March 29, 1945


Rehabilitation branch- 465. Rehabilitation division-further amount required, $173,000.


PC

Joseph Henry Harris

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HARRIS (Danforth):

Will the minister be good enough to inform us in a few sentences whether or not the rehabilitation services are set up in Toronto and the organization is established?

Hon. IAN A. MACKENZIE (Minister of Veterans' Affairs): Perhaps I had better briefly

explain, first, the purposes for which the vote is asked. This is entirely for salaries and cost

Supply-Veterans' Affairs

of living bonus for additional staff required to administer the war service rehabilitation services, in respect of which staff no provision had been made, and also for furniture and equipment required for such additional staff, provision for which was made by order in council on November 17, 1944, which authorized the expenditure of $50,000 from the war appropriation, subject to recovery from' supplementary estimates.

As regards the second item-I suggest that we deal with both, by consent of the committee, because that would be more convenient-the War Service Grants Act, 1944, came into force on January 1, 1945. It was necessary to engage staff to administer part II thereof, that is, the credits part, from that date, positions having been established for such purposes at head office and in the district offices as follows: director of war service grants; assistant director of war service grants; administrative district supervisor; rehabilitation grant department; solicitors; law clerks and other clerks.

Provision, has been made in the main estimates of 1945-1946 for their salaries for the coming fiscal year, so that these are the amounts already incurred to the end of the present fiscal year, and all the elements of discussion on these two items will come into the main estimates or possibly in the war appropriation estimates at the appropriate time.

In regard to the question asked by the hon. member for Danforth (Mr. Hams), we are making substantial progress in the Toronto area in connection with rehabilitation. We have, of course, problems of hospitalization, but we have an excellent advisory committee of private citizens who are assisting the boys as they come back and who are thoroughly familiar with the legislation passed by parliament in the last five years, both by statute and in orders in council. We have had the assistance of public spirited men like my hon, friend in regard to some hospitalization problems and the provision of accommodation for nearly two hundred boys in the Toronto East hospital.

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PC
LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

Yes, the Toronto East General. The hospitalization problem is well in hand. The hard weather we had some months ago kept us somewhat behind in the construction of S'unny-brook hospital, but Christie street has been completely renovated, and we have other accommodation in St. Thomas and elsewhere, so that we are reasonably satisfied that we shall meet the problem.

As regards the general problem, that will not be settled this year or next year. There are new problems constantly arising and they must be met as they present themselves. But we have the basic fabric of solid legislation for rehabilitation, and that will be constantly improved by discussion in this House of Commons.

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PC

Joseph Henry Harris

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HARRIS (Danforth):

But there is a district office actually functioning now in Toronto?

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

Yes. Our main difficulties, however, have been twofold: first, the question of adequate space, and, second, adequate staff. Once we solve these two, I think the legislation is sufficient to look after all other considerations as they arise.

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PC

Joseph Henry Harris

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HARRIS (Danforth):

Up to the moment you have not the space required or the full staff?

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

No; we have not the eventual space which we are looking for in order to function.

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

I do not desire to delay the passing of the estimates, but although I believe the minister has done a good job in making progress in his department, I wish to point out that the general situation as regards treatment of veterans leaves a good deal to be desired. I am sure the minister himself will agree with that statement. I should like to read to the house a brief excerpt from a letter from Lieutenant-Colonel John Wise of the Disabled Veterans Association, Vancouver, written on March 27, 1945:

Hansard records the statement from the Hon. Ian A. Mackenzie, Minister of Veterans' Affairs, as follows:

"Men do not need to apply for pensions: They will be granted automatically when medical examination shows the need."

That statement is utterly discredited, since in innumerable cases no such award, or entitlement, has been granted.

The crux of the situation is revealed by the factual records of this association, which shows that many eases have already been presented to the Canadian pension commission covering a period of so-called adjudication, totalling, for the 1914-1918 veterans, a quarter of a century without obtaining any finality in the proper adjudication of claims.

I will not give any details to support these statements. I merely put the excerpt on record as bearing out my assertion at the opening that there is much yet to be desired.

I am not satisfied with the way we have treated our men of the last war and I am afraid we are beginning to mistreat a good many of the men who are returning from this one.

Supply-Veterans' Affairs

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

I appreciate the remarks of my hon. friend.

I have had several letters from the same gentleman from whose communication he has quoted. We have investigated every single case submitted to us and he has entirely misconstrued my public statement. My statement was that there was automatic examination of all cases now, without the necessity for an application for pension. That was not a statement that all pensions would be granted in all cases, for that would be impossible, and that is the effect of the sentence read by my hon. friend. I think it will be agreed that this house-I do not say any government or any party-has done a tremendous amount of good thinking in regard to legislation for soldiers in the last five years. The task is not yet complete, and I hope that, whoever comes back after the next election, there will be immediately set up a committee on soldiers legislation in this house to deal with pensions, veterans allowances, training, vocational and educational, covering the whole scope and sweep of what we have been doing in the last five years, so that we shall have a consolidation by the next parliament of all that has been enacted, some of necessity by order in council, during that period. Moreover, I hope that many men in the present war will be members in this house so that they can bring their fresh thoughts to bear upon the problems. In that way we may achieve a splendid consolidation of soldier legislation which will not be equalled by that of any other country.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

I join with the minister in what he has stated. One of the shining things in parliament is the fact that, in so far as veterans' affairs are concerned without regard to party, all of us have endeavoured to contribute our part to the end that ' the rehabilitation plan evolved by parliament shall be parliament's plan, belonging to no party in the house.

