when the pensions estimates were up, said that over 135,000 men and women have been discharged from the services. The Minister of Labour (Mr. Mitchell) said that less than 3,000 of these have taken training-less than 2i per cent. It is no answer to say that most of them have chosen to go direct into war industry and intend to take training at some later time. I have made it my business to talk to every man I could who wears a discharge button and asked him about this, and almost inevitably the answer has been, "I would like to have taken some training but could not afford to take it under the present allowance, and so I took the first job I could get." These men are sufficient realists to know that if they are ever going to take training for the jobs they would like to have, the time is now, so that they will be trained and in those jobs before the great flood starts at the end of the war. But they cannot afford to take the training. I am very glad that since I last spoke the basic allowance has been raised from $4420 for men to $60 for trainees, and S50 for veterans who are unemployed because the government's reconstruction plan cannot yet absorb them, and $20 for a wife. While this is an improvement I say quite flatly that it is still not enough. I want to make my position quite clear in this respect. I am not the sort of soldier's advocate who, no matter what is given, will still howl for more. I desire to make my position clear. It is the position of most of the soldiers and sailors and airmen overseas, in what they think is a very reasonable request, and that is that when they return after having served their country to be trained for peace they should do so under conditions not less favourable than those under which they were first trained for war.

There is quite an agitation in this country at the present time for full pay and allowances in the service until a man gets a job. I do not believe that that is either desirable or attainable. First of all, as far as keeping a man in the service until he gets a job is concerned, most of our soldiers and sailors and airmen who are serving overseas are not professional soldiers but citizen soldiers who joined up to defend their country because it was their duty, and they are anxious to

Department of Veterans' Affairs

return to civilian life as soon as they can. The most common war aim over there is, "We want to get this bloody war over as soon as possible so that we can get back home." Any attempt to keep the majority of our fighting men in uniform one day longer than is required for military reasons will meet with the most violent opposition from the troops themselves. Full pay and allowances sounds very attractive, but I think it is unreasonable and undemocratic. In the army a man may be a major, a sergeant or a private, according to the job he does, but when the war is over and these men come under the Department of Veterans Welfare for rehabilitation training they are no longer majors or sergeants or privates but Canadian citizens who have done their bit on a common basis and they should get an allowance on that common basis. The same argument holds with regard to the payment of gratuities, which I mentioned last time and I shall not repeat what I said then.

I believe that the government is quite generous in setting a year as the maximum period for rehabilitation with the exception that those going to university will get a month additional for each month of service. That is exactly double what the United States allows under their bill passed a day or two ago. If our programme of reconstruction is successful, the great bulk of our returned men should be rehabilitated and reestablished within the year, and the problem of those who are not established will be a very different one, to be dealt with then in the light of the experience gained in the year. If our programme of reconstruction does not succeed in absorbing the bulk of these men by the end of a year, the country will probably be demanding a new government with a fresh approach to both reconstruction and rehabilitation.

To turn again to actual figures, the greenest rookie entering the army, air force or navy to-day gets SI.30 a day, plus board, lodging, medical care, clothes, et cetera. To those who have to live in lodgings during this training, as do the war emergency training plan entries to the air force, and as will all our peace-time trainees, an allowance of $37.50 for board and lodging is paid, which has been criticized by the hon. member for York-Sunbury (Mr. Hanson) and others as inadequate.

Topic:   VETERANS' AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPARTMENT TO DEAL WITH THE CARE, TREATMENT, TRAINING OR REESTABLISHMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I do not think I did.

Topic:   VETERANS' AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPARTMENT TO DEAL WITH THE CARE, TREATMENT, TRAINING OR REESTABLISHMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES
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LIB

James Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR:

You did. I heard the hon. member, and he was quite right, too. Adding those two together makes $76.50 in cash, plus

clothing and medical care, and of course all tuition costs, plus $39.12 dependents' allowance to the wife and the standard children's allowances.

In the case of the veteran taking training, the government does give him an inadequate clothing grant, which will not tide him over the year. It also provides medical care for the year of rehabilitation, and tuition costs. But it pays only $60 to the trainee, $50 to those who cannot secure employment because the government's reconstruction plan is not ready, and $20 to his wife, with children's allowances the same.

