April 5, 1945

LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

That is a matter which really does not come under my department. It would be within the control of the Department of Labour.

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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

The department might very well interest itself in its own personnel. Those boys have done a wonderful work in the skies of Europe, and they might very well be lent to those technical schools for two or three years.

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CCF

William Scottie Bryce

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

Mr. BRYCE:

I should like to ask about farmers' sons who were in the air force and have been discharged, but who upon returning to the farms have been called up immediately. Has any arrangement been made whereby these boys may have postponement? Postponements at the present time are for only a matter of two months. Has the government considered1 the advisability of giving them a discharge for a couple of years, or something of that kind? They have served their time in the air force. It does not need them, but they are badly needed in western Canada to-day.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

They are not called up for the air force; service is entirely voluntary in that branch. However, instructions are going out to the various commands that, wherever possible, anyone applying for farm leave, who can be released, should be released for such farm leave for the spring and fall.

Then a question was asked respecting the number of casualties as between aircrew and ground crew. I have before me the following table:

As at February 28, 1945: Air crew Ground crew TotalKilled or died 12,004 902 12.906Currently missing

Currently prisoners of 3,045 45 3,090war

Serious or dangerously wounded or injured 2,172 38 2,210(not fatal) 879 18,100 357 1,342 1,236 19.442

Ground crew include 17 airwomen killed or died and 21 airwomen wounded or injured.

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NAT

George James Tustin

National Government

Mr. TUSTIN:

In what position is the young man who, after receiving his wings and being placed in reserve, attends university? Would he be allowed to finish out his year, if he were called, or would he be taken out of the university immediately?

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

We have many cases of young men who have been transferred to the reserve. In practically all cases where men are attending university, or in some special employment, an extension of time and permission to continue the studies are given.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON (Bow River):

Are all

the air force reserve now called up again? Just before I left Calgary to come to Ottawa several men on the reserve were discharged

War Appropriation-Air Services

from the air force, and therefore were not receiving any pay. They are having a great deal of difficulty in getting employment. Some of them have been faced with the handicap of being unemployed while still on the air force reserve. They went to selective service but selective service had nothing suitable for them. In. one instance a position was opened by the dominion government in the post office at Calgary and this one man who had been a pilot officer tried to get the position. They said to him, "You are on the reserve" and when he replied that he was they said, "We could not give you this job because you may be called up again." When he asked what he was to do in the meantime he was told that while they were sorry for him, if he could not eat that was his responsibility. Many of these have not been recalled and they are in a similar position.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

The reserve have not all been called up, and I quite agree with what the hon. member has said. I have heard of similar cases where men on the reserve have applied to selective service for positions and have been told that, being on the reserve, they could not be taken on. I took the matter up with the Minister of Labour and I understand that it has now been rectified, that there will be no discrimination because they are on the reserve.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON (Bow River):

Have

instructions been sent to the selective service offices that these men are to be placed? Unless that is done I can visualize a situation where they will go to selective service and find that there is nothing there for them. Provision must be made so that these boys can be placed in positions where they can earn a livelihood. They should receive their pay up to the time jobs are provided. The government has a definite responsibility there.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

They get a month's pay on retirement.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON (Bow River):

Some of

them have been off for three months so that the month's pay would not meet their requirements. They still have to eat. Perhaps the minister could see if an extension could be made to cover the period until positions are obtained. That is the only solution.

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PC

Norman James Macdonald Lockhart

Progressive Conservative

Mr. LOCKHART:

I concur fully in what

the previous speaker has said. There are many cases where men have been off for three months or more. I know the minister has an intense interest in this matter and I suggest that he follow it through with selective service. May I refer also to the clothing allowance. It is all right for the minister to say that this matter has passed out of his hands, but I should like to present to him the situation facing these men who have received the 32283-341

S100 clothing allowance and now when they are in the army find that deductions are being made to recover it. In many cases the money has been spent. The allowance would not buy much more than a suit of clothes and an overcoat. These men should not be asked to pay it back, even though they are not given a clothing allowance when they get out of the army. Many of these men have asked me to present their views whenever I have an opportunity. It wmuld be merely a bookkeeping entry not to deduct for this allowance and; then not pay the allowance when the men get out of the army. I ask the minister to try to prevail upon army headquarters not to take back this money but to let the matier rest in abeyance so that it can be cleared up at the finish of the war.

