December 15, 1945

LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE:

I have a great deal of respect for the advice and opinions of my hon. friend. He asked me about the neurological centres. There is one in Montreal, one in Toronto, one in Halifax, one in Winnipeg, one in Edmonton and one in Vancouver. We have also built wings on civic hospitals at Port Arthur, Edmonton-at the university hospital-Regina, Ottawa, Kingston, and now we are doing that in Prince Edward Island.

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PC

Herbert Alexander Bruce

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BRUCE:

Are those in separate hospitals, or in connection with civic hospitals?

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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:

Those I mentioned last -are in connection with civic hospitals. My hon. friend offered a suggestion in regard to the possible future uses of Sunny-brook hospital. It is a matter of some comfort to me, considering the angry comments of a year or two years ago, that I am now asked not further to increase the hospital accommodation for our men but to see what uses can be made of this accommodation for civilian purposes. The first use of Sunny-brook hospital will be, as my hon. friend advocated with a great deal of sincerity and eloquence two or three years ago, to move our patients there from Christie street; and I think the whole committee will agree that this should be done. But apart from all this acrimony, contention and controversy, we should be grateful to Providence that in the near future we are going to be overhospitalized, I think, as far as ex-service men are concerned.

There is one point, however, on which I do not agree with my hon. friend. He said the active treatment accommodation might be lessened. That was not the experience after the last war. Active treatment, recurring oases, increased up to 1939, and we might have the same experience now. But it is my honest opinion that we are going to have more accommodation than we will require, and I shall be glad indeed to take into very careful consideration the suggestion of my hon. friend in regard to a committee to consider the possibilities of future use, because Canada is definitely underhospitalized; no one knows that better than the hon. member for Parkdale. Proper hospital accommodation in Canada will be a great problem of the future, but I am sure with the active inspiration and keen direction of my hon. friend the Minister of National Health and Welfare the problem will not be neglected.

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PC

Herbert Alexander Bruce

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BRUCE:

I think the minister misunderstood me. I am very happy to learn that he is moving the patients from Christie street to Sunnybrook. My comment was only in regard to the active treatment wing at Sunnybrook, where they are providing accommodation for doing a large amount of surgery. I gave reasons earlier why I thought much of this surgery would not be necessary when this wing is finished.

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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:

Thank you.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

We had not intended to carry on any discussion concerning these estimates, for the simple reason that a committee of this house considered these matters during thirty-six meetings of two hours each since the opening of the session, and I 'thought veterans affairs had been pretty thoroughly discussed. In addition to bringing in some definite recommendations which were put in the form of bills, in our final report we also recognized that we did not have an opportunity in the committee to discuss many things because of the time factor. I also understood, however, that in the final report we provided that all the matters we had not time to deal with would be dealt with between now and the next session under the emergency powers given the government under bill 15, and that an interdepartmental committee would be set up to study actively everything we did not have time to study, with a suggestion from the committee that the government use its power through orders in council to extend benefits in all the cases with which we did not deal.

Having that in mind, and also having in mind that practically all the discussion we have heard this morning also took place in the committee, which in addition heard representation from outside bodies, I think the interdepartmental committee will be in a better position, after studying the evidence and the suggestions offered in that committee, as well as the opinions of the members of the committee, to deal more effectively with these matters than we could deal with them at this stage of the game, when everyone wants to get away. However, I should like to make one or two observations arising out of this discussion. I would not be on my feet now if no one else had risen, but every time someone gets up and gives a little talk, someone else gets about fifteen different ideas about which he wants to say something.

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PC

Arza Clair Casselman (Chief Opposition Whip; Whip of the Progressive Conservative Party)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. CASSELMAN:

Can you not restrain yourself?

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

I have no intention of doing so. Personally I objected very strenuously

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to the removal of the insurance principle from the act in 1941, and would advocate its return if and when we have a government sympathetic on that point. We removed something else from the act in 1941 which I should like to bring to the attention of the minister. From the termination of the last war until 1941 one of the most objectionable features of the Canadian Pension Act was the right of the commission to decide that in its opinion a disability was of congenital origin. That provision opened the way to all sorts of abuses, and all kinds of interpretations were given under it. In 1941 the committee removed that section from the act, but in my opinion the commission got into the habit of deciding that a man's disability was inherited, under the congenital origin provision and their long experience in administering it, and I believe that has given rise to all the difficulties we are experiencing to-day in connection with preenlistment and post-discharge disabilities. That is something into which I believe the department should go thoroughly. We have a great many nervous cases; I believe some twenty-five per cent of all discharges from the service are because of nervous disability, and these men are not being pensioned. I am going to mention just one case on the point. A 'boy enlists, goes overseas, serves thirty-six months in Italy, goes all through the fighting, comes back to Canada and is discharged. He receives no disability; he is said to be just nervous and imagining things. That boy must have been A-l to go through thirty-six months of combat service, but he has no right to anything to-day, no pension, no treatment or anything else, and he cannot work.