I should now like to speak for a moment or two on the plight of soldiers' wives-a thing about which little has been said. A soldier's wife to-day gets $39.12 a month dependents' allowance, plus $20 a .month assigned pay from her husband, plus $12 apiece for her first two children, and lesser amounts for other children. Wives without children who get jobs in industry are comparatively well off and can save their allowances and assigned pay. Officers' wives, with their allowances ranging from $49.10 to $64.12 and much larger assignments of pay, can also get by. It is the young soldier's wife with children who cannot work who has such a difficult job getting by on these allowances. Few of them had homes before the war, and with rentals the way they are to-day and landlords able to pick and choose and most reluctant to take a soldier's wife with small children, it is seldom in the better districts of towns that we find these soldiers' families. They struggle along in the poorest and most crowded of quarters, soldiers' families doubling up to cut expenses so that they can make both ends meet. Others fall back on living with their parents or in-laws, thus forcing them to carry part of the burden which should properly be carried by the government. Every newspaper in Canada has carried desperate advertisements from soldiers' wives seeking the cheapest sort of accommodation.

Added on top of all the worries and trials of a young mother bringing up children without the help of a father; on top of all the troubles coming from poor accommodation and crowded quarters; on top of all the loneliness from separation and the ever-present fear of injury or death to her husband overseas-on top of all this is endless penny-pinching just to scrape by. There must be times when the bitter thought has crossed the mind of many a young soldier's wife, how much better off her family and she would be if her husband had not seen his duty and volunteered, but had stayed safely in Canada and got a job in some exempted priority industry and let others do the fighting.

Department of Veterans' Affairs

What now is to be the position, of these gallant wives-the real unsung heroines of our home front-when their men return from war and must fit themselves for peace-time jobs? There will be all the emotional difficulties of picking up family life after a long separation; all the strain of getting their men to settle down and accept the quiet routine of civilian life after the excitement of war; all the problems of fitting men used to barrack life into their already crowded family quarters.

The same woman and family, the same cost of food and clothing and lodging, an extra mouth to feed, her husband dropped from his service pay down to the rehabilitation allowance ; and a grateful country now rewards these women by reducing their dependents' allowance from $39.12 to $20 a month. It is the old, old story of a man with an axe to grind. It is, I think, an ominous indication of a return to the relief standards of the prewar period. This house will excuse me if I do not sound paeans of praise over the government's recently announced increase of this allowance from $18.20 to $20 a month.

All my objections to the present plan trace back to one feature-finance. It is not that the people of Canada themselves want to be niggardly to our returned soldiers. Every section of Canada has urged on the government that our returned men be treated in the most generous fashion possible. Not that the suggestion I am making can be classed as generous; if I were to suggest that they should come back on double pay that might be called generous. But all that I and the soldiers I know are suggesting is the most modest of arrangements, that they get the lowest pay and allowances they got when they were training for the army.

What will be the cost of this? If, as at present, only two and one-quarter per cent of our service men take this training, on the basis of the 800,000 now in service it would cost the government an extra $3,250,000, not each year but in total. If the more optimistic figure of the Canadian Legion proves justified, and 200,000 take training for a full year, it will cost the government an extra $36 million- a lot of money, but less than one per cent of what we are spending on war alone this year.

I believe the people of Canada would very gladly subscribe one peace loan at the end of the war if it were necessary to finance this rehabilitation programme.

Earlier I said that I believed that only veterans should handle veterans' affairs, a thing which certainly all soldiers believe. I am not one who claims that veterans should have every preference everywhere. After all, this war is being won not only by the fighting men,

but by the war workers at home, and those who are keeping the wheels of everyday life turning in this country. I repeat, however, that everything connected with veterans' affairs should be in the hands of officials who themselves are veterans, because only men who have been soldiers realize the problems of soldiers. Yet the final control over all this great programme of rehabilitation is not in the hands of the Minister of Veterans' Affairs; it is in the hands of treasury board; and I find that of the six on the board, one only is a veteran. Here is the real stumbling block. Here is the inability to distinguish between the right of a veteran and the need of a relief recipient. I feel that if the minister could take problems to a special treasury board consisting of the eight cabinet ministers who are veterans, these old soldiers, knowing the problems of their former comrades, would see that justice was done to the fighting men of this war.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King), in his memorable address to the British parliament at Westminster, mentioned that in the past the sacrifice of human life has been commemorated in monuments of stone and bronze. This time, he said, we should seek a more fitting memorial, and he suggested that it would be found in securing for others the more abundant life.

