April 5, 1945

PC

Alfred Henry Bence

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BENCE:

I was interested in the remarks made by the member for Quebec South (Mr. Power) who indicated that it was his policy to retire high ranking officers so that members of the permanent force could be raised to those positions. I should like to find out what the position is with respect to raising members of the non-permanent air force, who have given wonderful service and who when the war is over will receive only the war service gratuity paid to every other service. I am particularly interested in those men who have given four or five years to the air force, having left civilian jobs without having an opportunity of securing substantial pension on retirement allowance at the end of that time. I think the ministry should pay more attenion to that 'aspect of the matter.

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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

At the time of crisis last fall in connection with the infantry and lack of reinforcements in France it came out during the debate that .many young men were being induced, or persuaded, or were volunteering to join, the air force and also the navy, though we are now speaking specifically of the air force. It has come out to-day that there are at present 200,000 in the R.C.A.F. That is a very large number. I have not yet heard anything said about the, to me, most unfair treatment given to large numbers of young men, well educated men, graduates of universities or of the higher schools, who joined the air force and after serving one, two and often three years, were summarily dismissed, or discharged, or released-whatever is the right word to use -and within a short time, their names having been sent to infantry headquarters, were called

War Appropriation-Air Services

into the army. I have in mind one young man -he was one of hundreds-who had been in the air force three years. He was a bright young man, having been associated in some way with the ground crew. He was a fairly well qualified mechanic. I believe his duties pertained to that part of the R.C.A.F. After being discharged from the air force he was called into the army, much to his dismay because he loved the air force work. I presume he must have had some training in the air force in marching and military exercises, because after he was sent to England he remained there for only three .months before being sent to France and eventually, I suppose, to fill the depleted ranks in Holland. His wife received a letter from him telling her that he had been in England for three months and at the time of writing the letter had been in France for three days, and that he was being sent right up to the front. Almost at the same time as she received the letter, or at any rate very shortly afterward, she received word that he had been killed. To me that did not seem the proper training to give a young -man who had spent three years in the air force, and I have been wondering just why so many young men, who had been thoroughly trained in. their work with the R.C.A.F., should be summarily dismissed, much .to their chagrin, and then sent to another branch of the service. It was unfair. Why did it occur? Why were they permitted to join the air force, only to be treated in this way?

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Defence for Air)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

The reason is not hard to give. We built up in this country a tremendous air training organization. That organization completed its job; it turned out t'he number of aircrew required, and then it became necessary to close down many of the schools that had been established from one end of the country to the other. The closing of those schools released a large number of men who had served only in Canada. No men who had served overseas were transferred from the air force to the army. Any man released from t'he air force who had served, only in Canada was available for call to the army under national selective service regulations.

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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

When I was home last

Saturday I met a young man, no doubt only one of many-later on I am going to ask how many there are-who also will suffer a great deal of disappointment. He has been in the air force for three years training as a pilot. He must have spent some of his time in taking other training as well, because during those three years he trained at Lachine; he attended some sort of school in Montreal; he was sent to Calgary; he was in either Manitoba or Sasi Mr. MacNicol.]

katchewan as well, and finally he trained here at Uplands. Why should this young man have been sent back and forth across the country, first to one school and then to another, instead of being put through for his chosen calling so that he could get into the service and commence operations? Why was it necessary to send him up and down the country, back and forth, at great expense?

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Defence for Air)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

I cannot give the details of that particular case. .

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NAT
LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Defence for Air)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

I do not know whether the boy passed in the courses he was taking, or what- courses he was taking; whether he was proceeding from an elementary flying training school to a service flying training school and then perhaps to an operational training unit. In the meantime he may have been taking courses of one kind or another as a specialist in certain branches. Unless I had the man's name and number I could not give any information. If I had that, of course I could trace his record and find out just what he had been doing.

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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

I said he was just one of many. He has now graduated as a pilot, I suppose one of the last to come through. I said to him, "What are you going to do now? Are you going overseas?" He replied, "No, I don't know what I am going to do. I am put on some kind of reserve, but apparently I am not in active service." Then I asked, "Are you going to be paid?" I presume he will still be on call, if necessary; I believe he told me he was subject to call if and when required. I have forgotten what he told me about being paid during this interim period, but I should like to ask the minister if t'hat young man, who is only one of hundreds or perhaps thousands for all I know, who has been thoroughly trained and is now a pilot, wearing his wings, is to be paid during this interim period. He cannot take a position, because he may be called at any time.

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Defence for Air)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

No; the men transferred to the reserve are not on pay. They are eligible to take civilian employment or to go to universities and take whatever courses they desire, but they are not on pay while transferred to the reserve.

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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

That university course will be at the expense of the department?

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Defence for Air)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

Oh, yes.

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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

Well, that is something; but on the other hand I really think it is most unfair to turn these young men out like

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that with nothing on which to live. In that connection I should like to ask how many young men there are in Canada who recently graduated and are on call.

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Defence for Air)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

I do not think I should1 give that information. There are a good many thousands but I do not want to give the actual figure.

Mr. MaeNICOL: A good many thousands?