I am going to leave this suggestion with the minister, and I have given it to the commission on a good many occasions. I doubt very much whether many of the neurological centres that have been set up have adequate equipment and competent personnel to exactly determine the condition of these men.

In every case where there is a doubt, the man should be taken to a central clinic and given a thorough examination. There should be no doubt on that point. The centres being set up in the different provinces are new, and it will be some time before they find their feet and have proper equipment. Even so, there should1 be no doubt on that point. The present treatment of neurotic cases leaves much to be desired.

There is one further thought I should like to leave with the minister; I have spoken about it before on many occasions. The practice of having part-time medical representatives in these institutions should be abolished. I had the privilege of visiting

Camp Hill hospital in Halifax in June of this year, and I found that in that hospital they were following and are still following the practice which had been in effect between the two wars. They had only two of a medical staff on full time, and one of those was crippled in both legs. He could not move from behind his desk. I talked to twelve service personnel who had come from the military district for eye, ear and throat examination before discharge. These men had their breakfast at seven o'clock in the morning. I was talking to them at five o'clock in the evening, and they told me that they had sat on a bench from nine o'clock until five o'clock waiting for a medical doctor to give them examination, and that they had had no lunch. That was the third day they had repeated the performance of waiting for an outside medical man.

If a medical representative is necessary, whether he be a specialist or a general practitioner, he should be in attendance on the staff full time, and should give full-time service to service personnel he is supposed to be looking after. One of the worst features of the departmental hospital set-up, is this practice of having a part-time medical representative. He is the man who rushes in for about fifteen minutes in the evening only to tell someone who has been waiting all day that he will have to come back the next day.

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PC
CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

Yes. May I say only a

few words about the matter discussed by the hon. member for Spadina, that of seniority. Seniority is provided for the boy who had a job when he went into the armed services. There is no problem in that respect. There is no question of seniority for the boy who did not have a job before joining the services and who upon discharge has not secured a job. This is a straight unemployment problem. He did not have a job when he went in, and he has none when he comes out. There are some who believe that the man who served four or five years overseas should upon his return have the right to enter an industry and replace someone who has been working there for those four or five years. I say that if there are those who want to apply that principle to the industrial set-up of Canada, and who wish to change seniority and trade union agreements in that respect, they will have to extend the principle to bank managers, heads of companies, and those who are connected with every organization functioning in the country. If they are prepared to do that, I believe they will have

Supply-Veterans Affairs

no difficulty with the trade union movement when a request is made for a revision in agreements.

The fact of the matter is that employment in this country is not adequately planned. If a large percentage of our returning service personnel are unable to secure employment upon return, then there are just two questions we should ask ourselves. We must ask if we do not need anything. If we do not, and if production is at its highest peak, then the thing to do is to reduce the hours of labour. On the other hand, if that is not the situation -and certainly it is not-and if we require increased production in every field, the thing to do is to take hold of the problem and to put our people to work, producing those necessary commodities required. That is what we shall have to do.

We are faced' with a further situation, which arises in the period of transition when retooling is being carried out, and when the men cannot be put to work as quickly as we would like. Provision must be made for that. As I have said on many occasions, displaced industrial workers and returning service personnel who have not jobs should be treated in this way: We should lay down a basic rate of at least S25 a week so that they will have purchasing power.

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PC
CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

Yes; until they are employed, that is the thing to do. I do not want the hon. member for Spadina or any other hon. member to have the opinion that the established trade unions in this country that have seniority rates written into their agreements are denying ex-service men seniority privileges. That is not being denied the man who goes back to his job and who is given credit for the time he spent in the armed services. The man who did not have a job, who went into the services, and who returns to civilian life without a job, is the responsibility of the state, and the state must look after him. Those who wish to extend trade union agreements on that point must extend it so that it will apply to everyone in the country. That must be the condition, if we are to set up a preferred class and drive a wedge between ordinary citizens and service personnel.