In regard to rehabilitation, there is one particular matter I wish to bring to the minister's attention, for the reason that if anything causes ill feeling or concern it is very difficult to gain the support of people for any claims of rehabilitation when they believe that there is unfairness in any one phase of what has been done. What I have in mind is the War Service Grants Act. Under that act at the present time those who return from service are entitled to a service grant. It is payable, however, only to those who return, excepting in certain specified cases. One of the causes of major complaint in regard to the whole situation of veterans rehabilitation, and also the consideration of dependents' rights, has been the

fact that there is no provision for the payment of this grant to the mothers and fathers or to the estates of soldiers who, had they returned, would have been entitled to the grant, but who having given their all in the service of their country are unable to leave their rights to their estates.

This is a matter one hears on every hand and veterans organizations throughout the country are asking that something be done. But there is no fairness in the fact that while their loved ones would have earned this gratuity for the service they had given had they survived, because they have made the supreme sacrifice their estates are being denied the payment that these men had justly earned. I know the minister has given consideration to this, but I ask him not only to give consideration but at the earliest possible day to bring in an amendment and not to wait until the next parliament. An amendment in this one case could not be brought before parliament but it could be brought in by order in council-[DOT]

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

Would the hon. member approve that course?

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

Well, no one on this side of the house has been more critical of order in council government than have I. I have pointed out the dangers and difficulties. I realize that there are, however, cases where order in council is necessary. I am not in any way excusing the government for waiting until this late date to convene parliament, thus preventing the full discussion of these matters that would otherwise take place. But realizing the shortness of the time that is available to parliament and knowing the general demands for just this piece of legislation, I for one, while taking the stand that I have always taken that orders in council have been used altogether too much during the past five years, would be the last to hold back from those who are entitled to it the payment of this gratuity by the technicality of opposing the bringing into effect of the legislation by order in council.

There is a second matter to which I should like to refer, namely, the payment of the grant to the loved ones of young men from this country who saved civilization in May, June, July and August of 1940, in the air over London. Numbers of those were Canadians who went over in 1938 and 1939 and joined the Royal Air Force. When they make the supreme sacrifice the payment cannot be made to their dependents. I know of a case where an only son was one of that valiant band of heroes who saved Britain at that time.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

With the Royal Air Force?

Supply-Veterans' Affairs

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

Yes. That boy

paid the supreme sacrifice. There is no provision for the payment of the grant to his estate.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

Is he entitled to the British gratuity grant?

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

His people were not so advised. I think consideration should be given to the inclusion of such cases as that.

I should1 like to refer to hospitalization. In that connection I hear that so far as the men who are coming back to-day are concerned, not in great numbers but in an ever-increasing stream, there is a considerable degree of criticism of the available facilities for their hospitalization. During the last session of parliament I mentioned a place in Saskatchewan where there is mineral water that has been found very valuable in the treatment of neurological diseases. That was in the town of Manitou Lake, Watrous, Saskatchewan. I again bring this to the attention of the minister. The soldiers from Saskatchewan who have returned from overseas suffering from neurological conditions naturally would like to have an institution as near home as possible. We have the facilities at Watrous. According to scientific opinion the mineral waters there are equal to a spa. Curative benefits have been shown on a number of occasions. There is an available place there to start a hospital which was set up by the Saskatchewan government in 1931 or 1932. It could be extended. I know much benefit would come to those men suffering from these diseases.

I should like to bring a third matter to the attention of the minister in the same spirit in which he made his remarks a few minutes ago. All of us who served in the armed forces of this country in the last war are as anxious to cooperate together as any group in this house. One of the things that I will always remember, and one of the things that has most appealed to me in parliament is the wonderful spirit of fellowship that prevails among all in this parliament, irrespective of party, who had the honour of serving in the armed forces in either the last war or this one.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

Just a word; I want to thank my hon. friend not only for his remarks but for the spirit and tenor of them. With regard to the hospital situation, on the 3rd of March, 1945, there were 2,315 in hospitals from the last war; from national defence this war, undischarged 2,918; discharged this war 3,337; and others, 208, making a total of 8,778. They were disposed as follows: in departmental hospitals, 6,653; in contract hospitals, 2,125; IMr. I. A. Mackenzie.]

making a total of 8,778. Hospital accommodation is as follows: patients in departmental hospitals, 6,653; vacant beds, 1,425, or a total of normal beds, 8,078. Emergency accommodation: departmental hospitals, 1,381, making a total departmental accommodation of 9,459. Under construction, to be completed by July 1, 1945, 2,623 beds; to be completed by December 31, 1945, 2,650; to be completed by July 1, 1946, 2,330; an additional number 1,050; total under construction, 8,653 beds. If you combine these two totals, normal beds 8,122 and the total under construction 8,653, you will get a total 16,775.

May I say to my hon. friend that, as he very well knows, the problem is not a national one, it is a regional one because of the natural sentiment of relatives to have the cases coming back in close vicinity to their own homes. That is very understandable and a very human reason too.

On the point raised by my hon. friend with regard to the war service grants, I think he asked me a question in the house the other day, and I believe I told him on that occasion the matter was now receiving the active attention of the government. My hon. friend is aware that in February of the present year an amendment to the gratuities legislation was passed in England to make the cash part of the gratuities-they have not the credit that we have here-available to the estate of the deceased.

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PC
LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

We have been discussing it for three or four months, and the department has set up special committees in conjunction with the three national defence departments to study the whole thing. The matter is now receiving . the most active and sympathetic consideration. Whether we can take action by order in council in a somewhat limited way, or whether we decide upon the principle and introduce legislation here, is something yet to be decided.

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March 29, 1945