No one can deny that this is a glorious objective, well worthy of the sacrifices made, but it is an objective which may well take many, many years to achieve. I would suggest that a more immediate memorial, one closer to the hearts of those who have fallen, one within the immediate power of this government to achieve, would be to secure a more abundant life for the dependents these men left behind them, and to ensure that their comrades in arms who survive and return will be treated in the most generous fashion possible and have a real chance to reestablish themselves in the life of the country they have defended so well.

Throughout the whole story of warfare runs one familiar pattern. The men who fight the wars at cost of life and limb are lauded in the loftiest terms when the battle rages-one has only to recall our last victory loan advertisements or remember our last victory loan speeches to hear the old refrain-yet how the tune has always changed when the battle is won. Our leaders say, perhaps rightly, that our legislation in respect of rehabilitation is the finest in effect anywhere so far. This, I submit, is not the proper criterion at all, because the historic treatment of all soldiers, after wars, by all countries at all times has been very poor. Our standard should be a

Department oj Veterans' Affairs

simple one, a Canadian one. Are we to treat our men as well, when they return to be trained for peace, as we did when they trained for war in our hour of need?

A great deal is said about Canada becoming the leader of the small nations after the war.

I do not think the quality of leadership is at all dependent on size; rather is is dependent on courage, resourcefulness and imagination. No country in this war is in a better position to be generous to its fighting men than Canada, a country of tremendous natural resources, which has had enormous industrial development in the war and has been absolutely untouched by the physical devastation and destruction of war. She is one country that can afford to live up to the fine promises now being made to our soldiers. If we do so, such a course will have repercussions far beyond Canada. In every one of the united nations, soldiers' advocates will point to what Canada is doing for her fighting men as an example of what should be done for their own soldiers, and every soldier now fighting for freedom will have cause to bless Canada's leadership. It will be a real memorial to those who have fallen.

I do not propose to touch now on the dispute about whether a voluntary effort or a conscripted effort is best in this war, other than to say this. Those who express such pride in the fact that every Canadian overseas freely and voluntarily gave his services have a double obligation to see that this country is as free and generous to them when they return.

There is one more good reason why I feel that the government should immediately raise the rehabilitation grants to the basic level of army trainees, and this reason is almost entirely a civilian one. At the present moment in this country there are over two million people who can see no future for them or theirs when the war is ended-the war workers and their families; the soldiers who have no jobs to which to return, and their dependents, and the many extra workers in our war-swollen government services. Ahead of them they see no jobs, no security.

It is true that great plans for reconstruction are under way, that a new ministry of reconstruction is to be formed, that out of the agony of this war a brave new world is being planned, a world in which the unlimited resources of this country will be properly developed and there will be employment and social security for all. These, however, are but plans, and it takes more than plans to construct reality.

In this country there are Cassandras, almost entirely of one political group, who prophesy

nothing but chaos in the post-war period, who loudly proclaim that our whole present economy will collapse in the greatest of all depressions after the war. Nor are they content merely to limit prophecies of gloom to the post-war period. We already heard their leader proclaim last winter that this April would see 100,000 unemployed in the land. But his voice was strangely still in April.

There are others who believe that this country can surmount the difficulties of the post-war years with the same courage, resourcefulness and united effort which we have shown in our war effort. I subscribe to this faith, and I believe that this government, which has led this country in such magnificent fashion in war, can do the same in peace, provided that its slogan is unchanged: what is physically possible will be made financially possible.