The attitude of returning service men in Nova Scotia is that they will not come back and try to wedge their way into industry, thereby displacing someone. Workers in that part of the country are unionized', and if a service man is asked to take a job and thereby replace someone else, his answer is: I am not a scab; that man has a job. The state owes me a job. I fought for it for five years. I

[Mr. Gillis.J

have vocational training, out-of-work benefits, and things of that kind, so I am not going to throw someone out of employment on that basis.

I agree with what was said by the hon. member for Spadina, and regret deeply the statements made by the general whose words he quoted1. Anyone who takes that attitude is sowing seeds of dissension and is an enemy of the state. Any man who has any understanding of the situation must realize that there can be no proper rehabilitation of our service personnel unless the whole economy of the country is utilized. It is not possible to segregate ex-service personnel and give them employment and a decent standard of living if we are to have on relief rolls a million and a half workers who produced the sinews of war.

There has to be a job for everyone, and that must be carried out all along the line. The whole economy must be made healthy. The man who says that the civilian population should dig ditches while the soldier is put to work is doing the soldier a disservice. The soldier did not dig ditches in Italy only to come back to Canada to put the civilian population at digging ditches. That is a throwback to 1939. Every last man who donned a uniform and left this country believed he was fighting fascism and to preserve liberty and democracy, and did not believe that he would come back to this country to establish fascism here, where everyone has a right to work, a right to live, a right to live a life worth living, and on a decent standard. He did not believe he was to come back here to put the civilian population out of work, and the man who makes any statement to the contrary is not thinking very much.

I am sorry I have had to occupy this much time, but I rose chiefly because of- the statements by the hon. member for Spadina. This is a most pertinent question and one which requires thorough analysis. I believe his suggestion that the Minister of Labour, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, and representatives of the legion and other veterans' organizations should handle this matter carefully, is a good one. I am convinced that you will not have any difficulty with the trade union movement if your proposals are reasonable and fair.

I want to close by thanking the minister for something. I agree that every phase of the rehabilitation of our service personnel should be kept within the Department of Veterans Affairs. For some twenty years the end of the country from which I come has been pleading with the Department of Pensions and National Health for the establishment of a

Supply-Veterans Affairs

hospital in Cape Breton to take care of our service personnel and avoid having to drag them across the province. Such a hospital has been established within the past few months and I want to thank the minister. I am not going to say anything more, except that I shall let the minister know next session just how well this hospital is working out.

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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:

I am not going to enter into any controversy with my hon. friend, because we are good friends, but I must take definite and positive exception to his calling one of the finest Canadians of all times an enemy of the state. There has not been a Canadian who trod in shoe leather who did more to save this state and save the freedom of this state than Peter Hoffmeister of Vancouver.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

I did not call him an enemy of the state.

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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:

Oh, yes; I am afraid you did.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

The hon. member for Spadina made that statement, and I said that I agreed with him. He said that anyone who tries to create that kind of psychology in this country is an enemy of the state.

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LIB

David Arnold Croll

Liberal

Mr. CROLL:

On a question of privilege, I certainly did not make that statement. My hon. friend need only look at Hansard to realize that he must have misunderstood what I said. I said that no matter what I read it would not be applicable. Those were the words of a very fine gentleman, one who has the veterans' confidence. I was dealing with words only, and I never suggested-

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

That is exactly what you said.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

Much as I would have liked to be a member of the veterans' committee, I was not and, therefore, there are a number of suggestions I should like to make at this time. The first has to do with veterans who are in sanatoria in the different provinces. Section 20, subsections 4 to 8, of the Pensions Act provides that credits accumulated in the veteran's account in the Department of Veterans Affairs while he is receiving hospital treatment provided by the department shall not form part of his estate should he die, and the dependents and beneficiaries only may receive his credits, provided that the pensions commission feel disposed to order such action. In Saskatchewan alone there are a hundred of these cases. These men believe that this section results in a major injustice being done to them. They feel that their credits which have been justly and properly earned should become part of their estates

should they pass away while in hospital. In other words, they feel they should have a legal right to the moneys that have been credited to their accounts, instead of having to depend upon the whim of any commission. I would ask the minister to give consideration to making a change in this regard. I have received a number of letters from veterans in hospitals who believe that they should have a legal right to these moneys.

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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:

They do; the accumulated allowances go to their dependents in case of their decease.

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December 15, 1945