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PC

Alfred Henry Bence

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BENCE:

From time to time cases come to the attention of members of parliament in connection with applications for compassionate transfer back to this country from Great Britain or some other theatre of war. I have in mind one case where a couple had two sons in the services. One was killed overseas and then the father died. The mother was in a precarious state of health and application was made for the compassionate transfer of the other boy back to this country from Great Britain.

I should like the minister to explain the procedure that is followed in determining whether compassionate transfer will be granted. I have received information from the minister's office to the effect that in these cases a thorough investigation is made and a report sent overseas. Then the authorities overseas decide whether compassionate transfer will be granted. I was rather surprised that since the greater part of the staff is situated here in Canada they did not make the decision after finding out what the situation was overseas. In other words, why was the decision not made in this country instead of in Great Britain? There may be good reasons for that but I find it hard to explain. I thought possibly the minister might give a short statement.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

It is difficult to deal with these applications for compassionate transfer. A large number of them have to be investigated, and the final decision is left with the authorities overseas who know whether or not it is possible for a man to be released. After all, the necessities of war must come first, although every effort is made to grant compassionate transfer when it can be granted without interfering with the war effort. It is not possible in many cases to allow a man to come home because a relative is ill. It

War Appropriation-Air Services

may be found that there are other members of the family in this country who can take care of the person who is ill.

The matter is complicated further by the fact that bomber crews are trained together as a team. I understand there is a strong feeling among these crews that if they lose one of their members, there is a reduced confidence in their ability as a team. It has always been felt that it was not desirable, unless absolutely necessary, to break up a crew by sending a man home.

If it is a Spitfire pilot for example, or some other man who is flying alone, it might be that he could be spared more readily than one of the members of a bomber crew'. It is for these reasons that it is left to the overseas authorities to find out whether a man can be spared, but they rely on the authorities here to make an investigation as to the circumstances surrounding the claim.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

I wish to join with the hon. member for Bow River in what he has just said. It is one of the most important matters pertaining to the air force which have been discussed since the minister appeared before the committee. A large number of personnel are now leaving the air force and many more are waiting to go out. They are very anxious to know whether there is any employment for them and just where they will fit in when they go out. That feeling has been general among these men during the past three or four months. As the hon. member for Bow River pointed out, it is quite evident that there is no understanding between the Department of National Defence for Air, selective service and those responsible for the maintenance of these men while they are awaiting call to some other branch of the service. This is a matter that should be settled once and for all before this session closes. I believe that no man in the service who has been let out and is awaiting call or who is on reserve-he may be awaiting a call to the Pacific-should have to kick around any section of this country for three or four months or for one month or even a week without pay. If he is on reserve he is still definitely an obligation of the government, and I think, the minister should have a definite understanding with selective service that, wherever possible, these men should be placed, and where it is not possible to place them they should be maintained. I think it is necessary to do that.

The minister made the statement, and was very emphatic about it, in connection with air force personnel who are leaving the service at this time, that if they found employment every reasonable means was taken not to

uproot them. But that is not borne out by the facts. I have a letter here from the Nova Scotia command of the Canadian legion. They have been taking up with the government for a few weeks one particular case that I have in mind. It is an individual case but it illustrates the principle. It is the case of an air force flight sergeant who took his discharge from the service specifically to go into a little business of his own. He was discharged for that purpose in January of this year after four and a half years of service. He invested some money in a little business, along with another member of the air force, and to all intents and purposes he had rehabilitated himself. But within a month from the time of his discharge he was called into the army.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

The army or the air force?

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

The army. The Nova Scotia command of the legion had a lot of correspondence with the department over this case and they got nowhere with it. The man after being called up for the army decided to stay in. He took his discharge from the air force specifically to go into the little business with another member of the air force; the two of them got together and established a little business, and after this man had reestablished himself in that way he was called up. for the army within one month of his discharge. Now that was a piece of sheer stupidity.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

He was not on the reserve?

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

No; he was discharged specifically for the purpose of going into a little business of his own.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

I mean he was not recalled from the reserve.

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April 5, 1945