Since my return I have spoken to this effect in many parts of the country, but everywhere I have found a curious apathy to this contention. Deep in the minds of the little people of Canada, the people who have given their sons and husbands and brothers and fathers to the armed services, the people who have toiled in the factories and the fields, the mills and the mines, the people who time and again have oversubscribed our victory loans and our Red Cross drives, the people who have borne without complaint a heavy load of taxation-deep in the minds of these people there flows a dark current of fear and mistrust of the future. Whilst they acknowledge the great achievements of the government on the production front; whilst they realize that what has been physically possible for this country to do has been done, they can remember a time when finances were not forthcoming for what was both physically possible and highly desirable. They read of the great post-war public works projects, but they can remember that long-sighted men suggested identical projects to bring badly needed employment and security to the people in the great depressions of the thirties; yet nothing was done because there was no money. They remember the days of relief camps, of mass unemployment, of so much to do and so little being done, when only the wages of money were sacred; and now they wonder, are we to return to those conditions after the war?

It is idle just to promise otherwise and to expect these people to believe. Public faith in the spoken word is at an all-time low throughout the world. The Canadian public has always been somewhat sceptical of political promises. The barefaced disregard of promises and treaties by European dictators weakened still further public faith, and now

Department oj Veterans' Affairs

the wholesale use of high-powered propaganda as a mighty weapon of warfare has brought public faith in the spoken or the written word to its very lowest ebb throughout the world.

Belief to-day is founded not on words but on actions. People in days of old might be content with some strange portent in the sky to foretell the future. People to-day want some tangible token of what is to happen. There is to-day one sure way for this government to allay this mistrust and fear that after the war we shall return to the economics of scarcity, and that would be for the government to announce immediately exactly how it intends to finance its great programme of reconstruction. We in this house, however, realize just how difficult that might be at the present moment, when no one knows how long the war will last or what new great drains there may be on the public purse. But there is one phase of post-war finance which must be faced now because it is occurring now, and that is the financing of the rehabilitation programme.

While the great bulk of this work will not come up until the war's end, we must face it now, because every day we discharge men from the services unfit, maimed and crippled. Here, therefore, is a golden opportunity for the government of Canada to give real proof to the people of Canada that it will face the post-war period with the same courage and vision that it has displayed in its conduct of the war, that henceforth no financial obstacle will stand in the way of what should be and what can be done.

Nothing could at this time convince the people of Canada of the government's postwar intentions more than for the government to announce that when our men return to train for peace they will be treated as well as when they trained for war, that the day of niggardly and parsimonious treatment of the fighting men, when the war is ended, is ended forever as far as Canada is concerned. Such an act will capture the imagination of all those who view the post-war period with fear and misgivings. It will be a real pledge, a pledge which will be accepted and believed, a pledge which will spur the people of Canada to face the great problems of the post-war period with the same courage and determination that we showed when we stood alone in 1940.

Some weeks ago I heard over the radio a speech one paragraph of which summed up everything I have tried to say this afternoon.

I quote:

The support of our fighting men and our debt to all who are near and dear to them must extend beyond the theatres of war. It must look beyond the end of hostilities. We owe it to all who bear the heat of the strife; we owe

it to those who are crippled and maimed; we owe it to the. many homes that are bereaved; we owe it to the memory of those who give their lives; to do all in our power to ensure that their service and their sacrifice shall not have been in vain.

These words were not said by some impassioned orator speaking before a veterans' gathering. They were not said by some smalltime politician seeking soldiers' votes. They were not even said by the leader of an opposition endeavouring to goad a government into action. They were said by the leader of a great country, the one man in that country who has "all the power to ensure that their service and their sacrifice shall not have been in vain." They are the words of the Prime Minister of Canada, speaking in the British parliament at Westminster last month.

If the government persists in its present relief standard of financing the programme of rehabilitation, these words will be rightly regarded by all the fighting men as just another empty political promise made to fighting men at war, on a par with Lloyd George's declaration to the British troops in the last war that they would return to "a land fit for heroes," on a par with Borden's declaration to the Canadian troops that "the pick of the land would be theirs on their return"-what the soldiers call just a bit of the old malarkey. If, however, the government does announce to the world that it will treat its fighting men as fairly and as generously when they return to train for peace as when they trained for war, then these words of the Prime Minister will go ringing down through Canadian history as the declaration on which Canada paid her debt of honour and gave leadership to the entire world in her treatment of her fighting men.