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Defence for Air)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

Yes, but I do not want to give the exact figure.

Mr. MacNI'COL: Perhaps I should not have asked for it, but what the minister has said seems to me to indicate something very radically wrong. I am not blaming the minister or his predecessor, who was very highly qualified by his personality and his aggressiveness to build up a real air force, and who deserves unstinted praise for what he did1. He is not in the chamber at the moment, so that I can say this. I am sorry to see him out of the department; I think he deserved better than he got, but he has left behind him a real record of aggressiveness and success. On the other hand it does not seem to me to be fair to all the services that such a large number as many thousands of these young men should be left running loose, subject to call, with no pay or allowances and nothing to do.

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Defence for Air)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

I am sorry my predecessor was not able to gauge exactly when this war would end, but two years ago he had the terrible responsibility of having to lay the foundation for classes that would not be graduating for eighteen months or two years. If D-day had not been successful; if we had not pushed the Germans back into Germany, as we are doing now, we would not have had these reserves to our credit but would have been sending these men overseas to replace the heavy casualties we would have suffered. At the present time we have driven the huns from the skies; we are not having those heavy casualties, thank God, and consequently we have a reserve. That is due to the foresight of my predecessor, not to any mistake he made or to any wrong calculations, because he could do nothing other than take every precaution to see that there was no shortage.

Mr. MacN'ICOL: I am not criticizing what the minister's predecessor did, but I am thinking of these thousands of young men who now have nowhere to go. In that regard I have another question. Is the minister able to give the probable or approximate cost to the country of training one of these thousands of young men who now are not to render any service to the country?

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Defence for Air)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

It has been estimated roughly at about $30,000.

Mr. MaeNICOL: Each?

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Defence for Air)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

Yes.

Mr.'MaeNICOL: Something has been said about the airfields. I have been on a number of them, and as far as I could see they certainly have been well constructed. I should like some information as to what is to happen to them. They cannot just be left untended; if they are they will become grown up with weeds or shrubbery or something like that. Are any of these fields to be allowed to return to their original condition?

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Defence for Air)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

If the air force has no further use for them, it turns them over to the war assets allocation committee, and then they are sent to the War Assets Corporation for disposal. I do not know what uses will be made of them. Some will be used1 by civil flying clubs, I should think; but I do know that the air force retains only the number it requires, and' turns over the remainder for disposal.

Mr. MaeNICOL: Something was said

yesterday about the rehabilitation of these fine, well-trained, capable, mostly well-educated young men who joined the air force and who, through the use of their own native ability and the application of their educational qualifications, have rendered such fine service over Europe. What is to happen, to them when they return to Canada? I have heard nothing from any department setting out a concrete and reasonable plan whereby they may be given an opportunity in civil life to obtain the living which they so richly deserve.

I had in mind one special use which could be made of a few of them, and which might result to their benefit. Before the war there was at least one first-class school in Canada which made an honest effort to educate young men in aeronautics. I refer to the Toronto Central Technical school on Harbord street. I recall on one occasion coming to Ottawa, when the Bennett government was in office. I attended with a committee from the Toronto board of education and from the technical school, to request a loan of aircraft engines which were considered' obsolete, so that the school might prepare young men for the work which so many of them have had to do during this war.

With that comparatively poor equipment, lent generously iby the government, good work was done. My suggestion is that after the war the government should give whatever is required, of the different types of aircraft

War Appropriation-Air Services

to the technical schools across Canada, to be used in their classes for the instruction and training of young men in the next few years. That type of service will be required after the war, and those young men could learn about aeronautics through the classes in technical schools, and the use of aircraft made available to, those schools.

I would! suggest further that, working through the technical schools, the department might offer a few score or a few hundred- whatever might be available-of those fine young heroes, to act as instructors in those schools. I can picture one of those boys returning, with half a dozen decorations on his breast, decorations well earned for heroism. I can see him standing in a class or in front of an aircraft in a Toronto school- perhaps the great Central Technical school on Harbord street. Those men would be well qualified to instruct in aeronautics and aeroengines. I can picture, too, the favourable impression they would make upon any class of boys within the next three or four years.

I would suggest that the department get in contact with technical schools across the country, perhaps beginning with the large Central1 Technical School in Toronto, with a view to obtaining the services of those returned men to act as instructors. Those heroes could be sent to the schools, and in that way would be given an opportunity to render a service. Perhaps in the beginning the government could assist by paying the salaries of those instructors for two or three years, instead of turning them out on the streets to look for jobs.

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Defence for Air)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

I believe the ho.n. member

asked about what is being done to assist in the employment of personnel after discharge from the forces. I understand there is a voluntary citizens' committee in almost every city and town to assist in this work. In the Toronto area Mr. J. G. Clark of the Robert Simpson company is chairman, and an arrangement is being made to have a retired or discharged air force officer to act as liaison between the committee and the air force, so that there will be the closest possible contact between the local committee and the men being demobilized.

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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

Would the minister

answer my last thought, namely as to the use of returning aviators in the technical schools across Canada?

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April 5, 1945