Topic:   VETERANS' AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPARTMENT TO DEAL WITH THE CARE, TREATMENT, TRAINING OR REESTABLISHMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES
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NAT

George Stanley White

National Government

Mr. G. S. WHITE (Hastings-Peterborough):

I would first like to congratulate the hon. member who has just taken his seat (Mr. Sinclair) upon the many fine and constructive suggestions he has made on behalf of the veterans in connection with reestablishment and rehabilitation after the war. Members of this house will recall the last time the hon. member spoke on veterans' affairs and the very fine picture and the information he gave to members from the troops overseas. There are one or two matters which the hon. member emphasized which I should like to concur in and to mention briefly.

One of the first points was that the officials and staff who are administering the new veterans' department should be veterans who have served, and in particular young veterans. We must consider the age of veterans in this war and the standard of their education,

which is much higher than that which existed in the last war. It has always struck me that one of the chief difficulties in the past administration of veterans' affairs in this country, and in particular the administration of the pensions' aspects, was that many of the officials are what the average soldier calls brass hats, that they lacked on these boards and committees men who had served as private soldiers and therefore had the private's point of view. I certainly concur most heartily in the remarks made by the hon. member who has just taken his seat, that when these various boards and offices are filled the minister should bear in mind and should see to it that veterans who have actually served in a theatre of war are given the majority of appointments.

The hon. member also mentioned the great question of finance, and he referred to the fact that in so many cases there is petty penny-pinching, which is quite true. Yet we have just had the experience this week in this house of this parliament having voted somewhere around S75 million to the body known as UNRRA, and'last night we passed the Mutual Aid bill involving several hundred million dollars-to be precise, $800 million. So often, however, when we come to deal with the private soldier, we return to this petty penny-pinching.

The hon. member gave figures to show that as far as the number of returned soldiers taking training is concerned, the mere expenditure of some $36 million represents the further assistance that could be given in the way of allowances to their families. I am sure that all members of this house, and in particular, all veterans, will agree that the setting up of this department is a step in the right direction, because ever since the last war veterans' affairs have been scattered about in several different departments; and now for the first time we shall have one department which will have complete control over all matters relating to the veterans.

I would point out to the minister that I sincerely hope one of the first acts will not be the tieing up of this department with endless miles of red tape which so often exists in all matters having to do with veterans. I would suggest further to the minister that probably now, when the new Department of Veterans' Affairs is being set up, when a new minister and new staff is to be appointed, is the time for the government to review all acts, orders in council and regulations that have been passed and are now in existence that have to do with veterans and" their dependents, with the object of bringing them up to date, modifying or changing them in any way that would

Department oj Veterans' Affairs

be of further assistance to the veteran and'his dependents. I suggest that because I feel that the manner in which we deal with the veteran and his dependents after the war will determine in a large measure the future of this country. When the soldiers come back and take their place in the peace-time efforts of this country we cannot afford to have the conditions which existed after the last war, and which in many cases exist up to the present time, return. It is not good for the country to have continual complaints from individual veterans, veterans' organizations and other societies that are interested in the welfare of these men.

Without question these men and women are entitled to certain grants and assistance from the government. This assistance should be-given as a matter of right. These men and women are not looking for or expecting charity of any kind. They do not want that. All they want and ask is an opportunity to become reestablished in civilian activities and given a decent opportunity to earn their living and not to be penalized in any way for the time that they have spent in the service of their country.

Up to now the house has not been advised as to the method and the manner in which demobilization will take place. When the minister speaks I think it is most important that he give some indication as to how the troops are to be demobilized, because if demobilization is to be carried on in the same way as was done after the last war I, for one, fear that there will be serious difficulties. Perhaps the government have plans well advanced to take care of demobilization and how they are to place all these men in civil life. I would suggest to the minister that he outline to the house just what is to take place.

I believe it has always been a matter of keen disappointment to many citizens of Canada that the government did not undertake some system of insurance for the troops early in this war, such as exists in the United States.

Since this new department will administer the Veterans' Land Act I ask the minister whether consideration has been given and is being given to the request made to the government some time ago, namely, that in all cases where soldiers who came under the old act and are still paying on their property, they be given a clear title without making any further payment. Surely at this late date, where veterans have been paying on their land for over twenty-five years, it would be a very nice gesture for the government to hand clear title to these people. When the new act is administered I sincerely hope that there will not be loaded on to the soldier settler the same type of land that many were induced to buy after

Department of Veterans' Affairs

the last war. All hon. members have had cases in their own districts of soldier settlers reestablished on land which was from the very start hopeless, and that no doubt led to much of the grief later on.

This new veterans' affairs department will administer pensions, and it will probably be the most important part of the department. The question of pensions for men and women in the armed forces has been before the house on many occasions. Recently when the minister's estimates under the war appropriation bill were before the house there was a long discussion on the desirability of including the insurance principle in the Pension Act. I was very sorry that the minister did not announce that this most important clause would be reinstated in the act. The only reason given by the minister that I can find as to why this principle was taken out of the act is that early in 1940 there had been certain abuses under the act, which were most regrettable. I do not think that explanation was very satisfactory, nor is it acceptable, because the minister must know that under every act and under every regulation there will be certain abuses. I think it is most unfair that many serving men and women are deprived of the benefit of the Pension Act. I would suggest to the minister that now, when his new department is being set up and they are starting with a clean sheet, one of the best things he could do would be to recommend that the insurance principle be reinstated in the Pension Act.

There was much said in the same debate as to the question of onus of proof in pension cases. The minister in his replj' in that debate tried to make out a case to the effect that the onus of proof was not on the soldier but on the pension commission. I would point out to the minister that in all too many cases where a soldier has enlisted and placed in "A" category, has served overseas, returned to Canada, been discharged as medically unfit and placed in a low category, the pension commission or the medical advisers have found that his disability was pre-enlistment. I say to the minister that as long as that condition exists the onus of proof is still on the soldier and not on the pension commission. I think it is only fair to say that with regard to any soldier who enlists in "A" category, serves overseas and is later discharged, it should be assumed and taken as prima facie evidence that the disability complained of was owing to his war services. I would ask the minister, in setting up this new department, if he would see to it that the pension commission make that one of their standard regulations. That would be another fine gesture for the government to make. As the war progresses further {Mr. White.]

and more soldiers are returning, more and more cases are brought to the attention of members of parliament. The hon. member who spoke a moment ago mentioned that cases came to a member only as a last resort. I have always felt that it should never be necessary for any soldier to have to consult his member of parliament, a lawyer or his reeve, or anyone else, and ask them to use their influence-if we may call it that-or their help to assist him to get from the dominion government something which should be his as a matter of right.

While I do not like to mention personal cases, the one I have before me is so distressing, and points out so many of the matters of which I have complained before in the house in connection with the pension board, that I am going to ask the indulgence of hon. members to give the particulars. This is the case of a young man who enlisted on April 3, 1940. His discharge' certificate shows that he was discharged on April 25, 1944, after service in Canada, England, North Africa, Sicily and Italy. During the fighting at Ortona he was serving in a tank. The tank was hit, and as a result he suffered a compound fracture of his right leg below the knee, severe chest injuries and injuries to his face. After months in hospital he was returned to Canada, and was discharged in April, 1944, so that he had well over four years' service.

This man, with a record which would be hard to equal, received a discharge certificate which gave, as the reason for discharge, the one that his services were no longer required. To me that is an insult to place on the discharge certificate of any soldier from this country who has served in Canada, England, North Africa, Sicily and Italy. This man, as I said, was discharged in April, 1944, and, up to date, has not received a pension.

Topic:   VETERANS' AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPARTMENT TO DEAL WITH THE CARE, TREATMENT, TRAINING OR REESTABLISHMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

Has he applied?

Topic:   VETERANS' AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPARTMENT TO DEAL WITH THE CARE, TREATMENT, TRAINING OR REESTABLISHMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES
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NAT

George Stanley White

National Government

Mr. WHITE:

Yes. he has.

Topic:   VETERANS' AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPARTMENT TO DEAL WITH THE CARE, TREATMENT, TRAINING OR REESTABLISHMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

When?

Topic:   VETERANS' AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPARTMENT TO DEAL WITH THE CARE, TREATMENT, TRAINING OR REESTABLISHMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES
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June 14, 1944